Ortwin KnorrCourse taught by: Ortwin KnorrColloquium Associate: Shawna MerrillCampus Partner: Jodi Santillie

Some of the most spectacular films in history are epic movies set in ancient Greece and Rome. "Toga movies" such as "Cabiria" (1914), "Ben Hur" (1959), "Cleopatra" (1963), and "Gladiator" (2000) were not only important milestones in film history, but still dazzle their audiences with gigantic sets, huge armies of extras, impressive action scenes, gorgeous costumes, and rousing music. In this course, we will learn to watch these movies closely and analyze them from many different angles, as films with a specific language and tradition, as historical narratives, and as reflections of and comments on contemporary culture.

Scott PikeCourse taught by: Scott PikeColloquium Associate: Ella AshfordCampus Partner: Mary Martin

The history and cultures of Oregon are invariably tied to the material complexities and cultural meanings of places in the broader context of landscapes. This course will explore how both the built and natural environments in Oregon modify perceptions, affect behaviors, shape values, and provide comfort or distress to communities throughout the region. We will investigate the archaeologies of Oregon through readings, field trips, and guest lectures to learn of the diverse nature of Oregon’s archaeology and its interpretations from prehistoric patterns of human occupation to present-day issues related to the decolonization of the archaeological practice and heritage law.

James MileyCourse taught by: James MileyColloquium Associate: Seth BerganCampus Partner: Sue Corner

Have you ever read a scathing take-down of a musician you admire? Did that negative press affect your perception of that artist or even an entire style/genre of music? This class will explore the impact of criticism—both positive and negative—on innovation and risk-taking by popular musicians in America and abroad. Our study will include assigned readings, guided listening sessions, interviews with contemporary musical artists and critics, and in-depth discussion of the work of important musical critics of the past 100 years. In addition, we will examine in detail various musical eras with particular attention paid to artists who found themselves embroiled in controversy both in and out of the recording studio. Students will be responsible for writing their own artist profiles (in the vein of music journals such as Rolling Stone and Spin) of popular musicians, reviewing albums and live performances, and gauging the impact music critics have had on the trajectory of popular musical expression over the years.

Stephen PattersonCourse taught by: Stephen PattersonColloquium Associate: Davis BowlerCampus Partner: Isaac Parker

Cosmologists tell us that the universe began 13.8 billion years ago with a big bang, thus freeing us from the burden of reading the Bible as a primitive science book. If Genesis is not about how the world began, what is it about? Long before people had much to say about science, it seems they had a lot to say about human nature. In this colloquium we’ll explore the myths and legends of Genesis as they take us into the heart of human experience—of life, love, desire, murder, trust and betrayal. Adam and Eve ate of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. This colloquium is about what came next.

Joyce V. MillenCourse taught by: Joyce V. MillenColloquium Associate: Jasmine ShigenoCampus Partner: Reyna Meyers

Are you trying to make sense of global news events describing stories and showing images of people on the move, fleeing war-torn, climate devastated, and otherwise troubled nations? This College Colloquium will address these recent demographic trends or human flows, as artist activist Ai Weiwei describes them. According to the UN International Organization for Migration, the number of international migrants living in a country other than their county of birth has more than tripled since 1970. What are the historic foundations and global health implications of this human movement? How do people decide where to go when forced to leave their homelands? What socioeconomic issues do governments consider when deciding to grant individuals asylum or deny entry to refugees? By reading from an array of news sources and literary genres, screening short films, and participating in local actions in support of newly resettled refugees, students will learn about the lived experiences of people on the move from Ukraine, Afghanistan, Syria, Sudan, Ethiopia, Myanmar, Central and South America and elsewhere. They will learn about the political forces and ethical considerations associated with how various governmental entities come to decide who is and who is not “entitled” or “deemed worthy” to receive protective status, work permits, and access to health and other benefits. The latter half of the course will focus on positive stories of extraordinary courage and how migrants, asylees, and refugees strive to overcome obstacles in their efforts to integrate into their host countries.

Rachel Kinsman SteckCourse taught by: Rachel Kinsman SteckColloquium Associate: Seth BellCampus Partner: Andrew Toney

"Camp" has been characterized as excessive, ostentatious, affected..., gay. It has been described as an aesthetic, sensibility, style, or taste where high art meets popular culture "in" fashion. Camp is where the Tiffany Lamp meets Lady Gaga, where Judith Butler meets Susan Sontag, or where drag meets Patrick Swayze. Historically speaking, to "read" camp is to "know" - to finally be "seen" within a culture that rarely "looks". This colloquium is an introduction to camp in its various forms. Like camp itself, we will bring together high theory and popular culture and explore our own presence and resistance within our readings of identity, performativity, and sexuality. We will wrestle with such questions as: Do we always know camp when we see it? Who is able to participate in camp? Is camp always subversive?

