Fall 2018 Three-week Session Courses

Sweet Briar’s innovative calendar gives our faculty the chance to teach creative classes and our students the opportunity to engage in a variety of in-depth learning experiences — from the creation of works of art, to exploring the living laboratory that is our campus, to field trips and more. Here’s a sampling of three-week courses available during fall 2018.

The Ancient Mediterranean Laboratory

Open to sophomores, juniors and seniors only.

Using the principles of design thinking, this course explores the ways in which the ancient world can provide solutions to contemporary problems. Students will isolate five major problems facing the world today. The course will use the textual, visual and material records of Egypt, Ancient Iran, Greece, Rome and their affiliated territories as data sets from which students can identify problems; together we will explore the actions, events and environments that produced these problems, and the solutions posed by past thinkers, using these investigations as a springboard from which to ask the question: How would I solve the problem differently?

Erin Pitt | Visiting Assistant Professor of Archaeology and Ancient Studies

The Artist's Book

Open to sophomores, juniors and seniors only.

This course introduces students to the creation of unique books made by hand as works of art. Older than illuminated codexes such as the Book of Kells, this art form is a compelling facet of contemporary visual arts. Design principles and challenges will be addressed through the construction of different structures, including the accordion book and a journal in which pages can be added or changed. Students also will create their own decorative papers.

Laura PharisLaura Pharis | Professor of Visual Arts: Studio Art

Laura Pharis is a multimedia artist and a founder of One/Off Printmakers, a group of professional artists who exhibited their original prints worldwide. Her art is represented in the permanent collections of the Federal Reserve Bank in Richmond; Milwaukee Museum; Trust House Forte Hotels, UK; and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. She has produced illustrations for several books of poetry and the cover artwork for CDs such as Mike Seeger’s “True Vine.” She earned an M.F.A. from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and an advanced degree from London’s Central School of Art and Design.

Contemporary Drama

Open to sophomores, juniors and seniors only.

This class meets twice a day to read and discuss the plays that have won major awards in the last few years. There is a lot of exciting work being produced now, but rarely does it get much publicity. We will read 12 plays, almost one each day from authors like Lynn Nottage, Sarah Ruhl, Annie Baker, Lin-Manuel Miranda (yes, we are reading “Hamilton”) and others. This is a strong discussion class.

Bill KershnerBill Kershner | Professor of Performing Arts: Theatre

Bill Kershner has been chair of the theatre program at Sweet Briar College for 31 years and has directed more than 70 theater productions in California, Montana, Colorado, Virginia and Scotland. He teaches theater history, dramatic literature, playwriting and film. He is past president of the Virginia Theatre Association and is currently on the board of the Academy Center for the Arts in Lynchburg.

CORE 110: Design Thinking

Open to first-year students only.

A team of faculty members will introduce students to the design-thinking process and its application to a range of problems from a local to global scale. They will also show students how design thinking is expressed in different disciplines. This course introduces our leadership core, which will produce students who are inquisitive, empathetic, informed, fearless, flexible, organized, collaborative, articulate, confident, focused and perceptive.

Christopher PenfieldChristopher Penfield | Assistant Professor of Philosophy

Christopher Penfield’s research interests include the topics of political, social and ethical agency in the philosophical areas of modern and contemporary European philosophy and critical theory.

Jessica SalvatoreJessica Salvatore | Assistant Professor of Philosophy

Jessica Salvatore trained as an experimental social psychologist and studies how we perceive human differences both within social groups and between them.

Kaelyn LeakeKaelyn Leake’09 | Assistant Professor of Engineering

Kaelyn Leake’s expertise is in photonics, material science, and microdynamics and microfluidics. She has extensive experience with simulations, experimentation and data analysis in those fields.

Joshua HarrisJoshua Harris | Assistant Professor of Music

Joshua Harris teaches music theory and composition and directs the SArPA Studio, a space for creating computer music and sound design.

Culturally Responsive and Restorative Practices

Open to sophomores, juniors and seniors only.

This course discusses various facets of diversity associated with race, ethnicity, culture, religion and gender within classroom contexts. Students are prompted to explore relevant research as well as their own cultural identities, backgrounds and perceptions and how those underlying features impact classroom management decisions. Students will acknowledge their own privilege, power and personal bias so that they are better positioned to create a culturally responsive classroom environment for all students.

Meredith McCoolMeredith McCool | Assistant Professor of Education

Before earning her doctorate in curriculum and instruction, Meredith McCool was an environmental educator and taught elementary school in Anchorage, Alaska. She has supervised numerous pre-service teachers, coached new university supervisors and has designed place-based curriculum materials to support the teaching of local history. At Sweet Briar, McCool teaches courses on teacher action research, methods of instruction and curriculum development and strives to create partnerships with local schools and community organizations to integrate place-based service learning into her courses. Her academic interests include local history, service learning and rural education.

