2014 Fall Dialogues of Learning course descriptions
Dialogues of Belief and Reason
This dialogue course will survey the rhetoric and debates that have shaped and formed democratic institutions throughout the history of the West. Represented in the “Dialogues of Learning—level I,” the course will analyze the lives and ideas of historical figures that have contributed to the democratic process, and as a result, have contributed to societal progress. By examining the choices of statesmen in relation to their belief systems, students will understand these major historical figures in the context of their cultural, religious, and political outlook. The course will focus on the students’ ability to recognize the significance of choice and the foundations from which people make rhetorical and political decisions. Students will be expected to examine the consequences of decisions by historical figures and analyze the person’s thought process in light of their worldview. Emphasis will be given on student evaluation and assessment of their own understanding of rhetoric, debate, democracy, and history. In addition, the course will function as an introduction to the main theories of political and social philosophy. We shall examine the ancient flourishing of the Athenian Empire, the Republic of Rome, The Development of Parliamentary systems in Europe and the Americas.
Demons and Deities in the Darkness
A study of religious themes and archetypes in the cinema. Angel, devils, ghosts, and gods, have been the subject of literature and artistic expression throughout history. They are universal, showing up in all world cultures and as such may be referred to as “archetypes.” Our attraction to the supernatural is stronger than ever and this is certainly evident in today’s cinema. Film often reflects our experience but by examining that reflection our beliefs and behaviors may be challenged and shaped for our future. Demons and Deities in the Darkness will examine current and classic films supported by cinematic and theological essays, as well as Belief and Reason readings. Together we will question why we willingly gather in the darkness, seduced by flickers of light, which lead us into the unknown.
The Garden of Good and Evil
“All that is required for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing,” said Edmond Burke. This course will explore good and evil from a moral and civic perspective. It will consider the perception that something accepted in one culture is taboo in another by examining how good and evil affect our perception and cognitive reasoning. It will study the influence these themes have on the persuasive nature of the media from a historical perspective.
This course will explore the concepts of belief and reason through American Icons. It is an in depth study of individuals and corporations that have made an impact on American culture. Students will learn about icons such as Walt Disney, Oprah, Henry Ford, and Steve Jobs.
Magic, Science, and Religion
This course will examine the similarities and differences between Magic, Science and Religion. All are part of the human quest to understand, and ultimately, to manipulate and control the natural world. The thought processes and reasoning are similar in all three. A question or goal is posited; there is then “experimental” intervention to attempt to achieve the goal; the result is observed empirically, and its utility in attaining the goal is assessed. All three have become institutionalized, and allowed to be transmitted through generations, because they work, or at least are perceived to work, in giving humans better control of the natural world.
Ever since its original publication, the Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection has been attacked by certain segments of society, largely on religious grounds. The most recent version of these attacks has been the invention of what is claimed by its proponents as an "alternative theory" called Intelligent Design. In this course we will study the scientific theory of Evolution, including how it has been expanded in the 150 years since Darwin first proposed it, and then compare it with the pseudoscientific idea of Intelligent Design. We will evaluate Intelligent Design in terms of its fitness as a scientific theory, and also analyze its arguments against naturalistic evolution. The goal of the course is to have students learn about a significant scientific theory, the difference between science and pseudoscience, and learn how to critically evaluate both scientific and non-scientific claims.
Experiencing Belief Systems
Course examines concepts of belief and reason through careful theatrical readings and understandings of characters in dramatic plays. Concepts such as the meaning of life, religious philosophical perspectives, moral understandings, and evolution vs. creationism will be investigated. Students will immerse themselves and experience alternative concepts of belief and reason through portrayal of influential characters in dramatic history.
The Enlightenment: Past and Present
This course will examine the characteristics of the Enlightenment period from a philosophical perspective through a historical lens. The Socio-political events of previous eras will be analyzed in the context of their influence toward Secularism which evolved in the eighteenth century. The ideals of the Enlightenment will also be applied to contemporary society.
The Papacy: Saints and Sinners
He is called the “Vicar of Christ”, “Holy Father”, and “His Holiness”. He wears white, and over one billion people think of him as infallible in matters of faith. He is the Bishop of Rome, the recognized leader of the Roman Catholic Church. This course will present to the students the history of the Papacy, from its beginnings over two thousand years ago till today and the changes in the Papacy over the centuries. History is the story of how things change over time and students can in this one semester course witness how the papacy and the Church have responded to change. This class will study the lives of specific popes, those who have been described as Saints and those who have been decried as Sinners, those who have united us and those who have divided us.
