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Fall 2019 Seminars

2019 First-Year Seminars

AAAS 177/LAA 177-Women with Open Eyes: Feminism, Gender, Culture, and Identity in Africa and the African Diaspora

AAAS 177 Women with Open Eyes: Feminism, Gender, Culture, and 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?  What does the term “gender” mean? Is it the same as feminism? 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?  

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.

*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

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.

ANTH 177-Boots, Machetes, and Lasers: Lost Cities and How to Find Them

ANTH 177 Boots, Machetes, and Lasers: Lost Cities and How to Find Them

John Hoopes, Department of Anthropology

Have you ever wondered what it feels like to discover a lost city? Or how to tell the difference between real discoveries and hoaxes? This seminar will use real and imagined archeological discoveries in order to understand how the scientific method and critical thinking are equally vital components of inquiry in this and other scientific fields. Through our studies of how the imagination, creativity and new technologies are used to solve mysteries and produce new understanding about the ancient past, we will examine the excitement of scientific discovery, along with the dangers of errors in method and interpretation.

John Hoopes is an archaeologist who has done lots of fieldwork in Central and South America. He has been featured in numerous film documentaries about ancient mysteries and the scientific realities behind them. He's an internationally recognized authority on topics such as Maya calendar prophecies, the stone spheres of Costa Rica, and the "Lost City of the Monkey God" in Honduras, as well as the archaeology of Latin America. He also supervised a research project that used satellite imagery to study ancient irrigation systems in Afghanistan.

ART 177-The Artist, Image Making, and Visual Culture in the Digital Age

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.”

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).

ART 177-What can Public Art do for a Community?

ART 177 What can Public Art do for a Community?

Liz Langdon, Visual Art Education

This Seminar explores the rich resources of public art on campus and in the surrounding community to understand how  it connects KU and Lawrence to the world to memorialize, celebrate, educate, heal, inspire, disrupt and mobilize the community. These local examples will be used to understand the many dimensions that are involved in contemporary discussions about the public function and economic consequences of supporting or sanctioning artistic production. We will study the history and presence of local public art, including the various life-size Jayhawks we pass on campus every day, an early 20th-century war memorial near Jahawk Blvd and the environmentally conscious piece at the Lied Center known as BLOOM. We will examine the material, labor and creative costs of public art and how changes in institutional and societal attitudes affect how public artworks tell stories about place and time, about who has power and what is valued. We will hear directly from artists and discover the rich historical archives housed in KU’s museums and libraries as we research who made the artworks in our local environment, why they made them, and how our community chose to invest in them. Over the course of the semester we will apply this knowledge to propose how KU’s next public art commission can best serve the community.

Liz Langdon is excited by the mix of culture and public art to be found in Lawrence. While walking around town or bicycling to yoga class, she is constantly on the lookout for potential sites for public expressions of significant messages.  Langdon made art, both for the public and with the public for over 10 years in her studio in Omaha, NE, where she also taught art in a museum, a high school and a community setting.  She leaves behind her public sculpture and community art in Omaha at a park, children’s museum, theater, hospital, and at a neighborhood medical clinic.  Public murals and sculptures done in collaboration with school and community groups in Omaha, bear witness to Langdon’s interest in the collaborative nature of art.

BUS 177-Culture and Diversity in the Workplace

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 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 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. 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-The Ancient Roots of Modern Politics

CLSX 177 The Ancient Roots of Modern Politics

Georgina White, Classics

When establishing the U.S. constitution, the Founding Fathers consciously looked back to the worlds of ancient Greece and Rome to find models for their political institutions and ideologies: institutions such as the Senate came from Rome, while ideas about democracy originated in Greece. In this course we will consider how ancient ideas about democracy, tyranny, and citizenship have influenced the foundation and development of modern states, and ask how relevant these ideas are to understanding politics today. We will read extracts from the enduring political works of ancient thinkers such as Plato, Aristotle, and Cicero, and see how their critiques of despotism, mob rule, and oligarchy can be applied to current political events. By analyzing the arguments of ancient thinkers and applying them to the events in the world today you will develop the critical thinking and communication skills needed to succeed in future college coursework, as well as a deeper understanding of the stakes and consequences of your own political actions.

Gina White is originally from the UK but has spent most of her adult life in Europe and the

USA. As a student of ancient Greece and Rome, she has always been fascinated by how much of an impact the ideas of the ancient world have on our lives today. The huge influence that ancient political thought has had on our contemporary institutions is just one part of that.

