Reacting to the Past Workshop at ECSU | Saturday, 7 March



Reacting to the Past Campus Workshop
106 Gilchrist Education & Psychology Complex, Elizabeth City State University
Saturday, 7 March

Registration link

Reacting to the Past (RTTP) consists of elaborate games, set in the past, in which students are assigned roles informed by classic texts in the history of ideas. Class sessions are run entirely by students; instructors advise and guide students and grade their oral and written work. It seeks to draw students into the past, promote engagement with big ideas, and improve intellectual and academic skills. Reacting to the Past was honored with the 2004 Theodore Hesburgh Award (TIAA-CREF) for outstanding innovation in higher education.


In The Trial of Galileo: Aristotelianism, the “New Cosmology,” and the Catholic Church, 1616-1633 (W.W. Norton, 2008) the new science, as brilliantly propounded by Galileo Galilei, collides with the elegant cosmology of Aristotle, Aquinas, and medieval Scholasticism. The game is set in Rome in the early decades of the seventeenth century. Most of the debates occur within the Holy Office, the arm of the papacy that supervises the Roman Inquisition. At times action shifts to the palace of Prince Cesi, founder of the Society of the Lynx-Eyed that promotes the new science, and to the lecture halls of the Jesuit Collegio Romano. Some students assume roles as faculty of the Collegio Romano and the secular University of Rome, the Sapienza. Others are Cardinals who seek to defend the faith from resurgent Protestantism, the imperial ambitions of the Spanish monarch, the schemes of the Medici in Florence, and the crisis of faith throughout Christendom. Some embrace the “new cosmology,” some denounce it, and still others are undecided. The issues range from the nature of faith and the meaning of the Bible to the scientific principles and methods as advanced by Copernicus, Kepler, Tycho Brahe, Giordano Bruno, and Galileo. Central texts include Aristotle’s On the Heavens and Posterior Analytics; Galileo’s Starry Messenger (1610), Letter to Grand Duchess Christina (1615) and Dialogue on the Two Chief World Systems (1632); the declarations of the Council of Trent; and the Bible.


acrider-Mauna-KeaGamemaster: Tony Crider

Tony Crider is an Associate Professor of Physics at Elon University in North Carolina. He received his Ph.D. in space physics and astronomy from Rice University in 1999 and continued his research of gamma-ray bursts as a National Research Council associate at the Naval Research Laboratory. Before moving to Elon, Dr. Crider taught at American University where he coordinated the Multimedia Design and Development program. His interest in science visualization led him to create virtual planetariums, telescopes, and lunar landscapes within the 3D online world of Second Life. In 2006, he co-founded the SciLands, an archipelago of Second Life islands dedicated to science education and outreach. Shortly after that, he began using Reacting to the Past role-playing games in his astronomy classes and subsequently invented the chapter-length reacting game. His own game, The Pluto Debate: The International Union Defines a Planet was the first of many science reacting games to receive funding from the National Science Foundation. Recently, Dr. Crider completed a book chapter on visual literacy in astronomy and began studying the morphologies of active galaxies seen with the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. His hobbies include playing the guitar, motorcycling, and trying to understand his dog, Murphy (Elon University).


Preliminary Schedule

9:00-9:30: Registration and Coffee Hour

9:30-10:00: Welcoming Remarks and Introduction to RTTP

10:00-10:30: Game Setup: Historical Background, Central Texts, and Rules (Class 2 in book)

10:30-11:00: Faction Meetings (Class 3 in book)

11:00-12:30: Game Session 1: Holy Office Trial Session 1 (Class 5 in book)

12:30-1:30: Lunch and Prince Cesi’s Party (Class 6 in book)

1:30-2:30: Game Session 2: Holy Office Trial Session 2 (Class 7 in book)

2:30-2:45: Break

2:45-4:00: Game Session 3: Election of New Pope (Class 8 in book)

4:00-5:00: Galileo Post-Mortem and RTTP Q&A (Class 12 in book)


Continental breakfast and lunch will be provided.


Location and Parking

The Gilchrist Education & Psychology Building is located on Weeksville Road. Since the workshop will convene on a Saturday, plenty of parking will be available in the building lot.



At ECSU: Charles Reed (252.335.3201) and Rebecca Seaman (252.335.3683)
Reacting Consortium: Jennifer Worth



Reacting to the Past website

Reacting to the Past YouTube channel

RTTP Facebook Faculty Lounge

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