Revisit the ‘American Civilization Institute,’ a ’60s experiment in Morristown, at town library, Oct. 8

Join us on Sunday, Oct. 8, 2017, at 2 p.m. in the Morristown and Morris Township Library’s lower level meeting room to hear Denise Meringolo, associate professor and Director of Public History at University of Maryland–Baltimore County and Oceanport, NJ native, tell the story of the American Civilization Institute of Morristown, which was an experiment in community based teaching and learning. 

As a case study, it suggests that teaching the beyond the classroom can have a meaningful impact not only on students’ intellectual achievement, but also on the life of the local community.

The idea for ACIM was hatched in the spring and summer of 1964.  Morristown School District superintendent Harry Wenner, Morristown High School social studies teacher Jack Stewart, and Morristown school board member Dorothy Harvey, developed a plan for using the Timothy Mills House, a mid-eighteenth century structure adjacent to Morristown High School, as a multi-disciplinary laboratory. 

To help them shape a program, they turned to anthropologist Gene Weltfish at Fairleigh Dickinson University in a multi-faceted, multi-disciplinary, broadly collaborative, community focused experiential learning program. 

For the duration of the program–which ran from 1965 until 1969–Weltfish and Wenner served as co-directors.

The ACIM engaged faculty and students from Morristown High School and Fairleigh Dickinson University in a multi-faceted, multi-disciplinary, broadly collaborative, community focused experiential learning program.

During the life of the project, high school and college educators provided students with vocational training in material culture research, collections management, and public program development. 

But their work was also intellectual. They encouraged students to explore and challenge prevailing ideas about the history, composition and nature of community.

For more information about the program please contact the North Jersey History and Genealogy Center, Morristown and Morris Township Library at 973-538-3473.

 

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