Studying the modern reception of ancient political thought is also a good way to make use of her addiction to politics podcasts and news websites.

ECON 177-The Affordable Care Act

ECON 177 The Affordable Care Act

David Slusky, Economics

What were the economic, political, medical, and public health issues that the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) was designed to address? This seminar will examine the most extensive reorganization of health care in the United States since the 1960s from numerous angles: the problems that the federal government was trying to solve, the strengths and weaknesses of the solutions it offered, the trade-offs made to ensure its passage in Congress, the accuracy of its predicted outcomes, the problems that arose when it became law, and the prospects—for better or for worse—for starting over (“repeal and replace”). All of these complicated dimensions of the ACA are intertwined, and ongoing efforts to repeal it bear serious implications for policy, politics, and the millions of people who would be affected by such a change. We will approach these issues in the framework of Health Economics, which examines the intersection of the economy, medicine, and the healthcare industry; we will learn about such concepts as one's "health stock", health care as a product or “consumption good” and as a “production industry,” and health insurance as a tool to prevent disruptions to one’s quality of life. We will also explore the analytical concepts of efficiency and equity in the realm of public policy. We will read, analyze, and discuss sections of articles and books tied to these issues that have been written by a number of individuals who have shaped and influenced our understanding of this controversy, including Jonathan Gruber, an MIT economics professor and key architect of the ACA, and Ezekiel Emanuel, an oncologist, professor of medical ethics and health policy, and advisor to the Obama White House on health care reform.  Over the course of the semester, each student will develop a policy recommendation for a change that would improve the current situation. We will also hear from many guest speakers with expertise on health insurance, public policy, and other aspects of this topic. Past speakers include Kathleen Sebelius, former Health and Human Services Secretary and Kansas Governor and Sandy Praeger, former Kansas Insurance Commissioner. 

David Slusky is an assistant professor of Economics. He is originally from Philadelphia. As the son of a stroke rehabilitation physician and an executive with an MBA in health care administration, he has always been fascinated by health and health care.  As a professor he focuses on access to healthcare, infrastructure and environment, and health insurance. He has done work on women’s health, the Flint water crisis and Medicaid expansion. He earned his PhD at Princeton with professors who have worked with the federal government at the highest level, including a former chair of President Obama's Council of Economic Advisors, and he earned his undergraduate degree at Yale, where he majored in physics and international studies. 


ENGL 177-Forgotten Histories: The Fair that Changed America

ENGL 177 Forgotten Histories: The Fair that Changed America

Sonya Lancaster, English

The 1893 Chicago World's Fair was attended by more than 27 million people during its six-month run. It represents a pivotal moment, influencing many areas of American life: architecture, sanitation, the Arts, ideas about the West, marketing, race relations, women's issues, and even electricity. In this class we will explore this question: How can a large cultural event be read through images, personal narratives, and controversies to tell us about the world that created it?  Together we will learn about the fair and the ways that this past event has affected our present, and students will research specific controversies (for example: Civil Rights, electricity infrastructure, law and crime) according to their own interests. You will develop skills for college-level coursework through collaborative class projects, developing your own individualized research project through the study of documents about reactions to the fair, and creating a website as a class. This World's Fair changed the nation by celebrating consumption and technology, and we will consider the impact of these changes on the U.S. today. We will examine the tensions between those who wanted to represent the ideal city and those who were ostracized from that city but created their own spaces as critiques of the fair. Our discussions will be framed by Eric Larson's fictional account of the fair, The Devil in the White City.

Sonya Lancaster is an Associate Director of First and Second Year English. She was born in Oklahoma and grew up in New Mexico. Her father's family is from Mississippi, which inspired her interest in race and gender in Southern kitchens. She read Erik Larson's The Devil in the White City, a historical novel about a serial killer of women who visited the 1893 World's fair, and realized the many ways in which the fair brought together odd information she had collected over the years: an account from Helen Keller of her visit to the fair, a woman named Ann Douglas dressing like Aunt Jemima and serving pancakes at the fair, the Kansas exhibit at the fair being on display in the KU Natural History museum, Frederick Douglas speaking. In addition to her interest in cultural moments, she studies and writes about teaching literature and writing. Her favorite classes to teach are those with students who are at beginning stages of their work: first-year students, new majors, and new teachers.

