Welcome to the Hudson River Valley Institute

The School of Liberal Arts' HRVI Engages Students in the Region's History

In 2002, Dr. Thomas Wermuth and Dr. James Johnson founded the Hudson River Valley Institute (HRVI) at Marist College. Their mission was to increase public awareness about the importance of the Hudson River and the surrounding lands and the history of New York and the United States as a whole. The Institute now serves as the “academic arm” of the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area.

Marist College, Hudson River Valley Institute, Fontaine Hall “The Institute provides an opportunity for experts representing many disciplines to engage in regional studies, as well as supporting a digital library that contains an assortment of documents and resources, and a peer-reviewed journal dedicated to the Hudson River Valley, The Hudson River Valley Review,” Andy Villani, Operations Director explained.

The institute’s digital library contains an assortment of content, which includes primary source documents, articles, and essays, and lesson plans designed to guide students of various grade levels to “an understanding of why regional history matters and why the Hudson River Valley specifically has such rich history.”

Each year, the Institute hosts two donor-funded lectures, featuring a myriad of topics, ranging from the American Revolution to the influence of Dutch colonization to the importance of the Hudson River as “a corridor of commerce.” The core of the institute’s work includes public relations, maintaining their digital library, publishing The Hudson River Valley Review, and having Marist students as interns.

According to Villani, the institute connects with students in a variety of ways. Through credit internships, Marist students undertake original research on topics related to the Hudson River Valley which often involves engaging professionals in the history field as well as travel to some of the many historic sites in the region, he said. These students also engage with the Institute through the Hudson River Valley Studies course offered at Marist, with one of those sections taught by Colonel and Dr. James Johnson, the Executive Director of the Institute.

Col. James Johnson, Hudson River Valley InstituteVillani encourages students to intern with the Institute. “It’s an opportunity to engage in relevant fieldwork outside the classroom for a number of disciplines,” he said. “The students that work with us conduct primary research in a collaborative environment that puts emphasis on accurate information and a high-quality final product. The institute also has relationships with many of the historic sites and content experts that serve as a resource in interpreting the rich history of the Hudson River Valley region.”

The institute’s work is not just limited to college students, however. The institute recently started the Military History Pre-College program for high school students. It is a two-week summer program that takes place at Marist and “highlights the importance of the Hudson River Valley to both military and national history.”

Those who are on staff at the Institute have experience in writing, researching, and editing original content, Villani said. In addition, every student receives publishing credit for their work either digitally at www.hudsonrivervalley.org or in print in The Hudson River Valley Review.

“Being a part of Marist College’s School of Liberal Arts has been a key component to the success and growth of HRVI as an institute,” Villani said. “The opportunity to engage students, faculty and a multitude of other members of the Marist community has allowed HRVI to achieve and expands its mission over the years.”

Written by Adriana Belmonte '17


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