The Long And Short of IT

A quick view of some ways Bennington faculty members break out of a typical course pacing model by Jeva Lange ’15

Pop-ups are not the only way Bennington faculty experiment with traditional course formats. Below, a handful of examples paced to meet the demands of the content and the students.

CHEMISTRY 1, 2, 3, AND 4

Four terms (two years), 16 credits
Janet Foley

Scientists can spend their entire lives learning the ins and outs of general, organic, and biochemistry—and student scientists at Bennington can spend two years doing the same. Whether someone is just looking to learn the basics or is committed for the long run, the chemistry sequence is offered in incremental steps from beginning atomic theory to thermodynamics to conducting independent research projects by the time they are in Chemistry 4. In addition to time spent in the classroom, each section of chemistry also puts students in the lab—a common practice at many schools to augment class time with hands-on experiences.“It demonstrates the concepts and ideas presented in the course and allows hands-on experience with different analytical techniques that are common in current chemical applications,” faculty member Janet Foley said. “Students are called upon to generate their own experiments and demonstrate a basic understanding of posing a question, developing a hypothesis, and a coherent experimental design.” The difference is, students at Bennington are integrating general and organic chemistry from the very first class in year one. “As students go through the chemistry sequence they read further into the chemical literature and use this to frame their own questions.”


Three weeks, four hours a week, 4 credits
Eileen Scully

Intended to sync with the CAPA Leadership Institute, Historical Grievances & Retrospective Redress is traditionally taught as a full class and was offered in summer 2015 with visiting guests from Armenia, Turkey, and Azerbaijan. Eileen Scully modified the course as a three-week intensive module. A joint session was arranged between the students and international visitors to discuss the politics of the Eurovision Song Contest, “a topic Bennington students could quickly size up,” Scully explained. While there were trade-offs to the short format, Scully said, “The module also did what modules are meant to do in leaving students wanting to know more about the subject.”


Lectures throughout the term, 1 credit
Visual arts faculty

Tuesday evenings in Tishman are for the Visual Arts Lecture Series, taught not by one teacher but by an assortment of visiting lecturers from around the world. Students attend 90-minute lectures covering a wide range of artists and historians. “I had Eva Respini as a guest last spring,” Bennington faculty member Liz White said. “She lectured on the work of Robert Heinecken and Cindy Sherman. As a curator, she has developed monographic exhibitions of both artists’ works. As an expert who has dedicated years of research to these subjects, she can lecture on how they have utilized photography in a manner that far exceeds my capacity to lecture on their work.”