Adam Sitze and Thomas Dumm

“Liquid Gold.” “Cyberpolitics.” “The Quran and Its Controversies.” These are three of 126 courses newly available to Amherst students in 2016–17. Every academic year, in fact, well over 100 courses are taught at the College for the first time.

This year’s new titles span 29 departments and programs. Many are cross-listed, reflecting the faculty’s interest in interdisciplinary work and in team-teaching. Take “Inequality,” taught by Michael Ching, assistant professor of mathematics, and Hilary Moss, associate professor of black studies and history. It examines unequal opportunities and outcomes in K–12 math education.

A few courses are novel additions to pre-existing series. For instance, the College is in the midst of a three-year pilot project, supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, to give sophomores and juniors a chance to engage in research with faculty and small groups of their peers. Three of this year’s five Mellon Tutorials are newly designed courses: “Jews at Amherst,” taught by lecturer Wendy Bergoffen; “Cultures of Survival in the 20th Century,” with Assistant Professor of History Ellen Boucher; and “Meanings of Mobility: Low-Income Latinx Youth and the American Dream,” with Leah Schmalzbauer, associate professor of American studies and sociology.

Some courses arrive at Amherst along with newly hired faculty members. Others have evolved from aspects of earlier courses. And sometimes they come about simply because a new topic has captured a professor’s imagination. While planning “Form and Function,” his biology course on animal motion and the human innovation it inspires, Professor Ethan Clotfelter said, “I hope the students are half as excited about it as I am.” 

The pages that follow offer a glimpse at eight of the freshest entries in Amherst’s catalogue.