College plans events to commemorate centenary of World War I

By Ellie Gavin, Contributing Writer ||

The 2014-2015 academic year at the College has been given the theme of remembering World War I in commemoration of its 100-year
anniversary.

This theme, inspired by members of the faculty, found its way into many avenues of life at F&M, including being the subject of required reading for incoming freshmen and inspiring a number of new courses for the school year.

In addition, a committee of faculty, staff, and students have put together a number of WWI-themed events, including speakers, movie showings, and more.

Jennifer Redmann, associate professor of German, chair of German and Russian departments, and member of the World War I Centenary Committee, says that an emphasis on the First World War is important because the Second World War often overshadows it, despite WWI’s considerable impact on world history.

“Harsh peace provisions enacted against Germany in 1919 contributed to the rise of the Nazi Party and the outbreak of World War II 20 years later,” Redmann said, speaking on the importance of WWI and its effects.

“The German, Austro-Hungarian, and Ottoman Empires fell, and the map of the world was redrawn, with battles over the borders in the Middle East continuing today. Women in Britain, the U.S., and Germany gained the vote, and the United States became the dominant world power for the first time.”

Redmann also said it was not an official process but instead a grassroots effort to make World War I the theme of the 2014-2015 academic school year. According to her, the College has created themes for particular school years in the past, including F&M’s 225th anniversary, the 40th anniversary of co-education, etc. However, giving the year an academic theme is new. She also mentioned that this effort has been in the works since 2012.

“We didn’t have a budget,” Redmann said. “We reached out to various individuals and groups on campus, encouraging them to incorporate the First World War in their 2014-15 programming and course planning. Out of this work grew an extensive set of courses, speakers, exhibits, and events.”

The full list of events can be viewed on fandm.edu at http://www.fandm.edu/about/mission-and-history/world-war-i-centenary and includes a wide variety of speakers, discussions, movie viewings, reading groups and more.

“For the nearly 100 students enrolled in World War I courses this fall, the World War I events offer a unique opportunity to draw connections between their lives inside and outside the classroom,” Redmann said. “At the very least, I hope the World War I centenary events will spark in students a curiosity and desire to learn more about an important moment in world history.”

First-year Ellie Gavin is a contributing writer. His email is egavin@fandm.edu.

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