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    Students take two college-level courses taught by Davidson professors, covering a wide range of subjects.


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.

2018 Courses 

2019 courses will be posted in mid-December 

Developing Your Lens: Introduction to Cultural Anthropology (Anthropology)
In the multicultural and digital world in which we inhabit, the acquisition of cultural competency has been deemed an important element of higher education. This course will introduce students to the concepts, methods and theories used in the study of cultures, regardless of where they are geographically situated. Most importantly, the comparative study of the social patterns and practices, institutions, beliefs, and values found in human communities will help students recognize that cultures are concurrently unique and distinct. We will study an array of cultural institutions and social phenomena: class, kinship, gender, political economy, religion, and sexuality. Two major objectives of this course include: to provide students the tools for comprehending and negotiating diverse cultures, and to develop a less ethnocentric lens through which to view the world.
- Nancy Fairley, professor emeritus of Anthropology; Ph.D. State University of New York, Stony Brook; B.A. Richmond College

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

Equality and Inequality (Political Science)
Although liberals and conservatives embrace the ideal of equality, they often understand this ideal in very different ways and recommend very different policies to attain it. Liberals characteristically denounce economic and social inequality, and recommend energetic government policies to remedy it, from raising taxes on the wealthy and regulating corporations to providing universal welfare benefits (like Bernie Sanders' call for "Medicare for All"). Conservatives, on the other hand, view precisely these kinds of proposals as threats to civil equality and political liberty. In their view, inequality arises more from individual choices than from unjust social structures or political policies – and that government actions to combat it are ineffective and even counterproductive. To help us explore these debates, we will read liberal and conservative responses to the plight of the poor Americans movingly depicted in J. D. Vance's Hillbilly Elegy. We will also examine the ways which these contrasting views might help explain Donald Trump's surprising presidential victory.
- Brian Shaw, professor of Political Science; Ph.D., M.A. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; B.A State University of New York at Stony Brook

Finding Nemo, Finding Culture (Sociology)
Our goal in this class is to interrogate how sociologists use culture to understand social problems. Our class will be organized around five different definitions of culture put forth by David Harding, Michele Lamont and Mario Smalls. They include culture as values, frames, repertoires, capital, and boundaries. We will consider theoretical foundation and an empirical application for each way of defining culture. We will also watch films and television shows that illustrate each of these approaches to culture.
- Joseph Ewoodzie, assistant professor of Sociology; Ph.D., M.S. University of Wisconsin, Madison; B.A. Ithaca College

Hitler and Nazi Germany (History)
This course provides an overview of Hitler and National Socialism. We will study the rise and fall of Nazism, learn about its ideology, look at the organization of the Nazi state, and examine 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

Media Effects (Communication Studies)
This course explores the major theories that sustain 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 as well as new convergent media that guide and drive our engagement with and responses to media messages' impact. By analyzing and discussing research processes and outcomes, we strive toward a deeper understanding of media portrayals and representations 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 all research topics. We explore three of the following media effects research topics chosen in advance by the students enrolled in the JE course: news and political media, stereotypes, social media, edutainment, violence, and video games.
- 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

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, sex, stature, and ancestry. 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., M.A. University of Missouri, Columbia; B.A., B.S. University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

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

The Supreme Court in American Politics (Political Science)
This course will provide an overview of the Supreme Court as an institution that exists at the intersection of law and politics in the United States. We will discuss the operations of the Court and its role in the federal government, both historical and current. We will also discuss the politics of judicial appointments and Supreme Court decision-making. Finally, we will discuss several landmark Court opinions as well as cases and issues currently on the Court's docket.
- Andrew O'Geen, associate professor of Political Science; Ph.D. Stony Brook University; M.A. Georgia State University; B.A. University of Kentucky

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