2015 FYS Courses (descriptions below)
FYS 001 (CRN 2931) – Writing and Therapy
FYS 003 (CRN 6453) – Banned Books: Ideology, Suppression, and Censorship
FYS 004 (CRN 6788) – Social Justice: Confronting Culture, Creating Change
FYS 005 (CRN 6959) – Honesty & Lies
FYS 006 (CRN 6456) – Decisions & Revisions
FYS 007 (CRN 1129) – Shakespearean Adaptions & Appropriations
FYS 008 (CRN 7469) – Jane Austen: Property and Propriety
FYS 009 (CRN 6479) – Dickens Won't Die: 175 Years of Narrative and Adaptation
FYS 010 (CRN 6481) – The Power of Tradition, Forces of Change: Confucianism and the Succession Crisis of the Wan Li Emperor (1587); Henry VIII and the Reformation Parliament, 1529-1536
FYS 012 (CRN 6967) – Batman and Cultural History
FYS 013 (CRN 6484) – Exploring the Other Europe: The Balkans
FYS 014 (CRN 6485) – 21st Century Poetry
FYS 015 (CRN 6515) – Making Sense of College
FYS 016 (CRN 6486) – Story: The Art & Science
FYS 017 (CRN 6568) – I Want to Ride My Bicycle-Cycling and Social Change
FYS 018 (CRN 7498) – Grassroots Politics on a Global Stage
FYS 019 (CRN 6964) – Fake News & It’s Impact on Society
FYS 020 (CRN 6507) – The Social Context of the Autistic Spectrum
FYS 021 (CRN 7906) – Birds & Bees: Sexual Health 101
FYS 022 (CRN 6995) – Lead like Jesus
FYS 023 (CRN 7582) – Latino Lives in the U.S.
FYS 025 (CRN 7474) – American Dreams (learning community)
FYS 026 (CRN 6593) – Ethnobiology, Nature, and Culture
FYS 027 (CRN 3437) – Ethics and Star Trek
FYS 028 (CRN 3006) – Seeing—Believing
FYS 029 (CRN 7907) – Data, the Politics of the Information Society, and You!
FYS 030 (CRN 6963) – Science & Society
FYS 031 (CRN 7002) – Positive Psychology: The Science of Happiness
FYS 032 (CRN 6973) – New York, New York
FYS 033 (CRN 6974) – Slavery and American Popular Culture
FYS 034 (CRN 6975 and CRN 7953) – It's not easy being green: or (the enigmatic challenge of living sustainably in a world designed to be otherwise)
FYS 035 (CRN 5176) – Adult Films
FYS 038 (CRN 1916) – Exploring the Portrayal of Mental Illness and Intellectual Disabilities in the Media
FYS 040 (CRN 6503) – Generosity of the Heart
FYS 041 (CRN 6978) – Can You Reason with the Law?
FYS 042 (CRN 6979) – Refugees: The Human Experience
FYS 043 (CRN 7503) – Game of Thrones Yesterday and Tomorrow
FYS 044 (CRN 7058) – Women in the Bible: Mates, Mothers, Murders, and More
FYS 046 (CRN 7041) – Immigrants and Refugees: Comparative Policies and Problems, and Local Practices
FYS 047 (CRN 6982) – Global Problems of Population Growth
FYS 048 (CRN 6983) – Daring to Dream: The Stories of Business
FYS 049 (CRN 6984) – Adaptation -- Reading Films Based On Other Sources
FYS 050 (CRN 7952) – Lovecraft: Horror & Madness
Writing and Therapy
FYS 001, CRN 2931
This course examines the ways in which writing can be therapeutic and the most effective methods for writing therapeutically. This focus allows us to explore different functions and facets of writing; it also allows us to read about and discuss a variety of human experiences, specifically the ways in which different people make sense of illnesses from catastrophic trauma (such as war) to chronic dysfunction (such as manic depression or obsessive compulsive disorder). Reading, writing and discussion are all thoroughly integrated in the course.
Banned Books: Ideology, Suppression, and Censorship
FYS 003, CRN 6453
“Restriction of free thought and free speech is the most dangerous of all subversions.” Justice William O. Douglas
This first year seminar will explore, examine, and analyze the practice, function, and ideology of what is commonly known as “book banning.” Often, books are challenged with the “best intentions”—to protect others, frequently children, from “difficult” ideas and information. In order to understand these practices and the ideology behind them, we will read banned books and challenged books as well as a plethora of essays and articles on the topic. The course will focus on the social and cultural ideologies that motivate the restriction of reading materials, primarily in the United States. Throughout the semester, we will try to answer various questions about censorship: What kinds of materials are considered “offensive?” Why do some groups (or individuals) try to restrict access to certain books? What are the motivations of these groups, and what are the functions of censorship? We will also grapple with questions of literary and social value, feminism, sexuality, language, and representation.
