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Quest Section Descriptions | Fall 2014

QS112QS211 | QS212 | QS311 | QS411


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.

QS111A: Tolkein and His Influences

Howard, Rob

Students in this course will begin with study of works from early medieval English literature and Norse mythology which influenced Tolkien as an author of modern fantasy. Emphasis will then be placed on reading and analyzing his major works, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. We will end the semester by reading some of his shorter, less known works like "Leaf By Niggle," "Farmer Giles of Ham," and "Smith of Wooton Major" and discussing his impact on Western popular culture from the 1930s to the present day.

QS111B: Introduction to American Popular Culture

Slankard, Tamara

In this reading- and writing-intensive class, we will undertake the serious study of some rather unserious things. We will explore the ways that popular culture (such as television, advertising, film and music) shapes our perceptions of ourselves and our relationship to the world around us. Rather than merely consuming cultural products, we will analyze how the producers of American popular culture have responded to—and often been at the forefront of—cultural and societal change. We will also practice and work to 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.

QS111C: The Arts and Community

Janssen, Joanne

In a world in which jobs are scarce and the national and state budgets are tight, many have started to question the value of the arts. In this course, we will examine just what the literary, visual, and performing arts have the power to do in the lives of individuals and communities. For example, we will learn what happens when a group of prisoners performs Shakespeare's plays, as well as what it means to a group of African orphans to perform their ethnic dances. We will also learn about (and debate!) some controversies relating to the arts. In order to keep our discussions grounded in some local realities, and to experience firsthand the way in which the arts can impact a specific community, this course will have a service-learning component with Baldwin City's Lumberyard Arts Center.​

QS111D: Authenticity

Liston, Robin

What is truth? What is reality? How can we know with certainty? Through a variety of sources, we will explore these questions and more. We'll embark on a journey of discovery—reading, thinking, and discussing such big ideas as honesty, accuracy, and authenticity. Along the way we'll develop our abilities in finding and using information appropriately, thinking critically, and communicating clearly.

QS111E: Authenticity

Liston, Robin

What is truth? What is reality? How can we know with certainty? Through a variety of sources, we will explore these questions and more. We'll embark on a journey of discovery—reading, thinking, and discussing such big ideas as honesty, accuracy, and authenticity. Along the way we'll develop our abilities in finding and using information appropriately, thinking critically, and communicating clearly.

QS111F: Global Deviance

Bucher, Jacob

What would be the purpose of scarring and self-flagellation (whipping oneself)? Are there cultures that encourage cannibalism? What about an annual ritual of digging up the dead for a party? How do these behaviors compare to a culture that supports injecting fat into one's own face (that would be American culture)? The world is a trippy place, and the purpose of this course is to explore the ways in which deviance is defined and exhibited throughout the world. Through a mixture of lecture, discussion, content analysis, research, and written and oral assignments, the various forms of deviance and the theoretical explanations for that deviance will be explored and investigated.

QS111G: Introduction to Quest: Nature Writing

Stangler, McKay

Students will study the long tradition of American nature writing, complete a project on that writing, and produce their own piece of nature writing after spending time in nature itself.

QS111H: Politics in Comparative Perspective (HONORS ONLY)

Gibb, Ryan

In this reading- and writing-intensive class, we will investigate government systems from around the world. Our introductory survey will explore how democratic and non-democratic states develop executive, judicial, and legislative bodies. Understanding the political organizations of other countries—and by comparison the organization of the United States government—helps us to understand the internal workings of our government and the governments of other countries. Coursework will help students to refine reading, writing, and verbal skills as we develop a better understanding of the domestic politics taking place within a variety of countries including Brazil, China, Iran, Russia, and Nigeria.

QS111I: Performance Anxieties – Modernist Controversies and the Power of Perfor+mance

Devlin, Danny

The historical period from 1880 to 1930 was a time of great social, technological, artistic and political upheaval. Set within the framework of performance theory, this class will interrogate the birth of Modernism in the theater through scripts and historical research as a way to articulate how fears about personal, governmental, and artistic issues were put on stage and how the theater acted as a space for rehearsing solutions to significant new problems in society. The class will culminate in a mini-conference, in which students will deliver, listen to, and discuss each other's research, centered on case studies that develop and support the idea of theater's role in creating and assuaging major social problems.

QS111J: Music Fundamentals for Aspiring Musicians

Lyerla, Trilla

Have you ever wondered how the music that you hear every day essentially works? Why does music sound the way it sounds? Why does one song move you to tears and another make you want to get up and dance? What do you need to know about music to read it? to write it? to perform it? Discover how written music theory can enhance how you experience music! Students planning to major or minor in music must also co-enroll in MU157 Beginning Class Piano and MU153 Sightsinging/Dictation/Aural Skills. All other students are encouraged to co-enroll in MU126 Class Guitar!

