The Arkansas Governor’s
attending AGS are selected on the basis of their abilities and interests in a
particular intellectual discipline or field known as Special Aptitude
Development (Area I).
keeping with the School’s aim of developing competencies in the use of theory
to understand, manage, and integrate knowledge, each student also pursues
classroom work and reading in two other areas: General Conceptual Development
(Area II) and Personal and Social Development (Area III). The curricula in Area
II and Area III are identical for all students.
Table of Contents
AREA I: ARTS
Gentry-Sutterfield and Christina Riggins
Drama students in the 2013 Arkansas Governor’s School will explore several
foundational components of modern performance, examine the role of performance
within society, and critically analyze a selection of texts across contemporary
and classical canons of drama. The students should be prepared to engage
themselves intellectually, artistically, physically and collaboratively while
they refine skills like focus, leadership, team work, commitment, and
Higgins and Stefan Cwik
Chorale is a class specializing in the rehearsal and performance of modern
choral music. Though generally a performance-oriented class, general musical
studies will be presented alongside the rehearsal of modern repertoire. The
class will include a discussion of current musical trends, basic studies in
theory and score analysis, and issues regarding language and poetry. The
overall objective is development and appreciation of choral singing as an
Tom McDonald, Gerry
Gibson, Rick Dimond, and Kevin Sanders
The AGS 2013 students in Instrumental Music will be involved in rehearsing and
performing works of prominent 20th and 21st century composers. Emphasis is
placed on music from this period, styles of composing, and circumstances
surrounding the birth of these styles. Issues such as color, texture, melody,
harmony, rhythm, and meter will be addressed in reference to each style and
work. Excellence in performance is something that individuals and groups always
strive for; however, it is the process of learning music and understanding the
creative process of composing music in a specific 20th or 21st century style
that is of prime importance in our performing ensemble. This knowledge and
expertise will allow students to share with students in other Area 1
disciplines. The discussions and lectures in Perspectives feature faculty and
student presentations, discussions, theory styles, and listening sessions which
deal with significant music and musical trends. The combination of ensemble
performance and Perspectives classes at AGS is aimed at opening the students'
minds to the incredibly vast world of music, both to its composers and its
McCann and Jessica Peterson
The focus of the Visual Arts program at AGS is to develop student artwork in
terms of concept and content. Students will be encouraged to explore the
process behind their artistic product in a variety of techniques and materials
guided by instruction and critique of art and theory through the ages. The hope
is that students will acquire an understanding of how working artists achieve
consistency and continuity in a large body of work.
AREA I: ACADEMICS
to Cultural Studies - Wesley Beal
is culture? The term is vexing, often described as among the hardest words to
define in the English language. There are several possible approaches to this
subject, ranging from anthropology’s study of customs and practices to
sociology’s reliance on statistics, but for the purposes of this course we will
interrogate culture as a text for our own analysis. In other words, we will be
applying our literary tools toward the interpretation of culture.
questions we investigate on a daily basis will sweep broadly under the
ever-broad rubric of culture, observing the various and often conflicting uses
and meanings of the culture concept. We will start by exploring the very ideas
of culture and literature, then familiarize ourselves with various theoretical approaches
to the culture-text, and along the way study specific examples of those
texts—Hendrix campus architecture, commercial advertisements, Disney theme
parks, and works of propaganda, to name a few. Finally, we will turn our
attention to the ephemeral community of AGS and its prominent position in the
Arkansas front of the culture wars as material for our introduction to cultural
The Strange World of Literary Theory –
this course, we will bring literary theory to bear on a range of texts, from
fables and films to sonnets and short stories. We will consider a number of
approaches to the study of literature as we pose new questions. For example,
what can ecocriticism tell us about Shelley's "Ozymandias"? How can
postcolonial theory help us view Disney's Aladdin in fresh ways? What does
socioeconomic theory have to say about television sitcoms?
Readings will include works by John
Barth, Lyn Hejinian, Toni Morrison, Wallace Stevens, and Robert Frost, among
others. Throughout the course, we will continually ask ourselves how, when, and
why theory should be used in our encounters with the literary.
Introduction to Screenwriting – Amber
this course, students will examine elements that contribute to successful screenwriting.
