2018 Spring Integrated Studies Courses

Barbed Wire

This interdisciplinary course on barbed wire will examine the technology invented in 1874 from the perspectives of literature, advertising, folklore, patents, business, history, military science, and material culture in general. Our most basic questions will be: What do this wire and all the materials and texts that have grown up around it tell us about the humans who invented, manufactured, and sold it? About the humans who have used it? How are we different human beings because we live with barbed wire? Investigating and writing about barbed wire will develop research and analytical skills in preparation for the senior thesis.

View Scott Abbott and Lyn Bennett's website related to their new book publication,The Perfect Fence, for more details!

Genocide

In this course we will explore genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes, focusing on how the world deals or fails to deal with mass atrocities. We will discuss how these events continue to affect such atrocities. We will also explore the persecution of the Rohingya of Burma, in what some see as the beginnings of a possible genocide, and the actual beginnings of a genocide of the Ezidi by ISIL in Iraq

Divine in the Arts

"The death of God signifies the impossibility of expressing religious experience in traditional religious language" (Mircea Eliade). Traditional religious imagery and symbolism, embraced for so long, was largely rejected in the 20th century. Though modern artists have abandoned the idol worship of earlier periods their work is no less interested in the question of the divine. Mark Rothko lamented the spiritual bankruptcy of modern man and his paintings are profoundly spiritual. This class will examine the evolution of the artistic language used to express religious experience. We will learn the spiritual languages of various periods of art history and decipher their messages about the divine. What can traditional religious imagery and symbolism tell us about ourselves, the expression of faith, and the human longing for the divine? What has the rejection of that tradition meant for the divine in art? Is it gone or merely unrecognizable? Where is it disguised as the profane? What beliefs are being expressed now and what artistic language is being used to express them?

Islam and Mormonism

In this course, we will compare the religious systems of Islam and Mormonism from a number of perspectives. Some of these will include: history; theology; codes of conduct (dress, dietary, etc.); organizational structures; and denominations or sectarian movements (Sunnis and Shi’ites, LDS Mormons and the RLDS/Community of Christ Church, etc.). Students will gain a solid understanding of the various movements and ideologies within both religious philosophies, and obtain a strong comprehension of where Islam and Mormonism overlap or diverge.

2017 Fall Integrated Studies Courses

Performance Studies

Performance is a contested topic. It can be analyzed as an artistic, social, cultural and/or political phenomenon. These artificial boundaries though permeable, provide useful categories for study. In this class, students will engage performance from all sides: analysis, observation, creation and participation. Initially we will use basic acting exercises to establish a performance vocabulary, and a context from which to consider cultural and social performance theory readings. Students will observe, analyze and create theatrical as well as social and cultural performances. Some of these types of performance need to be created and rehearsed (a scene from a play) and some merely need to be discovered (the performance of gender). Performance studies is interdisciplinary; in the same way that the theatrical concept of performance has been a useful tool for sociologists, the discovery of social and cultural performance can be useful to actors as they learn to identify increasingly nuanced layers of performance in themselves and hence to cultivate a more sensitive measurement of authenticity and honesty in their performances. Mediation will be a regular exercise in class so that students will practice being present; throughout the semester presence will be equated with conscious authenticity and contrasted with distracted unfocused or unconscious behavior.

Meaningful Bodies

This interdisciplinary course will look at paintings and statues and poetry and Greek myths and Hebrew scriptures and Russian and German and American stories — all with a focus on the question: who are we as human beings? We will find that one answer to the question is that we are the answer to the riddle of the Sphinx: What goes on four legs in the morning, on two legs at noon, and on three legs in the evening. In other words, much of our identity comes from the fact that we stand erect, in contrast to other animals. Our language is based on metaphor, often on metaphors that come from our bodies. One prominent metaphor of this type is the metaphor of standing. All the following words have the standing metaphor at their base: understand, substance, stall, stable, stamen, stud, ecstasy, stasis, obstetrics, constitution, stanza, statue, and on and on. When we look carefully at our language and at the culture we have developed as human beings we understand ourselves better. And when we do so in an interdisplinary way, we get a good sense for how psychology and philosophy and art and literature and religion work with the same metaphor to develop possibilities for human development, for our own flourishing.

Arab Spring

This course focuses on contemporary North Africa (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt). Starting with the invasion of Egypt by Napoleon in 1798, we will examine how colonialism and decolonization impacted the region. This will culminate in a final unit that focuses on the Arab Spring (a series of both violent and nonviolent anti-government protests and demonstrations beginning in 2010 that dramatically impacted the Arab world). Students will gain a basic understanding of the history of North Africa for the past two centuries and the events that lead to the Arab Spring. Ultimately students will be able to make a nuanced argument on how the Arab Spring has failed, succeeded, or is still underway.

