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Freshman Seminar Course Descriptions Fall 2019

LAS 101-01: High Anxieties: Intoxication and Addiction in American Life

MWF 1:00-1:50      Dr. Sarah Whetstone

From alcohol, cannabis and ketamine—to caffeine, oxycodone and “krokodil”—this course will challenge students to abandon cultural commonsense in order to think critically about America’s complicated relationship with drugs. Our introduction to the interdisciplinary field of drug studies will draw on perspectives from the social and biological sciences, public health, philosophy, and cultural studies to engage deeper questions about how we form habits, the nature of desire, the limits of “free will,” and the complex forces that shape human behavior. Course topics include: the fuzzy distinction between drugs, food, and medicine; the role of drugs in custom and creativity; the social, economic and political impact of America’s war on drugs; changing trends in when, where and how people use drugs; representations of the addict in popular culture; the growth of addictions in late capitalism; and comparative case studies of innovative drug policies around the world.

This course will satisfy the college out-of-cluster requirement.

LAS 101-02: College Student Alcohol Use: Parties and Public Health Problems

MWF 1:00-1:50      Dr. Amy Bacon

Alcohol use is highest during late adolescence and early adulthood, with students enrolled in college drinking more than their same aged peers. What is it about the college experience that seems to promote alcohol use? Is excessive drinking in college a problem or a rite of passage? And what is “excessive” anyway? In this class, we’ll discuss how cultural, social, developmental, psychological, and biological influences come together to fuel these high risk behaviors.

This course will satisfy the college out-of-cluster requirement.

LAS 101-03: Islamic Civilization

MWF 11:00-11:50      Dr. Jason Zaborowski

Introduction to the full scope of Islamic history with an emphasis on interpreting religion and morality cross-culturally. Through reading primary sources students will be challenged to deliberate, explain, and interpret the meanings and morality that Muslims have found in the Islamic faith throughout history. Students will gain familiarity with the Qur’an and Arabic language concepts.

This course will satisfy the college out-of-cluster requirement.

LAS 101-04: China's Three Teachings

MWF 1:00-1:50      Dr. Dan Getz

How am I supposed to relate to others? What makes for a good society? How is my own well-being tied to society? Is there a fundamental human problem? Does the world around me reveal how I am supposed to live? How can I know the truth? Is truth already present within me? Profound questions such as these show up as pressing concerns over two thousand years ago in civilizations across the Eurasian landmass. On the far eastern reach of that landmass Chinese civilization pondered such questions through three different lenses that came to shape the spiritual and intellectual heritage of Chia. Known to the Chinese as “The Three Teachings,” Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism (which was introduced to China from India) created bodies of texts that laid philosophical and religious foundations for Chinese society. We as a community of learners, through a select few classical texts drawn from these traditions, will explore how their reflections about human beings, society, and the larger reality of the universe were intimately bound to methods of ethical and spiritual cultivation.

This course will satisfy the college out-of-cluster requirement.

LAS 101-05: Why Are We Here?

MWF 11:00-11:50      Dr. Seth Katz

Through reading, writing, and conversation, we will approach multiple interpretations of a set of important questions. For example, why have you come to college? Why are you here, at Bradley University, in Peoria? What is this "education" you speak of? What does it mean to "learn"? And why are you (we, any of us) HERE? What does it mean to be alive, in the company of other apparently living beings? What's the point? And how do you work this thing? Through its focus on large questions that span and concern many fields, ideas, and beliefs, LAS 101 will strive to teach students how to think and talk productively not only across disciplines, but across lives, ethnicities, faiths, and socio-economic divides, and so to talk more productively to each other.

This course will satisfy the college out-of-cluster requirement.

LAS 101-06: The Good Life: Philosophical and Social Scientific Perspectives

TTH 11:30-11:45      Dr. Ryan Reed

Many students enter higher education in the hopes that a university degree will put them on the path to ‘the good life.’ But what does the good life mean? Is it the same for all individuals? How do happiness, success, wealth, and virtue, among other concepts, play into the good life? The starting point of the seminar will be a consideration of philosophical perspectives on what constitutes a good life. Then, we will consider the question from the vantage point of findings from the social sciences. The aim of the seminar is to give students an opportunity, early in their career at Bradley, to develop and adopt their own conceptions of the good life.

This course will satisfy the college out-of-cluster requirement.

LAS 101-07: Journeys through Spain

TTH 1:30-2:45      Dr. James Courtad

Part of the attraction for any journey is discovering new people, places and things. A necessary consequence of the journey is that we learn things not only about the places we visit, but also about ourselves. How do we adapt when faced with new circumstances, new people, new languages and culture? Spain has had an everlasting impact on the western hemisphere and it faces many of the same issues that the United States does today: immigration difficulties, questions about democracy, linguistic conflicts, which direction to proceed as a country in the future. In this course, we will examine the journey Spain has taken and how it has affected the journeys of those who have traveled through the nation. We will approach these discoveries via varying depictions of Spain from American, British and Spanish writers. With the development of critical thinking, research and writing skills, along with class discussion, at the end of the course, students will have the tools necessary to begin their new educational, as well as imaginative, journeys.

This course will satisfy the college out-of-cluster requirement.

LAS 101-09: Making a Difference: The Art and Science of Civic Engagement

TTH 1:30-2:15      Dr. Darcy Leach

A lot of us talk about wanting to “make a difference.” We want to somehow leave the world a better place than we found it. But what does it really mean to “make a difference”? And how does one go about doing it? In this class we will explore the various forms of civic engagement, from volunteering and activism to careers in public service. We’ll talk about why and how people get involved in public life and what difference it actually makes when they do; how government agencies, social media campaigns, nonprofit organizations, and grassroots protest movements contribute to social change; how to get involved without overloading your schedule or burning out; and the rewards and challenges that go along with participating in something greater than ourselves.

This course will satisfy the college out-of-cluster requirement.

LAS 101-10: Latin America and the Hunger Games

MWF 2:00-2:50      Dr. Aurea Toxqui-Garay

The Hunger Games are among the favorite movies of generation Z and millennials. Why is that? Is it because of the kind of topics addressed in the trilogy? Strong female characters? The underdog defeating the powerful and rich? Justice and revolution? Unity and community? Have you thought about what happened after the revolution succeeded? Was everything “happily ever after”? We will discuss such questions in class. We will analyze the trilogy of the Hunger Games and watch some classic films and documentaries produced in Latin America that deal with similar topics. We will draw comparisons to social movements, gender and ethnic issues, as well as problems with social and justice inequality in the Americas. Be ready to bring popcorn.

This course will satisfy the college out-of-cluster requirement.