Catalog Description – GSTR 110: Writing Seminar I- Critical Thinking and the Liberal Arts. This course is designed to help students with transitions from their past experiences to the challenges of college academic life and culture, also emphasizing writing, reasoning, and learning as foundations or continuing academic success in General Education and beyond. Each section of the course involves explicit, continuing attention to writing, reasoning, research, and reflective engagement with various texts, written and non-written. All sections initially address students’ questions about the nature of education, liberal-arts education, and links to lifelong learning and living. Offered in multiple sections each year; taken in the first term of the first year.
Student Learning Outcomes of GSTR 110
Successful students will learn:
- to develop, compose, and complete college-level essays that are documented, that engage and use various kinds of texts, and that are expository (i.e., develop reasons, evidence, support for a thesis);
- to identify and use properly some common modes of reasoning (e.g. analogy, argument), patterns of reasoning, and basic critical thinking concepts such as consistency, ambiguity and vagueness, and general criteria in thinking well about a variety of topics and texts;
- to use the Hutchins Library facility and it resources, including the Library Home Page and library web resources;
- to research, read, and evaluate a variety of sources, to assemble an appropriately diverse bibliography, and to appreciate different types of sources can work together;
- to understand how preparation, engaged attentiveness, reflection, and thinking with appropriate criteria leads to learning from experiences beyond the formal classroom.
NOTE: Below are section descriptions for all instructors who regularly teach GSTR 110. Not all of these instructors listed here teach the course each term. Please refer to the schedule of classes for the term in question to see which instructors will be offering the course.
GSTR 110- Adams, Sarah: Sound. Sound pervades our lives—the music in your headphones, the beeping crosswalk signs on Main Street, your roommate’s snores. Scholars from many disciplines, including rhetorical studies, disability studies, musicology, history, acoustics, and media studies, study these sounds. These scholars consider a number of research questions: how do we interact with sound on a day-to-day basis? What did different historical periods sound like? What role does sound play in key human concerns, like race, war, and technology? Popular culture, too, offers us a number of interesting sonic and sound-related artifacts—the podcast “Serial” has been downloaded over one hundred million times, NFL players try to sell us Beats by Dre headphones, and the film A Quiet Place draws our attention to sound by barely using it. This semester we will examine how scholarly texts and popular artifacts address sound, focusing in particular on issues of listening and environment. We’ll begin by listening to and writing about sounds that are meaningful to us. Then we’ll analyze some of the many messages about sound that circulate in popular culture. After that, we’ll apply some of the key observations of sound studies research to sonic occurrences around the Berea campus, including concerts and local soundscapes. For our final papers, we’ll explore our own research questions related to sound. Possible topics include the history of trap music, the use of silence in protests, concepts of listening within the deaf community, the sound pollution of wind turbines, and much more.
GSTR 110- Bates, Rebecca: Unmapped Territories: Journeys and Knowledge. Travel is generally understood to be an excellent way of learning about new people and places. But in traveling how much do we learn about others and how much do we learn about ourselves? By exploring (and experiencing) different types of travel, we will ask questions, including: what happens when you are a stranger in a place? How do you understand the difference between yourself and others? How does your previous knowledge, ignorance, or expectations and fantasies about a place affect your travel experience? And, how can the insights you gain about travel lead to fruitful paths of learning while you are at home?
GSTR 110- Broadhead, Edwin: Human Nature. This section fulfills the goals of GSTR 110 through readings and reflection on the ways in which humans construct a sense of identity and of social location. Primary texts, focused upon varying theories of what it means to be human, will illustrate these developments. Readings will be taken from various areas of human inquiry, among which are religion and the secular, science and technology, and social and political life.