Primary texts include Forever (Judy Blume), Annie on My Mind (Nancy Garden), and The Handmaid's Tale (Atwood). Course requirements include weekly writing (in and outside of class), a midterm and a final project.
Social Justice: Confronting Culture, Creating Change
FYS 004, CRN 6788
Social justice is both a process and a goal. The goal of social justice is full and equal participation of all groups in a society that is mutually shaped to their needs. [In a just society…] all members are physically and psychologically safe and secure. […] The process for attaining the goal of social justice, we believe, should also be democratic and participatory, inclusive and affirming of human agency and human capacities for working collaboratively to create change.
--Lee Anne Bell
In this course, we will engage in the theory and practice of community-based social justice by examining ways to analyze, understand, and resist forms of oppression, including racism, ethnocentrism, sexism, transgender oppression, heterosexism, and classism. In addition to reading and writing about the relationship between social justice and systems of difference, power, and oppression, we will also develop alliance- and coalition-building techniques to change oppressive patterns in our selves, our institutions, and our communities.
Honesty & Lies
FYS 005, CRN 6959
This seminar will explore the sociocultural role of dishonesty, examining the concept through various lenses: literary, philosophical, political, journalistic, academic, and psychological. We will read and discuss theories about lying—why people lie, and the effects of dishonest behavior on the liar and the listener/reader. In particular, we will analyze the prevalence of dishonesty in contemporary American society. Why do so many politicians lie, and how do they justify their behavior? Why do memoirists lie about their lives, and does it matter when they do so? Why do journalists plagiarize? Why do students misrepresent themselves on Facebook? The writer Ralph Keyes alleges that we live in a “post-truth era,” which he describes as an “ethical twilight zone. It allows us to dissemble without considering ourselves dishonest.” We will decide whether or not we agree with his assessment, and talk about the possible impact of post-truth culture.
Decisions and Revisions
FYS 006, CRN 6456
In this course, we will explore "texts"—including novels, short stories, movies, music video, and drama—that take different perspectives on the practices of adaptation and revision. In some cases, the works we read will revise themselves over and over, as with Ken Grimwood's novel Replay. Others, like Krapp's Last Tape, feature characters obsessively reliving (and revising) their own memories of the past. Some—including Mohsin Hamid's How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia—"recycle" popular forms, in this case, self-help literature. Alison Bechdel's graphic memoire Fun Home uses visual depiction to retell difficulty episodes from the author's youth, allowing her and her audience to come to terms with a partly factual, partly fictionalized past. And Joyce Carol Oates's short story retells one of the most famous stories of Russian literature from an alternative point of view. Lars von Trier's film collaboration with Jorgen Leth titled The Five Obstructions will structure our progress through these explorations and experiments. It consists of a short film, "The Perfect Human," and five re-makes and will serve as the inspiration for the six main essay assignments of the course. These assignments will invite participants in the course to engage in their own experiments with revising, adapting, and re-envisioning their work from multiple perspectives and in multiple modes.
Shakespearean Adaptions & Appropriations
FYS 007, CRN 1129
This course will consider the various ways in which Shakespeare’s poetry and plays have been adapted and appropriated over the last 400 years. What makes Shakespeare’s works so ripe for adaptation? Does adaptation and appropriation diminish or enrich Shakespeare’s work? How do the genres or mediums of adaptation shape the message? In addition to studying a selection of Shakespeare’s poetry and plays, we will examine works such as Charles and Mary Lamb’s Tales from Shakespeare, Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman, Fred Wilson’s “Iago’s Mirror”, Tim Blake Nelson’s O, and Out of Sequence: The Sonnets Remixed, edited by D. Gilson. In this writing intensive course, students will be asked to complete short weekly writing assignments in addition to longer pieces that will be assigned throughout the semester. There will be an emphasis on drafting and revision as well.
Jane Austen: Property and Propriety
FYS 008, CRN 7469
This course will focus on Jane Austen's Mansfield Park and Northanger Abbey. Our primary focus will be on the role of landscape aesthetics in these novels, reading them as texts that relate to changing notions of the "ideal" place or property. We will read poems about estates and nature to situate these novels within those cultural debates about the sublime, the beautiful, and the picturesque. We will also consider how these notions of place suggest ideas about national identity, imperialism and other global issues. We will also discuss notions of propriety and what is "proper," considering ideas of boundaries, warnings, and limits of civility. Lastly, we will be considering the extent to which each of these texts challenges notions of neoclassicism and romanticism. We will also watch movie adaptations of these novels (and see clips from movie versions of Pride and Prejudice), read critical essays from the past thirty years, and read shorter texts from 1750-1820.
