Regional Faculty Conference at Loyola Marymount University

Featuring Charles Darwin, the Copley Medal, and the Rise of Naturalism, 1861-64; and Frederick Douglass, Slavery, Abolitionism, and the Constitution: 1845.
Thursday, January 8 - Saturday, January 10, 2015
Los Angeles, CA

College faculty and administrators are invited to register for a regional “Reacting to the Past” Conference at Loyola Marymount University (Los Angeles, CA), January 8-10, 2015.  Conference participants will learn about the RTTP pedagogy by engaging in intensive two-day workshops of two featured games. In addition, plenary sessions will provide an opportunity to discuss issues related to student engagement, teaching, and curricular applications.

Featured Game

Frederick Douglass, Slavery, Abolitionism, and the Constitution: 1845 introduces students to a time and place almost unimaginable today, when advocating an end to slavery was far more controversial than supporting its perpetuation: the United States in 1845.   Class debates focus on the intellectual and cultural clashes between the “Defenders of the Constitution”—the entrenched, respectable defenders of American slavery—and the Abolitionists—a small but dedicated movement calling for slavery’s immediate and universal abolition. Many characters are independent of both factions.

The question facing the country in 1845 was not a civil war—which was then unimaginable—but whether abolitionist critics of slavery were legitimate. Can the abolitionists be suppressed outright? The many violent anti-abolitionist mobs in the North showed that this was hardly just a “southern” demand. Thus, in the first part of the game, all characters “review” the newly published The Narrative of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, Written by Himself at a literary forum hosted by the illustrious English author Charles Dickens in New York.  (This forum brings together a range of people whose ideas and interests, while actually engaged with one another, never actually meet face to face.)  Later, characters address the U.S. Constitution and its clear protection of slaveholders’ power, such as its assertion that fugitive slaves must be returned. Are Americans accountable to the Constitution or to a “higher law”?

The Defenders of the Constitution faction includes John C. Calhoun; the Auld family of Maryland (who legally own the fugitive slave Douglass); Henry Clay; a Virginia planter devoted to Thomas Jefferson’s teachings; and the inventor of the telegraph.  Abolitionists include Frederick Douglass; William Lloyd Garrison; the Rev. Henry Highland Garnet; Sojourner Truth; and the Grimke sisters, who scandalously spoke in public to “mixed” (male and female) audiences, which was previously unknown in America.   Indeterminate characters include Edgar Poe; Horace Greeley;, Daniel Webster; John Quincy Adams; Fanny Kemble; a slave woman; a whiskey dealer; and other ambitious Americans.

Convener: Mark Higbee

Mark Higbee, a professor of history at Eastern Michigan University, specializes in the African American freedom struggles: abolitionism and emancipation in the nineteenth century, and the Civil Rights Movement in the twentieth century. He earned his PhD at Columbia University. Since first trying a Reacting game in class in 2006, Higbee has found this pedagogy an unequalled way to motivate student engagement and achievement. Now a member of the Reacting Consortium Board, Higbee is coauthor of the Frederick Douglass game and is also working on a game about Civil Rights, white supremacy, and the Montgomery bus boycott.  


This conference is generously supported by Loyola Marymount University, its College for Fine Arts and Communication, Seaver College of Science and Engineering, and its Center for Teaching Excellence. Registration will be covered for the first 15 faculty and administrators from the host institution thanks to this support.

The general registration rate is $325.00 for faculty, administrators, and graduate students from all other institutions. Reacting Consortium members can register at the discounted rate of $295.00

Click here to register now.

Payment Methods: Credit card payments will be processed live during online registration. All payments made by check must be postmarked by December 15, 2014; an additional late fee of $25.00 will apply to all registrations/payments postmarked after this date. Conference materials will not be shipped until payment is received in full.

Refund/Cancellation Policy: Registrations are transferable within an institution up to ten business days before the event. Refunds will be provided for cancellations received in writing or via e-mail by December 15, 2014. A $25.00 processing fee will be deducted.

Schedule of Activities

(subject to change)

Thursday, January 8, 2015


2:00–3:00          Participant Check-in

3:00–4:00          Opening Plenary: Welcome & Introduction

4:30–6:30          Game Setup & Faction Meetings


Friday, January 9, 2015


9:00-10:00         Student Panel

10:00–12:30      Game Sessions

12:30–2:00        Lunch Plenary or Panel

2:00–4:00          Game Sessions

4:00–4:30          Break & Caucus

4:30–6:00          Game Sessions


Saturday, January 10, 2015


9:00-10:30       Game Sessions

10:30–12:30    Game Sessions & Debriefings

12:30 –2:00     Lunch & Closing Remarks


Loyola Marymount University is conveniently located approximately four miles north of Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). The conference events will take place at LMU's Center for Teaching Excellence. 

Maps of the building and driving directions from LAX and other points can be found, along with information about public transit and parking options, at the CTE site.


A block of rooms has been reserved at preferential rates at Custom Hotel, approximately half a mile from the CTE conference venue.

To reserve a room, navigate to the Custom Hotel website, and enter one of the two following group IDs in the pink box at the right of the screen. 

  • For guest rooms without breakfast: LMUREACT
  • For guest rooms with breakfast: LMUBREAKFAST

Guests can also call the reservation line at 1-877-287-8601 (option 1) and ask for the "LMU Reacting to the Past Conference" rate.

The cut off date for these rates is December 31, 2014.


Jan. 8, 2015 (All day)