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Skidmore College

What will the class of 2022 learn in its first semester?

April 18, 2018
by Peter MacDonald

Oh, to be a first-year Skidmore student and take a deep, intellectual dive into a Scribner Seminar to study any number of the cool, crazy and compelling issues of today’s world.

Scribner Seminars, a cornerstone of Skidmore’s First-Year Experience Program, are taught by faculty from virtually every discipline. More than 40 courses highlight the quirky, inspiring and engaging intellectual curiosities and passions of each individual seminar professor.

Interdisciplinary by design, they introduce first-year students to a community where Creative Thought Matters–even for Captain Cook and K-pop fans.

“There's something contagious about the enthusiasm that first-semester, first-year students bring to the classroom,” says associate professor Andrew Lindner, who will teach “Mapping the Social World.” “I hope to help channel this energy toward their learning and skill development. And it’s equally exciting for us professors, as we too have not lost that sense of thrill about the first day of school.”

Visit the Scribner Seminar Program website to explore all 45 seminar offerings, including two being taught abroad in the FYE London program.

A sampling of seminarS:

Sailing the Seas with Captain Cook

Tillman Nechtman, associate professor of history

Investigate the maritime world that Captain Cook inhabited in the last half of the 18th century. Measure latitude and longitude, investigate the horrific medical ramifications of naval diseases like scurvy and, like Cook's crew, spend time in the kitchen making batches of sauerkraut according to the eighteenth-century recipes to stave off the disease. Read more


American Memories

Daniel Nathan, professor of American studies

Explore disciplinary and interdisciplinary perspectives on America’s collective memory—or lack thereof. Whether personal or public, consider some of the many ways Americans have remembered (and forgotten) specific people, places and events in our national past, such as Abraham Lincoln, colonial Williamsburg, and the Oklahoma City bombing. Read more 

“Students will quickly grasp that what they know and what they have been taught about the past is often more fraught and contested than they thought,” says Dan Nathan, professor of American studies and “American Memories” instructor.

“It’s insight that students tend to carry with them for a long time.”

What to Eat?

Monica Raveret-Richter, associate professor of biology

What can we eat? What should we eat? What do we eat? We inhabit a food environment radically different from that of our recent ancestors, and we perceive a staggering array of choices. Investigate how we perceive food and how its consumption impacts us in many ways. Read more



Joowon Park, assistant professor of anthropology

Whether through music, film, video games, sports or cuisine, “K-pop”–Korean popular culture–generates interest around the world. Navigate the social and political dynamics that have shaped Korean cultural production over the past decade. Read more

“K-pop provides us with a platform to have intellectually fun and stimulating conversations about how the convergence of creative content, social media and digital technologies impact global flows of pop culture and its social and political dynamics,” says Joowon Park, assistant professor of anthropology and “K-Pop” instructor.


Human Dilemmas

Mary DiSanto-Rose, associate professor of dance
Bina Gogineni, assistant professor of English
Mahesh Shankar, assistant professor of international affairs
Sheldon Solomon, professor of psychology
Viviana Rangil, professor of Spanish

As you begin college, you are confronted by the recurring dilemmas that define and shape our lives: What exactly am I? What is my relationship to others? What is my responsibility to them and to the world? Challenge the conventional assumptions as you explore what it means to be human. Read more 


How Do Women Look?

Katherine Hauser, associate professor of art history

Do blondes have more fun? Are lesbians really “invisible”? How do women look? Women have long been subject to an excruciatingly exacting visual evaluation from both men and women. Examine the representation of women in many mediums. Read more 


Mapping the Social World

Andrew Lindner, associate professor of sociology 

Whether treasure maps or Google Maps, maps symbolize adventure and discovery in the popular imagination. But maps are not merely a tool for navigation. This course will examine maps as a tool for thinking spatially about society. Read more 

“Student will kick off the semester drawing ‘smell maps’ of the dining hall,” says Andrew Lindner, associate professor of sociology and instructor of “Mapping the Social World.” “By the end of the course, they will use GIS software to map data about income, race, age and other factors in the larger Saratoga Springs community for their own individual projects.”


Sports Analytics

Michael Lopez, assistant professor of mathematics and statistics

Gain an overview of sports analytics and an application of quantitative approaches to provide a competitive advantage in the world of sports. Topics include the discovery and application of methods for novel player and team analysis, ways to improve in-game decision making, an overview of referee behavior and how big data can transform the future world of sports. Read more 


Galaxies and the Cosmic Web

Mary Crone Odekon, professor of physics

Just 100 years ago, we did not know that galaxies existed. Now we have observed a fantastic array of them. We will examine the history of these (sometimes controversial) discoveries and analyze these beautiful structures. Read more 

“I hope students will take away the idea that what we take for granted now, like the existence of galaxies, was once considered bizarre or unlikely,” says Mary Crone Odekon, professor of physics and instructor for “Galaxies and the Cosmic Web.” “Almost certainly, some ideas that seem bizarre now will turn out to make sense in the future.”

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