Special Educational 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 Scholarship Sewanee, an annual poster event held each spring. The Director of Undergraduate Research, Professor of Chemistry Rob Bachman (rbachman@sewanee.edu), coordinates access to these opportunites and can be consulted for further information.

Service-Learning/ Community Engagement

The Community Engaged Learning (CEL) program connects the class room 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.

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 established majors. 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 and academic policy committee. If the proposal is approved by the 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,.

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.

French, German, Italian, Spanish, and Russian Houses

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

Academic Technology Center

The Academic Technology Center (ATC), located in the Jessie Ball duPont Library, provides a collection of twenty-first century resources. The main lab serves as the primary student computing facility with roomy carrels and open tabletop areas. Dell and Macintosh computers are available  and loaded with a variety of specialized software used in academic disciplines. There are also several multimedia workstations equipped with multimedia editing software, flatbed or slide scanners, and video-capture peripherals.

The Writing Center is located in the ATC lab and tutors are available to assist students with writing assignments. The ATC also includes two classrooms equipped with desktop computers for students and an instructor's station, a digital video editing classroom, a screening room and a courtyard with comfortable chairs and laptop tables. The ATC is equipped with wireless network access and is open 24/7.

Landscape Analysis Lab

The Landscape Analysis Lab provides opportunities for students to participate in interdisciplinary environmental research, education, and outreach. Faculty in the lab come from the departments of biology, economics, forestry, philosophy, political science, and religion. The lab offers internships and independent studies in which students work with faculty on research projects, engage in outreach to local schools, and collaborate with government, non-profit institutions, and corporations. These activities center around the lab's state-of-the-art Geographic Information Systems computer network which contains detailed spatial information about land use, biodiversity, and socio-economic factors for the Cumberland Plateau and the southeastern United States.

Language Laboratory

The E.L. Kellerman Language Resource Center provides an opportunity for students in the modern foreign languages to immerse themselves in the sounds and culture of their target language. The facility features a state of the art Sanako Lab 100 system for practice with listening and speaking; a Satellite TV with stations in Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Russian, and Spanish; wireless Apple Macbooks which can be checked out; a Sympodium for multimedia displays; and a cozy reading and viewing lounge with a library of foreign language books, magazines, and videos. Students can also access subscriptions to web-based language learning programs for reinforcing what is being taught in class as well as for learning languages not currently taught at the University. There is also Rosetta Stone software for Arabic, French, German, Hebrew, Hindi, Irish, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, Swedish, Thai, and Turkish. Faculty and students alike take advantage of the language center's audio- and video-editing equipment and analog-to-digital-conversion facilities in preparing engaging presentations for class. The Language Resource Center is open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. except for Fridays when it closes at 4 p.m. and then reopens Sunday from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m.

University Observatory

The Cordell-Lorenz Observatory is an instructional laboratory for astronomy courses offered by the department of physics and astronomy and also for public observations. Programs throughout the year and open hours every Thursday evening from 8 p.m. until 10 p.m. (weather permitting), while classes are in session, encourage both academic and enrichment activities.

The largest telescope for public observations is a ten-inch Schmidt-Newtonian reflector. There are also other ten-inch and one three and one-half-inch telescopes which are often used, as well as large binoculars. The dome houses a classic six-inch refracting telescope crafted by Alvan Clark and Sons in 1897. It has been restored to its original quality and historical appearance by Dr. Francis M. Cordell Sr. of the Barnard Astronomical Society.

For research purposes, one 0.35 and five 0.30 meter (14 and 12 inches) telescopes on computer controlled mounts are housed in several small roll-off sheds on the roof of Carnegie. These telescopes have sensitive CCD detectors which are used to monitor newly discovered asteroids, comets, supernovas, gamma ray bursts, and variable stars.

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. The Lilly Project website has more information.

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 weekly to discuss major themes related to the environment in 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 emeritus professor Robin Gottfried and associated also with The School of Theology, is virtually unique in American higher education.

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. Catherines 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. Six 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 who successfully complete the program receive four course credits (16 semester hours) for Theatre 444. Students who wish to apply must have at least a 2.5 GPA and must have completed at least three of the courses required of the Theatre Arts major: Elements of Production, Elements of Performance, Elements of Design, and at least one, preferably two, studio courses in their area of interest (acting, directing, design, etc.). Individuals interested in the program may apply, usually in the second semester of their sophomore year, by writing to the program director. Students planning for this program may seek portability of financial aid (by the established deadlines) and must also complete paperwork required by the associate dean of the college to establish a leave from Sewanee.

