RCAH112-Writing Research Technologies
Section 001 (Hamilton-Wray) | M W 10:20 a.m. - 12:10 p.m.
Writing Research Technologies: Daughters of the Screen
This course looks at the social, political, economic, and artistic implications of black female-centered image production. We will use various film theories to investigate this cinema and to better understand its roles in society. Using the media literacy developed in the class, students will create an in-depth study of alternative forms of media.
Section 002 (Aronoff) | M W 10:20 a.m. - 12:10 p.m.
Our America: Cultures of American Modernism, 1919-1930
The focus of this section of RCAH 112 is the idea of “American culture” as it is renegotiated and reimagined in the United States in the 1920s and 30s. More accurately, we might say we are investigating shifts in “American” “culture,” since, we will discover, both of these terms – what it means to be an “American” and what it means to “have culture” – undergo crucial and complex shifts in this period. As many scholars have observed, Americans in the post-WWI era were intensively searching to define a specifically American cultural identity. On one hand, Americans experienced the pride and economic prosperity that came from their emergence from WWI as a world power, while also struggling with the social and philosophical questions about the very nature of modern industrial civilization the War brought with it. At the same time, unprecedented waves of new immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe reached U.S. shores, and new social and political movements -- labor unions, socialism and communism, the reemergence of the Ku Klux Klan and the upsurge in racial violence -- created a sense of social instability and rapid change. In response to what were perceived as new conditions, writers, artists, politicians, and social scientists sought new ways -- from the Immigration Act of 1924 to Van Wyck Brooks' calls to find a "usable past” -- to define what was specifically "American" about America, to create new versions of American identity.
But even as American writers and critics in the ‘20s attempted to redefine the content of a particularly “American” culture, the form of culture as a concept – what counted as “culture” – was itself undergoing radical transformations. While in the 19th Century “culture” designated a universal hierarchy of artistic or intellectual achievement – Matthew Arnold's "the best that has been thought and said," or, within the field of ethnology, E.B. Tylor’s evolutionary stages of development – in the 1920s and 30s, alongside and in tension with these previous definitions, “culture” is broadly reconceived as an entire “way of life” that is relative, plural, and above all “whole,” “unified” and “meaningful.”
This section, then, will examine debates over “American” culture, race, national identity and art in the modernist period. Looking at various primary documents, with particular attention to the arts (modernist poetry, literature, jazz and other media), we will ask: how do these texts imagine the relationship between “race,” “nation,” and “culture”? How do these constructions engage debates over immigration, assimilation and pluralism? What is the relationship between racial and /or cultural identity and political identity (or citizenship)? What is the relationship between “culture,” art, and new modes technologies? Is industrialism and its methods the end of “culture” as “high art,” or the beginning of a new kind of “culture”? How did new forms of artistic expression (broadly speaking, “modernist” art) respond to, challenge, or incorporate these new social conditions? We will then think about how these modernist debates reverberate in contemporary, 21st Century contexts, in questions of transnational migration, national identity, cultural “ownership” and authenticity, etc. The breadth of these questions will allow for a wide variety of approaches and specific interest: like all sections of 112, we will be able to pursue the burning questions we raise by developing our skills as researchers and writers.
Section 003 (Sheridan) | M W 12:40 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
The Production of Culture
This class focuses on the ways that the analytical and creative work of the arts and humanities can help to solve real-world problems. The premises of this course are: (1) that forms of cultural expression (such as stories, videos, performances, music, etc.) can be powerful tools of social change; and (2) that all of us are potentially producers of these forms. Accordingly, students will begin by identifying a cultural problem — something they would like to see changed in the world. They will analyze the way the problem is embodied in popular culture (e.g., movies, music, websites). Finally, they will devise their own "cultural interventions": movies, music, websites, and other compositions aimed at addressing the cultural problem in question.
Section 004 | M W 12:40 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Section 005 (Yoder) | M W 3:00 p.m. – 4:50 p.m.
