Fall 2018 Course Offerings
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- The Threshold of Democracy: Athens in 403 BCE , Mondays 10:10 – 11:00
- History of US Celebrity , Mondays 10:10 – 11:00
- Who Are You? Getting to Know Yourself by Being Someone Else (Philosophically) , Mondays 1:15 – 2:15
- Experiencing and Aiding the Urban Wilderness , Mondays 1:25 – 2:15
- Politics and Culture in 1930s Cinema , Mondays 3:35 – 4:25
- The Invention of Africa , Tuesdays 8:10 – 9:00
- You Aren’t Allowed to Read That! Censorship and Young Adult Novels , Tuesdays 9:40 – 10:30
- Rethinking How We Live: Making Sustainability Happen , Tuesdays 12:40 – 1:30
- When Art and Science Collide , Tuesdays 5:10 – 6: 00
- Great Smoky Mountains National Park: The People’s Legacy , Wednesdays 9:05 – 9:55
- Keeping It Real: Improving Soft Skills & Moving Toward Mindfulness , Wednesdays 11:15-12:05
- The United States Constitutional Convention of 1787: Constructing a Republic , Wednesdays 1:25 – 2:15
- From Farm to Table, From Global to Local: An introduction to food systems , Wednesdays 3:35 – 4:25
- Earth Resources and their Environmental Impact in Tennessee , Thursdays 11:10 – 12:00
- Forests and Sustainability: Ecological, Economic, and Social Dimensions of the World’s Forests , Thursdays 12:40 – 1:30
- The East Tennessee Landscape , Thursdays 2:10 – 3:00
- How to Watch TV , Fridays 9:05 – 9:55
- Creative Writing and Service Learning: How Life Becomes Literature , Fridays 1:25 – 2:15
Fall 2018 Course Descriptions
The Smith Center of International Sustainable Agriculture continues to work with farming and food systems around the world. This course will offer students the chance to engage with ongoing research on food systems at the global scale as well as engage with local producers and marketers at the local scale. Students will interact with researchers, farmer/producers, market managers, chefs and restaurateurs. Students will meet on campus to discuss the changing dynamics of food systems and the challenges and opportunities that face today’s communities. Students will also visit farms, market managers, and restaurants in Knoxville to learn the intricacies of the local food scene. These visits will provide the students a chance to engage with those working on the front lines, building sustainable food and agricultural systems.
Stefanie Benjamin and James Williams
Fear of failure is a common reason people cite for not moving forward in their careers and within college. However, everyone has failed at some moment in their life. But, why are we, especially students, so afraid to talk about their failures? Within this course, we would like to discuss why talking about our failures can feel so foreign to us and how working on being more transparent can improve us as students and humans. Feminist pedagogy and Critical Race Theory will inform this course where we will learn skills to help students improve their soft skills: including communication, listening, and dealing with emotions with mindfulness techniques.
The goal of this course is to explore the role of celebrity in United States history. This will require you to do two things: think about what makes up celebrity and how those characteristics provide a glimpse into what’s happening economically, politically, and socially at the time. We will follow a roughly chronological order as we explore famous Americans from the colonial period to the present day. We will consider what they have in common, what is different about them, and why people care who they are? At its core, this class is a cultural history of the U.S. as it is most often within the cultural realm that celebrity is born. This course will ask you to reconsider U.S. within this wider cultural context by thinking about art, literature, music, etc., and the different types of people who contributed to their development. This class will challenge how you think about history, who and what is included, and why multiple cultural events and objects should be. You will learn the difference between a secondary source and a primary source and how that relates to cultural development and dissemination. As we go along, pay close attention to main themes that will reoccur throughout this course:
- Belief Systems
- Race and Ethnicity
- Gender Relationships
- Movements of People and Ideas
- Human Advancements
We will present an overview of economic earth resources that have formed and are extracted in Tennessee. This will require a basic review of geological processes of rock formation and the subsequent breakdown of these materials and the effects upon the environment. The class will be split into three main parts:
- Background lectures – These will provide geological underpinnings of the important processes pertaining to pertinent earth resources in Tennessee
- Student group projects/presentations – students will research a specific earth resource topic relevant to Tennessee and prepare and present their conclusions in class
- Field experiences at former mine sites – we will have field trips to gain a first-hand understanding of mines, minerals and resources and the geology the drives these processes and the consequences.
