MINIMESTER Course Catalog

Georgetown Day School's mission calls us to challenge the intellectual, creative and physical abilities of our students, and to encourage inquiry and self-reliance in those students as they grow into "lifelong learners." In February of 2022, GDS students and faculty will participate in a three-day program designed to bring that mission to life through an immersive and experiential learning experience wholly separate from the normal day-to-day academic program of the school.

We're calling this experience Minimester.

On February 23rd-25th, 2022, GDS teachers will lead dozens of deep, creative experiences with themes sprouted from the passions and interests of faculty and staff -- passions that often do not fall within the purview of their academic disciplines. Students will select from the following Minimester course offerings, and will spend the allotted three days in the field in cross-grade-level groups, immersing themselves in their chosen focus topic.

Afrobeats: Exploring Traditional & Contemporary African Dance

Anike Oliver & Katie Gibson

Do you love to dance? So do we! This course is an immersion into the world of African dance, both traditional and contemporary. We will explore dance styles from a variety of countries including but not limited to: Ghana, Nigeria, Congo, South Africa, Ivory Coast, and Senegal. We will also explore how music from a variety of regions in Africa influence the latest dance trends and challenges on TikTok.

All News is Local News

Julia Fisher & Julianne McCobin

Is local news dead? Local papers are dying all around the country, and even big newspapers like the Washington Post and New York Times are shifting their focus to a national audience. At the same time, trust in traditional news outlets is eroding as charges of fake news fly. But as we saw on January 6, for example, even national stories have local roots and unfold in the neighborhoods real people live in. We’ll focus on Washington and explore the city’s news landscape: visiting local newspapers to see how reporters and editors do their work; seeing how news is published, in print and online; exploring the city’s history through the birth and death of its publications and the relationship between local and national events. News-related movies are a distinct possibility, as is a trip to a printing press.

Art Outside the Lines: A Baltimore/DC Crash Course in Intersectional Feminist Art

Katherine Dunbar & Anna Howe

Artist Kara Walker installs a massive sugar-coated sphinx in an abandoned Domino Sugar factory. Carrie Mae Weems photographs herself at her kitchen table every day for a year. Nancy Holt positions four huge cement tubes in the Utah desert to align with the sun. Catherine Opie photographs two women needlepointing a tribute to their menstrual blood. Is your curiosity piqued? Want to learn more about contemporary intersectional feminist art? Join us for three days of feminist art exploration, where we’ll ask ourselves how intersectional feminist artists radically force us to reexamine the mainstream visual landscape – calling into question the role of artist, audience, and art itself. We’ll spend the first day-and-a-half in Baltimore, where highlights will include exploring the new installations and exhibits at the Baltimore Museum of Art and hearing from BMA curators about the museum’s renewed focus on women artists. At the end of that first day, we’ll head to our hotel for a deep-dive discussion of some of the most important and disruptive contemporary feminist artists representing a wide range of diverse identities. The next morning, we’ll return to DC to spend our remaining day-and-a-half visiting a handful of Washington museums, focusing on contemporary feminist pieces as they are positioned within the museums’ broader collections. We’ll also visit artist/curator workspaces to better understand our local feminist art scene. No art history or feminist studies experience necessary!

**This course will include an overnight component.

A View from the Other Side

Sue Ikenberry & Lisa Rauschart

Have you ever wondered why this country is so divided? Why are so many people refusing Covid vaccines? How did political sensibilities become merged with religious identity? It can be hard these days to find the common humanity in those who hold fast to ideas that seem difficult to fathom. So here’s your chance to plumb the depths of our current despair, with a host of speakers from print and broadcast media as well as interest groups. We’ll meet experts on anti-vaxxers and evangelicals as well as analysts who will try to give us a sense of what the future might hold. But we won’t just stay in the classroom. A venture into the world beyond the Beltway will allow us to explore these tensions further and interact with those whose lives and world views may be very different from our own. “View” has been in place in Minimester since 2018 to provide students with a range of content and context as they seek to understand the origins and ramifications of the 2016 election more clearly.