Researching and Writing about Ethical Issues
While questions in bioethics are often considered to be very personal, they are also at the heart of many public controversies. In this course we will use both public and scholarly reflection on bioethical issues to deepen our understanding of the practice of research and writing in the humanities. We will use this material in order to increase our understanding of 1) what it means to do research in the humanities, 2) how to use writing as a means of inquiry, 3) how to evaluate and construct arguments, and 4) how to conduct and present a research project in the humanities. Each student will produce a thesis-driven research paper on a relevant topic of their choice, a project utilizing an alternative format for presenting the results of their research, and a writing portfolio documenting both these final products and the processes used to produce them.
Section 001 (Biggs) | Tu Th 10:20 a.m. - 11:40 a.m.
Introduction to Performance Studies-Methods, Theory and Analysis
As one of the founders of performance studies, Richard Schechner, noted, everything is not a performance, but just about everything can be read as a performance. Student’s journey into performance studies begins with MSU and the greater Lansing community, where we will engage local culture. Course work is anchored by opportunities to explore events and places in and around campus as a participant-observer. Research trips to sporting events, theatre and dance productions, political rallies, heritage festivals, religious institutions, museums, farms, the animal pavilions and other locales will ignite larger discussions about place- and community-making, history and story, narrative and representation. The course culminates with opportunities for students to develop projects that share knowledge gained through their experiences in the field. No previous acting or performance experience required.
Section 002 (Aerni-Flessner) | Tu Th 12:40 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Urban Renewal and the African-American Community in Lansing
This course is an introduction for students to ideas of renewal and change, development and progress. These terms all seemingly have positive connotations, but they have also in American history concealed violence and histories of community dispossession. Most of the “urban renewal” projects of the 1960s, including freeway construction and the creation of housing projects, involved cutting swaths through African-American and other poor/marginalized communities. This was true for the Lansing area, and its Interstate 496 project.
This class will look at some of those histories to better understand how discourses of progress and social programs purporting to serve poor populations have been used to displace as well. We will also be working with digital humanities professionals from across campus and a collection of photographs that the Historical Society of Greater Lansing has to create a digital recreation of the African-American neighborhood that was razed to create Lansing’s modern transportation network. The project will focus on what was there, what is there today, and how various groups and individuals understood the changes taking place.
Section 003 | M W 10:20 a.m. - 11:40 a.m.
Section 001 (Aerni-Flessner) | Tu Th 10:20 a.m. - 12:10 p.m.
Transcultural Relations: African Leisure and Nationalism in the 20th Century
This course examines histories of leisure to interrogate concepts of nationalism and citizenship. How were leaders attempting to harness leisure to create national communities, and how did people respond to these efforts? How did African sport and leisure get so intertwined with international politics that they became venues for protesting apartheid South Africa, fighting racial discrimination, and having African-derived or produced music and films becoming cultural lynchpins in societies across the globe? These questions will drive our examination of particular cases from African History, as we look at how debates over citizenship and nationalism have played out in different national and cultural settings. We will compare these cases across time and space to see how people have defined inclusion and exclusion within ethnic groups, national boundaries, and national citizenship. The course will look at cases across the continent, ranging from the early 20th century to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
Section 002 (Esquith) | Tu Th 12:40 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.
Transcultural Relations through the Ages
We live at a time when different cultures are mixing, resisting, and absorbing each other rapidly. It is a process that has occurred in different ways, at different times, and in different places. Four basic questions tend to recur.
• What happens when cultures and peoples conflict?
• How have history, art, and culture defined the 'known world' and mediated these conflicts?
• Are all cultures the same in value from an ethical point of view, or are there higher and lower cultures?
• What can we learn about the strengths and weaknesses of our own culture(s) through the study of other cultures and encounters with other cultures?
These are not new questions, but they remain deeply contested. We will begin with one of the very first attempts to address them, Herodotus’ The Histories, which chronicles the war between the Persian empire and the ancient Greek city states led by Sparta. Herodotus gives us a big picture of the world as he knew it, and we need this kind of wide-angle lens if we are to understand the process of transculturation.
But there is also the lived experience of transculturation, that is, what the Polish newspaper reporter Ryszard Kapuściński described as “encountering the Other.” In his memoir Travels with Herodotus, he covered much of the same terrain that Herodotus did, but with an eye on the cultural conflicts and wars that shaped the 20th-century, not just Herodotus’s ancient world.
