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Quest Section Descriptions | Spring 2015

QS112QS211 | QS212 | QS311 | QS411

QS111: Intro to Quest 

Freshman inquiry seminars use an inquiry-guided approach that lets the student take the lead in finding the answers. These courses minimize lecture and maximize interaction among the students to create an active learning environment. Critical thinking, communication and teamwork are key learning objectives for these courses.

QS111 A: Comparative Mythology

Howard, Rob

By its very nature the study of mythology is highly interdisciplinary, bridging the fields of literature, language, the arts, religion, anthropology, and psychology. Thus, this course will appeal to students with broad interests in the arts and humanities. In this course we will begin by exploring the various linguistic, anthropological, psychological, and structural theories of the origins and purposes of myths. Using these theoretical frameworks as a basis for our readings of the works of literature that are our sources for the myths, we will then see that they yield meanings significant not only for other peoples but also for us today. Myths of Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, Rome, Scandinavia, Britain, China, Japan, Africa, South America, and North America will provide the primary focus of the course.

QS112: Self and Other 

QS112 A: Critical Thinking and Contemporary Social Issues

Hatcher, Donald

Students will work through a text that integrates knowledge of essential critical-thinking tools (research, information literacy, ethical considerations, deductive logic, inductive logic, and informal fallacies). Each student will choose a contemporary social issue and write, present, and defend a well-researched position paper. Through this, all students will familiarize themselves with the essential tenets of argumentative expression. By evaluating their own position and the positions of others they will learn a good deal about current ethical, social, political, economic, religious, and philosophical issues.

QS112 B: Blurred Lines: Digitized, Unrealistic Portrayals of Life

Jarnot, Jennifer

Digital media and electronic communication shape our experiences and perceptions of time, self, and the larger world. In this class we will discuss how our definition of reality is changing through the use of the Internet. Students will identify problems regarding the usage and ethics of digital photo manipulation, and discuss the moral issues and legalities involved in social networking profiles. The culture of online gaming communities with digital communication between "fictional characters," self, and others will also be examined.

QS112 C: Humanities and Western Civilization

Liston, Robin

Students will study primary-source materials in the humanities to discover the development of our Western civilization heritage, with a focus on the arts and the history of ideas. Students will develop skills in reading with deep understanding, discussing their reactions with classmates, researching topics about which they are intellectually curious, and demonstrating their critical thinking skills through writing assignments and oral presentations. This course is inquiry driven, a pedagogy that facilitates active engagement in an academic community and empowers students to take a leadership role in their own learning.

QS112 D: Sex & Death: American Literature and Popular Culture (Honors Only)

Slankard, Tamara

This is a reading- and writing-intensive course. We will explore the construction of twentieth-century American identity against the backdrop of physical, psychological, racial, sexual, and even—perhaps—justifiable violence. We will discuss how artistic representations of violence do far more than simply shock and titillate: they help us to better understand the connections between identity, culture, history, and art. We will also continue to practice and refine every aspect of successful academic writing and verbal communication, including critical reading and analytical thinking, audience awareness, argument development, and the art and craft of language. Among the authors whose works we will read and discuss are Richard Wright, Flannery O'Connor, James Ellroy, and Cormac McCarthy. We will watch and discuss such films as Taxi Driver and Rope and such television programs as "Dexter" and "Deadwood." [Note: As the title suggests, a significant portion of the course content entails narrative and/or visual depictions of graphic violence and controversial subject matter. Consider yourself forewarned.]

QS112 E: The Power of Place: How Environments Heal and Harm

Long, Robyn

This course will give students the opportunity to introduce themselves to the subdisciplines of environmental psychology and ecopsychology as the lenses through which we will address the QS 112 goals. A tertiatry understanding of each subdiscipline can inform our behaviors and impact our environments, address disparities, and improve our mental and physical health. A fundamental idea in this course is that living disconnected from our natural context (as we do in urban-industrial cultures) contributes to psychological distress such as depression and anxiety and to disorders such as schizophrenia and creates additional stress in our modern lives.

QS112 F: Sport: The New World Religion?

Christian, Ronald

This course is designed to emphasize critical thinking about sport in a global context and how it has become more than a national pastime. Students will be engaged in analysis, discussion, and debate of how sport is often viewed as, or even becomes the equivalent of, a "religion" to some. The course also explores the nature of religious experience in sport, issues with the intersection of religion and sport in our society, and ethical dilemmas in sport.

