All first-year students take an Ithaca Seminar (ICSM) in their first semester, a course specifically designed to welcome you to the world of ideas and opportunities that is life at Ithaca College. Each seminar is taught by a dedicated IC faculty member and focuses on a unique, interdisciplinary topic. Please check out our wide range of offerings below.

ICSM 10500 - Ithaca Seminar

Building Nature
David Salomon

This course studies the architectures – both physical and mental – where humans and non-humans intimately, co-exist with one another. These include spatial structures such as greenhouses, orchards, laboratories, parks, markets, and mines, with an emphasis on (and visits to) local Ithaca examples. It also includes conceptual structures such as ecology, the Anthropocene, and post humanism. These literal and discursive frameworks will be assessed for the level of regeneration, inclusion and exclusion - of species and social groups – present in each. This will be done by drawing local examples using analog and digital drawing techniques. It will also be addressed via the design of small scale architectural elements (e.g. fences, gates) made of found, recycled, and repurposed natural and industrial materials, to be placed in IC’s Natural Lands as part of the program’s caretaker initiative.

Climates Changing: Confronting the Challenges of the 21st Century
Michael Smith

Climates are changing. We all know that the earth's climate is changing faster than the science can keep track of. The political, social, and economic upheavals in both the United States and elsewhere have produced other kinds of change that are defining what it means to come of age at this moment in history. Through a mix of disciplinary perspectives (science, social science, literature) using a variety of sources (film, articles, a graphic novel, a book, a memoir), this seminar will explore the changing social and geophysical climates. We will also examine the ways an individual's standing in society has shaped and will continue to shape the possibilities for adapting to these changes.

Crime and Punishment in Europe, 1300–Present
Karin Breuer

This is a class about criminal justice, trials, and punishment in Europe from the late Middle Ages to the twentieth century. Topics covered include trial by combat, the use of torture in witch hunts and inquisition trials, capital punishment of humans and animals, the growth of prisons, racialized depictions of criminals, and the rise of “true crime” in the media.

The Cruelty and Salvation of School: The Campus Novel
Chris Holmes

Why do we make children go to school? And after all those years of regimented, rule-obsessed classrooms, why are you so excited to come to college? This seminar explores the genre of the campus novel, a popular form of fiction that dramatizes the glory and the horror of school. In particular, we will look at how race, class, and gender affect the ways in which an individual experiences their education. We will also do some imaginative work planning our own ideal form of college education.

Democracy and Fairness in US Government: A Mathematical Perspective
Emilie Wiesner

What makes a democracy fair? Our first thoughts might be about how people--both regular citizens as well as our representatives--participate in the democratic system. But the structure of the system also plays an important, but more hidden role. In this class, we will use mathematics to study some of that structure, including election procedures, apportionment of seats, and districting. Along the way, we will have a chance to explore a variety of current events, ranging from NYC’s switch to a ranked choice voting system, to the US Census and the recent reapportionment of US congressional seats, to ongoing court cases on gerrymandering.

Dilemmas of the Future
Craig Duncan

Technology advances at a dizzying pace. In doing so, it creates new opportunities and benefits, but it also creates new dilemmas. Possible advances on the horizon include super intelligent machines, conscious robots, designer babies, nanoweapons, new surveillance techniques, and “deepfake” technology. This course will examine some of the ethical challenges that these forms of technology will likely create for us (both in the near and distant future) in terms of safety, social trust, privacy, fairness and equality, and human relationships. Our goals will be to envision a future in which technology enhances the quality of our lives rather than threatens it, and also to explore what steps we can prudently take here and now in an effort to bring about this future.

Disability Awareness and Inclusion
Jessie Kanowitz-Tonjes

What does it mean to understand disability? How can we be a community of inclusivity and belonging and to advocate for people with disabilities? This course will investigate a wide spectrum of impairments including cognitive disability, mental illness, physical disability and sensory impairments. We will focus on abilities, characteristics and needs of people with diverse abilities. We will discuss the history and treatment of individuals with disabilities and barriers faced in school, community and home settings. Students will learn perspective taking skills, cultural knowledge and self-awareness in connection with disability and inclusion.

