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 or May that extends the academic experience out of the classroom and into the real world. 

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 dialogue with a one-quarter-credit course with their professor.

Applications and Acceptance

Applications for the 2024-25 academic year will become available in  December 2023.
Faculty teaching in the program will interview students during the first two weeks of February 2024 and offer spots to students beginning in mid-February.

2023 - 2024 Seminars

(2024-2025 Seminars will be announced in November 2023)


This course will introduce students to the key historical, theoretical, and practical topics that inform and comprise the fast-growing field of museum studies. Major topics/themes include: the history and function of museums; the ethics of collecting, including post-colonial critiques; the role of power and politics in museum spaces and programs; the potential of museums to serve as sites of conflict mediation; and the practical aspects of museum management, education, and curating. In addition to learning from lectures, readings, and discussions, students will develop new skills of critical analysis, learning how to think beyond the content of a museum exhibition to examine how and why the museum has told the story in a particular way. These skills will be cultivated through on-campus study and through visits to museums in the surrounding region.

In January, we will travel to Washington, D.C., and New York City for a series of museum site visits and ancillary programming. Students will meet with curators, museum educators, administrators, and other support staff at major museums, including: the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the National Immigration Museum, the September 11 Museum and Memorial, The National Museum of Natural History, The National Museum of American History, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and the National Museum of the American Indian. In Spring 2024, students will have an opportunity to curate an exhibition in one of Colgate’s campus museums through a .25 credit add-on course.

More About Professor Karn

Alexander Karn is associate professor of history and a faculty affiliate in the peace and conflict studies program. He serves on Colgate’s museum studies advisory board and as university professor for first-year seminars. His teaching and scholarship focus on the politics of history in contemporary societies and on possibilities for using history as a tool for conflict mediation. At Colgate, he teaches courses on the politics of history, transitional and historical justice, and the cultural and intellectual history of modern Europe. He also teaches “Introduction to Museum Studies” on a regular basis. He is currently the convenor of the Historical Dialogues, Justice, and Memory Network.

The main objective of the course is for students to gain valuable insight into racism and white supremacy beyond the individual level through a critical analysis at an institutional, societal, and cultural level. In preparation for our SRS travel, students will research key historical Civil Rights Movement events and people and the direct relationship to our schools. The story of white supremacy does not end here; it continues to roar into the 21st century. The course will delve into educational policies at the federal level that have led to further “resegregation” and thus exacerbated racial oppression in our schools. In short, our public school system has been and continues to be at the forefront of the fight against racial segregation and oppression. Most importantly, the course will revolve around critical dialogues that encourage students to be vulnerable in revealing their racial identity development (ally), bold in their analysis and interpretations as they develop their understandings of critical race theories and race-based policies (advocate), and empowered as they move to enacting transformative change at Colgate and in the larger community (co-conspirator). Our travel will begin in Washington DC at the National Museum of African American History and Culture. From there we head to Atlanta to the Martin Luther King Jr. Center and the Ebenezer Baptist Church as the starting site for the Civil Rights Trail. The week will take us to the Legacy Museum: From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration as well as a walk across the famous Edmund Pettus Bridge (site of Bloody Sunday in Selma) and will end in Memphis where we will stand on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel. In each of the cities, it is my hope that we will engage with Colgate’s Alumni of Color to assist us in understanding Colgate’s history and current social justice activism.

More About Professor Palmer

John D. Palmer is a professor of educational studies and the current academic director of the office of undergraduate studies (OUS). His teaching philosophy of Engage, Empower, and Enact is built on a belief that an engagement of one’s racial identity (ally) will develop an empowered identity that holds a critical and expansive understanding of race, racism, and white supremacy (advocate) that will ultimately enact a social justice agenda for anti-oppressive, anti-racist, anti-white supremacist institutions (co-conspirator).

