Three new members have been added to the Signature Course Advisory Committee (SCAC) beginning in summer 2020. They will be joining current members, Lori Holleran Steiker, Mike Starbird, Pat Davis, Rob Crosnoe, Juan Dominguez, Rich Reddick, and Chiu-Mi Lai. Please join us in welcoming them to the SCAC.
Suzanne (Suzy) Seriff is a senior lecturer in the College of Liberal Arts. She works in anthropology & the Center for Jewish Studies. Suzy has been teaching her Signature Course, UGS 303: Difficult Dialogues: Immigrants as Aliens, since fall 2009. Her main interests include greater Mexican folklife, immigrant arts, public culture; US, Mexico. As a senior lecturer in anthropology and faculty associate of the Schusterman Center for Jewish Studies at UT, Seriff brings her vast experience and commitment to hands-on learning, community engagement, and career mentoring to design innovative undergraduate classes in anthropology, folklore, museum studies, immigration, and Jewish studies. Classroom curricula are designed to engage students in critical analytical thinking, hands-on learning, creative problem solving, reflective practice, and community collaborations through such experiential learning components as “pop up” exhibits, radio-ready digital stories, oral history interviews, archival research, or public arts festivals.
“Over the decade or more of teaching my course on representations of immigrants and immigration in the American public sphere, three aspects have stood out as peak experiences for me and my students each year: 1) the chance to dialogue with diverse students and guests around an issue of immediate relevance and representation on the nightly news; 2) the opportunity to enhance the classroom experience with art-based field trips and analysis related to the topic; and 3) the personal stories of community members—in my case immigrant mothers, workers, DREAMers, advocates, employers, and lawyers—who visit our classroom throughout the semester, as a way to increase cross-cultural and cross-generational understanding, empathy and engagement. The Signature Course program at UT specifically supports and encourages this kind of experiential learning and the introduction of critical thinking skills through arts, dialogue, and community collaborations. This is what I love about this program, and what feels like the very best introduction to what a university education can be!”
Bartholomew (Bat) Sparrow is a professor in the College of Liberal Arts. He has been teaching a Signature Course, UGS 303: Rethinking the Founding: The Legacy of Colonial America, since fall 2015. Professor Sparrow studies American political development and, in particular, the conjunction between the American state and the international system. He teaches courses on American territorial expansion, American political institutions and processes, American politics and government, political communication, and the politics of food in America. He has been recognized as one of the Texas Ten, 2018, an annual list of inspiring professors, nominated by alumni and selected by the Alcalde magazine.
“Getting first-year students excited about relearning the politics of colonial America leading up to the founding of the United States is a joy. Then, when they get to see some of the maps, pamphlets, and documents in the Harry Ransom Center, have to lead off class discussion on that day’s texts, and do their own research project, it comes to life to them—almost 250 years later.”
John Bartholomew is a professor and department chair in the Kinesiology & Health Education department of the College of Education. He has been teaching a Signature Course, UGS 302: Physical Activity & Public Health, since fall 2009. John began as an assistant professor at UT Austin in 1996 and he has spent the last 23 years studying physical activity and public health, with a specific interest in the effect of exercise on mental health to improve mood and reduce stress. He is editor-in-chief of the Translation Journal of the American College of Sports Medicine and a fellow in both the American College of Sports Medicine and the National Academy of Kinesiology. He is the director of the University of Texas at Austin’s Exercise and Sport Psychology Lab.
“I greatly appreciate the unique opportunities that come with a class that is limited to first-year students. Most of their other courses are repeats of high school content at a much deeper level—biology, calculus, language. As a result, their Signature Course is one of the few “big idea” courses where almost none of the students have experience in the content. There is a special joy in challenging students with new ideas and telling the story for the first time. This is a special aspect of the signature course that is often overlooked and it is one of my most satisfying experiences as a teacher.”