By Carol Brévart-Demm and Jeffrey LottMore than 600 courses are listed in the Swarthmore College catalog. Not all are taught each year, but, taken as a whole, the College’s curriculum offers its 1,500 students a stunning array of learning opportunities in the social sciences, natural sciences, and humanities—plus a dozen interdisciplinary minors. Thirty-five departments and programs make Swarthmore’s curriculum both broad and deep. What courses will Swarthmore’s catalog contain in 2021? Will ancient texts still be discussed around tables of 12? How will curricular innovation be married with tried-and-true pedagogies? Will there be more problem-based courses like Associate Professor of Political Science Keith Reeves’s [’88] honors seminar The Urban Underclass and Public Policy? More opportunities to cross disciplinary boundaries as in Professor of Physics Michael Brown’s first-year seminar on energy? Or greater use of technology and media in courses like Professor of English Literature Betsy Bolton’s Writing Nature: Digital Storytelling?
Clear, crisp, colorful, congenial—all are words that describe the three days in October when more than 1,000 alumni, parents, friends, faculty, and staff convened on campus for Swarthmore’s first-ever Garnet Homecoming and Family Weekend. Outside, beneath brilliant blue skies and autumnal trees, groups gathered together to take tours of the Crum, follow Friends Historical Library Curator Christopher Densmore around the campus to learn about the College’s connections to the Underground Railroad, or see gems of the Scott Arboretum revealed.
By Robert StraussOne need not look too hard to find Adele Diamond dancing, but it has to be a certain kind of dance—a subtle combination of social, rule-based, and interactive. “I hate the way ballroom dancing is taught in dancing schools,” says Diamond. “They teach that you’re supposed to look over your partner’s shoulder. I don’t want to dance with somebody who’s looking over my shoulder. I want the interaction…. “Salsa, swing, tango, contradance from New England, hambo from Sweden,” she says, listing some of her favorites.
By Ira Gitlin ’80In my second year of grad school, the river ran dry. With a degree in ancient Greek and no clear plans for life after Swarthmore, I’d been relieved when the University of Pennsylvania offered me a fellowship for their doctoral program in classical studies. Because I enjoyed studying the languages, history, and literature of the ancient world, it had seemed like a good idea at the time. But after a year or so it became clear to me that I simply didn’t have the drive to become a professional scholar and deep down I didn’t understand the ways of academia. I left Penn with a master’s degree, but in my heart I knew I was a dropout.
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- Lifelong Learning
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Justin Kramon ’02 was already an established fiction writer, with stories published in journals such as Glimmer Train and Story Quarterly, well before he began working on the novel Finny. Kramon attributes his early work on the novel to conversations with agents who urged him toward the longer form: “You talk to agents, and you’re saying, ‘Story, story, story,’ and they’re saying ‘Novel, novel, novel.’ But then, of course, I really fell in love with the project.”