A Glazed Twist: Donut Runs, Street Art, & Social Justice

Gabrielle Holder

Put on your favorite kicks and join me as we hunt for the best donut in the area, explore street art, and eat our way through DC and beyond. We will explore what makes a great donut, feast on fabulous donuts, speak to some important folks in the donut industry, and to counter the infusion of sugar, we will walk, jog, or run through some urban neighborhoods looking for dope artscapes - murals on walls, guerrilla art on the sidewalk, and perfect backgrounds for our donut photos! We will explore how the concept of Bakers Against Racism came to fruition, learn why the Cambodian immigrant experience is essential to the pink donut boxes we all know and love, talk to some donut creators, and hopefully make some donuts ourselves. Be prepared to walk away with a greater appreciation of how art and justice are sometimes pumped into the center of the donut world!


Matthew Bachiochi, Christal Boyd & Emily Landau

Are you BAR-B-CURIOUS? Come and explore the wonderful world of cooking with fire and smoke. In this minimester, we will sample the local barbecue scene; speak with the proprietor of a local barbecue joint; meet with a butcher to get the scoop about cuts; and best of all: we will prepare a delectable feast with a variety of main dishes and all the sides. We will also learn about the regional variations of barbecue and some of the musical traditions associated with different barbecue hot spots.

You don’t want to MARINATE too long on this decision! Rather, STEAK your claim to a spot at the grill. We can’t wait to MEAT you!

Behind the Scenes: Art Museum Tours

Michelle Cobb, Nick Ryan & Francesca Scott

Behind the scenes tour of the Glenstone Museum, the Hirshhorn, National Portrait Gallery, the National Gallery of Art, and the National Museum of African Art. Meet the curators and Museum Directors to learn more about what goes on behind galleries, as well as what a career in Museum management might look like.

*Boston Plus: Harvard Model Congress

Richard Avidon, Andy Lipps & C.A. Pilling

The Harvard Model Congress is an engaging political simulation, participated in by about 70 high schools, put on at a hotel in Boston by Harvard undergraduates. GDS has participated in the conference for many decades. The congress includes programs simulating the federal legislature, the courts, the executive branch, and international organizations. (You actually play the role of a person serving in this Congress or administration.) This year’s Congress is, as of now, planned as an in-person activity in Boston from Thursday, February 24th through Sunday, February 27th. As there is a calendar overlap with the Minimester program, GDS has given us permission to invite students to participate in lieu of a separate Minimester. Your co-leads are planning for a Wednesday activity (a micromester) that will address some of the governmental issues related to this year’s Congress and will include speakers and an activity away from campus. After that, we will leave for Boston Thursday morning and return Sunday afternoon. Note: Because this experience includes an external conference, participation may entail some cost to families. However, if cost is a barrier to participation for any student, GDS will provide financial support on a case-by-case basis. The important caveat for this experience is that HMC, or GDS, could at some point, as we near the date, determine that, given pandemic conditions, it is not safe for the delegation to travel to Boston. HMC assures us that they will run the conference virtually if they determine conditions warrant. If in person, HMC states that all participants--students and faculty--should be vaccinated, and masking requirements will be in place.

**This course will include an overnight component and travel through the weekend.

Claiming Freedom: The Underground Railroad in Greater Washington

Sue Ikenberry & Lisa Rauschart

It was, says historian Manisha Sinha, the first interracial social justice movement in American history. In the decades leading up to the Civil War, Black abolitionists in Greater Washington pushed the movement into more direct action as they claimed freedom for themselves and helped to secure it for others. In the process, they redefined what freedom was and could be. Black and White abolitionists, sometimes working together and sometimes independently, actively sought the help of institutions within the region’s large free Black community and in larger abolitionist networks. This minimester travels into the field to explore the sites and stories associated with the Underground Railroad, a collection of routes and way stations in and around the nation’s capital. It also features a longer foray into Maryland that culminates in a visit to the new Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park in Church Creek. You’ll see the spot where, in the middle of the night, free African Americans from Montgomery Street Baptist in Church in Georgetown waited to assist those making their way up Rock Creek. You’ll hear about Ann Marie Weems, who disguised herself as a male carriage driver to successfully escape from Rockville. And you’ll learn about Charles Torrey, a White abolitionist who was sentenced to six years in jail after repeated successful expeditions to facilitate freedom. Like Torrey, who died in jail at the age of 33, many of the bids for freedom did not finish well; we will encounter these, too. New this year, “Claiming Freedom” makes use of new scholarship and new interpretations of historic sites along with the recently developed Harriet Tubman center.

