Virtual Learning Experiences

Goucher College is offering an exciting program this fall and all prospective students are invited – a virtual learning experience! You will have the opportunity to meet faculty as well as delve into Goucher’s core principles social justice, innovation, sustainability 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.

Using Machine Learning to Make Predictions

This class will introduce you to probability and the Naïve Bayes classifier technique for making predictions in Machine Learning. You'll learn that probability is simply counting (flipping a coin 100 times and counting the number of times it comes up "heads".) and that Naïve Bayes classifiers use probabilities to make predictions.

  • Led by: Faculty member Tom Kelliher
  • Date: Monday, October 26
  • Time: 5 p.m. EST (60 minutes)


Livestream Ballet - Dancing Alone Yet Together

An American style ballet technique class emphasizing anatomically sound placement, technical development, rhythmic phrasing, and footwork. Participants should wear comfortable clothing to move in and footwear according to their flooring.

  • Led by: Faculty member Elizabeth Ahearn
  • Date: Monday, October 26
  • Time: 6:30 p.m. EST (60 minutes)


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, October 27
    • Time: 5 p.m. EST (Length: 60 minutes)



These two 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. 

  • Led by: Faculty member Phaye Poliakoff-Chen
  • Dates:  2 sessions - Wednesday, October 28 or November 11
  • Time: 7 p.m. EST (Length: 50 minutes each)
  • Registration limit: 15-18

Register for Oct 28 Register for Nov 11

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.

  • Led by: Faculty member Citlali Miranda-Aldaco
  • Date: Wednesday, October 28
  • Time: 4 p.m. EST (Length: 60 minutes)
  • Registration limit: 16


Can You Believe Everything You See?

We often take for granted our ability to perceive the world through our five basic senses. We assume that we perceive things exactly as they really are and often fail to realize all of the amazing things our brain and nervous system need to do in order for us to perceive anything at all. We also overestimate how much we really perceive and underestimate all of the factors that influence our perception and how often we are relying on a limited amount of information. Focusing on vision we will explore these issues (and others) using visual illusions and demonstrations to highlight some of the complexities involved in perception.

  • Led by: Faculty member Tom Ghirardelli
  • Dates: 2 sessions - Thursday, October 29 and Tuesday, November 3
  • Time: 6 p.m. EST (Length: 60 minutes)

Register for Oct 29 Register for Nov 3

Where’s the Beef: Understanding the impact of COVID-19 on our local & 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: Friday, October 30
    • Time: 4 p.m. EST (Length: 60 minutes)


The Science of Awe

While there's a long history of artists, philosophers, and theologians reflecting on the significance of awe, only recently have scientists begun to research this profound and mysterious emotion. Dr. Mary Marchand and two of her students, Gwen Curtis '23 and Isabel Rosenthal '23, will discuss some of these findings and invite you to participate in a discussion of awe--how it differs from wonder and curiosity, its far reaching effects, and its potential for transforming education.  

  • Led by: Faculty member Mary Marchand
  • Dates: 2 sessions - Friday, October 30 or Friday, November 6
  • Time: 5 p.m. EST
  • Length: 60 minutes

Register for Oct 30 Register for Nov 6

Fiery Visions of the Afterlife: Reading Dante’s Inferno in Word & 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 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.


Storytelling & Climate Justice

In this Environmental Studies virtual 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: Wednesday, November 4
    • Time: 7 p.m. EST (Length: 75 minutes)
    • Registration limit: 25


Doomsday never comes: Understanding scarcity, natural resources, & 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: Sunday, November 8
      • Time: 4 p.m. EST (Length: 60 minutes)

Goucher’s Lost Museum & 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 & 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: Saturday, November 14
    • Time: 3 p.m. EST (Length: 75 minutes)

Conspiracy Theories & 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: Monday, November 16
    • Time: 7 p.m. EST (Length: 60 minutes)