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2016 First-Year Seminars

The following First-Year Seminars will be offered for the Fall 2016 semester. Learn more about the courses below by clicking on the titles for full descriptions and faculty bios.
 

AAAS 177 - Women With Open Eyes: Feminism, Gender, Culture & Identity in Africa and the African Diaspora
Cécile Accilien, African and African American Studies

What does “being a woman” mean? Do you think ‘being a woman’ is perceived the same way across different cultures? How much of gender identity is universal and how much is it tied to socialization and cultural norms? To patriarchy? To education? To the economy? To religion? What does the term “gender” means? Is it the same as feminism? What is feminism? What is womanism? In Feminism is for Everybody: Passionate Politics, author bell hooks describes feminism as “a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression.” This course will introduce students to the concept of feminism and gender identity in Francophone (French-speaking) West African and Caribbean cultures. Among the various questions that this seminar will address are: How is feminism and gender identity connected to themes such as patriarchy, sexism, violence and stereotypes? How are gender expectations and stereotypes formed and how do they impact development and human rights?  What role does class and education play in empowering women? Through readings and films such as  Krik? Krak! by Edwidge Danticat, So Long a Letter by Mariama Bâ and Faat Kiné by Sembène Ousmane we will explore these various questions.

Cécile Accilien was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti and grew up in Newark, New Jersey. She is fluent in French and Haitian Creole and has conversational ability in Spanish. She has lived in Burkina Faso (West Africa), France, Senegal and Belgium. She is passionate about traveling and discovering new cultures. Her areas of interest include Literary and Cultural Studies, Women and Gender Studies and Film Studies.

ABSC 177 - Evaluating Science, Pseudoscience, and Downright Quackery: An Introduction to Skepticism
Derek Reed, Applied Behavioral Science

People believe all sorts of things. Some beliefs are supported by scientific evidence; other beliefs are held for a host of other reasons. A large number of people also believe unconventional things, such as the existence of the abominable snow man, that walking under a ladder gives bad luck, and that aliens occasionally abduct humans. No matter how irrational the belief, the belief itself is very real to the believer. Many beliefs–such as children believing in the Tooth Fairy–can be harmless. However, believing that vaccines cause autism can result in very serious consequences for the public. This seminar will explore how humans come to believe things and how irrational/unconventional beliefs persist in the face of opposing scientific evidence. First-year students will learn how to consume scientific evidence and challenge assumptions or claims about dubious concepts/ideas. The seminar will meet biweekly; each Tuesday the instructor will introduce and lead discussion on new course material, with students working in team-based critical thinking activities related to that material each Thursday. The seminar will entail group research projects assessing public perception of a dubious–but testable–claim and culminates in a presentation and paper on how this claim (a) came to be, (b) is maintained by pseudoscientific influences, (c) is dangerous, and (d) can be scientifically evaluated.

Derek Reed is an Associate Professor in the Department of Applied Behavioral Science. He started college as an engineering student, but found irrational human behavior far too fascinating to ignore. His transition into psychology led him to study how humans and nonhumans alike make decisions. Unfortunately, pop psychology is full of junk science and sham research on decision making, warranting a healthy dose of scientific skepticism. As a behavioral scientist at KU, he directs the Applied Behavioral Economics laboratory where he experimentally studies decision making in his quest to dispel myths and fallacies regarding why humans do what they do. Outside of his work, he consumes too much caffeine, is fanatical about KU basketball, and tries to enjoy the outdoors with his wife and two Jack Russell terriers.

ANTH 177 - The Zombie Apocalypse and Ebola: What do they have in common?
Jim Mielke, Anthropology

As world citizens, are we ready to respond to major pandemics? If so, how will we respond? Using anthropological methods and theories, this course will examine the emerging and reemerging infectious diseases that threaten the human species. The course will trace the evolution of human diseases over the past 3 million years looking at how diseases evolve and spread. We will discuss the relationships between humans and diseases, coupled with interactions with other animals, disease vectors, and natural and cultural environments. 

Jim Mielke entered his freshman year at the University of Utah as a pre-med student. During the last quarter of that first year he took an anthropology class and his career as an MD ended suddenly.  As a result, he then earned a bachelor's degree in anthropology from University of Utah and a master's degree and doctorate in anthropology from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. A member of the KU faculty since 1977, Mielke loves teaching a variety of anthropology classes that complement his research which is focused in the areas of biological anthropology, population structure, historical demography and historical epidemiology. These research interests have taken him to Costa Rica and Finland. Besides academics, Jim really enjoys fly fishing in pristine streams or taking back packing trips in the high mountains of New Mexico, Utah, and Colorado.

Students enrolled in this First-Year Seminar must also enroll in JOUR 101 as part of the Health Matters Learning Community.

ART 177 - The Artist and Picture Making in the Digital Age
Luke Jordan, Visual Art

We sometimes lament our role as passive ‘observers’ in the visual culture that surrounds us...have we moved on to become passive "makers" in that same culture?

Is there a role for the “Artist” in our future, or has the proliferation of images (and the ease with which they seem to be made) rendered the artist obsolete? Is everyone an “Artist”?

Images are constantly being created (and recycled) at a rapid pace, created using technologies that have become widely available. Participants in this course will explore the intersection of “looking” and “making” in art and visual culture, examining the use of digital tools and technologies in contemporary art practice. We will attempt to analyze and critique this situation in kind: capturing images with our cell-phones and surfing the Internet for pictures, we will embracelo-fi and hi-tech, and consider how images might be recycled into new “works of art.”

