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 in new skills, and you will become part of a new place that is defined by both its physical and social character. 

New beginnings can also bring challenges as you navigate a new environment. SET SAIL (Success Equals Teamwork, Strategies and Inspired Learning) was created to help you master those challenges and launch your success by teaching you how to:

  • Reflect on the key role of connections you’ll be forming with your peers, faculty, and staff at New College
  • Take charge of your learning inside and outside of the classroom in new and exciting ways
  • Practice strategies to use in any of your classes, including effectively managing projects and assignments big or small, enacting positive teamwork skills, engaging actively with texts, communicating your ideas, and more.

SET SAIL 2022 Courses

Writing About Writing

Imagine that you and writing are in a relationship. How would you describe that relationship? If you answered, “it’s complicated,” then you aren’t 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 aren’t 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 other’s company.

Dr. Jennifer Wells is the Director of Writing for New College of Florida. She has 20 years’ teaching experience at both the college and high school levels, so she understands where first year students are coming from as well as where they are going next. In addition to her teaching career, Dr. Wells has also driven a Christmas tree farm train, acted in one episode of a reality TV makeover show, and flown around the country as a pet nanny. When she’s not working, Dr. Wells loves to travel, especially to her home state of California, and spend time with her dogs, Caspian and Clive.


Mathematical Thinking: Patterns, Puzzles, and Exploration

Are you a creative problem solver? Someone who likes puzzles? Do you prefer collaboration to competition? Do you like to learn by exploring and making your own discoveries? This is the class for you! We do away with lectures and instead work together as a team to explore and solve challenging problems in a range of topics across pure and applied mathematics. We also examine social ideas and norms around math and mathematical ability. No background is required beyond high school algebra and interest.

You will get to:

  • Hone your critical thinking skills.
  • Work collaboratively with your peers.
  • Discover mathematical truths organically.
  • Solve complex problems by creating conjectures, exploring examples, and testing theories.

In other words, think mathematically!

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.


Writing The Self

Remember when you wrote your essay to apply for college? How much have you changed since then? What are your personal and academic expectations during your college experience? If these are some of the questions you are asking yourself this seminar is for you. This seminar will provide a space for you to explore and reflect on how we create your “self” and present it to others in the context of college life through the study of Spanish-American prose that use the I, (first person voice) to tell the story of becoming: autobiography, testimonio, letters, memoir, and novels. This seminar will help you to develop an awareness of what kind of learner you are, and want to be, by reading authors who told their stories as learners, and presentations by resources from New College who will assist you in developing the skills you need to become the learner you want to be.

Dr. Sonia Labrador-Rodriguez teaches Spanish language, Caribbean, Afro-Latin American and Latin-American literature and culture. She is originally from the countryside in Puerto Rico, and a first-generation college student, both experiences that have influenced her teaching and research.


Socio-opoly: Introduction to Sociology

What board games did you play as a child? What games do you play now? Board games have been a form of entertainment for centuries, and they have recently experienced a resurgence.  It can be challenging to look at very familiar aspects of social life and see them as unfamiliar; Sociology is the “art of seeing the ordinary as extraordinary.” Having a vehicle to guide in inquiry helps, and board games will be our vehicle.

Let’s use the iconic game of Monopoly to ask questions like:

  • How can we use sociological perspectives to understand what games communicate about societies?
  • How do the many variations of Monopoly (e.g., Monopoly Jr., Ms. Monopoly, Medical Monopoly, Earth-opoly, Socialism Monopoly) reinforce and reflect our cultural values, beliefs, and rules?

After learning about principles of board games and doing your own sociological analyses of themed Monopoly games, you’ll use your “sociological imagination” to create your own Monopoly game that reflects a topic of interest to you!

Dr. Barbara Feldman is a sociologist who has a love of games and puzzles.   She has done the New York Times crossword puzzle every day since college. She once competed in the National Crossword Puzzle Championship.  She also enjoys jigsaw puzzles and scrabble.  Ironically, Monopoly is one of her least favorite games.


