Tag Archive: Academics

  1. Directed Studies for life might really be for life

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    True to their name, the 15 participants in Yale’s first-ever “Directed Studies for Life” are keeping in touch.

    Andrew Lipka ’78 recently sent a holiday card (see above photo) to participants and faculty in the program, which last summer brought alumni, their spouses and parents of Yale students back to campus to study the classics. The card contained the following poem, adapted from “The Iliad” by Alex Troy ’81. Troy originally presented it at the conclusion of the summer DS program — some of those present were reportedly moved to tears.

    The full text of the poem is below. We suggest you stage a dramatic reading in true Homeric tradition, or, in true DS tradition, look for allusions to Homer and his pals:

    Rage? Goddess, you misheard. Sing of age, not rage.

    Tell how Dean Miller summoned splendid scholars,

    the fifteen finest, culled from class ’45 to ’99.

    How to Eli they returned, to DS and Yale’s narrow beds.

    Begin Muse, with how the deathless gods

    now live atop East Rock, their Olympian summit

    seized when Greece went bust.

    How Zeus and family for Yale work

    serving Directed Studies, immortal but untenured,

    so that when Dean Miller, wily as Odysseus,

    conceived DS for Life, Athena she dispatched.

    “Tap fifteen,” the dean directed.

    The grey eyed goddess sped to earth

    and just as the Bones selects the supreme,

    so Athena chose this company of the curious,

    lovers of learning, let me list them now:

    George, first in years and wisdom,

    old Nestor spoke not half so well.

    Swift footed Steve, the only one

    Time had not yet tagged.

    Nick, Asclepius’ helper, he

    hurls questions bright as thunderbolts.

    John H, father of three sturdy sons,

    tall as Yale elms, rowers of swift boats.

    Fred, whose black Amex shielded us from shame

    when Ibiza tendered the tapas fattened bill.

    White-armed Ann, who joined us

    from across the salt sea.

    Andrea, teacher of Torah, Miriam’s mom,

    her questions always sound like song.

    Sunny Carmen, eager to test her new-won wisdom

    on young Quinn, her sturdy son.

    Andy, who sharpens the sights of others,

    always sharpened ours.

    Karen and Harry — who could not be moved to see

    their heads bent close, each holding half of Homer,

    one book binding two souls.

    Marshall, consistent as a comet, does DS every fifty years.

    May the Fates decree we join him when Haley reappears.

    John R, more traveled than Odysseus, knows the wine dark sea,

    and John B, like Nestor, has counseled leaders and kings.

    Sing now, goddess of their brave deeds,

    of how they grappled with the Greeks:

    When they finished Homer, wiped away the gore

    struggled they with slippery Socrates

    swallowing his snide style as sweet Norma

    assured he’d grow on us as once he did on her;

    Aristotle next, so fond of “if’s” and “when’s,”

    his chapters lacked beginnings, middles, ends;

    Thucydides, like Yertle, piled up clause on clause

    so never did we learn that war’s cause.

    Yet this we know: Athens is O and one.

    Shipmates, our journey is now complete.

    We heroes head for home,

    taking with us our memories and our deeds.

    May it be the deathless gods unshakable vow

    that we all reconvene with Marshall fifty years from now.

  2. Alumni summer programs expand

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    After last summer’s Directed Studies program garnered enthusiastic reviews from alumni participants, Yale will also offer summer courses in Grand Strategy and Shakespeare for alumni, their spouses and parents of Yale students.

    All 18 spots in Grand Strategy have been filled since registration opened in December, and more than half of the 15 participants who took last summer’s Directed Studies course have signed up for one of the new courses, said Pamela Schirmeister, director of the programs and an associate dean for Yale College and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Schirmeister added that Yale may continue to expand its summer educational opportunities for alumni depending on alumni and faculty interest and the availability of space on campus.

    “The whole idea of this is to expose alumni to what’s being taught at Yale,” said John Gaddis, a history professor who teaches Grand Strategy and will lead sessions during the summer.

    The “Grand Strategy for Life” and “Shakespeare for Life” seminars will meet from May 27 to June 2 and each cost $4,800, while “Directed Studies for Life” will run from June 3 to June 15 at a cost of $6,500. After full days of class, participants in the courses will also be treated to evening activities and entertainments, such as a gala opening reception and cocktails on the Quinnipiac schooner on Long Island Sound, according to the Yale for Life program website.

    The Grand Strategy summer program will cover about one-third of the academic year syllabus, which spans two semesters, and include classic works by Thucydides, Virgil, Machiavelli, Kant and Clausewitz, said Charles Hill, a diplomat-in-residence who co-teaches Grand Strategy with Gaddis and will also teach the course with him this summer.

