Providence Veterans Take a Virtual Walking Tour
Sometimes what's needed is a camera and a little ingenuity. In the Providence Clemente Veterans' Initiative (CVI), a planned walking tour of Providence's war memorials appeared impossible after shelter in place rules were enacted. But art history professor Suzanne Scanlan thought otherwise.
She grabbed her camera and set off on foot to film the tour herself, bringing it to the class via Zoom in the evening. Her tour was followed by a virtual visit from RISD archivist Claudia Covert, who offered a history of camouflage to the veteran scholars.
This is one in a series of innovations from Academic Director Mark Santow and the Providence CVI faculty this spring. The students in this NEH-funded program—veterans of Vietnam, Bosnia, Afghanistan, and other conflicts—have been meeting since September to explore questions of war and duty through art, literature, philosophy and history. Like the 35 other Clemente Courses across the country, the course was designed as an intimate seminar held around a table. The pandemic changed that. But the students and faculty have risen to the occasion.
Twice a week they come together on Zoom to continue the conversation. In addition to the virtual walking tour, they have hosted a visit from Tommy Furlong and Travis Weiner, veterans of Afghanistan and Iraq respectively. Their documentary film-in-progress, Meatgrinder, tells the story of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars from a soldier's perspective. Students have also explored the concept of moral injury and discussed the music that reflects their military experience.
(Meet Sarah Bregler, Providence 2019 CVI graduate and current classroom facilitator, here.)
Providence CVI students are so engaged in the course that they've asked to continue meeting after their graduation on May 28. On to the summer!