About This Interdisciplinary Project

The ACM-Mellon Seminars in Advanced Interdisciplinary Learning (SAIL) is a series of annual learning communities built around integrative place-based learning, which enable ACM faculty to explore a salient topic and collaborate to develop curricular resources. By immersing faculty in settings that encourage multiple perspectives and collaboration across disciplines, the seminars lay the foundation for the participants to develop innovative, integrative advanced-level coursework. Funded by a generous grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the SAIL program consists of five annual seminars. Each of the seminars includes an intensive ten-day, on-site seminar at a site that offers rich resources for multidisciplinary lessons about the topic. The off-campus sites for the five seminars will alternate between domestic and international locations.  More info.

The 2013 Seminar, Mediterranean Trivium: Earth, Sea, and Culture in Italy, employed a cross-disciplinary approach to the understanding of civilization in Italy and in the Mediterranean more broadly. 

The Mediterranean Trivium seminar brought ACM faculty together in Italy to explore firsthand how earth, the environment and culture interact, using this on-site experience to identify and develop curricular innovations that foster multidisciplinary learning by advanced undergraduates. A context was provided by the  singular geological framework and distinctive ecology of the Mediterranean region, and of Italy in particular, that shaped Classical, Renaissance and modern cultures. Defined by mountains and the sea, Italy displays the impact of the slowly-changing elements of nature on how people work, live, think, and imagine. It also shows how the more disruptive forces of nature – volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, and floods – affect societies.  The reference frame is transferrable in many respects to other parts of the world, and other civilizations.

A foundational basis for understanding in the fields of history, classics, anthropology and geology was provided by  SAIL readings.  Participants from five ACM colleges, working in teams of three, contributed additional disciplinary perspectives and team objectives to the collective and individual work over 12 days in Italy [June 24 to July 4, 2013].  Work in teams from each college continued over several months following the Italy seminar, and the SAIL Trivium group assembled for a rousing Spring Workshop at the ACM offices in Chicago.