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Summer 2024 Applications for Tufts Pre-College Programs are now open!

Tufts Summer Accelerator

Available Seminars - Summer 2024

Session 1 | Session 2



Session 1 Seminars (July 7 - 19) 


What is History?

Instructor: David Proctor

Hybrid: Open to Both Virtual and In-Person Students | Session 1 | July 7 - 19 | AM Session

What is History? There are many answers to this question and many of those answers depend on individual views and experiences. In this class we will try to understand the challenges faced by the historian and to try and figure out what history actually represents. Who tells the story? How do they tell it? What biases are in play? How do the times a historian writes in shape their attitudes? Does the historian make the history or does the history shape the historian? By the end of the seminar you will have a better sense of your own view of history as well as the power and responsibility that comes with telling and understanding history, the story of humanity.

Coding Optical Ilusions

Instructor: Crista Falk

Hybrid: Open to Both Virtual and In-Person Students | Session 1 | July 7 – 19 | AM Session

Do you like to code? Do you love to DECEIVE? Level up your programming skills and study the fascinating world of perceptual illusions at the same time! "Coding Optical Illusions" will teach you the basics of implementing and measuring visual and auditory illusions with some theoretical discussion of perceptual research beyond these two modalities. Illusions of significance may include but are not limited to: the Lilac chaser, the Kanizsa triangle, binaural beating, the glissando illusion, the Hermann grid illusion, and more!

How Kids Learn

Instructor: Gauri Harindranath

In-Person | Session 1 | July 7 – July 19 | AM Session

How do we know what babies are thinking when they cannot communicate their thoughts and feelings to us? How do children learn that other people have different beliefs than their own? Across the lifespan, children develop a diverse range of skills: motor, social, cognitive, and more. This two-week introduction to developmental psychology will focus on how this development takes place from infancy to early childhood. In particular, we will examine how infants learn to navigate the physical and social world around them. We will also review various methods used to study this development and consider ways to apply them to our own emerging questions.

How the Body Works

Instructor: Lauren Black

Hybrid: Open to Both Virtual and In-Person Students | Session 1 | July 7 – July 19 | AM Session

In this seminar course we will cover the physiology of the human body, focusing on the different organ systems and how they interact to carry out important bodily functions. We will also discuss how engineering plays a part in the study of physiology and the development of treatments for pathophysiological conditions.


Microbes & Microbiome

Instructor: Nicolas Louw

In-Person | Session 1 | July 7 - 19 | AM Session

Microbes (bacteria, fungi, viruses) dramatically impact our lives, from making us sick to growing our food. This seminar will explore the diversity and functions of major microbial groups that directly impact society. From pathogenic to mutualistic microbes, students will learn about the biochemistry, molecular biology, genetics, and ecology of microbial systems. We will also explore the concept of a microbiome and how scientists are working to identify and manipulate the communities of microbes living in our bodies.


Russia's War with Ukraine

instructor: Oxana Shevel

In-Person | Session 1 | July 7 – 19 | PM Session

Why did Russia invade Ukraine in February 2022? How did Ukraine manage to withstand the invasion by a nuclear superpower? How might the war end, and what could be the consequences of the war for Ukraine, Russia, and European and global security? To answer these (and related) questions, this course will examine Russia’s war on Ukraine by situating it in a broader context of post-Soviet political developments. To attain deeper understanding of the war, we will dwell in topics such as nationalism and imperialism in Russian-Ukrainian relations through history (with the focus on the 20th and 21st centuries); legacies of Soviet nationality policies; the evolution of political regimes in the two states since the fall of communism in 1991; and the role of civil society, public opinion, and identity politics. We will also consider the impact that the USA, European Union and NATO had (and didn’t have) on the war, and issues such as societal resistance in Ukraine, war crimes, stability and fragility of Putin’s authoritarian state, and chances of a negotiated peace settlement.


