A Birder, a Hunter, and a Boater Walk into a Bar: Is There Enough Nature for Everyone?

The outdoors is a critical part of the Midwestern identity. Abundant lakes, hiking trails, and public lands allow for seemingly unlimited opportunities for outdoor recreation. But different groups are starting to compete for the same spaces and opportunities. How do we decide how to allocate usage to the outdoors? And, perhaps more importantly, how do our uses of the outdoors impact nature and the conservation of species? This course will explore how a growing human population, along with increasing affluence, is straining the natural environments of the Upper Midwest as well as globally. How can we, as tax-paying citizens, ensure that our lakes, prairies, and every other ecosystem can be enjoyed by everyone now and in the future, while also accepting that not everyone can get what they want when it comes to outdoor activities?

Book Banning: What's at Stake?

Book banning is at an all-time high in the U.S. To better understand what this means, first, a book is challenged; that is, there is an attempt to ban the book from a school district, public library, or other institution based on the book’s contents. The challenge then results either in banning the book or overturning the challenge so the book remains in circulation. In the 2021-2022 school year, PEN America recorded 2,352 successfully banned books in schools. That’s up from about 1,600 the year before and 377 the year before that. Remember, the number of book challenges far exceeds that number, so what’s so scary about books that would explain a growing number of book challenges and banned books? How does the book-banning process even work? What is gained or lost when we ban books? Books get banned, censored, and challenged based on a variety of factors: maybe they contain “dirty” words, sexual content, witches and wizards, representations of marginalized groups, and explicit or implicit political messages. More and more individuals, parents, lawmakers, officials, and organizations are making it their mission to ban books in this country. In this class, we will learn why and how book challenges and book banning are happening and why learning about book banning is essential to being an engaged citizen, returning often throughout the course to the question, what is at stake when books are banned?

Collaboration in Global Music

How do people around the world (and in our own backyard) make music together? What does the collaboration and interaction look and sound like, and how do these ‘musickings’ relate to and develop community? We will dive into these (and other questions) as we make music together in a few music traditions near and far, chosen from among Ghanaian dancing and drumming, Javanese gamelan, Zimbabwean mbira, early American shape-note singing, and free group improvisation. We will spend a significant amount of class time fully participating in making music, though it is not at all necessary to have musical background, as these musics are quite different from musics with which you are likely familiar. Ultimately we are interested in the topics of collaboration and community, and you will have an opportunity to investigate how the collaboration that occurs within music making informs collaboration in other areas of civic life, and how you might apply these ideas of interaction to help make a better world.

Don’t Say It: Censoring Critical Race Theory

What is Critical Race Theory? CRT has become the hashtag for contentious conversations engaging race. Current policies outlawing CRT operate with the understanding that CRT works against the national narrative. In the last two years, 49 states have introduced or passed anti-CRT policies or bills. In a representative democracy, engaged citizens might be curious about this rampant censorship and ask what is circulating around these policies and what is at stake in repressing education. In this seminar, we'll examine the historical legacies that inform current anti-CRT bans. From historical archives to pop culture, we’ll interrogate intersectional storylines about race that are used to justify current censorship campaigns, using the theoretical framework of CRT itself.

Entrepreneurial Mindset

This course introduces students to the attitudes, behaviors, and skills needed to develop an entrepreneurial mindset. Students will recognize how an entrepreneurial mindset allows an individual to act in entrepreneurial ways – recognizing opportunities and using imagination and creativity to solve problems while being resourceful and having a sense of self-efficacy, agency, and resiliency. This course places emphasis on social entrepreneurship and students, as engaged citizens, will take a deep dive into the entrepreneurial process to solve an existing social problem by using an Opportunity Discovery Process where they will problem-find, problem-solve, and create value. Through individual reflection, students will discover who they are and what they can do to make a difference in the world and contribute to society in an entrepreneurial context. 

