Headshot of David CraigCourse taught by: David CraigColloquium Associate: Aiden Dopson

Inspired by the New York Times’ The 1619 Project, “The 1842 Project” explores the beginnings of the institutions we call Willamette University and Salem, Oregon. This colloquium aims to reframe the local history by placing the consequences of colonialism and the contributions of people of color at the center of our local narrative. Foremost to the local story is understanding the nature of American capitalism to the landscapes that have been home to the Kalapuya people since time immemorial. Students will observe firsthand local biodiversity with attention to the colonial history of organisms, profiling people with significant records in climate & biodiversity actions, exploring how local conditions in the past influence us today, and speculating on what they can do to make a hopeful future.

Headshot of Emily DrewCourse taught by: Emily DrewColloquium Associate: Anika Groener

What does it mean for white people to “show up” against racism and white supremacy, particularly as they benefit from the same unjust power arrangements they wish to end? Because white participation is needed if we are to craft a racially just society, the identity, role and impact of white people is worth understanding. In this course, we will consider what emerges when white people participate in antiracist social movements and the organizing work led by communities of color. We will explore questions such as: Why are allies, accomplices and co-conspirators needed in everyday interactions and in movements for racial justice? What role does identity play in shaping whether and how white people participate in dismantling racism and white supremacy? What are behaviors and actions that demonstrate effective allyship and move beyond symbolic/performative commitments? What are the problems with and limits of allyship? What are the implications of allyship on and for people of color? What do alternative frameworks of solidarity, coalition, and conspiracy offer for building antiracist futures?

Headshot of Ortwin KnorrCourse taught by: Ortwin KnorrColloquium Associate: Spencer Chapin

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. We will meet as a class to watch the films together on Wednesday evenings; these screenings constitute a significant portion of the homework for the course.

Headshot of David GuttermanCourse taught by: David GuttermanColloquium Associate: Amanda Padgett

We live together through stories. Narratives inspire, guide, entertain, hold us in relationships and liberate us from our worst fears. The best stories help us explore the tensions that define our world: restlessness and rootedness; stability and motion; host and guest; mortal and divine; natural and mystical; the eternal and the ephemeral; wild and nurtured; home and away. In this colloquium, we will explore these and other themes through a deep and careful reading of Madeline Miller’s Circe and Homer’s The Odyssey. Students will be asked to write (and rewrite), create, observe, discover, present, and share their ideas. There will be two sections of this colloquium: one taught by Scott Pike (Professor of Environmental Science and Archaeology) and one taught by David Gutterman (Professor of Politics, Policy, Law & Ethics). These sections will often meet together to enrich the exploration of these texts, benefitting from different perspectives of these works and the ways they open up paths to understanding the ancient world and our own.

Headshot of Scott PikeCourse taught by: Scott PikeColloquium Associate: Adelaide Kemp

We live together through stories. Narratives inspire, guide, entertain, hold us in relationships and liberate us from our worst fears. The best stories help us explore the tensions that define our world: restlessness and rootedness; stability and motion; host and guest; mortal and divine; natural and mystical; the eternal and the ephemeral; wild and nurtured; home and away. In this colloquium, we will explore these and other themes through a deep and careful reading of Madeline Miller’s Circe and Homer’s The Odyssey. Students will be asked to write (and rewrite), create, observe, discover, present, and share their ideas. There will be two sections of this colloquium: one taught by Scott Pike (Professor of Environmental Science and Archaeology) and one taught by David Gutterman (Professor of Politics, Policy, Law & Ethics). These sections will often meet together to enrich the exploration of these texts, benefitting from different perspectives of these works and the ways they open up paths to understanding the ancient world and our own.

Headshot of Jonathan ColeCourse taught by: Jonathan ColeColloquium Associate: Sarah Jane Early

As a species, we have long been obsessed with the presentation of carefully orchestrated scenes of violence, from comic slapstick to heinous acts. As a trope of storytelling, staged violence has a long and storied history. This colloquium will investigate the why and how of staged violence from the traditions of theatrical performance to the advent of stunt work in film. We’ll read plays, historical manuscripts, and film scripts that demand scenes of staged violence, and analyze footage of these moments of physical storytelling on film. Safe and effective techniques of choreographing violence for performance will also be examined, and several choreographed fights will be learned, critiqued and performed. Our writing projects will investigate the translations necessary from idea to action through a variety of mediums throughout history.

