- General Education
- Overview of Gen Ed
- Goals of Gen Ed
- Autumn Term
- Human Experience
- College Program Series
- Quest for Meaning
- Perspective Courses
- Writing Portfolio
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St. Petersburg, FL 33711
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Academic Growth and Knowledge
Autumn Term is one of the key components of the general education program and serves as the foundation of Eckerd's comprehensive liberal arts education. It is during this introductory phase of the Eckerd experience that the demands of college are introduced to first year students.
During Autumn Term students take a single course that teaches basic academic skills and focuses on the interdisciplinary nature of learning. The course includes all the basic components of regular courses - readings, assignments, grades, et cetera - it is simply shorter in length due to the concentrated nature of the Autumn Term schedule. The courses aren't available during the fall of spring semester and can't be found in the course catalog, rather the courses are uniquely developed specifically for Autumn Term. Students are encouraged to pursue anything that piques their interest; it doesn't have to be related to an intended major. Some recent offerings include Food in History, Geology of Beaches and The Sociology of Sex Roles. A complete list of this year's offerings is available below.
2012 Autumn Term Courses
AT 1 : Foundations of Finance
So just what is "Finance" anyway, and how did it become such a bad word? Franco Modigliani and Merton Miller won the Nobel Prize in Economics in part for proving that Finance is irrelevant. Other renowned economists like Robert Shiller routinely assert that financial market participants are irrational. Despite the turmoil of the past decade, the financial services industry is burgeoning globally, and it has never been more important for people to understand basic principles of Finance. Students will be introduced to simple accounting statements, valuation models, and the relation between risk and return. The knowledge and skills acquired will be used to understand and interpret current capital market events and data, and to identify potential concerns about individual companies' corporate governance policies. Each student will also apply the concepts learned by analyzing the financial performance of a company of their choice from the Dow Jones Industrial Average and forecasting the future performance of that company.
Thomas Ashman, Associate Professor of Management, has a B.A. in English Literature and Psychology from Williams College, an M.B.A. from Loyola College in Maryland, and a Ph.D. in Finance from the State University of New York at Buffalo. He survived working for the Federal government for 18 years, and enjoys reading, traveling, and hiking. His research interests include sports economics (ice hockey, horse racing, basketball, baseball, and football), corporate governance, and money and banking.
AT 2 : Nature and Spirit
Is nature supportive of human personal existence? Can we have deep personal relationships with non-human beings, even those as different from us as trees? How is it that some find in nature a power to orient and give meaning to human existence? Such questions raise the issue of whether there is more to nature than meets the eye, a depth dimension capable of evoking profound responses. This course will examine work representing several approaches to that fundamental issue, including major schools of thought and a variety of significant thinkers and artists. Reading and considering what others have written and produced - in poems, short stories, essays, and paintings - will stimulate reflection on our own connections with nature.
David Bryant, Professor of Religious Studies, earned his Ph.D. from Princeton Theological Seminary, where his studies focused especially on Christian thought and practice (past and present), philosophy and religion, and religion and society. A strong interest in the role of imagination in religion led to the publication of a book, Faith and the Play of Imagination: On the Role of Imagination in Religion, and is an important theme in a number of his courses. The particular focus of his most recent research, as well as a central concern in several of his courses, is the intersection of religion and nature. His other research and teaching interests include religion and science, religious conceptions of authentic human existence, and religion and politics in the U.S. In whatever spare time he can find, Professor Bryant enjoys reading novels, seeing good movies, playing basketball, and having fun with his family.
AT 3 : Breaking U.S. Oil Addiction
Is the world running out of oil? Is it possible for the U.S. to become "energy independent"? Are the days of cheap gas gone forever? This course invites students to critically assess existing U.S. oil policy and make informed recommendations for the future. Issues to be explored are the decreasing supply and increasing demand for this nonrenewable resource, its historical importance to the U.S. economy, and its national security and environmental consequences. We will examine various policy options, including supply-based measures such as increased oil drilling and use of unconventional sources, as well as demand-based measures such as fuel economy standards, oil taxes, conservation incentives, increased public transportation, and alternatives to oil. Throughout this course, we will work together to develop our research, writing, and presentation skills, and become familiar with class preparation and participation expectations at Eckerd.
Jill Collins, Assistant Professor of Economics, received her Ph.D. in Economics from The University of Tennessee at Knoxville, having already completed an M.S. at Arizona State University and a B.A. at Wellesley College. Her research interests include how to value environmental amenities such as clean air and clean water, how to best manage natural resources such as oil and water over time, and the role of cost benefit analysis in public policy. She enjoys playing the piano, working crosswords, and going to the zoo with her husband Bill and daughter Chloe.