Day Hiking in the DMV with a Focus on Land Conservation

Tom Spilsbury & Lee Goldman

Day Hiking in the DMV with a focus on land conservation. Each day we will head out early to one of the magnificent local natural resources and trails for a hike. While there we will engage with a ranger or conservation expert to learn about the history of the area/trail and ways in which we can be stewards of public lands. Hikes will be on moderate terrain and of lengths in the neighborhood of five miles each.

Escape the Minimester!

Aden Richards & Greg Dallinger

escaPe rooms hAve grown exploSively in popularity Since their introduction not that long ago. in this course We’ll examine what makes escape rOoms so much fun (by going to one obviously), how they are designed in oRDer to maxImize entertainment and then deSiGn And test our very own rooM right hEre at gds! are yOu up to the challeNge? let us know!

Examining the Brains of Serial Killers and Adolescents: You Have More in Common with Mass Murderers Than You Think

Bobby Asher

Recent discoveries about how various regions act and interact have shed light on some surprising similarities between adolescent brains and those of some of the more notorious criminals of recent times. After learning some basics about neural communication, students will take a deep dive into the brain scans of several serial killers and the analyses by prominent neuroscientists from across the country. They will see interviews with researchers and their subjects to gain a sense of both what the killers’ brains look like and how they themselves talk about what they were (and weren’t thinking) before, after, and during their crimes. Similarly, students will learn about their own minds and the ways in which they are similar (and thankfully dissimilar). Our plan is that we will visit with and hear directly from experts on adolescent and psychopathic neuroscience, and that we will get off campus to see firsthand how it is that we study the brain in the 21st century.

(Fingerlickin’) Buttery French Baking

Belinda Lartey & Polly Martin

Learn to make croissant pastry dough from scratch and turn it into croissants, pain au chocolat, and cinnamon buns. Create savory choux bites. Visit a French patisserie. Share your baked goods with people in need. End three days of sugary, buttery goodness with homemade macarons.

Food, Culture, & the Immigrant Experience (African Diaspora Track)

Aisha Sidibe, Meredith Chase-Mitchell & Fatmata Koroma

Explore the culture, foods, dances, realities across the African Diaspora. From the Ivory Coast to Jamaica, from New Orleans to Rio de Janeiro and many other places in between, we will learn how to prepare the dishes, dance to the beats, watch the films, and view the art.

**This course may include an overnight component.

Food, Culture, & the Immigrant Experience (Chinese Track)

Denise Li, Nadia Mahdi & Min Wang

Have you ever wondered why the Chinese eat what they eat? Do you know how many regional cuisines there are in China? Do you know the history behind General Tso's Chicken or the fortune cookie? In this course, you'll learn the answers to each of those questions, and more... On Day 1, we’ll explore how and why Chinese food became so popular worldwide. Then we’ll visit the new Chinese American Museum in DC for another perspective. On Day 2, we’ll head to a Chinese grocery to purchase ingredients for making our own dumplings. Afterward, we’ll share an authentic Chinese meal from a local restaurant. On Day 3, we’ll spend time in the kitchen learning to cook a few specialty dishes. Then, we’ll shift our focus to Vietnam, where many Chinese migrated in search of a more peaceful life. We’ll examine how the subsequent French colonization of Vietnam influenced Vietnamese Chinese cuisine. By the end of the minimester, you’ll have a better understanding of how Chinese immigrants worldwide adapted to their new environments.

Food, Culture, & the Immigrant Experience (Latin Track)

Nicole Sade, Eduardo Gonzalez & Yka de Castillo

Two main aspects that define a society and differentiates it from another is its relationship with food and dance. Cooking and dancing are pleasant and enjoyable activities which allow us to know different cultures and relate to others. During this minimester, you will interview and cook with chefs from different Latin-American regions. Do you want to have fun while cooking? Are you ready to accept any challenge? Would you like to take hands-on-cooking classes?

In addition, Latin-American vibrant beats fuse traditions of European, African, and Asian immigrants. It is impossible to imagine Latin music genres without the drums, beats and percussion instruments of natives cultures. This phenomenon was marked by successive waves of immigration, creating an extraordinary cultural diversity. Are you ready to explore the origin of these rhythms? Would you like to learn how to dance?

Enjoy, learn, dance, cook and eat in an enriching shared environment! Come! …

Food Justice in DC: The Feasibility of Locavorism

Nicola McCutcheon & Ricardo Carmona

Join us as we delve into the DMV local food scene in an effort to understand the feasibility of and what it means to really eat local. We will visit nonprofits that deal with the issue of food justice, restaurants that strive to use only local produce, and have the opportunity to learn how to shop for and cook with local ingredients.

