Wellesley Summer-2018 Photos-0050-1

Pre-College Summer Focus


Wellesley Residential Summer Programs have been canceled for Summer 2020. More information can be found here.

Course Descriptions | June 28 - July 10 & July 12 - July 24, 2020


Our professors are supernaturally talented people who also happen to be grounded, generous, and dedicated to you. In fact, current Wellesley students frequently cite the excellence of our faculty as a core component of what makes Wellesley such a special place.

Below is the list of Summer Focus Sessions for Summer 2020

Session 1: June 28 - July 10, 2020

LEADERSHIP | A Modern Girl's Guide to the F-Word: Feminism for the 21st Century

From the Women’s Marches to the #METOO movement, we are living in a moment of feminist uprising. Yet for many young women, “feminism” is a bad word—a label that connotes man-hating and extremism, or that reflects the narrow experience of privileged white women. This course invites a deeper understanding of what feminism means today, exploring a range of modern feminist narratives with a focus on women of color. Our discussion will be guided by several critical questions: How do the many facets of women’s identities—particularly race, gender, class, and sexuality—shape their needs, desires, and priorities? How might these differences be a source of collective power rather than division? In sum, what are the challenges and possibilities of building a truly inclusive feminist movement? Students will have the unique opportunity to explore feminist arts and activism on the Wellesley College campus, with field trips to the Davis Museum and college archives. In grappling with the “F-word,” Students will hone their skills in analytical writing, while exploring their own relationship with feminism in a capstone personal essay.

Instructor: Erin Battat

ARTS & HUMANITIES | Flip it and Reverse it: An Introduction to Drawing and Printmaking

This intensive studio course is designed to help intensify your visual sensitivity, spatial awareness and creative response through the mediums of drawing and printmaking. In the first half of the course, we will focus on observational drawing—you will learn to translate what you see in the three-dimensional space around you to the two-dimensional surface of paper. In the second week, you will apply these observational skills to relief and monotype printmaking processes, and get to see your images reversed, multiplied and in color! By developing a sensitivity for materials, an understanding of key visual elements, and an ability to discuss visual concepts, you will build a strong foundation for yourself in the arts.

Additional materials fee: $50

Instructor: Kelsey Miller

ARTS & HUMANITIES | La Dolce Vita: A Taste of Italy

This beginner-level Italian course is designed for high school students to explore and experience a “taste” of Italian culture. Whether for purposes of personal enrichment, travel, or mastering fine Italian cuisine, this course will provide students with a university level brief introduction to the Italian language. By practicing their listening, reading, and speaking skills on a daily basis, students will also learn about the Italian language, culture, and lifestyle in a short period of time.

Instructor: Giusy Di Filippo

ARTS & HUMANITIES | Philosophy of Friendship

We all have friends and we tend to regard friendship as an important good. This seminar undertakes a philosophical examination of the nature and value of friendship. Two main questions will animate the course: What is a friend? And, why are friends valuable? We will examine different types of friendships and the features that characterize and sustain them. Many philosophers have argued that the best kind of friendship is one in which the friend is loved for her own sake; we will investigate whether this is truly possible or whether all friendships are ultimately instrumental. We'll also examine how the partiality inherent in friendship conflicts with the demands of standard moral theories. Finally, drawing on examples from literature and film, we will consider whether one has to be a good person in order to be a good friend.

Instructor: Corinne Gartner

ARTS & HUMANITIES | What’s Beneath the Surface: Engaging the World as a Scholar

In this workshop, students will explore the hidden depths of what is around us, learning to ask and answer the kinds of questions that inspire scholars. In the first week, our focus will be on names, as we examine the stories behind the labels that we affix to people, places, and things. These explorations will be driven by questions that are at once philosophical and practical: How do new products get their names, and how do those names influence consumers? Who decides what new names for things end up in the dictionary? What happens when a country changes its name? In the second week, we’ll shift gears to examine the physical world around us, using Wellesley’s campus as our laboratory. The college’s unique landscape and architecture will provide an exciting source of study, as we probe the meaning behind the Hogwarts-style buildings and trace the experiences of students who have come before us. Throughout the course, we’ll take both an analytical and a creative approach to our topic, and students will have the chance to produce written arguments, imagine and pitch new products, and try their hand at making metaphors, maps, and multi-media scholarly projects.

Instructor: Jeannine Johnson

SOCIAL SCIENCES | Life in the Big City: Understanding the Urban Experience

In 2007, for the first time in history, more people lived in cities than rural communities. By 2050, the UN predicts that over two-thirds of people will live in cities. We face an increasingly urban future, and an uncertain one. This class invites us to pause and reflect on the basics of cities and the urban experience. We will start with the individual experience of city life, then explore neighborhood structure, before scaling up to consider globalization and world cities. Throughout we will explore key challenges of urban life: segregation, social inequality, poverty, gentrification, and the changing basis of community and belonging. To understand the city, we will start our discussions in the classroom, bringing in documentaries and short readings, and then embark on two field trips to nearby Boston to see concepts in action and to hone our skills as social observers. Students will learn to see the city in more detail, and write analytically and persuasively from their own observations. Bring your walking shoes and your imagination – this is a course where you will learn on your feet.