Tibetan Book of the Dead

Eastern philosophy generally, and Buddhism in particular, consider human life to be the most revered of the many forms of life in the universe. Oddly, we are so highly valued partly because we come with the gift of imperfection; we’ll explore this unusual situation during the course. At the same time, understanding the nature and meaning of human life is not complete without a similar commitment to understand the nature and meaning of human death. Together, these two experiences constitute the alpha and omega of our existence in the timeless cycle of birth, life, death and rebirth. From the Buddhist viewpoint, understanding this cycle is the key to a full and complete experience of each moment that constitutes our existence. There can be no higher commitment and honor to one’s life than a serious dedication to meditation and intense study of this journey.

Climate Change

In this course we will address climate change as a philosophical as well as a socio-political and legal problem. It is a philosophical problem insofar as it challenges many of the basic concepts through which we understand the world and, in particular, our (moral) lives. It is a socio-political problem insofar as climate change is predicted to create wide-spread and complex problems for human populations around the globe. These problems often require social, political and legal (rather than merely technical) solutions and responses. Before we can begin to understand the philosophical and socio-political implications of climate change, we will first have to comprehend the basic scientific case for climate change. Given the continued challenges that have been raised against this scientific case by so-called “climate skeptics,” and given the relative success of these self-pronounced skeptics, we will also have to engage with the origins and reasons for climate denialism especially in the United States.

2016 Summer Integrated Studies Courses

The Singularity

This course will examine the impact and convergence of various 21st century technologies on the evolution of humanity. We will examine the status of the technologies, the estimates of their maturity, as well as the moral, social and political consequences of their impact. We will also discuss the evolving definition of what it means to be "Human". In addition to lecture and discussion, we will view and discuss various utopian and dystopian cinematic visions of the future human.

Modern Iran

This course will examine the country of Iran and its historical, political, and international implications.

2016 Spring Integrated Studies Courses

Weimar Republic

In this course on Weimar Germany we will examine the short-lived Republic (1918-1933—from the end of WWI to the Nazi takeover) from an interdisciplinary perspective. We will address remarkable and sometimes troubling achievements in psychology, history, architecture, art, literature, music, film, photography, education, economics, labor, sociology, industry, etc. Eric D. Weitz’s Weimar Germany: Promise and Tragedy will provide structure for the class with its chapter titles: "Walking the City," "Political Worlds," "A Turbulent Economy and an Anxious Society," "Building a New Germany," "Sound and Image," "Culture and Mass Society," "Bodies and Sex," "Revolution and Counterrevolution from the Right."The Weimar Sourcebook will provide many of the primary texts we will examine.

Arab Spring

This course focuses on contemporary North Africa (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt). Starting with the invasion of Egypt by Napoleon in 1798, we will examine how colonialism and decolonization impacted the region. This will culminate in a final unit that focuses on the Arab Spring (a series of both violent and nonviolent anti-government protests and demonstrations beginning in 2010 that dramatically impacted the Arab world). Students will gain a basic understanding of the history of North Africa for the past two centuries and the events that lead to the Arab Spring. Ultimately students will be able to make a nuanced argument on how the Arab Spring has failed, succeeded, or is still underway.

Islam & Mormonism

In this course, we will compare the religious systems of Islam and Mormonism from a number of perspectives. Some of these will include: history; theology; codes of conduct (dress, dietary, etc.); organizational structures; and denominations or sectarian movements (Sunnis and Shi’ites, LDS Mormons and the RLDS/Community of Christ Church, etc.). Students will gain a solid understanding of the various movements and ideologies within both religious philosophies, and obtain a strong comprehension of where Islam and Mormonism overlap or diverge.

Performance Studies

Performance is a contested topic. It can be analyzed as an artistic, social, cultural and/or political phenomenon. These artificial boundaries though permeable, provide useful categories for study. In this class, students will engage performance from all sides: analysis, observation, creation and participation. Initially we will use basic acting exercises to establish a performance vocabulary, and a context from which to consider cultural and social performance theory readings. Students will observe, analyze and create theatrical as well as social and cultural performances. Some of these types of performance need to be created and rehearsed (a scene from a play) and some merely need to be discovered (the performance of gender). Performance studies is interdisciplinary; in the same way that the theatrical concept of performance has been a useful tool for sociologists, the discovery of social and cultural performance can be useful to actors as they learn to identify increasingly nuanced layers of performance in themselves and hence to cultivate a more sensitive measurement of authenticity and honesty in their performances. Mediation will be a regular exercise in class so that students will practice being present; throughout the semester presence will be equated with conscious authenticity and contrasted with distracted unfocused or unconscious behavior.

Human Rights

An interdisciplinary study of the history, philosophy, and legal development of international human rights norms. In this course we will discuss such topics as genocide, ethnic cleansing, terrorism, cultural relativism, American exceptionalism, sovereignty of nation states, the death penalty in international law, sexual orientation, right to safe environment, and immigration and refugee flows. Beginning with the United Nations Universal declaration of human rights we will trace the rise of the modern human rights movement and discuss current human rights issues.

