Hopefully everyone is settling into their Winter Study routines. College Council is excited to announce the course listing for Free University 2017! This is your chance to learn a new skill or activity, taught by fellow Williams students. Now is your chance to sign up and see what there is to learn.
Below are the classes for this year’s Free University. If you are interested in joining a class, please contact the instructor directly at their listed unix. They will organize with you and other interested students to arrange meeting times and locations. Class size is up to their discretion and many do have limits, so please only contact an instructor if you are serious about being active in the class.
If you have any questions about the program, feel free to contact me. If you have questions about a specific class, you may direct them to the appropriate instructor.
Vice President for Academic Affairs
Free University 2017 Courses
Ever wanted to learn how to dance the foxtrot, waltz, salsa, and tango? Learn these and MORE ballroom dances in a fun, casual atmosphere this Winter Study. Beginners are especially welcome!
Introduction to Irish Dance.
I plan to do a mix of traditional and contemporary Irish dance, and I can obviously cater to the interests of the students involved! .
No irish dance shoes are necessary: bare feet or ballet slippers will work.. This class is directed towards beginners, so no dance experience is required !!! Just wear comfortable athletic clothing and be ready to learn.
The Art of Belly Dancing
Join me in learning the technical and artistic movement behind the art of belly dancing in this 2-hour evening workshop! I will be training you in basic belly dance techniques in the styles of Arabic, Greek, and Latin American belly dancing. I have 6 years of the dance form under my belt, but whether you have dancing experience or not, belly dancing is a form or dance that requires minimal/no footwork and strengthens your core control, so the only requirement is that you are functionally capable to bend and flex areas of your body such as your back, core, arms, and legs! Selection will be based off of enthusiasm and interest! Possible end to the course will be a group performance for the school! Women only. (Although belly dance is an art for both genders, I only have the capability to teach women)
The Guqin is an ancient Chinese musical instrument with a history of over three thousand years. This course is an introduction to the instrument and its culture. We will talk about the instrument and listen to its music, and also learn some basics of playing Qin. A video introduction to Guqin: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WgoDk2kWLhQ
In this course, we will go over different beatboxing sounds and rhythms, break through all mental barriers, and hopefully learn a bit about friendship along the way. Beatboxing can be a fun activity and useful songwriting technique, and I’d love for more people to learn! By the end of January, everyone should be able to lay one down anytime. May involve some rapping if people are into it.
The Yeezus Effect: Kanye West Through the Years
In this course, we will systematically examine and evaluate arguably the most impactful cultural icon of the twenty-first century, Kanye Omari West. From his humble beginnings as a producer for local Chicago acts to his breakout debut The College Dropout to his disillusioned magnum opus My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, Mr. West has shaped the hip-hop and pop landscapes, realigning the boundaries of mainstream music with each release. We’ll make our way through his dense, but accessible and truly remarkable discography, and we will also study his controversial side and social media presence, with special focus on his recent behavior. How has Kanye redefined hip-hop as we know it? Are we inflating his influence? At what point has Kanye gone “too far”? We’ll attempt to answer these questions and more in The Yeezus Effect.
Creating Retro Music in a Modern Age: A Guide to Chiptunes:
This 2-hour session will introduce people to the creation of 8-bit music using the Little Sound DJ ROM for Gameboy Classic. We will briefly go over the basics of the program, sequencing, creating bass loops, and end the workshop with the creation of a song.
Sometimes we miss the chance to see how common physics and computer science processes and techniques come together for the practical application that is engineering. In this class we will introduce basic robotics concepts and principals with TETRIX robotics parts. We shall explore creating and testing our own robots through working on projects and programming in Java.
