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Required of all incoming students, First-Year Seminars (FYS) are the cornerstone of High Point University’s liberal arts education. By engaging students in guided explorations of important topics and enduring themes, FYS help our graduates see the excitement and value of intellectual curiosity and searching analysis of complex problems and thorny intellectual issues.

Though First-Year Seminars focus on well-defined topics, the analytic, communication, and evaluative skills students develop and practice in these courses are are intended to be transferable to all of the learning they do at the university. In addition to acquiring a thorough understanding of how scholars frame and investigate research questions, students who complete an FYS should emerge as more thoughtful and skilled in using evidence-based reason to tackle difficult questions and problems that defy easy solutions.

Each First-Year Seminar includes a “Big Question.” Big questions are broad, important, and timeless problems or inquiries into the nature of things that cannot be quickly solved or easily answered: What is justice? Is behavior a product of nature or nurture? How do we best reconcile prosperity with sustainability? What does it mean to be human? Though each FYS will consider a unique big question, all First-Year Seminars pursue this activity to help our students

  • Make sense of complicated ideas;
  • Develop the capacity for deep thought, sustained inquiry, and careful, evidence-based reflection;
  • Connect their learning across course and disciplinary boundaries.

As a member of a First-Year Seminar, you’ll have the opportunity to

  • Work closely with a faculty member who specializes in your course topic or theme;
  • Bond with peers who share similar intellectual interests;
  • Strengthen your academic skills in a supportive, friendly environment;
  • Take part in out-of-class co-curricular activities related to your course work;
  • Develop new skills in critical thinking, synthesis, and evaluation;
  • Become an emerging expert in an exciting field of study!
FYS TitleFYS Big QuestionFYS DescriptionInstructor
Biological Agents, Bio-terror, and Quarantine Is it possible to meet the needs of the many without sacrificing the needs of the few? This course focuses on the Big Question: Is it possible to meet the needs of the many without sacrificing the needs of the few under quarantine? To begin to answer this question, students will explore the history, economic impact, medical outcomes/treatments, and ethical issues underlying biological agents capable of inflicting terror in the human populace. Todd Lyda
Theories of ComedyWhat makes something funny? Is there a serious purpose to comedy?What makes something funny? Is there a serious purpose to comedy? Do the plots of comedies and the structure of jokes share a similar form? This first-year seminar sets out to answer these questions by exploring both ancient and contemporary theories of comedy. Students are asked to apply comic theories to classic and contemporary comic media (Aristophanes, Plato, Shakespeare, The Marx Brothers, Monty Python, Stephen Colbert, etc.).Clint Corcoran; Thaddeus Ostrowski
Where Color Matters: Race and Identity in the Caribbean (Carron)Does skin color determine the individual's position in society? Does race entail privileges? Since the sixteenth century the Caribbean region has been historically a place of encounter for very diverse cultures such as European conquistadores, African slaves, native population, Asian and Arabic immigrants. This collage of cultures has created a special manner to portrait the race and how it affects the conception of the society’s identity. In this course students will explore the concepts of race and identity in the Spanish Caribbean, analyzing the implications of racial diversity regarding its influence in the establishment of a national identity. The course will present the complexity of each topic by introducing questions such as how skin color determines the individuals’ position in society? Does race entail privileges? Can we speak of a Caribbean Identity today and what elements does it include?Hayden Carron
Science Fiction & PhilosophyWhat is the nature of human consciousness?Stimulating understanding and wonder of various philosophical questions, this course investigates fundamental philosophical questions in a colorful way. For instance, venerable Cartesian questions regarding the nature of reality will be explored through the lens of Matrix. Descartes question, “How can we know we’re not dreaming?” will be considered through the film Inception. The problem of Other Minds will be illustrated through talking through advanced “Chatterbots” that mimic the Turing Test, while also illustrating Searle’s Chinese Room Argument.Matthew Brophy
Marketing & Popular CultureWhat are the professional and ethical boundaries of product placement (and other marketing techniques), which are increasingly insinuated into popular media, such as movies and television? This first year seminar addresses the marketing concept of positioning and the controversial rise of product placement in popular media such as film and television. Using a variety of examples, this course seeks to emphasize how product or brand placement in popular media is used to position products in the consumer’s mind. Students will be challenged to think critically about these types of placements and to question the ethics and effectiveness of such positioning attempts.Larry Carter
Psychology: It’s not what you think! Separating fact from fictionHow can psychology help us understand -- and misunderstand -- ourselves, the world, and each other?This course has two major focuses. The first is understanding that the field of psychology is based on knowledge gained through the scientific method. While most individuals are familiar with the topics examined within the field of psychology, they are often not aware of the methods of research used by psychologists. In addition, an individual’s knowledge of these topics is often not completely accurate. The popular nature of the issues studied within psychology lends itself to misunderstanding and oversimplification.
The second major focus of this course is to examine societal factors in popular culture and everyday life that shape our personally-held beliefs about intriguing and potentially controversial psychological topics. The course will explore the depiction of these psychological topics in various forms of media. A critical component of this course will be to compare these popularized depictions and personally-held beliefs with current scientific theory and findings. After a brief introduction to the topic, students will examine: how the topic is portrayed in different media (e.g., television, movies, books, art, or music), its potential societal influences, as well as their personal understanding of the topic. Students will then examine the topic by reading theoretical and empirical work and applying the information in an effort to gain a more scientifically-grounded understanding.
Greggory Hundt
That’s My Jam!: Entertainment and the Common Good“What role does entertainment play in the common good? And what is our public responsibility through our engagement of that entertainment?"Our society has produced remarkably sophisticated consumers of entertainment yet not particularly sophisticated reflectors. The task of this course is to enable students to turn a reflective eye and ear toward their daily diet of entertainment—movies, music, t.v., and video games—with the intention of moving them from mere consumers into thought-provoking critics for the common good. We will focus on close analysis of several forms of entertainment—while allowing students to pursue a form of their choice—with an eye to the question, “Does entertainment serve a common good? And, if so, what is our responsibility to engage that public through our choices of entertainment?” A substantial piece of this class will be an examination of “community” as an amalgam of on-line and face-to-face interactions and readers. We will be exploring the pros and cons of various on-line platforms for public criticism and how those advance or deter public engagement.Ken Elston
Serial MurderWhat makes a serial killer? And why are we so fascinated with them?Jeffrey Dahmer, Ted Bundy, and John Wayne Gacy are names most Americans know. Their heinous acts of serial murder elicited an array of emotions from the public, including anger, fear, and disgust. However, when any serial murderer surfaces, their actions also lead to a sense of intrigue. Many of us want to know, how could someone do something like that?

