All new students enrolled in Oberlin’s Class of 2024 and all newly-admitted transfer students are invited to choose one two-credit academic course from our specially designed summer offerings.

These courses are intended to spark your curiosity and build your confidence in asking questions, writing, critical thinking, and problem solving at the college level. Faculty from Natural Sciences, Social Sciences, Arts, Humanities, and the Conservatory of Music will engage liberal arts perspectives and develop particular skill sets to explore our current moment in time. Each course features faculty lectures and small group discussions, many led by current student leaders.

Classes will take place via Zoom between June 8–July 31, 2020. Full course descriptions and meeting times are provided below. You can enroll in the course of your choice by registering online by Thursday, June 4, 2020.

Register now

Course Descriptions

Cinema & Change: Ritual, Identity, and Coming of Age

Instructor of Record: Associate Dean Laura Baudot
Tuesdays from 6:30-8:30 p.m. EDT

This course explores the complexities of the transition from childhood to adulthood as depicted in a range of cinematic genres. The films illuminate the challenges, rituals, institutions, and narratives of becoming an “adult.” Students will learn key approaches to visual analysis, film criticism, and digital storytelling. Questions and themes explored include those of race, gender, class, religion, and sexuality, and how these identities impact the social and psychological experiences of young adults. Recognizing that COVID-19 has only further complicated an important time of change and transition, the course aims to meet students where they are: at the threshold of adulthood and transitioning to college in the midst of a pandemic. In light of the disruption of traditional rituals marking this passage, such as in-person high school graduation ceremonies, this course uses film to help students reflect on the nature and importance of cultural markers in times of change.

Writing Through Transition

Instructor of Record: Associate Dean Elizabeth Hamilton
Mondays and Wednesdays from 6:30-7:30 p.m. EDT

How do you write a first sentence that compels readers to read the second sentence? What do we really mean when we say writing “flows,” and how can we achieve this in our own writing? How do you construct an argument that is engaging,  insightful and guides the reader along seamlessly from beginning to end? With “transition” itself as its theme, the course will explore these questions (and more!), while fostering self-reflection and critical awareness of audience, context, rhetorical flexibility, and persuasion during a time of profound transition for all of us. Narratives across a variety of genres will link discrete skills, teaching when and how to tailor writing to best meet the needs of wider publics. Through readings, responses to writing prompts, free-writing, outlining and reverse-outlining, small-group workshopping of drafts, and frequent, short writing assignments, students will build essential skills for successful and meaningful college-level writing.

Quantitative Toolkit: Patterns and Predictions

Instructor of Record: Associate Dean Daphne John
Mondays and Wednesdays from 6:30-7:30 p.m. EDT

Patterns are everywhere. Finding patterns in the world around us is at the heart of intellectual inquiry and an essential skill for college. The goal of this course is to build and apply quantitative skills to find, interpret, and describe patterns using local and global data. What data sheds light on weather and climate patterns, models of addiction, or housing values? We will use models to analyze data and make predictions in such fields as Biology, Economics, Geology, Mathematics, Neuroscience, Politics, Psychology, and Sociology. In addition to reviewing quantitative skills, the course will teach students to use Excel and Google Sheets. Students will gain confidence in their ability to solve quantitative problems and make an argument with empirical evidence.

Music Theory Jumpstart

Instructor of Record:  Professor Joseph Lubben
June 22 - July 31; Weekly workshop Wednesdays 8-9 p.m., Thursdays 8-9 a.m., or Thursdays 8-9 p.m.

This course is intended for incoming Conservatory students desiring additional preparation for the Music Theory sequence, and for incoming Arts and Sciences students who are interested in studying music at Oberlin. Students who have scored below 80% on the Online Theory Placement Exam are strongly encouraged to enroll; those who scored above 80% are not eligible for the class. If you have not yet taken the online placement test, please do so.

This will be a fundamentals course designed to prepare incoming students to excel in Music Theory. The course will consist of one weekly pre-recorded lecture, two weekly live workshops with small groups, and structured self-study using uTheory. Students will develop fluency with clefs, intervals, rhythm and meter, scales, and chord types. They will also be exposed to foundations of musical form, approaches to timbre, a variety of analytical perspectives, and a diverse repertoire. 

Music of the 1970s 

Instructor of Record: Professor Kathryn Metz
July 7–31; Tuesdays and Thursdays, 12 noon EDT (synchronous)

The 1970s saw a dramatic shift in styles, technologies, and consumption of popular music. The rock industry coalesced while genres splintered, pushing listeners into marketable boxes. In the course, students will uncover the layers of political, social, and cultural shifts in the 1970s that continue to shape and reshape rock and roll and its branches. We will explore hip-hop, prog rock, electronic rock and synth pop, glam, arena rock, disco, soul, R&B, punk, and more. Artists pushed technological innovations as they often eschewed popularity for the sake of their music. Meanwhile, genres re-segregated often along racial lines, producing hotly contested releases that sometimes garnered dramatic critical reception.

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