Health, Science, and Society

Health, Science, and Society is a cluster of undergraduate and graduate courses, programs, and events that address the meaning of health and illness, advocacy for health and health care, and structures of medical and scientific knowledge. Courses and events are multidisciplinary, bringing together perspectives from the humanities, creative arts, social sciences, and natural sciences. Undergraduate students who are interested in health, science, and society are encouraged to take courses across the curriculum and to design interdisciplinary conference projects.

Over the past 25 years, as health and disease have been examined from social, economic, political, and historical perspectives, there has been an increased awareness of the ways in which definitions of disease are framed in relation to the values, social structures, and bases of knowledge of particular communities. Globalization has required us to understand health and disease as crucial international issues, and environmental health is increasingly seen to be a matter of policy that has significantly differential effects on different populations. Public talks and events are regularly scheduled to bring together undergraduate and graduate faculty and students to consider these questions of health, medicine, and scientific knowledge from a broad variety of perspectives.

This focus of study may be of interest to students interested in the health professions, including pre-med, nursing, or allied professions such as physical therapy, allowing them to combine courses in the natural sciences with explorations of the social sciences, arts, and humanities. Similarly, students in the arts and humanities who are interested in health and illness may find that incorporating science and social science into their educational program enables them to achieve a greater depth of understanding and expression in their work.

The Health, Science, and Society program offers undergraduate students the unique opportunity to take advantage of Sarah Lawrence College’s nationally recognized graduate master’s programs in Human Genetics and Health Advocacy, both of which are the first such graduate programs offered in the country. Events and programs are also coordinated with the graduate programs in Art of Teaching and Child Development and in collaboration with the Child Development Institute.

2018-2019 Courses

Understanding Experience: Phenomenological Approaches in Anthropology

Open , Seminar—Spring

How does a chronic illness affect a person’s orientation to the everyday? What are the social and political forces that underpin life in a homeless shelter? What is the experiential world of a deaf person, a musician, a refugee, or a child at play? In an effort to answer these and like-minded questions, anthropologists in recent years have become increasingly interested in developing phenomenological accounts of particular “lifeworlds” in order to understand—and convey to others—the nuances and underpinnings of such worlds in terms that more orthodox social or symbolic analyses cannot achieve. In this context, phenomenology entails an analytic method that works to understand and describe in words phenomena as they appear to the consciousnesses of certain peoples. Phenomenology, put simply, is the study of experience. The phenomena most often in question for anthropologists include the workings of time, perception, emotions, selfhood, language, bodies, suffering, and morality as they take form in particular lives within the context of any number of social, linguistic, and political forces. In this course, we will explore phenomenological approaches in anthropology by reading and discussing some of the most significant efforts along these lines. Each student will also try her or his hand at developing a phenomenological account of a specific subjective or intersubjective lifeworld through a combination of interviewing, participant observation research, and ethnographic writing.

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Specters of the Subject: Hauntologies of Ghosts, Phantasms, and Imaginings in Contemporary Life

Advanced , Seminar—Year

“The future belongs to the ghosts,” remarked the philosopher Jacques Derrida in 1996. As his interlocutor Bernard Stiegler phrases the main idea behind this statement, “Modern technology, contrary to appearances, increases tenfold the power of ghosts.” With the advent of the Internet, various forms of social media, and the ubiquity of filmic images in our lives, Derrida's observations have proven to be quite prophetic, such that they call for a new field of study—one that requires less an ontology of being and the real and more a “hauntology” (to invoke Derrida's punish term) of the spectral, the virtual, the phantasmic, the imaginary, and the recurrent revenant. In this seminar, we consider ways in which the past and present are haunted by ghosts. Topics to be covered include: specters and hauntings, figures and apparitions, history and memory, trauma and political crisis, fantasy and imagination, digital interfaces, and visual and acoustical images. We will be considering a range of films and video, photography, literary texts, acoustic reverberations, Internet and social media, and everyday discourses and imaginings. Through these inquiries, we will be able to further our understanding of the nature of specters and apparitions in the contemporary world in their many forms and dimensions. Students will be invited to undertake their own hauntologies and thus craft studies of the phenomenal force of specters, hauntings, and the apparitional in particular social or cultural contexts.

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General Biology Series: Genes, Cells, and Evolution

Open , Lecture—Fall

Biology, the study of life on Earth, encompasses structures and forms ranging from the very minute to the very large. In order to grasp the complexities of life, we begin this study with the cellular and molecular forms and mechanisms that serve as the foundation for all living organisms. The initial part of the semester will introduce the fundamental molecules critical to the biochemistry of life processes. From there, we branch out to investigate the major ideas, structures, and concepts central to the biology of cells, genetics, and the chromosomal basis of inheritance. Finally, we conclude the semester by examining how these principles relate to the mechanisms of evolution. Throughout the semester, we will discuss the individuals responsible for major discoveries, as well as the experimental techniques and process by which such advances in biological understanding are made. Classes will be supplemented with weekly laboratory work.

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Introduction to Genetics

Open , Seminar—Fall

Genetics is the study of the basic unit of all life: genes. Genes are composed of DNA, intricately packaged in structures called chromosomes that ultimately encode proteins that are key for the normal development and homeostasis of all of the cellular and molecular processes in the cell. These process are crucial to maintain the optimal function of all the organs and systems that comprise the human body. Changes such as mutations in genes can lead to a plethora of defects and, hence, diseases and disorders. This course will not only introduce the amazing variety and diversity found in life due to the changes at the genetic level but also how many of those genetic changes are responsible for numerous disease states, as well. We will learn about and discuss the basic molecular mechanisms that determine heredity, such as mitosis and meiosis, leading into Mendelian genetics, various kinds of mutations, population and evolutionary genetics. We will also introduce and discuss some of the exciting genetic techniques that present great promise to increase our ability to further explore the vast treasure chest of information that lies in our genes. Classes will be supplemented with weekly laboratory work.