This course delves into serial murder and explores our fascination with serial murderers. It is designed to push students to reconceive their understanding of serial murder and reconsider how and why people could ever take others’ lives. Specific case studies, including those of notorious serial killers, are examined with particular attention given to the psychological and sociological underpinnings involved in each case. Special consideration is given to the role of mass media in shaping our understanding of serial murder, challenging the myths and stereotypes that it has produced. These areas will be considered with one big question in mind - Why are we so fascinated with serial killers?
Meg Chrusciel
Ancient ExplorersHow do the accounts of ancient pioneers illuminate human nature (psychologically, morally, culturally, etc.) in our desire to explore the unknown?How did ancient people imagine and investigate the places where the known world ended? Which pioneers ventured to explore the ends of the earth, and what stories did they tell when they returned? This first-year seminar examines how authors and eyewitnesses from Greco-Roman antiquity described the geographical and metaphysical limits of their world, as well as the trailblazers who attempted to traverse them. We will compare historical, literary, and scientific approaches to study of the unknown, and investigate what anxieties and attractions pattern human exploration into the present. Jacqueline Arthur-Montagne
Tyrants, Dictators, and DemocratsHow do political leaders come to power, exercise their will, and establish their historical legacies across different types of societies? How do political leaders come to power, exercise their will, and establish their historical legacies across different types of societies? This course uses academic research, biographies, and film portrayals of how leaders make difficult decisions, as well as a hands-on simulation of political leadership in response to major crises, to analyze various patterns and techniques of social control and effective leadership. We will address questions such as why good leaders frequently make irrational decisions, why many authoritarians and tyrants are beloved by their citizens, and why heads of democracies in certain situations are more likely than other leaders to start wars.Samuel Whitt
Detective Fiction and the Quest for KnowledgeHow does detective fiction illuminate the social and psychological forces that drive our desire to know?In this course, we will resist the notion that detective stories are merely page-turners or guilty pleasures by posing a fundamental question that lies at the root of all mysteries: What social and psychological forces drive the desire to know? In pursuit of this “big question,” we will have to address several other questions that help us analyze the genre’s enduring appeal and place it in its historical, sociological, cultural, and literary contexts: When did the detective story originate and how has it evolved? Why do most mysteries revolve around the crime of murder? How do famous literary detectives both reflect and challenge the values of the societies in which they work? How do the particular plot devices of these stories help us comprehend the basic narrative structure of concealment and revelation? The syllabus will include works by the following authors (among others): Edgar Allan Poe, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie, and Dashiell Hammett. Course assignments will also invite students to explore the genre through television series and films such as the BBC’s Sherlock and Christopher Nolan’s Memento.Matt Carlson
What is a Conscience?What is a Conscience?Nearly everyone believes that we have a conscience, and it is frequently appealed to in the fields of philosophy, religion, psychology, and political theory. Upon reflection, however, what is meant by "conscience" is not so clear. There are two main aims of this course. The first is to explore and critically examine the various conceptions of conscience that have been proposed by the great thinkers in the western philosophical and religious traditions. The second aim is to recognize the ways in which questions such as "What is conscience?" are indeed enduring questions that continue to demand reflection and reconsideration. The means by which these aims will be achieved are by closely reading primary sources, writing a number of critical papers, and completing a capstone project where students will demonstrate the application and relevance of the issues of the course to a topic, event, or movement in recent history.Amy MacArthur
Taking humor seriously: An exploration of African American HumorHow does humor uniquely illuminate the African-American experience?George Carlin once said, “every comic sees the world through a prism that the average person doesn’t see through.” By looking at smaller, alternative facets of daily life we visualize a more complete picture. For this course we will examine African American humor and its connections, contributions, and critiques on modern American life. We will examine theoretical explanations for African American laughter and how it manifests is popular texts. We will use scholarly texts and documentaries, to analyze the sociohistorical importance of African American popular materials such folk humor, comedy sketches, television shows, political cartoons, and standup comedy shows to explore the intersections of the African American and American experience. Erica Hohrn
Sport and IdentityWhat is the nature of sports communities and how ought they to affect individual, collective, and national identities?By identifying as a fan of a particular sports team, an individual enters a community that shares certain values that transcend sportsmanship and games. This course seeks to question the nature of those values and the ways in which they affect individual, collective, and national identities. Students will read texts related to nationalism and community as a way to critically approach the concept of a "nation of fans." The course will focus especially on professional and national sports teams in the United States and in Spain.Adam Winkel
Harry Potter: Understanding Good & EvilHow ought we to define "good" and "evil"?The struggle between good and evil has plagued academics and everyday people for centuries. Philosophers, theologians, psychologists, writers, and others have attempted to determine what it is that makes something—or someone—good and what makes them evil. In this course, we will examine this debate through the lens of J.K. Rowling’s famous Harry Potter series, and see how she, and her readers, utilize elements of the debate between good and evil.Elizabeth Hupfer
A Missing Link: Literary DarwinismHow do modern dystopic narratives evince how we are storytelling animals who need stories to help us survive and flourish? Wonder why we surround ourselves with stories? We devour a favorite book, our hearts pound watching a scary movie, and we delight in the telling of a good yarn. Our earliest memories revolve around make believe; we create/consume narratives our entire lives. Some say we are “wired” for it, but why? How do stories help us survive? This course examines Literary Darwinism, a theory built upon the concept STEAM (Arts within the framework of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). Exploring evolutionary history through the juxtaposition of ancestral heritage and modern dystopic narratives, we’ll build intellectual STEAM, solidifying our place as the storytelling animal and proving why we can’t live without stories.Allison Walker
China RevealedWhat is the future of the youth in China?Students will explore the ideas and struggles youth in China today have been experiencing as they try to identify themselves as a new generation in comparison with the old generation, as China has been going through tremendous economic and social changes after the Open Door policy has been carried out. The course will involve an analysis of some historical events, such as the Great Leap Forward, the Cultural Revolution, their effects on modern China, as well as the events in modern China, such as the Open Door Policy, the One Child Policy, etc. Literary readings, Chinese films, documentaries, class discussions, presentations, research papers etc. are to be involved in this course. Four credit hours. Judy Danley
Napoleon’s Hat and the Art of War Is war an art or a science?The Duke of Wellington said, “Napoleon’s hat is worth 50,000 men on the battlefield.” This seminar will explore the art of war and military command in the Modern world. Is war an art or science? Military commanders have approached this question from both perspectives. The course will examine military thought and practice and the changing nature of leadership from Frederick the Great to the present. Rick Schneid
