High School Seminars Course Descriptions - Colgate University Skip Navigation

Course Descriptions 2017-18

Session I

September 27, October 4, October 11
Make-up - October 18
Registration Deadline: Monday, September 18
Are we still winning the war on war? Peace and conflict in the 21st century
Jacob Mundy, Associate Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies
Contrary to what the media tells us, we live in the most peaceful age humans have ever experienced. But can this last? The end of the Cold War in 1990 witnessed a significant decline in wars worldwide. In the two decades that followed, armed conflicts continued to become more and more rare, though recent years have seen a slight uptick in the number and intensity of wars. Questions are now being asked as to whether or not we are losing the war on war. This course will examine the global architecture of peace that has transformed human lives over the course of millennia, centuries, decades, and years. It will consider the major social, political, and economic transformations that paradoxically allowed wars of unprecedented size (e.g., WWI & II) and vast technologies of global annihilation (e.g., nuclear weapons), while also creating the conditions for a more peaceful world.
Ask a Colgate Student
Wil Stowers '19, Allie Nyer '18
Have questions about preparing for, applying to, and choosing a college? Join Colgate students who have recently been through the process of selecting a college and are now in the thick of it! Students will share their tips for surviving the high school to college transition, give an in depth tour of Colgate, and answer all your questions about college life.
Climate change and YOU!
Ana Jimenez, Assistant Professor of Biology
Our planet is currently undergoing a level of abiotic and biotic change that is unprecedented in recent history. There is widespread consensus in the scientific community that much of this change is anthropogenic. This course introduces students to the recent data on climate change and inferred causes and consequences of that change. Throughout the course, the way in which humans influence these changes and also the ways in which these changes impact humans and animals are explored. The main focus of the course is the carbon cycle, specifically on human energy consumption, food production, and water use, and how they are linked to biodiversity loss.
Remote Sensing: from Drones to Satellites
Mike Loranty, Assistant Professor of Geography
Remote sensing is the science of acquiring information about an object or process without physical contact. Mapping land cover change, monitoring weather, and studying how forests respond to climate change are just a few of the ways that we use remote sensing. In this course we will learn about the basic physics involved in remote sensing by collecting our own data using a variety of ground-based sensors. We will then examine a series of case studies to learn how these types of measurements can be used to study large areas when they are acquired using drones, airplanes, or satellites.*Now with more drones.
The Rhetoric of Style
Jenn Lutman, Director of the Writing and Speaking Center
In ancient Greece and Rome, teachers of rhetoric taught style (elocution) as one of five essential "canons," or rules, for effective communication. In their emphasis on style, they taught students to focus not only on the content and form of an argument, but also on its artful expression. This 3-week course will explore how writers' stylistic choices influence readers' understanding and response. Students will experiment with new stylistic techniques, completing and sharing written exercised in diction, sentence structure, punctuation, and figures of speech.
Why One Should Google Thyself
Matt Hames, communications strategist
In a world where 4 million Google searches are done every minute, your digital personal brand is vital. When you go off to university, use Facebook 95% of the time, and use LinkedIn 5% (get a profile). By your senior year, flip the percentages. Facebook can cost you a job, LinkedIn can get you a job. It isn't always that simple, but it will continue to be important to understand your digital brands as you prepare to graduate from high school. In this course you'll learn how the internet already creates your personal brand - and how to take more control over it.

This course is only open to juniors and seniors.

Session II

November 1, 8, 15
Make-up - November 29
Registration deadline: Monday, October 23
Apartheid in South Africa
Ryan Solomon, Assistant Professor of Writing and Rhetoric
The history of South Africa is defined by the racial legacy of Apartheid. Apartheid was an institutionalized system of racial segregation that has become infamous for the systematic nature of its racial oppression, its violence, and for the brazenness of the South Africa government in upholding Apartheid in the face of international pressure. Apartheid has come to define the social space of South Africa - Apartheid policies shaped people's identities, their social relations, where they lived and went to school, how they moved, and even whom they got to marry. This class will help you understand how Apartheid came into being, how it impacted daily life in South Africa, and how opponents of Apartheid sought to bring it to an end. Most importantly, this class will help you understand the racial justifications of Apartheid, the impact of those racial implications on everyday life, and the continuing prevalence of those justifications in various contexts, like the US, today. Hopefully by engaging with the racial legacy of Apartheid, we can learn to be more critical of continuing racial discrimination across the world.
Becoming an Ally