AT 4 : Psychology of Human Relationships
Wouldn't it be fantastic if your first course in college could teach you everything you need to know about people: how to make friends, how to keep friends, how to get friends to do what you want? Yes, that would be fantastic - unfortunately, this course will not do that. What it will do, however, is introduce you to fascinating psychological research conducted over the past three decades that attempts to understand some important questions about social relationships. What causes friendships to form? What keeps them together? What causes people to fall in love? What drives them apart? The emphasis in this course will be on the scientific study of human relationships; thus, we will read about theories and experiments, and will try to think critically and logically about it all.
Mark Davis, Professor of Psychology, received his Ph.D. in social psychology from the University of Texas at Austin in 1979. After 6 long, cold years teaching in the Midwest (Indiana University and Eastern Illinois University), Mark came to Eckerd in 1986, and has been here ever since. He is the author of over fifty articles and two books. Mark often involves undergraduates in his research; over the past 25 years, 37 different Eckerd students have been co-authors with him on papers that have been delivered at psychological conferences or published in psychological journals. In addition to his primary interests in studying empathy, helping behavior, and interpersonal conflict, Mark has also done research into such topics as why movies released late in the year (October through December) receive more Academy Award nominations, and whether major league batters perform more poorly in pressure situations. This may explain why he watches so many movies and has season tickets to the Tampa Bay Rays.
AT 5 : Digital Natives: Pleasures and Perils
Kelly R. Debure
Writer Marc Prensky used the term "Digital Native" to describe students of today as "native speakers" of all things digital, including computers, video games, and the Internet. We will read and discuss a variety of essays and articles on the emergence and establishment of a predominantly digital social culture. We will debate the advantages and the risks of our knowledge of and dependence on social networking and the importance of technology and social media in our lives. Some of the topics to be covered include the impacts of social media and technology on education, information gathering, social discourse, and concept of self.
Kelly R. Debure, Professor of Computer Science, received her Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of South Carolina. Her research interests include image compression, wavelet based image analysis, and computer vision. She currently uses image-processing techniques to develop software, which automates the recognition of individual bottlenose dolphins. She enjoys traveling, cooking with friends, and exploring a variety of digital entertainment with daughter Alexandra.
In the fall semester, David S. Duncan, Assistant Professor of Marine Science, will be teaching the Western Heritage in a Global Context course for Professor Debure's students. Professor Duncan received his Ph.D. in Marine Science from the University of South Florida. He began teaching at Eckerd College in 1995 in Marine Science. He has also taught at the University of South Florida in their Environmental Science and Policy Department. His research topics have included geophysical studies of coastal and estuarine evolution, Caribbean tectonic evolution, and paleoceanography. He recently co-authored a guidebook to the geology of Roatan, Honduras, where he takes Eckerd students during a tropical marine environments winter term course. He and his wife enjoy biking, cooking, and traveling.
AT 6 : Coming to America: Literature & Film
Thomas J. Di Salvo
Focusing on key themes such as identity, acceptance, and assimilation, the course will examine the experience of Italian and Spanish-speaking immigrants as depicted in selected works of literature and film. We will first consider the social, historic, and economic roots of immigration through the work of Italian writer Carlo Levi (Christ Stopped at Eboli, Words are Stones). The immigrant experience in the U.S. will be analyzed within the politically rich context of the Sacco and Vanzetti case (1920-27), considered by many as one of the most important trials of the twentieth century. An examination of the major works of novelist and short story writer John Fante as well as directors Campbell Scott and Stanley Tucci (Big Night) will enrich the immigrant perspective by presenting the point of view of both transplanted Italians and second and third-generation Italian-Americans. The course also examines the Hispanic immigrant "voice," which has shaped and continues to shape the multi-cultural identity of the United States. To this end we will read plays and short stories by Puerto Rican authors René Marqués, José Rivera, Josefina López, Gary Soto, and Judith Ortiz Cofer. We will also view classic Hispanic Films such as Real Women Have Curves (Patricia Cardoso) The City (David Riker), and The House of Ramón Iglesia (Luis Soto).
Thomas J. Di Salvo, Professor of Spanish, received his Ph.D. in Spanish Literature from the University of Wisconsin-Madison after completing his M.A. at Middlebury College, and his B.A. at Hillsdale College. He spent two years in Madrid and a summer in Siena, where he completed course work in Italian. He came to Eckerd in 1989, having first taught at Union College, St. Lawrence University, and Skidmore College. Professor Di Salvo's research interests include Spanish Literature and Spanish and Italian Film Studies. He has published on numerous writers and directors including Vicente Blasco Ibáñez, Manuel Puig, José Ángel Valente, Giuseppe Tornatore, Vittorio De Sica, and Carlos Saura. Professor Di Salvo loves to travel, especially to Spain, Latin America, and Italy, where he was born, and has also taken Eckerd students to Sicily for winter term study. He enjoys spending time with his family, watching movies and baseball, cooking, riding his bike, and playing the guitar.
