Sophomore Colloquia

The Sophomore Colloquia provide Columbian College sophomore students focused scholarship on specific intellectual challenges. They explore significant academic issues under the guidance of distinguished scholars and teachers. Students engage in directed critical inquiry, employing the unique resources of the nation’s capital and the university. Students not only learn to evaluate the scholarship and traditions that have formed our world view, but also create their own scholarship of consequence.


Fall 2017


The Nature and Culture of Children

  • AMST 2000
  • Jamie Cohen-Cole, Associate Professor of American Studies
  • GPAC: Oral Communication
  • GPAC: Humanities

The sciences and philosophy ask hard questions:  What is the nature of knowledge? What characteristics define humanity?  How much does culture matter?  It turns out that these questions have provoked fierce disagreements for how we understand, raise, and educate children is tied to our visions of morality, politics, education, and the shape we want the future to take. This seminar adopts a historical approach to see how these questions and the debates about them have been approached by philosophers, biologists, anthropologists, and psychologists.

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Literature and the Environment

  • ENGL 2000
  • Jeffrey J Cohen, Professor of English, Director of Institute for Medieval & Early Modern Studies (GW MEMSI)
  • GPAC: Humanities
  • GPAC: Oral Communication

This seminar explores how the nonhuman world is depicted in literature and film, from epic and science fiction to drama, fantasy and documentary – and the productive value of sustained attentiveness to environments with these works and within the larger world. A special emphasis is placed upon environmental justice and future possibilities for the environmental humanities as modes of civic engagement. Much of the course will focus on what we can learn from close observation of the natural and built environments that surround us; how those environments are translated into narrative and what work those narratives accomplishes in the world; and how to speak effectively to an interested public about the issues with which the environmental humanities are concerned. This course satisfies the Critical Thinking and Oral Communication G-PACS.

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Photography: From Photogram to Scanogram

  • FA 2000
  • Dean Kessmann, Associate Professor of Photography, Undergraduate Advisor, Fine Arts, & Director of Graduate Studies, Fine Arts
  • GPAC: Arts
  • GPAC: Oral Communication

This course is designed for students who have an interest in exploring a variety of low-tech ways of producing analogue photographs and generating digital images. Students will learn to move fluidly from the chemical darkroom to the digital lab and back again. We will analyze examples from the history of photography that range from images captured by the earliest practitioners to work being produced today by contemporary artists. In addition to producing work throughout the semester, this knowledge will culminate in oral Powerpoint presentations that place their final projects within historical and contemporary contexts.

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Abraham Lincoln: Man and Myth

  • HIST 2000
  • Tyler Anbinder, Professor of History
  • GPAC: Humanities
  • GPAC: Oral Communication

This course fulfills the GPAC requirements for creative thinking and oral communications. The goals of the class are 1) to give students a thorough understanding of the life and times of Abraham Lincoln, one of our most beloved and important presidents, 2) to help students significantly improve their writing skills through numerous analytical writing assignments, and 3) allow students to demonstrate the ability to create a new scholarly argument based on a set of findings. In oral presentations, the goals are to 1) identify significant presentation topics; 2) prepare presentations that have a clear thesis and persuasive argument; 3) demonstrate topical and disciplinary knowledge through well-crafted and audience-appropriate language; and 4) demonstrate vocal and physical qualities that augment content and maintain audience interest.

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