Additionally, we will look back over the last one hundred years to consider the degree to which our current situation was anticipated by earlier artists and thinkers.

Chances are that Luke Jordan is looking at, thinking about, or making photographs at any given moment. To help support this habit (and provide cover), Luke teaches in KU’s Department of Visual Art, works as a Specialist in Photography at the Spencer Museum of Art, and is the staff photographer for the KU University Theatre. Luke is enthralled by 19th Century Photography and Contemporary Art; he is also obsessed with soccer and music (garage, punk, soul, blues, and jazz). Luke received a BFA in Art and an MFA in Photography from the University of Michigan (a long time ago), and he has been an active artist and teacher ever since. 

ASTR 177 - The Big Questions: Understanding the Origins, History, and Fate of the Universe
Gregory Rudnick, Physics

This course will address the discipline of cosmology, which is the study of the origin, structure, and evolution of the Universe. The big questions in cosmology that this seminar will address are: How did the Universe begin? What is the structure of the Universe? What is the Universe made of? How was all matter created? How has the Universe evolved over the last 13.5 billion years? What is our place in the Universe? What is the future of the Universe? The compelling nature of these questions is highlighted by the award of multiple Nobel Prizes in cosmology in recent years, in topics similar to the ones outlined above. As they relate to our deepest origins, these questions have motivated great thinkers since the dawn of time and continue to fascinate the public today. Students in this class will gain a newfound appreciation for our knowledge for the Universe and benefit by the chance to bring the immense scale of the Universe, in both space and time, into the classroom and in terms that they can relate to!

Gregory Rudnick has been hooked on galaxies ever since taking astronomy class in high school in Chicago. Between then and now he has lived in Tucson, Arizona (twice) and spent five years in Germany doing research at two Max-Planck-Institutes and enjoying European cuisine. Today he uses the largest telescopes on the planet, together with telescopes in outer space, to peer out over 12 billion light years and catch galaxies in the act of their formation and evolution. He also teaches, and enjoys the thrill of getting 200 students vigorously discussing difficult concepts in a big lecture. Although a Midwesterner, he counts himself lucky to be able to spend his summers in Heidelberg, Germany – and out of the Kansas heat - as an Alexander von Humboldt fellow. When not pondering the vastness of space, he loves cooking and the outdoors.

BUS 177 - Business Today: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Dennis Karney, Business

In this course, we will investigate what Adam Smith, the father of modern capitalism, said about commerce and why countries should trade with each other. We will compare this to the state of commerce today. Does the rising economic tide float all boats? Is the euro zone headed for collapse? Is China really stealing American jobs? Does economic growth also drive growth in child labor? in human trafficking? in money laundering?... Is this what Adam Smith intended? For us to intelligently address the above as a group, we need to study and understand the theory of trade as well as the institutions, frameworks, treaties and cooperative agreements that govern trade. We need to investigate and better understand the diversity of views and of people in the world and how they choose to govern themselves and lead their lives. We need to examine and understand current events across a broad spectrum of the world and what they imply for trade today. And, we must learn how to examine what is as objectively as possible and not through the eyes of an agenda. Students, working individually and in groups will drive key parts of the course, especially when we focus on the social issues.

Dennis Karney hails from the East Coast of America moving to Kansas in 1984 to teach at KU. While his PhD is in Math, his professional heart is in International Business and teaching. In the classroom, he draws on current events and his experiences from working, learning and teaching across three continents to bring the course content alive. He encourages his students to do the same.

BUS 177 - What Does it Mean to be Number 1?  Scorecards in the Global Competition of Nations
Dan Galindau, Business

I’m confused! In every country I visit, on every continent in the world, governments and citizens make a similar claim: “our way is the best way”. What does this really mean? Who is right? Is anybody right? Is everybody right? More importantly, what is the basis for these claims? What kinds of “scorecards” are used by the global community to evaluate the performance of a country? What scorecards should be used in this competition of nations? Is it even possible to compare and evaluate such radically different approaches as American capitalism, European socialism, and Asian state-driven economies?

To start with, we need to understand the basic economic, political, and legal systems employed throughout the world today as well as the various value systems that underlie them. How do countries decide who gets what scarce resources? Who gets help and who doesn’t? Who leads them? What is legally permissible and what isn’t? Next, we will examine the various measurements used today in evaluating a nation’s success in producing economic prosperity, social stability, and improved human welfare? What measurement or “scorecards” should be used? In this process, we will seek answers to the questions above so that at the end of the course, students will be able to consider for themselves the meaning and relevance of making the claim of being #1 in the world.

Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, upon graduating from high school Dan Galindau knew exactly where he wanted to go in life; somewhere new. Thus began a 35 year adventure that included moving to LA to obtain degrees from both UCLA and USC, four years of service in the U.S. Navy that found him living in Florida and sailing the Mediterranean and Persian Gulf, and a twenty year career with a European company that included 11 years living and working in Seoul, South Korea and Hong Kong. During this time, he traveled and worked throughout 13 countries in Asia Pacific. Returning to the U.S., he settled in Kansas City with his wife (Kansas born and raised), where he now teaches International Management and Cross-Cultural Business both at the University of Kansas, and in China for several weeks each summer in a Chinese University Executive MBA program.

