Cooking, Eating, Thinking: Philosophy and Food

Faculty: Dr. George B. Connell

Food is on our minds today. Celebrity chefs appear on multiple food channels, an ever greater variety of restaurants open, and grocery stores carry an ever wider range of ingredients. At the same time, food insecurity and outright hunger threaten large sectors of the population, both within the United States and around the world. We will read a rich variety of writings on the questions of food, culture, ethics, and environment and supplement our readings with active experiences of cooking, eating, and visiting sites involved in the production and distribution of food.

Do We Care? Climate Justice, Faith and Sustainable Communities

Faculty: Dr. Hilda P. Koster

Climate change affects everyone, but not everyone is affected in the same way. While people in affluent parts of the world may simply worry about it (or, choose not to worry about it), others suffer from climate change in a very direct way. Moreover, people most affected are often also the people who contribute the least to our current climate crisis. Climate change thus brings together the twin issue of sustainability and (distributive) justice. How are we to care for one another in a time of increased vulnerability and inequity? How may we build communities that are just and sustainable? Do our religious traditions provide us with answers? Or, are they part of the problem? Besides reading texts by climate scientists, sociologists, political scientists, climate activists, religious scholars and ethicists, you will research and learn from initiatives by (religious) organizations, activists and businesses working towards a just and sustainable community in Fargo-Moorhead.  

The Virtuous Life for the "iGeneration"

Faculty: Dr. Mark J. Krejci

Recent research in the field of psychology has identified a new age group which is called the iGeneration.  This generation (your generation) has come of age while smart phones allowed near continuous access to the internet and social media.  While the generation shows signs of increased tolerance and ability to connect with a wide range of resources, there are troubling signs of increased anxiety, sleeplessness, less confidence and greater sense of social isolation.  This Inquiry Seminar will look to address these challenges through the “Psychology of Virtue.”  The virtuous life has been addressed by ancient Greek, Christian and Buddhist traditions, to name a few, and new research has demonstrated the positive mental health components of a virtuous life.  So, through this course students will look at how to apply the virtues to the challenges faced by their generation.

In Search of Home: Immigrant and Refugee Children

In 2014 a record 69,000 unaccompanied minors were apprehended at our southern border. These children do not figure in the UN statistic that states that over half of the world’s refugee population is under the age of 18. Who are these young people, and what are their stories? This course studies the immigration and refugee crisis across the globe from the perspective of children. We will read stories about young people from several different countries who have traveled from their homeland, often alone, in search of family or a country to welcome them. The semester begins with local stories of immigrant youth, and we will work with English Language Learners at Fargo South high school as they write their own narratives about coming to the U.S. We will also visit several other places in our community that work with immigrants. As we engage with these people and their different stories, we will study policy and law, and discuss the current worldwide immigration crisis through the perspective of the many children living it.

Religion in the Public Square

Faculty: Dr. David Creech

Although the United States has a formal separation of church and state, religion is still practiced in many public contexts. In the West religion and the state have often coexisted in an uneasy tension. This course will survey the history of this tension and consider constructive ways for religion and society to interact. In addition, perennial social issues and faith-based responses will be explored. The relative effectiveness of those responses will be evaluated. Throughout the course students will be challenged to formulate their own conclusions on how faith and non-faith traditions ought to be practiced in the public square.