Spring 2015 DWC Colloquia
DWC 202-C01: Evolution, Human Nature, and Society
Dr. Maia Bailey, Biology, Dr. Jeffery Nicholas, Philosophy
To what extent does biology determine our lives? Even more, to what extent has the evolution of Homo sapiens from previous species determined our social forms of life and our individual actions? How has our increasing understanding of how life has evolved changed our way of thinking about science and human life? These questions are grounded in the development of Western science from the early Greeks, some of whom proposed that animals descended from previous forms, through Newton to Darwin and modern biology. Further, the question of the social nature of modern humans remains a perennial question for philosophers, social sci-entists, and biologists. This course will examine current controversies in light of more traditional approaches particularly focusing on the “natural sociality” of the human being, the possibility of free will, and the scientific basis for accepting or rejecting essentialism.
DWC 202-C02: Race, Marginality and Theologies of Liberation
Dr. Dana Dillon, Theology, Dr. Jennifer Illuzzi, History
When diverse cultures and people come together, some persons and groups rise to power and find their concerns and interests central, while others are marginalized and oppressed. Both Jewish and Christian scriptures demand attention to the needs and concerns of the poor, the oppressed, and the vulnerable — in other words, those on the margins. This witness echoes through the Christian tradition and has been expressed both in liberation theologies and official Catholic social doctrine as “the preferential option for the poor.” The colloquium will explore both the concept and the reality of marginality in theology and history, with attention to philosophical and literary resources as well. The course will specifically address two case studies of racial marginality: anti-Semitism and African-Americans in the United States. Students will also have the opportunity for research into other cases of racial marginalization.
DWC 202-C03: From Childhood to Community
Fr. John Allard, Theology, Dr. Peter Costello, Philosophy
How does a person develop and grow from childhood to participation in a healthy and effective adult community? In order to understand this development, the course will explore two questions -- What is a child? What is a community? -- in their philosophical and theological dimensions, with the assistance of appropriate resources in literature, psychology, sociology, public service, women’s studies and global studies. Our students, already familiar with the reality of childhood and now actively engaged in the process of establishing communities, will use their experience and their knowledge to respond to the books of the course. They will also integrate and synthesize their learning from this course with the study of the human person that they have encountered in earlier semesters of the Western civilization program.
DWC 202-C04: Monsters, Magic, and Mother
Dr. Paul Firenze, Philosophy, Dr. Sharon Teague, English
Having given birth, a mother has the instinct to protect, promote, and provide for her offspring. Western culture, for its part, has constructed images, created myths, and written stories in an attempt to understand—and perhaps even tame—this powerful imperative. There are nurturing earth mothers like Gaia, but also murderous Medeas; serene and pure Madonnas, but also women who give birth to mon-sters, aliens, and devils.
Using a wide range of sources — history, myth, legend, literature, music, and images drawn from art and cinema — this colloquium will explore archetypical representations of motherhood, asking how they continue to affect the way girls (and boys) are raised, influence the assignment of gender roles in families or raise unreasonably high “Supermom” expectations. If it is true that philosophers, psychologists and sociologists have now begun to take women's experiences more seriously, especially those centered on motherhood and caring, how may this shape new theories on human nature, morality, and social policy?
DWC 202-C05: Global Marketing, Religion, and Culture
Dr. Deirdre Bird, Marketing, Dr. Terence McGoldrick, Theology
It is undeniable: American culture has spread around the world. The impact of this has been felt, for good or for ill, in developed countries of Europe and in the emerging markets of China, India, South America, Southeast Asia, and Africa. During the last several years, dissatisfaction towards American encroachment on global cultures has been manifested in various ways; from the destruction of McDonald’s restaurants in France to Muslim outrage at what is perceived as blasphemy against Islam in depictions of the prophet by the media.
This colloquium will attempt to trace the origins of this modern antipathy, looking back at the role missionaries have played in commerce in the past, at how evangelicals are marketing the Protestant faith in Latin America today, and how products are being marketed across the globe using a symbolism that was once reserved for religion. We will consider the global impact of what has been described as cultural imperialism, and of US “rights” such as freedom of speech and the reasons that other peoples become angered by a transgression of what they hold sacred by US marketing and business practices. We will study the conflict between what Thomas Freidman called the Lexus and the Olive tree, the traditional religious values and institutions with the new, modern and commercial as it is played out today in different parts of the world.
