The First-Year Course

A seminar for first-year students

In your first semester, you must take a First-Year Course. There are many options for you to choose from, on a wide-variety of topics, representing diverse disciplinary perspectives. Some students choose this course based on the topic; others because they want to explore a department in which they might major or minor. Either approach is fine. Because this is only one course out of four, and it only lasts one semester, there are plenty of opportunities throughout the first year to explore majors or interest areas beyond the First-Year Course.

Some First-Year Courses are designated as residential courses. Students who enroll in one of these courses live near one another in the same residence hall, usually on the same floor. This facilitates discussion and group work outside of the classroom. Many courses also utilize student writing preceptors to provide additional writing support and peer mentoring.

Abbreviations Key

  • R = students in the class will live near each other on the same floor and may be roommates
  • TR = Tuesday, Thursday; MWF = Monday, Wednesday, Friday
  • WA = Argumentative Writing, WC = Writing as Craft, WP = Writing as Practice

First-Year Course Offerings for Fall 2017

DepartmentInstructorCourse NameResidential
American Studies Karin Aguilar-San Juan AMST 103-01:  The Problem of Race in U.S. Social Thought and Policy R
Anthropology Dianna Shandy ANTH 246-01:  Refugees and Humanitarian Response
R
Art & Art History Joanna Inglot ART 252-01/WGSS 252-01:  Gender, Sexualities, and Feminist Visual Culture
Asian Languages and Cultures Rivi Handler-Spitz CHIN 194-01:  Teachers and Students R
Biology Kristi Curry Rogers BIOL 270-01/L1:  Biodiversity and Evolution R
Classics Brian Lush CLAS 294-02:  Trauma and Drama
Computer Science Alicia Johnson and Shilad Sen COMP 112-01/MATH 112-01:  Data Computing and Fundamentals:  Data Science for Social Good R
Economics Sarah West ECON 119-05:  Principles of Economics R
Economics Samantha Cakir ECON 119-06:  Principles of Economics R
English James Dawes ENGL 137-01:  The American Novel R
English Wang Ping ENGL 150-05:  Introduction to Creative Writing:  Poetics for Misfits, Free Thinkers, and Paradigm Shifters R
Environmental Studies Chris Wells ENVI 234-02:  US Environmental History
French and Francophone Studies Andrew Billing FREN 194-01:  Revolutionary Thought in France, 1789-2017 R
Geography Eric Carter GEOG 249-01:  Regional Geography of Latin America R
Geography I-Chun Catherine Chang GEOG 261-02:  World Urbanization R
Geology Kelly MacGregor GEOL 160-01 and GEOL 160-L1/ENVI 160-01 and ENVI 160-L1:  Dynamic Earth and Global Change R
Geology Ray Rogers GEOL 165-01:  History and Evolution of the Earth R
German and Russian Studies Britt Abel GERM 174-01:  Vampires--from Monsters to Superheroes R
Hispanic Studies Galo Gonzalez HISP 171-01/LATI 171-01:  Susurros del Pasado:  Whispers Towards the 21st Century
History Katrina Phillips HIST  194-01:  Influential Indians:  A Biographical Approach to American Indian History
History Jessica Pearson HIST 194-02:  Sex, Love and Gender in History R
Media and Cultural Studies Leola Johnson MCST 194-01:  Mass Incarceration and the Media R
Music Mark Mazullo MUSI 194-01:  Music, Empathy, Alienation
Philosophy Samuel Asarnow PHIL 100-01:  Introduction to Philosophy
Philosophy Janet Folina PHIL 111-01:  Symbolic Logic
Physics James Heyman PHYS 194-01:  Nano Science R
Political Science Wendy Weber POLI 120-01:  Foundations of International Politics R
Political Science David Blaney POLI 160-01:  Foundations of Political Theory
Psychology Steve Guglielmo PSYC 194-01:  Psychology of Right and Wrong R
Religious Studies James Laine RELI 238-01:  Catholics:  Culture, Identity, Politics
Russian Studies Julia Chadaga RUSS 261-01/HIST 261-01:  Making History:  Russian Cinema as Testimony, Propaganda, and Art R
Sociology Terry Boychuk SOCI 205-01:  Public Schooling in America
Theatre and Dance Megan Reilly THDA 105-01:  Theatre and Performance in the Twin Cities
Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Corie Hammers WGSS 102-01:  Introduction to Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies:  Gender and Sport - More Than Just a Game? R

Course Descriptions

AMST 103-01:  The Problem of Race in US Social Thought and Policy   (R)
Karin Aguilar-San Juan, American Studies Department

In this discussion-based and residential course, we will explore the paradox of a society in which people are increasingly aware of patterns of racism and yet still unable to see or explain how those systems and patterns are connected to everyday life. As awareness increases, why are we not able to develop effective or meaningful responses?

Our interdisciplinary and integrative approach will employ multiple methods of inquiry and expression, including: self-reflective essays and maps; a scavenger hunt along University Avenue; library research; and deep, critical analysis of arguments about race/ethnicity/assimilation/multiculturalism.

We will practice engaging in open-ended conversations so that we might discover the questions that truly matter to each of us. To fulfill the WA general education writing requirement, this course will invite you to produce at least 20 pages of college-level writing through various assignments. Each writing assignment will strengthen your use of evidence and argumentation, and will involve drafts, feedback, in person conference, and revision.

  Class meets MWF, 9:40 am - 10:40 am in Neill Hall 111

  Writing designation:  WA

  Living arrangements:  Single gender rooms, co-ed floor.

