Less than a week before classes start, New College of Florida has added a new class on Homer’s Odyssey to the course catalog, according to emails provided to Inside Higher Ed. The course is targeted at first-year students and offers all attendees a complimentary dinner, served by food trucks, each class—as well as a free copy of Robert Fagles’s translation of the epic poem. The college hopes to enroll as many as 90 students in the course.
The Office of the Provost emailed NCF’s faculty on Aug. 22 seeking “section leaders”—who needn’t have knowledge of the text—to lead the discussion portion of the course and one-time “guest lecturers” to present The Odyssey through the viewpoint of their discipline. The college will pay them stipends of $8,000 and $500 respectively, according to the email.
Ryan Terry, vice president of communications and marketing, wrote in an email that the course was developed at the last minute because “the faculty were off contract until last week.” He also noted that the stipends, books and food trucks will be funded “like any other course—a combination of state and federal funds, private donations, and tuition revenue.”
The course is a beta test for possible inclusion into the “core curriculum” that interim president Richard Corcoran has suggested he wants to develop at New College as part of Governor Ron DeSantis’s plan to remake the liberal arts institution with a conservative bent. The college is also planning to beta test a course on data visualization in the spring that will include the same perks as the Odyssey class. Terry confirmed that if the courses are permanently added to that curriculum, the college will continue to offer students who sign up dinner and free books.
“The goal of these classes is to introduce students to the Logos/Techne curriculum, build a sense of community, and provide students with a transformative educational experience that centers on a deep appreciation for the past and innovative skills that will provide success in the future,” the spokesman wrote.
The college, which struggled leading up to the fall semester with the loss of dozens of professors and a last-minute scramble to find housing for students, also faced backlash this week for making student orientation leaders remove LGBTQ+ pride and Black Lives Matter pins, The Sarasota Herald Tribune reported.