Your new beginning at New College will bring exciting opportunities! You will meet new people and learn about their experiences, you will study new topics and push yourself to grow, and you will shape your own unique path.

New beginnings can also bring challenges as you navigate a new environment. SET SAIL was created to help you master those challenges and launch your success by teaching you how to:

  • Take charge of your learning inside and outside of the classroom in new and exciting ways
  • Leverage campus resources to help you succeed
  • Navigate the New College academic program and use it to support your goals

SET SAIL 2023 Courses

Data and You: Surviving the Information Age

Dr. Tiago Perez
Jennifer Meier

Ever wondered how a company could learn what makes you tick by having one of your friends (not you!) install an app? How Target knows you are pregnant before your parents do? Is your password really “strong”? Are all those Google searches really anonymous? In the Information Age that we are living in, knowing the basics of Data Science and Computer Security have become fundamental to protect your data, your privacy, and even your money. No experience with programming or background in computer/data science needed.

In this class you will get to:

  • Take your first steps to becoming a Cyber Ninja
  • Protect your data, privacy, and money in the information age
  • Work in a team environment to understand data and security issues

Dr. Tiago Perez is an Assistant Professor of Data Science at New College. Originally from Brazil, he received his Bachelor from Georgia Tech in 2005, went to work in the IT industry for several years, and received his PhD from the University of Colorado in 2019. His studies and research encompass both computer security and Data Science. In his spare time, he enjoys spending time with his 5 kids, board games, movies and Sci-Fi in all its forms.

Environmental Monitoring

Dr. Lin Jiang

Climate change, ozone hole, water contamination, air pollution, red tide, and other societal issues are regularly featured in the media. Chemistry plays a crucial role in addressing these challenges. Looking into these issues and learning the chemical processes behind them can improve the quality of our daily lives.

We’ll understand how chemistry can change our daily lives and what it tells us about possible solutions to environmental problems the world is facing by:

  • Thinking critically about complex subjects by applying broad knowledge and transferable skills in a socially responsible manner.
  • Monitoring the environment through field trips such as testing natural dyes and measuring the hardness index of water samples.
  • Using case studies and analyzing the chemical process behind them then communicating with a general audience.

Dr. Lin is a bioorganic chemist and environmental chemist at New College. She is interested in the practical applications of various natural products in environmental and human health areas. When she is not teaching or doing research, she enjoys reading books, drawing cartoons, and traveling. She has traveled to over 30 states of the US. Dr. Lin enjoys playing all types of STEAM games with her two wonderful kids.

Introduction to Field Ecology via Adventure Sports

Dr. Jose Soto-Shoender
Captain Tyler Fortune

Are you interested in exploring and learning about the ecosystems of the Sarasota Bay Watershed or the ecosystems in and around New College campus? Do you want to develop lifelong skills that will help you conduct ecological studies? Let’s observe first-hand how ecosystems are managed across our local parks and the challenges faced in their conservation.

In this class, you’ll:

  • Witness human interactions with wild spaces in our local area as you kayak and sail our waterways.
  • Meet local professionals working on conservation issues through field trips to local parks and ecosystems.
  • Propose, design, and implement your own fieldwork projects to answer questions about the ecology of the New College campus and local wild spaces.

Dr. Jose Soto-Shoender is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Biology and Ecology at New College. Originally from Guatemala, he obtained his graduate degrees (MSc. and PhD) in wildlife ecology and conservation from the University of Florida. He has worked in wildlife ecological and conservation projects in Central America, The U.S., and Africa. When he is not teaching, you will find him exploring natural areas of Florida with his family and two dogs.

Captain Tyler Fortune is the Director of Waterfront & Campus Recreation. He has been a professional mariner for almost 15 years, holding a master captain’s license. His degree is in marine science and has done several marine restoration projects in Florida, the Caribbean and New England. In addition to field work, he has taught marine and environmental sciences in New England and Florida. With a passion for the ocean he is often found doing any number of sea sports; like sailing, diving or surfing.

Science of Light and Color

Dr. Mariana Sendova

Why are sunsets brilliantly red and orange? Have you ever set your heart on bringing the stars closer? We will expand your horizon by exploring light. Light is the primary medium of our natural world. Through the study of light, we understand the composition of stars and galaxies that are light years away, while simultaneously we watch microscopic processes of living cells in vivo. In this class, you will be invited to: 1) Follow your passions while learning about light and our colorful reality. 2) We will guide your curious and artistic minds to observe light and meld the source with poetry, photography, and scientific inquiry. 3) You will ponder, brainstorm, and participate in creating light ‘magic’ to share with your peers. This course will foster lifelong learning, integrative learning and basic quantitative skills.

Professor Sendova is the first female Physics professor in New College history. She is an experimental physicist with 87 publications in the areas of optical spectroscopy, materials science, nano-science, biophysics, chemical physics, and archaeometry. A quarter of her publications are with New College students. Born and educated in Bulgaria, she has done research at Emory University and in the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. When she is not teaching or doing research, she is enjoying outdoor activities such as biking, kayaking, sailing, hiking, and camping. She admires nature and has been to almost all National parks in US including Alaska, Hawaii, and the US Virgin Islands. Professor Sendova enjoys her two wonderful daughters.

Writing About Writing

Dr. Jennifer Wells

Imagine that you and writing are in a relationship. How would you describe that relationship? If you answered, its complicated, then you arent alone! Many NCF students have complex histories with writing some good, some not so good; and as a result, bring a lot of beliefs about writing and themselves as writers to college.