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ANTH 246-01:  Refugees and Humanitarian Response   (R)
Dianna Shandy, Anthropology Department

This writing-intensive seminar uses anthropology to situate the experiences of refugees and other forced migrants within a global framework of conflict and humanitarian response.  Through analysis of select case studies, we will probe the complex interplay of social, historical, political, and economic factors that are invoked to explain modern refugee-producing conflicts.  We will consider how refugees act and are acted upon in these settings and in their aftermath.  We will examine critically the ways refugees are defined and described qualitatively and quantitatively, as such discourse determines access to certain entitlements and influences humanitarian and governmental responses.  We will consider how refugees are defined in terms of time and space, yet simultaneously redefine time and space as transnational actors.  Once we have a better understanding of the nature of the collective experience of war and its effects on refugees and others, we will consider issues of power, ethics, and human rights embedded in humanitarian responses to conflict by examining the roles of those who engage in humanitarian work in U.S. and international settings. Our scope of inquiry includes humanitarian workers broadly conceived, including journalists, human services providers, government workers, researchers, faith-based organizations, and others.  In addition to probing the ways that outsiders react to refugee concerns, we will also examine indigenous institutional coping mechanisms—such as family and religion—that facilitate social reconstruction in times of transition.

The format of the course will be in-depth discussion, lectures, guest speakers, films, and a field research project that will involve cultural life history interviews with an individual engaged in humanitarian work. This course fulfills the Internationalism and Writing (Argumentative) general education requirements.  It also counts a Foundational course for the Human Rights and Humanitarianism Concentration, as a Tier II course for the African Studies Concentration, and as an elective for the minor or major in Anthropology. The course may count as an elective for other Interdisciplinary departments.

Course Objectives:

  • Situate the experiences of refugees and other forced migrants within a global framework of conflict and humanitarian response.
  • Develop an understanding of the complex factors fueling conflict in select settings.
  • Explore relationships between human rights, power, and ethics in refugee and humanitarian work.
  • Think critically about the construct of empathy and how it plays out in the context of refugees and humanitarian response.
  • Gain experience doing original research and writing about your findings.  
  Class meets TR, 9:40 am - 11:10 am in Carnegie 05

Writing designation:     WA

Living arrangements:  Single gender rooms, co-ed floor.

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ART 252-01/WGS 252-01:  Gender, Sexualities, and Feminist Visual Culture
Joanna Inglot, Art and Art History Department

This course will examine the issues of gender, sexuality and feminist visual culture in the 20th century and contemporary art. Through different case studies, the course will examine the intersections of race, class, ethnicity, nationality with gender and and sexual orientations. Throughout the course we will try to discern several major themes and subjects explored by feminist artists throughout the 20th and 21st centuries. While much of the course will focus on the history of feminist art in Europe and the US, we will also discuss transnational feminist theory and emerging feminist artists in many other parts of the world, including Africa, India, the Middle-East, Eastern Europe and Latin America.

Class meets TR, 9:40 am - 11:10 am in Art Commons 102

Writing designation:  WA anticipated

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CHIN 194-01:  Teachers and Students   (R)
Rivi Handler-Spitz, Asian Languages and Cultures Department

Confucius said, “If I point out one corner of a square and the student can't come back with the other three, I won't show him again." Hillel opined, “The shy one cannot learn, and the impatient one cannot teach.” Cultures ancient and modern have reflected on the responsibilities of teachers and students, and grappled with what constitutes an effective teacher or a successful student. What are the virtues—and perils—of discipleship? Of charisma? Should a teacher be gentle or forceful? Strict or lenient? Are teachers creators or conduits of tradition? This seminar will explore these questions in a range of contexts, Chinese and Western, historical and modern. Genres studied will include literature and film, as well as philosophical and religious texts.

Class meets MWF, 10:50 am - 11:50 am in Neill Hall 111

Writing designation:  WA

Living arrangements:  Single gender rooms, co-ed floor.

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BIOL 270-01/L1:  Biodiversity and Evolution   (R)
Kristi Curry Rogers, Biology Department  

“From so simple a beginning, endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.”  So concluded Charles Darwin in The Origin of the Species.  His final words are an apt description of this course, which focuses on the diversity of life on Earth and the evolutionary processes that influence this variety.  We will track the evolution of life, from the first single-celled organisms to the varied flora and fauna of the modern world.  We will draw upon recent findings from fields as diverse as molecular genetics, developmental biology, and paleontology to decipher the long and spectacular history of life on earth.

The laboratory component of this course includes hands-on interaction with data, from our own microbiomes, to the fossil record, to living organisms.  The class includes local field trips that highlight ancient and modern biodiversity. Students in this course should be ready to explore the evolution of life on earth, and can expect to participate in class discussions, and work together on a larger project that will include a written report (with revisions) and an oral presentation.

This course is residential, is one of four required core courses for students majoring in biology, and is a WA course.

Class meets MWF, 10:50 am - 11:50 am in Olin Rice 270.  Lab meets T, 1:20-4:30 pm in Olin Rice 273.

Writing designation:  WA

Living arrangements:  Single gender rooms, co-ed floor.

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CLAS 294-02:  Trauma and Drama
Brian Lush, Classics Department

"Trauma and Drama" will focus upon the lasting psychological injuries depicted and explored in ancient Greek tragedy and epic poetry.  Greek drama and epic poetry raise timeless and crucial questions about the effects of martial aggression and the toll that it takes upon both the victims of warfare and the combatants that suffer and inflict violence.  We will pursue targeted readings of Homer, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides and Aristophanes, as well as explore the growing body of scholarship around how these authors respond to the aftermath and consequences of war.  We will also seek systematically to draw connections between modern-day understandings of combat trauma and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and injuries endured by familiar figures in the Greek mythic tradition (such as Achilles, Ajax, Medea, Odysseus, and Hecuba).  The primary goal of these efforts will be to open new avenues of understanding between the distant past of ancient Greece and the present, as well as to foster a deeper understanding of the challenges faced by victims of war, systematic violence and institutional betrayal. Additionally, this course introduces first-year students to academic work and writing at the college level, and will seek to deepen students' familiarity with Macalester, its resources and its many opportunities.

  Class meets TR, 9:40 am - 11:10 am in Old Main 003

Writing designation:  WA

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COMP 112-01/MATH 112-01:  Data Computing and Fundamentals:  Data Science for Social Good   (R)
Alicia Johnson and Shilad Sen, Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science Department

Data science provides a powerful approach to understanding complexity in our social lives, the natural world, and our digital universes. This course will empower students to act on broad societal questions by 1) translating them to specific data-driven questions, 2) wrangling, analyzing, and visualizing data, and 3) communicating key findings to stakeholders.

