New study away options add to diverse variety available

Paul Watson

Go to Utah, watch the year’s best in independent film, meet celebrities and get academic credit for it. Too good to be true, right? Not according to Ted Hovet, a professor in WKU’s English and film programs.

Hovet and Dawn Hall, who works in academic support at South Campus, are organizing a trip over winter term in which students will travel to the internationally known Sundance Film Festival.

“Travel is one of the best teaching tools,” Hall said.

Hall and Hovet say they have taken students to film festivals in the past, but this year they wanted to go big.

“We’ve taken film students to the Louisville and Nashville film festivals in the past, and those were great,” Hovet said. “And so we thought, why not go to an international film festival?”

As it turned out, Sundance was a perfect destination, according to Hall and Hovet. They said that all of the film festival falls during WKU’s winter break and they knew professors from other universities who had gone to Sundance for years.

“One of the highlights of the trip is that students get to interact with other students from other universities,” Hovet said.

But Hovet and Hall said that though the trip will be fun, its nature is completely academic.

“The first half of the class is online, before Sundance, so they have work to do,” Hovet said. “We’re going to hit the ground running.”

Louisville senior Kaitlynn Smith, who is going on the Sundance trip, seemed excited about this though.

“We have to be prepared,” she said. “One of the requirements for the class is that we have to see at least 10 films while we are there.”

Smith is not only going on the trip for love of the subject matter, but she is also writing her honors thesis on the Sundance Film Festival.

“I think that studying abroad goes a long way when you are looking for a job, after graduation,” she said. “It sets you apart because of the experience and perspective it gives you.”

Hovet said that experience is one of the most valuable aspects of studying away.

“Students get to do things they can’t do in Bowling Green when they study abroad,” he said.

The Sundance trip is just one of the many study away opportunities that WKU offers, including trips this winter term to Hawaii and Cuba. With all of these options, study away is an important experience for students to have, according to Hall and Hovet.

“Study abroad develops students and professors as well,” Hovet said.