2024 Fall FYS Courses & Descriptions

John GulledgeJohn Gulledge
Assistant Professor of English

Narrative Games
Ten years ago, Jordan Shapiro challenged educators and thought leaders to “think of playtime like an innovation lab where tomorrow’s civilization is being actively designed.” Drawing on theories and practices of play, this course introduces students to the collegiate academic experience as active participates in designing a future worth pursuing, or what philosophy has called “the good life.” Because play is as capacious in the disciplines as it is across human experience, we will learn about a variety of interdisciplinary ideas and approaches, including economic game theory, creative writing, linguistic string theory, close reading, rhetorical analysis, and experimental design. By the end of the semester, you will have designed, tested, and proto-typed a new gaming experience.

Travis ProctorTravis Proctor
Assistant Professor of Religion

Jesus in History, Film, & Pop Culture
Jesus of Nazareth: miracle-worker, founder of Christianity, vampire slayer? This course explores the history and mythology behind Jesus of Nazareth, sorting fact from fiction in attempting to understand what we can really know about this Jewish preacher from the Galilee. We will consider traditional accounts of Jesus’s life, such as the gospels of the New Testament, as well as other sources, including artwork, films, “apocryphal” gospels, and comic books.

Scott RosenbergScott Rosenberg
Professor of History

Race, Baseball and Equality
This class will use Dr. King's notions of desegregation and integration to look at what differentiates when baseball was desegregated versus when it became integrated. We will look at the participation of African Americans in professional baseball from the 1850s through today. Special emphasis will be placed on the relative state of integration in major league baseball after 1947. The class will seek to situate African American participation in baseball within the larger context of race in America.

Tim BodeTim Bode
Associate Professor of Business & Economics

Advertising and Society
A history of advertising from the beginnings of the 20th century through to today and how it has influenced societal norms and vice versa.

Emily WestEmily West
Assistant Professor of Business & Economics

Taking Care of Business: An exploration of the different topics in business and the ethical issues that surround them
So you think you want to work in business? But what area of business might you be interested in and what ethical dilemmas might you face. Technology and privacy, environmental responsibility, and the use of AI are just a few topics we will be considering. This course will explore the different types of jobs that exist within the business world and use case studies to look at issues that are being faced by business people all over the world today.

Cathy PedersonCathy Pederson
Professor of Biology

Power of Addiction
This section will explore the powers of addiction and its impact on the physical, psychological, and social wellbeing. Treatment of drug addiction will also be addressed. Students will work with peers, faculty, and campus resources to engage meaningfully with society’s approach to addiction. Students will work with peers, faculty, and campus resources to engage meaningfully with the problem and society as a whole.

Mary Jo ZembarMary Jo Zembar
Professor of Psychology

Childhood: Across the Ages and Around the World
This course will focus on what it means to be born in the United States in 2024. What if you were born in a different country, or a different year? This course will investigate how children were viewed and treated historically, and in what ways children’s immediate surroundings (e.g., family, schools, and neighborhoods) and indirect surroundings (e.g., parents’ work schedule, national funding priorities) interact with their personal characteristics to impact development.

Stacy PorterStacy Porter
Assistant Professor of Environmental Science

Local Climate Change
Climate change might seem like a far off, distant threat, but numerous effects of our changing climate are already being felt in communities just like Springfield. For this course, we will explore just some of the ways in which human behavior affects the climate and environment around Wittenberg. Topics will include (sub)urban sprawl and heat islands, health impacts in vulnerable populations, and extreme weather potential from floods, heatwaves, storms, and tornadoes. Can we prevent future consequences of climate change in our city? If not, how do we adapt to the new climate we have created?

John ThistlethwaiteJohn Thistlethwaite
Assistant Professor of Health & Sport Studies

The Science of Selling Yourself Short
Do you ever wonder if what someone is telling you is true?  How do you know?  When it comes to how humans function, there is an abundance of information.  What is sometimes difficult is differentiating what is valid and what is opinion.  This course will examine basic human function in multiple facets and situations, ranging from being happy to stressing out over an exam to  wondering if supplements really work.  We will use peer-reviewed sources to provide validity in how we function.