From Kombucha to Kimchi, Exploring the Science of Fermented Foods

Gabe Koo & Katie Garbart

Are you interested in becoming a food alchemist? Do you want to learn more about the fermented foods that unify cultures and foods? This course will explore the biochemistry of fermentation. You will have the opportunity to ferment your own kimchi and pickle your own vegetables. You will meet local fermenters and learn how they craft their expert products. You will have the opportunity to sample fermented foods from different cultures across D.C., ranging from kombucha to sourdough to kimchi.

“Get on the Bus”: An HBCU Excursion

Kevin Jackson, Darius Pardner & Jasmine Watson

Students will explore a variety of HBCU’s in Maryland, and Virginia and will also get the chance to visit the Great Blacks in Wax Museum. They will have an opportunity to network with current and past HBCU students. Be immersed in the HBCU experience for the day. Meet and greet with members of Divine 9 and other Historically African American organizations.

**This course will include an overnight component.

Let’s Make Comics!

Mike Wenthe & Rhona Campbell

Join us for an intense and fun experience creating comics (cartoons, graphic novels, manga, what have you). Our ultimate goal: an anthology zine of new material produced by this Minimester group! You’ll get to make your own individual comics and collaborate with others on jam-based comics and other creative exercises. We’re also planning to visit a local collection of original comics art and meet published cartoonist(s). No prior comics-making experience necessary.

Making Records in a Recording Studio

Tim Lyons & Jeffrey Delozier

In this Minimester, you will work with a group of students & a professional musician or two to write, arrange, rehearse and record a piece of music (a song! or two! or three!). This multitrack recording will be of professional quality & ready to play on the radio and/or your phone. You'll learn how to use the Logic Pro X digital audio workstation, how to apply different microphones to capture specific sound sources, how to record, and how to edit + mix a multitrack digital audio recording. You'll also participate in performing and recording a piece of process music written by Steve Reich that literally involves hanging microphones from the ceiling and swinging them around the room like sonic pendulums.

Musicians and non-musicians are all welcome!

In short, you'll be FINNEAS Dr. Dre, Jack White, Chris Lord Alge, Glyn Johns, and George Martin all in the span of two days. So sick! Join us.

Mathematics of Gambling

Jason Aigen & Ed Stern

Want to play? We will introduce the group to Backgammon, Blackjack or Chess, and Poker. In addition to discussing the rules of basic gambling, we will use mathematics to inform and direct your playing and betting strategies. Gameplay will be a component of each day. We will also watch at least one movie. Absolute novices are welcome, as long as you come ready to learn.

More than Curry Chicken: the History and Culture of India through Movies and Food

Abe Pachikara & Amir Raza

Bollywood? Yoga? There is so much more to India! The region of South Asia is vast, diverse, and beautiful, but for these three days, we are going to specifically explore India through movies and food. First, we will be giving context to certain points during the history of India involving colonialism and religion, watching well-known and lesser-known movies that capture these historical moments, and eating snacks that are different from the typical bag of popcorn! Also, we will be exploring the food and spices of north and south India by eating at local restaurants, talking to the owners of these restaurants about their approach towards and passion for Indian food (I mean, the Washington Post wrote a whole article on what makes Indian food delicious, so it’s worth exploring!), and then finally cooking an Indian meal for ourselves! This course will be second to NAAN and it will be very DAAL without you, so come along for the ride!

Mount Pleasant vs. Columbia Heights

Parker Benedict & Trish Heatherman

What defines a neighborhood? Is it the history? The people? The businesses? Or something else? Join us this Minimester as we dig into two adjacent DC neighborhoods, Mount Pleasant and Columbia Heights. Despite their proximity, these two neighborhoods each have evolved in their own ways, creating spaces that look, sound, and feel distinct. In addition to familiarizing ourselves with the physical landscape of each neighborhood, other portions of our three-day tour will be based on student interest; possible areas of exploration include historical records, the arts, small businesses, and food vendors. And who knows, maybe we will even catch a show at GALA Hispanic Theater!

Out of Your Head, Into your Body

Julia Penn & Beth Stafford




listen, feel, experience,

let go...