Dickens Won't Die: 175 Years of Narrative and Adaptation
FYS 009, CRN 6479
Jay-Z, Ludacris, and the Beastie Boys shout out to Charles Dickens. The Decemberists regularly invoke him. Lloyd Jones, a writer in New Zealand, uses a Dickens character created 140 years ago to explore the life of a war-traumatized little girl. Gwenyth Paltrow stars in a film adaptation of the same Dickens book. The Los Angeles Times and several other newspapers report the arrest of Bernie Madoff with astonishment at his resemblance to a Dickens character. Countless television actors (plus Mickey Mouse) have embodied Ebenezer Scrooge. The staying power of Dickens (his works as well as his celebrity) is nearly unrivaled, as is the broad range of artists who have adapted his imaginative creations.
In this seminar, we will study some of Dickens’ original writings and critically analyze works that respond to, reimagine, or adapt Dickens. We will consider questions such as: What do we learn from identifying elements that persist across centuries? What do we learn from seeing what elements of Dickens’ work change over the years? What do adaptations and revisions teach us about contemporary culture, about Victorian culture, and about our own reading practices? Assigned texts will include novels, films, and songs. Students who wish to get a head start will enjoy reading Dickens's Oliver Twist (Penguin edition) over the summer.
The Power of Tradition, Forces of Change: Confucianism and the Succession Crisis of the Wan Li Emperor (1587); Henry VIII and the Reformation Parliament, 1529-1536
FYS 010, CRN 6481
This course examines two different cultures, China in 1587 and England in 1529, at points of crisis in leadership and compares their ideas and debates on how to preserve unity, national identity and authority, and yet accommodate changing views of social, economic and religious justice. What are the sources of power of those who govern the society, and what constraints exist on that power? How are the demands of the community (political, religious, or class) balanced with a growing sense of individual liberty? What tensions exist because of differences in wealth and status and attitudes toward economic inequality? Students will explore these questions and attempt to articulate some tentative conclusions about how traditional structures of authority are or are not to be maintained in the face of challenges from new ideas.
Class is conducted not through lecture or discussion but through an elaborate role-playing pedagogy known as “Reacting to the Past,” which seeks to introduce students to major ideas and texts by replicating the historical context in which these ideas acquired significance. Students read classic texts, set in particular moments of intellectual and social foment, which inform the roles they are assigned e.g. The Analects (Confucius), Utopia (Thomas More), The Education of a Christian Prince (Erasmus). They conduct debates, write Parliamentary legislation and propose written bills (Henry Game) or advise the Emperor and write "memorials" (China). Confucianism and the Succession Crisis of the Wanli Emperor introduce students to the suppleness and power of Confucian thought. The game unfolds amidst the secrecy and intrigue within the Forbidden City, as scholars struggle to apply Confucian precepts to a dynasty in peril. Henry VIII and the Reformation Parliament takes up the King’s “great matter” (his desire to divorce Catherine of Aragon) during the tumultuous years 1529-1536. Sir Thomas More has just been named Lord Chancellor after the dismissal of Cardinal Wolsey, while Thomas Cromwell conspires to lead the king’s party to his own ends. Four ideas/issues clash and contend for dominance: medieval Catholicism, Lutheranism, Renaissance Humanism, and Machiavellian statecraft. Students will read works representative of all traditions in each game, will write papers in role, and reflective essays outside of role once the game debates have concluded, in order to explore and reflect upon major issues and perspectives.
Batman and Cultural History
FYS 012, CRN 6967
Batman first appeared in Detective Comics in 1939; since then, he has been portrayed hundreds (if not thousands) of times in comics, tv shows, and movies. This seminar will think about Batman as a cultural and historical icon. We will read Batman comics from multiple eras, and we will pair these readings with critical essays as we construct our own understanding of this character and his role in American culture. Students are expected to participate in class discussion, to complete a number of writing assignments, and to contribute to a group creative project that re-imagines Batman.
Current Issues: Immig, Gen Y, Climate
FYS 013, CRN 6484
Why name geographically European states—such as Albania, Bosnia, or Bulgaria—Balkan, and not European? What makes a state Balkan, and what are the implications of calling it so? Throughout this course we will search for answers to these questions by looking at patterns of representation of the Balkans in both Western European and Balkan literature at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth century—the period that in many ways defined the Balkans as we perceive them today.
The course will be conducted as a seminar—discussion of primary texts through close reading (identifying and evaluating textual evidence in support of specific arguments). In addition, at Drake, the First Year Seminar functions as an introduction to college-level writing. Therefore, we will spend considerable time discussing writing-related issues, including clarity, cohesion, style, and revision. Assignments for this course will include response papers, a research paper, and lots of in-class writing.