QS111K: Pop Culture and Religion: An Examination in Popular Religious Expression

Pumphrey, Nick

People cannot fully separate themselves from their religious beliefs. As a result, religious symbols and concepts permeate through the various mediums of popular culture, such as literature, music, film, and comics. Students will be expected to both actively read, watch, and listen to the diverse mediums of American popular culture in order to discern both overt and subtle accounts of religious expressions from the perspectives of religions, including Islam, Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism, and Hinduism. Therefore, students will view popular religious expressions as an authoritative voice of religious adherent.

QS111L: I Know You Are, But What Am I? The antecedents and consequences of stereotypes, prejudice and discrimination

Crump, Sara

Stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination are all around us. From cliques in high school to large-scale demonstrations of sexism and racism, we have all been impacted by the thoughts, feelings, and behavior of others, simply because of our group memberships. The goal of this class is to introduce you to the study of intergroup relations and then, in related papers and presentations, to have you apply what you learn to your own lives. Throughout this class you will be introduced to psychological research that examines such issues as the origins of stereotyping and prejudice, gender and racial stereotypes, implicit versus explicit stereotyping and prejudice, self-fulfilling prophesies, ingroup favoritism and outgroup bias, stigma, affirmative action, and changing stereotypes and prejudice. The class will be challenging in that I expect you to critically evaluate the readings and engage in thoughtful discussion about how these concepts apply to your own lives – but I also expect that you will learn a lot!

QS111M: From Short Stories to Film

Harris, Martha

In this course, students will both read and watch their resources. In a series of examples, ranging from mystery to science fiction, they will compare and contrast the written short stories and the movies that they inspired. Students can explore the different genres and presentations to discuss which they prefer and what the stories cause them to consider. Readings and films include "Shoeless Joe Jackson Comes to Iowa" (Field of Dreams), "Rear Window," and "Cyclists' Raid" (The Wild One). In addition, students will research their own adaptation and present it to the class.

QS111N: Let There Be Lights, Camera, Action! - The Bible on Film, TV, and Stage

Pumphrey, Nick

Upon the invention of the printing press, the Bible was mass produced in print. From the historical development of cinema, and still to this day, Biblical narratives continue to be portrayed and interpreted through film. The History Channel's mini-series "The Bible" was the most watched television series of 2013, which spawned the spin-off film, "Son of God." Students will be encouraged to analyze how the Bible influences various films, plays, and TV shows and in return influences American culture. Along with this, the students will contextualize the depiction as a "translation" of the text, including what is excluded, included, or how it is portrayed based on its production and intended audience. The course will cover various texts of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament and the New Testament, as well as Biblical themes found in "non-Biblical" productions.


QS112A: Citizenship in an iWorld

Bostwick, Dave

Thomas Jefferson once wrote that "whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government." But what if citizens are not well informed? This course will explore current debates about the intellect and cultural literacy of Americans today. Are we really dumber, or are we developing a different type of intelligence and literacy? As newspaper and news magazine readership declines, do we still have an ethical responsibility to stay informed about our government? Do digital media enable us to be more selfless and participatory, or do they primarily cause us to become self-centered and deficient in social skills?


Sophomore inquiry seminars continue to use the inquiry-guided approach to help students develop critical thinking abilities as well as interdisciplinary insight into the natural and social world. Students will uncover the 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: Linked courses (all prerequisites for these courses apply). The linked course cannot be dropped during the semester. 

QS211A: The Science of Play

Holt, Erin

This QS211 section is designed to combine and integrate an understanding of the scientific theory and principles with the subject of play and leisure activities. We will examine a variety of play opportunities and concepts using objective methods of inquiry in order to gain understanding of the application of the scientific method in the world.

QS211B: The Science of Exercise

Todden, Chris

Students will investigate the physical and natural world through the use of scientific method and evidence-based practices. Students address scientific questions and problems while continuing to develop their critical thinking, communication and teamwork skills, and quantitative reasoning. This section will have a focus on exercise science and how it all fits into the world of science.

QS211C: History and Philosophy of Science

Hatcher, Don

This course introduces students to the ways thinkers from various cultures-—Greek, American Indian, Latin American, Chinese, Indian, Islamic, and European-—have dealt with fundamental philosophical questions. These questions include the following:

• What is human nature?
• What is the nature of ethical behavior?
• What are the foundations of religious belief?
• What is the nature of human happiness?

QS211D: Philosophy of Religion

Peard, Tom

This course consists of the major problems in the philosophy of religion, including the problem of evil, proofs for the existence of God, proofs for the immortality of the soul, the relation between faith and reason, the relation of religion and ethics, and the nature of religious experience.

QS211E: Cyber Methods: Studying Today's Technology (HONORS ONLY)

Schaefer, Kimberly

Technology is everywhere. This course will analyze the ways in which the ever-increasing influence of technology is transforming the human experience. By examining technology via the scientific method, students will address questions and issues people face with technology in their lives.

QS211F: Cyber Methods: Studying Today's Technology

Schaefer, Kimberly

Technology is everywhere. This course will analyze the ways in which the ever-increasing influence of technology is transforming the human experience. By examining technology via the scientific method, students will address questions and issues people face with technology in their lives.