Seth CotlarCourse taught by: Seth CotlarColloquium Associate: Morgan DavisCampus Partner: Alan Lane

In 1935 Sinclair Lewis caused a stir with his satirical novel, It Can’t Happen Here. In an era of rising fascism in Germany, Italy, and around the world, Lewis’s novel invited readers to imagine what a homegrown, Midwestern American variant of fascism might look like. Lewis’s title points to a widely-held belief in the US that fascism could not, did not, and never could “happen here,” that the US was somehow uniquely immune from the sort of right wing, hyper-nationalistic, and racially-exclusionary populism that dominated the politics of many nations in the 1930s. Recent historical scholarship, however, has revealed that assessment to be based more on wishful thinking than empirical analysis. From the 1920s when millions of Americans, spread across every state of the union, joined a resurgent Ku Klux Klan; to 1939 when 20,000 Americans gathered for a “pro-America” rally at Madison Square Garden where the audience gave Nazi salutes toward a stage festooned with images of George Washington, the American flag, and the Swastika; to the immense popularity of the isolationist and virulently antisemitic “America First” movement in the late 1930s that claimed Nazi atrocities were either being exaggerated by the liberal media or were just none of America’s business; it’s clear that a significant number of Americans in the years before WWII found fascist organizations and messages compelling. America’s entry into WWII quickly undermined the fascist movements of the 1930s, and at war’s end most Americans came to assume that the nation had no fascist tradition to speak of. After all, we were part of the international alliance that defeated fascism! This class will explore the history of homegrown, American fascism in the 20th century and the resistance to it, as well as the process through which the history of American fascism came to be largely forgotten in the years following WWII.

Cooper BattleCourse taught by: Cooper BattleColloquium Associate: Shelby SawyerCampus Partner: Geoff Dejanvier

What is a chemical? What does it mean for something to be natural or synthetic? Does chemical innovation create more problems than it solves? From polymers (like silk and nylon) and dyes (such as carmine and indigo) to drugs (including morphine and penicillin) and spices (like salt and nutmeg), the pursuit of new chemical compounds through exploration of natural resources and synthetic innovation is intertwined with cultural changes. In this course we will look at the stories behind the discovery and use of some notable chemical compounds and examine both positive and negative contributions they have had to societies: many new innovations solve one problem while creating others. In particular, we will take a close look at how medicinal compounds have been developed and tested throughout history including the current state of pharmaceuticals in the modern world.

Wendy Petersen BoringCourse taught by: Wendy Petersen BoringColloquium Associate: Lily O'SheaCampus Partner: Dave Sundby

Climate change, economic inequity, and racial injustice are key indicators of a systems wide failure in our economic, political, and cultural arenas. Solutions will require bold thinking, courage, and the creation of new pathways and alternative models. What does it really mean to “change the system?” How can we imagine new possibilities? And what will our role be in creating them? The purpose of the class is to engage students in creating the frameworks they need to understand systemic change and how they can contribute to a more equitable, sustainable future.

Nathan Sivers BoyceCourse taught by: Nathan Sivers BoyceColloquium Associate: Sally WoosterCampus Partner: Justin Leibowitz

Climate change, economic inequity, and racial injustice are key indicators of a systems wide failure in our economic, political, and cultural arenas. Solutions will require bold thinking, courage, and the creation of new pathways and alternative models. What does it really mean to “change the system?” How can we imagine new possibilities? And what will our role be in creating them? The purpose of the class is to engage students in creating the frameworks they need to understand systemic change and how they can contribute to a more equitable, sustainable future.

Karen McFarlane HolmanCourse taught by: Karen McFarlane HolmanColloquium Associate: Oscar FigueroaCampus Partner: Loxley Battle

What is your personal mission statement? When you take your last breath, how will this world be better for you having been here? Together we will explore our own personal values, unique ways of manifesting purpose, and how we can impact our community. We will explore successes and struggles of both large and micro social movements kickstarted by visionaries that have resulted in positive changes in the world. We will delve into the powerful role that communication plays in attracting others to join a mission-driven endeavor. And we will discover what inspires us to take action that goes beyond dreaming and planning.