Nationalism, Islamism, and Liberalism in the Contemporary Middle EastHow should political stability be best understood and achieved?Major topics in this course include the geography and history of the Middle East and North Africa, Sunni and Shi'i Islam, ethnic and religious minorities; there are case studies of the Arab Spring in several countries (e.g. Syria, Egypt, Iraq, etc.) as well. The course is interdisciplinary, and addresses issues related to politics, religion, sociology, history, economics, and ecology. Students will write two book reviews and a final paper that addresses the "big question" of what political stability in the region would look like should it be realized. Students will take part in a role-playing peace conference exercise at the end of the course, and participate each week in class discussions on assigned journal articles as well as about current events in countries stretching from Morocco to Afghanistan.Larry Simpson
Liberated LearningWhat is the purpose and value of a liberal arts education?This class introduces students to the value of a liberal arts college education. It covers how a liberal arts education is distinctive from a college education in general, particularly regarding how it inspires students to become free-thinkers, to improve oneself, to apply their education toward personal growth, and to better understand oneself within the world.Jim Trammell
Why is America Hungry? How ought America deal with the prevalent issue of chronic hunger at home?In this course we will examine food insecurity versus food security in the United States and how it affects quality of food choices. We will discuss ethical issues that occur with hunger and poverty in the United States such as eligibility requirements for food assistance and access to healthy food options. We will discuss the role food has in overall health and in our lives. We will also examine the chronic diseases that individuals put themselves at risk for when eating energy dense filling foods.Rosemarie Tarara
Psychedelics & Mystical ExperienceWhat is the nature of mystical experience, and how are such experiences related to psychedelics?Psychedelic, or “mind expanding,” substances have been used to occasion mystical experience (the sense of unity with God, nature, or “reality”) for thousands of years. Religious studies scholars have long been interested in the study of psychedelic experiences and how they might help shine light on traditional accounts of mystical experience. Yet, the idea that psychedelics induce “mystical experience” isn’t only of interest to scholars who study religion. Recent studies at leading research facilities like Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and New York University have focused on the connection between mystical experience and the use of psychedelics to help in pressing public health issues such as addiction and terminal patient anxiety. These studies have found a direct correlation between positive outcomes and the degree of “mystical experience” described by participants. Taking a multidisciplinary approach surveying pivotal psychedelic research, discourse, and history, this course cuts across issues in cognitive science, psychology, philosophy, anthropology, and religious studies in order to explore whether current scholarly inquiry and scientific research on psychedelics can help us understand the nature of mystical experience and its relation to both neuroscience and religion.Gregory Lipton
Samurai and Shamaness: How Traditions are MadeWhat is Tradition?What’s at stake when we say something is “traditional”? Calling something a “tradition” does many things: it suggests that the tradition has been continued in recognizably “the same” state over a given period of time; it implies that the tradition has the approval of part or all of a community; it can activate feelings of nostalgia for the past; it can justify, in some cases, the avoidance of practices that would run contrary to that tradition; and many other things besides. How do traditions arise, and how are traditions sustained? What does a community want from its traditions, and conversely what does a tradition want from the community in which it obtains? Using two case studies from Japanese history—the samurai and the shamaness—in this course we will consider what it means to say that a given practice is “traditional.” By interpreting creative works—medieval tales (monogatari), Noh plays, the jōruri (puppet theater), modern fiction, manga, and anime—in the light of critical essays about tradition, culture, and historiography, students in this course will examine how they themselves both shape and are shaped by the traditions in their lives.Beth Carter
History of Video Games What changing roles do video games play in society? This course is a proposal for an FYS course covering the history of video games. Video games are a significant part of our culture, especially as more people are playing them today than ever before. Understanding their history involves investigating a number of factors, including technological developments and societal trends.

More importantly, the history of video games is still being written, and as such we as players and critical consumers have the opportunity to predict and even shape the future of video games, interactive media, and entertainment more generally. By looking at social, economic, and technological trends that have impacted (and been impacted by) video games in the past, we can come to understand what the future may hold. Indeed, many of us might become designers ourselves, as various tools and game features make design more accessible than ever before.

Assignments in this course will include research and presentations on the history of games, analyses of current news about games, responses to readings about the history of games, a game design project in which players will think through course topics in an applied way, and an essay on the course’s big question.
Kelly Tran
Influencers What does it mean to influence cultural tastes and values?This course will look at who has historically wielded social and cultural influence and how in order to provide context for analyzing the current phenomenon of “influencers” and thinking about the larger question, “what does it mean to influence cultural tastes and values”? We will examine a variety of social media platforms including Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter and more in order to come to a theory of how influencers find a place in the market (in both ideological and material ways), how they wield that influence, and to what effect and degree.Leah Schweitzer
More than Tacos: Exploring Contemporary Mexico in U.S. MediaHow is contemporary Mexico – as expressed through media and pop culture – is defined in the United States? And how should it be properly understood?Of all Latin American countries, Mexico is the most familiar for our first-year students. Students today eat at Chipotle and Moe’s Southwest Grill, they are familiar with some Mexican holidays, and they grew up watching Dora the Explorer. This first-year seminar proposes the big question to challenge students to think critically about Mexican culture and their connection to it. In this course, we will investigate the debate of authenticity versus imitation, cultural appreciation versus cultural appropriation. The big question ponders whether the United States media and pop culture offer a clear concept of contemporary Mexican society today. Though the debate of immigration and the border wall are a peripheral focus of this first-year seminar, students will be challenged to think critically about three (3) topics related to contemporary Mexican culture: food pathways, racial identity through hit television programming, and the concept of death and Day of the Dead. At face value, these topics are appealing and can insight complex, critical views of their connections with our neighbor to the south. Alongside theoretical works and case studies, students will analyze the popularity of Mexican cuisine in the U.S., students will engage with Mexican racial rhetoric, and students will verify the authenticity of the Day of the Dead celebration in U.S. media and pop culture. By the end of the course, the first-year students will be better equipped to ask and answer the big question of how contemporary Mexico – as expressed through media and pop culture – is defined in the United States.Jody Bowman
Places PastWhat factors make something a "place," in a significance sense?Students will discover a series of ways to look about them, to think about how places acquire characteristics and character, and to explore how we become attached to them. We’ll study a series of topical examples about the Great Lakes region to equip ourselves with a variety of useful tools and to map ways to begin the journey. A series of short projects and a final project let students test and apply the approaches, first to the Great Lakes examples and then to an in-depth exploration of a place they choose. In the process, the students will sample various methods in the fields of historical geography, landscape studies, and other disciplines, and they will evaluate these approaches and the effects on our concepts of place (“Great Lakes,” for example, might in other formulations be considered “midwest,”“Northwest,” “Pays d’en Haut,” or “Nayaano-nibiimaang Gichigamiin”
--all highlighting various concepts and connections). We’ll develop our abilities in reading comprehension, discussion, and presentation making. And projects, including the final “big question” paper offer us the chance to enhance our analytical and writing skills.