Attendance, group presentations, final quiz, and written reflections will constitute the grades for this course.
The aim of this course is to critically examine popular and distorted discourses on Africa, investigate how they were constructed and consider the implications of dismantling and problematizing them. In addition to written texts, news media and films will also be objects of analysis as we investigate, explicate, and critique salient notions of Africa and African cultures.
In this course, students will view and analyze 5 different French films from the 1930s and read articles on French cinema and politics. The class activities will be centered around cooperative games, and the assessments will be based on role playing. Students will also produce reviews of the films and, in the process, become more aware of the way film critics often create their own meanings as people rooted in a particular time period.
This course will serve as an introduction to students who have an interest in both art and science and how those working in the medical illustration and associated allied health sciences combine these two interests. We will examine how collaboration between the two interest groups have been cyclical, both convergent and divergent. The course will introduce students to professionals who utilize both skills within the profession via SKYPE interviews.
Forests and Sustainability introduces students to the basic concepts of sustainability in the context of forested ecosystems. The course is focused on developing an awareness of multicultural perspectives, and specifically how sustainability and efforts to enhance sustainability are viewed in different cultures. Emphasizing the ecological, economic, and social aspects of sustainability, class discussions and projects will explore how a sustainability framework can be applied to practical problems of forest use and protection, both locally and globally.
This course will explore the history of the national park and its people. We will study the campaign and motivating factors that led to the creation of a national park as well as those who were personally affected. Particular focus will be given to how individual and group advocacy has shaped park growth over the ensuing years as well as its continued impact on park development today. Learn more about this beautiful park that is in our backyard!
Popular culture is often dismissed as trivia and condemned as a took of mass deception. Because of this negative perception of popular culture, consumers of popular culture are labeled as cultural dupes and couch potatoes. In this course, we will take a step back from simply consuming popular culture to investigate how popular culture influences the ways we act and perceive the world. We will examine various artifacts of popular culture including music videos, movies, reality television, television shows, and other relevant pieces of popular culture. Using different critical perspectives, we examine the instruments or means by which we are influenced by popular culture.
In the popular imagination, creative writing is often envisioned as either a full-time profession or a part-time hobby. Often, aspiring writers are offered the clichés that they must either resign themselves to the lives of “starving artists,” or they must not “quit their day jobs,” but the choice is not always an either-or scenario. Many writers have succeeded in other admirable pursuits of mind (and body) before, during, and after the time they wrote their best works.
In this course, we will analyze and discuss the ways modern and postmodern writers shape their life events—both paid and unpaid—into poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. You will have the opportunity to choose from a variety of not-for-profit groups on and around campus and volunteer to serve one of these organizations for a day. Then, you will write poems, stories, and essays inspired by those experiences. You will read selections of your own creative writing during in-class workshops and offer praise and constructive criticism to help others with revision. In addition, we will explore how literature is published in the Internet age as well as how to submit creative writing for publication.
Our goal will be to work together to edit, compile, typeset, and design an attractive collection of the most compelling works written by each student in the class. Ultimately, we will reflect on what we have learned from all of these endeavors about the benefits of developing a writing habit, not only as an academic necessity or as a career enhancer but as a powerful aid in lifelong learning.