Michaela KleinertCourse taught by: Michaela KleinertColloquium Associate: Tyler PrzbylskiCampus Partner: Ron Jones

Why do so many people believe in conspiracy theories, and why are those beliefs so difficult to change? In the age of social media silos and deep fake videos, how can you spot misinformation, and what is the most effective way of combating it? In this data-driven course, we will look at examples of misinformation and conspiracy theories, ranging from Flat Earthers to QAnon, or climate change deniers, and learn how a solid understanding of how to interpret data can help us navigate the world around us.

Scott NadelsonCourse taught by: Scott NadelsonColloquium Associate: Kristell Mares de JuanCampus Partner: Tony Stafford

For many of us, the image of prison life has been shaped not by experience but by popular media and literature. From Escape from Alcatraz to John Cheever’s Falconer to Orange Is the New Black, our cultural production for decades has included stories about the world behind high walls and barbed wire, and our understanding of the country’s incarcerated population is influenced by the stories we’ve read or witnessed on screen. In this colloquium we will examine how narrative shapes our perception of lives that play out beyond our view, and how different kinds of storytelling—from journalism, to memoir, to narrative poetry, to fiction, to film and television—communicate ideas about crime and punishment, about guilt and redemption, and about race, class, gender, and sexuality in the context of correctional institutions.

Cindy Koenig RichardsCourse taught by: Cindy Koenig RichardsColloquium Associate: Olivia FrenkleCampus Partner: Manny Cifuenes-Machado

What are we getting from the internet, and what do we give it in return? In this colloquium we’ll explore the impact of digital media in our lives and society. Through experiential learning, creative work, reading and discussion, students will develop a deeper understanding of our dynamic media environment. Ultimately, we’ll consider possibilities for engaging, reshaping, and resisting digital technologies in order to build the futures we want.

Colin StarrCourse taught by: Colin StarrColloquium Associate: Katherine LockerCampus Partner: Don Thompson

For 12+ years, most of us learn mathematics as a collection of rules to follow or formulas to memorize, leaving us with a woefully dry notion of what it means to "do math." In this colloquium, we will instead look at mathematics from the perspective of mathematicians: as a vibrant subject, requiring creativity and imagination, that rewards its practitioners with the excitement of discovering beautiful ideas. We will do this by asking mathematical questions we find interesting and answering them ourselves. We will also look at some of the human side of mathematics: who were/are the people doing mathematics, outside of their identities as mathematicians? We will also look at the human side of mathematics: who were/are the people doing mathematics, outside of their identities as mathematicians?

Jeanne ClarkCourse taught by: Jeanne ClarkColloquium Associate: Tara KroftCampus Partner: Rob Passage

Gandhi and Martin Luther King demonstrated the power and the perils of nonviolent resistance in promoting political and social change. This course will explore how varied nonviolent resistance strategies have been utilized in one of the world's most intractable conflicts, a conflict typically reported in the news as a "cycle of violence," i.e. Israel/Palestine. From slingshots to hip hop, tax resistance to tree planting, refusing military service to rebuilding homes, monitoring checkpoints to painting walls, milk production to cultural boycotts, Palestinian and Israeli activists have engaged a range of nonviolent methods to promote what they understand as a peaceful end. The methods are often controversial; their "nonviolence" is sometimes disputed; their potential for efficacy is uncertain. Together we will ponder what constitutes "nonviolence" and what may be required for such strategies to work. We will examine media coverage of the "cycle of violence" and consider what a "peace journalism" coverage of events might look like. We will review documentary accounts of nonviolent resistance groups. We will evaluate the use of the social media by Palestinian and Israeli nonviolent activist groups. In addition to analyzing the nonviolent strategies employed by others, you will develop messages and strategies to promote your own chosen cause through nonviolent resistance.