ENGL 177-Historical Fiction, Historical Film

ENGL 177 Historical Fiction, Historical Film

Laura Mielke, English

How do writers and filmmakers capture what happened in the past? Must they portray events exactly as they happened? Or is that even possible? How might fiction and film provide better access to the past than traditional works of history? In this seminar, we will study novels, films, and a play that portray events in the history of the United States. Taking up works in particular by KU faculty Kevin Willmott, Laura Moriarty, and Darren Canady, we will learn about the past but also about how and why people keep making art out of the past. Most importantly, students will conduct independent historical research and write their own creative works. In the process, they will acquire academic and practical skills aimed to help them during the rest of their college studies.

Laura Mielke is a 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, Professor 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. Professor Mielke is passionate about introducing students to the topics that drive her research: performance, sympathy, and the long history of struggle for racial justice in the United States.

ENGL 177-Science, Storytelling and the Human

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, art and nonfiction that have asserted and challenged definitions of what it means to be human over the centuries. 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 Karen Joy Fowler's We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves). 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 from previous eras.

Anna Neill grew up in Auckland, New Zealand.  She moved to the US 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 the 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.

ENTR 177-The Entrepreneurial Mindset

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? We’ll look at them, and look at ourselves to see if and how to apply their innovative techniques to our own pursuits.

Lisa Bergeron was born in New Jersey but spent the majority of her childhood in Manhattan, Kansas.  She attended her first Capital Budgeting class, taught by her dad, at age 7 when her mom had a last minute meeting, 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. While her dad was Dean of the School of Business at K-State, Lisa came to KU for her undergraduate and graduate degrees in Business. Lisa has worked at Hallmark in the New Ventures Group where she was involved with many new business acquisitions and new product launches. She now enjoys teaching about the entrepreneurial mindset to students at KU. In her spare time, Lisa coaches football and spends time with her family.

FREN 177-Perspectives on the Human and Non-Human in Science Fiction and Fantasy

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. 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 function in a specific cultural and political context, be it France 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.

HA 177-Visualizing War and Peace in Western Art

HA 177 First-Year Seminar: 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.

HIST 177-100 Years of Arab Spring: A Century of Protest in Egypt

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 thirty long years, resigned. But popular uprisings in Egypt are not new. 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 military officers intent on overthrowing the monarchy; and teenage garbage collectors who dream 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 Associate Professor in the Department of History. She first travelled to Egypt when she was a junior in college –though she didn’t speak one word of Arabic. It was the scariest, best 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/EVRN 177-People of Plastic: Searching for Sustainability in the Modern World

HIST 177 People of Plastic: Searching for Sustainability in the Modern World

Sara Gregg, History

Paper or plastic? The simplest questions about consumer choice can be freighted with immense power, and yet the lightning pace of life in the modern United States offers little opportunity for examining the larger consequences of our actions as we move through the world. Using the historian’s tools of engaged reading, critical analysis, and argument-driven debate, we will explore together how people across time have made sense of the world around them, and assess what sets today’s interconnected economies apart.  How might we as consumers understand our impact on the world around us?  How do our decisions in the grocery store and at the gas station affect people on the other side of the globe?  What does it mean to live “sustainably”? Is such a thing even possible? We will investigate the history of ideas about sustainability and examine how the term has come to embody diverse and often-competing ideas about environmental management.  By taking a closer look at trends in manufacturing and culture we will come to better understand the twenty-first century world.  This course guarantees no easy answers, but it does promise that the search for sustainability will ensure that you will never look at the world in the way same again.  

Sara Gregg is a native New Englander who moved south before heading west to Kansas.  Deeply tied to place, and with a passion for land policy, she is now an associate professor of History and Environmental Studies, and teaches the environmental history of North America, focusing on the intersections of environmental change with politics, law, and agriculture. Her latest book examines the history of the several Homestead Acts signed into law between 1862 and the present and their impacts on western landscapes. She studies the Great Plains through the grasslands and peoples of Kansas, Oklahoma, North Dakota, and Montana.  She received her PhD from Columbia University and has written two others. She loves to cultivate her “little piece of earth” and poke around in her pollinator garden at home, and in her off hours she explores the grasslands of North America with her family and her dogs, Aiken and Turtle.

