Fys fall 2015 Justin Allen and Keith Jones Pomeroy, Skin Deep: The Walking Dead and What it Means to be Human

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Justin Allen and Keith Jones Pomeroy, Skin Deep: The Walking Dead and What it Means to be Human

This course will explore the question of what it means to be human in our world. This question will be looked at through the lenses of popular culture (particularly the television series The Walking Dead) and social issues within history and culture (gender, race, religion, torture, Citizen’s United, artificial intelligence, euthanasia, medical ethics, war etc). Who decides the defining characteristics of humanity? Who is in/out? The answers to these questions have significant implications on the future of humankind and the natural world.

Adrienne Bloss, @developingcountries #tech:  Technology in Developing Countries

Can technology help developing countries move forward, or is the global digital divide destined to grow ever wider?  Countless initiatives have worked to bring information and communication technologies to developing countries in support of economic growth, education, democratization, and other goals.  From cell phones in Bangladesh to internet access in sub-Saharan Africa, we will explore initiatives that made a difference – and some that didn’t – along with emerging ideas for technology in the developing world.

Woody Bousquet: Sustainable Development in Guatemala and the Shenandoah Valley

How can people and the environment coexist? How can protecting natural places, improving environmental quality and developing local economies support each other? Our class will examine the potential, challenges and issues of sustainable development by investigating and comparing examples in Guatemala with those here in the Shenandoah Valley region. Field trips locally and global trips virtually will be an integral part of this class.

Sarah Canfield Fuller, Hungry for Hope: Dystopian Literature and Social Activism

The Hunger Games (2008) is the most popular recent entry in a global tradition of futuristic novels where the protagonist must confront injustice in a society that has taken a frightening turn. Dystopian novels and films use their science fiction content to highlight problematic issues of class, race, gender, and politics in the real world, seeking to rouse readers to act in the present. They pose the questions: What went wrong here? What can we do to prevent it happening to us? This course will place Suzanne Collins' work in international context with other works—such as We (Russia), Metropolis (Germany), and V for Vendetta (UK)—that use science fiction to inspire social activism.
DeLyn Celec, Speaking of Sex: Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation in Global Perspective

Ever wonder why a show like The Bachelor prevails on American television, a reality television show where the winner receives a rose and a marriage proposal?  How is gender, sexual orientation, and American culture constructed and constrained in such a snapshot of "reality"? This course asks you to closely examine how you experience gender and sexuality in your everyday life and then challenges you to broaden that experience to exploring how cultures outside the U.S. construct gender identity and sexual orientation.  Why are only some kinds of sex legitimated and institutionalized as the proper form of sexuality?  Why are only some partnerships considered legitimate or normal? This course provides a framework for addressing questions such as these; together we will look globally to find answers, question those answers, and question our own perceptions of what is “normal.”

Rhonda Colby, Do All the Good You Can

People across the globe navigate their lives based on their principles and passions. Oaths, codes, and creeds are alive in many cultures. What’s yours? We’ll learn principles from the religious roots of Shenandoah University and contrast them with other principles and passions from around the globe. Enjoy the annual Unity Walk in DC, exploring cultural and religious diversity. Visit an Islamic Center, a Jewish synagogue and a Buddhist vihara. Experience sacred tastes and smells you’ve never encountered. Learn how to be confident in your own beliefs without dismissing or disrespecting those of others through interfaith dialogue. Along the way you will discover your own personal code and creed for the life you are forging.

Bogdan Daraban, Starting Something that Matters: Innovative Social Entrepreneurship

Why is TOMS Shoes so successful?  If you haven’t heard, TOMS donates one pair of shoes to needy people for every pair of shoes bought.  This class focuses on numerous case studies – successful and not-so-successful social ventures – analyzing and contrasting top-down policies of international organizations and bottom-up initiatives of social entrepreneurs.  Our focus is on the latter, folks like Blake Mycoskie, TOMS founder.  Through the case studies, you will become familiar with the most pressing global issues and the innovative solutions proposed by social entrepreneurs.  Most importantly?  You will reflect on whether and how you yourself can become a pro-active citizen of the world through social entrepreneurship. 

Bill Duvall, World Music Crossraods: The rise of the guitar as an instrument of peace and rebellion

What does Woody Guthrie and Roman armies have in common?  This class traces the evolution of music and culture -- from the Arab “oud” to the Chinese “Qin” to the well known European “guitar.”  We will go an a journey examining the guitar as a symbol of peace and an instrument of change.  The course will not only focus on the musical development of the guitar but the physical evolution of the instrument as well.. from Stradivarius to C.F. Martin Sr. to Les Paul..We will examine how the instrument has evolved over the years to stay current with and, in many cases, shape the culture of the times.   If “The medium is the message”, we will examine how culture, tradition and technology have played a part in making the guitar one of the most important communication tools in modern human history.