  • Learn from 60 years of research on writing in order to change any beliefs and related behaviors that limit you.
  • Read essays like Shitty First Drafts by Anne Lamott, unlock the secrets to analysis by playing around with Instagram filters, and consider new ways of thinking about research by looking for what is hidden in plain sight.
  • Develop a whole toolkit of strategies for reading one time and remembering what you read; staying motivated when you arent feeling it; breaking large projects into small pieces; and getting the most out of apps like Forest and Habitica.

By the end of the class, you and writing may not be BFFs, but you will be able to get along and enjoy each others company.

Thinking About Music

Dr. Aaron Edidin

Abstract patterns of pitch (high or low) and duration (long or short) touch our hearts and bind us to one another. What’s up with that? Does music matter to you? Here’s a chance to think hard about how that goes. Philosophers and musicians since antiquity, and cognitive scientists in the last half-century, have explored ideas about what music is, what it does for us (and to us), and how our ears and brains make meaning out of patterns of vibration in the air. In this course you’ll

  • Learn about philosophical ideas about music, and respond critically to them with ideas of your own.
  • Learn about research about music cognition, and think about how scientific facts about our minds relate to what we care about.
  • Connect abstract philosophy and scientific research to your own experience and the place of music in your life. You’ll share music that you like (and maybe some that you dislike), and we’ll connect with musical happenings on campus. And you’ll use ideas and information from the course to discuss, think about, and write about the music that matters most to you.

Aron Edidin is a philosopher who explores the kinds of artistry involved in musical performance, along with issues in other parts of philosophy concerning knowledge, language, and reality. He started thinking hard about music in a course about the history of musical instruments, and he loves classical music, jazz, and experimental new music.

Mathematical Thinking: Patterns, Puzzles, and Exploration

Dr. Chris Kottke

This course introduces means of mathematical thinking through the exploration of problems not found in a typical math class. Rather than lecture, the class is built around student exploration of the material, in order to discover and understand mathematical concepts organically, while at the same time building general transferable problem solving and teamwork skills. We also investigate sociological aspects of mathematics, breaking down some of the harmful preconceptions about who is suited for mathematical thought.

Dr. Christopher Kottke received his Ph.D. in Mathematics from MIT in 2010 and has been at NCF since 2016. Outside of mathematics, he enjoys cooking, playing jazz on the piano and trumpet, biking, and climbing rocks and trees.

Consuming the Visual Arts in Late-Nineteenth-Century Paris

Dr. Katherine Brion

The contemporary fascination with Paris is rooted in the nineteenth century. Late-nineteenth-century Paris, in particular, was full of visual attractions: not only were a wealth of images (postcards, photographs, posters, prints, illustrated newspapers) and other highly visible goods on display there, but the city itself presented a series of spectacular views to the urban stroller–the (in)famous flâneur. Artists were both fascinated by and critical of all the city had to offer as a subject, and concerned that art might come to be seen as just one more marketable visual commodity in a Parisian consumer paradise. Had the city sold its soul, along with its many attractions? Would the artist? We will ask ourselves these and many other questions as we explore the visual topography of late-nineteenth-century Paris and the role of artistic production within it. Among other activities, you will:

  • Hone your oral and written communication skills while exploring the visual and artistic culture of fin-de-siècle Paris.
  • Analyze a nineteenth-century artwork through the eyes of an art critic from the same period. Here’s your chance to channel the likes of poet Charles Baudelaire!
  • Take on the role of a nineteenth-century French artist, critic, or art dealer in a restaging of 1888-89 art debates and events, including public exhibitions related to the 1889 Paris Universal Exposition (the event that brought us the Eiffel Tower!).

Dr. Katherine Brion teaches art history and museum studies courses at New College. Her Set Sail class is inspired by her research specialization in the art and visual culture of late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century France, as well as the time she has spent living and studying in France, including in Paris. Aside from France and Florida, Dr. Brion has spent most of her life in California (where she was born) and Michigan. She loves visiting museums and historical sites, exploring the natural world (whether hiking, searching for shells, or swimming in the ocean), going to farmers markets, baking, reading novels, and being with her family.

Writing the Self: Becoming a Learner through First-Person Narratives from Spanish America

Dr. Sonia Labrador

Don’t let the title of this course fool you. This is not a writing course, but a course about authors from Latin America writing about their relationship with knowledge and learning. Are you a first-generation in college, or perhaps a good education is a value of your family. Come and read about historical and fictional characters’ struggle to have access to an education, facing enslavement, limitations due to their gender, imprisonment and persecution, and physical limitations.                                                                                        

In this class you will have the opportunity to:

  • Reflect about your journey as a learner and share your experience with fellow learners. What are the challenges that you are facing as a first semester student?
  • Learn reading strategies to find better ways to approach reading assignments and enjoy reading literature.
  • Get to know some of the most fascinating authors from Spanish-America

Dr. Sonia Labrador Rodríguez was born in a small rural town in Puerto Rico. She and her brother were the first members of her family to attend college. She did her BA at the University of Puerto Rico-Rico Piedras and her MA/Phd at SUNY-Stony Brook, N.Y. She is interested in intellectual history, and non-traditional ways of accessing and producing knowledge. At New College, she teaches Spanish, Caribbean and Latin-American literature. She loves to crochet and gardening.