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Roadmap Short Courses

During Roadmap, students participate in a short course taught by a faculty member at the University of Richmond. This faculty member will also become a student's academic advisor until they declare a major (unless the student is a Richmond Scholar or an intended major in the sciences).

Students can expect an interesting course that is interactive, yet mimics a real course (over the three days of Roadmap) at the University. Students may be assigned reading prior to their arrival to Roadmap, and may have assignments during Roadmap. Students will be mailed any book, to their summer mailing address, that the professor may require; not all courses have summer reading.

The purpose of the courses is to help ease anxiety and familiarize students with what to expect in their courses during the academic year. While there are no tests or exams during Roadmap, there is often group work and small projects that students will complete.

Building the Community: Mandela's Way

Taught by Dr. Kasongo Kapanga, Professor of French and Francophone Studies, Languages, Literatures and Cultures

When vying for harmony in human societies, competing voices and loyalties sometimes interact with explosive results. Attempts to harmonize differences may offer opportunities to explore the foundation of mistrust upon which opposing parties defend their positions and justify their postures. Such claims may be espoused by an individual (such as in the case of the refugees), social clusters (ethnic), or even national/bigger entities (nations).  Focusing on South Africa, this course intends to explore how Nelson Mandela’s leadership worked to soothe a high tension-filled situation by emphasizing the common threads (the togetherness or ubuntu) that bind fates together.  How did Mandela successfully appeal to both sides to avert a social catastrophe and forge a consensus—however imperfect—to strive for harmony and togetherness? This discussion-based class will have three distinct focal points: (a) the rationalization of division; (b) the othering of the other as one’s obstacle to happiness; and (c) Mandela’s unique experience.  Over the summer, we will have short reading assignments to prepare for class discussion.

The Civil War in Richmond

Taught by Dr. Robert C. Kenzer, Professor, History

No event had more impact on the history of Richmond, Virginia, than the Civil War.   Richmond not only served as the political capital of the Confederacy, but it was the critical military, industrial, and medical center as well.  This course will focus on Richmond’s role during the conflict by examining various historical sources including newspapers, diaries and letters, and public records. It will reveal how historians use these documents to reconstruct and interpret the past.

Data and Privacy in the Digital Age

Taught by Dr. Douglas Szajda, Associate Professor, Computer Science

The Internet has placed a wealth of information at our fingertips. Unfortunately, much of this data, in the wrong hands, can be used to cause considerable harm.  This course will examine the types of information accessible via the Internet, the potential effects of its disclosure, the means through which this information is harvested by various organizations, and the techniques available for protecting it. Along the way you will be introduced to issues related to the essentially infinite lifespan of digitally stored data, as well as the basics of cryptography. We will finish with a simple, but powerful, model of computer execution, which we will use to illustrate some methods by which computers are "hacked''.

From the Classroom to the World: The Faithful Scribe

Taught by Professor Shahan Mufti, Assistant Professor of Journalism

This short course will focus on the text and themes of the One Book, One Richmond selection. Students in the course will read the book, and investigate the wider implications of its message, as an introduction to the convergence of classroom learning and social ethics. The 2017–18 book is The Faithful Scribe, by Shahan Mufti.

Published in 2013, The Faithful Scribe, is deeply relevant to the world and our campus today. Mufti uses the stories of his ancestors to reveal the roots — real and imagined — of Islamic civilization in Pakistan. More than a personal history, the book captures the larger story of the world’s first Islamic democracy and explains how the state that once promised to bridge Islam and the West is now threatening to crumble under historical and political pressure and why Pakistan’s destiny matters to us all. Themes of faith, nationalism, family, and war are woven throughout the text.

The Hamilton Revolution: Leading Change In & Through the Arts

Taught by, Dr. Kerstin Soderlund, Jepson School of Leadership Studies

Are you a fan of Hamilton the musical? Don’t ‘throw away your shot’ to explore leaders and processes that use the arts to identify and discuss social issues in groundbreaking and provocative ways.  Using the Hamilton revolution as the base, this short course will introduce you to concepts and theories of leadership and expose you to various art forms that have been challenged and have challenged the public.

I Grew Up at the Movies

Taught by Professor Walter Schoen, Associate Professor, Theatre

From the many film versions of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn to more contemporary offerings such as Moonlight, the transition known as “coming of age” has been a popular topic for the movies to explore.  Using examples such as Forrest Gump, Perks of Being a Wallflower, Almost Famous and The Sandlot, this course will explore what the movies have to say about the major changes that happen in life as we grow and mature.  Do the ideas and messages from these movies have anything to offer us as guidance as we navigate the transitions that happen in our own lives?

I Know Kung Fu

Taught by Dr. Geoff Goddu, Associate Professor, Philosophy

Some things you know; some things you can do; some things you know how to do. But how are these three aspects of understanding related? I Know Kung Fu explores this question via an in-depth study of several specific techniques from martial arts disciplines such as aikido, karate, jujitsu, tai chi, and tang soo do. Students will learn numerous martial arts techniques, explore the relationship between the techniques from different disciplines, and try to deduce why the techniques work (or don’t work). Absolutely no prior martial arts experience necessary or presupposed.

