Autumn Term Course Descriptions

Your first Eckerd academic experience kicks off with Autumn Term, a three week course led by your first faculty mentor.

Please review the course descriptions and faculty bios below. New students will be asked to select 6 top choices, in no ranking order. Autumn Term course selection begins on Wednesday, June 13, 2018 and ends at noon EDT on Friday, June 22, 2018.

AT 1: Sun, Sand, and Snowbirds: The Political Ecology of Travel & Tourism

Noëlle Boucquey

Tourism has become a global industry and economic driver for many communities around the world. Along with the benefits of travel and tourism, however, come complex social, economic, and ecological effects. In this course, we apply theoretical principles in the field of political ecology—which emphasize attention to power dynamics, intersections between local social-ecological relationships and the larger political economy, and how discourses of nature are culturally mediated—to dissect the positive and negative implications of tourism. Employing a global approach with Florida as a focal case, we will apply a political ecology lens to key types of travel and tourism including: amenity and seasonal migration, mass tourism, cruise ship tourism, ecotourism, and heritage tourism. Each student will conduct a case study of tourism in a particular place, and students will work together to conduct participant observation in tourism activities in St. Petersburg, FL and to write a short travelogue.

Noëlle Boucquey, Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies, received her B.A. in Environmental Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara and her Ph.D. in Environmental Studies from Duke University. Her work is inspired by equal concern for human and environmental well-being, and her research examines human-environment relationships particularly in coastal and marine contexts. Her projects include: analyzing conflicts between commercial and recreational fishing groups; examining the role of geospatial data portals in US marine spatial planning efforts; and exploring the character of subsistence fishing in Tampa Bay. For fun she enjoys sailing, hiking, and attempting to grow exciting new plants in her garden.

AT 2: Breaking U.S. Oil Addiction

Jill Collins

Is the world running out of oil? Is it possible for the U.S. to become “energy independent”? What are the costs and benefits to society of fracking? 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.

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 yoga, playing the piano, working crosswords, and going to the zoo with her husband Bill and daughters Chloe and Summer.

AT 3: Illusion and the World We See

Louise Daoust

Imagine you are looking at a bowl of strawberries. You have a visual experience of seeing red objects at a distance. But how does that experience relate to what is in fact in front of you? This course explores recent and interdisciplinary efforts to answer one of the oldest philosophical questions: What do we see? Are our ordinary visual experiences anything like what’s “really there”? Should we understand our perceptual experiences as illusory, or at least as heavily constructed? In attempting to answer these questions, we’ll also ask: What can we learn from thinking about non-human animal visual systems? And what about the kinds of visual experiences made possible by new technologies? For example, are the experiences we have in virtual reality best thought of as accurate experiences of a real, if virtual, world? Or does a world have to be physical for it to be real? What is synesthesia (e.g. when letters or numbers are perceived as inherently colored), and how does it relate to what we count as ordinary visual awareness?

Louise Daoust, Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Eckerd College, holds a PhD in Philosophy from the University of Pennsylvania and a BA in English and Philosophy from Dalhousie University. Her research focuses on perception and the place of mind in nature, though she teaches a broad range of courses at Eckerd, including environmental ethics, philosophy of art, and philosophy of science. When she’s not teaching, she enjoys riding her bike, traveling, reading novels, and seeing local theater.

AT 4: Biology: Art & Science

Steven H. Denison

From the botanical paintings of Victorian artist Marianne North to framed photographs of personal DNA fingerprints, biology has had many influences on art. Art is also an important tool in biology and other sciences. In this course, we will explore connections between biology (and other sciences) 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, fungal genetics and microbiome analysis. Prof. Denison’s interests outside of science include poetry and music.

AT 5: Exploring Identity through the Creative Arts

Paige Dickinson

We often talk about the transition between adolescence and young adulthood as the period of identity exploration and development. For all of you this time period also includes transitioning to college life. During autumn term we will be exploring young-adult identity development and the transition from high school to college through creative arts techniques. We will cover topics that include: adult autonomy, health and wellness, balancing work and play, relationships, learning styles and defining your personal values and goals.  We will use the arts not only to explore these topics, but you will also learn how to use these same techniques to cope with and manage the stress of college life.  This is an experiential based course and students should be willing to engage in all art forms (art, music, dance, drama, and writing), although you do not need to be proficient in any specific form. Course materials fee of $25.

