Sharpe Seminars

Sharpe seminars are designed by the College's faculty to equip our students with community-based and action research skills in addition to honing students' knowledge for working ethically with and within communities on pressing issues. Our courses aim to foster effective learning, while immersing students in real-world considerations of both practical and philosophical dimensions of social justice and community engagement.

* All Sharpe Courses are restricted to Sharpe Scholars.

Fall 2017 Courses
COLL150/MUSC150: American Soundscapes: Music, Migration, and Resettlement (Dr. Anne Rasmussen)

American Soundscapes is a course about the diversity and multicultural reality of music in the United States. It is also a course about "songcatchers." Songcatchers are the academics and amateurs who have documented America's musical diversity.

The class will address the intersection of American music, identity, and politics. We will use case studies of music in America's immigrant and ethnic communities. We will explore musical performance, recording, education, and archiving .

The course is writing intensive. It involves an introduction to the ethics and techniques of ethnographic fieldwork. To the extent possible, we will interact with our newest neighbors. Migrants and refugees in the Tidewater area can help us understand the power of music in their process of transition.

COLL150/AFST150: ReImagining Community (Prof. Artisia Green)
  • Reimagining community through architecture - the work of Freddy Mamani Silvestre in El Alto, Bolivia.
  • Reimagining community through visual art - the work of Asa Jackon as curator of the 670 Gallery at The Chapman Apartments in Hampton, VA or Kehinde Wiley's New Republic exhibit at the Virginia Museum of Fine Art.
  • Reimagining community through policy - the Contract Buyers League of Chicago or Brexit.
  • Reimagining community through commemorative ritual - the lei created by citizens of the Aloha State to honor the victims of the Pulse night-club shooting in Orlando.
  • Reimagining community through theatre - the use of griot historiography as ritual by playwrights such as Regina Taylor and August Wilson.

Whether in transition or conflict, communities are constantly reimagined.

We introduce the concept of reimagining through a combination of community-based research approaches. We will develop new research questions about reimagining in communities at all levels. Students will conduct deep readings of "texts" in many mediums, collaborate in group projects, and have active learning experiences in and outside of the classroom.

COLL 150/HIST 150/GSWS 150 Introduction to LGBTIQ History/Studies (Dr. Leisa Meyer)

We live in a moment when the U.S. Supreme Court made same-sex/gender marriage legal throughout the country (2015). U.S. military services now accept openly gay, lesbian, and transgender individuals for service. The sodomy and crimes against nature laws that punished LGBTQ people are gone (2003).

Yet we also live in a moment and stand witness to an increasing backlash to these decisions. State-based "Religious Freedom" laws allow individuals/communities/businesses to discriminate against LGBTQ people. Other laws force transgender people to use public bathrooms that match the sex listed on their birth certificate, not the gender with which they identify. We live in a moment when the highest rates of homelessness and suicide among young people occurs in transgender youth of color. And we live in a moment when violence against transgender women of color happens every day.

Thus, we live in a moment defined by unrest in relation to sexuality, gender, and race and the ways these identities intertwine. At such a moment it behooves us to look to the past to see other moments when gender minorities have been under fire. The response of those individuals and their communities can help us better understand our present.

In this course, we will explore the field of U.S. Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) History and Studies. How does this academic field relate to the lives of LGBTQ people and broader culture? Students will design and carry out research topics through this class.

COLL150/INTR150: Living with the Environment (Dr. Dennis Taylor)

This seminar builds a broader conceptualization of community interests . Students learn important principles and concepts to help solve the problem of human impacts on natural systems.

We explore the ethical and moral underpinnings of the human place in nature. Students learn the practical knowledge and scientific understanding needed for policy-making. They begin to build solutions for strong environmentally grounded communities. The goal is to envision a space where humans can enjoy the natural capital of their surroundings.

Student projects are specific and issue driven. They provide direct practical benefits for community partners. The projects give students opportunities for expanded scope and diversification.

COLL150/INTR 150W/AFST150: Health Disparities (Dr. Monica Griffin)

Advances in biomedical technologies makes narrative approaches to understanding human health increasingly important. This seminar asks ethical and practical questions about healthcare. Is health care a human right? What social, cultural, ethical, and political forces shape health care delivery? What do social determinants add to our understanding of health care practice, policy, and delivery? How might narrative medicine approaches eliminate health disparities?

Class readings and discussions in this seminar will focus on strategies for promoting health equity. We will use case studies in African American health, essays on pain, women's health, disability, and global narratives on illness.

We will help students find regional communities and organizations to work with. There, they might further explore patterns in health disparities, and work to eliminate them and improve health for all.