In your daily life at GDS, it's easy to get caught up in the grind: you may feel stressed and overwhelmed and at times unable to cope with what life throws at you. All of these external factors can obscure your ability to be your most authentic and happiest self. Yoga, mindfulness, and meditation are all strategies you can use to slow down and tune in.

This minimester is a retreat of sorts, in which we will work with DC-based yoga and meditation teachers, as well as give time for reflection and activities of your choosing. In creating an intentional space and time to slow things down, you will be able to live more fully in the present moment and develop strategies to carry with you through the rest of the school year and beyond.

Pop-Up Concerts & Tour

Brad Linde & Topher Dunne

Experience a version of performing life with 3 days of rehearsal and performances, a microcosm of a touring musician. Students will quickly compose a set list of music and rehearse, then travel, promote, perform, and survive together. *students must have enrolled in at least one year of instrumental music ensembles at GDS.

RuPaul's Drag Race / Logo "RuPaul's Drag Race / Logo"

Queer Faces, Queer Spaces: Drag in America

Jason Strunk & Maria Watson

“You better work!” These opening words of RuPaul’s 1992 hit, “Supermodel,” in some ways, heralded the mainstream acceptance and celebration of drag in America. However, before RuPaul, Drag Race or Pose ever hit the scene there was William Dorsey Swann. Swann, a former enslaved D.C. resident, ruled over the secretive drag ball circuit of DC in the late 19th Century. First to coin the term drag queen, Dorsey is the first gay activist to lead a LGBT liberation organization, which politically and violently resisted police action. 100 years before Stonewall, this pioneer instituted the foundation of what would become the cultural empire of drag, and inextricably laced politics and culture of the LGBTQ+ community into its DNA.

This minimester will explore the history, politics, and culture of drag in America. Students will engage with scholars, queens, and their own drag persona, culminating in a drag performance. Grab your wig, strap on your heels, and find your inner diva, because this minimester is going to be snatched, Hunty!

Relatively Weird: Time and Space on a Soft Watch

John Burghardt

By the end of our three days together, the student will have seen -- and done -- most of the basic math of Special Relativity. (Linear functions and Cartesian graphs, the first semester topics of first year Algebra, take us quite far into this strange realm). Students will figure out, for instance, why any vehicle we see moving shrinks in the direction of the motion, why clocks on that vehicle run slower than our own, and why observers of that vehicle see our clocks getting sluggish and our shapes shrinking in exactly the same way.

We will study how the famous equation E = mc^2 follows necessarily from this state of affairs, and how the physical world we experience and the science we call Physics are increasingly at odds with one another -- to the point that truths we discover through the laws of physics radically contradict our basic intuitions about time and space. The course will conclude with a discussion of the philosophical implications of living in a world that seems to become less knowable the more we know about it.

Reproductive Justice

Julie Stein, Emily Livelli & Caitlin Hutcheon

Does the future of your reproductive rights scare you? What could it look like to live an empowered reproductive life? Are reproductive rights civil rights? And how do they intersect with racial disparities in our country?

Abortion is a critical issue in the feminist movement - but reproductive rights encompass much, much more. The concept of reproductive justice is a powerful new way of thinking about these issues. It argues that reproductive rights are not merely a matter of individual choice - they’re a social justice issue. That means that we also need to look at sex education, birth control, the right to have children, and the right to parent children in a safe and healthy environment. This movement also looks at how racial, economic, and social inequalities limit the reproductive choices of marginalized groups. In this course, you’ll explore the history of abortion, the world of birthwork, and current events connected to reproductive justice. You’ll also meet with practitioners of reproductive justice who will share their stories and experiences working within the movement.

Andrew Harnick / AP
Save Our Democracy, Now!

Russell Shaw & Barbara Eghan

We have seen in recent years that America’s democracy is more fragile than once believed. The foundations of liberty, justice, and equality on which the nation was founded continue to be tested in unprecedented ways, and the need to train the next generation of civic leaders to save our democracy has never been more urgent. To meet this challenge, join the Civic Lab for this dynamic minimester in which you will take site visits across DC and interact with leaders from the realms of media, justice, politics, political science, and education about the myriad challenges to democracy in America today and some of the actions needed to save it. Then, play a direct role in designing civic engagement experiences and making recommendations for the Civic Lab to serve its purpose as a hub for youth engagement in DC and beyond.