    Schirmeister called the alumni response to the new Grand Strategy offering “immediate and overwhelming,” which she attributed to its name recognition among multiple generations of alumni.

    “The idea was to try to offer courses that alumni would recognize and think, ‘Oh, I wish I’d taken that,’” Schirmeister said.

    While the Directed Studies and Grand Strategy summer seminars mirror courses already offered at Yale, Schirmeister said, the Shakespeare course will be designed specifically for alumni. The seminar will examine both literary and theatrical elements of Shakespeare’s plays, she said. David Kastan, an English professor who will co-teach the course, said that participants will be able to supplement their study by viewing exhibits remaining from this spring’s Shakespeare at Yale festival, which showcases the University’s Shakespeare collections.

    Professors slated to lead the summer seminars said teaching alumni is exciting since people of varied ages can bring fresh perspectives to discussions.

    Jane Levin GRD ’75, who oversees the undergraduate Directed Studies program and taught the literature seminar to alumni last summer, said she was struck by how alumni drew on their life experiences to form interpretations much different from those of college freshmen.

    “The frustration of the meaning of life, one of the central questions to many of these works, has a particular kind of urgency when you are older,” she said.

    Schirmeister added that for alumni, many of whom have “high-powered jobs,” summer courses provide a unique opportunity to return to the classroom and ponder “big ideas.”

    “[Alumni] may eke out the time to read, or even to occasionally write something, but what they probably don’t have is an opportunity to talk about what they’re reading and thinking,” she said.

    Andrew Lipka ’78 and John Boardman ’64, who both attended Directed Studies last summer and will return for the Grand Strategy course, said the intensity of the program and the continuous nature of discussion helped them rediscover the thrills of classroom learning. Lipka maintains an active online discussion group for former students and faculty in the program, he said.

    As of last Thursday, 24 people had registered for one of this summer’s three courses.

  3. New Harvard admin focuses on global strategy

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    As Yale-NUS College prepares to open in fall 2013, Harvard has created an administrative position that will examine the university’s “global engagement.”

    Harvard Business School Professor Krishna Palepu was named President Drew Gilpin Faust’s senior adviser for global strategy on Wednesday, the Crimson reported. Palepu will work to implement the recommendations of Harvard’s International Strategy Working Group, which in October 2011 delivered its findings to the Harvard Board of Governors, the school’s highest governing body. The findings have not yet been released to the public.

    “I am delighted that Harvard has, with this appointment, underscored its commitment to global engagement,” Jorge Domínguez, Harvard’s vice provost for international affairs, told the Harvard Gazette.

    Palepu will also work on international fundraising and alumni outreach, in coordination with Domínguez.

    Harvard’s International Strategy Working Group was formed in 2010 weeks after Yale first announced plans for Yale-NUS college.

  4. Nemerov caps hottest class on campus

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    This semester’s most popular course just got a whole lot smaller.

    Alexander Nemerov’s “Introduction to the History of Art: Renaissance to the Present” has nearly 500 shoppers on the Online Course Selection system (down from 584 earlier this week), but the course has been capped at 270 — the maximum number of students that the Yale Art Gallery auditorium can hold.

    In past years, Nemerov taught the course in the much larger Yale Law School auditorium, which he estimated can fit around 450 students, and a cap on enrollment was never necessary in that space. But this year, Nemerov requested the use of the art gallery auditorium instead, he told the News.

    He said the art gallery auditorium is a darker room, allowing students to see projected images of artwork more clearly. But even more importantly: the room has no Wifi.

    “In the past many students in the lecture were doing Facebook or email or all kinds of things on their computers,” Nemerov said. “So for me it’s better if there’s a room where that is not possible, and one of the unfortunate effects of that is that I have to limit the enrollment of the class to the capacity of the auditorium.”

    Online selection for sections in the class opened this morning, and the 270 spots — 18 sections with 15 students each — were filled in two minutes, according to a Cross Campus tipster.

    Nemerov said he is sympathetic to students who were unable to enroll, but that he thinks the new room will provide “a better quality experience for everyone.”

  5. Environmental studies grows

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    Yale’s interdisciplinary major in environmental studies has doubled in size over the past few years, and the program is expanding and diversifying its course offerings to meet the increased interest.

    While 15 seniors graduated with degrees in environmental studies in 2010, this year’s graduating class will have 30, and there are another 31 majors in the class of 2013, according to data from Environmental Studies Program Chair John Wargo. As total enrollment in environmental studies courses has also surged, gifts from anonymous donors have allowed the major to offer additional seminars, and new field courses are in the works for the 2012-’13 academic year.