21st Century Poetry
FYS 014, CRN 6485
Particularly in the last 12 years, the ways in which readers access poetry has changed dramatically. The rise of web journals and e-books has fueled an explosion in the number of publishers of poetry and ways in which it can be read, and has even fueled a rebirth in handmade, letterpress books. Students will encounter and react to poetry in all these forms, from handmade books and journals to web-only journals to new multimedia anthologies. Students will also experiment with their own creative writing in these spaces, both as writers and editors, and will work collaboratively to produce an electronic chapbook of their own work.
Making Sense of College
FYS 015, CRN 6515
Most students enter college having just graduated from high school and, a few years later, their college career ends with the expectation that they will be self-sufficient adults. What is this ‘college experience’ that allegedly transforms the high school graduate into someone significantly better prepared to flourish in society? In this course we will, with the primary goal of improving students reading, writing, thinking and discussion skills, focus our attention on developing an understanding of higher education in the United States and the role it has, can and should play in the lives of young adults. We will do this by working on the dual task of better understanding young adulthood and better understanding higher education. To better understand young adulthood we will draw on work in sociology and psychology with a bit of history. To better understand higher education we will look at, among other things, the history of higher education, the purpose of higher education, the economics of higher education, the depictions of higher education in popular culture, and the state of higher education in the United States today.
Our conversations will be aimed at, on the individual level, developing a sense of how to make the most out of the college experience and, on the broader level, developing ideas about what higher education, as an social institution, ought to be.
Story: The Art & Science
FYS 016, CRN 6486
What does your brain do when you’re hearing a story? What catches audiences’ attention in a story, and why? Can stories be organized into taxonomies, and understood to have lineages, evolutionary family trees? What makes one character come alive in readers’ imaginations while another is forgotten? Why did fictional storytelling evolve in the first place?
In this course we will read, watch, and listen to STORIES presented across media and genres, from the ancient world to the present-day. We will analyze these stories as both works of art and as living specimens, coming to both appreciate and understand their construction, as well as our own and others’ reactions to them, with the ultimate goal of better understanding how stories “work.”
We will read essays by authors who self-analyze, offering philosophies of composition and “rules" of the craft; essays by scientists who have studied the human brain and behavior in response to story; essays by scholars of folklore who have tracked down the evolutionary history of individual stories; and theorists struggling with the very existence of fiction in human culture.
Finally we will respond to what we’ve learned with essays and stories of our own. The stories we create may take one of several forms — eg: essays, videos, songs, poems, plays, comics, fairy tales — but in any case what we write will be stories carefully crafted using the vital information and principles that we’ve learned.
Course readings may include essays by Richard Dawkins, Jack Zipes, Zadie Smith, Scott McCloud, David Foster Wallace and others; as well as stories by Willa Cather, Enid Shomer, Alison Bechdel, Margaret Atwood, Kate Chopin and others.
Example assignment: students will read guidelines from Robert McKee's Hollywood screenwriting seminar, and will use this text as a lens through which to analyze a recent major film release, identifying where the film adhered to, and departed from, these widely accepted principles of screenwriting. Students will then be challenged to write a synopsis of a film which departs from every principle listed.
I Want to Ride My Bicycle-Cycling and Social Change
FYS 017, CRN 6568
Bicycle culture is growing in the US, to the claim that cycling is changing American cities. While it seems that using two wheels and pedals to get from point A to point B is a renewed revolution, and embracing cycling as the ultimate workout evolved since Lance Armstrong became a household name, bicycling has a lively and engrossing history. Today bicycling has grown from simple human powered transportation to a grassroots movement that weaves myriad issues such as alternative transportation systems, infrastructure accommodation, sustainability, health and the desire to just have fun on two wheels. Is bike culture a concept in search of a meaning?
This course will explore bike culture in Des Moines, Iowa, with a comparison to Europe and beyond, and from textbook to practical application. Although the class will unfortunately not be traveling to Europe for comparison, the exploration will sometimes happen on two wheels. The exploration will also happen in the classroom, on campus, in the neighborhood, and in city government offices. This course is a service learning opportunity to position Drake University as a bike friendly campus and lead change in the city of Des Moines through community engagement.
Iowa Caucuses: Grassroots Politics on a Global Stage
FYS 018, CRN 7498
Lee B Jolliffe
We will explore the presidential nominating process as it occurs in Iowa, comparing candidate messages with media coverage of the candidates and their public events. Because candidates will be building toward voters' final choices on caucus night, we’ll have opportunities for field experience, from hearing the candidates to talking behind the scenes with their field organizers, national media in town to cover the selection process, and various activist groups engaged in politicking. During class time, guest speakers, discussion, and short films will help explain the ongoing build-up to caucus night, with students writing short responses to all these. Students will work inside the campaign of their choice for at least one 4-hour block of phone-banking, attend on-campus political events, and potentially engage in short-term fieldwork for a campaign or visiting media, so flexible weekends are required of participating students. In longer assigned papers, students will compare events with coverage, answer the questions of ‘why Iowa?’ and ‘why caucuses?’, and examine their personal experiences inside a campaign.