Phillip Mulder
Skin, Paper, Screen: The Tools of LiteracyHow do our tools and surfaces for writing shape our experience with and purposes for literacy? As human beings we have been compelled to pick up tools and make our mark--to write--on surfaces such as animal skins, paper, and now electronic screens. At the same time, to be literate is so taken for granted that we don’t think critically about how literacy and these tools change us. In this course we will explore how writing technologies have changed over time and in our own lives: how does culture change with the tools we use to express, reflect on, and record it? How do our tools and surfaces for writing shape our experience with and purposes for literacy? Through hands-on projects and primary research, students will investigate how our embodied experience with writing technologies and the stories we tell about literacy shape our lives.Holly Middleton
Lessons from Lemonade: Beyoncé and Black Feminism Why is it important to view life through the lens of marginalized groups in society?On April 23, 2016, Beyoncé Knowles-Carter released her sixth solo project – Lemonade. The visual album was largely lauded by critics for both its artistic creativity and emotional honesty. However, Bey is not without her criticisms. The iconic bell hooks once suggested, “part of her sees Beyoncé as a ‘terrorist especially in terms of [her] impact on young girls’.”

Through an examination of Beyoncé’s cultural contributions, readings, discussions, and visual media, we will explore prominent black feminist principles, concepts, theories, and ideas. An emphasis will be placed on how black feminist theory can help us apply sociological insights to various facets of contemporary life and how we as individuals are influenced by the various social environments and social institutions in which we interact. Throughout the course, we will investigate the big question of, “Why is it important to view life through the lens of marginalized groups in society?”
Emily Estrada
JusticeWhat is justice, and what does it require of society?What does justice require of a society? This class introduces students to the big questions and theories of social justice in modern democracies. Students will explore the main philosophical theories on what the aims of a society should be, and how a society ought to distribute goods and benefits like wealth, liberties, rights, opportunities, and more. Students will think critically about the purposes of government and politics, and review answers to the major questions of good governance: what do we owe to one another, and what should the major institutions of a just society look like?Gordon Ballingrud
Clothing Iconology through the AgesHow do clothing styles and images throughout history help us to identify the political, economic, religious, and social influences that impacted the development of each look?This course analyzes clothing styles and images throughout history and helps us to identify the political, economic, religious, and social influences that impacted the development of each look. We’ll learn to see clothing as more than an aesthetic statement: clothing is a clear reflection of society during a particular time. Expect to explore, research, and study fashion icons throughout history, as well as attempt to predict future clothing looks based on the direction society is headed.Gay Hensley
The Reel Women How does music impact the portrayal of women in film, and how does it influence our perception of women in society throughout the history of film?This course investigates how music impacts the portrayal of women in film from the earliest days of Silent Films to present day motion pictures. Students will be introduced to the basic elements of music and narrative film to gain an appreciation of the combined artistic effects of the two forms. Topics discussed include musical concepts and terminology, “hearing” music, the implications of feminine musical stereotypes, the use of music to define sexuality, and the roll of music to define female characters in animation. This course will view scenes and excerpts from many films as well as feature-length movies both in and out of classWei Jiao
Movies that Made a DifferenceHow do influential movies reflect and shape our societies, our cultures and the times in which we live?Cinema as aural and visual means of storytelling has a long rich history as both an art form and entertainer of the masses. In reaching its audiences, “movies“often reflect on our societies, our cultures and the times in which we live. Such films can, in turn, impact the lives of audiences and/or society as a whole. This course takes the student on a journey of discovery by examining selected films that might have mattered in such ways and looks further into the why. Students develop a broader understanding of how film and society may intertwine, and examine how one may affect and create effect in the other. James Goodman
The Neverland VariationsHow and why do enduring stories change over time as they are retold or reimagined?Some stories endure in familiarity and popularity across generations, and evolve their format, genre, and message as times and audience change. "Peter Pan" and "Alice in Wonderland" are two such stories. We'll study several variations of these two narrative traditions, then you will perform your own analysis of a third tradition of your choosing. Ultimately, we examine the Big Question: How and why do enduring stories change over time as they are retold or reimagined?Thomas Albritton
Radical Ideas in EducationHow do new ideas redefine what methods work best in education: namely, how students learn and think and grow, and sometimes even redefining the very nature, purpose, and environment of school? Once in a while, an idea comes along that sets a new standard for what goes on in classroom teaching. Sometimes that idea redefines what methods work best; sometimes, it redefines how students learn and think and grow; sometimes it redefines even the very nature, purpose, and environment of school. In this course, we will examine texts that reflect some of the most revolutionary ideas in the history of education, what conditions prompted their development, what problems they attempted to solve, and whether they became a new norm or a passing fad.Thomas Albritton
The Power of Numbers & Secret CodesWhat role do numbers and codes have in American history, and how will they shape our future?This seminar covers an introduction to the relationships with numbers and their connection with cryptography and codes. An introduction to encryption (code-making) and decryption (code-breaking) requires only basic mathematical skills. Ever since the first word was written, humans have written coded messages to each other. This history is woven through with stories of how codes and ciphers have played a vital role in warfare, politics, and royal intrigue. The mathematics of cryptography will be presented within a historical context from the writing of lost civilizations through the role of Navajo code talkers in WWII to the current debate over individual privacy vs public security.Laurie Zack
Why the Beatles?Whence genius? What are the distinguishing characteristics of great artistic achievement, and where do these characteristics come from?How have the Beatles, the most successful musical act in history, managed to maintain their astonishing hold on the public imagination continually since they burst onto the scene in the early 1960s? What is the source of this group's power to maintain their popularity, relevance, and captivate three generations of fans? This course examines the Beatles, both in their own time and ours. By looking in depth at this ongoing artistic and cultural phenomenon through several lenses, students will practice and strengthen their research, writing, and critical thinking skills. Students will also formulate a Beatle-specific answer to the course’s Big Question: whence genius? What are the distinguishing characteristics of great artistic achievement, and where do these characteristics come from?Matt Schneider
The Military History of Middle EarthHow does Tolkien’s world with mythical creatures, languages and lore parallel western history: our two world wars, histories of a post-Roman / pre-medieval Europe, as well as Anglo-Saxon, Old English and Norse legends? J.R.R. Tolkien created a world with mythical creatures, languages and histories that paralleled his experience and perceptions of contemporary conflicts and combined with his love of Anglo-Saxon, Old English and Norse legends. This course explores how Tolkien’s experiences in a world war, and living through a second, affected the themes, fictional states, characters’ actions during the wars of the First, Second and Third Ages of Middle Earth. Furthermore, we will examine how Tolkien used the histories and myths of a post-Roman / pre-medieval Europe to develop a complex world and the epic wars fought.