Drawing, Collage, and Digital: Hybrid Art Practices
Patricia Hunsinger

How does art transform the maker and inspire emotional responses in the viewer? We will investigate how works of art can elicit varied responses through making art, analyzing and discussing contemporary art practices and written reflection. Students will explore analog and digital ways of making including drawing, collage and digital montage. Students will research contemporary artists who work with a combination of media or across disciplines and present their research to our group. Get ready to experience the power of creative making!

Exploring the Internet of Things
Ari Kissiloff

In the past few years, automation systems have revolutionized the way devices can interact with the world around them. Everything is “smart” now: phones, homes, thermostats, cars, bikes, watches. While initially being targeted to personal use, much of this technology is now being leveraged by organizations to manage internal and external communications processes through infrastructure, repurposed smart home devices, and business specific IoT devices. This course will examine and reflect on the past, present, and future of the Internet of Things using a variety of scientific, social, cultural, and other perspectives as we locate these technological shifts in the wider world.

Feasts, Famines, and Food Taboos: Cultural and Environmental Perspectives on Foodways
Paula Turkon

Though food is a biological necessity for human survival, what, how, where, when, and who consumes it is inextricably linked to cultural traditions and environmental factors. This seminar explores the variability of food consumption behavior using both anthropological and environmental lenses in order to understand how foodways can be both reflections of social and environmental contexts, as well as tools used to manipulate them. Students will examine foodways from a variety of past and present cultures, and consider the meaning of their own consumption habits.

Food, Identity, Culture
Cory Young

What does it mean to be a “foodie”? Where does your food come from? What is the connection between food, identity and culture and how do we communicate this? These and other questions about the role of food in our lives will be explored in this course, including: How do communities and individuals form identities around food? How are these  identities expressed through food? How are people and groups with particular food related viewed and treated by others? What does it mean to live, eat, and produce food sustainably? How have different systems of philosophical, literary, religious, and historical thought shaped the values concerning food we live by? We will seek answers to these questions of food, culture and identity, and more, as we engage intellectually through foundational readings from food studies, participate in individual, team and group exercises, and reflect on our food choices and behaviors.

From Woodstock to Coachella: Festival Management in Cultural Context
Angela Branneman

This course explores the evolution of arts, music, and culture festivals from Woodstock to Coachella. It will examine the history of modern festivals rooted in traditions from the World’s Fair and make connections to Greek and Roman festival rituals that endure. Course materials focus on Western festival traditions, and students are encouraged to contribute resources about festivals worldwide as a component of their reflective analysis. Attention will be given to introductory skills development to plan a festival through topics that include choosing a location, hiring artists and vendors, conducting a safe event, managing crowd dynamics, and marketing and ticketing through social media. Students will analyze film footage and reflect on full-length documentaries, in addition to completing course readings and festival case studies, to identify how the industry has or has not created a culture of inclusivity and belonging and how we can improve it for the future.  This course explores the evolution of arts, music, and culture festivals from Woodstock to Coachella. It will examine the history of modern festivals from the World’s Fair to Disneyland and make connections to Greek and Roman festival traditions that endure. Course materials focus on Western festival traditions, and students are encouraged to contribute resources about festivals worldwide as a component of their reflective analysis. Attention will be given to introductory skills development to plan a festival through topics that include choosing a location, hiring artists and vendors, conducting a safe event, managing crowd dynamics, and marketing through social media. Students will analyze film footage and reflect on full-length documentaries, in addition to completing course readings and festival case studies, to identify how the industry has or has not created a culture of inclusivity and belonging and how we can improve it for the future.

Future is Today: Embracing Sustainability
Alka Bramhandkar

This course examines what individuals, government agencies, and businesses can change to accelerate current progress towards a sustainable society. Issues such as the history of the movement towards recognizing climate change and how sustainability can be incorporated in development and growth, considering multiple stakeholder lenses will be discussed.

