Humanities Learning Communities

Anyone, no matter what your major is, can choose to participate in the Humanities Learning Community. Each Learning Community will consist of 70-75 students and two faculty members. In addition, each community will have a different theme. Each semester students will:

Attend one large weekly lecture (75 students) on a theme/topic that meets the learning requirements for the General Education (GE) C3 requirement (Humanities) Attend a weekly seminar (20-25 students) linked to the lecture to practice critical thinking, writing, and oral presentation skills. The weekly seminar will fulfill GE area A3, critical thinking.

Students who successfully complete the two-semester sequence will receive credit for GE areas A3 and C3.

Students can choose from the following options:

ARTH 160A: Cave paintings to Picasso: Art and Visual Culture
Jennifer Roberson & Jennifer Shaw (Art)
In this course we will look at key examples of art and architecture from around the world from the earliest known cave paintings to the modern works of famous artists like Picasso and learn to think critically about visual culture in general. We will see examples from across the globe (Europe, the Middle East, the Far East). We will ask questions such as: Who made them? What was their original purpose? What do they tell us about the culture from which they came? What do they mean to us today? Students will come away from this course with an ability to understand the historical and aesthetic significance of a wide range of art as well as a framework that will allow them to ask and find the answers to their own questions about art and architecture.

CALS 165 A/B: Latino Art, Performance, and Social Justice
Ron Lopez and Amanda Marie Morrison
In this course we explore how Latinos use art, performance, literature, and media to enable, engage, and advocate for social justice which seeks to understand, challenge, and combat oppression and social inequities. We will examine a variety of media produced by U.S. Latino and Latin American artists focused on social critiques which address issues such as racism, sexism, homophobia, anti-immigrant sentiment, economic exploitation and social and political empowerment in their work. Media span the visual, performing, and literary arts.

COMS 160 A/B: Understanding Media (For Communication Majors only)
Emily Acosta-Lewis and Marco Calavita

Fall 2014: Media Literacy

Students will critically analyze the role of media in their lives with regards to socialization, education, culture, and how it influences how we understand the world and the way the world functions. Through in-class screenings, interactive media demonstrations, and other experiences this course will help students make sense of and control their media environments, as well as develop a critical approach to understanding and creating media. Part of the class will involve analyzing media portrayals of issues such as race, ethnicity, nationality, culture, sexuality, and gender and assessing bias and stereotypes. Students will demonstrate their written and presentational skills through various assignments related to media and how it affects our perceptions of culture.

Spring 2015: America at the Movies

Students will critically analyze the social, cultural, and political significance of a century of American films, including how they influence how we understand the world and the way the world functions. Through in-class screenings, extensive readings, and other experiences this course will help students make sense of and control their experiences/understandings of this key aspect of their media environments (films), as well as develop a critical approach to understanding how and why Hollywood films are made and distributed the way they are. Part of the class will involve analyzing cinematic portrayals of issues such as race, ethnicity, nationality, culture, sexuality, and gender-including how those portrayals compare to the realities of American/world life in different historical contexts-and in the process assessing cinematic biases and stereotypes. Students will demonstrate their written and presentational skills through various assignments related to American films and how they affect our perceptions of culture and reality.

ENGL 160A: Shakespeare, Film and the Tudor Age
John Kunat, Brantley Bryant, Sakina Bryant, Thaine Stearns
This course will examine the plays of Shakespeare in relation to the historical context in which they were produced. We will analyze the moral, legal, and ethical questions raised by these works both in relation to their own time and ours. We will focus on issues of power, sexuality, gender, race and ethnicity, paying particular attention to how the "discovery" of the Americas and the increasing contact with Africa and Asia altered modes of thinking and critical analysis in the Renaissance. To better understand the plays and comprehend their relevance to today's world, we will view several different filmic versions of each work that we read in class. Much of the discussion will be directed towards analyzing how and why the texts were altered by filmmakers and actors.

Critical & Creative: Global Culture Remix (See Global Learning Experience for important requirements.)
Michaela Grobbel & Suzanne Toczyski & Staff (Modern Languages)
This course is designed for first-year college students interested in studying another language and/or for students who are considering studying abroad during their college career. Students will enroll in "Critical & Creative: Global Culture Remix," a year-long, 2-unit course that will examine various examples of contact between diverse cultures and languages and how they shape the lives of bilingual and multilingual speakers in California and beyond. Students will explore images of self and others through travel writing, art, literary texts, film, music and ethnography. In the fall semester, students will also enroll in a language class (French 101, German 101 or Spanish 201). Students may study the language at a higher level if so placed, with the permission of the instructor. This learning community will provide students with an opportunity to compare and contrast experiences across languages, thus multiplying critical perspectives. Offering pathways to study abroad, this course also connects academic content to preparation for future participation in SSU's International Programs.

MUSIC 160: First Hearing. What's Going On Here?
We'll gather around the global well of music. To hear, then listen. To feel, then think. To talk, then write. We'll let all kinds of music from all kinds of places/eras inspire all kinds of questions. Does music matter? How? What might it mean? Why? First hearing will lead to deeper hearing. First questions will lead to wider questions about culture, about people, about ourselves. In a year-long conversation, the rich world of music will open us out into the deep-wide-rich world we share.

PHIL 160A: The Heart of Wisdom: Compassion And The Good Life
Andy Wallace (Philosophy) & Denny Bozman-Moss (Phil/English)
In this interdisciplinary course, students will study the nature and significance of compassion in human life. Coursework will include 'hands-on' experiential as well as more traditional book-based assignments and exercises. On the experiential side, students will learn guided visualization techniques, mindfulness meditation practices and participate in service-learning of approximately 25 hours a semester, in which they will have opportunities to work with a range of different populations, such as, the elderly, the handicapped, children, and the homeless.

On the more traditional side, students will study the latest scientific, ethical and philosophical writings on compassion from a cross-cultural point of view, taking into account Eastern and Western approaches. Students will develop their critical thinking and research skills through applying them to their on-going service work. This course is a perfect fit for students who are contemplating careers in counseling, psychology, biology, medicine, nursing, teaching, ethics, religion and philosophy. It is also a perfect fit for anyone interested in the great ethical questions of human existence: What makes life worth living? The answer from philosophy and science is that it just might require a very healthy dose of compassion.

THAR 160A/B: Theatre, Dance, the Artistic Process, and You: Impenetrable Darkness and Brightest Light (Required for, but not limited to, theatre majors)
Scott Horstein (Theatre), Lecturers (Dance and Theatre)
Theatre and dance create spectacle from darkness and light, time and space, words and gesture, and from life and death itself. In this year-long course we will explore the magic of the stage and its ability to transform. Through live attendance at campus performances and video viewing of great performances from the wide world of theater and dance, we will witness first-hand then analyze the process by which theater and dance artists create powerful work. Written and oral critical thinking assignments will deepen our analysis. We will also explore the transformational power of your own first year in college, and explore the parallels between your own journey and those of the artists and characters we study.

More information

For more information on the School of Arts and Humanities, please visit their website.