All students are welcome to take this course in order to enhance their ability to be an ally by increasing their sensitivity to and awareness of social, political and cultural aspects of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community and identities. Each class session will include a brief lecture portion followed by an interactive activity designed for students to explore their own experiences and questions. Students will walk away with basic knowledge of social justice issues, and local/national resources relevant to supporting LGBTQ friends, family and classmates.
Climbing the Walls
Josh Solomon, Assistant Director of Outdoor Education
Have you ever wanted to climb a wall like Spiderman? Take this course and learn how to tie knots, use ropes to belay (hold) other climbers and move up the wall using good technique. This class guarantees great fun and that you will be hungry for dinner!
*Limited enrollment - only sign up if you can reliably attend all three classes.
Food: People & Planet
Pamela Gramlich, Program Coordinator for Environmental Studies and Sustainability
Food plays an important role in our personal, societal and planetary health. This class will explore how food access, production, waste, new technology, cultural values, and nutrition play a role in creating a sustainable future. The course will also examine the role that current agricultural threats, such as climate change, play in global food security. Participate in this interactive seminar to get a better understanding of the relationships among people, the planet, and food.
Museums: What they are, stand for, can do, be, and how can one/teenager get involved?
Anja Chavez, Director of University Museums
We will discuss with museum professionals, artists, students, docents, and collectors (in person and via Skype) what it means to work in museums, show in a museum, collect, and how this has changed their life and that of others. The class will involve viewing objects, visiting current exhibitions on the Colgate campus, and watching short videos that shed light on museums, museum careers. We will also explore ways teenagers are currently working in/with museums in the United States, etc. No specific skills necessary other than curiosity and a passion to explore something you may not be familiar with.
Music Appreciation: Crash course in the Cover song
Kara Rusch, DJ/artist/music critic
Class will be devoted to comparing covers of songs to the originals we all know and consider the definite version - but is it? We will listen to different treatments and arrangements of Classics and hear a range from listenable to far out groovy and strange. This course will mainly be centered in Jazz, Blues and Pop but expect a dip into many genres including Cabaret, classical, and Hip-hop. If you love music, this class is for you.

Session III

January 31, February 7, February 14
Make-up - February 28
Registration deadline: Monday, January 22
Crash Course in Jazz Appreciation 
Kara Rusch, DJ/artist/music critic
Interested in Jazz but always felt you needed to "understand" it in order to appreciated it? Don't be intimidated. A crash course in Jazz appreciation will be offered here. With toes tappin' and head bobbin' we'll chronologically explore Ragtime, Traditional Jazz, Swing, Bebop, Hard Bop and beyond. We'll hear the sounds and learn some history of one of America's greatest artistic contributions to the world: Jazz. We will also heavily focus on Jazz treatments of well known Pop songs and talk about cover songs.
GM Foods
Priscilla Van Wynsberghe, Assistant Professor of Biology
The production and consumption of GM foods have been wrought with controversy since their introduction into the US in the 1990s. GM foods are made from organisms that have undergone genetic engineering to change their DNA. These changes can enhance the organism's ability to resist pests, tolerate herbicides, improve fruit yields or increase nutrient resistance. This course will discuss what GM foods are and how they are made. We will also examine the pros and cons of growing and consuming GM foods. In addition, students will also conduct hands-on lab experiments to investigate whether commonly consumed food products contain GM materials as predicted by their labels.
Hispanic Language, Literature, and Culture
G. Cory Duclos, Director of the Keck Center for Language Studies
This course will look at the culture of Latin America and Spain through the lens of literature. Works will be read in translation, but we will also note some of the linguistic elements of the original texts. This course will complement students' study of Spanish, but no prior language knowledge is necessary for the course.
Scrutinizing Stereotypes
Laur Rivera, Manager of the Perception and Action Language Lab
Does the environment you live in determine who you are? Why do we think, feel, and behave the way we do? Through various activities and exercises we will learn a bit about the human mind, how it works, and the effects of socialization on identity and determine how we develop social norms and what influences our society. We'll start with a very brief history of psychology, visit a few of Colgate's Neuroscience and Psychology labs, talk about Harvard's Implicit Associations Task, and as a group we'll design and run our own experiment.
True Connections - The Real, Raw, and Right Series
Dayna Campbell, ALANA Cultural Center Program Coordinator
Drea Finley, Assistant Dean for Administrative Advising and Director of First Generation Programs

