New or Changed Courses - Fall

(under construction, last updated 3/14/18)


Offerings over the Summer

ENVS 250: Geographic Information Systems

please see flyer for details. 

ENVR, ERTH to ENVS transition

ENVS 120 Social Systems and the Environment (replaces ENVR 105)
This course is a multidisciplinary introduction to understanding the effects of human actions and social systems on the natural world. We will emphasize science and social-science based approaches to understanding environmental problems and evaluating possible solutions to them. We will begin by examining basic concepts regarding social and natural systems. These concepts will then be applied as we evaluate and understand issues of environmental quality and stresses on natural resources. Throughout the course we will pay close attention to how human social, political, economic, and ethical institutions influence our interactions with natural systems. This course is intended to introduce Environmental Science majors and prospective majors to the social science aspects of environmental science as well as educate students from other disciplines.    

ENVS 121 Earth Systems Science and the Environment (replaces ERTH 121)
This course provides an overview of the Earth and its history from a systems perspective, exploring the connections among and co-evolution of patterns and processes among the solid earth, atmosphere, oceans, and life. Students will practice observing and thinking like an Earth scientist in an integrated and immersive lecture/discussion/laboratory/field experience. Topics vary by instructor and may include: earth system history and geologic time, ocean processes, geomorphology and earth surface processes, surface and groundwater hydrology, earth's climate, biodiversity through space and time, tectonics, and earth materials. Required field trips outside of class may be scheduled.

ENVS 250 Geographic Information Systems (replaces ERTH 333)
A comprehensive approach to cartography and spatial analysis, including the use of the global positioning system, computer-aided mapping and geographic information systems. Lecture, field and laboratory experience with an emphasis on class and individual projects.

ENVS 304W Politics of Environmental Ethics (replaces POLI 304W)
Critical and in-depth analysis of the human/nature relationship, its impact upon political theory and ethics, as well as its larger ramifications for social and moral life generally. Prereq: Consent of Instructor

ENVS 327W Water Resources (replaces ENVR 327W)
This course takes a systems approach to examining the water resources of the US West.  Emphasis is placed on evaluating water resources from a variety of scales and perspectives, using the Colorado, Klamath, and Columbia River basins as case studies.  Through intensive reading and discussion students will explore how earth systems (water cycle, climate, etc.) and human systems and cultures (economics, law, policy, etc.) interact and influence water resources issues in the Western US.  Students will expand on these case studies by preparing a literature review or research paper on a topic of interest. Prereq: ENVS 120 and ENVS 121

ENVS 347 Earth's Climate: Past, Present, and Future (replaces ERTH 347)
This course focuses on the fundamentals of Earth's climate system and how it has varied through time. Students will learn how Earth historians use the rock record to determine past climate states as well as explore modern anthropogenic climate change. Topics will include: geologic time, carbon cycle, Milankovitch cycles, climate models and proxies, climate history. Prereq: ENVS 121

ENVS 380W Research in Forest Management and Policy (new)
Forest Management and Policy is a research intensive course examining contemporary issues in forest management and forest conservation, from inventorying for traditional silvicultural practices to variable retention techniques informed by contemporary forest ecology.   Adaptation to climate change, wildfire, pathogens, and other disturbances, as well as the economics and politics of third party certification are other topics rich for exploration. Taking advantage of the diversity of Oregon's forested landscapes and ownerships and close proximity to state government, the course incorporates field trips, data collection and data analysis to understand the challenges facing public and private foresters, citizens, and forest lands for which they care. Data will be derived from existing data sets, collected field data, surveys, interviews, transcripts, and documents.  Students will be expected to write and present reports to disseminate their findings. Prereqs: ENVS 120, ENVS 121

