Dialogues course descriptions

Spring 2016: Dialogues course descriptions

Dialogues of Belief and Reason

DBRA 100    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.

DBRA 100    Rude Democracy              

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.

DBRA 100    Faith Heroes

This course explores different faiths and encourages students to come to an understanding of the basic beliefs in different religions.  Through examining people who are heroes of their faith, students will engage in discussions about various different belief systems.  The course will look at iconic individuals who openly share their beliefs as well as explore ordinary people who are doing something extraordinary. Students will also explore and share their individual belief systems as well. 

DBRG 200    Why Tragedy?

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.

DBRG 200    Emersonian Transcendentalism

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.

DBRG 200    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.

DBRG 300    Seeing is Believing: Belief on Stage and Screen


This course will use close readings of plays and viewings of films to explore issues in belief and reason across the globe. Our material will come from places as various as Nigeria, Ghana, Ireland, New Zealand, and India, and time periods from ancient Greece to today. Each play and film will serve as a case study to be examined in-depth in class and through projects. These projects will include both traditional research and text-based work, but also more creative and hands-on options, so come with an open and creative mind! Some of the issues the plays and movies will broach include: culture clash, crisis of faith, rituals of death and passage to the afterlife, controversial uses of religion, and masks and identity.

DBRG 300    Sex, Love and Gender

This course will examine the dynamic s of the male /female relationship from a philosophical perspective through a historical lens. The philosophical/religious beliefs on gender from the Ancients to contemporary belief systems will be analyzed in the context of their influence toward creating attitudes of duality and domination/submission.

DBRG/DSL 300    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.

DBRG 300    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.

DBRG 400    Culture in Revolt: Reactions to the Enlightenment

Beginning with Nietzsche in the 19th century, the course will examine the revolt against reason that continued into the 20th century and was reflected not only in philosophical writings but also in art. The question the course will ask, what happened to faith, religion, myth, art and culture, as well as trust in reason, technology and science in the modern world in the wake of the Enlightenment.  Central to this question are writings in the emerging 20th century field of cultural theory that began with the Frankfurt School and specifically in the ideas of Adorno and Horkheimer in their Dialectic of Enlightenment and Walter Benjamin, specifically in his essay “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. Reactions to the absence of religious faith will be seen in Freud’s Civilization and Its Discontents and to a world dominated by rationalism, and technology in Marcuse’s One-Dimensional Man. As critic Raymond Williams once claimed, the ethos of an era is visible in the artistic “structures of feeling” that represent an age; hence, Culture in Revolt will look at these relevant structures of feeling in film to examine the clash between faith and reason. The seminal works in cultural theory will be used to critique these art films

DBRG 400    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.

DBRG 400    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.

Dialogues of Justice and Civic Life

DJCA 100    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.   

DJCA 100    Poetry of Protest

The Poetry of Protest will pair selections from the reader with poetry covering topics on war, race, and social/political themes.

DJCA 100    American Story Telling

How do we tell the story of America and Americans? History is one way to tell our collective story, but there are many other ways, as well. In this section of DJC 100, we will utilize the course iBook, which consists of primary and secondary readings from and about American history, as well as other types of storytelling methods, including short fiction and nonfiction, podcasts and blogs, film and television, to discover how others tell their stories to create and contribute to their communities—and how we can do so ourselves.

DJCA 100    Eternal Struggle for Freedom

This course will compare and consider how vital national 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.

DJCA 100    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.

DJCA 100    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.

DJCAE 100    Free As I Want To Be                

Explore the development of civic life, and the struggle for justice from the origin of American government and society to the present day. These courses examine the form and function of many founding documents of the United States, with a literary, historical, and philosophical focus. These courses are from the American perspective and writing intensive, focusing on writing strategy, academic research and composition. The course uses musical anthems to reflect our cultural traditions of rebellion and revolution.

DJCG 200    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.

DJCG 200    International Peace and Justice
Pickering, Mark

This course will expose students to justice debates in international law (e.g., judicial and non-judicial accountability for international crimes, etc.) The relationship between peace and justice and between politics and law will likewise be examined in an effort to clarify the theory and purpose of remedies that give rise to significant peace processes.

DJCG 200    Revolutionary Justice
This course probes the core issues of justice and civic engagement with respect to revolutionary thoughts and actions relating to individuals, groups, communities, and governments. The concept of thoughts materializing into actions and when does compromise lead to action provides the context for addressing the topics of justice and civic engagement.

DJCA 300    Greening the Planet

This course will explore the contributions of several important environmental thinkers and actors. Students will be encouraged to develop their own environmental beliefs, assess their lifestyles in an effort to determine their eco-footprint, and participate on a number of nature hikes and ecological activities.

DJCG 300    The Nuremberg Trials

This course will examine the lessons of Nuremberg and the legacies that resulted from the Nuremberg trials including the precedents established for war crimes, military tribunals and the international court of justice.  Students will have the opportunity to study both the historical and legal perspective of the Nuremberg trials by working with primary documents from the trials to examine the issues of justice, injustice, racism and power as revealed by the horrifying crimes of the Nazis during World War II.             

Dialogues of Quantitative Reasoning

DQR 100    Personal Finance 

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.

DQR 200    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.

DQR 200    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.

DQR 200    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.

DQR/DSL 300    Environmental Sustainability

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.

DQR 400    Investing in the Real World

This course emphasizes a practical approach to problem solving, statistical analysis and using quantitative reasoning in the context of investing in today’s world economy.  Students will learn, develop and apply colleges mathematics and principles as they relate to the different forms of real world investments to enrich their financial future. Topics will include: retirement planning, stocks, bonds, exchange traded funds, international investments, mutual funds, real estate, and many other real world information.