GSTR 110- Brown, Jarrod: Thinking about Thinking: Brains, Zombies, and Intelligent Machines. To be a rational thinking being has been considered the essence of what it is to be human for at least two millennia. But as we gaze across human history, it seems hard to believe that something that is essentially rational could do so many stupid things! In our contemporary world, the seeming inevitability of artificial intelligence creates the possibility of an artificial rational, thinking being. If computers were “intelligent” would they make these same sorts of mistakes? This media-rich course will explore the very idea of thinking and learning: What is the structure of rational thought? How does deductive and inductive reasoning work? How do the structures of your brain determine how you think and learn? Given what we know about the way the brain works, how can we learn more efficiently and retain information better? How do we make decisions? What ways do the languages we speak influence how we see the world? Could we tell the difference between people who think and thoughtless zombies that just acted like they think? What would count as an “intelligent machine”? Are you your mind, or do you even have a mind? In exploring these questions about what it is to be a rational thinking being, participants will acquire skills to think more rationally, communicate more logically, and learn more effectively.
GSTR 110- Bruder, Anne: Eating Words, Writing Meals. The food we eat comprises some of the most fascinating, meaningful stories we tell ourselves about ourselves. From the vegetables we scrutinize in our grocery’s produce section, to the pantries we stock and the pots that simmer on our stoves, we use food materially to fuel our bodies, but more importantly for this course, we also use food to build and renovate our identities. “Food,” Molly Wizenburg reminds us, “is never just food. It’s also a way of getting at something else: who we are, who we have been, and who we want to be.” In this section of GSTR 110, we will investigate each of Wizenburg’s claims by considering American cooking and eating from a variety of humanistic perspectives, including film and literary studies, history, sociology, and women’s studies. In turn, we will read cookbooks, restaurant menus and reviews, food memoirs, and dietary treatises in order to probe the cultural, economic, historical, and geographic aspects of food. All of our work together will be grounded in a continual writing process. We will implement a variety of writing practices — formal, informal, personal, academic, exploratory, and expositional — to support all of our work together. These practices, then, will provide you with the fundamental writing skills that you will need for all of your future coursework at Berea.
GSTR 110- Butler, Jim: Ethics and Democracy. The topic of this course will be the relationship between the individual and the state. The two key questions we will examine are a) In what ways can the state legitimately limit an individual’s actions? and b) What responsibilities does the individual have to his/her society (and vice versa)? The materials for the class will be a mixture of traditional readings in political philosophy (Mill’s “On Liberty,” Plato’s “Apology,” and “Crito”), popular essays (“Civil Disobedience”), and contemporary fiction which explore the role of the state and the individual (Clockwork Orange). Since the class is limited to a small size, classes will primarily involve discussion rather than a traditional lecture.
GSTR 110- Carlevale, John: Warning: Education Can Ruin Your Life. A preview of the pros and cons, ups and downs, rewards and frustrations, and pleasures and perils of a liberal education. The good news is a liberal education can build your communication skills, broaden your tastes and horizons, and strengthen your analytic and critical skills; the bad news is that these good things can leave you with questions without simple answers, appetites not easily satisfied, and doubts about once comfortable certainties. In this course, we will read and discuss writing—dramatic and discursive, fiction and non-fiction—about education going right and wrong, including Aristophanes’ Clouds and David Mamet’s Oleanna.
GSTR 110- Cohen, Jason: A Critique of Political Violence. This course addresses the core goals of the composition sequence by exploring arguments and texts related to state violence. In a world increasingly marked by escalating responses to perceived threats, nation-states or governments are often the ones who are held to be “right” in the eyes of their citizens and the media. However, what validates the state’s violent response to the fists and cries of those who are resisting it? This course will address many questions, specifically those about the education of a citizen, the role of the university, forms of nationalism or patriotism, social justice and responses to political ideology, and the assessment of persuasive rhetoric. The course will be conducted in three units with writing projects assigned during each one, and the major texts will include Art Spiegelman’s graphic novel Maus I, Christopher Marlowe’s play Doctor Faustus, and Philip Roth’s novel American Pastoral. You will be required to conduct extensive and ongoing library research, and you must be willing to address your classmates respectfully as equals in the search for very slippery and often hidden positions of good and evil in a context of violence. The subject matter for this course is touchy; please come prepared to be exposed to graphic images and descriptions throughout the semester. Finally, this course will involve your active participation in creating mini-presentations, brainstorming, research, drafting, peer-review, and self-assessment; please again be prepared to be a good citizen of the classroom by coming ready to take on these challenges sincerely and with integrity.