CLSX 177 - Ancient Roman Spectacle from the Colosseum to the Silver Screen
Emma Scioli, Classics

The ancient Roman Colosseum still stands as a prominent landmark, one of the premier tourist attractions of modern Rome, and a structure echoed around the world, including just down the hill at Memorial Stadium! As much a monument as a symbol, the Colosseum brings to mind images of gladiators fighting to the death and the cruel punishment of criminals. How much of what we know about public entertainment and spectacle in Rome – arena games, chariot races, simulated naval battles – is based on our knowledge of Roman sources, and how much has been influenced by the depiction of ancient Rome in modern films and television series? Is there a parallel between the violence of the ancient Roman arena and the violent images modern audiences are used to seeing in movies? In this class we will explore these questions from various angles: close study of historical texts, works of literature (no Latin required!), and works of visual art will reveal what the Romans had to say about various forms of spectacle in their culture, while modern films ranging from Spartacus to The Hunger Games will reveal current views on dazzling audiences with spectacle and blood sport. Finally, you will study a film of your choosing in connection with primary sources to investigate and demonstrate the legacy of ancient Rome on the silver screen. 

Emma Scioli is interested in all aspects of ancient Rome: its language, literature, history, and art.  She spent three years teaching and studying in Rome while in graduate school. When she’s too busy to travel to Rome these days, Professor Scioli likes to visit Rome through the movies.  Her favorite films set in Rome include Roman Holiday and Gladiator. Professor Scioli is intrigued by the ways in which Greek and Roman myth and culture have been represented (for better or worse) in modern film and television, and has taught several courses on Classics and film during her 11 years at KU.  Generally speaking, she is interested in the intersection of literary and visual culture, both ancient and modern.  She recently wrote a book about dreams and visual art in Latin poetry. 

ECON 177 - The Affordable Care Act
David Slusky, Economics

What were the economics, political, medical, and public health realities that led to passage of the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), the greatest reorganization of health care in the United States since the 1960s?  What problems was the federal government trying to solve?  What were the strengths and weaknesses of these particular solutions?  What trade-offs were made?  What were the predicted outcomes?  How have these predictions fared in the ensuring years?  Answers to those big questions hold great political and policy importance given the efforts by some to repeal the Act and the many individuals affected.  In this seminar, we will answer those questions in the framework of health economics, including the concepts of one’s “health stock”, health care as a consumption good and a production industry, and health insurance as a tool to prevent income and consumption disruptions.  We will also explore the public policy analytical concepts of efficiency and equity.  We will read, analyze, and discuss sections of many articles and books, including: one by Jonathan Gruber, an MIT economics professor and key architect of the ACA, one by Ezekiel Emanuel, an oncologist and professor of medical ethics and health policy at UPenn and an adviser to the Obama White House on health care reform, and one by Casey Mulligan, a UChicago labor economics professor and a leading critic of the ACA.  Throughout the course I will guide students to develop a policy recommendation for a change that would improve the current situation.

David Slusky is an assistant professor of economics, originally from Philadelphia.  As the son of a stroke rehabilitation physician and an executive with an MBA in health care administration, David has always been fascinated by health and health care.  Now, he works in both of those areas, with recent work has showing that cutting family planning funding reduces incidence of preventive care and that maternal sunlight exposure during the second trimester reduces asthma.  David did his doctoral work at Princeton under Janet Currie and Alan Krueger (former chairman of President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisors), and his undergraduate work at Yale in physics and international studies.

ENGL 177 - Storytelling for a Better World: Literature and Social Justice
Marta Caminero-Santangelo, English

How can literature promote justice? When is a story real enough to move you? Although we tend to think of literary texts as “fictional,” that is, made up, entertaining but somehow divorced from the most pressing social and political concerns of our day, literature has in fact had a great deal to say about issues of injustice and oppression. In fact, it is possible that one of the best ways to generate awareness and empathy for a situation of injustice is to ask readers to step imaginatively into the shoes of someone who has been oppressed. In this class we will examine literature which has addressed situations of political, social, or economic oppression or repression in order to enlist readers’ sympathies in a project of social justice. This class will read some prominent examples of stories dealing with social injustice and the curtailment of human and civil rights, including a 19th- century slave narrative, a late 20th-century Guatemalan testimonio about government repression and genocide, and a 21st- century account of 14 undocumented immigrants who died trying to cross the Arizona desert. We will also consider the issue of oral storytelling as well as stories told on websites, blogs, and so on, as a means of promoting human rights.

Marta Caminero-Santangelo was born to Cuban immigrant parents in Canada, grew up in a suburb of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, went to college in Connecticut and graduate school in California, and taught in Chicago before coming to Lawrence. She has also traveled to England, Scotland, France, Cuba, Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Italy, Spain, and the Czech Republic. Marta’s academic research always involves the question of how literature interacts with the “real world.” She has published a book on literature, women, and insanity, and another on literature and Latino/a identity, and is currently working on a third about literature and undocumented immigration. She remembers sneak-reading in her bed by the light of the bathroom long past her bedtime when she was a girl. In her free time, Marta hangs out with her kids, dog, and/or running group. Sometimes they even run. Some of the things Marta would like to say she does in her free time- but hasn’t actually had time to do yet- include amateur photography and learning to play the guitar

ENTR 177 - The Entrepreneurial Mindset
Lisa Bergeron, Business

Entrepreneurs are passionate, creative, idea people. They ask the tough why not questions, they seek and seize opportunities, they rarely accept the status quo, and throughout history entrepreneurs have developed innovative answers to the most challenging issues in technology, business and society. This course will allow students to become rigorous, versatile and agile thinkers by flexing their own critical thinking muscles through an examination of the entrepreneurial mindset. What made entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Mary Kay, Mark Zuckerberg, and Oprah so wildly successful? Are there common characteristics that you may want to adopt to increase the likelihood of your own success? We’ll look at them, and look at ourselves to see if and how to apply their innovative techniques to our own pursuits. Maybe starting the next Apple Computer company is in your future…

