Current 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. 

Fall 2017 Course Descriptions

*  All Sharpe Courses are restricted to Sharpe Scholars.

**NEW! course**     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,” the ethnomusicologists, folklorists, anthropologists, and amateurs who have created, documented, and made a space for America’s musical diversity in our national narrative. Through case studies of music in America’s immigrant and ethnic communities, and by considering the institutions and contexts for music performance, recording, education, and archiving the class will address the intersection of music, identity, and nation during the most important political and social moments in American history and up to the contemporary moment. The course is writing intensive and 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 -- to appreciate and contribute to the socializing power of music in their process of transition. 

COLL150/AFST150W​ 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—situational/circumstantial, geographical, virtual, as well as identity and affinity-based are constantly reimagined.

Students will be introduced to the concept of reimagining through a combination of community-based learning and qualitative research approaches and develop new research questions regarding reimagining in communities—locally, nationally, and abroad. Students will conduct deep readings of “texts” in multiple mediums, collaborate in group projects, and have active class 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, and when the sodomy and crimes against nature laws that had previously been used to punish or contain LGBTQ people have been eliminated by that same court (2003).  Yet we also live in a moment and stand witness to an increasing backlash to these decisions in the form of state-based “Religious Freedom” laws that allow individuals/communities/businesses to discriminate against LGBTQ people if such discrimination is the result of a religious objection to such individuals and other state-based laws that force transgender people to use public bathrooms that match the sex listed on their birth certificate, not the gender with which individuals identify.  And we live in a moment when that highest rates of homelessness and suicide among young people occur in queer youth, especially transgender youth of color. And we live in a moment when the violence against, including murders of, transgender women of color, though not nationally publicized, are happening every day. Thus, we live in a moment that is 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 sexual minoritized populations have been under fire and the responses of those individuals and communities that made up these populations to these challenges as a way of more fully understanding our present

In this course, we will explore the field of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) History and Studies in the U.S. and its relationship to both the lives of LGBTQ people and culture more broadly. Using interdisciplinary approaches that incorporate race/ethnicity, class, gender, and nation as analytical categories alongside sexuality, we will investigate research topics students design and carry out through this class.  

COLL150/INTR150:  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.  

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

Narrative approaches to understanding human health and illness grow increasingly important and prevalent in the context of continuing advances in biomedical technologies in medicine.  Health and human services of varied kinds rely most directly on professionals’ abilities to identify, understand, and analyze health needs, while medical scholars are charged to examine health issues in changing organizational, cultural, and policy environments in terms of efficacy, improvement, and social justice in healthcare distribution.  Health Disparities puts forward an interdisciplinary set of ethical and practical questions about healthcare, in the United States and other countries:  Is health care a human right?  What social, cultural, ethical, and political forces shape and bound practices of health care delivery?  What do social determinants of health and health outcomes add to our understanding of health care practice, policy, and delivery?  And critically, how might narrative medicine approaches engage these questions in research and settings to more effectively eliminate health disparities?

Class readings and discussions in this seminar will focus on strategies for promoting health equity, such as cultural competency, advocacy, and social justice, using case studies in African American health in addition to essays on pain, women’s health, disability, and global narratives on illness.  Students will be supported in finding regionally located communities and organizations with which they might use newly formed skills and knowledge to further explore patterns in health disparities, while working to eliminate them and improve health for all.