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2018 First-Year Seminars

The following is a list from the Fall 2018 semester. 2019 seminars will be added by March 1. 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*
Marwa Ghazali, 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” mean? 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.

Marwa Ghazali biography coming soon.

*This seminar is part of a Global Perspectives Learning Community and requires dual enrollment in Psychology 104.

AMS 177 - On Drugs: Heroin Users and American Drug Policy
Margaret Kelley, American Studies

We have heard about the “war on drugs” but what do we really know about the people at the center of the battle? We will engage with and challenge stereotypes and propaganda about drug users and American drug policy, and encourage the development of empathy for those caught in the drug war, regardless of societal position. We will focus on the following key questions: Who are drug users? What are the links between drug use and crime in America? What are the social and legal responses to drug use? Finally, how do we approach this social problem as scholars? This First-Year Seminar takes a close look at the world of homelessness and drug addiction in the contemporary United States by examining street heroin users. Through discussion, oral presentations, and unique writing assignments, we will tackle some difficult material about “the drug problem” that continues to devastate American communities and families.

Professor Margaret Kelley has been interested in deviance, drugs, and crime since her undergraduate work at Wichita State University. She had a class in deviance that captured her attention and motivated her to know more about people that live on the margins of society, either by choice, status, or circumstances. She then spent one summer working as a volunteer with the children’s visitation program in Bedford Hills Correctional Facility, a maximum security prison in upstate New York, and saw first-hand the damage the war on drugs was doing to women and their families. About the same time, Professor Kelley read The Radical Vision of Saul Alinsky by P. David Finks. This account of Alinsky’s social activism inspired her to pursue research that could be used to make the world a better place.

ART 177 - The Artist, Image Making, and Visual Culture 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 embrace lo-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 - Commerce Today: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Dennis Karney, Business

Have you ever asked the question, where does my cell phone or tablet come from? How was it made and what was used to make it? Does it even matter when you are texting or tweeting? Have you ever asked similar questions concerning the making of the inexpensive clothes or shoes you wear? Or cared if they were humanely produced in an environmentally friendly way? And what about those companies that make you feel good that when you buy one they donate one? Does this really make a difference? This seminar will address these and similar questions, not through the lens of what we hope the answer is, but using facts and data found from trustworthy sources. The goal is for each student to be able to intelligently talk about at least one of these issues with family or friends over the Thanksgiving holiday. To achieve this, students working both individually and in groups will drive key parts of this seminar, especially when we focus on 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 - Culture and Diversity in the Workplace
Dan Galindau, Business

In today’s business world, cultural diversity plays an ever more important role. The understanding of cultural differences is a critical skill for any manager in today’s business world; whether working in a foreign country, communicating with a foreign business partner, or working in today’s increasingly diverse U.S. workplace. Culture matters in every aspect of doing business.

In this seminar, we will examine cultural differences in the workplace using eight aspects of conducting business. These aspects include communicating, evaluating, persuading, leading, deciding, trusting, disagreeing, and scheduling. Students will explore how different cultures view these aspects of the business process in different ways. Students will examine their own cultural values, engage in critical discussions about how cultural context influences business practice, and identify ways that enhanced cultural competency might advance business needs.

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.

C&T 177 - The Globalization of English: Opportunities and Pitfalls for Teaching English Abroad
Lizette Peter, Curriculum and Teaching

English proficiency is often perceived as essential for accessing knowledge and “linguistic capital” in our highly globalized and technologized society. Consequently, there are more learners of English around the world today than there are native speakers, and the demand for English teachers abroad has never been greater than it is currently. What are we to think of this global spread of English and the international career opportunities it provides? In this First-Year Seminar, we will critically explore the political, cultural, and economic factors that drive English’s status as a global language and the demand to learn it. We will also consider a responsible approach to international English teaching that respects and promotes local languages and cultures. Students will engage with these issues through an integrative assignment based on interviews with international students at KU for their perspectives on learning English as a global language.