To explore the moral interior of this encounter with the Other, we will turn to literature. We will compare Albert Camus’ novel The Stranger set in Algeria during the French colonial period and a new novel, Kamel Daoud’s The Meursault Investigation set during the time of the Algerian Revolution in the 1950s and ‘60s. Camus’ 1942 novel, considered one of the classic works of 20th-century moral philosophy, is told from the point of view of the main character, a French Algerian named Meursault, who kills an unnamed Algerian “Arab”. Meursault is convicted and accepts his capital punishment with no remorse. Daoud’s novel is told from the point of view of the murdered man’s brother, Harun. The two novels together illustrate how different the experience of encountering the Other can be, depending upon which side of the encounter one is on. Having explored the interior experience of colonial and revolutionary violence, we will conclude with two very different moral interpretations: Pontecorvo’s famous film The Battle of Algiers and two short essays by Camus in which he weighs the relative merits of critics and defenders of the Algerian revolution.
Section 003 | Tu Th 3:00 p.m. – 4:20 p.m.
Section 750 (Delgdo, V) | Costa Rica Semester Program
Sustainability & Civic Engagement in Costa Rica
Costa Rica, one of the founding nations of eco-tourism and a prime organizer of the Paris Climate Accord, recently announced that by 2021 it aspired to become one of the first countries in the world to become carbon neutral. The Central American nation currently uses renewable energy for 99% of its electrical needs and is rapidly developing light electric rail networks while erecting the additional wind turbines and solar panel systems to support them. These are remarkable achievements and a different direction for a country in one of the most challenged regions in the hemisphere. So why did Costa Rica chose such a path? This course will consider the development of Costa Rica’s commitment to sustainability through its ideas, history, literature, poetry and film. We’ll set the stage with some ethical frameworks in sustainable development, seek to understand the country’s founding in a relatively isolated area of the Central American isthmus and consider this in relationship to the early establishment of mutualist social movements across Latin America. We’ll look at the Costa Rica’s early history with coffee exportation and the United Fruit Company through the work of novelists such as Maria Isabel Carvajal Quesada (Bananos y Hombres, Cuentos de Mi Tia Panchita) and Joaquin Gutierrez (En el Aire, Cocori, and Puerto Limon). We’ll explore the nation’s decision to abolish its army in 1948 and invest in education, health and social welfare at the end of a bloody civil war through the work of poets such as Jorge DeBravo and important historians like John Patrick Bell and Rodolfo Cerdas, as well as, the classic Costa Rican novel Mamita Yunai by Carlos Luis “Calufa” Fallas. Finally, we will consider recent struggles for sustainability in the context of neoliberal ideas through the classic environmental novel La Loca de Gandoca by Anacristina Rossi (2003) and the film Quebrando Los Huevos de Oro (2011).
Section 001 (Delgado, G.) | M W 10:20 a.m. – 12:10 p.m.
The Art of Walking: Ways to Wander
This interdisciplinary arts course looks at walking as a medium for creativity. Through mindful walking, students will explore how to drift and engage the mind, heart, and body with the spaces they navigate every day. Students will wander to make new works of art by listening, drawing, painting, photographing, writing, and mapping. Throughout the course, students will explore the walking praxis of artists and thinkers, including Henry David Thoreau, Rebecca Solnit, Mary Oliver, Thich Nhat Hanh, Barry Lopez, Gabriel Orozco, and avant-garde artists group Situationist International.
Section 002 (Baibak and Pia Banzhaf) | M W 12:40 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
In Puppet Power we will explore the subversive imaginary, even uncanny in puppet performances as well as the strength of puppets in questioning reality and perception. We will examine the puppet metaphor in literature and film as well as the cognitive science findings about the human urge to ascribe animacy to inanimate objects. We will tap into the unique human capability of sharing attention while using the powerful devices inherent to puppetry arts. In this course, we will learn about puppet-making methods, collaborative manipulation of various types of puppets, and tricks of the trade. Theory and practice will go hand in hand while we strive to find the perfect link between types of puppets, constructed set elements, and the information needed, (script, music, etc.) to complete a production, from storyboard beginnings to the creation of a performance.
Section 003 (Hunter-Morgan) | T 3:00 p.m. – 6:50 p.m.
