Napier Courses

What is a Napier Course?

Since 2012 the Napier Initiative has been partnering with the five undergraduate Claremont Colleges to offer intergenerational courses centered on social justice themes and projects. The courses provide a platform for bringing theory and practice together, enrolling undergraduate students with an interest in learning more about justice issues and how to bring their knowledge to bear on making real world change. Retirees from Pilgrim Place and local communities may enroll as fully participating co-learners.


Napier Courses Aim to:


  1. Maximize the mutually rewarding possibilities unleased by collaborative learning between elders and undergraduates.

  2. Develop intergenerational interactions that encourage undergraduates to form and act upon vocational and avocational commitments to leadership in a variety of arenas for justice oriented action.

  3. Provide opportunities for transformational learning through participation in real world change-making.

Click here to link to an article, by David Mann, about a Napier course."


Four Napier Courses are Currently Offered:


Religion, Ethics, and Social Practice - Zayn Kassam, Professor of Religious Studies, Pomona College and David Mann, Pilgrim Place Resident

Feminism and Science - Sue Castagnetto, Director of Intercollegiate Feminist Center, Lecturer in Philosophy, Pomona College

Gender, Crime and Punishment - Sue Castagnetto, Pomona College

Political Economy of Food - Nancy Neiman, Professor of International Political Economy, Scripps College


The Napier Initiative courses are open to students at all five Claremont Colleges.  

Course I:    Religion, Ethics, and Social Practice:  An Intergenerational Learning Partnership on Vocations for Social Change   (RLST #155).  To be offered Fall Semester, 2021, Pomona College. 

Instructors:  Professor Zayn Kassam,  David Mann, Pilgrim Place.

Twenty sophomores and juniors are permitted to pre-enroll with permission of instructors.   Ten retirees from Pilgrim Place and other local community partners are fully enrolled co-learners.  These persons have spent their lives in vocations of social change and/or service.

Course Objectives:    Through direct experience, related readings, structured reflection, and class discussion, this course seeks to develop an informed awareness of our interaction with the poor and otherwise marginalized members of our global community.  To what extent do factors such as class, gender, and ethnicity determine our assumptions about the human condition and our own role in society?  How does our own personal development foster or inhibit our capacity to deal effectively with injustice?  What are the religious, ethical, and/or simply humane elements that motivate and sustain our social practice?  How does our present commitment to justice become a lifelong vocation of participation and leadership in effective social change?   These are some of the question that will be addressed.

Undergraduate Expectations:

  • To work in an approved community placement for at least four hours per week.

  • To write two-page reflections each week to focus your interaction with assigned readings and their bearing on your placement and your own understanding of religion, ethics, and social practice.

  • Students will develop a concept, needs analysis, goals and objectives, timeline, and budget for a three to nine-month project of social change or service.   Elders will serve as supportive partners and resources in the research and design of the projects as they develop.

Syllabus available: To get a copy e-mail one of the co-instructors:  Prof. Zayn Kassam:;   

David Mann:

Course II: Women, Crime and Punishment (Philosphy 39).  To be offered Spring Semester, 2022, Pomona College.  Instructor:  Professor Susan Castagnetto.

Students from the Five Colleges and elders will be enrolled with the permission of the instructor.

Course Objectives:  The course explores issues of crime and punishment through a lens of gender examining the issues that bring women into the criminal justice system and that face them in the prison and on release, the impact of the system on mothers and families, and the gendered structure of prison. In addressing these themes, we will also consider the nature and purpose of punishment; the current state of the criminal justice system, mass incarceration and the growth of the prison industrial complex; how we define or conceive of crime; the relationship between the criminal justice system and other social and political institutions; whether prisons should be reformed or abolished. Readings are from a variety of sources and disciplines, including scholarly work, pieces from the media, work by advocacy organizations, and first-hand accounts by incarcerated writers.  The class includes participation in a multi-session writing workshop with women incarcerated at the California Institution for Women (CIW) on six Tuesday evenings (alternate weeks throughout the semester).

Syllabus available: To get a copy of the syllabus, please e-mail the instructor.

Course III: Political Economy of Food (Politics 135). To be offered Spring Semester, 2022, Scripps College.  Instructor:  Professor Nancy Neiman.

Eighteen students and six elders will be enrolled with the permission of the instructor.

Course Objectives: This course will examine social, cultural, racial and gendered power relations around the production, distribution, consumption, and waste of food in the United States and globally. It analyzes contemporary practices in our industrial food system as well as the legacy and impact of global colonial structures on the production, consumption, and meanings of food. The course will also take a look at alternative food practices and will explore such practices through community engagement projects, including Hope Partners at Amy's Farm, Huerta del Valle community garden, and Crossroads Meatless Mondays program.

Syllabus available: For a copy of the syllabus, please email the instructor.

Course IV: Feminism and Science (Philosophy 46). To be offered Spring 2021, Pomona College

Instructor: Susan Castagnetto

Students from the Five Colleges and elders will be enrolled with the permission of the instructor.

Course Objectives: This course provides an overview of topics about gender and science and feminist perspectives on science.  Topics include the current and historical participation of women in science and structural barriers to that participation; feminist analyses of traditional scientific worldviews; how social cultural and political values and interests shape the practice and application of science; scientific theories about and research on sex and gender and women as subjects of scientific study.   The course explores the boundaries of science, the value of interdisciplinary work, and the larger question of what constitutes ‘good’ science.  

Syllabus available:  For a copy of the syllabus, please e-mail the instructor.  

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