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The Curtain Club was Ursinus' student theater organization that definitively originated in 1930, but it disappeared in 1968. During the same year, the club changed its name to "ProTheatre." By analyzing past articles from the Ursinus Weekly, Ruby yearbooks, diversity ratios among students, performances, and campus trends from the 1950s until 1968, we demonstrate that the name signifies Ursinus' focus on the transition into a more inclusive and democratic environment. Reorganizing the "Curtain Club" into "ProTheatre" signifies Ursinus' shift into being "pro-change."
“...For a young man like me, the invention of the Internet was the invention of space travel”
- Ta-Nehisi Coates
As this sentence suggests, the creation of the Internet, which led to the digital age, had as much an impact on human innovation as space travel. The digital age began in the 1990s with the introduction of new advanced technologies to public consumption. This era is extremely significant in Ursinus' history because of the immense change. The Digital Age forced college students and faculty to craft a new set of skills pertaining to computers and software. In so doing, students adapted to a new education that relied on digital screens rather than pen and paper exclusively. The era also created a different type of college graduate, one with the power of the internet beneath their fingertips.
This research project seeks to answer the following question: How did the implementation of digital technologies affect Ursinus students both positively and negatively? To investigate this question, our team visited the Ursinus archives and digital commons for critical primary sources. We also consulted with secondary sources like Cathy N. Davidson's New Education to help gain insight into the convergence of academia and technology.
We discovered that the Digital Age, including the birth of the internet, cultivated new educational and social experiences that affected Ursinus students both positively and negatively. On the one hand, the age enabled different clubs, academic studies, and valuable skills to flourish among the student body. It also gave Ursinus students new opportunities in academia, increased their digital interconnection with communities on and off-campus, and geared graduates with highly demanded digital technology skills. On the other hand, problems stemming from the internet's harsh reality caused students to face self-esteem issues, invasion of privacy and bullying from anonymous classmates.
The second World War reared its ugly head in Europe in 1939 when Poland fell victim of Germany's blitzkrieg and the Soviet war machine simultaneously. While shocked, the American public largely maintained their isolationist viewpoint for some 2 years following this unexpected invasion. This, of course, changed dramatically when the United States was the target of a surprise attack by the Imperial forces of Japan in December of 1941. Almost overnight, the United States went from being 68% in favor of sending aid, to being 91% in favor of direct military involvement.
Imagine the dramatic shift to go from a standard college student to having to legitimately consider direct personal involvement in a distant war with threats looming on two fronts. This change is exactly what we as a group have set out to examine through our research of Ursinus documents. Specifically, we are observing general attitudes about the war, how rationing effected campus life, how residence life shifted, a summation of who from the community served, and how the news of the war was reported through the school's newspapers.
Through this project, we are looking to answer how specifically the Ursinus community during World War II changed. We believe that the shifts are most noticeably see through the five categories of research presented in the tabs on the right.
"Promise/Anthem" on display on the upper floor of the Wismer dining hall on campus at Ursinus College.
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