The Internal Ecology of the Human Being

Taught by Dr. Amy Treonis, Associate Professor, Biology

Hundreds of different microorganisms are living in your gut right now, and scientists are finding new information all the time about their roles in human health and disease. In this short course, we will see how biologists approach the study of these communities and what challenges they face in puzzling out this complex symbiosis. Students will design and carry out a mini-experiment to study the gut microbes of (non-human) campus residents.

Media Matters

Taught by Mr. Thomas Mullen, Director, Public Affairs Journalism

“The Daily Show” has been the leading news source for young people in this country for nearly the last five years. That means a comedy show on a comedy network has been more responsible for informing a generation of people about what’s important than the mainstream media. Does this mean that now-retired Jon Stewart was a news god with more power than the network anchors? And if so, what does that say about our news media and society? In this short course, we’ll explore some of the fast-moving changes in the media landscape and discuss why it’s important for you to be an informed news consumer.

A New Start: Relationships, Connections, and College

Taught by Dr. Scott Johnson, Associate Professor, Rhetoric and Communication Studies

You’ve had years to create the friendships you now enjoy, but coming to college means in some ways starting again. You’ll have new people to meet and new relationships to build. “Close personal relationships” are vital to creating a successful college experience and a happy life, but really—how do relationships work and how do we form new ones? Today’s many communication technologies mean we’re more connected to others than ever before, yet some say these technologies also keep us more distant as well. Can both be true? Together we’ll explore college relationships, and we’ll look at the influences of communication and technology on your relationships and your academic success. 

The Politics of Food

Taught by Dr. Melissa Ooten, Associate Director, WILL Program, and Gender Research Specialist, Westhampton College

Do you know where your lunch came from today?  Who farmed it, raised it, sold it, and delivered it to the grocery store or restaurant where you bought it?   What is “healthy” food and who has access to it?  Do those organic labels actually mean anything? What’s a food desert, who lives in one, and why? This short course will explore these questions and more as we consider our complicated relationship with food as well as local food justice movements in the city of Richmond.

Rhythm & Blues

Taught by Dr. Mike Davison, Professor, Music

The course investigates the importance of rhythm in jazz and popular music. Students will beat out the polyrhythms of African music, and click the clave of Cuban music. A detailed investigation of the blues will culminate with the students’ composition and performance of their own “Roadmap Blues.” Previous background in music helps, but is not required for this short course!

Speaking Up When Our Values are at Stake: How, When, and Why?

Taught by Dr. Paul Achter, Associate Professor of Rhetoric

Speaking up for our values is crucial but it is also challenging. This short course asks how we can be better advocates in the world by examining how, when, and why we speak up for our values. Specifically, students will study strategies for speaking about important questions we face today regarding race, gender, and economics, and they will learn ways to listen and participate in a college classroom discussion.

Unnatural Causes: In Sickness and in Wealth

Taught by, Dr. Rick Mayes, Professor of Political Science and Co-Director of Healthcare Studies

“Of all forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and most inhumane.”—Martin Luther King, Jr.

While the U.S. spends the most on health care compared to other wealthy countries, it spends the least (proportionally) on social services “upstream” that routinely prevent “downstream” admissions to hospital emergency departments. The biggest problem with U.S. health care, therefore, is not that it costs too much (as most assume). It’s that overall it delivers too little value. Given what our country spends in total on health care, we should have the healthiest, longest living, least disabled and most productive citizenry on the planet. We don't, but this short course will explore the ways that we could.

Welcome to the Real World: Doing College in a Purposeful Way

Taught by: Dr. Joe Boehman, Dean of Richmond College; Associate Dean of Arts and Sciences

It is often said that the “real world” exists somewhere beyond college. You will soon discover that the next few years will be as real as it gets. College is not a passive activity; it is something you do. This course will help you “do” college by identifying your passions, potentials, and talents and using them not to select a major but to build the capacity to impact the world you inhabit. The University’s mission is to prepare you to lead a life of purpose, and that preparation begins today! 

What is Home? Evicted and the Affordable Housing Crisis

Taught by Dr. Amy Howard, Associate Vice President for Community Initiatives & the Bonner Center for Civic Engagement

Should decent, affordable housing be a basic right in this country?  What are the barriers to stable shelter and how does one’s home affect their ability to work, get an education, provide for one’s children, and to stay healthy?  Students will engage this question as they explore issues of affordable housing and the economic exploitation of low-income families.  Our text will be the recent Pulitzer Prize winner, Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, by Matthew Desmond.  Students in the course will read excerpts of the book, investigate the wider implications of its message, and even take an additional field trip into the City of Richmond during Roadmap, as an introduction to the convergence of classroom learning and social change.

Short Courses at Capacity

The following short courses are already at capacity for Roadmap 2017:

  • Building the Community: Mandela's Way
  • The Civil War in Richmond
  • Data and Privacy in the Digital Age
  • The Hamilton Revolution
  • I Grew Up at the Movies
  • The Internal Ecology of the Human Being
  • Media Matters
  • Speaking Up When Our Values are at Stake
  • Welcome to the Real World
  • What is Home?

All other short courses still have spaces available. Register by July 1!

Wrap-Up Session

Some of the short courses prepare a presentation of what they learned and experienced during their short course for the entire Roadmap cohort on Wednesday, August 23, 2017.

Many of last year's participants said this was one of the highlights of the Roadmap program.