Graduate Courses Open to Undergraduate Students

In addition to our undergraduate curriculum, we offer select graduate courses across our graduate degree programs in the Arts, Health, Sciences, and Society, and Children, Childhood, and Education. Limited spaces in these courses are open to juniors and seniors with some prior experience in related areas of study at the undergraduate level. Interested students should email faculty instructors for additional information on these courses and/or to schedule an interview. Most graduate level courses are between 1 and 3 credits, although some are 5 credits.

Art of Teaching

Emergent Curriculum I and II

Jerusha Beckerman, Denisha Jones

Year advanced 10-credit seminar

This is a yearlong course in which children’s interests and approaches to learning are at the forefront. Central to the course is understanding how to create a curriculum that is driven by ideas—striving for wholeness, integration, coherence, meaning—and focused on assisting children in applying knowledge and thinking to real-life problems. Classroom design and organization, media and materials, and approaches to teaching and learning across disciplines will be discussed, with an emphasis on the arts, sciences, and humanities. We will learn how to develop curricula with multiple entry points. We will reflect on ways of knowing in both our own learning and that of the children and explore teaching strategies that expand children’s knowledge and modes of thinking and learning. We will discuss curriculum and teaching strategies for individual subject areas, with an emphasis on the connections among disciplines and building toward an interdisciplinary approach to curriculum and instruction. The roles of the teacher as observer, provisioner, collaborator, and facilitator will be discussed. During the year, we will engage in hands-on inquiry in workshop settings and take multiple local field trips to environmental centers, historical sites, and arts museums—reflecting on our own learning in order to draw implications for classroom practice. We will discuss how children’s interests and questions connect to the large ideas and questions at the core of the subject-matter disciplines. Value will be placed on enabling in-depth inquiry, experimentation, and discovery and on establishing classroom communities based on collaborative learning and rooted in social justice. National and state standards, including the New York State Standards for the Arts, Social Studies, and Sciences, will be critiqued and integrated into our work. By the end of the year, students will create their own multidisciplinary curriculum plan, which will become a resource for colleagues and Art of Teaching alumni.

Children, Families, and Identity

Denisha Jones

Spring advanced 5-credit seminar

Many factors contribute to the socialization of children. Teachers’ understandings of family culture and the interconnections between identity and learning are crucial to children’s success in the classroom and central to the content of this course. We will study how families affect the development of children, for no other unit of analysis more richly displays gender, social, and cultural factors and their influence on individual behavior and development. Today, children spend more time than ever before in early childhood programs and grade schools. We will investigate how families and schools provide a framework for the exploration of the social world and socialize children according to cultural norms. Adverse childhood experiences, trauma, and learning are intertwined in the context of the child’s social, emotional, intellectual, and physical development. In order for teachers to be equipped to help their students in the areas of stress regulation and safety, we will review the impact of toxic stress as well as the range of environmental factors that inhibit children’s development and learning (including poverty and violence). We will also examine racial and gender identity development in young children. Through readings and case-study analyses, students will explore the importance of teachers’ understanding of the complexities of the lives of children and families in order to better prepare for the challenges of the classroom.

Foundations of Education

Denisha Jones

Fall intermediate 5-credit large seminar

This course will explore multiple lenses through which we view the concept of education, including theoretical, historical, political, sociological, and cultural perspectives. We will begin by considering the historical roots of contemporary education, with particular emphasis on the history of public education in the United States. Drawing on a variety of readings, films, and in-class projects, we will examine constructs of diversity including race, class, culture, language, ability, gender, and sexual identity and discover ways to create an inclusive learning environment for students and their families. The work of John Dewey and other progressive educators will provide a basis for looking at democratic ideals and “pendulum swings” in American education, including current debates concerning standards, testing practices, and political agendas. Throughout the course, students will be asked to reflect on their own school experiences and fieldwork observations in order to make connections between historical and current educational practices.


