Freshman class visits New Harmony, feels ‘it was a waste of time’


Photo courtesy of USI Photography/Multimedia

Freshman students meet outside the Historic New Harmony Atheneum for the UNIV 101 class trip Tuesday.

Alyssa DeWig, News Editor

Freshmen students attended the first USI field trip Tuesday to New Harmony. The trip was required for all students taking a UNIV 101: First Year Experience class and was planned through the Provost Office.

Justice Kolley, freshman biology major, said “I kind of thought it was a waste of time.”

USI owns 26 properties in New Harmony. David L. Rice, the university’s first president, admired the history of New Harmony and, after his retirement from USI, worked on the historical preservation of New Harmony from 1994 until 2014. 

The UNIV 101 courses, required for all freshmen, were organized into multiple groups and gave each group a three-hour time slot to learn about New Harmony. Kevin Valadares, professor of health services and chair of Health Administration, said the trip was planned to give students the opportunity to be introduced to New Harmony and to understand the connection between New Harmony and USI.

Freshman students walk around outside the Historic New Harmony Atheneum for the UNIV 101 class trip Tuesday. (Photo courtesy of USI Photography/Multimedia)
Freshman students walk around outside the Historic New Harmony Atheneum for the UNIV 101 class trip Tuesday. (Photo courtesy of USI Photography/Multimedia)

“New Harmony has always been a place of learning, whether it be arts, culture or health care, so these two places of learning are connected together,” Valadares said. “I think of New Harmony as a place of learning and possibilities, and that’s really what a university should be as well.”

Kolley said she attended the trip because it was worth 20% of her UNIV 101 course grade and attendance was mandatory. 

She said, “We sat through a whole bunch of presentations that none of us could really understand.” 

After the presentations, Kolley said they walked and explored some of the town. 

“We tried to find different things, but there was nothing really intriguing there,” she said.

Elise Wagler, freshman undecided major, said “It was a nice town, but there’s not really much to see.” 

Wagler said they got to walk through some “old houses and stuff like that.” 

“It was a nice little trip,” she said. “I mean, I don’t think we really needed to stay out there, like, three whole hours, but it wasn’t too bad.” 

“I agree, I don’t think we needed to stay for the whole three hours there,” said Karen Saravia, freshman biology major, to Wagler. 

Valadares said he believes the freshman UNIV trip to New Harmony could become annual.

“The hope is that this can be done every year, and out of this comes opportunities that other students and instructors can participate in,” he said.

Valadares said the trip required a big commitment from both USI and New Harmony.

Brody Broshears, assistant vice president for Academic Success, helped organize the trip. He said his role was to collaborate with New Harmony to develop the program.

“This was a great way to introduce new students to a place we’ve had a direct connection with since around 1985,” Broshears said.

“It’s a jewel that USI has, and part of the experience today is to recultivate it,” Valadares said. 

The exterior of the Schnee-Ribeyre-Elliott House. (Photo courtesy of Dawn Stoneking).
The exterior of the Schnee-Ribeyre-Elliott House. (Photo courtesy of Dawn Stoneking)

During the planning of the trip, Broshears wanted to make sure it had an educational component. 

“For us, the development of the trip and what we were going to cover really needed to help us meet the learning outcomes of the course,” Borchears said. “So, campus involvement, community engagement. We want students to understand they are part of a larger community, beyond the University of Southern Indiana.”

Broshears said New Harmony offers opportunities for students and community members, including undergraduate research. 

“We wanted to expose students to the opportunities there, so we decided there needed to be some kind of combination of required sessions, and then some opportunities for students to explore the space,” Broshears said.

He said in planning the trip, he looked at the logistics of bringing 1250 students to New Harmony and what the program would look like.

Broshears said, “The concept was born out of Academic Affairs and our desire to continue to develop our relationship with historic New Harmony.”

As an UNIV 101 professor, Valadares said many of his students had never experienced the historical significance of New Harmony.

“I can guarantee you there’s a small percentage who would like to come back, not just as a tourist destination, but also to learn more about how they can be involved,” Valadares said. “If that happens, and I think it will, then it’s met its goal.”