Africana Studies

Africana Studies embraces a number of scholarly disciplines and subjects at Sarah Lawrence College, including anthropology, architecture, art history, dance, economics, film, filmmaking, history, Islamic studies, law, literature, philosophy, politics, psychology, religion, sociology, theatre, and writing. Students examine the experience of Africans and people of African descent in the diaspora, including Latin America, the Caribbean, North America, and beyond. Study includes the important cultural, economic, technological, political, and social intellectual interplay and exchanges of those peoples as they help make our world. Students will explore the literature of Africans and peoples of African descent in various languages, including Spanish, Portuguese, French, and English. The dynamics of immigration and community formation are vital in this field. Students will examine the art and architecture of Africa and the diaspora; their history, societies, and cultures; their economy and politics; the impact of Islam and the Middle East; the processes of slavery; the slave trade and colonialism; as well as postcolonial literature in Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean. The program also includes creative work in filmmaking, theatre, and writing.

Design Studies

Design Studies at Sarah Lawrence College is a cross-disciplinary initiative that offers a variety of analytical approaches to the cultural act of constructing environments, buildings, and aesthetic, yet functional, objects. Courses in architectural and art history and theory, computer design, environmental studies, physics, and sculpture allow students to investigate—in both coursework and conference—a wide range of perspectives and issues dealing with all facets of built design. These perspectives include theoretical explorations in history and criticism, formal approaches that engage sociopolitical issues, sustainable problem solving, and spatial exploration using both digital and analog design tools. Courses of study might include structural engineering in physics and projects on bridge design that reflect these structural principles in courses on virtual architecture and sculpture; the study of the architecture and politics of sustainability in class and conference work for art and architectural history and environmental studies; and sculpture and art history courses that engage issues of technology, expression, and transgression in the uses of the techniques and crafts of construction. When coordinated with participating faculty, programs of study offer an excellent preparation for further engagement in the fields of architecture, both theory and practice; in digital and environmental design; and in engineering.

Ethnic and Diasporic Studies

Ethnic Studies as an academic discipline lies at the intersection of several increasingly powerful developments in American thought and culture. First, interdisciplinary and comparative scholarship has become so prevalent as to represent a dominant intellectual norm. Second, the use of this new scholarly methodology to meet new academic needs and illuminate new subject matter has given rise to a plethora of discourses—women’s studies; Native American studies; African American studies; gay, lesbian, and transgender studies; and global studies. Third, and perhaps most important, there has been a growing recognition, both inside and outside academia, that American reality is incorrigibly and irremediably plural and that responsible research and pedagogy must account for and accommodate this fact.

We define Ethnic Studies, loosely, as the study of the dynamics of racial and ethnic groups (also loosely conceived) who have been denied, at one time or another, full participation and the full benefits of citizenship in American society. We see these dynamics as fascinating in themselves but also feel that studying them illuminates the entire spectrum of humanistic inquiry and that a fruitful cross-fertilization will obtain between Ethnic Studies and the College’s well-established curricula in the humanities, the arts, the sciences, and the social sciences.

Filmmaking, Screenwriting and Media Arts

Sarah Lawrence College’s undergraduate Filmmaking, Screenwriting and Media Arts Program (FSMA) offers a vibrant, dynamic, creative incubator to ignite the imagination of the next generation of media makers. The program seeks to help students navigate the intersection of art and technology, as they acquire the tools and skills of the discipline and develop their critical and creative voices.

Cognizant that not every student will graduate to be a writer, director, producer, or game developer, the program believes that—with the enduring power and influence of cinema, television, the Web, and social media—students in all fields of study benefit from media literacy and theory and an enduring understanding of the ways and means of media development and production.
The program explores a broad scope of media making, including narrative fiction, documentary/nonfiction, experimental film, animation, cinematography, storyboarding, directing actors, as well as producing, screenwriting, writing for television, writing and producing for the Web, writing for games, and game development.

