“Reacting to the Past” (RTTP)

In this workshop, Anthony Contento will examine the "Reacting to the Past" pedagogical approach. "Reacting to the Past" (RTTP) consists of elaborate games, set in the past, in which students are assigned roles informed by classic texts in the history of ideas. Class sessions are run entirely by students; instructors advise and guide students and grade their oral and written work. It seeks to draw students into the past, promote engagement with big ideas, and improve intellectual and academic skills.

Pioneered in the late 1990s by Mark C. Carnes, Professor of History at Barnard College, RTTP has undergone considerable development and expansion. All of the games are set in the past, and thus might be regarded as history, but each game also explores multiple additional disciplines. Part of the intellectual appeal of RTTP is that it transcends disciplinary structures.

A recent NSF-funded project has moved RTTP pedagogy towards STEM-specific games. These games are designed to present STEM topics in a manner that is exciting to both science-math students, as well as students from other disciplines. This workshop will focus on presenting STEM-RTTP games to the campus community through a sample game.