Everyday Wisdom, Compassionate Community

In this seminar, we will examine ways to engage wisely in the communities around us. We will practice self-reflection, empathy, deep listening, and cooperation as we build the community of our classroom together, and we will take two excursions into the broader Fargo-community (to a local church and to the Fargo mosque). In our readings, we will collect examples from a variety of religious traditions, to see how people can train themselves to approach a diverse world with openness and compassion.

Failure Lab: Experiments in Creativity

Failure Lab is designed to introduce you to the creative process through the lens of failure and resilience. Through artistic activities, readings, discussions, and community field trips, you will explore the transformative power of failure in the arts and develop your own creative resilience and skills in collaboration. Success in life often involves failure. If you are ready to embrace the process, experiment with new ideas, risk failure, and collaborate with others to create new experiences, this class is for you. This course is open to any individual but is particularly designed for individuals with a keen interest in the arts.

Fangirls/Boys Re-Making Culture: The Power of Fandom

This seminar is an exploration of the intricacies and powers of fandom. This course asks “what IS a fan?,” “what does a fan DO?,” and most significantly, “what CAN a fan do?” Rejecting the common stereotypes of the fan as a mere passive consumer of cultural products or a “fanatic,” we explore the powerful potential of fandom and the fan’s agency to create and sustain communities, perform multiple identities, participate in communal art-making, and subvert cultural norms. This course rejects the simplistic model of studying cultural/artistic production with an outsized or exclusive emphasis on the producer/artist. Rather, it highlights reception to explore how meaning is created and culture is transformed through the acts of interpretation by an audience.

Gatekeeping in STEM: Who Gets Let in and Why?

The barriers set in front of historically excluded folks in science are still present. Following the announcement of the 2022 Nobel prizes, there have been 636 individuals awarded a prize in one of the three science categories. Of the 636, 23 are women, and 0 Nobel prizes in science have been awarded to a Black person. And most Nobel prizes in science were awarded to Americans. In this class, we will learn more about the barriers set to impede these scientists, the stories about the scientists that have been disregarded, and discuss the unethical research experimentation that occurred on those without power, with the hope of helping us learn from the past and make the future of science more equitable.

Health Skepticism or Science Denialism: I'm Just Asking Questions

In this seminar, we're going to explore the difference between healthy skepticism and science denialism. So, what's a healthy skeptic? It's someone who questions ideas, especially scientific claims, by looking at the evidence before jumping to conclusions. But lately, we're seeing more of something called science denialism. That's when people outright reject scientific findings despite overwhelming evidence and expert consensus. Examples of this include saying climate change isn't real, claiming vaccines aren't safe, or insisting GMO foods are harmful. We will explore the historical, psychological, cultural, and political factors that influence science denial. We’ll also discuss how the media, our own biases, the groups we belong to, and how divided we are as a society all play a role in creating and perpetuating science denialism. Finally, we will identify ways to promote scientific literacy and respond to science denial in our lives, whether it’s online, at school, or in conversations with friends and family.

Healthcare Harmony: Bridging Differences 

This course aims to equip students with the knowledge and skills necessary to address intolerance in healthcare and promote equity in healthcare delivery, recognizing the diverse perspectives within the spectrum of political beliefs. Through a multidisciplinary approach, students will explore the various dimensions of intolerance and discrimination in healthcare settings and examine strategies for fostering inclusivity, cultural competency, and social justice. Drawing on theoretical frameworks, case studies, and practical examples, students will analyze the roles and responsibilities of different stakeholders, including healthcare providers, policymakers, regulatory bodies, and community organizations, in addressing these complex issues. By the end of the course, students will develop a comprehensive understanding of the challenges and opportunities associated with promoting equity in healthcare and be prepared to actively engage in advocacy, policymaking, and community action to effect positive change, utilizing a range of perspectives and approaches.