Our hands-on work will focus on the course's community partner, MetroTransit, who oversees public    transportation for the Twin Cities metro area. As a class, we will identify critical questions facing MetroTransit by engaging organizational leaders in discussion and performing our own background research. We will find and wrangle datasets related to our questions, conduct analyses, and create maps and other visualizations. We will present our findings to organizational leaders at MetroTransit. Along the way, students will develop proficiency in R, learn to communicate data insights, and gain experience in a variety of modern data science techniques.

This course is designed for students from any background. In particular, it will support students with *no* prior experience with data science, statistics, or programming.  This course is residential (students will live together in the same dorm), it is not a writing intensive course, and it will fulfill the QT2 general education requirement.

Class meets TR, 9:40 am - 11:10 am in Neill Hall 400

Writing designation:  None

Living arrangements:  Single gender rooms, co-ed floor.

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ECON 119-05:  Principles of Economics   (R)
Sarah West, Economics Department

This course is an introduction to micro- and macroeconomics.  It develops tools to analyze contemporary economic policy issues. Policy topics include globalization, the environment, poverty and inequality, and economic development. Students that take this course satisfy a prerequisite for higher-level economics courses, add a valuable component to interdisciplinary majors, and develop skills necessary to understand the fundamentals of economic policy. Final grades are based on three exams, homework assignments, and a project that involves a formal research proposal and an annotated bibliography. The course requires substantial amounts of mathematical problem solving, data analysis, and quantitative reasoning. It does not fulfill a writing requirement; students that take this course must register for another course in their first semester that fulfills the college’s writing requirement.

Class meets TR, 9:40 am - 11:10 am in Carnegie 305

Writing designation:  None

Living arrangements:  Single gender rooms, co-ed floor.

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ECON 119-06:  Principles of Economics   (R)
Samantha Cakir, Economics Department

This course provides an introduction to micro- and macroeconomics. Students will be introduced to the fundamental models used in economic analysis and discuss applications to real-world economic issues. This course is a prerequisite for higher-level economics courses but also serves as a comprehensive treatment of economics for non-majors. Final grades are based on three exams, several homework assignments and a handful of small writing assignments requiring students to synthesize and critique arguments in popular media using the themes discussed in class. The course completely satisfies the quantitative thinking requirement, with a Q3 designation. It does not fulfill a writing requirement; students that take this course must register for another course in their first semester that fulfills the college's writing requirement. 

Class meets TR, 1:20 pm - 2:50 pm in Neill Hall 401

Writing designation:  None

Living arrangements: Single gender rooms, co-ed floor.

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ENGL 137-01:  The American Novel   (R)
James Dawes, English Department

In this course we will read some of the most popular novels ever written in the United States. They will be heart-wrenchingly beautiful, tear-jerkingly sad, gut-bustingly funny, and seriously weird. We will discuss love, death, the meaning of life, beauty, cruelty, freaks, war, and comedy.

Class meets TR, 1:20 pm - 2:50 pm in Old Main 011

Writing designation:  WA

Living arrangements: Single gender rooms, co-ed floor.

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ENGL 150-05:  Introduction to Creative Writing:  Poetics for Misfits, Free Thinkers, and Paradigm Shifters   (R)
Wang Ping, English Department

A poet is a prophet, a maker, a revolutionist who, with feet in the past, foresees future and makes history.

Such belief in the power of poetry stems from Zhuangzi, Confucius, Aristotle, Hegel, Marx, Blake, Nietzche, all the way to Walt Whitman, Ezra Pound, Allen Ginsberg, James Baldwin and other contemporary poets and thinkers. This writing workshop will study selected masterpieces by international and American visionary writers and examine the nature of poetry and story telling, how it takes us through the landscape of our inner space and time in order to explore and connect with the external world. As we all know, the longest and most difficult journey is to know ourselves, and the most difficult and joyful way to get there is through poetry.

We’ll study modes of expression in poetry, fiction and creative non-fiction writing, learn how to create imagery, figurative language, sound, rhythmic structures, voice, plot, character, point of view…as carriers to reach the other shore. Techniques are not their own ends, but tools to find our voices for expression and communication. Where there is content (story), there is form, just as where there is water, there’s river.  Meditation, reading, critiquing and writing exercises will help us find the right forms for the contents. We will learn how to read work aloud in class. Reading aloud is not only to complete the writing process, but also to train the ear for sound, rhythm, image, and the flow. It also teaches both the reader and listeners the art of criticism.

If you love reading, thinking, writing, come to this class. If you believe you’re a misfit, a free thinker and trouble maker, come to this workshop. If you’ve never written a poem or story but are curious and a little afraid, even better. Poetry and story telling is our birthright, our signature as humans. If you are full of questions about the era we are living in, dying to change things and make history, then come aboard.

Books:

Postmodern American Poetry, ed. by Paul Hoover

Sudden Fiction: International

Electronic files:

Layli Long Soldier, Jamaica Kincaid, Jennifer Knox, Stephen Dobyns, Ceteris Paribus by Scott Gannis, Daniel Soto, Neil Hillborn, Robert Hass, Russell Edson, James Baldwin, Zhuangzi and others

Class meets TR, 9:40 am - 11:10 am in Neill Hall 217

Writing designation:  WC

Living arrangements: Single gender rooms, co-ed floor.

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ENVI 234-02:  US Environmental History
Chris Wells, Environmental Studies Department

People have always had to contend with the natural world, but only recently have historians begun to explore the changing relationships between people and their environments over time.  In this course, we will examine the variety of ways that people in North America have shaped the environment, as well as how they have used, labored in, abused, conserved, protected, rearranged, polluted, cleaned, and thought about it.  In addition, we will explore how various characteristics of the natural world have affected the broad patterns of human society, sometimes harming or hindering life and other times enabling rapid development and expansion.  By bringing nature into the study of human history, and the human past into the study of nature, we will begin to see the connections and interdependencies between the two that traditional history often overlooks.

