Washington College students sit on the deck at the boathouse having a conversation

Cultivating Curiosity

Start your college experience with a unique opportunity to meet fellow first-year students with shared interests and learn from Washington College faculty this summer.

What is Cultivating Curiosity?

Invited students will explore what it means to be curious in an online class featuring faculty from across the Washington College campus. Then at the end of summer, just before the start of the fall semester, you will come together in smaller groups for in-person learning involving intense discussion, field trips, and community-building as a part of Orientation Explore. 



Chesapeake Semester taking samples

Get to know us!

Both the online course, including small group discussions in breakout rooms, and the in-person experiences will explore how different academic disciplines think about curiosity and how it inspires new ideas and discoveries. Additionally, classes will include some practical information about life at Washington College, such as how to participate in discussions, work with professors to get your questions answered, navigate online learning tools like Canvas and Self-Service, and balance wellness and personal development in the earliest weeks of college  

Students in Sumner Hall

We know it's still summertime

Each course is pass/fail and will not use formal textbooks, instead featuring popular articles and media for smart audiences. Cultivating Curiosity is worth two credits, so you will enter the College with a head start toward your requirements. 


More about Cultivating Curiosity  


  • July 5 to August 16: Wednesdays from 6 to 8 p.m. online
  • August 23-26: Special sessions for Cultivating Curiosity students during Explore!, Washington College's signature orientation program 
  • 1 Course, team taught by Dr. Sara Clarke-De Reza (Education), Dr. Ben Tilghman (Art history), Dr. Mala Misra (Biology), and Dr. Michael Harvey (Business Management)
  • 48 students 
  • 4 Explore! classes (see additional information, below) , 12 students each 
  • Get to know the Washington community, your first-year peers, and College faculty members 
  • Understand the logistics of living and learning at the College 
  • Explore a topic you find exciting! 

The course

Making Museums

Making History, Making Museums 
Professor Sara Clarke-De Reza and Raven Bishop  

Who gets to decide what makes it into a museum’s collection? Whose stories are lifted up to be included on the panels, audio tours, and online displays that show us as learners what is important to know about history? Conversely, which parts of history are not on display, and why? Perhaps most importantly, what can you, as a Washington College student, do if you want to participate in how history is told in public spaces? 

In this orientation program, we will consider how public spaces of history—like museums, walking tours and monuments—tell their stories. We will explore the local history of Chestertown, and of Kent County, by visiting local historical sites and meeting with some of our community’s great historians. We will travel to regional museums and speak with people doing behind-the-scenes work in some of our region’s most interesting museums and cultural sites. Finally, we will partner with a local museum to help them begin the process of telling their story to the wider world by digitizing objects in their collection and building a virtual museum tour. 

National Mall

Exploring the National Mall
Professor Michael Harvey 

At the heart of our nation’s capital is the National Mall: 2 ½ miles of green space, monuments, memorials, and museums, where Americans gather for protest or commemoration, and where millions of visitors each year encounter an idealized version of American identity. The Mall is a long east-west space, extending from the domed Capitol building on the east to the Parthenon-inspired Lincoln Memorial on the west. In this Explore program, students will visit many of the Mall’s familiar memorials, exploring how generations of politicians, artists, and citizens have shaped field, swamp, and reclaimed river into a collective civic memory—and how this “memory” continues to evolve. Note: This program includes a lot of walking but is accessible to students with mobility challenges. The program includes an overnight in DC, a visit to Arlington National Cemetery, and an additional ramble around Washington, DC. 


The Beautiful and the Strange: Exploring the Natural World Through Art and Science (two sections)
Professors Mala Misra and Ben Tilghman

Popular narratives tend to place art and science at opposite ends of the spectrum of knowledge, with art representing emotion and subjectivity and science representing reason and objectivity. But in a recent survey of 3,000 biologists and physicists in the United Kingdom, Italy, India, and the United States, three-quarters of respondents said they encounter beauty in their chosen area of study, and more than half said that beauty improves their scientific understanding. On the other side of the perceived divide, we find a long history of artists engaging with scientific ideas and new technologies, stretching from ancient societies to today. In fact, the ancient Greek word techne from which we get the word “technology,” is best translated as “craft” or “art.”    

In this orientation program, we will explore some of the interesting intersections between art and science on our campus, in the Chestertown community, and at museums in Baltimore and Philadelphia. We will consider some of the ways in which art and aesthetics motivate scientific discovery and enhance scientific communication. Conversely, we will also examine the ways in which scientific thinking – asking questions, testing hypotheses, observing outcomes, and identifying patterns – directly informs artists’ choices of subject matter, medium, and audience.