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.
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 should we 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 ask questions about how the domestication process shapes our relationship to nature and changes the cognitive and emotional lives of other species. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 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.