Course Description:

This class is the first half of a year-long seminar designed to give you the foundational tools of the liberal arts: critical reading of primary sources, analytical writing, and oral presentations, coupled with the research dissemination of new media. The courses uses as its content the culture and history of cities, namely Florence, Italy and Holland, Michigan. Through the study of a city’s history, topography, architecture, art, literature, rituals and people, we will learn and practice fundamental research skills for understanding what research is, asking good questions of primary material, analyzing sources, contextual writing, basic library and bibliographic skills, and new media research and presentation tools.

 IDS 180-181 Mellon Scholars Seminar Goals

  • Understand the process of research and how digital tools can help conduct and disseminate that research.
  • Interpret primary and secondary materials and texts
  • Research and publish collaboratively

Additional Fine Arts 1 Goals (IDS 180)

  • Attend performance and exhibitions; read texts, and communicate critically about the arts with increasing sensitivity and depth
  • Understand the artistic value, cultural significance and interconnectedness of the arts
  • Examine art and artists in the context of a variety of diverse cultures, styles, and social frameworks
  • Observe the interactive nature of the arts


Assignments are structured for you to practice in Holland, Michigan, the skills and concepts you learn through studying Florence, Italy

Reflection Blogs/Podcasts/Screencasts: These will ask you to reflect on the issues raised in class concerning Florence, perform a fieldwork assignment, and create the reflection using the media taught in the unit.

Research Paper: The research paper will be and individual project that is 8-10 pages and will be on a topic of your choosing that relates to some aspect of Holland Michigan. In this paper you will choose primary material, contextualize it, describe and analyze it, and present a compelling question to your reader, ending with the development of a compelling thesis. You will use digital tools in the process of organizing your research and incorporate media into your final paper.

Extra-curricular events: This course fulfills your FA 1 credits and one goal is to learn to read and analyze non-textual sources. You are required to attend three events relating to art and culture. Your attendance will be recorded by taking a selfie at the event and posting a reflective tweet of the event (use the hashtag #IDS180FA1). Several events are listed on the events sheet that is attached to the syllabus, but this is not an exclusive list. Please see Dr. Heath if you would like to attend and event not on this list.

Course materials: The two texts for purchase at the Hope-Geneva Book Store are The Craft of Research, written by Booth, Colomb and Williams, and They Say/I Say by Graff and Birkenstein. Additional readings relating to Florence, new media, etc. are available on Moodle.


  • 5 blog posts/reflections: 30%
  • Research paper drafts: 30%
  • Research paper final draft: 30%
  • Class Participation and Event Attendance: 10%

Please keep in mind that Dr. Heath and Alex will assess your performance in this seminar, but the Mellon Committee will also assess your performance in the Mellon Scholars Program at the end of the year. Your assignments should be presented in a bound portfolio at the end of the semester as well as at the due dates listed in the syllabus.

Attendance policy:

Class attendance and participation are mandatory and are crucial for the success of the class. You are allowed three absences without penalty. Thereafter, each additional absence will lower your final grade by 1/3 of a letter. 10 total absences will result in automatic failure of the course. Unauthorized cell phone/computer usage will be counted as an absence.