November 30, 2011

These are a few of my favorite things.

“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity.” 
                  – Einstein

Curiosity is a funny thing. One moment you’re simply idling by, going through the motions and floating through life like a grain of dust in the breeze. Until someone, somewhere piques your curiosity. You get hooked without realizing it. You’re slowly reeled in a little more every day. Eventually, you get so curious you just can’t go without it anymore.

I get this feeling fairly often in college and it always comes from the wisest people on campus – the professors. Over the past 7 semesters, I have had the opportunity to take a variety of classes in a variety of different major fields and departments and there are some classes that have just left a mark on me. They have all had some very good subject matter, but for me the best classes are characterized by the professors who are teaching them. Here is a brief and by no means conclusive list of some of the best classes I have taken at Lafayette and some of the best professors I have worked with.

In no particular order, I present to you:

Basic Social Questions (Philosophy) with Prof. Panichas:
Panichas is a bitter, sarcastic, cynical, sardonic skeptic with the disposition of a cranky old man and the beard to go with it. However, he has been one of the most outstanding professors I have had the chance to learn from. This class is an introductory class that covers basic concepts of morality and ethics in the context of controversial subjects such as abortion, rape and homosexuality. Prof. Panichas makes this class into a controversial but always entertaining and enlightening experience. Ouite frankly, one of the best public speakers I have had a chance to listen to.

On Human Origins (Anthropology) with Prof. Niles
I took this class my first semester freshman year simply because I had a free spot in my schedule, had no other classes to take and I thought it sounded cool. That was a very good decision. Prof. Niles is one of the funniest, most down-to-earth professors I have interacted with. Her classes were always fun, peppered with humorous personal stories and interesting artifacts from her travels and research. The class itself covered human evolution from a physical anthropological point of view (essentially: how do we decide where apes end and humans begin). This was the perfect way to start off my college career.

Sociology of Consumerism and Marketing (Sociology) with Prof. Shulman
Prof. Shulman is one of the most jovial people I have ever met. His class was oftentimes an assault on the senses. Here is a professor who shares my enthusiasm for soccer, good food, theme parks and nonsense. Nominally, the class is focused on sociological reactions to consumerism and marketing tactics and how companies use sociological actions to get us to buy more. I got to write midterm and final papers about my Favorite Soccer Team (Manchester United), Starbucks, Kool-Aid and the Food in NYC. We also had the opportunity to work on marketing campaigns for topics such as reducing instances of theft at Lafayette, which was a lot of fun. To top it all off, as a class we went to 5 Guys, Starbucks, a frozen yogurt place, Chipotle and walked around NYC. I will be taking another class with him next semester for which I simply cannot wait.

Creative Writing (English) with Prof. Gal
It’s not often that you get to walk into a class and have a professor tell you that she wants you to write about whatever you want and make it as interesting and detailed as you feel like. Prof. Gal was a visiting professor who taught a section of the creative writing course a few years ago. I had never really liked ‘writing’ because all the writing I had done up to that point had always been so structured and constricted. Prof. Gal gave us complete creative freedom. I have always been the kind of person to make my stories fantastical and over the top and every week, she encouraged me to stick with this style and taught me ways to improve my writing. I promised her I would keep writing after I finished that class but I have not been able to uphold that promise until I started this blog in Spetember.

Organizational & Industrial Psychology (Psychology) with Prof. Vinchur
I’ve combined two separate classes into one paragraph because there are some similarities to both. Prof. Vinchur really knows his stuff. His immense knowledge of the subject, coupled with his dry humor and wonderful classroom examples really got me into the field of I/O psychology and it is a field I can definitely see myself working in.

Advanced Developmental Psychology (Psychology) with Prof. Bookwala
This was a seminar class with mostly seniors (I was one of maybe three juniors in a class of 20 students). I had actually not taken the prerequisites for this class but really wanted to get in and so emailed Prof. Bookwala begging to get into the class and she let me in. The class focused on human life stages from childhood to old age and different developmental theories related to these life stages. This class was always filled with constructive discussion within and between groups of students. We would start our classes talking about the readings that were due but generally digress to other topics that were important to us as college students. Prof. Bookwala always did an excellent job of bringing it all together and giving each one of us the opportunity to express ourselves as independent individuals. It doesn’t hurt that she wrote my RA recommendation letter for me in my sophomore year when I was applying to be an RA.

So there you have it. A small sampling of some classes and professors I thoroughly enjoyed. This list is by no means comprehensive and is in no particular order. Worst of all, I will probably have to update it again at the end of next semester since I am taking some more classes I am really excited about.

Spring 2012 Schedule – The Impact of Global Colonialism, Deviance, Digital Photography & the Philosophy of Art – Senior Year Spring Win 🙂

posted in Ryan Shroff


  1. inspirational …good work 🙂

    says Patrick Brown
    December 2, 2011 at 3:18 am
  2. Basic Social Questions sounds fascinating. Thanks for the recommendations.

    says Sushimon
    December 2, 2011 at 11:09 pm
  3. Sushimon,

    Glad I could be of assistance.

    says Ryan Shroff
    December 3, 2011 at 6:03 am
  4. Merry Christmas to you Ryan. Loved following your blog this year!

    says johnny
    December 24, 2011 at 11:00 pm
  5. […] Deviance – A sociology class I am taking with Prof. Shulman (who I wrote about in an earlier post). This course examines social deviancy with a particular focus on different theoretical […]

    says · Voices · Lafayette College
    January 19, 2012 at 8:55 am

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