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Academic Programs

Dive back into the classroom with these exciting courses for lifelong learners.

Alumni Academy

Thursday, June 6 from 1–5 p.m. & Friday, June 7 from 9 a.m.–4 p.m.
Dickinson’s new Alumni Academy welcomes alumni back to the campus classroom. Come back to Carlisle and dive into unique topics with incredible Dickinson faculty and alumni. Enjoy lectures, hands-on learning and local excursions that provide a unique look at exciting topics over a two-day intensive experience.

Art, Sustainability and Local Clay 
Course led by Professor Rachel Eng, assistant professor of art & art history
Almost every society that had access to clay formed a ceramics tradition, which speaks to its universal quality and enduring human curiosity. As we consider how far our materials travel, we will hand-build ceramic planters using local clay from our College Farm.  

This workshop will include a field trip to the College Farm, where we will see where the clay we will use comes from and think about place and locality. We will also learn about the steps to process local clay and about clay as a medium for artistic expression. No prior experience necessary, as there will be instruction on hand building and on techniques for using slip to decorate the surface. Pickup for finished pieces will be on Sunday, June 8, between 10 a.m.–noon.
$250 per person
Space is limited (11 people). Breakfast and lunch on Friday, June 7, and transportation for the course is included.

Thursday, June 6
Participants will start in the ceramics studio with a slide presentation about the material of clay. Then we’ll travel to the College Farm. Dinner on your own.

Friday, June 7
Participants will enjoy breakfast together before the morning hand-building session. After lunch, the course will continue with a discussion around examples in similar artwork and a slip decorating session. All participant work will be fired on Saturday and will be ready to pick up on Sunday.

Professor Rachel Eng primarily teaches courses focused in ceramics and 3D mediums. Within her work she is interested in topics of climate change, land use/development and their connection to memory.  She earned an MFA from the University of Colorado Boulder and her BFA from Pennsylvania State University. Eng has shown her work at Atlanta Contemporary (Atlanta, Ga.,: 2023), the Springfield Museum of Art (Springfield, Ohio; 2023), Rowan University (Glassboro, N.J.; 2022), The Clay Studio (Philadelphia, Pa.; 2020), and Flecker Gallery (Long Island, N.Y.; 2020). She has held residencies at McColl Center (Charlotte, N.C.), Studio Kura (Itoshima, Japan), and Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts (Newcastle, Maine), among others. Eng was selected as an NCECA Emerging Artist in 2017.


Carlisle Indian Industrial School, Dickinson College and Institutional Responsibility
Course led by Professor John Truden, postdoctoral fellow in Native American & Indigenous studies
Between 1879 and 1980, the US government operated a series of forced-reeducation camps designed to wipe out Native American cultures and identities. Dickinson College closely supported the first and most prominent of these institutions, the Carlisle Indian Industrial School (1879-1918).

In 2023, Dickinson established the Center for the Futures of Native Peoples with a generous grant from the Mellon Foundation. Among other goals, the CFNP is designed to address the relationship between the college and Carlisle Indian Industrial School. At the time of this writing, the Center had already hosted a number of several visiting tribal delegations; brought prominent Indigenous intellectuals, activists, journalists, artists, and luminaries to campus; built an NAIS lending library; and begun a faculty group to discuss Indigenous issues. By Alumni Weekend, the center will also have hosted the first Central Pennsylvania Native American and Indigenous Studies Symposium.  

During this two-day seminar, we will contemplate longstanding ties between the two institutions, what a reckoning might look like, and how we might move forward together as a community.
$200 per person
Space is limited (18 people). Breakfast and lunch on Friday, June 7, and transportation for the course is included.

Thursday, June 6
We will start our seminar with an opening discussion at The Trout Gallery. We will then visit Waidner-Spahr Library to learn more about ongoing research into the Carlisle Indian Industrial School’s operations, culture and students.

Friday, June 7
We’ll start with breakfast and then board a bus for the former grounds of Carlisle Indian Industrial School, now part of the U.S. Army War College. Our visit will include a tour identifying the campus, a respectful visit to the CIIS cemetery and a description of contemporary repatriation efforts. After lunch, we will spend the afternoon at CFNP. This visit will include a guided tour, some time with the Center’s new boarding- and residential-school book collection and a closing discussion.2

Professor John Truden is a postdoctoral fellow in Native American and Indigenous Studies at the Center for the Futures of Native Peoples. He earned his Ph.D. in U.S. history from the University of Oklahoma. In fall 2023 he taught a course at Dickinson titled Indigenous Communities and Federal Indian Boarding Schools. His first book is Indian Territory’s Legacy: Indigenous-Settler Partnerships and Persistence in Oklahoma, 1875-2020. He is currently at work on a second book, which will examine political and cultural change in Native America during the 1970s. Among other publications, his work has been featured in the Western Historical Quarterly, The Chronicles of Oklahoma, the Osage News and Metro Library Podcast.

The Center for the Futures of Native Peoples (CFNP) is a pioneering initiative dedicated to advancing the understanding and appreciation of the Indigenous boarding-school experience, promoting the study of North American indigeneity and fostering a robust national conversation on the past, present and future of Native American issues. Our center is uniquely positioned to lead in this endeavor, given Dickinson College’s intimate and complicated history with the Carlisle Indian Industrial School (CIIS), a major site of memory for Native Americans located near our campus.