ENVS 381 Research in Spatial Science (replaces ENVR 374: Advanced Spatial Science)
Research in Spatial Science will enable students to expand their spatial science skills by applying them to real world problem solving in Environmental Science.  It will focus on quantitative assessment, spatial data interpolation, uncertainty tracking and analysis, spatial modeling, and ArcMap competency by building upon skills learned through ENVS 250.  Students will also gain compentancy in GIS programming, ArcModel Builder, advanced spatial data manipulation, and project management. Prereq: ENVS 250

ENVS 382 Research in Dendrochronology (replaces ENVR 374: Dendrochronology)
Dendrochronology, or the science of tree rings, is a fascinating and easily accessible form of proxy data used to interpret physical, biological and cultural events in the past. By dating tree rings to their exact year of formation you can discern temporal and spatial patterns of a variety of processes impacting trees including, vegetation dynamics, climate, air pollution, landslides, glacial advance, lake level change, fire, and insect outbreaks. In this course you will get an introduction to dendrochronology, including the breadth of the field and the mechanics of the data collection and analysis of tree rings.  Through lecture, discussion, lab and field exercises, and collaborative research students will learn the principles of dendrochronology and how they can be applied to understand the environmental information a tree records in its annual growth rings. Students will employ their dendroecological knowledge and skills to complete a research project. Prereqs: ENVS 121

ENVS 495W Senior Capstone Course in Environmental Science (replaces ENVR 495W/496W Senior Seminar in Environmental Science)
The capstone course provides Environmental Science majors with the opportunity to cultivate professional work habits necessary for success by applying and integrating skills and knowledge developed in the Environmental Science curriculum via a semester-long investigation of a major topic in the discpline. Students will focus on writing a literature review on the capstone topic, and then conceptualize, research, and present an independent focus paper based on the literature review. Prereq: Senior majoring in Environmental Science.

New Courses

IDS 229 Topics in Cross-Cultural Studies: Japan, the United States, and the Pacific Rim (1)

Designed as an introduction in cross-cultural studies of the Pacific rim with particular focus on the United States and Japan, this course will explore topics like the environment and sustainability, social movements, economic and political development, or race and class in a comparative context. Students will critically explore and debate individual and community values manifested in these topics, and analyze the social, cultural, and historical forces behind those values. Half of the enrolled students in the course will be American Studies Program (ASP) students.

IDS 240s: Science Communication and Outreach

An innovative, experiential interdisciplinary course in science communication. This is a service learning course focused on communicating science to a broad audience with an emphasis on elementary and middle school aged children. Students will develop hands-on science teaching activities. They will also explore what it means to be a mentor and will develop cultural literacy as they work with and present to underserved groups. 

POLI 299: Topics in Politics: Ethics and Politics (1)

This course is an introduction to questions of ethics and politics. Topics to be discussed may include justice, the nature of the good, different conceptions of happiness, virtue, ethical theory, moral relativism, feminist ethics, liberty, equality, and the foundations of rights, as well as particular applied topics in moral and political philosophy (such as economic justice and the ethics of war.) Will be offered in future semesters under a new course number.

Course Changes

CCM 260SW: Media and the Environment

01 and 02:

Journalists, government officials, corporate and environmental advocacy group representatives, small business owners, and concerned community members, among others, create and respond to different media about “the environment.” However, what this term signifies and the stakes for engaging in sustainable practices often are ambiguous and contested. This course requires students to engage this challenge in class discussions, readings, essay writing, community activities, and multi-media presentations that will directly impact the Willamette Valley community. Studying environmental issues requires thinking about place and the humans and non-humans who call these places home. Thus, the course expects students to partner with community groups to practice applying course concepts and the university’s commitment to advancing social change and justice. This engagement relies on project-based service learning. Students will partner with KMUZ community radio and other groups to examine questions, challenges, and interventions that shape and are shaped by media and the environment.