Katharine Kittredge

This class looks at the way that young women’s identities emerge in response to varying social, economic, racial or cultural pressures. We will be analyzing works of fiction, autobiography, drama, and poetry, and we will also analyze visual images presented in film, television, and advertising. As students consider these stories of self-creation, they will also reflect on the ways in which they are growing and changing as a result of the opportunities and challenges of their first semester. The need to balance one's mental, physical, and spiritual needs will be an on-going theme of the course.

Got Leisure? Leisure for Health and Wellness
Catherine Gooch

This course will examine the importance of leisure for health and wellness for life. It will assist students in achieving a personal, practical appreciation of the value of leisure from multiple perspectives. These perspectives will include but not be limited to sociocultural and socioeconomic status factors affecting leisure, leisure motivation, leisure as a context for preventative health and wellness, and leisure for physical, social, emotional, and community health.

Gothic: The Hidden and the Grotesque in Music, Writing, and Media
Alex Reed

This interdisciplinary course concerns the aesthetic of the gothic across media and throughout history, blending elements of media studies, philosophy, creative artistry, and sociology. From the Romantic symphony to Lana Del Rey, from Oscar Wilde to horror film, why do visual, literary, and musical media so return to the ideas of the hidden and the grotesque with such fascination and consistency? Students in this class will create works and engage with a wide range of both famous and lesser-known texts in pursuit of a variety of questions: How do music, art, and words create mood? Why do we like to be scared? Why do we sometimes conflate “dark” with “deep”? What do vampires have to do with our modern day-to-day lives, values, and politics? And what is behind that door?

Handbells: Performing in Community
Crystal Peebles

What does it mean to be a musician? Is “professional” music-making somehow more valuable than “amateur” music-making? In this course we will explore what it means to create music in community by playing together in a handbell choir—an ensemble tradition that has traveled from the United Kingdom to Barnum and vaudeville to Christian religious services. We will explore Ithaca’s unique music festival Porchfest, interview musicians, and attend a performance by IC’s own percussion ensemble. No prior music experience required!

Hello China: Preparing for the Future
Hongwei Guan

The primary goal of this seminar will be to develop student awareness and knowledge of the Chinese culture and people. This course will examine and discuss a variety of Chinese topics, such as China history, culture, health and medicine, sports, industrialization, US business relations, language, food, education and the literature and arts. Some guest speakers, group and individual student presenters and group discussions will present these topics as well as group excursions to various Chinese venues in the City of Ithaca. The goal of the seminar is also to help the student adjust to college life by developing interpersonal communication and writing skills, and gaining an understanding of various aspects of and interests in the campus community and surrounding community of Ithaca.

In The Heights
Radio Cremata

The course seeks to explore the musical In The Heights and its connections to cultural diversity in a pluralistic American contemporary society. The course will balance listening, analyzing, discussing and music making: both creation and recreation of samples within the musical. In the course, students will: (1) explore, listen, and analyze the lyrics, melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic structures of all of the songs within In The Heights, (2) explore, discuss, and reflect upon the similarities and differences across a diversity of musical genres, (3) create, collaborate, and share recreations and original works of music related to the musical. With a focus on listening, analyzing and making music, this course is designed to help students better understand cultural diversity and further develop students’ musicianships, creativities, and identities.

In the Realm of Paradox: Ancient Theatre/Modern Problems
Robert Sullivan

At the height of the cultural moment we think of as Classical Greece, roughly the 5th and 4th centuries BCE, Athenian authors rigorously interrogated the most thorny questions of their times in public theatrical performances. Their plays engaged issues that were both of immediate interest to the citizens of Athens and pointed towards matters of universal importance. What is the proper relationship of humankind to the divine? Do people control their own destinies? What do we owe each other as citizens? Are men and women of the same state or status? How does social class determine one's place in the realm of the ethical? What does war do to us as people? Who should exercise power in a polity? What is literature for? Why must we suffer? These questions were never resolved in the time of their first performances and remain stubbornly before us today.