How does Tolkien’s world with mythical creatures, languages and lore parallel western history: our two world wars, histories of a post-Roman / pre-medieval Europe, as well as Anglo-Saxon, Old English and Norse legends?
Rick Schneid
Pulp Fiction and Film Noir in American HistoryHow does media impact socio-cultural development, and how do both dominant and subordinate cultures affect media? In what ways do media affect and/or reflect cultural development?Students will read and discuss American pulp fiction from approximately 1900 through the 1950s. The emphases will be on the concept of American individualism within the context of modernization and internationalism as well as the development of an American character within the realms of Popular Culture. There will be discussions on how the development of pulp fiction fits into both the expansion of leisure time in American society and glorifies action, adventure and individualism. Film Noir will be discussed through both its connections to early German psychological/horror films and French Grand Guignol AND its natural developments from the subject matter of pulp fiction in America. The "Big Questions" of the course are: 1) How does media impact socio-cultural development and how do both dominant and subordinate cultures affect media; 2) In what ways do media affect and/or reflect cultural development?

How does media impact socio-cultural development, and how do both dominant and subordinate cultures affect media? In what ways do media affect and/or reflect cultural development?
Michael Kennedy
Elite Athletes: Born or Bred?Are Elite Athletes Born or Bred?Is it true that Kenyans are the best distance runners? Or that “white men can’t jump”? What does it mean to have “the mind of a champion?” This First Year Seminar will explore the genetic, psychological, and cultural influences on sport participation and performance. Drawing on primary research, critical essays, and popular media sources, we will explore controversial topics such as genotyping for athletic performance and social influences in youth sport culture, as well as ethical dilemmas such as those raised by recent advances in sport science and use of ergogenic aids in elite competition.Kimberly Reich
Zombies: Metaphor & Meaning How has the icon of the zombie changed to reflect the contexts of its creation from generation to generation? This course examines stories that have emerged about zombies as popular myth in print, visual, and other media. In particular, how has the icon of the zombie changed to reflect the contexts of its creation from generation to generation? The mythic stories of zombies have moved from the margins to a prominent place in culture and illuminate elements of a culture’s values, hopes, and fears. These include adaptations of both their magical and scientific origins as well as persistent variations on other themes, from social conformity to mass consumption to apocalyptic catastrophe.Stefan Hall
Play and The WorkplaceWhat role does and should play have in the modern workplace?This course begins with a central question: How does play impact the modern workplace? Students will take a journey through the fields of human relations, organizational communication, business, psychology, art, philosophy, healthcare, education, and theater to explores the diverse ways in which play is being applied in the modern workplace. The learning experience will include reading, writing, and discussing complex topics as well as engaging in and evaluating play-based methods. The course materials cover the broad topic of workplace play through the themes of foundational theory; health and wellness; business; creativity and innovation; and training with serious gaming. Course requirements include course reading, class participation, research papers, and creative projects that ask students to work alone and in groups. Overall, the course introduces students to the complexity that occurs as organizations from government, to for-profit, to nonprofit embrace the opportunities, promises, and perils of play our diverse workplaces. Elizabeth Jeter
Who owns the Past? Archaeology and Cultural HeritageWho owns the past? Who creates the knowledge that defines what is history? Who owns the past? Who creates the knowledge that defines what is history? These questions, both practical and theoretical frame this class. The main topics of our course are the impact of the past on the present, and the impact of the present on the past. Thus, we will be looking both at how the past plays a role in contemporary society, and impacts contemporary archaeological research, management and conservation. In a world marked by rapid globalization and rapidly changing technology, heritage presents a particular paradox. Increasingly, heritage sites are flash-points in cultural and religious conflicts around the globe. A majority of heritage sites have had archaeological excavations conducted at them and this evidence is used to justify the significance of these sites. Heritage can also be viewed as a unifying force in nation-building and in forging international alliances. Clearly, “history” matters – but how do certain histories come to matter in particular ways, and to whom? How is research on the past shaped through present-day concerns about identity, community, and nation, alongside transnational flows of people, money, and goods? And finally, is cultural heritage a universal right?Matt Sayre
Martial Arts in Chinese CulturesHow do Chinese martial arts, viewed in a contemporary context, shape the identities of Chinese culture, and our understandings of that culture?This course examines traditional and contemporary Chinese culture through the lens of Chinese martial arts in a global context. It explores the historical, philosophical, physical, and aesthetic significance of Chinese martial arts in a contemporary context and how they shape the identities of Chinese culture. The course specifically focuses on identities of Chinese martial arts as a culture carrier, medium of literary expression, non-competitive sport for self-improvement and health preservation, and performing art in a digital time. Students also explore the impact of Chinese martial arts cultures in American cinema and pop culture, through selected movies and readings, as well as practice basic moves in Chinese martial arts.Daliang Wang
Writing about Food and CultureHow can a culture's relationship with food illuminate our understanding of those cultures?Students in this experiential first-year seminar will develop an understanding of the relationship between cultures and the foods these cultures claim, consume, and/or produce. By researching, experiencing (eating!), and writing about a variety groups and their food-based cultural traditions, students will have the opportunity to study a variety of historical and cultural practices as these practices relate to the human relationship with food.Erin Trauth
A Sense of PlaceWhat are the various ways that we can understand the concept of "place?"This seminar explores “place” as as a register for individual and collective memories, imaginations, and identities. Places and identities are not merely personal for us, but also connected to (and connecting us with) larger social and political processes with fundamentally spatial dimensions (nationalism and regionalism, imperialism and colonialism, cultural globalization). We’ll think about what it means to map a place through different types of narrative (because all maps tell stories) and how these narratives in turn “map” individual and cultural identities. The semester-long project, a multi-modal autoethnography, will allow students to apply some of the concepts we encounter to their own place narratives and experiences.Melissa Richard
Power PlaysWhat role should the arts have in responding to and affecting political power?What role should the arts have in responding to and affecting political power? In this course, we will go back in time to Elizabethan England where offending those in power could result in punishment far more serious than being thrown in the Clink. Being exposed as a Catholic could get you tortured; speaking ill of the Queen could result in your head jammed on a London Bridge pike. Playwrights such as Marlowe and Shakespeare wrote about power for both the powerful and the common folk, occasionally raising the censors’ eyebrows. We will explore the nature of power with the emphasis on play--what the International Shakespeare’s Globe calls lively action. Through our play work, we will explore how the historical, political, and cultural moment of the Elizabethans can be put in conversation with our present time. The course will culminate in a Reacting to the Past game where you will play a role and strategize for power to win the game. How will you negotiate the politics of power? Will you end up in the Clink?Lynne Murray
Law, Rhetoric, and CultureHow might the law be understood primarily as a culture, significantly defined by rhetoric, language, and argument?The law is sometimes understood as a body of dictates to be adhered to and enforced. Alternatively, the law is conceived of as an institution involving a system of courts as well as the roles assigned to those who navigate them – judges, lawyers, plaintiffs, defendants, witnesses, and so forth. This course instead considers how the law might be understood primarily as a culture significantly defined by rhetoric, language, and argument.