"One Time Only" Courses

"One Time Only" Courses with MOI Designation

JAPN 399: Topics in Japanese Studies

01: Visual Narratives: From Emakito Manga (1, IT)

In the past few decades, the visual culture of Japan has become one of the most recognizable forms of media in the world. Visual narratives are exported from Japan to every corner of the globe, in the form of comic books (manga), cartoons (anime), and video games—all forms of media that tell stories through a combination of text and image. In recent years, cultural historians have taken to emphasizing Japan’s deep history of visually-oriented storytelling, from the aristocratic picture-scrolls (emaki) of the 10th century to the mass-produced manga of today. The connection between these forms, however, is far from clear, if any substantial connection exists at all. In this class, students will explore how words and pictures have been employed to create narratives across literary and visual forms, with results that range from the synchronous to the contradictory. The focus will be on Japanese visual narratives, including picture-scrolls, picture-books (kusazōshi), and manga, with all readings provided in English. This class will combine literary and art historical methods of analysis as a means of approaching a variety of visual and literary materials.

MUSC 199: Topics in Music

01: Meaning in Music (1, IT)

The interpretation of music as a form of expression has long been divided into two camps, sometimes referred to as the absolutists and the representationalists. The former hold that music has no meaning beyond its own internal grammar and structure, that it is not a language in the sense that one regards verbal expression, rather that it is an abstract art form that communicates without the aid of extra-musical reference. The latter counter this claim by pointing to the many examples in which music appears to be descriptive and suggestive of non-musical phenomena.

Designed for the person who is curious about what makes western classical music such a potent art form, the course will begin with an exploration of the “nuts and bolts” of all music, i.e. the elements without which music would not be music. We will then look at the extent to which music has parallels with verbal languages that might suggest some kind of meaning. Finally, we will attempt to reconcile the dispute between the absolutists and the representationalists by critically examining music that is generally regarded as “absolute” as well as that which is clearly descriptive or programmatic.

"One Time Only" Courses with Writing-Centered Designation

Special Topics Courses

ARTS 342: Topics in Sculpture

01: Multimedia Sculpture

ARTS 342 will cover and build upon techniques explored in Intro to Sculpture (including steel construction, wood construction, and mold-making) and will use these skills to explore multi-media sculpture (including interactivity, sound, movement and duration, among others).

ECON 470W: Advanced Topics in Economics

01:with Professor Liang

The 2008 financial crisis and the subsequent economic recession in the US have caused millions of people to lose their jobs, homes and pensions. Around the world, the crisis slashed growth in many other nations and brought governments to the brink of bankruptcy. The Crisis has also shaken our confidence in and changed our views about the functioning of the social, economic and political systems. It is not doubt that the Crisis has altered many aspects of our lives and will continue to generate repercussions in the years to come. Against this backdrop, it is of paramount importance that we keep abreast of the evolving economy as it recovers from one of the worst recessions, that we “re-discover” the role of finance in the economy, that we look beyond the surface and investigate the underlying causes of the Crisis, and that we learn the lessons from the Crisis and critically assess our economic system and the proposed reforms, or “anti-reforms”. I hope that by engaging in informed and thoughtful discussions about the Crisis, students not only discover answers to some pressing issues about the Crisis but also feel provoked to ask important questions regarding the socio-econ system that we live in.
 This leads to a second, core component of the course, namely, students are expected to work with me and their fellow students to construct a Thesis Prospectus, which identifies a central research question and outlines research plans. To this end, students must fully engage themselves in finding a topic that they are interested in and curious about, hone their analytical and research methods, and practice their writing skills.

02: with Professor Sivers Boyce

This course is the bridge between the major curriculum and the senior thesis. Its primary goal is to prepare you to write your senior thesis by introducing you to the research process in a structured way. We will use sustainability as a loose framework to accomplish that goal.  Growing awareness of ecological degradation and distributional inequality have raised concern about conventional approaches to economic development.  In response, the UN Report, Our Common Future, suggested that we should be striving for "sustainable" development.  But what do we mean by sustainability?  What does a commitment to sustainable development require?  We will begin by reading Our Common Future and exploring the concept of sustainability and some of the broad issues that are raised by a commitment to sustainable development.  We will then proceed to an in-depth exploration of a related research question defined by the students.