Lisa Bergeron was born in New Jersey but spent the majority of her childhood in Manhattan, Kansas. While her dad was Dean of the School of Business at K-State, Lisa decided to come to KU for both her undergraduate and graduate degrees in Business. She attended her first Capital Budgeting class, taught by her dad, at age 7 when her mom had a last minute meeting and so her dad had to take her with him to class. She knew from that day forward she would be involved with business and finance. Lisa worked at Hallmark prior to coming to KU in the New Ventures Group. She was involved with many new business acquisitions, new product launches and the development and spin-off of Ebizmix.com. She realized her entrepreneurial mindset had been passed on her to son when, at age 4, he had taken several of the items she needed to get ready for work and created a “store” where she could buy them back from him! She now enjoys teaching this entrepreneurial mindset to other young minds at KU. In her spare time Lisa coaches Football and spends time with her family.

EVRN 177 - Making of a Bacon Cheeseburger
Terry Loecke, Environmental Studies

This course explores the profound connection between our food and the environment.  What we eat and how our food is produced is central to many environmental, social, and human health problems and solutions.  Our diet can be the most important component of our individual effects on global climate change as well largely determine our own health.  The ingredients of a bacon cheeseburger will provide the thematic focus for dissecting our food system into conceptually manageable components.  Students will make sense of their food using system analysis tools such as life cycle analysis and simplified models. Topics to be covered include: farm to table and cradle to grave life cycle analysis of our diets, proposals for sustainable alternative food systems, food miles, locally sourced foods, and organic and conventional production practices.  Class will be centered on discussion.  Students will share their understanding of the connections among their favorite foods or ingredients and the environment through a peer-reviewed writing assignment and an in-class presentation.

Dr. Terry Loecke is an assistant professor and ecologist in the Environmental Studies Program and the Kansas Biological Survey.  He is a first generation college graduate from rural Iowa who enjoys thinking about the connections between food production and environmental quality.  His research examines how ecosystem management and environmental variability influences soil, water, and air quality.  This allows him to work at the intersections of food, water, climate, and energy.  Currently, he’s focusing on the causes and consequences extreme biogeochemical events, such as how storms affect water quality and greenhouse gas emitted from soils.  Additionally, he collaborates with scientists from across the county to estimate the role of soil in the global carbon cycle.

FMS 177 - Representing the City: Learning about Urban Experiences Through Film and Media
Germaine Halegoua, Film and Media Studies

Representations of urban space and urban life have had powerful political, social, economic, and cultural effects on the ways we think about cities, society, and ourselves. Our assumptions about urban spaces are often shaped by the film, television, and digital images we consume. We get to know cities through media representations, but we rarely discuss and critically examine the representations of urban environments and urban experiences that we see on screens. These media representations often humanize larger concepts within urban studies and illuminate shared experiences of urban life: gentrification and ghettoization, globalization and localization, community and alienation, surveillance and anonymity, destruction and renewal, love and loss. Through television shows like The Wire and Sex and the City, films like Do the Right Thing and City of God, video games like Grand Theft Auto, and social media like Instagram, we will learn and discuss how to read, interpret, and analyze these images, where they come from and what they tell us about the world around us.

While growing up in a small town, Germaine Halegoua was surrounded by her parents’ stories about the pleasures and challenges of being raised immigrants in Bronx, NY in the 1960s. She quickly became obsessed with cities and the stories of love, loss, memory, inequality, and everyday life that fill their streets. Before deciding to go to graduate school in Madison, WI, Germaine worked on documentary films, television programs, magazines, and at a media activist organization where she helped amateur and professional media-makers tell untold, personal stories about New York City for PBS, HBO, online venues, and public access television. She hates picking favorite films and TV shows (but loves The Wire… a lot), has lived in six different cities since high school, and even though she often relies on her smart phone to tell her where to go, still thinks that getting lost is the best way to get to know a place. Germaine currently researches the relationships between urban spaces and digital media and is writing a book about how people use digital and social media to make sense of the places in which they live.

Students enrolled in this First-Year Seminar must also enroll in HIST 115 as part of the Looking Back to Look Forward learning community.

FREN 177 - Perspectives on the Human and the Animal in Science Fiction and Fantasy
Paul Scott, French

What do Beauty and the Beast, Planet of the Apes, and zombies all have in common? These and similar-themed stories have been told and retold over the centuries in different cultures, nations, and circumstances. Story-telling is as old as humanity and is part of our deep quest to understand ourselves, who we are, and why we are here. Paradoxically, we often have looked at animals and non-human characters as part of this process. Fantasy and science fiction and the literature, film, and TV it has inspired, from fairy tales to planetary exploration, are often treated as being of interest only to children and young adults, relegated to a secondary category of importance. This seminar will look at how depictions of the non-human can be used as a means of tackling serious issues such as racism, gender stereotypes, sexuality, and national identity. We will look at some well-known stories involving animals and the non-human involving highly evolved apes, transformed monsters, and the walking dead. As well as dealing with these familiar themes with new eyes, we will look at French and American versions of the same topic to examine how these different variations on the same theme do so a specific cultural and political context, be it France in the Enlightenment before the Revolution, the 1960s in America, or post-9/11, emphasizing the rich potential of fantasy and science fiction to challenge and provoke.