Instructor: Matthew Kaliner

STEM | Circuit Creations: Designing and Programming Electronic Devices

In this hands-on workshop you'll learn how to use microcontrollers, which are found in smart phones, dishwashers, space ships, and more. We'll start off with simple projects to introduce the micro-controller and its programming environments, build circuits, and learn to use sensors. Over the first few days, these projects will quickly gain complexity until you're ready to design and create a project of personal interest to you toward the end of the week. Along the way you'll learn a bit about the engineering design process, programming, circuits, creativity, and teamwork. This workshop is intended to be a launchpad for further exploration: the microcontroller kit and final project that you create will be yours to bring home and continue working with at the end of the session.

Additional materials fee: $90

Instructor: Amy Banzaert

STEM | Defending Your Data with Mathematics

When information is sent from one point to another, there are many ways in which its content can be compromised. In certain cases, there could be a malicious human actor who wants to steal or alter your data. In other cases (such as when a remote spacecraft is relaying information from another planet), the biggest threat might be random noise and interference that can corrupt the message and render it undecipherable. In both of these cases, we rely heavily on algorithms and protocols that help protect our information. In this workshop we will explore some of the ways in which mathematical ideas give us the tools to defend our data. Although we will draw from a variety of mathematical fields, all ideas will be accessible to anyone with a background in high school algebra.

Instructor: Alex Diesl

STEM | Getting to E=MC^2: Space, time and Einstein's revolution

In 1905, Albert Einstein published three seminal papers in the history of modern science, introducing the theory of special relativity, launching the field of quantum mechanics, and helping establish the atomic nature of matter. We will use Einstein's contributions as a springboard for an introductory exploration of the natures of light, matter, space, and time. We will make use of algebra and geometry -- no calculus required.

Instructor: James Battat

STEM | Modern Astronomy: Scanning the Solar System

Come explore the cosmos at the historic Whitin Observatory! This course will cover various exciting topics about space and include some hands-on experience with telescopes. This course provides an overview of the Universe through the lens of the physical principles that help us to probe it from right here on our puny planetary perch. Topics include stars and their planetary companions, the lives and deaths of stars, black holes, galaxies, and the origin and fate of the Universe. Hands-on activities will cover both naked-eye astronomy (e.g. the motions of the Sun and stars) and techniques of modern astronomy (e.g. digital imagery). (Please note that classes will meet in the afternoons and evenings, Monday - Thursday in order to view the night sky.)

Instructor: Kristina Punzi

Session 2: July 12 - July 24, 2020

LEADERSHIP | Leading Yourself into the Future: Building Your Personal Brand

What does your personal brand, or how you present yourself in the world, say about you? It's time to take a look and discover your voice, your strengths and who you are as a leader. Our journey will start by taking a look back at successful women leaders and discussing how their strengths and values helped them be successful. We'll look at leadership in general and some of the barriers women have faced. Then we will explore many different types of leadership behaviors such as relationship building, teamwork, empathy, resilience, self-expression, navigating conflict, communication styles, learning from mistakes and more. At the same time, you'll learn critical skills to help you present your unique strengths and show the world who you are. Gain social confidence and competence with foundational skills that will not only carry you through life, but also provide you with a competitive advantage as you kick start your grown-up life.This hands-on workshop includes interactive activities and role-playing to help you polish your presence and build basics in financial literacy. Topics will cover a broad range of topics, including college & career interviewing skills, email writing, social media netiquette, table manners, budgeting basics, hand-shakes and introductions.You will participate in a variety of self-assessments, and fun yet thoughtful activities designed to help identify interests and strengths. You will learn a lot about yourself and your impact on those around you.

Instructors: Nancy Coleman and Julie Alexander

ARTS & HUMANITIES | Art and Political Protest

The past decade has seen crowds take to the streets time and again to confront unjust policies and infractions in the rule of law. While such protests have a relatively long history, stretching back at least as far as the 18th century, what has been new is the proliferation of alternative forms of protest, rooted largely in the the visual and performing arts. This course examines ways in which artists have increasingly made their voices heard in the political arena, using image and text to express dissent and move others to action. We examine case studies from around the world, including countries as far-flung as Russia, China, Mexico, and the U.S. We also consider the ways artists have challenged their publics to think more deeply about some of the fundamental issues related to gender, class, race, and the current world order. The course combines a historical and theoretical perspective with hands-on assignments and activities that ask students to engage themselves in cultural and political critique. No prior experience in art-making necessary.