Hitler and the Holocaust

This course will focus on the destruction of European Jews by Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany. Students will explore the shifting historical conditions from which the Shoah emerged by examining personal memoirs, historical documents, poetry, art, documentary and feature film, novels, and other media that help to illustrate the human experience during this important historical episode. By the end of the course, students will have an expanded knowledge and understanding of the rise of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi regime, the origins and development of antisemitism, the formation and operation of concentration camps, the resistance movements, and the Shoah as a problem for world history. Additionally, students will have engaged with the problematics of representation, memory, ”the memorial,” and witnessing.

Let Food Be Thy Medicine: Prevention or Snake oil

This course is designed to challenge you to consider the role of nutrition in the development of certain lifestyle-related disease, confront diet trends and popular media misconceptions, and deepen your understanding of the impact of food choices on personal health as well as health and well-being of our communities. As popular media has flooded our screens with nutrition claims, some evidence-based, some not, the role of nutrition in health is becoming more apparent. In this course you will grow your health literacy and your ability to find and interpret evidence-based nutrition information. You will engage with the latest scientific research, challenge widespread nutrition misinformation, and dive-deeper into personal and community specific nutrition related topics. With guest speakers, peer-reviewed research, podcasts, TED talks, and relevant readings, you will grapple with real-world questions pertaining to links between nutrition and health and the numerous ways in which simple dietary changes can make a huge difference in the health status of people across the world.

Mindfulness for Sustainability: Nurturing Resilience, Compassion, and Environmental Stewardship

Exploring mindfulness invites us to fully embrace the present moment without passing judgment. Research indicates that engaging in mindfulness not only eases stress and enhances resilience but can also cultivate a greater sense of compassion towards others and the environment. Throughout this course, we'll delve into simple mindfulness techniques, all while reflecting on our individual roles within the local community and environment. Through readings, open discussions, guest lectures, and firsthand experiences, we'll uncover valuable lessons from the natural world and the act of being present. Our focus will extend to mindful consumption and sustainability, as well as how mindfulness serves as a valuable tool for navigating the challenges of college life and preparing for the journey beyond.

Nonprofit Leadership + Community Engagement

This course seeks to provide a foundational understanding of the nonprofit community and the integrated nature of leading from the inside out through both organizational and community engagement. Students will recognize community needs, grapple with complex issues, and understand the integral role of advocacy as a way to address and solve social problems.  This course explores local, national, and international nonprofit organizations including their mission, vision, scope, and purpose in addition to understanding critical challenges and potential solutions. Student teams will build working relationships and gain first-hand knowledge of the distinctive professional skills necessary for rewarding careers in nonprofits through partnering with a local nonprofit organization. Face-to-face meetings with organizational CEOs and their executive leadership teams contribute to the data-gathering process including historical roots, services provided, leadership and management, governance structure, stakeholders, challenges, and future plans. This course contributes to a heightened understanding of the vital role of the nonprofit sector and the well-being of our entire community.   

Queering Citizenship

How do we become an engaged citizen when our very identities are not acknowledged by our nation state? For many LGBTQ+ peoples this is a common question. Regardless of sexual orientation, one cannot engage in citizenship without engaging with their identity including sexual orientation, gender identity, family identity, and the many other social categories that artificially enhance and constrain our experiences. This course will explore Queer Theory from an interdisciplinary critical perspective, aiming to understand how social categories affect the perception and presentation of our bodies, voice, actions, language, education, work, religion, media, and more. This course will challenge and/or reimagine “normal” gender and sexual arrangements. This course will also provide a space for all peoples to explore said arrangement, whether they be queer, heterosexual, cisgender, transgender, or simply existing without the need for a label. This is a space for all of us to explore and understand the complexities of our identities without the pressure to fit into neat little boxes.

Seeking Justice in US Healthcare

Why are some people healthy and others not? Can where you live or the car you drive (or don’t drive) impact your health? These are many of the questions that will challenge our thoughts and ideas as we wrestle with “Seeking Justice in US Healthcare.” This seminar will introduce students to the many health disparities in the United States and how social class, race, ethnicity, and the social determinants of health impact us all.

