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Ignite Seminars

The Saint Louis University Core begins with the Ignite Seminar (CORE 1000), which introduces students to what makes teaching and learning at SLU 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. In partnership with SLU Libraries, Ignite Seminar leaders 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 2024 Ignite Seminar Offerings

Confluence: Where Science Meets the Humanities
Students will read and engage with transformative texts — primary-source works from literature, philosophy, history, and classics — that raise some of life's most profound questions to formulate their own interdisciplinary answers to these pressing human issues.
Conversations with a Mom but Not Your Mom
Get a bad grade? Fight with your roommate? Don't know what you want to do with your life? Feeling anxious? Feeling depressed? Sometimes, we just want to talk to a mom ... but not our mom. This seminar will address some issues we experience as we transition to adulthood. With the help of a mom (who is also a therapist), we will figure out how to do the hard stuff and take good care of ourselves and the people in our community.
Dissecting a Timeline: Anatomy Through the Ages
Anatomy is a course that all health practitioners must take and one that everyone interacts with each time they visit a clinic as a patient. Understanding anatomy can be tedious if approached as simply a list of items to be memorized. This seminar's approach is to turn our curiosity about how the body is put together into a journey of discovering how the field developed. From social taboos that restricted internal investigation of the human body by dissection, barbers who acted as surgeons, quick-draw doctors operating on patients without anesthetic, questionable historical practices of procuring cadavers for dissection, public dissections as a form of criminal punishment, all the way through to modern practices of whole-body anatomical gift donations by consent of the donor, the development of the field of anatomy is a story that can be told throughout each era of human history. The development of anatomy lies at the intersection of the growth of biological thought and philosophy of science, issues of life and death, race and ethnicity, gender and sex, growth and aging, socioeconomic status, and cultural mores regarding health and well-being. It is intimate yet touches many.
From Paris to the World: Global Narratives
From Paris to the World: Contextualizing Global Narratives. (Taught in English) Paris, City of Light, a top tourist destination in the world, has fashioned itself as the center of Western art and culture and as a central point of articulation of colonial narratives and their deconstruction. It successfully presents its universalizing vision with iconic monuments, architecture and powerful narratives. This course will introduce students to the French-speaking world, starting from widely known Parisian symbols, monuments and images, before exploring the lifeworld of different characters who wrestle with issues such as colonization, heritage, migration and gender. Our exploration will move beyond Paris to Senegal, Algeria, Haiti and elsewhere in the Caribbean. We will see how legacies and identities are shaped and transformed through literature, films and cultural narratives.
Guiding Lights in Our Lives
Is it your goal to work professionally with children or youth? Do you want to give back to your community by volunteering at organizations serving children? Do you want to advocate on behalf of children whose lives compromise their chances in the future? Don’t wait! Start now by volunteering as a youth mentor. This Ignite Seminar will enhance your abilities to be an effective youth mentor. Learn how child psychology informs best practices for successful youth mentoring and get some practical experience mentoring children. 
Hacking For the Common Good
Free and Open Source Software is the infrastructure of the internet. Its advocates fight for openness, sharing, and freedom in computing and beyond. What does it mean to be free and open, and are these ideals the key to a better future?
Healing Arts —Personal Explorations of Health Care
If you are interested in being a pre-med major or a major in a health care field, this seminar will allow you to explore the history and culture of medicine and health care in relation to your own personal experiences. You will read a variety of selections, as well as view some films and examine examples of other arts, reflecting on how these can help you to better understand your field of study and your future profession. At the end, you should better understand the field you hope to study and practice, as well as your sense of commitment to this field.
Local Civic Engagement and Agenda-Setting
This course equips students with the tools to improve their engagement with the public policymaking process and better understand the work of elected officials, public sector employees, policy analysts, activists, nonprofit leaders, and community members. While engaging directly in the city, first-year SLU students will examine the impact of public policy decisions on the St. Louis community.
Mexico, Migrations, and Missouri: A Project for Migrant Storytelling
The purpose of the course, in part, is to learn more about Mexico, both as a country with a rich individual history and as a site for migration across an international border into the United States. But you will come away with a greater knowledge of yourself. We will read, listen to, and reflect upon testimonies of migrations, and explore the deep historical conditions contributing to movement across borders. One credit hour of the course is dedicated to community experience: you will get to know migration up close by volunteering in local organizations. The endpoint of the course will be the creation of an artifact in which you explore your relationship to these stories of migration. In doing so, you get up close and personal with what Zadie Smith describes as the vast power of narrative: listening to and telling stories allows us to try on the position of the other — not as a voyeur — but rather, by stepping out of the comfort zone of our own ways of knowing and into another’s. This distinct mode of inquiry will allow you to shape your knowledge regarding a history of migrations and the stories that have been told — and that we tell ourselves — about the journeys.
Owning the Awkward
Explore the multifaceted concept of awkwardness and its impact on social interactions. Through discussions, experiential activities, and self-reflection, students will better understand this shared human experience of awkwardness and identify strategies for mitigating it. Together, we explore how “owning the awkward” can lead to personal development, improved communication skills and stronger communities.
Planning the American City
Students will learn to observe how cities work and how people function in them. They will 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.
Social Justice and the College Student
Social Justice and the College Student explores both historical and current influences of students both nationally and globally.
Social Justice in the Jewish Tradition
This seminar fosters student curiosity and understanding of the mindfulness in the Jewish tradition toward engaging in acts of charity and promoting social justice in the world. 
Sociology of Pandemics
This course aims to critically understand and evaluate humanity in a time of chaos. Sociology of Pandemics will introduce students to the pandemics’ impact on society, focusing on COVID-19. Students will reflect on and contextualize the time, place, and circumstances we find ourselves in through a sociological lens. 
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 our experiences shape our relationship to social justice issues, including feminism, anti-racism, and LGBTQIA+ liberation. We will also explore the stories about these movements in media. ranging from music to medical journals and textbooks to TikTok. How can the stories we tell and how 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 try to learn the contexts in which our stories began. Students will understand 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 the 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 and community with us, even when we are no longer physically present. 
Think Again: Practical Lessons From Philosophy
This course offers paths for action in difficult times. Amid climate change, many students (and faculty) wonder: 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?
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. 