Yanira Angulo-Cano, Assistant Professor of Spanish, will be teaching the fall and spring Western Heritage in a Global Context course to Professor Di Salvo's Autumn Term section. Professor Angulo-Cano received her Ph.D. in Latin American Literature from the Florida State University, and she came to Eckerd College in 2006, after teaching at USF Saint Petersburg. Her research interests include the autobiographical genre in Latin American literature, and Cuban culture, literature, and film. She has published on Bernal Díaz del Castillo and on Cuban-American autobiographical writing. She has presented research papers in national and international conferences. Professor Angulo-Cano is a Cuban native with extensive study abroad experience in Latin America. She has taken Eckerd students on Winter Terms to Spain, Argentina, Peru, Ecuador and she will lead a group next Winter Term to Havana, Cuba. She enjoys traveling and spending time with her husband and son.
AT 7 : Storytelling and the Art of Empathy
Imagine someone whose beliefs and actions seem perfectly alien, perhaps even threatening - in other words, a person who refuses to see the world as others do, who holds these values instead of those, whose life takes this path instead of that one, a path as complex as any, shaped no doubt in unique ways by a range of factors and forces: history, culture, society, family, and friends, as well as personal needs, hopes, fears, and aspirations.
Now imagine that this person is you.
Together in this course we will examine a number of powerful narratives that encourage critical thinking and empathy. These creative works include short stories, novels, songs, and documentary films - all of which utilize empathy in imaginative ways to evoke various kinds of responses from audiences. We will use these works to explore how storytellers can challenge (or reinforce) our own personal beliefs, our preconceptions about other people, and our ideas about such topics as race and gender, addiction, violence and war. In all of these texts, we will pay careful attention to the ways that storytellers represent their subjects (and themselves), how they humanize (or fail to humanize) other individuals, and how various audiences might respond (or fail to respond) to their characters. We will also use these narratives to explore competing perspectives on public debates, whether over controversial social issues like animal rights and gun control, or over enduring questions about power, justice, and equality.
Along the way, you will also develop your own theories on the "art of empathy," reflecting on the connections among art, education, and democracy. To this end, we will explore also how storytelling functions as a form of civic discourse - that is, as a mode of communication useful for enhancing democratic practice and thought. According to scholars across disciplines (including psychology, philosophy, political science, and rhetoric), empathy is a socially useful process for understanding one another. Empathy helps us to negotiate conflict, to develop greater compassion for others and greater tolerance for diverse opinions. With it, many argue, we are much more likely to achieve social justice for underrepresented and marginalized groups. And without it, many fear, society is in serious trouble.
Zachary Dobbins, Assistant Professor of Rhetoric, earned his Ph.D. in English from the University of Texas at Austin. His research examines the connections among art, education, and citizenship; he is especially interested in the ways that novels and stories can potentially enhance our capacities for empathy and critical thinking, in part by dramatizing our humanity in all its complexity and by encouraging readers to assess for themselves the merits of competing values, opinions, and truths. He strongly believes that a healthy democracy requires imaginative and intelligent storytellers and audiences. And he is willfully in thrall to the English language and the infinitely inventive things you can do with it: inspire, incite, bear witness, celebrate life, etc. In all of his courses, he encourages students to explore different ways of examining and responding to the world around them, whether through analysis, argumentation, self-reflection, research, or storytelling. As for his ever-elusive free time, he enjoys playing the guitar and the drums, watching documentaries and other provocative films and television shows, playing basketball and tennis, collecting music, performing karaoke with his wife, and devouring one great book after another.
AT 8 : Cosmic Views and Humanity
Value and meaning are intimately connected with one's cosmic view. In medieval Europe, for example, human life had meaning because we were the central actors in a dramatic struggle between heavenly forces above and satanic forces below. Until about 500 years ago, the earth held the central position in every culture's view of reality. We now smile at such primitive cosmology. But today's sophisticated scientific description of the universe has troubling implications: humans occupy a tiny part of the cosmos (and have evolved only recently), leading to doubts that humans have any significance at all! Conflict thus arises in our society between science and religious faith. We will examine evidence supporting the latest theories of space and time, cosmological and biological evolution, and the meaning of meaning. We will try to fit humanity into the current picture of reality and consider if humans can have any meaningful role.
Harry W. Ellis, Professor of Physics, obtained his Ph.D. from Georgia Tech in 1974 and spent four years in "pure" research before coming to Eckerd College. His research interests have included optics, solid state physics, and chemical physics, but his real love is teaching. He is proudest of the dozens of students he has taught who have gone on to earn the Ph.D. and are now college faculty and/or researchers themselves! His spouse, Virginia Simmons Ellis, is an ordained Presbyterian minister. He and Ginny are parents of Luke, Rachel, and Seth. Harry walks/runs about 30 miles per week, reads almost anything (especially science fiction), and loves music from classical to rock (his favorites are Bach, Handel, and Pink Floyd).