Nuremburg's Legacy

In this course we will discuss the foundations of international justice beginning with the Nuremburg trials of German war criminals after WWII. We will explore genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes, focusing on how the world deals or fails to deal with mass atrocities. We will discuss how these events continue to affect such atrocities. Even as this is written, we see the persecution of the Rohingya of Burma, in what some see as the beginnings of a possible genocide, and the actual beginnings of a genocide of the Ezidi by ISIL in Iraq.

Thinking Knowing & Being

We will Think about Thinking! Can knowledge be impotent What is the relationship between knowing and memory? How, and under what conditions, do truth and knowledge change how we are? We will examine how Thinking, Knowing and Being are interrelated human experiences. This is not a course in ontology, or epistemology, or metaphysics, although it will cross all of these paths and ask you to draw on what you have learned from all of them. Rather, in keeping with the central principles of Integrated Studies, this course should be viewed as a combination of science, psychology and philosophy. Much of the course will require introspective and focused analysis, and we will make every effort to assure that the pace of learning is optimal for you. We will learn at a pace that maximizes your opportunity to think deeply about the ideas we encounter together.

2015 Fall Integrated Studies Courses

European Union

Barbed Wire

Law in Cinema

Statebuilding

Nuremburg

Infinite & Instant

Book of the Dead

2014 Summer & Fall Integrated Studies Courses

Psychoanalysis

This course will compare and contrast Buddhist and Existentialist approaches to understanding the human psyche and the most fundamental drives behind human behavior. Our work together can provide insights into how Buddhist and Existentialist philosophies find meaning in human life, the nature of our responsibilities to ourselves and others, and the meaning of death. We will also discuss how these philosophies lead to differing approaches to psychoanalysis and psychotherapy.

The Divine in the Arts

"The death of God signifies the impossibility of expressing religious experience in traditional religious language" (Mircea Eliade). Traditional religious imagery and symbolism, embraced for so long, was largely rejected in the 20th century. Though modern artists have abandoned the idol worship of earlier periods their work is no less interested in the question of the divine. Mark Rothko lamented the spiritual bankruptcy of modern man and his paintings are profoundly spiritual. This class will examine the evolution of the artistic language used to express religious experience. We will learn the spiritual languages of various periods of art history and decipher their messages about the divine. What can traditional religious imagery and symbolism tell us about ourselves, the expression of faith, and the human longing for the divine? What has the rejection of that tradition meant for the divine in art? Is it gone or merely unrecognizable? Where is it disguised as the profane? What beliefs are being expressed now and what artistic language is being used to express them?

Meaningful Bodies

We call ourselves wise (homo sapiens) and argue that our language differentiates us from other species of animals. But even more substantially, we define ourselves by our ancestors' revolutionary achievement of a standing posture (homo erectus). We became human, in one sense, because we stood up. In another sense, we are who we are because of what that physical act has been made to stand for, primarily through words that share the *star root. Consider the implications of the following sentence, constructed largely of such words: As creatures of language, we constantly, insistently, even obstinately establish superstitions and understandings related to the constitutive circumstances of our existence by systematic reference to our substantial station and stature as standing beings, as static and ecstatic beings whose destiny is to submit to entropy by allowing things to stagnate or to resist entropy by causing them to stand. As these words graphically illustrate, metaphors of standing determine our conceptions of time and space; they shape our understanding of existence and ecstasy; they are the tools and the subject of philosophy and painting, poetry and fiction, sculpture and law, history and psychology, anthropology and linguistics, archaeology and teleology. Wherever, in short, humans have paid attention to our status as human beings, we have done so through embodied metaphors, including many from the standing family. The IS Topics Course on "Meaningful Bodies: Standing as Metaphor" will be a series of discussions about variations on this theme by sculptors, painters, poets, novelists, and philosophers.

The Singularity

This course will examine the impact and convergence of various 21st century technologies on the evolution of humanity. We will examine the status of the technologies, the estimates of their maturity, as well as the moral, social and political consequences of their impact. We will also discuss the evolving definition of what it means to be "Human". In addition to lecture and discussion, we will view and discuss various utopian and dystopian cinematic visions of the future human. Required Textbooks: 1. Schneider, Susan. Science Fiction and Philosophy: from Time Travel to SuperIntelligence. Wiley-Blackwell (May 18, 2009). ISBN: 978-1405149075. ($18, 368pp.) 2. More, Max (Ed.) and Natasha Vita-More (Ed.). The Transhumanist Reader: Classical and Contemporary Essays on the Science, Technology, and Philosophy of the Human Future. Wildy-Blackwell (May 6, 2013). ISBN: 978-1118334317. ($29, 480pp.) 3. Habermas, Jurgen. The Future of Human Nature. Malden, MA: Polity Press. ISBN: 978-0-7456-2986-5 ($13, 127pp.)