Reacting to the Past

What is Reacting to the Past (RTTP)?
Put simply - it is a learning method that a places a student in the role of historic actor during a critical moment during world history.  Utilizing elaborate, multi-period games, our students re-enact, debate, and decide the course of events such as the birth of Athenian democracy, the papal trial of Galileo, and the Second Crusade's war council of Acre. Initially developed at Barnard College, Reacting to the Past was introduced to UCCS in 2011 by Prof. Roger L. Martinez. A larger contingent of faculty at UCCS and Pikes Peak Community College, especially Prof. Glenn Rohlfing, are now expanding the use of RTTP in history and humanities courses, as well as investigating the development of new games and a broader regional initiative to spread the curriculum along the Front Range of Colorado.

The Basic Concept of RTTP (quoted directly from Barnard College's website)
In most classes students learn by receiving ideas and information from instructors and texts, or they discuss such materials in seminars.  "Reacting to the Past" courses employ a different pedagogy.  Students learn by taking on roles, informed by classic texts, in elaborate games set in the past; they learn skills-speaking, writing, critical thinking, problem solving, leadership, and teamwork-in order to prevail in difficult and complicated situations.  That is because Reacting roles, unlike those in a play, do not have a fixed script and outcome. While students will be obliged to adhere to the philosophical and intellectual beliefs of the historical figures they have been assigned to play, they must devise their own means of expressing those ideas persuasively, in papers, speeches or other public presentations; and students must also pursue a course of action they think will help them win the game.  Sometimes students chafe at the notion of playing games in college.  The idea of "reacting" to the past may bring to mind the Thanksgiving pageant of grade school, when one dressed up like Squanto and Miles Standish.  But that experience has as much relation to Reacting as Tic-Tac-Toe does to chess, or arithmetic to calculus.  A Reacting game is among the greatest challenges many students experience in college.  Reacting is also fun:  it is designed explicitly as a game, and amusing things will happen.  But many games have a serious side:  few players laugh their way through a football game.  Sometimes Reacting games similarly acquire heart-pounding tension in the final sessions.  Any game is enjoyable if one plays it well, but this nearly always requires hard work.

Video of RTTP Conferences and Class Sessions
Streaming Video: RTTP Annual Institute 2011
Streaming Video of Students: The Struggle for Palestine
Streaming Video of Students: Henry VIII and the Reformation Parliament

Participating Faculty at UCCS
Prof. Roger L. Martinez, History
Prof. Chris Bairn*, History
Prof. Perrin Cunningham, Heller Center for the Arts and Humanities
Prof. Barbara Headle, History
Prof. Nina Ellis Frischmann*, History
Prof. Christopher V. Hill, History
Prof. Karin Larkin, VAPA and Anthropology
*Faculty also teach at PPCC.

Participating History Faculty at Pikes Peak Community College
Prof. Glenn Rohlfing
Prof. Wayne Artis
Prof. Carrie Spencer