Virtual Summer Experiences

Goucher College is offering a new program and all new students are invited – a virtual summer experience! You will have the opportunity to meet faculty, staff, and other new students, as well as delve into Goucher’s core principles social justice, innovation and a global perspective.

Check out below the wide range of virtual experiences we're offering on a variety of topics! Please feel free to register for one or more of these 50 to 75 minute sessions. Email with any questions.


These four writing salons are designed to provide sparks for any type of creative project. We welcome writers and artists of all kinds at any phase of development, as well as people who want to create – especially those who believe that they “can’t write” or “can’t draw.” We believe that there is no such thing as writer’s block or artist’s block. These exercises are designed to motivate and prompt students to discover the sparks within themselves. 

Each session will include opportunities for students to share their work with the rest of the class. 

Fiery Visions of the Afterlife: Reading Dante’s Inferno in Word and Image

Prepare to descend into the underworld of Dante's Inferno with Antje Rauwerda (Literature) and April Oettinger (Visual and Material Culture)! In this virtual summer experience, we will read from this most famous medieval poem about an Everyman's (really, Every Person's) search for redemption through a journey that leads him from Hell to Purgatory and, ultimately, to Paradise. We will also consider the deep legacy of Dante's epic poem, which was interpreted time and again in visual culture from Michelangelo to Manga.


What does it take to get into America

Before diving into the summer reading, Tell Me How It Ends: An Essay in 40 Questions by Valeria Luiselli, learn about the limited ways that exist for a foreigner to immigrate to the U.S. We will explore the different types of applications for permanent residency and the length of time often involved in the process. We will discuss the conditions necessary for a successful asylum or refugee application and how the present circumstances causing the influx of immigrants from Central and South America often do not qualify--opening up a discussion on how the current laws and regulations either do or do not reflect our values. In addition, we will reference the sources of our immigration laws and regulations and how one goes about providing feedback and advocacy to help shape immigration policy.

    • Led by: Mark Bladel, assistant director of global education and Karen Sykes, associate director of global education
    • Date: Tuesday, July 7
    • Time: 1pm EST (Length: 60 minutes)
    • Registration limit: 20

Doomsday never comes: Understanding scarcity, natural resources, and limits to growth

In 1980, there was a famous bet between an economist, Julian Simon, and a biologist, Paul Ehrlich. Ehrlich was very concerned about population growth and the ability of the planet to meet the needs of an ever-growing population. He foresaw shortages in food and natural resources that would lead to both ecological and economic collapse. In fact, he made the following comment in 1969, “If I were a gambler, I would take even money that England will not exist in the year 2000.” In contrast, Simon believed in the ability of society and the economy to adjust to the needs of a growing planet. To settle this difference in opinion, the men made a wager. They picked five metals, chromium, copper, nickel, tin, and tungsten, and established a weighted value for those resources. Ten years later, they would revisit the value of minerals to see if prices increased or decreased. If high prices are a signal of scarcity, then this would validate Ehrlich’s predictions. However, in the ten years that followed, the price of all five minerals fell, and Simon won the bet. But where does that leave us today? Will doomsday never come? Will human ingenuity and the market system always save the day? Are prices an accurate signal of scarcity and resource value? This session will explore the concept of resource scarcity and reexplore “the bet”. Did Simon get lucky? Will Ehrlich be proven correct with time?  Join us to discuss the future of our planet!

      • Led by: Faculty member Gina Shamshak
      • Date: Wednesday, July 8
      • Time: 6pm EST (Length: 60 minutes)

Goucher’s Lost Museum and a Short History of Wonder

Have you ever wondered what it is like to discover a Chamber of Wonders? This virtual summer experience explores the role of historical Wunderkammer (“chambers of wonder”), World’s Fairs, and modern museums in shaping Goucher College’s Art and Artifact Collection. Our diverse collection, which includes artifacts and art ranging from ancient Egyptian mummies, specimens of flora and fauna, and glass flowers to Native American pottery, Neo-Babylonian cuneiform tablets, and stunning watercolors of Native Americans, was first amassed by Dr. Goucher in the late 19th century and displayed at the Museum of the Woman’s College of Baltimore (later Goucher College). For many years, the Museum had a national reputation for its excellent collections of fossils, minerals, natural history specimens, and ancient artifacts. During the twentieth century, however, interest in the museum waned, and when Goucher’s campus moved from Baltimore City to Towson in the early 1950s, many of the collections were donated to other institutions, dispersed to different departments on campus, or given away. In 2015, what remained of the collection—some 3,000 objects from a collection estimated at one time to have included 100,00 objects—was unpacked for the first time in nearly 65 years. What became of the 97,000 objects originally housed in Goucher’s “Lost Museum”? Travel back in time with Professors Tina Sheller and April Oettinger (Visual & Material Culture Program) for a behind-the-scenes peek at the exciting student-led project to recover and understand the contents of Goucher’s Lost Museum and its largely unexplored Art and Artifacts Collection.


