ISP Workshop paves the way for successful research, reflection

By Jim DeLa

Participants in an independent study project in January immersed themselves in 16th-century England during King Henry VIII's Reformation Parliament, a period of history that fundamentally changed the nature of English government.
Participants in an independent study project in January immersed themselves in 16th-century England during King Henry VIII’s Reformation Parliament, a period of history that fundamentally changed the nature of English government.

Students can get a head start on planning their required Independent Study Projects at a workshop Oct. 23, from 3:30-5 p.m. in Sudakoff Conference Center.

All New College students must complete at least three ISPs in order to graduate. According to the ISP Handbook, students must choose a topic in consultation with a faculty member who agrees to become the ISP sponsor.

Associate Provost Suzanne Sherman says the workshop can be helpful for newer students tackling their first project. “There are many forms of ‘good ISPs’, but most include some element of independent or group work – exploratory research, creative work, or reflection,” Sherman says.

“The immersive nature of the ISP — nearly a month of full-time work focused on one topic, is what makes the ISP a valuable learning experience,” she added, “It allows students to really dig in, without the usual level of distraction that is present during the semester from competing courses and tutorials.”

This type of work, especially when it is independent, also helps to prepare students for the senior thesis or project.

Sherman will be on hand, covering the basics, and previewing the 2020 ISP Handbook, which lists all group ISPs and faculty profiles, as well as important deadlines for submitting proposals.

Advanced students will be at the workshop to talk about their experience of crafting a successful ISP, from idea to design to execution. Faculty members will also be there to talk about group ISPs they will be teaching this January. Some of the group ISPs to be offered include:

Advocacy and Persuasion, taught by David A. Fugett, New College’s General Counsel and Pre-Law Advisor. This ISP will seek to provide the student with a broad practical overview of the legal profession, from client representation, effective advocacy and negotiation, to professionalism, ethics and civic influence. This will be done through a mixture of mock trial/moot court exercises, panel discussions from visiting experts, field trips to various local courts, writing/research assignments, and in-class discussion and tutorials.

Animal Betterment, taught by biology Professor Sandra Gilchrist. this ISP will explore the scientific value of animal uses as well as some of the negative impacts of them. Students will visit local attractions like Jungle Gardens and the Clearwater Aquarium as well as engage in discussions with representatives of local rescue groups such as Cat Depot, Save Our Seabirds and Racing Dog Rescue group. It will involve at least one service learning activity. Students will also be offered the opportunity to earn a certification for Pet CPR.

Day Trading, taught by Assistant Professor of Economics Sherry Yu. This ISP introduces you to day trading using a real online trading platform. Each student will be given $100,000 virtual money to invest in either stocks or futures and are required to track the investment.

Cinema and Social Justice, taught by professors Mecca Zabriskie (sociology), Mark Dancigers (digital media and music) and Chief Diversity Officer William Woodson. Three films will be used to explore cinematography as artistic expression and entertainment, while simultaneously considering its power as a vehicle for social expression and a tool for social justice advocacy and reform. “Surviving Lunch,” “Sincerely, the Black Kids” (from New College alumni Miles Iton), and “Into the Storm” are films with deep connections to New College and Booker High School and enact the intersection of art and social issues with strong local relevance.

La Botánica: Spirited Histories of the Afro-Caribbean, taught by James Padilioni, visiting assistant professor of religion at Swarthmore College. This New College ISP holds up Espiritismo/Spiritism as a broad category of ancestral veneration and cult of the dead ritual traditions that manifest across Cuban, Dominican, Puerto Rican, Haitian, and other migrant Afro-Diasporic communities in South Florida. Students will travel to Miami to visit botanicas and meet ritual specialists predominantly in the Little Havana/Calle Ocho and Attapallah/Little Santo Domingo neighborhoods. This fieldwork experience will yield a student project in a multisensorial format of communication (video essay, genre, website, etc.)

Running and Philosophy, taught by Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Environmental Studies Nicolas Delon. Students will meet twice a week on campus for an easy group run of about 3-4 miles, while discussing a piece of reading that is either philosophical or raises philosophical questions about running. After the run , the class will engage in discussion, stretching and replenishment.

Viewpoints in Sound, Word, and Movement: The Gettysburg Project, taught by Professor Stephen Miles and choreographer Margaret Eginton. Working three hours a day, four days a week throughout the month of January, the leaders and the students will prepare a new production of “Living and Dead: The Gettysburg Project,” to be performed in February as part of New Music New College’s 2019-20 season.

View and download the 2020 ISP Handbook here.

— Jim DeLa is digital communications coordinator at New College of Florida.

Located in Sarasota, New College of Florida has educated intellectually curious students for lives of great achievement since its founding in 1960. As the State of Florida’s designated honors college, New College provides an exceptional education that transforms students’ intellectual curiosity into personal accomplishment. The 110-acre campus on Sarasota Bay is home to more than 700 students and 80 full-time faculty engaged in interdisciplinary research and collaborative learning. New College offers nearly 40 areas of concentration for undergraduates and a master’s degree program in Data Science.

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