Special Learning Opportunities

Research Opportunities

A number of opportunities are made available, during the summer as well as in regular academic terms, for students to pursue original research projects in collaboration with professors or with faculty guidance. Many such investigations are showcased at an annual poster event held each spring. As Director of Undergraduate Research,  Professor of Chemistry Robert Bachman coordinates access to these opportunities.  Consult him and the research website for further information.  

Service-Learning and Community Engagement

The Community Engaged Learning (CEL) program connects the classroom to local, national, and international communities and rests on a commitment to the involvement of faculty, students, and community partners in service projects, community-based dialogue, problem-solving, and personal reflection informed by academic study. Pursued in this way, community engagement encourages self-knowledge, a deepened understanding of place, and intellectual development.

Courses with the CE (Community Engagement) designation can be found online through the registrar’s schedule of classes, and further information is available from the CE Director, Professor of Philosophy James Peterman. Service-learning opportunities are also available through study abroad.

Yale Directed Research Program

This program enables select junior or senior students—usually psychology or biology majors—to pursue directed research during a semester plus a summer at Yale. In the medical school setting of the Yale Child Study Center, these students conduct research with oe or more faculty members on a topic of mutual interest, participate in weekly research meetings, and take a research methods seminar as well as at least one upper-level seminar. Students earn academic credit for their semester of study at Yale. Summer-only research opportunities at Yale’s Child Study Center are also available to Sewanee students.

Lilly Discernment Programs

Through a grant from Lilly Endowment, Inc., in 2001, Sewanee initiated a comprehensive program aimed at assisting students to seek a career path that is truly fulfilling and of service to the world. With the benefit of Lilly-initiated support, more recently sustained with other funding, Sewanee hosts an eight-week summer program of vocational exploration called the Lilly Summer Discernment Institute. This program includes a six-week internship, for either ordained ministry or work with service or non-profit organizations.

Sewanee Environmental Institute

SEI is a center for environmental education and research that promotes the use of the University of the South's ecologically and culturally diverse 13,000-acre campus as a living laboratory for the interdisciplinary study of people and the land. SEI offers field-based educational programs at the undergraduate and pre-college level, particularly during the summer months, and fosters faculty-mentored student research on the Cumberland Plateau.

Island Ecology Program

The Island Ecology Program is an interdisciplinary summer field school in the sciences. Following a seminar during the Easter (spring) semester, students study geological, biological, and broadly ecological topics for five weeks on St. Catherine's Island, an undeveloped barrier island off the coast of Georgia. The experience emphasizes the interdependence of these disciplines by exploring how the fragile ecosystem of the island functions. The program is limited to 10 Sewanee students but is open to non-science as well as science majors. Five faculty members from three departments teach in the program each spring and summer.

Theatre Semester in New York

Theatre Arts majors or minors in their junior year may apply to spend a semester in intensive theatre study in New York City. The program is based at the Michael Howard Studio, a small professional theatre school. Participants generally take courses in acting, voice and speech, and movement. The program is flexible and can accommodate students with diverse interests, such as playwriting, directing, design, dance, or stage management. Students, as part of their study, may also arrange internships with professional theatre organizations in New York.

Those interested in the program may apply, usually in the secod semester of their sophomore year, by writing to the program director, who can supply further information about the program’s character and criteria for selection.

French, German, Spanish, and Russian Houses

A certain number of students are accepted as residents in the French, German, Spanish, and Russian houses each year. Students enter at the beginning of the semester and agree to speak only the language of the house to enrich their language experience. Cultural and social events are also scheduled in each house.

Center for Religion and Environment

Supported by the University’s commitment to sustainability and by its extensive course offerings in environmental studies, the Center for Religion and Environment at Sewanee seeks to transform individuals and society by helping both to integrate their faith with care for the natural environment.  All students are invited to participate in Center activities, including its "Earthkeepers" gatherings and "Opening the Book of Nature" program.  On occasion, the Earthkeepers group takes observational field trips accompanied by interested faculty members. The group also meets regularly to discuss major themes related to the environment, Christian scripture and theology, as well as how these themes bear on concepts in the natural and social sciences. The character of this university-wide Center for Religion and Environment, directed by Economics Professor Robin Gottfried and associated also with The School of Theology, is virtually unique in American higher education.

Academic Technology Center

The Academic Technology Center features the main computer lab and multimedia workstations, which are equipped with multimedia software, scanners, CD burners, and other equipment. The Writing Center is also located in the ATC lab, and tutors there are available to assist students with writing assignments.

Special (Student-Initiated) Majors

Certain interdisciplinary majors, individualized to meet a student's needs and goals, may be initiated by students. Such majors must provide benefits not obtainable through an established major. After consultation with the associate dean of the college, a student may complete a form designed for special majors and submit this for consideration by the curriculum committee. If the proposal is accepted by the curriculum committee, it goes on to the faculty for approval.

A specified faculty coordinator, with other participating faculty (usually two additional), is responsible for advising students and administering comprehensive exams in each independent major. These majors adhere to the rules of other majors. No pass/fail courses can be included in the interdisciplinary major, and major courses cannot be counted toward a major or minor in another field.

Student-Initiated Courses

During second semester, as many as three special courses may be offered based on student proposals. Proposals must be submitted during the first month of the preceding semester to the dean of the college.

If such a course is offered, all students who request/propose it are expected to register for it except under exceptional circumstances. All courses must have the approval of the faculty.

Landscape Analysis Lab

In the Landscape Analysis Lab, students participate in interdisciplinary environmental research, education, outreach, internships, and independent study while making use of the Lab’s geographic information systems computer network.

Language Laboratory

This language center provides audio, video, and computer equipment for enhanced language study.

Cordell-Lorenz Observatory

The University Observatory offers numerous telescopes of various sizes for public use, research, and academic and enrichment activities.