Scott Monsma Must Know of This

October 18, 2009

As I walked into the restaurant last night, the thought “Scott Monsma must know of this,” immediately worked its way into my head. Why? I was eating at Thai-tanic. In Belfast.

That probably isn’t funny if you don’t know Prof. Monsma, but having taken several classes with him I am now hyper-aware of puns, and even have a decided appreciation of visual ones.

It helps that the food was excellent. Peanut noodles at Thai-tanic. Do it.

It occurred to me last night that you guys know I’m actually going to school here, not just being a layabout, but I haven’t really talked about what classes entail. So here goes:

I’m in the Comparative Ethnic Conflict program, and over the course of my time here I’ll be taking four classes and writing a dissertation. First semester my classes are chosen for me, so right now I’m taking Introduction of Social Science Research and Theories of Ethnicity and Ethnic Conflict. Introduction to Social Science Research is a methods class. It is also very boring. The reading is dull, and the lectures involved me trying to be interested in what the instructor is talking about. For two hours. While they’re talking quickly. In an accent I still have trouble with sometimes. I have a seminar for this course on Wednesdays, and that’s actually pretty interesting. It’s an hour of sitting with a moderator while about 15 of us talk about what we went over and try not to get in fights with each other. I really like it.

Theories of Ethnicity and Ethnic Conflict is exactly opposite. I like the reading, and I like lecture. I do not like the seminar at all. To be fair, we’re only a few weeks in, and maybe it will improve. A word on the settings for my classes: my methods class is held in a fairly large lecture hall that boasts a stifling climate and bench seats that make me feel like a penitent. That’s probably influencing my feeling toward the course. My other course is held in a sort of conference room type setting, with a large table and fairly comfortable chairs. Oh, and I found Peter Rollins’ philosophy dissertation in there, which I thought was terribly interesting.

I have to write two 3000 word papers for each of these classes, which isn’t terribly much; the problem is going to be figuring out what to talk about. Classes are done in June, but my dissertation isn’t due until September. I’ll have some pretty interesting logistical issues to work out in the meantime, since I have to be gone by June.

Speaking of my classes, I should probably start doing my reading for Monday.


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