Courses

Students participating in the July Experience enroll in two courses from 14 liberal arts class choices. Classes meet for 90 minutes each weekday, with possible additional laboratory sessions in selected courses.

July Experience courses carry no secondary school or college credit; however, a powerful summer academic experience can be a valuable addition to a college application and excellent preparation for college.

Professors develop strong relationships with students and hold daily office hours at the Center for Teaching and Learning at the E.H. Little Library.

Coursework is graded on the following system: H (Honors), P (Pass) and F (Failure). Professors do follow-up with a detailed letter to parents/guardians. Secondary school officials are notified of the student's participation and course work results.

Because the college reserves the right to cancel courses without sufficient enrollment, July Experience applicants must list alternate choices. To ensure small class sizes, students may be assigned second or third choices.

2015 Courses

Hitler and Nazi Germany (History)
This course provides an overview of Hitler and National Socialism. We will follow Hitler's rise to power, examine Nazi ideology, study the organization of the Nazi party and state, and spend a good bit of time on the kind of culture the regime produced (as well as that which it oppressed). The scope of the course is thus interdisciplinary. It ranges from political, social, and economic aspects of Nazi Germany to various forms of cultural production: literature, film, sports, architecture, music, and the fine arts. We will conclude with a study of the Holocaust and its representation.
- Burkhard Henke, Professor of German and E. Craig Wall, Jr. Professor of Humanities, Ph.D. (U of California, Irvine), M.A. ( U of California, Santa Barbara)

"Mom and Dad, Do I Really Need to Get a Job?"
At some point during adolescence, every teen starts to wonder, "Do I really need to get a job?" While some people want to work, the majority has to work. Work is perhaps the most important way in which society impacts our social experiences and life chances, and its social significance extends beyond our personal identities and daily activities. It is closely intertwined with other social institutions, social structures, and social processes, especially social inequality. This course looks at work and occupations at both the macro level (e.g., the occupational structure, the U.S. and global economies, changes of technology and demographics) and the micro level (e.g., the demands of workplaces and occupations on workers' sense of self and identity; the influence of work on families). Topics include: work during and after the Industrial Revolution; major theoretical perspectives for understanding work; work and self-perception; work and self among professionals and managers; and the modern challenges of balancing family and work.
- Gerardo Marti, L. Richardson King Associate Professor of Sociology, Ph.D., M.A. (USC), B.A. (Pepperdine)

What's Happening in Mathematics? (Mathematics)
We explore several areas of mathematics not normally seen in the high school curriculum, including group theory, chaos, topology, and number theory. Results in these areas have helped make significant advances in the scientific community as well as our daily lives over the last few decades. A good background in algebra and geometry will be useful as we learn about the history, the mathematicians and the exciting developments currently taking place. Also useful - a great imagination!
- Donna Molinek, Professor of Mathematics, Ph.D. (UNC Chapel Hill), M.S. (Northern Arizona U), B.S. (Alaska, Anchorage)

More than Bleeps:  Studying the Music in Video Games (Music)
Often trivialized as nothing but children's entertainment and scapegoated as the source of many societal problems, video games have become an integral part of our media culture. They now span from sprawling epics lasting hundreds of hours to relatively short, non-narrative puzzles on mobile computing devices. This course will offer a quick overview of video game history before delving into a survey of the music in a wide variety of games. We will cover some of the origins of video game music, which like the games themselves borrow heavily from the conventions of cinema. We will also study ways that video game music differs from film music, paying particular attention to the question of dynamic music (the term given to music that can react to changes in the gameplay). In addition to assignments that will require reading and writing (via essays and tests), there will also be projects that involve the creation of video game soundtracks using computers. Students completing this course will have a heightened vocabulary for discussing games and music as well as a sense of video game history and an understanding of the basic principles behind music and sound design. No musical performing or notation skills required, though some prior experience with Mac computers will be helpful.
- Neil Lerner, Professor of Music and Co-coordinator, Interdisciplinary Minor in Film and Media Studies, Ph.D., A.M. (Duke University), B.A. (Transylvania University)

