1. Should We Fear Globalization in the Twenty-First Century?

We are facing daunting challenges and difficult choices in the 21st century. How does a country prosper socially and economically in such a setting? We will start the course by examining historical cases around the world. Then we will move on to some of the difficult challenges and choices of today's world. We will be examining the following questions. Is international trade bad for us? Are illegal immigrants harming the US economy? How do we handle refugee crisis across the world? Should climate change be taken seriously, and if so, what should be done by policymakers? Do we ignore socialist ideas, such as free education and free healthcare for all? Do we ignore free market ideas of free trade and no government regulations? Should we be scared rising power of machines? What should be done about international terrorism? This course will delve into these difficult questions and try to make sense of these issues. For historical cases, the course will delve into the readings from Daron Acemoglu’s Why Nations Fail. For current issues, we will be focusing on articles from outlets, such as the Economist and the New York Times. Additionally, we will be watching video clips from different sources to get a better sense of current issues.

Professor: Shamma Alam, Economics
Time: MWF 12:30

2. The Science of Competition

Why is competition such a part of our human existence? Is it good? Or bad? This course will explore competition in our lives from various perspectives. We will begin by discussing games we play for entertainment and what makes them fun and fair. While we explore strategy and game theory, and discuss how our bodies and minds respond to playing, winning, and losing. Next we will see what happens when game theory is applied to “real life”, when the stakes are very high. For example, we will consider historical and present-day examples of the prisoner’s dilemma, games of chicken, and mutually-assured destruction. Can we use hidden knowledge to tilt the odds in our favor? Can manage conflict, or prevent it altogether? Finally, we will explore one of the oldest competitions in all of human existence: winning status in a group and selecting a mate. Through the lens of evolutionary psychology, we will debate in class discussion and in writing the roles of fashion, music, crime, advertising, life-long loyalty, cheating, and subterfuge in determining status and attraction. Many believe that it was this very competition, played over millions of years, which fueled the evolution of our large powerful brains. We will seek to understand competition as one of the most powerful forces shaping life on Earth.

Professor: Thomas Arnold, Biology
Time: MWF 11:30

3. Civil Disobedience in History
* This seminar is part of a Learning Community called Resisting Exclusion and Social Inequality.  Students who chose a Learning Community seminar are choosing to live with a roommate who is also part of that Learning Community.

This seminar will discuss and define the concept of “civil disobedience” based on analysis of multiple historical case studies, including: Mahatma Gandhi’s satyagraha (non-violent resistance) in South Africa and India; sit-ins organized by the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC); and the recent occupation of federal land by Standing Rock Sioux and allies to block the Dakota Access pipeline. Our focus will be on non-violent disobedience, but we will explore whether violence is ever justified. Students will visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture and the National Museum of the American Indian as part of the process of researching and producing a documentary film about an act of civil disobedience.

Professor: Jeremy Ball, History
Time: MWF 11:30

4. Community Studios: Creating Affordable Art for Others

Using materials around you that nobody else has ever created, what can you make with your own two hands that could make the world we live in a better place? This is the question we will tackle throughout the semester and seek to answer. In the beginning of this course, we will explore how other thinkers, makers and organizers such as Samuel Mockabee, Diego Rivera and Swoon, have created projects that elevated the communal environment. We will also assess the counterargument about these and other endeavors. We will then research, analyze, argue and reflect upon other various texts before beginning to generate our own ideas, writings and designs for community projects, using repurposed and found materials in our landscape. The projects with the strongest written proposals will be implemented. We will then reach out to local facilities and peoples to collect materials and end with installing works throughout the community. Internationally renowned architect and artist, Walt Geiger, will be a regular guest lecturer for this course.

Professor: Kent Barrett, Theatre & Dance
Time: MWF 12:30

5. Music of the Holocaust and Under Soviet Oppression

We will be examining the musicians and composers who bravely made music under some of the most atrocious circumstances in the 20th century–Jewish music of the Holocaust--in Nazi concentration camps during WWII and music under the Soviet oppression (including the singing revolution in the Baltic States). We will study how music was used and misused at the Theresienstadt Concentration Camp as a tool of propaganda on one hand as well as innate artistic need on the other. We will consider the political, social and cultural contexts. We will consider how the memory of what happened lives and is honored today (on example of the Defiant Requiem: Voices of Resistance) and what questions we must ask and keep asking about the living memory of events, people and art. We will also consider how the Holocaust and the political oppression influenced musicians and music making in the United States post WWII. Students will read related articles, listen to works of music, view films, possibly conduct interviews. Students will have an opportunity to engage with musicians, scholars and institutions working on these topics, and make a visit to the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC.

Professor: Blanka Bednarz, Music
Time: MWF 11:30

6. Ideas That Have Shaped the World

Why do ideas matter? What is the relationship between the individual and community? How can we define human nature? What is justice? Are there universal moral principles, or are our actions considered moral according to the moment and place in which we find ourselves? Explore these and other fundamental issues of humanistic inquiry through a series of compelling and influential texts. Fifteen faculty members from nine different disciplines developed this exciting course.

Students will read and discuss the work of authors as diverse as Homer, Plato, Augustine, Shakespeare, Nietzsche, Jefferson, Marx, DuBois, Duras, and Achebe. Faculty have focused the seminar reading list around the question, "How do the ideas of these authors - all from different cultures and eras - resonate across time and help us to understand our present experience within a global community?" Furthermore, studying carefully the work of outstanding thinkers, readers, and writers is one of the best ways to learn to read, think, and write well yourself. Because all sections of the course will read the texts simultaneously, conversations will extend beyond the classroom. The seminar also features six plenary lectures by guest speakers and Dickinson faculty on themes and issues central to the readings that students and faculty in all course sections will attend together.

