Students participating in July Experience take one morning class and one afternoon class each day, Monday through Friday. Classes meet for 90 minutes, with the possibility of additional laboratory sessions in selected courses.
July Experience courses, although taught with college-level rigor, do not carry any secondary school or college credit. This allows students to take risks and explore curriculum without the pressure of impacting his or her permanent record.
Professors develop strong relationships with students and hold daily office hours at the Center for Teaching and Learning at the E.H. Little Library. The average class size is 15 students.
Courses are graded on an Honors/Pass/Fail basis and a detailed written letter to parents/guardians is provided by each professor after the conclusion of the program.
Students will have the opportunity to select their class preferences after they have been admitted to the program. To ensure small class sizes, students may be assigned second or third choices.
Blood in the Streets: Political Protest in Latin America (Latin American Studies)
What would it take for you to march in the streets, risking arrest, injury, or worse, in order to make your political views known? This course takes the region of Latin America as a lens to study how politics have emerged outside of traditional government and electoral systems. The course opens with a famous late colonial example (the Tupac Amaru Rebellion in Peru) of oppressed groups protesting colonial rule. We use this historical example to create working definitions of politics, political discourse, political action, and political protest. The course jumps ahead to the past thirty years where we will use texts, films, photographs, music and other sources to consider the student movement in Chile, the so-called "water wars" in Bolivia, the Mexican protests of 2015 around the 43 missing students from Ayotzinapa, and the Nicaragua protest movement of 2018. We study the existing political frameworks in modern Latin American nations as we analyze how and why people use protests, strikes, marches, and other tactics to make their politics known. After studying the Latin American cases in-depth, we conclude with a comparative discussion of race and class in protest politics throughout the Americas.
- Jane Mangan, Mary Reynolds Babcock Professor of History and Latin American Studies; Ph.D. Duke University; M.A. Vassar College
Data and Politics (Political Science)
This course is an introduction to the use (and misuse) of data and statistics to understand the political and social worlds. Social scientists often employ statistical analysis as a tool, and in some fields of inquiry it is the dominant method. Outside academia, society, business, government, and culture are all becoming increasingly data oriented, placing a premium on basic statistical literacy. The ability to collect, analyze, and interpret data are important skills and this class will put you on the path to developing these capabilities. In addition to learning the principles and concepts of statistical analysis, the class will serve a gentle introduction to coding with the R programming language.
- Andrew O'Geen, associate professor of Political Science; Ph.D. Stony Brook University; M.A. Georgia State University; B.A. University of Kentucky
Defining Us: Drawing the Boundaries of the Nation in Nationalistic Times (Sociology)
Make America Great Again. Unless this is the slogan of an environmentalist movement, then it seems unlikely this refers to a physical space. Rather, it refers to a people. Recognizing there can be no in-group without an out-group, students are challenged to explore the myriad ways in which some US communities are constructed as separate from "America". Drawing on theories of citizenship, race, and gender, seminar members will come to appreciate the degree to which the boundaries of not only belonging, but even of morality, are drawn to legitimize the existence of the nation and its people. We will anchor our inquiry into nationalism with contemporary cases of marginalization in the United States-including communities of poor African Americans and undocumented immigrants-before moving to current examples that transcend the US. The course will make use of the instructor's research materials - including original, proprietary data and resultant publications.
- Natalie Deckard, assistant professor of Sociology; Ph.D. Emory University; M.A. University of South Florida; B.A. Columbia University
The Global Energy Challenge (Chemistry)
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
Hitler and Nazi Germany: Confronting the Myths (History)
This course offers an overview of Hitler and National Socialism. We will study the rise and fall of Nazism, examine Nazi ideology, look at the organization of the Nazi state, and analyze the kind of culture it promoted (and that which it sought to oppress). The scope of the course is thus interdisciplinary, ranging from political, social, and economic aspects of Nazi Germany to various forms of cultural production: literature, film, sports, architecture, music, and the visual arts. We will conclude with a study of the Holocaust and consider issues of remembrance, representation, and human rights today.
- Burkhard Henke, professor of German Studies; Ph.D. University of California, Irvine; M.A. University of California, Santa Barbara
In Pursuit of Happiness: The New Science of Positive Psychology (Psychology)
What does it mean to be happy? Why do we value happiness? And how do we promote human flourishing and growth? In this course, we will use research from the emerging field of Positive Psychology to explore these fundamental questions. We will consider ways in which well-being has been defined and measured, from ancient Greece through modern neuroscience. We will investigate the various benefits associated with positive emotions and experiences, ranging from resistance to illness to higher income. Along with our discussions of existing research, we will engage in experiential learning activities exploring a wide range of "positive interventions" designed to promote happiness and well-being.
- Laura Sockol, assistant professor of Psychology; Ph.D., M.A. University of Pennsylvania; B.A. Bryn Mawr College
Knowledge and Controversy: Learning from Disagreement (Philosophy)
Nobody is infallible. When people disagree with us, they give us an opportunity to reexamine our beliefs and "take precautions against our fallibility" (J.S. Mill, On Liberty). So we should be humble and open minded, not stubborn and intolerant. And a good society should welcome disagreement rather than stifle it. Or so John Stewart Mill, a 19th century philosopher, argues in his famous defense of free speech. In this course, we will examine the significance of disagreement for our intellectual lives. Some of the questions we will ask are these: How can we best structure society and educational institutions so that we can learn from others? How should we, as individuals, respond to disagreement if our goal is to gain knowledge? Would we, as knowers, do well to limit our exposure to opinions from certain sources, like those we deem "fake news"? Many of the deepest disagreements in our society concern not just the facts but how we should establish what the fact are. The disagreements over climate change, the safety of vaccines, and some religious disagreements fall into this category. What is the rational response to such disagreements? Can they be resolved? If not, can we decide together what the best social policies are?