Deviance on our Doorstep
This course will focus on morals and ethics in action. Students will research deviance from what our culture dictates is moral and ethical behavior, by studying it in the world around them. They will do qualitative research to make clear how individuals and groups come to exhibit behavior that deviates from the moral and ethical norms of society. The entire class will work on one topic, divided up into groups that approach the topic with a different research method. After collecting and analyzing their data, the results will be presented in essays and presentations. Students will also find out where the social morals and ethics we are so familiar with came from in the first place, creating awareness that those morals and ethics are ever changing.
Why Tragedy will examine tragedy through dramatic expressions of the tragic experience in plays and films, as well as through analysis of tragic events, such as the attack on the World Trade Center on 9/11/2001, to seek an understanding of the nature and effects of tragedy. Through readings from literary, historical, cultural and philosophical perspectives, the course will attempt to answer such essential questions as the role and purpose of tragedy in our lives, how it is perceived and understood, how it relates to society as a whole and how we can play a part in coping with tragedy. Plays, films and readings will range from the classical to contemporary eras and will possibly include works or selections from works, such as Aristotle’s Poetics, Sophocles’ Antigone, Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Hegel’s Aesthetics, Miller’s “Tragedy and the Common Man” and Death of a Salesman, Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire, and Woody Allen's Match Point.
Happily Ever After
There are many ways to teach people how to be good: commandments, the promise of religious reward, and philosophical reasoning. However, we are also infused with our culture’s morals through folk stories. In fact, for centuries, many children have first learned what is morally right and wrong from fairy tales. Each fairy tale works to reinforce or defy commonly held beliefs and values, with often great rewards for good behavior, and a horrible end for the evil characters. These messages are usually hidden in metaphors. In this course, we will analyze fairy tales from a variety of perspectives, taking our inspiration from the Dialogue readings. We will use the fairy tales written down by the Grimm brothers, compare them to the works of philosophers and religious leaders, and reflect on what these stories teach us about character building, punishment and reward, acceptance, and the potential for change.
In Search of the Holy Grail
This Dialogue course will survey philosophical and religious traditions that have provided depth to the development of human understanding of life. Represented in the “Dialogues of Learning—level II,” the course will analyze the lives and ideas of historical figures who have sought the “Holy Grail,” and as a result, have contributed to societal progress across the murky waters of the unknown. The course will pay significant attention to understanding such figures in their historical context in order to impart to the student the concrete relationship between ideas, experience, and culture. Emphasis will be given on student participation in evaluating and assessing the contribution of such men and women to their own understanding of the quest for immortality, power, happiness, and the good life. In addition, the course will function as an introduction to the main theories of wellbeing and happiness. We shall examine the ancient proposals of hedonism (happiness is pleasure), eudemonism (happiness is flourishing) and a modern proposal of desire fulfillment (happiness is getting what you want).
Emersonian Transcendentalism is a Level Two course with an American focus. After focusing on rhetoric, students will write a position paper on Emerson’s Nature, followed by a synthesis of Nature with selections from the reader, all the while working on research, using an annotated bibliography, toward a paper arguing the following thesis: Emersonian Transcendentalism has its roots in classic texts on belief and reason, and the influence of Emerson’s spiritual philosophy can be seen in more contemporary texts on the subject.
Dialogues of Justice and Civic Life
This course will examine the complex universe of United States Constitutional Law. Topics will include developments relating to judicial review of legislative action, problems of federalism, limits on the power of government regulation and the protection of civil and political rights.
Eternal Struggle for Freedom
This course will compare and consider how vital national and global issues are at times reflected in fictional and historical narratives. The course will draw upon relevant non-fiction and fictional literary and multimedia works to enhance the students’ understanding of the core readings. These literary, audio, and visual works will facilitate the students’ ability to integrate the core documents and readings into their developing world-view of justice and civic life.
Artistic works, in conjunction with the core readings, will be used to help students better understand how historical documents have been woven into the fabric of our daily lives. Compelling and thought-provoking works, juxtaposed with the core readings, will further demonstrate how discussions of race, community-oriented issues, etc., take place within our national psyche.
