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2024 Fall FYS Courses

FYS 001 (CRN 2931) - Money or Mission?
Natalie Adkins
TR 12:30-1:45 PM 

We make a deep dive into the components of an ESG approach to business but, first we reflect on our own purpose, how it relates to making business make a difference, defining what constitutes doing good for society, and distinguishing between cause-related marketing, corporate social responsibility, and what has been referred to as “stakeholder capitalism”

FYS 002 (CRN 11157) - How we Show Up: A Critical Look at Community Service and Volunteering
Dwana Bradley
TR 12:30-1:45 PM

Students will address concepts, issues and practices related to charity, volunteering, social movements, and social justice. Utilizing classroom discussions, readings and service learning, students will articulate their individual contributions to the common good and question how to best show up to make a difference

FYS 003 (CRN 6453) - It's a Wonderful World? Utopia, Dystopia, and Western Political Dreams                                                                                                  Natalie Bayer
MW 12:30-1:45 PM

What would the perfect society look like? How can we imagine and explore alternative models of political communities? What kind of a political structure would ensure the existence of “the best of all possible worlds”? In this course we will critically examine responses to these questions provided by various political thinkers throughout the history of utopian political thought. Together, we will read selections from the utopian/dystopian genre that spans political discourse, satire, imagination, tradition, and science fiction. Our readings will predominantly focus on the Western tradition, including Plato, More, Bacon, Voltaire, Marx, Zamiatin, and Orwell.

FYS 004 (CRN 6788) - Ghost Stories
Megan Brown
MW 12:30-1:45 PM

This class will explore classic and contemporary tales of ghosts and hauntings. We will also discuss the ways in which these stories may express the values and anxieties of the times and places that produced them. Why do so many people from cultures around the world believe in ghosts? What would constitute credible evidence of the existence of ghosts? Why do ghost stories persist as a form of entertainment?

FYS 005 (CRN 6959) - Science Fiction, Science Fact
Dan Chibnall
MW 12:30-1:45 PM

Science fiction storytelling often predicts scientific achievements, warns of darker scientific efforts, illuminates facts in the face of pseudoscience, and helps us navigate social problems. We will use science fiction stories and films to understand scientific principles and achievements, separate facts and falsehoods, and explore our future for scientific discoveries.

FYS 006 (CRN 6456) - Meet the Leaders
Tom Buckmiller
MW 12:30-1:45 PM

Each week we'll meet a different campus leader and hear about the joys and challenges of their work.

FYS 007 (CRN 1129) - Exploring wealth, financial literacy, and how can I afford a supercar by age 40?
Kevin Croft
MW 12:30-1:45 PM

Have you ever wondered about who has significant wealth and how they attained it? Likewise, who doesn't have the advantages wealth provides? We will discuss wealth divides and learn about habits and approaches you can take to become financially literate and build a secure financial future.

FYS 009 (CRN 11859) - Myths on the Mind
Deborah Cronin
MW 12:30-1:45 PM

Are you a self-described ‘visual’ learner? Do you study by rereading your notes? Would an eyewitness’ testimony sway your verdict? What other beliefs do you hold about how minds work? Are those beliefs based on scientific evidence? Let's explore the vast world of popular psychology, separating fact from myth.

FYS 010 (CRN 6481) - Bad Religion: How Good Religions Go Bad
Brad Crowell
MW 12:30-1:45 PM

Most of the controversial religions of the modern era began as communities practicing a standard form of their faith. Over time these groups innovated and changed their religion into something radical, exploitative, and dangerous. Bad Religion will examine Jonestown, one of the most controversial religious movements of the twentieth century.

FYS 011 (CRN 11065) - Famous & Almost Famous Women                             Carrie Dunham-Lagree
TR 12:30-1:45 PM

This course is an exploration and evaluation of fictional depictions of real women in short stories, a novel, and films. We’ll read, watch, write, discuss, and research real women.

FYS 012 (CRN ) - Superhero Comics and Contemporary Culture
Jeff Karnicky
MW 12:30-1:45 PM

In this course, we will look at how comic books have portrayed social difference, and more recently, how diversity in comics’ creators and audiences has affected the production of contemporary comics.

FYS 013 (CRN 6484) - Animal Consciousness and Human Consciences
Chris Kliethermes
MW 12:30-1:45 PM

Does our understanding of the cognitive abilities of an animal species affect how we perceive, interact with, and use that species? This course explores our contemporary and historical relationships with non-human animal species, Including their use in agriculture, research, and as pets.

FYS 014 (CRN 11066) - Religions of Des Moines
Timothy Knepper
TR 12:30-1:45 PM

The Des Moines metro area is home to robust and vibrant religious (and cultural) diversity. In this course students will not only learn about but also visit and engage some of this diversity, especially communities representing the largest six religions of the world (Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Sikhism).

FYS 015 (CRN 6515) - Well-being in Career and Everyday Life
Malgorzata Kolotylo-Kulkarni
MW 12:30-1:45 PM

The course will discuss (1) the concepts of happiness and well-being; (2) their relationship with core human needs, with a particular focus on agency; and (3) their relationship with success, productivity, and goal-seeking. The course will also examine practical techniques and tools that can be used to support one’s well-being.

FYS 018 (CRN 11067) - Aesthetics of Computing
Andrei Migunov
MW 12:30-1:45 PM

Inquiry into the aesthetic qualities of computing. What makes information and computation - even computers themselves - so attractive in fiction and in real life? How do humans relate to machines in terms of beauty?

