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MayX Snapshots

Last updated June 4, 2021

By Jerry Salley '90, Senior Writer

Presenting some highlights from the 2021 May Experience – a chance for students to explore topics beyond the typical academic year.

The truth behind true crime

Local podcaster and investigative reporter Brad Wills chats with students in a MayX course.

Podcaster Brad Wills chats during a MayX course.

Margaret Oakes’ lesson is straightforward: True crime happens to real people.

The students who signed up for her MayX class are “crime junkies,” she says – fans of podcasts like “Serial” and “My Favorite Murder” and streaming miniseries like “Making a Murderer” and “Don’t F**k with Cats.”

“I wanted to explore why we’re so interested in this and what it says about us,” Oakes says. “It isn’t because we are evil people; it’s because we are following a story that is based in fact but has been created by someone else.” Read more…


A deep dive into swimming – and culture, psychology and literature

Professor Melinda Menzer.

In the segregated South in the mid-20th century, where a city chose to put a swimming pool could literally be a life-or-death decision.

Black people, of course, could not swim in pools reserved for whites only – and “the response to the need to desegregate public pools was to shut them down,” says Melinda Menzer, professor of English at Furman. “The city pools were shut down or privatized rather than integrate them.”

No access to public pools meant less chance to learn to swim, which likely led to higher rates of drowning among Black children, Menzer says. Read more…


Making humans central to the process with design thinking

Adhesive notes on a whiteboard help map out a problem in a MayX class on design thinking.

Mapping a problem in a class on design thinking.

Problem 1: How can a nonprofit agency use social media to increase its reach to those in Greenville’s Spanish-speaking population who may need domestic violence services?

Problem 2: How can an elementary school teach its students in kindergarten through fifth grade a novel approach to problem-solving?

Both problems are “very different challenges with different ecosystems and stakeholders,” says Joseph Heritage ’07 – but a MayX class is taking them both on with one toolbox: design thinking. Read more…


Through the looking glass with ‘Black Mirror’

A MayX class discussion of “Black Mirror.”

“Dark and twisted.” “Mostly horrifying.” “Unsettling.” “Bleak.” “A feel-bad hit.”

These are phrases you come across when you Google for the critics’ opinions of “Black Mirror,” a British anthology series streaming on Netflix that has been described as a “modern-day ‘Twilight Zone.’”

Those phrases are from the rave reviews, by the way.

And you can add computer science professor Kevin Treu and mathematics professor Thomas Lewis to the list of fans. Read more…


Public art goes up against the wall

A dog sits in front of a mural painted by MayX students

A dog sits in front of a mural painted by MayX students.

When Ross McClain looks at a wall, he’s silently judging it.

“I want to get high visibility,” says the art professor. “There are some walls that are too tucked away. And some are really complicated. The bricks can be very deep-grooved, and that would be very challenging to deal with.”

He’s hoping his MayX students will begin to think the same way after spending the month painting a mural on the side of D’Allesandro’s Pizza near downtown Greenville. The artists – some of whom have never picked up a brush before, McClain says – aren’t just learning how to put paint on brick; they’re also awakening dormant creativity. Read more…

Last updated June 4, 2021
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