2021 Virtual Courses

Want to see who is teaching at the Academy this year? Read our faculty bios!

To download a copy of the virtual course list, use this link.

Drugs, Politics, Religion and Smut! Radical Literature

Instructor: Ben Batzer

Time: Monday-Friday, 1-3pm

According to the American Library Association, 347 books were challenged or banned last year in the United States. Objections range from “glorifies criminals” to “political viewpoint” to “occult Satanism.” In this class we will study radical literature—literature, that is, which challenges institutions of power, tests moral paradigms, and interrogates injustice. Beginning with the ALA’s 2020 “Top 11 Challenged Books,” we will then examine alternative forms of radical literature: poetry, TED talks, song, photography, and children’s books.

 

Breakout!

Instructor: Jenny Blank

Time: Monday-Friday, 10am-12pm or 1-3pm

Take the appeal of the escape room, in which a group of people use their wits to break out of a locked room and turn it inside out. Your team will be provided with cryptic clues to solve and you’ll input the code to open each digital lock. Work together to find the solutions, but hurry before the clock counts down to zero! Think you’re already a super sleuth? Step behind the curtain and create brain teasers, secret messages, riddles, and locks. Become the master designer yourself as we work in groups to design, play test, and modify our own virtual breakouts. Will your own digital breakouts prove challenging enough for other scholar minds? Prepare to baffle in Breakout!

 

To Infinity and Beyond

Instructor: Frank Corley

Time: Monday-Friday, 10am- 12pm

We’ll start at zero, and we won’t stop until we get there. The concept of infinity pervades so much of mathematics that we will have plenty to do in this course. What happens when a process is repeated over and over again, changing only a single parameter each time? Does infinity come in different levels, or is it one size fits all? Is infinity a number or is it something else? How can we prove a statement about all the numbers without proving it individually for every number? Can infinity be arrived at or can we even get close to it? Will these questions never end? Take the course and find out.

 

MSAN: Missouri Scholars Action News

Instructor: Jon Gunasingham

Time: Monday-Friday, 10am- 12pm

Missouri Scholars Academy has its very own news network! In this course, students will develop journalistic and production skills in order to show their friends that MSA isn’t just another nerd camp. Students will be in charge of running their very own news network and the tasks that entail, from publishing online written, audio, and visual content, to conducting interviews with faculty and students. Along the way students will acquire basic video and sound editing skills that they can use when starting their own YouTube channel and/or podcast.

 

Race, Place and Identity in Missouri

Instructor: Stephanie Hasty

Time: Monday-Friday, 1-3pm

Who are we? Why are we here? What can we do to change the world? These are the questions that we are going to tackle and answer while exploring the voices and experiences of those around us. Through civil discourse, we will address texts through a critically literate lens to see what experiences are being left out. We will talk about privilege, social justice and listen and read about how confronting these issues helps us identify who we are and helps us plan for a future where all voices are heard and represented. We will look at and explore our own culture and share that with others. In the end, we will ask ourselves about what we’ve learned and find ways to take that knowledge back to our schools and communities. We will read works by others spanning the 60s-present day, listen to podcasts centered on these topics and explore diversity through looking at our communities through guest presentations, local exploration and, of course, conversation.

 

The Blues, Jazz, and the American Experience: Thriving on a Riff

Instructor: Jordan Henson

Time: Monday-Friday, 10am- 12pm

“Jazz is not just music, it’s a way of life, it’s a way of being, a way of thinking.” – Nina Simone. The blues and jazz were the first musical forms to emerge exclusively on American soil. Their emergence from the unique cultural blending of late 19th and early 20th century New Orleans mirrors the great “melting pot” of America, and their history is implicitly tied to the history of its country. The blues and jazz quickly jumped out of the musical staff and into literature, art, and even philosophy. Students in this minor will study and listen to the blues and jazz, tracing their history and influences among other artistic disciplines, discussing how they differ from other musical forms, and investigating how jazz performance and improvisation can help one navigate the notes, high, low, blue, and everywhere in between, of life’s grand melody. No prior musical experience required!

 

The Best Class NOT Offered in High School

Instructor: Chris Holmes

Time: Monday-Friday, 10am-12pm

Imagine conceiving, designing, and selling a product (or an experience), without ever consulting the target audience. Probably not the best model for success. Yet this is precisely what high schools do, as the “experts” determine what adolescents need to engage, learn, and thrive. In this class, YOU are the experts. YOU do the imagining, conceiving, and designing. Chris shares data from hundreds of interviews with teenagers, Scholars share their ideas and insights with him, and together they will design the best class that is NOT offered in high school. What you conceive will be proposed for the 2022-23 school year where Chris teaches. Expect lots of introspection, discussion, and creation!

