Manresa Course Spotlight: A Mathematical Playbill to Music

Manresa Scholars will have the opportunity to participate in perhaps one of Fordham’s most unique math courses, “Beats, Vibration and Harmony: A Mathematical Playbill to Music.” Taught by Professor Rolf Ryham, the course will examine classic mathematical concepts found in music. Students will consider pitches, consonance, and dissonance through mathematical properties such as trigonometry, and explore musical scales and symmetry within musical composition. The material does not assume a background in Calculus or music theory.

Students will gain scientific and mathematical writing abilities, learn to model real-world situations through mathematical problems, and utilize software to compute and generate tones. “One of the course highlights is the possibility to step back in history and appreciate how music may have sounded in its original form. Some musicians say that each musical key (C, G, etc.) has a special character well suited to the piece, e.g. a key can feel mellow, or feel aggressive. But in our modern tuning there should in principle be no difference between one key to the next because of the way it’s mathematically constructed,” said Professor Ryham.

The course fulfills the Eloquentia Perfecta 1 and Mathematical/Computational Reasoning core requirements. Therefore, while it is a math course, students will strengthen their writing and speaking skills through papers and presentations where they will use mathematics to explain and describe musical sounds.

“What I hope for students to get from this course is the habit of taking note of the physical and digital world, and using mathematical thinking to describe and make predictions about what they are seeing,” said Professor Ryham.

Anja Asato, FCRH 2018
Manresa Programming and Marketing Fellow, 2016-2017

Seminar Spotlight: American History and Citizenship

The Manresa Scholars Program offers five seminars each semester, and this upcoming fall, we are excited to offer a new history course, “Understanding Historical Change: Fighting for Equal Rights in American History.” Taught by Professor Kirsten Swinth, the course explores episodes in American history through the lens of citizenship.

Together, Scholars consider how different groups of Americans have acquired full citizenship, from political to civil and social rights, and the conflicts that resulted from these expansions in citizenship. “Everything we talk about in this class speaks to what it means to live in America today, from political rights to income inequality and social inclusion. We ask hard questions about what democracy means in America and debate whether or not this nation has fulfilled its promise of full equal citizenship to all its members,” says Professor Swinth.

Course highlights include documentary screenings including 13th, to learn about the history behind Black Lives Matter. Students also take part in a discussion group to discuss the powerful book, Evicted, and the Freedom Schools of the Civil Rights Movement.

The course fulfills the Eloquentia Perfecta 1, Understanding Historical Change, and American Pluralism core requirements for Fordham College at Rose Hill students. As an American Pluralism course, it specifically examines how race, gender, and ethnicity have shaped struggles for citizenship. Students gain Eloquentia Perfecta skills as the course emphasizes participation, speaking, and writing, using effective speech and analytical thought.

In this course, Manresa Scholars are be challenged to explore issues facing modern-day Americans. Professor Swinth hopes that students gain an “understanding of the roots of hotly-debated issues of today and a passion for equality and justice.”

Anja Asato, FCRH 2018
Manresa Programming and Marketing Fellow, 2016-2017

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