This is not your typical class. This is not the type of class where you sit down to be lectured. This class is about true engagement. How well do you know the people around you? You may think you know them well, but we promise you will know them better after taking this journey with us. You will learn how to critically engage with others around issues of race, class, gender, sexuality, spirituality, ability and any of aspects of identity that make you who you are. Additionally, we will achieve these understandings through aspects of culture and food. We will cook together; while breaking bread and sharing the most salient aspects of our identities through a variety of interactive and personal activities. Join us as we keep it real, raw and right.
Women's Rights in US History
Monica Mercado, Assistant Professor of History
Women comprise over half of the U.S. population, but the stories of women's lives - their work, their families, their politics and activism, their diverse voices--do not generally comprise even half of what is taught or learned in most courses on American history. In this seminar, you will enhance your knowledge of women's roles and feminist strains of thought in the United States from the era of the American Revolution to the present day. Together, we will explore issues including race, class, education, and politics that have shaped women's lives and maintained gendered order in American society and how, in turn, women have shaped their lives in response to these issues, opportunities, and constraints. In the process, you will learn how to better read and interpret historic documents and other forms of feminist media, with a particular focus on moments when students have been engaged in struggles for women's equality.

Session IV

April 4, 11, 18
Make-up - May 2
Registration deadline: Monday, March 26
Climbing the Walls
Josh Solomon, Assistant Director of Outdoor Education
Have you ever wanted to climb a wall like Spiderman? Take this course and learn how to tie knots, use ropes to belay (hold) other climbers and move up the wall using good technique. This class guarantees great fun and that you will be hungry for dinner!
*Limited enrollment - only sign up if you can reliably attend all three classes.
Demystifying the SAT
Emily Wong '18, Renee Congdon '20, Joe Werthan '20
The SAT tends to be one of the most dreaded parts of the college admissions process, but we can help make sure you are as prepared as possible for the test! In this seminar, you will learn about the structure of the SAT, its importance in college admissions, and how to maximize your score. We will review all five sections of the SAT: Reading, Writing & Language, Math with calculator, Math without calculator, and the optional Essay. You will complete practice problems in each of these sections to become familiar with the types of questions you will encounter on the test. There is no better way to prepare for the SAT than by simply going over test questions. We will also go over common mistakes, SAT test-taking strategies, and best practices. In addition, we will go over how to register for the SAT and discuss when to take the test. By the end of this course, you will have a better understanding of the SAT and the confidence you need to be ready to go on test day.
Dendrochonology: The Study of Tree Rings 
Mike Loranty, Assistant Professor of Geography
If you've ever  looked at a freshly cut tree stump you may have noticed the tree growth rings. These rings appear naturally, due to differences in new wood produced early and later in the growing season. As it turns out, these rings can tell us a lot about the health of the tree, as well as how the growing conditions related to climate have varied from year to year. In this course we will learn about the science of dendrochronology by collecting tree cores and measuring the growth rings.
Modernist Poetry & The Rethinking of the Human
Michael Coyle, Professor of English
This seminar will explore poetry by some of America's most important modernist poets, such as Robert Frost, T.S. Eliot, Langston Hughes, Wallace Stevens, or Mina Loy. Each of these poets struggles to come to terms with what it means to be human, and to give form to human experience. What makes this struggle "modernist" is twofold. First, pursuing their work in the wake of Darwin, Nietzsche, and Freud, these poets endeavor to find both meaning and truth but do so knowing these two things are not necessarily synonymous. Second, knowing that meaning and truth are not necessarily the same thing leads them to the convictions that experience can only be modeled in aesthetic terms. Students should leave this seminar with a clearer understanding of not just what these poems mean but also how they mean. You will also have begun thinking about why poetry matters - not just in the terms of the poets we read together, but also on our own.
Think before you click: Media awareness in the digital age 
Daniel De Vries, Media Relations Director
Have you ever shared an outrageous political meme, news story, or statistic to prove a point online? If so, you may have unknowingly helped perpetuate disinformation. This course will help you identify media bias, primary sources, and scientific polling data. By learning how to be a savvy media consumer in this hyper-partisan world, you too can be the person in the room who can spot real, "fake news."
Visualizing the Universe
Joseph Eakin, Director and Designer of the Colgate Visualization Lab
We will start off exploring the origins of the universe and end up with our solar system. Each session will comprise of a vis lab show and interactive demos. The first week we will look at the forces behind the big bang and the universe. The next week we will explore our local universe and our solar system. The final week we will look at leftovers of the solar system by exploring comets, asteroids, and meteoroids.