Unbounded Days

Byline: Scott Nichols

The idea of “unbounded thinking” has been a part of Webb from the beginning. It seeped into our curriculum thanks, in no small measure, to the generosity of Robert Hefner ’53, who made a gift in memory of his former teacher, Ray Alf. This year, the Unbounded Days catalog was the most dynamic and exciting it has ever been, and the benefit to both students and faculty has been all the talk around campus for the last week. Helping students discover new interests and have new experiences is what we all strive for as educators, and this is exactly what the recent Unbounded Days curriculum offered Webbies.

Students chose among twenty-six different Unbounded courses run by Webb faculty and staff over the course of a five-day period. The courses themselves were a mirror reflection of the diversity and creativity that resides within our faculty. “The Science of Baking” course was run by renowned faculty foodie Mr. Dahler, and food-lover Mrs. Ogden. The worldly Michael Kozden offered a “Discovering Chinese Culture” course. Members of the Fine Arts Department teamed up and brought students out to Joshua Tree National Park, among other places, for an “Arts Collision” course fusing visual art with music.

Numerous Webb parents and Webb Alumni are to thank for offering themselves to the Unbounded curriculum. Johnson Lightfoote ’08, now a senior at USC majoring in business admininstration and minoring in video game design, hosted two students for a day at USC. Claremont City Councilor Corey Calaycay ’88 took five students for tour through city government while proudly wearing his school blazer. “Still fits,” he said with a wry smile.

Here is what a few students had to say about their experiences:

Mallory Thompson ‘13: I was very excited for my “Improve Your Improv” course, mostly because I love theatre, but also because I wanted to learn more about improvisation. Working as we did, it was a great way for me to get to know new people, especially the freshmen in the group. It was a great experience.”

Gabe Gosney ‘13: I wasn’t quite sure what to expect going into my “Emergency Medicine” course, but it ended up being very unique. I also got to know new people, but who would have ever imagined I’d be watching laparoscopic surgery at UCLA for my Unbounded course?”

Barbara Smith ‘13: My course was ‘Ecology of Santa Cruz Island,’ and it was amazing! We had a couple pods of whales swimming alongside our boat on the way out there. The hikes were fun, I really enjoyed being out there, especially at night under the stars.”

Laura Saltzer ‘12: “It was interesting to study Los Angeles in my ‘L.A. Stories’ course. There’s this preconceived notion that L.A. is all Hollywood and glitzy, but there’s a gritty and very real other side to it as well. We watched a little bit of Bill Cunningham’s documentary, and I learned that sometimes it is best to go into a photo shoot and let a theme develop, instead of going in and trying to fabricate something. ‘Let the streets speak to you,’ as Cunningham says. That’s how I approached the course, and I think I got some great images as a result.”

Amara Berry ‘12: “I think the options this year for Unbounded were so much better than ever before. I thoroughly enjoyed my course, ‘The Science of Baking.’ I’m used to cooking with mediocre ingredients, but in the course we had things like French chocolate for our cookies. Which, I think almost goes without saying, makes a huge difference in the quality of the product. It was great to learn from such a foodie like Mr. Dahler.”

Click here to read a blog written by Dr. Farke about the "Biostratigraphy of Barstow" course he and Dr. Lofgren ran.

Additionally, here is an exciting video compilation from Unbounded Days.