Today, more than 1,200 new Liberal Studies students begin their academic careers. This is a moment that you have been anticipating since you received your admission to NYU. Now that this moment — and you! — have arrived, I encourage you to take advantage of every step on this four-year journey.
Get to know your new neighborhood, but also explore a neighborhood or visit a landmark in the rest of the amazing city in which you now live. After your first classes, talk to your professor about something that has piqued your curiosity. Join a club, attend an event, make a friend — in short, forge a new connection to our community.
Take advantage of all of the opportunities that Liberal Studies, NYU, New York, and the Global Network offer — the same exciting opportunities that drew you to apply to the university. The next four years will pass quickly; make the most of them.
Welcome to Liberal Studies, and welcome to your future.
Christopher Packard is a Master Teacher in Liberal Studies. Here he guest blogs about teaching in Paris last year.
Chilly November Friday, around noon, in Paris. About eight Core and GLS students met two NYU professors outside the Metro station next to a large exhibition hall.
We’d been warned about the crowds, and it was true: mobs of chocolate-identified folks pressed the ticket-takers at the doors. Inside: huge warehouse, packed with exhibition booths offering samples. Welcome to the Salon de chocolat, the largest trade show of chocolate and its products in Europe.
LS students gathered at the Salon de chocolat in Paris in November 2013,
along with Professor Trabacca, who teaches European History and Politics at NYU in Paris.
The taste sensations were dizzying. Morsels of sweet, shavings of bitter, dollops of soufflés dusted with chocolate powder, spiced chocolate, liquid chocolate spouting in fountains, wafts of chocolate perfume floated on the air.
Celebrity chef Pierre Hermes enthralled hushed crowds of hundreds as he
whisked, chopped, poured, and baked.
Upstairs, the sculptures kept audiences amazed. An airplane the size of
a schoolbus made entirely from chocolate.
Lest we over-indulge the senses, we had arrived armed with ideas. Prior to coming to this chocolate trade show, we professors had asked group members to read “Crafting Grand Cru Chocolates in Contemporary France,” by Susan Terrio in American Anthropologist (Vol. 98, No. 1, 1996, pp. 67-79), so we had an inkling of the understory of this massive marketing event. Our discussion before the event, at a café nearby, had circulated around global trade and intra-European cultural preservation strategies. Fascinating discussion, followed by a sensual indulgence, with plenty of food for thought.
Events like these are the greatest pleasure of teaching abroad. I’ve had the opportunity to teach at NYU campuses in London, Florence, and Paris, and thanks to the staff at each site, great emphasis is placed on co-curricular activities like these. In London we went to the Cheltenham Literary Festival to hear Ian McEwan speak, after reading excerpts from Atonement. We toured the Royal Palace at Brighton after reading excerpts from The Opium Wars. In Florence we visited the Uffizi and other museums, of course, but we also took gastronomic tours of the central market after studying local and Italian-American foodways. Each of these excursions had an intellectual component that enhances the experience and ties it into the LS curriculum.
I suppose I enjoy these events so much because they embody my teaching philosophy: learning happens best when new knowledge is associated with experience that is enhanced through social interaction. Now that I am back in New York to teach for the upcoming year, I look forward to taking advantage of my hometown as an extension of the LS classroom. And perhaps, if it’s relevant, I will include a local food festival or two in the syllabus.
Haute couture? Both the dress and the mannequin in this picture are made of chocolate.