Lizette Peter is an Associate Professor in the Department of Curriculum and Teaching. As an undergraduate, she majored in French and earned a license to teach it. Rather than become a French teacher, however, she joined the Peace Corps and spent three years in Sri Lanka teaching English, thus embarking on a career in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) and training ESOL teachers in the U.S. and abroad. But when she took an anthropology course on Endangered Languages and learned how the spread of English has negatively impacted minoritized languages and cultures, she began actively collaborating with American Indian tribal communities, most notably the Cherokee Nation, to revitalize their languages. Now, she endeavors to share her love of English language teaching while promoting respect for the planet’s linguistic diversity.

ENGL 177 - Science, Storytelling and the Human
Anna Neill, English

How have science and literature shaped our understanding of what it means to be human? How have they drawn distinctions between humans and animals? What implications have these distinctions had for society, particularly for our understanding of evolution, race, and culture? In this seminar we will explore these questions through works of fiction and nonfiction that assert and challenge definitions of what it means to be human. We will read stories about humans’ relationships with other animals, comparing scientific texts with literary ones (e.g. Charles Darwin’s Descent of Man and H.G. Wells’s The Island of Dr. Moreau). We will also study works that dehumanize others to justify slavery and colonialism. Finally, we will also look at how modern writers like Toni Morrison portray the violent legacy of theories of the human.

Anna Neill grew up in Auckland, New Zealand. She moved to the US (following a brief stretch in the UK) in 1990 to attend graduate school at Cornell University, and then joined the KU faculty in 1996. She teaches courses on Victorian fiction, on human evolution and literature, and introductory English courses to students new to KU. In the past, she has also helped to organize and teach poetry classes at Douglas County Jail. She has written two books, one on sea voyaging and global commerce in the 1700s and one on psychology, evolutionary theory, and British novels of the 1800s. She is currently writing another book, this time on human evolution and science fiction in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. She is a parent, she has two corgis, and she wishes she could own a horse.

ENGL 177 - Historical Fiction, Historical Film
Laura Mielke, English

How do writers and filmmakers bring the past into the present? Must they portray events exactly as they happened, or is that even possible? And to what extent are all accounts of historical events somewhat fictional? In this seminar, we will study novels, plays, and films that set out to portray key events in the history of the United States. Taking up contemporary novels and films, including works by KU faculty Kevin Willmott and Laura Moriarty, we will learn about the past but also about how and why people keep making art out of the past. In addition, students will conduct historical research, think hard about the choices of writers have made, and try writing their own works of historical fiction. In the process, they will acquire academic and practical skills aimed to help them during the rest of their college studies.

Laura Mielke is an Associate Professor in the Department of English, where she teaches courses in American literature, especially of the nineteenth century. Born and raised in the mountains of North Carolina, Prof. Mielke still finds herself occasionally overwhelmed by the Kansas sky. She enjoys reading and writing about books, but she also loves baking, live music, and anything involving her kids. The recipient of multiple teaching awards, Prof. Mielke is passionate about introducing students to the subjects that drive her research: performance, sympathy, and the history of struggle for racial justice in the U.S.

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 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 - Apocalypse Now? Imagining Environmental Disaster in Climate Fiction
Ali Brox, Environmental Studies

The apocalypse metaphor has been used to imagine the end of the world based on various causes: alien or monster invaders, nuclear war, and environmental destruction. These threats symbolize a crisis that authors and filmmakers represent in order to speculate on potential outcomes or solutions. Climate change presents a contemporary crisis that literature, broadly defined, increasingly grapples with, and so much so, that scholars now refer to “cli-fi,” or literature that examines the impact of human-caused climate change during the Anthropocene. In this class, we will examine novels, films, TV shows and/or short stories that rely on the narrative trope of apocalypse to imagine a world irrevocably altered by climate change. We will address debates surrounding ethical human-environment interactions and the role technology plays in environmental solutions. The larger question for our class will be: what role can apocalyptic literature play in our understanding of and approach to climate change?