Paul Scott is originally from the UK and has spent 11 years in the US and 7 years in France, which broadened his cultural horizons and helped show him that the unfamiliar has as much to teach as the familiar. He teaches French literature and culture and is interested in science fiction, fairy tales, eccentrics and eccentricity, and the history of male fashion. He is an affiliate faculty member of the Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction at KU. He enjoys discovering new countries and food, and is a trained barista. His high-school English teacher was J. R. R. Tolkien’s personal student.

This course does not require any previous experience or instruction in the French language.

GEOL 177 - Exploring Mars: Our Evolving View of the Red Planet
Alison Olcott Marshall, Geology

Pop quiz: What’s the only planet in the solar system believed to be entirely inhabited by robots? Answer: Mars! (Maybe?) Would we even be able to recognize life on Mars if does exists, or would it simply be too different, too “alien”? Where and how would we even begin to look for such creatures, and what types of data would we use? And why do we care about a planet that is 140 million miles away? As technology has improved, so has our understanding of our nearest neighbor in the solar system. Only four hundred years after Galileo first spied a distant Mars through a telescope, humans direct a fleet of robots to drill, measure and drive over the red rocky Martian terrain. In this class we will use sources as varied as historical maps of Mars, the latest NASA data from the Martian rover, and fictional accounts of life on the red planet to explore our evolving understanding of Mars and its impact on society. We will also do a hands-on investigation of Mars-like rocks using instruments similar to those on the Martian rover to experience first-hand how scientists can determine so much about a planet so far away. See what last year's class created.

Alison Olcott Marshall is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Geology. Born in upstate New York, her interest in fossils started young; every time she walked with her dad in the woods, he would pick up rocks to show her fossils. Now, instead of just looking at the fossils, Alison and her students use chemistry to explore fossils of all types, sizes, and ages, although she is most interested in figuring out how best to look for signs of the oldest life on Earth, and how to apply those lessons to the search for life on other planets. She also makes sure to take her two little girls out in the woods to pick up rocks and show them fossils.

GEOL 177 - Geology and the Persistence of Reefs and Tropical Islands: Sun, Sand, and Sustainability
Gene Rankey, Geology

Can a nation drown, or is it “reef madness”?  Two hundred years ago, the geological origins of reefs and tropical islands were a hot topic, explored not only in the pages of scientific journals but in energetic public debates as well.  Today, coral reefs, low-lying tropical islands, and their residents are back in the news as the “front lines,” or the “human face,” of challenges associated with changing climate.  Why are there reefs and islands in the middle of the ocean anyway?  How does climate change impact reefs and islands?  Will entire nations really disappear!?  This course will explore the past, present, and future of reefs and tropical islands, how and why naturalists have studied them, and the implications for the residents of the islands and the global community.  In exploring these topics, students develop critical thinking skills in areas ranging from considering science, how science works, how science is communicated, and the implications of science on policy.  And they will get ideas for fun tropical destinations (and, islands to avoid!).

Some people wonder why he comes home from his research trips, to the Bahamas, Caicos, Cancun, French Polynesia, the Cook Islands, Kiribati, and other warm, tropical, beach-laden destinations.  Yet, Dr. Gene Rankey calls Kansas home, however, and so has always returned.  Initially called by geological questions, he studies how oceanographic processes impact tropical reefs and reef islands, by measuring things like waves and tides, observing changes on islands from satellite images, walking on shorelines, and snorkeling in warm water.  His interests have expanded, however, driven by an appreciation and love of the kind, generous, and welcoming people who live on the islands.  This class centers on some of the issues that those locals face, related to climate change, sea-level rise, sustainable development, and pure and simple survival.  When not travelling, he wears flip-flops (year round), loves his Australian cattle dog and Alaskan malamute, has survived two bouts of Dengue fever from Kiribati, zones out listening to Jimmy Buffet and Kenny Chesney, and wonders occasionally why he hasn’t ever stayed behind…..

GERM 177 - Disenchanted: The Grim(m) Truth Behind Fairy Tales
Andrea Meyertholen, German

Once upon a time, fairy tales were not the Disneyfied children’s stories we know and love. To be sure, the original tales as published in the 19th century by German siblings Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm do not always end so happily ever after. Set in a world of torture, mutilation, and abandonment, the grim reality of our favorite tales would disturb small children and parents alike.This course delves into the darker side of fairy tales as we re-discover their roots in the German folklore tradition and compare the Grimm classics to contemporary adaptations on stage, screen, and television. Doing so will also allow us to uncover the hidden cultural messages that shape our behavior, gender roles, and desires. We will seek answers to seemingly superficial questions, such as: Why is the stepmother always evil? Why does the prince never have a name? And why do things (much like these questions) always come in threes? At the same time, we will ask ourselves probing questions like: What are fairy tales? How have their functions evolved over time and across cultures? How do they teach and perpetuate cultural norms and stereotypes? As we critically re-examine our common traditions, we will also learn how to interpret these conventional tales in unconventional ways using approaches developed by folklorists, Freudians, and feminists. Our class projects involve finding fairy tales in our everyday lives, evaluating fairy tales told through a different medium, and making one’s own modern-day fractured fairy tale that may or may not end happily ever after. 

