Free University

Free University allows Williams students to coordinate and lead courses based on the personal interests and/or hobbies. Courses available for Winter Study 2012 are listed below. If you're interested in developing and teaching a course, contact Harry Gilbert at hhg1. If you're interested in taking a course, contact the instructor for additional information.

Making Mashups: Have you ever listened to a mashup and wished you could make your own? Now you can! Using the free program Audacity, we will explore how to overlay songs, create transitions, time/pitch bend, level tracks, and more. Absolutely no previous musical experience is required (seriously), and by the end of the month, you will have created your very own mashup. A laptop is not necessary, but is very much recommended if you would like to follow along during the meeting. The class meets at 10 am to noon on Tuesdays in Paresky 220. Contact Charlie Sellars at chs1 if you are interested in taking the course.

Sabermetrics: Do you like baseball? Do you like numbers? This course will teach you why everything you thought you knew about baseball is wrong. We’ll cover the value of defense, why the Tampa Bay Rays are brilliant, whether hitting streaks have predictive value, pitch-tracking analysis, roster construction, and lots of other stuff. Obviously, there will be no homework. The class meets at 5 pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays (although the first lecture will not be until the 17th) in the Presser Choral Hall. Contact Taylor Halperin at tlh3 if you are interested in taking the course.

Pimposophy and Pimpology: The History, Science, and Philosophy of Pimps: Whether you have or have not read “The Game” by Neil Strauss, chances are that you have heard about the “pick-up,” “pick-up artists,” “swag,” or other euphemisms to describe getting women. A subculture called the “Seduction Community,” until the “The Game” was published, turning the “Seduction Community” into mainstream culture, existed in anonymity, disguise, and in the shadows of mainstream culture; however, in this course, we will examine the history, science, and philosophy of pimp culture (which existed before the “Seduction Community”) and analyze why pimps and pimp culture are vilified and demonized by mainstream culture. We will examine sociological, philosophical, psychological, and historical perspectives with real world application, reading articles, books, and screening documentaries, movies, video clips, and audio clips. Depending on personal interest on participants, the modern day pimp bible, breaking down the rules, procedures, and regulations of the dating and pimp game, with supplemental reading and resources to increase comprehension, will be distributed in class or after its completion. For those more interested in real world application, sessions will have some discussion on application to mainstream dating practices, and links, books, or articles will be made available to those unable to attend or uninterested in the class but interested in the material. Course materials include: The Prince and Discourses by Machiavelli, Black Players: The Secret World of Black Pimps by Richard and Christina Milner, Eyes Wide: The Metaphysics of Sexual Love, Fight Club, The Matrix, She’s Gotta Have It, The Counte of Monte Cristo, and many, many more. The class meets from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm on Monday, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Contact Remy Damper at rkd2 if you are interested in taking the course.

A Smashing Time: Advanced Super Smash Bros. Theory, Strategy, and Technique: One of the many staples of college life, Super Smash Bros. 64 is a game of surprising depth and subtlety. After a brief introduction to the basics of the game, the class will quickly move on to the study and implementation of more advanced techniques including, but not limited to, Z-cancelling, directional influence, dash dancing, pivoting, and shield-dropping. Hitboxes and move priority will be studied to facilitate more effective use of combos and edge-guarding, and character-specific techniques will be covered based on individual interest. Our focus will be on Super Smash Bros. 64, although some time will be spent on Melee if time allows. Class time will consist primarily of playtime with similarly-experienced players and brief demonstrations of new techniques and strategies. The course will culminate in a final tournament, which will be freaking awesome. The class meets from 1 to 3 pm on Saturdays in TBD. Contact Alex Wheelock at arw1 or Greg Eusden at gde1 if you are interested in taking the course.