GSTR 110- Crachiolo, Beth: The Stories We Tell. This section explores the very human habit of storytelling. Every day we read, listen to, watch, and tell a variety of stories, from the day’s news, to literature, to videos and television, even to the gossip we tell one another over dinner. We’re going to explore the history of storytelling (as we can piece it together) and write our own stories in the forms of journals, personal narratives, and analytical essays.
GSTR 110- Feagan, Beth: Freedom to Read. America is a contradictory place. We say we believe in freedom of speech, but every year hundreds of books are challenged, censored, and banned. And Tango Makes Three, Captain Underpants, Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, Looking for Alaska, The Perks of Being a Wallflower: from picture books to novels, these books have been banned right here in the USA. What does that mean? Why does that happen? What can we learn from these books? We will read a variety of banned books and wrestle with these questions. It’s a complicated conversation, and it’s been going on for a long time. Censorship is nothing new. Freedom of expression has been under attack since the founding of our country. We’ll learn how to unpack arguments, do thoughtful research, and make smart arguments of our own. We’ll also work on overcoming procrastination. Does writing freak you out? It’s actually just thinking on the page. That sounds abstract until you put it like this: I think something, I go find out what others think about it (reading and research), and then I let them know what I think (writing). Good writing is always in conversation with others. The conversation we will explore and join is about freedom of expression and the power of your voice.
GSTR 110- Foster, Rob: Civilization. What makes a civilization? What makes a person civilized? This section focuses on the ancient civilizations of Europe and Asia. Through fiction, ancient texts, archaeological material, and art, we will examine aspects of some of the most important early civilizations in Greece, Persia, India, and China. We will explore the different religious, philosophical, political, and aesthetic systems to try to define civilization and to understand why humans have upheld the term as an ideal.
GSTR 110- Gardner, Kevin: Hello, Is It Me I’m Looking For? Self-Discovery through Art and Analysis. This course will investigate the extended conversation between various sources along the theme of what is discovered through studying and responding to specific works of art. In particular, through essays, films, and short stories we will study examples of people succeeding or failing to understand themselves within artistic contexts. Students will explore their own reactions to experiences with art through reflective and analytical essay writing.
GSTR 110- Gift, Nancy: Belonging: A Sense of Place. The depth of our connection with land, community, and, more broadly, place, is a quality described by a wide array of authors, from bell hooks to Wendell Berry. In this section, we will write about important places in our own lives while exploring the ways a wide array of authors see place, whether as a home or a destination.
GSTR 110- Gowler, Steve: Children of Frankenstein: Reflecting on the Anthropocene. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein offers a complex vision of human capacity and failure of responsibility. It will serve as an interpretive lens for our exploration of the Anthropocene, our contemporary era, characterized by human-initiated processes that are dramatically altering life in ways that threaten to spin out of control. We will focus, first, on the prospect of a significantly warmer earth and the rapid extinction of species, attending to their moral and political implications, as well as to their physical causes. Then we will examine developments that have been described as “posthuman.” In addition to Frankenstein, we will discuss several recent works: Elizabeth Kolbert’s The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, David Wallace-Wells’ The Uninhabitable Earth: Life after Warming, and Adam Alter’s Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping us Hooked.
GSTR 110- Gray, Gordon: From Disney Princesses to the Dark Knight: Popular Culture and Society. This seminar explores how the relationship between popular culture and the society in which it is produced. In particular, we will focus on animated storytelling genres from the USA and Japan to analyze and discuss the ways in which various animated films, books, and television series both produce and represent the societies in which they are created and viewed. This course is designed to encourage students to develop critical methods for evaluating examples of the types of entertainment they consume on a daily basis. At the same time, students will be expanding their ability to communicate that critical analysis, as well as learning and developing skills in critical reading, note taking, argumentation, essay structure, revision, proper documentation, and gaining skills in research and familiarity with library resources.