 

Comics, Culture, and the World

Instructor: Mike Kersulov

Time: Monday-Friday, 1-3pm

Superheroes, zombies, and talking mice. The face of literature is changing, and we are finding new ways to write stories: comic books! This course will explore storytelling with comics and graphic novels and how they have influenced other forms – even our culture as a whole. Related topics include the history of comics, film and superheroes, online visual narratives, memoirs, and more. We will also approach how to read comics, the processes of visual rhetoric and the foundations of sequential art that help create the combination of the verbal and visual text. Referring to some of the most highly praised works in the field, the course will investigate how the comics medium can be used to strive for authentic nonfiction, essays, research, and finding (T)ruth, ultimately asking: can comics help shape a better world for us all? By the end, we might even write some of our own.

 

Introduction to Philosophy

Instructor: Nicholas Kirschman

Time: Monday-Friday, 10am- 12pm or 1-3pm

This class will introduce scholars to why it is important to question everything. What are great thoughts? Why are they worth thinking? Should you think about them? What are metaphysics, epistemology, and aesthetics? Philosophy attempts to answer these questions — mainly by providing more questions. Come and question everything you have ever been told. Discussions, seminars, meditations, plays, and journals will be used to reflect on questions we, as human beings, face. We will also attempt to apply these grand thoughts to everyday problems through ethics.

 

“Whaaaaaaaat, That’s Not Music!”

Instructor: Austin McWilliams

Time: Monday-Friday, 1-3pm

Or is it? This class aims to explore just what music is. We’ll start at the physical origins of sound and dig through music theory and compositional techniques of the great classical composers until we hit the twentieth century and musical chaos erupts. Then WE will become the musicians as we dare to perform and analyze some of the great experimental works of the last century. Finally, we’ll create and perform our own Contemporary musical works using digital audio editing software, found sounds, traditional instruments, and whatever else we’ve come to know as music. Having the ability to read music is recommended but not necessary in order to enjoy this course.

 

Historians Rhapsody

Instructor: Melissa Mease

Time: Monday-Friday, 1-3pm

Stories have been handed down through time in a variety of formats. My favorite stories are told through music! We will examine tribal chants through modern music. Recent history entries may not yet be in textbooks, but events such as civil unrest and the pandemic are already on the musical charts. This class will culminate in the writing of our own history in a song never to be forgotten! Although this is not strictly a class about making music, we will explore the songs that lay the foundation for history as we know it.

 

Science of the Senses

Instructor: Joe Milliano

Time: Monday-Friday, 10am-12pm

We see, hear, and feel things all the time. But what is sight? What is sound? How do we create different signals of light and sound, and then how does our brain interpret those signals? What is the science behind why music sounds good and why nails on a chalkboard sound bad? What’s the deal with the color magenta? Why isn’t it in the rainbow? How does a guitar make music, and what are you changing when you tune it? In this class we will explore what it physically means to sense something and experience the world, and in doing so hopefully learn a little bit more about our place in it.

 

Understanding the Modern Middle East

Instructor: Shadi Peterman

Time: Monday-Friday, 10am-12pm

Conflict and crisis in the Middle East have been regular events on the nightly news in recent decades. This course will consider the origins and continuing aspects of major events in several areas of the Middle East, such as tensions between Iran and the United States, the rise of ISIS, the Syrian Civil War and refugee crisis, and the conflict between Israel and Palestine. Students will consider many factors that contribute to the conflicts, including political, economic, and religious issues. Students will also be challenged to propose ways to address each situation, considering what role (if any) the United States and/or international organizations and coalitions should potentially play.

 

It’s the End of the World As We Know It… (and I’m feeling creative!)

Instructor: Brian Stuhlman

Time: Monday-Friday, 10am-12pm or 1-3pm

It’s not easy being green, and it’s definitely not easy living in a world of varied tastes, mixed opinions, and random ideas. Focusing on the last century or so, we will explore the changes time has brought to the way we think and express, and we will look at where we are today, artistically and philosophically speaking. With explorations ranging from cubism to impressionism to theatre of the absurd, to modern and contemporary arts, and MUCH more, we will try to work with and understand the philosophies underlying cultural change, and we’ll create some groovy expressions. . . all in the trek to figure out where we are, why we are, and where we are going. No arts experience required! You need only to possess a creative spirit and an open mind to enjoy, to learn from and to emulate the written, visual and performance arts that include all sorts: Picasso and Pollock, relativity and memetic culture, Muppets and Monty Python.  Brand new worlds of thought rise and crumble every day in our contemporary age…together we will explore what has brought us to this wildly exciting state!

 

With Friends Like These, Who Needs Hegemonies? Employing the Sociological Imagination

Instructor: Doug Valentine

Time: Monday-Friday, 10am-12pm

What makes you who you are? Are we just a collection of free-floating individuals? Do our histories and experiences matter? What’s all this “privilege” business about? Using a sociological perspective, we will examine the categories of race, gender, class, and much more. We will discuss important local, national, and global news while exploring topics such as inequality, social construction, universal human rights, and cultural relativism. We will investigate how the social institutions of education, the family, government, religion, and media contribute to our socialization, police “deviant” behavior, and engage in social control. It’s a big world with diverse perspectives. Let’s explore a few. When we use the sociological imagination, things get real.

