Autumn Term Courses
AT 1: Popular Media in the 1990s
Michael Mario Albrecht
This course is an excursion into U.S. culture in the 1990s and the media environment that characterized the decade. Bookended by the collapse of European Communism and the most controversial presidential election in over a century, the 1990s were a time of technological, political, and social transition. The decade featured a spate of media events that captivated the country while employing the emerging platform of 24-hour news and the burgeoning proliferation of internet culture. The O.J. Simpson Trial, the death of Princess Diana, and the impeachment of a philandering president are among the most remarkable events of a decade characterized by media sensationalism and the cult of the celebrity. In this class, we read these media events through and against the political, historical, and cultural changes that mark the period. Further, we examine the role of cultural memory in understanding the past, and grapple with the phenomenon of “decadization” that proliferates in popular accounts of recent history.
Michael Mario Albrecht, Assistant Professor of Media Communication, began his academic career at Macalester College where he earned a B.A. in 2008 with a double major in Music and History (and a minor in Math). He earned an M.A. in American Culture Studies from Bowling Green State University in 2002, and received his Doctorate in Media and Society in Communication Studies from the University of Iowa in 2008. Before teaching at Eckerd College, he held teaching positions in Communication at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and the University of New Hampshire. His teaching and research interests include masculinity, television, popular culture, popular media, popular music, and contemporary politics.
AT 2: US & China: Images & Politics
“The relationship between the United States and China will shape the 21st century,” says President Obama (July 27, 2009). This very important and dynamic relationship will be the focus of the course. Students will learn the historical legacies that link the United States and China, their intercultural communications, their mutual images and stereotypes, and how these perceptions shape their relations. Student learning will be based on course readings, in-class discussions and the viewing of documentary films that offer additional background on the topic. Students will learn to think critically about contemporary foreign policy and analyze today’s Sino-US relations in depth through debates and written essays. The course aims to cultivate a thorough understanding of the role played by political leadership in Sino-US relations. Students will be invited to imagine themselves in a prominent leadership role and explain how they might manage Sino-US relations in order to have a positive impact on the world at large.
Jing Chen, Assistant Professor of Political Science, received her Ph.D. in Politics from Princeton University and her B.A. in International Politics from Peking University, China. Her specialties are Comparative Politics and International Relations with a focus on the Asia-Pacific region. She has published scholarly articles on a variety of subjects, including the Chinese trials of Japanese war criminals after World War II, the evolution of China’s policy towards UN peace-keeping operations, collective petitions in rural China, and the role of petitions in Chinese agricultural tax reform. She was born and raised in northeast China. In her spare time, she enjoys reading storybooks to her son Raymond.
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, or will fracking lower prices at the pump? 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 supply and 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, 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 yoga, playing the piano, working crosswords, and going to the zoo with her husband Bill and daughters Chloe and Summer.
AT 4: Digital Natives: Danger & Hope
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. Evaluation will be based upon class participation, assignments, projects, and a paper.
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 processing and computer vision. She currently uses image processing techniques to develop software which automates the recognition of individual bottle nose dolphins. She enjoys traveling, surfing, camping, and cooking with friends and family.
AT 5: Biology: Art and Science
Steven H. Denison
From the botanical paintings of Victorian Artist Marianne North to framed photographs of personal DNA fingerprints, biology has had varied influences on art. In this course we will explore connections between biology and art in various ways, including creating biology-inspired art. We will also explore the science of biology by learning about fields as diverse as molecular biology, bioethics, and ecology. Students planning to major in biology as well as non-science majors will enjoy learning about both the art and science of biology.
Steven H. Denison, Professor of Biology, received his Ph.D. in Cell Biology from Baylor College of Medicine. He carried out post-doctoral research in the Department of Bacteriology at the Imperial College, London. He has taught at Eckerd College since 1999 and teaches courses in Genetics, Molecular Biology, Microbiology, Cell Biology and Histology. He also teaches a Winter Term course, The History of Science in London. Professor Denison serves as the Pre-medical Advisor and carries out research in the areas of population genetics and molecular genetics of fungi. He is currently using the genetic model organism Aspergillus nidulans to investigate mechanisms of cellular resistance to copper and arsenic. Prof. Denison’s interests outside of science include poetry and music. His bluegrass band, Hurricane Pass, plays occasionally at events on campus, including at Waterfront Hoedowns.
