University News

Paxson’s spring seminar draws 176 applications

Sophomore seminar to cover ties between economics and racial-ethnic health disparities

Staff Writer
Monday, November 17, 2014

More than 170 students entered a lottery — which closed at 5 p.m. Friday — to gain a spot in President Christina Paxson’s sophomore seminar, ECON 0300: “Health Disparities,” said Kathleen McSharry, associate dean of the College for writing and curriculum. The seminar, which will be offered next semester, is capped at 20 students, and those who gain entry will be notified later this week.

The Monday-afternoon seminar will examine the relationship between economics and both racial and ethnic disparities in health, according to its description on Banner.

Paxson’s course is one of 17 sophomore seminars offered this academic year as part of a new initiative outlined in her strategic plan.

The initiative “is a really exciting opportunity for sophomores to take small classes with faculty members despite not having declared a concentration,” said Marguerite Joutz ’15, the course’s teaching assistant. She added that the seminars “are focused specifically on issues of diversity and difference.”

Joutz said she believes students are drawn to Paxson’s course both because its topic is pertinent to current societal issues, and because it offers the unique opportunity to take a class with the University’s president.

Christina Tapiero ’17 said she hopes to enroll in the course because of its relevance to her academic interests.

“I’m very interested in social determinants of health,” she said. “I’m a (sociology) concentrator, and I’m thinking about focusing on health and medicine and its interaction with society for my thematic track.” She added, “I’m super excited for this.”

Tapiero noted that the opportunity to be taught by Paxson makes the course even more attractive.

“It would be interesting to be able to form a relationship with her through this class and also understand where she’s coming from,” Tapiero said. “If this is her area of interest, we can see how it affects the way she views the world and operates within Brown.”

Dan Wang ’17 said though he is interested in applications of economics in political contexts and planned to take an economics course while at Brown, he entered the lottery primarily for the chance to interact with the president.

“She seems like this enigmatic figure. It would be interesting to see the person who has such a big role in running the school,” he said.

Wang expressed surprise that Paxson has time to teach a course while running the University.

But McSharry said Paxson adding teaching to her administrative work is only beneficial.

“Teaching as a complement to administrative work is really nice,” she said. “When you’re with students in the classroom, you see them in a different context,” she said, adding that it helps administrators “appreciate students on a whole new level.”

McSharry added that Paxson would “make time” for her course.

“I’m doing a class this semester and two jobs,” McSharry said. “It’s exhausting, but I’m really enjoying it.”

McSharry noted that while former President Ruth Simmons did not teach any classes while leading Brown, at other higher education institutions, it is “not uncommon” for presidents to teach.

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  1. Huge health disparities between Brown rapists and Brown rape victims. But Chris is oblivious.

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