Randall HavasCourse taught by: Randall HavasColloquium Associate: Qilin XieCampus Partner: Aspen Padilla

What is the difference between being a human being and being moss, a bit of garbage, or a cauliflower? What a cauliflower is is fixed, let us suppose, by nature: science tells us what such things are. According to the existentialist, this is not true of the human being. That is, what is true of us is, at least in part, a function of what we say or think about ourselves, how we live our lives. We are, as it is sometimes said, self-interpreting animals; as such, freedom is fundamental to the kinds of beings we are. Consequently, we bear a kind of responsibility for what is true of us that the cauliflower does not, and nothing can disburden us of that responsibility. What, if anything, can have authority for me, in view of my radical freedom? Can anything, and, if so, does nothing? What can authority even mean in such circumstances? What does obedience to such authority look like? In what ways can authority and obedience be deformed? Such questions are not unique to the philosophical movement known as existentialism, but it is characteristic of the latter that it so consistently leaves the asking and answering of them entirely to the individual, particularly concerned as it is with the various ways in which we tend to disown responsibility for asking and answering them ourselves. Existentialist themes are the stuff of great modern literature as well as of European philosophy in the mid and late 20th century. Our colloquium will focus on one seminal example: Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, in which a young and impoverished law student named Raskolnikov commits an apparently senseless murder with the aim of determining whether morality is truly binding on him. The bulk of the novel is spent trying to decipher Raskolnikov’s peculiar motivations and to understand the significance of his ostensible failure to “step over” morality. In our Colloquium we will read and critically analyse Dostoevsky’s great novel with an eye to understanding his conceptions of good, evil, and human agency.

Ivan WeltyCourse taught by: Ivan WeltyColloquium Associate: Andrew CaruanaCampus Partner: Mary Collins

What does it mean to explain something? Do explanations run out? Where? Can we explain why they run out where they do? What about us, the explainers: what sort of explanation can we give of ourselves? Where do we fit in the grand scheme of things? Where do our misfortunes fit? We'll investigate these and related questions from several philosophical and religious points of view. We'll see that the points of view are very different but also that they are deeply connected. Moving between them, we'll gain a deeper understanding of ourselves and of our place in the world, one that is informed by some of humanity's most profound reflections on the matter.

Huike WenCourse taught by: Huike WenColloquium Associate: Lee LoftinCampus Partner: Amy Nelson Green

Food gives us life and connects us to each other. It provokes strong feelings—we love some foods and hate others. What is food? What is cooking? How do we communicate about food? Together we will explore these questions through the study of food media. Every day we consume media that focus on food. Have you ever shared a photo of food with somebody in your life? Then you are also a producer of food media. In this course we will get a taste for the work of scholars, journalists, celebrity chefs, public intellectuals, food justice activists, business owners, and social workers who communicate about food. We will discuss, critique, and design food media of our own, sampling a variety of genres: articles, movies, social media posts, advertising messages, manga, cartoons, podcasts, and more. We will work in teams and share our food media critique, design, and production in order to become more conscious eaters who care about people, culture, and the environment and therefore about the system of food in our lives and in the world.

Yan LiangCourse taught by: Yan LiangColloquium Associate: Jazmin Hurtado-Cortes

Globalization has been transforming the world we live in. From the products we buy to the ideas we share and debate and to the income we divide, globalization affects every aspect of our lives. Globalization is driven by a confluence of cultural, economic, political and technological forces and it has generated far-reaching benefits and harms. Nonetheless, the most recent, digital-driven globalization 4.0 is under intensifying challenges. From the 2008 Global Financial Crisis, to Brexit, to the US-China “trade war” and to the Russia-Ukraine war, globalization seems retracted and even may come to an end “as we know it”, some commenters argue. In this course, students will undertake an interdisciplinary approach to study the major driving forces of globalization since the 15th century; investigate how globalization affects trade, supply chain, income distribution, environmental sustainability and many other aspects; analyze the current counter-globalization issues and events; and map out the possible paths to globalization. Through critical reading, informed discussions and thoughtful writing, we will together explore the important and timely topic of globalization.

Mary R. BachvarovaCourse taught by: Mary R. BachvarovaColloquium Associate: Soren PutneyCampus Partner: Natalia Shevchenko

The modern Western novel, an extended prose narrative telling of a hero's often life-changing experience, has its roots in the Mesopotamian epic of "Gilgamesh", first recorded on clay tablets ca. 2100 BC. The figure of Gilgamesh, a historically attested Sumerian king who chose friendship over family, who failed in his quest to achieve physical immortality but left behind one of the most enduring monuments to man's search for the meaning of life in the face of inconsolable grief, was a major influence on Homer as he composed the story of Odysseus. And, Homer's Odyssey, considered by many to be the "first novel" of Western civilization, has proved to be a formative influence on Western literature. We will explore how the development of the familiar literary form of the novel over the course of millennia was a product of man's developing sense of self, his/her changing understanding of his relationship to the divine and his/her desire to understand the purpose of life, through these two "proto-novels" and a series of key works such as Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment and Hermann Hesse's Rosshalde.