Headshot of Ivan WeltyCourse taught by: Ivan WeltyColloquium Associate: Andrew Caruana

Science tells us a lot, but are there some questions it can't answer? What are they? What would answers to them look like? We'll consider some questions that lie beyond what science can tell us about, discuss why science can't quite get a grip on them, and see how they're handled in some venerable traditions. Our aim is to understand both the questions and the traditions. Readings will include selections from the Upanishads, Buddha, the Torah, the Gospels, Confucius, and Dine Bahane. While such materials have religious and anthropological interest, our approach to them will be mainly philosophical. If it's not clear what that means, don't worry – it will become clear as we go.

Headshot of Joyce MillenCourse taught by: Joyce MillenColloquium Associate: Hailey Nelson

Are you trying to make sense of global news stories describing masses 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 country 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 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 political forces that influence how governmental entities decide who is and who is not “deemed worthy” to receive protective status, work permits, and access to health and other benefits. The latter part of the course will focus on positive stories of extraordinary courage and ways migrants, asylees, and refugees overcome obstacles in their efforts to integrate into their host countries.

Headshot of Christopher SmithCourse taught by: Christopher SmithColloquium Associate: McKenna Turner

How are gender, sex, and sexuality determined? How do genetics and biology shape or determine gender and sexual orientation, and how do they in turn influence our biology? What – if anything – does biology tell us about how gender and sexual minorities can and should be regarded? Through reading scientific texts and popular science journalism, and through class discussion, we will explore the biological roots of gender, sex, and sexuality, and explore the diversity of gender expression in humans and other animals. We will consider how queer issues figure in current politics, and how scientific authority is used and misused to make arguments about the roles of queer people in society.

Headshot of Cooper BattleCourse taught by: Cooper BattleColloquium Associate: Alicia Robbins

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 made to societies: many new innovations have both intended and unintended outcomes. In examining these narratives, we will play close attention to how they are told and who is telling them: what perspectives are included, and which might be missing? While we will discuss a wide range of compounds based on the interests of the class, we will pay particular attention to both environmental issues and how medicinal compounds have been developed and tested throughout history.

Headshot of Bobby Brewer-WallinCourse taught by: Bobby Brewer-WallinColloquium Associate: Priya Thoren

This course explores the multiple ways the clothes we wear tell stories about our life’s journey and are embedded with meaning and memory. How do our clothes communicate identity, offer protection, and celebrate the past? How do we read or interpret the performance of ourselves and others by the garments we inhabit? How have the rapid changes in fashion and technology since the 16th century altered our physical bodies and rewritten the narrative of our clothing choices? Through the reading of historical and contemporary fiction and non-fiction, personal narrative, and essays, we will explore and make sense of the meaning and memories created by the clothes hanging on our bodies and in our closets. Our goal will be to focus on how scholarly based inquiry can help us to answer our questions, and how this inquiry can inform current discussions about cultural memory. Projects may include oral history, material culture curation, short essays, and the manipulation of garments.

Headshot of Lucas EttingerCourse taught by: Lucas EttingerColloquium Associate: Serrena Thorsen

Human longevity and quality of life have been greatly enhanced over the past century because of advances in modern medicine. We owe a lot of our understanding of disease progression, illness, injury and medical treatments to the use of animals, cadavers, embryonic stem cells, and living humans in medical research and training. That progress resulted from the dynamic tension between human mortality and the morality of our decisions; in essence ‘when do the ends justify the means?’ In this class we will dissect the ethical principles that guide knowledge acquisition on disease, illness, injury and decisions regarding the effectiveness of treatment.

Headshot of Jeanne ClarkCourse taught by: Jeanne ClarkColloquium Associate: Reagan Wyatt

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.

Headshot of Miho FujiwaraCourse taught by: Miho FujiwaraColloquium Associate: Sean Olson

Have you ever wondered why it is difficult to learn a foreign language as an adult while it is seemingly effortless for infants to pick up their native language without being taught? This course approaches this big question of the nature of human language capacity by comparing and contrasting first and second language acquisition. Students will be exposed to previous research in linguistics, modern languages, and developmental psychology, and reflect upon their own language learning experience.

Headshot of Aili ZhengCourse taught by: Aili ZhengColloquium Associate: Matthew Mahoney

Icons and media celebrities, advertising and news images, and a myriad of visual messages that we encounter in our daily life all try to shape the way we think, feel, and respond to the reality around us. They are designed to influence our beliefs and values, our sense of identity, our consumer preferences, as well as our social commitments and affiliations. In our intellectual journey we will learn to critically understand such artifacts of visual culture; visual literacy is the aim of this colloquium. We will consider approaches to visual expression and focus on the web presence of art, performative events, and architecture in Berlin, Vienna, and Shanghai as well as the representation of these metropoles in film, literature, and music. The colloquium will include a viewing of works at the Hallie Ford Museum of Art.

