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.
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 Studies, Ph.D. University of California, Irvine; M.A. University of California, Santa Barbara
"Mom and Dad, Do I Really Need to Get a Job?" (Sociology)
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. University of Southern California; B.A. Pepperdine University
Romare Bearden: Art and Identity (Art)
Saying "I never left Charlotte except physically," Charlotte native Romare Bearden (1911-1988) moved to New York City as a young boy where he became not just a great African-American artist, but one of the greatest artists of the twentieth century. World-renown for his use of collages as a means of establishing the vernacular narrative and ruptured identity of African American life, his images draw universally from the great traditions of European modernism (Picasso and Matisse) and the African diaspora. This course examines his ties to memories and places of Mecklenburg County as well as his essential role in modern art.
- Shaw Smith, professor of Art and chair of Art Department, Ph.D., M.A., B.A. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
The Universal Language of Music.....or not? (Music)
"Music is a universal language that brings people together." Myth or fact? Let's put that to the test. After familiarizing ourselves with the grammatical rules governing our own musical language and considering the role music plays in our daily lives, we will delve into the probing question of how that language holds up universally. To investigate the validity of this idea we examine a diverse array of music practices from around the globe. Our journey will introduce you to throat singing from East Asia, the Dreamtime and didgeridoo in aboriginal Australian culture, Caribbean steel drum bands, West African drumming, sitar music from India and the ever-popular phenomenon of Bollywood film songs, Haitian voodoo rituals, Islamic chant, and more. Our exploration ends with a few surprises from traditional and contemporary genres in own music culture. What conclusions will we draw? You might be surprised--you will definitely be challenged. Bring your ears, a healthy musical appetite and your curiosity. (No previous musical training required.)
- Jennifer Stasack, professor of Music, D.M.A. University of Cincinnati-College Conservatory of Music; M.M., B.M. University of Hawaii
The Family and Justice (Political Science)
To many Americans the idea of discussing the family and justice in the same breath seems unsettling. While all agree that justice ought surely to govern public life, it appears a virtue somehow inappropriate to the (ideally) intimate and loving relations that constitute the family. Nonetheless, scholars remind us that the liens connecting family life and public institutions are numerous and close, since families continue inescapably to be shaped by and to influence in turn the broader political world. Thus liberal writers highlight the ways in which the allocation of resources within the family is crucially determined by family and divorce law, workplace regulations, and social welfare policies. And just as vigorously conservatives remind us that families uniquely inculcate those virtues essential to maintaining capitalism and democracy. Within the context of these broader controversies, the course will focus upon the dramatic and unexpected rise during the last half century of divorce, single motherhood, and cohabitation in lieu of marriage. Of special interest will be three questions: First, to what causes can we attribute these transformations? Second, who has benefited from these developments, and who has been damaged? And finally, what, if anything, ought or can the American public do to moderate or reverse these changes?
- Brian Shaw, professor of Political Science, Ph.D., M. A. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, B.A. State University of New York, Stony Brook
Intercultural Communication in the 'Global Village' (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 science 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. Major topic areas include: Context and power, conflict, verbal and nonverbal communication, history identity, culture shock, popular culture, and relationships. 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. University of Houston; B.A. St. Mary's University
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. University of Pennsylvania
Of Minds and Machines (Computer Science)
Roughly sixty years ago, a group of computing pioneers coined the term "Artificial Intelligence" and prophesied that in the near future, the cognitive capabilities of computers would rival those of humans. Fast forward to today and we see computers around us performing amazing feats. Google is exceptionally good at retrieving information from the web based on a search request. Netflix recommends movies based on one's past viewing history. The best Chess player in the world is a computer program that has not lost a game to a human in over a decade. Sophisticated software is now used to carry out medical diagnoses, approve credit card applications, design airline schedules, solve crossword puzzles, predict sports and election results, and drive cars on busy city roads. What are some of the key ideas that underpin these systems, and can they be described as "intelligent?" How about other aspects of the human intellect–could a machine be creative? Or gain self-awareness? This course will introduce students to some of the great ideas and arguments from computer science that seek to answer these questions, and more. No previous experience with computer science or programming is required.
- Raghu Ramanujan, assistant professor of Mathematics and Computer Science, Ph.D., M.S. Cornell; B.S. Purdue
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. State University of New York, Stony Brook; B.A. Richmond College, City University of New York
Skulls, Bones, and Clandestine Graves (Anthropology)
Locating graves, excavating human remains, and analyzing the remains at any stage of the decomposition process are within the scope of forensic anthropology. Forensic anthropology is the application of the methods and theories used in biological anthropology to the law. We will learn various methodologies for identifying human skeletal remains, including estimation of age-at-death, and pathology. The course is designed for students interested in forensic sciences and we will discuss other relevant disciplines such as forensic entomology, mass disasters, facial reconstruction, etc. The format of the course is mainly lectures with hands-on modules.
- Helen Cho, professor of Anthropology, Ph. D. University of Missouri, Columbia; B.A. and B.S. University of Illinois, Urbana
From Samuel Richardson's titular heroine Pamela obsessing about her wardrobe (1740), to the conspicuous consumption of Theodore Dreiser's Sister Carrie (1900), and from the discussion of Hero's sartorial choices in Much Ado About Nothing (1598) to the iconic Holly Golightly of Truman Capote's Breakfast at Tiffany's (1958), there is a clear literary history of fashion. This course will consider both fictional and theoretical engagements with fashion alongside the works of such authors as Vladimir Nabokov and Henry James, whose prose reveals the fingerprint specificity of their writing styles. Working from Roland Barthes's theory in The Fashion System to Cecil Beaton's diaries and Joseph Roach's study of the "It" factor ("the easily perceived but hard-to-define quality possessed by abnormally interesting people"), this transcultural and transhistorical course will investigate style as both form and content. Whether we are looking at the fashion and literary styles of the roaring twenties in Fitzgerald's works or the punk subcultures of the U.K. in the 1980s, we will question how literary innovation and fashion interpenetrate.
- Maria Fackler, associate professor of English, Ph.D., M. Phil., M.A. Yale; B.A. Duke University
Southern Literature, Violence, and the Problem of Evil (English)
This course will examine the ways that modern Southern authors represent evil and write about the sources of violence. On a broad level, the literature we will read should prompt us to ask normative questions regarding human experience, including: Is evil a feature of human nature or is it a production of social norms? Is violence always evil? Why do human beings seem to rely so frequently on violence to sort out their disagreements? Regarding the American South in particular, what does it mean to create literary art in a region with a long history of racial and class tensions–a region effectively created by a violent civil war? Southern writers explore such fundamental cultural and intellectual questions in a variety of ways, most notably the shocking short fiction of Flannery O'Connor, Katherine Anne Porter, Richard Wright, and Doris Betts, as well as the contemporary meditations of Ernest Gaines and Cormac McCarthy. What questions should we ask about literary texts that engage with the problem of evil? What "value" is there to reading such fiction? More generally, how does literature contribute to our historical understanding of contemporary problems? How could the study of literature inform our role as citizens of the world today? This course will consider these questions through close reading and analysis of literary texts. Students will explore what (if anything) literature can elucidate about the nature of evil in the world and the recourse toward violence.
- Ben Mangrum, visiting assistant professor, Ph.D. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; B.A. Mississippi College
Acute Exposure: The Biology of Environmental Health (Biology)
We will use case studies developed through the Davidson Breathe, Eat, Touch Project (Foley, Hauser and Bernd,) to explore the biological implication 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.
- Karen Bernd, professor of Biology, Ph.D. Princeton; B.A. Franklin and Marshall
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. University of California, San Diego; B.S. University of California, Davis