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Biology of Cancer

Intermediate , Seminar—Fall

Cancer is likely the most feared and notorious of human diseases, being devastating in both its scope and its prognosis. Cancer has been described as an alien invader inside one’s own body, characterized by its insidious spread and devious ability to resist countermeasures. Cancer’s legendary status is rightfully earned, accounting for 13% of all human deaths worldwide and killing an estimated eight million people annually. In 1971, President Richard Nixon declared a “war on cancer”; since then, more than $200 billion has been spent on cancer research. While clinical success has been modest, tremendous insights have been generated in understanding the cellular, molecular, and genetic mechanisms of this disease. In this course, we will explore the field of cancer biology, covering topics such as tumor viruses, cellular oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes, cell immortalization, multistep tumorigenesis, cancer development and metastasis, and the treatment of cancer. In addition, we will discuss new advances in cancer research and draw from recent articles in the published literature.

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General Chemistry I

Open , Lecture—Fall

Chemistry is the study of the properties, composition, and transformation of matter. Chemistry is central to the production of the materials required for modern life; for example, the synthesis of pharmaceuticals to treat disease, the manufacture of fertilizers and pesticides required to feed an ever-growing population, and the development of efficient and environmentally-benign energy sources. This course provides an introduction to the fundamental concepts of modern chemistry. We will begin by examining the structure and properties of atoms, which are the building blocks of the elements and the simplest substances in the material world around us. We will then explore how atoms of different elements can bond with each other to form an infinite variety of more complex substances called compounds. This will lead us to an investigation of several classes of chemical reactions, the processes by which substances are transformed into new materials with different physical properties. Along the way, we will learn how and why the three states of matter (solids, liquids, and gases) differ from one another and how energy may be either produced or consumed by chemical reactions. In weekly laboratory sessions, we will perform experiments to illustrate and test the theories presented in the lecture part of the course. These experiments will also serve to develop practical skills in both synthetic and analytic chemical techniques.

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General Chemistry II

Open , Lecture—Spring

This course is a continuation of General Chemistry I. We will begin with a detailed study of both the physical and chemical properties of solutions. This will enable us to consider the factors that affect both the rates and direction of chemical reactions. We will then investigate the properties of acids and bases and the role that electricity plays in chemistry. The course will conclude with introductions to nuclear chemistry and organic chemistry. Weekly laboratory sessions will allow us to demonstrate and test the theories described in the lecture segment of the course.

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Nutrition

Open , Seminar—Fall

Nutrition is the sum of all interactions between ourselves and the food that we consume. The study of nutrition includes the nature and general role of nutrients in forming structural material, providing energy, and helping to regulate metabolism. How do food chemists synthesize the fat that can’t be digested? Can this kind of fat satisfy our innate appetite for fats? Are there unwanted side effects, and why? What constitutes a healthy diet? What are the consequences of severely restricted food intake seen in a prevalent emotional disorder such as anorexia or bulimia? These and other questions will be discussed. We will also discuss the effect of development, pregnancy, emotional state, and disease on nutritional requirements. And we will consider the effects of food production and processing on nutrition value and food safety.

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Biochemistry

Advanced , Seminar—Spring

Prerequisites: Organic Chemistry and General Biology.

Biochemistry is the chemistry of biological systems. This course will introduce students to the basic principles and concepts of biochemistry. Topics will include the structure and function of biomolecules such as amino acids, proteins, enzymes, nucleic acids, RNA, DNA, and bioenergetics. This knowledge will then be used to study the pathways of metabolism.

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First-Year Studies: Cultivating Creativity in Dance, Gardening, and Food Justice: A First-Year Studies Community Partnership

Open , FYS—Year

First-Year Studies in Dance is primarily practice-based, with most of our work occurring in the studio. While there is some reading and writing required in analytic components, it is scaled in proportion to the demands of movement-centered pursuits.

Where can dancing and dance-making flourish? How can we cultivate deep and enduring practices as dance artists, scholars, and active community members? What can we learn about dance in the process of gardening, which has been described by landscape architects as the slowest of the performing arts? In this interdisciplinary FYS course, we will begin to make connections between the fundamental aspects of the Sarah Lawrence College dance program and the practical experience of related disciplines that foster similar values. The discipline of dance cultivates and stimulates the acquisition of technique, creativity, and theoretical inquiry and thrives with consistent practice. The multiple phases of growing and harvesting in the garden, from conceptual to practical, provide a unique mirror to dance as an art form, while emphasizing attentive care of our planet and care for ourselves through the cultivation of food- and community-based work. We will have two weekly First-Year Studies in Dance class sessions (one in the dance studio and one in the garden, see below), along with component classes in improvisation, dance history, and movement practices that include African Diasporic Dance, Contemporary Practice, Ballet, Hip Hop, Contact Improvisation, and Bharatanatyam. Students of all experience levels, from beginning to advanced, are welcome! During registration, each student will be guided in arranging an individualized schedule of component classes tailored to his/her level and designed to support the ongoing development of skills in various aspects of dance as an art form. Students should expect to be dancing on a daily basis. All students in the dance program may elect to perform in our departmental productions. These include Open Performance each semester, where any SLC student may present his/her own choreography, and Winter Performance, MFA Thesis Performance, and Spring Performance, with works choreographed by graduate and upperclass undergraduate students in the Dance Making class. Our weekly FYS class session in the studio will be devoted to creating a collective performance piece informed and inspired by our experiences over the course of the year, as well as to discussing class readings, presenting individual research and writing, and reflecting on experiences in the garden with community partners. Class readings will draw on texts from several fields of study, including dance and performance, gardening and farming, cultural studies, and service learning. Weekly donning conferences support all phases of students’ academic endeavors. Weekly FYS garden sessions, in partnership with Douglass DeCandia, Food Growing Project Coordinator for the Food Bank for Westchester, will provide opportunities to engage in service learning and social justice practice literally from the ground up. In these sessions, we will work alongside local community members (site staff, residents, and volunteers), building connections through planting, harvesting, and processing produce for distribution to local hunger relief programs.

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Econometric Analysis: Structural Explorations in the Social Sciences

Open , Lecture—Year

This lecture requires some basic knowledge (high-school level) of mathematics and statistics. A review of core concepts in these subjects will be carried out at the beginning of the fall semester.

