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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?


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.


This course applies sociological principles to health, illness, and health care. In order for students to fully develop an understanding in this context, a variety of perspectives will be explored and critiqued including that of patients, providers and society. This draws on foundational disciplines at the broader level and frames them into the biomedical experience. For example, sociological constructs of age, gender, ethnicity, and social class; psychosocial aspects of personal illness experience, historical and political perspectives of dominance, regulation and governance of providers and health care organizations will be the multidisciplinary topics covered. Other topics may include but are not limited to: history of 'western' medicine, models of illness, stress and well-being, social stratification of illness, health demography, medicalization and de-medicalization of illness, disability, and patient-provider relationships. A combination of reading, discussion, reflective activities, and paper/project composition will be used to facilitate comprehension of the course material. 

Section information text:
Counts for Global Public Health concentration as well as an HSCI elective.



This course explores literature from the perspective of the cultural work it performs with regard to constructing or challenging gender identities. The course varies but may examine particular literary traditions (e.g., literature by women of color) or particular critical issues (e.g., (de)constructing masculinity in the writings of women).



In this course, students will learn how narratives of grief are constructed, experienced, debated, politicized, and pathologized. We will examine various aspects of grief including cultural difference, social policing, media portrayals, and theoretical debates. Students will learn how tragedy and grief are used to sell politics and products and what implications this has on individual and cultural understandings of loss.



This course will examine current ethical discussions that arise in the field of Artificial Intelligence.

This course gives upper-level Honors students the opportunity to craft effective leadership skills to mentor small groups of 12-15 first year students enrolled Honors 001 FOUNDATIONS class. Leaders collaborate as small group discussion leaders on the development and implementation of curriculum, the project presentation work, and social activities. The Goals of the HONORS FOUNDATIONS (subject to mild modification): communicate information about making the most of the Honors Program; foster community within the group; foster connections of the group with the larger Honors community; enhance students understanding of their own learning processes; develop skills necessary for success in Honors courses; nurture intellectual curiosity. Leaders must be independent thinkers, thoughtful leaders and effective communicators who are committed to growing in all of these areas. 


This class explores China's major philosophical and religious traditions, or the "Three Teachings" of Daoism, Confucianism, and Buddhism. We look at doctrinal debates that unite and divide these three traditions, as well as at their rituals and practices. We pay special attention to how early texts discuss the effectiveness of various ritual actions. That is, how does Confucian ritual aid in moral cultivation? How does Buddhists meditation lead to enlightenment? And, what practices produce the astonishing skills of Daoist sages? Along the way, we will learn about Chinese culture and society, in both historical and contemporary contexts. Students will gain a solid foundation for continued study of China in various disciplines.

This course will consider the extent to which the mind sciences (including neuroscience, cognitive science, computer science, and artificial intelligence) can inform classic topics and issues in the philosophy of religion, especially as globalized beyond the Anglo-American tradition of philosophy of religion. These topics and issues include, though are not limited to, the cause and veridicality of religious/mystical experience, the evolutionary-psychological origins and functions of religious ideas, personal identity and the survival of death, the future of humanity, and the creation of the universe.



The goal of Community Writing is to provide students with an engaged learning experience that utilizes their interest in writing as a form of social action. This fall (2024) in partnership with the Drake Legal Clinic we will explore the subject of wrongful conviction in the state of Iowa. Students will learn directly from legal justice professionals and their clients as they design written outputs that raise awareness on behalf of affected individuals and their families.


What would cause someone to physically attack an artwork? What does science tell us about the unanticipated changes in artworks over time? How difficult is it to move an artwork from one location to another? In our digital age we have become distanced from the material dimensions of making, transporting, encountering, and conserving artworks. This interdisciplinary course re-grounds visual art in the physical world, taking seriously the properties and interactions of art materials and the impacts of first-hand encounters with it. It also reveals specific aspects of art’s social significance that are not captured effectively in photography, such as the ways in which art’s materiality connects to spiritual, political, or technological practices. Looking at these issues in earlier periods of time sheds light on our own ideas about material, labor, time, and space.



This class serves both as an introduction to the academic field of comparative religion and as an actual comparison of several of the world's religions with respect to some question or theme (which will vary from year to year).


What is it to "have" a mind? Are minds, "things"? If so, are they physical things? What is the relationship between your
mind and your brain/body? Can computers think, feel, and be conscious? Might you be a computer? In this class we will
critically evaluate a variety of answers to these questions and the arguments given for those questions. We will start
by examining some traditional approaches to the relationship between mental and physical phenomena, including dualism,
logical behaviorism, mind/brain identity theory, and functionalism. Next, we will consider the nature and locus of intentionality and consciousness and how the phenomena of intentionality and consciousness may bear on theories about the mind/body relationship.

