Languages @ Muhlenberg.edu
Newsletter 2002

A New Interdisciplinary Program:
The Culture and Economy of Spain
   Dr. Joan Marx and her colleague from the Department of Accounting, Business and Economics, Dr. Donna Kish-Goodling, team-taught a new interdisciplinary course, The Culture and Economy of Spain. With the goal of integrating a foreign language experience with content-based instruction, this course was designed for Business and Economics students seeking a truly global experience within their discipline.

The Culture and Economy of Spain with Don Quijote and Sancho Panza in Madrid
   An intensive, two and a half-week study component in Spain followed the spring semester course. Students applied on-site what they had learned in class in order to continue their research on specific cultural or historical aspects of the development of the Spanish economy from prehistoric times to the modern era. After completing a term paper on economic topics during the spring semester, each student presented two on-site reports on cultural topics that were tied to the specific cities or areas that they visited in Spain.
   The two-week study experience began in Andalucía and included stays in Granada, Sevilla and Cordoba before all headed north to Madrid for the next leg of the cultural journey. The itinerary included explorations in Spain's capital along with excursions to Segovia, El Escorial and Toledo. The last component of the study experience took everyone to Zaragoza and on to Barcelona with all students completing a final analysis of their first-hand observations during the trip. In addition to the students, Dr. Ludwig Schlecht (Dr. Marx's husband), and Jeffrey and Matthew Goodling (husband and son of Dr. Kish-Goodling) participated in the program.

The participants all had things to say about the program!

On the benefits of interdisciplinary and experiential learning:
Tracey Cetel '02: "The class was a wonderful way to organize our knowledge of Spain's rich history, culture, as well as its current economic situation, especially with the introduction of the euro." Laura Garland '03: "This was an excellent way to link my Economics major with my Spanish minor. The business and economic vocabulary I learned not only helped in Business Spanish, but other Spanish classes as well." Eric Rhoades '03: "This class was a great way to study another country and then actually witness hands-on what you had learned. For my first time abroad, the two-week trip was just right to accustom myself to a totally different atmosphere." Lisa Valerio '03: "The combination of an interactive cultural immersion in Spain with the classroom material enabled me to come out of the class with a greater appreciation for the relationship between a country's culture and the resulting economic reality."

On the value of seeing Spain's historic sights:
Nicole Orlando '02: "One of the most valuable parts of the experience was knowing the cultural and historical background of the various places we visited. At La Alhambra in Granada, we actually saw the spot where Queen Isabel gave Cristóbal Colón --Christopher Columbus-- money for his voyage." Sunil Bangali '03: "Seeing the beautiful beaches, the old architecture of the Cathedrals, the life stirring in the streets of Granada and Sevilla, the small streets of Toledo, the busy life of Madrid and Barcelona was amazing. One could not help but be captured by the Spanish life."

On the friendships that were formed:
John Tomecsek '01: "What made this class special from any other class I've taken were the lasting friendships that were created. I have never had a collegiate experience in which the entire class, the professors, and the professors' families became such good friends." Alexandra Quirke '03: "It was great to go away to a place where we were all interested in learning new things. We learned about the culture but most of all we each learned about eight other students who we would have never spoken to if it weren't for the trip. I liked Muhlenberg before Spain. But I love Muhlenberg for the experience that one trip gave me."

On learning Spanish:
Jeff Goodling: "Even though my Spanish is very weak, I felt that I got more and more from the evening reports that were given in Spanish throughout the trip. I will be disappointed if we don't do this again." Matthew Goodling (age 10): "On our trip to Spain, I learned how to order in Spanish (even though I didn't know how to speak Spanish) and say hello and goodbye to people. I even got the Spanish lisp down pat."

On teaching this sort of interdisciplinary course:
Dr. Donna Kish-Goodling: "It was very exciting, yet challenging, to teach economic concepts and theories in Spanish. Moreover, the prospect of the entire class traveling together through the country provided a richer array of economic themes to explore. We identified the different major industries, companies, and trading partners of the Spanish economy. We studied various current events, such as the euro, hoof and mouth disease, the Spanish stock market and its banking system. We also had the luxury of looking back throughout the history of Spain to analyze the economic, political, and social impact of events such as the occupation of the Moors, the Columbian exchange with the New World, the supremacy of Spain until the defeat of the Spanish armada, the influence of the Bourbon kings, the Spanish Civil War, and the Franco years. It was a teacher's dream to then visit those very places where such pivotal world events had transpired or to stand in front of breathtaking masterpieces of art depicting them."
Dr. Joan Marx: "The development of this interdisciplinary course with my colleague the collaborative nature of our teaching during the semester and the on-site study trip truly represent the most enriching teaching experience of my career to date. My colleague and I were also extremely fortunate to have such a fine group of students in our class who were eager to learn economic theory in Spanish as well as the whole of Spain's history. The course was definitely a linguistic challenge for those economic students who had only a basic facility with the Spanish language and a disciplinary challenge for those Spanish students who had no background in economic theory. I am so proud of their academic work, their genuine interest in learning both in class and on-site in addition to their willingness to cooperate with each other as members of a team for the benefit of the entire class."