Residential College courses open to all students, majors

By Amia Davis, Daily Staff Reporter
Published November 19, 2013

For years, one question has continued to haunt Residential College administrators: “Can I take an RC course even if I'm not in the RC?"

Administrators say they’ve consistently answered the question, mostly in the affirmative: All students are allowed to enroll in RC courses, excluding RC First-Year Seminars, regardless of what college they are enrolled in.

The Residential College is an undergraduate program within LSA. The college works to challenge students to be creative, think outside the box and take responsibility for their education. All RC students live in East Quad Residence Hall for their first two years of undergraduate study.

As of 2011, RC majors are also available to non-RC students. The RC majors offered include Arts and Ideas in the Humanities, Drama, Social Theory and Practice, Creative Writing and Literature, and an Individualized Concentration program.

Students are also allowed to take RC Intensive Language courses with permission from the instructor. The languages offered include French, German, Spanish, Russian and Latin. The RC also hopes to offer Japanese again in fall 2014. Taking a semester of an intensive language course is fast-paced — equivalent to taking two semesters of a normal LSA language course.

According to curriculum specialist Charles Murphy, most RC courses are composed of more than half LSA and other non-RC students. He said students might be confused because of the RC’s past.

“It’s a pretty wide-open game,” Murphy said. “We were closed off for over 45 years. It’s hard to change that perception.”

Despite these facts, there is often widespread confusion on campus on whether or not non-RC students are allowed to enroll in the courses. Lecturer Henry Greenspan said the Residential College has tried to get the word out for many years, including working closely with LSA advisers and student organizations.

“We want to keep the door as open as possible,” Greenspan said.

Most non-RC students are unsure if they can enroll in RC courses because the issue is rarely addressed. LSA junior Alexandria Haimbaugh, who has taken many multiple RC courses, said the classes were scarcely discussed during orientation.

“It made it seem like it was a separate thing,” Haimbaugh said, adding that the classes have given her perspectives that traditional courses have failed to offer.

LSA senior Madeline Dunn, who has also taken many RC courses, said the instruction she's received from the RC has allowed her to think outside of the box.

“I’ve been opened up to new things most LSA students don’t know,” Dunn said. “The teachers are more creative and expect more from you.”

Are you interested in taking an RC course? The following courses are being offered next semester:

RCARTS 289: Ceramics
Instructor: Susan Crowell
Credits: 4
Fulfills requirements: CE
Prerequisites: N/A
Date/Time: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9 a.m. to12 p.m.

This course is an introduction to ceramics and forces students to move around and get out of their chairs. Students will learn a variety of simple ceramics techniques, such as creating pots using their hands, clay preparation, forming through printing and slab building.

Students are not required to have prior experience in ceramics. There is only one textbook required for the course, and tools are available for use in the studio.

Students are expected to spend at least six hours of studio involvement outside of class on clay projects. Access to the studio outside of class will be granted if there are no other ceramics classes in session.

Students are required to pay a lab fee of $100.

“Sign up early! We have a limited number of seats,” Prof. Susan Crowell said.

RCCORE 334.003: Out of the Past: 20th Century LGBT History Mini-course
Instructor: David Burkam
Credits: 2
Fulfills requirements: N/A
Prerequisites: N/A
Date/Time: Wednesdays, 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Students will learn about 20th century LGBTQ history through texts, documentaries and visits to the Bentley Historical Library on North Campus. They will watch and discuss 11 documentaries, including “Out of the Past,” “Before Stonewall” and “Pride Divide.”

There are no assigned readings for the class, but students will record their thoughts on the documentaries through journal entries and write one final term paper based on work at the Bentley Historical Library.

Prof. David Burkam said LGBT history is often left out of textbooks.

“I want young people today, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, to have an understanding of the past 100 and especially the past 50 years.”

RCHUMS 310: Pagans, Christians, Barbarians in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages
Instructor: Cynthia Sowers
Credits: 3
Fulfills requirements: HU
Prerequisites: N/A
Date/Time: Mondays and Wednesdays, 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The course is for all undergraduate students who are interested in literature and visual arts of the Late Roman Empire and Early Middle Ages. Students will be able to describe the transition from the Late Roman Empire to the Early Middle Ages by reading works, such as Plato’s “Phaedo,” Augustine’s “Confessions,” Gregory of Tours’ “Histories” and the epic poem “Beowulf.”

By the end of the course, students will be able to uncover the myth of the Dark Ages and clarify some of the misconceptions of the Early Middle Ages.

“You do have to exercise your historical imagination in order to enter a very different time period and culture,” lecturer Cynthia Sowers said.

Grades are equally based on attendance, participation, three papers and a final exam.

RCSSCI 360: The Photo Essay: The Art of Being Present Through Photographic Storytelling
Instructor: David Turnley
Credits: 4
Fulfills requirements: SS
Prerequisites: Upper-class standing
Date/Time: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

This course is for students interested in filmmaking and documentary photography. Students will learn the fundamentals of documentary and filmmaking, such as learning how to use the camera to create narratives using moving images and sounds.

This is the first time the course is being offered and the first time Associate Prof. David Turnley will mix documentary and photography, though he has taught other photography classes in the past.

Students are required to have their own digital camera. Moving cameras and sound recorders will be provided by the University.

Students will be graded on several assignments, participation, a short film and reflection papers.

Turnley said the course involves students getting out of their comfort zone and meeting other people to tell their story. They will learn how to find their own voice through photography and express what they care about.

Turnley is a Pulitzer prize-winning photojournalist. He has worked in over 75 different countries and filmed three theatrical documentaries.

RCHUMS 365: Experiences of Atheism: A History of Skepticism and Unbelief
Instructor: Frederick Peters
Credits: 3
Fulfills requirements: HU
Prerequisites: N/A
Date/Time: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Students who are passionately interested in atheism and skepticism will analyze concepts from the Greco-Roman period to the modern period. Students will develop a vocabulary on atheism they would not have had before and think about topics they would not normally think about.

Students will read a variety of texts, including five anthologies, two complete primary texts and two histories.

Lecturer Frederick Peters said the course demands devotion, and he sends his students a copy of the syllabus well in advance and asks them if they are sure they want to take the course.

“Atheism is a topic that is sort of an underground theme,” Peters said.

Grading consists of a midterm, a paper, a final and several worksheet assignments.

“This is not a course on how to become an atheist,” Peters added.