Ali Brox was born in Kansas, and her interest in literature and the environment started young; family travels often involved trips to national parks and forests. Always a reader, Ali’s research interests solidified while she attended graduate school at the University of Nevada, and her brother’s family had to evacuate New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina. She watched the situation unfold on the news, and her experiences in the city after people were allowed to return influenced her decision to research the way environmental disasters are represented in literature and the media. Ali has a deep connection to the University of Kansas. Her parents met at a residence hall on campus, and she completed both her B.A. and B.S. degrees while competing as a varsity athlete at KU. She is a lifelong Jayhawk.

FREN 177 - Perspectives on the Human and Non-Human 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 in 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.

GEOG 177 - Geopolitics in the News
Jay Johnson, Geography

Geopolitics unfolds in terms of power and space: armed conflicts, famines, territorial disputes, tensions over identity and place, and a broad series of political, cultural, and territorial conflicts.  This course is about geopolitics, but it is also about the writing of world events. The goals of this course are to alert students to contemporary world events; to view these events through a geographical lens; and to articulate how scholarly knowledge about world events contrasts with media coverage of these events. The course is designed with these learning outcomes in mind: 1) to construct an ability to critique sources and veracity of information about current events 2) to develop an ability to think spatially in terms of places, patterns, and processes 3) to demonstrate an ability to read maps critically and 4) to understand how current events reflect broader historical and geographical circumstances. Students will learn about current events by reading, discussing, and writing about mainstream news media including print, television, and online sources.

Jay T. Johnson is a Professor of Geography in the Geography & Atmospheric Science Department. He is also a Kansan and Jayhawk having attended KU for both his Bachelors and Masters degrees. His research focuses on Indigenous peoples’ cultural survival, particularly in the areas of resource management, political activism at the national and international levels, and the philosophies and politics of place that underpin the drive for cultural survival. Much of his work is comparative in nature but has focused predominately on New Zealand, the Pacific, and North America. Prof. Johnson will be joined in this course by geography Professors Shannon O’Lear (geopolitics) and Barney Warf (globalization).

GEOL 177 - The Scientress: Women, Inclusion, and the Culture of Science
Alison Olcott, Geology

Why do women earn almost 60% of all of the biological science undergraduate degrees awarded in America, but only 19% of the ones in engineering? Why do women hold only 30% of the jobs in the physical sciences? Why is there a notable absence of entries about women scientists on Wikipedia? Have views on the roles of women and the practice of science excluded women from scientific fields? In this course we will investigate the interrelationships of women and STEM from historical, statistical, sociological, philosophical, and biological perspectives. In this class, you will examine the process of science, how the culture of science results in significant gender gaps in participation, what differences women’s participation makes to the construction of scientific knowledge, and write your own entries about women scientists on Wikipedia, all while developing and practicing skills that will help you in future college courses.

Alison Olcott is an Associate 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.

GERM 177 - Disenchanted: The Grim(m) Truth Behind Fairy Tales
Andrea Meyertholen, Germanic Languages and Literatures

Once upon a time, fairy tales were not the Disney 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 the Grimm classics, revisit our favorite fairy-tale films, and uncover the hidden cultural messages that continue to shape our behavior, gender roles, and desires today. We will develop our skills for college coursework through class projects which involve finding fairy tales in our everyday lives, evaluating fairy tales in visual media, and making one’s own modern-day fractured fairy tale … that may or may not end happily ever after.

Andrea Meyertholen is Assistant Professor of German and has probably based most of her important life choices on fairy tales, including the study of German. She has journeyed far and wide to study and teach the langugae in such enchanted kingdoms as Texas, Indiana, Germany, Austria, and Kansas. 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 horseback riding. Although 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 the songs by heart.