Class meets MWF, 10:50 am - 11:50 am in Olin Rice 300

Writing designation:  WA

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FREN 194-01:  Revolutionary Thought in France, 1789-2017   (R)
Andrew Billing, French and Francophone Studies Department

The French Revolution is often understood as the defining event in modern French history and the moment in which the modern French nation is born. This course will examine the intellectual forces that contributed to its outbreak at the end of the eighteenth century, as well as the influence it exerted on writers, thinkers, and artists in France and in its colonies through the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, in particular during the Paris Commune, the anti-colonial movements of the 1950s, and May 1968. We will also explore how the Revolution continues to shape political and intellectual life in France in 2017.

"Revolutionary thought" for us will signify less the words and deeds of the leaders of the Revolution than of the individuals who prepared it through their challenges to the political, social, and religious institutions of the ancient régime, as well as of the modern thinkers who have variously celebrated and drawn inspiration from a revolutionary energy, lamented the Revolution's limits, or sought to fulfill its failed promises.

Common to the thinkers we will examine is a faith in the possibility of an alternative to existing values and the institutions and practices in which they are embedded. For this reason, their works often prove to be radical, utopian, and provocative in both form and content, testing the limits of their contemporaries' political, social, and cultural understanding.

Themes we will explore include not only revolutionary ideals of liberty, equality, fraternity, and secularism and the extent to which they subvert or reinforce inequalities of class, race, and gender, but also questions of power, justice, and the legitimacy of violence. Texts to be read and discussed in class include works by writers such as Rousseau, Robespierre, Olympe de Gouges, Arthur Rimbaud, Louise Michel, Guy Debord, Julia Kristeva, Hélène Cixous, Aimé Césaire, Frantz Fanon, and Jacques Rancière.

The class will be taught in a mixed format made up of class discussions and some short lectures. Coursework will include a series of short papers, oral presentations, written exams, and one longer research paper. You will also be expected to participate actively in class in group-work and general class discussion.  The class will be conducted in English.

Class meets MWF, 9:40 am - 10:40 am in Neill Hall 404

Writing designation:  WA

Living arrangements: Single gender rooms, co-ed floor.

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GEOG 249-01/LATI 249-01:  Regional Geography of Latin America (R)
Eric Carter, Geography Department

This course explores one of the world’s most vibrant regions, Latin America. Extending from the Rio Grande to Tierra del Fuego, this world region stretches across diverse landscapes, from tropical rainforests to the snowcapped peaks of the Andes, from mega-cities to empty deserts and plains. This variety of environments also fosters great cultural diversity: although the nations of Latin America share similar historical roots, each one has its own character and its own complex geography. This course explores the geography of Latin America through a combination of thematic and regional approaches. Major topics include physical geography and the natural environment; pre-Columbian, colonial, and modern history; race and identity; urbanism; agriculture and land use; major environmental problems; economy and development; international migration; Latino culture and identity in the U.S.; and the economic and cultural impacts of globalization. Along with such general themes, we will also examine the cultural geography of specific core regions, including The Caribbean, Mexico, Brazil, the Andean Countries, and the Argentine Pampas. Since this is a first-year course, we will also emphasize developing your skills in written and oral communication, scholarly research, and information literacy. Through research projects that explore different elements of Latin America’s geography,  students will get a close-up perspective on the region.

Class meets TR, 8:00 am - 9:30 am in Carnegie 05

Writing designation:  WA

Living arrangements:  Single gender rooms, co-ed floor.

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GEOG 261-02:  World Urbanization   (R)
I-Chun Catherine Chang, Geography Department

We now live in a world where the majority of the population already lives in cities. And yet every year, hundreds of millions of people continue to move into cities to pursue a better future. The contemporary social, economic, and political changes are intrinsically linked to divergent urban processes across the world. This paramount shift poses important theoretical and empirical questions to our age. This course uses the critical perspective of “global urbanism” to both contextualize and connect different urban experiences across places. We will introduce various urban settings and demonstrate how complex relations between urbanization, globalization, and economic development produce spatial unevenness and social inequality. We will study the dominant paradigm of world and global cities, which prioritizes development trajectories of cities in the global North, and discuss contesting views focusing on “ordinary cities” from the global South. Drawing on case studies in the developed and less-developed world, we will also learn how to apply the relational comparative urbanism approach as well as regionally based theoretical perspectives to comprehend the diverse urban landscapes around the globe.

Class meets MWF 12:00 pm- 1:00 pm in Carnegie 105

Writing designation:  WA

Living arrangements:  Single gender rooms, co-ed floor.

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GEOL 160-01 and GEOL 160-L1/ENVI 160-01 and ENVI 160-L1:  Dynamic Earth and Global Change   (R)
Kelly MacGregor, Geology Department

The planet Earth is an amazing place, with a dynamic interior and surface even after 4.6 billion years under its belt. At its most basic, this class is an introduction to the materials and structure of the Earth, and to the processes acting on and in the Earth to produce change. We will begin to learn the language of geology through a study of plate tectonics, planetary structure, and rocks of all sorts.  I am particularly interested in the physical forces that shape the surface of the Earth, and I am excited to teach you about a multitude of surface processes that shape our planet (rivers and glaciers and landslides, oh my!) and tell you about my research on glaciers and in rivers. The planet has begun to show signs of our expanding population and the increasing need for natural resources, and we will consider the feedbacks between humans and the Earth as well.