AT 6: Cosmic Views & Humanity
Harry W. Ellis
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 7: Icarus Ascending
Joan O. Epstein
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. Evaluation: daily preparation, written work, discussion, creative project and project presentation. Course goals beyond specific content: to prepare students for a varied and challenging first-year curriculum; consolidate us as a Human Experience discussion group for the entire 2014-2015 academic year.
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 the first-year general education sequence 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 two young grandchildren.
AT 8: 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 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 9: The Psychology of Personality
In some ways, you are like all other persons. In some ways, you are like some other persons. In some ways, there is no one quite like you. Personality is the term for the relatively stable differences among individuals that really matter. We will take a look at a variety of measures of personality and consider the implications of these differences for understanding ourselves, our relationships with those closest to us, and how we work with others. Through a series of activities, we will better understand how our personalities influence how we engage the world in our own, unique way. We will apply our knowledge of individual differences to non-clinical settings where often teams are created specifically to bring different types of persons together to synergize their differing strengths. You have taken the personality quizzes on the internet, in this course you will take the real, scientifically valid instruments and learn what these personality differences mean for your future.
Jeff Howard, Professor of Psychology, earned his Ph. D. in Developmental and Personality Psychology. His most recent research interests and activities have been in the areas of attachment theory, intimacy and close, romantic relationships. He applies his psychological expertise with students and business executives in leadership training and development where working skillfully with others requires an understanding of individual differences and relationships. He enjoys spending time with his wife, Jan, traveling, riding his motorcycle, and sailing.
AT 10: Florida’s Fragile Environment
In this course we will examine the unique ecosystem of Florida using history as our guide. We will explore the ways that humans have interacted with this landscape through time, from the earliest inhabitants to the latest golf course communities. Much about Florida’s environment is unlike any other on earth, and great changes have altered the land. We will examine large ecosystems (the Everglades) and large developments (Disney World) by asking the same types of questions. How did this come to be? What does it tell us about man’s place in nature? We will focus on issues like sustainability, growth management, and endangered species. Using field trips, texts, film, poetry, and primary-source research, we will enrich our understanding of the Sunshine State. (The ability to swim is required for this course.)
Lee Irby, Assistant Professor of History, is a novelist and historian who has taught at Eckerd College since 2001. He is the author of 7,000 Clams, a novel set in St. Petersburg in 1925 and published by Doubleday in 2005. The sequel, The Up and Up, appeared in 2006. His short fiction has appeared in the North American Review and the Tampa Review. He has also published many articles on Florida’s history and environment, including work on the Cross-Florida Barge Canal and “trailer trash” as a cultural force. His play, Congratulations, Joe, premiered in August 2012 to sell-out crowds and rave reviews. He is married with two children. In his spare time he enjoys kayaking, basketball, and hiking.
AT 11: Gender in Film
William B. Kelly
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. Evaluation on class participation, daily journal, library research project, and weekly quizzes.
William B. Kelly, Associate Professor of Rhetoric, attended Eckerd College, where he majored in chemistry, earning the BS. 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 the freshman first year program, Kelly also teaches courses in composition and propaganda, and he is the director of the college's Writing Excellence Program. 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. Kelly and his wife Judi enjoy travelling, crafts (woodworking for him; jewelry design for her), cooking, and spending time with their four children and five grandchildren.
AT 12: Biomechanics of Strength Training
We often hear the expression, “Lift with your legs and not your back!” and trust that we may be painfully injured otherwise. What is the basis for this wisdom and is there a time in which we may want to lift with our backs? The course Biomechanics of Strength Training takes a scientific look at many of the movements we do on a daily basis in our lives and while lifting weights, and presents what is arguably considered the most efficient and safe way to lift objects with our bodies (light or heavy). Students will study how biochemical interactions in our bodies actuate our muscles to move bones like lever arms around joints as fulcrums (like simple machines) translating force. The course will take place in both the classroom and the weight room, putting physics in action! If you have ever considered starting a fitness routine, the Biomechanics of Strength Training will introduce lifting through proper technique that is based on the principles of physics and human anatomy.