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

HA 177 - Visualizing War and Peace in Western Art
Linda Stone-Ferrier, History of Art

The subjects of war and peace have a long and emotionally intense history in European and American art. What choices have artists made in their depictions of the horrors of war and the blessings of peace? Which fictional or historical events have been commemorated and for what reasons? Why do some works of art, such as the Viet Nam War Memorial in Washington, D.C., inspire raw emotions in visitors daily, and other monuments to war or peace do not? This seminar will focus on the theme of war and peace in order to learn how to analyze and interpret the meaning of a work of art. Students will discuss how artwork of diverse materials and size—painting, sculpture, architecture, prints, photography and so on—can powerfully communicate sorrow or propaganda, protest deadly conflict, or honor peace. Seminar participants will discuss their own opinions about the persuasive power of such artwork.

Linda Stone-Ferrier is a Professor in the Kress Foundation Department of Art History. She was born in Pennsylvania, lived briefly in Michigan, and grew up in San Diego, CA. She discovered Art History her junior year of college while studying abroad at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. She has also lived in Nicaragua, Guatemala, Costa Rica and the Netherlands. She is passionate, in particular, about the study of seventeenth-century Dutch art, including paintings by Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn and Johannes Vermeer, and loves to share her enthusiasm for Art History with her students.

HUM/EURS 177 - How World War I Changed the World*
Dale Urie, Humanities

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, 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 in Europe are playing in redefining what it meant to be European and what it means to be Muslim in traditionally non-Muslim countries. 

*This seminar is part of a Global Perspectives Learning Community and requires dual enrollment with WGSS 101: Introduction to Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

ITAL 177 - Italian Food Culture and National Identity
Nicola di Nino, Italian

Why do Italians consider food as a pride of their national identity? How can food shape identity locally, nationally, and globally? How are Italian cuisine and identity perceived abroad?

To answer these questions, in class students will be critically engaged by analyzing and discussing recipes books, memoires, and regional cookbooks that have contributed to the formation of Italian national identity, in Italy and abroad. During class discussions they will also be able to compare Italian identity and culture to their own, and their experiential learning will be enhanced by visits to the library, lectures by guest professors and local experts, and some food tastings.

In this seminar, students will develop and practice skills that will help them in future college courses (i. e. how to read and comment a book excerpt and an academic essays, prepare questions for class discussions and guest lectures, and how to structure, develop, and deliver a research project).

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

JOUR 177 - War Stories: The Media, the Military, and News Narratives
Barbara Barnett, Journalism

The media and the military may not seem to have much in common, but both institutions are essential in a democracy. The military fight to protect freedoms, while the media tell the stories of the fighters. Because less that 1 percent of Americans currently serve in the armed forces, news and entertainment media are a primary way U.S. citizens learn about the military.

The seminar will explore how journalists have reported on the military, from Stephen Crane’s accounts of the Civil War, to Ernest Hemingway’s work at the Kansas City Star, to John Hersey’s story of war’s aftermath in Hiroshima, to Tina Fey’s portrayal of a New York Times combat journalist in Whiskey Tango Foxtrot.

This class seeks to helps students think critically about the stories media tell, to consider the stresses journalists encounter in telling stories, and to examine the larger messages these stories tell about the military.

Barbara Barnett, Ph.D., is the Lee Young Professor of Journalism in the William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications. She is a former journalist and the daughter of a Marine veteran. She teaches courses in reporting, diversity in the media, international journalism and international strategic communications. Prof. Barnett conducts research on media and violence, including how journalists cover violent events and how they are affected by the events they witness.

JOUR 177 - Young Voters 2018 - How to be the best-informed citizens
Michael Williams, Journalism

The mid-term elections of 2018 will be the first opportunity for many university students to participate in one of the most critical responsibilities of living in a democratic society. The voting process is much more than marking a ballot; it includes a method of information gathering and sharing that has changed with evolving technology, personal ethics, and definitions of truth. This seminar will be an active exploration of the importance of information trust in our society. We will examine the aspects of critical thinking that allow a person to know how and where to find credible sources of information, understand ways to verify the information, and how to use the information to form their own opinions and ideas. This seminar is not about debating which candidate or political viewpoint is right or wrong. Instead, we will focus on concepts associated with information literacy and fact-checking as we develop an understanding of how skepticism and rhetoric are critical in this age of digital noise.

