Remote Learning Brings Multigenerational Perspectives to Classes at Dickinson College

Because the fall 2020 ENST Management of the Aquatic Environment course is online, alumni like Susanne Lee '67 (top right) are able to take part.

Kristin Strock's fall 2020 ENST Management of the Aquatic Environment class.

Alumni and students connect through online fall classes

by MaryAlice Bitts-Jackson

The remote 2020 fall semester presents multiple challenges to students and professors. One of the benefits? Class discussions interwoven with multigenerational perspectives.

One-hundred and thirty-five alumni from the U.S., China, Czech Republic, France, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Turkey, and the U.K. audited 78 classes this fall, thanks to an online platform that opened the experience up to those living outside of the Carlisle area. Participating alumni class years spanned class years from 1963 to 2020. 

Alumni selected courses across the curriculum—humanities, sciences, social sciences and arts. Like those who participate in the Dickinson at Home suite of virtual lectures and events, they embraced the chance to learn something new while deepening connections with fellow Dickinsonians during the pandemic—all while offering students a glimpse at the ways Dickinsonians put classroom learning to work in the professional world.

Susanne Lee '67, a former EPA attorney, is auditing an environmental-studies class. For her class project, she collected samples from this stream near her home.

For her class project, Susanne Lee '67, collected samples from this stream near her home. Her project relates to her current work in environmental law.

Susanne Lee ’67, a former Dickinson political science major, is an environmental attorney who worked on the Clean Water Act at the Environmental Protection Agency and also served as environmental counsel in Palau. She’s currently doing pro bono work on buffers and wetlands statutes in Maryland. She audited Associate Professor of Environmental Studies Kristin Strock’s Analysis and Management of the Aquatic Environment class because she wanted to better understand the science behind legal decisions, and so she could better apply regulatory and statutory requirements in her current work. For her class project, she collected water samples from a stream near her D.C.-area home.

“I’m excited for the class to hear her results and the results of the litigation,” Strock says.

Lecturer in International Business & Management Steve Riccio’s course on leadership in the 21st century included alumni from three class decades: Jeff Murison ’93, Jeff Hopper ’06 and Abbie Wingerd ’19.

The Leadership in the 21st Century class attracted three alumni from three class decades.

The fall 2020 Leadership in the 21st Century class.

Murison, CEO of a nonprofit economic-development agency, had previously taken classes through his local state university but marked his first Dickinson class this fall since his graduation in 1993.

Riccio notes that Murison is mindful to contribute to classroom discussions only occasionally so students have first priority, chiming in when he feels it may be useful. During a discussion on race relations and business management, for example, Murison provided thoughtful examples from his own experience. Murison also illuminated key social issues during a group critique of the 2010 movie The King’s Speech.

“Auditing the class has been a fantastic experience and is rewarding in many ways, and the academic material has been very useful professionally,” Murison says. “I have been blown away by how impressive, diverse and welcoming everyone has been, and it has been wonderful to reconnect with the college and students in this very unique way during these very unique times.”

Liz Glynn Toth ’06, director of alumni relations, hopes that these experiences can create lasting connections all around. “It’s wonderful for alumni, some of whom graduated over 50 years ago, to get to be Dickinson students again,” she says.


Published October 19, 2020