HIST 177-From the Locomotive to the Smart Phone: Culture, Space, and Time in the Machine Age

HIST 177 From the Locomotive to the Smartphone: Culture, Space, and Time in the Machine Age*

Nathan Wood, History

How does the introduction of new machines affect the way we understand ourselves, as well as our conceptions of space and time? Additionally, how can the historical study of this process of adaptation help us understand our current relationship with technology? This course will investigate humans’ relationship with technology over the past two centuries, paying particular attention to the ways that machines such as locomotives, artificial lighting, telephones, telegraphs, watches, bicycles, automobiles, and airplanes have been constrained by historical precedent while challenging and altering our attitudes toward spatiality and temporality. By studying these and other examples from the past, students will develop and practice skills that will help them in future college courses.

Nathan Wood was born in the West, grew up in the South, and did his graduate work in the Midwest, at Indiana University. He has also spent a tenth of his life in Poland, where he lived in the early nineties, 2001, and most recently, as a Fulbright scholar from August to December, 2012. His major research interests include modernity, identity, cities, and technology in East Central Europe from the 1880s to 1939. His current research on bicycles, automobiles, and airplanes in Poland before WWII intersects well with his passion for cycling and learning about fast machines he’ll never be able to afford. As befitting his last name, he also really likes trees.


This seminar is part of a Building a Better Future World Learning Community and requires dual enrollment with Urban Planning 200: Sustainability and Society.

HUM/EURS 177-How World War I Changed the World

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's course is featured in an article on EuropeNow. 

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

JOUR 177-Just Breathe: Mindfulness, Meditation and the Media

JOUR 177 Just Breathe: Mindfulness, Meditation, and the Media

Yvonnes Chen, Journalism

Have you ever tried yoga to relieve stress? Have you ever been told to simply breathe to center your mind and slow down? Mindfulness meditation activities such as these have entered into the American mainstream lexicon with its share of attention in media coverage, but how does this coverage affect our understanding and experience of it? Media is a window through which we understand the world around us, and the academic field of Journalism and Mass Communication provides the intellectual tools and practical information necessary to reflect critically on how (and by whom, and for whom) that window is constructed. While headlines such as “Meditation exercise helps students focus” and “Enjoy a party with yoga and color” suggest the advantages of integrating mindfulness practices into college students’ lives, they also are examples of how the media present these ideas for specific target audiences.

In this First-Year Seminar, we will explore this central question: What is the role of media in popularizing and representing mindfulness meditation practices, and how does that role impact our experience of these practices? To accomplish this, we will engage in thoughtfully executed mindfulness activities to gain a first-hand experience and understanding of them. This will allow us to study how their representation in the media shapes that experience. Our learning will be enhanced through visits to campus museums and libraries to explore artworks and other subjects that participate in these mediated representations. We will also apply that knowledge to the development of research projects that examine the media’s depictions of mindfulness practices. Are you ready to breathe (and learn) together?

Yvonnes Chen grew up in Taiwan, an island country praised by Portuguese mariners in 16th century as ‘Ilha Formosa’—beautiful Isle. The country’s lush landscape, inviting cultures, and diverse communities have inspired her outlook in life and have informed her interest in the practice of mindfulness and her perspective on wellness. She taught in Washington, Virginia, and Switzerland prior to joining KU in 2013. Her research is motivated by a curiosity to discover how human beings interact with the environment (physical and media) to pursue better health. Chen is a lifelong learner, and her most recent obsession is with experimenting with fermentation recipes from all over the world.

JOUR 177-Young Voters-Informed Voters

JOUR 177 Young Voters-Informed Voters

Michael Williams, Journalism

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.  Campaigns are already underway for the approaching elections of 2020.  This election period will be the first for many university students to vote.  This seminar 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.

Michael Williams serves as the director of innovation for the William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications.  He earned his degrees from the School of Journalism at KU and has worked in newsrooms of several media companies across the country.  He has 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 gathering.  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-From Wearables to Wisdom: Exploring Mobile Health Apps in Healthcare

LA&S 177 From Wearables to Wisdom: Exploring Mobile Health Apps in Healthcare

Bobbie Laincz, 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? Consumer health data will become an increasingly important tool to enhance the system’s efficiency and effectiveness as healthcare costs in the United States continue to rise. Health technologies and mobile health apps are a way to engage consumers in managing their care and to improve health outcomes. This seminar will introduce first-year students to the study of health information systems and their relationships with technology, including the range of careers tied to the management of health data. Through critical thinking assignments and experiential learning, students will develop a broad understanding of health data and how it can be used to improve society.