Professor: Christopher Bilodeau, History
Time: MF 11:30
There are two other Ideas That Have Shaped the World seminars. See #15 and #20 below.

7. (Re)presenting Haiti Through Noir Short-Stories

Through readings of “noir” fiction, this seminar will introduce you to the harsh realities of Haitian life and simultaneously challenge you to think beyond the stereotypes of Haiti. Based on Edwidge Danticat’s anthology Haiti noir, our course will address recurring Haitian themes such as corruption, kidnapping, voudou, history, diaspora, exploitation by foreign countries and companies, and the pitfalls of foreign aid. “Noir” fiction, by definition, involves crime and detection in a grim urban setting, featuring petty, amoral criminals permeated by a feeling of disillusionment, pessimism and despair. Our close examination of Haitian “noir” will allow us to ask how this literary genre has been adapted to the Haitian context, and what specific insights “noir” offers us as critical readers to understand contemporary Haiti. Opportunities will be given to students to correspond in writing with authors from the anthology and/or to interview them via video-conference.

Professor: Linda Brindeau, French and Francaphone Studies
Time: MF 11:30

8. Muslim Lives in the First Person

The course begins with a snapshot of Islamic beliefs, practices and history as prelude to exploring how Muslims have told their own life stories, in memoir and fiction. The authors range from a nineteenth century princess of Zanzibar to a Saudi novelist describing boyhood in Mecca, from an Egyptian pioneer of women’s liberation to one of the leading advocates for Islamic revival. In addition to these texts, the course will introduce students to academic approaches of analysis and interpretation through scholarly articles in anthropology, feminist theory, historiography, and political thought. Through these works, some films, and a visit to a local mosque, we will consider the formative impact of context on Muslim lives in different historical and contemporary situations. Students will develop writing skills through a series of assignments connected to each text and related scholarly articles. An annotated bibliography assignment will provide the occasion for students to become familiar with strategies for locating and assessing scholarly literature.

Professor: David Commins, History
Time: MWF 11:30

9. The Emperor’s New Clothes: Textiles from a Historical, Scientific, and Environmental Perspective

Textiles are a part of everyone’s lives and not just in the clothes on your back. Modern textiles range from natural fibers to high-tech synthetics. Questions that will be posed in this seminar will include: How are textiles produced and what is the impact of that production in both human and environmental terms? What has been the effect of fast fashion on fair trade practices and sustainable production? Where do all our cheap clothes go after we’ve tired of them? To answer these questions and more, the intersection of textiles with technology, sustainability and social justice will be explored through class discussion and writing exercises. We will also learn about advances in textile technology, particularly for medical, military, sport and artistic applications. We will begin the semester with a historical perspective on textile production, including some hands-on explorations culminating in written personal reflections on the experience. A collaborative project with the Makery, a dedicated on-campus makerspace, will incorporate 3-D printing, LEDs or other technological enhancements into a textile design. Readings will be drawn from a variety of sources, including books, scholarly articles, popular fashion magazines, and trade journals.

Professor: Rebecca Connor
Time: MF 11:30

10. The Creative Process

Inspiration and revision: how much of what an artist, actor, writer or film director does comes easily? How does creative impulse mesh with the discipline and stamina necessary to complete a work of art? What grounds does an artist develop for self- criticism? Through films, readings, and visits by guest artists, and hands-on effort, we will attempt to demystify this creative process by analyzing what may go into an artist’s decision-making. We will discuss conceptualization, issues of censorship, financial considerations and the darker and lighter sides of obsession. The dramatic arts, visual arts, music and writing will be our subjects, with emphasis on growth and alteration of an original idea.

One of the primary objectives of this course will be to give students a realistic idea of the work and dedication it takes to be involved in any creative field, and how an idea might get translated into reality. The concept of working and reworking will be stressed–the notion that completed work springs forth in all its glory is an unfortunate and pervasive myth. Through visiting lecturers, (most from various departments at Dickinson such as Drama, Stage design, English, Music and Studio Art), students will get insights into planning, conceptualizing, and executing various forms of creative endeavor. Basic critical analysis, creative and personal obsession, and the joys and pains of getting something right will be studied and form the basis of written assignments, as will exercises in careful observation, interpretation and description. Personal efforts by the students in a number of creative areas will be assigned, as will readings from a broad range of material. Students will be required to attend a large number of dramatic and musical performances, exhibitions, readings and pertinent lectures on campus throughout the semester.

Professor: Ward Davenny, Art & Art History
Time: MF 11:30

11. Arguing about Politics, Society and Culture in China and Japan

One of the problems affecting the way we view China and Japan is a strong tendency to adopt normative ways of thinking. This means that we judge them on the basis of our own expectations about what they should be doing or thinking. After reviewing the history of how certain normative notions were formed—for example, why have we assumed that Chinese and Japanese societies are more “harmonious” than the West?—our seminar will shift course to take the opposite perspective, taking a close look at China and Japan from their respective insides. In particular, we will focus on controversial topics that have engaged ordinary citizens there because they have an impact on their lives. What sort of arguments have Chinese had amongst themselves about the one-child per family policy? How have they talked about the best way to meet a spouse? About the strengths and weakness of democracy? How have Japanese assessed the causes of corruption? What have they said explains their low birth rate? While the United States has served as a point of reference for these debates, we will see that we are not necessarily central to them.

