Professor of History Robert McCaughey really wants to make the material he assigns come alive for his students. This fall, his first-year seminar "The Beautiful Sea" and his "Early American Maritime History" class had the opportunity to sail the Hudson River on Pete Seeger's Hudson River sloop Clearwater, an educational vessel dedicated to protecting the river through advocacy and to teaching students about the history and ecology of Hudson River. The Clearwater is a 106-foot wooden schooner built as a replica of 18th- and 19th- century Dutch sailing sloops that carried tons of cargo up and down the Hudson.
McCaughey's students were joined onboard by Assistant Professor of Chemistry John Magyar and members of his first-year seminar class, "Fire and Ice: Exploring Energy and Climate," a course committed to looking at relationships among the history, economics, and biogeochemistry of energy and climate change. First-year Dean Lisa Hollibaugh and Dean of Studies Karen Blank were also on board to share in the experience. But, before the Clearwater set sail, everyone helped raise the 2,910-sq. foot mainsail, one of the largest in the country.
McCaughey pledges to get his students out onto the water at least once a semester. This spring, he hopes to get his students kayaking on the Hudson. "The Hudson is 200 yards from the Barnard campus, and we ought to be out on it more often as part of what we do as students going to college in New York City," says McCaughey.
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McCaughey's scheme for spreading his love of the water is working. First-year seminar student Kaitlin Phillips '13 was glowing by the time the Clearwater returned to dock at the 79th Street boat basin in Riverside Park. "It's awesome to be out on the boat and think about what we're reading," she reflected, "I feel like I got a lot more out of the class just having been on the water."
A huge thank you to Dean of the College Dorothy Denburg and Director of the First-Year Seminar Program Professor Lisa Gordis of the English Department, for helping put together this adventure.