The Centre for Medieval & Renaissance Studies

This centre/program was founded in 1975 in Oxford as a permanent institute for the interdisciplinary study of the medieval, Renaissance and early modern periods. The institute provides academic training for overseas students who wish to complete part of their education in Oxford in these areas of study. Because Sewanee is a CMRS consortium member, Sewanee students who qualify have access to this program.

Washington Semester Program

In 2012 Sewanee joined the Washington Semester Program run by American University. The program combines coursework in American studies, politics, and international affairs with opportunities for internships in the D.C. area. The program runs during both academic semesters and the summer. Professor Scott Wilson serves as the institutional contact for the program.

Sewanee-at-Yale Directed Research Program

This program enables select students — usually  psychology or biology majors — to pursue directed research and coursework during a semester plus a summer at the Yale Child Study Center, a division of Yale Medical School. These students conduct research with one 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 and research at Yale. Summer-only research opportunities at Yale's Child Study Center are also available to Sewanee students.

INTERNSHIPS (careers.sewanee.edu/internships)— Summer internships give the student an insider’s view of the day-to-day reality of many different career fields. Students gain significant, practical work experience to add to their résumés and valuable contacts with established professionals. The internships also give students a sense of their own vocational interests.

Sewanee’s internship programs feature these unique benefits:

•    Paid Internships — Students can pursue the internships that interest them, even if the internship site does not have funding. Generous grants and gifts from alumni and friends enable the University to fund more than 170 internships per year.
•    Resources and Support — The University’s Career & Leadership Development staff and alumni network can help a student find, arrange, or even create an internship opportunity.
•    Flexibility — Sewanee’s well-established internship program offers a history of positive relationships with internship sponsors and the flexibility to fit student interests.

ACE (A Career Exploration) Internships
Internship opportunities, in any field, brought to the attention of Career & Leadership Development by alumni or friends of the University. The list is available to Sewanee students through a secure website.

ACE Medical Internships
Alumni of the University generously sponsor paid internships within their medical practices, research centers, or laboratories.

Aiken Taylor Internship

A postgraduate internship at Sewanee with the editor and managing editor of the Sewanee Review, the nation’s oldest continuously published literary quarterly.

Arts Internships
The Powell and the Patrick-Smith internship funds provide financial assistance to students majoring in Art or Art History who wish to pursue a summer internship in studio art, art history, or a corollary profession.

Biehl International Research Internships
A self-directed social science research internship conducted outside of the United States and other English-speaking countries. Open to returning majors in the departments of anthropology, Asian studies, economics, environmental policy, history, politics, and international and global studies.

Business and Economics Internships
Students develop internships that enable them to participate in, and to observe firsthand, the methods by which business firms conduct their affairs in a free market economy. Sponsored by Wilson, Smith, Probasco, Francis, Doherty, Camp, Bing, and Bank of America endowed funds.

Canale Internships

Supported by the Canale Endowment, students pursue a community service internship of their choosing. The internships are projects that benefit the greater Sewanee community, while also developing the individual intern’s leadership, communication, emotional, and analytical skills. Interns are self-directed but receive assistance from a mentor and the Outreach Office of the University. Internships take place during the academic year and interns are encouraged to spend at least 10 hours a week on their projects.

Career Exploration Internship
Summer internships open to any major for any type of internship are funded by the Stephenson and Boyd internship funds.

Environmental Studies Internships
The Sewanee’s Environmental Studies Internship Fund offers stipends for environment-related summer programs in and outside of the United States thanks to the generosity of the Brewster, duPont, Fitzsimons, Lankewicz, Leroy, Mellon, Sommer-Speck, and Thomas funds. These are open to students of all majors.

Fund for Innovative Teaching and Learning
The FITL research internships support student-faculty teams in collaborative or mentored scholarly research projects. Internships take place on the Sewanee campus. This fund was stablished by a foundation that wishes to remain anonymous — aided by a bridge grant from the Jessie Ball duPont Fund.

