First-Year Students Dig Deep in Dean’s Seminars

July 2012

For incoming first-year students, pop culture may be embodied by celebrities such as Lady Gaga or Justin Bieber, rather than relationships. But “Hollywood and Politics,” a seminar taught by Associate Professor of Media and Public Affairs Patricia Phalen, introduces students to the complicated connection between Hollywood and Washington, D.C.

Phalen’s class is one of this fall’s 19 Dean’s Seminars, designed to engage students in small classroom settings while developing their critical thinking skills. The seminars push students to dig deep into topics and class discussions, drawing from readings, research, and field trips.

For example, students interested in the arts can explore a curator’s design process in “Art of the Exhibition” with Assistant Professor of Art History Bibiana Obler. The seminar includes on-site visits to the National Gallery of Art and the National Museum of Natural History. In the theater-focused “What’s New about Plays,” with Associate Professor of English Evelyn Schreiber, students not only read classical plays, they attend them.

And technique is in the spotlight in “The Great Performances in Dance,” a seminar with Chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance Dana Tai Soon Burgess, who recently received a special commendation from D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray for his work with the city’s Asian American community. In this course, students look at the cultural and historical significance of ballet and modern dance through lecture, movement, video excerpts, and attendance at live performances.

In other fall seminars, students examine the boundary between humans and robots with “Human Minds and Artificial Intelligence,” taught by Professor of American Studies Jamie Cohen-Cole; scrutinize “The Meaning of the Mind” with Associate Professor of Philosophy Tadeusz Zawidzki; and decipher what Americans really know about “Public Opinion and American Foreign Policy” with Assistant Professor of Political Science Rachel Stein.

 For a full list of Dean’s Seminars offered this fall, click here.

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