The Family and Justice
To many Americans the very idea of discussing the family and justice in the same breath seems odd, if not downright, insidious. While all agree that justice ought surely to govern public life, it appears a virtue somehow inappropriate to the (ideally) intimate and loving - and irreducibly private and voluntary - relations that constitute the family. Thus liberals view conservative proposals to buttress "traditional family values" as illicit attempts to penalize alternative family arrangements and compromise women's autonomy. And for their part, conservatives tend to view suspiciously policies expanding state support for single mothers, abortion, and same-sex marriage. In this course, we'll explore these debates by examining opposing arguments about the justice of such things as: no-fault divorce; the rise of female-headed households; cohabitation in lieu of marriage; and the increasing number of children born via ART and gamete donation. Of special interest will be two topics: First, the tremendous consequences for family life of women's dramatic gains in educational and professional attainments. And second, the very contentious issue of same-sex marriage.
- Brian Shaw, Professor of Political Science, Ph.D., M. A. (UNC Chapel Hill), B.A. (SUNY, Stony Brook)

Life in the 'Global Village:' Effective Intercultural Communications (Communications)
This course explores issues related to the intercultural communication process. We will consider the important role of context (social, cultural, and historical) in intercultural interactions. We will examine the complex relationship between culture and communication from three conceptual perspectives: the social psychological perspective, the interpretive perspective, and the critical perspective. It is through these three conceptual perspectives that we will strive towards a comprehensive picture of intercultural communication. From applying these approaches to the study of intercultural communication, we will also come to appreciate the complexity and dialectical tensions involved in intercultural interactions. This learning process should enhance self-reflection, flexibility, and sensitivity in intercultural communication which students will likely find useful whether interested in studying or working abroad or simply wanting to become better informed intercultural communicators in our increasingly diverse nation and world.
- Amanda Martinez, Assistant Professor of Communication Studies and Sociology, Ph.D. (Texas A & M), M.A. (U of Houston), B.A. (St Mary's U)

Understanding the Great Depression of the 1930s.  Did we not learn....2007-2010?? (Economics)
This course will look at the underlying causes of the Great Depression of the 1930s. We will discuss the philosophy of recovery, as well as the specific measures introduced. Many of these initiatives were unique and, even to this day, remain controversial. We shall discuss the premier and debated role played in recovery by President Franklin Roosevelt. Finally, we shall consider some similarities between the Great Depression and our recent economic problems and malaise, 2007-2010.
- Clark Ross, Professor of Economics, Ph.D. (Boston College), B.A. (U of Pennsylvania)

Social Movements and Youth (Anthropology)
In the last 70 years young people have played a major role in social movements; their actions have enabled social change across the planet. This course takes a comparative approach, examining youth activism in different countries. Emphasis is placed on understanding how youth have challenged institutions that uphold social injustices such as sexism, ethnic discrimination, racism, economic exploitation, totalitarian regimes, or religious intolerance. Anthropologists also recognize the fact that social movements are not simply vehicles for correcting social injustices. Social Movements are viewed as potential sites for the creation of new social cultural practices. Thus, the course examines the role of youth agency in the sociocultural transformation and or revitalization of society.
- Nancy J. Fairley, Professor of Anthropology, Ph.D. (SUNY, Stony Brook), B.A. (Richmond College, CUNY)

Gesture (English)
From our non-verbal cues in daily conversation to our postures, gaits, facial expressions, and movements, gesture plays a significant role in our daily communications with one another. Whether we are using sign language or considering the dances in the latest Taylor Swift or Miley Cyrus video on Vimeo, we are tuned in to the ways in which our gestures communicate meaning. The study of gesture is a multidisciplinary effort, as scholars draw on fields as diverse as psychoanalysis, performance studies, dance, neuroscience, anthropology, linguistics, behavioral science, and literary analysis. This course will examine the interpenetrations of gesture with both speech and thought in a series of cultural artifacts, ranging from the silent film comedy of Buster Keaton in The General (1926) and the mid-twentieth-century novellas of Nathanael West and Muriel Spark, to the YouTube videos of Chris Crocker ("Leave Britney Alone!") and the documentaries Paris is Burning (1990) and Rize (2005). What does it mean to study gesture in an interdisciplinary way? What questions do theorists of gesture ask of the literary and cultural artifacts they study? How do gestures amplify our understanding of each other and of literary characters and documentary subjects? Rooted in close reading and analysis, this class will ask students to consider how our movements create meaning and what those meanings suggest about our culture and the other cultures under consideration in the course.
- Maria Fackler, Associate Professor of English, Ph.D., M. Phil., M.A. (Yale), B.A. (Duke)