Professor: Neil Diamant, Political Science
Time: MWF 12:30

12. At the Crossroads: Critical Issues for the United States

The mission of the course is to encourage you to come to considered judgments about contemporary public issues, a process integral to citizenship in a democratic society. The course will consist of 5 units, including fundamentals of democracy, education as the cornerstone of democracy, inequality, current issues in immigration and the challenges of democratic citizenship in the 21st century. The course also intends to sharpen your reasoning, reading, writing and speaking skills to aid your active participation in public affairs throughout your life. While there is no single right answer to the big questions posed by this course, this is not a course where all opinions are equal. Viewpoints that demonstrate grasp of the facts, coherence of argument, and evidence of moral understanding are opinions worthy of being taken seriously, or “considered judgments.” The important method of engagement in this course is dialogue—reading widely about what others think (including those who disagree with us), talking back and forth respectfully among ourselves, and then writing down our individual conclusions for others to consider carefully, and, perhaps, to challenge thoughtfully. In this give-and-take, we are all to be good listeners as well as active talkers, and we will all learn from each other.

Professor: Elena Duzs, Russian
Time: MF 11:30

13. Belonging and Exclusion, Here and Now
* This seminar is part of a Learning Community called Resisting Exclusion and Social Inequality.  Students who chose a Learning Community seminar are choosing to live with a roommate who is also part of that Learning Community.

Who belongs in our society? How do people gain the rights that are needed to actually claim rights and privileges? Who lacks those rights, how are they excluded, and how do they work to create belonging? Progressive change requires establishing practical guarantees of equality in laws and policies, even though such formal realms do not always directly determine people’s everyday experiences of belonging and exclusion. Many people, for example, are routinely deprived of rights and privileges they are entitled to as citizens, effectively denying their citizenship in their everyday lives. In our seminar we will use detailed case studies to examine multiple facets of belonging and exclusion, citizenship and rights. With attention to people’s own words and actions, we will pursue locally textured understandings of ongoing struggles over belonging and rights that have recently been brought into the foreground of public consciousness. We will examine experiences involving race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, immigration, and religion as these take on new forms, meanings, and urgency. Students will work collaboratively to understand people’s efforts to create belonging, shape the meanings of membership in communities, and establish the right to have rights in everyday life. We will occasionally join with two related seminars to share activities, including a trip to Washington, D.C. to visit the new National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Professor: James Ellison, Anthropology
Time: MWF 11:30

14. The Not So Beautiful Game? Thinking about Football (Soccer) Culture in Britain

Why are the British obsessed with football? Why are much of the rest of the world obsessed with Britain’s obsession with football? In this seminar we will engage in an in-depth exploration of many aspects–beautiful and not-so beautiful–of British football culture. Along the way, we will encounter and write about a number of iconic and legendary figures as Brian Clough and Bill Shankly, a bevy of late 1960s and early-mid 1970s happy-go-lucky but ultimately misunderstood geniuses like George Best and Rodney Marsh, and regularly debate whether Chelsea, West Ham, or Millwall had the ‘tastier’ early 1980s firm. Throughout the semester, we will juxtapose aspects of the truly beautiful game–the Cruyff turn and Fila skiwear–with aspects of the not-so beautiful game–the ‘bubble perms from hell’ that were regularly sported by Liverpool’s late 1970s back-four and many other early 70’s superstars. And we will also regularly explore the way in which many football fans (e.g., writers such as Nick Hornby) view the consumption of football and football culture as an intrinsic component of their identity. Similarly, we will investigate whether football culture–including hooliganism (e.g., Riaz Khan’s account of his experiences as a member of the infamous Baby Squad)–“white and black and Asian coming together as one, overlooking their differences and standing shoulder to shoulder to fight for a common cause”–may help to break-down class divisions, gender divisions, and racial divisions. Throughout the semester, we will do much reading and much writing about football culture. We will discuss football cuisine, football fashion, football literature, football songs, numerous football players you may have never heard of (Charlie George anyone?), and will regularly travel from the football present (Luis Suarez and Claudio Bravo) to the football past (Tommy Docherty and the legendary 1975 game between Fulham and Hereford United) and back again (Sam Allardyce’s penchant for chewing gum and screaming at his players). We will familiarize ourselves such with legendary football mantras as ‘I’m over the moon’ or ‘I’m sick as a parrot,’ and we will become intimately familiar with the giants of British TV commentary such as Jimmy Hill (the man who invented ‘3 points for a win’), Brian Moore, and John Motson. We will also explore a number of topics which capture your interest over the course of the semester. Accordingly, you will have ample opportunity to help to shape the direction of class discussion and analysis.

Professor: Andrew Farrant, Economics
Time: MF 11:30

15. Ideas That Have Shaped the World

For a full description, see #6 above.

Professor: Scott Farrington, Classical Studies
Time: MF 11:30

16. Famous Psyches: Examining the Connection between Unique “Genius” and “Madness”

As Lord Byron once wrote, “We of the craft are all crazy. Some are affected by gaiety, others by melancholy, but all are more or less touched.’ Many individuals who have achieved fame in the modern and historical world have struggled with symptoms of mental disorders. Are these symptoms a result of this unique genius, or are they simply a part of the human experience in general? Does possessing a unique talent or gift increase one’s risk of mental issues? This course will provide a framework for understanding and analyzing the psychological experiences of historical and modern geniuses in the fields of business, politics, media, music/art, etc. Readings and discussions will focus on understanding cultural and risk factors, personality traits, and symptoms of mental illness in individuals who have achieved fame across the world stage. The course will utilize a discussion-style approach and will employ popular readings (e.g., Touched by Fire, by Kay Redfield Jamison) as well as scientific research to examine factors within the framework provided. Additionally, in and out of class viewing of relevant films and documentaries, followed by in-class discussion will round out course content. For a final project, students in the course will be given the opportunity to select an individual of interest, and complete and present their own written examination and analysis of this person.