Chaos Theory

Instructor: Anthony Bucci

Virtual* | Session 1 | July 7 – 19 | PM Session

"Chaos", as a mathematical term, refers to a phenomenon in highly-interconnected systems whereby they become sensitive to small perturbations in their conditions. Sometimes called "the butterfly effect", this sensitivity can make such systems difficult to understand and predict; even the act of observing them can change their future course significantly. We live our lives literally surrounded by chaotic systems, most notably the weather and climate systems. We are also increasingly turning our human-made systems, like the internet, the electric grid, and the financial system, into complex and potentially chaotic systems. In this seminar, we will explore chaos theory as a field of study, and we will explore chaotic systems in practice using a variety of computational tools, with a view towards developing a deeper appreciation of our complex world.

*This is a virtual seminar, but is open to both virtual and in-person Pre-College students*

Asian American Popular Culture

Instructor: Wenxuan Xue

In-Person | Session 2 | July 21 – August 2 | PM Session

This is an introductory course on Asian American representation in popular culture. From stereotypes of perpetual foreigners to more diverse stories such as Minari and Everything Everywhere All at Once, Asian Americans continue grapple with representations in film, theatre, and media. This course explores how “Asian America” is represented and contested on stage, screen as well as in every life. We consider “Asian America” as both a capacious identity category that includes South, Southeast, and East Asian diasporic communities, and a set of diverse lived experiences that produce crucial knowledge, strategies, and ways of being to the world.

Social Justice in Engineering

Instructor: Harpreet Auby

Hybrid: Open to Both Virtual and In-Person Students | Session 1 | July 7 – 19 | PM Session

What role do engineers have in social justice? How do we engage in an equitable engineering design process? Throughout this course, we will delve into these questions by examining case studies and utilizing various resources to explore the fundamental principles of social justice and how they apply to engineering. By this seminar's end, you will learn about the intersection between social justice and engineering and how we can use these concepts in engineering.

Responsible AI

Instructor: Pelin Kivrak

In-Person | Session 1 | July 7 – 19 | PM Session

This course explores the philosophical, moral, and societal challenges brought forth by the rise of artificial intelligence. It engages students in critical thinking about the ethical dimensions surrounding the development and application of AI technologies, from biases in algorithms to the implications of using machines to make art. Drawing from the fields of philosophy, computer science, visual arts, sociology, and policy-making, the course offers students an interdisciplinary lens through which to consider one of the 21st century's most pressing challenges. It urges students not only to reflect on AI's implications but also to envision and work towards a future where AI aligns with human values and ethics.



Session 2 Seminars (July 21 - August 2)


"Black Panther" and Imperialism

Instructor: Marya Mahmood

In-Person | Session 2 | July 21 – August 2 | AM Session

Students will read the works of prominent Black writers and their responses to colonization and oppression such as Frantz Fanon, Walter Rodney, Marcus Garvey, Malcolm X, and Kwame Nkrumah. We will be watching the movie Black Panther, follow it with a debate, and connect the movie to themes of Imperialism and Black resistance.

Free Will: Do You Have It?

Instructor: Monica Link Kim

In-Person | Session 2 | July 21 – August 2 | AM Session

We make countless choices every day, but are any of them free choices? If not, are we doomed? We will cover various philosophical perspectives on free will and discuss some practical implications, including the rightness and wrongness of blame and punishment.

Introduction to Children's Media

Instructor: Rumeysa Ozturk

Hybrid: Open to Both Virtual and In-Person Students | Session 2 | July 21 – August 2 | AM Session

Given the importance of media in children’s lives and the significant amount of time they spend on screens, this seminar introduces the ever-changing field of children’s media (cartoons, animations, etc.) to its participants. The seminar will have an interdisciplinary approach, borrowing ideas from child development, education, and mass media, and incorporating them with diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) principles. In our sessions, we will discuss media content, children’s engagement with media, caregivers’ role in their children’s media habits, production techniques/principles, and cultural sensitivity. The materials in this seminar are mostly based on children’s media from the United States.

