On the Ground in Rome, Sept. 8, 2011
The best job he’s ever hated?
Associate Professor of Classics Scott Smith took on a gargantuan job this past academic year: he was lead teacher and onsite administrator for the Intercollegiate Center for Classical Studies in Rome (ICCS-Rome), an intensive study abroad program for select North American college students with a love of classics. Smith taught 74 students Latin, Greek, and the challenging “City Course,” the centerpiece of the 45-year-old program.
The City Course takes students on one to two field trips per week throughout the city of Rome and to other ancient sites in Italy. Both on site and at the Center, Smith lectured on the topography, monuments, history, art, and architecture of Rome from the eighth century BC to the fifth century AD. He had to know Rome and 1,300 years of its history and culture like the back of his hand—a reminder, says Smith, of the breadth of knowledge required of a classicist, and, he muses, a challenge he did not anticipate when taking his first Latin class in eighth grade.
Mastering modern and ancient Rome might be a breeze in comparison to being in loco parentis for upwards of 40 students at any one time, a responsibility that led one former Professor-in-Charge to describe the position as the best job he ever hated. But Smith's tenure, though admittedly stressful, was a happy success: students were academically challenged and worked hard, they were safe and accounted for, and no national or international crises jeopardized students' safety or learning. What’s not to like?