Child Development

Theories of Development

Barbara Schecter

Fall advanced 5-credit seminar

“Knowledge is there in the seeing.” What we observe when we look at children is related to adult assumptions, expectations, and naïve theories that we carry with us from our own families and childhoods. How are those theories related to the ways in which theorists have framed their questions and understandings of children’s experiences? Competing theoretical models of Freud, Skinner, Bowlby, Piaget, Vygotsky, Werner, and others have shaped the field of developmental psychology and have been used by parents and educators to determine child-care practice and education. In this course, we will read the classic theories in their primary sources (psychoanalytic, behaviorist, attachment, and cognitive-developmental) as they were originally formulated and in light of subsequent critiques and revisions. Questions that we will consider include: Are there patterns in our emotional thinking or social lives that can be seen as universal, or are these always culture-specific? Can life experiences be conceptualized in a series of stages? How else can we understand change over time? We will use theoretical perspectives as lenses through which to view different aspects of experience—the origins of wishes and desires, early parent-child attachments, intersubjectivity in the emergence of self, symbolic and imaginative thinking, and the role of play in learning. For conference work, students will be encouraged to do fieldwork at the SLC Early Childhood Center (ECC) or in another setting with children, as one goal of the course is to bridge theory and practice. Students who are interested in completing a semester-long, weekly fieldwork placement at the ECC as part of their conference work may have the opportunity to do so. NOTE: ECC fieldwork positions are limited due to COVID-19 precautions. If you are interested in a potential ECC placement, you will need to contact the ECC Director, Lorayne Carbon, as soon as you are registered for this class and prior to classes beginning. If you are able to secure an ECC fieldwork placement, please note that this will be a semester-long commitment. You will be expected to attend your scheduled ECC placement for four hours each week, work closely with your classroom teacher, and actively engage in your role as a classroom assistant.

Clinical Perspectives: Challenges to Child and Adolescent Development

Deanna Barenboim

Spring advanced 5-credit seminar

This seminar will focus on challenges that arise in child and adolescent development, drawing upon approaches in clinical psychology, developmental psychology, and cultural psychology/clinical ethnography. We will analyze how particular psychological experiences and behaviors have been typically understood as abnormal or pathological. We will also explore critical commentaries on clinical diagnosis and treatment in order to analyze the merits and drawbacks of the common approaches to these issues. Students will learn about the clinical categories of conditions such as ADHD, autism, depression, and anxiety, as compiled in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V). We will look at case studies to illuminate the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, course, and treatment of such psychological conditions in childhood and adolescence. Through reading firsthand accounts written by patients, families, and advocates, as well as cross-cultural studies that examine the neurodiversity of psychological experience, students will also be invited to question the universal applicability of Western clinical approaches that rest on particular assumptions about normality, behavior, social relations, human rights, and health. We will also explore how diagnostic processes and psychological and psychiatric care are, at times, differentially applied in the United States according to the client’s race/ethnicity, class, and gender and how clinicians might effectively address such disparities in diagnosis and care. Students will complete conference projects related to the central themes of our course and may opt to work at the Early Childhood Center or a local community program that serves children or adolescents.


Dance MFA Program

Dance Teaching Methods

Jennifer Nugent

Fall component

Throughout the semester we will work collectively to prioritize questions and dialogue that support an understanding of what movement styles we are drawn to, how we create, interpret, and organize ideas in movement and how we might begin to share this information with each other. Students will develop a self practice and investigate the intersection between this personal movement study and teaching inquiries as a means to imagine and develop a class that is supportive to and inclusive of multiple movement levels and abilities. Working to describe the intangible and the experience of movement itself we will refine how we filter this inside the dance class and how it might be initiated or shared to enhance one's ability to access movement, increase awareness, understand rhythm, technical structures, perception, and humanity within the exchange of teaching.


Dance/Movement Therapy

Movement Observation I

Susan Orkand

Fall advanced 3-credit seminar

This course is an introduction to Bartenieff Fundamentals and Laban Movement Analysis (LMA), with a primary focus on dance/movement therapy. The relationship of Bartenieff Fundamentals, development, and Effort-Space-Shape will be introduced. Concepts of anatomy and kinesiology will support these frameworks. The class is the first in a series of three on movement observation and assessment skills and is designed to familiarize the student with the Laban concepts and principles for the observation and description of movement, integrating other relevant perspectives for understanding human movement. Students will learn to embody and observe foundational components of physical action by exploring concepts in the categories of Body, Effort, Space, and Shape. Students also will discover how to vary movement dynamics and investigate the ways in which the body can organize parts into a whole and project into space. LMA provides insight into one’s personal movement preferences and increases awareness of what and how movement communicates and expresses. Rigorous inquiry and exploration of contextual and historical factors related to Rudolf von Laban’s era will be examined, both conceptually and in embodied ways.