Broadly, the goals of the course are three-fold: first, to introduce the materials and processes that govern the evolution of the Earth; second, to examine global environmental changes in the context of natural processes; and third, to inspire you to develop a lifelong interest in the planet on which you reside.  The course begins with an overview of the origin of the solar system and other planets.  Next, you will learn about Earth materials and how to interpret the significance of minerals and rocks in the context of our dynamic planet. We will examine the composition, structure, and evolution of the interior of our planet, as well as the well-accepted (but not complete) model of plate tectonics. We will also spend time examining the forces that shape our continental surfaces, including surface and groundwater movement, hillslope processes, coastlines, wind and deserts, and glacial processes. Throughout the course, I will strive to link the academic study of our planet to ‘real-life’ situations and events, and demonstrate the importance of understanding earth processes to being an educated global citizen. Finally, through explicit writing instruction and several fun assignments, you will improve upon your argumentative writing skills in the scientific context.

The course has no prerequisites, and I expect most of you may not have had a physical or environmental sciences course since middle school!  We will have weekly lab meetings (in addition to class), and one overnight field trip to northern Minnesota – woo hoo!

Class meets MWF, 9:40 am - 10:40 am in Olin Rice 175.  Lab meets R, 8:00 am - 11:00 am in Olin Rice 187

Writing designation:  WA

Living arrangements:  Single gender rooms, co-ed floor.

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GEOL 165-01:  History and Evolution of the Earth   (R)
Ray Rogers, Geology Department

This first-year course provides an overview of major happenings in the history of Earth over the past ~4.5 billion years, and the story is amazing. We will explore the birth of Earth (and its moon), the making of mountains, the history of climate change, and the many cataclysmic events that punctuate Earth history. We will also learn the methods that geoscientists use to decipher the Earth’s long history. Major emphasis is placed on tracking the evolution of life, from the simplest single-celled organisms of the early Earth to today’s diverse floras and faunas. Another major focus is the linkage among Earth’s major systems: the rocks, atmosphere, oceans, and life did not and do not evolve independently. Changes in one major component of the system impact all aspects of the system. Our class will include an overnight fossil-collecting field trip (weather permitting). Key lab exercises and projects will be incorporated into class time. This course is required for geology majors, and counts toward the major. The class will meet twice a week for three-hour blocks.

Class meets TR, 1:20 pm - 4:20 pm in Olin Rice 175. 

Writing designation:  WA

Living arrangements:  Single gender rooms, co-ed floor.

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GERM 174-01:  Vampires--from Monsters to Superheroes   (R)
Britt Abel, German and Russian Studies Department

Vampires are cyclical. Just a few years ago you ran into them anytime you walked into a bookstore or turned on the TV—just like in Victorian times when Bram Stoker’s famous work emerged from a vampire craze. Vampires have always been popular fodder and will continue to be so, even if and as the image of the vampire shifts dramatically over time. The popularity of vampires has waxed and waned for over a hundred years, partially because vampirism can be used as a metaphor for almost anything—from the plague to sexuality to addiction. We will juxtapose classic tales of vampires as monsters (Dracula, Nosferatu, Carmilla) with the more recent generation of vampires (Buffy & Angel, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, Let the Right One In). What happened to change our imagination of vampires from monsters into hip, outsider superheroes? And what can the examination of vampires tell us about the context in which they were created?

Course Requirements:  Students are required to come to class prepared and to participate actively in the discussion of novels, films, and TV shows; please note that many of the screenings will be outside of class time.  In addition, students will complete weekly writing assignments and several shorter essays that will prepare for a longer, in-depth final paper.

This is a residential first-year course that is designed for non-majors and requires no prior knowledge of vampirism or German.

Class meets MWF, 10:50 am- 11:50 am, in Neill Hall 217

Writing designation:  WA

Living arrangements:  Single gender rooms, co-ed floor.

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HISP 171-01/LATI 171-01:  Susurros del Pasado:  Whispers Towards the 21st Century
Galo Gonzalez, Hispanic and Latin American Studies  Department

The course “Susurros del Pasado:  Whispers toward the 21st Century” will explore the definition of “Indigenous peoples” and its implication within the context of the Americas, and provide a forum for discussion of the suffering, oppression and discrimination experienced by this particular population. The course will also outline continuing struggle for freedom, for cultural and even their physical survival, by examining specific literature and cultural production authored by 20th and 21st century indigenous and non-indigenous authors from North, Central and South America.  The chosen literature and cultural texts will illustrate trans-cultural and de-colonization processes, and resistance to assimilation.

The following authors and films will be the source of our readings and class discussion:  Sherman Alexie (The Toughest Indian in the World, 2000), Jose Maria Arguedas (Yawar Fiesta, 1941), Victor Montejo (Testimony: Death of a Guatemalan Village, 1987; and Sculpted Stones, 1995), Rigoberta Menchú (I Rogoberta Menchú. An Indian Woman in Guatemala, 1983), and Subcomandante Marcos (Questions And Swords. Folktales of the Zapatista Revolution, 2001); among the films, "Spirit:  The Seventh Fire (2005)," "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee (2007)," "Cabeza de Vaca (1993)," "The Mission (1986)," and "A Place Called Chiapas (1998)."  Students will also read and discuss theories proposed by Erica-Irene Daes (United Nations Human Rights Prize 1993), Ronald Niezen, Walter Mignolo, Jeffrey Sissons, among others.

This course fulfills the WA (Argumentative Writing) requirement.  Students will have the opportunity to learn how to construct a solid argumentative assay.  They will receive instruction on the various steps of the processes of writing and revising an essay.  Through the use of a variety of resources, students will practice methods of selecting themes, setting up solid arguments based on solid evidence, and reaching relevant conclusions in relation to the argumentative intention of the essay.

This course is conducted in English.

Goals:

The goals of the First Year Course are the following:

  • To introduce students to critical inquiry in the field of Hispanic and Latin American Studies.

  • To provide some instruction in college level writing (including multiple drafts and appropriate citation of source materials) and library skills.

  • To help students adjust to Macalester's academic life.

  • To connect first year students with a faculty member who serves him/her as an advisor for the first two years at Macalester.

  • to provide a supportive community of other first year students with shared interests and experiences to help in the transition to college.

