Age of Information
We live in an ‘Age of Information’ where digital information increases at exponential rates: from traditional publications such as books or newspapers to ‘amateur’ data in the form of social media. Information is increasingly fragmented, anecdotal documentation of individual lives in a communal virtual space (on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, etc.). At the same time, media companies use this data to create customized advertisements and ‘echo chamber’ news and opinions that surround users with information they want to see, hear, and buy. This course investigates how mass media and information technology shape the way we understand the world around us. We will address the following questions: Is all this information making us more informed? Why has ‘fake news’ become such an issue? And how does advertising and social media curate our choices, values, and identities? Lead Instructor: Erik Hadley or Tim Guill.
History of American Capitalism
We live in a capitalist nation; that reality structures so much about 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.
Diverse Cultures in Film
What dynamics are at play between majority and minority cultures? What contributions do marginalized cultures make to societies they are a part of? This course will examine the marginalization of minority cultures through film, so we can better understand ourselves, our own culture, the effects of marginalization, and the roles minorities play. Lead Instructor: Becca Sibrian.
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 in teams 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: Jennifer Black.
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.
Why is “the media” the way it is? Like fish immersed in water, we live in a world dominated by media products and messages, and it can be hard to take a step back and examine this environment. That is why we need to develop media literacy: the ability to analyze media messages and their social contexts. In this class, you will learn how to sort fact from fiction, how to separate reality from its representation, and how to use media to be an active participant in public life. Lead Instructor: Seth Ashley.
Life Lessons from Shakespeare
“He was not of an age, but for all time!” wrote Ben Jonson of his friend William Shakespeare in 1623. So how is Shakespeare relevant to life in 21st-century America? In this course, we will use critical thinking and performance to explore plays and poems that have resonated with readers and viewers around the world for over 400 years, looking specifically at the way Shakespeare’s works offer life lessons that can help us navigate the complex world we live in. Lead Instructor: Jennifer Black.
Science Fiction not only explores a fantastical future or alternative past but also critically examines current societies. Through reading various short stories, graphic novels, and critical writings, as well as viewing films and other media, we will investigate crucial questions that sit at the crossroads between humanity and science. Lead instructor: Christopher Michas.