Peeling the Onion: Fake News & Its Impact on Society
FYS 019, CRN 6964
This seminar will explore different forms of fake or satirical news and its impact on society. Specifically, students will explore times that fake or satirical news influenced some sort of change in society. Students will research fake or satirical news and learn how to determine if an article is real or fake by researching credibility of the sources. They will learn to write their own fake news story. They will also review how fake news has evolved over time by analyzing Orson Welles’ The War of the Worlds. Finally, students will use the readings and assignments to determine what impact fake news has on society.
The Social Context of the Autistic Spectrum
FYS 020, CRN 6507
MW 12:30-1:45pm (CRN 6507)
In the United States, approximately 1 of 68 children has been identified with autism spectrum disorder. Autism has become a highly contentious issue. We have seen debates about the causes of autism, the possibility for cures and the position of people with autism in our society. This course will use the autistic spectrum to investigate a number of issues including: identity; the social construction of illness; the sociology of knowledge, science and expertise; access to education; and representations of autism in popular culture. The course will make use of the writings of autism self-advocates and academic authors, as well as feature and documentary films.
Birds & Bees: Sexual Health 101
FYS 021, CRN 7906
Alysa Mozak & Lauren Berry
TR 3:30pm – 4:45pm
The purpose of this course is to explore human sexuality from cultural, social and health arenas. Recognizing the diverse range of previous sexuality education amongst incoming students, this course is intended to fill any gaps and provide a solid foundation based on unbiased, medically accurate, and evidence-based information from a scholarly standpoint. This course seeks to increase knowledge, build communication skills, help clarify personal values, and dispel myths regarding sexuality and relationships. Sexuality is a part of everyone’s lives, and this course takes a comprehensive approach to its education.
Lead like Jesus
FYS 022, CRN 6995
Leadership is all the rage today, wouldn’t you say? But being a servant isn’t necessarily as hip as being a leader. So doesn’t the term servant leadership seem a little like an oxymoron? In this course we will think about servant leadership and, in particular, how Jesus portrayed servant leadership. This course will challenge both your view of leadership and how you lead. Be prepared to think deeply and look inwardly as we wrestle with a different paradigm of leadership.
Latino Lives in the U.S.
FYS 023, CRN 7582
Lourdes Gutierrez Najera
This course focuses on the experiences of Latino—Mexican, Central American, Cuban, Dominican, and Puerto Rican—transnational migrants living in the U.S. We will work to understand the social, political, and economic processes that shape the varied experiences of Latino migrants. In so doing we will discuss issues raised by recent immigration through a comparative, integrative, global-historical perspective.
FYS 025, CRN 7474and co-requisite POLS 001,CRN 4192
MW 12:30-1:45pm AND co-requisite course on TR 12:30-1:45pm (CRN 4192) Arthur Sanders
Honors students enrolled in this learning community will receive 3 elective credits towards the Honors Track of the Drake Curriculum.
This course begins with the question, “What constitutes the American Dream?” It presents a number of selected theories and observations concerning the most popular and pervasive abstract values centered on the nature of the American social order that shape the character of its citizens. These include the notions of liberty, equality, and freedom, as well as individualism, materialism, and issues of social justice. For who does the American Dream most readily apply? What populations has it historically excluded, and why? How do questions concerning socio-economic class, race, and gender (among others) affect access to the American Dream?
A primary tension addressed throughout the course is that between the “individual” and the “community,” and how we understand the appropriate and ethical laws and rights a government should respect and enforce within this tension. An important element of this tension is found in how we define, understand, and negotiate various realms of social life deemed “private” and “public.” We will ask some hard questions about how private and/or public "American Dreams” may come into conflict. We will also investigate the nature of American citizenship, and how our role as a “citizen” often finds itself in tension with our roles as consumers, whether in terms of products, goods, services, or perhaps most importantly, information.
Students who register for American Dreams must also register for POLS 001 (Arthur Sanders) The American Political System, taught by Professor Arthur Sanders. Professors Treat and Sanders will coordinate course readings and assignments to tie together themes developed in the two classes. Students signing up will also be housed on the same floor in a residence hall.
