Action in Education
Do you wish you had more voice in your education? Most people think we know what happens in education because we have been through it. Education policy happens to and for all citizens in our society. Be a part of it. How will you make your voice heard so that education policy and practice informs a society where education makes a difference? Lead Instructor: Jennifer Snow.
Alien Worlds, Alien Life
An introductory course designed for all students, surveying the burgeoning field of planetary astronomy and how these discoveries have revolutionized the search for extraterrestrial life. Students will even have the opportunity to conduct their own astronomical observations. Lead Instructor: Brian Jackson.
The Arts and Social Change
In this course we will explore how artists and the arts (visual art and design, music, and theatre, film and creative writing) have responded to significant social issues, and how the arts have impacted social change in the United States. With a grounding in historical examples, and focused concentration on the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, we will also explore private and public response to various artistic works courting social change. We will examine how the interpretation of “political art” has changed over time, discuss how technology has influenced the role of the arts in social change, and consider myriad examples of the cultural power of the arts pushing for positive and/or in some cases harmful social change. Lead Instructor: Mac Test.
Cities of Tomorrow
In this course we will investigate the ways cities shape our lives and how we shape cities. Imagine the urban future. Imagine the Boise valley with two tall cities larger than Cleveland by the time the Class of 2024 reaches retirement age. We will explore cities as ecosystems of energy and innovation, cities with Google cars and sci-fi architecture, cities blighted and starkly divided by income and race. Bring a sense of adventure. We promise a thrilling ride. Lead Instructor: Jillian Moroney.
The ability to find and communicate meaningful messages in the rivers of data flowing through the world has become a rare and valuable skill. This introduction to data science, including modern tools for collection, analysis, and visualization of data, teaches how to build and interpret informational displays for a variety of data types. Along the way, students explore ways to effectively use data to support and refute claims, teach or persuade others, gather insights, and generate new questions. Lead Instructor: Stephen Crowley.
Engaging in productive and healthy conflict requires the ability to foster dialogue and to explore differences in a productive and respectful way. How do we start to have respectful conversations when our polarized views and communication patterns lead to distrust and broken relationships? This course focuses on the skills necessary for managing conflict and having dialogue with your friend, family, coworkers, and community. Lead Instructor: Simran Crowley or Sam Martin.
Disease, Epidemics, and their Impact on Human Societies in History
This course examines how disease, particularly epidemics, have shaped human history. It will explore how different societies across the globe over time dealt with illness and trauma in their societies. Ultimately it will consider the development of public health and how we deal with disease and trauma today. Lead Instructor: Katherine Huntley.
Economic Decision Making and the Environment
A person decides to throw a plastic water bottle in the trash. A mountain biker decides to ride in a wilderness area. A developer decides to build homes on private property in a flood zone. What is the economic impact of individual decisions like these on the environment? This course explores the fundamental concepts of economic theory and applies them to decisions people make every day. Through experiments, observation, and a final, culminating project, students will gain greater insight into how our everyday choices affect the environment from an economic perspective. Lead Instructor: Emre Balikci.
Foundations of Climate Change
Climate change may destroy our world. It may not. We may be able to slow or control climate change. We may not. These statements imply difficult questions. One thing that is certain is that climate change is an astonishingly complex problem, and perhaps no topic requires our critical thought more than this. This course is designed to introduce you to a portion of the complex questions surrounding climate change, while helping you to develop perspectives, strategies, and tools for critically assessing and coping with this or any other similarly difficult problem.
The information we consider about climate change will be structured around three big questions: What is climate change, and what are its impacts on natural systems on which people depend? How does culture shape the climate shape debate? What are the impacts of climate change on social systems, and how can our civilization respond? Lead Instructor: Kerrie Weppner.
History of American Capitalism
We live in a capitalist nation; that reality structures our society and our daily lives. We work in capitalist workplaces and cast votes for politicians with starkly different visions of how capitalism should operate. Yet so few of us ever stop to think: What is capitalism, how did it evolve, and where is it headed next? How did America turn from a relatively minor player in the Atlantic marketplace into the world’s largest economy? To that end, this course explores how (and why) America became a “capitalist nation,” and how that transformation has fundamentally shaped our politics, our culture, and our lives. Lead Instructor: Shaun Nichols.