Small > Mall: Washington, DC and the Shop Small Movement

Brooke Coleman & Kim Palombo

Washington, DC has a robust catalogue of locally-owned small businesses. From bookstores to shops showcasing local artisans to every delicious variety of food you can imagine, DC is a great place to shop small. In this minimester, we will learn why shopping small is so important for a vibrant local economy, hear from local artisans and business owners, and go on field trips to learn how shopping small supports your local community.

Splish Splash! Aquatics and Water Safety

Gee (Nicole Gainyard)

Whether you’re an avid swimmer who plunges the mysterious depths or a novice hanging out at the shallow end, this course is for you! We will begin by learning the basic protocols of water safety and swimming. Ever thought of being a lifeguard, naval architect, or hydrologist? We will also explore some career opportunities and advances in the field. We’ll close out this experience by participating in water volleyball, water aerobics, or synchronized swimming. Spring Break and summer will be here before you know it, so refresh your skills and learn some new techniques! Don’t be the last one in!

Cover art from DJ somaR. Me, Myself & My Turntables: Episode II. 2011.

The Art of DJing: Vinyl, Sound Systems and Mastering The Mix

Adrian Loving

This is a hands-on exploratory dive into what DJs do for a career. Students will visit a record store and performance venues. They'll shop for equipment and experience live demos by professional DJs. Participants will learn the basics of mixing with vinyl and digital formats and also gain a history of dance music and its pioneers.

The Big Blue

Nina Butler-Roberts & Cara Henderson

Have you ever dreamed of underwater exploration? Are you interested in learning about ways to get involved in the protection of local and global marine life? If so, join us! We aim to get wet and wise during this minimester experience. We’ll visit a local dive shop where we’ll take scuba lessons and earn our diving certification. We’ll also learn about local and global conservation efforts and choose a cause to support through ongoing activism.

*Note: This experience entails rigorous physical activity and significant time spent in the water.

The Mighty Hopper

Quinn Killy

In this Minimester we will explore the history of mascot costumes and learn about some of the most successful, least successful, and controversial mascot costumes. From there we will meet with local sports programs about their mascot and the process that went into designing the outfit. In addition, we will work with costume designers and mascot fabricators to develop and propose a new Hopper mascot outfit for GDS.

The Neurobiology of Implicit Bias

Bill Wallace

You cannot be a racist or a sexist, can you? Unfortunately, all of us are born with a fundamentally racist and sexist response to others called implicit bias. It is an automatic feature of our brains that is an instant response to most social interactions. Implicit bias has a big impact on every aspect of life, from personal interactions to police engagement with the public, where split-second decisions must often be made.

So--are you a racist? (You will measure your own degree of implicit bias). We will listen to various neuroscientists (such as Robert Sapolsky) to discuss the neurobiology of the threat response. Activities will include a dissection of a brain to visualize the anatomy of the amygdala, prefrontal cortex, and other parts of the brain involved. We will visit a brain imaging facility at the NIH to see how brain MRI imaging is conducted and how the images are interpreted. We will also explore how implicit bias shows up in everyday behavior and how it affects our decision-making. Can implicit bias be overcome? We will then discuss implicit bias at GDS, by identifying when it occurs in the classroom. Finally, we will propose solutions for recognizing and mitigating its effects. Not for those of you who are currently taking Neuroscience.

The Power of Plants: An Exploration of How Green Spaces Enhance Ecological, Emotional and Physical Health

Cori Coats

The Power of Plants will explore the positive impact of green spaces on many levels. Learn about the ‘how’ and ‘why’ plants enhanced our mental and physical health while also playing a crucial role in sustainable development. Activities will include expanding GDS's own green spaces by reinstalling a mini-living wall in the forum, an introduction to landscape design and urban gardening, and field trips focused on the role of plants in LEED.

The Real Heroes of Hispanic/Latinx Heritage Month: Migrant Workers & the Food on Our Tables

Parker Benedict & Trish Heatherman

Join us as we explore the stories behind the food that we consume. Our Minimester will seek to answer questions such as: Who harvests our fruits and veggies, and who processes our meats and seafood? What are their working and living conditions like? What are the ethical questions that this work raises? What protections do the federal or local government provide to this industry’s workers? Over the course of three days we will use a variety of different media to learn about these topics from multiple angles, and engage in discussions with key players in the field: from journalists who shine a light on these topics, with academics who study this topic in depth, and with community organizers who provide front-line support to migrant workers’ fight for their rights.

