Sophomore Residential Seminars are a unique and immersive living-learning experience during the sophomore year. SRS students have opportunities to build deep academic communities based on common interests and sustained interactions with SRS faculty members. The capstone experience is a 7-10 day trip in January that extends the academic experience out of the classroom and into the real world. Apply in January to join this exciting academic community!


The application period for the 2020-21 academic year will begin in December 10, 2019, and all applications must be submitted before February 3, 2020.



The program is a transformational series of intensive residential seminars for sophomores, initially made possible with a significant grant from the Mellon Foundation. Students who are selected will live and study together, meet regularly with the seminar professors and guest speakers in their residence hall, and engage in an embedded academic travel experience related to the course at no extra charge. Each spring, all SRS students will continue the dialog with a one-quarter-credit course with their professor.

Applications Due

Faculty teaching in the program will interview students during the first two weeks of February 2020 and offer spots to students beginning in mid-February.

Fall 2020 Seminars

Environmental health is a field of interdisciplinary study that integrates human society and behavior with ecological and evolutionary processes to understand environmental dimensions of human health. This course focuses on knowledge generated in the natural and social sciences that concerns human-environmental interactions and its implications for human health risk, and how understanding environmental health informs both healthcare delivery and environmental conservation. It introduces students to the conceptual and empirical underpinnings of the direct and indirect relationships between environment and health, approaches to measuring these relationships, and the ways in which health and conservation policies, programs, and practices have been organized to reduce risk at various geographic scales: locally, national, and internationally. We will explore these issues through the case of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Queen Elizabeth National Park in southwestern Uganda, and the communities that surround them. We will spend considerable time examining the work of Bwindi Community Hospital, and emphasize the importance of an interdisciplinary approach to investigating environmental health issues and also the complexity of environmental analyses. To deepen our understanding of these issues, we will travel to southwestern Uganda in January 2020 to see this complexity first-hand and also learn from our long-term partners at Bwindi Community Hospital and the Uganda Wildlife Authority. There are no pre-requisites to this course and it may be counted towards a major in Environmental Studies.

More About Professors Frey and Scull

Frank Frey is a professor of Biology and Environmental Studies who uses genetics to investigate questions in evolutionary ecology and environmental health. Peter Scull is a professor of Geography who uses geospatial tools to investigate questions in environmental change and environmental health. In addition to their combined study group leadership (Australia, Manchester, Wales), Professors Frey and Scull have traveled with over 75 students to southwestern Uganda in the past decade, and engaged them with collaborative projects on infectious disease transmission in mountain gorillas, maternal and child health, malnutrition, and water quality, sanitation and hygiene. Professor Scull has also worked with students in the highlands of northern Ethiopia studying church forest dynamics. Both are strong advocates for experiential education, and fostering creative, inclusive, and interdisciplinary classrooms.

Berlin has long been seen as the quintessential modern metropolis and one that continually reinvents itself as an ongoing experiment in urban culture. Today, the capital of united Germany’s “Berlin Republic” is a vibrant, ethnically diverse city whose political and cultural meanings resonate far beyond its borders. Why did John F. Kennedy famously claim he was a Berliner? Since when is there a piece of the Berlin Wall in Hamilton, NY? How has migration to Berlin from around the world changed its civic identity and its international profile? This seminar will introduce students to contemporary Berlin and its twentieth-century biography through the changing stories of its urban landscape and public culture told by monuments and architecture, film and literature, eye-witness reporting and historical analysis. In doing so, we will take up the shifting conceptualizations of civic and national identity, collective memory and imagined futures elicited by Berlin’s complex history. In October 2020, Germany will celebrate the 30th anniversary of its reunification that followed on the fall of the Berlin Wall. In this context, we will examine the politics of memory and the local and international meanings of the Berlin Wall and its dismantling. Our travel to Berlin in January will allow us to further decipher the stories embedded in Berlin’s built environment and public discourse, as we participate in the dynamics of the city first hand. We will visit sites we’ve studied and engage with the urban and artistic life of the city, navigating the city streets, discussing cultural politics with Berlin experts, and going to theater productions, museums and other cultural venues. The deepened reflection about place, space, and public culture afforded by our travel to Berlin will provide an effective vantage point from which to consider further how societies enact, negotiate and define their civic values, in Berlin and beyond. The course has no pre-requisites, will satisfy an Area of Inquiry requirement in Human Thought and Expression, and may be counted towards a major or minor in German.