The course is designed for all students interested in the social sciences who wish to understand the methodology and techniques involved in the estimation of structural relationships between variables. The course is intended for students who wish to be able to carry out empirical work in their particular field, both at Sarah Lawrence College and beyond, and critically engage empirical work done by academic or professional social scientists. The practical hands-on approach taken in this course will be useful to those students who wish to do future conference projects in the social (or natural) sciences with significant empirical content. It will also be invaluable for students who are seeking internships, planning to enter the job market, or desiring to pursue graduate education in the social sciences and public policy. After taking this course, students will be able to analyze questions such as the following: What is the relationship between slavery and the development of capitalist industrialization in the United States? What effects do race, gender, and educational attainment have in the determination of wages? How does the female literacy rate affect the child mortality rate? How can one model the effect of economic growth on carbon-dioxide emissions? What is the relationship among sociopolitical instability, inequality, and economic growth? How do geographic location and state spending affect average public-school teacher salaries? How do socioeconomic factors determine the crime rate in the United States? During the course of the year, we will study all of these questions. In the first semester, we will cover the theoretical and applied statistical principles that underlie Ordinary Least Squares (OLS) regression techniques. We will begin with the assumptions needed to obtain the Best Linear Unbiased Estimates of a regression equation, also known as the “BLUE” conditions. Particular emphasis will be placed on the assumptions regarding the distribution of a model’s error term and other BLUE conditions. We will also cover hypothesis testing, sample selection, and the critical role of the t- and F-statistic in determining the statistical significance of a social metric model and its associated slope or “β” parameters. Further, we will address the three main problems associated with the violation of a particular BLUE assumption: multicollinearity, serial correlation, and heteroscedasticity. We will learn how to identify, address, and remedy each of those problems. In addition, we will take a similar approach to understanding and correcting model specification errors. Finally, we will focus on the analysis of historical time-series models and the study of long-run trend relationships between variables. At the end of the fall semester, students will have to carry out an econometric analysis of a World Bank study on labor markets. The spring semester class will build on the fall class by introducing students to advanced topics in econometrics. We will study autoregressive dependent lag (ARDL) models, co-integration, and error correction models involving nonstationary time series. We will investigate simultaneous equations systems, vector error correction (VEC), and vector autoregressive (VAR) models. The final part of the seminar will involve the study of panel data, as well as logit/probit models. As with the fall class, the spring class will also be very “hands-on,” in that students will get ample exposure to concrete issues while also being encouraged to consider basic methodological questions (e.g., the debates between John Maynard Keynes and Jan Tinbergen) regarding the power and limitations of econometric analysis. At the end of the spring semester, students will have to do in-class presentations of self-designed econometric projects (either singly or in groups) on topics of their choice. The spring semester is particularly relevant to students who wish to pursue graduate studies in a social-science discipline, although it will be equally relevant for those seeking other types of graduate degrees that involve knowledge of intermediate-level quantitative analysis.

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Resource Economics and Political Ecology

Open , Seminar—Fall

Humankind’s ability to radically shape, alter, degrade, and threaten the Earth’s system(s) is strongly evidenced. From stratigraphic (geological) markers to plastic and electronic waste to climate change, nonrenewable resource depletion, and soil, water, and air spoliation, the consequences of human activity-induced (anthropogenic) provisioning are well-known, unceasing, and, it appears, accumulating and intensifying. Given the impact and interaction between humankind and the natural environment, far less certainty exists as to how to conceptualize, give narrative to, and address the complex, evolving, and continuous influence between humankind and its environment. As for the discipline of economics, significant tensions exist as to what tools, methods, vision, qualitative and quantitative measurement indicators, and theoretical foundations are appropriate and best-suited for voicing, revealing, stewarding, and redressing existing and future ecological challenges. Along with established and significant topics such as sustainability, externalities, pollution, regulation, global governance, benefit-cost analysis, taxation and subsidy, property rights and the commons, technology, competition and markets, biophysical realities, planetary boundaries, ecosystem services, consumption, and environmental ethics, this semester-long seminar will: 1) investigate distinct and alternative methodological, analytical, and theoretical tools of various schools of economic thought and their approaches to environmental concerns (e.g., mainstream neoclassical, ecological economics, post-Keynesian, Marxian, feminist/ecofeminist, institutionalist, behavioral); 2) examine and stress issues of environmental, racial, and intergenerational justice; unequal ecological exchange; trade and development; labor and ecological arbitrage; legal, political, and public policy dimensions; monetary considerations, accounting; value theory and social costs; 3) consider topics such as deep, shallow, social, industrial, urban, and dark ecology; thermodynamics; and novel ecosystems; 4) analyze and apply evaluative tools, methodologies, and practices, including interdisciplinarity, theoretical pluralism, systems thinking, critical ethnography, critical realism, neoliberalism, ultrasociality, cultural ecosystem services, and indigenous and postcolonial ontologies and epistemologies; and 5) critically explore, appraise, envision, and theorize as to existing and alternative provisioning possibilities and theses such as green capitalism, ecosocialism, degrowth (décroissance), metabolic rift analysis, capitalocene, anthropocene, and subsistence and sufficiency perspectives. Conference production (work) will look to situate students (economists) as keen and discerning interdisciplinary social scientists and will consist of research projects where a broad range of formats or mediums will be accepted in offering the opportunity to examine a topic of personal interest concerning the complex and evolving interaction between humankind’s economic system(s) and the Earth’s system(s).

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Microeconomic Theory and Policy: Advanced Topics

Intermediate , Seminar—Fall

Some prior background in economics is required.

What assumptions, methodologies, values, vision, and theoretical foundations do microeconomists incorporate and rely upon for analyzing economic behavior at the individual level? What insights, knowledge, inferences, and/or conclusions can be gleaned through examining characteristics of individual firms, agents, households, and markets in order to understand capitalist society? How do our theories of individual and business behavior inform our interpretation of distributional outcomes? Among other topics, this semester-long seminar in intermediate microeconomics will offer an inquiry into economic decision-making vis-à-vis: theories of demand and supply, the individual (agents), households, consumption (consumer choice); theories of production and costs; theories of the firm (business enterprise, corporations); theories of markets and competition; prices and pricing theory; public policy and legal foundations; and theories of value and income distribution. Critical analysis, reflection, and insight into these and other topics will be supported and strengthened by appealing to a broad range of traditions in economics, including neoclassical (orthodox, mainstream, marginalist) and post-Keynesian, feminist, Marxian, law and political economy, and institutionalist (heterodox schools of thought). Insights from legal analyses on microeconomic topics (such as cost-benefit analysis, the Coase theorem, and Pareto optimality) will also be discussed.