The Science of Happiness

Yani Alemán & Maribel Prieto

Did you know that what we think will make us happy, often does not? Did you know that our brains are wired in a way that can sabotage our wellbeing? Have you considered the difference between being happy in your life and being happy with your life? If you find these questions intriguing, then come learn about research-based practices that lead to a happier life, and apply them during our experiential minimester. You will learn to distinguish pseudoscientific fads from proven scientific approaches that lead to greater wellbeing. We will practice skills and techniques that you can use to create a happier life for yourself and those around you, during those three days and beyond. The course will also provide opportunities to engage with art, nature, and culinary experiences. It will take us into multiple environments that aid in our science-based quest for happiness.

The Story of DC Punk

Carlos Angulo & Andrew Heine

In this course, we will undertake an in-depth study of the music and culture of the DC Punk Scene that began in the late 1970’s and has remained a major cultural and artistic force in indie music ever since. The class would (1) read chapters of Our Band Could Your Life, a seminal study of 1980’s indie music, that focus on DC punk bands Minor Threat and Fugazi; (2) watch “Punk the Capital,” a documentary about this scene (possibly with its director!); (3) take field trips to DC landmarks associated with the scene; (4) meet some of its key figures, some of whom attended GDS and Wilson; (5) create some of our own DIY materials modeled after materials at the DC Punk archive in Georgetown; and of course (6) listen to the music itself!

Ukrainian Easter Egg Decorating

Nina Prytula & Veronique Mattei

Learn to make pysanky, the Ukrainian Easter eggs that are famous for the intricate designs and vibrant colors that give them such jewel-like beauty. The art form and the traditional symbols artists incorporate into their designs are so ancient they reach back into the pre-Christian era, and legends about the eggs' talismanic powers abound in Ukrainian culture. One such legend has it that an evil monster lurks chained at the edge of the world: each newly-decorated pysanka adds another link to its chain.

Through its carefully chosen symbols, each egg tells a story of the artist's hopes and wishes: giving a decorated egg to someone is supposed to help their wishes--for health, children, prosperity, productive work, long life--come true. While mastering the wax-resist technique artists use to create these miniature masterpieces requires practice and some patience, anyone can learn. The process itself, using only a stylus and beeswax melted over a candle flame, is peaceful and meditative, even spiritual--a welcome antidote to our stress-filled, hyper-wired everyday reality (especially after a year spent on Zoom!). This course will give you ample opportunity to create your own pysanky; no special skills or experience necessary to learn!

Unplugged in the Wilderness

Taylor Brown, Gaby Grebski & Danny Stock

In this minimester students will be learning winter camping skills in the woods of West Virginia. With no running water, and limited comforts of home students will immerse themselves in the outdoors. During our three days and two nights hiking, camping, and fishing in the West Virginia Mountains, students will navigate with a map and compass, learn the basics of flyfishing for trout from Orvis endorsed charter captains, build fires from scratch, develop lumber skills, cook all meals on an open fire, hike the summit of a scenic vista, and unplug from all electronics. We invite you to "Leave no trace" and soak up the beauty of winter in the mountains.

*This course will include two overnight components.

Wearing Your Heart on Your Sleeve ♡: Designing T-shirts to Influence & Advocate

Tuan Nguyen

Design, Market, and Sell your own t-shirts to serve a social change. Students will be learning the intersectionality of art and advocacy by designing and marketing their own t-shirts with a social message. We will learn how art x fashion x social justice is combined in this course. Tours of t-shirt printers, social entrepreneurs, photoshoot to market your t-shirts, and partner with the newly formed Civic Lab at GDS.

What the Potomac Reveals

Jodi Jackson & Michael Manson

Get off the highway and into a boat to see what the Potomac reveals about the DC region. We’ll look at historical sites and learn more about the environment of the river and Chesapeake Bay. Possible destinations include Anacostia Park, DC Water Authority (the treatment center for the District of Columbia), DC Wharf, East Potomac Park, Fort McNair, Fort Washington, Hains Point, Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, Langston Golf Course, Kennedy Center, Lincoln Memorial, National Airport, National Harbor, Navy Yard, Old Town Alexandria, Roosevelt Island, and the Watergate Complex.

The 1839 engraving pictured above of the White House from the Potomac River hints at how much the city has changed and how the river can literally change your point-of-view.


Matt Friel & Elaina Berres

Learn all about building things with wood and furniture construction. We will learn to use hand tools to shape, join, and carve wood and we will build two small projects to take home.