Inquiring Minds Want to Know
Nandadevi Cortes Rodriguez

They started as questions, formed into hypotheses, molded into theories, and established as dogma. This course will examine how we know what we know. Scientific knowledge and discovery has transformed today’s society, changing how humans interact with their natural world and the people around them. Selected current topics in the natural sciences will be explored through the process of scientific discovery. We will also focus on certain events in scientific discoveries that deal with ethics and human rights. We will read cases about Nazi experiments, Tuskegee syphilis studies, AIDS trials outside the USA and more recently, designer babies. Students will develop their ability to think critically about the world around them by learning how to design, execute, and analyze scientific experiments. This course will help students make the transition to college-level science thinking and learning through “hands-on” activities, readings, class discussion and writing.

Jerusalem: City of Faith, City of Struggle
Rebecca Lesses

What does it mean to live in a divided city? This course focuses on contemporary Jerusalem, using films, short stories, memoirs, poetry, and analytical articles to explore the experiences of the city’s people today. The course will investigate what it means to live in a city divided along religious, ethnic, and national lines: between Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs, and between and among the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim religious communities. The course will address how the wars of the twentieth century have affected the lives of all who live in the city, especially the 1948 war, which divided the city between Israeli and Jordanian control, and the 1967 war, which united the city under Israeli rule. The course will also address the political issues of occupation, annexation, and settlement from both the Palestinian and Israeli perspectives.

Learning to Take a Long View of Life
Elizabeth Bergman

The typical American can expect to live for eighty or more years. During this long life, we will experience many transitions, each of which will shape us in enduring ways. In this first-year seminar, we will learn to employ the life course perspective in understanding the trajectories of our individual lives within structural, social, and cultural contexts. We will also explore the process of making meaning of the events that occur along the way. In the process, we will engage deeply through the Ithaca College/Longview Partnership with elder residents of Longview, a retirement community located across the street from campus.

Media and Meaning
Rachel Wagner

This course will invite students to think deliberately about the media we consume, create, and encounter. With experiential and project-based components, students will not only analyze existing media, but also produce their own projects that critique, develop, interpret, or inform others about media and meaning.

Mindfulness Across the Lifespan
Mary Ann Erickson

Mindfulness practices seem to be offered everywhere – in schools, at major corporations, in all kinds of religious communities. But what do we mean by “mindfulness”? Where do these techniques come from, and how do they impact people of different ages? Through readings, discussion, and practice, we will take a close look at contemporary mindfulness to understand its origins and its impact. We will also inquire about our understanding of “aging” and how mindfulness and psychological development are related.

New Worlds and Explorations
Maria DiFrancesco

Through the prism of literature, students will closely examine how we understand and define the concept of “new worlds,” and what it means to “explore” or to be the “first” to do something. Though not exclusively, we will center most discussions on how exile and immigration have been portrayed by various writers. Some of the authors whose texts we will read include: Gloria Anzaldúa, Sandra Cisneros, Julia Álvarez, Junot Díaz, Laila Lalami, Edward Said, and Zadie Smith. Through class discussions, writing assignments, oral presentations, and projects that are consistent with a liberal arts seminar style, we will: broadly define the notions at play in the course; and we will analyze and critically evaluate how these terms intersect and dialogue with each other, paying close attention to the roles of social/political/cultural context in identity formation.

Phenomenology of Art
Tatiana Patrone

In what way do we experience works of art? What does it mean to perceive something as beautiful? Are our judgments of art-works based on taste alone, or do they have cognitive content? This course will acquaint you with some of the central concepts and issues in aesthetics – the branch of philosophy dedicated to the notion of the ‘beautiful.’ We will put special emphasis on aesthetic experience from our first-person point of view: our aim will be to describe and analyze our experiences and use what we learn from this in our arguments concerning the nature, the features, and the value of various works of art.

Politics and Comedy: United and Divided in Laughter
Carlos Figueroa

What is the relationship between politics and comedy? Does politics shape comedy, or does comedy inform politics? Can these two “ways of knowing,” living and sharing, help or hinder democratic life? In what ways are these two genres, concepts, and practices uniting and dividing people simultaneously? This course will explore these questions, among others, as we examine the following themes: Politics and Comedy: a Historical Perspective; the Political Economy of Comedy; the Comedy of Politics; the Social-Cultural of Political Comedy; and Artificial Intelligence, Politics, and Comedy: The Future?

