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Gen 460 Course Descriptions For Fall 2012


The GEN 460 Seminars explore what it means to think and live faithfully in our world by undertaking an in-depth study of an important issue. Each class will engage with the richness and complexity of its subject by considering diverse viewpoints and multiple academic disciplines and exploring their interconnections. Each class will also be challenged with some of the best Christian thinking about the issue. The class will maintain an atmosphere of open inquiry and discovery, and provide occasion for each student to reflect on God’s call on his /her life. Prerequisite: senior standing, or junior standing and completion of all other general education requirements.

Course descriptions for all seven specific sections for Fall 2012


Gen 460-1: Lessons from the Holocaust

Instructor: Patty Long

Meets:    Mondays and Wednesdays 12 noon-1:15 p.m.

The major focus of this seminar is to use an examination of the Holocaust to carefully consider worldview formation and its implication for private and public life. Hitler is quoted as saying, “I want to raise a generation of young people devoid of a conscience - imperious, relentless, and cruel.” This Faith in the World Seminar will challenge us to consider how such evil could exist, how a society and a church could be seduced into cooperating with a force so destructive, and how we can prevent such atrocities from recurring. Inherent in the possible answers to those questions is the need to examine the ways in which our worldview informs what we think, what we value, what we do, and ultimately helps us answer the major questions of life.

GEN 460-2: Diversity: About Loving Our Differences

Instructor: Lauren Seifert

Meets:    Tuesdays and Thursdays 11:30 a.m.-12:45 p.m.

Diversity: About Loving Our Differences surveys topics about human differences including culture/ethnicity, race, disability, development, sex, gender, disability, and faith/religion. Students are asked to read and respond (via spoken and written communication) to myriad works that are relevant to a cross-disciplinary study of people. Diversity issues are considered from a Christian worldview.

Gen 460-3: Our Christmas Holiday: Origins, History, Purposes, and Practice

Instructor: Steve Jensen

Meets: Mondays and Wednesdays 3-4:15 p.m.

How did we inherit the sprawling, complex, and conflicted holiday celebration we know as Christmas, and what should we do about it?  In this seminar-style course we will undertake an in-depth study of its origins and subsequent history as a Christian holiday, including its theological implications, its traditional role in spiritual formation, and the debates surrounding its later suppression by Puritans and its Victorian revival. We will also study its “secular” roles in national, economic, and family life, considering as we do so the nature of civil religion and issues of civil liberties.  All of this will be done with attention to the stories, poems, hymns and carols, movies, and TV specials that exemplify its changing history.  Ultimately, we will used our deepening perspective to reflect on the best ways to participate in this holiday in our own time and place.  

GEN 460-4: Liberalism and Terrorism

Instructor: Scott Waalkes

Meets:    Tuesdays and Thursdays 1-2:15 p.m.

We examine a number of pressing issues for post-9/11 Christians in this course: How should we—Christians living in a liberal-democratic society—think about how our faith should be brought into the public realm? What are the roots of al Qaeda terrorism and Muslim critiques of liberalism? How have some Muslims reflected on liberalism? How should we respond to Islam and terrorism? And how should we think theologically about the government and the war on terrorism? Since this is a seminar, both faculty members and students will explore such questions together. Class discussions will inform reflection papers that are the capstones for each unit. A final reflection paper will tie together all these themes.

GEN 460–5: Bittersweet: Understanding and Responding to Loss

Instructors: Marcia Everett and Cherie Parsons

Meets:   Mondays 2:30-5 p.m.

All of experience loss in our lives – certainly in the death of someone we love, but also in the loss of jobs, relationships, home, dreams, health, and expectations.  This seminar will examine key questions for how we understand, experience, and then respond to grief and loss in our lives.  We will examine the questions of what constitutes loss and how we experience it, the nature of grief and grieving, and responses which reflect a diversity of perspectives both within and without the Christian faith. We will with wrestle with questions of how people have understood and experienced the role of suffering and loss in their lives and explore resources for responding to those losses from theological, emotional and practical orientations as well as explore how to respond to the losses that others experience. Through this process we intend students to develop a beginning framework for understanding loss and grief as part of the lifelong journey to be faithful to Christ.

GEN 460-6: Energy Culture

Instructor: Earl Rodd

Meets: Tuesdays and Thursdays 4-5:15 p.m.

This course considers the following topics through the lens of culture: Christian approaches to technology and the environment, the idea of alternative energy, energy reserves and prices, the question of imports and export, possible future energy sources, atomic and nuclear energy, global warming debates, and Christian faith perspectives.

GEN 460-7: Cinema and the American Dream

Instructors: Jay Case and Andrew Rudd

Meets:    Tuesdays and Thursdays 11:30 a.m.-12:45 p.m.

This course is an examination of film in the U.S. between 1945 and the present, thematically linked to the concept of “the American Dream.”  Through those films we hope to give students the critical equipment for encountering artistic materials and sustaining critical dialogue. We also hope that through these films students might better understand the ways that historical context shapes conceptions of the American Dream and ways that conceptions of the American Dream have driven thematic content in film. As an organizing framework for the course, we will explore the concept of the American Dream through the themes of the Material Ideal, the Civic Ideal and the Ideal of Individualism. Through this process, we intend students to become more thoughtful and mature people of faith.  

GEN 460-8: Intimacy: Creating Human Connection Within Community

Instructor: Jane Hoyt-Oliver

Meets: Mondays 2:30-5 p.m.

As the world has become increasingly connected, paradoxically, humans report becoming increasingly disconnected from one another, as well as isolated within their communities. Utilizing works by family studies theorists; this course will explore the dynamics of human connection/disconnection within marriage, in the workplace and as citizens within community. Students will discuss the myths and the realities of modern marriage in the United States and the impact of both marriage and divorce of the couple, their children and the communities in which they live. They will examine biblical examples of relationship building, and several theological interpretations of those biblical passages. Building on that discussion, students will explore ways in which the tools that assist in creating intimacy in the family can be generalized to create a more holistic a well-functioning workplace and more inclusive and asset based conceptions of community. Discussion of faithful practices and God's expectations for human intimacy within families at work and within community will be emphasized.