As a college undergraduate in the 2000s, Dr. Kristin Barry immersed herself in history and architecture classes. But, it wasn’t until she was working at the site of the legendary city of Troy that she had that ‘aha’ moment.
Fresh out of graduate school, the Vandalia, Ohio, native, was working to redesign the tourism site in northwestern Turkey to accommodate modern needs in the late 2000s.
She found herself walking on supposedly the same ground made famous in Homer’s “Iliad,” which told of the abduction of Helen, a queen from Sparta, and the 10-year-old siege by the Greeks.
At that moment, she knew how vital it was for people walk on similar paths, read the actual ancient writings, and see with their own eyes the ancient ruins as a means to understand the past.
“That was the moment when I was hooked on history. And, ever since, I’ve been bringing that passion into my classes.”
An assistant professor of architecture, Barry teaches courses in architecture history/theory and design. She received her doctorate in history of art and architecture from Pennsylvania State University. Barry has worked as an archaeological architect in Greece, France, Israel, Egypt, and Turkey.
Barry’s research interests are firmly rooted in the physical interpretation of history through applied design. She explores the methods through which the built environment can illustrate history for a less-specialized audience.
While Barry’s students benefit from her research experiences, they don’t learn through old-fashion lectures.
In my classes, we don’t spend time in the classroom when possible. What I try to do is to give them hands-on experiences that deal with history. When we visit a site, we go to the archives to read old documents. We visit the buildings that have stood the test of time. I think when students see and feel, they are more engaged.
She and her students have worked on dozens of interpretive projects around the Midwest, from Fort Recovery in northwest Ohio—site of the early Indian war battles of the early 1800s—to Columbus, Indiana, home to dozens of architecturally-important buildings.
“What I try to get my students—often during immersive learning projects—is to understand how take that information and make it readily understandable to visitors.”
During such projects, she leads her students in developing signage and online historical information systems that bring a site’s history and heritage to wide audiences of learners.
When her students leave her classes, Barry hopes take with them a passion for sharing with others what they have learned, as well as a deeper appreciation for lessons of the past.
“History and heritage are for the community. It’s for everybody. It’s for the world. What I am doing is involving students in that narrative. The students need to learn about doing this so we can continue discovering history. It is so true—that if we don’t remember history, we are doomed to repeat it.”