Queering Sex, Data, and Gender
R. Plante

What does it mean to 'queer' sexualities, sex and relationships? How might we study things that seem personal, individual, or private? In this class, we will use intimacy, gender, relationships and sex to help us understand data, statistics, and research. If you are nervous about 'doing statistics' but are interested in learning about sexualities, gender, etc, this is the class for you! We will study and discuss things like attitudes about sexualities, changes in related behaviors (over time), and how to use data to help us understand ourselves. Social class, trans/gender, identities (including asexualities), nation, and race are foundational to our work but note that we will have a U.S. focus.

Race, Gender, and Economic Power
Shaianne Osterreich

Stereotypes about communities of color, white women, LGBTQIA+, or the ‘99%' often mischaracterize the economic opportunities people really have. This course takes an intersectional approach to investigating what it means to have (or not have) economic power in the U.S.  We will explore how the distribution of income and wealth within our families and in our communities reflects and affects racial, ethnic and gender identities and hierarchies. We will engage with historical case studies, and their ongoing impacts, as well as current struggles in the world around us. In the end we will consider and develop new ideas for government and community organizers that could advance equity and reduce power gaps across our communities.

Science in the Media
Colleen Countryman

This course investigates the way that society perceives science in the media. We will explore the ethical and cultural implications of scientific communication in the news, on social media, in the movies and more. We will use critical thinking techniques to analyze the portrayal of complex issues of science from a variety of perspectives, and we will aim to gain a deeper understanding of scientific literacy in the media and the perils of misinformation.

The Sixth Mass Extinction: Human Impacts on the Earth
Lisa Corewyn

Scientists predict that we are currently facing a sixth mass extinction, the first to be a direct result from human activity. Humans now dominate the planet, and are impacting the planet in unprecedented ways, and at unprecedented rates. This course will review historic models of mass extinctions, and examine both the causes and consequences of human impacts that drive current predictions, including human population growth, global climate change, habitat loss, overexploitation, pollution, and invasive species. We will also explore how current principles of conservation science can be employed to address the challenges of balancing the needs of humans and other biodiversity.

Social Responsibility in Entertainment Media and the Legacy of Rod Serling
William Ressler

Rod Serling, award-winning television writer and creator of The Twilight Zone, taught at Ithaca College from 1967 to 1975, a period that included the establishment of Roy H. Park School of Communications, currently celebrating its semicentennial. This seminar will draw from theories and research in social psychology, marketing, and the study of media industries while examining Rod Serling’s television productions, their approaches to issues of social responsibility and social justice, and their immediate and lasting influence on entertainment media and on the way we teach and learn about media content and creation.

Stories for a Change: How Your Stories Can Change the World
Alicia Swords

Stories make us who we are. Some stories are so powerful that telling them (or not telling them) can change how people treat each other. This course asks how people use stories to change the world. To answer this question, you will analyze mainstream and alternative narratives that shape our society and learn techniques for telling your own stories in written and oral form. You will practice gathering stories through interview techniques and media analysis. You will examine and reflect on how stories shape public opinion and government policies, from the marketing of cars and toothpaste to testimonies of human rights violations.

Superfoods for People and Planet
Julia Lapp

In this class, students will explore the latest dietary guidelines and principles for diets that promote human health and longevity as well as promote lower greenhouse gas production, reduced soil erosion, reduced reliance on single use plastics and enhanced welfare for farm animals. We will also examine issues of justice, animal welfare and security related to food.

Thinking About Queer Wellness: What Is It and How Do We Get There?
Mary Bentley

This course explores sexual orientation/identity, as both declarative and formative as it intersects with the concept(s) of wellness/happiness. The unique challenges of being LGBTQAI in a predominantly heteronormative culture will be analyzed through, political and personal experiences. Historical and contemporary literature, film, social media, demographic data, and research will be balanced with critique, personal practice, and reflection. Multiple models/theories of wellness/behavior change, and new empirical studies will provide a more inclusive discussion of health, wellness, and happiness as they intersect with experiences of family, race, abilities, wealth, neighborhood, and gender. This is a deep dive into self, how to stay intact, safe and learn to be well and as your fabulous self.