AT 9 : Icarus Ascending
Icarus Ascending is focused on the Metamorphoses, Ovid's mock epic of 8 C.E.Ovid shows how Rome became an empire by cleverly sequencing myths whose characters "morph" as their true natures are revealed. Included here: the impulsive Icarus who accepts his father Daedalus's challenge to fly with wax wings, inevitably soaring toward the sun, then plunging to form the Icarian Sea. Ovid's text speaks most poignantly to young adults first venturing into world but is pertinent to anyone living in a self-important, risk-loving culture like our own. Once we have worked through the text and researched modern parallels, you will team up to create original art music videos that relate myths in Ovid to contemporary trends in business, politics, science, technology, social engineering and the arts. Finally, groups will present their creations in comparison to other artists' treatments of the same myths.
Joan O. Epstein, Professor of Music, has taught music and interdisciplinary humanities at Eckerd College since 1981. A trumpeter, composer and American music scholar, she teaches courses in music history and theory (including World Music and American Musical Landscapes) and courses in the Interdisciplinary Arts major (including Intro to IA and Sound Design.) A generalist at heart who loves working with new college students, she has taught Autumn Term and Western Heritage in a Global Context more than any living faculty member. A native of St. Petersburg, Epstein earned degrees from Smith College, the Yale U. School of Music and USF-Tampa. When she's not working with Eckerd students, she enjoys cooking, traveling, swimming, dancing, and hanging out with her three grown daughters and her new grandson.
AT 10 : A Brain by Any Other Name: the many faces of neuroscience
The most complicated structure in the known universe sits just behind your forehead… your brain. Not only is it reading this sentence and learning something new, but simultaneously orchestrating a vast array of other physiological processes, and maintaining it all within a sense of "self." Over a century of careful scientific research has led to detailed insight into the workings of neurobiology, and yet the scientific method is not the only approach by which the human brain discovers itself. Innovative artists also experiment with the meaning of perception. In this introductory neuroscience course, we will endeavor to better understand the brain by viewing it through lenses of both artistic and scientific discovery. We will explore the creative imaginations of neuroscientists like the great Spanish anatomist Santiago Ramón y Cajal, study modern brain and cell imaging methods that reveal the natural beauty of neural systems, and examine brains and brain cells in the laboratory. The class will also read Jonah Lehrer's Proust Was a Neuroscientist, critically examining his premise that certain innovative artists of the 19th and 20th centuries actually discovered key principles of brain function considerably earlier than did the minds of formal neuroscience.
Greg Gerdeman, Assistant Professor of Biology, is a neurophysiologist who received his B.S. in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology from Centre College, and his Ph.D. in Pharmacology from Vanderbilt University. Before coming to Eckerd College in 2008, he was a postdoctoral research associate at The University of Arizona Health Sciences Center, and helped teach Human Neurosciences to first year medical students. He also adores hand drumming, especially with dancers, and in Tucson played for a semi-professional West African percussion ensemble. He grew up in Tennessee, and has long been blending his love of the outdoors with a fascination for the inner choreography of the mind and the brain. Dr. Gerdeman's research includes using various methods to study neurotransmitter systems, how they interact with each other to influence behavior, encode information, and maintain homeostatic wellbeing, and how neural systems have evolved in diverse organisms.
In the spring, Peter A. Meylan, Professor of Biology and Marine Science, will be teaching the Western Heritage in a Global Context course to Professor Gerdeman's Autumn Term section. Professor Meylan has broad interests in organismic biology, especially of amphibians and reptiles. His has published on a variety of topics including the paleontology, phylogenetics, ecology, and conservation biology of lizards, snakes, and mostly, turtles. Current projects include studies of sea turtles in Panama, Bermuda and Florida, phylogenetics of fossil and living turtles, and conservation biology of Florida turtles. He and his wife, Anne (Research Administrator, Florida Wildlife Research Institute), work on the sea turtle projects together. Professor Meylan is happiest when he is in a natural ecosystem.
AT 11 : How to Understand China
What does the rise of China mean to the USA? How should America best prepare for these challenges brought about by China's rise? How can America best influence China's future development? These are some of the important questions that the present and future leaders of America must address. However, before we can find the answers, we must first inform ourselves about China. This course aims at exploring some unique and enduring characteristics of China by first looking at several important schools of thought such as Confucianism, Taoism, and Zen Buddhism. Students will discuss the possibility that Chinese wisdom may contribute to the development of Chinese society and world peace in the twentieth-first century. Moreover, students will also gain some basic understanding of Chinese culture, including the Chinese writing system, spoken languages, traditional visual art, music, poetry, and martial art. During the course, students will learn to teamwork in groups on a mini-research project and then share their findings with the class. Overall, students will engage in activities that not only inform them of China, but also help improve their critical thinking, oral communication, as well as reading and writing skills.
