This spring’s student forums—student-instructed seminars that cap at 15 spots and typically count for a full credit—range in content from environmental sustainability to the game theory of poker. This spring’s 20 student forums are listed below, by department.
African American Studies
“Radical Enbodyment,” taught by Zeno Scott ’18, sponsored by Visiting Assistant Professor of Theater and African American Studies Katherine Brewer Ball. This course is designed to bridge the existing schisms in Wesleyan’s artistic discipline through performing an analysis of life, strife, and desires.
“Melanin, Mind, and Soul,” taught by Arline Pierre-Louis ’19, Ruby Fludzinski ’20, and Ray Achan ’19, sponsored by Associate Professor of English and African American Studies and Writing Program Director Tiphanie Yanique. This class will provide an examination of spirituality, mental illness, the African Diaspora, and the ways in which they interact using specific case studies and historical events.
“The class will culminate in a performance of a student-written play titled ‘La Violecion of my PapiYon’, going up in the ’92 theater in April,” said Achan. “Additionally, the play will also be raising money for specific grass-root organizations in Haiti centered around at-risk mothers and young women.”
“Critical Perspectives on ‘The West Wing’” (half credit), taught by Maya Lockman-Fine ’18 and Sahil Singhvi ’18, sponsored by Dean of Arts and Humanities Ellen Nerenberg. This course gives a critical perspective on the liberal optimism of the West Wing, updated to contend with the social truths and historical perspectives of this time.
“The forum is focusing specifically on gender, race, and Islamophobia,” added Singhvi.
“Clitorally: An Interdisciplinary Exploration of the Female Orgasm” (half credit), taught by Elly Blum ’18 and Mariel Becker ’18, sponsored by Lauren B. Dachs Professor of Science and Society Laura Grabel. This course is an interdisciplinary approach to studying the female orgasm through a biopsychosocial lens.
“Abominable Snowmen to Zombies,” taught by Chloe Briskin ’18 and Alina Whatley ’18, sponsored by Professor of Biology (and department chair) Ann Burke. This course will be an in-depth exploration into the hypothetical plausibility of the existence of mythological creatures through a lens of evolutionary biology.
“The Science and Art of Chemical Demonstration,” taught by Mitchell Klein ’18, sponsored by T. David Westmoreland. This course will focus on the use of science demonstrations as an effective method to reach important concepts in chemistry.
“Advanced Game Theory Through the Lens of No-Limit Texas Hold’em,” taught by Sam Anschell ’19, sponsored by Assistant Professor of Economics Jeffrey Naecker. This class aims to challenge students’ methods of thinking by using No-Limit Hold’em (NLH) poker to introduce problems and discover solutions.
“The forum will be bringing in a couple of poker pros for a Q&A session, one of whom is the popular and charming Youtube sensation Andrew Neeme,” Anschell said. “I’d also like to say that the class teaches a game theory optimal poker strategy which is ‘unbeatable no matter what actions your opponent takes because of its precise balance. The class teaches students to optimize bet frequencies and sizes in every possible scenario to make their opponents indifferent between all of their (losing) options.’”
“A Poetics of Healing: Somatics and Writing Workshop,” taught by Monica Sun ’18 and Maret Rossi ’18, sponsored by Danielle Vogel. Expanding on Vogel’s pedagogy and poetics , this course merges a somatics lab with a creative writing workshop.
“Perception and Influence,” taught by Jaylen Berry ’18 and Nate Taylor ’18, sponsored by Assistant Professor of English Rachel Ellis Neyra. This course will explore how body language is connected to orientation and positionality within the context of race, socioeconomics, and sexuality.
“Farm Forum,” taught by Anna Marie Rosenlieb ’20 and Maggie O’Donnell ’19, sponsored by Associate Professor of History, Environmental Studies, and Science and Society Paul Erickson. This course is a gateway to understanding the role of agriculture in our modern food system, the history of agriculture, and the growing practices that comprise Long Lane Farm.
