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On Monday morning, however, 15 stu­dents turned it into a miniature museum. Stevan Bennett | Col­legian

The tunnel con­necting Lane and Kendall Halls is gen­erally one of the least descript areas of the Hillsdale College campus. On Monday morning, however, 15 stu­dents turned it into a miniature museum.

Each spring, Pro­fessor of History David Stewart offers stu­dents the chance to a one-credit course on museum studies. For their final project, stu­dents research a subject of their choosing and put together a vivid poster-sized pre­sen­tation to showcase to other stu­dents, faculty, and members of nearby his­torical soci­eties.

“The sub­jects had to deal with some­thing within an American context,” Stewart  said. “Some­thing in American art, American history, con­ser­vation in America, some­thing to do with America to put on a poster. Other than that, it was pretty open-ended.”

The stu­dents took full advantage of this flex­i­bility, working with sub­jects ranging between fashion, lit­er­ature, moth­erhood, archi­tecture, video games, history, and more.

“They were things that stu­dents went, ‘I was really inter­ested in this and I wanted to know more, but maybe it wasn’t right for a term paper,’” Stewart said. He said it was this type of curiosity, mixed with some indi­vidual passion, which spawned most of the ideas for the project.

Junior Adam Cieply pre­sented his topic of “The American Arcade: Yes­terday and Today” to a con­tinual stream of onlookers. He said he was inspired by another course he took at Hillsdale — ethics of video gaming — and saw the project as an oppor­tunity to research a topic which had played a role in his childhood and which he though other Hillsdale stu­dents may not have known much about. He traced the history of the arcade from its origins to its modern roles, such as the arcade and bar hybrid.

“As a kid going to arcades it was one of those great social inter­ac­tions, so the fact that a lot of these modern arcades are being created for the sake of living on that legacy was some­thing I wanted to talk about,” Cieply said.

Junior Kristin Freeman occupied the wall across from Cieply, where she pre­sented her project, “The American Cola: Coca-Cola and American Adver­tising.”

“My friends tease me and say I’m addicted to Coca-Cola,” she said. “I knew already that it had a very rich history and a large influence on American adver­tising, so it was both kind of per­sonal but also a chance to spreads some awareness of the impact that it had of American adver­tising.”

Per­sonal interest was a driving factor for senior Ralston Tucker as well, who researched ghost towns in relation to the American identity.

“I’m a fan of the Wild West. I think it’s really cool, and ghost towns are a fixture of that,” she said. “I think most of the time when we see some­thing aban­doned, the first instinct is to bulldoze it, so I wanted to figure out why so many of those towns had been left standing and pre­served just as they were. And I do think it’s important to pre­serve what life was like at the time, and they’ve done a really good job of that.”

Some stu­dents even took the oppor­tunity to research topics tied to Hillsdale College. Senior Josh Schmid was one such student, pre­senting on Hillsdale College and The Great War.

“Whenever anybody thinks of Hillsdale and war thinks of the Civil War, so I wanted to explore some­thing people don’t know about,” Schmid said. “World War I is one of the more obscure wars in U.S. History, so I wanted to do this war some justice. Going in, I knew a lot about U.S. involvement, but I knew nothing about what Hillsdale did.”

Schmid said he found boun­tiful infor­mation on the topic, men­tioning that all but two upper­classmen men left the College to fight by the time the war ended.

Stewart said he has seen a lot of interest from stu­dents in the museum pro­fession over the last decade, and this class pro­vides them the oppor­tunity for some hands-on expe­rience and learning.

“A lot of stu­dents over the past ten years or so have approached people in the department and said, “I like history, but I don’t want to be a teacher. What do I do then?’” he said. “Nationally, this is sort of the obvious answer, although we’ve never done much of it at Hillsdale, so we started offering this class.”

Stewart added that this extends beyond just the history department, to areas such as art history and the sci­ences.

Now in its second year, the course is offered every spring. Each student encouraged others con­sid­ering the class to actually reg­ister for the it next year, but Cieply put it most suc­cinctly.

“Just take it.”