Designed and run by students, Student Seminars explore topics through an interdisciplinary and collaborative lens.
Each spring, students are invited to propose a seminar to take place the following year in either the following fall or spring semester on a topic of their choosing. They are supported by a faculty advisor who helps in the development of the seminar curriculum and structure. Proposals may include site visits or inviting guest speakers to campus. Once accepted and approved, the Center issues a call for participation to all students and selects participants with a diversity of disciplinary perspectives and experiences. These not-for-credit seminars typically meet four to five times, and all books, materials, trips, and refreshments are funded by the Center.
Seminar participants are considered Undergraduate Humanities Fellows and eligible for a $150 stipend at the conclusion of the seminar to purchase other texts or materials related to the seminar once the final report is submitted.
New for 2023-24: This year, the Center is considering proposals that both work within the format of past student seminars, as well as proposals for seminars that take a different form and experiment with new ways of gathering and learning together. Possible formats could include:
- A series of trips to archives, museums, galleries, and other cultural organizations that explore a common theme
- Film screenings organized on- and off-campus that explore a common theme
- And many other possibilities!
Seminars can receive up to $2000 to support these trips, speakers, and creative elements. Students are asked to submit a preliminary budget as part of their applications.
To discuss your idea, contact Hurford Center Program Manager hjung1 [at] haverford.edu (Kelly Jung) to set up a meeting.
Hurford Center Student Seminars Info Session: Tuesday, March 28, 2023, 4:30 p.m., VCAM Lounge
Propose a Seminar
Deadline: March 25, 2024
Open to rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors from all majors.
Fall 2023 Seminar
Deadline to Apply: Friday, May 5, 2023
Internet Linguistics: How the Internet Helps Us Understand Languages and Ourselves
Seminar Leader: Coco Liu ’26
Faculty Advisor: Amanda Payne, Department of Linguistics
In her book Because Internet: Understanding the New Rule of Language, Gretchen McCulloch writes, “Language is humanity’s most spectacular open source project, and the internet is making our language change faster and in more interesting ways than ever before.” The development of the internet and other new technologies not only produces new patterns of communication, but also provides us with chances of observing and studying them in real-time.
This seminar will be an exploration of the forms, structures, and implications of language use online and via digital interpersonal communication. The lines of inquiry range from questions you may have had in daily interactions with internet language (Why does the way my parents text seem weird? What are we doing when using emoticons/emojis?) to broad questions around languages and human cognition that are yet to be answered (How might new usage of language change our cognition and ways of perceiving the world? Do Large Language Models have the ability to understand languages in the same way that humans do, or actually, what does it mean to say that we understand languages?). Join this seminar if you were ever intrigued and/or puzzled by languages, human minds, and/or the internet and would like to explore the topic further in discussions in a relaxed environment.
Seminar Leader Guidelines
- All student seminar leaders will meet with HCAH Program Manager Kelly Jung prior to the start of the seminar. They will work with leader(s) and participants to set a schedule of meetings and review responsibilities and processes.
- Groups should be composed of leader(s) plus six or seven students from a variety of disciplines.
- All seminar participants will meet as a group at least four times during the semester. Full participation is essential. Student seminar leader(s) will work with their peers at the beginning of the semester to create a schedule of meetings.
- The faculty advisor will assist seminar members in choosing reading materials and organizing a speaker event if so desired. The advisor will also serve as an engaged mentor throughout the process and can attend a planning meeting one of the seminar meetings during the fall semester.
- After the reading list is finalized, the Center will purchase and send the texts to students.
- Participants will provide a final assessment of the seminar experience in a form determined by the group.
- All books/materials/refreshments will be funded by the Hurford Center.
- Each student receives a $150 stipend to purchase books or materials broadly related to the seminar topic once the report has been turned in to the Center.
- The Center may also fund a visiting speaker who will address both the seminar group and the campus as a whole.
Purchasing and Procurement
Once a seminar proposal has been approved, the student leader will provide a detailed budget request. They will then work with the Program Manager to request materials related to the seminar and manage the seminar budget over the summer preceding the seminar.
The Center will provide up to $25 per meeting for food. Leader(s) should save receipts for the duration of the Seminar, and submit them to Hurford Center Financial Administrator Assistant Kerry Nelson in VCAM 104 as soon as possible.
The Center can support a visiting speaker to campus in the fall semester the seminar takes place. It is recommended but not required that the student leader works closely with a faculty advisor to develop a list of potential speakers and assure that the invited guests understand the character of this visit.
Reports & Undergraduate Fellow Book Allowance
Each Undergraduate Fellow receives an individual $150 stipend for books and materials related to the seminar topic once their report has been turned in.