GSTR 110- Green, Chris: Empathy & Theory of Mind. How do we get a sense of the people we interact with and how they are feeling? How do they begin to guess what our reactions to them mean? And what happens when we’re wrong but think we’re right? We are born with a Theory of Mind, neurological structures that develop over time and allow us to intuit how someone else feels, sees the world, and might act. How we enact Theory of Mind is based on how we’ve learned to use it and our individual neural wiring. We’re also effected by our mind’s necessary simplification of complexity (called its heuristics), which is also affected by culture. When Theory of Mind works well, the results are empathy and understanding, but when it doesn’t, the results are misunderstandings, bias, or prejudice. Join me on this journey that explores how we come to understand each other, the limits of such understanding, and how we might be able to do it better.
GSTR 110- Guthman, Joshua: In many classes students learn by receiving ideas and information from instructors and texts, or they discuss such materials in seminars. This section of GSTR 110 will be different. Class sessions will consist of elaborate games, set in the past, in which students are assigned roles informed by classic texts in the history of ideas. By taking on these historical roles, students will master skills—speaking, writing, critical thinking, problem solving, leadership, and teamwork—needed to prevail in difficult and complicated situations. We will play two long-form games during the semester. The first will be set in the wake of a fiery religious trial in Puritan New England. The second unfolds on the eve of the American Revolution in New York City, where patriots and loyalists, freemen and slaves, choose sides for the fight ahead.
GSTR 110- Hackbert, Peter: So You Want to be a Changemaker? This course will help you become a “Changemaker” – someone empowered to be a real social change catalyst with unprecedented ease, speed, and force. We will examine the lessons of others and how we as students can break down mental barriers, communicate more effectively, and generate new ideas, insights and strategies to change the world while an undergraduate. Through tools, techniques and exercises from some of the world’s most innovative social change agents and professionals students you will be expose to networks of collaborative support that encourage creativity and engagement.
GSTR 110- Hall, Sarah: The Anthropocene: An Era Shaped by Humans. Since the year 2000, the word “Anthropocene” has garnered much attention, with many feeling that it more accurately represents the world we live in today as compared to the Holocene geological epoch. Indeed, our world has the markings of Homo sapiens in pretty much every way possible, and the future of our planet will undeniably be crafted by the decisions we make. This section will include various readings about how humans have influenced the world we live in today, as well as how different choices today might change our planet’s future outcome (including whether humans will continue to be part of it). We will explore not only the role of our species as a whole, but also of our individual roles within it. In addition to frequent writing and reading, the course will use films, discussions, outside observations/field trips, and other activities.
GSTR 110- Hartlep, Nicholas: Student Loan Debt as a “Wicked” Problem. What are Wicked Problems? What are Tame problems? How are the two different? In this course we will attempt to understand why higher education costs so much in the United States. Did you know that Berea College is a special college because most of its students graduate and leave with little-to-no student loan debt? Don’t you want to know why and how it does this? In this course we will examine why students across the United States take out student loans to afford their tuition and room and board bills and what the financial costs are to them and the mainstream American society. We will learn why the affordability of higher education is a Wicked Problem. We will ask ourselves questions such as: Are there Tame solutions to the student debt crisis in the United States? Are there lessons that can be learned from Berea College? You won’t want to miss this dynamic course!
GSTR 110- Hawthorne, Tasha: This section of GSTR 100 explores one particular genre of African American literary production, the autobiography. We will read a wide variety of autobiographies, ranging from early slave narratives, collaborative autobiographies, to contemporary memoirs. We will look closely at how these African American writers fashion themselves in the world and how such fashioning reflects their conceptualization of their selfhood and identity—specifically in the ways in which they identify via race, class, gender, and sexuality. Students will write short weekly responses, book reviews, and two longer essays.
GSTR 110- Heyrman, John: The Future of Higher Education.Constantly-changing computer and Internet technology and the upheavals of the globalized workplace have led many to question what college and university education will or should look like in the future. Indeed, some wonder whether traditional colleges, especially liberal arts colleges, even have a future in a world filled with easily-accessible information and the often very high cost of college education. These are the kinds of questions that this section will consider, along with many related political, social, cultural, and technological issues.
