Dean's Seminars

Stephanie Travis' (foreground) in class with freshmen (left to right) Jamie Oakley, Jason Katz, Bailee Weisz and Kimmie Krane

Dean’s Seminars provide Columbian College first-year students with focused scholarship that emphasizes lively discussions on topics relevant to the issues of our time. Sometimes edgy and always engaging, the seminars provide students one-of-a-kind opportunities that challenge the mind and often tap into emerging interests.

First-year Columbian College students can register for Dean's Seminars through the GWeb Information System.

Albert Cramer





"A memorable experience was when Professor Dane Kennedy took us to the Library of Congress for our Dean's Seminar class on empires. The maps and artifacts gave a visual history that one cannot get out of a textbook."

Albert Cramer
BA '12, History

Spring 2023 Dean's Seminars

For the dates and times that these courses meet, please review the Schedule of Classes.


Can we mine our way out of climate change?
  • Professor S. Odell
  • GEOG 1000.10
  • GPAC: Critical Thinking, Quantitative Reasoning or Scientific Reasoning in the Social Sciences
  • GPAC: Global or Cross-Cultural Perspective

To prevent the worst impacts of global warming, policymakers, corporations, and individuals are seeking to reduce carbon emissions by transitioning from conventional to “clean energy.” Yet while this transition will reduce demand for some natural resources like coal and oil, it will increase the need for others, like copper, cobalt, nickel, and lithium to produce solar panels, wind turbines, and electric vehicles. The process of mining these materials produces its own carbon emissions, and impacts the environment and society, such as by polluting water supplies and displacing vulnerable communities. Students will grapple with this contradiction by learning about the clean energy transition, how mining works, and the ways climate change and mining interact. This knowledge will empower students to engage deeply with each other, the instructor, and the world at large over possible solutions to address climate change while minimizing the creation of new social and environmental harms.

An Antiracist, Decolonial (Re)Imagination of Mainstream Psychology 
  • Professor S. Rao
  • PSYC 1000.10
  • GPAC: Critical Thinking, Quantitative Reasoning or Scientific Reasoning in the Social Sciences

Dr. Nelson Maldonado-Torres wrote, “Coloniality survives colonialism. It is maintained alive in books, in the criteria for academic performance, in cultural patterns, in common sense…and so many other aspects of our modern experience.” The field of psychology is no exception to this.

In October 2021, the American Psychological Association (APA) acknowledged that the discipline of psychology has been “complicit in contributing to systemic inequities and [has] hurt many through racism, racial discrimination, and denigration of people of color.” APA apologized for psychology’s role in creating and perpetuating structural inequities as well as building an ideology of White supremacy. Importantly, the problems in psychology are not just historical – they are ongoing and built into structure of mainstream psychology.

Using antiracist and decolonial lenses, we will critically evaluate core aspects of modern psychology with regard to research and clinical practice. In this course, you will learn to identify, analyze, and critique frameworks/paradigms used in mainstream psychology. To reimagine and build an antiracist practice of psychology, we will start divorcing the field from colonial mindsets of what is considered “legitimate,” “reputable,” or “normal.” No prior knowledge of psychology is assumed, and there are no prerequisites.

The Science of Uncertainty
  • Professor H. Mahmoud
  • STAT 1000.10
  • GPAC: Quantitative Reasoning in Mathematics or Statistics

Probability and the calculus of chance are presented at an introductory level. Axiomatic probability is introduced. Some fun scenarios, such as poker and urn schemes, are brought to the fore, then some standard discrete and continuous probability distributions are presented. The course touches on Elements of estimation and predictions. Scientific discovery through hypothesis testing is briefly presented. Elements of stochastic behavior are discussed.

Dean's Seminar Highlights