Paige Dickinson, Assistant Professor of Human Development, received her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology with a Specialization in Health Psychology from California School of Professional Psychology, San Diego.  She also holds an MA in Drama Therapy from New York University.  She is a Registered and Board Certified Drama Therapist.  Prior to coming to Eckerd College in 2008, Professor Dickinson was a postdoctoral fellow at Hillside Children’s Center in Rochester, NY.  Her clinical work and research has focused primarily on Arts in Medicine program design and implementation.   Additional areas of interest include cultural issues and multimodal learning in the classroom, caregiving across roles, grief and loss, as well as professional development and ethics.  She has two sons (the four legged variety that meows) named Fred and Tucker.   When Professor Dickinson is not in the classroom she is often found traveling with students to present collaborative research at National and International conferences.  For fun, she enjoys going to arts and cultural events, hockey and spending time in the great outdoors.

AT 6: Understanding Infinity

Erin Griesenauer

We first encounter infinity when we learn to count as children and realize there is no largest number. After that, we are confronted by infinity in mathematics classes and in popular culture without much explanation. In this course, we will revisit situations where the concept of infinity arises (in math, in nature, and in art) and work together to build a solid understanding of infinity. We will refine our understanding by reading about how great thinkers have thought about it throughout history. We will test our understanding by investigating and discussing some of the paradoxes related to infinity. And we will end by discussing how modern mathematicians think about infinity.

Erin Griesenauer, Assistant Professor of Mathematics, has always been captivated by the beauty of mathematics and wants to share this beauty with others as a teacher. She completed a bachelor’s degree in applied mathematics at the University of Tulsa. Not satisfied that she had learned enough mathematics, she went on to earn a doctoral degree in mathematics from the University of Iowa. Her research in the field of operator algebra combines perspectives and techniques from a variety of areas of pure mathematics. On campus, she regularly teaches Calculus I and Calculus II. Off campus, she enjoys cooking, kayaking, and spending time with her family.

AT 7: How to Understand China

Hong Gu

What does the rise of China mean to the world, especially the USA? How can America best influence China’s future development? Is China poised to dominate the global economy in the 21st century? Or Is China already on the brink of collapsing due to its political system and environmental disasters? The list of questions can go on, but the enormity of these few questions makes it clear that the present and future leaders of America must study and address the issues raised by these questions. This is why a quick introduction course like this can help us gain a better understanding of China, its culture, history, and traditions as well as the major problems and challenges she is faced with. This course aims at exploring some unique and enduring cultural characteristics of China. We will look at how the traditional teachings of Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism mixed with the influence of Western democracy, capitalism and commercialism, as well as Marxist socialism, can contribute to China’s future development. One of the major phenomena that we will study is the rise of the largest Chinese middle class in the world in the past few decades, for its consequences and ramifications are important both to China and the rest of the world. Moreover, students will learn to study and grow intellectually and emotionally in a student-centered learning environment through team work and group discussion. In general, students should expect in this short term to engage in activities that not only inform them of China, but also help them develop and improve their critical thinking, reading, oral and written communication 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, his A.M. 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 Modern Chinese fiction in Northwestern University and Hamilton College. In his spare time, he enjoys practicing Tai Chi and Qigong, listening to classical Western music, and studying Chinese calligraphy.

AT 8: The Secret Life of Pets

Lauren Highfill

Have you ever wondered what your pet is thinking or why it behaves in a certain way? Have you read stories about dogs saving their owners or perhaps the nursing home cat that can predict impending death? Maybe you and your family contributed to the $55 billion Americans spent on their companion animals last year. Would you believe that just a little over a century ago, pets were not even considered legal property? Now many consider them part of their family.  How did we get here? This course will explore the history of pet keeping, and provide an overview of the psychological research currently being done with animals traditionally kept as pets (e.g. dogs and cats). Students will be introduced to evolutionary and cognitive theory, learn about experimental methodology, and examine how dogs and cats compare to other species. The class will also serve as introduction to the field of animal cognition, and the major topics to be covered will include perceptual abilities, emotions, theory of mind, communication, language, and brain structures and functions. Students should come away from the course thinking about their pets in a new way.