GSTR 110- Hill-Zuganelli, Dee: Emerging Adulthood. Coined by Jeffrey Jensen Arnett, emerging adulthood is the phase in human development at which individuals begin launching from their families of origin, seeking greater independence in daily life, and navigating deep and existential challenges to identity and sense of self. Students may experience both liberation and high anxiety; it is a time of dramatic change, uncertainty, but also immense freedom and self-discovery. This section will guide students through an exploration of tensions and triumphs through the first-year college experience. We will also investigate the role that family members play in helping us through this time or potentially holding us back. News, current events, films, and lived experience provide context for discussion and learning.
GSTR 110- Hoffman, Megan: The Most Intelligent Animal. “If a rabbit defined intelligence the way man does, then the most intelligent animal would be a rabbit, followed by the animal most willing to obey the commands of a rabbit.” –Robert Brault, writer
What is intelligence? How can we best measure it? Should we even try to measure it? Is it an “it” (intelligence) or a “they” (intelligences)? How does intelligence relate to education, especially a liberal arts education? How does intelligence relate to the structure and function of the brain? We will consider these and many more questions and will investigate intelligence through reading, research, discussion, and writing. We will strengthen our ability to see both sides of an issue, to make and substantiate strong arguments, and to find our own stances and voices on controversial issues. Will we become more intelligent? That remains to be seen. Join us and find out.
GSTR 110- Huck, Dan: Crime, Law, and Justice. This course will examine the theories and concepts that shape our view of crime, and that dominate our system of justice, in the contemporary United States. Using writing assignments and other learning experiences that focus on the substance and procedures of criminal law, students will consider the nature of justice as reflected by our society. At midterm, student teams will process a crime scene and then begin preparing their prosecution or defense of that crime during the remainder of the term. The course concludes with students preparing their cases for a mock trial that is then presented before a jury. Witnesses to the crime and jury members are drawn from faculty members, staff professionals, and former students of the class.
GSTR 110- Jones, Sarah: Lessons from Hogwarts. Since its debut in 1997, the wizarding world made famous through the Harry Potter books has entertained and inspired millions of readers. Research indicates that the Harry Potter books may help young readers develop the values that later guide their beliefs about prejudice, morality, and politics. In this section of GSTR 110, we will use this familiar narrative to springboard into an exploration of education, identity, and social justice. We will develop skills in thinking, writing, and research, and will reflect on the connections between fiction and the world around us. Students are encouraged to read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone before the first day of class. Our goals: to value learning like Hermione, to expand our horizons like Ron, and, like Harry Potter himself, to find our place as students entering a new school.
GSTR 110- Lamb, Connie: Five Languages of Love: the Secret to Building Community. Increasingly, social media is influencing how we define community. The traditional definition (a group of people living in the same place, sharing particular interests and goals) has now shifted to exclude the “geographical” commonality. How has this shift in defining community affected our ability to connect face to face? How might understanding The Five Languages of Love strengthen communal bonds? In this course students will explore the work essential to building a sense of community. We will begin by identifying your dominant love language (#1. Words of Affirmation, #2. Acts of Service, #3. Receiving Gifts, #4. Quality Time, #5. Physical Touch). As the course progresses we will breakdown and decode the different ways in which people communicate love for each other, removing the mystery of what we need and expect from our community.
GSTR 110- Mack, Felicia: Society is inundated with news and access to information 24/7. Smart phone technology and social media serve as an umbilical cord connecting us to the world. We can’t live without it. If you want to know anything about anyone at any time just Google it, view Snapchat, or check Facebook. However, with all the information we have access to how are we to decipher real news—from so-called fake news to deciding whether or not to 👍 or 👎? In this section of GSTR 110, we will read postings on the Berea Facebook page to investigate, evaluate, and discuss news disseminated by and for Berea community members. Additionally, we will couple our Berea Facebook page discourse with readings from Irresistible, the 2019 Common Read, newspaper, and scholarly articles. Throughout the course we will engage in numerous writing activities designed to build writing sophistication and the development of academic writing.
