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Religious Studies and Classics play host to AP students

College of Humanities

Noticed a high school student sitting next to you in a lecture? Don’t panic! About 40-50 high school AP world history students will be visiting the University of Arizona campus on Monday, Oct. 8 and Tuesday Oct. 9, to attend lectures from the Department of Religious Studies and Classics.

This year marks the third-annual Religious Studies and Classics Visitation Day, which encourages high school students to experience a typical day for a College of Humanities student.  

The annual event was created by Alison Jameson, assistant professor of Religious Studies and East Asian Studies, while her daughter was an AP world history student.  

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She knew that during fall break the high school students would have finished studying the classical world and the beginnings of most global religions, so experiencing a college lecture could be a bridge between what they learned in high school and how it can be applied to a religious studies and classics class.

The first year about 10 high school students, plus their teachers and parents, attended the program, and for the second year, after receiving a grant to cover the cost of food and parking, about 75 people attended, according to Jameson.

“One of the things we are doing in the department and the college more widely is trying to come up with creative outreach ideas, and part of that is trying to recruit students here at the UA, but part of that is also to reach students before they even get here,” said Robert Stephan, lecturer and director of undergraduate studies for the classics department. 

The two-day program allows AP world history students to meet with Jameson and Stephan, attend one classics and one religious studies lecture per day, have a pizza lunch with faculty in the department and talk to currently enrolled classics and religious studies students.

“The idea is that if we can bring in high school students and give them a taste of what we do in classic and religious studies, they’re going to have a positive experience, understand what we are all about and be predisposed to taking more of those classes once they arrive on campus in a few years,” Stephan said.

The department is divided into two majors: Classical studies focuses on ancient Greece and Rome in areas including culture, history, politics, religion, language, literature or archeological remains, while religious studies focuses more broadly around the world and thematically on religion. UA has 50-60 students enrolled for each major and equally as many minors, according to Stephan.

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“There’s not necessarily a classics or religious studies course that students are getting in high school, so while they are getting a lot of math and science classes, people don’t know who we are, and we are excited for this as an outreach program,” Stephan said.

At the outreach event students will have a pizza lunch with currently enrolled religious studies and classics students and faculty, so they can talk about what college life is like and what students are doing after college, according to Jameson.

“They can talk from a student’s perspective about what it’s like to major in one of those two majors,” Jameson said.

UA students in the College of Humanities who are ambassadors for the college will be meeting with the high school students to show them around and talk about the value of the humanities.  

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“Moving from a class with 20-25 students to a lecture hall with 125-225 students gives you a different feel for your own responsibility, in a sense,” Stephan said. “No one is watching over you making sure you’re taking notes or whether you pay attention or not, and this gives them a taste of [what] that’s like.”

Jeremiah Webb, senior academic advisor for the College of Humanities, helps advise the ambassadors.

“This competitive internship opportunity trains members to discuss the benefits associated with our degrees with prospective UA students and their guests at recruitment events,” Webb said. “In addition, participants assist with a wide variety of college events [and] assist with outreach efforts, such as contacting donors, alumni and incoming freshmen each year.”

For UA students who are interested in becoming involved with religious or classics studies, the department offers general education courses to get a feel for what the major is like and satisfy the requirement for a tier one or two general-education credit.  

“You can fulfill the requirement but also dip your toes into the field and see what it’s all about and where it can take you,” Jameson said.

Since the department is fairly small, Stephan said he is excited whenever he sees an increase of students enrolled in classes or becoming majors and minors.

“The classes are fun and exciting and the skills are relevant to what you need for the UA  and when you go into the real world,” Stephan said.

For more information on the Religious Studies and Classics Department you can email or meet with Jameson and Stephan, or check out the events on the calendar on its website.

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