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Scribner Seminars

Posted: 11/20/2009

This fall more than 50 Scribner Seminars were offered to Skidmore’s Class of 2013, both on the Saratoga Springs campus and in London. As the centerpiece of the First-Year Experience, the seminars are taught by faculty from virtually every discipline, who design seminars to highlight their own intellectual curiosities and passions.

Some of those courses are featured here, in photographs that showcase a segment of first-year experiences. They include seminars focusing on American dreams, American liberty, and American taste, whose students joined at a nearby orchard to pick two tons of apples for donation to a regional food bank.

Students in the “Human Dilemmas” seminar taught by Professor of Economics Roy Rotheim also engaged in service-learning projects. They helped revitalize a historic train depot in a nearby town and, later in the semester, assisted on the renovation of a historically significant Elks Lodge in Saratoga Springs.

For English Professor Phyllis Roth and her students, it took visits to Skidmore’s biology and anthropology labs, as well as a field trip to New York City’s American Museum of Natural History, to delve deelply enough into the complicated question of human origins.

Marking the 400th anniversary of the discovery of the Hudson River, several Scribner Seminars zeroed in on this national landmark. Sociology Professor Rik Scarce’s students visited the Saratoga National Battlefield—a strategic point on the Hudson River famed as the site of the “turning point of the American Revolution.” The students explored how the Hudson’s regional landscape has changed, through art, literature, warfare, technology, and shifts in culture and law.

In “The Hudson: Science, Society, and Art,” Chemistry Professor Judy Halstead and her students traveled the river to examine it as a natural resource.

Two “Human Dilemmas” sections—taught by Mary DiSanto Rose, dance, and Catherine Berheide, sociology—teamed up for joint sessions, including a visit to DiSanto-Rose’s home on the Great Sacandaga Lake. The lake was formed in the early 20th century as a way to control flooding of the Hudson and Sacandaga rivers. The seminar students boated on the lake and hiked around its shore, in addition to enjoying lunch at DiSanto-Rose’s home.

Despite the widely varying experiences, all Scribner Seminars share a common premise: the early establishment of mentoring relationships between faculty and students who bring a passion for the subject matter and an eagerness to explore its connections between and across disciplines.

Photos by: Rik Scarce (associate professor), Gary Gold, Savannah Grier '12, Keith Kallas '12, Kate Berheide (professor), Judy Halstead (professor), Sam Brook '12, Korlarp Suwacharangkul '10