Lauren Highfill, 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 furrier than humans. Her specific research interests include animal personality, animal cognition, and environmental enrichment. She has worked with many species including dolphins, sea lions, elephants, dogs, and lemurs. When Lauren isn’t teaching or conducting research with the help of students, she enjoys traveling with her family

AT 10: Florida’s Fragile Environment

Lee Irby

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. This course will include water-based activities.

Lee Irby 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 at Studio 620. He is married with two children. In his spare time he enjoys paddle-boarding, basketball, and hiking.

AT 11: Motivating the Masses

James Janack

Since the ancient Greeks, Western societies have recognized the power and necessity of persuasion to influence the public. Communities are created, developed, and improved through the effective motivation of their members. In democracies, getting things done requires the ability to persuade others. This course offers an introduction to the basic principles of persuasion. You will develop your skills for creating and presenting persuasive writing, speeches, and multi-media texts that advocate positions on issues of social significance. Bring your opinions with you and be ready to discuss, develop, refine, articulate, and justify them, and then work to convince others of those opinions. At the same time, be ready for others to persuade you. Keep an open mind and you might even change your position on an issue by the end of the class.

James Janack, Associate Professor of Communication, (B.A., Russian Studies, Colgate University; M.A., Speech Communication, Syracuse University; Ph.D., Speech Communication, University of Washington), has hopscotched the globe from upstate NY to Eurasia, the Pacific Northwest to New England. He has fraternized with godless Bolsheviks and misanthropic felines.  He has scaled a volcano, traversed a glacier, and cycled the Alps.  He has surveyed the rhetorical terrain of politics, analyzing the discourse of Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, and Communists. He regularly challenges Eckerd students with the complexities of persuasion, the wonders of rhetoric, and the rigors of oral communication. He fancies himself a defender of democratic culture and of the right to type two spaces after a period.  He has an enviable grasp of the minutiae of The Simpsons and has proved it on the field of competition.  He has learned to be profane in three languages, but sacred in none.  He has caught two foul balls at baseball games.  He has done all this, but he has not yet met Eckerd College’s class of 2022.

AT 12: The Future of the European Union

Virginie Khare

What does the future of the European Union (EU) hold? Has it been a success? In this class we will review the cultural, political and economic environments of the EU to understand its past and present in order to visualize its future. We will also discuss current issues that the largest trading bloc in the world is facing and their global impact. The central objective is to provide an introduction to the EU, including its history, institutions, theories and public policy, but also to discuss the issues of identity and unity it currently faces, while preparations for the departure of the UK from the union (Brexit) are taking place.

Virginie Khare, Assistant Professor of International Business, received a Bachelor and Master in International Business from ESC Clermont Business School (France) and an MBA and DBA from Cleveland State University. Her research areas include cross-cultural communication, international marketing, non-profit marketing, and international business education. She also has corporate work experience with multinational and Fortune 500 companies. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family, playing tennis, cooking, and traveling both domestically and internationally.

AT 13: Strength in Numbers: How to Build and Lead Effective Teams

Jennifer Knippen

Machiavelli famously wrote, “There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things.” During this course we will investigate organizational research and theory to better understand why some individuals thrive when asked to take the lead but others hesitate.  We will examine how teams function in various contexts (e.g. classroom, workplace, volunteer locations, sports, etc.) to determine why some teams are more effective (i.e., high-performing) than others. Moreover, we will develop your team building and leadership skills, which can benefit you academically and professionally in any field, whether you aspire to be a scientist, policy maker, or business leader. We will engage in self-reflection and peer feedback to gauge whether your self-assessments match what others think of your contributions. You will delve into the academic literature on team performance, conduct original research, and present your findings to the class. This is a highly interactive course, which involves experiential activities and excursions to local organizations to investigate various models of team effectiveness. This course should serve as a foundation for our challenging curriculum ahead in Human Experience.

