30 students stood sweating in the Roman sun before the closed iron gates of John Cabot University. The mighty Tiber River flowed impassively alongside buses and cars honking for dominance on the other side of campus. After a few minutes, the gates swung open to reveal a modest, well tendered campus with garden rooftops and a chilled union with U.S. and Italian flags adorning the back wall. The American university in the heart of Trastevere, old Rome, welcomed the Fall 2015 voyagers for a field lab in International Relations led by Dr. Rob Wilder. Wilder introduced his class to two speakers for the day, Dr. Lars Rensmann and Mr. Ryan Miller.
‚ÄúI like interacting with people. I just like people. I hope the students get interested in a topic they weren‚Äôt interested in before. I love listening to professors speak about what they‚Äôre passionate about.‚Äù Dr. Wilder said.
Dr. Rensmann, Chair of the Department of Political Science and International Affairs at John Cabot University, presented a compelling lecture on the intersection of global sports and politics, including his personal fight for the recognition of research in the field.
Ryan Miller, a U.S. Foreign Service Officer with a focus on economics, walked students through his hiring process at the State Department. He also provided insight into the daily life of a diplomat and answered several eager questions about how to join the Foreign Service.
Dr. Wilder chose the speakers based on their influence but also on their interest to students.
‚ÄúThe subject matter matters less than the passion. That‚Äôs what creates a lasting career. Social sciences are all about people, so Italy is where a lot of important things come together. There‚Äôs a reason all roads lead to Rome.‚Äù
The second half of the day was spent touring some of Rome‚Äôs greatest jewels, including the glittering Trevi fountain and the still imposing Pantheon, strolling down plenty of brightly populated alleys and stopping for gelato and a traditional pasta dinner. Wilder made sure students had an opportunity to not just see, but experience the ancient city.
‚ÄúMost of these student have never been to Rome, a place that I would argue is one of the world‚Äôs most fantastic cities. There‚Äôs a certain something that you get from being in Rome that‚Äôs impossible to get from a book. You almost can‚Äôt see anything boring or ugly because you‚Äôre literally walking through history! The sights, the smells, the feel of Rome, that‚Äôs where real learning takes place.‚Äù