ENGL 116w: Topics in American Literature (IT)

01: 50 Great Poems

This course offers an introduction to the diversity of American poetry—to great individual poems as well as their cultural, historical, and/or social importance. As a course that fulfills an Interpreting Texts MOI, we will pay particular attention to questions like: What makes a poem a poem? What can a poem do? What are the various ways in which we can understand poems? What does poetry add to our personal, public, cultural, and social lives?

ENGL 117W: Topics in British Literature

03 & 04: King Arthur

Few legends have remained popular and vital as long as the story of King Arthur has. How can we explain this phenomenon? To investigate this question, this course will trace the development of the legend from its oldest remaining written manifestations to the present day. A chronological approach will allow us to see how Arthur’s story accumulated new elements over time, including the famous love affair between Lancelot and Guinevere and the equally famous quest for the Holy Grail—neither of which appeared in the earliest versions of the story. We will discuss topics such as what Arthur has represented at different periods in time and how his story changes when it is retold in different genres and media. We will also consider how writers have adapted Round Table stories to suit political and social agendas. Texts will include Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, pieces of Sir Thomas Malory’s The Death of Arthur, and the indispensable Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

ENGL 319: Literary Genre/Interpretation

01: 19th Century Literature, "Our Monsters, Ourselves"

In his essay “Monster Culture (Seven Theses),” Jeffrey Jerome Cohen argues that one cultural role of the monster is to “police the borders of the possible,” and that the exclusion of the monstrous “enables the formation of all kinds of identities—personal, national, cultural, economic, sexual, universal, particular….” In this class, we will interrogate some of the many ways in which European and American writers of the 19th century imagined encounters with extreme otherness: from ghosts and demons to murderers and lunatics; from the wilderness to the city; from the far corners of the earth to the dark corners of the psyche. We will seek to re-conceptualize “the monstrous” not as something fixed and forbidden, but as something dynamic and relational—alluring as well as frightening—which plays a critical role in creating and sustaining the very in-group from which it is excluded. Put another way: “the border of the possible” is always a contested territory. Wherever we encounter such a border, we will breach it, ask why it was drawn up in the first place, and try to imagine a new map in which it is redrawn—or even erased.
The class will focus on short fiction, with some forays into nonfiction and poetry. We will read writers such as Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edgar Allan Poe, Herman Melville, Charles Baudelaire, Emily Dickinson, Kate Chopin, Nikolai Gogol, George Eliot, Harriet Jacobs, and Oscar Wilde. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein will not be assigned, but is understood to be an ur-text for this whole field of inquiry, and therefore recommended as pre-requisite reading.

EXSCI 358: Special Topics in Exercise Science

01: Aging, Health, and Functional Assessment

This course will be a study of age-related physical and psychosocial changes that occur during the older adult years, their interrelationship with health and physical activity, and the application to assessment of physical function. Additionally, this course will examine the functional tests commonly used with older adults, including those that are novel or in development. The research foundations and effectiveness of such assessments will be examined, and their appropriate use and interpretation will be practiced with community senior volunteers.

FREN 438: Topics in French Cinema

01: African Film 

This course focuses on pressing political, socio-cultural, economic and historical issues raised by African  filmmakers from before colonization to the present. It aims to offer students a cogent analytical approach to  a wide-variety of films by filmmakers from all over the continent and the diaspora. It examines the relationship  between cinema and other forms of creative practice in Africa, in particular, art, history, literature and oral traditions.  The course also explores the significance and use of cinema in juxtaposition with cultural and social development.    Taught in English

HIST 113: Topics in US History


This class will focus on two pivotal moments in American History—the American Revolution and the Civil War.  Our inquiry will be based around the theme of mobilization. What has inspired people in the American past to rally around and ultimately put their lives on the line for a political cause?  What role have ideas played in mobilizing large numbers of people behind a cause? How has race shaped the dynamics of American political mobilization? What factors have enabled some mobilizations to succeed while others have failed?  What role have politicians, activists, and ordinary citizens played in bringing about large-scale political and social change? By the end of the semester, students will have engaged with a wealth of historical information and perspectives that will enable them to better understand and critique the multiple forms of political mobilization that have emerged in our present moment.