“Food Justice & Sustainability at Wesleyan and Beyond,” taught by Kate Sundberg ’20 and Leah Pensler ’20, sponsored by Professor of Environmental Studies Suzanne O’Connell. This course deals with current global food systems, focusing on issues of U.S. production, such as labor conditions, monocropping, and inhumane treatment of animals, to consumption issues, such as food access and sovereignty, and health risks.
“Sustainable Behavior Change” (half credit), taught Lily Davis ’20 and Meera Joshi ’20, sponsored by Director of the College of the Environment Barry Chernoff. This is a collaborative and discussion based course that focuses on extensive behavior change, communication, and social marketing research to introduce students to the theory and practice that will increase their understanding of effective methods to influence.
“Climate Change Analysis Through Media,” taught by Alex Horton ’18, sponsored by Huffington Foundation Professor of Economics and Environmental Studies and Professor of Economics Gary Yohe. This forum offers an opportunity for students of all majors to explore the threats posed by climate change.
“Outdoor Hiking Forum,” taught by Henry Fowler ’20 and Lizzie Walsh ’19, sponsored by Suzanne O’Connell. This forum aims to activate student leadership and environmental discourse through engagement with the outdoors.
Feminist, Gender, & Sexuality Studies
“Art Together/Craft with Me,” taught by Ona Lepeska-True ’19, Sophie Sokolov ’18, and Toby Meyer ’19, sponsored by Olin Library Collections Conservator and Head of Preservation Services Michaelle Biddle. This forum is an ambitious, challenging project, requiring a team to engage in all steps of the book-making process, from making the paper to creating the prints to binding the finished volume.
“Formative YA Novels of the 21st Century,” taught by Caroline Kravitz ’19, sponsored by Professor of Psychology Bob Steele. In this course, students will read seven fictional novels and watch the corresponding films. Guided by classic psychological, sociological, and literary ideas and theories, students will analyze the role of popular stories in contemporary culture.
“Young adult fictional novels are usually read for pleasure and are left out of the college curriculum as they are not considered academic pieces of literature,” Kravitz said. “However, these novels hold an important value in areas of literature, psychology, and sociology. The novels on this syllabus address themes and topics discussed in classes through accessible, digestible text. They provide a unique lens through which students can re-approach these themes and topics, connect them to modern culture, and discuss them in an academic setting.”
Science in Society
“Environmental Justice: Exploitation, Resistance, and Promise,” taught by Jesse Salas ’20 and Yasmeen Alshabasy ’20, sponsored by Associate Professor of Science and Society, African American Studies, and Sociology Anthony Hatch. The purpose of this forum is to investigate the social, political, and scientific dynamics of the environmental justice movement in the United States and globally.
“Artificial Intelligence and Humanity,” taught by Will Freudenheim ’18 and Beck Zegans ’18, sponsored by Hedding Professor of Moral Science and Professor of Philosophy, Environmental Studies, and Science and Society Joseph Rouse. This forum aims to explore how innovations in Artificial Intelligence (AI) theory and technology have changed (and continue to change) how we conceive of ourselves as human.
“The Black Fantastic,” taught by Kadijah Mathews ’18 and Drew Trotman ’18, sponsored by Assistant Professor of Sociology Courtney Patterson-Faye. The student leaders hope to use the tools sharpened by the upper level Sociology and African American Studies courses they have taken to inform interested students in critical analysis of representations of Blackness in popular culture.
“Mothers: Ensemble Writing and Devising,” taught by Jordan Roe ’19 and Lizzie Phan ’19, sponsored by Katherine Brewer Ball. The purpose of this forum is to build an interdisciplinary ensemble in order to establish a space in which students from various backgrounds in theater will collaborate to develop individual performance pieces that do not adhere to any prescribed form.
Editor’s note: Course descriptions are paraphrased or taken from this page on the University’s website.
Sam Prescott can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.