Our examination of the law in this sense will primarily involve reading and discussing landmark U.S. Supreme Court cases. Our goal in part will be to make sense of these cases as lawyers might, discerning their facts, issues, arguments, and decisions. More centrally, though, we will be reading these cases as rhetoricians and ethicists. That is, we will examine how tools like metaphor and narrative shape justices’ decision making and the extent to which we agree or disagree not only with the decisions themselves but with the rhetorical and argumentative devices by which those decisions are reached. The course also will draw on several movies and documentaries as means of making meaning of the wider historical and social contexts informed by and informing legal decision making. Finally, we will consider how other scholars similarly engaged pose questions and read and analyze similar materials.
FYS TitleFYS Big QuestionFYS DescriptionInstructor
The Neverland VariationsHow and why do enduring stories change over time as they are retold or reimagined?Some stories endure in familiarity and popularity across generations, and evolve their format, genre, and message as times and audience change. "Peter Pan" and "Alice in Wonderland" are two such stories. We'll study several variations of these two narrative traditions, then you will perform your own analysis of a third tradition of your choosing. Ultimately, we examine the Big Question: How and why do enduring stories change over time as they are retold or reimagined?Dr Tom Albritton
Radical Ideas in EducationWhat conditions prompt the most revolutionary ideas in the history of education, and what determined whether they became a new norm or a passing fad?Once in a while, an idea comes along that sets a new standard for what goes on in classroom teaching. Sometimes that idea redefines what methods work best; sometimes, it redefines how students learn and think and grow; sometimes it redefines even the very nature, purpose, and environment of school. In this course, we will examine texts that reflect some of the most revolutionary ideas in the history of education, what conditions prompted their development, what problems they attempted to solve, and whether they became a new norm or a passing fad.Dr. Tom Albritton
Talking About Freedom: Civil Rights, Constitutional Culture and the First AmendmentWhat are the various ways to understand "freedom" in America?This course is also about race relations or, more specifically, how the struggle for black civil rights can act as a metaphor or model for anyone yearning to be free. Using the story of race relations in America as an organizing narrative, this course is intended to shed light on the larger story of America in surprising ways. It might surprise you to learn, for instance, that every significant juncture in the evolution of Constitutional law in America was triggered directly or indirectly by events related to race. And it might surprise you to learn that it is not judges on the bench but people working outside the courts – from politicians in Washington to activists at the local level, from lobbyists and business groups to journalists and legal scholars – who are the main drivers of change in constitutional law. They are the non-judicial actors who shape and re-shape America’s ever-evolving constitutional culture.Dr. Dean Smith
Science Fiction & PhilosophyWhat is the nature of human consciousness?Stimulating understanding and wonder of various philosophical questions, this course investigates fundamental philosophical questions in a colorful way. For instance, venerable Cartesian questions regarding the nature of reality will be explored through the lens of Matrix. Descartes question, “How can we know we’re not dreaming?” will be considered through the film Inception. The problem of Other Minds will be illustrated through talking through advanced “Chatterbots” that mimic the Turing Test, while also illustrating Searle’s Chinese Room Argument.Dr. Matthew Brophy
Theories of ComedyHow does comedy tell us about the human condition?What makes something funny? Is there a serious purpose to comedy? Do the plots of comedies and the structure of jokes share a similar form? This first-year seminar sets out to answer these questions by exploring both ancient and contemporary theories of comedy. Students are asked to apply comic theories to classic and contemporary comic media (Aristophanes, Plato, Shakespeare, The Marx Brothers, Monty Python, Stephen Colbert, etc.).Dr. Clint Corcoran
Movies that Made a DifferenceHow does film reflect and influence the society of the time, and vice versa?Cinema as aural and visual means of storytelling has a long rich history as both an art form and entertainer of the masses. In reaching its audiences, “movies“often reflect on our societies, our cultures and the times in which we live. Such films can, in turn, impact the lives of audiences and/or society as a whole. This course takes the student on a journey of discovery by examining selected films that might have mattered in such ways and looks further into the why. Students develop a broader understanding of how film and society may intertwine, and examine how one may affect and create effect in the other. Mr. James Goodman
Forging Frontiers in the Classical WorldHow do the accounts of ancient pioneers illuminate human nature (psychologically, morally, culturally, etc.) in our desire to explore the unknown?How did ancient people imagine and investigate the places where the known world ended? Which pioneers ventured to explore the ends of the earth, and what stories did they tell when they returned? This first-year seminar examines how authors and eyewitnesses from Greco-Roman antiquity described the geographical and metaphysical limits of their world, as well as the trailblazers who attempted to traverse them. We will compare historical, literary, and scientific approaches to study of the unknown, and investigate what anxieties and attractions pattern human exploration into the present. Dr. Jacqueline Arthur-Montagne
Culture of PunkHow does a deviant movement, such as Punk Rock, represent and influence culture, class, race, and sexuality within the movement and to society at large?The course is a critical examination of the Punk Rock movement/culture. This course will teach students to examine media and music critically, while placing those media in their larger cultural context. The students will learn about punk history; however, the emphasis will be on the philosophy and the representation of culture, class, race, and sexuality within the movement. Students will not only be able to recognize musical style and analyze performance, but they will also analyze the intended message of the music and how its participants interact socially. This course is a fun, interactive, discussion based course for first year students. The students will be broken into small groups for the majority of the semester; they will complete activities and participate in discussion within those groups, as well as participate in larger class discussions. Throughout the course, they will listen to music, watch non‐fiction and fiction video clips, read texts and interviews from participants, and read academic texts. They will write critical essays and will be given a chance to revise each essay after they receive instructor feedback. They will also complete a final creative project that reflects their knowledge and understanding of the material.Dr. Kristina Bell
The Reel WomenHow does music and film through the years define feminine archetypes and stereotypes, and what impact does that have upon culture at large? This course investigates how music impacts the portrayal of women in film from the earliest days of Silent Films to present day motion pictures. Students will be introduced to the basic elements of music and narrative film to gain an appreciation of the combined artistic effects of the two forms. Topics discussed include musical concepts and terminology, “hearing” music, the implications of feminine musical stereotypes, the use of music to define sexuality, and the roll of music to define female characters in animation. This course will view scenes and excerpts from many films as well as feature-length movies both in and out of class.Dr. Wei Jiao