Jennifer Knippen, Assistant Professor of Management, earned her PhD in Strategic Management from the University of Florida. Before joining Eckerd, she taught at the University of Virginia and the University of Florida. She teaches various Management Courses here at Eckerd (including Principles of Management and Leadership, Corporate Social Responsibility, Business Policy and Strategy, and Ecotourism in the Caribbean). Her research focuses on team composition and diversity in the upper echelons of organizations (think top executives and board of directors) and social and political pressures on firms. When she is not in the classroom she enjoys traveling, camping and attending music festivals with her husband and three children. She is excited to re-visit her childhood love of sailing since moving to this little bit of paradise, St. Petersburg.

AT 14: Seascapes: Oceans on Stage & Screen

Antonia S. Krueger

The sea has been an important part of human life for millennia, and works of art in various media have portrayed the ocean symbolically from the oldest recorded times. This course will focus on the ocean as it is depicted in performance on stage and screen in various eras and cultures, from “The Woman Diver” of ancient Chinese Noh Theatre to Finding Nemo of contemporary Disney. Students will gain an understanding of the semiotics of performance and the ocean as symbol in performance across cultures and times. They will also have an opportunity to create a portrayal of ocean in performance through a final video or live performance project.

Antonia S. Krueger has worked as a costumer, dramaturg, director, dialect coach, playwright, and actress. Tonia has a PhD in Theatre from The Ohio State University, an MA in Communication (Theatre) with a specialization in new works from Indiana State University, and an MA in ESL (minor in Psychology) from the University of Minnesota. Her play Pucelle was produced by Expanded Arts in New York. Among her stage, film, and voice acting performances are Strange Sisters in Toronto (also featured on CBC’s Zed: Just Say Yes) and Alice in the film adaptation of May Sarton’s autobiographical novel Mrs. Stevens Hears the Mermaids Singing. In the music community Tonia has stage directed and/or performed in theatre fusion pieces with the Columbus Symphony Orchestra, the Ohio State University School of Music, and the Ohio Wesleyan University Music Department. You might also see her work at one of the professional theatre companies in the area.

AT 15: Speaking in Code: Gender Communication

Grace Lager

Our gender identity is extremely influential in how we present our self to others. A key component of self-presentation is our communication. By better understanding how gender identity influences our communication, we can become more effective communicators. In this course, we will study gender communication from two perspectives: (1) communication about gender, in terms of language and media depictions of the sexes, and how such language and depiction influence our understanding of biological sex as well as gender as a cultural construction; and (2) communication between the genders, or the more interpersonal/relationship-development aspect of the topic. Through this course, we will increase our understanding of gender as a construction, performance and negotiated communication process. By studying gender communication, we will gain an appreciation for and a better understanding of how gender impacts the processing of information, how gender impacts our perception of others and how gender influences our communication patterns.

Grace Lager, Visiting Assistant Professor of Communication, earned her B.A. in Environmental Studies (minor in Women’s and Gender Studies) right here at Eckerd College. She earned her M.A in Interdisciplinary Studies (Communication and Women’s Studies) at Texas Tech University and her Ph.D. in Communication Studies and Women’s Studies from Georgia State University. Her research interests include rhetoric and media, sports communication and media and gender. She has a particular interest in how the body is represented in image and word. She teaches a variety of communication courses including Gender, Sexuality and the Media, Communicating Masculinity and Public Relations: Theory and Practice. She also serves as the Coordinator for the Women’s Resources Center. In addition to her academic career, Professor Lager owns and runs Wellspring Pilates. Prior to becoming a faculty member at Eckerd, she worked as the Director of Alumni Relations for the College and as a corporate liaison for the American Cancer Society, Florida Division. Professor Lager enjoys practicing Pilates, playing tennis, riding bikes with her family, cooking, hosting friends at her home and offering couch-side critiques of gender representations in television, movies and story books for her (very tolerant) family.

