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Spring 2023 Ignite Seminars

The Saint Louis University Core begins with the Ignite Seminar (CORE 1000), in which students are introduced to what makes teaching and learning at Saint Louis University distinctive and transformative.

In these small-group seminars, SLU faculty members invite students to join them in exploring the ideas and questions that have sustained and continue to fuel their passion and commitment as individuals and teachers. Each instructor’s distinct expression of disciplinary or interdisciplinary inquiry provides the lens through which students practice the Ignatian learning process—an integrative and personal approach to learning rooted in context, experience, reflection, action, and evaluation. Ignite Seminars, therefore, model how individual scholarly commitments are necessarily forged in dialogue with the complex personal and social worlds we inhabit.

These courses make visible for students the rich interplay of intellect and identity, wonder and certainty, rigor and play that characterizes academic inquiry rooted in the Ignatian ideal of care for the whole person (cura personalis). Ignite Seminar leaders, in partnership with SLU Libraries, also guide students as they identify and explore the subjects, questions, and scholarly pursuits that ignite their own sense of wonder and urgency.

Every Billiken will take an Ignite Seminar during their first year at SLU. For most students, that experience will take place during the first semester. Students in certain majors will take a seminar that is specifically designed for their program. Other students will choose from any of the CORE 1000 sections available.

Spring Ignite Seminar Offerings

Financial Education for a Happy and Healthy Life

This seminar will introduce you to concepts of financial literacy that will have a bearing on your personal financial success while giving you an appreciation for the impact your financial decisions have on your local and global community. While this course will help prepare you for the important financial decisions you will make that will shape your financial future, you will also gain an understanding of how these decisions can improve both your own and your community's well-being.

Life: A User's Manual
Getting a fuller understanding of life will help you make better use of your own.
Mathematics Through Literature
We will look at mathematics using children’s books and graphic novels. We will then use creative approaches to share the untold stories of mathematics, with almost no math involved! 
Sociology of Pandemics
The goal of this course is to critically understand and evaluate humanity in a time of chaos. Sociology of Pandemics will introduce students to the pandemics’ impact on society, with a focus on COVID-19. Students will reflect on and contextualize the time, place, and circumstances in which we currently find ourselves through a sociological lens. 
Ignatian Identity Dialogue
How can you “meet others where they are” and not “other” them? In his ministry and teachings, Ignatius of Loyola said we should “meet others where they are,” and he provided guidance on how to do that. Centuries later, Jesuit institutions are educating students to become leaders who are “with and for others.” In the current context of identity differences and divisions in the 21st century — how can you be sure you don’t “other” in your interactions across different identities? This seminar will introduce you to Ignatian principles for learning and connecting with others and communication strategies for creating understanding across identity differences and divisions.
Introduction to Social Change and Movements
Social change is foundational to SLU's Catholic Jesuit mission. This course provides students with the knowledge, skills and tools to become effective leaders for social change, whether on campus as a student or in their community as a citizen.
Anti-Oppressive Practice and the Self
Employers often point to a lack of critical thinking with new hires. Our students come to SLU because our mission encourages them to be contributors to society. One barrier may sometimes be the inability to think critically and articulate what exactly one wants to contribute. This seminar aims to support each student in creating a road map utilizing critical thinking. Since human language and the way we express our experiences impact our lives, this course supports a student through a translation process or making sense of one’s experiences. Students create precise statements of their understanding of the self and the importance of reasons for belief and a desire to contribute. The greatest reward is being able to articulate a plan for contributing to our community in the service of others and using the self as a transformational tool in anti-oppression.
Fueling the Fire: Discovering Your Passion
Fuel your fire and passion for physical therapy by looking at the profession through the eyes of various stakeholders. We will reflect on our own personal and professional goals and link them to professional core values and Jesuit tradition. This journey will help you discover your distinct role as a physical therapy student and growing professional. By the end of the class, you will possess the tools to keep your passion for physical therapy burning.
Vampires: Then and Now
Why are vampires so fascinating? Is it their immortality that haunts us? Or is it because they are the supernatural creatures that most resemble us? Through folktales, stories, novels, and films, this course will investigate the persistence of the vampire phenomenon through centuries as it migrates from prehistory to the present day, from Eastern Europe to the West and back again. We will compare the Slavic vampire with its Western literary counterpart (Byron, Le Fanu, Stoker, et al.) and will watch classic and modern film adaptations of vampire tales. The course provides a thorough introduction to the folkloric study of the vampire and its subsequent literary and cinematic transformations by presenting a broad range of critical approaches to its interpretation, such as Marxism, psychoanalysis, feminism and globalization studies.
Introduction to Future Studies
You will be living in the future. You can passively accept whatever is to come or think and plan so that you can do everything in your power to make the future as positive as you can. As Yogi  Berra, famous baseball player, philosopher and St. Louisan, said: "The future ain't what it used to be."  And it isn't yet what it will be. Why not become aware of trends and future possibilities to do everything you can to make the future the best it can be?
Mining for Literary Gold: St. Louis Literary Award
Enjoy reading?  Ever wished you could select your own course texts?  Then consider mining for literary gold from a master list of Saint Louis University Award Winners. The course will explore a pantheon of literary greats, the benefits of leisure reading, and a host of guest speakers and experiences that share a common theme of love of the written word.
The Constitution and You
The Constitution is often invoked with little understanding or insight. Learn about the who, what, when, where and why of our nation’s founding document. Be a leader and understand the Constitution for yourself.
Is Passing the Goal? Managing Workplace Identities
Traditionally diversity efforts and research have focused on more visible characteristics like race and sex. But organizations and scholars are increasingly focusing on less visible characteristics of diversity, such as religion, neurodiversity, non-physical disabilities, and members of the LGBTQ community.  In addition to being less visible, many of these identities are stigmatized. This creates an incentive for these individuals to conceal their identity, but this is not without costs. This Ignite Seminar will focus on these concealable identities and how individuals and organizations manage them. In addition to covering the current state of diversity, this seminar will also discuss the history of diversity in organizations. For all students, it provides an opportunity to better understand how to be for and with others.
The Behavior of Social Justice
Have you ever wondered why people do and say the things they do? Have you considered how social justice is a set of behaviors? Students will learn the basic principles that explain why people do and say what they do and how to encourage behaviors and actions of social justice in themselves and others. 
Planning the American City
Students will learn to observe the component parts of how cities work and how people function in them. They will learn how to combine observation with data-based research to better understand the challenges and opportunities of cities. And they will draft action plans to address those challenges and opportunities.
Local Civic Engagement and Agenda Setting
This course aims to equip students with the tools to improve their engagement with the public policy-making process and better understand the work of elected officials.
Mind at the Museum:  Psychology, Art and Well-being