Thinking Green: Nature, Environment, and Sustainability in Germany

Have you ever thought about how other countries interact with nature and respond to environmental threats? Let’s look at Germany, one of the most eco-friendly countries in the world and find out how Germany sets itself apart. What can we learn from them? From analyzing sources to reflect critically on global and local environmental issues to exploring your own relationship with nature and the environment, let’s embark on a journey of cultural awareness, social responsibility, and self-reflection.

  • Examine Germany’s relationship to nature by participating in a traditional nature walk.
  • Discuss how the idea of nature is reflected in poems, fairy tales, and visual art.
  • Learn how to give a TED talk by researching the history and politics of German environmentalism, sustainability, and nature conservation and protection.

Dr. Alexandra Hagen teaches German and Film Studies at New College. She is the first person in her family to graduate from college. She enjoys working with students and finding out what interests and inspires them, so she can incorporate it in her teaching. Originally from Germany, she is an avid traveler and has lived and worked on four continents. When she is not teaching, you can find her at the beach or exploring nature with her standard schnauzer Zilly Pepper.


The Care and Feeding of Your Brain

Do you ever wish that your brain came with an owners’ manual? Let’s explore the neuroscience behind how your brain helps you learn and remember things, think and communicate ideas, and experience emotion, stress, or relaxation. Our brains make us who we are, and this knowledge can help you better succeed as a learner, as a member of the New College community, and as a human in the world.

  • Learn about the brain in multiple ways using discussions, readings, short videos, interactive lectures, case studies, and more.
  • Navigate the scientific information landscape by critically assessing the creators, distributors, and consumers of neuroscience information sources, and why scholarly publication is fraught with financial and professional peril.
  • Collaborate on a multimedia “owner’s manual for your brain” to share your brainy insights with others.

Dr. Liz Leininger is a neurobiologist who studies how neural circuits underlying behaviors function, develop, and evolve. She is also the Director of the SET SAIL program! When she’s not teaching courses in biology and neuroscience or mentoring students in her research lab, she enjoys watching and photographing the many species of birds on the New College campus and around Sarasota.

Helene Gold, originally from Lee, MA, has 25 years’ experience as an academic librarian, skeptic, and generally outraged citizen. When she’s not teaching library research classes and serving on the library’s leadership team, she’s birding, baking, and enjoying the company of her delightful cat, Roger.


Key Figures in Latin American and Latinx Theatre

Who are the movers and shakers of contemporary Latin American and Latinx Theatre? Have you heard of Gomez-Peña, Miranda, Cruz, Ott, Leguizamo, Moraga, Boal, and others? Join us in learning to analyze the performing arts through the work of these key figures!  If this topic intrigues you, throughout the semester we will examine their contributions, find related media/reviews, and discuss the context and themes in their art work.

  • Let’s learn about new artists, writers, and thinkers of performance!
  • Let’s explore Latin American and Latinx cultural context(s) that influenced these artists!
  • Let’s learn to analyze and discuss works of theatre and performance!
  • Let’s create staged readings, class presentations, and character monologues!
  • Let’s collaborate in teams to write our papers, synthesize our findings, and perform based on our research!

Dr. Diego Villada is Core Faculty member of the Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies program. He is a movement specialist and performance scholar. Most of the time, in a rehearsal room, he is the fight choreographer and/or director of the show. When he is not teaching or creating art, Diego enjoys taking his kids to flag football and ballet; basically, he is a chauffeur to and from children’s extracurricular activities. Diego also loves learning about performance in Latin America and its diaspora.


The Holocaust as History and Memory

How do we know what we know about the past?  What lessons can and should we learn from it?  In this seminar, we will consider the big questions that the Holocaust poses—why it happened, how we should remember, commemorate, and study it, and whether and how we should engage with those who deny it occurred.

