May 10, 2022

On Course

A look at some new and thought-provoking classes that make PA's current Course of Study as compelling as ever

Exacting courses like History 300 and Calculus remain an indomitable part of the Andover curriculum, having prepared students for the rigors of academia for decades. These traditional rites of passage, however, are always counterbalanced with the faculty’s latest scholastic offerings—often interdisciplinary in nature.

1. Natural Causes: How Climate Change Wrote History

Did winter weather protect Russia from both Napoleonic and Nazi invasions? What role did climate play for the Maya culture and the Tang Dynasty? In this course, case studies reveal climate change’s potential effects on specific moments in history as well as the longer-term repercussions of climate shifts on regional and global populations. Students also ponder how past climate change might offer clues and consequences for the future of modern civilization.

2. 9/11s

Twenty years after September 11, 2001, this year’s William Sloane Coffin ’42 Colloquium engages students who only know the tragic event’s echoes as a naturalized reality. A different faculty member leads each class meeting—offering a prismatic look at the complex forces that led up to the attacks and still shape our world today, including religion, technology, trauma, philosophy, citizenship, media, architecture, and politics.

3. Inheritance

What do we inherit biologically and what do we inherit socially, due to ancestry and circumstance? Uppers and seniors analyze public health datasets for potential drivers of health disparities and also consider the historic impacts of power, position, and cultural belonging on health outcomes. Students discover how our collective “inheritance” can be a predictor of health and what we might pass on to the next generation.

4. Web App Development

Students in this computer science course explore how to meet the demands for increasingly complex web content amid an explosion of dynamic programming solutions. They learn how to deploy and manage their apps/sites—with lessons in JavaScript and the latest versions of HTML and CSS. They also study databases, server-side systems, and web frameworks as a further road map for success.

5. Lockdown

Interspersing literature, film, and social science discussions with visits to the Essex County Correctional Facility and a local youth court, PA seniors and uppers in this English (and Interdisciplinary) class probe the psychological effects of America’s prison system and the power of art as a means of coping for those who are incarcerated. Students—through testimonials and artwork of people living and working in the prison industry—gain a deeper understanding and awareness about issues surrounding ethics and justice, self-expression, and social control.

Originally printed in The Vista: Views from the Knowledge & Goodness Campaign, fall 2021.

Categories: Campaign News

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