Evaluation:

The work for this course consists of:  extensive readings, research exercises, writing essays, and a combination of lectures, group and individual presentations, and class discussions.  Students will be evaluated on the basis of:

1.  Class participation/ group presentations                                       25%
2.  Midterm Essay (7 pages in length)                                                20%
3.  Final Term paper (10 pages) and presentation (10 minutes)        35%
4.  Short essays (Two 3- page papers)                                              20%
     Total                                                                                             100%

  Class meets MWF, 9:40 am - 10:40 pm in Olin RIce 370.

Writing designation:  WA

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HIST 194-01:  Influential Indians:  A Biographical Approach to American Indian History
Katrina Phillips, History Department

This first-year course introduces students to American Indian history though biographical studies of famous (and not-so-famous) American Indians.  From athletes to activists, warriors to writers, and political pundits to performers, American Indians were and are a driving force in shaping not only their worlds but the world around them.  The historical and contemporary aspects of American Indians’ political sovereignty, cultural preservation, and economic development underscore their agency and highlight their resistance to federal Indian policy.  Using a variety of primary and secondary sources written by and about American Indians, students will develop their critical reading skills while fostering their historical research and writing abilities.

Class meets TR, 9:40 am - 11:10 am in Old Main 002

Writing designation:  WA

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HIST 194-02:  Sex, Love and Gender in History   (R)
Jessica Pearson, History Department

This First-Year Course will use a global/comparative approach to introduce students to the ways that historians think about sex, love, and gender. We will explore themes such as sex and war, the role of the state in shaping people’s intimate lives, the intersections between gender, race, and social class, changing courtship practices, and the ways that the politics of sex and gender shaped the evolution of empires and nations. We will also consider how different sexualities and gender roles mapped onto different urban spaces, exploring prostitution in nineteenth-century London and Paris and the evolution of LGBTQ communities in New York and Berlin. Students will engage with a wide variety of historical sources, ranging from memoirs, poems and novels, art, film, and photography and will engage with a range of theoretical approaches to thinking about sex and gender. This course will emphasize critical reading and analysis skills and will also introduce students to the basic tenets of historical research and writing.

Class meets MWF, 10:50 am - 11:50 pm in Carnegie 105

Writing designation:  WA

Living arrangements:  Single gender rooms, single gender floor.

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 MCST 194-01:  Mass Incarceration and the Media   (R)

Leola Johnson, Media and Cultural Studies Department

The "Chain Gang" was one of the first tools of the prison-industrial complex in the United States, especially in the South, dating back to Reconstruction.  It was designed to re-enslave Black men who were freed from forced labor by the 13th Amendment.  Chain gangs were deployed as work crews by corporations such as U.S. Steele.

Chain gangs and other parts of the system of mass incarceration have been visible in Hollywood movies and in other parts of popular culture since the era of the Big Studios in the 1930s. An example is  Paul Muni's 1933 film, I was a Fugitive from A Chain Gang, which is a narrative about a wrongly convicted working class White man who was swept up into prison industrial complex.  But the early films represented mass incarceration as a system dominated by White inmates, whereas  recent work by scholars represent the system as disproportionately African American.

In this class, we will read the work of historian Michelle Alexander (The New Jim Crow), journalist Douglas Blackmon (Slavery by Another Name) and others who argue that mass incarceration has always been disproportionately Black, and we will study the ways that mass culture has begun to reflect this reality.  We will begin the course by examining Paul Muni's film and then we will move on to more recent representations   (COPS, Lockup, Orange is the New Black, Oz, and 13th).

The course requires a research paper and a paper for public consumption written for Criminal Injustice, a blog managed by Prof. Nancy Heitzeg at the University of St. Catherine's in St. Paul.

Class meets TR, 3:00 pm - 4:30 pm in Neill Hall 402

Writing designation:  WA

Living arrangements:  Single gender rooms, co-ed floor.

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MUSI 194-01:  Music, Empathy, Alienation
Mark Mazullo, Music Department

We expect a great deal from music, but what can it, and does it, actually provide? Does music improve lives, connect individuals, foster peace and social justice? Does it divide, alienate, fuel aggression? Does music merely entertain; are its consolations false, imaginary? Are there types or modes of experience accessible only through music? How does technology factor into musically formed, human relationships? In this discussion-based course, we will examine connections between music and two powerful critical categories--empathy and alienation--whose impact spans the arts, humanities, sciences, and social sciences. Empathy, a concept that has its earliest roots in the fields of aesthetics and psychology, concerns the way we “feel into” others (and artworks, and natural forms), and thereby share our emotional lives. Alienation, also a term with wide application in the arts and social sciences, concerns the ways in which we are disconnected--from others, from our labor, from artworks. We will read historical and contemporary writings on these subjects, with critical approaches representing a range of perspectives, including aesthetics and art/music/theatre history, psychology and neuroscience, feminist and race theory, and more. We will discuss musical activity in a variety of traditions, from piano sonatas by Beethoven and symphonies by Mahler, to recordings by Radiohead and Kendrick Lamar. We will examine music as a theme in literature, and we’ll listen to some fascinating characters in opera who challenge us along empathic lines. In a semester-long independent project, students will explore a topic of their own devising; these might take the form of research papers, or creative works, or service-learning projects in the Twin Cities community. Along with producing a final, written paper, students will present their work orally, in class and potentially as part of Macalester’s Fall 2017 International Roundtable (“Empathy and Its Discontents”). This course will satisfy the “WA” graduation requirement.

Class meets MWF, 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm in Music 228

Writing designation:  WA

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PHIL 100-01:  Introduction to Philosophy
Samuel Asarnow, Philosophy Department

According to Richard Linklater’s 2001 film Waking Life, there is a surefire way to tell if you are dreaming. Light switches don’t work in dreams, so if you flip a light switch and it works, you know you’re awake. But Waking Life is fiction, and this test doesn’t really work. Is there any test that always distinguishes dreams from reality?  If not, can we ever know for sure that we’re not dreaming? For that matter, can we know that we’re not brains in vats, hooked up to sophisticated computers in some kind of awful post-apocalyptic future, a la The Matrix?  And if it turns out that we can’t know about anything outside our own minds, what follows?  Would it even matter?  In Introduction to Philosophy, we will consider those questions, and others. Topics of discussion will include the nature of the human mind, the foundations of ethics, the existence of God, and the possibility of free will.  Our readings will include a range of historical and contemporary works of philosophy, science, and literature. Special attention will be paid to connections between philosophy and related areas of study (such as neuroscience, computer science, and economics).