Hong Gu, Assistant Professor of Chinese, was born and brought up in Shanghai, China. He received his B.A. degree in English language and literature from East China Normal University in Shanghai, and his M.A. in English Literature from Southeast Missouri State University. He did his graduate studies at Purdue University and is a Ph.D. candidate in Modern British Literature and Literary Theory. He has taught English composition at Ive Tech College, and Chinese language and literature at Northwestern University and Hamilton College. In his spare time, he enjoys classical music and opera and practices Tai Chi and Chinese calligraphy.
AT 12 : The Psychology of Animal Behavior
The study of animal behavior can lead to a deeper and broader understanding of human psychology. Learning and instinct are fundamental processes that have been studied in animals and humans for many years. This course will provide students with an overview of the psychological theories and research, which provide the foundation for animal learning and animal training. The focus will be on (a) the principles of learning used to study animal behavior; (b) the evolutionary advantage of those behavior processes; and (c) the relevance of animal learning research for animal training. We will also review the comparative approaches of animal research and explore classic experiments and research findings, as well as current topics on the issues. Through this class, students will develop a critical understanding of why animals behave the way they do and understand the process of science in the context of the study of animal behavior. You will be required to read and critique research articles in the area of animal behavior. There will also be opportunities to speak with local animal trainers and researchers.
Lauren Highfill, Assistant Professor of Psychology, came to Eckerd in 2008. She has her B.A. in psychology from Meredith College in Raleigh, NC, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology from the University of Southern Mississippi. As a comparative psychologist, her subjects tend to be animals instead of humans. Her specific research interests include animal personality, animal cognition, and environmental enrichment. She has worked with many species including dolphins, sea lions, elephants, and lemurs. When Lauren isn't teaching or conducting research with the help of students, she enjoys traveling with her husband, Jon, and spending time with their three dogs.
Olivier C. Debure will be teaching the fall and spring Western Heritage in a Global Context course to Professor Highfill's Autumn Term section. Professor Debure is a French native who moved to the United States to study and receive his B.A. in International Culture and Commerce from Christopher Newport University. After working in the field of marketing and import/export, he earned his M.B.A. from Old Dominion University in Virginia and an M.A. in French from the University of South Carolina. He currently teaches Western Heritage in a Global Context at Eckerd College and serves as the Director of International Student Services. He mentors international freshman and is also a legal advisor for all international students on campus. He plays soccer and tennis and travels whenever possible.
AT 13 : Florida's Fragile Environment
"O Florida, venereal soil," wrote the poet Wallace Stevens, a frequent visitor to Miami and Key West during the great Land Boom of the 1920s. Stevens was doubtlessly lamenting the onslaught of development that has marked Florida's recent past. But before the rampant building and paving of the last hundred years, Florida was a veritable subtropical paradise, home to a few thousand souls. In this class we will closely examine Florida's fragile environment, using history as our guide. The Sunshine State has a trove of varied habitats, each with a story to tell. We will spend time in the field to gather first-hand evidence of both the natural and the man-made. We will look at plants, birds, fish, roads, parks, and hotels. Be ready to dress for the heat, drink lots of water, and open your mind to the lovely strangeness of this remarkable place.
Lee Irby, Assistant Professor of History, is the author of three novels, 7,000 CLAMS and THE UP AND UP, both set in Florida during the 1920s. 7,000 CLAMS was selected by the St. Petersburg Times as one of the "10 Books Every Floridian Should Read." He is a Fellow at the Florida Studies Program at the University of South Florida--St. Petersburg and has published articles on the rise of "trailer trash" culture and the Cross-Florida Barge Canal. He enjoys playing basketball and table tennis.
AT 14 : Money Matters
From Aristotle to Aquinas, from the Bible to the Beatles, money provides a back story to much of history. While clever money management financed the Renaissance, its mishandling resulted in war. Some even say it buys happiness, but academic research is mixed, and we'll look at both sides.
In this course we start by exploring money from its origins and move through those pieces of green paper in your pocket today, its function and controversies. From this "humanities" beginning, the class will move into the nuts and bolts of financial markets, investing, and making money. To get the feel for investing, students will get a chance to construct their own portfolio. Of course investing isn't always a coolly rational process. Students will see how our minds can play tricks on us, leading to some terrible economic collapses. Then after working through some fundamental financial math (which everyone ought to know!), students will become bankers, making borrowing and lending decisions.
Robert Jozkowski, Assistant Professor of Finance in the International Business discipline, holds an M.A. in economics and an M.B.A. in finance from Fordham University in New York, and a B.S. in business from Boston University. Before seizing the opportunity to teach at Eckerd, Professor Jozkowski taught in Pennsylvania, New York and Sydney, Australia. Prior to teaching he was an international banker for over twenty years, based mostly in New York. Business and personal travel brought him across the U.S. and to Europe and Asia. His academic interests, as well as practical experience, are in mergers and acquisitions, banking, and finance fundamentals. Due to a general shortage of free time, his serve has lost pace and his tee shots too often find the second cut. He loves to read non-fiction, especially when he can learn new things in areas other than finance. Professor Jozkowski knows the real first names of all five Marx Brothers.