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Documentary Filmmaking: Truth, Freedom, and Bearing Witness

Open , Seminar—Year

Nonfiction is our search for the truth; it is an exploration in humanity—our beauty, complexities, and the often unimaginable. This class is designed for students who, through filmmaking, hope to move humanity one step closer to understanding who we are and how connected our life experiences may be. In this yearlong course, students produce one 15- to 30-minute documentary on the subject of their own choosing. Students will develop treatments, pitch their projects, create production schedules, and work in small teams to create their films. Each week, students must demonstrate clear progress on their projects, including outlined shoot dates, updates on production needs, screening of unedited material, assembly cuts, rough cuts, and the eventual final delivery of their conference films. During class, we will screen short- and long-form documentary films from around the world, complemented by hands-on production techniques and experience. Although this is an open class, students must be prepared to learn camera operation, sound recording, and lighting with diligence and professionalism. Each student will direct his/her own project; however, the crew will be made up of the student’s peers, who will be entrusted with delivering strong technical material. This course will challenge students to think beyond the beautiful gates of Sarah Lawrence and take on subjects and opportunities that are new spaces both emotionally and physically. Nonfiction requires passion for storytelling and, ultimately, a passion for people. We hope to finish the year with a lens on the world that’s evolved to new heights of understanding and compassion.

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Science, Medicine, and Technology in Modern Empires

Open , Seminar—Spring

We often think about science as the disinterested search for objective truth about the natural world. The scientific method, this story goes, emerged from the European Renaissance and Enlightenment and spread throughout the world, inaugurating modernity and putting all peoples on the path of progress. Yet, the moral consensus surrounding the ideas of science, medicine, and technology that helped define the modern era obscures a contested and often disturbing history. Rather than uncritically accepting a triumphalist story of the progressive march of scientific modernity, this course will explore how scientific ideas and practices changed over the course of the 19th and 20th centuries—paying special attention to how they were used in imperial contexts, what kind of rhetorical and practical work they accomplished, and whose interests they served. We will ask questions such as: How did science and technology contribute to the rhetorical power of colonial “civilizing missions”? What role did scientific expertise play in the administration and control of colonial populations? How did the geographic, political, and racial dynamics of colonialism influence European epistemology? Ultimately, we will seek a more nuanced understanding of how science, medicine, and technology function in our own globalized world.

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An Introduction to Statistical Methods and Analysis

Open , Lecture—Fall

Mathematical prerequisite: basic high-school algebra and geometry.

Correlation, regression, statistical significance, and margin of error...you’ve heard these terms and other statistical phrases bantered about before, and you’ve seen them interspersed in news reports and research articles. But what do they mean? And why are they important? And what exactly fueled the failure of statistical polls and projections leading up to the 2016 US presidential election? An introduction to the concepts, techniques, and reasoning central to the understanding of data, this lecture course focuses on the fundamental methods of statistical analysis used to gain insight into diverse areas of human interest. The use, misuse, and abuse of statistics will be the central focus of the course; specific topics of exploration will be drawn from experimental design, sampling theory, data analysis, and statistical inference. Applications will be considered in current events, business, psychology, politics, medicine, and other areas of the natural and social sciences. Statistical (spreadsheet) software will be introduced and used extensively in this course, but no prior experience with the technology is assumed. Conference work will serve as a complete practicum of the theory learned in lecture: Students working closely in small teams will conceive, design, and fully execute a small-scale research study. This lecture is recommended for anybody wishing to be a better-informed consumer of data and strongly recommended for those planning to pursue graduate work and/or research in the natural sciences or social sciences.

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Introduction to Mechanics (General Physics Without Calculus)

Open , Seminar—Fall

This course or equivalent is required to take Introduction to Electromagnetism, Light, and Modern Physics (General Physics Without Calculus) in the spring.

This course covers introductory classical mechanics, including dynamics, kinematics, momentum, energy, and gravity. Students considering careers in architecture or the health sciences, as well as those interested in physics for physics’ sake, should take either this course or Classical Mechanics. Emphasis will be placed on scientific skills, including problem-solving, development of physical intuition, scientific communication, use of technology, and development and execution of experiments. Seminars will incorporate discussion, exploratory activities, and problem-solving activities. In addition, the class will meet weekly to conduct laboratory work. A background in calculus is not required.

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Time to Tinker

Open , Seminar—Spring

Do you enjoy designing and building things? Do you have lots of ideas about things that you wished existed but do not feel you have enough technical knowledge to create it yourself? This course is meant to give an introduction to tinkering, with a focus on learning the practical physics behind basic mechanical and electronic components and providing the opportunity to build things yourself. We will have weekly, three-hour workshops in the physics lab, along with individual biweekly conference meetings. The course will be broken down into multiple units, including tools of the trade, mechanics, 3D printing, simple electronics, introduction to Arduino, and the engineering design process. Each unit will include a small group project to demonstrate the new skills that you have acquired. In addition, there will be weekly homework assignments, where you will need to create or bring in something related to the topic at hand. For your individual conference project, you will be developing your own engineered piece, with a report on its design and desired function, as well as any necessary material required for others to replicate the results (within desired copyright restrictions).

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Introduction to Electromagnetism, Light, and Modern Physics (General Physics Without Calculus)

Sophomore and above , Seminar—Spring

Calculus is not a requirement for this course. Students should have had at least one semester of physics (mechanics).

This course covers electromagnetism and optics, as well as selected topics in modern physics. Students considering careers in the health sciences, as well as those interested in physics for physics’ sake, should take either this course or Classical Mechanics. Emphasis will be placed on scientific skills, including problem-solving, development of physical intuition, scientific communication, use of technology, and development and execution of experiments. Seminars will incorporate discussion and exploratory and problem-solving activities. In addition, the class will meet weekly to conduct laboratory work. A background in calculus is not required.