Professor: Michele Ford, Psychology
Time: MF 11:30

17. What a Privileged Gaze Overlooks: Reframing Social Justice and Hispanic Documentary Film

Stemming from the advent of the photographic image and twentieth-century preoccupations with the limits of language, the questions about how we acquire knowledge posed by the moving image continually reconfigure the opposition of fiction and documentary. Discussions and writing projects will explore what this opposition implies for how we come to understand social justice issues via documentary storytelling. Hispanic cinema, with its own distinctive development of the documentary genre, provides rich ground for this seminar’s analysis and questioning of strategies of representation and how the moving image elicits affect. As we discuss the blurring of art and politics, we will critically analyze how documentary films approach unequal power relations and expose habits of looking and understanding. During the course of the semester, students will interview film critics and directors to develop their own understanding of how social justice issues are framed. We will investigate the categorization, funding, and promotion of films and apply theories of spectatorship to featured documentaries of the DOC NYC festival, which we may also attend. Students will produce visual aids that compare and contrast how films employ the same cinematic technique and to what end. Spanish-language films in the course will be shown with English subtitles.

Professor: Margaret Frohlich, Spanish & Portuguese
Time: MWF 12:30

18. Are We Alone in the Solar System?

Popular culture and science fiction teem with depictions of aliens and their encounters with human beings, whether here on Earth or elsewhere. But what if microorganisms were discovered on the moons of Jupiter or the planet Mars? What would be the ramifications, both socially and scientifically, of such a discovery? In recent years, there have been a number of very successful missions supported by NASA to explore planets and their satellites, asteroids, and comets. This is in accord with one aspect of their new vision for the Space Sciences program–to search for extraterrestrial life. This search, however, depends greatly on what we know life to be: the Earth and its inhabitants. If the requirements for life as we know it are liquid water, a source of energy, organic molecules, and biogenic elements such as carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen, then NASA has already found multiple arenas in which “life” may reside. If current and future missions find that there is a second genesis, what will that say about God and our religious beliefs? Does it prove that life is not an accident? Is there a built-in bias towards life and mind, resulting in a Purpose and a God? Or is life simply chemistry? This seminar will focus on the budding science of Astrobiology and the implications it has for religion. We will begin by learning how planets form, and discuss what is needed for a planet to be considered habitable, thereby defining “life”. Students will research and present the scientific findings of current NASA missions at Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn that support the search for life. Upon reading excerpts from books such as How We Believe: Science, Skepticism, and the Search for God and The Fifth Miracle: The Search for Origins of Life, students will discuss and write about science and religion.

Professor: Catrina Hamilton-Drager, Physics & Astronomy
Time: MF 11:30

19. You Mean You Burned ALL the Oil? Energy in the Time of Trump

Everyone talks about converting to sustainable and renewable sources of energy, but for now we continue to burn oil and gas as the primary methods of energy generation. Can we find common ground on what it means to be sustainable? Can we think critically about the tradeoffs that are necessary to commit to a world powered by sustainable energy? Is it even possible to create such a world? We will examine these issues in the context of an administration with ideas that are much different than those of previous administrations. We will use the unique power of various social media formats such as Snapchat and Instagram to create video reports for a world in which we get our news and information increasingly on our phones. Students will be tasked with studying the sustainable energy field based on information rather than on emotion: how much oil is there to be had? How efficient is wind energy? Based on answers to questions such as these each student will be challenged to develop, articulate, and defend a personal viewpoint on the direction of our energy future. We will scour government reports on energy sources and study the physics of different types of energy generation. Written work will start with short “Letters to the editor” style efforts and progress to formal papers.

Professor: Mike Holden, Chemistry
Time: MF 11:30

20. Ideas That Have Shaped the World

For a full description, see #6 above.

Professor: Carol Ann Johnston, English
Time: MF 11:30

22. Does the Place Make the Person? The Effects of the Physical Environment on Human Psychology

How do our physical environments affect us? This course will explore the effects of physical environments on our moods, relationships, health, and chances of becoming successful adults. We will examine these issues from a variety of perspectives including psychology, sociology, public health and urban planning. Class assignments will focus on helping students develop college level skills in understanding academic texts, identifying appropriate sources of information and college level writing. Class projects will include analysis of your own physical environments and trips to local built and natural environments.

Professor: Sharon Kingston, Psychology
Time: MWF 12:30

23. Cryptology: The Science and Culture of Secrecy

We use cryptography every time we talk on a cellphone, send email, use an ATM, or watch a DVD. In this seminar, we trace the history of secret codes from ancient Greece to contemporary times. Our approach will be twofold. First, we will investigate techniques of encoding and decoding information. The mathematics that you learned in high school (and an interest in puzzles) will provide you with sufficient background to understand the cryptological methods covered in this course. Second, we will explore some of the ways that the ability to send or break secret messages has had an impact upon history and culture. Through readings and writing assignments, we will trace the rising importance and complexity of cryptography to the present day and emphasize how issues of privacy and secrecy affect our daily lives in the digital age.

Professor: Lorelei Koss, Mathematics & Computer Science
Time: MF 11:30

24. Bioethics and Bioissues

If you regularly read CNN.com, The New York Times, or use social media to follow the news, the prevalence of science in our society should not be surprising. However, while science is an essential part of our daily lives, inaccurate, incomplete, and/or biased communication of science often misleads the public. Furthermore, in the US there is a cultural challenge in that many people wish to benefit from science, but have little interest in trying to understand it, or even willingly ignore scientific data. (And to be fair, scientists often do a subpar job at communicating the importance of science to the public.) In this seminar, we will work together to gain an informed understanding of several past and present bioethical and biological issues. Topics of discussion may include genetically modified organisms, vaccines and the anti-vax movement, human experimentation and eugenics, human gene therapy, euthanasia and “living wills,” and social and economic consequences of disease. Additional topics may be discussed as they arise. It is expected that you will have an open mind as you read, consider, discuss, and write about these multifaceted issues. You will also incorporate and relate your enhanced understanding of concepts underlying these issues via a small group final project and presentation that addresses a topic of your choosing not previously discussed in the course.