QS112 G: Violence in American Literature, Television, and Film

Slankard, Tamara

In this course we will explore the construction of 20th-century American identity against the backdrop of physical, psychological, racial, sexual, and even—perhaps—justifiable violence. We will discuss how artistic representations of violence do far more than simply shock and titillate: they help us to better understand the connections between identity, culture, history and art. Note: As the title suggests, a significant portion of the course content entails visual or narrative depictions of graphic violence and controversial subject matter.

QS112 H: Pop Culture and Adaptation

Devlin, Danny

Since mankind began organizing itself into groups, we've had the practice of adaptation—taking an extant work and making it "suitable to requirements or conditions" of changing cultures, "adjusting or modifying" the extant work "fittingly." This course will look at numerous examples of ancient and contemporary adaptation to study how and why artists engage in the process of adapting works and how these adaptations speak to the past, present, and the future.

QS112 I: Sport: The New World Religion?

Christian, Ronald

This course is designed to emphasize critical thinking about sport in a global context and how it has become more than a national pastime. Students will be engaged in analysis, discussion, and debate of how sport is often viewed as, or even becomes the equivalent of, a "religion" to some. The course also explores the nature of religious experience in sport, issues with the intersection of religion and sport in our society, and ethical dilemmas in sport.

QS112 J: Vampire Literature

Howard, Robert

During this course, we will read many examples of vampire literature beginning in the mid-19th century, and extending to the present day. We will explore the symbolic nature of the vampire and how this has evolved over the last two centuries. We will discuss what the vampire means as a reflection of ourselves in several ways: we will extrapolate social concerns relating to identity, violence, sexuality, adolescence, ethnicity, gender, and religious belief as they are depicted in vampire narratives.

QS112 K: Monsters and Madmen in Film and Literature

Howard, Robert

During this course we will read many short stories, plays, and novels and view several films all of which depict the "monster" or the "madman/madwoman." We will explore the meaning of the word "monster" and how it is employed by various authors and film makers always with an eye on how the monster relates to concepts of the self. We will also explore the topic of "madness" from its clinical definitions to its depiction in film and literature. We will ponder what it really means to be "mad." What does insanity and the way we receive it have to do with the culture we live in and its values and expectations?

QS211: Scientific Inquiry 

Sophomore inquiry seminars continue to use the inquiry-guided approach to help students develop critical-thinking abilities as well as how to view the natural and social world through different approaches. Students will uncover ways in which knowledge is created through scientific and artistic lenses, and develop a more informed view of our global society.

  • Prerequisites: QS112 or equivalent transfer credit
  • Corequisites for QS211: Students must enroll in a linked course (listed on the general education checklist for your catalogue year; all prerequisites for these courses apply). The linked course cannot be dropped during the semester if you are expecting to earn QS credit. 

QS211 A: The Science of 4 out of 5 Dentists

Anderson, Molly

As consumers, we are influenced every day by claims of science and information. In this class, students will look at topics in the physical and natural world that rely on evidence-based information. We will learn to address scientific questions and claims while continuing to work on critical thinking skills, written and oral communication, and learning to incorporate research into everyday life.

QS211 B: Power

Coward Bucher, Carrie

Power is at the heart of sociological analysis. This class will utilize the scientific method to explore the institutional mechanisms and social processes through which political power is constructed, distributed, and maintained.

QS211 C: The Return to Ahs

Ziegler, Rand

At some point in time between preschool and college, many of us inexplicably lose the wonder and passion we had for all things scientific. For some reason, the childhood excitement that was once stimulated by natural history museums, planetariums and interactive science centers becomes displaced by anxiety and intimidation associated with the Krebs cycle, Newton's laws of motion and the periodic table of the elements. This course aims to rekindle the natural affection we had for science as children by helping students to understand the very basics of the scientific method, applying all types of science to everyday experience and making it fun once again to ask what, how and why.

QS211 D Science in the Times

Russell, Darcy

In this section students will look at science through the lens of the science contributors to the New York Times. Each Wednesday we will examine the stories in the New York Times science section for the week. We will choose the stories we most want to discuss and students will do additional reading and research about the science that is having an impact on our world today.