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First-Year Studies: The Developing Child: Perspectives and Contexts

Open , FYS—Year

Developmental psychology often focuses on early childhood as the context in which the foundations of all kinds of later psychological functioning can be seen—from thinking and feeling and imagining to social interaction, attachment relationships, emotional life, and personality organization. This course is about how children develop from birth through adolescence, with special emphasis on the first seven years. We will look at this from various perspectives: the perspective of our own and other people’s memories of childhood—the perspective of experience; the perspective of what we see when we carefully watch children in natural settings and listen to their words—the perspective of observation; and the perspective of the concepts psychologists have formulated about development based on their empirical research and reflections—the perspective of theory. The various contexts in which children develop will be considered throughout the course. We will draw on various sources as we study the developing child. Readings will be drawn from developmental psychology (theory and research); from memoir and literature; from anthropology and cultural psychology; from education (addressing children’s learning processes and schooling); from clinical psychology (about the challenges children may face and how to help them); and from media accounts about children, childhood, and social policy. Reflections on our experiences, past and present, will begin the year and be returned to periodically. Observations of children will be ongoing, both formal ones as assigned periodically for class and informally every time we have the opportunity to see children. Fieldwork is a central and ongoing core of the course—each student will work all year in an Early Childhood Center (ECC) preschool classroom two mornings or afternoons a week, serving as part of the teaching team—being participant observers so as to have the best view possible of children’s individual development and ongoing lives at school. Previous experience with children is not required, but the desire to immerse oneself in children’s lives in the classroom is a must. Discussion will take place—in the seminar, before and after ECC class time with the teaching team, in conference, among classmates—about all you are reading and seeing and wondering about. Writing will include seminar writing assignments, from observations to short essays, and conference papers. Conference work first semester will draw on the fieldwork, with accompanying readings on a topic of individual interest. In the second semester, conference work may continue to focus on fieldwork but may also move away from it into various domains of developmental psychology.

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Sleep and Health: Clinical Conditions and Wellness

Open , Lecture—Fall

A key and often-overlooked aspect of recharging is also one of the most obvious: getting enough sleep. There is nothing that negatively affects my productivity and efficiency more than lack of sleep. After years of burning the candle on both ends, my eyes have been opened to the value of getting some serious shuteye. —Arianna Huffington, Sarah Lawrence College Commencement Address, 2012

Sleep is an incredibly powerful piece of the human experience—one everyone does or does not do enough—that is often marginalized in contemporary culture. This open-level lecture examines historical, developmental, neuropsychological, physiological, and cultural perspectives on the construct of sleep and explores the role of sleep in psychopathology, relevant medical conditions, and wellness. How sleep impacts, and is impacted by, clinical conditions will be examined, along with Eastern and Western approaches to understanding sleep phases, body clocks, and sleep regulation. Historical and contemporary theories of dreaming—including dream structure and the role of dreaming in memory consolidation, creative problem-solving, and preparing for the future—will be considered. Differences in developmental sleep needs will be considered, as well as gender differences in sleep behaviors. The impact of sleep deprivation on cognitive function, school/work performance, mood, and social functioning will be examined, as well as socioeconomic barriers to adequate sleep (e.g., shift work), pressures of 24-hour culture, and use of digital devices. The course will conclude with a look at the powerful benefits of sleeping well, including evidence from electroencephalogram (EEG) and neuroimaging data, as well as from examination of cultures with exceptionally high levels of well-being. This class will meet for one lecture section and one smaller seminar section per week, plus A/B-week group conference sections. Weekly lectures will focus on the neuropsychological, cognitive, and clinical aspects of sleep phenomena. Weekly seminar sections will offer deeper discussion of lecture material and related psychosocial topics. Conference groups will meet every other week for supervision on group conference work. Weekly reading assignments will include literature in sleep science, developmental psychology, cognitive psychology, neuropsychology, physiology, positive psychology, clinical theory and research, relevant case studies, essays, and memoir. Select film and documentary material will be included for class discussion. Additionally, class members will follow the topic of sleep in popular media. All class members will be asked to monitor their sleep patterns using available sleep apps and/or observation logs. Group conference work will be based on sleep-log observations and experience with sleep strategies related to class material. Group conference projects will include a group presentation and written summary of key observation themes supported by relevant empirical literature. Projects will consider developmental sleep needs, quality of sleep environment, light/dark exposure, use of digital devices, and bedtime routine. Project themes may also include topics related to sleep, such as dreaming, memory/other cognitive functions, cultural aspects of sleep, and/or mindfulness meditation. Students interested in developmental aspects of sleep in children may complete a weekly fieldwork placement at the Early Childhood Center.

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Virtually Yours: Relating and Reality in the Digital Age