AT 15 : Gender in Film
While we might debate the exact nature of its influence, no one will deny that Hollywood has touched the lives of most of us. In response to that observation, consider the following hypothesis: as a society and as individuals, we get many of our ideas of what we consider "natural" from the films we see. If this is true, then we might conclude that one important area of study is the depiction of gender in those films, and in this course we will trace the history of Hollywood's presentation of "Woman" and "Man." By defining and using gender-centered practices of viewing movies, we will explore the societal roles offered to men and women in film and the way men and women are treated by the camera.
William B. Kelly, Associate Professor of Rhetoric, attended Eckerd College, where he majored in chemistry, earning a B.S. degree. A stint in an analytical chemistry lab, one year bartending, and eight months as a head chef propelled Kelly back into the academy, this time for graduate study in English at the University of South Florida, where he wrote his doctoral dissertation on the English renaissance dramatist Christopher Marlowe. A frequent participant in Autumn Term and Western Heritage in a Global Context, Kelly also teaches courses in composition and propaganda. Professor Kelly's scholarly interests are in medieval and early modern British literature, drama, contemporary culture, and the teaching of writing. He has published articles on both Marlowe and fire ants, and has presented conference papers at Oxford and Cambridge Universities.
AT 16 : Marsh Madness
Jeannine M. Lessmann
Florida is one of the only places in the United States with mangrove forests, and Tampa Bay is at their northernmost boundary, transitioning into salt marsh. Uniquely, both of these habitats are available here for exploration! We will become familiar with these special environments in person as we get our feet wet (and muddy) on several field trips, as well as by looking at them in scientific studies and in literature. These ecosystems are on the forefront of our biggest environmental concerns, from pollution, to global climate change, to feeding communities. They are critical to maintaining healthy, interconnected ecosystems and healthy living environments. The primary focus will be understanding the structure and function of these beautiful wetlands and in formulating cultural perspectives of these past wastelands, now wonderlands.
Jeannine M. Lessmann, Assistant Professor of Marine Science and Biology, received her Ph.D. from Louisiana State University. Professor Lessmann has found her time as a plant ecologist is best spent where the land and sea meet, getting her feet muddy in wetlands from the Chesapeake Bay to the Mississippi Delta, Tijuana River, North Sea, and the Florida Everglades. She focuses her work on basic ecology and the restoration of wetland systems, especially intertidal habitats. Her free time is usually spent on a kayak in the sun and salt, or on a wooden dance floor next to a local band.
AT 17 : Natural and Invented Languages
Over the years numerous attempts have been made to improve human language by making it simpler, less prone to error and misunderstanding, more regular, and fairer for all speakers. All of the most ambitious attempts, even by the leading minds of the day, have failed spectacularly. What are the components of language, and why are they so resistant to human tinkering and seeming improvement? In this course we will investigate the basic features of human language including phonetics, phonology, syntax, and semantics, using the scientific tools of modern linguistics, and in doing so try to answer this vexing question. In addition to learning about the components of language, each student will construct his or her own invented language, producing grammars for each component of language we study, describing how they interact to yield a viable human language.
Nazarré Merchant, Assistant Professor of Mathematics, received his Ph.D. in linguistics from Rutgers University in 2008. He did his undergraduate work right here at Eckerd College. Post-Eckerd and pre-Rutgers, he attended the University of Oregon, receiving an M.S. in mathematics and an M.S. in computer science. His research focuses on the learnability of natural language grammars, trying to determine why it is that children can so effortlessly acquire language. He also studies how languages differ systematically, and how the similarities between languages can be categorized. Much of his work focuses on optimality theoretic grammars. Besides his research, Professor Merchant manages to run, bike, and swim in the beautiful Florida environs as much as he can.
AT 18 : Notions of Nature: Japan
Appreciation of nature is deeply rooted in Japan's cultural heritage and is manifested in the nation's renowned art forms. Harmony with nature is a continuous goal, and the Japanese incorporate natural elements even into various aspects of their daily lives. Designed as an introduction to Japanese popular culture both past and present, this course will focus on manifestations of such harmony in the traditions and recent trends in the Land of the Rising Sun. Discussions will be based on a variety of materials representing a wide range of time periods, including mythological tales, excerpts from one of the oldest novels in the world, The Tale of Genji; the novel A Thousand Cranes by Japan's first Nobel Laureate in Literature, Kawabata Yasunari; and the recent, record-breaking Japanese animated film, Princess Mononoke. To further enhance our understanding of the Japanese worldview, a number of "hands-on" activities will also be enjoyed, such as experiments in the art of shodo (calligraphy) and ikebana (flower arrangement). A traditional uta-awase (poetry party) will be scheduled to celebrate "autumn," the most beloved of Japanese seasons. Most importantly, while examining the Japanese view of nature and the question of whether such notions of nature remain a part of contemporary culture, our purpose will also be to re-evaluate our own views of nature and harmony with the universe. No previous knowledge of Japan or the Japanese language is necessary. The only prerequisite is a desire to learn about one of the world's most fascinating cultures.