Bobbie Laincz is an Assistant Professor in Health Information Management.  She began her academic career unsure of which major to choose and contemplated between pre-med and business.  After identifying her passion of helping others and realizing she enjoyed computers, she moved towards healthcare technology.  This led to a bachelor of business administration degree in computer information systems, 15 years of professional experience in healthcare technology, and a master of science in health informatics.  Her career includes work in software engineering, application training and support, leadership, information science, and analytics.  Among her favorite career ventures was working with pediatric hospitals to identify financial and operational opportunities using data-driven methods.  Outside of healthcare technology, she enjoys family time, reading, sports, and more sports

LING 177-Word Mysteries and Histories—Say What?

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 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.

MUSC 177-Where Does a Music Scene Come From?

MUSC 177 Where Does a Music Scene Come From?

Brandon Draper, Music

This First-Year Seminar is designed to allow students the opportunity to research and discuss mainstream and underground music trends while addressing key aspects of the music industry that shape our lives. How do places shape the music industry? How are the music industry, music “scenes” and even music itself shaped by technology and changes in our culture and society? Are the spaces and places used to organize and understand music changing? We will study the industry from a variety of perspectives and engage with participants of the industry (musicians, technicians and managers) to develop an awareness of these complex questions. At the end of the semester, students will apply what they’ve learned to design 3 hypothetical concert (live music) plans with University of Kansas college students as the audience.

Brandon Draper is a drummer, DJ, producer, composer and educator, involved in every genre of music. He has performed in both traditional classical music settings and in contemporary/jazz settings. He recorded and toured the U.S. with the “live-tronica” pioneers Particle. He has performed in the critically acclaimed world premiere of the new hiphop musical "Venice" (Los Angeles, Fall 2010), and he premiered his own original work “Bass Darabukas” with the “cirque” performance group Quixotic and with the Kansas City Symphony (Spring 2011).  More recently, Brandon has joined KU’s music faculty, where he teaches jazz drums, world percussion and steel band, while also directing KU’s Music Enterprise Certificate, an innovative academic program combining music business and entrepreneurship. According to, "Draper mashes up his DJ and percussion talents into a world-music dance party with some of the most polyrhythmic beats you'll hear this side of the Atlantic Ocean."

MUSE 177/ART 177-Why Collect?

MUSE 177 Why Collect?

Liz Kowalchuk, Museum Studies & Visual Art Education

Are collectors just people who can't get rid of stuff? What purpose do collections serve? Toys, books, action figures, ticket stubs, typewriters, rocks, art, coins and more are collected.  Collections come in all forms, sizes, and values. Some collections started small and became the foundations of museums, while others have more personal functions. The process of collecting can span place and time, and it can be a social activity connecting us to others or across generations. Collections may evoke memories and reveal important relationships. Many artists and writers have used assembled objects and collections in their works. There's also a dark, hidden side to collecting involving international theft and obsession.  In this course, we will explore the motivations and practices of collectors while learning about the history, scope, meaning and impact of collections.  We will uncover these stories and discover interesting facets of KU history and people who are both the subject of collections and who do the collecting.

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.  She loves to visit small museums in Kansas and make things from items found in unexpected places because of her life-long involvement in the arts and fascination with the everyday visual world.

PHSX 177-Effective Persuasion: How I Learned to Love Data

PHSX 177 Effective Persuasion: How I Learned to Love Data

Sarah LeGresley Rush, Jennifer Delgado, and Christopher Fischer

We encounter data-driven arguments every day, from political polling to medical advice. Often such arguments seek to persuade us by presenting one point of view as “the” right answer. In order to be effective consumers of information, however, we must learn to recognize how data can be used and interpreted for different purposes. How can manipulated data shape human understanding in positive and negative ways? What is the difference between science and pseudoscience? In this seminar we will explore interesting examples from the natural sciences and social sciences, such as predicting election outcomes and modeling climate change, that shed light on the complexity of data analysis, the fallibility of data, and how sample biases and Fermi approximations can impact the stories that data tell. Students will leave the seminar with greater appreciation for the nuances of data analysis and better equipped to understand the relative authority of their own positions and those of others.

