Opportunities and Facilities

Special Educational Opportunities


There are many service-learning opportunities available at Sewanee. Some are associated with individual courses, and others with independent work with the help of faculty and various offices in the college. Service-learning opportunities are also available through study abroad.

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 an established major. 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 committee. If the proposal is accepted by the curriculum 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, and major courses cannot be counted toward a major or minor in another field.

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 an annual poster event held each spring. As Director of Undergraduate Research, Professor of Chemistry Rob Bachman coordinates access to these opportunites and can be consulted for further information.

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, Spanish, and Russian Houses

A certain number of students are accepted as residents in the French, German, Spanish, and Russian houses each year. Students enter at the beginning of the semester and 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 an ever-expanding collection of free standing CD ROM language programs  as well as 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 lab 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.

Food and Hunger: Contemplation and Action

From time to time, Professor  of Biology David Haskell has offered this course, an examination of the interactions among scientific, ethical, and cultural aspects of hunger. The readings, lectures and discussions in the course are supplemented with work with local aid organizations and with exploration of the contemplative practices that motivate and sustain many of those who work with the hungry. Organic farming projects have also been conducted at Sewanee.

Sewanee Environmental Institute

Sewanee Environmental Institute (SEI) is currently being led by the Boeckman Director — Professor Jon Evans.

SEI is a center for environmental education and research, promoting the use of the University of the South's ecologically and culturally diverse 13,000-acre campus as a living laboratory for the interdisciplinary study of people and the land. SEI offers field-based educational programs at the undergraduate and pre-college level, and fosters faculty-mentored student research on the Cumberland Plateau.

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. Catherine's 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. Five 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.