My mind is made up, there's going to be trouble.

February 1 is the due date for faculty to turn in course description for next fall's First-Year Seminar program.  These are courses that allows incoming students to select from a range of subjects.  This is the first year for our new version of FYS, and I am anxious to see what my colleagues propose.  I had a hard time choosing a topic, but I have finally narrowed it to three ideas.  Here they are:
IDEA 1:  Heretics, Free Thinkers and Hell Raisers: This seminar focuses on history’s most dangerous minds. Students will read, discuss and explore the roles played by thinkers, activists and rabble-rousers who refused to accept the traditions, norms and values of their societies. Among the troublemakers we’ll encounter are Socrates, Diogenes, Susan B. Anthony, Frederick Douglass and more. Additionally, the seminar will strengthen their critical reading and writing abilities and help them to make a suitably rebellious transition into University-level course work.
The seminar would have four units: free thought and expression, heresy, civil disobedience and non-conformity.  In addition to the figures listed above, we would read Bertrand Russel, Martin Luther, MLK, Thoreau, Susan B. Anthony, Malcolm X and some Queer Theory. 

The other idea is this:
IDEA 2: How to Lie, Cheat, Fool and Swindle Just about Anybody
This course will examine the major psychological and rhetorical techniques used to flimflam the unsuspecting. Students will gain insight into scams, frauds and the bamboozling rhetoric used by hucksters, politicians and grifters. Additionally, the course will strengthen students’ critical thinking and writing abilities and assist their transition into University-level course work.
This seminar would look at lying (from a socio-biological perspective), pseudo-science and psychic swindles, political manipulation, the psychology of conjuring and confidence scams and the use and abuse of statistics.  There's wonderful text called How to Think about Weird Things, but we would also look at Machiavelli and David Livingston-Smith's Why We Lie.

I have a third idea, but it's less interesting to me:
IDEA 3: War in the Human Imagination: Staring the Mad-Monkey in the Eye
This seminar will explore the responses of the human imagination to war. We will look at classical and modern depictions of war in film, novels, poetry and music, seeking to understand how various artists have represented (and misrepresented) war. It will also explore reactions of both participants and non-participants in the aftermath of war. Additionally, the course will assist students to strengthen their critical reading and writing abilities and help them to make the transition to University-level course work.
I am leaning toward idea 1, but I'd love to hear which of these sounds most interesting to you.


Professor Quest said…
I know, I like that one as well. Maybe I'll switch from one to two.

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