Ethical Decision Making Through Film
This course will use films to provide students with a foundation for ethical decision making in the contexts of altruistic, individualistic, idealistic, and pragmatic considerations. Students will explore how others have made decisions in various situations through films and readings. Discussion and reflection will provide a basis for forming an opinion as to why the decision was appropriate or not. It is expected that by the end of the course students will have a template for ethical decision making.
The Pen Versus the Sword-Power in America
This course examines the role of power in law and institutions and individual lives through a set of readings mainly focused upon the American experience. Students will be able to demonstrate the role of power in relationship to the goals of equality, justice, and freedom in the institutions of government and their own civic life through their own writings and experience in the course.
Give Me Liberty & Give Me Justice
This course is an overview of the American Criminal Justice System by examining each of its three components: law enforcement, judicial administration and corrections. Students will be asked to critically analyze the process of the American Criminal Justice System as it unfolds regularly in the streets, in the courtroom and in the correctional.
Poetry of Protest
The Poetry of Protest will pair selections from the reader with poetry covering topics on war, race, and social/political themes.
Great Events in History
Certain individuals and events have shaped history in profound ways. In this course, you will discover how historians make sense of the past, often with little information and mindful of the biased accounts that are passed down from the winners of history’s wars. We will uncover how history is often quite different from the version you read in high school textbooks; namely, it is much funnier, chock full of unlikely coincidences, and far more scandalous. Our main focus with be to explore the causes and consequences as well as the “story behind the story” of one dozen momentous events from history, using the dialogue themes of the long struggle for justice and the challenges of civil society. So, bring a healthy dose of skepticism and curiosity to class... and be prepared to be surprised.
Justice at the Margins
Justice at the Margins probes the core issues of justice and civic engagement with respect to marginalized, disenfranchised and /or “voiceless” individuals, groups and communities. Human rights provide the context for addressing the topics of discrimination, oppression and denial of justice. Environmental issues and animal rights also are included in our consideration of the ‘voiceless’ – as the Lorax of Dr. Seuss queries: who will speak for the trees. Primary and secondary readings as well as films, documentaries and service learning provided the basis for our dialogue about Justice at the Margins.
Dialogues of Quantitative Reasoning
This course emphasizes a practical approach to problem solving using quantitative reasoning in the context of personal finance. Students will learn, develop, and apply traditional college level mathematics skills to make sound financial decisions. In addition, students will gain an enhanced sense of financial literacy and responsibility to help contribute to their financial success. Topics will include: personal budgets; managing and using credit; housing options; vehicle decisions; time value of money and savings; and investment fundamentals.
Numbers in the News
This course emphasizes a practical approach to the fundamentals of statistical reasoning and analysis, probability theory, and exponential modeling through the analysis and discussion of current news reports in both the print and television media. Relevant applications engage students while underscoring the essential uses of these mathematical concepts in every-day life and as expressed in the media.
Statistics in the real world
This course emphasizes a practical approach to the fundamentals of statistical reasoning and analysis, probability theory, and exponential and logarithmic modeling. Relevant applications are discipline specific for a particular major or specialization and engage students while underscoring the essential uses of these mathematical concepts in everyday life.
This course emphasizes a practical approach to the fundamentals of statistical reasoning and analysis, probability theory, and survey design. Students will summarize historical data both visually and numerically. Students will compare how teams or players have performed in the past and see what the past infers about the future. Probability theory will be discussed using examples from lottery games, cards, draft scenarios and other sports related examples. Students will use historical data to verify the Empirical Rule and discuss the Normal Distribution. Additional sports related applications engage students while underscoring the essential uses of these mathematical concepts in every-day life.
Predicting the Future
Statistics has become an accepted part of our everyday lives where numbers surround us and catalog what has happened over time. Whether the numbers tell us how our favorite team or player has performed in the past, or how the economy is doing, we have become accustomed to having the numbers at our fingertips. In our course, students will learn how to use historical numbers to see what the past infers about the future. The areas covered apply to our personal lives as well as to professional and business models. Students will learn to identify and evaluate what the data imply and what the future may bring. They will discover which data might not produce accurate results. This is accomplished using theory, tempered with common sense that recognizes statistics as a valuable tool, though not an exact science.