What is a Human Right?
Human rights provide the foundational language for social justice movements today. But what is a human right? How have women and minorities been included in or excluded from gaining human rights? How does the language of human rights resonate with the Jesuit idea of care for the whole person?

 

Fall 2024 Ignite Seminar Offerings

2024: After the Apocalypse 

Thirty years ago, Octavia Butler imagined that 2024 would be a year of unmitigated disaster for the U.S. — from income inequality to climate change to rampant drug addiction. Do you think you could survive the 2024 that Butler imagined? How do you think you would navigate such a world? In this class, we will explore the U.S. that Butler anticipated while thinking about problems like inequality and climate change in the world that actually came to be. 

Algorithms to Live By

 Drawing from the popular book by the same name, "Algorithms to Live By" makes math personal. What should we do (or not) in a day or a lifetime? What amount of new and familiar is most fulfilling? How much mess is ok? This isn't a class for math majors, it's a course for everyone on thinking algorithmically, on learning about the fundamental structures of the problems we face, and ultimately on discovering something about ourselves.

Business: The Historical and Cultural Context

Knowledge can come from examining more closely what you already think you know. Understanding the history and cultural influences of subjects that you may take for granted can provide perspective and an eagerness to learn more. We will start with what you know about being a customer of many businesses — online and brick-and-mortar — and what you have experienced in part-time and summer employment. From there we will explore what you know about business from popular culture, especially film and TV.

Communicating Cities: Urban Communication and Civic Engagement

The contemporary urban environment is one where people live, work, and engage in civic life. In these environments, the economic infrastructure, the architecture and material context, and technology coalesce to produce a dynamic fabric that weaves the social life of its denizens. In this course, we will learn how the city is a medium of communication, a creator of meaning, a site of conflict, and a communicative artifact that can address the wrongs that it engenders. Students will explore communication studies and rhetorical theory to understand how cities communicate and provide the tools to become engaged for their betterment. 

CSI: SLU

Do you enjoy solving mysteries, puzzles or riddles? Do you listen to true crime podcasts or like to watch Forensic Files or Criminal Minds? In this course, CSI: SLU, you will gain an understanding of general forensic science concepts, and through hands-on laboratory activities, you will help solve a case.

