This question doesn’t have the straightforward answer you might expect. Our social science classes aren’t technically-oriented, except insofar as we’re learning methodologies of how to carry out research and how to read and write and think well about the various areas of the social sciences (psych, anthro, social psych, history, enviro studies, int relations, poli sci, poli econ, & philosophy).
The social sciences are oriented towards humans and their experiences, so if that’s what you’re interested in then you’ll get set up well here. You won’t get a degree in social work, but you’ll learn about humans and how to relate to their experiences from a rich variety of perspectives. And in my opinion, that sets you up for a career in social work better than any technical degree could.
- David ‘13
There is a list of past course offerings on our website here that I remember geeking out over when I applied. Our course offerings change, but it can give you a sense of what kind of things to expect.
We have a lot of courses directly pertaining to politics/international relations, like, say, Africa in Global Politics — its a whole section on the link I provided above. But you could also get funky with some psych ((In)justice and Conflict Resolution), anthro (The Anthropology of International Intervention), history (America in the World: Past, Present and Future), philosophy (Global Ethics/Global Justice — I took that!), and political econ (Political Economy of Trade) . Through CAPA, we also have public action classes (Cities and Extending Human Rights to Women/Girls), mediation classes and media studies classes that could also be very relevant. Why stop there? Maybe there is a literature course about cultural interaction (there is — The Writer Abroad) that could give an unconventional perspective.
This past Monday was the due date for students to hand their Plan drafts in to their advisors. Which I completely forgot about until all my friends who are juniors and sophomores started freaking out about LIFE and EDUCATION and WHAT THEY WANT TO DO and WHAT IT ALL MEANS. Being a senior now, it’s too easy to stand back and be like, “That’s so cute that you don’t know and are still learning everything I just learned.” But really I’m just kind of like “Whoa” (it’s a Friday, I’m sorry, this is the extent of my emotional capabilities) because last term was my last Plan meeting EVER and I never have to hand in a Plan essay EVER AGAIN and it’s crazy to think that my Plan is no longer evolving. It’s evolved. This is it. This 35-page paper that I’m writing is IT.
Which makes it fun for me in a kind of masochistic way to look back on my first Plan essay and my last Plan essay and COMPARE. The funny thing about this whole process is that even though it feels like my Plan has changed a lot, flip flopping between art history and anthropology and eventually just being both, I’ve actually been asking the same questions for the past three years.
From my first Plan essay:
And from my last Plan essay:
IN A NUTSHELL. Ultimately, for a lot of us here, when everything feels like it’s changing in our Plan, really it’s our perspective that’s shifting, not the thing we’re studying.
- Meg ‘12
This week is our last at school. Finals have been going on for what feels like the last month, but most everyone is just about done and the energy around here is much calmer than it has been since before Thanksgiving. This term, I managed to make every single one of my final essays and projects applicable to my senior work in some regard. One of the reasons I came to Bennington is for the open curriculum, which makes it easier to take classes that serve a specialized vision, if that’s your thing. However, the classes themselves can also be super open and accommodating to each student’s particular interests. Here’s how I managed to make every one of my classes this term related to my focus in the illicit antiquities trade and cultural heritage issues:
This is Victoria. Apart from being the house chair of Booth and a total badass in her leather jacket, Victoria is one of my best friends. We both discovered our mutual love for ancient Irish history last year, and our bond was cemented by our similar origins from Irish Catholic families and a shared dream of someday returning to the Motherland. However, we also have a somewhat different relationship that is based on our work. Victoria and I both concentrate in anthropology and, consequently, we have taken a lot of the same classes. When we’re in class, collaborating together on a project, or discussing our work over dinner, we’re not just friends; we’re colleagues.
Today was the deadline for all Plan essays to be submitted to the Dean’s office, so for the last couple weeks all the sophomores have been freaking out over what they’re going to say, what a Plan essay should look like, and whether or not their Plan committee is going to approve it. Because I’m a senior who has been forced to write a more than usual number of Plan essays, one of my sophomore friends asked if she could read my first one in order to get an idea of what is expected.
Very reluctantly, I went digging through my old folders from fall 2009 to email her my first Plan essay. At first, I only opened it to make sure it was the right copy. In addition to being terrified of reading my old work, my Plan process has been so long and complicated that I wasn’t sure if I wanted to relive that first awkward Plan meeting. But in verifying that this was the copy I needed to email, I was intrigued by remembering that when I graduated high school, all I wanted to do was study Medieval Studies at Smith College, get my MA in Celtic Studies at University College Dublin, and spend the rest of my life mucking around in Irish bogs and libraries. So, out of pure curiosity, I read it.
Sad as I am to say it ( and you’ll never get me to admit this in person), the summer has disappeared and we’re back in classes, gearing up to blog about events and homework.
Meg Lambert took this one step further and has been writing Things You Can’t Take Back since January. It’s a blog/resource for college students on cultural heritage issues, particularly the illicit antiquities trade.
The blog is part of her senior work in anthropology wherein she’s focusing on the rift between museums and archaeologists when it comes to buying/displaying ancient artifacts, particularly looted artifacts.
“I began the blog as a way to incite activism among students aimed at curbing the illicit antiquities trade, but I’ve had trouble getting actual students to read it because the majority of bloggers on this topic are already established scholars.”
Some of her notable followers include Lawrence Rothfield (author of The Rape of Mesopotamia) and David Gill, this year’s recipient of the Archaeological Institute of American’s Outstanding Public Service Award. The Smithsonian and the Peabody Museum follow her on Twitter.
We’re only two weeks into the term but Meg has a good lead on the work she’s hoping to complete this year.