Murderous Tales: From Myth to Modern True Crime

Instructor: Pau Cañigueral Batllosera

In-Person | Session 2 | July 21 – August 2 | AM Session

What motivates our interest in narratives of crime? In what ways have early representations of transgression influenced the contemporary genre of true crime? This seminar examines true crime literature from its origins in myth to its development during the early modern period. Participants will engage with a range of texts to consider the enduring question of ethics and society’s fascination with criminality. Through analysis of literature, modern podcasts and documentaries, the course encourages a critical understanding of how these stories reflect and shape societal views on justice and morality. The final assessment involves producing a podcast that synthesizes literary analysis with current true crime discourse.


Cognitive Science

Instructor: Apoorva Vallampati

In-Person | Session 2 | July 21 – August 2 | AM Session

Cognitive science is the interdisciplinary field that attempts to understand the nature of the most intricate system know to humanity- your mind. In this seminar, you will develop foundations in the core disciplines of cognitive science (psychology, neuroscience, computer science, linguistics, and philosophy) while also exploring the ways they can intersect to investigate cognitive tasks like visual perception, memory, learning, problem solving, language, and consciousness. Course material will be delivered through a blend of traditional classroom instruction and hands-on learning.

The seminar will culminate in a final project on any discussed cognitive science subtopic(s). This is an opportunity to create a mini work product (game, tool, puzzle, experiment, etc.) that highlights the area(s) of cognitive science that most interest you. Students will have the option to meet with a psychology graduate student or faculty member to refine their project ideas. This project is flexible, but will require a high level of creative thinking. No computer programming will be required.

Paradoxes and Dilemmas

Instructor: Riccardo Strobino

Hybrid: Open to Both Virtual and In-Person Students | Session 2 | July 21 – August 2 | PM Session

From the trolley problem to nuclear deterrence, from the ship of Theseus to the Liar, from the prisoner’s dilemma to moral luck, paradoxes and dilemmas are problematic cases, conundrums or puzzles that force us to accept counterintuitive conclusions from apparently acceptable premises or to choose between undesirable (and oftentimes equally plausible) outcomes, with no obvious escape route. The seminar discusses pressing issues in philosophy that are relevant for our understanding of language, identity, right and wrong, rational choice, and the nature of evidence.


Instructor: Bernadette Dineen

In-Person | Session 2 | July 21 – August 2 | PM Session

Spanning across multiple disciplines of scientific pursuit, Astrochemistry aims to understand the underlying principles that guide not just space exploration, but scientific process as a whole. In order to investigate the new and undiscovered aspects of space, future scientists need a solid background in chemistry. This seminar offers an introductory understanding of fundamental chemical and astrochemical concepts, including kinetics, thermodynamics, and quantum interactions, for students to use and apply to conceptually navigating space exploration in a meaningful way.

Social Psychology of Racism

Instructor: Sanjana Kadirvel

Hybrid: Open to Both Virtual and In-Person Students | Session 1 | July 7 - 19 | PM Session

This course will examine a social psychological perspective on stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination where we will examine implications for social perception and social experience for individuals' thoughts, behavior, and outcomes. We will explore and discuss original research studies in intergroup relations that shed light on potential ways to address discrimination. This course will include lecture based content, peer- and group-discussions, understanding psychological science, and a final project for students to design a study.


Staging the Psyche: Psychology in Media and Popular Culture

Instructor: DeVante Love

In-Person | Session 2 | July 21 – August 2 | PM Session

Explore how psychology is presented in TV shows, movies, advertisements, and social media. Analyze how influencers, writers, and clinicians communicate psychological concepts, uncovering hidden messages and nuanced cues in popular culture. Get ready for a dynamic and thought-provoking journey, and emerge with sharper skills in discerning the real from the reel in psychology's portrayal in modern media.

Resilience and Rebel Goddesses: The Women of Greek Mythology

Instructor: Marie-Claire Beaulieu

Virtual* | Session 2 | July 21 – August 2 | PM Session

An exploration of legendary and mythical female figures from Greek and Roman mythology, Native American, African, Japanese, and South Asian. We will pay special attention to exploring and defining the nature of female empowerment in these stories and in modern representations of these female mythological figures through film and contemporary art.

*This is a virtual seminar, but is open to both virtual and in-person Pre-College students*