[THIS TITLE HAS BEEN CENSORED]: Language and Hatred in a Postracial World
Derek Adams

This course offers a direct challenge to the popular public sentiment that we live in a post-racial society and that systematic structures of power and privilege have ceased to exist in our world. In this class, we will explore the persistent operation of systematic discrimination in the 21st century through a collection of materials – i.e. short stories, magazine covers, film, advertisements, critical essays, and websites. Our study begins from the position that certain code words and social practices have transformed overt types of discrimination into more subtle and deceiving forms of bigotry. Words like “nigger,” “bitch,” and “fag” may have fallen out of fashion, but their essence lives on in our daily interactions. We will devote a significant amount of time to assessing how our social interactions are influenced by the legacy. The nature of the material we will cover in this course is likely to cause you cognitive dissonance. This is intentional. Talking about issues of race, gender, and sexuality is rarely conducive to positive feelings. Too, the course requires your personal investment in its development, including sharing and discussing your own race, gender, and sexual orientation with your classmates. I will establish our classroom as a safe space for the respectful reception of your individual life experiences, but there will inevitably be moments when the ideas you express will challenge belief structures that your classmates invest in, and vice versa.

We'll Never Be Silent Again: Health Activism from the 1980s to Today
Jessye Cohen-Filipic

The radical AIDS activists of the 1980s can teach us much about current and future social movements. In this course we will explore the social, medical, political, and creative responses to the HIV/AIDS crisis, COVID-19, and other contemporary health topics. We will delve into news articles, personal accounts, documentaries, and fictional films and television depictions of the two pandemics. Students will analyze how race, class, gender, sexuality, and other factors affect health and health care. We will also discuss how health activism has played out in the context of other illnesses and health issues.

Why We Travel: Identity and Cultural Encounter
Jason Freitag

Some people travel to seek the exotic. Some travel for a temporary immersion into luxuries not available in everyday life. Some travel to conquer. Some travel to be alone. No matter the reason, travel and the literature of travel, navigate complex issues of identity. Travel literature is an important method for accessing the past and present of other cultures, providing witness to  moments of encounter. In this seminar, we will explore the role of travel and travel writing in history by reading classic traveler’s accounts, modern travel narratives, and contemporary tourist guides. We will consider the self-representation of the travelers who produced these accounts and explore how travel and tourism both create and become implicated in the historical and cultural representations of societies around the world.

Why Your Roommate's Favorite Band Sucks: An Introduction to Musical Aesthetics
Vadim Serebryany

In this course, students will be introduced to a variety of writings and ideas about aesthetics, generally, and musical aesthetics in particular. After engaging with each author, students will apply the aesthetic principles to specific pieces of music, drawn from various musical canons - including commercial and “classical” music, as well as non-Western musics - with the goal of engaging with those musical “texts” more deeply and starting to develop their own thoughtful aesthetics of music.

Yoga: Making Connections
Eric Steinschneider

Yoga is the most successful cultural export India ever produced. Millions of people around the world practice yoga in their homes or studios, or else pay to go on expensive yoga retreats in exotic locations. Yet where does yoga come from? How are the secularized postures and breathing techniques with which yoga is currently associated related to the forms of yoga found in ancient and medieval South Asia? This course examines the history and practice of yoga as it has developed over the course of roughly two thousand years, paying special attention to its transformation in contemporary western society.

ICSM 10800 ICSM-Academic Writing

The Arts and Social Change
Jerry Mirskin

This writing-specific course is concerned with the role of art in society as it reflects and preserves cultural values, challenges cultural practice, and points to or anticipates cultural change.   More specifically, we will explore how art aspires to transform cultural perspectives, alter policies, and advance our collective life. How do artists comment upon the society in which they live, and how do these interventions and transformations take place?  In addition to looking at social art works we will explore the line between traditional methods of protest and social art. What makes a performance “action” different from a demonstration? Art tests public values, which has, in some instances, led to censorship.  We will investigate artworks that have challenged the status quo of their time. Further, we will investigate readings that argue for and against the need for artists to make work that politically challenges their society, as well as readings that support critical analysis of works of art: including film, theater and other traditional and non-traditional (non-mainstream) mediums.  Can art improve our personal and collective lives? Can art stop or prevent a war?This course fulfills the ICC Academic Writing competency requirement.