    Yale College has offered a major in environmental studies since 1985, when former Yale College Dean Howard Lamar encouraged the creation of a program in the subject. At the time, students could pursue environmental studies only as a second major. Faculty developed and approved a standalone version of the major in 2001, but only four students in the class of 2004 were in its first graduating class.

    The major, which draws upon the natural sciences, social sciences and humanities, has prerequisites in chemistry, biology, and physics or math, and requires an application to make sure students are prepared for the “special challenges” posed by the mix of disciplines, Environmental Studies Director of Undergraduate Studies Paul Sabin said in a December email. Students typically apply to the major, which has no cap on how many students it can admit, in the spring of their sophomore year. This year the major offered sophomores an early application deadline in December for the first time, and Wargo said 15 students applied by the early deadline.

    Though faculty and students interviewed said the major’s science prerequisites might deter some students, the program has grown significantly in recent years. Interest among non-majors is also strong: Nearly 1,000 Yale College students choose courses in the Environmental Studies Program or the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies each year, Wargo wrote in a Jan. 5 report on the state of the major.

    Sabin said he attributes the increase in popularity to “growing interest in studying complex environmental problems” and a greater awareness of the major as more students take environmental studies courses.

    Dean of Undergraduate Education Joseph Gordon said that increased summer opportunities for environmental studies majors and a strong partnership between the major and the environment school may also have made the major more attractive.

    “There’s really collaboration [between the major and the environment school] now, not just two groups working in parallel,” Gordon said in a Thursday email.

    Funding from several anonymous donors has enabled the major to offer 10 new seminars since 2009, Wargo wrote in the report. These include courses on how to use Geographic Information System (GIS) software, a popular research tool used to visualize data points on a map, as well as courses on energy policy, political ecology and science writing.

    The major may also introduce a few new field courses in the coming academic year, which would take advantage of Yale’s proximity to thousands of acres of Connecticut forests and the Long Island Sound, Wargo said in a Tuesday email.

    Seven environmental studies majors interviewed said they were drawn to the program because of its interdisciplinary and flexible nature. The major requires students to develop their own area of concentration but allows them to apply courses from numerous fields toward that concentration.

    “What attracted me to [the major] was the possibility of combining conservation biology and policy into one major, and having the ability to focus on policy issues while simultaneously gaining a substantial background in the natural sciences,” Katherine Eshel ’13 said in a Wednesday email.

    The major has also developed a more serious reputation since its creation, people involved with the program said.

    Jeffrey Park, a professor of geology and geophysics who chaired the environmental studies program before Wargo, said the major was considered “soft” by some undergraduates and their parents when it was first offered as a standalone major, but that it has now become more popular.

    Thomas Rokholt ’14 said that after taking the course “Global Problems of Population Growth” last spring, which is cross-listed in biology, history and the forestry school, he realized the environmental studies major was “not just for hippies.”

    The spring application deadline to the major is Feb. 24.

  6. Architecture students no longer headed to Dubai

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    Looks like Dubai 2K12 is off.

    In an email sent to students in the “Senior Project Design Studio,” this morning, Tom Zook, one of the studio’s professors, announced that the trip had been cancelled due to uncertainty about the competition’s legitimacy. The competition, it turns out, is not sanctioned by Wild Wadi Water Park, Zook said in his email.The details of this scandal are still unclear, Zook said. For now, though, the water slides will have to wait.

    But the professors were quick to find another trip. The studio will now participate in the 2012 Land Art Generator Initiative design competition, which asks participants to design a “site-specific public artwork that, in addition to its conceptual beauty, has the ability to harness energy cleanly from nature and convert it to electricity for the utility grid” in New York City’s Freshkills Park. The winner will receive $20,000.

    Zook explained that the class would still travel on the same dates — Jan. 26 to Jan. 30 — to see other “large-scale Land Art projects” in the West. The probable destination? Las Vegas.

  7. Shopping Period Dispatches: Megacourses

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    Two days into shopping period, three courses have potential enrollments of over 500 students on the Online Course Selection system, according to course demand data accessed at 11 p.m.

    Leading the pack is, as we expected, “Introduction to the History of Art,” with 584 shoppers, while “Great Hoaxes and Fantasies in Archaeology” has 519 and “Philosophy and the Science of Human Nature” has 505.

    Two other psychology courses are also in high demand: “Sex, Evolution, and Human Nature” has 485 shoppers, and “Drugs, Brain, and Behavior” has 300. Among economics offerings, “Financial Theory” has 355 shoppers, with introductory micro- and macroeconomics not far behind.

    But shopping period holds surprises not only for lecture rooms you thought couldn’t be packed fuller, but also for small classes gaining more interest. The environmental studies course “Biotechnology and the Developing World” was an eight-person lecture last year, professor Anjelica Gonzalez said in an email to the News, but today nearly 100 students showed up — what Gonzalez called a “pleasant surprise.”