Human Growth and Development

Elise Risher

Fall advanced 3-credit seminar

This course will focus on select features of development in infancy and early childhood. In particular, students will explore the developmental basis of mirroring; attunement and kinesthetic empathy; and the implications for social, cognitive, and emotional functioning. Students will gain a broader understanding of the relationships between early childhood experiences and behavior, which will provide a foundation for the use of developmental intervention in the practice of dance/movement therapy.

Psychopathology

Alma Watkins

Spring advanced 3-credit seminar

This course is designed to provide students with a base of knowledge in psychopathology and to familiarize students with current conceptions and empirical findings in psychopathology research. Beginning with the question of how abnormality is defined, we will explore contemporary perspectives on psychopathology and focus more specifically on psychological disorders, their development and treatment, and controversies within the field. Additionally, this course will focus on the physiologic and motoric manifestations of illness, the role of dance/movement therapy in treatment, and challenges particular to dance/movement therapy intervention. This course will use the current version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the DSM-5. Reading of the current manual will include discussion of recent changes and the impact on diagnostic understanding and treatment formulation.


Human Genetics

Understanding Barriers and Building Alliance in Genetic Counseling

Meghan Jablonski

Spring advanced 2-credit seminar

In even brief and time limited work, establishing a mutually respectful and empathic working alliance can be key to the effective delivery of counseling.  In practice, each individual carries the context of their larger experience into the consulting room, which may present barriers to their engagement in counseling.  Through considering factors that may impact an individual’s engagement - such as their relational experiences; spiritual beliefs; experiences with medical care; family and personal values; trauma histories; experiences with racial, socio-economic and/or gender discrimination, etc. -  students will consider ways of building a mutually constructed working alliance through which each client is best able to engage in the content of genetic counseling.  In this elective seminar, students will explore dynamic, cognitive, emotional, cultural and socio-economic factors that may impact an individual's engagement in genetic counseling, as well as psychodynamic, cognitive-behavioral, and mindfulness based approaches to building an empathic and productive working alliance.  Relevant history, theory, and evidence-based research will be examined and explored through relevant case studies.  Students will have the opportunity to formulate case summaries considering contextual factors and working alliance. 

Direct-to-Consumer Genetic Testing: Past, Present and Future

Laura Hercher

Spring advanced 2-credit seminar

Direct-to-consumer genetic testing is a fast-growing and expanding marketplace.  Many assume that DTC options will play a big role in integrating genetics into society, for better and worse.  Historically, clinical providers of genetic medicine have cast a cold eye on the commercial companies selling unmediated access to genetic testing, as have government regulators.  Today, most positions are more nuanced and the types of testing that are on offer are more varied.  Using lecture, case studies and guest speakers, we will examine a variety of the tests and modes of access often lumped together in the DTC bucket, and consider the risks and benefits of online access to genetic testing, the regulatory options, and the role that genetic counselors should play in pre- and post-test counseling for DTC results.


Theatre MFA Program

Directing: The Expanded Field

Adil Mansoor

Year advanced component

What does a director do? How do we expand our understanding of direction? Directing: The Expanded Field troubles these questions by exploring the responsibilities, challenges, and opportunities available to a theatre director. The fall semester will focus on skills for directing scripted plays, including text analysis, collaboration, concept development, and staging. The spring semester will expand the director’s role by considering various artistic methodologies, including socially engaged art, devised and ensemble-generated theatre, and lecture-performance. Throughout the year, students will learn through readings and media created by contemporary directors, artists, and thinkers from a variety of lived experiences and disciplines. Students will practice and experiment with directing methods through writing assignments, presentations, scene work, and iterative performance experiments. Students will perform in one another’s scenes and collaborate on multiple projects. Rooted in justice-based pedagogy and community-driven care, the course aims to challenge and expand the boundaries of directing performance.

3D Dramaturgy: Finding Voice Through the Generative Process

Mallory Catlett

Year advanced component

3D Dramaturgy is a mechanism for uncovering the connections among the artist, the source material/subject matter, and the moment of making—and for generating forms that reflect this unique confluence. In this course, students will create an artist statement focused on the central questions/interests of their practice, their sense of purpose, and their relationship to their audience. Each student will choose a piece of source material that allows him or her to explore these questions and relationships in three dimensions. The course will be split into theoretical readings/discussions and studio work, in which each student will create a series of performative iterations. In the first semester, we will use Andrew Simonet’s process for creating an artist statement from Making a Life as an Artist and Jacques Ranciere’s The Emancipated Spectator to think through the artists' relationship to audience. Ideas-Arrangements-Effects, by the Design Studio for Social Interventions, will be used to create a framework for talking about and approaching studio work. In the studio, we will work across disciplines—with sound, light, projection, costume, objects, text, and task—in an effort to make “ideas operational in the generation of the new” (Richard Foreman). In the second semester, students will take on more responsibilities in selecting readings and leading discussions of theoretical texts pertinent to their own research as a means to engender greater understanding and to create a community of artists who can support and challenge each other through collaboration, listening, and constructive critique.