AT 16: Creation of a Personal Web Presence

Holger Mauch

The Internet and the World Wide Web have revolutionized the way we present and gather information. While online portfolios are an essential element of your post-graduation plans (such as preparation for the job market or application for grad school) we will also ask the more immediate question: How can a personal web presence help you to achieve your goals while being a student at Eckerd College? This course has a creative component, where we will develop a visually appealing personal web presence. We will build Web pages of increasing sophistication: using various software packages we will develop skills in web authoring, file management and in monitoring the Web requests (“hits”) of our personal sites. We will develop an understanding of the importance of usability and ease of navigation. Recent advances in modern A.I. and machine learning have led to the situation that parts of the Web are created by artificial agents. We will also study the boundaries between this machine-generated web content, and traditional human-made material so that we can ensure to put the desired amount of personal touch on our web presence. When expressing information about us to a worldwide audience, deeper questions than those related to technology will arise. This course will also touch on political and ethical issues such as freedom of expression, censorship, and deliberate misinformation on the Web.

Holger Mauch, Associate Professor in Computer Science, received his Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Hawaii at Manoa.  His research applies operations research algorithms to optimization problems arising in bioinformatics, computational intelligence, and in the field of business administration and includes the development of innovative software solutions.  His previous international work experience as a software engineer is complemented by a graduate diploma degree with a finance focus.  He spends his leisure time with sports (especially soccer), astronomy and German literature.

AT 17: Rhythms, Synchronization, Chaos

David Mertens

Our lives are in constant contact with cyclic phenomena. Rhythm is a cornerstone in music and dance. The seasons, which are the product of the Earth’s tilt and its regular orbit about the sun, carry great cultural significance. Over the course of a day—a cycle governed by our planet’s regular spinning—our attention and mood change in predictable ways. Not all rhythms have such obvious origins, nor are they as predictable. Why do populations of predator and prey, such as foxes and rabbits, vary from year to year? Why does the economy boom and bust? Why does the planet have occasional ice ages? Why is it that the Earth’s orbit can be predicted far into the future but the Earth’s weather cannot be predicted more than seven days into the future? In this course we will learn about the many ways that rhythms arise in both nature and society and we will examine how various rhythmic processes impact our lives.

David Mertens, Assistant Professor of Physics, has had a lifelong interest in music and science. Spontaneous oscillations have been a key interest since he first encountered them as an undergraduate. His Ph.D. from the University of Illinois and his current research focuses on oscillations and collective synchronization. He also continues to make music as time allows.

AT 18: Emerging Adulthood

Lisa R. Miller

Narcissistic. Entitled. Lazy. Failures at “adulting.” Murderers! “Millennials” and “Generation Z” are accused of destroying everything from beer, chain restaurants, napkins, department stores, and marriage, to the housing market. Gloom and doom stories about youth flourish today. Yet, these generational wars are not new; tension between the young and old emerged as early as the 18th century. Drawing on social scientific evidence, this course will allow us to distinguish fact and fiction about 18-25 year olds: individuals now referred to as “emerging adults” by scholars. This course investigates the structural and demographic transformations that altered what it means to be a young person today. Today, emerging adults marry, enter the workforce, and purchase homes at older ages, often because they are entering college and embarking on a journey rife with independence, identity exploration, and risk-taking. We, thus, examine the rise of emerging adulthood: a period in between adolescence and full-fledged adulthood. Of particular interest will be how the internet and social media have altered the lives of young people today. We will also examine other societal issues that affect the lives of emerging adults, including changes in dating, hook-up culture, gender identity and expression, sexual fluidity, race relations, and economic struggles.

Lisa R. Miller, Assistant Professor of Sociology, received her B.A. in Sociology and Women’s Studies from Berea College and her M.A. and Ph.D. in Sociology from Indiana University-Bloomington. Her research expertise includes the sociology of gender, sexualities, aging, and intimate relationships. She has previously published on Americans’ attitudes toward gay and lesbian couples, and her most recent research examines how dating and sexual intimacy vary and unfold across the life course. She teaches introduction to sociology, research design, statistical methods, gender and society, and a human sexuality course from a sociological perspective. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, taking her dog to the park, spending time outdoors, going to arcades, and binging on Netflix.