How Viruses Work

Everybody is thinking about viruses right now as we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. This program will provide an introduction to the science of viruses.  What are they? What is the difference between a coronavirus and an influenza virus?  How do viruses infect cells?  What happens in the body after they infect cells? How does the immune system fight viral infections?  What is a vaccine, and how do vaccines provide immunity to viruses? What are the major candidates for vaccines against SARS-CoV-2, and what is their current status? How do antiviral drugs work? What kind of antiviral drugs have the potential to be effective in treating COVID-19 patients? This virtual summer experience is for students who took biology and chemistry in high school, but I am not expecting you to know any college level science. In other words, you should have some idea what RNA and proteins and cell membranes are. I anticipate that this presentation will be of greatest interest to students interested in medicine or another health related profession, but anyone who wants to learn a little science is welcome! 

    • Led by: Faculty member George Greco
      Date: Tuesday, July 14
    • Time: 6pm EST (Length: TBD)

Storytelling and Climate Justice

In this Environmental Studies virtual summer experience we will examine the power of stories in relation to climate justice. The goal is to understand how our reliance on fossil fuels, developed via a system premised on constant growth and extraction of raw materials, produces environmental and social inequity. We will examine human-nature relationships that lie outside of this exploitative system, foregrounding and uplifting the voices of indigenous and other communities who advocate for land-based relationships and stewardship. While we are often told that humanity is selfish and greedy, in our conversation we will confront our biases, our egos, and our privilege to construct a different story. To begin, we will ask: what values do we hold as a society? Will we promote more intrinsic values: rooted in empathy and understanding of others, or the more extrinsic: rooted in power, wealth, and prestige? Next we will ask: What kind of a place or environment do we want to live in? With our values and principles as a foundation, we will begin to construct a new story about our relationship to non-human nature. Examples will be rooted in the extractive coal economy of Appalachia and organized indigenous resistance to an oil pipeline at Standing Rock in North Dakota, as well as student-led global climate justice movements.

    • Led by: Faculty member Emily Billo
    • Date: Thursday, July 16
    • Time: 11am EST (Length: 75 minutes)
    • Registration limit: 25

How and Why Shakespeare Became a Household Name

Shakespeare’s works, especially his plays, have had, and still have, a remarkable influence on the world, even 400 years after his death. His work has had a profound impact on world literature and on the performance industry. His work also helped form the modern English we speak today. But there was very little in Shakespeare’s early life that suggested that his would become the household name that it is. On the contrary, his destiny seemed to be more likely one of obscurity. He defied that destiny and became famous and wealthy during his own lifetime. But then, after his death, Shakespeare and his works came very close to becoming lost and forgotten. This talk will look at the lucky circumstances and the several people over 400 years that kept Shakespeare’s name and works alive, and how a humble glover’s son changed the world.

    • Led by: Faculty member Michael Curry
    • Date: Monday, July 20
    • Time: 6pm EST (Length: 75 minutes)

Peak Productivity: What athletics can teach you about how to get things done

We all want to be productive. We want to get things done efficiently and effectively. But how do we actually operate at peak productivity level? Appealing to over-generalized terms like “time-management” and “work ethic” is not enough to truly answer this question. This session will draw on the practices of athletes and coaches to spell out more precise principles for how to get things done, and how to get them done well. As the golf coach at Goucher, I’m constantly trying to figure out how to make the time we spend working on golf more productive. Generally speaking, every athlete and team has the same amount of time in a season to practice and compete. For us, being successful is not so much about putting in the time—everyone is doing that—but it’s about getting more out of our time than everyone else is getting out of theirs. In recent years, I’ve been studying some of the scientific research on athletic focus alongside some of the business world’s research on productivity. What I’ve noticed is that many of the principles we use in athletics have important overlap with what it takes to be successful in academic and professional work. Participants will be introduced to the important vs. urgent matrix, principles of deep work, creative scheduling methods, and other tools that will help prepare them to be productive.

    • Led by: Hunter Brown, head men's and women's golf coach
    • Date: Tuesday, July 21
    • Time: 3pm EST (Length: 60 minutes)

Explore Nature and Art

Get inspired by nature and art in this fun and interactive session with the Academic Coaches from ACE. You will have the opportunity: to meet other students in a fun and lighthearted activity, share your connection to nature and art, look at several interesting paintings housed at the National Gallery of Art, write a haiku or two, and get a peek into how developing thinking routines and thinking dispositions can enhance your whole college experience from coursework to making decisions to developing new relationships and connections. We will consider the central questions: how does nature inspire and influence you? What are ways in which you connect with nature and how do you connect with art? How can viewing and talking about art stimulate critical thinking and illuminate concrete ways to deepen strong and clear thinking? We will be working with the Artful Thinking Approach developed through Project Zero at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and further developed by educators at the National Gallery of Art. Come join us in this lighthearted and meaningful adventure as we explore together art, nature, and thinking!