In this course we will explore how the availability, production, distribution and consumption of food impact and reflect politics and culture at the global, national and individual level.  To what extent has food (or the scarcity of it) ignited armed conflict?  How does food reflect - and influence - cultural, political and national identity?  How does the consumption of food in one place affect the availability of food elsewhere?  How can food impact the outcome of political campaigns, the tenor of family reunions and the relocation of entire ethnic communities?  We will explore these questions while we also cook, eat together, and visit different restaurants and kitchens.

Ginger Garver, Ghost Stories and Legends

How to stop a zombie?  What is a pookah?  What is the one way to escape a Cajun werewolf?  The answers to these questions and more wisdom on the supernatural await you in the FYS adventure Going Global: Ghosts and Legends.  Our class explores the lore of specific cultures as well as the universal themes that unite all cultures from Ireland to Mexico to Eastern Europe.  It turns out we all have the same fears, hopes, and dreams.  Listen to a real paranormal investigator.  Record ghostly voices.  Create a project on the Top Ten Haunted Locations.

Joey Gawrysiak. , Global Gaming: Video Gaming in our World

This course will explore video gaming around the world and examines how video games are valued in various countries and societies. From social inclusion to professional gaming to fun, video games offer a wide array of outcomes and serve the needs and desires of people around the world. The purpose of this class is to educate students of the various uses video games serve in our contemporary global environment as they relate to cultural values.

T. Grant Lewis, Into the Wilderness: Exploring the Role of Wilderness in Cultural Rites of Passage

A rite of passage is a ritual event that marks a person's transition from one status to another, and are considered being associated with theories of socialization.  These rites function by ritually marking the transition of someone to full group membership within a community setting.  These rites also link individuals to the community, and in many cultures, the community to the broader and more potent spiritual world.  Throughout centuries, people of many cultures have gone into the wilderness to mark life transitions and seek guidance.  While the rites fall under a variety of terms, such as vision quests or walkabout, individuals are afforded an opportunity to find time alone, exposure to the elements in an unfamiliar place, a radical shift in self and world, a trial and a gift, and a ritual death and rebirth.  This course will explore a variety of diverse cultures and how the essence of wilderness has been a milieu for these rites to occur in both ancient and modern times.  Time will be spent in the field to directly experience and explore the essence of wilderness.

Paula Grajdeanu, Homo Sapiens (Latin: 'wise man'): Games, Puzzles & Beyond

Ever settled a dispute by Rock-Paper-Scissors, and wonder whether there are any winning tricks? Played Tic-Tac-Toe until you learned how to win or draw? You like Checkers? Or maybe Chess? How about Mancala? Or Settles of Catan? Have you tried Robot Turtles – The Game for Little Programmers? Worked on a Sudoku game on long car rides? Bragged about solving the Rubik Cube? Believe it or not, there is a game for everything & everyone: politics and diplomacy (Risk, Coup, Avalon), civilization building (Through the Ages, 7 Wonders), diseases (Pandemic), money (For Sale), travel (Ticket to Ride), tile games (Blokus, Ingenious, Tangrams, Carcassonne), card games, kids games and Origami! While having fun, with each game we learn something - take turns, follow directions, stay focused, have a strategy, improvise, plan ahead, don't get mad when losing:) In this course, critical thinking concepts are explored, across times and across countries, through interactive brainy games, puzzles or hands-on activities. While (re)discovering how much fun quantitative reasoning can be, we will also develop an appreciation and understanding of how mathematical and logical thinking ideas are used to solve complex everyday life problems, turn ideas into reality and reshape the world around us. Might even (definitely!) improve your studying and learning skills, or help you stay mentally healthy down the road!

Rachael Hammond, So you think you know everything?  What it means to be culturally literate

What if you could learn everything that is "important" to know?  Yep.  Since the 1970s, cultural critics have been creating lists and lists of novels, ideas, works of art that you can "master."  What are these lists?  What does mastery mean?  What do these lists look like in the United States as compared to other powerful, and less powerful countries?  Where and how do our cultures intersect?  We will focus on questions like this and create our own "millenial list" to pass onto the next generation so perhaps they can know "everything."  Is that even possible?  Find out yourself. 

Julie Hofmann, Race, gender and the Other in Disney's (mostly) animated films

This course introduces students to changes in the history and social construction of race and gender, as well as the concept of the Other, through a variety of readings, films, and discussion. As part of that discussion, we explore the ways different global cultures understand these concepts and the role Disney's films play in both the reception of American culture in other countries, as well as questions of multiculturalism and cultural appropriation. Students will complete several short written assignments and exams, a group iMovie project, and a final individual iMovie project. 

