Senior Studies-nc -mts

Tara McGovern

It is senior year, spring term … what else is there to say? I find myself asking so many questions and just laughing off the answers. What is that “Lawrence difference?” I wonder how things would have been different at a big school.
Is this my home now? Am I really going to be that much healthier when I do not get to eat Lucy’s muffins and pull all-nighters writing papers, hyped up on multiple energy drinks? Where is my other sock? Is the “real world” really as scary as they make it sound? What do I do with all of these books?
Conversations with other seniors and alumni about such topics are never as fruitful as one would expect. Our Lawrence experiences have been different, our future paths vary in degrees of rockiness and excitement; we all seem to be a little confused. I did find a little clarity — if it can be called that — after a little chat with my freshman studies teacher Tim Spurgin.
As you may have heard, Professor Spurgin is currently teaching a course called senior studies. No, this is not going to become a mandatory course for graduation, and as Spurgin put it, this is not a “one-size fits all course.”
“It’s just an opportunity for me and interested students to revisit works from Freshman Studies and other courses, and reflect on the Lawrence experience,” Spurgin stated. Four works from Freshman Studies were revisited, two picked by Professor Spurgin, Chuang Tzu’s “Basic Writings” and Plato’s “Republic,” and the other two voted on the students, who picked Milgram’s “Obedience to Authority” and Leopold’s “A Sand County Almanac.”
The rest of the syllabus consists of works that the students read in other classes, which they chose to revisit, and a few readings about liberal arts education and the history of freshman studies.
Spurgin hopes for this to be a good “opportunity for people to start organizing their own intellectual lives.”
The five students taking the course, who lead discussions of the works and share their perspectives and the perspectives of others they have encountered over the years, structure most of the class, according to Spurgin.
For instance, one student had taken freshman studies with a psychology professor and had continued to take some basic psychology courses, allowing insight into the importance of Milgram’s study to the discipline.
To me, Milgram seemed slightly ironic, because as freshmen in college we were all choosing to pay more money than most of us dreamed of making for a couple decades to participate in a constructed hierarchy where we were planning to be — to some degree — obedient.
Anyway, I walked out of my short visit to Spurgin’s narrow library of an office, thinking to myself, “Why the hell didn’t I take that?” Even though I was not a huge fan of Plato’s “Republic,” it seems they actually had a somewhat practical discussion about going back down into “the cave” after graduation. Well, it is senior year, spring term … what more need I say?

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