    • Led by: ACE staff members Anne Davis, Stacie Farley, Kathleen Hake, and Nancy Hesselbein
      Date: Wednesday, July 22
    • Time: 2pm EST (Length: 60 minutes)

Where’s the Beef: Understanding the impact of COVID-19 on our local and global food systems

COVID-19 has disrupted local and global food supply chains, leading farmers to dump milk, cull herds, and leave produce to rot in fields. Meanwhile, consumers are confronting food shortages at supermarkets and grocery prices jumped by the largest percentage since 1974, according to consumer price data from April. Why is our food system struggling to respond to changes in our production and consumption patterns? This session introduces students to the economic framework of supply and demand. We will use this framework to understand the recent disruptions in food supply chains and their associated impacts on both consumers and producers. We will discuss how markets distribute resources, with a focus on the functioning of markets during periods of scarcity. We will examine how prices allocate resources, how policymakers could alter market outcomes by regulating food prices, and how consumers and producers could be affected by such a policy decision.

    • Led by: Faculty member Gina Shamshak
    • Date: Thursday, July 23
    • Time: 1pm EST
    • Length: 60 minutes

Conspiracy Theories and Other Pathologies

In the past few years, but throughout the entire history of the United States and the modern world, we have witnessed the emergence of a variety of conspiracy theories, ranging from domestic or local ones—from 9/11 to the moon landing—to more global ones like alleged an alleged Jewish conspiracy towards global domination. This virtual summer experience will examine reasons for why conspiracy theories emerge, showing how it is not by mere chance, and that the mechanisms by which conspiracy theories become compelling to individuals can be understood philosophically. Once that is done, then these mechanisms can be contextualized in political terms. In this way, we will be able to understand the political function of conspiracy theories. We will conclude by thinking about the significance—political, social, economic—of this political function of conspiracy theories. No knowledge of philosophy or conspiracy theories is presupposed—only an open and active mind.

    • Led by: Faculty member Martin Shuster
    • Date: Thursday, July 23
    • Time: 6pm EST (Length: TBD)

Art as an Expression of Revolutionary Resistance

Art has been used throughout history to express our deepest emotions. Much attention is usually set on art found in museums limiting its reach for many. However, artists from different walks of life have used other venues to let art support society’s thoughts. Art has played an important role as part of social, economic, or political events. Some expressions of art have continued through time to remind people of what has happened so the event will not be forgotten. Others have evolved to become part of the fight for what is just. Through collaboration, discussion, and readings, students will study forms of art from different countries and will explore the ways in which art has been used as an expression of revolutionary resistance.

Privilege and Power in Information Systems: Challenging the “White Male as Default” in Wikipedia

We generally know not to cite Wikipedia in our research papers. We know that we need to find “credible” information for homework assignments, but we often use Wikipedia as a springboard to further information. But even when used as an idea-generator, a baseline, or springboard resource, Wikipedia represents the systemic bias that favors white males as the default in information systems. Wikipedia is known for being "open" and "free." "Anyone" can edit it. But does that match the reality? Openness comes with caveats. Free comes with barriers. Anyone does not mean everyone. Wikipedia is a tool, but it is flawed and rooted in systems and structures that contribute to historically and systematically privilege some people, structures, and information over others. This does not mean that Wikipedia should be vilified - it can be a valuable research tool - but it can be better contextualized in a way that illuminates the problems prevalent throughout information systems and structures. This virtual summer experience will invite students to challenge their notions of expertise and consider systemic bias and oppression in information systems. Four critical questions guide this discussion:

  1. Who writes history?
  2. Who provides access to information?
  3. Who has access to information?
  4. Where does my voice fit?

Through these questions, we will critically examine Wikipedia to gain a better understanding of how information can be used, and abused, by those with power and privilege in information systems, and consider ways we can mitigate this in our own work.

    • Led by: Liz Johns, teaching and learning librarian
    • Date: Wednesday, July 29
    • Time: 1pm EST (Length: 60 minutes)

Becoming Automatic: How Habit Forming can Help You Be Successful

The transition to college is a great time to assess, adjust, and improve the way you move through each day, perhaps on autopilot. In this virtual summer experience, we will discuss new research around how habits are developed and maintained, and how we can use habit forming to increase your success in college and beyond. We will look at research from a variety of social scientists and writers to help you create a plan to focus on your values, align your goals with those values, and then develop habits to make success automatic. Students will come away from this session with concrete ideas to improve healthy habits, a plan for what habits you want to form, and a clear understanding on how those habits will reinforce your values and goals.

    • Led by: Alexandra Graves, associate director for student support & outreach
    • Date: Thursday, July 30
    • Time: 11am EST (Length: 60 minutes)