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Spring 2013 Learning Communities

Freshmen: Speak with your adviser in the Office of Freshman Advising before registering for a learning community; she can help you register for the correct courses.

  • The Argument in Action: From Plato to Jon Stewart and Back Again

    How can you have a civil argument? Arguing is more than fighting: Arguments seek to convince others to accept a point of view. Whether you're arguing in a history paper or arguing politics or arguing about whose turn it is to do the dishes, you are trying to get your point across. Some use logic and emotion, and others use begging and fists. How can you better understand ways to convince other people, and how can you better analyze arguments intended to persuade you? You will investigate the argument as a way of thinking, as oral communication and as a way of writing.

    The courses you'll take:
    Critical Thinking and Arguments
    Communicating Effectively
    College Composition

  • Compositions: Writing and World Music

    Storytelling, writing and music are powerful ways to share ideas and celebrate identity. They all create narratives—stories that develop through time—but also have unique ways of expressing meaning. In your learning community courses, World Music and College Composition (freshman writing), you’ll look carefully at the relationship between the language and music you hear and what you write and read. We’ll become a community of listeners and writers—seeking meaning through lyrics and music that cross cultural boundaries and writing powerful essays that connect our love of music and words to the larger world.

    The courses you'll take:
    World Music
    College Composition

  • Living With the Bomb: Social, Political and Cultural Dimensions of Modern War

    At 5:30 a.m. on July 16, 1945, the New Mexico sky lit up with a blinding flash brighter than the sun at high noon: the first atomic bomb test detonation. Project director J. Robert Oppenheimer declared, "Now we are all sons of bitches." Three weeks later, American planes dropped atomic bombs on Japanese cities and killed 200,000 people. President Harry Truman exclaimed, "This is the greatest thing in history." Others were not so sure. This learning community will explore American life in the nuclear age, an era that has not yet passed. You'll explore fundamental questions: How did the bomb change politics in the United States forever? Without the bomb, would the Internet have developed so rapidly? Would the interstate highway system have been built? Would American suburbs have proliferated so rapidly? Would we have created Superman, The Incredible Shrinking Man, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, the Atomic Cocktail or even bathing suits called "bikinis"? Are nuclear weapons acceptable tools in war? Will these weapons be with us forever, or is there a chance for disarmament? Join us as we ask these vital questions regarding the development and use of the most frightening weapons the human race has ever known.

    The courses you'll take:
    Conflicts in History
    Chemistry and the Modern World
    Communicating Effectively

  • Branding: The Business of Telling Your Story

    Think of Pixar, See's Candies, KFC, Wendy's—they all have a logo that tells a story. Nearly every great business has a story to tell; what's yours? How do you turn that story into a business? In this learning community, you'll discuss topics and issues surrounding branding, marketing and telling your own story.

    The courses you'll take:
    The Experience of Literature
    Business in a Changing World

  • Swimming in the Shallows (Without Getting Eaten by the Sharks): Identity and Culture in the Age of Social Media

    In The Shallows, Nicholas Carr argues that the Internet is changing the way we use our brains. How does this change impact the way we think and interact, both online and off? In this learning community, you'll examine how the Internet has changed the way people process information and how this change has paved the way for the success of online social networks and information sharing across microblogging platforms. At the same time, we'll ask what we gave up to become more efficient online networkers.

    The courses you'll take:
    Introduction to Psychology
    Introduction to Information Literacy
    Topics in Computer Science

  • 200 Years of Pride and Prejudice

    Jane Austen's novel Pride and Prejudice has become one of the most influential books in the English language, with a tremendous afterlife in film adaptations, novel continuations and adaptations, video games, tourism and merchandizing. But when it was published in 1813, it was only moderately successful. You'll examine the novel and its growing popularity and impact on contemporary culture. You'll hone research skills using primary texts related to Austen's life and times, engage with contemporary critical materials and study adaptations and versions from recent popular culture. In keeping with worldwide celebrations of the novel, you'll also be encouraged to participate in local Jane Austen events and to host your own celebration.

    The courses you'll take:
    The Experience of Literature
    Introduction to Information Literacy

  • Blame your Mama! The Role of Nature and Nurture in the Things You Do

    You'll explore whether the things you do are determined by your environment or by your genes. In Introduction to Psychology, you'll investigate the extent to which traits and behaviors like personality, jealousy, gossip and aggressiveness can be explained by evolutionary psychology. In Cultural Anthropology, you'll examine how nurture shapes personality traits through familial and societal influences. Introduction to Information Literacy will take you deep into the sources and ideas that inform the ongoing nature-vs.-nurture debate. In the end, you might just be able to say, "Yes, it really is my Mama's fault."

    The courses you'll take:
    Cultural Anthropology
    Introduction to Information Literacy
    Introduction to Psychology

  • Digital Frontiers of Communication

    In today's digital world, anyone can create a YouTube sensation, a Kickstarter campaign or an indie video game—and potentially reach a global audience. We are light-years beyond the speed of the printing press and previous media revolutions, as we now are empowered to participate in global debates through social media like Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr. You'll look at the rise of the media platforms you use every day—and some you don't—alongside virtual worlds and video games from World of Warcraft to World Without Oil. You'll study the foundations of programming and those of creating interactive design and games while you communicate with and write for audiences at the University and beyond.

    The courses you'll take:
    Introduction to Game Design
    College Composition

  • Up, Up and Away: The Modern Mythology of the Superhero

    Why are colorful, crusading comic-book heroes more popular than ever? What do they tell us about ourselves as individuals and as a nation, from their arrival in the late 1930s to the present day? Looking at their mythological and literary origins and their evolution through comics, books, movies, television and more, you'll explore the reasons that superheroes are some of the most powerful symbols in today's culture.

    The courses you'll take:
    Interpreting Pop Culture
    The Experience of Literature

  • Psychology of the Pitch for Helen P. Denit Honors Program students

    Unleash the entrepreneur inside of you and learn the psychological and communication skills required to pitch your new product or service ideas to your intended audience. Society is continuously looking for new, creative solutions to complex problems. You'll learn how to carefully analyze your audience, to define your problem and to develop a powerful new approach to creating and implementing new ventures. You'll look at the psychological principles of learning, memory and social influence that are part of every successful venture. The skills developed here will serve you well in all areas of the business world, from small start-ups to well established corporations.

    The courses you'll take:
    Introduction to Psychology
    Communicating Effectively
    Imagination, Creativity and Entrepreneurship
  • The Chesapeake: Oceans, Fisheries and Government for Helen P. Denit Honors Program students

    You’ll examine how different nations and U.S. states have managed, or mismanaged, marine ecosystems and how fisheries are a critical part of human interactions with the environment. By studying human ecology, comparative government and writing, you’ll learn how environmental policies have affected the Chesapeake Bay, the largest estuary in our local watershed. You’ll also explore how these policies influence local, regional, national and international economies, marine ecosystems, energy policies, water usage, recreational activities and food science, and you’ll analyze how cultural texts contribute to various nations’ ecological narratives.

    The courses you'll take:
    Human Ecology
    College Composition
    American Government