Eileen Mikals-Adachi, Associate Professor of Japanese, was born in N.Y. and received her B.A. in East Asian Studies from Manhattanville College and her M.A. and Ph.D. in Japanese Literature from Sophia and Ochanomizu Universities in Tokyo. She studied, taught, and merely enjoyed life in Tokyo for twenty-two years, and she has taken five groups of Eckerd students back to her second home for a Winter Term in Japan. Before coming to Eckerd in 2004, she taught at a number of universities in the States and in Japan, and had a radio program in Tokyo. Her field of interest is Japanese women writers, and her recent research topic is contemporary Japanese "love" stories. In her free time, she enjoys writing poetry, picking up the brush for calligraphy, re-fashioning kimonos, and hearing good news from her two sons, a painter and a film director. Most of all, she likes to just take in beautiful sunsets at our gorgeous beaches with her husband.
AT 19 : Middle East Politics and Film
How are Middle Eastern politics depicted in film? This course will examine the use of film in portraying a variety of topics related to the politics of the Middle East. We will analyze a number of themes that include, but are not limited to, the role of Britain, the United States, and other outside states in the development and politics related to the Middle East; human rights as related to Islam--with a particular focus on the treatment of women's rights in film; the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; the Iranian Revolution and post-revolution politics; and the role and influence of Sufi philosophy in the development of historic and modern Islamic thought in the Middle East.
Fait Muedini, Assistant Professor of Political Science and International Relations/Global Affairs, teaches courses in international politics, with an emphasis on Middle Eastern and North African politics. He received his B.A. in Political Science from Wayne State University, his M.A. in International Affairs from the American University School of International Service, and his Ph.D. from the Department of Political Science at the University at Buffalo, SUNY. His research interests include Islam and human rights, Sufism, as well as issues surrounding the human right of free child primary education. Some of his recently published research includes "Teaching Islam and Human Rights in the Classroom," "Examining Islam and Human Rights from the Perspective of Sufism" and "Muslim American College Youth: Attitudes and Responses Five Years After 9/11."
AT 20 : The American West: Myth and Reality
Gregory B. Padgett
What is your favorite western movie?
This course will explore the evolution of the western film. The first western movie and first narrative film, "The Great Train Robbery" is over 100 years old and was directed and filmed by Edward S. Porter in 1903. Early western films did not offer a realistic portrayal of life in the "old West" since most were based on fictional novels. This course will separate historical fact from romantic western myths through a comparative study of texts, documents, film documentaries, and classical western films.
Gregory B. Padgett, Associate Professor of American history, received his M.A. and Ph.D. from Florida State University in American History. His scholarly and research interests vary from history to biblical archaeology. Community service is also a significant aspect of Professor Padgett's life; since 1991, he and his wife have owned and maintained Cultural Horizons Productions, a non-profit drama company which has the mission of introducing disadvantaged youth to the arts. Professor Padgett has taught at Eckerd College for 20 years.
AT 21 : Narratives of Sail
Kathleen "Kat" Robinson
Yarns. Shanties. Scuttlebutt. All are terms referencing the constructing of story within the context of sail. The relationship between the sharing of stories and a journey on water appears throughout the cultural landscape in narrative form. But why is the link between taking to the sea and telling the story of journeying by water so strongly related? This course encourages students to explore various narrative structures, stories, and experiences related to this link as the focus of our examination. Examples will range from ancient stories of the earliest seafarers to the reflective narratives of the early Americas to various fictions (and facts) of contemporary sailors. We will consider the ways in which narrative functions in these various stories, fictions, and tales. We will comparatively analyze and explore various narrative devices and structures, texts and stories, and experiences on the water. Sources include various poems, short stories, one novel, documentary films, websites, and, of course, our experiences with the water surrounding Eckerd College. We will "take to the water" at one point, for as Mark Twain asserts, "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." Throughout our experiences in this course, we will work together to engage in academic inquiry, as well as to craft familiarity with class preparation and expectations at Eckerd College. Everyone must be able to pass the swimming test from the waterfront.
Kathleen "Kat" Robinson, Assistant Professor of Rhetoric, received her Ph.D. in Literature from the University of South Florida, after having completed her M.A. and B.A. in Literature. She came to Eckerd College in 2008, after teaching at the University of South Florida. Her research interests include the study of trauma and narrative in modern American and British literature and the presentation and representation of war in narrative. She has published and presented on Ernest Hemingway, on treasure and treasure hunting in Florida, and on the effect of war on the narrative structure of Ernest Hemingway and Norman Mailer. She is involved with the local sailing community. She enjoys traveling and sailing (especially when the two coalesce).