- Marija Jankovic, assistant professor of Philosophy; Ph.D. Indiana University; M.A. University of Florida; B.A. University of Belgrade
The Material Word: Letterpress in the 21st Century (English/Visual Art)
In this course, students will be introduced to the history and practice of an enduring, stubbornly analog technology: letterpress printing. In letterpress, information isn't just something we download, and language isn't just something we read and write. Quite literally built out of metal and wood, texts produced by letterpress encourage a visual, sculptural, and tactile relationship to language and image. Throughout the course, we will consider how this insistently material technology and process dating back more than half a millennium bears upon our own experience of information in the 21st century. The course will involve three main modalities: a textual component (readings in historical and literary texts), an archival component (work in Special Collections with rare books), and a practical component (hands-on work in the Davidson letterpress lab). By the end of the course, students will have assembled a small portfolio of letterpress work (individual as well as group productions) representing their engagement with these three modalities over the duration of the course.
- Andrew Rippeon, visiting assistant professor College Writing Program; Ph.D. University at Buffalo, SUNY; M.A. University of Chicago, B.A. University of Delaware
Media Effects (Communication Studies)
This course explores the major theories that undergird media effects research in mass communication. We discuss the debates surrounding the cause and effect research motivations inherent throughout media effects scholarship and influences on human behavior. We consider the passive/(re)active audience and pervasive traditional mediums and new convergent media that guide and often drive our engagement with and responses to how media messages impact our lives. By analyzing and discussing research across multiple methodological approaches, we strive toward a deeper understanding of media portrayals and representations, processes and effects, and assess the potential for impact among diverse audiences. Situated in media effects theories, we focus generally on media (mis)information and media literacy across a range of topics. We will explore the following media effects research topics in this course: social media, stereotypes, and violence.
- Amanda R. Martinez, assistant professor of Communication Studies; Ph.D. Texas A&M University; M.A. University of Houston; B.A. St. Mary's University
Playing Games: How to Win at Final Jeopardy, Successfully Bargain with your Parents, and Score that Penalty Kick! (Economics)
Game theory is the study of strategic situations in which the payoff for one person depends directly on the actions of other people. For example, how should one wager in Final Jeopardy? The answer is obvious if you expect to answer correctly. However, it becomes more complicated by the fact that you might not have extensive knowledge of the topic and you also aren't sure about your opponents' wagers or how much they know about the topic. We will learn about the concept of Nash equilibrium and use it to solve mathematical models of strategic situations. We will play games in class! Then we will compare our class's data to what theory predicts, and discuss how our mathematical models might be improved to better predict the results. We will explore applications from many disciplines, such as political science, biology, environmental studies, medicine, anthropology, history, and economics.
- Mark C. Foley, professor of Economics; Ph.D. Yale University; B.S. College of William & Mary
Race, Religion and Donald J. Trump (Sociology)
The purpose of this course is to gain appreciation for sociological analysis at the intersection of race-ethnicity and religion through the phenomenon of Donald J. Trump's election as the 45th president of the United States. Let me be clear: the course is not an opportunity for the professor and students to air their opinions, and we will not be focused on Trump's personality. Instead, the class constitutes a careful exploration centering on racial and religious dynamics as they touch on the historical context of the Trump presidency. The class will discuss distinctively sociological issues at a macro-level of analysis that includes dynamics of continuing relevance: the perpetuation of systemic/institutionalized racism over the past 200+ years, various racially and religiously motivated political movements, debates over macroeconomic theory, business and corporate strategies regarding profitability, patterns of financial inequality and concentrations of elite wealth, and processes of globalization, immigration, and transnationalism. Over the course of the program, our discussions will weave together broader considerations of race-ethnicity, religion, politics, and economics and culminate in an examination of the interrelations between race-ethnicity, religion, and broader civic society today.
- Gerardo Marti, L. Richardson King professor of Sociology and chair of Sociology Department; Ph.D., M.A. University of Southern California; B.A. Pepperdine University
The Evil within Us: Literary Monsters (English)
Scholars such as (Jeffrey Jerome Cohen argue that imagined monsters of literature and film reveal contemporaneous cultural anxieties. This course will feature 120 years of iconic literary and filmic monsters, including Robert Louis Stevenson's 1886 The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Jack Finney's 1955 The Invasion of the Body Snatchers, George Romero's 1968 Night of the Living Dead, and Max Brooks' 2006 World War Z. Through robust discussion and analysis, we will ponder key questions: What have particular cultures have labeled as "monstrous" and why? What makes a successful monster in a given culture at a given time? How do critical approaches (e.g. psychoanalytic, feminist, post-colonial) reveal assumptions about the monstrous, the "other," that inform and sustain our fears. Assignments will include frequent informal writing, group presentation on one key text, and a formal essay that combines primary textual analysis with relevant secondary criticism.
- Shireen Campbell, professor of English and chair of English Department; Ph.D. Tulane University; B.A. Florida Atlantic University
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 Barsoum, assistant professor of Biology; Ph.D. University of California, San Diego; B.S. University of California, Davis
Understanding the Great Depression of the 1930's: Lessons learned and not learned (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, Frontis W. Johnston Professor of Economics; Ph.D. Boston College; B.A. University of Pennsylvania