Campus Spotlight: Kenyon College

Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, isn't the kind of school that's going to top many 'best of' college lists. (Leave that to the Ivy League.) Ask students who attend the liberal arts school, though, and you'll hear glowing testimonials of the school's amazing teachers, vibrant academics and supportive campus.

kenyon college spear academics

Out-of-the-Box Opportunities

On a recent December day, Kenyon College student David Hohl and professor Bruce Hardy could be found braving the Ohio chill to determine the answer to a longstanding question in the anthropological community: Did Neanderthals hunt prey only at close distances, or had they engaged in more evolved long-distance attacks on food sources?

To answer the question, student and professor carved replicas of Neanderthal spears, which they then systematically tested using a large crossbow device. The idea was to determine whether the replica spears, hurled at a distance of more than 20 meters, could penetrate the hides of animals Neanderthals are known to have hunted.

Using velocity analysis and other calculations, the pair showed that indeed the Neanderthal spears would have been effective in attacking thin-skinned prey. And Hohl is currently compiling more data with the possibility of submitting his work to an academic journal.

kenyon college students university

An Emphasis on Student Engagement

David Hohl's fascinating project is only one of many unique academic enterprises at Kenyon. Students Sarah Bush and Jamie Katz recently created an herb garden at the college for a project in an environmental studies course on sustainable agriculture. Chefs from the university's food service can now step outside for herbs in preparing student meals - an inspiring example of eating locally.

It isn't surprising to discover transformative projects of this kind at Kenyon. The small liberal arts school prides itself on setting high academic standards while giving students ample opportunity to determine the course of their studies. This commitment is in part demonstrated by the presence of many interdisciplinary programs at the college.

As instrumental as the actual curriculum, though, is a welcoming atmosphere where young people are encouraged to bring their own creativity, curiosity and ambitions to their coursework. Professors work to promote an environment of collaboration in which students can feel open to sharing their ideas. And a relatively small population of 1,600 students allows for a greater sense of community than is often found at large schools.

In a time when many colleges are giving short shrift to the humanities, Kenyon is embracing its liberal arts tradition to provide students with enriching learning opportunities that are highly applicable in the 21st century. From its status as a literary hotbed to its many lauded academic departments, the school is a great example of how universities can deliver arts and humanities programming in an engaging, relevant way.

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