Dissecting a Timeline: Anatomy Through the Ages

Anatomy is a course that all health practitioners must take and one that everyone interacts with each time they visit a clinic as a patient. Understanding anatomy can be tedious if approached as simply a list of items to be memorized. The approach here is to turn our curiosity about how the body is put together into a journey of discovering how the field developed. From social taboos that restricted internal investigation of the human body by dissection, barbers who acted as surgeons, quick-draw doctors operating on patients without anesthetic, questionable historical practices of procuring cadavers for dissection, public dissections as a form of criminal punishment, all the way to modern practices of whole-body anatomical gift donations by consent of the donor — the development of the field of anatomy is a story that can be told throughout each era of human history. The development of anatomy lies at the intersection of the growth of biological thought and philosophy of science, issues of life and death, race and ethnicity, gender and sex, growth and aging, socioeconomic status, and cultural mores regarding health and well-being. It is intimate yet touches many.

Encountering the Quran

 In this course, students will read (in translation) the entirety of the Quran and engage with its many facets, including its structure, content, and translation. We will consider the Quran as a historical text, as a recitation, as the sacred and revealed word of God (according to Muslims), and as a physical object (from ancient manuscripts to modern editions and translations). This is not a “theology” course but encourages students from all backgrounds to engage with the Quran as a “Transformative Text." No previous knowledge of Islam or Arabic is required.

Factfulness: Numbers to Know the World

Although our brains are amazing, our thinking suffers from multiple cognitive biases. This leads to misperceptions and poor decision-making on societal and personal issues alike. In this class, we will read Hans Rosling’s “Factfulness” to study some of these biases and see how we can improve our thinking using facts and data. Applications will focus on environmental issues. We will work with spreadsheets to handle data and create informative graphs. No experience with spreadsheets is required, but a willingness to learn is expected. To fix the world, fix your thinking first. 

Film and Philosophy

In an earlier time, philosophical ideas were encountered either in books or through word of mouth. Today, more and more people are being exposed to humanity’s greatest insights through the medium of film. Whereas early critics used to be skeptical about it by dismissing movies as simply a form of entertainment or escapism, today's cinema has rapidly become the way in which a great number of people encounter many of the world’s deepest thoughts. This course will introduce the fast-growing field of film-philosophy, which explores the relationship between philosophical concepts and the medium of film by examining how cinematic representation is uniquely able to convey abstract content, raise philosophical questions, and illustrate thought experiments. 

Food as a Human Right

Food is an essential part of everyone’s life. Not only does it provide life-giving sustenance, it provides comfort, a connection to culture, a way to care give and much more. The course will begin with students exploring their own food stories and how relationships are maintained and/or conflicted over food. The course will progress by acknowledging that many U.S. households do not have the food they need to live an active and healthy life, which raises a key question. Is food a human right? To explore this question, we must also explore other big overarching and important questions. How do we define a right? If food is a human right, and whose responsibility is it to provide food (e.g., government, private companies, etc.)?

Gaming and Community

For centuries, games have helped people learn logic, science, history, culture, and ethics. Evolving from two-dimensional chess-like games to the e-sport and 3D virtual reality experiences of today, games have become a pervasive force in our lives. Almost every household has some sort of game, and by 2025, video games alone will generate an estimated $211.2 billion in revenue worldwide. In a sense, games are the new narrative, and millions of people are playing, learning, reading and writing together to form “The Golden Age of Games.” This Ignite seminar combines the fun and creativity of gaming with living, working, and playing in community with others. In this Ignite seminar, we will focus on the aspects of tabletop, role-playing, and video games that bring us together and help us form healthy and equitable communities. We will also investigate the gaming hybrid industry, which includes books, television, streaming content, and movies. You will use a rhetorical and creative approach to write about the history and theory of gaming and to better understand the cognitive, cultural and financial impact of games. For your course project, you will form teams to investigate a game of your choosing to better understand its significance as a community-building experience. And yes, we will play games!

Ghosts, Literature and Social Justice

This course fuses literature and life in a dynamic exploration of haunting(s), justice, and what it means to answer our call to social action. 

Global Literature Strikes Back Against Racism and Sexism

Storytelling is what makes us human. Let's read, view, write, and reflect on stories about our common humanity!