Professor Mike Williams serves as the director of innovation for the William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications. He earned his degrees from the J-School and worked in newsrooms of several media companies across the country. He also taught digital media and information management at universities in North Carolina, Ohio, and Maryland. He returned to KU in 2008. Professor Williams has focused on the development of emerging media technologies since the development of the internet as a primary means of information sharing. His professional experience includes consulting with journalists in eight foreign countries. He has also directed study abroad programs in Vietnam, Italy, Spain, Northern Ireland, and Scotland.

LA&S 177 - From Wearables to Wisdom: Exploring Mobile Health Apps in Healthcare
Lauren Pulino, Health Information Management

In a time when services like banking, shopping, and even car sharing are commonly accessed from mobile devices, healthcare is just beginning to emerge into this market. Fitbits, Apple Watches, and health apps are being used to track diet, exercise, and other health elements. How can the healthcare system leverage this information? As healthcare costs in the United States continue to rise, consumer health data will become increasingly important to utilize. Health technologies and mobile health apps are a way to engage consumers in managing their care and improve health outcomes.

This seminar will introduce first-year students to types of health information systems and technology, and highlight careers focusing on the management of health data. Through critical thinking assignments and experiential learning, students will engage in various aspects of health data.

During her high school and early college years, Lauren Pulino struggled with answering the “what do you want to be when you grow up?” question. She contemplated various majors between psychology, criminal justice, and even marine biology. The common denominator in her pursuit of answering the question was her passion to help people (and marine life!). During her sophomore year of college, she stumbled upon a healthcare field in which she could do that through technology and information systems. Growing up with computers, especially with her father being a computer technician, she immediately found her niche in a profession that involves designing, building, and training healthcare software applications and technology.

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.

MATH 177 - Mathematics on Trial: the Success and Failure of Mathematical Predictions
Milena Stanislavova, Mathematics

Why is today’s world so overloaded with data and information and how to deal with the randomness, uncertainty and interconnectivity of complex systems that dominate our society? How can we learn to choose the right kind of data and what is the right kind of math that will help us pull the meaning out of these systems? This course will introduce the field of mathematics and mathematical modeling, from preschool to high school and beyond, for anyone who would like to see it from a different perspective. In doing this, we naturally move from the old to the new and contemporary and will learn about the more recent successes and failures of mathematical models for weather forecasting and infectious disease modeling to the recent financial crisis, political predictions and even sports and games. Our tools will expand gradually to introduce some ideas from calculus, differential equations, dynamical systems, randomness and large data as we look at these through the eyes of forecasters trying to solve the hard problems of our society.

Milena Stanislavova is a Professor in the Mathematics Department. She was born and grew up in Bulgaria, a small Eastern European country, known for its outstanding mathematics program.  Milena discovered her passion for mathematics at a young age, after winning a national math contest in seventh grade. Following graduation from the University of Sofia, she moved to the United States with her husband to pursue her love of mathematics. She has been at KU since 2002 and is especially interested in conveying to students the awesome possibilities of modern mathematics to model real life phenomena in physics, biology, and engineering.

MUSE 177 - Obsession, Desire and Memory: Stories of Collectors and Collections
Liz Kowalchuk, Museum Studies & Visual Art

What motivates someone to collect? Thomas Jefferson amassed a collection that became the foundation of the Library of Congress. Tennis star and stamp collector Maria Sharapova looks for new stamps during her tournament travels. Jack D. Crispin’s collection of pharmaceutical artifacts can be visited at his museum in Lincoln, Kansas. Alice Walton’s collection of American Art forms the foundation of the Crystal Bridges Museum in Bentonville, Arkansas. Books, stamps, art, typewriters, sock monkeys, buttons, banana labels, and more: Collections come in all forms, sizes and values. Some collections become foundations of museums and institutions while others serve more personal functions. The act of collecting connects us to others and can reflect or transcend time and place. Collections may evoke memories and represent important relationships. This course will investigate the history, scope, meaning, and impact of collections and reveal the motivations and practices of collectors. Students will uncover, discuss, and consider these ideas while discovering interesting facets of collecting and KU history.