Love & Hate in CyberspaceHow has romantic life been shaped and redefined by technology, and what are its positive and negative impacts? This course examines the influence of technology on romantic relationships, specifically how romantic life has been shaped by electronic and/or computer-mediated methods (e.g., e-mail, Facebook, texting). Drawing on theory and research in social and personality psychology, we compare the dynamics which operate in electronically-mediated social relationships and interactions with those that occur when partners are face-to-face. Topics include interpersonal attraction, communication processes, impression formation, and relationship maintenance, as well as negative behaviors like cyber-stalking and cyber-bullying.Dr. Sadie Leder Elder
Detective Fiction and the Quest for KnowledgeHow does detective fiction illuminate the social and psychological forces that drive our desire to know?In this course, we will resist the notion that detective stories are merely page-turners or guilty pleasures by posing a fundamental question that lies at the root of all mysteries: What social and psychological forces drive the desire to know? In pursuit of this “big question,” we will have to address several other questions that help us analyze the genre’s enduring appeal and place it in its historical, sociological, cultural, and literary contexts: When did the detective story originate and how has it evolved? Why do most mysteries revolve around the crime of murder? How do famous literary detectives both reflect and challenge the values of the societies in which they work? How do the particular plot devices of these stories help us comprehend the basic narrative structure of concealment and revelation? The syllabus will include works by the following authors (among others): Edgar Allan Poe, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie, and Dashiell Hammett. Course assignments will also invite students to explore the genre through television series and films such as the BBC’s Sherlock and Christopher Nolan’s Memento.Dr. Matthew Carlson
Power PlaysHow can the arts respond to and affect political power?What is a revolution? How do cultural revolutions change our perception of life? For instance, how did fermentation change some of the ways we spend our leisure time? Or, why is punk music revolutionary? Furthermore, what do fermentation and punk music have in common? While at first glance the cultural revolutions covered in this FYS may seem disjointed, this seminar will emphasize how by exercising a growth mindset our everyday lives have been affected by innovation, cultural complexity, and multiple intellectual and sensorial perspectives. Going back to Early Global processes, this first year seminar intertwines cultural studies, visual and sonic cultural expressions, and science together to guide first year students through a variety of cultural revolutions that have changed the way we perceive and think about our place in the world. This interdisciplinary approach will encourage students to recognize cultural complexities by examining apparently unrelated cultural artifacts, such as beer and punk music. The seminar is structured in three differentiated, but interconnected, paths of inquiry: 1) Early Global Revolutions, 2) Modern Revolutions, and 3) Revolutions of Our Time. The first week is devoted to answering the introductory question “What is a Revolution?” and the final week encourages students to consider the concept of “Cosmopolitanism” as a form of a global revolution taking place in our individual identities. The purpose of this tripartite structure is to allow first year students to recognize and discuss how a growth mindset has brought cultural and social change throughout modern history.
What role should the arts have in responding to and affecting political power? In this course, we will go back in time to Elizabethan England where offending those in power could result in punishment far more serious than being thrown in the Clink. Being exposed as a Catholic could get you tortured; speaking ill of the Queen could result in your head jammed on a London Bridge pike. Playwrights such as Marlowe and Shakespeare wrote about power for both the powerful and the common folk, occasionally raising the censors’ eyebrows. We will explore the nature of power with the emphasis on play--what the International Shakespeare’s Globe calls lively action. Through our play work, we will explore how the historical, political, and cultural moment of the Elizabethans can be put in conversation with our present time. The course will culminate in a Reacting to the Past game where you will play a role and strategize for power to win the game. How will you negotiate the politics of power? Will you end up in the Clink?
Dr. Lynne Murray
Humans vs. Robots? Lessons from the Second Machine AgeHow will the Second Machine Age disrupt human lives and what should be done?Recent advances in automation and artificial intelligence (AI) have been dubbed as the “Second Machine Age.” The big question is, “How will the Second Machine Age disrupt human lives and what should be done?” In exploration of the question, students are introduced to some of the major examples of technological progress in computers and automation, explore the implications of these developments on economic prosperity and wealth inequality in societies, and evaluate policy interventions to harness maximum benefit for mankind from these advances. Applying basic economic analysis, students will survey the ramifications of these developments on the labor market, organization of firms, international trade and commerce, and the global political economy. Dr. Suryadipta Roy
One of Us? The Meaning of Citizenship TodayWhat does "citizenship" mean to various societies, what responsibilities does citizenship bear? One of the most noticeable developments in recent decades is the increase in human mobility across borders. As more and more individuals live beyond the borders of their country of birth, we are forced to ponder the continued meaning and relevance of one of society’s most enduring political institutions: what, if anything, does citizenship mean today? This seminar will examine citizenship in the modern world from an interdisciplinary perspective. Drawing on key texts from political philosophy, political science, history and sociology, as well as experiential learning such as naturalization exams and ceremonies, students will explore how and why citizenship has been used to designate political belonging across countries and over time. The course will engage in a critical analysis of the competing definitions and merits of citizenship, the criteria by which one becomes a citizen, the rights and responsibilities attached to citizenship, and whether it citizenship has any meaning or relevance for us in the modern era.Dr. John Graeber
Chance, Data, and Decision MakingWhat is a "fact"?In a world awash in information, the ability to be a critical consumer of quantitative data is imperative. When faced with competing claims, how does a person decide which one is more plausible? This course seeks to understand how individuals’ notions of chance and data impact decisions in everyday life and in scientific research. Using real-life applications, we will develop methods for evaluating the quality of quantitative information. We will also examine the role of cognitive biases in decision-making. Our Big Question: What is a fact?Dr. Lisa Carnell
Teach Peace to Reach PeaceCan humanity ever achieve peace? Can you imagine a world without war and violence? Are there social and physiological limitations to our capacity for peacefulness, or is that just a cop-out that we use in order to justify violence? How are labels, dismissive names for others, and even the democratic process forms of violence? What is the role of education in the movement towards a more peaceful world?

