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Fall 2022 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.

Fall 2022 Ignite Seminar Offerings

Engineering for Wicked Problems

All Engineering students. >The course introduces engineering problem solving process. Algorithmic and visual skills and computer tools are introduced. It also exposes students to the engineering career paths.

Human Growth and Development through the Lifespan

All Nursing students. Human Development is a theoretical course designed for any student interested in increasing insight into the developing person, including the self. Basic theories and principles of development, influences on the developing person, and norms of development from birth through old age, including physical, mental, emotional, social, moral-spiritual characteristics, and adaptive mechanisms are discussed. Concepts of death in the child, adolescent and adult of various ages, and issues faced by the age group, are also discussed. Family development tasks and family interaction, as they influence the individual throughout the life span, are considered in each developmental era.

Humans as Occupational Beings

All Occupational Therapy students. >This course is uniquely designed for the traditional freshman student, introducing those interested in the profession as a career to the realm of occupational therapy practice.

The Power of Laboratory Medicine

All Medical Laboratory Science students. This course exhibits a distinct expression of inquiry into the Medical Laboratory Science profession and its disciplines. Students will discover their passion for their profession and identify with core values for personal and professional growth.

An Ignatian Approach to Transformative Leadership

The course explores Ignatian leadership and utilizes sociological analysis to examine complex issues. Students will receive a deeper understanding of Ignatian leadership as a path to more effective decision-making, leadership, and as an approach to living one's own mission day-to-day.

Ensuring the Success of First-Gen College Students

This course will discuss the diversity of first-generation college students, the diversity of the challenges they face, and the various pathways to their success.

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.

Climate Change: Science and Solutions

Are wildfires out of control? Are hurricanes getting more powerful? Can the same phenomenon cause both droughts and floods? Who will suffer the consequences? Who can make a difference? Climate change is already touching many aspects of our lives. Behind the headlines, it remains a fascinating science that integrates multiple disciplines. It is also a challenge for us to think about how we lead our lives and how we organize society.

Computing and Mathematics in the 21st Century

Computers and computation are playing an ever-increasing role in society. Understanding what can be done and what could possibly be done in the future can only be beneficial. We look at computation's role in mathematics problems, both applied and theoretical. There is a difference between computing a mathematical value and applying computation to mathematics. Analyzing and finding patterns in experimental data can lead to amazing discoveries in mathematics. With computational power on your side, these patterns become more accessible to discovery every day.

Is Passing the Goal? Managing Workplace Identities

In many ways this course expresses why students, especially if they are Catholic, came to SLU. Alternatively, especially for non-Christian students, it provides a space to discuss how to navigate being at a Catholic institution. For all students, it provides an opportunity to better understand how to be for and with others.

Introduction to Social Change Methods and Movements

Social action 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 communities as an active citizen. This course is linked to a corresponding section of CORE 1500 Cura Personalis I.

Art and Ignatian Spirituality

As we are living in a world with constant, visual material around us, the skills of an art history course teach you to experience, reflect, interpret, and evaluate the meaning of everything you see. The art of religious orders, including the Franciscans, Dominicans and Jesuits, produced during the Middle Ages, renaissance, and baroque periods, brings together the study of images, history, culture, religion, and politics. As Saint Louis University is a Catholic, Jesuit university, this course will present many of the amazing points of history and inspirational ideas that helped form this institution.

Mind at the Museum: Psychology, Art, and Wellbeing

This co-taught, 3-credit hour course explores the contours of human wellbeing, resilience, and identity through two complementary lenses: psychology and art. 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: 1) the intersection of psychology and art in the study of empathy, 2) the study of human agency at the confluence of self-control and creative expression, and 3) a view of meaning-making as a form of story-telling and the construction of personal narratives.

Where Are We? Learning Our Place in Midtown

Where are we? In a 2016 visit to SLU, one of America's leading theologians challenged us to learn the history of our space. What was here before us, fifty years ago? One hundred years ago? Five hundred years ago? Why do we know so little of that story? How do our own life stories shape how we approach this larger story? And how does the Jesuit, Catholic tradition shape this quest to learn our place? A closer look at this patch of land in Midtown just might transform how you understand your world.

Students must also enroll in CORE 1500-27

Writing as a Way of Life

This is not a course in knowledge, but in self-knowledge. The subject is not spirituality; the subject is yourself.

"A Medieval Murder Mystery: The World of AD 1327"

It's the early fourteenth century, at an obscure abbey in northern Italy. As a series of grisly deaths unfolds among the monks, it is up to the clever Brother William and his apprentice, Adso, to discover what is going on. In the process, they encounter their time's art and science, learning and literature, and get tangled up in the philosophical, theological, political, social, and economic debates of their age. As you read Umberto Eco's novel, The Name of the Rose, you will wrestle with questions such as: why did people become monks and nuns, and how did they live? did Jesus own the very clothes he wore, and did he ever laugh--and why did people care about such things? how did the Bible shape everything medieval people perceived and expressed? why were people obsessed with the end of the world? why were the pope and the emperor so hostile to each other? who were "heretics," and how did they represent powerful undercurrents in medieval civilization? and why were books so critical and influential in the Middle Ages? As you immerse yourself in medieval culture, your modern assumptions about life's meaning will be challenged, and you'll never look at our world in quite the same way again.