History’s Biggest Questions (Hon)
This course is designed to expand your analytical and communication skills. More importantly, we designed this course because your years in college will shape who and what you become. So we will explore formative questions that humans have asked throughout history, including: Where is happiness found? What is love? Why is Eastern and Western spirituality so different? After successful completion of this course, a student will be able to articulate worldviews from multiple perspectives including those who are Buddhists, Muslims, Theists, Materialists, and followers of Confucius. Lead Instructor: Shelton Woods. (Honors section.)
Humans, Animals, and Aliens
Humans are curious by nature, or is it nurture? In this course, we go on a journey to understand how minds and bodies evolve in response to specific environments and situations. Together, we will answer questions about the resulting behaviors and emotions in humans, animals, and potentially, extraterrestrial beings. Are we all so different? Or are we actually predictably the same? Through critical thinking and exploration we will unpack the puzzle of the mind on our own planet – and beyond. Lead Instructor: Shelly Volsche.
Is Fake News Real?
What would your life look like if you lived in an analog world? It’s hard to imagine life without a smart phone. Our screens have opened windows to the world but what happens when we spend more time in echo chambers than the outdoors, follow more influencers than friends, and consume more disinformation than news? In this course, we’ll explore our digital worlds through media literacy to critically examine ways our new digital landscape shapes the ways that we think, feel and behave. Lead Instructor: Carissa Wolf.
Is Plastic Fantastic?
In this course, we will learn about the science, engineering, art, economics, and environmental consequences of a material that we use nearly every minute of every day. We will discuss the major types of plastics, how the types of plastics are unique from one another, and why we use plastics for various applications instead of wood, metals, or ceramics. We will learn about the history of plastics, as well as how plastics are now used in critical areas of health, food, water, shelter, and energy. Lead Instructor: Scott Phillips.
This course traces the origin of one of the most popular Hollywood movies, Aladdin, from the ancient text One Thousand and One Nights (Alif Layla wa-Layla in the original). Students will read a few of the Night stories that have a direct connection to the story of Aladdin, study about these stories’ origin and their journey across the world, the contacts they made with diverse cultures, how they are retold many times, and have taken a different meaning in the 21st century. They will learn to evaluate literary texts, movies, cultural practices and its connection to human life and understand how storytelling influences particular mindsets that help shape our consciousness. Lead Instructor: Reshmi Mukherjee.
Purposes of College
What should college be for? This course plunges students into an examination of higher education and its role in society. Students are expected to dig deeply into a wide range of readings and to explore the purposes of college from multiple perspectives. Students work extensively to research and share ideas about how to make the most of their own university experience and how to shape higher education for the future. Lead Instructor: Corey Simpson or Jennifer Black and Stephanie Cox.
Religion’s Past and Future
Experts once predicted the disappearance of religion from modern life, but while religiosity has decreased in many European countries, it has grown elsewhere. As a result, religion in modernity invites many questions: Is religion a major cause of violence? Is it the foundation of morality? Is it compatible with science? Is it biased against women? Are we hardwired to be religious? Is religion compatible with democracy? In light of questions like these, this course asks the following: What has religion done for us, and what is its role in our collective future? If we critically engage the complexity of religion in human history, we can more effectively address these pressing questions about the appropriate role of religions in the years to come. Lead Instructor: Matt Recla.
Sex, Love, and Evolution
How do we make sense of the human sexual experience? What are the brain systems that are involved in love, and why did they evolve? How can we best understand the great diversity of intimate relationships across cultures and time? This course is geared to help you make sense of our ever-changing social world given our shared evolutionary history and the cross-cultural variation in the human reproductive experience. You will gain hands on research experience, develop and reflect on learning goals, and consider how anthropology can contribute solutions to the continuing challenges we face as a species. Instructor: John Ziker.
Stories that Shape Us
Stories pass to and through us in many forms — through writing, images, songs, voice, architecture, etc. Some stay with us and shape the way we understand ourselves and the world. In this class, we will read, discuss, and research in order to reflect on the role significant stories have played in our own lives, how they impact what we know, what we can do, and who we become. Lead Instructor: Stephanie Cox.
Yellowstone and Society
Yellowstone, the Environment, and Society PS: Yellowstone and Society – The iconic landscapes of Yellowstone National Park play a key role in the formation of the American identity and the environmental conservation movement. This course asks students to consider Yellowstone’s role in both of these. Studying Yellowstone from an environmental studies lens requires consideration of a range of interdisciplinary approaches – including environmental science, history, geography, ethics, and policy – which provides the opportunity for students to consider how our environments are shaped by society and how they reflect larger societal conversations. Lead Instructor: Jared Talley.