DWC 202-C06: The Science and Politics of Energy: Past, Present, Future
Dr. Joe Cammarano, Political Science and Public & Community Service, Dr. Lynne Lawson, Engineering-Physics-Systems
Have you ever wondered why our core requires students to take courses outside of their major? Why do science majors need to take courses in the social sciences? Why do majors in Humanities or Social Sciences have to take science courses? Why does everyone enroll in DWC? This colloquium seeks to answer these questions, finding the connection between seemingly unconnected fields of study by focusing on the following question: “How are we going to cope with the increasing demand for energy resources while also trying to prevent the environmental crises that come with increased consumption of carbon-based energy?”
We will examine the origins of energy science and politics, the current state of important energy debates, and the future of energy policy. We do so through use of the “Wedges Game,” which requires teams of students to develop a plan to mitigate the increasing level of hydrocarbons in the atmosphere that comes with global development. Books, readings, and activities from a variety of scientific, journalistic, political, and philosophical sources will be used to study the science of energy, the politics of science, and how the development of a wide array of western and non-western intellectual traditions inform and constrain energy solutions.
DWC 202-C07: Humor, Humanities, and the Status Quo
Dr. Robin Greene, History, Dr. Anthony Jensen, Philosophy
This DWC Colloquium concerns the intersection of humor and the humanities, and how both operate within, are necessitated by, and resist the status quo. There are two thematic questions that will guide our construction. First, why precisely humor and the humanities seem to have always been so closely connected over history? In exploring this question, our course readings will represent a survey of satire, parody, cynicism, and wit that covers ancient and contemporary humanities literature and performance in order to ground historically the various instantiations of each in contemporary discourse. Second, what are the socio-political conditions necessary for the possibility of humor? In exploring this question, we will trace the basic outlines of the social and political situations in which the respective texts were written in order to locate the common conditions that allow for the emergence of both humanities and humor.
DWC 202-C08: “Love Never Fails”: Grace, Truth, and Freedom in the Nazi Era
Dr. Vance G. Morgan, Philosophy, Dr. Raymond Sickinger, History and Public and Community Service Studies
A Polish Franciscan priest. A Lutheran pastor and theologian. A French, Jewish so-cial activist attracted to Marxism. A French novelist and philosopher. A group of young German college students. The citizens of an isolated rural town in France. What do the above persons have in common? In unique and profound ways, Maximillian Kolbe, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Simone Weil, Albert Camus, the members of the White Rose, and the people of Le Chambon were witnesses to the power of the human spirit and the dignity of the human person in the face of unimaginable horror and atrocity. This colloquium will focus on one of the most inhumane periods of Western History -- the Era of the Nazi Movement (1930-1945). Yet it will look to voices that spoke to truth and valued authentic freedom in response to the evil and repression of the Nazis. In the voices of the people we will examine in this colloquium the power of love in the face of hatred will be profoundly evident. In exploring the meaning of human existence they will question the easy assumptions and the ideological certainties of the Nazi movement, offering a vision of the human person and the meaning of life not based on the mindless collectivism of the Nazis but rather on the human capacity to love and to suffer for authentic community.
DWC 202-C09: Contemporary New Orleans and the Arts of Resistance
Dr. Eric Hirsch, Sociology, Dr. John Scanlan, English
As the staggering news of Hurricane Katrina reminded us, poverty and racism, adversity and heartbreak, are longstanding problems for the people of New Orleans. The causes of these troubles are deeply imbedded in New Orleans’ unique relation to major themes in Western and American history. As the Industrial Revolution expanded in the United States in the nineteenth century, New Orleans, formerly a prosperous center of shipping and trade, began to lose ground to the emerging industrial cities. The complex legacy of slavery is perhaps felt especially keenly in New Orleans. And of course the location of New Orleans has forever made the city vul-nerable to hurricanes. In short, the sheer scale of poverty, adversity, and racial inequality has taken a special toll on the residents of New Orleans.
How have the people of New Orleans reacted to all this? How do they fight back? How do they transform these hardships into lasting works of art, literature, and social capital? In our view, they have responded by creating distinctive “arts of resistance.”
This course will explore three principal themes where these “arts of resistance” are most conspicuous: (1) race relations in New Orleans, and particularly matters relating to segregation, desegregation, and resegregation; (2) the power and persistence of New Orleans music, especially jazz, one of America’s permanent contributions to the arts; and (3) the history and legacy of Hurricane Katrina. Inevitably, our course will depend on the methods of history, music, sociology, literary studies, and religion, as well as environmental studies and meteorology.