AT 19: Mission Impossible? Religion, Science and Spies

Dawn Shedden

We talk all the time about people “on a mission” to change the world but what does that really mean?  Are missions supposed to be so hard that we can focus on nothing else?  Are they possible or impossible?  Do they alter who we are and how we behave?  Why do most organizations feel the need to create mission statements?  Do they really follow them?  Join us on a journey as we explore these questions and seek to understand missions in our wider world while developing our own sense of what our individual missions might be.  Our main sources will be the diaries of early German missionaries to Pennsylvania, Anna Botsford Comstock’s guide to the study of nature and Stephen Hawking’s musings about the universe, and the story of Adolf Tolkachev, a CIA spy in Moscow.  We will also look at popular films like The Mission, The Martian and Mission Impossible and visit local community organizations in search of that illusive sense of purpose and meaning within ourselves and others.

Dawn Shedden, Visiting Assistant Professor of History, has lived in St. Petersburg for over 20 years and has worked at Eckerd College in various capacities for much of that time.  She has a Ph.D. in European history from the University of Florida, a master’s degree from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, and a bachelor’s degree from Wellesley College.  Professor Shedden’s own research examines how individuals experienced the turmoil of the French Revolution; she also is particularly interested in identity and how people make choices at moments in which their lives are filled with disorder and stress.  In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, reading, singing, and taking nature walks with her husband and three boys.

AT 20: Rhetoric Dissent and Protest

Dr. Alexis E. Ramsey-Tobienne

As the recent Women’s March (January 21, 2017), the ongoing Black Lives Matter movement, the Standing Rock/NO DAPL protest and the rise of the Tea Party showcase, protest and dissent are major forces for advancing social change and for making controversial issues public. This course will introduce students to the critical importance of dissent in our society, as well as introduce them to the rhetorical strategies employed, with varying levels of success, by various protestors and resistance groups. Further objectives include: examining case studies that highlight the strategies, goals, and outcomes of protest movements; uncovering the exigencies that gave rise to such movements; understanding the ethical dilemmas of protest; and engaging with rhetorical concepts that help explain the persuasiveness (or not) of protest movements. We will examine various 20th century protest movements, as well as visit areas of protest in the greater Tampa Bay Area.

Dr. Alexis E. Ramsey-Tobienne, Associate Professor Rhetoric, received her B.A. in English and History from Kalamazoo College, MI and her M.A. and Ph.D. from Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN. Her areas of specialty are rhetorical history, research methods, particularly archival methods, and digital humanities. She is the co-editor of the collection Working in the Archives: Practical Research Methods for Rhetoric and Composition, the co-author of  “In, Through, and About the Archive: What Digitization (Dis)Allows” from the recent collection Rhetoric and the Digital Humanities and author of “Archives 2.0: Digital Archives and the Formation of New Research Methods” in Peitho 15.1 among other publications. She serves as archivist and historian for the Coalition of Feminist Scholars in the History of Rhetoric & Composition. She teaches courses in analytic and persuasive writing, advanced research methods, and grant writing. In her free time, she enjoys traveling with her husband and children, gardening, and reading.  Most of the time, however, you can find her at local playgrounds playing with her family.

AT 21: Narratives of Sail: Who's Charting the Course?

Kathleen “Kat” Robinson

Yarns. Shanties. Scuttlebutt are terms that reference the constructing of story and self within the context of sail. The relationship between the sharing of stories and journeying on water appears throughout many cultural landscapes 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 to construct and to deconstruct notions of self and culture. 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, 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.

