In Elective Away, Students Explore Manhattan’s LGBTQ History

Crossroads Manhattan

You’ve heard of study abroad, but what about an elective away?

This summer, Babson pioneered its first “away” elective, an intensive, experiential, short-term course that—unlike “abroad” courses—takes place in a domestic rather than an international learning destination.

“At Babson, we talk a great deal about entrepreneurship,” said Professor Marjorie Feld. “This course drew attention to the ways different and overlapping groups all used entrepreneurship to offer essential goods and services to their communities, often when others would not serve them.”

Meeting at the Crossroads

A dozen undergraduates joined on a trip to Manhattan to explore the locations where diverse groups of people—including African American, Native American, and LGBTQ groups—intersected and overlapped, clashed and collaborated, and ultimately worked together for their own freedom.

“The LGBT Center in New York City became the safe space where LGBT+ people were not excluded, and were, instead, protected,” said Erica Schwegman ’21. “LGBT young people came here because they were not welcome in their communities of origin. LGBT people are also immigrants because they had to leave their homes, being displaced and journeying to find the best location to ultimately survive and thrive.”

Historic Highlights

The course, dubbed Crossroads Manhattan, included tours through several of New York’s most renowned areas—from Battery Park and Ellis Island to Chinatown, Harlem, and Washington Heights. And, since June is World Pride Month, the class made a timely visit to the site where the Stonewall riots took place in Greenwich Village 50 years ago.

“Learning about the history of Stonewall and the fight for equal LGBT rights was a powerful experience,” noted Zarius Dubash ’21. “At Babson, we tend to focus on the future, but this class allowed me to learn from the past about all the factors that turned Manhattan into the powerful entrepreneurship hub it is today.”

Promoted through Babson’s Glavin Office, Electives Abroad & Away are short-term courses that combine on-campus instruction with hands-on experiences domestically and abroad. Courses such as this reflect Babson’s pride in creating a diverse and inclusive community for those who study, teach, or work at the College.

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