Shades of Truth: How Media Shapes Our Stories

Fake news. Deep fakes. Clickbait. How are we supposed to trust anything we read or see? How is our view of the world and institutions shaped when disinformation and misinformation seem to be everywhere? This course examines the intersection of journalism, technology, and citizenship. We’ll investigate some of the first forms of fake news and study contemporary journalistic practices for how news media report the news. We’ll dig into how social media and digital algorithms play a role in the news we see and share. And, finally, we’ll consider whether there is such a thing as objectivity and accuracy – and how we can better assess the quality of what we read and watch.

Stand-up Comedy and Engaged Citizenship

In this course, we’ll discuss the use of stand-up comedy throughout history to critique power, engage in coalition building, and foster change. We'll discuss what makes stand-up comedy particularly successful in these efforts and what characteristics make it less successful than other methods of civic action. We’ll also talk about reactions and backlash to comedians who dare to aim their comedic efforts toward more serious ends. 

The Engaged Scientist

What is the role of the scientist in society, and what responsibilities come with this role? In this seminar, we’ll begin by looking at what it takes to be successful in STEM – both as a student and as a professional scientist. Then we’ll examine the role of the scientist in a democratic society and look at examples from throughout the history of how scientists have used their understanding of science and the natural world to call attention to critical issues and influence the decisions of leaders.

Unleashing the Power of Storytelling

Who doesn’t love a good story? For centuries, humans have been telling stories to educate, entertain, persuade, woo, and connect with others. This course is organized around personal narratives and the art of storytelling. We will explore how sharing stories fosters connections among individuals and communities. The stories we engage with come from a variety of sources, from published texts to oral narratives from seemingly ordinary people in our community and beyond. We will also weave into the course our own stories and the journeys that led us to Concordia. These activities will cultivate important skills that help us relate to others and forge relationships. In the words of storyteller Terrence Gargiulo: “the quickest path between yourself and another person is a story.” This course will take us down that exciting path as we explore the craft of storytelling.

Visual Culture: Thinking Critically about Music in Painting

This interdisciplinary course focuses on the study of visual culture. More specifically, it combines the exploration of intersections among visual art, music, society, culture, gender, class, and race. We will investigate the meanings of music-making scenes and imagery in selected European and American paintings from the sixteenth through the twentieth centuries. Going beyond face value, Students will learn how to read a painting critically and apply their knowledge in group discussions and diverse writing projects to prepare for undertaking a scholarly research project. This assignment includes gathering and documenting credible sources for, writing about, and presenting about an image with musical content. Students will also become familiar with selected styles in the history of Western art as well as respective social and cultural contexts of music. Continuing their studies outside of the classroom, students will go on a field trip to the Plains Art Museum in Fargo to learn from curators about musical instruments and works of art regarding their interpretations and meanings in today’s world.

Who Gets to Tell Your Story: Race and Gender in Musical Theatre

Beginning with the radically integrated yet racially incendiary Show Boat, and cementing itself into popular culture with idealized versions of national identity in Oklahoma and The Music Man, Musical Theatre is both a uniquely American contribution to the arts and an often troubling mirror reflecting how race, gender, and identity are perceived and portrayed.  This class will celebrate the treasured history of Musical Theatre while also exploring its influence on American Culture and how a new generation of artists is using the art form to lift up a more inclusive collection of stories and identities.

Women and Power Relationships in Latin America and Beyond

This course is designed to help students achieve an inclusive portrait of women’s participation in the private and public spheres through social and political activism and cultural activity. A second important objective of this course is the analysis of the construction of gender relationships in the XIX, XX, and XXI centuries from literary, historical, and sociocultural perspectives. Special attention is given to how political power has shaped and influenced the construction of gender relationships in Latin America to explain the situation of inequality and inequity for women today. Cross-cultural comparisons related to the topics covered in the syllabus are an important component of this class. Students are expected to participate actively through whole class conversations, group discussions, individual presentations, and interaction with our guest speakers, who include scholars from Argentina, Mexico, Colombia, and the Fargo/Moorhead community.