Ever want to print your own poem or story the way it was done 100 years ago? To make your own book? To collaborate on a book? If so, join a writer, a printer, a bookbinder, and a book historian in a semester long workshop where you learn about both the books you read and the books you make. You'll get to spend some time in the Special Collections at the MSU Library looking at, and touching, books that are hundreds of years old at well as learning about the library's collection of contemporary artists' books. Hand set type in the art studio, work with visiting artists who might specialize in anything from papermaking to medieval book bindings, and, in the end, make your own books. Each semester’s course will have a different thematic or structural focus.
Section 004 (Scales) | Tu Th 10:20 a.m. – 12:10 p.m.
Digital Recording and Music Production
This class involves the creation and recording of music through creative engagement with various music technologies including digital recording systems, sound synthesis software, and audio/video production software. We will also examine the effects of new music technologies on the cultures of music making and music listening. Student will also learn about live sound recording and engineering, including the use of various kinds of microphones, microphone placements, and some of the basic principles of acoustics.
Section 005 (Miner) | Tu Th 12:40 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Art and Ecology in the Great Lakes
In this arts workshop, students will think about the Great Lakes as a cultural and ecological phenomena that includes the arts. Students will explore the ecologies, cultural histories, and lifespan of the Great Lakes region. As I posed in a recent book chapter: ‘what would happen if we re-mapped our society, not using colonial cartographic systems, but re-imagined our relationships to both the land and one another.’ This class is about that remapping. It is about re-relating to this place and to one another through artmaking. It is about beginning to understand this place we call Michigan. During the course we will understand our relationship to the land itself and the various animate beings and inanimate objects with which we share it. In addition to meeting in the RCAH art studio, this course will also meet at Fenner Nature Center. Collaborative and socially engaged models will be at the core of this experience. Projects may utilize low tech printmaking techniques (screen print, relief print, photocopying, risograph, etc.) to create artists’ books, zines, mapmaking, and site-specific projects.
Section 006 (Biggs) | Tu Th 3:00 p.m. - 4:50 p.m.
This course aims to provide students with tools and methodologies for identifying and accessing source materials for making original theatre, dance and/or performance art. Coursework will investigative the creative processes of several established artists as models. Students will have extensive opportunities to explore their processes through on-your-feet performance technique and devising workshops, including opportunities to create solo and group pieces. The course culminates in a final performance of student works for invited audience members in the RCAH Theatre. No previous acting, playwriting or dance experience required.
Section 001 (Kaplowitz) | Tu 10:20 a.m. – 12:10 p.m.
This civic engagement proseminar is an introduction to civic engagement in the RCAH. There are many ways to be civically engaged in our community from voting to volunteering. This class focuses on the question about how we engage across different identities in the United States. The 2016 election made clear that many people in our country have lost the ability to listen to one another, to be curious, vulnerable and authentically interested in how people with different identities understand our shared civic responsibilities. Through dialogic pedagogy (learning through dialogue), we will explore the theories of how we learn to listen to one another again, and how we bridge the divides that have separated us in a variety of ways (ideological, racial, gender, sexual orientation, social class, ability etc…). Students will learn the practice of dialogue facilitation and will have a chance to practice our facilitation skills beyond the classroom, at the university, with community youth, the police, and other spheres of influence.
Section 002 (Monberg) | Th 12:40 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.
Serving versus Sustaining Communities
This proseminar prepares students for civic engagement in the RCAH and beyond by exploring the differences between serving a community and sustaining one over time. The United States has a “distinct culture” of nonprofit and community-based organizations that depend on volunteerism (Stewart and Casey 2013). While volunteerism has its place in community-based work, it often privileges a short-term commitment and a short-term understanding of communities. This course introduces students to a deeper understanding of how communities change over time.
Students will work with Asian and/or Asian American communities on campus or in Greater Lansing to build an infrastructure for collecting stories of Asians/Asian Americans in the Midwest. As noted in the recent book, Asians Americans in Michigan, communities of Asian descent have settled in Michigan and grown over time but they are often invisible in the narratives about the Midwest. This course will enact methods for collecting, narrating, and circulating stories about Asian/Asian Americans in mid-Michigan while also working with these communities to further their own movements toward empowerment, greater visibility, and social justice. Ideally, the course will integrate spoken word, writing, or digital storytelling.
