Academic Department Announces 19 New Courses for 2020-2021 Academic Year

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Mercersburg Academy’s academic department has approved 19 new courses for the 2020-2021 academic year, ranging from topics in practical art and design to online radio to “foundations in technology” and “understanding religion.” 

Members of the academic team—which includes the academic dean and department heads—received proposals from individual faculty members in January. The proposals were then discussed and vetted through the end of February. 

The new courses enhance the scope of content and expand the transition to experiential learning in nearly all of the academic departments. In addition, many teachers are reworking courses that are not new to the catalog and taking advantage of the increased adaptability of courses as the school moves beyond Advanced Placement.

“Teachers submitted more new course proposals than we usually see in a single year,” says John David Bennett P ’12, ’19, ’23, Mercersburg’s dean of curricular innovation and director of Springboard. “I’m not sure if we set a new record, but it has to be close. My guess is that the new flexibility in our curriculum stoked a lot of imagination.” 

The newly approved courses and the corresponding faculty members include: 

  • Practical Design and Production (Kelly Dowling, arts faculty)
  • Working Title: An Introduction to Visual Storytelling (Dowling) 
  • Art Cinema (Christian Bancroft, English faculty) 
  • Contemporary Poetic Theory: Shifting Landscapes (Ryan Tyree, English faculty) 
  • Fantasy Literature (Matt Maurer, English and arts faculty) 
  • Introduction to Professional Criticism (Tyree) 
  • Modern and Contemporary Queer American Poetry (Bancroft) 
  • Poetry Forms Workshop (Bancroft) 
  • The Little Magazines: Editing and Publishing (Bancroft) 
  • History of Race and Ethnicity in the U.S.: Foundations of Ethnic History in the Americas (Selas Douglas, history faculty/Chris Howes, assistant head of school for student life and culture) 
  • History of Race and Ethnicity in the U.S.: The Immigrant Experience (Douglas/Howes) 
  • History of Race and Ethnicity in the U.S.: The Civil Rights Era and Beyond (Douglas/Howes)
  • Springboard: Food for Thought (Maggie Howes and/or Michele Poacelli, English faculty)
  • Springboard: Mercersburg Online Radio Station (Todd McGuire, English faculty) 
  • Springboard: Scriptorium (Tom Thorne, language faculty)
  • Advanced Studies: Francophone History, Literature, and Culture (Heather Prescott, language faculty)
  • Advanced Studies: Survey of Hispanic Literature (Wendy Valenteen, language faculty) 
  • Foundations in Technology (Andy Brown, mathematics faculty) 
  • Understanding Religion: The Amish (Will Whitmore, history and religion faculty and school minister)

Read more about these courses, and view the complete course catalog