QS211G: Scientific Inquiry: 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.


  • Prerequisites: QS112 or equivalent transfer credit
  • Corequisites for QS 212: Linked courses (all prerequisites for these courses apply). The linked course cannot be dropped during the semester.

QS212A: Science Fiction

Slankard, Tamara

This reading- and writing-intensive class introduces students to some of the major works of 20th-century science fiction. Through an exploration of novels, short stories, and films, we will work toward a greater understanding of the ways in which the genre of science fiction reflects and responds to issues particular to a developing 20th-century audience, such as scientific advancement, capitalist industrialization, war and its aftermath, individual and group identity, as well as the desire for an adequate understanding of the human condition, which continues into the 21st century. Among the authors whose works we will read and discuss are Margaret Atwood, Octavia Butler, William Gibson, Robert Heinlein, Aldous Huxley, Ursula K. Le Guin, H.G. Wells, Issac Asimov, and Phillip K. Dick. We will watch and discuss such films as Aliens, Minority Report, and The Day the Earth Stood Still.

QS212B: World Literature

Janssen, Joanne 

Many of us cannot afford to become worldwide travelers. In this course, however, we will journey far from Kansas to locations such as Asia, Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Australia with the help of literature from those locales. Although our journey will be imaginative rather than literal, it will still offer us opportunities to encounter people, places, and ways of life that will expand our understanding of the world. In some cases, we may need to do some investigation of a work's historical and cultural context in order to understand it. In other cases, we may be shocked at how similar the characters and concerns are to our own, even though our backgrounds and geographical locations are far from the same. We will specifically focus on three themes to guide our study: the power of storytelling; the experience of war, violence, and imprisonment; and collisions between cultures. I look forward to undertaking this literary journey with you!

QS212C: Exploring Neptune's Realm

Knappe, Brett

Ahoy, mateys! This semester we will focus on the 70% of the Earth that is covered by water. From myth and fiction to feats and facts, this course will explore cultural and historical connections to the world's oceans and seas. Utilizing inquiry-based learning, students in this class will create associations between the nautical world and their linked courses through artworks, literature, historical episodes, music, and theater. Shiver me timbers, and set sail on section sea (or C).

QS212D: Cultural Expressions of the American Experience

Ortiz, Leonard

The course will examine through inquiry and class discussion, thematic episodes in American 20th century history including race, gender, class, war, popular culture, and labor through the cultural perceptions of the American people. Students will be asked to evaluate in written, and spoken, expression, the multitude of artistic interpretations of significant historical events and topics. Artistic interpretations will include literary excerpts, paintings, photography, music and film and other genres.

QS212E: Sound the Barritus! Examining Factors for the Collapse of Roman Imperial Unity (350-476AD)

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.


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: Linked course (all prerequisites for these courses apply). The linked course cannot be dropped during the semester.

QS311A: An Economist and a Sociologist Explain the World

Grant, Alan & Coward Bucher, Carrie

Economists and sociologists often study similar topics from different lenses; we explore the relationships among governments, markets, corporate enterprises and people. This class offers students an integrative learning opportunity as we investigate the global impact of governments and markets on social institutions, nonprofit organizations, and cultures.

QS311B: International Law

Green, Lee

This course examines the nature and sources of transnational law, the legal systems of countries around the world, and the manner in which international law is created, interpreted, and enforced by nation-states, international organizations, and nonstate actors. Included will be coverage of topics such as international human rights law, international environmental law, international criminal law, the laws governing war, the law of the high seas, and international business law.

QS311C: World Philosophies (HONORS ONLY)

Hatcher, Don

After a brief overview of logic, including deduction and induction, this course traces the historical development of scientific methodology from the Greek to modern times. We will study primary texts by Plato, Aristotle, Bacon, Descartes, Hume, Mill, Popper, and Kuhn. Through this study a number of philosophical problems related to the philosophy of science will be covered. These include relativism, how to establish the basic truths of a science, problems with basing scientific inquiry on sense perception, the problem of induction, the distinction between science and pseudo-science, and the values related to the practice of science. The course will not spend much time on the history of specific scientific discoveries.

 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.

QS411A: 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.

QS411B: Global Citizenship: The Morality of War

Peard, Tom

War affects many individuals who are not actively engaged in the conflict. Those who choose to fight must consider the effects of their actions on their families and friends. Additionally, every citizen may well have a civic responsibility to decide whether or not to support a war. That decision will surely rest in part on whether the war is to be viewed as moral or immoral. This is an inquiry-based course that will address such questions as What is a just war? Should we be pacifists? Can soldiers be blamed for obeying orders? Can terrorism be justified?

QS411C: Philosophy of Law

Peard, Tom

The purpose of this course is to examine selected problems concerning the nature of law. The focus will be on four interrelated topics: (i) the nature and aims of criminal and tort law, (ii) the moral obligation to obey the law, (iii) moral and legal issues in constitutional law, (iii) legal ethics and the administration of justice.