Andrea Meyertholen has probably based most of her important life choices on fairy tales, including the decision to study German. Enchanted by fairy-tale kings and castles, she began learning German at her high school in Austin, TX and never stopped. After pursuing a B.A. in German at the University of Texas, she headed off to the Hoosier State to complete a Ph.D. in German Literature and Culture at Indiana University. Along the way, Dr. Meyertholen lived and worked in Germany and Austria, travelled throughout Europe, and discovered her passion for teaching German language and culture. In a nutshell: her research interests focus on art history, museum and tourism studies, and 19th-century German literature, while her non-research interests include running, painting and watching too much tv. Even though Dr. Meyertholen enjoys studying fairy tales and mercilessly criticizing their Disney-movie updates, she still has her favorite Disney princesses (Belle and Sleeping Beauty) and knows most of the songs by heart. 

This course does not require any previous experience or instruction in the German language.

HA 177 - Spirituality and Self in Asian Art
Amy McNair, History of Art

What better way to become engaged citizens of the world than learning to understand the noblest expressions of other cultures?  India, China, Japan, and Korea have ancient artistic and spiritual cultures that remain vibrant and inspiring today. Art helps us to see our common humanity as well as how our culture is distinctive. In this class, we will learn about Asian religious traditions in order to identify spiritual ideas in art and analyze how and why artists and patrons express them.  We will read original documents (translated into English) from the major religions and examine famous monuments of religious art of Asia, encountering voices and images from other cultures and times.  We will discuss current scholarship on controversies regarding its interpretation and examine issues of self, identity, gender, and politics as they are expressed by artists, patrons, believers, and viewers.  For our final project, each student will select a Japanese woodblock print with spiritual content from the world-class Spencer Museum of Art collection to research. Students will have hands-on instruction in database and library research and workshops for writing up and presenting their research.  Significant questions in this class include:  What is the role of spirituality for artists, patrons, believers, and viewers? What intellectual approaches are useful to understand the beliefs of people from another time and place as expressed in their art?  How is Asian religious art presented and experienced in American museums?

Amy McNair was born and raised in Oregon and has been fascinated by Chinese art and culture since her first visit to San Francisco’s Chinatown as a child.  She got her PhD from the University of Chicago, where she studied Buddhist sculpture and calligraphy, which are the main subjects of her teaching and research today. She has lived and traveled in China, from the Silk Road to the Himalayas, as well as Japan and Korea.

HIST 177 - 100 Years of Arab Spring: A Century of Protest in Egypt
Marie Grace Brown, History

In January 2011, hundreds of thousands of Egyptians rose up to protest the brutality and corruption of their government. After just 18 days of demonstrations, Hosni Mubarak, the President of Egypt for the past thirty years, resigned. But popular uprisings in Egypt are not new. Indeed, many of today’s protesters, politicians, and soldiers carry vivid memories of revolutions past. Using pivotal moments of protest as our guide, this course traces Egypt’s recent history through the eyes and voices of the individuals who took to the streets. We will meet brave feminists who threw off their veils at a train station; an idealist teacher who founded the Muslim Brotherhood; a group of young, disillusioned officers intent on overthrowing the monarchy; and teenage garbage collectors who dreamed of getting out of Egypt. This class is about much more than stringing events together to learn “what happened.” We will examine each revolution in-depth in order to uncover alternative narratives, contradictions, and parallels. We will debate whether revolutions are ever truly finished and question how one should measure “success.” At the end of the semester, students will be able to situate today’s “Arab Spring” within a century of popular protest in Egypt.

Marie Grace Brown is an Assistant Professor in the Department of History. She travelled to Egypt for the first time when she was a junior in college and didn’t speak one word of Arabic. It was the best foolish decision she’s ever made. She ate hundreds of pounds of hummus, got lost in an oasis town, and slept under the stars in the middle of the Sahara Desert. The last time Marie travelled to Egypt, she left just one week before the demonstrations in Tahrir Square began. She’s eager to go back to see what’s changed and what has stayed the same. When Marie’s not reading or writing history books she can be found in and around Lawrence knitting or kick-boxing.

HIST 177 - Myth vs. History in Latin America
Robert Schwaller, History

Human cultures have long used both mythology and history to record and pass on their accounts of the past. Although history and myth are traditionally seen as representing fact versus fiction, in reality they are often melded together, such as in the contemporary American tale about George Washington and the apple tree. This course will examine how cultures construct narratives of the past through both myth and history in the context of Latin America.  We will use a variety of materials including films, novels, and historical documents to explore the process of making myths and writing history. What makes a good myth? What distinguishes myth from history? How do Latin American mythologies differ from those familiar to most Americans? By exploring varied mythologies in film, literature, and history students will develop the skills of analysis, interpretation, and communication that will help them better understand how their past has been constructed.

Rob Schwaller was born in Florida but grew up travelling between the U.S., Mexico, Spain, and Peru. He has lived and conducted research in Mexico City and Seville, Spain. Ever since his childhood the varied people and cultures of Latin America have fascinated him. His research focuses on issues of race and ethnicity in colonial Mexico and the Caribbean. In particular, his studies examine how stereotypes and prejudices associated with different racial categories (likemestizo or mulato) affected the lives of everyday people in the past. He is also interested in the relationships forged between Native Americans and Africans during the colonial period. Other than reading five-hundred-year-old manuscripts, he likes spending time in the outdoors, cycling, hiking, skiing (water and downhill), and on rainy days playing a good videogame.