FYS 019 (CRN 6964) - Election 2024: What to Expect When You're Electing
Rachel Paine Caufield
TR 12:30-1:45 PM

Using the 2024 election cycle as a case study, the course examines current topics and trends in American national elections (presidential and legislative) including voter engagement, partisan polarization, campaign finance, media, misinformation and “deep fakes,” the Electoral College, and gerrymandering.

FYS 020 (CRN 6507) - Conspiracy Theories, Misinformation & Other Bullshit
Bart Schmidt
TR 12:30-1:45 PM

From the Salem witch trials to present-day headlines about the Deep State, Americans have embraced conspiracy theories to explain the sometimes un-explainable. This course will explore a sample of conspiracy theories in United States history, focusing primarily on the past century. Students will be exposed to the language, rhetoric, and logic of conspiracy theories. They will be asked to reflect on what these conspiracy theories say about the people who believe them, the people who don’t, and society in general. Students will emerge from the course with a better understanding of the differences between conspiracies and conspiracy theories.

FYS 021 (CRN 11137) - Nature, People and Plants
Nanci Ross
MW 12:30-1:45 PM

Science is simply the practice of observing something, asking a question, and designing a method to answer our question. However, the way we interpret our result is often inherited from our culture. In this class we explore the connection between science and culture though exploration of nature around us.

FYS 023 (CRN 4098) - Science Fiction and Philosophy
Martin Roth
MW 12:30-1:45 PM

Science fiction and philosophy each has a venerable history of using the strange and fantastic to examine and challenge the familiar, and in this course, we will use works of philosophy and science fiction to explore philosophical issues such as knowledge and reality, identity, artificial intelligence, and free will.

FYS 024 (CRN 6962) - So You Want to Save the World - Working in Global Health & Development
John Rovers
MW 12:30-1:45 PM

Certainly, a desire to “give back” and help make the world a better place is a noble ambition. Unfortunately, the road to perdition is paved with such good intentions. The data is clear that health and development aid can do harm as well as good. In this seminar, we will explore why countries are poor, what can be done to alleviate their poverty, and some of the results of health and development aid schemes.

FYS 026 (CRN 6593) - 1930s Hollywood
Dina Smith
TR 12:30-1:45 PM

Students in this seminar will engage critically with 1930s Hollywood history and culture. Focusing on a variety of thirties’ films, we will critically engage with black-and-white movies and explore how they reveal a changing Hollywood and America against the backdrop of the Depression. We will do so through discussion, analytic writing, intensive revision, and ongoing peer-to-peer workshops.

FYS 027 (CRN 3437) - Shakespearean Adaptations and Appropriations
Jeanette Tran
TR 12:30-1:45 PM

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.

FYS 028 (CRN 3006) - Chocolate is Life: The Economics, Sustainability, and History of Chocolate
Carl Vieregger
MW 12:30-1:45 PM

This course will explore the business and economics of chocolate; the ethics and sustainability of chocolate; and the culture and history of chocolate—while also exploring the business, ethics, and culture of living a good life. And we’ll be tasting chocolate! To paraphrase a modern philosopher: “Chocolate is life.”

FYS 029 (CRN 7907) - The History of Hip Hop
Janalyn Phillips
TR 12:30-1:45 PM

Ready or Not, Walk this Way! This class will discuss everything 'Hip Hop' from A to Jay-Z. the influences, the legends, the culture, the celebrations, the rivalries, and the art (in so many forms) will be explored through presentations, readings, writings, and the media. Oh yes, and there will be plenty of music!

FYS 030 (CRN 6963) - Adolescence in Film & Fiction
Beth Younger
TR 12:30-1:45 PM

This FYS examines the many ways that adolescence is depicted and constructed in fiction and American film.

FYS 031 (CRN 7002) - Artistic Inquiry: Building Foundations in Research and Writing
Maureen Yuen
MW 12:30-1:45 PM

This student-centered course will equip first-year students with essential research skills in the arts. Students will learn to discern reliable sources, how to correctly cite them, conduct effective research, and articulate compelling arguments. They will gain invaluable skills for academic success and future scholarly pursuits.

FYS 032 (CRN 6973) - What's in Your Water?
Claire Hruby
TR 12:30-1:45 PM

In this course, students will learn about local and international water quality issues. Students will visit local water bodies, take samples, learn about the effects of contaminants on human health and ecosystems, and report on their investigations in writing and via various media. 

FYS 037 (CRN 6490) - South Africa
Melisa Klimeszewski
TR 12:30-1:45 PM

This seminar studies the literature and culture of South Africa through novels, films, biography, shot stories, and poetry. Students will understand figures like Nelson Mandela and Steve Biko in depth as they learn about the history of apartheid, Black consciousness, and coalitions against racism through detailed analysis of literary text. Students with interest in African Studies, Social Justice, English, Politics, International Relations, and History may find this course particularly rewarding. 

FYS 039 (CRN 6977) - A Small Dose of Toxicology
James Sacco
MW 12:30-1:45 PM

Rapid advances in science and technology have produced enormous benefits but have also created undesirable dangers that impact human health and the environment. How do we deal with products that make our lives better but that also harbor a potential for harm? Why are we still confronted, on a daily basis, by toxins in our food, air and water? Through selected readings and movies, class discussions, and presentations, students will study and research the controversial impact of poisons on our society.

FYS 044 (CRN 7058) - This Ain't no Disco: the Alternative and Electronic Music of the 1980s
Geoff Wall
TR 12:30-1:45 PM

This course examines the rise of alternative and electronic music in the 1980s and its influence on pop culture then and today. We use album reviews and reflection papers to analyze the music of this period and contextualize the genres of alternative music in the 1980s.






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