Bobby Brewer-WallinCourse taught by: Bobby Brewer-WallinColloquium Associate: Chrissy EwaldCampus Partner: Nomi Pearce

Before the pink knit pussy hats, graphic Black Lives Matter t-shirts, and the red MAGA caps, people have donned clothing to visually proclaim their allegiance to a particular cause. How does clothing influence society and what are the consequences of protest dressing? Identity, memory, protest, and politics intersect in the stitches sewn into fabric. This course reframes needlework as a powerful and political medium and examines how marginalized peoples throughout history have used the language of sewing, embroidery, and textiles to tell their neglected stories. We will explore a taxonomy of terms and first-hand accounts from 15th century Scotland to contemporary Mexico and Namibia, making connections from 19th century suffragettes to the white dress-suits worn in the US Capitol. The language of clothing has helped lift up voices even in the most desperate of circumstances. Through close reading of nonfiction, personal narratives and scholarly articles, we will work to discover how and why the needle has become a weapon of empowerment rather than subjugation. This course will embody multiple forms of expression -- class discussions, writing, and putting needle to fabric.

Erin McNicholasCourse taught by: Erin McNicholasColloquium Associate: Hayden VaughnCampus Partner: Laura Levin

Since their arrival in 2007, escape rooms have taken the puzzling community by storm. They provide an ideal landscape in which to explore the interplay of logic, creativity, and teamwork. In this course, we will learn and apply the tools of symbolic logic and deductive reasoning as we study various types of mathematical puzzles, codes, and cryptosystems. We will put our knowledge into action, collaborating in teams to create, revise, and refine our own escape room experiences. From designing the narrative, to the logical flow of the hurdles, to the puzzles and artifacts involved, you will take control of the innovation, play testing, and implementation of an original escape room experience.

Kathryn NymanCourse taught by: Kathryn NymanColloquium Associate: Katrina MillerCampus Partner: Nicole Rodgers

Since their arrival in 2007, escape rooms have taken the puzzling community by storm. They provide an ideal landscape in which to explore the interplay of logic, creativity, and teamwork. In this course, we will learn and apply the tools of symbolic logic and deductive reasoning as we study various types of puzzles, codes, and cryptosystems. We will put our knowledge into action, collaborating in teams to create, revise, and refine our own escape room experiences. From designing the narrative, to the logical flow of the hurdles, to the puzzles and artifacts involved, you will take control of the creation, play testing and implementation of an original escape room experience.

Mike ChasarCourse taught by: Mike ChasarColloquium Associate: Noah BollsCampus Partner: Maddie Taber

The author, journalist, political commentator, and broadcaster Will Self has argued that “The high arts of literature and music stand in a curious relationship to one another, at once securely comfortable and deeply uneasy.” This course aims to explore the various facets of that “securely comfortable and deeply uneasy” relationship by focusing mainly on short fiction and poetry (including song lyrics). How does literature represent music—as an art that people make, as an art that people consume, and as a force of personal and cultural expression? How does literature treat music as theme or subject matter? How are the relationships between fiction and music different from poetry and music? How does music become literature, and how does literature become music?

Melinda ButterworthCourse taught by: Melinda ButterworthColloquium Associate: Angie WangCampus Partner: Elizabeth Peters

The world continues to grapple with the challenges and changes brought upon by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, there have been numerous pandemics that have come before, and certainly more to come. In this college colloquium we will explore pandemics with an eye towards understanding why they occurred and how they were experienced by societies. This will include themes such as human-environment relationships, quarantine, stigma, travel, and borders. We will also look at some of the emerging science and policy approaches dedicated to predicting and preventing future pandemics. Through engagement with peer-reviewed literature, science journalism, historical documents, and film, students will gain an understanding of why some epidemics become pandemics, the histories of several recent pandemics, and the ways in which they shape and are shaped by societies.

Rick WatkinsCourse taught by: Rick WatkinsColloquium Associate: Tyler BontragerCampus Partner: Delia Olmos-Garcia

What area of solar panels would be required to provide all of the United State’s energy needs? This is the kind of question that sounds like it would take an expert to answer, but we can easily make a rough estimate using just a little information and a few educated guesses. Guesstimation of this type can give us an important quantitative context for understanding many of the big issues being talked about in the world today. In this course, students will get lots of practice guesstimating various interesting quantities both individually and collaboratively in groups. We will start simple and work our way up to more complex estimates driven by the interests of the students. Along the way we will develop a deeper understanding of how the world works and the challenges facing humanity. No particular math skills or science knowledge is required.