You’re Beaut-eph-ul! Enhancing your Natural Beauty
You’re beautephul, it’s true, but sometimes you want to change up your look, or learn how to enhance your natural beauty. Ever wanted to try a makeup look but not know how to make it work for you? The cat-eye liner, the smokey eye, contouring- what are those things? Or maybe you want to learn more about skin care? In this class I’ll personalize the tips for your unique features. Important: While makeup is fun and can be a great confidence booster, you don’t need to wear anything, because you’re beautephul just the way you are :) (No gender restrictions: anyone is welcome in this space to ask questions or to simply play with makeup! Email me if you have any questions)
Million Dollars for Dummies
Instructor: Benton Leary, former financial counselor & member of Williams Financial Literacy Committee (firstname.lastname@example.org)
This course covers strategies that ensure financial success to the extent that you, yes you, can easily become a millionaire. We won’t be studying trust fund babies or Wall Street bankers. Instead the persistent example will be a Williams alumnus who graduates with moderate debt and who chooses a middle-class career path. We’ll be analyzing the decisions you’ll have to make in your life, and the long-term financial ramifications of those decisions. Also covered will be real-life stories of ordinary self-made millionaires, taking examples from the New York Times best-selling book “The Millionaire Next Door,” which will be provided to the class.
Prerequisites: None. This course assumes you have no knowledge of anything financial.
To Stand the Test of Time: Sid Meier’s Civilization V and Other Strategy Games
For the past five years and especially after the release of the Brave New World expansion, Civilization V has been the premier strategy game for gamers worldwide. In this Free University class, you will learn how to guide a civilization through history from antiquity to modernity. We will also reflect on the game in context as the fifth game in a now 25-year franchise, and how its peer games depict history differently and/or use different game mechanics to achieve a contrasting strategic aesthetic (Crusader Kings II, for example). Finally, we will contemplate the impact of Civilization V on the gaming community, and discuss the aesthetics of strategy games in general. I would be happy to co-teach with others who have experience with different games in the 4X, RTS, and Grand Strategy genres, and incorporate said games into the curriculum. Please contact jra5 to coordinate meeting times.
Cardboard Wizards: Learn How to Play MTG, sign up here!
The progenitor of the trading card game genre–which includes Hearthstone and Yu-Gi-Oh!–Magic: the Gathering has been around since 1993, and has today fostered a global community of spellslingers and card enthusiasts. The Williams Magic: the Gathering Club will be teaching the basics of the game, and the in-depth strategies and concepts that make the game to be such a renowned hobby. Sign-up to learn more about the game, how to play, and why it remains one of the most popular trading card games in the world!
Cards will be supplied by the Williams Magic: the Gathering club, so the course is totally free! And no prior experience is required.
This course will be an introduction to Okinawan Karate, a martial art with a mix of “hard” and “soft” techniques which aims to be a practical means of self-defense. Each class will involve learning different stances and techniques, traditional stretching and physical conditioning exercises, and both individual and partner-assisted material. No previous martial arts experience is required. Contact Jacob Lezberg at jel4 if interested.
One Horse-Sized Duck or a Hundred Duck-Sized Horses: Animal Physiology and Dueling Technique in the Natural World
We’ve all thought about some variation on the question: Which animal would win in a fight? In this short course we’ll consider the physiology and fighting technique of various animals, and examine select case studies of dueling in the wild, as well as in artificially constructed models and arenas. This workshop will be conducted over two class periods. During the first class, we will investigate natural modes of fighting, such as during mating rituals, as well as other hypothetical models. The group will be split into two teams, each team will be given an animal, and both teams will be allotted a period of time to construct their arguments for why they believe their animal would win in a fight versus the other. Each team’s 10-minute presentation will be judged by a panel of experts, and an ultimate winner will be decided. In the second workshop, the group will attempt to model some of these engagements using foam noodles, first-touch fencing style. In a tournament-style bracket the ultimate dueling champion will be decided. Participants need not take part in the final day of the workshop, but if they do, they are required to wear appropriate athletic sneakers and clothing. Additional workshops may be added based upon interest.
The group will be devoted to discussion of the Harry Potter books and to the universe of Harry Potter as a whole. Potential topics of discussion include the moral ambiguity of various characters (Snape, Dumbledore, the marauders), the effect of extensive supplementary materials on the story’s canon, and why Minerva McGonagall is the absolute best (but we’re up for discussing anything!). Bring your ideas, your love for Harry Potter, and your cat, owl, or toad.
Social Identity through Zines
Recent events have made it glaringly apparent that fear is a tool employed to quiet people’s demands and ignore their existence, particularly those of whom are marginalized due to their race, gender, economic status, etc.. Zine-making is an opportunity to interrupt that silence. Therefore, one of the main objectives of this course is to teach participants about zines and provide a space for their production. However, this course will also be a space to explore participants’ multilayered identities and speak to their experiences as so. Meetings will be once a week.
