Calvin to offer Interim trip to Disney World

“What are you doing next Interim?”

“I’m going to Disney!”

Thanks to Professor Becca McBride’s new Interim class, this will be possible for Calvin’s 2015 Interim. The course “Disney, Culture and Progress” will run from Jan. 7 through Jan. 27, and will fulfill political science and the interdisciplinary studies electives, as well as the cross-cultural engagement (CCE) requirement. For those interested, registration forms and the $500 deposit are due by May 1.

As a massive fan of Disney, McBride is thrilled to head this Interim. She has visited Disney World eight times, taken two Disney cruises and even themed her kitchen with Mickey Mouse. She has a great respect for Walt Disney, saying, “He was deeply invested in understanding progress and portraying a certain vision of progress that would inspire.”

For McBride, this Interim is much bigger than understanding a single man, though. “When I started to teach international students at Calvin,” she says, “I became fascinated with understanding how progress is culturally defined. This class represents three of my passions mixing into one class: Disney, teaching international students and investigating political puzzles.”

The class itinerary is set to spend seven days off campus so that students can take one day in each of Disney’s four parks, one day participating in some behind the scenes tours and two days of travel to and from Calvin. The remaining days of Interim will be spent at Calvin. McBride plans to send students out in pairs during the day to explore the different sites, and then gather them back together at the end of the day to share their different experiences over dinner.

Of course, this class promises far more than just the attractions of rollercoasters and fireworks.  Its purpose is to discover a deeper and more culturally diverse understanding of progress. Disney World is a place that seems to be teeming with the idea of progress, both technologically and cross-culturally, but McBride wants her students to take a closer look at the multitude of issues that we face in our world today and to understand the difficulty of reconciling that with ethnocentric visions of progress.

“I hope that students will gain an understanding of distinct cultural representations of progress, and gain maturity as Christians in understanding that none of us approaches the idea of progress from a neutral perspective.”

McBride has already received a terrific response from interested students. On Monday, April 7, she held an informational meeting about the trip which 30 students attended and five expressed interest through e-mail. The amount of attention this Interim has received opens up the possibility of adding it to the list of annual Interims. “If there is sufficient interest,” McBride says, “I would love to teach the class on an annual basis.”

Most of all McBride hopes “that we will build relationships across cultures that have a lasting impact on the way we see the world.”