GSTR 110- Mahoney, Mark: Facing Fear. Fear is an emotional response to a perceived threat (Merriam-Webster, 2019). Often, the result of this perceived threat is to fight, flee, or freeze. Of course, fear is not limited to external stimuli, but can derive from both internal and external sources equally. Let’s look at an example: how many of us have watched a scary movie and, soon after watching it, have found ourselves sitting, alone, protected by the one light in the room. What do you do? Do you make a run for it into the bedroom (because the bed is safe, for some magical reason) or do you reach into the next dark room and turn on the light, creating a lit path to wherever you are going? This is a silly example, though surprisingly true for many individuals. We know that the movie is not real and we know that there is nothing there in the dark, yet the fear is still there. The object of this course is to explore fear, the various forms of it, where it comes from, how we develop it, and how we may be able to evolve with it. Students will be exposed to a selection of media (short stories, research, documentaries, and films) as part of the exploration.
GSTR 110- McDonald, Verlaine: Media, Higher Education, and Identity. This course will focus on historic and contemporary characterizations of higher education and those who pursue it. What does it or should it mean to be in college? How can we understand the messages about collegians that are conveyed in fiction, nonfiction, film, and other media? And how do these messages shape the perceptions and experiences of those who pursue college degrees? As we explore these and other questions, students will develop and practice essential college (and life) skills including critical inquiry, writing, revision, group discussion, and public speaking.
GSTR 110- McKee, Lauren: Our Superheroes, Ourselves. In financial terms, 2017 was probably the best year for superhero movies ever, with all 6 films released drawing between $600 and $800 million dollars. Their appeal is (and always has been) fairly clear: people like heroes, role models, and a story about good triumphing over evil. Besides being a star-studded good time at the movies, what can these films teach us when analyzed critically within their historical, political, and commercial contexts? What can the relationship between Captain America and the Winter Soldier tell us about American exceptionalism and the Cold War; Wonder Woman about gender, feminist movements, and the male gaze; Black Panther about race relations in America? Throughout this course we will engage critically with these characters, situating their stories contextually, therefore allowing us to hold a mirror to society and reflect upon whether we like what we see.
GSTR 110- Meadows, Richard: Fighting Poverty in Appalachia & Inner Cities. At first, rural Appalachia and nearby inner cities don’t seem to have much in common. Yet, in fact, people from both areas—including most Berea students—confront many of the same obstacles, such as poverty, unemployment, poorly-funded schools, inadequate healthcare, substance abuse, and negative stereotypes. Fortunately, many people in Appalachia and nearby inner cities are seeking and finding ways to overcome or help eliminate these obstacles so that their families, friends, and communities can prosper. We’ll analyze and debate competing attempts to explain these obstacles as well as competing plans to overcome or eliminate them.
GSTR 110- Mecham, Neil: The role of animals in our lives: Where do they fit in? Our lives interconnect with other living creature in a myriad of ways that we take for granted. We bet on horse races, drink milk from cows, eat pigs, keep dogs and cats as pets, and kill mice. What if we bet on dog races, drank milk from horses, ate cats, kept pigs and mice as pets, and worshiped cows? Throughout the world, we do. This course will examine what influences our individual and collective beliefs and actions towards the animals in our lives and in our world? Through reading a variety of materials, viewing visual works, visiting settings where animals and people interact, and engaging in discussion, we will explore the nature of the human-animal relationship. Through expository writing, oral presentations, and interactive dialog, we will develop critical thinking skills, research and analysis skills, and an appreciation for the diversity of experience and thought that surrounds us. In the end, students should be able to express with confidence their beliefs about how humans should treat animals and explain the important roles animals play in our lives.
GSTR 110- Mendel-Reyes, Meta: Origin Stories: Black Panther, Barack Obama, Creation Myths, and You. Origin stories and creation myths tell how a person, a community, the world, and even a superhero came to be. Origin stories can be found in popular culture (Black Panther), memoir (Obama), and myth (the Cherokee story of creation). These stories connect past and future – from our deepest values to our hopes and dreams. Beginning college is a good time to reconnect with your personal origin story – what brought you to this moment and how do you hope to write the story of your next four years? Like all GSTR 110 sections, this section is designed to help you make a successful transition to college. Because effective communication is so essential to your college education, GSTR 110 focuses on writing – from basic grammar to effective essays and other written genres. In addition, each of you will explore and write your own origin story.