In Computing as a Weapon we will use that simile as a means for contextualizing and studying the development of modern computers, which is inextricably linked with warfare and weaponry.  We will also use it to examine how computers are used today for good --- to attack difficult scientific problems --- and for ill, both unintentionally and intentionally.  An early device that we will study and which pre-dates modern computers was famously used by the British for decoding Nazi secret messages in an effort led by Alan Turing and others at Bletchley Park in England.  Contemporaneously, development of digital computing in the US was done largely to speed up ballistic trajectory computation in World War II and many early computing projects in the US were military-funded.  A later project to develop digital computing hardware --- a design on which nearly all modern computers are based --- was motivated in part by the need to perform computations for atomic bomb simulations. As computers evolved from special-purpose devices to supporting general-purpose computation, they have continued to be an indispensable aid for scientific investigation and discovery, like developing drugs to combat disease and simulating the environment to predict and possibly fight aspects of climate change.  At the same time, the general purpose nature of computers allows them to be used as weapons of oppression, censorship, surveillance, and cyberattacks.  

Through the course, we will gain a view of the computer as a (mostly) beneficial weapon of science and how it has shaped and continues to shape the kinds of questions that are feasible to address.  Along the way, we will examine important aspects of computing history such as how the term computer used to refer to the women who computed ballistic trajectory tables (which the machine was intended to replace), how computer programming became gendered, and some compelling figures in computational history like Alan Turing, Admiral Grace Hopper, and others.  On the week-long trip in January we will be based in London and travel to the Bletchley Park Museum, the UK National Museum of Computing, the Science Museum in London, and other sites relevant to course topics and themes.  Pending approval, students will receive Core Science credit.

More About Professor Sommers

Joel Sommers is Professor of Computer Science.  His research interests are in Internet performance measurement and modeling, and Internet traffic analysis.  One of his favorite museums in the world is the Bletchley Park Museum, and he has spent many hours (in several visits) exploring the exhibits there.

Territorially defined sovereignty is one of the central elements of International Relations, both as an academic endeavor and as a political arena.  Yet a surprisingly large number of entities, while maintaining active roles in global politics and international diplomacy, do not satisfy the generally accepted definitions of sovereign states.  This course will examine three categories of such actors: microstates, such as Andorra and San Marino; unrecognized territories, such as Palestine, Northern Cyprus and Somaliland; and non-territorial "juridical actors" such as the Holy See and the Order of Malta (both of which maintain formal diplomatic relations with many traditionally defined states.)  The course will introduce students to the significant roles played in global politics by these anomalies, while also inviting discussion about how these roles challenge and question the very definition and significance of sovereignty itself as an agreed upon norm in International Relations. 

The course will include a short in-semester trip to New York City to engage with various representatives of microstates and non-territorial actors at the United Nations.  But the main travel component of the course will be a week-long trip in January to Rome, Italy and Nicosia, Cyprus where we will meet with officials of non-territorial entities like the Holy See and unrecognized actors like Northern Cyprus, as well as with envoys of governments who conduct relations with these anomalous actors.

More about Professor Byrnes

Timothy A. Byrnes is the Third Century Chair in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics, and a Professor of Political Science.  He is the author and editor of six books, the most recent of which was Reverse Mission: Transnational Religious Communities and the Making of US Foreign Policy.  His courses generally focus on Religion and Politics and Transnational Politics.  He was the founding Director of the Benton Scholars Program, and he is a past winner of the Colgate Alumni Corporation’s Distinguished Teaching Award.


Associate Professor of History; University Professor, First Year Seminars
327 Alumni Hall
  • T 1:00pm - 2:30pm (327 Alumni Hall)
  • W 10:00am - 11:30am (327 Alumni Hall)
Professor of Educational Studies; Chair, Dept. of Educational Studies; Academic Director, Office of Undergraduate Studies
  • TR 12:30pm - 2:00pm (19 Persson Hall)
  • W 11:00am - 2:00pm (OUS House #8)
Professor of Computer Science
306 McGregory Hall
  • MW 12:15pm - 1:15pm (306 McGregory Hall)
  • T 12:30pm - 1:30pm (306 McGregory Hall)
  • W 3:15pm - 4:15pm (306 McGregory Hall)
Third Century Chair in Philosophy, Politics and Economics; Professor of Political Science
141 Persson Hall
  • M 10:00am - 11:30am (141 Persson Hall)
  • R 11:30am - 1:00pm (141 Persson Hall)

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.

You can direct your questions to April Baptiste, Associate Dean of the Faculty for Global and Local Initiatives (