Open , Seminar—Year

This yearlong, open-level seminar will examine relating and reality in the digital age. In the fall semester, we will focus on ways in which humans have evolved to relate to each other and be related to and how our innate relational patterns fit (or do not fit) within the rapidly evolving digital world. We will consider ways in which digital life is changing how people relate and ways in which this may be challenging for some but beneficial for others. We will begin with relevant historical and developmental perspectives on attachment theory, human bonding, and shifting relational expectations. We will move on to consider how various realms of the digital world (e.g., social media, messaging, dating apps, video chats, artificial intelligence, virtual reality) impact our relational patterns, as well as aspects of self- and identity expression (e.g., of gender, sexuality, values, beliefs, interests). We will consider the role of digital spaces in making new connections, building friendships, falling in love, and maintaining romantic bonds, as well as bullying, revenge, trolling, and potential barriers to empathy that may occur when our gazes are fixed on screens and not on each other. We will also consider our emerging engagement with artificial intelligence and our attachment to digital devices themselves. In the spring semester, we will examine how reality has been defined historically, clinically, and culturally; how one’s sense of reality is shaped through development; and what internal, environmental, social, and cultural factors contribute to one’s sense of reality. Can reality ever truly be objective? Building on material from the first semester, we will examine the innate, developmental, cultural, and social psychological factors that shape our perception of reality and our choice of reliable sources—including the roles of race, gender, and ethnicity in those processes. We will consider how psychological constructs and psychometric measures of reality have taken those factors into consideration, both currently and historically. We will next consider ways in which one’s sense of reality may be impacted by clinical conditions such as brain injury, psychosis, depression, trauma, and anxiety; altered by substances such as psychedelics; influenced by dreams; and potentially enhanced through meditation. We will then consider how the content, pace, and sheer volume of information currently cycling through social media and 24 news outlets may impact our perception of reality. Classes will be both discussion-based and experiential, with opportunities for observation (e.g., observing children relating/engaging in play in the SLC Early Childhood Center (ECC), free from digital devices) and in-class activities related to weekly topics (e.g., comparing experiences engaging with early logic-based digital toys such as Simon and Speak n’ Spell vs. digital toys that express affection such as Furby and contemporary AI). Class reading will include primary- and secondary-source academic material from diverse perspectives in developmental, neuropsychological, clinical, and cultural psychology and related fields. Supplemental material will include relevant literature, memoir, TedTalks, and popular media coverage of related topics. Conference topics may include, but are not limited to, the role of digital spaces in forming and maintaining relationships; relationships formed to artificial intelligence and/or digital devices; and/or developmental, neuropsychological, clinical, social, and/or cultural perspectives on/shifts in relating in the digital age. Conference projects may be completed in the form of an APA-style literature review, original data collection, and/or a creative piece with academic justification and will include a class presentation.

Fieldwork and Community Partnerships. All students will be required to make a one-time observational visit to the SLC Early Childhood Center (ECC) and to the Wartburg center for older adults. Optional weekly fieldwork is available and encouraged for any interested students.

(Optional) Weekly Fieldwork Placement, Early Childhood Center (ECC). Students will work closely with classroom teachers one hour per week and will become part of the classroom (as advised and supervised by classroom teachers) while maintaining weekly observation logs relevant to seminar objectives and conference work.

(Optional) Weekly Fieldwork Placement: Creative Aging and Institute for Music & Neurological Function at Wartburg. Using digital tablets, students will help residents in dementia and Alzheimer’s care by creating personalized tablet programs (e.g., including apps for relaxation, connecting with meaningful music and photos), helping residents connect with important memories and important relationships throughout their lives. Students will be responsible for working with residents, staff, and family (if and when available) to develop personally meaningful tablet programs, help residents access these programs, and write a protocol to be shared with future caregivers and family members for continued use. (2 hour weekly time commitment on site plus 15-20 minutes travel time)

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Family Caregiving Across the Life Cycle

Open , Seminar—Fall

There are only four kinds of people in the world: those who have been caregivers, those who are currently caregivers, those who will be caregivers, and those who will need caregivers. —Rosalynn Carter

Care and caregiving are aspects of daily life that each of us depends upon at various times throughout our lives. Yet care remains hidden and devalued in our current sociopolitical climate in which women continue to provide a majority of care. In this course, we will look at care as both an orientation and an activity provided by family and friends to people with disabilities and older adults. An Ethic of Care will provide a lens through which to explore the experiences of family caregivers. Specifically, caregiving youth, young adult, and male caregivers—as well as paid caregivers and care receivers living with a variety of chronic illnesses—will be our focus. Utilizing ethnographic research methods, we will explore care and caregiving from a variety of perspectives. This course will take an interdisciplinary approach and introduce students to the various literature on family caregiving. From psychology to public health, we will consider care as a reciprocal process that ebbs and flows throughout the life course. We will read from feminist theory, critical disabilities studies, psychology, and public health and will look at how care is portrayed in popular culture, film, and books. We will learn about individual and policy responses geared toward supporting family caregivers, as well as organizations that are dedicated to creating better conditions of care for all of us.

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Emerging Adulthood

Open , Seminar—Fall

We have time, energy, questions, and few responsibilities. We want to push the envelope, resist compromise, lead revolutions, and turn the world upside down. Because we do not yet know quite how to be, we have not settled and will not let the dust settle around us. —Karlin & Borofsky, 2003

Many traditional psychological theories of development posit a brief transition from adolescence to adulthood. However, many people moving into their 20s experience anything but a brief transition to “feeling like an adult,” pondering questions such as: How many SLC alums can live in a Brooklyn sublet? What will I do when I finish the Peace Corps next year? In this course, we will explore the psychological literature concerning emerging adulthood, the period from the late teens through the 20s. We will examine this period of life from a unified biopsychosocial and intersectional perspective.

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Building Resilience: Tools From Positive Psychology

Open , Seminar—Fall

For decades, psychology could be considered the study of what is wrong with individuals. Recent contributions from positive psychology are an effort to redirect the field toward areas where human beings get it right. An introduction to the relevant theories and research in positive psychology will help ground our thinking about this perspective and what it has to say about human potential and well-being. A review of recent empirical research will allow students to contemplate the following questions: Does money make us happy? Can listening to music build resilience? Why do some people persevere through adversity while others do not? How does our biological need to connect with others act as a buffer against stress? What benefits do clinical research and practice stand to gain from an integrated positive psychology perspective? Readings will draw upon topics related to attachment and social connection, mindsets and optimism, pleasure and happiness, and meaning and purpose. Particular attention will be paid to the effects of stress and negative thought patterns on physical and mental wellness. Weekly challenges and reflections will be used to connect course materials to students’ lived experiences.

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Food Environments, Health, and Social Justice

Open , Seminar—Spring

With obesity and diabetes rising at alarming rates and growing awareness of disparities in food access, researchers and policymakers are rethinking the role of the environment in shaping our diets and health. This course takes a collaborative approach to investigating some of the key issues guiding this area of research and action. Students will critically review literature on food environments, food access, and health inequalities and explore how modes of food production and distribution shape patterns of food availability and health in cities. Students may use photography and/or video to examine foods available in the neighborhoods where they live, review media related to the course themes, and use a time/space food diary to reflect on the ways in which their own eating habits are influenced by the social and material settings of their day-to-day lives. The course concludes with students writing letters to the editor/op-eds to a news outlet of their choice with suggestions about how to move forward with action to improve food access, public health, and social justice in the places where they live.