Cookin' by the Book: Science and the Kitchen: Let out your inner nerd while making (and eating) delicious food! In this class, you’ll learn some classic culinary techniques and a bit about the chemistry of food and physiology of flavor along the way (basically like a tastier and more fun version of chem lab). See how colligative properties affect pasta, how the Maillard reaction makes coffee, chocolate, bread, and steak delicious, and how understanding colloids and emulsions make for better sauces and baked goods. Instead of making you a huge nerd, your knowledge of concepts like pH, heart transfer and thermodynamics, enzymes, reaction rates, amino acids, and carbohydrates will translate into a skill that can help get you laid! No experience in either cooking or science required, curriculum will be dependent on what people are interested in. Possible class topics include: The Art and Science of the Cookie (with chocolate chip cookies), Fry Hard: Deep-Fried Deliciousness (fried chicken and sopapillas), Alcohol and Cooking (Beef Bourguignon and crepes Suzette), Deciphering Ingredient Labels, and Introduction to Molecular Gastronomy. The class meets at 8 pm on Thursdays in Prospect Basement. Contact Andrew Kung if interested in taking the course.

Tae Kwon Do: Have you ever been interested in martial arts? Maybe you took karate for a few months when you were 8? Winter Study is a great time to try it out—I will teach an introduction to the Korean martial art of Tae Kwon Do, an art known for its exciting kicks. Each class will definitely include: significant time stretching to work on flexibility, practice kicks, and other techniques including their application in self defense, and regular athletic exercises. Tae Kwon Do is a great and fun way to stay active (we offer PE credit as well), and you can continue taking Tae Kwon Do since I teach classes year round. The class meets from 5 to 6:30 pm on Mondays and Wednesdays in Currier Ballroom. Contact Nathan Schine at ns3 if interested in taking the course.

Visioning: Have you found your passion, but aren’t sure how working to advance it will affect other issues that you care about? Are you tired of thinking you’ve found a solution, only to realize that it creates more problems? Feeling cynical because you can’t engage with the issues you learn about? Join us in a collaborative process of asking why we might search for the connections between seemingly disparate problems, examining how others have crafted holistic visions of the world they want to create, and working to create our own visions for whatever world we want to change (be it Williams or another community, a nation, or the “real world”). This class is more of a workshop in which participation for the full course in encouraged, so the schedule will be set based on participants' availability and interests. Anyone interested should come to a first meeting at 7pm on Monday January 9 in Dodd living room or contact Sara Finkle at sgf1 or Andrea Lindsay at aml1.

Introduction to Mathematica: Many Division III majors will at some point during their tenure at Williams encounter the computational program Mathematica. Used extensively in physics, math, and even sometimes chemistry courses, Mathematica is capable of everything from basic calcuations to solving differential equations to three-dimentional plotting. However, the learning curve for Mathematica can be steep, and a stray semicolon or comma will ruin otherwise pristine code. We will explore the program, focusing on how to execute frequently used functions and how to troubleshoot when something goes wrong. No experience of any sort is assumed. The class meets from 8 to 9 pm on Wednesdays in Bronfman 104. Contact Erik Levinsohn at eal1 if interested in taking the course.

Keep Your PC Running Fast: The three most common issues filed at the Office of Information Technology (OIT) help desk are: computer running slow, virus infection (PC only), and no Wi-Fi connection (Mac only). In my class, you will learn how to solve these problems on your own with free tools hidden in the operating system. After taking this class, you can: decrease log-in time and memory usage, remove virus without antivirus software (OIT confirmation is still needed for virus removal), reestablish Wi-Fi connection for Mac and return your PC to pristine state if all else fail. The class meets from 1 to 2 pm on Saturdays in Jesup 205. Contact Son Le at snl1 if interested in taking the course.

The Magical Land of Equestria: Harmony and Its Discontents: The magical land of Equestria is home to the technicolor ponies of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. There, all three races of pony (unicorn, Pegasus, and earth) live together in peace. But are thins so simple as they seem? In this course, we will examine the history, government, and religion/philosophy of Equestria and grapple with questions of free will, democracy, and the true meaning of “harmony.” We will also watch the adorable ponies and eat popcorn. Yay ponies! (This course is open to non-“bronies” and those unfamiliar with the show.) The class meets from 7 to 9 pm on Mondays in Paresky 210, beginning Monday, January 9th. Contact Kaybi at kbd1 if interested in taking the course.