We envision this colloquium as an “immersion” course. Accordingly, we hope to be able to set up a research trip to New Orleans during Spring Break.
DWC 202-C10: Democracy in America: Then and Now
Dr. Patrick Breen, History, Dr. Raymond Hain, Philosophy
The heart of this course will be a close reading of Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, the most important book ever written about democracy in the United States and, perhaps, the most important book ever written about democracy. We will then ask if Tocqueville’s interpretation of 19th century America helps us under-stand the successes of, and challenges facing, American democracy in the 21st century. Along the way we will consider contemporary critics across the political spectrum and reflect upon the nature of our rights and responsibilities as individual citizens.
DWC 202-C11: Colonialism and Conversion in a Global Age
Dr. Ted Andrews, History, Dr. Stephanie Boeninger, English
Were missionaries godly saints with the best of intentions or avaricious imperialists who paved the way for European colonialism and indigenous oppression? Were they a little bit of both, or were they something different altogether? This colloquium will investigate the historical development, literary representation, and cinematic depiction of Christian missionaries around the world from about 1600 to the present day. Students will examine the motivations, methods, and impacts of missionaries from a variety of religious organizations, comparing the experiences of historical and present-day missionaries with their fictional counterparts in literature and film. Along the way, we will wrestle with colonialism and globalization, race and racism, poverty and wealth, and a host of other perplexing and timely issues.
DWC 202-C12: Our Monsters, Ourselves
Dr. Elizabeth Bridgham, English, Dr. Fred Drogula, History
“Our Monsters, Ourselves” will study the development of western thinking about monsters from ancient Greece to modern day. The course will use monsters as a lens though which to study how different cultures imagined ‘the other," using it to define and distinguish their own cultural norms and boundaries, and how the development of western thinking about monsters reflects changes in western culture itself. Students will read an array of interdisciplinary texts that focus on some kind of mon-strosity, including texts drawn from history, literature, philosophy, theology, art and archaeology, anthropology, and folklore. In so doing, they will encounter a wide variety of monsters and will consider the cultural importance of vampires, werewolves, zombies, and even such human monsters as Jack the Ripper. By the end of the course, students will have developed an understanding of what these monsters say about the cultures that created them.
DWC 202-C13: Markets and Morals
Dr. Vance Morgan, Philosophy, Dr. Darra Mulderry, History
In this colloquium we will explore a variety of contemporary arguments and debates about the morality of markets in the light of the western tradition. After reviewing classical and neo-classical economic theories of the market, we discuss a series of debates -- involving a variety of real-world examples -- about the “social good” engendered by market mechanisms. Questions will include but will not be limited to: what kinds of goods and services are best allocated through market mechanisms? Why? Are there moral limits to the market? Are there goods that ought not to become commodities?
DWC 202-C14: Labor Radicalism and the Lyrical Left
Dr. Eric Bennett, English, Dr. Jeffrey Johnson, History
Many commentators of late have likened our own era of growing income inequality to an era that ended a century ago. Why? And what lessons might a knowledge of that time hold for the present day? Our course will explore the political, social, and cultural struggles of the Gilded Age and Progressive Eras. Through primary documents and works of literature, we will audit the voices of dissent within radical circles that challenged everything from capitalism, to hawkishness, to intellectual norms, to literary models, and more. We’ll explore reactions to exploitive capitalists, to social Darwinism, and to militarism, always with an eye toward the twenty-first century and the contrasts and comparisons we might discover.
DWC 202-C15: Writing and Spiritual Crisis
Dr. Anthony Esolen, English, Dr. Raymond Hain, Philosophy
We will be examining precisely that: novels and poems that do more than simply present us with characters who must make fateful decisions. They plunge us into the depths of human agony, or they strive to bring before our eyes visions of wonder which claim our very souls. These are stories of tumult and conversion, of the total embrace of love, or of its terrible rejection. We will be ranging across nations and centuries -- from Dostoyevsky's Russia to the money-ruled France of Mauriac, from the medieval Norway portrayed by Sigrid Undset, to Flannery O'Connor's Christ-haunted South, from the mystical poetry of John of the Cross, to the spare Calvinist prose of Marilynne Robinson. We will ask, at all times, the question of questions: What or Whom is the human being for?