Ethnobiology, Nature, and Culture
FYS 026, CRN 6593
TR 12:30-1:45pm (CRN 6593)
"Ever tried to suck the sugary nectar out of the base of a clover flower or watched a bird build a nest? People often fail to realize that it is these experiences and observations that are the beginning of the study of natural science. Most people think of the science of the natural world as a series of quantitative measurements and Latin names that is wholly removed from their daily lives, but people have been practicing science since the beginning when we classified plants as separate from animals. The way we perceive nature is, in many ways, inherited from our culture which leads to fascinating, weird, and intriguing insights. In this class we will explore the connection between nature and human cultures over time and around the world though the media of discussion, video, readings, and direct hands-on experience. Nature has changed us as much as we have changed nature and we will investigate examples of both throughout the semester."
Ethics and Star Trek
FYS 027, CRN 3437
Students will explore ethical issues using the backdrop of various Star Trek episodes as an impetus for discussion. By using a fictional setting students will be able to engage with difficult ethical situations, employ critical thinking skills, while also addressing highly charged issues in an educated manner. Students will be required to explore logical fallacies, persuasive writing, and research. Students will be required to be discussion leaders, argue both sides of an issue, and defend positions based on fact-based analysis. This course will be writing intensive.
Seeing – Believing
FYS 028, CRN 3006
This course will offer an opportunity to explore the connection between seeing and believing. Is seeing believing? Is our vision limited by what we believe? Are our beliefs limited by what we can see? What do beliefs look like? Since religion has a long history of turning to the visual arts to express its beliefs (iconophilia), and turning from representation of the divine (iconoclasm), this interdisciplinary journey will lead us to the intersection of art and religion. We will examine visual manifestations of belief through architecture, sculpture, and painting. We will consider the distinction between sacred and profane through writing assignments focused on space, objects, and time. As a First Year Seminar (FYS), this course will be writing-intensive. It will include significant time spent on the revision of your writing. You will have the opportunity to read your work to the class through formal and informal presentations. This FYS will be conducted in a seminar-style format in which discussion will be the primary mode of engagement.
Data, the Politics of the Information Society, and You!
FYS 029, CRN 7906
Debra DeLaet, Daniel Alexander
This first year seminar will examine and analyze the expanding role of data in our social, political, and economic lives. Economic efficiencies, technological developments such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, and an ascendant analytical worldview now allow for the storage and processing of massive amounts of information and data. “Big data”, a term that refers to extremely large data sets that companies, governments, non-profit organizations, and other actors use to identify patterns and trends to achieve their objectives, represents the extraordinary growth in the use of digitized information to structure and shape our daily lives in critical ways. Companies collect big data so you get better ad clicks and so they can improve their bottom lines. Governmental institutions use big data as a surveillance tool. Even social media—our tweets, family photos, news stories, personal opinions, daily routines and habits—has become a new source for big data and other data-driven approaches to collective decision-making and problem-solving. In turn, a data-driven approach to our everyday lives—whereby we track fitness and nutrition, travel and recreation, and our social plans via apps—has become increasingly prevalent, not always for the good.
But data can have many positive uses. Foremost, it enables us to strive for decisions that are driven by analytical evidence rather than anecdotal or impressionistic thinking. Evidence-based decision-making should lead to more accurate analyses by individuals, organizations, and governments. At the same time, overreliance on data to structure collective decision-making has a downside. It involves information on such a vast scale that the evidence that informs decision-making may be very far removed from the individuals and communities affected by key decisions—moreover, it may ignore important evidence gathered by other means. Critics argue that a data-driven approach to our social, political, and economic lives risks diminishing our humanity as digitized interactions displace genuine interpersonal relationships and as individual privacy is threatened by an ever-expanding sphere of consumable ‘public’ data. This FYS will provide students with opportunities to investigate both the positive uses and downside risks of a digitized analytical approach to collective decision-making and problem-solving as they consider its effects in their daily lives as individuals, consumers, and citizens.
There are no quantitative pre-requisites for this course. The course will be informed by insights from multiple disciplines, and students whose primary interests are in mathematics, the natural sciences, the humanities, the social sciences, or the arts will be equally at home in this class. For those who need it, the course will provide a gentle introduction to quantitative analytical technique, including assignments and activities designed to help students develop skills in reading quantitative analysis.
Science & Society
FYS 030, CRN 6963
Many Americans get their scientific ‘knowledge’ from popular news sources or non-expert sources. These outlets tend to oversimplify scientific topics that are nuanced and complex. Additionally, these topics are presented as a contentious battle that is filled with uncertainty and open to debate. This is not how the scientific method really plays out in academic disciplines, nor is it the way that scientists think about their research. So, how does an informed citizen learn to think like a scientist? How can a consumer of medicine, food, policy, and education approach data with understanding and skepticism? This class will encourage students to think critically and scientifically about seemingly controversial topics.
