Students to study rocks, politics in Cyprus

By Annie Lewine

Macalester students will travel to Cyprus in January as part of a geology and political science trip. The trip is an expansion of the Geology department’s annual January trip, and is designed to provide insight into geological issues of the area as well as the political problems informed by them. “Cyprus is divided politically, ethnically, religiously and it is actually physically divided,” said Adrienne Christiansen, chair of the political science department, who has been doing research in Cyprus. “[The geology department] was off to look at this island to see the geological importance of the rocks and also to see the copper mines. Copper has been produced there for thousands of years, and has everything to do with the political history of Cyprus.”

The geology department began planning the trip after a Macalester student from Cyprus encouraged the department to host a trip to the area, Christiansen said. Because it is nearby, students will also spend some time in Jordan, where they will visit Amman and Petra, among other sites.

The two departments, whose collaboration might seem a bit unexpected, came together through a mutual interest. Christiansen has performed research in the region.

“I’m working on a research project.about the use of monuments,” Christiansen said. “One way the division is maintained is through political monuments.because they’re rhetorical. They seem like they’re mute, but they really do speak to you.”

The 19 students and three faculty members traveling this January will spend eight days in Jordan before moving on to Cyprus for five days. In both places, they will learn about the geological and political importance of the region.

The trip is open to students of all majors, and while the majority of the students going are geology majors, seven are political science majors and some are not affiliated with either department, Christiansen said.

The trip will cost students around $2,000, though students with financial aid packages can apply for help with the cost, according to Christiansen.

“Students receiving financial aid may apply for up to $500 to defray some of their costs,” Ellen Guyer, dean of Academic Programs, said. “Otherwise the College is not subsidizing [the J-term trips].”

Trips that bring students out of the classroom are important to students’ academic trajectory, Christiansen said. “A great deal can be known and understood and learned [in the classroom], and that’s very valuable,” Christiansen said. “But even more can be learned by showing up in the flesh. And you learn so much about yourself in the process.