Headshot of Qinqing QianCourse taught by: Qinqing QianColloquium Associate: Lee Loftin

Have you ever wondered how your favorite musicians’ love for food influences their music? From writing down musical notes to incorporating cooking techniques into their performances and masterpieces, they draw inspiration from their love of food to create something unique and extraordinary. Get ready to embark on a mouth-watering journey of melodies and meals!

Headshot of Joe BowersoxCourse taught by: Joe BowersoxColloquium Associate: Madeline Moore

What is a Forest? Are they physical, natural entities replete with soils, topography, plants, animals, water, climates, and maybe even people, or are they constructions of human values, histories, and social relations? Or are they somewhere in between? What do our conceptions of forests tell us about our relationship with the world and with each other? Through the use of novels, satellite imagery, philosophy, scientific research, silvicultural practice, and a few other ways of knowing and experiencing, we will explore the meaning and significance of forests in general – and the University’s Zena Forest in particular. Forests can be both physical and metaphorical – tangible, physical entities that fill ecological niches, provide ecosystem services, and can be fashioned into valuable commodities, or they can be abstract patches of intellectual, cultural, or emotional meaning. The interrelation of these tangible and intangible dimensions of forests lies at the center of our perceptions of them as cathedrals, cultural homelands, “wilderness,” or timber. Their interrelation also gives rise to many historical and contemporary controversies in the American West, like the persecution and displacement of indigenous peoples, the loss of biodiversity, and urban flight. By critically examining – and working with – both the physical and metaphorical forest, we shall also explore the fundamental task of developing a sense of place and responsibility in a globalizing world.

Headshot of Maria Blanco-ArnejoCourse taught by: Maria Blanco-ArnejoColloquium Associate: Eliza Gonzalez

What happens when you translate literature into a film? Is the book always "better" than the movie? What happens when a story crosses borders? This course explores the complex relationship between literature and cinema through the analysis of works from different genres: memoir (Happening, France), horror (The Ring, Japan), magical realism (Like Water for Chocolate, Mexico), science fiction (Blade Runner, US) and surrealism (Blow Up, Argentina/Italy/Great Britain). Our investigation will include socio-cultural context, narrative expression, use of point of view, role of the audience, etc. We will study the resources employed by each medium to deliver a particular message.

Headshot of Brandi Row LazzariniCourse taught by: Brandi Row LazzariniColloquium Associate: Maxwell Fontaine

In this course, we will explore what the future holds for Generation Z (Gen Z), the cohort born between 1997-2012. What can our elders’ experience tell us about what makes for a good life? How has the experience of growing up and growing old differed in previous eras? Is it fair to characterize a whole generation of people as having a unique outlook, set of habits, and values. Together we will consider the experiences of recent American generations (e.g., the Greatest Generation, Silent Generation, Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millennials) and work toward some projections for the generation that is coming of age: Gen Z. How is the world different for Gen Z, and how is Gen Z different from previous cohorts? How will these differences affect Gen Z's health and life satisfaction and guide their pursuit of achievement, contribution, and meaning?

Headshot of Chuck WilliamsonCourse taught by: Chuck WilliamsonColloquium Associate: Ella Stringer

Many of today’s best comedic actors have training in improv: the creation of a theatrical scene by two or more actors who work together without a script or other pre-planning. Improv is often used as a method of idea generation for sketch comedy, such as the sketches seen on Saturday Night Live or Key & Peele. But improv itself can be an end product, either in the form of live productions or television shows like Whose Line is it Anyway? In this course we will explore the art of improv and learn how actors tell a story collaboratively through a process of mutual agreement often summarized as “Yes, and…”. We will consider questions such as: What are the different schools of thought on improv performance, and how does an actor “rehearse”? Where does the funny come from in an improv show? What does cognitive science have to say about the brain on improv? How have the techniques of improv been applied outside of the theater, to such diverse areas as business, politics, and mental health? Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we will all DO improv every week in two-hour-long workshops, and then put on a show at the end of the semester! No experience in improv or other theater is necessary to join this class – just a willingness to be bold, take a risk, and have fun supporting your fellow improvisers. Unlike most College Colloquium sections, this course will meet for four hours each week. We will have two hours of regular class time, and then the two-hour improv workshop. The extra fourth hour will be considered part of the work that students are expected to do outside of official class time.

