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Course Advice

Diana Davis ’07 (who I hope will show us a photo tomorrow) is looking for course advice.

In addition to my thesis, here are the courses I am thinking of taking:

American Landscape History
Economic Development in Poor Countries*
Mathematical Modeling and Control Theory
Violence, Militancy, and Collective Recovery*

I have to choose between the two with asterisks, since I will only be taking one of them. Which should I choose? Opine freely, please.

Diana provides what look to be links but take me to Yahoo. My browser or her html or Williams web weirdness?

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#1 Comment By frank uible On September 7, 2006 @ 7:59 am

Subject to taking any of them which is an academic requisite, take the one or ones in which you have the most inherent interest for the reasons that that you will enjoy it or them more and will tend to put more into, and consequently get more out of, it or them.

#2 Comment By Aidan On September 7, 2006 @ 8:33 am

The only person involved with Williams more bizarre than Kane: Sheafe!

#3 Comment By Guy Creese ’75 On September 7, 2006 @ 11:36 am

Wow, is Sheafe still going?

What worked for me was taking a combination of the professor and the subject. I took some subjects that I never would have taken due to a great professor (Burns in Poli Sci, Bahlman in History, Stoddard in Art History) and then others that just interested me (History of Science, which has been one of my most useful courses in business life, since I analyze technology — but I didn’t know that at the time, of course, since the PC hadn’t been invented yet).

As an alum, I’d recommend you take American Landscape History. Over the years, the facts you learned in college fade — or get superceded — but the lessons on how to look at and dissect something stay with you. I took “Man and Nature in America,” which discussed how American perceptions and control of nature changed over time, and I still draw lessons from it when flying over the country, reading about how farming is changing in the Midwest, or listening to town discussions on whether to conserve land. Plus, landscape history is an interesting amalgamation of art, economics, and city planning, so you get introduced into shades of grey thinking which never hurts.

#4 Comment By hwc On September 7, 2006 @ 12:48 pm

Always pick the professor first, course second. A junior should already know the professors.

#5 Comment By Diana On September 7, 2006 @ 7:13 pm

Thank you for your advice. Sorry about the links; I’ve fixed them now. (The problem is that on campus you can type www/admin/registrar, while off campus you have to type http://www.williams.edu/admin/registrar. I think that when you get Yahoo, David, this is usually the reason.) The fixed links are below.

American Landscape History
Economic Development in Poor Countries*
Mathematical Modeling and Control Theory
Violence, Militancy, and Collective Recovery*

Guy: I am also interested in learning how to look at things and dissect them. In high school I went to the Mountain School and learned to look at an area of forest and reconstruct the past hundred or so years of natural and human history there. I can now look at a stand of trees or piece of forest and tell if it used to be farmland, if it had a flood, or what. I am interested to learn to do something analagous with buildings in Sheafe’s course, and I have heard that his courses are great.

hwc: The ’07s are seniors now. And you’re right about the professors.

#6 Comment By Guy Creese ’75 On September 8, 2006 @ 4:43 pm

Diana, if you’re interested in “reading” houses, I’d highly recommend you read the book “The Place of Houses” by Charles Moore, Gerald Allen, and Donlyn Lyndon. And yes, it’s the same Charles Moore who designed the WCMA addition.

The background on the authors is they went to Princeton Architectural School together (back when it was a backwater); didn’t drink the Gropius KoolAid taught at Harvard; had their own firm (MLTW); and then dispersed to teach a generation of architects (Moore was Dean of Architecture at Yale, Lyndon was head of Architecture at MIT, and Allen became editor of Architectural Record.

The book is a pattern book of sorts, positing some templates of designs (aedicula, saddlebags, passage) as well as three organizing themes (rooms, machines, dreams). It then ends with an organizing checklist to help the reader figure out priorities and hence what needs the resulting building should serve.

My father taught architectural history within the University of Illinois architectural school and he used it as a textbook due to (1) its insights and (2) its lightheartedness, or as he noted in a review he did of the book: “Almost unsettling among treatises on contemporary architecture for its wit, insight, and unpretentiousness.” Highly recommended!

#7 Comment By hwc On September 8, 2006 @ 10:45 pm

“hwc: The ’07s are seniors now. And you’re right about the professors.”

Oh, yeah. It’s September, isn’t it? My bad.

I kind of lost track. My ’08er is overseas, so I forgot that she’s a junior! Hard to believe as I’m sure many of the other parents here can attest.


BTW, that Economic Development of Poor Countries is an important topic in this day and age. How is the course?