Positive Psychology: The Science of Happiness
FYS 031, CRN 7002
The purpose of this course is to understand the new trend in psychology that focuses on strengths of individuals, rather than pathology or weaknesses. This course will focus on the science of happiness and well-being. Having its roots in humanistic orientation, positive psychology movement has become a new force in psychology. Positive psychology focuses on strengths rather than weaknesses, wellbeing rather than pathology and building a fulfilled meaningful life, rather than fixing the problems. In this course we will explore historical, philosophical and theoretical roots of positive psychology, and explore concepts, research behind the concepts, and interventions. The course will explore sense of belonging, gratitude, creativity, forgiveness, compassion, flow, grit, optimism, hope, satisfaction and meaning in life and other related positive psychology concepts and their applications in mental health, rehabilitation and educational institutions and organizations.
New York, New York
FYS 032, CRN 6973
Mary Beth Holtey
New York City has served as the backdrop for countless books, movies and television shows. It’s a cultural icon. But how did New York City make the leap from Dutch colony to one of the world’s most influential cities? In this course we will examine the city’s early and modern history in the context of location and reform. Focus will be given to the large influx of people who entered the United States through Ellis Island, the ramifications of events such as the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, the rise of muckraking journalism and the political machine, Tammany Hall.
Slavery and American Popular Culture
FYS 033, CRN 6974
In 1865 the United States ended slavery in this country, freeing four million African Americans. Slavery has been the subject of countless works of fiction, non-fiction, and film. Depictions of slavery in American popular culture began well before slavery ended. Many anti-slavery political activists wrote widely-read newspapers, novels, and nonfiction books. Arguably, these works helped to end slavery. In this class we will examine material from the past, including anti-slavery fiction and nonfiction, and from the present, including current fiction, scholarly writing, and movies. Students will gain an understanding of both slavery and representation of slavery in popular culture. In addition, we will discuss more generally the ways in which pop culture can help and hinder our thinking about the past and the present.
It's not easy being green: or (the enigmatic challenge of living sustainably in a world designed to be otherwise)
FYS 034, CRN 6975
Lab: F 12:30pm-2:30pm
In this course, students will explore what it means to be "green"— both as an ideology and as a lifestyle. In addition to examining key problems such as: human overpopulation, environmental degradation, climate change, and the growing divide between human beings and nature; students will investigate possible solutions, as they work towards an understanding of what it takes to “live sustainably” in a world where living otherwise is both a norm and an expectation.
FYS 035, CRN 5176
What does it mean to be an "adult"? Are you an adult now, or are you only beginning to become one? What new responsibilities will you have as an adult? What new freedoms? The topic of this FYS is adulthood, and we will explore this topic through a series of films that problematize what it means to find yourself, to decide what you want out of life, to take responsibility for your decisions, and to have meaningful relations with other people. The films will be "mature" on a number of levels -- artistically challenging, philosophically nuanced, and emotionally complex.
Exploring the Portrayal of Mental Illness and Intellectual Disabilities in the Media
FYS 038, CRN 1916
Stigmatization of mental illness and intellectual disabilities is readily apparent in the media today. This class will focus on dispelling the myths of these diagnoses and gain an understanding of the true nature of these conditions. Students will view select media and work in small groups to present information to the class regarding the diagnosis criteria and accurate presentation for the condition portrayed in the film. Student writing will focus on comparing and contrasting the differences between the media example and the factual information provided in class. The class will discuss the history of mental illness in our country, the definition of intellectual disability, and the effects of stigma. Students will also be introduced to supportive resources available both on campus and off campus. A service-learning project will be completed at Ruby Van Meter, a special education high school in Des Moines.
Babes, Blasters, and Bombs- Gender Issues in Science Fiction
FYS 040, CRN 6503
This course provides an overview of the history of Science Fiction in the United States. Although we will take a broad and essentially chronological approach, this is not simply the “same old story” with a different emphasis. We will reexamine some familiar historical events from a different perspective, but we will also focus on issues vital to the female experience (such as sexuality, reproduction, body image, gender construction, uncompensated labor, and domestic violence) that often get overlooked in literature, especially in Science Fiction genre.
We will discuss the literary movements and experiences that unite the genre as well as the factors that divide them (with particular attention to ethnicity, class, region, and sexual orientation). Our exploration of these multiple pasts provides rich context for examining the gender politics of the present, so we will conclude with a series of articles about women’s issues in the contemporary United States. We will attempt to place these works of literature in deep historical context.
The Fairy Tale in Contemporary Literature
FYS 041, CRN 6978
“You need not even have any conscious interest in fairy tales to appreciate their effect on you,” writes Kate Bernheimer. “Fairy tales work on all of us; they’re so ubiquitous.”