Run away to the circus this winter study! Have fun learning the basics of this wacky performance art. We’ll cover juggling, acrobatics, unicycling, and more. The content of the class will be flexible depending on what students prefer to learn, and feel free to bring your own skills to share! Circus is a marvelous combination of disciplines that welcomes all levels of experience, physical ability, and hand-eye coordination. Absolutely no experience necessary! Meeting times will be determined based on availability of students; contact ikb2 to sign up.
It’s Gonna Be Sew Lit
In a series of workshops, I’ll be teaching the basics of creating and personalizing your own garments! The first project (where you’ll get the chance to make either a skirt or pajama pants, it’s up to you!) will allow you to familiarize yourself with how to use patterns and sewing machines. For the following project, once you’re more comfortable with sewing, you’ll have the option of making either a bomber jacket or a pullover hoodie. For this project, I’ll be leading a workshop at Maker’s Mill in North Adams where you’ll be able to screen print your own design onto your jacket/hoodie! An important note: all genders are welcome; I hope to share one of my passions so that those who are interested can discover and/or explore their own creative abilities through garment construction.
Back by popular demand! The class involves sitting in a circle cross legged while sanding blocks of wood and listening to classical music. Students get to keep one block of wood for the whole Winter Study. This is a great stress relief activity, and should also help people find inner peace. It is a goal oriented course (try to make your block disappear!!) and everyone will have so much fun!
Cloudy With a Chance of Learning
This course will be primarily driven by the students, as its purpose is to learn about and experience the beauty of clouds together. It will consist of 4 sessions that will involve a lot of beautiful cloud pictures and videos. Topics will include different types of clouds and how they form, rare and recently discovered clouds, predicting weather by looking at clouds, clouds in literature and culture, and the weather of the Berkshires. We will try to get outside as much as possible, both through walks and by driving to beautiful cloud-watching locations such as the hairpin turn. Everyone should come, regardless of their previous knowledge about clouds. There is very low-pressure to take this course, but I hope that if you do, you will take it cirrusly, as the final will be cumulus-ative. As the manifesto of the Cloud Appreciation Society states, “Look up, marvel at the ephemeral beauty, and always remember to live life with your head in the clouds!”
Appetizers For Party Planning
Think you want to throw a nice gathering amongst family and friends? Need some appetizers and pre-dinner courses to start off your event? This course will go over some basics of how to plan a variety of apps and hors d’oeuvres that are easy, fast, and appealing to everyone. And the most fun part, is to come up with original recipes and ideas and have our own appetizers party. No cooking experience required!
Coffee 101: Brewed Awakening
Take a journey through time – and around the globe – exploring different techniques to prepare the world’s most delicious drink – coffee. The course will consist of four classes, during which we will test out the following drink preparation methods: Espresso, Italian Moka Pot, Turkish Coffee, Vietnamese Drip Coffee, French press, Cold Brew, and Drip Brew coffee. Throughout the process we will discuss the effects of: altitude of origin, roast, grind, brew technique, temperature, additives, etc. on the end flavor of the cup. In addition to brewing, we will also attempt to roast our own coffee. There will also be theoretical discussions of more individualized coffee preparations such as: instant coffee, coffee bags, and pod-based brew methods. We will also discuss current problems facing coffee producers worldwide and the future of everyone’s favorite poop colored drink.
Into backpacking and spending time outside? Want to learn how to make other expedition members like you? Do you like problem-solving and getting creative? Well, backcountry cooking might be the course for you. We’ll have some fun with Whisperlites and get crazy with cinnamon rolls, quinoa black bean burgers w/ homemade buns, cornbread, and more. No experience is necessary. If you have dietary restrictions, no worries! We can accommodate. Heads up: we might also be building snow kitchens and cooking outside, weather and group interest dependent.
This course would provide an overview of how to bake delicious and aesthetically pleasing desserts. Each session would feature a different type of dish with a specific emphasis on both savory and sweet pies. Additional possibilities for sessions include a winter cookie exchange, making bread, and cupcake decorating and what we bake can be flexible depending on what people are interested in learning to make.
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