Benjamin Franklin and the American Dream: An Inquiry into Our Founding Values
Antonio DiRenzo

This course will explore the life, career, and legacy of Benjamin Franklin, the most popular of America’s founders and the original American success story. The youngest son of a poor candle maker, Franklin began his career as a printer and bookseller. By improvising a broad education and capitalizing on a gift for words, he became a successful editor, publisher, entrepreneur, inventor, scientist, legislator, and ambassador. His strategies for communicating intelligently and effectively in the academy, the marketplace, and the assembly remain fresh and instructive, and the problems and paradoxes of the intellectual, commercial, and political worlds that formed him still shape our capitalist democracy. But although his face is printed on the $100 bill, is his vision of the America Dream now bankrupt? Through reading, writing, and discussion, we will consider different answers. This course fulfills the ICC Academic Writing competency requirement.

Exploring the World of Conspiracy Theories
Joan Marcus

Conspiracy theories abound in our time as they have throughout history, from the claim among ancient Romans that the emperor Nero faked his own death, to the “birthers” who believe President Obama was born abroad, from Pizzagate and chemtrails to vaccine tracking chips. In this class, we will take a deep dive into some of the most provocative conspiracy theories to learn where they came from, why people believe them, and whether there is any truth to them. By examining phenomena such as the 9/11 controlled demolition theory, the flat earth theory, and many others, and by exploring the psychological states that lead to logical gaps and faulty conclusions, you will hone your critical thinking skills and become a more informed citizen.  This course fulfills the ICC Academic Writing competency requirement.

Fantasy, Fandom and Fans
J. Warburton

In this class, we’ll explore and blog the texts that surround us, inspire us, and invite us to imagine our world more fully, such as Harry Potter, Star Wars, and Star Trek; cultural markers that develop around love of sports and music; the cultural hierarchy of fandom based on religion, sports, and sci-fi/fantasy; technological, fiscal, and legal concerns; elements of participatory culture, specifically fan fiction; and the impact of fan-based communities, both online and IRL (in real life). Students will be expected to engage in analysis of such texts in a scholarly fashion led by Henry Jenkins’ definition of the “aca/fan,” a “hybrid creature which is part fan and part academic.” We’ll emphasize written forays into fandom along with writing in response to “original” texts as we explore what drives us to imagine ourselves in universes/lives other than our own, and define the ways fandom binds together disparate parts of our lives. Research projects can also include created fan film/art/writing. This course fulfills the ICC Academic Writing competency requirement.

Language in Cultural Context
Megan Graham

Students will discuss and compare perspectives on the interplay between language and culture while developing their understanding of American college culture. This course fulfills the ICC Academic Writing competency requirement. It is designed for international students and registration for this course is allowed only through special permission.

Life and Technology in the Year 2050
Jim Stafford

The class will study cutting-edge technology in order to predict future advances and applications of that technology. Students will question the effects of emerging technology on medicine, ethics, space exploration, communication and communities. Topics also include Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, Transhumanism, Social Media Advances, and Afrofuturism. This course fulfills the ICC Academic Writing competency requirement.

Multicultural Picturebooks as Critical Analysis
Sayanti Mondal

Picturebooks have often been regarded as simple texts targeted at young children, and the course aims to argue against this notion and present the literary genre as capable of eliciting complex socially relevant dialogues and understandings within an undergraduate classroom setting. It particularly focuses on loosening the boundaries of age-based expectations when engaging with multicultural picturebooks. Connections will be made between the stories we read in class to contemporary events to realize this genre's literary potential and sociocultural (and, at times, political) impact. Themes of social injustices, gender, borders and (im)migration, and social and self-identity will be explored through select multicultural picturebooks authored/illustrated by People of Color. Students will complete a short analytical paper, a public-facing text, a short comics-making project, a short Annotated Bibliography, and a final research paper. The instructor will provide students with the reading materials on Canvas. This course fulfills the ICC Academic Writing competency requirement.