1 Entry will require preregistration and a successful background check.
2 The CFNP is not ADA accessible.


The Soil as a “Critical Zone”
Course led by Ben Edwards, professor of geosciences and Moraine Chair in Arctic Studies
Soils are the locations where many of earth’s different systems intersect to form what has recently been described at the “critical zone.” They are mainly made of minerals that were once parts of rocks (~50 percent), but soils also can hold water from the hydrosphere (up to 25 percent), gases from the atmosphere (~25 percent) and biological things, both living and deceased (generally less than 10 percent).

In this two-day class, we will experience soils from four different perspectives: on a hike in the region, in the field via a field trip to the Dickinson College Farm, in the Kaufman earth materials laboratory and in the geosciences geospatial laboratory. This class will utilize drone photography and cutting-edge lab equipment. Come prepared to get dirty as you dive into this fascinating area of geoscience.
$200 per person
Space is limited (11 people). Breakfast and lunch on Friday, June 7, and transportation for the course is included.

Thursday, June 6
Take a hike in a local area and get background information about the soil we will be studying.

Friday, June 7
Kick off the day at the College Farm, then spend the afternoon analyzing materials we have gathered.

Ben Edwards is a professor of earth sciences who first visited Iceland in 1995. Every year since, he’s been making regular visits (about once every two years) to study the island’s volcanoes and geology. He has taught courses on minerals, rocks, soils, environmental disasters, Arctic climate change and volcanoes at Dickinson since arriving in Carlisle in 2002. His main research focus is interactions between volcanoes and glaciers, and Edwards has taken many groups of Dickinson students to see volcanoes in Iceland and in Chile since 2005. He has also led trips for Dickinson alumni to Iceland, Italy and the Galapagos Islands. In addition to Iceland, Edwards has traveled across the globe to study ice-volcano interactions and climate change in places that include Russia, Alaska, British Columbia, Chile, Peru, Greenland and the Canadian High Arctic. He has published multiple peer-reviewed scientific articles about volcanoes, glaciers and volcanic eruptions, including a book on glaciovolcanism and papers about the infamous 2010 eruption of Eyjafjallajokull in southern Iceland. Edwards has a B.A. in geology from Carleton College, an M.Sc. from the University of Wyoming and a Ph.D. from the University of British Columbia.


Alumni College Series

There’s something for everyone during these one-time sessions and activities during Alumni Weekend.

Saturday, June 8
9:30–10:30 a.m.
Alumni College Sessions

Benjamin Franklin, Joseph Priestley and William Petty, Lord Shelburne: Master Propagandists in the Cause of American Liberty

Session led by Harry Lewis ’74
Joseph Priestley, an English chemist and discoverer of oxygen, was a close friend of Benjamin Franklin, who got Priestley started in his scientific career and persuaded Anglo-Irish aristocrat and British-opposition leader William Petty, Lord Shelburne, to employ him. In addition to writing books about science, while in Shelburne’s employ, Priestley wrote best-selling books and articles, in the London newspapers and elsewhere, supporting the American cause both before and during the American Revolution. Priestley’s secret correspondence with Franklin during the war, written on behalf of Shelburne, was intercepted by a British spy and then publicly exposed, leading to a nearly deadly duel in Hyde Park.

Hear the dramatic story firsthand and learn about Dickinson’s own Priestley connection through the perspective of Priestley’s close friend and associate, Thomas Cooper, from whom Dickinson purchased Priestley’s chemical equipment for student use on campus. The college then hired Cooper as the first chair of Dickinson’s chemistry department. 

"Dear Parents ... ": Telling the Story of a Student in 1854 Through Original Documents
Session led by James Liska ’09
This session will offer a glimpse into life at Dickinson through the eyes of student Jacob Armel Keister in 1854. James Liska '09, who collects antique Dickinson items, will showcase original documents and explain why they are of interest to the college. Alongside supporting documents from Dickinson’s Archives & Special Collections, James will read from some original letters in his collection to provide a humorous—and fascinating—look into the student experience before the Civil War. The original letters from 1854 will be available to read and hold after the program.

Panel Discussion: Media Evolution
Sarah Niebler, associate professor of political science
Erica Moffitt-Dilks ’03, Emmy Award-winning reporter who has worked in TV news since 2003 and currently works for ABC27.


11 a.m.–noon
Alumni College Activities

Green Devil Tour

Tour led by Ken Shultes ’89
Ken Shultes ’89 will give a fun and informational tour of some of our campus sustainability projects/initiatives. Come learn about our solar projects, the new geo-exchange system at the Paz Family & Alumni Center, our LEED Platinum residence hall and much more.

Painting Class With Create-A-Palooza
Join Create-A-Palooza for a Dickinson-themed painting class.
Preregistration is required. Space is limited.

Tour of Drayer Hall
Tour the newly renovated Drayer Hall.

Yoga Class
You're invited to join former classmates and friends in a yoga class led by Felicia Graham Comisar ’89.
Please bring your own mat.