Genre Bending: Creative Writing that Breaks All the Rules (English)
This course will begin with a broad overview of the two major categories that are thought to comprise contemporary creative writing: prose and poetry. After learning what makes up these formal genres, we as a class will work on dismantling these categories, studying recent texts that consciously scramble our understanding of what prose and poetry do. We will engage through both reading and writing the recent literary trend towards innovative writing that consciously resists categorization: poetry or prose; fiction or autobiography; creative, documentary, or critical writing. Instead, the texts at hand form hybrids. Our goal in this class will be less to learn the traditions and practices of a particular genre of writing than to shed those traditions and expectations as we feel and think our way towards forms that support, match, and challenge the subject matter we have chosen. We will read novels that engage the tools of poetry, poetry that engages the tools of documentary film, and fiction that slides into nonfiction. Above all, we will write, employing all the tools of every genre we can think of, and more.
-Christine Marshall, Visiting Assistant Professor of English, Ph.D. (U of Utah), B.A. (Bryn Mawr College)

Three Pounds, One Quadrillion Synapses: Discovering the Frontiers of Neuroscience (Biology)
Beginning with the proclamation of the "Decade of the Brain" by Congress in 1990, the last 25 years have seen an explosion in our understanding of nervous system function and dysfunction. In this course, we will explore some of the most exciting questions in neuroscience, all of which are currently active areas of scientific investigation. We will discuss recent discoveries in a variety of topics, including cognition, learning and memory, addiction, sleep and circadian rhythms, development and neurogenesis, sensory systems, neurodegenerative disease, and aging. We will focus on the critical questions researchers ask in these areas and on the data being generated to provide the fascinating answers. The format of the course will be mostly discussion and group work, with some lecture.
- Mark J. Barsoum, Assistant Professor of Biology and Director of the Math & Science Center, Ph.D. (U of California, San Diego), B.S. (U of California, Davis)

Acute Exposure: The Chemistry of Environmental Health
In this course, we will use case studies developed through the Davidson Breathe, Eat, Touch Project (Bernd, Foley and Hauser) to explore the chemistry of environmental agents present in air pollution (breathe), pesticides (eat) and sunscreen (touch). This course will incorporate popular press readings, textbook and scientific literature combined with field and laboratory experiences to reinforce in-class concepts. Upon completion of the course students will have an increased understanding of combustion reactions and their role in the formation of primary and secondary pollutants, solubility and the role it plays in application, distribution and detection of pesticides and spectroscopic principles as they apply to intervention methods in protecting against UV damage. No previous chemistry experience necessary.
- Cindy DeForest Hauser, Associate Professor of Chemistry and Environmental Studies, Chair of Dept. of Chemistry, Ph.D. (UNC, Chapel Hill), M.S. (UNC, Wilmington), B.S. (Washington and Lee)

The Global Energy Challenge
The development of modern civilization has been perceived to be a story about the influences of religions and emperors, wars and invasions, and science and art, but it also can be a tale about the availability of practical energy resources and the ingenious technologies we have devised to extract and use it. Our advancements, especially in the areas of health and longevity of life, correlate directly with our energy use, but our growing global addiction to energy has led to a query about what it has cost us in terms of the world's atmosphere and climate. This leads us to pertinent questions centered on the topic of energy that could be explored: What is energy? What is the history of energy use and the connections to history and the humanities? What are the projected energy needs of the planet in the future? What technologies are available now and will be available in the near future that can scale to meet the future global energy requirements? What is the real impact of energy conservation? What does our energy future look like?
- Durwin Striplin, Professor of Chemistry, Ph.D. (Washington State University), B.S. (Eastern New Mexico University)