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Research Seminar: 21st-Century Sleep

Intermediate , Seminar—Spring

Technological advancements in the last century helped build an understanding of the neurophysiological and neuropsychological processes of sleep; technological advancements in the current century have made understanding and monitoring one’s own sleep widely accessible using digital devices and apps. Having been long marginalized or seen as a weakness, indulgent luxury, or barrier to productivity, the value of sleep as a physiological a psychological asset is gaining prominence. Consideration of sleep as central to well-being, cognitive function, creativity, and productivity is entering the mainstream discourse; and advocacy for sleep as a human right is gaining voice. Nap chairs are popping up in workplaces, the discovery of body clocks was awarded a Nobel Prize, and sleep deprivation has become a noted public-health concern. In a time where we are surrounded by digital screens, electric light, all-day coffee culture, and demanding expectations on time—and access to quality sleep is impacted by socioeconomic disparity—a culture is emerging in which sleep is regarded as a valued asset, not merely time spent “off” from waking life. What is the research supporting this emerging sleep narrative? What are the social, emotional, cognitive, and neuropsychological benefits of sleep? What is the impact of impaired sleep? What are the barriers to sleep and sleep access? What is an optimal sleep environment? And what new questions do we pose? Is there a relationship among sleep quality, anxiety, and attention challenges? Is there a relationship between sleepwalking and stress? How do attitudes toward sleep impact the experience of people with chronic fatigue? Do children who get regular and adequate sleep demonstrate greater social competence? How does attachment security impact sleep quality? What is the relationship between gender and sleep needs? How does sleeping in alignment with seasonal light/dark patterns impact mood? How does access to digital devices impact sleep quality? Is adequate sleep stigmatized in a 24-hour culture? How do attitudes toward caffeine use differ from attitudes toward nootropics (“smart drugs” intended to reduce the need for sleep)? How does sleep quality impact productivity? Do high-school classes start too early for teenagers? Will napping after studying improve memory? How does sleep quality impact athletic performance? Does sleep quality impact how dance students learn new choreography? Do artists, musicians, and writers find creative solutions in dreams? Does meditation lead to more lucid dreams? How does room temperature impact sleep quality? How does working night shifts impact mood and cognitive functioning? How do socioeconomic barriers to adequate sleep and homelessness impact academic performance and well-being in school-age children? In this intermediate-level course, we will attempt to better understand questions such as these and others related to the broad topic of sleep. Through examining established research/theory and pursuing new lines of research, students will consider the impact of sleep quality on physical and emotional well-being, productivity, academic/work performance, cognitive and social functioning; the impact of physical illness and/or mental illness on sleep quality; the role of sleep and dreaming in memory, learning, and other functions; developmental sleep needs and patterns; gender differences in sleep needs and sleep quality; the impact of sleep environment on sleep quality; sleep in the digital age; and the impact of psychosocial factors/economic disparity on sleep quality. Over the course of the semester, students will design an independent research project related to one of those topics or another topic relevant to sleep. Students will learn how to conduct an academic literature review, formulate the rationale for a research project, develop an effective research methodology, collect data, analyze data, interpret the results, and communicate the findings in an APA-style paper. This course serves as an introduction to research methods, with a specific focus on sleep-related phenomena through your own research. Topics will include experimental research design, case studies, observational techniques, survey development, and hypothesis testing. In addition to individual A/B-week conference meetings, students will discuss conference research projects in class throughout the semester, providing and obtaining feedback to/from peers on formulating research questions, methods, data analysis, and interpretation of results. Projects could include fieldwork at the Early Childhood Center or another setting relevant to the project.

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Children’s Health in a Multicultural Context

Intermediate , Seminar—Spring

A background in social sciences or education is recommended.

This course offers, within a cultural context, an overview of theoretical and research issues in the psychological study of health and illness in children. We will examine theoretical perspectives in the psychology of health, health cognition, illness prevention, stress, and coping with illness and highlight research, methods, and applied issues. This class is appropriate for those interested in a variety of health careers. Conference work may range from empirical research to bibliographic research in this area. Community partnership/service learning work is an option in this class.

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Challenges to Development: Child and Adolescent Psychopathology

Intermediate/Advanced , Seminar—Spring

We live in a society that often seems preoccupied with labeling people and their characteristics as “normal” or “abnormal.” This course covers some of the material usually found in “Abnormal Psychology” courses by addressing the multiple factors that play a role in shaping a child’s development, particularly as those factors may result in what we think of as psychopathology. Starting with a consideration of what the terms “normality” and “pathology” may refer to in our culture, we will read about and discuss a variety of situations that illustrate different interactions of inborn, environmental, and experiential influences on developing lives. For example, we will read theory and case material addressing congenital conditions such as deafness and life events such as acute trauma and abuse, as well as the range of less clear-cut circumstances and complex interactions of variables that have an impact on growth and adaptation in childhood and adolescence. We will try, however, to bring both critical lenses and a range of individual perspectives to bear on our discussion of readings drawn from clinical and developmental psychology, memoir, and research studies. In this process, we will examine a number of the current conversations and controversies about assessment, diagnostic/labeling, early intervention, use of psychoactive medications, and treatment modalities. Students will be required to engage in fieldwork at the Early Childhood Center or elsewhere and may choose whether to focus conference projects on aspects of that experience.

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Personality Development

Advanced , Small seminar—Fall

A century ago, Sigmund Freud postulated a complex theory of the development of the person. While some aspects of his theory have come into question, many of the basic principles of psychoanalytic theory have become part of our common culture and worldview. This course will explore developmental concepts about how personality comes to be through reading and discussion of the work of key contributors to psychoanalytic developmental theory since Freud. We will trace the evolution of what Pine has called the “four psychologies of psychoanalysis”—drive, ego, object, and self-psychologies—as well as the more recent integrative “relational perspective.” This is a different approach from the social personality work done on trait psychology, and we will consider its value for developmental understanding of the person. We will also consider the issues that this approach raises about children’s development into individuals with unique personalities within broad, shared developmental patterns in a given culture. Readings will include the work of Anna Freud, Erik Erikson, Margaret Mahler, Daniel Stern, Steven Mitchell, Nancy Chodorow, and George Vaillant. Throughout the semester, we will return to fundamental themes such as the complex interaction of nature and nurture, the unanswered questions about the development of personal style, and the cultural dimensions of personality development. An interest in theory and its applications is important, as is some background in psychology. Fieldwork at the Early Childhood Center or another appropriate setting is required, although conference projects may or may not center on aspects of that experience, depending on the individual student’s interest.