Students will scrutinize several successful (and some not-so-successful)
examples of screen plays and will determine which elements contribute to or
detract from the artistic effectiveness of the piece by employing critical
analysis techniques. Students will be introduced to the basics of screenwriting
by reading scripts, examining films from a writer's perspective, and writing
one or more short screenplays.
will additionally discover how to manage plot, dialogue, structure, genre and
character--elements essential to effective storytelling throughout many genres
Fiction - Jessica Pitchford
In Flash Fiction, our focus will be on the briefest of fiction forms: the
short-short story (also known as fast fiction, flash fiction, or micro fiction,
among others). These extremely short stories, which can vary in length but are
on average no more than 750 words, are increasingly popular, if difficult to
achieve—a real creative challenge. This course both introduces participants to
the art of the short-short story and prepares them to participate in
traditional workshops and even fiction slams. In-class activities include
reading, discussions, individual and group writing exercises, as well as peer
workshops. The ultimate goal is to get students reading one of the most
progressive forms of fiction being written and published today and trying their
hand at creating their own.
and Statistics: A Study of Uncertainty – Stacy Key
Life is full of uncertainty. However, most people try their best to plan,
predict and prepare for the future. Some people rely on chance, fate, and luck
in their predictions, while others base their findings on logic and scientific
methodology. Our study will be based on this logical and scientific approach.
Probability has been defined as "the branch of science concerned with the
study of mathematical techniques for making quantitative inferences about
uncertainty." Most historians consider this branch of science as beginning
with the work of Fermat and Pascal in the early 1600s, but the use of this
science has grown exponentially over the last few decades. This course will
examine techniques and concepts widely used in probability and statistics from
both a theoretical and practical perspective. Examples from the "real
world" in the areas of insurance, politics, finance, engineering,
medicine, meteorology, and management will be used to add relevance and
practicality to our study.
Big is Infinity Anyway? – Lars Seme
infinity is not actually a number in the usual sense, in this class we will
discuss the different ways infinity can be approached mathematically, including
the arithmetic of the infinite. Along the way, we will consider the construction
of the Natural, Rational, Real, and Complex Numbers and their properties. For
example, we will define what we mean by addition and use this to prove why 1+1
= 2. The class will conclude with the treatment of infinity using both Cardinal
and Ordinal Numbers.
Shape of Space: The Geometry and Topology of the Universe - Josh Ulrey
The purpose of this course is to give students an insight into the current
theories concerning the shape of our universe. The course begins with the study
of two-dimensional surfaces, with a specific focus on the geometric and
topological properties that can be used to determine whether or not two
surfaces are equivalent. This discussion culminates in the complete topological
classification of all two-dimensional surfaces. These ideas are then expanded
to higher-dimensional surfaces, with special attention given to the universe in
which we live and recent studies about its geometry and topology.
Myths and Truths: The
Chemistry of the Food We Eat- Claire Desrochers
walking into a grocery store, enticing, colored packaging bombards a person
with words such as “low fat” or “natural” scrawled on the label. A large amount of molecular engineering was
performed to make the finished food product available for people on supermarket
shelves. In this course, a scientific
inquiry will be conducted to understand the chemical processes such as farming
methods or food additives that can take a raw material to a final product ready
to be eaten. In addition to studying the
biochemical impact of food on human health and the environment, the ethical
arguments of food production will also be examined.
Infectious Diseases and
Public Health Initiatives in Developing Nations - Jennifer Jehnsen
Most deaths from infectious
diseases occur in developing nations with limited money to spend on healthcare.
In many of these countries, more than a third of the population lives on less
than $1 a day, and one in three children are malnourished. Malnourished adults
and children are more susceptible to infections due to the lack of necessary
calories and nutrients in their diet. The spread of infectious diseases
significantly hinders economic growth and development; therefore, a decrease in
the number of infectious disease-related deaths will be an important first step
in the development of these nations.
In this course, we will
analyze the spread of infectious diseases and the pathogens that cause them. We
will also analyze the implementation of public health initiatives focusing on
disease prevention in developing nations. We will focus specifically on
malaria, waterborne illnesses, and HIV/AIDS. We will analyze projects initiated
by governments and NGO’s to evaluate their effectiveness in preventing
diseases. We will discuss short-term and long-term goals of specific projects
as well as some unintended consequences of public health interventions.
and Facts of 21st Century Science Issues - Dain Strickland
Science, technology, and medicine are
driving forces in our society. They inspire hopes but also fears. They are used
but also abused. Billions are spent for research and practice. What is the dark
side of science, technology, and medicine? How do scientists, engineers, and
physicians cope with it? What are their ethical dilemmas? How did the current
ethical standards and practices originate?
