William & Mary

Fall 2014 Sharpe Seminars


Sharpe seminars are designed by the College's faculty to equip our students with community-based and action research training and in addition to honing students' skills for working ethically with and within communities, fostering effective, and immersing students in real-world considerations of both practical and philosophical dimensions of social justice and community engagement. 

Fall 2014 Course Descriptions

PSYC150W  Families, Law, and Psychology (Dr. Danielle Dallaire)

In this freshman seminar students will examine the psychological development of children within the context of families and the legal system. Core psychological domains that will be represented and foundational to the course include: (i) The Psychological Development of Children: How biological aspects of development, including brain development, from the prenatal period through adolescence, impact cognitive, language and social development. (ii) Socialization within the Family Context: How experiences within the family impact children’s biological, cognitive, language, and social development. (iii) Intersections between Child Development, Families and the Legal System: How children’s psychological development and experiences within the family interact with our legal system. Particular topics that will be addressed include children and adolescent’s ability to participate in and testify in court procedures, parental divorce, and children’s experiences with parental incarceration.

1.            Core discipline: PSYC

                Related Field:  PubPolicy, SOC

2.            We will consider how families interact with the court system and engage with agencies that support familial connections during incarcerations and helping families dealing with extreme stress and poverty.  

3. Students will be expected to develop an action plan for community-based research (either individually or with a group) that addresses the needs of these youth and families. Students will carry out their planning and research during the fall and spring semesters. 

CMST150W:  Communities and Neighborhoods:  Class, Race, and Space  (Dr. David Aday)

 This seminar will focus on lived experiences of disparity, seen from the perspective of neighborhoods and communities through ethnographic methods.  We will read original studies of selected neighborhoods and communities in the U.S. and in other countries.  We will focus on disparities in health and health care and in access to other resources needed to survive and thrive.  Among other sources, we will read Venkatesh, S. A. (2006). Off the books. Harvard University Press; Gregory, S. (2006). The devil behind the mirror: Globalization and politics in the Dominican Republic. Univ of California Press; and, likely, one of the Elijah Anderson books.

Students will be introduced to theories, concepts, and methods for community-engaged research and community based participatory research (CBPR) by considering how they might take on aspects of issues described in the ethnographic studies.  They will work individually or in small groups to imagine, design, and propose community-engaged research focused on disparities in health, employment, housing, education, or security (crime).  Students (individually or in small groups) will be responsible for developing, writing, and defending final proposals for community-engaged research.

CMST150W:  Living with the Environment (Dr. Dennis Taylor)

The seminar Living With the Environment builds a broader conceptualization of community interests through establishment of the ethical and moral underpinnings of the human place in nature, and the teaching of practical knowledge needed for both policy-making and scientific understanding directed at solutions that build strong environmentally grounded communities where humans can benefit from the natural capital of their surroundings. Student projects are focused and issue driven, intended to provide direct practical benefits for community partners, opportunities for expanded scope and diversification, and to act as vehicles for teaching important principles and concepts applicable to the problem of human impacts on natural systems. Restricted to Sharpe Scholars. 

CMST 150W:  Activism and the Cultural Arts (Dr. Monica Griffin)

Activism and the Cultural Arts explores two primary questions:  (1) In what ways do human beings create meaning, express values, and interpret ideas using cultural art forms?  (2) How do human beings form communities and civic action related to the cultural arts?  Students will learn about community activism in a variety of cultural arts forms:  literature and other forms of writing; film, theatre, and visual arts (media, social media, fine art); music, theatre, and live performances.  In addition to readings and group discussions, students will attend cultural arts events, lectures, or conferences outside of class (when feasible).  Written assignments will test student’s learning in the class and culminate in an action plan for continuing community-based research.  This course introduces students to a sociological framework for understanding human behavior related to cultural production and reception, in addition to interpretive approaches to studying meaning in cultural art forms.

Readings include sociologist Wendy Griswold’s works on “the cultural diamond”; sociological and cultural studies on particular art forms (such as memoirs, fashion, theatre for social change, and hip hop music); and cases of community-based research that show students how festivals, parades, exhibits, and other cultural forms can be understood as expressive moments (and opportunities) of (and for) social change.  Students will examine questions like the following:  How do cultural products communicate meaning?  Why might a particular cultural symbol or product mean something to some groups of people and not the same thing to others?  What is the significance (or importance) of social interpretations of culture, in terms of creating social change? 

CMST250-01:  African American English (Dr. Anne Charity Hudley)

African American English will explore the linguistic and social features of English as spoken by African-Americans in the United States. We examine the relationship of African-American English to Linguistic theory, Education praxis, American culture, and racial prejudice. This course is an introductory engaged learning seminar for Community Studies students and requires community service or research in the community, in addition to in-class hours. Throughout the course we will highlight ways that we can contribute to literacy research and explore what we can do to help with the day-to-day process of helping students learn right here in our community.  A limited number of seats in this course are available to Sharpe Scholars with Instructor's Permission.