This course will explore classic fairy tales and fairy-tale form in contemporary literature. We will study the evolution of the fairy tale and its comeback in this cultural moment by examining a few stories in depth, reading original versions, their revisions, plus modern adaptations and interpretations. We will record responses to reading and discussion in journals, develop ideas in short analytical essays and write one longer research paper. Finally, we will write our own fairy tales and consider how fairy-tale elements make their way into our writing and take hold of our imagination.
Refugees: The Human Experience
FYS 042, CRN 6979
Currently, there are over 15 million internationally displaced refugees. Millions are in refugee camps, millions have been able to settle in other countries, others are still seeking asylum. People leave their home countries because of war, political or religious persecution, and for economic reasons. What is the refugee experience? How do refugees fit in with the locals?
In this course we will read and hear about refugee experiences. We will explore culture and identity, both from the local and the new comer point of view. Class discussion and writing (responsive writings and a research paper) will be important in this course.
#_________livesmatter : people's movements for freedom
FYS 043, CRN 7503
“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice” – MLK. America’s history has been filled with social movements struggling for the freedom and social justice of people groups. From the African American civil rights movements, women’s liberation movements, to LGBTQ struggles for freedom and justice, there is a rich tradition in America of public dissent, civil disobedience, and legislative efforts to address personal, institutional, and social injustice. This highly interactive course will examine both historical and contemporary justice movements for African Americans, Women, and LGBTQ communities via lenses of power, access, and social dynamics. This course will also include a service learning component.
Women in the Bible: Mates, Mothers, Murders, and More
FYS 044, CRN 7058
This class will examine feminist theories and explore the depiction of women in biblical literature and in social and cultural contexts of both ancient Israel and the Mediterranean world. We will consider the roles women play within biblical narratives, the presentations of femininity and feminine in biblical traditions, and the legal/ethical precepts related to the status of women. Students will read both biblical texts and secondary literature. In addition, we will reflect on the influence of these texts on the lives of women and men in the church and evaluate their significance for life in the twenty-first century. No prior knowledge of Jewish and Christian canonical texts is assumed.
FYS 045, CRN 6980
Lab 11:00 am-12:00pm (CRN 7905)
This course will explore the notion of genius. We’ll explore representations of genius throughout history, in popular culture, ideas of whether geniuses are born or made, and what genius means across a variety of disciplines, including the sciences, arts and humanities, and social sciences.
Immigrants and Refugees: Comparative Policies and Problems, and Local Practices
FYS 046, CRN 7041
This course will examine the political, economic, and social factors that affect immigration policy in the United States and abroad. This will include analysis and discussion of the implications of different types of immigration history and policies in countries sending and receiving immigrants. We will also examine different ways of resettling refugees and handling the problems of diversifying states and communities. The course will include a service component. Students will work with Iowa’s refugees through the Iowa International Center and their projects on immigration and refugees. Students are required to volunteer at least 4 hours per month.
Global Problems of Population Growth
FYS 047, CRN 6982
This course introduces students to the important and basic material on human fertility, population growth, the demographic transition and population policy. Topics include: the human and environmental dimensions of population pressure, demographic history, economic and cultural causes of demographic change, environmental carrying capacity and sustainability, the prevalence of infectious diseases, and social concerns such as child slavery, corruption, and increased violence. Political, religious and ethical issues surrounding fertility are also addressed. The lectures and readings attempt to balance theoretical and demographic scale analyses with studies of individual humans and communities. The perspective is global with both developed and developing countries included.
Daring to Dream: The Stories of Business
FYS 048, CRN 6983
Who were key players in business history: Passion, timing, connections -- what makes a business grow? Why do some businesses continue to thrive while others are long gone? We will investigate the ups and downs in the history of business, learn from the popular stories and discover the little-known facts. We will use readings, videos, research, and observation to take a critical look at how the business world reached where it is today and dream about what might be ahead.
Adaptation -- Reading Films Based On Other Sources
FYS 049, CRN 6984
Adaptation--Reading Films Based on Other Sources examines movies that have been adapted to the screen from other mediums and asks students to critically analyze the works as both movies and as adaptations. The movies will be adapted from media of all kinds from stage plays to operas to literary classics to popular fiction to visual art and the students will be asked to process their thoughts on what challenges lie in adapting certain media and whether or not the movie succeeded both on its own and in honoring its source material. The goal is to have students recognize what is uniquely cinematic and how those aspects can be used to translate and, in some cases, enhance material from other areas.
Lovecraft: Horror & Madness
FYS 050, CRN 7952
This course introduces students to the enigma that was H.P. Lovecraft. This class will explore Lovecraft's influences and, in particular, his work's connection with the psychic trauma of the First World War. Students produce their own horror writing and critical writing on topics such as cultural value of pulp fiction, literary depictions of madness, and/or literary theories in the wake of the WWI. Discussions center on expanding students¹ critical understanding of Lovecraft and the rich world he created