We will also examine the "common-sense" appeal to beliefs, desires, and intentions in explaining human behavior and explore whether and/or to what extent those explanations can be illuminated, supplemented, revised, or undermined by empirical science.
Finally, we will look at some recent work on mind, embodiment and action, and consider the extent to which this work provides an alternative to the traditional accounts of the mind/body relationship. Our discussion of these issues will be informed by the arguments of prominent philosophers, as well as theoretical and empirical developments in psychology, computer science and

This course will be an interdisciplinary investigation of anthropogenic global change, using global warming as a semester-long case study. In this course students will learn to investigate a major environmental issue by first obtaining a strong scientific background in the issue, then applying methods of policy analysis, and finally advocating for effective governmental decision making. Students will also gain a strong appreciation for the complexity and gravity of climate change issues. 



What caused the infamous witch trials? Religious attitudes? A social crisis? Introduction of new ideas from the West Indies? Trauma from recent Indian attacks? Changes in the status of women? This course will read a variety of explanations of the Salem witch trials. However, rather than decide what ""really"" caused them or argue about what ""really"" happened, this course will focus more on the nature of evidence. When we read a description of ""what happened"" what constitutes the evidence? Who gets to decide what is valid and what is not? How do these ideas of evidence come into play with various strategies of writing from personal narrative to sermon to other forms? How does this increased awareness of the way evidence is ""embedded"" in social reality affect your views about your own reading, writing, and judging? In addition to thinking and writing about these questions, we will assess similarities and differences between the witch trials and the trail of Anne Hutchinson. We will do this through a ""Reacting to the Past"" curriculum which provides selected readings and role playing. This unit will be about a month of the semester and will give us another ""body of evidence,"" so to speak. Readings will include historical and sociological explanations of the witch trials, 17 century readings (diaries, accounts of trials, etc.), and 19th - 21st century imaginative writings about the Salem event, such as ""The Crucible."" There will be several short papers rather than a single large project.


Restorative justice is a perspective that views crime as a harm against people and the community, which needs to be addressed through the involvement of offenders, victims, and the community. This course provides an introduction to the principles and practices behind restorative justice. A restorative justice movement has been growing dramatically globally in the past couple of decades. Along with this growth come many challenges, pitfalls, and critics. The course is designed to allow students to struggle along with the experts in trying to navigate the opportunities and challenges, the success stories and the pitfalls that accompany restorative justice programs. In the process, students will explore questions about justice, crime, imprisonment, punishment, rehabilitation, forgiveness, and the purpose of a legal system. The course relies heavily on international perspectives to learn about these issues. 


This course examines how anthropologists contribute to our understanding of power and politics through their immersive fieldwork research and comparative analysis. This course examines three primary contributions in this regard. Firstly, it delves into the classical and contemporary works of anthropologists who have focused on political structures and cultures that existed outside, preceded, or challenged the paradigm of the "modern" state. Secondly, the course explores how anthropologists investigate state power and politics, with a particular emphasis on understanding how the state is perceived, experienced, and manifested in the daily lives of individuals and communities both within the United States and globally. Lastly, we look at the concept of “power”, critically examining select ethnographic examples that have either applied or challenged classical theories. Through this analysis, we will appreciate how anthropology helps unveil the intricate ways in which power operates, both in invisible and visible ways.


The immense growth of slavery and slave trade research in the last quarter century has made examinations of unfree labor a major issue for world research. Studies of Atlantic slavery have generated the bulk of that research, and as a result have challenged many traditional perceptions of that trade and its associated system of slavery. However, despite the unquestioned value of these recent analyses, most of these studies have looked at Atlantic slavery from the American side of the ocean. Consequently, the African nature of Atlantic slavery has often lacked close scrutiny. This course has two goals: 1) to root Atlantic slavery and its trade in its African context, and 2) to help incorporate recent research findings into popular understandings of the Atlantic trade. The major argument of this course is that one cannot know why the Atlantic trade happened as it did nor how Atlantic slavery developed as it did without understanding the context which produced the people who were sold into slavery. Therefore, the course looks at the influence political, social, economic, and cultural factors in Africa had on the making of slavery and the slave trade both in Africa and the Americas. In doing so, the course will challenge students to rethink their own notions of Atlantic slavery as they analyze and critique the ideas encountered in this course.

This course investigates assumptions about choice, responsibility, and punishment reflected in our legal system and considers the extent to which our growing knowledge of the brain may support or challenge those assumptions. The course also considers what kinds of changes to existing legal and public policy may be reasonably supported by this investigation.





This seminar reviews how sex role understandings have affected various aspects of the law including criminal law; employment credit and insurance discrimination; abortion and fetal protection; family law; and lesbian and gay rights. Standards of review for laws that discriminate on the basis of sex as opposed to other kinds of discrimination also are discussed, as is the issue of how women are treated in courts today.


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