    “I am only sorry that the assigned classroom was small, making it difficult to deliver the lecture, but I am working to make sure we are in a bigger room for Thursday’s class,” she wrote.

  8. EEB professor awarded tenure in December

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    [ydn-legacy-photo-inline id=”964″ ]

    Suzanne Alonzo, an associate professor in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department, was granted tenure at a Dec. 15 meeting of the Board of Permanent Officers, Yale College Dean Mary Miller said in an email.

    In her lab, Alonzo uses mathematical modeling to study sexual selection and reproductive behavior, and the “evolution and ecology of male and female reproductive traits,” according to her website. She taught the undergraduate course “Animal Behavior” this fall, and has been at Yale since 2004.

    The Board of Permanent Officers is a committee of all tenured, full professors in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Alonzo’s was the only internal case for promotion considered and approved by the committee.

  9. Nearly all grades submitted on time

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    Feel like you’re the only person left who’s still missing grades? You have some company, anyway — after Tuesday’s 5 p.m. deadline for submitting fall semester grades in Yale College, about six percent are still outstanding.

    As of Wednesday morning, 1,525 of 23,758 grades were missing, University Registrar Gabriel Olszewski said in an email to the News. He added that 434 of the missing grades have been saved on the Faculty Grading System but not yet submitted, which he said “usually means the faculty are about ready to submit.”

    Grades for classes in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences are due today.

  10. Environmental studies starts early admissions

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    The interdisciplinary environmental studies major usually accepts applications from sophomores in February, but this year it is offering an early December application deadline for students who already wish to apply.

    This is the first time the major is allowing students to apply early, said Paul Sabin, director of undergraduate studies for environmental studies. Early admission, he said, will allow students to choose their spring classes with environmental studies in mind. Students who apply by Dec. 21 will learn if they are admitted by Jan. 11, while the regular application deadline is Feb. 24.

    Sabin added that the major is not capped and that applying early or later will not affect a student’s chance of admission. The major — which combines coursework in the natural sciences, social sciences and humanities — requires an application so that faculty can ensure students are prepared for the “special challenges” posed by the mix of disciplines and have a plan for what area to concentrate in, he said.

    “Two application dates allow students who are ready to apply in December to know whether they have been accepted prior to finalizing their spring classes,” Sabin said in a Wednesday email. “Students who are still figuring out whether environmental studies is the right fit for them, or who are still completing coursework towards the prerequisites, may benefit from applying in February.”

    The early application option comes as the major has seen increased student interest in recent years. In 2009, 14 seniors graduated with environmental studies degrees, compared to 27 that will graduate in 2012 and 31 majors in the class of 2013, Sabin said.

    He said he attributes the increase to “growing interest in studying complex environmental problems” and a rising awareness of the major as more students take courses in environmental studies. To accommodate this interest, the major has created new course offerings, including new junior seminars, and intends to develop new field courses in the next year, he added.

    Students who apply to the major must submit a resume, transcript and statement of purpose.

  11. History to revamp junior seminars

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    Starting next semester, the History Department will reserve two slots in each of its junior seminars for sophomores.

    The change — which comes after discussions between the History Department and the Yale College Council about ways to increase seminar opportunities for sophomores — was announced to history majors in a departmental email today and to the sophomore class in a Friday email from the YCC.

    Sophomores who are declared as history majors will have the option of pre-registering for seminars, while other sophomores will be able to show up to the courses during shopping period and indicate their interest, said Steven Pincus, director of undergraduate studies for the History Department. Sophomores will be admitted to the seminars “just like anybody else, based on instructor approval,” he added, but professors will be told to reserve two places for them.

    In the past, sophomores have been able to enroll in history junior seminars, but Pincus said many students fail to consider taking these courses because of the “J” — “junior” — designation in their course listings. He said the History Department plans to rename them “undergraduate seminars” in order to dispel this impression.

    “[Seminars] are what we do best,” Pincus said of the History Department, “and there’s no reason why Yale sophomores can’t do this. We very much want sophomores to take these courses.”

    The YCC is also collaborating with the Political Science Department to make seminars in that department available to sophomores. Check back in Wednesday’s paper for extended coverage of these efforts.

  12. Shopping period is here

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    Fall 2011 term classes began this morning at 8:20 a.m. (early, right?), which means we’re officially in shopping period. These coming days will be about overcrowded seminars and online section enrollment. Though they might be hectic, we want to encourage you to keep in touch with us as you run around campus. Did a professor say something particularly hilarious or controversial? Was one lecture just so packed you couldn’t even get in the door? We can’t be everywhere at once, but we want to be, so email when you notice something you think might interest us. And keep checking Cross Campus.