This course takes a multidisciplinary approach to environmental issues, problems, and policy, with a focus on an economic perspective. A unified and integrated treatment of science and policy is emphasized in order to be informed and active participants in designing and implementing policy solutions to local and global environmental problems. The unifying theme of this course is that of transforming cultures from a state of consumerism to that of sustainability. Readings will draw from a variety of disciplines emphasizing said theme and include the following: management priorities; the role of education for sustainability; cities of the future; the role of religion in shaping world views; media literacy, citizenship, and sustainability; as well as the power of social movements.
Creating Financial Wealth
“It’s not what you gather, but what you scatter that tells what kind of life you have lived.”…Helen Walton
This course will explore the various vehicles for accumulating financial wealth and how to share it with the world. Relevant topics include, but are not limited to, real estate, start-ups, inventions, small businesses, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, annuities, certificates of deposit, 401/403 &529 plans, precious metals and collectibles. Students will learn about applicable IRS codes that allow them to minimize tax consequences through such vehicles as tax deductions and credits, Rule 72(t), 1031’s and philanthropic engagement.
Dialogues of Scientific Literacy
This course is an introduction to the history and philosophy of Science. We will start with a description of what science is and how it works. We will cover the major discoveries about the natural universe that have been made over the last 300 years, in fields as diverse as astronomy, physics, geology, chemistry, and biology. We’ll also look at the people who made these discoveries as well as the influences that led them to do so. We’ll finish with a look at how modern science is helping us to understand ourselves through the study of other life forms, past and present.
The Animal Kingdom
The genesis of the animal kingdom goes all the way back to the big bang. The processes which shaped the early universe, ultimately shaped the solar system and the Earth. The unique position and composition of the Earth led to the creation of the six kingdoms of life on Earth; including our own animal kingdom. This relatively recent taxonomic group, through the process of natural selection, expanded rapidly to become the living animals of the present including our own species. Throughout this course, we will examine how animal behavior is a reflection on the physical laws of the universe. We will explore how our Earth is delicately balanced for the life that it contains and how the smallest change would disrupt that life. We will discuss the human species as a biological organism and a member of the animal kingdom, subject to the same physical laws that govern all of biology and the physical universe as a whole.
Is Your Health Care System Sick?
This course is designed to evaluate the essential principles of “Science” and its influence on “Democratic Society”. We will concentrate on the Science of Public Health in the 21st Century and attempt to answer the question “Is our Public Health System Sick”? As such the course introduces contemporary science themes related to public health, science education and science funding into our public dialogue with the hope of expanding our understanding of their importance in our daily life. The course is not designed to convince the student that one or another side in the social and political debate is correct but instead, give them the necessary background to understand the science behind the issue and make informed decisions of their own.
In this class we will examine how to assess the consequences of climate change on various species. We will look at the way animals react to extreme changes in an ecosystem and explore current examples. We will design a research project whereby we examine the behavior of a species, quantify the available data, and draw conclusions about the possible links between the data and anthropogenic climate change. Finally, we will explore the current political debate regarding this issue and discuss how objective science provides answers that transcend politics.
Science and Florida’s Climate
It’s all about the beach. We explore the science behind the Florida climate, economy and “living in paradise”. Topics include: hurricanes, the beach, water and air quality, energy, the Gulf Stream, natural cycles of the tides and seasons. Activities will explore the beach, inter-coastal waterway and the Everglades. We will examine how our actions impact South Florida’s climate today and into the future.
Alternate Energy – Alternate Fuels in Today’s World
This course is an introduction to the history and technological development of energy, its use, its origins and its status on the planet. Topics include: Sources of energy, Biogeochemical cycles, Power and how we got addicted to oil, Alternate energy sources for living and for transport, Production from different sources and Quality Control, Sustainability. and Job potential. Specific projects covered are the following- a) photovoltaic, b) wind generated power, c) water generated power, d) watts, voltage, amperage, the power grid and storage of energy, e) Bio-diesel from seeds and algae f) Propane, methane, hydrogen as power sources g) alcohol production from cellulose h) steam engine power and i) hydroponics. We will finish with how the concept of sustainability and the value of earth’s resources coupled with technology and modern science is helping to provide new solutions to energy demand and still maintain sustainability for future generations.