Using history, this course addresses some
of the above questions and attempts to enrich the understanding of ethics and
social responsibility in science, technology, and medicine. Furthermore, it
links up to present standards and practices and offers multi-faceted training
and experiences, which would be indispensable to the young scientist throughout
his/her career. The course is a rare combination of in-depth
historical-philosophical perspectives coupled with debate. It aims to teach
students how to deal effectively with controversial issues by comparing their
own views with opposing views.
Genetic Engineering – Jenna Warren
class will explore the history and wide application of genetic engineering. Students will learn about and discuss topics
such as methods of genetic engineering, eugenics, gene therapy, GMOs, designer
babies, whether or not we can live forever, and their ethical issues. Class discussions will also address the role
of genetic engineering in pop culture including books and movies.
to Sociology – Dr. Rapheal Lewis
course covers a specific methodology centered around critical thinking, while
at the same time engaging the patterns of thought of the early sociologist. It
has been always a matter of curiosity how people get along with others, what
they do for a living, and who and how people select leaders. Over the years
there have been countless observations about human behavior. This course
attempts to examine some of these in terms of content and consequences. Each
student will be required to complete at least two requirements.
They must select one of the early sociologists and discuss their philosophy and
methodology and the reasons for their choice. All of this should be prepared
and presented in an essay or some other form, based on the student creativity.
A research design or a plan to investigate a
sociological problem at some time in the future must be developed.
Nations - Kondwani Phwandaphwanda
will explore political systems in selected third world countries and examine
how governments within those political systems serve their people to help them
improve their lives. Discussion will focus on a number of areas including
education, employment, health, food production and security, and civic
education. Students will also discuss how international development impacts the
lives of people living in poor countries.
readings will be used for lectures and class discussion. Different activities
will be used to accommodate the learning styles of students to give each
student a chance to maximize his/her learning process. Students will also be
encouraged to conduct basic research for their own further understanding of
material discussed in class.
in the Modern World- Jim Ross
This class will examine the images Americans have of themselves, their
government, and other social institutions in modern America (1945-2013). Americans find themselves vacillating between
nostalgia for a golden past and cynicism about the present and the future. In this class, we will examine how the
choices of those in the past combined with the choices we make as individuals
and a society in the present have shaped our current worldview. By exploring the importance of worldviews,
and the importance of how worldviews are constructed, this class will help
students look at the past and use it to help them decide the best way to
respond to our rapidly changing world.
we will look at issues like the role of the government in the economy during
and after World War II, the role of ad men in the creation of a new consumer
culture that began to market “hip,” the rise of experts who “explained” reality
to families, a foreign policy based on exporting American democracy, the rise
of the “rights” movement in the 1960s, the rise of mass movements for change in
the 1960s, and finally the rise of the new right and the question of a
will use primary sources documents, music, art work, television commercials
from the 1950s and 1960s, and numerous other sources to allow each student to
come to his or her own conclusions about the questions we are asking. In the end, each student will be his or her
own historian. Each student will be
expected to use evidence to defend his or her conclusions.
will specifically ask the following questions:
1. Why is the United States like it is in
2. How do we live between nostalgia
and cynicism about the modern world?
3. How do we live with our deepest
differences and at the same time guarantee liberty and justice for all?
Power of Words in
Political Conflict and Debate - Dr. Peggy Scranton
This class explores how the meaning of words affects not just who wins and
loses in political conflicts and debates but also the meaning of winning and
losing. Our purpose is to examine how
words influence “who gets what, when, and how,” which is Harold Lasswell’s
enduring definition of politics. Words
can enhance or diminish a speaker’s message; they may enlighten some and
confuse others; political labeling can help or hurt a person or group or a
cause. Language used in political speech
conveys multiple meanings and creates differential outcomes as some listeners
hear threats while others hear promises.
Following the insights of Murray Edelman, who pioneered the study of
“politics as spectacle” and “the political uses of language,” we will examine
how selected words call some to action and reassure others that they need not
will consider the resource value and impact of words on specific conflicts and
political debates: 1) a violent military
conflict between ancient empires, the Peloponnesian War, and 2) two nonviolent
movements against brutal dictators, the Serbian student OTPOR struggle against
Milosevic in 2000-2001 and the Liberian Women’s Peace Movement (for which two
activists received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2012), and 3) the 2012 US
students will read/observe include the Melian debate and Pericles’ Funeral
Oration from Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War; and former Czech
President Václav Havel’s 1989 acceptance speech, “A Word About Words,” written
for the Peace Prize of the German Booksellers Association, and two documentary
videos on recent, successful nonviolent movements against brutal dictators: on
OTPOR in Serbia from the series “A Force More Powerful” and a documentary film
on Liberia, “Pray the Devil Back to Hell.”