This co-taught, 3-credit hour course explores the contours of human well-being, resilience and identity through two complementary lenses:  psychology and art. The course content is integrated with Cura Personalis 1: Self In Community and will include experiential opportunities with local members of the art world and various community service organizations.

Although we cannot promise that museum artifacts will literally come alive as they did in “Night At the Museum,” we hope our interdisciplinary and personalist approach to teaching will bring students’ learning to life throughout the three content areas we plan to explore:

  • The intersection of psychology and art in the study of empathy
  • The study of human agency at the confluence of self-control and creative expression
  • A view of meaning-making as a form of story-telling and the construction of personal narratives
Time is Out of Joint
This seminar will explore theories of time travel in historical, scientific, literary, and philosophical texts. What would happen if we could speak to the past or see possible versions of our future? What does it mean to have free will and travel in time? Engaging with readings that range from Boethius to Einstein to Doctor Who, this course will examine how time travel offers a unique space for academic speculation about history, ethics, faith and science. 
Algorithmic Justice
You’ve grown up using the internet, cell phones, tablets, and playing video games; thus, it is safe to say we live in a digital world. So how, then, does this digital world affect how we live? How does the digital world use algorithms to shape our ability to communicate, live in society, and engage civically, professionally, and ethically? Algorithmic Justice explores these questions, considering what it means to be digitally and data literate and how AI interacts with our everyday lives and the lives of others. We will examine, for instance, methods by which digital technologies democratize and how it excludes and divides, controlling the very ways we live. Ultimately, we will think about the roles of digital and data literacy in what it means to be human and what we value in our lives.
Think Again: Practical Lessons from Philosophy
This course offers paths for action in difficult times. We will study how Aimé Césaire, a Black philosopher from Martinique, responded to racism and colonialism, as well as how Hannah Arendt, a Jewish philosopher writing in the wake of her experience in an internment camp, responded to anti-Semitism and totalitarianism. One key theme in the writings of both Césaire and Arendt is the importance of thinking. The task of this course is to think with these philosophers and thus to understand better our options in the present. What actions can we take to preserve and defend life across the planet? Which ideas can teach us how to orient our lives amidst a crisis? Philosophy teaches that no matter the forces around us, we can understand the world that confines and constrains ethical life.
The Gods of the Others

“The Gods of the Others” concentrates on the role of the sacred in shaping the relationship between individuals and communities in different historical periods and geographical areas. Departing from an analysis of the impact of the institutional and cultural legacy of Christianity on our understanding of non-Christian experiences, this class introduces students to bottom-up approaches to the study of religion in the world. Through the analysis of all kinds of religious materials, including images, objects, and performances, as well as Hollywood feature films, and Japanese manga and anime, students will explore the ways in which different communities across the globe, through beliefs and practices concerning the sacred, articulate and institutionalize individual and collective attitudes towards the environment, political and economic hierarchies, morals, gender dynamics, sexuality, and violence.

In addition to familiarizing students with specific cultural realities and analytical skills, this course will help them develop the reflective approach whereby the study of unfamiliar experiences of the sacred becomes fundamental in the reassessment and reconceptualization of familiar ones. As famously remarked by Zhuangzi, a Chinese thinker of the Warring States period, “Without the other, there is no self.”

Storytelling and Social Justice

We all constantly tell and take in stories about the world. In this course, we’ll reflect on our own stories and how the experiences we have had shape our relationship to a range of social justice issues, including feminism, anti-racism, and LGBTQIA+ liberation. We will also explore the stories that are told about these movements in media ranging from music to medical journals, textbooks to TikTok. How can the stories we tell — and the ways that we tell them — contribute to positive social change?

The Narrative Healing Project

We all have a story to tell. Stories shape us, our curiosities, and our commitments to one another. Because stories do not exist in a vacuum, we must make efforts to learn the contexts in which our stories began. Students gain an understanding of stories as innate to the human experience, as well as how stories might serve as sources of individual and collective healing. This class introduces the humanities and its practical applications that build bridges between the university classroom and our communities, giving students a deeper context for who they are in relationship to others and how we carry home/community with us, even when we are no longer physically present.

Reasons for Poetry

Why do people write poetry? Why do people read it? What is poetry trying to do in the world? If a poem focuses on politics, society, and history, does that mean it isn’t engaging with personal issues? If a poem focuses on individual experience, does that mean that it isn’t engaging with a larger world beyond the poem? This seminar introduces everyone—even people who think that they don’t “get” poetry—to the idea of a poem as an intricate machine. By learning how poems work and why they work, we will explore poetry as a vehicle for complex thought, surprising beauty, and social change.