Professor: Dave Kushner, Biology
Time: MF 11:30

25. Italians in America: Yesterday and Today

According to the 2010 US census, over 18 million people in the United States identify as Italian Americans. This course intends to explore over a century of Italian immigration to the United States, from the years of the great migration (1880-1920), when approximately 4.5 million Italians relocated to the United States, to the present time. In recent years, Italian immigration to the United States has been declining, and the composition of the new arrivals has changed. The poor, illiterate and unskilled Italian immigrants from a century ago have been supplanted by today’s well-educated and career-driven Italians in America. Through readings (such as Mario Puzo’s The Fortunate Pilgrim and the newly released Far from Us by Elena A. Perazzini), discussions, written reflections, and lectures by guest speakers (i.e. US-based Italian writer Elena A. Perazzini and award winning Italian-American poet Maria Mazziotti Gillan), we will examine how the profile of Italian immigrants in the US and their perception through an American lens have changed over the years.

Professor: Luca Lanzilotta, Italian
Time: MF 11:30

26. Learning Injustice: The School-to-Prison Pipeline

Schools figure as incredibly important spaces of opportunity, development, and affirmation in the American imaginary. However, for many marginalized students–students of color, low-income students, students with disabilities, undocumented students, and LGBTQ students–rather than spaces of empowerment, schools can become sites of stigmatization, physical abuse, and humiliation. Particularly concerning are the ways that school officials participate in the criminalization of marginalized students in ways that expose them to the criminal justice system at an early age. This is known as the school-to-prison pipeline. This course will examine the social, political, and historical factors that have contributed to the growth of the school-to-prison pipeline in the United States. Using a range of sources, from academic texts to policy reports to films, we will discuss how students have been harmed by the proliferation of law enforcement personnel and zero tolerance disciplinary policies in schools. Ultimately, students in this course will understand how the school-to-prison pipeline is a manifestation of structural inequalities in our society and explore through writing assignments what can be done to stop the flow of young people into spaces of incarceration.

Professor: Marisol Lebron, American Studies
Time: MWF 11:30

27. Home and Belonging as an Immigrant in 21st Century America

During the 2016 Presidential campaign, proposed U.S. immigration policies included “building a wall” and “banning all Muslims” from entry. How did “immigrants” shift from welcomed huddled masses to potential terrorists and rapists? This is at a time when immigrants and their children number roughly 81 million or about 26% of the U.S. total population. This means one in four are either foreign-born or a child in an immigrant family. Today’s immigrants no longer originate from Europe but hail from Latin America, Asia, the Caribbean. Considering these demographic changes, in this course we will explore the historical, cultural and social meanings attached to being an “American” from a variety of different perspectives. Readings, class materials and discussions will pay close attention to the ways race, class, gender, and sexuality shape how immigrants and their children claim a sense of home and belonging within a climate that has become increasingly hostile towards certain kinds of “Others”. During the second half of the semester, students will be asked to identify a research question concerning the changing meanings of Americanness and collect, analyze and present their qualitative data to their peers. They might, for example, conduct interviews with an immigrant or child of immigrants about what it means to be an American, or analyze representations in popular culture to uncover how conceptions of life as an immigrant in America has changed over time.

Professor Helene Lee, Sociology
Time: MWF 11:30

28. Technology and Social Interaction

How many times today have you checked your phone to see if you had a message waiting? It’s likely that your answer to that question will probably be “too many to count.” In the past two decades, rapid development of communication technology has transformed how Americans relate with one another. However, new research suggests that the overall level of social connection in America has actually decreased over the past twenty years. This course will attempt to make sense of this contradiction: it’s easier than ever before to “reach out and touch someone,” but Americans spend less time connecting with one another in their daily lives. We will explore new technologies, read social theory and research, and engage in a variety of writing assignments to understand how these rapid technological changes have impacted our lives.

Professor Erik Love, Sociology
Time: MWF 12:30

29. The Persistence of Racism

In the United States, slavery was outlawed 152 years ago; segregated schools were ruled unconstitutional 63 years ago; discrimination in hiring was outlawed 53 years ago; and a black person just completed eight years as president. However, grave inequalities persist between black Americans and white Americans. Why? Racism, many are tempted to say. What exactly is racism? Is it simply anything that results in racial inequality? Have people always been racist? Does getting over racism require getting over race? In this first-year seminar, by reading, watching, discussing, and writing regularly about important work on these questions, you will begin to think more carefully about the persistence of racism in America. Works will likely include Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me, Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow, C. Vann Woodward’s The Strange Career of Jim Crow, Lawrence Blum’s “I’m Not a Racist, but…,” Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing, and sketches from Key & Peele.

Professor Chauncey Maher, Philosophy
Time: MF 11:30

30. Fright Night: Perspectives on Halloween and the Supernatural

Halloween has evolved from an ancient Celtic festival to a multi-billion dollar industry filled with candy, costumes, horror films, and haunted houses. What makes Halloween so enduring? Does the Halloween of today bear any resemblance to the festival celebrated thousands of years ago? Why do we like being scared, anyway? This course explores both the history and current celebration of Halloween as well as related topics of superstition, urban legend and the supernatural. As we explore the history and modern practice of Halloween, we will engage with literature on the role(s) of supernatural folklore and urban legend in society and the psychological and sociological underpinnings of fear and superstition. Washington Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and a ghost tour in Gettysburg, PA will serve as examples of “ghost stories” in U.S. culture. As a final project, students will conduct interviews about local legends regarding the supernatural, which will serve as the focus of their final essays. Students’ stories and final papers will be hosted in a digital repository on Dickinson Scholar and will be available to the broader Dickinson community.