QS211 E: Science and Anthropology

McCullough, Jen

Science and Anthropology will explore the scientific method and quantitative literacy through the lenses of biological anthropology and archaeology. We will continue to build skills while exploring aspects of human evolution and historical behavior.

QS212: Ideas and Expression 

  • Prerequisites: QS112 or equivalent transfer credit
  • Corequisites for QS 212: Students must enroll in a linked course (listed on the general education checklist for your catalogue year; all prerequisites for these courses apply). The linked course cannot be dropped during the semester if you are expecting to earn QS credit.

QS212 A: Sound the Barritus

Richards, John

In this course, students will explore historical factors critical to the collapse of Roman imperial unity (350-476 AD). Organized as a campaign simulation (a game), students will act as the major political figures—whether Roman or barbarian—in competition for power, status, and wealth. Through information gathering, negotiation, espionage, and military confrontation, players will compete to preserve or extinguish the "Light of Eternal Rome." Student success will be determined by playing the campaign scenario and each student's effort to identify, understand, and avoid the mistakes of their historical counterparts.

QS212 B: Personal Relationships

Schaefer, Kimberly

Friendships and romantic relationships can bring us a great deal of happiness. Unfortunately, they can also be areas of frustration and pain. This course will examine effective communication within romantic relationships. We will examine experiences that are often filled with great joy, such as courtship, relationship satisfaction, children, and relational benefits. We will discuss experiences that are often characterized as "dark," such as conflict, turmoil, deception, and cheating. In this course, we identify some of the challenges that people face in their relationships and explore the ways in which communication influences and shapes our relationships.

QS212 C: The League of Extraordinary Novels

Janssen, Joanne

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, by Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill, is a comic book series and graphic novel that imagines a justice league of extraordinary individuals who protect Victorian England. These extraordinary people turn out to be characters from late-19th-century British novels, such as Bram Stoker's Dracula, Robert Louis Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and H.G. Wells's The Invisible Man. Our main task in this course will be to read the contemporary graphic novel as well as the popular (and exciting!) Victorian novels that inspired it. While we will build our literary interpretation skills, we also will do what a pairing of these texts naturally prompts: consider how historical ideas—of important issues such as gender, race, colonialism, science, and morality—might compare to, or even shape, contemporary ones.

QS212 D: The Hunger Games as Allegory of American Pop Culture

Watson, Joe

The Hunger Games is one of the most successful young adult books series in history. The story of teenagers fighting to the death in a dystopian future has also been turned into successful feature films. In this course, students will read The Hunger Games and explore parallels with modern popular culture. From an emphasis on youth culture, to reality television programming, to the debates of the Haves versus the Have Nots, students will use The Hunger Games as a way to inform issues and debates in modern American life.

QS212 E: African American Literature

Slankard, Tamara

This survey course will trace the development of African American literature from the Antebellum Slavery and Reconstruction periods of the 19th century through the Harlem Renaissance and Black Arts Era of the early- to mid-20th century and beyond. We will see how writers have reflected, responded to, and led the way for political and cultural change, and in turn helped to shape African American identity. High emphasis will be placed on close, analytical reading of the literature in order to develop a better understanding of the intersections between style, structure, characterization, theme, historical and cultural context and meaning.

QS212 F: Ideas and Expression: Black Social Thought

Coward Bucher, Carrie

This course is designed to serve as an exploration of the history of African-American social thought since the establishment of the American Republic. Social thought is a theoretical, philosophical, or ideological construction that attempts to say something meaningful about how individuals and groups organize and conduct their lives. It is a conversation that is concerned with the ways in which the human self relates to surrounding forms of cultural, economic, and political life. An understanding of the rich and vibrant history of African-American social thought is essential to our understanding of the trajectory of the United States.

QS311 

The junior inquiry seminar continues to use the inquiry-guided approach to help students develop critical abilities as well as a better understanding of our global society. Students will explore how various systems of societies function.

  • Prerequisites: QS211 and QS212 or equivalent transfer credits
  • Corequisites for QS311: Students must enroll in a linked course (listed on the general education checklist for your catalogue year; all prerequisites for these courses apply). The linked course cannot be dropped during the semester.

