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Course Descriptions

Newcomb Institute's Pre-College Summer Session offers five different courses. Each week-long course features full days of seminar discussions and collaborative projects. Students in different courses come together for select workshops, lunch breaks, and a closing reception for families. 

We strongly encourage residential students to stay for two weeks. The weekend between courses will consist of supervised activities, cultural field trips, and socializing with other students on campus.  

Students may take any course or pair of courses; all courses work synergistically to deepen students’ understanding of gender, leadership, and social change. Women Writing Out Loud is offered both weeks, but students can only take it once.

Women's Advocacy

Prof. Aidan Smith
June 15-19

Students are passionate about social issues in their communities – but how can they get the word out and effect change? In this course, students will learn the strategies and tactics of persuasive communications necessary to advocate for the causes they believe in. In independent and collaborative projects, students will practice these methods, from effective public speaking to strategic social media, to create oral, written, and visual communications to advocate for policy change on campus and in their community. Seminar discussions will focus on contemporary issues of gender, politics, and advocacy work.

Reproductive Rights in the Media

Prof. Clare Daniel
June 15-19

How have television, film, and new media technologies shaped public opinion and policy around reproductive issues? This course focuses on relationships among reproductive politics, popular media, social media, and movements for reproductive rights and justice in the United States. By analyzing a range of today’s media – from Jane the Virgin and Teen Mom to sex ed and fertility apps – students will gain an understanding of key issues within reproductive politics, including the effects of social inequalities on reproductive freedom and outcomes.

Women Writing Out Loud

Professor TBA
June 15-19, June 22-26

Why haven’t we heard of more women writers in literary history, and what kinds of obstacles do women writers face today? In this course, students will read and write about women’s agency in literature: as authors and characters, and as subjects and objects. During the morning seminar, students will discuss the themes and styles of classic and contemporary literature, including fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, and practice analyzing texts from a feminist perspective. During the afternoon workshop, students will write, share, and critique their original works of expository and creative writing. By writing with confidence in the first-person “I,” students will gain concrete strategies for planning and writing the most important essay of their high school years: the college application essay.

Programmers, Wired Women, and Techno-Feminists: Gender in Computing and Built Digital Environments

Prof. Jacquelyne Thoni Howard
June 22-26

This course explores the relationship between gender and technology in computing and digital technology. Students will investigate how gender and sexual politics inform historical and contemporary narratives – including patriarchal myths – about computing. Seminar discussions will include topics relating to the history of computing and the internet, feminist cyberculture, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and racist and sexist algorithms. In collaborative projects, students will explore the FEMtech industry, which is technology designed to make women’s lives easier. FEMtech is projected to be a $120-billion-dollar industry over the next decade, yet women-owned tech companies are grossly underfunded. Students will pitch a “proof of concept” for a FEMtech digital product, and they will design videos, story maps, and data visualizations to support their pitch. Digital skills will be taught in the course; all interested students are welcome.

Dismantling Rape Culture

Prof. Sally Kenney, Director of Newcomb Institute, and Laura Wolford
June 22-26

This course models a “think-tank” approach to addressing an urgent social issue: ending sexual assault. Although #MeToo has shed new light on the issue, there is much work left to do in order to dismantle a culture that normalizes, excuses, and enables gender-based violence. Students will learn about the scope, causes, and consequences of rape culture, and they will develop evidence-based strategies for peer education, prevention, and intervention. Sally Kenney, co-professor of this course and director of Newcomb Institute, is a national campus leader on this issue. Among other initiatives, she worked with the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault to develop a report that says universities need to do a better job of investigating and reporting sexual assaults.