Instructor: Masha Shpolberg

ARTS & HUMANITIES | Design and Technology for the Stage & Screen

By expanding the scope of your design ideas, this program will enhance your abstract thinking, problem-solving and visual communication skills while helping you develop necessary tools to exhibit and present your work. As the scenic, lighting, and costume designer, you will learn to read and analyze a script, sketch, draft and build scale models, create a light plot, swatch and render costume designs. Taught by experienced faculty and professional designers who share their own processes and provide experience in all aspects of design/technology, this program will expand your portfolio and your understanding of what you will be doing in college and beyond. As a student in the The Design/Technology for Stage & Screen program, you will:

  • Analyze a script and translate its ideas into visual metaphors and images
  • Build and improve your knowledge of the principles, functions, and elements of scenic, lighting, and costume design
  • Learn programs theater and set designers use, such as Lightwright, SketchUp, and Vectorworks
  • Exhibit, present, and discuss your designs
  • Create a portfolio for college interviews and applications

Additional material fee: $100

Instructors: Jane Howland & Brynna Bloomfield

ARTS & HUMANITIES | Flash Fiction and Travel Writing: Mastering the Short Form

Writing very short fiction and creative non-fiction like travel writing offers students an intensive opportunity to work as real writers work: real writers write, show their work to friendly readers, and revise. This course is for young women who already write fiction and/or creative non-fiction and for those who have never written a story or a travel essay, but are ready to take a chance. In the first week, the class takes as its focus the genre of flash fiction, a very popular contemporary form of the short story. A flash fiction can be only one paragraph or several pages long--up to around 1000 words. Our work together will move back and forth between reading brilliant examples of flash fiction from around the world and writing our very own flash fictions. Reading in a writerly fashion means reading for craft: How does an author shape a very short piece? What can you do and not do with a first-person narrator, a third-person narrator? How does “world building” work in realistic, magical realism, and fantasy flash fiction? How to shape dialogue? In the second week, we shift from story to travel article. Like flash fiction, short travel pieces are a booming presence online. Whether you have traveled to Iceland's glaciers on skiis or to Ohio in the family SUV--we will work on researching the place, the presentation of the first person speaker in the piece, the shape of the "journey." The skills we developed in fiction writing will aid in making the piece feel alive--creative non-fiction borrows enormously from fiction.

Instructor: Marilyn Sides

ARTS & HUMANITIES | Let's Think in Spanish (immersion)

This workshop is designed to hone students’ Spanish speaking skills. Students will engage with formal and informal registers through different language samples, including those from social media outlets, academic texts, and different forms of cultural expressions—namely, poetry, fiction, culinary arts, and film.

Students with one year of High School Spanish are eligible for this workshop.

Instructor: Inela Selimovic

STEM | Climate Change, Environmental Justice, and the Future of Energy

This summer class offers an interdisciplinary introduction to environmental studies, with a focus on a climate change. Major concepts that will be examined in the context of climate change include: the state of scientific research, the role of science, politics, and economics in environmental decision making, prospects for a clean energy future, and issues of environmental justice.  The central aim of the course is to introduce students to the interdisciplinary skills necessary to pose questions, investigate problems, and develop strategies that will help us address our relationship to the environment.  The class will be a mix of lecture, small-group work, and hands-on activities.  The goal is to engage the dire realities of climate change, but also to empower students to address it.  Tentative plans to spend one day of the course visiting Block Island, RI and touring the nation’s first offshore wind farm.  Field trip will include time to explore the historic town of New Shoreham.

Additional materials fee: $100

Instructor: Jay Turner

STEM | Girl Code: Gender and Identity in the Programming World

In this workshop, we explore the technologies that enable web-based platforms and the way they have transformed how we communicate, learn, and experience society. We interweave technical and social aspects of the Social Web. On the technical side, we study three programming languages: HTML5, CSS, and basic JavaScript. On the social side, we will discuss a variety of cyberspace issues such as quality and reliability of online information, personal and group privacy, and networked creativity through crowdfunding. No prior knowledge of computing is assumed.

Instructor: Orit Shaer

STEM | The House (and Senate) Always Wins: Mathematics in Voting and Politics

How can a candidate in a political race win the majority of votes yet lose the election? How can constituents from underrepresented communities comprise almost half the electorate in a district yet have no representation in the legislature? How does the shape of a voting district affect who its inhabitants elect? Can we measure and quantify the power of the President of the United States? How can two competing candidates interpret the same statistic as being in their favor? What is cryptography and what does it have to do with privacy and law enforcement? In this class, we will look at the mathematics behind questions like this that arise from and have bearing on politics. We will study topics such as voting, fairness, apportionment, conflict, correlation and causation, social choice, and game theory through the prism of mathematics. Some of the particular topics we will look at are advantages and disadvantages of various voting practices, paradoxes that arise from common voting systems, basic problems of game theory and their manifestations in politics, geometry behind gerrymandering, regulation of cryptography and repercussions on privacy, graph theory and voter manipulation, and data interpretation. The goal of this workshop is to illustrate the importance of rigorous reasoning in various political processes while providing an introduction to some fascinating mathematics. The workshop will help you become aware of the many ways mathematics plays a role in politics, make you understand that effective participation in the democratic process requires quantitative literacy, and teach you that understanding the mathematics behind various socio-economic and political forces is necessary for making informed, rational decisions about the world around you. The prerequisite is a solid command of algebra. No background in political science is required.

Instructor: Ismar Volic