Dialogues of Self and Society
In this course we will explore historical and contemporary utopian ideals and attempts to realize them. Students will be challenged with developing and communicating their own imaginative thinking about the future and the ideals and laws that most effectively create a society that embodies them. Comparisons made between students’ concept of Self within this futuristic society and students’ understanding of their influence on their indigenous society, will allow for stimulating dialogue and debate during class meetings.
Where the Wild Things Are
This course will be an exploration of how we understand and get to know ourselves from our first introduction of stories as a child to taking on roles as responsible young adults. The children’s book and now movie, Where the Wild Things Are, follows one boy’s journey to understanding himself. This particular story provides opportunities for discussion on the role of imagination and fantasy in helping an individual process frustration, anger and confusion. Themes of self-efficacy, resilience, and the social construction of gender, socialized identity roles, power and leadership will be examined through this reading. Additional readings on these themes will be included in the course to supplement themes related to the SS reader and discussion topics.
The course will give students the opportunity to view characters from the television series Breaking Bad through the lens of the following perspectives: Developmental, Social Learning Theory, Humanistic, and Sociological. We will focus on the evolution of the characters themselves as well in relation to one another. Further, the course will emphasize how each character’s representation of self reflects and defines their identity.
Self as Learner
Self as Learner has been designed to introduce students to the theory of multiple intelligences and the relationship of cognitive potential to learning. The course provides students, through lectures, various inventories, and working with the support of faculty, an understanding of their cognitive strengths and the sensory modalities that will assist then in the way they approach their courses, choose and appropriate college major, and ultimately, a career.
Me, Myself, and I: Nature vs. Nurture?
This course will be an exploration of how we develop our identity and the influence of biology, parents, and significant events in the shaping of the concept of self. Questions examining the role of nature vs. nurture will be explored. The development of values and the moral self (who do I want to be?) will also be discussed. Themes of self-efficacy, resilience, and the social construction of gender, socialized identity roles, power and leadership will be examined through films and through readings in the book listed below to supplement the SS reader and discussion topics.
One person can make a difference
For every individual and society, the most fundamental of all questions is both the simplest and the most profound, who am I, what is my purpose? The desire and need to “know thyself,” as Socrates recognized, is the root of all knowledge, wisdom and virtue. To seek self-awareness and acquire self-knowledge requires all of the skills, knowledge, and multiple perspectives expressed in our learning outcomes for the 21st century. Individual identity is a social as well as personal phenomenon. Seminars that will fulfill this requirement will focus on the development of identity and the “situated self” historically and in the contemporary environment from an interdisciplinary perspective.
Where do I Belong: Emerging Self
This course examines how the communities we live in influence social and individual development and emergent concepts of self and society. The course will focus on the characteristics of communities, and how these impact social relationships, participation, and meaningful connections. It will introduce students to both a historical and contemporary understanding of the structure of communities and relate this to their understanding of how their communities reflect personal values and belief systems.
Global Crises: Individual Response
Food, fuel and water are essential goods and necessary for daily life yet dwindling access is placing each and every global citizen in grave jeopardy. Discover the geographic importance of accessibility and the differences in resource access and use, trace the trade routes and uncover the roots of the food, water and fuel crises. Close examination of the ongoing global impact on the environment will be included as this has played a significant role in the perpetuation of the food, fuel and water crises. Incorporation of key concepts and theories from development, geography and International Relations will further perspective. Recognizing the difference in resource use by individuals living in the world’s regions will provide a better understanding of one’s role as a consumer perpetuating the food, fuel and water crises. Gaining an appreciation of one’s previous role in furthering these crises will lead to individual action and response. Students will devise an action plan to make a personal impact on these crises.
Whose World Is It Anyway?
This course will include both a historical and current readings relating to how other people and society create power and influence in shaping our personalities. The stories of you and your classmates will be one of the main focuses of the class demonstrating how one’s culture can be so powerful and influential in developing our perspective of the world. Themes from the course will include anecdotal and empirical findings on the self and how perspective was developed. These will include topics such as attribution theory, cognitive dissonance, compliance, conformity, and obedience. By reading and studying these readings students will identify and define the most significant theories and definitions of self from a historical, interdisciplinary and cross cultural perspective, identify and define the self as a construct in relationship to others and identify and define how representations of self-reflect and determine identity.