Joseph Larkin, Assistant Professor of Chemistry, was born and raised in a suburb of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and is a diehard Eagles fan who has eaten his fair share of cheesesteaks. Upon graduation from high school Dr. Larkin attended Philadelphia University, where he was invited to do research with Professor Charles Bock using computational chemistry to model interactions of azobenzene dyes (used to dye textiles). This research experience shaped his career, leading to graduate studies at the University of Georgia with the world-renowned theoretical chemist Henry Schaefer. After graduate school, Dr. Larkin taught at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania for two years before accepting a fellowship to work at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. At the NIH, Dr. Larkin worked on developing “multi-scale” computational methods for use in the study of enzyme reactions. Specifically, he looked at how boron-containing chemotherapeutics block enzyme function essential for tumor growth. Dr. Larkin joined the Eckerd Faculty in 2012 and teaches General and Physical Chemistry. In addition to teaching, he has started a research program with support from the NIH to continue his work on proteasome inhibition with Eckerd undergraduate students and collaborators from across the bay at the University of South Florida and the Moffitt Cancer center. In his free time, Dr. Larkin is an avid power lifter and is a faculty co-sponsor of the Eckerd College Power Lifting Club.
AT 13: Popular Novels and Films in Latin America
What is the cultural significance and mass-appeal of popular Latin American writers and filmmakers? We will try to answer that question through the careful reading of novels by Isabel Allende, García Márquez and Mario Vargas Llosa and by watching films by Alfonso Arau, Fabian Bielinsky and Alfonso Cuarón. All novels and films have garnered critical praise, are well known in both the Spanish and English speaking world and enjoyed popular success at the national and international level. All texts are available in translation and were first published or screened after 1980. Depending on availability, we will attend a screening of a Latin American film or any other local event related to Latin American culture.
Yolanda Molina-Gavilán, Professor of Spanish, has been part of the Eckerd College faculty since 1996. She teaches courses in Spanish language, culture and literature and regularly takes students on Winter Terms to her native Spain. She earned her degrees from the University of Wisconsin, The University of Oregon and Arizona State University. Her research centers on science fiction literature from the Spanish-speaking world, Contemporary Spanish Cinema and Literary Translation. In her spare time, she enjoys reading and watching fiction, cooking, taking long walks and swimming on the ocean.
AT 14: American West: Myth & 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 15: Youth Culture and Visual Media
From the advent of cinema to the recent development of online social networking, visual media in the United States and around the world have been identified with a market of youthful consumers and producers. This course will look at the development of youth culture in the United States and its unique relationship to visual media, including film, television, comic books, video games, and the Internet, in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. We will examine youth culture as a social phenomenon generated by the young, a means of representing the experience of being youthful, and as part of the ongoing debates over the effects of media on youth. As alternately mass culture, popular culture, counterculture, and participatory culture, youth culture holds a privileged place in the history of American visual media and continues to influence production and innovation within the media marketplace.
Christina Petersen, Assistant Professor of Film Studies, received her Ph.D. in Cinema and Media Studies from the University of Chicago and an M.A. in Cinema Studies from New York University. Her teaching and research interests include youth and cinema, film spectatorship and reception studies (especially the role of the space and place of the movie theater), race and ethnicity in American cinema, gender studies, international film history and historiography, the international silent film era, and melodrama and the Gothic in American cinema. She serves as co-director of Eckerd College’s International Cinema series and faculty advisor to the Triton Film Society. Besides watching films, she can be found cheering on her alma mater, the Duke Blue Devils, checking Facebook, and engaging in other various forms of participatory popular culture.
AT 16: Narratives of Sail
Kathleen “Kat” Robinson
Yarns, Shanties, Scuttlebutt. All 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 17: Knowing Others: Lit and Film
Ashley King Scheu
In the 1999 film, The Matrix, protagonist Thomas Anderson discovers an astounding truth about his world: although Anderson believed in his everyday existence and interaction with others, he had actually been floating in a pod his entire life, plugged into a system called “the matrix.” This scenario, in which others turn out to be nothing more than an illusion with no interior life, is not a 20th-century invention. Centuries before, René Descartes asked whether we can know if other human beings exist. Perhaps, Descartes mused, others are simply perfected machines or a hallucination created by a malevolent demon. In this course, we will study this problem of how much we can really know about others in literature, philosophy, art, and films. We will start with texts that question the existence of other minds before moving to works that cast them as unknowable because of race, gender, or culture. Finally, we will look at images of human bodies as receptacles for monstrous minds through a study of zombies, vampires, and body snatchers. In the end, students will have to decide whether they believe love and empathy can overcome the powerful seeds of doubt.