Kathleen “Kat” Robinson received her Ph.D. in Literature from the University of South Florida, after having completed her Master’s and Bachelor’s in Literature.  She came to Eckerd College in 2008, after teaching at the University of South Florida.  She is currently the Fellowships and Scholarship Advisor for Eckerd College. 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

Jason Sears

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 examining current research in animal behavior and welfare, and by visiting a local 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, 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 23: Plastic Ocean

Amy NS Siuda

Have you heard that there are ‘islands’ of trash afloat at sea or that there is more plastic than plankton in the ocean? As public awareness of ocean plastic pollution grows, misconceptions remain surprisingly common. In this course, we will separate fact from fiction as we explore recent advances and identify areas ripe for discovery in the emerging field of plastic marine debris research. Along the way, we will review and assess existing marine debris measurement methods and management strategies. The Eckerd College campus is surrounded on three sides by ocean water that the community relies upon daily for education, recreation, and natural scenic beauty. Our personal connection with marine plastic debris will be considered as we conduct self-audits of plastic consumption, collect debris from Eckerd’s coastline and adjacent waters, and tour a local landfill, recycling center, and wastewater reclamation facility.

Amy NS Siuda is Assistant Professor of Marine Science at Eckerd College. A graduate of Middlebury College (BA Biology and French) and alumna of SEA Semester, Dr. Siuda earned her PhD in Oceanography from the University of Connecticut. Dr. Siuda was a professor at Sea Education Association (SEA Semester) in Woods Hole, MA from 2007-2016, where she accumulated more than three years of time at sea studying ‘things’ that drift with the currents. Her research interests span organismal, population and community ecology of plankton as well as microplastic-organism interactions. Dr. Siuda also has extensive experience in undergraduate instruction and curricular development. Her teaching interests range from building scientific foundation and research skills to scientific communication and the intersection of science and policy. When not in the classroom or lab, Dr. Siuda enjoys playing outside with her family.

AT 24: Influencing Behavior and Decisions

Sophie Tripp

Why do we always end up with more items than planned when we go shopping? Don’t you sometimes feel like corporations, websites, and even governments are manipulating your decisions? Well, you are right, they are! Governments around the world have teams of behavioral scientists, or “nudge units,” to help design health, financial and environmental policies, while companies maximize their profits through strategic product placement and advertising. In this course we will explore how individuals and organizations influence decision-making for better or worse with choice architecture. Choice architecture is the practice of designing the environments in which people make decisions. By the end of this course, we will better understand the irrational behavior of humans, how the field of behavioral economics improves our understanding of decision-making and how to use choice architecture in our own lives to get friends, family and society to do what we want.

Sophie Tripp, Assistant Professor of Economics, earned her B.A. in Economics and Spanish from Wagner College and her Ph.D. In Economics from Claremont Graduate University.  Her research focuses on applied microeconomics and the economics of labor markets, specifically the role of gender and race on pay, promotion, and turnover decisions.  She teaches a variety of microeconomic courses, such as Introductory Microeconomics of the Environment and Intermediate Microeconomic Theory.  She is a livelong supporter of Tottenham Hotspur FC, a willing subordinate to her cat Cecelia, and a self-proclaimed Game of Thrones book snob.

Honors Program

Students who were invited and accept a place in our Honors Program will be placed in one of the following Autumn Term courses.

Autumn Term Honors courses

AT 9: Plants and Civilization (Honors)

The story of human history in many ways is the story of the complex relationship between humans and plants. As the basis of human diets, plants feed us, but they do so much more. Plants cure us when we’re sick, provide us building materials, make us money, and get us high. They’ve contributed to the rise and downfall of civilizations, caused famines, war, slavery, and driven scientific innovations that have saved millions. In this course, we will investigate how human-plant relationships have shaped the history of societies around the world. Through a variety of fieldtrips to local parks and Marie Selby Gardens (home of the largest collection of epiphytes in the world), we’ll also explore the role of plants in local socio-ecosystems in the past and present.

David Himmelfarb, Instructor in Environmental Studies and the General Education program, began his exploration of the relationship between people and the environment as a child, traveling with his parents throughout the rainforests of Latin America. These early adventures inspired him to design his own major at Cornell University (B.A. 2004), where he sought to bring together courses in Anthropology, Natural Resource Management, Ecology, and Economic Botany and did undergraduate research on social change and deforestation in Samoa. He went on to pursue his Ph.D. in Anthropology at the University of Georgia (2012), during which time he did years of field in Uganda and Vietnam, focusing on rural livelihoods and environmental conflict. Outside the classroom, he continues his investigation of people-plant relations by brewing beers using local botanical ingredients and microbes.