RCAH292B-Engagement and Reflection
Section 001 (Delgado,G) | Tu 12:40 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Prison Poetry ‘Zine Project
This civic engagement course allows students to create and practice arts workshops in prisons. Students will explore the power of the arts and its potential as a tool to create positive social change. Through the ‘zine genre and weekly visits to a prison, students will share and practice various poetic forms and creative strategies with incarcerated communities. The works of writers, who began writing in prison, including Jimmy Baca Santiago and Etheridge Knight, will be introduced and examined. At the end of the semester, students will plan a culminating event to celebrate the poetry ‘zines created by all.
Section 002 (Hamilton-Wray) | Tu Th 12:40 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
In this course, students explore everyday autobiography history, spoken narratives and storytelling in partnership with members of greater Lansing-based communities. Together with the civic engagement partners, the class looks at how “stories” or “narratives” connect to various cultural, political and social expressions and explore how stories can help define and build community. Students produce narrative portraits in visual, written and audio forms.
Section 003 (Brooks) | Tu Th 3:00 p.m. - 4:50 p.m.
Health and Wellness in Our Communities
This course on engagement and reflection assists students with developing a deeper understanding of civic engagement and cultivates a fervent commitment to improving personal and community health and wellness. Students will be introduced to issues and challenges affecting the health and well-being of our communities. Using an interdisciplinary approach from the arts, humanities, and social sciences, this course explores the historical, physiological, psychological, spiritual, social, environmental, and occupational forces influencing our health behaviors and lifestyle choices. Topics explored consist of historical and cultural perspectives on health/wellness, psycho-social challenges to healthy living, environmental concerns, chronic diseases, alternative interventions and resources, and health policy studies. The goals of this course are to improve health literacy, draw attention to health disparities, and encourage greater participation in physical activity.
292C courses are unique, independent engagements of variable credit negotiated between students, community partners, and RCAH faculty. They assume that the student and the community have established a relationship of mutual respect, trust, and benefit. They also assume a high level of passion and experience. These courses focus heavily on the action and insight areas of the RCAH Civic Engagement model. Students select and work with a specific faculty of record and community partner to develop and implement the syllabus and the engagement program for the course.
RCAH310-Childhood and Society
Section 001 (Torrez) | M W 12:40 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.
Engaging with Children and Young People
The RCAH curriculum underscores the importance of reciprocal education, which encourages students to engage in the co-production of knowledge with community partners. In doing so, many students are interested in working with children and youth. This course prepares students to work with children from diverse communities in the co-production of knowledge. Prior to working with communities, however, RCAH students must consider the complex societal issues directly impacting the lives of their young collaborators. Accordingly, this course will focus on ways to engage children, the impacts of applying terms such as ‘at-risk’ to communities, and how to maintain a symbiotic and collaborative relationship. Finally, we will discuss possible assessment models to evaluate community impact.
Section 002 (Skeen) | Tu Th 10:20 a.m. – 11:40 a.m.
The World of Harry Potter
Who is Harry Potter and why has he become the phenomenon he has? What makes this story of a boy wizard so compelling to both children and adults? How do we evaluate J,K. Rowling’s place in the western literary canon? What worlds do we construct/remember as adults that capture our childhood visions and fantasy lives? We’ll address such issues as ethics and morality; technology, magic and religion; feminism and friendship, to name a few. We’ll also consider the elements of the Harry Potter legend, discuss the resonance his story has throughout history and literature, as well as in our own lives and times, and engage in some creative language and art to explore our relationship to such mythic tales.
“Books may be the only real magic.”
RCAH340-Technology and Creativity
Section 001 (Aronoff)| M W 3:00 p.m. - 4:20 p.m.
Fictions of Science and Technology
This course will examine the interplay between scientific philosophies, technology and literature. We will explore this interplay in terms of both content and form: in other words, we will study the ways in which the “subject matter” of science and technology – the theories, discoveries, inventions of science – are explored within novels and short stories to probe their implications for our conceptions of society, the self, and art; we will also think about how scientific “ways of knowing” – rationality, empiricism, linear narrative – have been deployed and resisted to shape the genres of the realist novel, detective fiction, gothic tales and science fiction. Finally, we will also think about how the technology of the book itself shapes the kinds of narratives that can be produced, and how new technologies – the internet, hypertext, etc. – might produce new kinds of narratives.