Interdisciplinary work across the liberal arts is encouraged, and formal and informal collaboration among the Music, Dance, Theater and other disciplines continue to emerge and flourish. In a creative alliance with the Theatre program, FSMA has begun the third year of its interdisciplinary, team-taught project in developing and producing Web series.

Our faculty and staff are all accomplished, working filmmakers, screenwriters, and media artists. We have an exchange program in Animation with Cal Arts and study-abroad opportunities in film in Paris, Cuba, and in Prague at the world famous FAMU film school. Our ever-expanding network of alums working in the field help provide internship opportunities, as well.

Recent graduates routinely have work represented at some of the world’s most prestigious film and media festivals, and graduates who chose to pursue advanced degrees are finding traction at the top film schools in the United States and abroad.

Games, Interactivity, and Playable Media

Games, Interactivity, and Playable Media spans offerings in visual arts, film and media, and computer science to foster technical and digital literacy in the arts. Designed for experimentation, this initiative helps students establish digital proficiency while supporting the exploration of a wide range of new media forms and technologies. Courses of study might include visual programming, artificial intelligence, gaming, robotics, experimental animation, computer arts, experimental media design, data visualization, real-time interactivity, digital signal processing, cross-platform media environments, and mobile media development. Students are encouraged to coordinate these project-based investigations of the digital throughout their studies in the humanities, including literature, philosophy, politics, sociology, theatre, and writing.

Global Studies

Global processes, exchanges, and movements have remapped the contemporary world. Global Studies courses seek to provide a coherent critical framework within which to study such increasingly fluid cultural and national crossings. Global Studies faculty members working in the disciplines of Asian studies, history, and literature have been engaged in rethinking previous assumptions about history and cartography. Their courses tend to reframe familiar histories, as well as to uncover unfamiliar routes of human interaction. These classes adopt interdisciplinary approaches that help bring to light historic concerns that otherwise might be rendered invisible.

Examples of Global Studies offerings include courses on the intersection of cultures surrounding the Mediterranean; overlapping colonial and postcolonial histories of Europe, Africa, Asia, and Latin America; linked Pacific Rim cultures—for example, shared histories among peoples from the western coast of the Americas, the Philippines, and Japan; intertwined histories and literatures of Africa and the Americas in light of the concept of a Black Atlantic; and homologous literatures and histories of native peoples from different geographic regions.

For course descriptions, see Asian Studies, History, and Literature.

Health, Science, and Society

Health, Science and Society is a cluster of undergraduate and graduate courses, programs, and events that addresses the meaning of health and illness, advocacy for health and health care, and structures of medical and scientific knowledge. Courses and events are multidisciplinary, bringing together perspectives from the humanities, creative arts, social sciences, and natural sciences. Undergraduate students who are interested in health, science, and society are encouraged to take courses across the curriculum and to design interdisciplinary conference projects.

Over the past 25 years, as health and disease have been examined from social, economic, political, and historical perspectives, there has been an increased awareness of the ways in which definitions of disease are framed in relation to the values, social structures, and bases of knowledge of particular communities. Globalization has required us to understand health and disease as crucial international issues, and environmental health is increasingly seen to be a matter of policy that has significantly differential effects on different populations. Public talks and events are regularly scheduled to bring together undergraduate and graduate faculty and students to consider these questions of health, medicine, and scientific knowledge from a broad variety of perspectives.

This focus of study may be of interest to students interested in the health professions, including premed, nursing, or allied professions such as physical therapy, allowing them to combine courses in the natural sciences with explorations of the social sciences, arts, and humanities. Similarly, students in the arts and humanities who are interested in health and illness may find that incorporating science and social science into their educational program enables them to achieve a greater depth of understanding and expression in their work.

Health, Science and Society offers undergraduate students the unique opportunity to take advantage of Sarah Lawrence College’s nationally recognized graduate master’s programs in Human Genetics and Health Advocacy, both the first such graduate programs offered in the country. Events and programs are also coordinated with the graduate programs in Art of Teaching and Child Development and in collaboration with the Child Development Institute.

