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2011 City as Text

City as Text™ - The Honors Semesters Committee of The National Collegiate Honors Council is delighted to invite you to an exciting City as Text™ (CAT™) experience.

One of the signature programs of NCHC’s annual conference, City as Text™ is an opportunity to utilize site-based experiential inquiry to formulate an understanding of places and issues.  Phoenix, Arizona offers us an exceptional laboratory: capital of a state with abundant but fragile natural resources and plentiful but vulnerable human resources, currently engaged in conflicts to preserve its past and present.  It is a setting for this conference that invites thoughtful  exploration. Participants in this 2011 CAT™ session will take advantage of the conference hotel’s strategic location to explore a metropolitan area faced  with the difficult task of integrating population, environment, economic pressure to grow, and vision.  This is an unusual chance to make a real connection between the theme of our conference and the setting of our meeting.

Our session takes participants out of the hotel, working in small teams, to discover – if possible – what makes this city tick.  Time is limited:  come to CAT™ Orientation on time, prepared with a notebook and pen, some cash, and ready to leave once assembled into exploration groups.  When you return, you will formulate a brief report on your findings, and benefit from those of all other teams sharing their impressions with the larger group.  Together you will fashion a sense of Phoenix that is a multiply rich map of the people, sites, issues and activities that speak for an intensely engaged local population.

We ask you to choose the kinds of theme you want to explore, and allow us to confirm the many behind the scenes offices where small groups will be met to engage in private conversations about questions you want to ask.  During Orientation all teams will be furnished with street maps and instructions about your hosts, suggestions about questions you might begin with, and overall topics you need to think about.  All destinations are interesting, and will allow you to pay attention to the design elements of an unusually visually oriented city.  Below are the theme choices for your exploration.  Please RANK ORDER them  so that we know where your interest really lies.

  • Community Services and Infrastructure – these groups will be welcomed by planning offices that deal with development and social issues, culture and community initiatives, advocacy and resource allocation (water, housing, etc.).
  • Connection to the Land – these groups will explore the images local people use and have used to represent their sense of ‘The West’ and ‘This Place’, in institutions ranging from Native American cultural centers to museums rich in collections depicting this place over time.  En route explorers will be looking for landscapes, memorials, public art.
  • Community in Transition – these groups will be searching out signs of intentional ‘development’ that include building a city in the desert, shaping an arts district, distinctive architecture, and media representation of all these efforts.

All destinations are reachable by walking or on public transportation (instructions distributed during Orientation). A few charge modest admission fees. You will pick up a picnic lunch close to the hotel or en route to your exploration site.  Register early so that we can inform city agencies which groups are headed where, confirming your interest in their good work, and let you know in advance which specific options they are offering to you.  Be precise and accurate about your Sept/Oct contact addresses so that we can send you links to background articles related to the theme you have selected.

This should be a very interesting  CAT™ experience, and we welcome you to share it with us!

Deadline for CAT™ registration: no later than September 9.  Electronic confirmation of group assignment should reach you by October 3, with links to relevant background readings.


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National Collegiate Honors Council
1100 Neihardt Residence Center
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
540 North 16th St.
Lincoln, Nebraska

Tel: 402-472-9150
Fax: 402-472-9152


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