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Sophomore Residential Seminars - Course Descriptions

Find your course of interest below, and apply for this truly immersive experience by February 2, 2018.

Politics and Education in Philadelphia: Gentrification, Charter Schools, and the New Urban America (EDUC 310)

Professor Mark Stern - Education

Survey of the landscape of contemporary education policy and its interdependent relationship to contemporary forms of urban “development.”  Drawing upon theories from political economy, critical educational studies, post-colonial studies, and queer studies, students will be asked to think about how urban spaces and institutions are valued and created through both discursive and material practices. In particular, and using Philadelphia as a case study, this class will examine how the function of racial and class-based ideologies have legitimated the forced displacement of communities through gentrification and the proliferation of charter schools. The effects of these processes will be considered in conversation with literature about the logics of white supremacy, democracy, and social justice.  

More About Prof. Mark Stern

Mark Stern is an associate professor in the Department of Educational Studies whose work examines the affective and political economy of education. Much of this work is interested in understanding the relationship between education policy and urban "redevelopment": how can we understand the oftentimes overlapping spatial and demographic topographies of how schools play into larger processes of displacement and gentrification in urban America? At the heart of these questions are concerns about the lived experiences of community, democracy, and justice, notions he also takes seriously in facilitating learning environments. With Mary Moran, he has led extended study programs to South Africa and started the Philadelphia Study Group that ran for the first time in fall of 2017. He has twice been a visiting scholar in the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and has a deep love and respect for the city.  

Legacies of the Ancient World: Rome at the Crossroads of Cultures (CORE 151)

Professor Georgia Frank - Religion

Can one remain true to one’s past in new places?  The question remains as pressing now as it was in the ancient world, a time of great mobility and exchange of ideas. This SRS section of Core 151 focuses on Rome as the crossroads for diverse populations, ethnicities, and religions in the ancient world. In the fall semester class we shall study ancient literary, religious, and philosophical texts, many of which were composed outside of Rome yet profoundly shaped its diverse culture. To deepen our understanding of the connection between place and identity, the group shall travel to Rome in January 2018 to study civic and religious places where various groups intersected over time. The spring semester continuation of the course will explore how museums tell the story of religious and ethnic diversity past and present by participating in the “This Place” exhibit traveling to several campuses.

More About Prof. Georgia Frank

Georgia Frank, a member of the Religion Department, teaches courses on religious diversity in the ancient Mediterranean world, as a way to reflect on the intersection of gender, race, and ethnicity today. She first became passionate about ancient religions through a college seminar on the archaeology of religion in Greece and went on to excavate in Turkey during graduate school. A travel-junkie of sorts, she has studied the material culture of ancient Egypt, Turkey, Greece, and Rome and led study groups to Scotland.

Barrios and Borders in Tucson, AZ (GEOG 211)

Professor Jessica Graybill - Geography

How do international and urban boundaries shape how cities grow and develop over time? When native, Hispanic, early colonial, and newcomer histories and cultures collide over time and in one place—a city—what is the spatial outcome? These are questions that can be asked of many urban landscapes to understand how transformation of space by multiple cultural groups and types of development create everlasting yet ever-transforming cultural and built environments. In this course, we will investigate cultural interactions in and around the city of Tucson, Arizona, which is one of the oldest continually inhabited places in the United States. In the fall semester, we will gain understanding of urbanization processes that have transformed this desert region for the last 400 years, with a focus on interactions in the last 150 years that have radically altered how native, Hispanic, and newcomer communities interact. We will work to understand early cooperation among dwellers in “The Old Pueblo” (Tucson’s nickname) as a way to thrive in in this unique Sonoran desert environment. We will also address the increased competition for space among city dwellers as growth propelled change to the city’s vibrant barrios (neighborhoods) and created socioeconomic and cultural barriers in this city and the greater region amidst the heady growth of the last century. The one-week trip to Tucson in January will focus on (1) conducting interviews with urban dwellers who have experienced rapid changes to the urban core and (2) imagining a museum exhibit of our knowledge gained for the Presidio San Agustín del Tucsón. We will work with local experts and meet with people from the multiple living/working barrios within Tucson. This trip will include a 1-day trip around Tucson (to the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum, Saguaro National Park, and Mission de San Xavier del Bac, founded in 1692 by Spanish Catholic missionaries on Tohono O’Odham land) and a 1-day trip to Nogales, AZ and Nogales, Mexico. In the follow-up 0.25-credit course in Spring 2019 we will finalize our museum exhibit and reflect on barrios and borders in this unique city.

More About Prof. Jessica Graybill

Jessica K. Graybill is an Associate Professor of Geography and Director of the Russian & Eurasian Studies Program. In the classroom, she works closely with students to explore urban geographies and ecologies in addition to Arctic and Russian regions of the world. She has been closely involved with student research on refugee communities in Utica, NY and with helping students understand Russia and its neighbors in the post-Soviet era. Her primary research interests are in urban and socio-environmental transformations, especially as they relate to the impacts of transformation on local and indigenous communities. A believer in experiential education and research, Jessica seeks student participants who wish to work creatively and collectively in this interdisciplinary course to engage deeply in shared inquiry where knowledge about people and place is not only consumed but is also produced.