Gessell Fellowship for Social Ethics
Provides funds to enable an independent, year-long research project in social theory or social ethics. The project may be an academic research paper or field experience. Projects with a local focus are particularly encouraged. The awards alternate yearly between undergraduate students and seminary students.

Lilly Endowment Internships
Students develop internships of vocational exploration in either church or church-related organizations or within service and non-profit spheres through this endowment.

McGriff-Bruton Mathematics & Computer Science Research Internship
Recipients with this support receive a stipend to work on a project with a Sewanee faculty member during the summer in the fields of Mathematics/Computer Science.

Raoul Conservation Internships
Internships are developed by majors in the Department of Forestry and Geology for the direct application of their studies of the environment.

SEED (Social Entrepreneurship Education) Program
The SEED (Social Entrepreneurship Education) Program at Sewanee is an intensive eight-week social entrepreneurship and micro-finance immersion program that has three components: the summer study abroad program in Bangladesh and India for one and a half courses, with one on “Microfinance Institutions in South Asia” focusing on the Grameen Bank (2006 Nobel Peace Prize winner), BRAC (known as the largest NGO in the world), and ASA (recognized by Forbes magazine as the world’s most successful MFI) in Bangladesh and CURE (Center for Urban and Regional Excellence — a USAID project) in India; a four-week internship at a finance/microfinance institution in the U.S., Latin America, Asia, or Europe; and a week of intensive pre-business training at Sewanee in finance, accounting, and entrepreneurship by faculty, alumni, and parents. Successful participants are awarded an M.A.E. (Microfinance and Entrepreneurship) certificate, signed by Nobel Laureate Dr. Mohammad Yunus and the Vice-Chancellor.

Science Research Internships
Summer stipends are available for students to conduct research in Sewanee and beyond through the Beatty, Davis-Pinson, Greene, Physics, and Yeatman funds.

Tonya Public Affairs Internships
These are internships that enable students to participate in or study public policy through work in federal, state, or local government or in the private sector in an area related to public affairs.

Academic Credit for Internships
A student awarded academic credit for a supervised internship through an approved off-campus program of study (e.g., study abroad), who also has prior approval from the major department to count the internship as part of the major, is normally allowed to transfer this academic credit to count toward a degree at Sewanee. This transfer of credit is subject to the approval of the associate dean of the college. Internships that are associated with such programs of study but are outside the discipline of the major are considered on a case-by-case basis by the College Standards Committee. Public affairs internships may serve as the basis of enrollment in Political Science 445 through which credit may be earned. Internships offered independently of programs of study do not receive academic credit unless the internship has been recommended for credit by the Committee on Curriculum and Academic Policy and approved by the college faculty. Students may seek Independent Study (444) credit when required by the internship site/sponsor and may consult the associate dean of the college about that process.


The School of Letters is a summer program in Literature and Creative Writing, offering the M.A. and the M.F.A. degree and designed to provide a graduate program of the best quality to students who have only summers to devote to study. Students must apply for admission. The faculty consists of Sewanee professors, from English and allied departments, and distinguished professors from other campuses. Taking a typical load of two courses per summer, students can complete either degree in four or five years. M.F.A. students must complete eight courses, half of them writing workshops, earning a grade of “B” or better, and then write a thesis to earn a final two course credits. M.A. students must also complete at least eight courses, including at least two in English literature, at least two in American literature, and at least one in non-English literature in translation. These students may earn their final two credits either by writing a thesis or by taking additional courses. The program runs for six weeks each summer, from early June through mid-July. The website letters.sewanee.edu provides more information.


The college's six-week summer session serves students who wish to broaden or enrich their academic program, gain additional credits, or speed acquisition of their degree. Incoming freshmen may wish to take summer classes to adjust to college challenges in a more relaxed atmosphere.

College faculty provide the instruction. Course content is the same as during the academic year. Both introductory and advanced courses are offered. The website www2.sewanee.edu/academics/summer provides more information.


Study Abroad is an important aspect of what many Sewanee students do, and there are many, diverse offerings available for Sewanee students. General information can be found at studyabroad.sewanee.edu. In addition to sections at this site for current students, for parents, and for prospective students, there are pages intended to answer questions like Who?, When?, Where?, and How?, and there is also a section with Frequently Asked Questions as well as one which will direct the inquirer to the Office of Study Abroad for more information.