Discover. Engage. Belong.

Fall 2020 Seminars

2020 First-Year Seminars

Courses are subject to change. Please check back in mid-May for final updates. 

AAAS 177-East African Pop Culture

Please check back in May for more information on this course. 

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-Take Me Out to the Crowd: Stadiums as Sites of Memory and Learning

Please check back in May for more information on this course. 

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.

ARCH 177-If These Walls Could Talk: Exploring KU Campus Architecture

Please check back in May for more information on this course. 

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-Decoding Art: Reading Symbols and Interpreting Contemporary Wor

Please check back in May for more information on this course. 

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-Athens: City of Images

Please check back in May for more information. 

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-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.

EVRN 177-Apocalypse Now? Imagining Environmental Disaster in Climate Fiction

EVRN 177

Ali Brox, Environmental Studies 

The larger question for our class will be: what role can apocalyptic literature play in our understanding of and approach to climate literature?”

Please check back for the full bio. 

FMS 177-"Get Real:" Representing the Self in Contemporary Japanese Media

Please check back in May for more information on this course. 

FREN 177-Secret, Spies, and Lies: American Interference in French-Speaking Countries

Please check back in May for more information on this course. 

GERM 177-Marx and Marxism in German Culture and Beyond

Please check back in May for more information on this course. 

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.

ITAL 177-"That's Amore:" Fragments of a Discourse on Love

Please check back in May for more information on this course. 

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.

LING 177-Beyone English: Is One Language Enough in Today's World?

Please check back in May for more information on this course. 

MUS 177-Where Does a Music Scene Come From?

MUS 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."

PHIL 177-Is the American Dream Alive Today?

Please check back in May for more information on this course. 

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.

REL 177-Religion and the Environment

Please check back in May for more information on this course. 

SLAV 177-Novels and the Shaping of Generations

Please check back in May for more information on this course. 

SPAN/PORT 177-Trashed: Our Everyday Life with Trash and what we do with it

Please check back in May for more information on this course. 


Upcoming Events
One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
44 nationally ranked graduate programs.
—U.S. News & World Report
Top 50 nationwide for size of library collection.
5th nationwide for service to veterans —"Best for Vets: Colleges," Military Times
KU Today