Professor Kathleen Marchetti, Political Science
Time: MF 11:30

31. The Ordinary Business of Life–Worldly Philosophy and the Secret History of the ‘Dismal Science’–A Thematic History of Economic Thought

The aim of this course is to familiarize students with the formation and development of economic ideas, and the role they played in pivotal debates in the history of economic thought. Particular attention is paid to the classical and post classical schools, neoliberalism, the Chicago school, the American radical school, and others. Themes of particular importance include:  the economist as ‘expert’, human sociality, economic development as human development, human capabilities, how people are shaped and formed by their economic environment (endogenous agents), the preference debates, the golden rule, the greatest happiness principle, spontaneous order, the role economists played in the slavery debates, the rise and spread of eugenics, the Scottish Enlightenment and others. The course will require you to engage in challenging reading and writing assignments.

Professor Edward McPhail, Economics
Time: MF 11:30

32. Social Justice and American Education

The public education system of the United States was founded on the belief that a high quality free education to all Americans would provide them an equal opportunity to achieve the American Dream. Critics argue, however, that the inequalities found within the American public education system preclude this goal for the most vulnerable in our society. Through readings, writing assignments, videos, and field trips to area schools this seminar will examine the origins of the American system of public education, the inequalities currently found within the American system of public education, and the socio-cultural bases for those inequalities. Then, through small group research, the seminar will explore ways that the American system of public education might become a more socially just institution for all.

Professor Pamela Nesselrodt, Education
Time: MF 11:30

33. Composing Disability: How Identity and Power Shape Normalcy

How do culture and politics shape our understandings of ability, and as a consequence, what we presume disability and normalcy to be? How would it change our social and political systems if instead of viewing a smaller population as “disabled” we approached the larger human world as temporarily enabled by uneven access to resources ranging from medical care, learning accommodations and curb cuts to political rights, tax breaks, and racialized or gendered cultural norms? To address these questions, this course investigates the ways that disability, normalcy and identity are “composed” in culture and politics whether through language, images, social structures, cultural events, and legal policies. We will explore dominant models of disability ranging from the medical to the social, with particular attention to how each model intersects with systems of power organized around gender identity, race, sexuality, class and nation. Students will investigate how disability studies writers, artists and policy makers expand our understandings of ability and normalcy. These primary texts may include: Katharine Dunn’s novel Geek Love; Eli Clare’s autobiographical storytelling in Exile and Pride: Disability, Queerness and Identity; Ellen Forney’s graphic memoir on bipolar disorder Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me; Meri Nana-Ama Danquah’s A Black Woman’s Journey Through Depression; the art of Frida Kahlo and Diane Arbus; Temple Grandon’s life and innovations; and the American with Disabilities Act (ADA). Through these texts, students will build their critical understanding of the relationships between disability, identity and power, aided by scholarly work on topics such as staring, passing, supercrips, invisible disabilities, intersectionality, extraordinary ability, universal design, and disability justice. The course culminates in a “recomposition” project in which you and your classmates will work together to develop a podcast, op-documentary, visual essay, or zine recomposing dominant understandings of disability and normalcy.

Professor Katie Oliviero, Women's, Gender & Sexuality Studies
Time: MF 11:30

34. The Entropy–Renewable Energy–Sustainability Connection

In this seminar we will take a closer look at what it ultimately means to live sustainably and to develop sustainable technologies. We will also investigate the concept of entropy and find that an understanding of entropy has fundamental implications on our individual as well as societal decisions. You will learn that it takes energy to keep entropy at a constant level and that, for example, our body would not be able to live for very long if we would not keep its entropy constant. We will also find that entropy is closely linked to energy inefficiencies, and that ultimately a sustainable society will have to rely on renewable energy sources. To this end, we will do hands-on experimentation with evacuated tube solar collectors, solar concentrators, photovoltaic panels, solar air heaters, and wind turbines. As a consequence of this First-Year Seminar you should be able to save at least $100 per month (for the rest of your life) on the heating and air conditioning bill for the house that you will build, purchase, or renovate after you graduate from Dickinson.

Professor Hans Pfister, Physics and Astronomy
Time: MWF 11:30

35. Biophilia: Human Connections to Other Life Forms
* This seminar is part of a Learning Community called Humans and the Natural World.  Students who chose a Learning Community seminar are choosing to live with a roommate who is also part of that Learning Community.

Do we need the natural world? Beyond our needs for resources, how and why do we interact with nature? For most of our history as a species, we have coevolved with other life forms in natural environments. Today many humans, and certainly most Americans, grow up in a transformed landscape with little direct experience of other organisms in natural contexts. What are the consequences of this extinction of experience? As a point of departure, the seminar will consider E.O. Wilson's "biophila hypothesis:" that humans have an innate, evolved, emotional tendency to affiliate with other life forms. We will evaluate this hypothesis by scientific methods and explore its implications for citizens of the 21st century. Areas of inquiry will include the definition of “nature,” conservation biology and practice, nature and mental health, animal rights, the roles of garden, zoo, and wilderness, and the substitution of virtual for real experience of nature. Insofar as much of the meaning of biophilia can only be appreciated subjectively, the seminar will seek to build awareness of biodiversity through field work at the College farm and other locations near campus.