Ashley King Scheu, Assistant Professor of French, received her Ph.D. and M.A. in French from Duke University and her B.A. in French and English from Davidson College. Her teaching and research interests include French and Francophone language and literature, intersections between literature and philosophy, the existentialist novels and philosophy of Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre, and feminism and gender studies. She has published several articles in peer-reviewed journals on the problem of other minds in Simone de Beauvoir’s novels. Professor Scheu has spent a considerable amount of time living in francophone areas, such as Geneva, Switzerland, where she spent three years writing and gorging herself on good fromage and chocolat. Apart from smelly cheese (the smellier the better), she enjoys long-distance running and hiking, and you can often see her out walking with her husband, three small girls, and two large dogs (yes, all at once).
AT 18: 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 local research labs, animal rescue leagues, zoos and aquariums. 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, Visiting 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 19: Microbial Meals
Microbes have been an essential component of food production by humans for millennia. In this course, we will explore the history of the use of microbes in food production across different geographic and cultural regions of the world, spanning from ancient cultures to modern-day industrial United States. In the course, we'll discuss, make, and/or eat foods that rely on microbes for production and preservation. These foods include salame, yogurt, sourdough bread, kombucha, swiss cheese, kimchi, sauerkraut, and so much more! The class readings and discussions will address contemporary issues in industrial food production, current trends in fermented foods, and the importance of microbes to human health. Texts will include excerpts from Michael Pollan's "The Omnivore's Dilemma," Taras Grescoe's "The Devil's Picnic," and Barbara Kingsolver's "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle." Students will even learn how to ferment some of their own food and will use classical microbiology lab techniques to isolate fermentative bacteria from the foods that they prepare, in order to get to know the bacteria in their foods.
Koty Sharp, Assistant professor of Biology and Marine Science, earned her Ph.D. in marine biology from Scripps Institution of Oceanography (University of California San Diego). She has focused her research efforts on marine invertebrate-bacterial symbioses. Her work on microbial ecology of tropical sponges led her to a Marine Science Network (MSN) Postdoctoral Research Fellowship with the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in 2006-2008. As an MSN Fellow, she led fieldwork and lab studies on bacteria associated with early life stages of tropical corals. Koty continued this work as a postdoctoral fellow with Ocean Genome Legacy (Ipswich, MA) in 2008-2011, until she joined the Eckerd College faculty in Fall 2011. At Eckerd, she teaches Biological Oceanography, Comparative Animal Physiology, and Advanced Molecular Techniques. At Eckerd College, she also mentors undergraduate researchers in her lab, in which students use techniques and approaches from molecular biology, next-generation sequencing technology, advanced microscopy, and classic field experimentation to learn more about symbiotic bacteria living in and on a variety of marine invertebrates, including hard corals, soft corals, and sponges. Professor Sharp was born in coastal Delaware and has lived in Bermuda, coastal Panama, Southern California, the Indian River Lagoon in Florida, Northern Shore of Boston, and Tampa Bay. She still has fond memories and great friends in each of these places, but together with her husband and their baby son, Prof. Sharp enjoys the weather, gardening, and year-round water sports in Tampa Bay.
AT 20: Aging: Everybody’s Doing It
Tamar E. Shovali
Aging is one human experience we all have in common. However, the aging process is not universal. Aging: Everybody’s Doing It is designed to address the psychological, social, and cultural nature of human aging in society to develop a deeper understanding of the varied meanings, experiences, and contexts of growing older. Students will have the opportunity to explore the diversity of the aging population and dispel myths and stereotypes about aging. We will examine the profile of the current older population globally and discuss growing older over the life course as a social process and age as a structural feature of changing societies. Class discussion will highlight the complexities of the aging experience from diverse perspectives and global comparisons. Evaluation will be based upon class participation, writing assignments, a final individual paper and presentation, and a field trip analysis.
