118 Winter Study 99s approved for Jan. 2011

The Winter Study Committee (WSC) has recently approved 118 Winter Study 99 projects for the 2011 January term. This year saw a decrease in approved projects, as the committee approved 20 fewer projects than last year, when it approved 138 projects in total.

The number of on-campus projects approved stayed fairly constant. Forty-eight on-campus projects were approved last year, and 47 were approved this year. This year’s off-campus 99s number 71, whereas 90 projects were approved last year.

Additionally, the committee saw the number of rejected project proposals double from nine last year to 18 this year.

According to Ollie Beaver, chair of the WSC, the committee either rejects or accepts project proposals upon evaluation. Sometimes it does grant a provisional approval, suggesting students clear up problematic areas of the proposed project.

“The most important thing in a proposal is the intellectual content,” Beaver said. She noted that another important aspect of 99s is a bibliography that cites research done for the project.
Beaver said that the committee hosts workshops in the spring and fall to educate students on formulating a research bibliography for their 99s.

“For instance, if a student wants to go to Nicaragua, they might include a small history of Nicaragua or that kind of thing,” Beaver said.

She said that, like always, travel courses are popular with students this year. But she also noted that students who want to travel domestically can do so, too.

“Our motto is that travel to your hometown doesn’t necessarily meet with suspicion on our part,” Beaver said. “It’s perfectly okay to do a 99 at home. The important thing for a student to do is provide the intellectual content.”

Cat Lamb ’13 will spend this Winter Study term researching and exploring Dubstep and Indie music in London by conducting interviews with music aficionados and record label owners and by attending her share of local performances.

“I don’t know what I’ll find,” Lamb said. What she is curious to discover is “why London is so musically forward” and how Dubstep – which she described as a marriage of reggae and techno music – has evolved over the last several decades.
Peter Skipper ’13 designed a 99 program for this Winter Study called “Beyond Sci-Fi: Exploring Essential Existence in Battlestar Galactica.”

Skipper said his inspiration for the course came to him suddenly in philosophy class one day.

“We were talking about Descartes’ famous statement [‘I think, therefore I am’], and I was completely zoned out thinking about Battlestar Galactica, as I am apt to do,” Skipper said. “All of a sudden, it hit me like a ton of bricks: Cylons are self-conscious, rational beings, so according to Descartes, they have souls!”
Skipper said that after class that day, he “half-ran to the Registrar’s office” to propose the project, which he will explore this January as an independent study.

Skipper said he will study the television series through perspective gained from three different courses he is taking this fall: Macroeconomics, Introduction to Leadership and a philosophy course titled “Arguing About God.”

“I’m hoping to gain a lot,” he said. “As much as I love BSG as a show, I really do think it holds promise as a 99.”