Renaissance Award helps three students explore two very different coasts

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Juste Fanou, left, an Engineering Technology student will travel to Ivory Coast to study how continuing cycles of conflict there have shaped popular music. Anthony D’Ambrosio and Andrew Case, right, in Arts and Science, will embark on a series of survival training sessions and wilderness trips before heading to Newfoundland’s East Coast Trail.

One special award is helping two sets of students pursue very different projects this summer.

The Drs. Jolie Ringash and Glen Bandiera Renaissance Award for 2014 is funding one student’s return journey to Ivory Coast to study the relationship between music , war and peace, while it is also allowing two students to explore their connections to nature and literature as they tackle Newfoundland’s daunting East Coast Trail.

The husband and wife team Drs. Ringash and Bandiera are both graduates of McMaster’s Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine and both now practice in Toronto. They launched the award in 2012, in time for it to be awarded in 2013, when it was also shared between two projects.

The award provides up to $25,000 annually to make it possible for McMaster students to do something the award’s funders wish they had done before finishing their own studies.

The idea of the award is that recipients who make the most compelling case for their projects have the chance to study something outside their own area, in the hope of expanding their horizons in ways that will ultimately help them to be better students and better citizens.

Juste Fanou, an Engineering Technology student, spent much of his childhood living in Ivory Coast, where internal conflict and war have plagued the west African country’s recent history. His family left in 2000, two years before civil war gripped the country.

He is keen to go back and see how the continuing cycles of conflict have shaped popular music and how popular music has in turn shaped conflict. His work will see him travel to Europe to interview expatriate Ivorians and to Ivory Coast itself.

Andrew Case and Anthony D’Ambrosio, both students in the Arts and Science program, are taking quite a different path, literally speaking.

They are embarking on a series of survival training sessions and preparatory wilderness trips before packing their bags with books and supplies to haul down Newfoundland’s rugged East Coast Trail. The pair will camp along the way and read from nature writers such as Emerson, Thoreau and Grey Owl on a journey of self-discovery, one whose physical risks demand walking with a partner.

In six weeks on the trail, they are hoping to cover all 265 km of developed pathways and some portion of the 275 km of undeveloped trail that runs along the Atlantic coast of the Avalon Peninsula.

The application process for the 2015 Renaissance Awards is set to begin this fall.