This course is designed for students who would like to learn more about the historical and contemporary issues surrounding peace and nonviolence, especially as they pertain to the everyday lived experience of human beings whose collective lives make up the global community.
Dr. Marjorie Church
China RevealedWhat is the future of the youth in China?Students will explore the ideas and struggles youth in China today have been experiencing as they try to identify themselves as a new generation in comparison with the old generation, as China has been going through tremendous economic and social changes after the Open Door policy has been carried out. The course will involve an analysis of some historical events, such as the Great Leap Forward, the Cultural Revolution, their effects on modern China, as well as the events in modern China, such as the Open Door Policy, the One Child Policy, etc. Literary readings, Chinese films, documentaries, class discussions, presentations, research papers etc. are to be involved in this course. Four credit hours. Ms. Judy Danley
Sport and IdentityHow does collective identity -- as expressed through national and professional sports teams -- reflect and inform personal identity?By identifying as a fan of a particular sports team, an individual enters a community that shares certain values that transcend sportsmanship and games. This course seeks to question the nature of those values and the ways in which they affect individual, collective, and national identities. Students will read texts related to nationalism and community as a way to critically approach the concept of a "nation of fans." The course will focus especially on professional and national sports teams in the United States and in Spain.Dr. Adam Winkel
That’s My Jam!: Entertainment and the Common GoodDoes "entertainment" serve a common good?Our society has produced remarkably sophisticated consumers of entertainment yet not particularly sophisticated reflectors. The task of this course is to enable students to turn a reflective eye and ear toward their daily diet of entertainment—movies, music, t.v., and video games—with the intention of moving them from mere consumers into thought-provoking critics for the common good. We will focus on close analysis of several forms of entertainment—while allowing students to pursue a form of their choice—with an eye to the question, “Does entertainment serve a common good? And, if so, what is our responsibility to engage that public through our choices of entertainment?” A substantial piece of this class will be an examination of “community” as an amalgam of on-line and face-to-face interactions and readers. We will be exploring the pros and cons of various on-line platforms for public criticism and how those advance or deter public engagement.Dr. Nathan Hedman
Who Owns the Past? Archaeology and Cultural Heritage Who owns the past? Who creates the knowledge that defines what is history? Who owns the past? Who creates the knowledge that defines what is history? These questions, both practical and theoretical frame this class. The main topics of our course are the impact of the past on the present, and the impact of the present on the past. Thus, we will be looking both at how the past plays a role in contemporary society, and impacts contemporary archaeological research, management and conservation. In a world marked by rapid globalization and rapidly changing technology, heritage presents a particular paradox. Increasingly, heritage sites are flash-points in cultural and religious conflicts around the globe. A majority of heritage sites have had archaeological excavations conducted at them and this evidence is used to justify the significance of these sites. Heritage can also be viewed as a unifying force in nation-building and in forging international alliances. Clearly, “history” matters – but how do certain histories come to matter in particular ways, and to whom? How is research on the past shaped through present-day concerns about identity, community, and nation, alongside transnational flows of people, money, and goods? And finally, is cultural heritage a universal right?Dr. Matthew Sayre
College UncoveredWhat is knowledge, and what strategies empower today's college students to become knowledgeable?What is knowledge? This course explores the question by engaging practical, popular texts about what and how we learn in college, and by examining some of the scholarship and research on student development, cognitive and non-cognitive skills, and effective teaching. You will analyze how your experiences compare with what authors say about you in newspapers, magazines, and blog posts. And you will study some of the experiments and theories that inform current practices in the areas of curriculum design, academic support, residence life, and co- curricular programming. The course will help you question, test, and employ what you learn so that you can effectively respond to the rigors and opportunities of college. By the end, you will be able to articulate research-based strategies for college success, locate and use important academic and social resources on campus, and describe several possible research methods for understanding how college affects first-year students.Dr. William Carpenter
Samurai and Shamaness: How Traditions are MadeWhat is Tradition?What’s at stake when we say something is “traditional”? Calling something a “tradition” does many things: it suggests that the tradition has been continued in recognizably “the same” state over a given period of time; it implies that the tradition has the approval of part or all of a community; it can activate feelings of nostalgia for the past; it can justify, in some cases, the avoidance of practices that would run contrary to that tradition; and many other things besides. How do traditions arise, and how are traditions sustained? What does a community want from its traditions, and conversely what does a tradition want from the community in which it obtains? Using two case studies from Japanese history—the samurai and the shamaness—in this course we will consider what it means to say that a given practice is “traditional.” By interpreting creative works—medieval tales (monogatari), Noh plays, the jōruri (puppet theater), modern fiction, manga, and anime—in the light of critical essays about tradition, culture, and historiography, students in this course will examine how they themselves both shape and are shaped by the traditions in their lives.Dr. Beth Carter
Paparazzi and Propaganda: Spinning the American ImageHow can images change the future?American Photojournalism was born from two desires: to break news and to sway public opinion. Photographers go to great lengths and risks to obtain images that are shocking and riveting, even to the extent of invading privacy. Governments and organizations use photography to create propaganda and to influence citizens on major issues. These two forms of photography inform and influence us still today. This course will take a deeper look at the history of these photographic genres and how images influence us. We will use photography to explore and generate discussions and develop theories about how we can influence the future with our own images.Dr. Benita VanWinkle
The Power of Numbers & Secret CodesHow do codes significantly impact human history, and how ought they to be used? This seminar covers an introduction to the relationships with numbers and their connection with cryptography and codes. An introduction to encryption (code-making) and decryption (code-breaking) requires only basic mathematical skills. Ever since the first word was written, humans have written coded messages to each other. This history is woven through with stories of how codes and ciphers have played a vital role in warfare, politics, and royal intrigue. The mathematics of cryptography will be presented within a historical context from the writing of lost civilizations through the role of Navajo code talkers in WWII to the current debate over individual privacy vs public security.Dr. Laurie Zack
Harry Potter: Understanding Good & EvilWhat it is that makes something—or someone—good and what makes them evil?The struggle between good and evil has plagued academics and everyday people for centuries. Philosophers, theologians, psychologists, writers, and others have attempted to determine what it is that makes something—or someone—good and what makes them evil. In this course, we will examine this debate through the lens of J.K. Rowling’s famous Harry Potter series, and see how she, and her readers, utilize elements of the debate between good and evil.Dr. Elizabeth Hupfer