“Modern Community” in 1950

Authored by Kevin Quinn

Page 1 of the Modern Community syllabus at Farmingdale State College, circa 1948.

Farmingdale State College “Modern Community syllabus,” page 1, circa 1948.

“Modern Community in 1950”

As part of an Academic Service-Learning project, I was tasked with cataloging textbooks and notebooks donated by an alumnus of the 1950 class at Farmingdale State College. The donor of the material was Mr. Benjamin P. Vecchio, a graduate of the Building Construction (BC) program at LIATI. At LIATI, students were either part of the Agricultural College, or the Technical College. As a student in BC, Mr. Vecchio was a part of the Technical College that, according to a campus map[1], made its home on Conklin Street in Farmingdale, NY, away from the Main Campus.  The history of the Technical Campus is interesting because the ‘Central Hall’ building used to be known as the Nazareth Trade School, a home for Orphans between 1900 and 1940.[2] “It was held at the old tech area which was on Conklin Street. All the classes were there, none of them were here, except sports, sports were here, but the rest were over there.”[3]

While appraising and cataloging the textbooks, I came across the syllabus for the Modern Community class. The class was a curriculum requirement for the first three quarters of the BC program. According to the 1949 College Catalog, the BC program was “designed to develop technical skills for people engaged in both field and office positions of the building industry.”[4]Modern Community was described as the “understanding of values now established and to the mastering of the problems which confront us.”[5] It’s interesting to think about what the ‘Modern Community’ entailed then, and what struck me about this particular syllabus was the part detailing ‘The Third Semester.’ Here the syllabus gives three different outlooks on the future.

  1. Our civilization will destroy itself in war.
  2. Our civilization will drift into a worse depression that it has yet experienced.
  3. Our civilization will enter an era of abundance for all.

Considering the time period this syllabus was from, I could understand the dark undertones of the first two outlooks. After a fresh exit from the Second World War, and about ten years after the Great Depression, the state of the US was one of great achievement, but also great sorrow and uncertainty; Take this excerpt from the ‘Tech Class History’ page from 1950 Farmingdale State College yearbook, “A shadow was cast over us when the polio epidemic broke out at school.”[6]

Although the first two outlooks are bleak, the third outlook predicts the most positive future, one that happens to align with the Vincentian Mission. “Only by appreciating the forces at work, and by understanding the interrelationships between various groups in the world today can we shape the course of human events along the lines of the third alternative.”[7] The third outlook reflects the notion of working to attain knowledge in accord with reality, having awareness and esteem for all individuals, and striving, growing, and never being complacent in our lives. These values resonate as much today, as they did over 60 years ago.

1. “The Industrial – Technical Campus Map”, Record Group 5: Photographs, Farmingdale State College Archives, Farmingdale State College, Farmingdale, NY.

2. Shakalis, Connie. 2011. “Farmingdale-Bethpage Historical Society.” January 21. http://www.fbhsli.org/Historical_Anecdotes.htm

3. Benjamin P. Vecchio (Farmingdale State College Alumnus, class of 1950) in discussion with April L. Earle, October 2015. Farmingdale State College Archives, Farmingdale State College, Farmingdale, NY.

4. Long Island Agricultural and Technical Institute Course Catalog. 1948-1951. http://www.farmingdale.edu/library/pdf/1949-courseind.pdf

5. Ibid.

6. “Tech Class History.” 1950 Yearbook. Farmingdale NY: Graduating class of 1950. Farmingdale State College Archives, Farmingdale State College, Farmingdale, NY.

7. “Modern Community.” Syllabus, Farmingdale State College Archives, Farmingdale State College, Farmingdale, NY, 1948-1951.

 

References

Benjamin P. Vecchio (Farmingdale State College Alumnus, class of 1950) in discussion with April L. Earle, October 2015. Farmingdale State College Archives, Farmingdale State College, Farmingdale, NY.

“The Industrial – Technical Campus Map”, Record Group 5: Photographs, Farmingdale State College Archives, Farmingdale State College, Farmingdale, NY.

Long Island Agricultural and Technical Institute Course Catalog. 1948-1951. http://www.farmingdale.edu/library/pdf/1949-courseind.pdf

“Modern Community.” Syllabus, Farmingdale State College Archives, Farmingdale State College, Farmingdale, NY, 1948-1951.

Shakalis, Connie. 2011. “Farmingdale-Bethpage Historical Society.” January 21. http://www.fbhsli.org/Historical_Anecdotes.htm

“Tech Class History.” 1950 Yearbook. Farmingdale NY: Graduating class of 1950. Farmingdale State College Archives, Farmingdale State College, Farmingdale, NY.

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