Honors class launches website investigating romantic love

Students learned about romantic love as seen by psychologists, sociologists, writers, and artists such as Jean-Honoré Fragonard through his 1767 work,
January 28, 2014

What do young adults need to know about romantic love? Exploring this guiding question, Honors students gained marketable skills and an interdisciplinary perspective while creating a website.

English professor Pamela Regis invited faculty experts in Art, Psychology, Biology, and Sociology to guest lecture in the sophomore interdisciplinary studies (SIS) course, “Romantic Love.” Regis hoped the SIS would offer the students insight into their own romantic situations while helping them appreciate multidisciplinary approaches to problem solving.

Students like Tazhae Williams were fascinated by the research behind romance, from the lifetime monogamy of prairie voles to the sociological effects of hooking up.

“I look at (love) from a tactical standpoint, like a battle,” said the Biochemistry major from Hyattsville, Md. Equipped with knowledge of how hormones affect relationships, Williams’ strategy for protection is to keep “a permeable membrane” around her heart.

Honors class launches website investigating romantic love
(front row, from left) Tazhae Williams, Rajesh Felix, and Dan Sergeyev. (back row, from left) Vicki Deffinbaugh and Kirsten Coleman.

Transfer student Rajesh Felix of Perrysburg, Ohio, was surprised to see how demographics affect romance when the class posed a 20-question survey to McDaniel undergraduates.

“I didn’t realize that romance was put into such a statistical scrutiny,” said the junior Economics major.

His experience matched that of many in the class, as he gained an appreciation for the study of romantic love – and even romance novels, no surprise considering their professor is director of the Nora Roberts Center for American Romance.

The wide-ranging topics of the semester came together in the website development project, intended by Regis as an opportunity for the students to master some new media skills while finding connections between the varied perspectives on romantic love.

Working both in partnerships and as a huge team, the class wrote and edited text, mapped the site, and designed a layout. Felix, who has worked professionally with content management systems, said the team project is real-world applicable. Williams agrees. She feels prepared to set up her own website when she starts her child psychology practice one day.

Biology major Sabrina Hudicka values the step out of her scientific comfort zone, because the fast-paced collaboration has turned into an achievement to be proud of.

“It’s really cool to see all our hard work coming together,” said the pre-med sophomore from Hampstead, Md. “It’s opened my eyes more to different concepts of love.”

So what do young adults need to know about romantic love? A little bit of everything.