Dating & Mating: The Psychology of Relationships

Amy Hammond, Psychology
Keywords: Relationships, Diversity, Sexuality, Family, Psychology

Humans are a social species; even the most introverted among us desires contact and connection with others. College is a time when we’re exposed to many new people, often those with different backgrounds, expectations, and experiences that inform our own understanding of who we want to be. We’re learning to navigate relationships with roommates, with new friends and professors, and to renegotiate the terms of our familial relationships. We’re trying to steer our way through romantic and sexual relationships or deciding whether we want those types of connections at all. Successfully navigating human relationships is exhilarating, frustrating, rewarding, heart-breaking, challenging, and ultimately necessary. Through scientific literature, personal exploration, and small research projects, we will explore some of what the science of psychology has uncovered about human relationships of all types with the goal of developing the knowledge and skills to enhance and improve all of our relationships.

 

Innovation: Where Good Ideas Come From and How They Got Us to Now

Michael Laffey, English and Communication
Keywords: Innovation, Invention, Cultural Studies, Technology, Media Theory, Communication

Do our best ideas come in a flash? Does a light bulb suddenly illuminate the darkness? Not so fast. This course engages with the argumentative strategies and tactics deployed in two 21st century books by Steven Johnson. Johnson is an American popular science author and media theorist who examines the role that innovation plays in natural history and in human cultural development. In the first of these texts, Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation, students are challenged to think differently about many of the everyday, common sense descriptions and explanations about creativity and invention. With the next text, How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World, students are presented with the historical foundations that underlie many of the qualities that go unnoticed and are taken for granted in everyday life: glass, cold, sound, clean, time, and light. Students will be assigned to conduct further research and produce arguments concerning the unexpected and unfamiliar roles played by what we often overlook. Ultimately this research will be presented in written essays, oral presentations, and audio documentary recordings to be broadcast on KSCL-FM, the Centenary College radio station

 

“I Know You are, but What am I?!” Introduction to Conflict Resolution”

Amanda Donahoe, Political Science
Keywords: Conflict resolution, Problem solving, Negotiation, Mediation, Listening, Communication

Conflict is part of our daily lives, whether you’re trying to decide where to eat with friends or changing lanes on a busy highway. How do you handle conflict? Whatever your coping mechanisms, come sharpen your skills in this Trek: Challenge course. Conflict Resolution is both theoretical and practical, grounded in theory and reinforced through practical experience. This course will also be both theoretical and practical: students gain academic knowledge and understanding of the field at the same time that they get personal experience through almost daily activities, games and role-play simulations. Students will test their own theoretical understanding and practical conflict resolution skills as they accomplish a group project.

 

Aliens Among Us: Understanding Diversity with Science Fiction

Jeanne Hamming, English
Keywords: Science Fiction, Diversity, Community, Race, Class, Gender, Literature, Culture

One, if not the, defining characteristic of the science fiction genre, is what critic Darko Suvin calls “cognitive estrangement.” By taking the familiar, the everyday, the habitual, and re-presenting it as strange or alien, science fiction invites readers to see their own realities in a new light. In this respect, science fiction offers a valuable tool for exploring issues of diversity, not in some far-flung future world, but in our own everyday experience. In this course we will immerse ourselves in science fiction literature and film in order to “explore new worlds,” new ways of being, and new ways of understanding what it means to be human, and how we do (or should) relate to those unlike ourselves.

 

Social Technology & Design: Thinking for Good

Jessica Hawkins, Art

Keywords: Social Media, Social Good, Social Justice, Design Thinking, Public Relations/Marketing

The goal of the class is to learn how to harness social technology and design in support of a clear single, focused goal to cultivate social good. Students will work to refine their own definition of social good as we study examples of organizations and individuals who have successfully (and not so successfully) employed these technologies to create social change. We’ll also explore questions like: Can you engineer virality? What is design thinking, and how is it applied? Can a step-by-step process predictably yield creative solutions? What is social entrepreneurship? Finally, students will apply course material to real-word projects while gaining insight to specific social media technology applications.


A Life Without Chemicals

Joshua Lawrence, Chemistry

Keywords: Chemicals, biological effects, societal impacts

Wouldn’t life be great without chemicals? They’re all toxic and terrible, right? No! Everything you encounter is a chemical. Not only are you entirely chemical, all of your experiences are entirely chemical.
This course will deliver a series of “chemical vignettes” designed to help you see how chemicals impact a variety of aspects of human life. We’ll begin by describing a few of the chemicals in your brain that make you “you.” After that, we’ll discuss some of the chemicals (ADHD medication) that might (or might not) make you a “better” version of “you.” We’ll investigate how corporate greed might have caused a world-wide, 40-year crime spree, and we’ll see if there is any validity in the claim that vitamins in vaping products are killing people.

In small groups, you’ll take the lead and find a chemical that might (or might not) be causing problems right now. You’ll figure out if the chemical should be used differently, if at all, and your group will deliver a presentation at the research conference advocating for your solution.