More About Prof. Claire Baldwin

Claire Baldwin is an associate professor in the Department of German and offers courses on German literature, culture and language, as well as teaching in Colgate’s Core Liberal Arts program. Her current research and teaching interests focus on post-war and contemporary transnational German culture and on eighteenth-century theories of cosmopolitanism. She frequently travels with students to Germany, including to Berlin, as director of Colgate’s Freiburg Study Group. She first lived in Berlin during the period of political transformations from 1989-91 and since that time has considered Berlin her German home, spending time there each year.

“Race, Place, and the American South” will explore the diverse meanings of how the South has been—and continues to be—formed in literature, music, film, and visual art. Who claims it and how? Which kinds of images prevail and why? For instance, if it has been easy to see the region as the place where early Euro-American settlers forged exploitative theories and practices of both whiteness and blackness (e.g., race-based slavery, the persistence of Jim Crow), it’s also worth recognizing the South as a zone of African American aesthetic and political achievement. This is a place where, according to the proposal of a prominent petition, the rap duo Outkast might take its place alongside Robert E. Lee on the Confederate monument at Stone Mountain, Georgia. Consequently, though both artists and critics have routinely imagined the region’s culture as characterized by what one commentator called “the backward glance,” we will consider how different permutations of both past and present—the personal, the regional, the national—signify depending on one’s subject position(s) in powerful matrices of race, gender, and class. Is it possible, then, to remap southern literature and culture in less oppressive ways? To that end, we will explore texts in a variety of media and theorize them from a range of perspectives, from the colonial period to the present, with particular emphasis on products of cross-cultural merger: the interracial rhythm section of Stax r&b, the spice blend at Charlie Vergos’ Rendezvous, the multitudinous identities of Natasha Tretheway’s poetry. Major figures on the syllabus include Pauline Hopkins, Kate Chopin, Mark Twain, Zora Neale Hurston, William Faulkner, Tennessee Williams, Flannery O’Connor, Yusef Komunyakaa, and Jesmyn Ward. Since topics of race, place, and region remain timely—particularly in the wake of recent efforts to tie both Americanness and southernness to a white nationalist agenda (e.g., Charlottesville 2017; Charleston 2015) and in the ongoing controversy about the status of Confederate memorials—the immersive experience of the SRS program seems ideally suited to their investigation. On the week-long January trip, we will tour sites related to literature, music, foodways, and civil-rights history in Nashville, Memphis, the Mississippi Delta, and New Orleans; the .25 credit course in the spring semester will consist of a follow-up film series. No prerequisites necessary.

More About Prof. Ben Child

Ben Child is a member of the English Department, where he teaches courses in American literature and the environmental humanities. Much of his research has focused on literature, popular music, film, and photography of the US South, including his recent book, The Whole Machinery: The Rural Modern in Cultures of the US South. 

Professor of Biology and Environmental Studies; Chair, Department of Biology
224 Ho Science Center
  • MWF 11:00am - 12:00pm (224 Ho Science Center)
Professor of Geography; Chair, Department of Geography
308 Ho Science Center
  • TR 11:20am - 12:30pm (308 Ho Science Center)
  • W 10:10am - 11:40am (308 Ho Science Center)
Associate Professor of German; Chair, Department of German
Associate Professor of English;

Frequently Asked Questions

The seminars allow you to live and learn with other sophomores who share similar academic interests. The seminars also allow you to work closely with a Colgate professor over an entire year.

The online application will be available beginning in late December/early January. Faculty teaching the Sophomore Residential Seminars will interview students during early February. Scheduling an appointment is done after you have successfully submitted your application. The assignment of rooms and roommates will come later.

Students selected for the SRS program live among members of their class. Your roommate will be a member of your class, and a special SRS roommate selection process will take place around March-April.

No. There is no direct charge for your research trip or the field trips and other activities connected to the program.

You will be given an interview slot for your first-choice course, but faculty will share information with each other during the selection process. So, while it's not possible to have more than one interview, you will still be considered for other seminars listed on your application.

Your GPA is a factor, but it is far from the most important one. We realize that you've been at Colgate for only one semester, so it is a small sample size. If there are things you'd have us know about your first semester that put your GPA into perspective, please let us know about them in the application.

Many variables are considered when determining the specific travel dates of each program, such as cost of airfare and lodging, etc. Therefore, specific travel dates are currently not available. However, none of the trips will depart prior to January, and families can anticipate trips taking place during the first two weeks in January. We want you to be home for the holidays and back with a bit of time to breathe before the semester begins. Most classes will return in time for students to attend Sophomore Connections.

You can direct your questions to Martin Wong, Associate Dean of the Faculty for International Initiatives (