Christopher Fischer began his undergraduate career pursuing a major in History, before switching to English, briefly flirting with Journalism, spending one semester doing all student theater, before finally graduating with a B.A. in Physics, with minors in German and Mathematics.  His varied interests continued on in graduate school where his research combined biology, physics, and mathematics, which lead to a stint at medical school before landing at KU.  He's lived his whole life between the Appalachians and the Rockies so is a Midwesterner regardless of specific definition, including being bilingual in pop and soda. A lot of his time at KU has been focused on student success, including curriculum reforms, serving on governance committees, and being a faculty advisor for student groups.

PSYC 177-The Broken Ladder: The Psychology of Inequity

PSYC 177 The Broken Ladder: The Psychology of Inequity

Chris Crandall, Psychology

How does inequality affect how people think and feel? How does the distribution of income and wealth affect decisions, happiness, and health? This seminar explores the psychology of inequality, wealth, income, and how the big picture (how society is organized) affects the smaller picture (how people make decisions, how interpersonal relationships work). Apart from a series of shorter assignments, we will read The Broken Ladder, a modest book described by former President Obama as a "highly readable account of how rising inequality, and not just absolute poverty, is undermining our politics, social cohesion, long term prosperity, and general well-being." Despite how this might sound like a downer, it provides an interesting (and even fun) approach to the problems we will study while developing the skills to do hands-on and real-world research, to communicate effectively in writing (a skill that promises to be useful well beyond your college experience, regardless of your eventual major), and to think critically in order to better tell the difference between good and misleading evidence. Our work will be structured by a series of small and manageable tasks instead of high-stakes exams. The seminar will also help students examine their own place in the social world, and how this place affects their goals, dreams, desires, relationships, and prejudices.

Chris Crandall is a Professor of Psychology who studies prejudice, politics, and the very first stages of friendship. He has lived in Washington, Michigan, Connecticut, Florida and Kansas; he has built twelve boats, plays piano in a sadly mediocre fashion, is the editor of a scientific journal, and will want to know your opinions about music, movies, books, travel and food. His greatest regret is being monolingual, because Pig Latin doesn't count.

PORT 177/LAA 177-The Amazon: Framing Environmental Issues through Literature and Film

PORT 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.

Luciano Tosta is Associate Professor of Brazilian Literature and Culture. Born in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil, and the grandchild of a Tupinambá woman, the Amazon Rainforest has been dear to him his whole life. As a professor, he continues to be fascinated by the region, which contains the second largest river in the world, produces 20% of the Earth’s oxygen, and is home to countless animals and plants. The region is also under constant threat by mining, bio-piracy, poaching and deforestation. His research focuses on hemispheric American studies, with the goal of discussing Brazilian cultural production from a comparative perspective.  In his spare time he plays capoeira and the mandolin.  

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


REES 177-Representing the Body in Contemporary Eurasian Cinema

REES 177 Representing the Body in Contemporary Eurasian Cinema

Jusytna Beinek, Russian and East European Studies

What is “the body”? How do we define it? How is it understood in different fields of study?

How is it represented in the media and entertainment industries? Do images of and ideas about the body refract the cultures that produce them? Why and how can images of the body be used, and to what ends? The body is the material reality that we experience on a daily basis, yet it remains an enigma, impossible to capture fully through intellectual inquiry or creative endeavors. In this course we will reflect on these questions through watching, discussing, and writing about twenty-first-century films from Eurasia (Eastern and Western Europe, Russia, Central and South-East Asia, and the Middle East). The wide variety of films we will study share a focus on issues of the body or “corporeality”: immigrant bodies, gendered bodies, working bodies, children’s bodies, and even sick and dead bodies. These films will challenge us to think about human bodies from an intercultural perspective. We will also study the socio-political context and diversity of the vast Eurasian continent that produces such films, and we will delve into the why and how of analyzing films, including the basic terms used in film criticism.

Justyna Beinek has studied and taught Eurasian and global literatures, cultures, and cinemas at universities from Southern California to Canada to Russia. At KU she teaches interdisciplinary courses, such as "Understanding Russia and Eastern Europe," and she sneaks film into them whenever she can. A native of Poland, she holds a doctorate in Slavic Languages and Literatures from Harvard, but her true claim to knowing something about Russia and Eurasia comes from the experience of taking the Trans-Siberian Express from Moscow to Vladivostok. For fun she likes to do obscure genealogical research, to interview the oldest family members she can find, to visit and photograph dilapidating cemeteries, old houses, and 12th-century churches in the most remote Polish villages, and to think about memory, migrations, and DNA.


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