Undergraduate Seminars

ESG seminars are open to all MIT students and are intended to be hands-on and experiential in nature.

ESG sponsors a number of six-unit pass/fail seminars each year on a variety of innovative subjects not covered in the regular curriculum, including psychology, cooking, social networking, ethics, and language. These seminars are open to all MIT students and are intended to be hands-on and experiential in nature.

Fall 2017 Seminars at ESG

All seminars are six units P/F credit unless noted otherwise.

ES.A71  (FAS): MIT LIFE HACKS- Getting thru 4 years and not stressing out everyday

Instructors:  Dr. Patti Christie, Naomi Carton
Time and location: Tuesdays 3-5 pm in 24-619

Emotional and physical wellness are key aspects in retaining a successful academic career however this doesn’t always feel achievable. Do you ever feel like the week ahead is daunting, the thought of where to eat and what to eat seems impossible, sleep seems like a dream and exercise well what is that? Balancing work, life, fun and the pursuit of a college degree may seem like winning a gold medal in the Olympics at times, but we are here to help you hack your way thru a balanced life at MIT.

Dr. Patti Christie is a lecturer in Biology and Chemistry for the Experimental Study Group (ESG). Patti has been teaching the chemistry and biology GIRs at ESG since 1999 and helps manage the chemistry department GIRs. She has also taught several seminar,s including two Kitchen Chemistry seminars and a new seminar on From Farm to Table (to be taught this spring). Patti is a triathlete in training and spends her summers in Singapore teaching general chemistry at the Singapore University of Technology and Design.

Naomi Carton has been involved in the sport of triathlon for 20 years. He is a former member of the U.S. National Team and a veteran of 13 Ironman races, including the world championships in Kona, Hawaii. He is a successful lawyer in civil and criminal litigation and a partner in the Boston firm of KSL & G Assigned Readings.


ES.S42:  Prison Writing Workshop

Instructors: Deborah Dormitzer
Time and Location: TBA

This twelve week class will meet once a week behind bars and we will share the experience of creative writing with men serving time. Emphasis will be on creating a safe space for all class participants to express themselves and find their own unique voice.  Format will be flexible and may include assigned readings, in-class writing assignments, response to prompts, homework, workshopping works-in-progress, and introduction to specific narrative techniques like POV, story structure, metaphor, etc. Students participating in this class will complete the same assignments as the men and may also elect to present topics, readings, and provide workshopping feedback. At the completion of the class, students will submit a brief written reflection of their experience.

Deb Dormitzer has taught writing and other programs in Massachusetts prisons over the past seven years. She believes passionately in the potential for healing and transformation that arts and education programming can provide to men and women serving time behind bars. She has taught memoir, fiction and non-fiction writing as well as non-violent communication skills based on the teachings of Marshall Rosenberg.  Ms. Dormitzer received a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College, a J.D. from The University of Chicago and an MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University.  She is currently the Vice Chair of the Board of Concord Prison Outreach and also serves as the Newsletter Editor for the organization.


ES.S50: Adventures in Special Effects for Live Performance

Instructor: A.Panjwani, L. Perlman
Time and Location: Tuesdays 7-9pm in 24-619

In this seminar, we will explore novel ways of expressing stories using technology, movement, and light performance. Participants will experiment with electronic arts, video mapping, and 3D projections to create narratives that engage emotionally and spiritually.  Studio based classroom component will consist of practice, design critiques, demonstrations, and presentations. Students will look at various artistic narrative works. Students will be required to keep an online design journal documenting their ideas, experiences, insights and reflections. They will complete a variety of assignments to learn creative representation skills combining movement, video editing, and projection mapping. The course will conclude with an open performance and seminar where students will showcase their work. Some of the designs produced in this seminar will be used in the next production of the Deborah Abel Dance Company, The Wild Divine, premiering at the Tsai Performance Center in March 2018.

Enrollment is limited to 10 students.

Lee Perlman earned his B.A. from St. John’s College (Annapolis), and then pursued graduate work in philosophy at the Catholic University of America. He completed an M.A. in political philosophy at Georgetown University.  Before earning his Ph.D. at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dr. Perlman spent eight years working in the political arena as a public interest lobbyist and political organizer.  In 1978 Baltimore Magazine named him ‘the most feared lobbyist in Maryland’. He has taught at Harvard University, Brown University, Swarthmore College, Phillips Academy (Andover), and, for the past 20 years, at MIT.  Dr. Perlman considers himself to be primarily an educator, and prides himself on designing and teaching a number of courses at MIT which offer students an integrated view of the humanities and sciences in the western tradition. He has twice been awarded the Irwin Sizer Award for Most Significant Improvement to MIT Education (1997, 2015). Lee is also a composer and musician, and the Music Director of the Deborah Abel Dance Company, which has toured in the US and India.