“I Didn’t Know I Could Do That!”: What Happens When History Nerds Meet Gamer Geeks
Dr. Tracey Rizzo, UNC Asheville
When students demonstrated “Onimusha,” a Samurai hack and slash video game, in my First Year Experience course on Playable Pasts, something magical happened: aspiring historians and aspiring game designers crossed the digital divide and learned to do things they never thought they could. WPI’s Humanities and Arts department is well positioned to enhance its crucial role in the WPI Plan to further integrate the Humanities and Arts into STEM education. Sections of the FYE specifically designed to attract and support cohorts of underrepresented students (women, first generation, and students of color) help students experience the components of their education as complementary rather than fragmentary. Bracketed by your Great Problems Seminars and the Interactive Qualifying Project, interdisciplinary courses, perhaps team taught, can integrate the curriculum through the use of digital tools to investigate timeless humanistic questions. Incorporation of insights, methodologies, and content from Women and Gender Studies, Ethnic and African American Studies, and Working Class Studies can foster intersectional approaches to the development of individual and community identities and can attract and support underrepresented students, staff and faculty. When we step outside of our institutional and disciplinary silos, reaching across the digital divide, engineers might study the past to accurately recreate it, artists might learn to code, and humanists might “join the clan of ogres that has been subverted by the demons.” There is no more magical moment than when we can all exclaim: “I didn’t know I could do that!”
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