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Religion, Healing, and Medicine in the United States

Sophomore and above , Seminar—Spring

Processes that the discipline of medicine understands primarily in biological terms—such as the cycle of conception, pregnancy, and childbirth; recovery from illness or injury; pain; death—are frequently experienced as spiritual or religious experiences by those who undergo them. Understanding such experiences may even bring us close to understanding the essence or fundamental meaning of religion; for while specific beliefs and practices vary enormously between and within religious traditions, most—if not all—religions incorporate ideas about physical and spiritual healing. Some scholars have even argued that religion is, at root, a kind of medicine that may be described as a balm in Gilead, a practice of yoga, or a careful balancing of complementary forces. In this course, we will learn about the religious traditions informing practices such as traditional Chinese medicine, healing prayer, and mindfulness meditation. We will also pay attention to the ways in which religion and spirituality affect persons undergoing modern Western medical treatment and will investigate some of the ways in which religious knowledge, belief, and practice may either help or hinder physical well-being.

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Health Policy/Health Activism

Sophomore and above , Seminar—Year

How does your race, class, gender, and where you live and work influence whether you get sick? Why does the United States spend more on healthcare than other countries, yet rank relatively low on many measures of good health? How likely is it that you will have access to healthcare when you need it? Can we make affordable healthcare available to more people? What do we mean by “public health”? What is the role of government in providing healthcare or managing the health of populations? In this course, we will investigate these questions directly and through studying health social movements. Health activists have not only advocated for particular diseases and for research funding but also have also sought to reduce stigma, uncover health disparities and environmental injustices, and democratize medical research. Throughout the year, we will examine the history and contemporary meanings of “health,” examining the moral values attached to health and illness and questions of medical authority and medical knowledge. We will begin in the fall semester by studying health social movements in conjunction with studying patterns of ill health; i.e., who gets sick and why? In the spring semester, we will turn to healthcare systems, both within the United States and globally. We will study programs of healthcare reform in the United States and other countries, international health policy, and specific health policy issues such as vaccination, genetic screening, or the ethics of medical research. Throughout the year, we will explore broad questions of social justice, inequalities, governance, activism, and the environment through the lens of health.

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Lost and Found: Collage and the Recycled Image

Open , Seminar—Fall

This course will consider the use, reuse, and, therefore, possible reinterpretation of existing images and discarded materials in the production of new works of art. The creative potential of viewing the familiar in a new context will be the focus of our exploration. Issues such as recognition, replication, prime objects, invention within variation, appropriation, history, and memory (both personal and cultural) will be examined. Each student will be expected to nurture and sustain a unique and individual point of view. The course will revolve around daily exercises, clearly-defined problems, and assignments both inside and outside the studio that are designed to sharpen awareness and reinforce the kind of disciplined work habits necessary to every creative endeavor.

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First-Year Studies: The New Narrative Photography

Open , FYS—Year

A photograph presented alone and without a descriptive caption is like a simple utterance: “ooh!” or “aah!” or “huh?” When pictures are presented in groups with accompanying text and perhaps in conjunction with political or poetic conceptual strategies, however, any statement becomes possible. Collectively, photographs can begin to function as a sentence, a paragraph, or a larger discourse. Whether working in fiction or nonfiction, artists such as Alan Sekula, Robert Frank, Susan Meiselas, Taryn Simon, Jim Goldberg, Roni Horn, and others have transformed the reach of the photograph. Collectively, they have created a medium: The New Narrative Photography. In this course, students will study the work of artists and others and will create their own bodies of work. If you have a story to tell or a statement to make, this course is open to you. No previous photographic experience is necessary nor is any special equipment. The opportunity to forge a new medium is rare. This course aims to create the forum and the conditions necessary for all to do so in a critical and supportive workshop environment.

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The Ideas of Photography

Open , Seminar—Year

This course is a hybrid. Each week of the first semester, a different photographic idea or genre will be traced from its earliest iterations to its present form through slide lectures and readings. And each week, students will respond with their own photographic work inspired by the visual presentations and readings. Topics include personal dress-up/narrative, composite photography/photographic collage, the directorial mode, fashion/art photography, new strategies in documentary practice, abstraction/”new photography,” the typology in photography, the photograph in color, and the use of words and images in combination. In the second semester, the emphasis will shift as students choose to work on a subject and in a form that coincides with the ideas that they most urgently wish to express. No previous experience in photography is necessary nor is any special equipment. A desire to explore, to experiment, and to create a personally meaningful body of work are the only prerequisites.

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What’s the Story? A Radio Journalism Class

Open , Seminar—Fall

Almost two years into a politically divisive presidency that has fractured the country—and with the proliferation of fake news—journalism is more important than ever. And so are the skills required to do the job. The landscape of radio is exploding, and new podcasts are being launched almost faster than listeners can decide which episode to download next. These outlets, shows, and storymaking machines are hungry—both for stories and for the producers with the skills to know how to tell stories. In this class, we’ll learn the fundamentals of making radio news—both writing and production, for short stories and long. We’ll cover editing, software, interviewing skills, and, of course, how to hold your microphone. We’ll learn what makes a story, how to get good tape, and how to write for the ear (very different than for the eye—just try comparing an article from The New York Times with a transcript from NPR). We’ll also cover the skills critical for all nonfiction narrative storytelling, print or audio, from “Morning Edition” to “This American Life.” We’ll talk research, ethics, fact checking, how to find sources, and how to get them to talk. Finally, we’ll cover the art of the pitch. That’s industry lingo for selling your story. It’s no good getting the scoop if you don’t know how to sell your stuff. News is new. Come and learn something new.

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