AT 25: UN Agenda: Women-Peace-Security (Honors)

In October 2000, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1325 focusing on the need to incorporate attention to women and gender issues in countries torn by violent conflict and war.  Eighteen years later and through eight subsequent resolutions, the UN’s Women, Peace and Security (WPS) Agenda has evolved to guide UN peacemaking and peacekeeping missions as well as governments, humanitarian organizations, and others to incorporate attention to the vital security needs of women in violent conflicts and wars, the importance of including women in peace processes, and the need to incorporate women in post-conflict peace-building, decision-making, and transitional justice efforts.  This course introduces the entering college student to the processes and mechanisms of the United Nations in developing the WPS Agenda, its four pillars (Protection, Prevention of sexual and gender-based violence, Participation in decision-making, and Post-conflict relief & recovery), and to considerations of the effectiveness of the WPS Agenda in actual cases from around the world today.  Model UN-style simulations provide an active and fun framework for learning about the meaning and relevance of the UN’s WPS Agenda in 2018.

Mary K. Meyer McAleese, Professor of Political Science (Ph.D., University of Massachusetts at Amherst;  M.A. and B.A., University of South Florida), teaches courses at the intersection of international relations and comparative politics, including US Foreign Policy, Theories of War & Peace, Inter-American Relations, Latin American Politics, Politics of Migration and Refugees, and Women and Politics Worldwide. Her recent publications focus on the UN’s Women, Peace and Security Agenda and on the international relations of Latin American countries. Her other publications include her book, Gender Politics in Global Governance,  and articles and book chapters on the Inter-American Commission of Women, women and gender politics in the Northern Ireland peace process, women in international peace movements, and Latin American diplomacy.  She is a contributing editor on the international relations of Latin American states for the Handbook of Latin American Studies (Library of Congress).  She has traveled extensively in Latin America and Europe and has lived in France, Ireland, England and Mexico.  She is fluent in French and Spanish and has studied Portuguese, German, and a little Irish.  Her hobbies include singing traditional Irish ballads, playing guitar and mandolin, and taking long walks on her travels with her husband, Dan.

AT 26:  Unsp*k@ble Acts: Myth & Meaning in Greek Tragedy (Honors)

Aristotle once wrote that tragedy described not the thing that has been, but the kind of thing that might be.  Upon reflection we might wonder how Aristotle’s statement could possibly be construed as true.  Were the Greeks actually preoccupied with the danger of killing one’s father and marrying one’s mother? Did straying husbands often meet their demise in the bathtub at the hands of an axe-wielding wife?  The answer is, of course, that the real dangers of the tragic stage are often metaphorical rather than literal, psychological rather than physical. For these reasons ancient Greek drama continues to thrive in the modern imagination. Far from the austere and staid performances we often associate with the classics, modern reconceptualizations of tragedy can be just as horrifying, grotesque, and relevant as they were in fifth century Greece. In this course we shall explore the ways in which Greek tragedy survives and is recreated in modern film, theatre, and literature as we investigate the implications of ancient tragic motifs in our contemporary social and political context.  Discover what ancient literature can teach us not only about the past but about ourselves in the 21st century.

Dr. Heather Vincent is Associate Professor of Classics and has served at Eckerd College since 2006.  She holds the Ph.D. in Classics from Brown University, an M.A. in Latin and Greek from the University of Maryland, and the B.S. from Vanderbilt University, with a double major in Biology and Classics.  Dr. Vincent is the coordinator for the Ancient Studies major, an interdisciplinary program that brings together several fields in the humanities and social sciences, to include: Classics, Religious Studies, History, and Philosophy.  Dr. Vincent’s research concerns Greek and Roman comedy, Roman satire, ancient and modern humor theory, and literary criticism.  Although she teaches a wide range of courses at Eckerd College covering many aspects of the ancient Mediterranean world, Dr. Vincent is especially passionate about first-year freshman program and about the role of general education in the small liberal arts environment.