RCAH380-Third Year Tutorial
Section 001 (Plough) | M W 8:30 a.m. – 9:50 a.m.
This course reviews the different forms and functions of nonverbal behavior. Gestures, eyegaze, facial expressions, and posture are among the features covered. Elements that are part of any interaction, such as the physical space and the interactants, are considered. Different ways that we communicate our identity, emotional closeness (or distance), and status are also examined. The main goal of the course is to increase our ability to observe, analyze, and interpret nonverbal behavior.
Section 002 (Yoder) | M W 12:40 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Religion without God? – Topics in Religious Naturalism.
“Religious naturalism” is a term that emerged in the 1980s from a wide ranging conversation between theologians, scientists, and philosophers of religion. Though it is an umbrella term used to cover a range of positions, the intellectual terrain included in religious naturalism is roughly defined by two shared commitments. The first is a commitment to naturalism, to the premise that we should look to the natural world, rather than some supernatural realm to explain and give meaning to our experience. The second is the claim that this commitment to naturalism does not preclude religion, that there can be authentic religious responses to the world that do not depend on the existence of a supernatural realm.
Section 003 | Tu Th 12:40 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.
RCAH390-Language and Culture
Section 001 (Torrez) | M W 10:20 a.m. - 11:40 a.m.
Reclaiming Language and Schools
Many heritage language communities have endured colonization through practices of forced relocation, boarding schools, English-Only policies, or genocide in the pursuit of societal progress and economic stability. Individuals have countered oppression through assimilation or by hiding traditional sociolinguistic practices from dominant culture. Oftentimes, these acts of ‘survivance’ have left younger generations curious about their ancestors’ knowledge and buried knowledge systems. As communities continue to reclaim schools as spaces to teach younger generations ‘traditional’ ways, young people are creatively imagining practices that bridge traditions with new forms of cultural expression.
Section 002 (Bosse) | M W 3:00 p.m. – 4:20 p.m.
Music, Language, and Meaning
It is often said that music is a universal language. While untrue, we collectively cling to this notion for reasons that reveal something important about human communication; for music and language are among the semiotic skills and behaviors that most uniquely define us as humans. While music and language may be useful in different ways, both involve the conversion of complex auditory sequences into meaningful units and structures (and vice versa) in a real-time, moment-to-moment, rapid-fire fashion.
Scholars through the ages have explored the connections between music and language, and music as language, from Plato to Charles Darwin to Leonard Bernstein. Participants in this course will add our voices to the conversation; engaging disciplines ranging from cultural criticism and cultural anthropology; musicology and music theory; semiotics, linguistics and communication studies; cognition, psychology and neuroscience.
Section 003 (Monberg) | Tu Th 3:00 p.m. – 4:20 p.m.
Language, Literacy, and Culture
This course introduces students to critical perspectives on how we think about literacy with a specific focus on underrepresented forms and legacies of literacy. We will explore how ideas about literacy have changed (or not changed) over time and how literacy has often been used to contain linguistic, cultural, and racial differences. We will consider the following questions as we move through the semester: How is literacy defined? How are these definitions used and mobilized and for what purposes? How are forms of literacy used, fostered, and sustained over time? How can we not only recognize diverse and emergent forms of literacy but also help them thrive in our classrooms and communities? What does it mean to study literacy? Where and how do we look for literacy in action? And, finally, what would it mean to (re)define literacy given the RCAH emphasis on stories and knowledge-making in multiple forms and places?