For the presidential election, we will analyze platforms, nomination
acceptance speeches, political ads, debate videos and transcripts. Our approach to these conflicts stresses the
rhetoric of the powerful vs. the (apparently) powerless, the use of symbolic
speech along with “words,” the power dynamics of bargaining using force and
words, and prospects for peace after violent and nonviolent conflicts. Our approach to presidential election rhetoric
stresses alternative views of the proper role of government, ways candidates
frame issue positions, and audiences to which they target appeals.
terms of writing and participation, students will create individual and/or
group mini-projects concerning the meaning of the Melian debate, create a piece
of propaganda for or against OTPOR, and write a comparative analysis of the
nonviolent movements in Serbia and Liberia.
For the presidential debates, students will analyze candidates’
positions in terms of political ideology and varieties of rhetorical
will complete a variety of in-class writing and discussion exercises designed
to include all members of the class. In
addition to “silent discussions,” in which each student writes what they would
say out loud, we will use semi-formal debate formats as well as additional
non-competitive ways to participate in class.
the last few days of class, students will share their reflections on the
class’s central concept – the power of words – by creating and presenting final
projects as individuals or in groups.
These will convey lessons learned about words, power, debate, and
conflict, and will use a format of the student’s choice, such as narratives about
the causes and dynamics of conflict and conflict resolution; images of conflict
and debate, such as comic strips/graphic novels, political cartoons, or
pamphlets/propaganda; creative writing about the nature of political debate,
and of violent and/or nonviolent conflict; enactment of a political debate;
and/or re-enactments of salient events from one or more of the conflict cases.
Area II: General Conceptual Development
II focuses on thinking—on the ways we think, on the assumptions that underlie
our own thinking and the thinking that takes place within the various
disciplines, on cutting edge developments that have influenced our thinking
about truth and knowledge, and on means of thinking more effectively. Since
Area II brings together students from all eight Area I disciplines, instructors
can help students explore connections and differences between the disciplines
and help them understand various approaches to truth and reality. Area II
classes also draw on speakers, films, and readings as subjects for discussion;
students interact directly and frequently with leading figures in a variety of
fields and learn to watch films, not simply as forms of entertainment, but as
works of art open to critical examination.
II begins by introducing students to thinking about thinking, teaching them to
be more conscious of their assumptions, the soundness of their logic, and
different points of view based on different assumptions. Students express their
opinions but also learn about the importance of evidence, logical thinking, and
clarity of definition and expression. As the course progresses, they confront
new ideas and new ways of thinking, and they address complex moral and ethical
questions, not in order to learn what they should think, but in order to learn
how to base decisions and actions on an informed consideration of appropriate
issues and evidence. By the end of the course we hope they will have a clearer
understanding of their assumptions and of the thinking process in general. We
also hope that they will understand other points of view and have an awareness
of complex issues, as well as an appreciation for well-informed and solidly
supported ideas. Finally, we hope that they will be excited about thinking.
Area III: Personal and Social
III is designed to foster the personal and social development necessary for the
students to benefit fully from their Area I and Area II classes and the
comprehensive cultural and social events of the AGS program. The concept of
Area III emerged from the need of students to process and discuss information
and experiences. This makes learning more active and meaningful and enables
students to develop accountability for their own educational, social, and
cultural environment. By integrating all the academic classes and events, the
curriculum of Area III strives to provide an opportunity for the students to
see the importance of taking personal responsibility for one’s own ideas and
for one’s participation in a democratic society. The students learn that ideas
do have consequences and that "good thinking" means looking at the
implications of ideas as well as the assumptions behind them. Area III provides
a forum for actively exploring civic responsibility; it seeks to inspire a
student’s understanding of his or her own personal potential and then to
impress upon the student the value of character, leadership, integrity, insight,
and compassion, not only within their own communities, but in society at large.
It is within this framework that students explore curricular issues such as
social theory and responsibility, theories of intelligence, conflict and stress
management, psychological and personality theory, goal setting, and service.
Area III emphasizes a basic understanding and application of psychology and
sociology as it relates to the development of student potential.
III classes provide an opportunity for students to respond to featured films,
speakers, cutting-edge topics from each of the disciplines, special events, and
even current events, with the goal of strengthening social development.
Students are encouraged to participate in classroom interactions, small group
discussions, simulations, role playing, and other learning strategies.
Participation in these activities stimulate an understanding of community
involvement and decision-making. In addition, readings, surveys, personality
inventories, and optional journal writing encourage personal growth.