Note: Although this is a course about chemicals, it is not a chemistry course. All levels of experience are welcome.

 

Doing Race

Michael Hicks, Education

Keywords: Race, Education, Society, Ethnicity, Identity, Community

Black, White, or Brown - the construct of "race" touches every aspect of our lives and profoundly (though, sometimes unnoticeably) affects what we do, and what is done to us.  By utilizing current science and scholarship stretching across academic disciplines, and through the lived experiences of invited guest presenters, we will analyze what it means to "Do Race" in America, in Louisiana and the Deep South, and even here at Centenary.  For those with a heart for human connection and who want to hear just as much as they want to be heard, this course will be a journey into understanding how we (beginning with those of us in this course) can deal with our differences differently, and in fact, better. 
 

 

Human Health and Wellbeing in an Evolutionary Context

Bethany Hansen, Biology

Keywords: Health, Evolution, Ecology

Why is dessert so appealing compared to salad? Why is it hard to get motivated to exercise? And why, despite all of our communication technology, is loneliness on the rise? In this course, we will explore these types of questions through the lens of human evolution. Specifically, we will investigate how humans’ physical and cultural environments have undergone unprecedented change leading to differences in diet, physical activity, and social behavior between ancestral and modern populations. We will link these differences to modern health challenges such as obesity, diabetes, and loneliness. Through this process, you will use your newly gained knowledge to examine and reflect upon your own behavior.

 

Mormons in America: Understanding Beyond Stereotypes

Ross Smith, Music

Keywords: Mormonism, Diversity, Community, Society, Culture, Literature, Doctrine, Lifestyle, Faith, Tolerance

Revered and reviled, lauded and loathed, the Mormon church and its members are increasingly pushed to the forefront of public attention. As the fastest growing religious denomination in America, most people know very little about what it really means to be a Mormon. What is the actual doctrine of this Church? What makes up a Mormon lifestyle? Do Mormons still practice polygamy? Are they allowed to dance? Can Mormon women wear pants? As the Mormon church is increasingly recognized as an important part of American culture and religious life the question of a Mormon's place in society demands increased understanding of who and what a Mormon is. Can a Mormon serve in the political arena? Is a Mormon neighbor something to be feared? How can other religious or cultural people live and work aside the Mormons? This course will examine the Mormon church from historical, doctrinal, societal, cultural, and personal perspectives, and will seek to understand how Mormons fit into American life, and how the rest of American society can (or should) relate to this sub-culture of America.
 

Religion, Violence, and Conflict Resolution

David Cowles, Religious Studies

Keywords: Religion, violence, conflict resolution, Gandhi, peace-building, Rene Girard

Throughout history, religions have enacted violence on others, often justifying their actions in the name of the sacred or an interpretation of scripture. Why do many religions appear to promote violence? How can we understand some of the major conflicts that are occurring today by deepening our understanding of religion? What can religions do to stop the violence and move people to a peaceful resolution of the conflict? We will address these questions and others by examining the history, scriptures, and interpretations from different religions with regard to violence and non-violence.

 

The Evolution of Everything: Life, Consciousness, and Society

Loren Demerath, Sociology

Keywords: Complexity

The human brain, climate, economics, music. Whether we are talking about individual organisms, social dynamics, cultural artifacts, or physical systems, we are constantly immersed in complex systems. This course introduces to complexity studies, a burgeoning field that strives to explain everything, from the emergence and evolution of life, to consciousness, society, art, music, and even our sense of virtue. Students will learn and apply concepts from a variety of disciplines to explain emergent complexity—energy, entropy, thermodynamics, information, hierarchy, idiolects, tipping points, connectivity, agency, autonomy, language, beauty, narrative, framing. Students will also become familiar with two new powerful tools for understanding complex systems—agent-based modeling and network analysis—that are already used in fields like disease control, disaster management, and economic forecasting. Finally, students will use course concepts and analytic tools to present descriptions of themselves and the phenomena that interests them.

 

Bloody Caddo: Criminal Justice in Caddo Parish

Chris Ciocchetti, Philosophy
Keywords: Law, Poverty, Beliefs and Values, Community, Diversity

Caddo Parish has a reputation for being especially harsh on convicted criminals. We will study the leading philosophical justifications for punishment. From there, we will investigate the history of criminal justice in Caddo Parish, the structure of the Parish government, and on-going efforts to change the system. Students will meet with lawyers, judges, and others who work in the system, as well as people affected by the system, in order to learn from their experiences. We will examine how racism manifests itself in our Parish, both systemically and in personal beliefs, and explore efforts to create racial reconciliation in the Parish. Students will collectively choose an action they could take to make Caddo Parish more just. Throughout the process, we will reflect on our beliefs and values, what it means to live in a diverse community, and how we—individually and collectively—can put our beliefs and values into action. Students will work with the Centenary Political Union and the Beliefs and Values Leadership team to create and sustain their project.