DWC 202-C16: How the Right became the Right: The Origins and Development of Modern American Conservative Thought
Dr. James Keating, Theology, Dr. Patrick MacFarlane, Philosophy
This colloquium investigates the political, religious, historical, and cultural background of modern American conservative thought. Because conservatism represents a significant dimension of contemporary politics, and has allied movements in philosophy, aesthetics, and religion, we believe that offering such a colloquium will be of great interest and contemporary relevance to our students, and will also serve as a fitting capstone to the first three semesters of DWC. Students will engage with a wide variety of primary texts from the history of American conservative thought. This legacy is quite rich, and encompasses themes beginning with the founding of the American republic and the debates about the ratification of the constitution, outlined in The Federalist Papers, to current issues uniting (and possibly dividing) traditional conservatives, neoconservatives, and libertarians.
DWC 202-C17: The Character of Business: The Ethical Nature of Business and Business Leadership in Their Contemporary Settings
Dr. Timothy Mahoney, Philosophy, Dr. Sylvia Maxfield, Dean of the School of Business
This colloquium aims at showing that genuine business success is best achieved when technical competencies are wedded to fundamental virtues and to an understanding of business in the larger context of society. We will revisit the virtue tradition the students encountered in DWC in Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas and others. We will explore this tradition, especially as it pertains to leadership through both philosophical writing and literature. We will add contributions on virtue and business using the rich material from Catholic Social Thought. We will continue the historical narrative of DWC, but with a special emphasis on developments in business in the context of politics, the economy, and technology. These works will be our touchstones as we then turn to recent issues and case in business leadership, both successes and failures of which there are all too many, we know.
DWC 202-C18: Streets, Protests and Power Politics: Comparative Revolutions from the Atlantic World to the Arab Spring
Rev. David Orique, History and Latin American Studies, Dr. Gizem Zencirci, Political Science
Revolutions and social movements constitute exceptional and dramatic events in human history. These events bring about radical and sweeping transformations of existing political, economic, and cultural orders. This seminar comparatively surveys emblematic world revolutions and social movements from the Enlightenment to the 21st century. We will begin by raising some key theoretical questions: What causes revolutions? What does a successful revolution look like? What is the difference between a social movement, mass mobilization and a revolution? Throughout the semester, particular attention will be given to key factors of as well as important actors in the following: the revolutions of England, British North America, France, Russia, Spanish and Portuguese America, Mexico, Cuba, and Portugal as well as Algeria, Iran and Egypt. Analysis of these various revolutions will be discussed in relation to topics such as monarchy, colonization, imperialism, decolonization, women, liberation theology, violence and democratization. By the end of this course, students will (1) have a broader understanding of and deeper appreciation for the meaning of revolutions and social movements by recognizing similarities and differences of what occurred in the various global regions historically dominated by various imperial systems (e.g. Spanish, Portuguese, British, French, United States); and (2) will be able to examine revolutions from a theoretical framework whilst, at the same time, learning how to pay attention to cross-cultural and trans-historical specificity.
DWC 202-C19: The Sacred and the Secular in the Struggle for Human Rights and Dignity
Dr. Dana Dillon, Theology, Dr. Eric Hartman, Global Studies
Secular approaches to human rights are often understood distinctly from theologically-grounded accounts of human dignity. However, religious communities and particularly the Catholic Church have been crucial in working for human rights. This course will investigate state, Church, and unchurched efforts to promote the integral development of persons and peoples. It will examine the foundational assumptions of each approach, and trace the intertwined histories of these approaches in the promotion of rights in the 20th century. The course will offer sustained interrogation of assumptions and central concepts in order to identify what is common and what is distinct in these overlapping avenues to development and human rights. Crucial to this process will be the question of whether religious approaches that assume the supernatural and transcendent good of the person are ultimately incompatible with approaches that limit their understanding of the person to merely worldly goods.
DWC 202-C20: Diasporas
Dr. Margaret Manchester, History, Dr. Tuire Valkeakari, English
This course will consider various ethnic diasporas in the West, approaching them from a range of theoretical angles to gain understanding of the social and cultural dynamics characterizing diaspora experiences. We will study the ways in which individual and collective identities are shaped by participating in a diaspora. More specifically, we will examine the concepts of family, home, return, and biculturation; the dialogue between diasporic subjectivity and faith, politics, culture, and remembrance in diasporic contexts; and the ways in which the intersectionality of race, class, and gender affects diasporic identity formation. Course materials will include primary and secondary historical sources, film, novels, memoirs, and art as renditions of diaspora experiences.