Globalized Pop Culture

This course explores the spread of globalized pop culture and addreses important questions the phenomenon raises. The popularity of Bollywood films and K-pop music point to cultural, economic, and political changes as new media, global marketing, and human migration make borders increasingly meaningless. Topics will include globalization, changes in the significance of cultural boundaries, and governments’ efforts to export their pop culture as a source of “soft power.”

Jeffrey KeyJeffrey Key | Associate Professor of Political Science

Global Politics

Open to sophomores, juniors and seniors only.

This course takes a historical approach to the study of global politics. Taking nation-states as they developed in modern times through wars, revolutions and nationalist struggles as basic units of analysis, we will explore their approach to peace and security, economic development and commerce, and regional cooperation.

Meredith WooMeredith Woo | President

An expert on international political economy and East Asian politics, Meredith Woo has served as the University of Virginia’s dean of the College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences; held appointments at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and Northwestern University; and consulted with the World Bank, the U.S. Trade Representative, Asian Development Bank and the MacArthur Foundation. She has written and edited seven books and was director of the Global Higher Education Program for the Open Society Foundations before joining Sweet Briar in 2017.

Introduction to the Literary Studio

This course introduces students to the studio model, developing their skills as readers and writers through the study and discussion of classic and contemporary works of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction and through the composition and revisions of analytical and creative assignments.

Susannah Nevison | Visiting Assistant Professor of English and Creative Writing

The Love Story: On the Page, the Stage, and in the World

Open to sophomores, juniors and seniors only.

This course uses classic and contemporary works of literature to examine the endless manifestations and complications of love. Such stories can be comic or tragic, just as love itself can be fleeting or lasting, mutual or unrequited. Students will complete both analytical and creative assignments that seek to examine the many permutations and consequences of love. Excursions to the American Shakespeare Center’s Blackfriars Playhouse, museums and other sites of interest will allow students to consider how various artistic mediums — even the creation of a garden — expand their understanding of this most complex realm of human experience and inspire the creative imagination.

Carrie BrownCarrie Brown | Professor of English and Creative Writing and Director of the Center for Creativity, Design and the Arts

Carrie Brown is the author of seven acclaimed novels — most recently “The Stargazer’s Sister” — and a collection of short stories. The recipient of numerous fellowships and prizes, she has published essays and fiction in many leading literary journals.


Open to sophomores, juniors and seniors only.

The ability to negotiate effectively is a critical skill in business and life — whether you want to resolve a labor strike, end an arms race or obtain the best compensation package with a new employer. Besides developing a solution to a problem or conflict, a negotiator must possess a broad array of skills to have her solution be accepted and implemented. In this course, you will study the theories and processes needed to reach favorable outcomes and have many hands-on opportunities to develop and practice your negotiating skills in various scenarios.

Timothy SchauerTimothy Schauer | Associate Professor of Business

Before academia, Timothy L. Schauer worked in the marketing and advertising industry for more than 25 years. Throughout his career, he has led several marketing, advertising and sales teams, managed budgets of more than $6 million and negotiated with numbers stakeholders. Clients included The National Guard, Campbell’s Soups, Turkey Hill Dairies, Harley-Davidson, Palmer Chocolate and The Special Olympics.

Smartphone Photography

Open to sophomores, juniors and seniors only.

Any professional photographer will tell you, “The best camera is the one you have with you.” Photography is an interpretive medium and what better way to express your creativity than through the camera that is your constant companion? It is still camera, video camera, ‘darkroom’ and photo gallery. In class, we will work on composition and how to see with a smartphone. We will explore processing apps that take smartphone images beyond a snapshot. Each student will produce a portfolio of prints and a short video. An Instagram page will be updated throughout the course. Finished work will be exhibited in a group show.

Medford TaylorMedford Taylor | Adjunct Instructor of Visual Arts: Studio Art

The professional career of internationally known photographer Medford Taylor spans more than 40 years. He is particularly known for his photojournalism and nature photography and has covered events from the civil rights movement to Mexico’s monarch butterfly migration. He has photographed for National Geographic Magazine, TIME, Newsweek and more.

Teaching Creative Movement and Dance

Open to sophomores, juniors and seniors only.

This course focuses on ways of encouraging and developing the instinctive creative impulse to express thought and emotion through movement and dance. Through readings, films, lectures, improvisation, field trips and teaching projects on and off campus, students will explore principles and methods of teaching creative movement and dance to young people and to specific populations. Topics include lesson planning, classroom management, spatial perceptions and neurological and movement characteristics of the child through adolescence, including those with disabilities.

Ella MagruderElla Magruder | Professor of Performing Arts: Dance

Ella Magruder is the author of “Dancing for Young Audiences, A Practical Guide to Creating, Managing and Marketing a Performance Company.” Formerly a faculty member at the University of Montana and Ripon College in Wisconsin, she danced in the Mimi Garrard Dance Company in New York City. She toured for 15 years with her husband and partner, Mark Magruder, in their duet dance company and performed “Black Traveler,” one of Beverly Blossom’s early solos, at The Danny Kaye Theatre in New York to a positive review in Dance Enthusiast.