Professor Tony Pires, Biology
Time: MF 11:30

36. Music, Mediated: How Recording Technology Transformed Music

Until the early 20th-Century, Western music making required a musician with at least fundamental training and, usually, an instrument. Hearing a professional musical performance required the listener to be in a specific location at a specific time and for a limited duration. Audience members typically had some basic musical competence. Under these special conditions, listening demanded focused concentration. Until the advent of recording technology, music comprised just those unrepeatable, live events in imperfect settings by imperfect musicians for immediately responsive audiences. The composer’s ideas were immutable and indisputably his. (Women were almost entirely excluded, except as performing novelties.) Clearly, our relationship to music now is dramatically different. Recording technology has entirely transformed how we experience music, how frequently and where we may experience it. It has even transformed our perception of music and how we listen. Further, technology has transformed the status and role of music in society. This course explores those transformations and their repercussions—good and bad—for individuals, society, and the environment. Topics include primer units on music and acoustics, but the course does not require musical knowledge or proficiency.

Professor Robert Pound, Music
Time: MWF 11:30

37. Good and Evil in the Human Imagination: Ethical Issues in Fiction

This seminar’s topic investigates fictional representations of ethics. It asks what makes epic fantasy sagas such as Harry Potter, Star Wars, and Lord of the Rings so appealing? One reason is that they are morality tales, battles between good and evil, voyages of discovery that can help us in the quest for identity. They help us to think about what it would be to lead a good life, how we can find ourselves, and what it means to be a part of a community, bound to our families, friends, and commitments. In this class, we will explore these issues by considering moral and ethical theory in light of the principles reflected in both epic fantasies and other major works of contemporary fiction, in both film and book version. We will consider the vision of society and of individual responsibility in these works, and ask such questions as, “Was Snape right to kill Dumbledore?” “Did Darth Vader achieve redemption?” and so on. We will apply these examples to major ethical issues in contemporary society and philosophy, and compare the depictions of ethics in epic fantasy in such works of contemporary fiction as One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and the spy novel. You will also have the opportunity to develop a research project on your own favorite recent work of fiction. Over the course of the semester, we will watch four or five full-length feature films outside class hours with food and drink provided.

Professor Jason Toby Reiner, Political Science
Time: MF 11:30

38. Between Two Worlds: The Mexican Americans in The United States

Although immigrants have entered the United States from virtually every nation in the world, Mexico has long been identified in the public imagination as one of the primary sources of the economic, social, and political problems associated with mass migration. Mexican immigration has a long and complex history with many dimensions that requires a thoughtful examination to completely understand it. The basic premise of this course is that “Americans” of Mexican origin are products of both Mexican and United States cultures. Unlike other ethnic groups, Mexican Americans, mainly because of uninterrupted Mexican immigration and their close proximity to Mexico, have retained strong historical, economic, political, linguistic, and cultural ties to their ancestral homeland. This course will focus on how Mexican Americans have developed a unique character which allows them to acclimate themselves to United States society and, at the same time, to understand the Mexican ethos. This course explores Chicana/o’s experiences and voices from the nineteenth century to the present through films, music, literary texts, historical documents and critical articles. We examine how Chicanas/os become aware of their realities as well as how they construct and negotiate their identity in the U.S. as a process of building their own voices. In particular, we will closely look at related issues such as migration, bilingualism, multi-national citizenship, race, ethnicity, gender and border culture.

Professor Hector Reyes Zaga, Spanish
Time: MWF 11:30

39. Finding Meaning: An introspective Examination of Life’s Purpose in College and Beyond

Researcher and author Tom Rath states “the pursuit of happiness” is a shortsighted personal goal. The latest research from Rath and others have placed particular emphasis on the value of meaning. In this experiential learning course, students will embark on a semester-long journey to find the meaning in their own lives. Through thought-provoking readings, class discussions, and personal reflections, students will be able to answer questions including:

  • What is my life’s mission?
  • What are my personal values?
  • What is my role in my community?
  • What does it mean to be a global citizen?
  • How can I influence others to pursue meaning in their own lives?

Beyond readings and exercises, students will also be involved in service learning activities working with local non-profit agencies and take part in field trips to local destinations to help discover their life’s purpose. The semester will conclude with students producing a TED Talk that will serve as a framework during their undergraduate studies and well beyond.

Professor Steve Riccio, International Business and Management
Time: MWF 11:30

40. Decisions, Decisions! Why We Make Bad Ones and How to Make Better Ones

We make decisions every day. Parents decide whether to vaccinate their children. Voters decide whether to believe the planet’s climate is changing. Spring breakers decide whether it is safer to fly or drive to the beach. Countries decide who their next elected official will be. School boards decide whether to teach evolution. School districts decide whether to fire teachers based on teacher assessment scores. Juries decide whether to convict or acquit. Fortunately, we are rational beings. We use logical reasoning to make our decisions, our beliefs are founded on good science, we have access to the truth on the Internet, we draw reliable conclusions from the troves of data we collect, and we have left behind the mystical beliefs of our ancestors . . . right? If these are true, then why do we spend billions of dollars each year on alternative medicine? Why do we buy lottery tickets? Why do we vote for third party presidential candidates? Why do we believe in conspiracy theories? In this seminar, we will look at how to use mathematics, statistics, psychology, and science to help us make good, informed decisions. We will learn how to nurture a healthy skepticism and to develop critical thinking, reading, and writing skills that will enable us to face issues with our eyes and minds wide open and to make the best decisions.

Professor David Richeson, Mathematics
Time: MWF 11:30

41. Literature and the Obsession with the Blind Impress

Throughout time humanity has been asking and trying to answer the question “Who am I?” To know who one is (if this is at all possible) is also called, in philosophical terms, to know one’s Blind Impress. Philosophy and science, among other disciplines, have proposed a myriad of answers to this question. This seminar will study some of these theories, but primarily focusing on the ‘possible’ answers provided not by philosophers or scientists, but by writers of fiction who have been obsessed with The Blind Impress. In this course, students will read and analyze the works of writers from different backgrounds, nationalities, languages and cultures, hoping to better understand the question itself and why one should continue asking the same question, especially in today’s world, where technology is creating many new and different selves.

