The idea behind Belmont’s Humanities Symposium was to bridge different departments on campus, and for its 18th year, Dr. Maggie Monteverde thinks an important anniversary allows for just that.
The year’s theme is “Mankind and The Moon,” a topic Monteverde has been pushing the Humanities Department to cover as 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the United States landing on the moon.
“I liked the idea of trying to pick a topic that allows us to bring sciences and humanities together, because I think it’s a very false dichotomy that we create,” said Monteverde.
As a way to introduce the theme, Monteverde, Dr. Krista McBride and the students of their “Science Fiction; Science Fact” linked course traveled to the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama, on Saturday.
From seeing the Apollo 16 Command Module to having a guided tour of the Saturn V Hall — which has the original Saturn V rocket — to watching a reenactment of the first moon landing, students learned about how Huntsville, Alabama, and NASA are connected.
“Huntsville has a rich history in the birth of NASA, being that all the early rocketry, pioneers, space cowboys, all of the very start of NASA was born out of the army,” said Joseph Vick, manager of education at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center. “Redstone Arsenal, which is here in the center of Marshall Space Flight Center, was home base for NASA.”
For students in Monteverde and McBride’s linked class, the trip to Huntsville pertained to many of the subjects covered in the classroom.
“I thought it was cool how we’ve been talking about the feasibility of time and space travel, and then come here and see the physics of it all,” said sophomore Megan Allen.
Many of the students walked away reflecting on how close they came to history.
“I think it was really cool they had life-size rockets,” said Brendan Martins.
His classmate, Ryan Burgess, agreed.
“You don’t really know the scale until you get here,” he said.
When brainstorming the topic for this year’s Humanities Symposium, the question of how the moon applies to humanity was asked. However, Dr. Monteverde thinks the historic event and humanities are linked in more ways than one.
“Human achievement is part of what the humanities are about,” said Monteverde. “Also, as someone who teaches science fiction, the imagination plays an important role in both the sciences and in the arts, so I thought this was a good example of that.”
The 2019 Humanities Symposium starts Sunday and has speakers ranging from former astronauts to Neil Armstrong’s biographer to graduate panels.
“Space connects all of us,” said Vick. “We are all part of a bigger space. The universe is ever expanding, and so should our minds.” To see the full program of convocation events offered, click here.
This article written by Lydia Fletcher. Photo by Lydia Fletcher.