Headshot of Anne LapourCourse taught by: Anne LapourColloquium Associate: Sally Wooster

We’ve all seen careers represented in pop culture that seem pretty great. Are they real or merely fantasy? We’ll take a closer look at some of the careers found in films, television, and literature. What’s the truth of their attainability? From podcasters to paleontologists, we’ll examine what makes these jobs seem so appealing, and identify the values inherent in “dream jobs” across diverse communities and cultures within the United States. We’ll also address the intersection of psychology and career—including society’s assumptions based on an individual’s occupation, and the characteristics we attribute to various industries. Finally, we’ll take a deep dive into your own career psychology, using career research and self-assessment to examine your career values, the demographic variables that influence those values, and the many paths to your career dreams.

Headshot of Erin McNicholasCourse taught by: Erin McNicholasColloquium Associate: Zoie Burbank

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 study mathematical topics including symbolic logic, graph theory and modular arithmetic, which underlie many mathematical puzzles, codes, and cryptosystems. We will put our knowledge into action, collaborating in teams to create, revise, and refine our own mathematical puzzles and on-line 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.

Headshot of Kathryn NymanCourse taught by: Kathryn NymanColloquium Associate: Athena VanDyke

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 study mathematical topics including symbolic logic, graph theory and modular arithmetic, which underlie many mathematical puzzles, codes, and cryptosystems. We will put our knowledge into action, collaborating in teams to create, revise, and refine our own mathematical puzzles and on-line 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.

Headshot of Juwen ZhangCourse taught by: Juwen ZhangColloquium Associate: Emily Hanlin

This course will explore how myths and tales around the world embody different cosmos and beliefs, maintain diverse cultural traditions and identities, and are used in nation-building, identity-reconstructing, resisting injustice, stereotyping others, and Disneyficating in modern times. We will apply theories and methods in such disciplines as folklore and anthropology to analyze different forms of folk narratives and understand their functions in our increasingly globalized communication, for example, how myths of origin are related to current global conflicts, when the earliest version of Cinderella tale was recorded, how one can be like Mamad and never lie, what La Llorona was and is told for, and how Disney’s Bambi was changed from the original writing. Participants will examine the magic formula hidden in the classic tales as critical readers while developing their skills as creative writers.

Headshot of Richard WatkinsCourse taught by: Richard WatkinsColloquium Associate: Whitley Stepp

What area of solar panels would be required to provide all of the United States’ 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.

Headshot of Sarah BishopCourse taught by: Sarah BishopColloquium Associate: Allison Branch

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.

Headshot of William SmaldoneCourse taught by: William SmaldoneColloquium Associate: Leo Schoenbrun

This course centers on the lives of historical figures whose actions transformed their worlds, including Jesus Christ, Martin Luther, Rosa Luxemburg, Alexandra Kollontai, and Ernesto “Che” Guevara. Using biography, autobiography, film, and other materials we will examine the forces that led these individuals to act in ways that gave meaning to their lives and to the lives of others. Among the questions to be explored are: What factors transform individuals and groups from passive acceptors of their condition or the condition of others into dynamic actors who make it their mission to effect radical change? To what extent does the example of others drive a person to act? How do familial and broader social contexts shape a person’s desire to mobilize others? To what extent can an individual’s urge to transform the world come from within? By addressing these questions as they relate to individuals operating in very different historical circumstances, we will strive to better understand the stuff of which revolutionaries are made.

Headshot of Melissa MarksCourse taught by: Melissa MarksColloquium Associate: Grace Kosmicki

Why do humans tell stories? If you’re human, you are probably familiar with old wives’ tales, urban legends, family customs, traditional folklore, and fairytales that warn of specific dangers, encourage particular behaviors, or otherwise provide guidance in our lives. As humans, we also tell stories to make sense of our lives – these show up in public health and political campaigns, conspiracy theories, fiction, and academic literature. Can these stories keep us safe? Could they put us in danger? Will they guide or mislead us? How can we tell the difference? In this course we will investigate the intersection of storytelling and science.  We will closely read and analyze different kinds of stories and the ways they intersect with science, and influence science itself. We will also work to explain complex scientific processes or discoveries by experimenting with different approaches to storytelling.  

