Power in the City Course Immerses Students in New York City

GOVT 222 takes students out of the classroom and into the city with weekly trips to historic locations throughout New York City.

GOVT 222: Power in the City is not a typical government class. Instead, it allows students to explore New York City and use the Big Apple as their classroom.

Michael Antolik, Ph.D., professor and chair of the government department, leads students on a weekly trip to a location in New York City in order to explain the role of money, public works, citizenship and media from a political perspective. During these educational walking tours, Antolik uses important locations, such as buildings and parks, to explore the history of political power in New York. 

“Being surrounded by the environment burns things into students’ memories. It is the ultimate visual aid for a class,” Antolik says. “Ten years later, I will have students email me articles pertaining to the class. It just tends to stick with them.”

During the last 10 years, Antolik has been leading these once-a-week adventures each fall. Trips are usually three hours long, and can span up to five miles throughout Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Bronx. Some of the past locations the class has visited include the Brooklyn Bridge, Wall Street, Times Square and the 9/11 Memorial. 

“It was definitely a breath of fresh air in my schedule,” says Amber Calabro ’15, a double major in psychology and government. “It was also a more relaxed environment, which is nice.”

Experiencing New York City is always fun and exciting, and this class allowed for me to do that in a really memorable way.

All of the locations explored in the course were created as the result of a political decision and are used as historical case studies. While reading about these case studies in a textbook is the norm for most government courses, GOVT 222 allows for students to learn about where history actually happened.

“Not only did we learn a lot about the history of the city, but we actually got to experience it, too, which helped me retain the information,” says Michael Sanchez ’13.  

According to Antolik, this is what makes the class so extraordinary. Being on-site sparks students’ memories, which then leads to them to talk to their friends about the course and share their experiences. Antolik humorously refers to the course as  “infectious.” So many students are intrigued by their experiences that they take their friends back to some of the sites, thereby, creating learning experiences that may not have happened in a traditional classroom setting.

“Experiencing New York City is always fun and exciting, and this class allowed for me to do that in a really memorable way,” Sanchez says.

By Julie Benns