Class meets TR, 1:20 pm - 2:50 pm in Neill Hall 111

Writing designation:  WA

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PHIL 111-01:  Introduction to Symbolic Logic
Janet Folina, Philosophy Department

Every day we hear, read, make and assess arguments.  These occur in political rhetoric, advertising campaigns, and among friends and family.  Many arguments are persuasive.  But some persuasive arguments are incorrect (some of these abuse statistics, some are actually fallacies); and some correct arguments are not very persuasive (at least not immediately).

Logic is the science of correct reasoning and argumentation, and symbolic logic is the use of symbols and formal rules to codify this correctness.  Our approach is formal – symbolic logic depends only on the form of arguments rather than their content.  (This course is thus somewhat abstract and theoretical; it is not a course on applied critical thinking.)  We will focus on formal properties of deductive arguments; our tools and methods constitute the fundamental methods of contemporary symbolic logic.  In symbolic logic symbols represent types of sentences, and rules are cited for each inference.  Thus, proofs in this course are somewhat like proofs in geometry:  they both depend on clear criteria for correctness and incorrectness.

The course divides into the following standard topics:

1.  Formalization of arguments in propositional logic.

2.  Natural Deduction: learning and applying formal rules of proof. 

3.  Truth tables and semantic trees. 

4.  Formalization of arguments in predicate logic.

5.  Natural Deduction:  proofs in Predicate Logic.

The immediate aim of this course is to provide you with some formal methods for (i) determining whether or not an argument has a correct form, and (ii) proving a conclusion from a given set of premises. 

In addition to learning a formal system, the tools acquired in this course can be applied to real arguments, and logic helps students distinguish good arguments from bad ones, and to justify such distinctions.  Logic also helps students improve their writing, as it assists in articulating the logical structure of an argument.  Finally, logic is central to mathematics as well as philosophy.  This course provides a good foundation for both majors, and indeed any discipline that emphasizes correct, clear thinking, reading and writing.

Class meets MWF 9:40 am - 10:40 am in Carnegie 206

Writing designation:  None

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PHYS 194-01:  Nano Science   (R)
James Heyman, Physics and Astronomy Department

Nanoscience is concerned with the control of matter on the atomic and molecular scale.  This interdisciplinary field sits at the convergence of Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Materials Science and Electrical Engineering.  Our course will introduce science at the nanometer length scale, the fabrication of nano-scale systems and some of their technological applications.  This quantitative course will use mathematics at the introductory calculus level, and high-school physics and calculus are recommended.  Assignments will include readings, problem sets, short papers and a research paper.

Class meets MWF, 2:20 pm - 3:20 pm in Olin Rice 101

Writing designation:  WA

Living arrangements:  Single gender rooms, co-ed floor.

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POLI 120-01:  Foundations of International Politics  (R)
Wendy Weber, Political Science Department

This course is designed to introduce students to the academic study of international relations or global politics. As an introductory course, it has three broad goals. The first is to develop the foundational knowledge and conceptual literacy necessary to engage with the field’s multidimensional concerns. These include, among other things, power, gender, inequality, political violence, international law, globalization, development, and human rights. The second goal is to introduce students to different perspectives or intellectual frameworks for making sense of global politics.  The third goal is to develop a range of critical, analytical, research and writing skills for more advanced work within the field. We will pursue these three goals through readings, class discussions and other in-class activities, and writing assignments all prompted by key questions about global politics.

Class meets MWF, 1:10 pm - 2:10 pm in Carnegie 208

Writing designation:  WA

Living arrangements:  Single gender rooms, co-ed floor.

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POLI 160-01:  Foundations of Political Theory
David Blaney, Political Science Department

An examination of the evolution of influential political concepts and theories from ancient cultures to the present day, by those writing in/from/to the West. Introduction through textual analysis to historical and contemporary understandings of key terms such as authority, legitimacy, liberty, republicanism, democracy, revolution and “the good.” Additionally, the course provides an introduction to political theory methods of analysis and critique, through the development of skills in reading, critical thinking, and writing.

Class meets MWF, 10:50 am - 11:50 am in Carnegie 204

Writing designation:  WA

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PSYC 194-01:  Psychology of Right and Wrong   (R)
Steve Guglielmo, Psychology Department

One of the most consequential ways that we interact with our social world is by morally evaluating people’s behavior. In this course, we’ll explore how this process works, gaining insight into understanding and improving our own moral behavior. What sort of acts do we see as immoral, and how do we hold people accountable for them? How do we atone for past moral failings? What role does empathy play in producing more fair and equitable behavior? We will take an interdisciplinary approach to examining these questions, considering research from various subfields in psychology, as well as perspectives from philosophy, sociology, and artificial intelligence.

Class meets MWF, 1:10 pm - 2:10 pm in Olin Rice 370

Writing designation:  WA

Living arrangements:  Single gender rooms, single gender floor.