Headshot of Alison FisherCourse taught by: Alison FisherColloquium Associate: Alicia Robbins

The media plays a large role in communicating scientific topics and discoveries to the public and connecting science and society. However, there is often a gap between scientists and journalists, as these groups speak different languages and work toward different goals. In this class, students will explore the real science behind popular science stories in the mainstream media. After becoming familiar with background material through lectures and podcasts, students will critically read and analyze the primary journal articles behind several news stories (both instructor-selected and student-selected) in a variety of scientific disciplines.  In the final project, students will work to effectively communicate a scientific research article of their choosing so that a broad audience can understand and appreciate it. 

Headshot of Meredy Goldberg EdelsonCourse taught by: Meredy Goldberg EdelsonColloquium Associate: Eva Floyd

What does it mean to be a good “sexual citizen?” What are “sexual projects” and “sexual geographies?” In their book, “Sexual Citizens,” Jennifer Hirsch and Shamus Khan argue it is a lack of sexual citizenship that leads to sexual violence on college campuses. Many college strategies for attempting to reduce or prevent sexual violence focus on victim control; that is, the message is aimed at changing the behavior of potential victims so that they do not become survivors of sexual violence. This approach may not only be harmful to survivors of sexual violence, but it also does not address the cause of sexual violence – the offenders who offend and the culture that allows that to happen. Using Hirsch and Khan's book as a framework, we will ask questions such as: What does sexual violence look like on college campuses? Who is most likely to be a victim of sexual violence on a college campus? How might sexual violence on college campuses manifest differently depending on the gender or ethnic identity or sexual orientation of the survivor and/or offender? What are the impacts of campus sexual violence on survivors and the campus community? How can the development of our own and others’ good sexual citizenship transform the way we conceptualize the causes of and prevention strategies regarding sexual violence on college campuses? The last third of the course will focus on specific strategies we can use at Willamette to help those in our community become better sexual citizens. Content Advisory: This CC is focused on sexual violence on college campuses; as part of our exploration of this topic, we will read a book detailing a firsthand account from a survivor of sexual violence.

Headshot of Vincent PhamCourse taught by: Vincent PhamColloquium Associate: Catie Mohr

Sportsball: "the act of participating either competitively or noncompetitively in an athletic based endeavor occasionally with other humans that usually involves spherical devices but also doesn't have to because all sports deserve equal representation including ribbon dancing and roshambo" (Urban Dictionary). Podcaster and NBA basketball journalist Zach Lowe speaks of sportsing or sportsball when talking about the NBA – marking both the relevance of professional sport and its banality in the context of everyday life, political struggles, and worldwide catastrophes. This course examines the cultural, political, social, and embodied ways "sport" plays in our everyday life and how it has reshaped our relationship to our bodies, data and statistics, and education. By attending to how race, class, gender, sexuality, and disability frame our experience of "sport," we'll interrogate "what sport gives us" and "why do we (not) care so much about it?"

Headshot of Josh LaisonCourse taught by: Josh LaisonColloquium Associate: Eclipse Albert

Like any creative medium, games combine technical and artistic processes in their design, and can be analyzed and critiqued from a variety of academic perspectives. Game designers use mathematical and computational tools to balance complex interconnected systems of abstract rules, and narrative and storytelling structures to give their designs meaning. Game critics think about games in the context of modern societies, and games succeed and fail in their relationships with player psychologies. In this course, students will design and iteratively redesign their own paper and cardstock games. We'll learn modern design principles, including mathematical tools to analyze game probabilities and game trees; best practices in graphic design; and technical rules writing. We'll work to translate between abstract systems and graphical visualizations in game components. Students will refine their designs through game critiques and workshops, iterative playtesting, and discussion of scholarly works on game design and criticism.

Headshot of Maegan Parker BrooksCourse taught by: Maegan Parker BrooksColloquium Associate: Lexie Burns

Talking about death won’t kill you. In fact, it might actually help you live a more intentional, connected, and meaningful life. Anxiety about death and dying is rampant in contemporary cultures wherein the pursuit of perpetual youth and happiness are prized and care for the dying and dead is removed from the rhythms of our daily lives. These anxieties make discussions of death and dying taboo, silencing important conversations about how to make the most of our finite lives, how to prepare for our own deaths, and how to support others as they face their own mortality. One way to lessen anxiety about death and dying is to actually talk more about it. And courageous people are doing this important work right now, all over the world. Our course will study various aspects of what has been dubbed the “death-positive movement,” including death cafes, end of life doulas, and institutes such as Going with Grace as well as Columbia University’s DeathLAB. Together, we will study the history of the death-positive movement, learn from some of its leading advocates, and collectively imagine innovative ways to incorporate informed, compassionate, and meaningful conversations about death and dying into our everyday lives.