Tamar E. Shovali, Assistant Professor of Human Development, earned her Ph.D. in Psychology and a Graduate Certificate in Gerontology from the University of Georgia. Previously she earned bachelor degrees in Psychology and Gerontology from the University of South Florida.Professor Shovali currently teaches courses on Lifespan Human Development, Cross-Cultural Communication, and Research Methods. Her research interests include adjustment to life course transitions, caregiver mental health in late life, end-of-life care and decision-making, and diversity issues in aging. Professor Shovali often has one foot in academia and one foot in the community. She has worked in the field of aging with the non-profit Office of the Public Guardian in Florida and with teenage college-bound foster youth in the Department of Family and Human Services in Georgia. Professor Shovali enjoys the St. Petersburg sunshine and beaches, cooking, and adventures.
AT 21: Exploring Entrepreneurship
Starting an enterprise is always risky, but today’s worldwide social and environmental challenges demand innovations and reinvention of economic activity as never before, increasing the importance of effective entrepreneurship. Though recessionary times have reduced business start-ups in the U.S., surveys continue to show that as many as 40% of people aged 18-24 hope to start their own businesses one day or have already done so. Entrepreneurship can offer greater career autonomy, the creation of a legacy for yourself or your family, or simply the reward of making an impact and creating jobs through bringing new ideas into action. This course will explore the basics of the entrepreneurial process through both theoretical readings and case studies of historical and contemporary entrepreneurs, likely including guest speakers or a field trip to a local business or related site. Students will learn initial steps for identifying, evaluating and developing ideas for prospective businesses and will do research on entrepreneurs to identify critical factors enabling success.
Laura Singleton, Assistant Professor of Management, has much in common with many Eckerd students-- she is not from Florida, lived for an extended time in New England before joining Eckerd’s management faculty in the fall of 2011 and attended a liberal arts college (Davidson) for her undergraduate education. After college, Laura pursued a business career for about 15 years, obtaining an M.B.A. from Harvard and holding positions in marketing and management, primarily in technology-related firms. Having always enjoyed writing, she left corporate life to become a freelance writer and researcher, ultimately co-authoring a book on 20th –century U.S. business leadership (Paths to Power, Harvard Business School Press, 2006) and completing a Ph.D. in Management at Boston College. Laura has taught courses in organizations behavior in business and management scholarship. Laura’s other interests include sports-- as a native of Morgantown, West Virginia, she remains a proud fan of her hometown university’s teams but has embraced new loyalties to the Eckerd Tritons! She also enjoys participating in Pinellas Community Church, not far from Eckerd’s campus.
AT 22: Bombs, Zombies, Plagues, Waste
Will the world end, as Robert Frost says, in fire or in ice? And why would we want it to do either? Since biblical times, writers and artists have been imagining the apocalypse—how it will happen, who is to blame for it, and what will follow it. For unknown reasons, each generation tends toward regarding itself as existing at the end or culmination of history, though their specific definition of and attitudes toward the apocalypse vary. This class will perform a rigorous synthesis of differing interpretations of millenarianism and eschatology, from earlier Biblical accounts to Industrial-era visions of plagues and scarcity to modern “bombs and zombies” fears. Our analysis of the causes and consequences of the end of the world will, ideally, lead us not only to a more complete understanding of shifting human attitudes toward the value and purpose of living on earth, but also a vision of how and why the earth itself is valuable. This class will include both wide-ranging readings in text and visual representations, in print and film, of the end of the world.
Daniel Spoth, Assistant Professor of Literature, was raised in a tiny Alaskan town where the TV reception was lousy and the public library wasn’t open on weekends, and had to cultivate his literary education using a scattered assortment of texts torn from the ravening jaws of the ever-present megafauna. His love of the liberal arts and depressing winter-long drizzles drew him to gain his B.A. in English literature at Reed College in Portland, OR, and his interest in Southern letters and promises of all of the fried catfish he could eat resulted in him obtaining his PHD in the same discipline from Vanderbilt University in Nashville. Now he lives in an even more tropical climate, but still bears a soft spot in his heart for hardscrabble tales of survivalism and subsequent gruesome death in stark Arctic environments. Professor Spoth is most interested in literature as a medium for, as William Faulkner (one of his idols) said: “the old verities and truths of the heart, the old universal truths lacking which any story is ephemeral and doomed – love and honor and pity and pride and compassion and sacrifice.” When not obsessing over the human heart in conflict with itself, Professor Spoth enjoys biking, baking bread, beekeeping, boxing, bocce ball, and sundry other activities not beginning with B. He is licensed to run a 250 kW TRIGA Mk l nuclear reactor and is also an amateur charcutier—a designer of and creator of artisan sausages.