RCAH395-Special Topic-Arts & Humanities
Section 750 (Delgado, V) | Costa Rica Semester Program (RCAH395, RCAH292A, RCAH292B)
Sustainability & Civic Engagement in Costa Rica
The concept of sustainable development came into prominence in the late 1980s as world leaders wrestled with how to alleviate poverty through economic development without compromising the environment. In 1987 the World Commission on Environment and Development defined sustainable development as "development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Costa Rica is widely known both for its efforts towards sustainable development. It is the most visited country in Central America, welcoming over 2 million visitors in 2011, and it is renowned for its biodiversity and natural resources. Thus, it is not surprising that sustainable development is a critical component of the country’s overall development strategy. For
instance, Costa Rica was one of the first countries to embrace ecotourism and has recently pioneered a new type of tourism -- rural community tourism, which seeks to build capacity in rural communities and protect ecological corridors, place-based cultivation practices and watersheds at the same time. In this program, students will combine the study and practice of Spanish language with the ethics of sustainable development and civic engagement. During the initial eight weeks, students will live with Costa Rican host families in the central valley town of Santa Ana, attend classes at CONVERSA, a Spanish school overlooking Costa Rica’s capital San Jose and visit several tourism sites around the country. While in class, they will improve language skills and learn about civic engagement, frameworks for community-based participatory research, creativity and innovation, the ethics of sustainable development and the various forms such development takes in Costa Rica. During the next seven weeks, students will gain a more intimate knowledge of these issues as they live with host families in rural areas across the country and work with partner communities on small development projects using the RCAH Engagement Model, community input facilitation methodologies and community-based participatory research/creative/innovative processes.
Section 001 (Sheridan) | M W 10:20 a.m. - 12:10 p.m.
The Role of Space in Nurturing Community, Creativity, and Learning
In designing Pixar's headquarters, Steve Jobs famously wanted to limit restrooms to a small number located in the center of the building. This would force people to congregate in a central spot multiple times during the day. And when people congregate, they talk and share ideas, fueling the creative process.
This anecdote hints at the power of space to nurture two things that the RCAH values: social connections and the creative process. In fact, our own space is designed with these goals in mind. We have places like LookOut!, the LMC, Serenity, and many other communal spaces aimed at supporting creativity, community, and learning. Cities, too, have such spaces. Nearby, Old Town, Lansing, for instance, has become a creative hub.
This class will use a number of lenses to explore the role of space helping us achieve things that we value. We will examine what scholars and workers have said about work spaces, educational spaces, and civic spaces. We will visit exemplary spaces around and beyond campus. Exploratory questions include: What makes a space effective? Exciting? Enchanting?
The RCAH will serve as a chief example throughout the course. By this point, all of us have had many experiences in RCAH spaces. What can we learn from these experiences? How can we study the way RCAH spaces are used, modified, resisted by students, faculty, and staff? How can we transform RCAH spaces so that they more effectively support the things we value?
These are not just idle questions. Students in this course will be invited to contribute to proposals for transforming RCAHspace.
Section 002 (Halpern) | M W 12:40 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Two Cultures Collaborative Workshop
This senior seminar is open to both RCAH and Lyman Briggs students. During the first weeks of the course, students from the two colleges will form interdisciplinary groups. Over the course of the semester, they work together to develop a project that represents their combined academic interests. Their process will follow Dr. Halpern’s design-inspired work facilitating artist/scientist collaborations through playful engagement. Final projects may take the form of websites, artifacts (designed objects, paintings, sculptures), stories, plays, histories, or other ways of sharing ideas and knowledge. Students will reflect on the collaborative process through individual journaling and group writing and reflection activities. While working in these collaborative teams, students will read canonical works that reflect on the nature of art and science, and on the relationship between the two. They will be encouraged to use these writings to reflect on their process, and on how the work they are doing with their groups fits into the broader scheme of knowledge production in the arts, sciences, and humanities. The aims of the course are be to help students develop their ability to work in diverse groups; to better understand their own field(s) in relation to other disciplines, and to deeply reflect on the challenges of and reasons for working across disciplines.
Section 003 (Scales) | Tu Th 3:00 p.m. – 4:50 p.m.
Who Owns Culture?: Cultural Property and Creativity in the Twenty-First Century
In this course we will examine the legal, ethical, and cultural stakes related to current international conversations about intellectual property and cultural property and how these conversations will effect what Lawrence Lessig has called the “nature and future of creativity.” In studying these issues we will ask such basic questions as: What is the relationship between shared cultural knowledge and individual creativity? Is it possible (or desirable) for a social group to “own” and “control” their cultural practices. Is there an inherent value for society in a “cultural commons,” and if so, how do we balance the ownership “rights” of individuals with those of larger communities? These conversations are vital and immediate for RCAH students who are planning careers within the North American “creative economy.” As such, the most important outcome of this course will be the development of some very real and tangible possible policy recommendations, research papers, or creative works that confront these issues in meaningful and socially helpful ways.