AT 22 : Ethics and Animal Welfare
Are animals valuable only insofar as they are useful to us? Is it ethical to use them for scientific experimentation or as a source of food? Should we be allowed to hunt them for sport or have them entertain us? Animal rights activists seek to abolish the use of animals in science and entertainment, eliminate hunting, and disband all forms of animal consumption and agriculture. We will consider the practicability of these goals by visiting an animal rescue league. We will focus on the ethical theories that are foundational to animal activism and investigate the historical roots of our domination of the natural world.
Jason Sears, Assistant Professor of Philosophy, specializes in Ancient Greek Philosophy and Environmental Ethics. His research focuses on Aristotelian theories of character and nature. He is a Ph.D. candidate in philosophy from the University of South Florida where he served as an instructor for the Honors College. He misses Greece, where he spent a year doing research at the American School of Classical Studies, and enjoys martial arts and playing guitar in his limited free time.
AT 23 : Pinhole Photography
We will learn about photography in its most primitive form. We will also investigate the history of the pinhole, become generally aware of its various scientific applications, and also become familiar with the artistry of several practicing pinhole photographers. In this hands-on experience, you will learn how to make and use pinhole cameras, how to process both film and paper negatives in the darkroom, and how to print and mount your work for display. Our course will culminate in a gallery exhibition of your pinhole photographs. Materials fee: $50.
Arthur Skinner, Professor Visual Arts, was born in Atlanta, received his B.A. from Florida Presbyterian College (now Eckerd College) and his M.V.A. in printmaking from Georgia State University, following a year of study in Florence, Italy. He has exhibited his drawings, prints, and photographs nationally, and over the years has received three awards for his teaching and campus leadership. He lives in an older neighborhood in southeast St. Petersburg with his spouse Katrina (an ESOL teacher), two turtles and a dog. Their two sons attend Eckerd College. Arthur also enjoys singing in his church choir and cheering for the Tampa Bay Rays.
In the fall, Kirk Ke Wang, Professor of Visual Arts, will be teaching the Western Heritage in a Global Context course to Professor Skinner's Autumn Term section. Professor Wang is a painter, sculptor, photographer, and mixed media artist, as well as an educational software developer. Wang has exhibited his art works nationally and internationally, and his works may be found in numerous museums, galleries and private collectors in the U.S. and Asia, including the National Gallery in Beijing. Since 2000, Wang has also led a team of experts and developed a comprehensive computer learning system combined with interactive multimedia arts for early childhood education. He has donated his software to more than a thousand schools nationwide. He travels frequently between China and the U.S. to promote art, education and culture, and has served as a curator of contemporary art exhibitions for museums and art festivals in China.
AT 24 : "Questioning Youth": Critical and Rhetorical Explorations of the Self
This course examines how young people form their identities by the manner in which they question their relationship to a society whose rules, laws, conventions and behaviors are shaped by individuals older than themselves. It examines a variety of genre from a broad range of cultures, including European diary (The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank), African drama ("Master Harold" ... and the boys by Athol Fugard), Near Eastern film (A Separation by Asghar Farhadi), and American screenplay (The Graduate by Buck Henry). It may also include brief considerations of European poetry (Songs of Innocence and Experience, by William Blake) and Greek criticism (Plato's "The Myth of the Cave" and excerpts from Aristotle's Poetics). Students will develop critical thinking skills and write in a variety of rhetorical modes (creative, evaluative, narrative, analytical) essential for success in a liberal arts environment. An experiential trip to the Tampa Theater, or other venue, may be included.
Daniel Vilmure, Assistant Professor of Creative Writing, is the author of two novels, Life in the Land of the Living and Toby's Lie. The Los Angeles Times called Life in the Land of the Living "remarkable," and the New York Times described Toby's Lie as "superb." Toby's Lie was nominated for a Lambda Book Award. A Fulbright Senior Lecturer to the University of Jordan and Istanbul University, Professor Vilmure was also the Jenny McKean Moore Writer-In-Residence at George Washington University and has been an artist-in-residence at Yaddo, the MacDowell Colony, UCross, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Fundacion Valparaiso, and Gumusluk Akademisi. He has published short fiction in The New Orleans Review as well as scholarly articles on Woody Allen and John Patrick Shanley for the American Writers Series. His play, Anne X, was chosen by the Detroit Repertory Theater for its New Play Festival. His original screenplay, Cyril, was a finalist for consideration in the 2009 Outfest Screenwriting Lab. A Tampa native, Daniel Vilmure is a graduate of Harvard, Stanford, and Essex Universities.