GSTR 110- Messina, Troy: On Certainty. We will explore our world views. These views range from whether Vegemite tastes good to the reality of climate change and its causes. Reading and writing will help us to identify the sources of our views and how they are supported (or not). How resolute are our views? These views often affect how we make decisions, choose friends, find jobs, and where we reside. Do these choices further separate our already politically and socially divided world? We will work to understand how writing, both our own and others’, may persuade our views. We will reflect on how a liberal arts education plays a role in the way we engage with the world around us.
GSTR 110- Mortara, Anthony: The American Health Care Question. Is healthcare a right of citizenship? The purpose of this course is to discuss what it means to have a “right” to healthcare. This course will examine the question of rights, duties, citizenship, and the role of government. Then, in class we will compare costs, outcomes, and other experiential evidence of government funded healthcare. Anecdotal evidence from the American, Canadian, and British systems will be examined and discussed. Students will be assigned a position and in class debates will be held. Readings will include governmental reports, newspaper and journal articles, editorials, and others. Students will be evaluated based upon their written and oral communication skills.
GSTR 110- Ortquist-Ahrens, Leslie: Border Crossings. As students in this course engaging in your own transitions—into college, into new languages, ways of thinking, cultures, and identities as liberally educated people—you will explore the perennially powerful topic of immigration to the United States. Together with the instructor and the teaching assistant, you will consider key historical and political issues as well as personal experiences and perspectives. Our texts will range from narrative films such as Charlie Chaplin’s short The Immigrant (1917), to autobiographical works such as Hunger of Memory: The Education of Richard Rodriguez (1982), to documentaries such as Paths of the Displaced (2007) by high school student Natalia Ledford. Throughout the course you will consider both literal and figurative “border crossings” as you reflect on the important roles of language, identity, belonging, “home,” and education for immigrants as well as for yourselves.
GSTR 110- Parr, Mary: A Good Life. What does it mean to live a good life? How do things like work, career, success, technology education, or our relationship with the natural world enhance or diminish our ability to live a good life? What role do economics and larger societal systems play in this this question? How do the liberal arts relate to the question of a good life? In this class, students will examine the various aspects of the question of a good life through the lenses of historical articles, philosophy, memoirs, popular press, and film.
GSTR 110- Pearson, Eric: You Are What You Eat. This section will address many questions about food, including food’s scientific, medical, ethical, and aesthetic dimensions. We will read, write, and think carefully about such issues as the origins of domesticated plants and animals, the morality of killing and eating animals, and the difficult question of what makes some food better than other food.
GSTR 110- Pulsford, Steve: Culture and Critical Thinking: Fiction, Film and Music. This course’s examinations of literature, film and popular music will draw on some of the most productive theories and approaches to texts of the academic field called “Cultural Studies.” We’ll explore Gender Studies; Critical Race Theory; Marxism, Ideology, and Political Criticism; Queer Theory; Deconstruction and the Postmodern. Academic terms like these refer both to ways of thinking and to real-world social structures. Each is concerned with people’s qualities of life. Each is part of a set of tools for our own critical thought. Each can help us think about oppression, liberation, right and wrong, and justice. And each of them can be taken personally.
GSTR 110 is the required first-semester freshman course because it is about orientation to high-level college learning. As we explore our texts and our theories, we will be developing and practicing essential intellectual skills, and thinking about where a critical understanding of the world gets us. This course is about the habits of mind, and the development of a personal intellectual identity in an academic environment, that can make college an extraordinarily productive and transformative experience.
GSTR 110- Sowers, Nancy: Success: finding and keeping it. In this course we will explore what it means to be a lifelong learner and lay the foundation for a successful career as a student and as a professional. Topics include: recognizing the value of a liberal arts education, identifying meaningful career choices, thinking about current events, and figuring out what is important to you. We will explore these issues thorough regular and substantive writing assignments and seek to enhance college writing skills.