HWC/EURS 177 - How World War I Changed the World
Dale Urie, Humanities and Western Civilization

World War I, which began 100 years ago, is largely responsible for shaping the way we understand ourselves and creating the world we inhabit. The Great War accelerated changes in technology, transportation, art, fashion, food, science, religion, gender and social relations, leisure, and other aspects of everyday life in Europe and the United States. From Downtown Abbey (PBS) to War Horse (Spielberg), even today, we find it necessary to make sense of this catastrophic event in modern history. This course will try to do just that.

Dale Urie grew up in Florida, a part of a family that took vacations to Egypt, Jordan, Israel and many parts of Europe. A family vacation as a teenager launched her interest in understanding the connections between the past and present, between peoples of one region and another and between religions. As a modern European historian she has taught classes on the development of civilizations and on both World War I and World War II. Most recently she won a Fulbright to continue examining the role that Muslim immigrants into Europe are playing in redefining what it meant to be European and what it means to be Muslim in traditionally non-Muslim countries. She is currently in Florence, Italy with a group of KU students directing a semester-long study abroad program for the Humanities and Western Civilization program. The semester ends in Paris, France where she hopes to do some research that will be included in this course on World War I.

JOUR 177 - 45 Words: The Five First Amendment Rights
Genelle Belmas, Journalism

If you ask the average American what protections they have through the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, most of them can name freedom of speech. That’s an important right, but it’s not the only right contained in those 45 words. Americans are also guaranteed freedom of the press, religion, assembly and petition. All of these elements are important to a self-governing democracy. If you’re interested in law school, or just interested in knowing more about your protected rights of expression, this class is for you. We will read real court cases and talk about your legal rights, responsibilities, and ethical choices. We’ll also engage in some activities designed to give you hands-on experience with First Amendment principles, and you’ll get a taste of legal and other types of research methods.

Genelle Belmas is a recent newcomer to KU, having just arrived last year. She was born in northern Wisconsin and spent the last decade in Southern California. She’s addicted to cats, office supplies, yarn, and World of Warcraft. In the William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications, Prof. Belmas teaches media law, reporting and information gathering, and media ethics. Her research centers around First Amendment issues such as the law of flags, student press law, and developing legal issues in social media.

JOUR 177 - Blame it on the Media: Young People and Media Effects in the Digital Age
Joseph Erba, Journalism

During the average day, an American adolescent is exposed to more than 10 hours of media outside of school: hours of television shows, video games, websites, and music, often consumed simultaneously. How does all of this watching, playing, and surfing affect young people’s perceptions of themselves and others, and how does it affect their attitudes towards societal matters and everyday behaviors? Drawing on our experience as media consumers and current research by experts, we will examine the extent to which media contribute to young people’s everyday lives, including self-esteem, perceptions of others, policy support, purchase decisions and academic performance. We will also conduct our own research, exploring ‘cause and effect’ relationships between specific media messages of your choice and a topic you care about, and think of strategies aimed at helping young people reduce the consequences of their media habits.

Joseph Erba is an Assistant Professor of Strategic Communication in the William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications. He is fascinated by the role media play in creating identities and in our expectations of others based on media representations of characteristics such as race/ethnicity, gender, social class and sexual orientation. As he is an optimist, even though he recognizes the potential harmful effects media messages can have on society, he also believes that learning about media can counter such effects and lead to positive change. When he is not thinking about media messages, Joseph enjoys being as far away from them as possible, hiking in beautiful Kansas trails or gardening, without any media devices on him.

LING 177 - Word Mysteries and Histories—Say What?
Clifton Pye, Linguistics

Words surround us every waking moment of our lives and yet we seldom stop to consider the nature of words and how they function. Words have a fleeting existence, and yet many of the words we use today have histories that are thousands of years old. How do words reflect the way we think and perceive the world? How many words for snow does Eskimo really have? How do words derive the power to direct human action? Where do words come from and where do they go? How do words reflect your identity and place in a social world? This seminar will explore some of the mysteries about words that have puzzled philosophers for millennia. The class will introduce students to linguistic research on how the brain processes words, the structure of words in the world’s languages, documenting the words we use, and variation in the use of words in English.

Clifton Pye directs the Mayan Language Acquisition Laboratory and is an associate professor of linguistics. He researches how children acquire their first words in Native American languages spoken in Canada, Mexico and Guatemala. He teaches courses on child language acquisition, Mayan languages, Mayan hieroglyphic writing, word structure, semantics, and computational linguistics. He is currently researching how children living in San Luis Potosí, Mexico acquire the Mayan language Teenek.

POLS 177 - Seeing Red and Blue: The Polarization of American Politics
Patrick Miller, Political Science

American politics feels more divided than ever. Our leaders seem obsessed with scoring political points and incapable of governing effectively. At worst, Americans themselves seem divided into two alien camps - one “red” and one “blue”- fundamentally opposed in their values and increasingly intolerant of each other. Is America really this broken, though? This course will examine the polarization of American political life from a variety of perspectives. How do institutions such as Congress, political parties, media, and elections fuel partisan divides? How do changes in American society, especially its growing racial diversity and religious cleavages, foster political division? Looking at public opinion, are there really two Americas? Is it really all the fault of politicians, or are Americans themselves guilty of enabling a crippled political system? How can the political system be reformed to deal with our polarized politics? Students will develop an understanding of how social scientists think about these questions. The course will culminate in students doing their own research to address questions about polarization.

