Faculty Course List

Professor Bruce Stephenson, Icons of Paradise and Nature in the City.
Stephenson (Environmental Studies), Icons of Paradise (winter-term): The
idyllic beauty of Rollins College and Winter Park is no accident. They were both carefully planned, the last vestiges of a design style initiated during the Italian Renaissance. Charles Morse, Winter Park’s town founder, implemented a Renaissance style plan, even setting aside land for a sacro bosco (sacred grove) that became the Genius Reserve. Students will be introduced to the tenets of Renaissance design that linked college, town, and landscape in the hope of advancing the liberal arts beyond campus. In spring-term students in Nature in the City will utilize Frederick Law Olmsted’s landscape categories (pastoral, picturesque and sublime) to analyze the Genius Reserve. They will perform the same exercise in two adjacent planned communities. Senior Seminar students
will travel to Florida’s top restored sites before designing restoration plans on
the Genius reserve.

Professor Steve Phelan, Exploring Wild Florida and The Poetry of Earth and the Songs of Florida.
Phelan (English), Exploring Wild Florida (winter-term): After reading William Bartram’s Travels, students will explore wild central Florida focusing on the Wekiva River basin. This course will dovetail with his spring-term class The Poetry of Earth and the Songs of Florida, which introduces Whitman and builds
to the concepts of Leopold. The last half of the course will focus entirely on the poetry of Florida as it engages the flora and fauna, the people and habitats of
the Wekiva River Basin. Using Raven software from Cornell’s Ornithology Lab, students will make bio-acoustic recordings of a variety of birds (at the Reserve) and learn to identify them by their songs. This project gathered into a CD and launched on the web site will be for each student a “Song of Myself” and presented to residential neighbors of the Reserve and the Morse-Genius Foundation.

Professor Denise Cummings, Images of Paradise: Florida in Films and Expository Writing.
Cummings (English), Images of Paradise: Florida in Film (winter-term): The perception of Florida as a paradise has heavily influenced the state’s depiction
in film. Utilizing the Genius Reserve for on-site class discussion and reflection, this course will utilize feature films and documentaries that intertwine the
natural history of Florida with the larger implications of suburban sprawl. The
goal of this course is to help students understand the need to balance Florida’s natural systems with human interaction. This theme will carry over into Cummings’ ST Expository Writing. Writing is an inventive process, one that
allows us to develop ideas and express ourselves. To frame these tasks,
students will analyze Central Florida’s varied landscape. The Genius Reserve
will be a counterpoint to the region’s more intensely developed places and a perspective from which to consider the value of preservation of the land.

Professors Judy Schmalstig and Paul Stephenson, Introduction to Wild Florida.
Schmalstig and Paul Stephenson (Biology), Intro to Wild Florida (winter-term): The course is to provide primarily non-science majors with an introduction to
the diversity of Florida’s natural environments. Students will weigh the pros and cons of conservation efforts in the region and answer the question “Is it worth preserving Florida’s natural environment?” The Genius Reserve will provide an example of what can be done to preserve Florida’s natural landscape. Students will also visit 4-5 areas in central Florida that are currently threatened by development, and analyze different aspects of the particular ecosystem and the challenges it faces. Schmalstig will utilize the Genius Reserve in her spring-term Medicinal Botany. The course focuses on the chemistry of plant derived medicines, ethnobotany, and plant conservation. Students will read a selection from Cross Creek to understand the gardens common to Floridians in the 1930’s and 1940’s, visit the Genius site and other local natural areas. The students will research medicinal plants that were used both by Native Americans and by early settlers of Florida, and present a proposal to the Morse-Genius Foundation to
plant a medicinal garden on the Genius Reserve. Stephenson will transition this experience into his spring-term Wild Florida, which focuses more heavily on the biology of Florida’s natural habitats. The Genius Reserve will be an integral part
of the course, as the partially restored property provides a window into the
recent past, allowing students to visualize the landscape as it appeared 100
years ago and interact with students in other disciplines studying the site.
Through this process, students will make predictions on the effect habitat loss
will have on future Florida residents.

Professor Ryan Musgrave, Ethics.
Musgrave (Philosophy) will focus her Ethics course on the Genius Reserve in spring-term. Classes will be held on site, and will include a hands-on experience concerning ethics and ecological restoration, and its relation to public goods
and shared resources. Students will reflect on their shared environmental preservation experiences, and will share their accounts of the ethical relevance
of restoration and chosen service projects.