QS311 A: Controversies on the Meaning of Marriage

Emel, Susan

This course will examine the public marriage controversies that led to marriage laws and court cases regarding domestic violence, divorce, free love, interracial marriages, and more. We will examine the rhetorical meanings of state-sanctioned marriage established through these public controversies. Students will then have the opportunity to examine current and global efforts to regulate the institution of marriage and analyze the meanings of those efforts.

QS311 B: Plastic, A Toxic Love Story

Woodbridge, Cynthia

The themed portion of the course, named for the chosen text, will focus on the pervasiveness of plastics in our global world. We will look at the "dark" side of plastics and some of the environmental, economic, and societal challenges associated with plastics we are currently facing as well as the problem that these materials, which might have been designed for a single use, live in landfills and oceans for thousands of years. Some questions to consider are whether we should continue to use plastics or how should we be responsible stewards of the planet? It is my intent that students will develop a proposal based on either making plastics greener or improving recycling initiatives and then carry on to take a QS411 with me in the future.

QS311 C: Islam: An Introduction of History, Text, and Religious Belief

Pumphrey, Nicholaus

This course focuses on the history of Islam and the diversity of Muslims both past and present. Students will examine the Qur'an, as well as the various rituals, doctrines, and holidays of the different sects of Islam. Contemporary issues will be discussed such as gender and sexuality, Islam in America, and Islam post 9/11.

QS311 D: Ceramics in Global Cultures: Praying to the Porcelain God

Balch, Inge

Quest class 311 will research this fascinating global material we all depend on socially, economically, politically and ecologically! It is right under our feet! Ceramics can be found as art objects, functional wares, computers, Internet, iPads and phones. Where would you be without your iPhone? Clay may be a soft material but delivers a hard punch in confrontational political art objects. The global pottery villages' economy depends on the sale of ceramic wares. Cheaper and better machinery, scientific instruments, ball bearings, bullet-proof vests and bone replacement all using ceramics are produced. The world's architecture past and present and the European clay roof tiles for collecting rain water. Dysfunctional nuclear power plant have been incased in ceramic material. What we come to understand, in this class, is that ceramic artifacts and new ceramic inventions all have an important role in understanding the global culture, technology and behavior of its people.

QS 411 

The senior inquiry seminar invites students to apply ethical theories, fine-tune critical abilities, and propose change in the world. In the senior year, students build up to a formal presentation of their own original work.

QS411 A: LGBTIQA and Citizenship

Buzzell, Timothy

In the United States, gay rights are at a turning point as a result of decades of political movements, protest, and broader social change. Globally, however, human rights advocates continue to struggle for LGBTQ and allied individuals, in some societies as a life or death matter. Our "quest" here is to take account of where things stand today regarding definitions of citizenship and sexual identity. Students will examine the achievements of LGBTQ and allied individuals in defining what it means to be included—"citizens" in political as well as social and cultural ways. The course will include a history of how sexual identity has been treated, questions about what role government should play in defining sexual citizenship, the impact of Internet technology in identity exploration, and ethics of social justice amidst global change.

QS411 B: Science, Technology and Human Values

Hatcher, Don

This seminar provides an opportunity for Baker seniors to apply the academic skills and their understanding of ethics and human values acquired in their previous education to a public policy issue that is, at least in part, the result of current scientific or technological developments. Special emphasis is placed on global issues related to science and technology. As a seminar, the course is student centered, with each student presenting and defending his or her position paper on specific public policy issue. As in all seminars, the quality of the experience is a function of its students' preparation, participation and performance.

QS411 C: Landmark Cases of the U.S. Supreme Court

Green, Lee

An examination of the landmark decisions issued by the United States Supreme Court over the last 225 years, with an emphasis on the impact of those cases on American society and the global community. The course will focus on high court decisions regarding human rights and civil liberties, including the role of the court in protecting such freedoms in the U.S. and the impact of those decisions on accelerating the acknowledgment and protection of liberty by the judicial systems of other countries around the globe.

QS411 D: Science, Technology and Human Values

Howard, Rob

This seminar is designed to provide an opportunity for each graduate to apply the academic skills and the understanding of ethics and human values acquired in their previous education to a public policy issue that is, at least in part, a result of current scientific or technological developments. As a seminar, the course is student centered, with each student presenting and defending his or her position paper on specific public policy issue. As in all seminars, the quality of the QS 4111 experience is a function of its students' preparation, participation and performance.