Professor Jorge R. Sagastume, Spanish
Time: MF 11:30

42. The Business of Sports

Every day each of us is exposed to a never-ending stream of sports information originating from multiple outlets including sources dedicated to specific sports and sports conferences. Interspersed among the reporting of scores and individual athletic achievements are stories about “the business of sports”. Will the financially stressed city publicly finance a stadium for their beloved hometown team? Will the hometown team meet the compensation expectations of their star player? Should Division One athletes be compensated? How does the IOC select host cities for international competition held every four years? At the core of each of these issues, a business rationale serves to influence the final decision. The seminar will cover business aspects of professional, collegiate, and Olympic sports. This will specifically include the major business disciplines of management, marketing, finance, information technology, accounting, ethics and law. Included within the course will be opportunities for students to meet and discuss “the business of sports” with college administrators and possibly management representatives from professional sports franchises in the area - The Harrisburg Senators (AA affiliate of the NL Washington Senators) and the Hershey Bears (AHL affiliate of the NHL Washington Capitals).

Professor Dave Sarcone, International Business and Management
Time: MWF 12:30

43. Into the Wild: Exploring the American Wilderness
* This seminar is part of a Learning Community called Humans and the Natural World.  Students who chose a Learning Community seminar are choosing to live with a roommate who is also part of that Learning Community.

Walk northeast from the Dickinson College Farm and within minutes you will arrive at the Appalachian Trail, a footpath that stretches about 2,200 miles from Georgia to Maine. Each year, millions of Americans walk the Trail and visit other protected areas to immerse themselves in “wilderness.” But what makes a place wild? In contemporary literature and film, wilderness is often portrayed as a refuge, a place to get away from it all. What is it that we value about wilderness? How have these values changed over time? This course explores the evolution of attitudes and policy toward wilderness in the United States. We will analyze the environmental effects of these practices as well as the social implications with respect to race, gender, and socioeconomic status. Sources that will inform our analysis will include books, essays, articles, television, films, and short field trips.

Professor Alyson Thibodeau, Earth Sciences
Time: MF 11:30

44. Indivisible, With Liberty and Justice for All? Marginalizing Politics and Acts of Resistance
* This seminar is part of a Learning Community called Resisting Exclusion and Social Inequality.  Students who chose a Learning Community seminar are choosing to live with a roommate who is also part of that Learning Community.

The United States Pledge of Allegiance states, “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.” This statement articulates not only fidelity to the nation, but that the nation is one of unity, equality and justice for all its people. How, then, do we understand the history of oppression against racialized others, women, religious minorities, and other groups that have been subjected to institutions, policies, and discourses that deny them the very rights implied in the Pledge of Allegiance? In this seminar, we will investigate not only the politics of marginalization, but also the means by which oppressed and disadvantaged groups have organized to fight for their civil rights and to challenge the prevailing representations of them as inferior, incapable, dangerous, or pathological through individual and collective performances of resistance. Using written texts, films, photos, music, and exhibitions, we will think critically about how the history of oppression and resistance is documented. Students will then work collaboratively to document contemporary politics that serve to other particular groups of people, and the ways in which this is challenged. This course includes field trips to Dickinson’s Trout Gallery and to Washington, D.C. to visit the new National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Professor Patricia van Leeuwaarde Moonsammy, Africana Studies
Time: MF 11:30

45. The Gateless Gate: Zen Teachings through Riddles and Images

The seminar explores the Chan (Zen in Japanese) School of Buddhist ideas that originated in 6th-century China and subsequently spread to the rest of East Asia, ultimately becoming the most popular version of Buddhist belief known to the West. Central to the original Chan/Zen teachings are kōans, or “rationally unsolvable riddles” that could only be realized in a moment of intuitive insight. In addition to these elusive dialogues between master and pupil, ink paintings of eccentric subject matters were also critical to understanding otherwise unreachable Zen ideas through textual and verbal communication. What are the ultimate goals of Zen teachings? How does the perfect Zen disciple learn and practice? Why are paintings integral to Zen Buddhism? How does one understand the extreme popularity of this particular school of Buddhism outside of East Asia? We will address these questions through reading, writing, and looking exercises. Groups of students will analyze the counterintuitive riddles and compose their own contemporary kōans. We will also explore Buddhist art in the Trout Gallery. At a fieldtrip to the Smithsonian’s Freer & Sackler Gallery of Asian Art in Washington D.C., we will view some of the most important Zen paintings in East Asian art history.

Professor Wei Ren, Art and Art History
Time: MF 11:30

46.  Chinese Fiction: from Ghosts and Demons to Magic Realism, Science Fiction

This course explores the unrealistic tradition of Chinese fiction. For unlike its counterpart in the west, Chinese fiction began with ghost stories in the 4th century. Later on, numerous Chinese writers – professional story-tellers and scholars alike – used fantasy to deal with desire, ambition, frustration, failure, love, death, loyalty and betrayal. The human world they portrayed overlaps with the nether world. People interact with animal spirits and deities all the time. This tradition was toppled in the 20th century, when communist leaders advocated “revolutionary realism combined with revolutionary romanticism” in literature. But this did not last long. Soon after the Cultural Revolution, new generations of Chinese writers began to create magic stories and science fiction to explore the legacy and trauma of Mao Zedong’s revolution and social issues today like the widening gap between the rich and the poor. Through this course, students will become familiar with Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism, Chinese folklore and the impact of Mao’s revolution. We will read fiction, write several essays, and see a few films.

Professor Rae Yang, East Asian Studies
Time: MWF 12:30