GSTR 110- Starnes, Bobby: Exploring Concealed and Stock Stories. History is complex. Textbooks, Wikipedia, and information provided at museums, historic sites, and monuments are not. Unfortunately, most of us learn little about the complexities of our history. And even more unfortunately, much of what we do learn is wrong. Information taken out of context, reshaped to support a particular perspective, or carefully-crafted half-truths make up the stock stories we learn in school. These stories present a picture-perfect United States (for example the stock Thanksgiving story or the Columbus ‘discovers’ America story). Behind these stories are the ones we are seldom taught—stories concealed in most retellings. Using a wide variety of primary documents and artifacts, we will look beyond the stock stories to uncover long-concealed stories. Through inquiry, idea generation and development, prior knowledge and experience, visual and critical thinking, and social construction of knowledge, we will explore three overarching questions:
1. What can we learn about connections between historical events, movements, and people and their impact on our lives today?
2. What are the stock stories we are taught, and why might they be taught?
3. What stories are concealed; why might they have been concealed; and how does learning these stories impact our understandings of our histories, our beliefs, and our identity as Americans?
GSTR 110- Strange, Jason: Writing is a Superpower. One of the most daunting aspects of college is that it’s full of writing. Why? Writing is hard, research papers are dull, and many students have no desire to become professors. So why all the writing? In this course, we’ll take that question seriously. We’ll see that writing is actually something like a superpower—it will make you stronger and better and even help you heal faster and live longer. Just as important, we will see that, even though it’s a superpower, being a skilled writer isn’t some mysterious gift bestowed only on the talented few. As with learning the guitar or playing basketball, there is only one way to get better at writing: steady practice. And that’s exactly what we’ll do.
GSTR 110- Turner, Lisa: Zombie Apocalypse: Are We Prepared? The rise in infectious disease outbreaks, such as Zika, Ebola, and measles, have public health experts on high alert. Zombies have been referred to as the viruses of the monster world. As such, when considering readiness for disease outbreaks, it is only logical to prepare for a zombie epidemic. Using a zombie apocalypse to frame the issue, this course will examine how infectious disease outbreaks, epidemics, and pandemics occur, what public health officials do in response to disease outbreaks, and the ethical issues that arise when trying to prevent the spread of disease. Students will explore these topics through various readings, podcasts, and videos/movies. Students will sharpen their writing, reasoning, research, and reflective skills through the course assignments.
GSTR 110- Webb, Althea: Emerging Adulthood and the College Experience. This course centers on the exploration of the physical, cognitive, and social-emotional growth of the emerging adult during the transition period of the college years. We will examine the college experience across a number of dimensions, including culture, ethnicity/race, gender, socioeconomic status, and sexual orientation. We will also explore the contexts of the higher education institutional environment (e.g., community college, private, public, and/or elite institution) that influence development. Throughout the course, we will relate theory and research to practical concerns and current events. We will connect academic research on emerging adults to the lived experiences of young people today. Students will link the theoretical to the practical by conducting an interview with an individual who attended college in order to connect theory and practice.
GSTR 110- Weckman, Judith: Bats, Bees, and Bamboo: The Importance of Biodiversity. In this course, we will explore the great diversity of life forms on planet Earth and seek to understand their importance to ecosystems. We will read and write about the scientific principles of ecology, economic systems, and human psychology related to species preservation. Our class assignments and experiences will include outdoor field trips to the forests surrounding Berea College.
GSTR 110- Woodward, Andrea: Food: From Farm to Fork to Justice. People are paying more attention than ever to the food they eat, and to how processes of production through consumption affect the health and well-being of consumers, producers, and the environment. In this class, we’ll explore the discourse around the movement to get people more connected with where their food comes from, and we’ll also look at the Food Justice movement, which has emerged more recently to ensure that responsibly grown and healthy food is affordable and accessible to all.
GSTR 110- Wray, Linda: “Are We Doing the Right Thing?” Ethical Decisions in Healthcare. Increasingly, the healthcare system in the United States has garnered much attention politically, economically and, most importantly, ethically. This course will examine common ethical dilemmas encountered within this dynamic healthcare system. Students will investigate ethical decision making, identify these ethical dilemmas, and then examine the ethics surrounding each situation. Viewing each situation from a variety of viewpoints will be encouraged. Ethical dilemmas examined may include topics such as universal healthcare, the rationing of healthcare, euthanasia and the termination of care. Students will explore these topics using a variety of readings, news media broadcasts, and videos.