Heather WrightHeather Wright
Associate Professor of Political Science

Law, Human Rights & Pop Culture
Why do we continue to subject one another to abuse, torture, and genocide, when so many human rights declarations and laws exist? Why is there such a difference between our theorizing about rights and our practice of rights, not only abroad but in the United States? Why do some people abuse human rights while others respect them? Much of the answer lies in cultural practices of representation and in the daunting power of ideology. This course takes as a starting point that it is impossible to separate popular culture and politics and assumes that fact and fiction help create each other: film, television and social media not only reproduce but normalize (make acceptable) ideology. How are human rights struggles represented in visual media and text? What is the role of film, literature, and social media in cultivating or impeding respect for human rights?

Shelby CummingsShelby Cummings
Professor of Practice in Statistics

Miss Americana: The Evolution and Impact of Taylor Swift
The world is currently in its "Taylor Swift Era." Over the past 18 years, we have watched her grow from a young girl, dropping off demo CDs to record labels, into the current world-wide phenomenon we see today, selling out stadiums all over the world. To the casual listener, she appears to be the same as any other popular singer. But her fanbase, the Swifties, see her as so much more. This course will explore the impacts Taylor Swift has had on both an individual and a societal level. We will spend time discussing her impact on local economies (particularly during her Eras tour), voter registration, and ownership of music. We will talk about how her work has impacted women and encouraged them to stand up for what themselves and what is right (her lawsuit, AI deepfakes, again, owning her music). On a more personal level, we will discuss why her music is important to us, how her music was used as a coping mechanism during the pandemic, and the connections that she has created amongst her fans. We will delve into the importance of music and how it can help us understand ourselves.

Andy GraffAndy Graff
Associate Professor of English
Director of Creative Writing

The Feel-Good Book Club
Do the stories we tell ourselves matter? An emerging genre in contemporary fiction described as “Up-Lit” suggests they do. With eyes wide-open to the struggles and hardships in today’s world, these Up-Lit authors have decided to tell stories marked by compassion, hope, healing, empathy, joy, rest, and redemption. This course provides opportunity to read and discuss an edifying stack of contemporary, critically acclaimed novels, exploring the power of Up-Lit fiction for personal and cultural well-being. Read great novels. Be uplifted. Uplift others.

Marie BashawMarie Bashaw
Director of Nursing

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work
Many of us have participated on a team in high school. We have had experiences with both good and bad teammates. This course will focus on optimal teamwork. Through effective teamwork and collaboration high quality outcomes can be achieved. Nursing students are part of a dynamic interprofessional health care team. Teamwork is part of Professionalism, which is an essential component of Nursing. This class focuses on developing skills of accurate, evidence-based oral and written (APA style) communication that effectively foster professionalism and teamwork. Interactive class activities will help build these skills which will contribute to the core components of the caring nurse.

Lauren CraneLauren Crane
 Associate Professor of Psychology

Eyes on America: How We See the World & the World Sees Us
What do they think of us? What do WE think of us? As a major world power whose economic, military, and cultural influence extend around the globe, everyone seems to have an opinion about the United States of America. This course invites you to listen closely and reflect on some of those opinions, broadening your understanding of your society and yourself in the process. The course will take an interdisciplinary approach to studying the U.S. in cross-cultural perspective, bridging international studies, psychology, sociology, history, and more. Together we will analyze films, discuss articles, compare websites, and debate issues. Overall, you will have the opportunity to view the U.S. through a variety of lenses, ultimately emerging from this class with increased cultural self-awareness and an improved understanding of people from other societies.

Christopher DurrenbergerChristopher Durrenberger
Professor of Music

Pop Meets the Classics: An Exploration into How Popular Culture Interacts with Classical Music
Have you ever wondered what might have been on Beethoven or Mozart’s playlist? What bands were they listening to (can you say Janissary)? This course will explore Western and non-Western Classical and Popular music over time and investigate how they influence each other.


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