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RELI 238-01:  Catholics:  Culture, Identity, Politics
James Laine, Religious Studies Department

The study of Christian traditions in general, and Roman Catholicism in particular, has often emphasized the study of theology and the history of the institutional Church.  Scholars studying non-Western religious traditions, however, have in recent decades given close attention to the culture of which any given religious tradition is a part, studying as much the popular culture as elite and institutional expressions. This course is an attempt, in part, to apply the approaches developed by comparative historians of religion and anthropologists to the study of some of the cultures influenced by Catholicism, and to understand current issues and debates on, for example, sexual politics, liturgy, or theology and Church authority, in that context.  We will begin with a consideration of the place of Catholicism within American culture, some of the conflicts between American and Catholic values, in light of the long history of the Catholic Church in the West.  We will then turn to particular cultural and ritual expressions of Catholic faith.  There will also be opportunities to study various aspects of Catholic culture in Minnesota through field trips, and independent projects. Here some of the ethnic diversity among Catholics in Minnesota --Germans, Irish, Latin Americans, Native Americans, Poles, African-Americans, Vietnamese, Koreans—may be considered.  We’ll begin with a visit to a big lefty church that meets in a school gym with a stage full of old hippies playing electric guitars at mass. Then we’ll attend a conservative Latin mass with full orchestra and choir performing one of Mozart’s masses.  Are these two churches part of the same religion? The theologian might say yes, the anthropologist might disagree.

Class meets MWF, 2:20 pm - 3:20 pm in Carnegie 304

Writing designation:  WC

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RUSS 261-01/HIST 261-01:  Making History:  Russian Cinema as Testimony, Propaganda, and Art   (R)
Julia Chadaga, Russian Studies Department

Throughout history, we have turned to storytelling to make sense of our world. We tell stories about the past to document and explain phenomena, to justify our political and social agendas, to create connections, and to give life meaning. In the twentieth century, Russia helped introduce the world to a spectacular new form of storytelling—film—and used it to alter previous narratives in the hope of reshaping the future. In this course, we will look at written and cinematic representations of Russian history, from medieval times to the post-Soviet era. One task of the course will be to articulate how storytelling in film differs from historiography and fiction. Another will be to show how politics, power relations, technology, and aesthetics have shaped film depictions of key historical events. We will analyze the films as narratives about real events, as vehicles of propaganda, and as imaginative works of art. The course will consist of mini-lectures, class discussion, and weekly film screenings. All films will have subtitles, and no knowledge of Russia or Russian history is required. This course will fulfill the graduation requirements for Argumentative Writing (WA) and Internationalism.

Class meets MWF, 1:10 pm - 2:10 pm in Olin Rice 270

Writing designation:  WA

Living arrangements:  Single gender rooms, co-ed floor.

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SOCI 205-01:  Public Schooling in America
Terry Boychuk, Sociology Department

As Frederick Rudolf aptly noted, the history of American education "is American history" and reveals "the central purposes and driving directions of American society." The advent of mass schooling represents a profound exercise in collective self-definition. As with much else in a democracy, deciding whom to teach, what to teach, and how to teach have been subjects of lively debate in the US from the early nineteenth century to the dawning of the twenty-first. This course offers a broad overview of the overarching political controversies surrounding the historical development of public schooling in America. We begin with a survey of 19th-century movements to define elementary schooling as the chosen instrument for nation-building, for safeguarding democratic self-governance, and for resolving with the cascading social disorders implicated in the rise of urbanization, mass immigration, and industrial capitalism. The rise of high schools in the early twentieth century is the second major topic of interest, and more specifically, progressive-era debates about the relationship between public schools and colleges and universities. This era begets the great ideological fault-lines underlying educational theory and practice in the US that lasted through the 20th century into the 21st. The dramatic post-war reconstruction of public schooling is the third major focus of the course. We explore the proliferation of federal government mandates to secularize, integrate, assimilate, equalize, multiculturalize, and expunge racism and sexism from the curriculum, all the while raising academic standards for all. With these directives came vastly expanded government funding for social science research trained on evaluating public schools' efforts to realize these new benchmarks of educational progress. We observe this rebirth of the social sciences as arbiters of educational policy debates. The final section of the course revolves around contemporary disputes over school choice policies and the federal No-Child-Left-Behind initiatives. These latest campaigns to democratize academic excellence have followed a familiar, recurring script of US policy making since the 1980s: deregulation, de-centralization, consumer choice, managerial and administrative prerogatives in public agencies re-invented in the image of governance in the corporate sector, and the elaboration of benchmarks to measure the effectiveness and efficiency of educational practices. We consider how recent experience indicate limitations to privatization, corporatization, and marketization as solutions to the educational crisis, and perhaps, suggest the beginnings of a renewed search for answers to the riddle of public education.

Class meets MWF, 1:10 pm - 2:10 pm in Carnegie 105

Writing designation:  WA

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THDA 105-01:  Theatre and Performance in the Twin Cities
Megan Reilly, Theatre & Dance Department

The goal of this course is to introduce first-year students to live performance in the exciting arts scene of the Twin Cities. Students in this class learn approaches to studying theatre and performance events and texts, and begin to practice the vocabularies of scholarship in the field of theatre and performance studies. We attend performances at professional theatres, and at Macalester College. In this process of studied spectatorship, students learn how to critically attend, discuss, and write about theatre and performance events, learning the vocabularies of the field.

Class meets TR, 9:40 am - 11:10 am in Old Main 009

Writing designation:  WA anticipated

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WGSS 102-01:  Gender and Sport:  More Than Just a Game?   (R)
Corie Hammers, Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Department

This first-year course explores through texts, film, and classroom discussion the institution of sport. Through the lens of feminism we examine how dominant understandings of gender, race and sexuality inform and shape contemporary sport, all the way from “recreational” sporting leagues to the “elite” Olympic level.  While sport is typically understood as mere entertainment, an apolitical social arena of fun and spectacle, we will come to understand the ways in which sport – as a core component of our contemporary culture (our “way of life”) – undergirds and reinforces society’s dominant ideologies, values and social inequalities. That is, while sport can function as a site of political protest and social change (think about the 1968 Olympic Black Power Salute, Billie Jean King’s tennis match with Bobby Riggs, and Colin Kaepernick taking a knee during the national anthem), it is also an expression of US power, dominant masculinity, racism and heteronormativity.  Key to this course is thus coming to better understand the role of sport in both perpetuating and challenging sexism, racism, homophobia and transphobia.

Class meets TR, 3:00 pm - 4:30 pm in Old Main 009

Writing designation:  WA

Living arrangements:  Single gender rooms, single gender floor.

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