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 spring 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.

Spring 2017 Seminars at ESG

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

ES.010: Chemistry of Sports: Understanding how exercise affects your body chemistry

Instructors:  Dr. Patti Christie, Steve Lyons
Time and location: Wednesdays 3-5 pm in 24-619
Workout session: Wednesdays from 3-5 pm (potential 2 extra PE points)

The seminar is designed to look at the science of a triathlon/sports from a molecular/chemical/biological point of view. We will be able to use our own bodies to see how exercise affects the system, through observations written in a training journal. We will also improve the overall fitness of the class through maintaining a physical fitness program over the course of the term. The end of the term will have us all participate in a mini-triathlon in the Z center pool/Mac court/Charles River Esplanade on Wednesday May 9.

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.

Steve Lyons 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.S40: ESG Book Club

Instructor: Dr. Lee Perlman
Time and location: Wednesdays 7-9 pm in 24-615

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.


ES.S41:  Confronting the Alien in Alienation

Instructors: Dave Custer
Time and Location: Tuesdays 7-9 pm in 24-619

This seminar is a casual investigation of a sparse scatter plot of “cult” science fiction movies that might address a mismatch between the individual and others. If the discussion goes well, participants will come away with a better understanding of how “being different” plays out in dramas and how
such dramatizations reflect and affect viewers. Popcorn will be served.

Dave Custer has been teaching hands-on, interdisciplinary subjects for MITs Experimental Study Group and Writing Program for 30 years. His research is the testing and evaluation of equipment used in rock climbing and mountaineering. Dave spends his free time in the vertical world.


ES.S60: MIT Life Hacks: Getting through 4 years and not stressing out everyday

Instructor: Patti ChristieNaomi Carton
Time and Location: Tuesdays 3-5pm 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.