Popular Culture as Text
Katie Marks

In this seminar, we will explore popular culture and its role in contemporary society. We will consider whether it reflects our thoughts and beliefs or whether it shapes them. We will also investigate how it might affect who we become as individuals. Students’ firsthand observations of, and critical thinking about, advertising, television, film, music, and social networking will play a central role in the class. This course fulfills the ICC Academic Writing competency requirement.

The Science of Fiction: Evolution, Cognitive Science, and Stories
Jack Wang

Why are human beings the “storytelling animal”? How are we evolutionarily adapted to producing and consuming stories? What can brain science tell us about our passion for narrative, and what do narratives tell us about how the brain works? Through an exploration of neuroscience, evolutionary psychology, and other fields, especially as they apply to literature, television, and film, this course will explore fundamental questions about why we love stories. This course fulfills the ICC Academic Writing competency requirement.

Spoken Words
Amy Quan

From TED talks to spoken word, political speeches to scholarly presentations, this course will examine, research – and produce – writing intended to be heard as well as read. Our course material will be drawn from classic and current radio commentary, political and academic writing, videos, speeches, and even the occasional blog. Similarly, writing assignments will cross a range of genres and media. As this course also satisfies the Academic Writing requirement, students will be engaged in formal research on topics of their choosing. In addition, students will be asked to keep a notebook of informal writing. This course fulfills the ICC Academic Writing competency requirement.

Vegan Studies: Past, Present, Future
Eleanor Henderson

In the 1940s, the UK-based Vegan Society coined the term vegan and defined it as "the principle of the emancipation of animals from exploitation by man." This seminar updates that principle through the emerging academic field of vegan studies, examining it across history, philosophy, religion, sociology, anthropology, biology, environmental studies, business, economics, personal health, and more. We'll attempt to situate veganism within intersectional systems of power, connecting it to related fields of inquiry including critical animal studies, critical race studies, and ecofeminism. We'll discuss everything from the impact of cow flatulence on climate change to the future of lab-grown meat. We'll investigate, interrogate, and celebrate. And we'll also explore delicious vegan recipes together (even ones you can make in your dorm microwave!). All students with a curiosity about plant-based living are welcome. This course fulfills the ICC Academic Writing competency requirement.

Who Are You to Say? Shaping Stance Within Contemporary Controversies
Jacob White

In this course, students will suggest and select inquiry into one of a range of contemporary issues, from AI to gender in sports to policing in America to the U.S. prison system to white supremacy to heteronormativity and LGBTQ+ rights in the workplace, etc. This course fulfills the ICC Academic Writing competency requirement.

Writing and Performing Culture: Musical Arts Traditions in Global History
Priya Sirohi

Writing and Performing Culture takes an in-depth look at how performed music and drama genres around the world, in any medium, offer windows into global histories and cultures. This course is designed to be a cross section of writing studies, critical theory & cultural, art, and history. We will use musical arts – dramas, operas, musicals, movies, and other performances – as cultural artifacts through which we might re-envision and refine our line-level and project-level writing, but also as a topic worthy of complex and sustained analysis. This course fulfills the ICC Academic Writing competency requirement.

Writing Anxiety: The Stories We Tell About Mental Health
Susan Adams Delaney

Mental health challenges among teens and young adults are consistently framed as a crisis. U.S. Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy issued a statement in 2021 arguing  that such challenges are “unprecedented and uniquely hard to navigate,” producing “devastating” effects. Numerous reports indicate that anxiety and other psychological disorders have been on the rise among college students for over a decade. Some experts, however, caution that such crisis narratives are imprecise and counterproductive. This course will examine the rhetoric surrounding mental health, neurodiversity, and resilience, while exploring the obstacles we face as writers--along with strategies for working through them. This course fulfills the ICC Academic Writing competency requirement.