Dialogues of Scientific Literacy

DSL 100    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.

DSL 200    Alternative 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.

DSL 200    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.

DSL 200    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.

DSL 200    Global Warming and Florida

Course theme is “Florida and Climate Change”: what are the Florida-specific consequences of global warming in addition to “slightly hotter”? Topics include: the basics of how global warming works, solutions, sea level rise, ocean acidification, and the effects of changing climate on human and nonhuman species. Individual field trips may include the beach, the Everglades, and county state, and national parks.

DSL 200    The Science of Climate Change

In DSL 200 we examine one theme: The Science of Climate Change.  These courses use a study of the physical environment and the history of science to introduce students to the scientific method.  Students explore the relationship between science and technology, the collection and analysis of scientific data, and the ethical issues relating to science.  As we explore this topic, we study the relevant science and exam our actions and their consequences.  This course theme will look on the effect of climate change on our planet with a focus on the effect here in Southern Florida.  Topics will include the chemistry of climate change, air and water issues, the Everglades, mangrove forests, and coral reefs.

DSL 300    Is DNA Your Destiny?

This course examines the nature of heredity, the passing of characteristics between generations. Topics include: the history of genetics, the structure and function of DNA, mutations and cancer, environmental impacts on genes, climate change and genetic diversity, and biotechnology. These topics will be explored through case studies, discussion, and laboratory exercises. We will explore whether the information encoded within our genes determine all aspects of our biology.

DSL 400    Humans, Frogs and Fruit Flies?

This course will examine the basic mechanisms that underlie development of all types of organisms. We will look at what genes, evolution, environments, and patterns have to do with development. We will look at current research in the field as well as common developmental disorders affecting humans. We will discuss and conceptualize major themes in developmental biology as a group and integrate our knowledge into a wider understanding of life

Dialogues of Self and Society

DSSA 100    Modern America

This course will focus on issues of self and society in modern America. We will examine the history of American culture, how modern American culture reflects changes from the past, and how we might expect culture to change in the future. We will explore the development of self in the context of these changes, focusing particularly on the way individuals interact with popular culture through various outlets, such as the internet, television, film, art and media. Students will develop an understanding of psychological and sociological theories of the self in the framework of modern culture and society.

DSSA 100    Game of Thrones

This course will allow students to explore various theories on the self (developmental, humanistic, sociological, and social learning theory) through the characters in George R. R. Martin’s fantasy novel series A Song of Fire and Ice and the HBO series Game of Thrones. Students will explore how the characters in Martin’s fictional world develop by examining how they relate with one another, their individual histories, their prejudices and purposes, and how the events – both political and social – in their society have shaped their identities. Martin’s stories are set in Westeros, a society not unlike present day America, rich in history, culture, and political divisions. Although it is not necessary for students to have read all five books in Martin’s novel series, students will need to watch all episodes in Game of Thrones Season 1-5.

DSSG 200    Where Do I Belong: Emerging Myself

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.

DSSG 200    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.

DSSG 200    Genocide, Film, and Memory

A course focused on analyzing genocides in history through the use of popular films, while at the same time delving into the aspect of memory through the analysis of institutions. How do the institutions of family, education, and government help the conservation of these tragic memories? How do they hinder it? Through the use of a theoretical approach, we will break down the aspects that led to mass violence and analyze how the structures played a part in the demise of these nations. For this purpose, we will use sociological theories that apply to the conflicts at hand.
DSSG 200    Coming to America

In light of the current flood of young people to the southern borders of the United States, it will be interesting to explore how and why so many people risk so much. In this course, students will be asked to put themselves in the position of these travelers, and take a 15-week trip to America. They will choose a country of origin and research what motivates people to leave their home and their family, in exchange for the insecurity of a dangerous journey and the possibility of starting a new life in the United States. The iBook’s themes of family, education, religion, economy and laws all impact people’s decision to pack up and look for a better life. Students will then find out what the journey is like, make difficult choices along the way, and overcome the roadblocks many immigrants deal with.

DSSG 400    Curtains Up: The Self on Stage

Students will consider theories, make emotional connections, and enhance their understanding of the self and society by exploring fictional narratives.  This course will explore the transformative power of theater on an individual’s life.  Students will read and analyze diverse short and full-length theatrical works to examine how societal customs and family traditions coalesce to shape one’s individual identity.  This will be accomplished by closely considering relationships within various dramatic works, utilizing supplementary materials related to the works, and through critical textual analysis.

DSSG 400    Sex, Drugs and Power

After graduation, most students seek some form of employment. Most of our jobs, and the places that employ us, are overseen and recognized by the legal system. In other words, most of us are employed in the formal economy. However, there are countless others who live and work outside the structures of this formal economy. What are these informal, underground economies?  How do they operate, and how do the individuals within them construct their identities?  How do informal economies relate to the formal economy? This course explores these questions through case studies at the local level (for example, street gangs, prostitution and waste picking) and at the global level (for example, the trades in narcotics, endangered species, and people). Using readings, films and class discussion, students will learn about these topics from a sociological perspective and will be expected to conduct in-depth research into one of the case studies for a major project.

DSSG 400    Class and Privilege

This course will focus on expressions of class and privilege in arts and the media. Students will learn about three significant theories of self and society: dramaturgy, feminist theory, and labeling theory. They will then apply these theories to literary works, film, and music. This will challenge students to develop historical, cross-cultural, and multi-disciplinary perspectives on self and society. Their goal will be to analyze how social classes are defined and perpetuated by individuals, groups, and the arts. Students will also learn throughout this course how privilege and social distinction go hand in hand.