Creative Impulse: The Process of Writing for the Stage

Sibyl Kempson

Year advanced component

In this course, the vectors of pure creative impulse hold sway over the process of writing for the stage—and we write ourselves into unknown territory. Students are encouraged to set aside received and preconceived notions of what it means to write plays or to be a writer, along with ideas of what a play is “supposed to” or “should” look like, in order to locate their own authentic ways of seeing and making. In other words, disarm the rational, the judgmental thinking that is rooted in a concept of a final product and empower the chaotic, spatial, associative processes that put us in immediate formal contact with our direct experience, impressions, and perceptions of reality. Emphasis on detail, texture, and contiguity will be favored over the more widely accepted, reliable, yet sometimes limiting Aristotelian virtues of structure and continuity in the making of meaningful live performance. Readings will be tailored to fit the thinking of the class. We will likely look at theoretical and creative writings of Gertrude Stein, George Steiner, Mac Wellman, Maria Irene Fornes, Adrienne Kennedy, Mircea Eliade, Kristen Kosmas, Richard Maxwell, and Roland Barthes, as well as work that crosses into visual-art realms and radical scientific thought from physicists David Bohm and F. David Peat. The course will be conducted in workshop fashion, with strong emphasis on the tracking and documenting of process.  

Directing in Context: Socially Engaged Practice

Adil Mansoor

Year advanced component

This course will explore socially engaged art (SEA) from the lens of directing theatre. Throughout the first semester, students will develop an understanding of what SEA can look like. Readings will include Education For Socially Engaged Art by Pablo Helguera, Artificial Hells by Claire Bishop, Social Works by Shannon Jackson, and Tactical Performance: Serious Play and Social Movements by L. M. Bogad. We will explore contemporary, socially-engaged artists and the context within which they are making their work. For example, when we study Simone Leigh’s Free People’s Medical Clinic, we will also study historical and theoretical texts about the Blank Panthers, mutual aid, healthcare in America, and performing care. Second semester will focus on student research and project development. Students will deep dive into research as a first step toward developing possible SEA projects. Students will build comprehensive reading lists (working with librarians and instructors) and begin to develop a research practice. There will be opportunities to present, facilitate conversations, and respond to each other’s ideas throughout the second semester. This class intentionally will not ask students to facilitate SEA projects understanding that the work takes time, meaningful relationships, and care. Throughout the year, we will consistently consider how theatres, performers, and dramaturgy intersect with, and diverge from, examples of SEA.

Directing Brechting

Kevin Confoy

Year open component

This hands-on directing class offers directors a vital technique and way of working based upon Bertolt Brecht’s theories of dialectical theatre. Brecht was a social activist. He used theatre to affect change. Brecht’s plays and techniques changed the way we look at theatre and view the world. His approach continues to shape the way directors dissect text, incorporate production elements, and create dynamic theatre productions. Students in Directing Brechting will use Brecht’s plays and plays by contemporary theatre makers that he deeply influenced—like Larry Kramer, Moises Kaufman, Anna Deavere Smith, and Suzan Lori-Parks, among others—for a personalized directing technique built upon an expansive Brechtian model. Students will direct scenes from chosen plays and create and mount their own original work; they will act in scenes directed by their classmates for in-class presentations. The class is open to serious directors, actors, designers, writers, poets, etc. who are interested in developing an approach to work and to theatre that is rooted in activism and social change.


Women's History

Diversity and Equity in Education: Issues of Gender, Race, and Class

Nadeen M. Thomas

Fall advanced 5-credit seminar

The education system is a central institution in the socialization of young people and the maintenance of the modern nation state. Schools support meritocratic models of society by providing opportunities for social mobility. Paradoxically, schools also reproduce gender, racial, and class inequality. In this course, we will examine the roles that schools play in the transmission of culture, formation of identity, and reproduction of social structures. Paying special attention to gender and its intersection with other social categories, we will look at practices and policies that shape students’ performance as they strive for competence, achievement, and acceptance. We will also analyze the larger political and economic contexts that shape both schools and the communities in which they are situated.