Sarah Clovis BishopCourse taught by: Sarah Clovis BishopColloquium Associate: Clara CoadyCampus Partner: Bill Kelm

Russia's war on Ukraine will affect the world for generations. How did we get to this point? From the outset, twenty-first century Russia has been mired in violence, both physical and ideological. Putin's first action as Prime Minister in 1999 was to initiate the second Chechen war. He went on to use violence against the people of Georgia, Syria, and Ukraine. He has also waged war on the Russian constitution and the independent press, attacking nascent democratic institutions and individual human rights. Writers and artists across the region continue to push back. We will investigate their works, along with journalistic and historical texts, to better understand the context of these wars and their impact on ordinary citizens.

Mark StewartCourse taught by: Mark StewartColloquium Associate: Bethany FletcherCampus Partner: Aaron Hukari

In the 1990s pharmaceutical companies reassured medical practitioners that patients would not become addicted to prescription opioids, resulting in widespread misuse and concomitant diversion of these powerful drugs before it was revealed they were in fact highly addictive. The resulting "opioid crisis" has exacted a heavy toll on the American public with extensive social, economic, and health consequences, including addiction, overdose, and accidental deaths brought by abuse of exponentially more powerful synthetic opioids like fentanyl and carfentanil, 80-100 and 10,000 times more potent than morphine, respectively. Guided by author Sam Quinones' award-winning books Dreamland and Least of Us, students will gain a comprehensive understanding of neuropathic and nociceptive pain, harm reduction practices (e.g., needle-exchanges, Narcan, and Oregon's recently-introduced decriminalization policy), and what each of us must do to help resolve the rising tide of addiction to, and overdose from these increasingly more accessible behavioral- and mind-altering narcotics.

Calvin DeutschbeinCourse taught by: Calvin DeutschbeinColloquium Associate: Nathan DiazCampus Partner: Sue Minder

What is socialism? What does it mean for socialism to be scientific or utopian? Does socialism create more problems than it solves? The development of socialism is intertwined with cultural and political changes. In this course we will look at the history behind some notable socialist developments and examine their contributions to societies. We will also examine contemporary socialist projects.


Richard EllisCourse taught by: Richard EllisColloquium Associate: Kegan RascoeCampus Partner: Lisa Holliday

In 1831, a 25-year-old Frenchman Alexis de Tocqueville and his friend Gustave de Beaumont visited the United States of America to study the new nation’s prisons. For over nine months the two traveled through the US, observing and interviewing its citizens. The result of that journey is the most famous book ever written on American politics and culture, Democracy in America. In this colloquium we will read this classic text and wrestle with Tocqueville’s efforts to understand the meaning of America and the significance of democratic equality in the modern world. Along the way we will to explore the role of slavery and race in the US, the genocide of Indigenous peoples, gender roles and the family, the relationship between religion and democracy, the importance of citizenship, voluntary associations, and local government, the dangers of individualism, the power of the comparative method, and the import of American exceptionalism.  

Briana LindhCourse taught by: Briana LindhColloquium Associate: Lou RoeCampus Partner: Leslie Shevlin

Darwin pioneered the modern study of evolution, but science classes rarely talk about the fact that he and his contemporaries were obsessed with race. European and American scientists could not stop thinking about race because they felt compelled to either justify or critique colonialism and slavery. We will read and discuss the words of Charles Darwin, Thomas Jefferson and other nineteenth century writers, as well as modern thinkers on the history of racism, including Audrey Smedley and Annette Gordon-Reed. Our goal will be to uncover and untwist the threads of both racist and anti-racist thought that are braided into the early history of science and into the history of the United States.

Sammy BasuCourse taught by: Sammy BasuColloquium Associate: Colby AlexanderCampus Partner: Alexander Vasquez

What is it and how can I get some? In the history of human civilizations a variety of competing conceptions of well-being recur: minimalism, hedonism, egoism, altruism, anarchism, theism, pragmatism, expressionism, optimism, communalism, nationalism, liberalism, pluralism, perspectivism, cosmopolitanism, holism and futurism among them. They vary widely in terms of their respective emphases on knowledge, nature, sociality, identity, authenticity, stability, creativity, technology, longevity and so on. How does one make sense of all this in the contemporary moment, while being aware of our own cognitive blind-spots and avoiding political partisanship, commercial fads and escapist fantasies? In this colloquium we will read a novel (DeLillo’s White Noise, 1985), review select aspects of the historical record, watch a few films and documentaries, consider relevant scientific studies, mine the data, consult global and domestic polls, interview seemingly happy people, chat a bunch and do some writing.