Liz Kowalchuk grew up on beaches, lakes and rivers in Florida. Although she didn’t realize it at the time, some of her interests in collecting were established from picking up shells and seeing tourists with sunburned shoulders buying souvenirs to take home. An Associate Professor in Museum Studies and Visual Art, Liz is captivated by stories of people who collect and how collections have become the foundations of museums. A life-long involvement in the arts as well as a fascination with the everyday visual world drives her to visit small museums in Kansas and make things from items found in unexpected places.

PHMD 177 - Picturing Place: Photographing Lawrence
Elise Kirk, Photography

Are you new to KU, Lawrence, or even the Midwest? Would you like to know your new home better? The act of photographing - observing, participating, being present - can accelerate a connection to Place. In this digital photography class, each student will identify a specific community or environment within the Lawrence area to photograph repeatedly and meaningfully over the course of the semester. Class time will be spent reviewing and refining the work, discussing its context, introducing research methods for deeper understanding of the chosen topic, and gaining inspiration from relevant historic and contemporary models of photographic inquiry. By the end of the semester, the student will have strengthened both their visual literacy skills and their ties to their new surroundings. All photographic experience levels welcome.

Originally from Missouri, Elise Kirk spent fifteen years on the East Coast as a nonfiction television producer and photographic artist before returning to the Midwest to join KU’s Design Department as Assistant Professor of Photography. She is very happy to be back in her new home. Her personal research and visual practice investigate regional identity and mythologies of Place in the Midwest, while her television work has appeared on National Geographic, Discovery and Viceland. She loves exploring Lawrence and the various roads that lead out of town.

SPAN 177 - The Amazon: Frame Environmental Issues through Literature and Film
Luciano Tosta, Spanish and Portuguese

This seminar will explore environmental issues in the Amazon through the lens of literature and film. How do narratives of place shape our understanding of our relationship to the natural world? What role do novels and films play in bridging local realities to a broader global context? Students will read news stories and journal articles to establish a framework for present-day environmental challenges in the Amazon. Through course activities, students will critically examine how different sources build understanding and serve as catalysts for change. Additionally, students will consider how the lessons of the Amazon apply to local and national debates about preservation issues, for example, through investigations of the Baker Wetlands and the Badlands of South Dakota.

Faculty bio coming soon.

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

SW 177 - Poverty & Inequality in the US: Causes, Consequences, & Solutions*
Alice Lieberman, Social Welfare

The problem of poverty and inequality is “hot” again. Stories about job creation, the “Occupy” movement, the vanishing working class, the Brownback “blueprint” and the debates from left to right about how best to grow the economy all speak to the importance of poverty as a factor in our own lives, regardless of which side of the economic divide we live on. This course will use a variety of field and classroom tools to come to a deeper understanding of the problem, and our potential obligations as citizens to address it.

We will begin with definitions and historical underpinnings, and then move to an exploration of out topic through social, political, economic, and anthropological lenses. Although not central to the course, but critical to a full understanding of the subject, global poverty and its antecedents will also be covered. Major themes will include the measurement of poverty (from the perspective of both “insiders” and “outsiders”), its demographics, why inequality is a serious problem for the rich as well as the poor, and the effectiveness of various solutions attempted throughout history (from “the War on Poverty” to “Reaganomics,” state vs. federal programs vs. private, non-profit entities as service/benefit delivers).

Alice Lieberman is Chancellor’s Club Professor of Teaching and Chair, BSW Program, in the School of Social Welfare. She has written and researched extensively in the broad field of child welfare, with particular attention to children in the foster care system. Poverty is a primary correlate of child abuse and neglect; this her interest in poverty in families is driven by a desire to know more about its impact on children and succeeding generations, and to contribute to the development of solutions for its amelioration.

*This seminar is part of the Building a Better Future World: Poverty Learning Community and requires dual enrollment in Psychology 104.

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