Geraldine Kiefer World Views in Art: Beliefs, Art and Culture in India

This course will focus on the art, culture and history primarily of the Indian subcontinent, with units devoted to Hindu and Islamic (Mughal) art.  Art forms to be studied include temples , paintings, decorative arts, costume and prints. Students will learn the Ramayana, one of the major Hindu epic tales of love, devotion and duty, and create a “treasure box” of Ramayana drawings. There will be a carnatic saxophone concert by Dr. Sumanth Swaminathan with mridangam and violin accompaniment.  Beyond experiencing this music, in this class students will explore the history of arts associated with India by designing the layout of an Indian garden, influenced by the Taj Mahal. Possible field trips will include the Freer and Sackler galleries in Washington D.C and the Durga Hindu temple in Fairfax. Richly textural, coloristic, and eye--popping, Indian art will forever change your opinions on what art is and how it can open new dimensions of spirit and life.

Karrin Lukacs, No Child Left Behind:  A Global Look at Equality in Education

In October 2012, Malala Yousafzai was shot while on her way to school. Why? Because she was an outspoken advocate of education for girls, she became a target for the Taliban and others hoping to silence her influence. Since the attack, Malala has gone on to become “the most famous teenager in the world” and has even won a Nobel Peace Prize. In this FYS, we will learn more about Malala – and others like her – and create a project to address the challenges faced by children around the world as they try to get an education.

Eric Leonard, Diplomacy, Destruction and Domination: So you Want to Rule the World

Interested in creating your own government in a fictional world? Grappling with real world issues? Be the master of your own destiny in the online simulation Statecraft (http://statecraftsim.com/) where you can achieve goals such as world peace, equality, the rule of law, and cooperation among nations. Join a class where you create a fictional world that provides insight into parallel real-word dilemmas. This simulation will drive classroom discussion and provide you “hands-on” experience in ruling the world.

Michael Maher, Appalachia to Tibet: Traditional Music and the Sense of Place

This course examines how traditional music defines a sense of place, home and belonging within a global community.  Using music of Appalachia as a model, music of other cultures will be explored for their ability to define a sense of place.  

Rick McClendon, You know what grinds my gear: Student Leadership and Activism in a Global Perspective

Do you have what it takes to make your voice heard even if it shakes? Do you have the skills necessary to mobilize your peers for a worthy cause? Do you feel confident and prepared to tackle an unjust system or to improve a system? In 2014, from the streets of Barcelona, Mexico, London, Turkey, Hong Kong, Bangkok and Cairo the media captured how young activists effected change in whichever way they can. On March 2, 2014, several hundred students and other youths who marched from Georgetown University to the White House protesting the Keystone XL pipeline, in Washington, D.C. Internationally, in Barcelona, on Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014, students protested during a strike against the financial cuts to education. Students took part in a general strike to protest government education reform and cutbacks plan. What are the similarities here, what are the differences? What do you have in common with these students? Find out this semester.

Meredith Minister, Edible Gods

From chocolate figurines of the Hindu god Ganesh to the elements of Christian communion as the body and blood of Jesus, there are many ways to eat the sacred. Because food practices vary across religious and cultural communities, food choices become a central way in which individuals and groups articulate their identities. This course explores food rituals and laws in specific religious traditions including Hinduism, Christianity, and Islam as well as the ethics of food choices in both religious and secular contexts. 

Bryan Pearce-Gonzales: Why Didn't the World End in 2012?  Understanding the Ancient Maya

This course is designed as an exploration of some of the ancient civilizations of this American continent.  Focusing primarily on the Maya people, the students will explore specific universal aspects of culture such as time, religion, family, and intellectual accomplishments.   Through the study of these Mesoamerican  peoples and their way of life, students will articulate a deeper understanding of their “2012” prophecy and why the world did not come to an end. 

Naomi Pitcock and Brenda Johnston, What's the issue with a Little (Skin) Tissue? A Global look at the Largest Human Organ; What you couldn’t discuss in your high school health class and your momma never told you.

Certain male and female body tissues have come to represent our inner fabric, morals, and values. Some tissues are outwardly presented while others are rarely revealed or discussed. Regardless of their presentation these tissues hold mysteries that are seldom examined for their meaning and relevance to our cultural beliefs, values and morals. Some tissues for example can convey religious preferences, sexual histories, and beliefs regarding wholeness and nature. But can these structures really display so much information about our past and present lives? This course will utilize a global perspective to unravel, expose, and shatter the myths of the skin we’re in by addressing topics that include virginity, tattoos, scarring, piercings, and finally, the penis: does size matter or is it the motion of the ocean?

Petra Schweitzer, Remnants of Genocides: Race, Nation and Gender

This course introduces students to a world of genocide and extermination in the 20th and 21st centuries. Focusing on atrocities from Europe, Cambodia, Darfur and Rwanda, students will conduct a comparative study of genocide within the framework of Crimes against Humanity. We will explore violence, repression, rape, terror and mass murder through written and visual testimonies of survivors. Students will visit the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and attend one

special event on Human Rights at the American University in Washington, D.C.

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