Place Out Of Time

How would a conversation between Muhammad Ali and Napoleon on the subject of the intelligent use of force unfold? What might Queen Isabella have to say about the importance of a diverse society? Come to the Alhambra Palace and find out!

Place Out Of Time is a simulation of a trial, where students play guests who come from a range of places and times throughout history to discuss some of the great issues of humankind. Our trial takes place (virtually) at the Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain. Place Out of Time is a writing intensive project for middle and high school students, meant to draw upon their sense of play and the hook of having an audience for their ideas to engage them in putting a twist on the study of history. Student participants and university mentors debate issues and perspectives in character, and move from reading and studying about their characters to a series of opportunities for original research--both historical and creative--as they decide what their character would say about issues that took place in places far distant (in time and geography) from their lives.

Student participants may choose to portray historical figures of that time, or they may propose other characters, from other times and places, so long as they can make a case that the character will have something relevant to say to the simulation’s central topic. Imagine American History students portraying, say, Eleanor Roosevelt, or perhaps a Language Arts student becoming Huck Finn, with an eye towards using these virtual conversations to push them to a deeper understanding of the beliefs and motivations of the people they are studying and the times in which they lived, as well as sharpening their sense of the interconnections of history. What might students studying the American revolutionary period, for example, gain from portraying George Washington or Thomas Jefferson as they discuss conflict resolution with Leonardo Da Vinci or with the African emperor Mansa Musa? We’re hoping that you are interested in finding out!!

We ask our student participants to make a commitment to becoming a character, to doing some research into that character and the life experiences s/he’s had that might be relevant to the issues suggested by our trial, and then to participate regularly in discussion as that character (either a student by himself, or a pair of students if preferred) over a period of several weeks. This student research, and the conversations that unfold based on that research, will take place with the help and support of an enthusiastic band of university student mentors who will be working closely with your students. 

Our Winter 2018 case will consider a case related to the Italian Supreme Court's recent decision to overturn a theft conviction against a homeless man, ruling that the man's "need for nourishment" excused his theft, and will explore the relationship between morality, public policy, and the law.

For more information on Place Out Of Time, please view this tutorial and/or contact Project Directors Jeff Kupperman at jkupp [at] umich [dot] edu OR Michael Fahy at mfahy396 [at] gmail [dot] com.