Hurting and Healing

This course examines the principles of compassionate care through a social lens informed by Jesuit values. We will grapple with questions such as, what does it mean to be sick? What roles do empathy, love, connection, and care for the whole person play in medical care? And how do these concepts practically work in the face of burnout? 

Introduction to Future Studies

Yogi Berra, famous baseball player, philosopher, and St. Louisan said: "The future ain't what it used to be." I'd add that 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?

Introduction to Social Change Methods and Movements

Social action is foundational to SLU's Catholic, Jesuit mission — this course provides students the knowledge, skills and tools to become effective leaders for social change, whether on campus as a student or in their communities as an active citizen.

Leadership in Movies

Whether you have attended a Catholic school or not, you’re now at one! Students will reflect on their own educational experiences (whether in a Catholic school or not) and learn about the peculiar history of Catholic education in the United States from its inception in the colonies through its rapid growth in the 19th century against enormous challenges, to its evolution in the 20th and 21st centuries. The course will also take a close look at this history in St. Louis, and employ the creative lens of movies to examine Catholic schools of the early 20th to the 21st centuries.

Lessons Learned: Ladies in Leadership

Are you interested in fascinating conversations with and firsthand storytelling from a diverse array of women who've embraced and found surprising strength and meaning in servant leadership? 

Let's Talk! Engaging Across Cultures

How do we effectively engage in cross-cultural communication in order to build bridges and create belonging? How do we truly thrive in the diverse communities within which we live? This seminar will ask you to consider how the concepts of belonging, crossing cultural boundaries, and intercultural communication, viewed through the lens of short stories written and told by international authors, help us answer these important questions for our lives now and in the future. 

Liberalism and Its Foes

Why is our world in tumult right now? Is it worse than before? Will liberal democracies around the world survive? 

Local Civic Engagement and Agenda-Setting

This course aims to equip students with the tools to improve their engagement with the public policymaking process and better understand the work of elected officials, public sector employees, policy analysts, activists, nonprofit leaders, and community members. While engaging directly in the City, first-year SLU students will be able to examine the impact of public policy decisions on the St. Louis community.

Magic, Medicine, and Religion in Shakespeare

A good course for students interested in medical humanities, performing arts, religious studies or literary studies.

Meet Me in St. Louis

This course will provide an interdisciplinary introduction to St. Louis. Whether you are a St. Louis native or new to the city, you'll learn new things about the people, places and events that have shaped the region as a hub for intercultural exchange from the Cahokia civilization to the 21st century. 

Mining for Literary Gold
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 love of the written word.
Oppression and Resistance 

What is it like to live under a despotic government or a social system that denies you elemental human rights? How would you survive or find ways to resist? This seminar explores the personal experience of oppression and the ways ordinary people confront injustice and attempt to build a better world. Cases vary from popular resistance in despotic regimes to efforts to overcome racial oppression in the U.S.

Owning the Awkward 

This class explores the multifaceted concept of awkwardness and its impact on social interactions. Through discussions, experiential activities, and self-reflection, students will better understand this human experience of awkwardness and identify strategies for mitigating it. We explore how “owning the awkward” can lead to personal development, improved communication skills, and stronger communities. Navigating transition and acclimating to a new community is inherently awkward and vulnerable. This Ignite Seminar puts “awkwardness” on display. It allows students to examine examples of the phenomenon, consider and reflect on their personal experiences of awkwardness, and investigate an aspect of awkwardness that drives their curiosity. 

Pain and Its Representation

We often assume that reading about someone’s pain, watching a film, or even viewing a photograph can help us have empathy and understanding for someone else’s suffering. But Susan Sontag writes “No ‘we’ should be taken for granted when the subject is looking at other people’s pain.” This class will explore how writers and artists attempt to bridge that gap, how we can cultivate empathy in ourselves as readers and viewers, and also reflect on how we can communicate our own experiences of pain and suffering.

Philosophy in Science Fiction

Science fiction explores distinctly philosophical questions. In this class, we will read contemporary works of science fiction that explore issues of the nature of human persons, identity and persistence over time; the nature of time and paradoxes of time travel; the possibility of free will; and machine consciousness and artificial intelligence among other topics. We will read science fiction and works of philosophy that involve careful, systematic discussion of the philosophical themes raised in those works of science fiction. 