Patrick Miller grew up on the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia. After college he taught fifth grade through Teach for America in Atlanta, then moved up I-85 for graduate school at the University of North Carolina. He has taught at KU since 2013 and researches political civility, emotion, and group conflict. His non-academic interests include coffee, college basketball, and all varieties of Southern barbeque. He also collects political memorabilia from antique stores and 1980s Transformers. Politically, he has correctly predicted the winner of every US Senate election since 1998. His favorite president is his fellow William & Mary graduate Thomas Jefferson.

REL 177 - Apocalypse!
Molly Zahn, Religious Studies

“The End is Near!!” This conviction has been uttered across cultures and throughout history, yet it is no stranger to contemporary America. Recent years have seen media hype surrounding claims that the world would come to an end on May 21, 2011 or in December 2012. The Left Behindbook series, which provides a fictional depiction of what the End might be like, has achieved immense popularity. Recent polls estimate that as many as 40% of Americans believe Christ will return within their lifetimes. Society is awash in doomsday predictions, from the Mayan Apocalypse to the Walking Dead.

This course will explore the idea of the apocalypse, or the cataclysmic “end of the world.” We will investigate different types of apocalyptic thinking in modern culture, from the radioactive monster and zombie movies of the 1950s and 60s to visions of eco-apocalypse and predictions of Christ’s imminent return. We will also examine the ancient roots of apocalyptic thought in the biblical books of Daniel and Revelation, and see how the worldviews and memorable images of those texts (“the Beast,” “the whore of Babylon”) have been reinterpreted in contemporary times. 

Molly Zahn’s research and teaching focus on the Bible in its ancient Mediterranean context, and on the early Jewish and Christian worlds in which the books of the Bible were first read. Intending to study music and environmental science at the University of Minnesota, she instead became captivated by the amazing variety of ways religious communities read and interpret their sacred traditions. Most of her work involves manuscripts found among the Dead Sea Scrolls, which preserve some of the earliest evidence for these creative interpretive processes. A native of Wisconsin (and diehard Packer fan), Molly has lived and studied in Germany, the UK, and Sweden. She received her PhD from the University of Notre Dame in 2009. In her spare time, she keeps up her music as a member of the viola section of the Topeka Symphony, and enjoys getting outdoors to hike, watch birds, and cross-country ski.

SOC 177 - What Gender is Your Jayhawk? Exploring the creation of gender differences on campus
Joey Sprague, Sociology

Are college men all that different from college women? Do they think differently, speak differently, have different values and skills? In cases where we seem to see different behaviors and different outcomes, what explains them? Most people assume that boys and girls are different creatures from birth or, at least, become different through socialization very early in life. 

Is that the case? Or, if we look carefully, can we actually see gender differences being actively created and re-created on campus? 

In their research, sociologists have identified several ways social groups create the impression that gender differences are natural. They have studied the messages conveyed through cultural artifacts and found they teach us to think in gendered terms without our necessarily knowing it. They have shown how often we decide how to behave in a social situation by taking into account how we anticipate others will react to our choices and anticipating the consequences. They have analyzed how what seem to be neutral methods of designing organizations and evaluating performances are actually, and typically unintentionally, creating gender differences in outcomes—that is, inequality.  

We will read some of this research and then use it as a foothold from which to design ways to ask and answer the same questions on our campus and in our town. Sociologists find clues to what is happening in a lot of different places. We will be involved in finding and analyzing the messages in documents and visual images, in observing interactions in different social spaces. We might end up interviewing other students and teachers. We might even go to a football game. 

Joey Sprague grew up in Milwaukee and spent time working in a brewery and as an insurance investigator, a combination of experiences that led her to be curious about how social forces shape people’s opportunities and the way they make sense of the world. She got her Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In both teaching and research, her favorite topics revolve around seeing knowledge as a social product. When she finds spare time, she likes to take long walks with her husband, share Sunday dinners with their children’s families, lift weights, garden, and plan her next quilt. 

SPLH 177 - Out of the Mouths of Babes
Holly Storkel, Speech, Language, Hearing

Children have an amazing ability to learn language. By 12 months, infants produce their first word. From this entree into word learning, vocabulary growth rapidly accelerates from learning 1-2 words per day in infants and toddlers to learning 3-4 words per day in preschool children to learning 6-12 words per day in school-age children. In contrast, children with language impairments struggle to learn words, leading these children to fall behind the academic achievement and social success of their peers. How do typically developing children learn words so rapidly? Why do children with language impairments learn words so slowly? In this seminar, we will work together to read research articles that address these two questions. Through our readings and interactive group discussion, we will discover how sound, meaning, and social context guide and accelerate word learning by typically developing children while at the same time posing challenges for children with language impairments. We also will read popular blogs to gain insight into typical development and better understand the impact of language impairments on the lives of children and their families. Students will have an opportunity to communicate their understanding of language learning and impairments through individual postings on a class blog aimed at parents. 

Holly Storkel grew up in Willis, Texas (a small town near Houston) and attended Indiana University and the University of Washington in Seattle. Holly spent one year as a psychology major before taking an introductory speech-language-hearing course to discover the field of speech-language pathology: a perfect blend of language, psychology, and neuroscience applied toward helping others. An undergraduate research experience in her senior year further convinced her to pursue a PhD and a career at a research university. Holly’s current research is aimed at helping kindergarten children who have specific language impairment (SLI) learn new words through an interactive book reading treatment. In her spare time, she likes to pick out recipes for her husband to cook, watch Star Wars or Harry Potter movies (again and again) with her 9-year-old son, or ignore her family completely and read mystery novels with her 4 cats on her lap. Holly has been contemplating starting a blog so she is looking forward to gaining blogging experience with the SPLH 177 class this fall.


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