Church State and Displaced Person: Perspectives on Migration

Migration poses one of the most pressing policy challenges of our age. It is also a phenomenon of positive political and spiritual significance, which has been associated repeatedly over time with heroic narratives of national and personal greatness. Who are we? Where have we come from? What ought we to do in face of the suffering of others? In this course, we consider the phenomenon of displacement, in all its complexity and ambiguity, from the perspective of the State, the Church, and the individual person. Can we learn from migrants an insight that also shaped the early Jesuits: that our identity at bottom is that of the pilgrim? This course is linked to a corresponding section of CORE 1500 Cura Personalis I.

You are what you Speak

Who we are, where we come from, our gender, our level of education, our age, and other important facts about us are evident every time we speak. Why is that? If you've never had to think about the way you speak, you are privileged in a way that most people in the world are not. Does everyone in the United States speak the same way, use the same words and even the same language?" This course is linked to a corresponding section of CORE 1500 Cura Personalis I.

Let's Play: Joyful Living and Learning

Students in this course will explore play as a means for developing creativity and imaginative thinking. Questions explored throughout the course include: What is play? What are the benefits of play? How can we integrate work and play? How does play foster social connections?

Crossroads: Establishing a Worldview

This seminar will invite honors students, future leaders in society and academia, to examine their foundational values and ways of learning in, engaging with, and working in the world. Examining, extending and renewing their commitments and resources for living an examined life, one poised for commitment for and with others, will allow them to develop and express a worldview that is deeply rooted and open to life-long growth.

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!

City on a Hill: American Utopianism in Fiction

Popular novels and movies, especially in the young adult category, reflect a growing interest in Utopianism. From The Giver by Lois Lowry to The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, from the Harry Potter books and movies to the plethora of zombie apocalypse films and television, our culture is obsessed with fictional worlds that present Utopian futures or expose the dark underside of these seemingly perfect societies. This course provides a deep dive into the world of speculative fiction, with special attention given to the contributions of women and African American writers, as a lens for analyzing contemporary political realities in the United States.

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

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?"

The Science of Helping

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

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.

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.


The Ignatian City will introduce students to contemporary theories of American cities. This class is designed for students that 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 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. Don't be a sheeple, be a leader, understand the Constitution for yourself!

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 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 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."

Religion and Politics: Beyond the Culture Wars

They say there is more that unites us than divides us. That's a cliche, a truism, which is only as true as we make it. It is only true if we work to understand one another across lines of perceived difference. It's easy to demonize, easy to critique, easy to cast aspersions and circle the wagons. It takes dedication, openness, and skill to listen across lines of difference. Democracy dies with demonization and demagoguery. It thrives on conversation and trust. This course equips students to better understand and engage the most pressing social, religious, and political issues that threaten to divide us. We all have a stake in cultivating common goods.

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.

Magic, Medicine, and Religion in Shakespeare

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

The Art of Political Education

Professor Berman is an artist who believes that art can, and should, change the world. In this seminar we will use Paulo Freire's Pedagogy of the Oppressed to examine and critique ways of being with, not for, others to create social change. We will discuss being together in the community as well as being together in the classroom and how both settings have the potential to be sites for the practice of freedom.

Global Citizenship in an Interconnected World

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.

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. This course is linked to a corresponding section of CORE 1500 Cura Personalis I.

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 not only the field you hope to study and practice but also your own personal sense of commitment to this field.

Holy Stuff: Seeing + Studying Religious Objects

Religion is often approached in academic circles through beliefs, creeds, doctrines, and reams upon reams of intellectual debate. All of those things are absolutely part of what religion is. But religion, to many and perhaps most people, is also and maybe even primarily something that is lived, tasted, touched, heard, smelled, and seen. It is what happens in the quiet of one's home, the rhythms of temple pujas, the boisterousness of street festas, the shoulder-to-shoulder of Friday prayers. Practices and objects have a complex connection with ideas and belief--even to the point of inviting us to look again at what, exactly, we mean by the term "religion." This seminar works to raise those questions and develop ways of thinking about religion that account for the complexity and diversity of human experience.

Mistakes, Harmful Thinking, and Foolishness

Why are memories sometimes wildly different among those who experience the same event? Are there biases that lurk beneath our consciousness that influence how we treat one another? Why do people, regardless of education level, make decisions that defy sound reasoning? Together, we will embark on a semester-long journey to examine research in psychology to help shed light on the answers to questions, such as these, to better understand the foolish behaviors, attitudes, and decisions made by ourselves and others.

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.

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

You use technology every day. You grew up entertaining yourselves on smart phones and tablets, completing schoolwork on personal computers, and communicating with your peers through social media. But have you ever stopped to consider how all 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?

Let's Play: Joyful Living and Learning

Students in this course will explore play as a means for developing creativity and imaginative thinking. Questions explored throughout the course include: What is play? What are the benefits of play? How can we integrate work and play? How does play foster social connections?