 

Social Psychology: The Influence of Others on You!

Instructor: Kate Votaw

Time: Monday-Friday, 1-3pm

Can you trick others into doing favors for you? Does money buy happiness? Does racism still exist? These are just some of the questions asked by social psychologists. If you are curious about the influence that other people or situations have on your own thoughts and behaviors then this class may be for you! First, we will work together to understand how psychological scientists answer questions about “unmeasurable” phenomena like love, persuasion, and self-esteem, then use that understanding to dive into the current scientific knowledge of the topics listed above (and others). Together, we will use research from the field of social psychology, alongside your own personal thoughts and experiences, to better understand yourself, explain ugly human behaviors, and to make the world a better place!

 

Math Imitates Art

Instructor: Frank Corley

Time: Monday-Friday, 1-3pm

While math and art may seem disparate disciplines, they are like two people with a mutual friend who ought to be introduced to each other. The latter is our creation of beauty; the former an access to truth:  truth and beauty are two eternal, transcendent aspects of existence which can be brought into dialog.  How do poetry and visual art, for instance, implicitly manifest the mathematical?  How can proofs be judged aesthetically?  How is architecture a marriage of art and mathematics?  These and other fascinating questions will be explored in this course.

 

James Bond in Literature and Film

Instructor: Stephanie Hasty

Time: Monday-Friday, 10am-12pm

During this course students will explore the world (myth and lore) of James Bond both through the novels and films to learn about 20th/21st century history and modern-day literature. The class will be discussion based and your participation through discussion questions is vital as we explore the movies, parodies, books and articles analyzing and interpreting James Bond and his relation to topics covered in class.

 

Finding Your Voice – Explorations in Writing

Instructor: Jordan Henson

Time: Monday-Friday, 1-3pm

“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language / And next year’s words await another voice.” These lines, famously penned by T.S. Eliot, speak to our ever-shifting understanding of literature. T. S. Eliot, William Shakespeare, Toni Morrison, Ernest Hemingway, Sylvia Plath, E. E. Cummings, J. K. Rowling, and countless other writers have expressed their voice through the written word. In doing so, they have created literature that is equal parts timeless, enchanting, and transformative. No author is born with the skill to publish. Through diligent practice and dozens of worn out pens and keyboards, they honed their craft and refined their voice to become the legends we know them today. Students in this class will spend three weeks doing just that, exploring the traits and styles of great authorial voices as we attempt to discover our own. Whether you are a regular participant in National Writing Month or spend more time writing Tweets than essays, all writers are welcome to join us as we scribble out stories the world can’t possibly ignore.

 

The Spoken Word: Performance Poetry

Instructor: Chris Holmes

Time: Monday-Friday, 1-3pm

Spoken word poetry combines the skill of using words to create images with the art of delivering these words to stir emotions. Scholars will practice mixing words and performance, then share original pieces with mind-blowing metaphors and messages, word plays and rhythms. This is your opportunity and venue to take words, feelings and big ideas, blend a hefty amount of originality with a dash of spice, and serve a rich fare of panache and passion.

 

Big-O My God: Codeless Coding

Instructor: Austin McWilliams

Time: Monday-Friday, 10am-12pm

Quick! You’ve got a deck of cards and you need to sort them as fast as possible. How do you choose to do so? Do you start at the top of the deck? The middle? Do you split the deck into groups? How many? Is there one method that will allow you to sort the deck faster than another? In this course, we’re tackling algorithms and their efficiency. Instead of learning a particular coding language like C++ or Java, we’ll evaluate algorithms mostly at a mathematical level, abstracting away any annoying intricacies of a text-based language while learning computer science principles that are applicable to any language. Bring a fiercely analytical mindset to this course in “codeless coding.”

 

Making Beautiful Mathematics

Instructor: Melissa Mease

Time: Monday-Friday, 10am-12pm

Mathematics appears in art, culture, and the everyday mundane things around us. In this digital course we will look at computer programs that allow us to create art from mathematical equations, geometric constructions, and simple computer coding. We will answer questions such as what do homeless shelters and solar arrays have in common?  Why do all the boxes on the store shelves look the same? There will be watch parties together as we observe math taking shape and creating beauty around us.  Be ready to be amazed by some Beautiful Mathematics!

 

Inequity and Its Discontents: Addressing Social Inequalities in the Twenty-First Century

Instructor: Doug Valentine

Time: Monday-Friday, 1-3pm

We’re going to need more bootstraps… This class will critically examine the social institutions that make up America with an eye to historical and contemporary inequalities. We will apply critical theories of race, gender, sexuality, and class to the institutions of education, economy, religion, and more to uncover how inequality is created, normalized, reproduced, and challenged. Hannah Arendt once said “there are no dangerous thoughts; thinking itself is a dangerous activity.” Warning: danger ahead.