In this class, you will learn firsthand how historians gather, compare, and evaluate information about the past by using the resources of the Fagin Holocaust Collection in the NCF library, will discuss books, articles, films, and museum exhibitions on the Holocaust with your fellow students, and along the way, you will learn how to think critically and analytically, navigate resources on our campus and around the world, engage in informed and productive dialogue about difficult topics, and find your own voice as a student of the liberal arts and a citizen of the global community.

Dr. David Harvey is Professor of History at New College of Florida, where he has taught since 2000.  He has published three books and a dozen articles on various topics in modern European history.


Beginnings & Endings: A Creative Writing Workshop

Our climate story thus far has been frightening and inspiring, infuriating and empowering. It’s been suspenseful in some ways and all too predictable in others. But we get to craft our own ending. And that ending, fortunately, has yet to be written. ~ Susan Casey-Lefkowitz, Senior Strategic Advisor, National Resource Defense Council

In this mixed-genre Creative Writing workshop, we will experiment with a variety of ways to begin and end stories, poems and anything and everything in between! Our theme this term is climate change; we’ll start by exploring strategies professional writers have used to help readers make an emotional connection with recent and predicted manmade disasters and natural hazards. Then, we will write! The vast majority (70-100%) of your creative work for this class will involve creation, generation, recreation, transcendence, experimentation, and other process-oriented exploration; a smaller amount of energy (0-30%) will be given to crafting, revising, polishing, tweaking and other product-oriented tasks. Along the way, you’ll develop a deep understanding of your own artistic process, grow the practical discipline that is a necessary complement to artistic discipline, learn how to give and receive painful feedback, and experience the joy of transforming writing from a private endeavor into a public act of communication. This course will not only stimulate your development as a writer but will also—and perhaps more importantly—catalyze personal growth: as a maker, as a thinker, as a literary citizen, and as an essential member of the New College community. This workshop is open to writers who identify as poets and storytellers, as well as folks who don’t yet know how they identify as a writer but want to recover the writerly self they have not forgotten but have forgotten how to remember!

Dr. Emily Carr is committed to creating charismatic, emotionally-resonant spaces where intellectual discourse is warmed by the heat of feeling. Her experience teaching music to Quaker children early in her career encourages her to think of all of her classes as laboratories: spaces for exploration, imagining together, sharing what we’ve created, and thinking metacognitively about what happens in these inventive moments.


The Science of Light and Color

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:

  • Follow your passions while learning about light and our colorful reality.  We will guide your curious and artistic minds to observe light and meld the source with poetry, photography, and scientific inquiry.
  • Ponder, brainstorm, and participate in creating light ‘magic’ to share with your peers.
  • Get a close-up look at the stars at a stargazing event; capture the green flash with your camera; contemplate light perception and experience together the Joseph’s Coat  at the Ringling Museum.

Dr. Mariana 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.


Secrets in Clay: Introduction to Ceramics in Archaeology

Have you ever wondered how archaeologists study ancient technologies? Before the mass production of plastic, past societies greatly depended on ceramics in their daily life. Besides its role in culinary practices –like cooking or storing– and construction, ceramics were a means to communicate symbolic representations, group affiliation, and social distinction. Due to their durability, ceramic materials such as broken pots and figurines are the bulk of artifacts that archaeologists find. What can we learn from them?

Join us in exploring the past and present of ceramics by:

  • Reading about perspectives of the people who made the pots and from the perspective of the archaeologists who find them in archaeological sites.
  • Visiting a studio to have a real-pottery experience in the different stages of throwing, firing, and glazing your pots.
  • Analyze features of the pots produced in class using archaeological techniques.

Dr. Ana María Navas-Méndez is an archaeologist who studies the role of technology after the European colonization of Latin America. In addition to her career, she was part of a theater group at the university in her home country Venezuela. When she’s not writing or teaching courses in archaeology, she likes to relax by doing some gardening and going to the beach.