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(NORTHRIDGE, Calif., Dec. 18, 2006) -- It is instructive to read about the famed World War II Allied invasion of Normandy, but to actually walk along the sands of Omaha Beach or to hear the echo of long ago battles from the cliffs at Pointe du Hoc are experiences that transcend classroom instruction.
Members of the public are invited to join Cal State Northridge alumni and students as they get a close to the history of the World War II beach assault on a June 2007 Staff Ride to Normandy, an expedition re-tracing the steps of soldiers who took part in the historic days of June 1944. The trip will be offered under the auspices of the Cal State Northridge Department of History.
For five years, said history department chair Thomas Maddux, the department has sponsored experimental courses taking students and alumni to important U.S. and European battle sites, among them the Civil War’s Gettysburg and Chickamauga sites, and World War I’s Belgian and French fields of conflict.
In 2007, CSUN for the first time will offer a regular historical field study course called "History 409N Historical Field Study in Normandy, France." It will focus on the 1944 invasion, with investigation of military operations from both the Allied and German perspectives.
During a traditional military "staff ride," military leaders ride through a battlefield in order to harvest "lessons learned." In the CSUN version, said Maddux, enrolled students complete required reading and research in advance of the ride, present their research, prepare expedition journals and take the final exam.
Maddux said alumni and other non-student participants are not required to complete the coursework that is mandatory for students, but are expected to complete assigned reading. They also may participate in pre-trip research on specific individuals, military engagements or topics "such as the impact of Normandy on a French town, civilians, or the life of a soldier in the field," and to share their findings with other expedition members.
History 409N will be led by author and 2001 CSUN Distinguished Teaching award winner Stephen Bourque--now associate professor of history at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College at Ft. Leavenworth--and CSUN alumnus David Livingstone, an expert on WWII German airborne forces during the Italian Campaign.
The course will emphasize the Allied forces’ beach assaults, and the campaign to "break out of the Contentin Peninsula and liberate Cherbourg." Also studied will be the campaign’s impact on the physical environment and on civilians and prisoners of war alike.
Members of the 2007 expedition, said Livingstone, will come back with a keen awareness of the gravity of war.
"We don’t study war to glorify it, and there is no better way to understand the sacrifices in any war than to walk among the grave stones and fields where the combatants died.
"In today’s world especially," added Livingstone, the first president of the CSUN Alumni Association’s History Chapter, "it is imperative for students to understand how, why and what leads a nation into war."
Deposits of $500 for each participant are being accepted now, with fees due in full by April 15, 2007. A maximum of 30 individuals--including alumni, students and others interested in battlefield history--will depart for France on June 18, 2007, returning to the U.S. on July 1. Spouses and children of high school age and up--accompanied by a parent or guardian--are welcome.
For trip costs, applications and other information, contact Lainey O’Connell of Plaza Travel in Encino, at (818) 990-4053, (323) 872-0949 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
California State University, Northridge at 18111 Nordhoff Street, Northridge, CA 91330 / Phone: 818-677-1200 / © 2006 CSU Northridge