International Studies

What kind of global society will evolve in the 21st century? Linked by worldwide organizations and communications, yet divided by histories and ethnic identities, people everywhere are involved in the process of re-evaluation and self-definition. To help students better understand the complex forces that will determine the shape of the 21st century, Sarah Lawrence College offers an interdisciplinary approach to International Studies. Broadly defined, International Studies include the dynamics of interstate relations; the interplay of cultural, ideological, economic, and religious factors; and the multifaceted structures of Asian, African, Latin American, Middle Eastern, and European societies. A variety of programs abroad further extends students’ curricular options in International Studies. The experience of overseas learning, valuable in itself, also encourages more vivid cultural insight and integration of different scholarly perspectives. The courses offered in International Studies are listed throughout the catalogue in disciplines as diverse as anthropology, art history, Asian studies, economics, environmental science, geography, history, literature, politics, and religion.

Latin American and Latino/a Studies

This program in Latin American and Latino/a Studies (LALS) is devoted to the interdisciplinary investigation of Latin American, Caribbean, and Latino cultures, politics, and histories. Through a variety of disciplines, students will have opportunities to explore the vibrant cultural life of Latin American and Caribbean countries, as well as the experiences of the Latino communities in the United States. Course offerings will include language, literature, dance, film, music, art, and other cultural expressions as a way to familiarize the students with a world that is rich in imagination, powerful in social impact, and defiant of the stereotypes usually imposed upon it. Students will also interrogate the complex political dynamics involved in such processes as (post)colonialism, migration, revolution, social movements, citizenship, and the cultural politics of race, gender, sexuality, and class. The histories of conquest, colonialism, development, and resistance in the area also require broad inquiry into the often turbulent and violent realities of political economic forces.

As this program is concerned with a broad set of border crossings, faculty in LALS are also committed to expanding educational experiences beyond Sarah Lawrence College. Accordingly, students are encouraged to study abroad through Sarah Lawrence College programs in Cuba, Argentina, and Peru or with other programs in Latin America. Students will also have opportunities to explore the borderlands closer to Sarah Lawrence College, including Latino communities in New York City and Westchester County.

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies (LGBT) is an interdisciplinary field that engages questions extending across a number of areas of study. Sarah Lawrence College offers students the opportunity to explore a range of theories and issues concerning gender and sexuality across cultures, categories, and historical periods. This can be accomplished through seminar course work and discussion and/or individual conference research.

Pre-Health Program

Students interested in pursuing further studies in medicine or other health-related fields may take advantage of the Pre-Health program, which prepares students academically for medical school and assists in meeting the demands of admission to individual medical or graduate programs. Students supplement required courses in biology, chemistry, and physics with additional courses offered by the division as part of their preparation for the MCATs and postgraduate education. Conference work provides students with additional opportunities to organize original research projects, pursue independent learning, and critically examine professional literature—skills fundamental to future success in medical and graduate schools. Students in the program have significant contact with the pre-health adviser, as well as with other faculty members in the division, through conferences, coursework, and independent research. Therefore, faculty members with a thorough and personal knowledge of the individual student write letters of recommendation. The pre-health adviser and faculty members also serve as resources for information regarding application procedures, research and volunteer opportunities within the community, structuring of class work, MCAT preparation, and practice interviews.

See separate entries for specific course descriptions in biology, chemistry, computer science, mathematics, and physics.

Women’s Studies

The Women’s Studies curriculum comprises courses in various disciplines and focuses on new scholarship on women, sex, and gender. Subjects include women’s history; feminist theory; the psychology and politics of sexuality; gender constructs in literature, visual arts, and popular culture; and the ways in which gender, race, class, and sexual identities intersect for both women and men. This curriculum is designed to help all students think critically and globally about sex-gender systems and to encourage women, in particular, to think in new ways about themselves and their work. Undergraduates may explore women’s studies in lectures, seminars, and conference courses. Advanced students may also apply for early admission to the College’s graduate program in Women’s History and, if admitted, may begin work toward the Master of Arts degree during their senior year. The MA program provides rigorous training in historical research and interpretation. It is designed for students pursuing careers in academe, advocacy, policymaking, and related fields.