The Threshold of Democracy: Athens in 403 B.C. recreates the intellectual dynamics of one of the most formative periods in the human experience. After nearly three decades of war, Sparta crushed democratic Athens, destroyed its great walls and warships, occupied the city, and installed a brutal regime, “the Thirty Tyrants.” The excesses of the tyrants resulted in civil war and, as the game begins, they have been expelled and the democracy restored. But doubts about democracy remain, expressed most ingeniously by Socrates and his young supporters. Will Athens retain a political system where all decisions are made by an Assembly of 6,000 or so citizens? Will leaders continue to be chosen by random lottery? Will citizenship be broadened to include slaves who fought for the democracy and foreign-born metics who paid taxes in its support? Will Athens rebuild its long walls and warships and again extract tribute from city-states throughout the eastern Mediterranean? These and other issues are sorted out by a polity fractured into radical and moderate democrats, oligarchs, and Socratics, among others. Through active game playing, we will examine this democracy at its threshold and consider its subsequent evolution.
This course serves as an introduction to the exciting and rapidly growing field of “sustainable living,” which emphasizes reducing the environmental footprint of individuals and cultures. Topics include: environmental footprints, green living, green consumerism, ethical consumption, voluntary simplicity, green technologies and many other ways for people to actively reduce their impact on the environment. Classes will focus on interactive discussions and experiential learning using the UT campus as a “learning lab” for sustainability efforts.
Students in “Experiencing and Aiding the Urban Wilderness” will study the conceptualization, history, and science behind urban wilderness areas. Our course will partner with Ijams Nature Center to learn more about Knoxville’s urban wilderness and its benefits for our citizens, wildlife, and flora. Through a variety of volunteer and service learning projects, students not only will study and learn about Ijams’s history and impact, but also will create materials for marketing and education, help maintain trails, and/or create programs or activities that use and showcase the trails and gardens. Of particular interest will be how the Ijams model and others we read about are or can be implemented elsewhere to reap similar benefits.
This course will examine the creation of the US Constitution by using the Reacting to the Past role-playing game, “The Constitution of 1787: Constructing the American Republic.” Placing the development of the constitution in the larger world of Transatlantic Revolutions, this course will offer students the opportunity to role-play as key members of the US Constitutional Convention of 1787, highlighting the roles of Alexander Hamilton and James Madison.
Explore East Tennessee through the study of landscape painting, artifacts, and other representations. The course utilizes the collections of the Knoxville Museum of Art, the McClung Museum of Natural History, and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to examine the history and culture of this dynamic region. The course will include excursions to all of these locations to understand why the landscape is important, how it is represented, and perhaps even how it’s changing. We will look at art, artifacts, and other cultural tableaux in our exploration.
Over the course of the semester, students will read two novels published for young adults, one current and one from an earlier time period. Using these novels as a frame, we will explore changing images of American “teens,” as well as issues of censorship and intellectual freedom in public libraries in the United States. I will incorporate two types of experiential learning: reflection (on changes in ideas about “teens” and changing moral standards over time), as well as role play and simulation (as students “defend” whether or not to have these titles on public library shelves).
Philosophy, as a discipline, is difficult to define. Ask ten different philosophers “What is philosophy?” and they will probably give you ten different answers. On most understandings, though, there are at least two things that unite philosophers, two things on which we will focus throughout the term.
First, philosophers are concerned with particular kinds of questions. The word “philosophy” means “love of wisdom,” and until recently the study of philosophy encompassed the study of many other disciplines. Psychology, sociology, political science, and even the natural sciences, were all gathered under the umbrella of philosophy. However, as such disciplines came into their own, agreeing upon areas and methods of scientific inquiry, they emerged from beneath the umbrella of philosophy. What remains are questions which seemingly defy complete reduction to scientific inquiry.
Second, the particular kinds of questions that philosophers ask, especially the ways in which they ask them, are often more important than the answers that they give. Philosophy requires, above all else, reason and logic, but also curiosity and imagination, and even strength and courage. Philosophy can challenge our deepest held beliefs, beliefs, which we often hold so deeply we simply take them for granted. In this respect, philosophy can be difficult, but it can also be rewarding. In fact, by the end of this course, hopefully you will find developing the attitude that philosophy requires changes the way that you view yourself and your world.