Erik NoftleCourse taught by: Erik NoftleColloquium Associate: Will BraatonCampus Partner: Heather Kropf

Bob Dylan is the only popular recording artist to win the Nobel Prize for Literature and is quite possibly the United States’ most revered living songwriter. Across a 60-year career, he has written over 600 songs, released 39 studio albums (among dozens of other releases), played nearly 4,000 concerts, and continues to tour at the current age of 81. Dylan’s music is popular, selling more than 125 million albums. His music has also been influential, with musicians around the world citing him as an inspiration for their own work. Cover versions of his songs have been recorded by artists as varied as Nina Simone, Jimi Hendrix, Adele, Los Lobos, Stevie Wonder, Cat Power, Sonic Youth, Johnny Cash, Weyes Blood, Antony & the Johnsons, Ministry, the Roots, Nico, and Caetano Veloso. Despite (or perhaps because of) decades in the public eye, Dylan remains an intensely private person, an enigma, a subject who intentionally throws interviewers and fans off his track, and a creator and constant manipulator of a slippery, mercurial persona that likely contains both truth and fiction. We will focus primarily on Dylan’s creative products, both lyrics and recordings, to pose questions about him both as a creative artist and as a person. Along the way, we will investigate how he has drawn on his own influences to author an astonishing array of songs that span many genres. We will draw upon a multitude of sources to deepen our understanding, including biographies, a psychobiography, literary and other scholarly appraisals of Dylan’s creative work, music criticism, documentaries and movies, interviews of both Dylan and his close associates, and his memoirs and other writings. Finally, we will apply theories and frameworks from personality psychology to form a deeper conception of him as an individual.

Greg FelkerCourse taught by: Greg FelkerColloquium Associate: Rou Rou HutchinsonCampus Partner: Gordy Toyama

Work is more than a way to make a living; it’s also a big part of life. What makes for a good career or even just an adequate work-life? The answers have changed throughout history, differ across cultures and societies, and vary by individual perspective. Some people’s jobs define their personal identities, while for others work is just a routine part of adulthood. Some endure drudgery for higher pay or simply to make ends meet. Some people pursue long-term career ambitions while others, willingly or not, bounce from job to job or shift occupations repeatedly. Social distinctions - gender, ethnicity, socioeconomic class, health status, and generation – condition the experience of work. The occupational structure is ever-changing and can seem arbitrary, but its intricacies powerfully shape work-life. Some jobs are prestigious or lucrative or both, while other work is less respected or low-paid, even when it is essential to society. What factors make-up working lives and cause them to differ? Do people craft good work-lives by choosing their endeavors thoughtfully and taking pride in their work, or does it depend much more on circumstances and luck? Do public policies and social conventions determine work-life’s patterns and value, or are jobs intrinsically better or worse? How have the basic features of work-life changed across history, and will current trends related to automation and artificial intelligence systems, job-hopping and the gig economy make the goal of a planned, coherent career obsolete? Our colloquium will explore these questions by reading, speaking, and writing about a variety of texts - social science studies, journalism, ethnographic interviews, and documentary films.

Michael Lockard, Ph.D.Course taught by: Michael LockardColloquium Associate: Anna SeahillCampus Partner: Lisa Logan

Diet and fitness are multi-billion dollar industries in the United States that are aiming to profit from America’s increasingly common sedentary lifestyle. With the bombardment of advertisements, blogs, and “expert” testimonials, it can be difficult to discern fact from fiction, science from pseudo-science. In order to evaluate these fantastic claims, this course will explore the impact of America’s physical inactivity and growing waistline on people’s personal health and well-being as well as the broader impact on the healthcare system and the welfare of society as a whole. Students will then investigate the “science” and psychology of diet fads, popular workouts, and popular weight loss programs in order to critique and, in some cases, debunk the alleged scientific foundation of modern snake oil remedies.

Willamette University

College Colloquium

Office of the Associate Dean
900 State Street
Salem Oregon 97301 U.S.A.

Back to Top