DWC 202-C21: The Outsider
Dr. William Bonney, Theology, Dr. Margaret Reid, English
This Colloquium will be an interdisciplinary exploration of the idea of the “outsider” in theological, historical, literary and anthropological texts, primarily of the 20th and 21st centuries. Attention to the “outsider’s” perspective throughout these disciplines ranges from reverence to paranoia, as one who stands outside of the mainstream, whether by choice or fate, may be presumed to be a source of particular wisdom or dangerous madness — occasionally both. The roots of this tradition are rich and varied: Aristotle deems the person without a state to be “either a god or a beast”; both Socrates and historical Jesus clearly generate similar anxieties in their communities. Drawing upon western and non-western fiction, autobiography, cultural studies and critical scholarship, we will pursue the ways in which contemporary “Outsiderhood” stands in dialogue with foundational texts in the Development of Western Civilization.
DWC 202-C22: Sustainability: Balancing Profits, People, and the Planet
Dr. Michael Kraten, Accountancy, Mr. William Patenaude, Theology
Human society and the natural environment possess innate value that should be protected, but at what economic and financial cost for all of us? We will explore how accountants, environmentalists, investors, politicians, social leaders, and theologians balance the goals and practices of capitalism with the need for sustainable lifestyles and ethical practices. We will review the emergence of the sustainability movement, assess its current status, and discuss its future impact from a career development perspective.
Our activities will encompass reading and writing assignments, discussions, global guest speakers, "gaming" simulations, and field trips to local environmental protection facilities. Case studies will feature domestic and international economic, social, and ecological conflicts. Through the lenses of Christian theology and financial ac-counting, we will explore the choices, the trade-offs, and the relationships between economic and financial wealth, human nature, the grace of God, the desire to enjoy creation, and a livable, protected planet.
DWC 202-C23: Workplace Culture and Womanhood
Dr. Jennifer Illuzzi, History, Dr. Margaret Ruggieri, Accountancy
When paying attention to contemporary discourse about women and the workplace, we hear of women’s empowerment in the workplace. However, much to the contrary, there is evidence that married women with children still face considerable barriers in the workplace, and that the glass ceiling has morphed into a “glass cliff” -- women can rise to a certain level, but at a certain point in their lives, they are set up by institutional barriers to fail -- to fall off the cliff. How can understanding a fuller picture of women’s’ lives in the workplace help us resolve the contradictions?
This colloquium draws on the prior knowledge gained in the first three semesters of DWC on the changing role and status of women and seeks to place it in a contemporary context. Common stereotypes about women and work will be examined in a global context through thematic case studies that can help students to understand the dynamics of women’s involvement in work, historically and in today’s society.
DWC 202-C24: Good Citizenship and Public Policy: Responsibility and Reform
Dr. Julia Camp, Accountancy, Dr. Todd Olszewski, Health and Policy Management
This DWC Colloquium is an interdisciplinary exploration of citizenship and public policy. We will first examine what it means to be a good citizen and how this definition has changed over time. How do history, religion, and government define a good citizen? What are the rights, responsibilities, and privileges that come with citizenship? Second, the colloquium will examine how government policies align with being a good citizen. How have moral values and political ideologies guided debates and steered the policymaking process? Specifically, we will examine the ways in which current tax policy and health policy address notions of responsibility, equity, and liberty. The final segment of the course will examine reform proposals in both taxation and healthcare; students will discuss how citizenship, responsibility, and reform align. The course will culminate in projects in which students develop their own policy reform proposals to align with the concept of good citizenship.
DWC 202-C25: Evil on Stage: Making Sense of Structural Evil in Western Civilization
Dr. Robert Barry, Theology, Dr. Alison Guzman, Modern Languages
Through an encounter between drama/ film and theoretical analysis, this colloquium will bring students to confront the problem of structural evil: systems in which people ordinarily operate and intend to pursue the common good, but in doing, so bring about or directly commit grave evils. We will engage the question of the nature and dynamics of structural evil from two complementary avenues. First, students will be exposed to and analyze artistic depictions from across the spectrum of Western civilization of how people acting in accordance with established social structures and common values end up performing gravely evil actions. As a result, they will encounter as potential resources for the analysis and remedy of structural evil examples of theoretical reflections on the nature and cause of those same structures depicted in those works of drama, etc.