Folk Band 101: Contra Dance Survival for Musicians: Have you always wanted to jam with a folk dance band, but weren't sure how to join in? Perhaps you're classically trained and looking for some musical variety? Contra dance is an American tradition of social dance fueled by the energetic, driving beat of a band. Whether or not you've been to- or even heard of- a contra dance, you can learn how to add your sound to a folk band and keep the dancers moving! We'll cover the form of dance tunes, melodic playing, chord structures and harmony, rhythmic figures, and making the most of your instrument's specific qualities. Although we'll focus on the basics, experienced folk players are more than welcome to jam with us! Bring your instrument and a favorite tune if you have one. Before we begin, stop by the contra dance on January 6th to see and hear an experienced band in action! The class meets from 2:30 to 4 pm on Saturdays in Currier Ballroom. Contact Annie Moriondo at amm5 if interested in taking the course.

Complex beyond a Reasonable Doubt?: “It’s possible to live without having heard it—but after you do, you’ll wonder how you ever managed without it.” – Steve Juon. Proclaimed a “crowning achievement”, “a seminal work”, and an “undisputed classic”, Reasonable Doubt is amongst what are considered classics of the Hip Hop Renaissance. Taking a look at what makes Reasonable Doubt stand out, this class will analyze not only the individual tracks of RD but also how those tracks interact and converse with one another, taking into consideration how they stand as raps, the social context and time they come out of, and what they can tell us about the human experience. This class will also operate as an introduction to rap, of sorts. The first class will cover what is looked for by most in a rap song, which will be included in the focus of every proceeded track analyzed during the course of the class. Hence, there is no pre-requisite for this course: join if you love 90s rap, join if you love the album Reasonable Doubt, or join if you simply want to understand rap if you don’t already. This class meets from 7 to 8:30 pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays in Hopkins Observatory Classroom. Contact Jonathan Schmeling at jrs5 if interested in taking the course.

Learn to Yoyo like a Pro!: This class will teach yoyo tricks ranging from classics like rock the baby and around the world to stunning, advanced string tricks. All participants will receive a string trick yoyo, a laminated card with a list of tricks ranging from simple to complex, and enough yoyo strings to get through January. No prior experience is necessary and fun is guaranteed! This class meets from 4 pm on Tuesday and Thursday in Goodrich Hall. Contact Benjamin Demeo at bd2 if interested in taking the course.

Habitat for Humanity: Want to start the new year helping a North Adams family become the owners of a new home? Have you Friday and Saturday mornings free? Are you good with your hands and tools? Join others interested in Habitat for Humanity every Friday and Saturday morning building a home for a lucky family in North Adams. See the progress of your hard work in a few short weeks. Spend your Winter Study making another's dream come true! We will meet at 8:30 AM on Friday and Saturday mornings in front of Chapin and we will return by 12:15. Contact Desirée Daring at dad2 if interested in taking the course.

Photoshop for Everyone: This course is designed to share all the magic of Adobe Photoshop. Beginners can learn how it works. Intermediate users can learn a little more about the features and new techniques. Photoshop experts can come share their wisdom with the rest of us. We'll go over photo manipulation, fonts, and overall layout and composition (and whatever else you want to learn). I'll focus on graphic design theory related to posters specifically, because that's where I have the most experience. This class meets Tuesdays and Thursdays 2-4 in Physics 207. Contact kdm3 for more information or to attend.

Previous courses have included:

  • Argentine Tango
  • Gender and New German Cinema
  • How to Make the Most of Your Mac
  • Pranks
  • Williams: Combat Evolved 3
  • Yoga Dance
  • Knitting
  • Hunger Issues in the Berkshires
  • Vegan Baking
  • Tea: History, Culture, and Tasting
  • Ubuntu Linux
  • Get Engaged! - Community Corps
  • Campus Activism Skills
  • Swing Dancing
  • Gregorian Chant
  • How to Make Money on eBay
  • The Art of Eskimo Warfare
  • The Fine Art of Seduction by Cooking: Kitchen Skills for the Dating Game
  • The Philosophy and Sociology of Streaking
  • An Introduction to HTML
  • The Films of Stanley Kubrick
  • Is Latin Dead?
  • Toot Your Own Horn