AT 23: Mathematical Approaches to Contemporary Problems
Walter O. Walker
This course offers students new insights and a fundamental understanding of how mathematics contributes to the solving important national and global problems in the environmental, behavioral and natural sciences. Starting with a real problem concerning an important process of general interest, we formulate simplifying assumptions about how the process evolves over time. We build equations to model the sequence representing the values of the characteristic under study, and we develop solutions and interpret these in the context of the original problem. We either accept the model as adequate or modify it in order to obtain a better model. Important applications include fitting simple models related to medicine dosage, repeated loan payments, oil consumption and reserves, predicting population levels; and we also look at chaotic processes. These models use basic mathematical functions studied in high school.
Walter O. Walker, Associate Professor of Mathematics, earned his Ph.D. from Clemson University. His research is in the area of Time Series Analysis. He enjoys teaching across the entire undergraduate mathematics curriculum, but frequently teaches courses in calculus, probability and statistics, optimization, combinatorial mathematics and linear algebra. He has served a member of the national committee charged with exploring the feasibility of offering an AP course in Statistics and subsequently a Member of the Course and Test Development Committee who also conducted workshops to train High School Teachers in the US and Canada to teach the first AP classes in Statistics. He was a member of a team of three National Faculty Scholars who on three occasions offered National Faculty Summer Institutes for High School Teachers of Mathematics in Louisiana, Tennessee, and Georgia. He was also Vice-President-elect for programs and Past-president for the Florida Section of the Mathematics Association of America. Professor Walker was Visiting Dana Faculty at Cornell University 1987-1988. He enjoys playing basket ball, reading mathematics and watching boxing.
AT 24: Poetry of Turmoil
In the Poetry of Turmoil, we will read and discuss the work of three superb poets, Yusef Komunyakaa, Sharon Olds, and Galway Kinnell and their themes which arise from a variety of personal conflicts: participation in the Vietnam War, coming to terms with an abusive childhood, and struggling with the more general problem of defining oneself as a creature of nature, society, and story. We will work at becoming astute and sensitive readers and writers, two essential liberal arts skills. Evaluation will be based on quizzes, analytical essays, original poems, and an oral interpretation assignment.
Scott Ward, Professor of Literature and Creative Writing, teaches the poetry workshops in the creative writing major at Eckerd College. He grew up in Warrior, Alabama and graduated from Auburn University. He holds an M.A. from University of South Carolina, where he studied under the poet James Dickey. He has published two books, Crucial Beauty (Scop Publications), which won the 1990 Loiderman Poetry Prize, and Wayward Passages (2006, Black Bay Books). He has served as poetry editor of Southern Humanities Review and Shenandoah. His poems have appeared in journals such as America, Chattahoochee Review, Texas Review, and The Christian Century. He enjoys reading all sorts of poetry, the history of the War Between the States, Asian food, hopped ales, cooking with his wife and canoeing with his two sons.
AT 25: American Courts on Trial
Robert C. Wigton
The law and legal questions seem to pervade in almost every aspect of American Life. This course will introduce you to the major roles that American courts have come to play in determining the civil rights of individuals, relations between races, rights to education and government benefits, and punishment for criminal behavior. We will look at the various roles played by the key players in the American legal system, including judges, juries, lawyers, prosecutors, and police. We will also see the courts in their larger role of making policies for the nation on topics from abortion to school prayer. Students will get a chance to decide longstanding legal questions themselves by interacting as jurors in mock trail situations.
Robert C. Wigton, Professor of Political Science, holds a Ph.D. in Political Science and J.D. degree from the State University of New York at Buffalo. He is a licensed attorney in both New York State and Florida. Professor Wigton teaches a variety of courses on American government including: the Presidency, the U.S. Congress, Political Parties & Interest Groups, American Public Policymaking, and a two-course sequence on Constitutional Law. His research interests have spanned American government but in recent years have focused on election law and the legal status of American political parties. In early 2014, he published a book entitled, The Parties in Court: American Political Parties under the Constitution. His free time is spent hiking, engaging in genealogical research of his family and, most recently, starting to learn the ancient art of beekeeping.