Discovering a Sense of Place — Upon and Beyond the Domain
This interdisciplinary course invites first-year students to reflect upon several dimensions of their new living environment, both within and beyond the University’s extensive landbase of the Domain — and thereby to enlarge their intellectual and existential understanding of what a “sense of place” might mean in several diverse and ever-widening contexts. Touching eventually on global issues, the inquiry begins with study of the Domain’s natural features in conjunction with its built environment — including its associations with surrounding communities, its stories of settlement past and present, and its agricultural and resource assets.
Students will share the experience of panel discussions and a set of common core reading assignments and they will also select their preference for more immersive exploration from among seven course sections.
- Your Place, or Mine?: The Tension of Place in Narrative and Story-telling
- Here and There, Now and Then
- The Mountain Goat Trail: a Journey in Community Health
- Honor and Justice
- Walking in Place
- The Seen and the Unseen: Maps, Memory, and Our Common Life in Sewanee
- A Landscape for Memory
Starting before regular classes begin and then lasting into the Advent semester, the course covers three learning segments:
- Interdisciplinary Immersion — August
- Perspective Development — September
- Capstone Conversations — October
Professors, upperclassmen mentors, and students will convene in August two weeks prior to regularly scheduled freshmen exercises to pursue a single-course schedule.
Section professors and visiting scholars of a wide range of academic disciplines — many of whom have authored the assigned texts — will have in-depth discussions on ideas relevant to the assigned texts. Students will observe these scholar discussions wherein professors will examine a single topic from their respective disciplines' perspectives.
Sections will meet individually immediately after scholar discussions to reflect on their observations and ask questions of their section leaders.
Field activities will supplement scholar discussions and section reflections by bringing topics to life. Field work will vary by section. For instance, John Willis's "A Landscape for Memory" may travel to the King Farm historical site on the Domain while Gerald Smith's "'The Seen and Unseen': Maps, Memory, and Our Common Life in Sewanee" may travel to the University cemetery.
Students will be expected to keep a detailed journal during this learning segment.
Sections will meet individually once a week in September to focus on the objectives of the course through the lens of the section professor's discipline.
Unlike the readings in the Interdisciplinary Immersion segment (where assignments are shared by all participants), readings in Perspective Development will be be specialized to the section professor's area of study. For instance, geology and natural resources texts may be assigned in Bran Potter's section Walking in Place while works of southern literature may be assigned in Virginia Craighill's section Your Place, or Mine?: The Tension of Place in Narrative and Story-telling.
Section meetings will be devoted primarily to discussion of assigned readings, essay development, and examinations.
All sections will meet collectively once a week in October to bring the ideas they have developed through Perspective Development to a greater forum for discussion.
Readings aimed at developing a broad appreciation for Appalachia will be assigned.
Primary discussion will shift from being scholar-conducted — as in Interdisciplinary Immersion — to being student-conducted in Capstone Conversations. With a strong foundation of knowledge and strong relationships with their peers and professors, a more relaxed "conversations" model will allow students and professors to draw far-reaching conclusions to some of the most important questions inspired by their common journey.