Planning the American City

Students will observe how the components of 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.

Power, Money, and the Science of Human Nature

Students will learn to use anthropological research about our history as a species to radically rethink what we believe about human nature. Students will practice critical thinking about politics, economics, and other social dynamics to develop new evidence-based narratives about the potential for human liberation and dignity.

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. 

Reimagining Religion

 This course will challenge some of your deepest assumptions about religion — what it is, where it is going and how it is changing. It will give you a lens to interpret some of the most important events of our day. It will give you an extended opportunity to think about your life: are you a religious actor, and if so, what kind? 

Religion and Science Fiction

 There is a misguided popular perception that religion and science are incompatible and that science fiction writers imagine a future without God and religion. Reading popular science fiction refutes this misperception since religion has provided some of science fiction’s very best novels and short stories. This course uses science fiction to reflect on the role of religion in our society today and in the future.

Rhetoric and Human Rights

Most students attend SLU because of the University’s mission to educate young people to be more compassionate, knowledgeable global citizens who advocate for social justice around the world. Human rights issues in our own communities and abroad have never been more visible and meaningful change more attainable than they are now. This course helps students understand the rhetorical history of human rights and how they can become more effective communicators about social justice issues they care about. 

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 and textbooks to TikTok. How can the stories we tell — and the ways that we tell them — contribute to positive social change? 

Teaching Toolbox: An Introduction to Education

 This class offers a dynamic and enriching learning experience that goes beyond traditional classroom settings. It provides a platform for intellectual growth, personal development and a deeper understanding of the world of education. By participating in this seminar, you have the chance to broaden your educational horizons, make lasting connections in your world, and prepare yourself for a successful and fulfilling college learning experience.

Technology, Wisdom, and Hope

Today, human beings possess technological capacities greater than the world has ever seen. But do we have the insight necessary for the wise use of such technologies? Can we afford the mistakes that are normally necessary for us to gain wisdom? In the face of today’s ecological and societal disruptions, what can sustain hope for the future? Does one’s disciplinary major provide a way forward? If these questions keep you up at night, then the Ignite Seminar “Technology, Wisdom, and Hope” offers an opportunity to develop your own views, guided by ideas of wisdom, justice, the good life and hope. We will apply those ideas to the challenges of our fossil-fuel civilization, digital information and communication technologies, and growing bioengineering capacities. 

The "I" in Internet, the "Me" in Meme

You use technology every day. You grew up entertaining yourselves on smartphones and tablets, completing school work on personal computers, and communicating with your peers through social media. But have you ever stopped to consider how all of this technology use affects you, those around you, or society as a whole? This course offers a deep dive into how technology affects our social lives. You will explore how technology affects how we perceive ourselves, how we communicate with others, and how we live, work and play. You will investigate these issues through sociological theory, cultural commentary, movies, books and TV shows. And you will consider technology’s promises and perils. Does technology improve our lives, does it destroy our social fabric, and what can we do about it? 

The Cosmos in the Premodern Imagination

For as long as humans have told stories and studied nature, they’ve looked to the heavens for inspiration, meaning and knowledge. This course investigates how premodern peoples in Europe imagined the universe, the moon in particular. According to Aristotelian understandings of the universe, earth (and humanity with it) occupied the center of the world while the moon functioned as a dividing line between the changeable terrestrial sphere and the perfect realm of the heavens. Other theories, in contrast, positioned Earth’s luminous satellite as but one of many moons, as a home for extraterrestrial life, or even as a mass made entirely of cheese. As these divergent views indicate, to study premodern perceptions of the cosmos is to study science, culture, philosophy, religion, and exploration. Join this class if you are interested in exploring these subjects, their fascinating entanglements, and the history of how past cultures answered fundamental questions like "where do we come from?" "what is the universe made of?" And "how do we know things?"

The Frontiers of Global Catholicism

This course is for students who wish to understand their place in a global community of peoples, to enlarge their own sense of themselves, and to set off on a journey of making a difference in the world. 

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 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 students 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.”

The Ignatian City

The Ignatian City will introduce students to contemporary theories of American cities. This class is designed for students who have a desire to learn about the faces of urban oppression, social suffering, and urban marginality with a focus on action for justice that provides students with an opportunity to develop a sociological imagination to create a Just City — an Ignatian City.

