Sharpe Courses

Sharpe courses are designed by university faculty to equip our students with community-based participatory research skills, while immersing students in real-world considerations of both practical and philosophical dimensions of social justice and community engagement.  In addition to supporting opportunities for community-based learning, our courses aim to hone students' knowledge for working ethically to address pressing concerns through scholarship, action, and participation with and by the communities most impacted by those issues.  

* All Sharpe COLL150 Courses are restricted to Sharpe Scholars. 

Fall 2019 Courses

*All Sharpe Seminars fulfill the COLL 150 requirement.*

SOCL150 Spatial Inequalities (Dr. Sal Saporito)
    Some legislative districts contain a supermajority of racial minorities and many of these districts are challenged in court as “racial gerrymanders.” There are two ways to explain how a legislative district contains a supermajority. First, some state legislatures manipulate the boundaries of legislative districts in an effort to maximize the share of minorities in the district (with the goal of diluting the voting power of minorities in nearby districts). The second, competing explanation contends that racial minorities are naturally segregated. During the course of this semester, students will learn to distinguish between legislative districts that may have been intentionally packed with a supermajority of racial minorities and those that were “naturally” packed. Students will use GIS and statistical software during the course of the semester (but are not required to have background in either geographic or statistics).
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.

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.

PSY150 The Psychological Study of Children in Relation to Law & Policy (Dr. Danielle Dallaire)

In this freshman seminar we 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.
MUSC 150 American Soundscapes (Dr. Anne Rasmussen)


American Soundscapes: Race, Ethnicity, Multiculturalism, and Music 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. Students should be prepared to commit to 1-2 field trips and attendance of musical performances.




Spring 2020 Courses
INTR295 W&M Sharpe Participatory Mapping Project  (Dr. Monica D. Griffin)

This course is directly affiliated with the W&M Sharpe Participatory Mapping Project (hereinafter referred to as the Sharpe Mapping project), led by Dr. Monica D. Griffin and Dr. Shannon White. Students will have the opportunity to use GIS mapping tools (such as ArcGIS and StoryMaps) to make sense of qualitative and quantitative data about WJCC and surrounding areas, organizations, and communities. They will identify and document the particular ways that W&M is situated within a broader system of relationships in Williamsburg-James City County; and they will interact with others (e.g. residents, scholars, leaders, etc.) in local settings to imagine and invite new ways of engaging the region’s past, present, and future for addressing social issues.