Skip to main content

UF 100: Foundations of Intellectual Life

What Does Every UF 100 Course Have in Common?

Each UF 100 course is designed to help you become a more active and expert learner as you investigate and communicate about important ideas that affect everyone.

In UF 100, you will further develop two complex skills that successful students continue to sharpen throughout college and life: critical inquiry and oral communication.

Choose any ONE on the course themes below and register for BOTH sections of the class: a plenary lecture (about 100 students) AND a breakout discussion group section (about 25 students).

SUMMER 2021 UF 100 COURSES

Course Topics

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.

Media Literacy

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

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.

FALL 2021 UF 100 COURSES

Course Topics

Life’s Biggest Questions

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.

Talkin’ Trash

This course will raise complex historical, political, economic, and ecological questions about our stewardship of the environment by examining the local and global role of trash in modern human society. We will track the production, management, disposal, and re-use of trash and consider best practices and innovative solutions to an ancient problem: What we should do with things we can’t use or no longer want? Lead Instructor: Mari Rice.

Wild, Tame, and In-Between

Do you love animals? Ever wonder how we came to domesticate so many species? Are we becoming domesticated? What can domestication teach us about our relationship with the world around us? In this course, we endeavor to understand the wild-domestic dichotomy and its implications for our relationships with other species. Together, we attempt to answer questions about how the domestication process shapes our relationship to nature, as well as if and how domesticating others has changed their cognitive and emotional lives. Beginning with domestic dogs and their cousins, the wolves, we expand to consider a wide range of species impacted by human activity. This conversation has implications for our own species, the animals and ecosystems around us, and rediscovering our place in “the wild.” Lead Instructor: Shelly Volsche.

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.

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 Instructors: Jennifer Black, Stephanie Cox, Corey Simpson.

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: Jen Pierce.

Difficult Conversations

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: Ashley Orme Nichols.

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: Matthew Recla.

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.

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: Kathleen Keys.

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.

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.

Literary Journey of Disney’s Aladdin

This course traces the origin of one of the most popular Hollywood movies, Aladdin, from the ancient text One Thousand and One Nights. The students will read a few of the original Night stories that have a direct connection to Aladdin, study about their journey across the world, the contacts they made with diverse cultures, how it has been retold many times, and its relevance in our world today. Lead Instructor: Reshmi Mukherjee.

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. Methods of recycling plastics also will be discussed, including why some plastics are recycled while others currently are not. Lead Instructor: Scott Phillips.

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.

History of Identity

While fulfilling the shared University Foundations learning objectives of critical inquiry and oral communication, this course aims to explore one of the most profound shifts in human history that in a way is encapsulated in a new question: “what are you going to be when you grow up?” This is a relatively new question in human history because previously one’s identity was largely conferred or given by society.  As historians, we’ll analyze how this transformation came about by analyzing select case studies. Come along and find out how historians “do” history well beyond just reciting facts. Lead Instructor: John Ysursa.

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.