Headshot of Teresa HernandezCourse taught by: Teresa HernandezColloquium Associate: Itzel Garibay Cervantes

Settler history in the United States is uncomfortable and troubling, but it is also central to engage with the past as we think about our collective futurity. We will begin by addressing the settler colonial history of Oregon and its lasting impacts on communities of color. We will also contend with the question of: what does this racialized history have to do with me today? To this end, we will consider what community building and partnership is possible both inside and outside of our shared institution, Willamette University. In understanding how geopoints like Salem, Oregon, have been constructed racially and socio-economically, we will work toward thinking about our own intersectional relationships to space and race. From Oregon’s Black exclusion laws to the Bracero Program, we’ll begin to understand the fraught history of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) in the Pacific Northwest. Given that many of these histories are fragmented, we will look to interdisciplinary archives including oral history, art, and media as our primary resources and evidence.

Headshot of Abigail SusikCourse taught by: Abigail SusikColloquium Associate: Shawna Merrill

Hard work, overwork, and workaholism are an expected part of our wired lives today, and yet who among us does not crave a day or two with nothing at all to do? A positive work ethic has been lauded in many cultures and societies throughout history, but starting in the mid-19th century, with the formation of formalized labor movements and anti-capitalistic economic and political theories in Europe and America, a new set of ideas began to emerge. Laziness, lassitude, the desire for a 10-hour, 8-hour, or even 3-hour workday, and even outright work refusal, rose to the fore as a way of battling exploitation in the face of capitalism's demands. Strike and sabotage emerged as tactics. Our seminar discussions will trace the beginnings of this war on work while constantly connecting back to present-day issues of work resistance. In this interdisciplinary exploration of work refusal, we will laze around with Samuel Johnson, Robert Louis Stevenson, Herman Melville, Arthur Rimbaud, Edward Bellamy, Karl Marx, Paul Lafargue, William Morris, Marcel Duchamp, the Dadaists, the surrealists, Jacques Tati, punk rockers, and many others.

Headshot of Erik NoftleCourse taught by: Erik NoftleColloquium Associate: Zoe Place

Bob Dylan is the only popular recording artist to win the Nobel Prize for Literature and one of the world’s most revered living songwriters. Across a 60-year career, Dylan has authored over 600 songs, including “Blowin’ in the Wind,” “The Times They Are a-Changin’,” “Mr. Tambourine Man,” “Like a Rolling Stone,” “All Along the Watchtower,” “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door,” “Forever Young,” and “Tangled Up in Blue." He has released 39 studio albums, played nearly 4,000 concerts, and continues to tour at age 82. Dylan redefined pop song conventions starting in the 1960s by successfully applying folk and literary traditions within his songwriting, contributing to an expansion of both the language and themes that could be found within pop music lyrics. Despite (or perhaps because of) decades in the public eye, Dylan remains an enigma, an intensely private person, a subject who intentionally throws the press and fans off his tracks, and a creator of a slippery, mercurial persona containing both truth and fiction. We will focus primarily on Dylan’s musical works, both lyrics and recordings, to pose questions about him both as an artist and a person. Along the way, we will investigate how he has drawn on disparate influences to write an astonishing array of songs that span many genres. We will explore a multitude of sources to deepen our understanding, including biography, psychobiography, music criticism, podcasts, documentaries, interviews of Dylan and his close associates, and his memoirs. Finally, we will apply theories and frameworks from personality psychology to form a deeper conception of him as an individual.

Headshot of Ellen EisenbergCourse taught by: Ellen EisenbergColloquium Associate: Morgan Davis

In recent years memorials and commemorative statues have become sites of conflict; some were torn down during the 2020 racial justice protests, while others became subjects of protracted court battles. Cities, states and universities regularly debate the racial and historical implications of monuments, markers, and place names. In addition, these controversies have opened up discussions about the silences in our landscape; the individuals or groups who should be memorialized but have been overlooked or ignored. This class will examine the debates over historical monuments and historical memory, as well as the increasingly polarized histories that fuel these debates. We will begin with the controversy over Civil War and Reconstruction memorials in the South and then move to more local, western iconography, including that on and near our own campus. Students will seek to answer questions such as: What have been the historical forces and local contexts that shaped decisions to memorialize some aspects of our history and neglect others? Which individuals and events should be immortalized in monuments? Are there memorials in our midst that represent individuals and values that seem problematic in the early 21st century and, if so, how should this be addressed? Who is missing from the memorial landscape and what does that reflect about our collective memory?

Willamette University

College Colloquium

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

Back to Top