The Most Human Computer

What does it mean to be human, and how close can a computer get? This class explores the theory of what is and is not computable, as well as definitions for what it means to have conscious human thought, and how those two concepts relate. This course also serves as an introduction to computer programming and asks that the student experience and reflect on how people interact with computers to solve complex, modern problems as well as how computing is shaping the human experience. 

The Outdoors, Wilderness, and Ignatian Spirituality

The Christian tradition has a long history of experiencing the outdoors and wilderness as a means of finding God, Christ and inner peace. This course will lead students through that tradition while exposing them to the history of wilderness in America, and offer students the chance to experience wilderness through outdoor activities like hikes and camping. No outdoor experience is required or expected.

The Power of Communication

You should be interested in The Power of Communication Ignite Seminar because you will learn about yourself, you will learn about communication and its disorders, and you will learn how powerful communication is in our world. It just might change your professional path!

The Science of Helping

 “The Science of Helping” equips students with the skills to better serve the needs of the poor and oppressed while opening new ways of understanding scientific, humanistic, and applied knowledge. 

The Social Dimensions of Emotions

 This course examines the social dimensions of emotions, such as the cultural norms that shape feelings, the strategies people use to manage feelings in everyday life and in their occupations, and the diverse vocabularies they draw on to describe emotions. We will also consider how inequalities of race and gender can impact emotion, norms, management and labor. Throughout the course, students will be encouraged to connect course concepts to their personal experiences and to their current, past or future occupations.

Think Again: Practical Lessons from Philosophy

This course offers paths for action in difficult times. Amid climate change, many students (and faculty) are wondering: 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?

Tragedy, Foolishness, and God(s)

This Ignite Seminar explores being a "self" from ancient, medieval and modern theological points of view. It focuses on reading classic Greek tragedies and Western medieval fool literature, and how they deal differently with who people are, and with how their identity relates to God or the gods. In this class, we study two opposite kinds of heroes, characters in tragedies and characters who are fools, and learn how both can be helpful as we examine our own decision-making and being ourselves today.

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.

Wish You Were Here: Postcards in History and Culture

Before Instagram, the humble postcard was the way we advertised ideals, communicated in both a personal and universal way, and documented what was happening in the world. In this course, explore postcards as a means of communication, history, memory and art.

Witch, Midwife, Healer, Scholar: Women and Science in the Premodern Imagination

What did it mean to be female before the dawn of the modern age? Did historical women contribute to the production of knowledge? The practice of science? If we look to the textbooks and popular media of the last century as a guide, the intellectual landscape of the past often appears to be the exclusive domain of men. However, women have always participated in mathematics, medicine and the natural sciences, though in lesser numbers. This class aims to illuminate their stories while introducing students to the exciting fields of the history of science and the history of women and gender. From the schools of ancient Alexandria to the laboratories of Renaissance convents, the dark quiet of astronomical observatories to the visceral spaces of the birthing chamber, premodern women participated in the scientific culture of their times: teaching, experimenting, practitioning and developing new scientia or knowledge. We will draw on primary and secondary sources to access these spaces and their occupants, and we will study the contemporary beliefs that shaped women’s lives and led to phenomena like the European witch craze. Take this class to immerse yourself in this fascinating history and to seek answers to the enduring question of how we can recover voices that have been marginalized or lost through time.

What Is a Human Right? 

Human rights provide the foundational language for social justice movements today. But what is a human right? How have women and minorities been included in or excluded from gaining human rights? How does the language of human rights resonate with the Jesuit idea of care for the whole person?

Words, Words, Words: It's All Greek (and Latin) to Me

Communication and comprehension are formed by understanding words. Words of the Greek and Latin languages are fundamental to not only English but many languages and disciplines of the world. Cultures, myths and perspectives are created by the Greek and Latin languages. We will study the words in English from Greek and Latin that formed cultures, histories, philosophies and disciplines.

Worldmaking

Humans make worlds. We make worlds when we create fiction; we make worlds when we craft objects, establish rules, and construct social norms. Some worlds are small and personal; some are institutional; and some worlds are as big as the myths a culture tells about itself. This course explores the playful and serious activity of worldmaking, the creative and political goals that motivate it, and the imaginative, communicative, and strategic skills people use to bring worlds into being.