HIST 131C: Historical Inquiry (1, Thinking Historically)

01 and 02: The Pacific War, 1931-1945

World War II in the Pacific was engaged most directly in 1937 and 1941, when China and then the United States declared war against Japan. However, for many people in East Asia, the conflict began as early as 1931, when Japan occupied and colonized NE China (Manchuria). The war came to a dramatic close in 1945 with the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. This course engages the Pacific War from the Asian viewpoint, focusing in particular on the experiences of the people involved, soldiers and civilians alike. It will also consider how memories of the war, differently constructed on different sides, have shaped contemporary histories of Pacific Rim nations.

MATH 376: Topics in Mathematics: Probability and Computing (1)

This course will provide an introduction to probabilistic techniques with a focus on random algorithms and probabilistic analysis.  We assume only an elementary background in discrete mathematics (e.g. covered in M251W Fundamentals of Advanced Mathematics) and will give a rigorous mathematical treatment of the required probability theory with numerous examples and applications.  The view is that, in order to best apply and understand the random algorithms, a firm grasp of the underlying probability theory and rigorous techniques are necessary.  Most of the exercises in the course will be theoretical but will also include some programming (probably in R) exercises.

REL 358: Topics in Western Religious Tradtition

01: Religion and Contemporary Social Conflict in America

This course explores various areas of social conflict between religious institutions and actors
and the law and public policy. It asks several compelling questions: what are the various
appropriate roles of religion in the public sphere; do religious institutions and actors have a
legitimate voice on matters of public importance and should here be any limitations on their
ability to influence public policy; to what extend should religious actors be able to exempt
themselves from salutary government regulations; and how should the government and courts
balance those competing claims and interests. To explore these issues, the course will consider
several contemporary issues, likely including but not limited to: religious objections to gay
marriage and LGBTQ rights; exemptions of religious institutions from health care and
prescription coverage; exemptions of religious actors and small business from public
accommodation (nondiscrimination) laws; government limitations on lobbying and political
activities of religious organizations; and government efforts to combat forms of “religious”

SOC 358: Special Topics in Sociology

02: Black Lives Matter

This course explores one of today’s most significant movements for racial equity: Black Lives Matter.  What began as a hashtag has become a movement to oppose white supremacy in all of its forms of state violence and work for the liberation of Black people in the United States and beyond.  We will utilize Critical Race Theory and a sociological imagination to understand this social movement, including its origins, historical tradition, tactics, consequences and outcomes.  Through examining social resistance, students will consider how movements for racial justice—historical and contemporary—contribute to identity construction, the re-writing of a “people’s history”, social justice, and the reclamation of democracy.  This course counts toward elective credit in Sociology and American Ethnic Studies.

THTR 318W: Theatre and Culture: Epic Theatre Influences -- Feminist, Queer, and Latinx Performance (1, Writing Centered)

This course will explore the ways in which Feminist, LGBTQ, and Latinx playwrights, performers, and ensembles have further developed the concepts of Epic Theatre in order to render visible normative constructs of race, class, gender, sexuality, and ability; and how Epic Theatre has been used to celebrate and advocate through performance. Artists and theorists will include Bertolt Brecht, Walter Banjamin, Herbert Blau, Patrice Pavis, Elinor Fuchs, Kaja Silverman, Carol Churchill, Adrienne Kennedy, Cherrie Moraga, Maria Irene Fornes, Luis Valdez, Nuyorican Theatre, Split Britches, Alina Toyano (aka Carmelita Tropicana), Susan Lori Parks, Sue Ellen Case, Kate Davy, and Pamela Robertson.