Recipients of the College’s most prestigious scholarship programs, the Alfond Scholars and Bonner Leaders participated in this Immersion Intersession course, ticking two big boxes in the liberal arts education here at Rollins.
Funded by proceeds from The Alfond Inn at Rollins, the Alfond Scholars are entering first-year students who have displayed the desire and commitment to pursue additional distinguished recognition as undergrads. The Bonner Leaders Program, a national philanthropic organization, bestows scholarship on those students passionate about service work with local nonprofits.
The group of scholars traveled to Apopka—just 40 minutes northwest of Winter Park—to visit the Farmworker Association of Florida and the Hope CommUnity Center, engaging with community members and learning about their important work with immigrants and farmworkers.
Never has it been more important to teach the next generation of leaders how to identify fake news and understand the psychology driving the demand for it. This course examines why fake news is a salient contemporary issue, what makes news legitimate or not, the consequences of the spread of fake news, and the tensions between fake news and the first amendment.
“The news media are no longer viewed as independent journalists practicing their traditional watchdog role,” says Painter, “but are now seen as just another player on the Washington power scene with their own agenda and motivations.”
Painter emphasizes the consequences of this, adding that fake news polarizes our society because it feeds people’s belief that the opposition is evil. “This polarization and demonization of the opposition results in officials’ inability to compromise and thus, the inability of our government to function,” he says.
Orlando is an ever-growing cultural hub for the visual arts, and this Intersession class takes learning to the source. The students visited seminal art institutions around the city, including Rollins’ very own Alfond Inn, the Mennello Museum of American Art, the Morse Museum, Lake Eola, and Snap! Orlando, soaking up everything from sculptures and painting to installations and public arts spaces.
“Studying art is important because learning to ‘read’ artworks—dissecting, discussing, and comprehending how messages are conveyed through visual means—is a crucial skill in today’s image-laden world,” says Ryan. “We learn how concepts are communicated without words and how art is influenced by culture and history.”
“I chose this Intersession course because it involved community engagement,” says Matthew Weiner ’20, a business management major, “and because it’s not a class I’d usually take, which is what I love about Rollins.”
In fall 2016, an inquisitive group of students approached Professor McLaughlin about doing an Intersession that focused on both big-picture and pragmatic questions about life that weren’t part of the mainstream curriculum. Managing credit cards and budgeting, buying a home, nutrition, and well-being were all topics posed by this year’s crop of ambitious students.
When we dropped in on the class at BurgerFi for their final day of reflection, McLaughlin opened a dialogue about faith, hope, and charity as ways to think about how to live one’s life. “Charity isn’t pitying nor is it just giving financial support,” says McLaughlin. “Charity is how we show generosity to people in everyday interactions and sometimes more about donating time than money.”
By giving the students a safe space in which to ask and contemplate some of life’s hardest questions and challenges, courses like this develop the empathetic, reasoned, critical thinkers we need to lead the next generation.