Fall 2017 Course Descriptions

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Master of Liberal Arts & Sciences Fall 2017 Course Descriptions


MLAS 500/520: The Human Condition: Exploring Sustainability through Literature

CRN: 61425 (CRN for 500) / 61624 (CRN for 520)
Instructor: Gerard Voos
Thursdays, 6-8:30pm, Karpen Hall 033

Students will be provided an introduction into environmental literature through the reading of the works of writers such as: Henry Thoreau, Edward Abbey, Annie Dillard, John McPhee, and Aldo Leopold. These authors provide not only a sense of place in their writings, but also a message, sometimes sublime, other times screamed at the top of their literary lungs, about the state of their world.

The media portion of the course will be characterized by documentary and mainstream films, video clips, still photography, paintings and other artistic media dealing with environmental and nature-related topics. Representative media will range from a subtle portrayal of an environmental theme to explicit declarations of an appreciation for the natural world.

Weekly classes will consist of instructor-facilitated discussion, student-led reviews of articles and media pieces, guest lectures, and discussion of weekly reading assignments.

ENG 520: American Fiction's Myths of Masculinity

CRN: 61427
Instructor: Scott Branson
Mondays, 6-8:30pm, Karpen Hall 033

The history of the novel in America has always been intertwined with the production of an image of the American man. From Hawthorne's attempt to best the "mobs of scribbling women" to the idealized loner cowboy, from the hard-boiled journalistic prose of Hemingway to the misogynist rantings of Roth, we might say that the epitome of the American self-made man is the novelistic protagonist. In this course, we will combine literary study with queer and feminist theory to begin to critique the myth of the American man, considering both how it is constructed and undermined in American literature. We will pay particular attention to the function of sexual and racial difference - and its erasure - in the idealization of the male protagonist (and author). Readings will draw from a range of texts from the 19th-century to the present. 

ENG 520: Locating Our Stories: A Creative Prose Workshop on Place

CRN: 60227
Instructor: Tommy Hays
Thursdays, 6-8:30pm

Student writers often overlook their own personal landscapes.  They don’t think of the places they know or have known as especially compelling or they believe that by writing too specifically about those places they’ll lose the reader’s interest or they think of place as something apart from story like plywood sets carted on and off a stage. In this class we will explore place as an essential, inextricable part of story making. We will learn to think about place as not just backdrop or “setting” but as embodied emotional terrain. Looked at in the right light, place can become an essential source leading us to our stories and deepening our revisions.  In this class we will study published fiction and creative nonfiction informed by place.  We’ll do exercises in class and out to help us discover how own short stories and personal essays shaped by the landscapes we carry within us.

MLAS 540: The Great War and Modern Consciousness

CRN: 60228
Instructor: Bill Spellman
Tuesdays, 6-8:30pm

The First World War (1914-1918) ushered in the age of modern industrialized warfare and mass killing on an unprecedented scale. At the very moment of its political, economic, and military apogee, Europe descended into fratricidal civil war and forfeited its recently won global primacy. In the war’s immediate aftermath, empires collapsed, punitive treaties were imposed on the vanquished, and widespread disillusionment with democratic governance and Enlightenment ideals of progress took hold across Europe. This disillusionment led directly to the rise of authoritarian and totalitarian political systems in the 1920s and 1930s, another brutal world war, a half-century of “Cold War,” and the recrudescence of dangerous nationalism in our own day. This seminar will explore the “Great War” and its influence on modern consciousness through multiple interdisciplinary lenses, including history, autobiography, poetry, fiction, and documentary film.  

CCS 560: Decision Modeling and Statistics
CCS 571: Bootcamp (1 credit hour)

Counts towards the Climate Change & Society Certificate and the MLAS degree. Director permission required to count towards ECS certificate.

CRN: 60226 & 61429 (bootcamp)
Instructor: Steve Patch
Wednesdays, 6-8:30pm, Rhoades-Robinson 213
Bootcamp will meet on two Saturdays: August 19 & 26

In this class we will examine how data can be used to help understand climate change.  In order to interpret the evidence in a statistical study of climate change it is important to consider methods of data collection and resulting data quality.  Perhaps the most powerful tool for investigating the amount and causes of global temperature change statistically is multiple regression. We will apply regression to existing temperature data with several potential predictor variables, paying close attention to the assumptions required to make the analysis valid and alternative analyses that can be used when the assumptions are not met. 

One of the most controversial aspects of climate change is how much the increase in global greenhouse gases impacts extreme events such as floods and droughts.  We will use the statistical theory of extreme values to investigate whether floods and droughts are increasing as a result of human activities.

While it is well established that there is a human impact on climate, there is a question about what humans should do about it. We will look at statistical approaches to evaluate remedial actions and introduce statistical decision theory. This will provide a potential framework for evaluating rational decisions relative to potential climate change actions.  In addition to applying the various statistical techniques, we will work on communicating the statistical results in a way that is technically correct, and also understandable by a general audience. 

The statistical background necessary to succeed in this class is at least one class in statistics at the introductory level.  We will be working with two statistical packages in the class, R and Minitab, but no previous experience with statistical software is necessary.  If you do not have that background or you feel that your statistical abilities are rusty, there will be a two-day workshop (CCS 571 Bootcamp) given the Saturday before the semester starts and the Saturday after classes start that will give you the necessary statistical background for the class.

ECS 560: Energy Systems

Counts towards the Environmental and Cultural Sustainability Certificate and the MLAS degree

CRN: 61426
Instructor: Randy Booker
Wednesdays, 6-8:30pm, Rhoades-Robinson 103

This course will include the study of current energy uses and demands. We will study basic energy concepts, heat energy systems, and efficiencies of heat systems. Renewable methods of energy generation and potential future sources of energy will be studied. Energy resources including carbon-based, water-based, wind-based, geothermal, biofuel, fuel cells, and nuclear energy will be discussed. A basic knowledge of math is needed (entering numbers into equations).


MLAS 572:  Research Methods: Publishing & Presenting Research

CRN: 61428
Instructor: Scott Branson
Tuesdays, 6-7:40pm, Karpen Hall 033

This course will serve as a laboratory where students will take a project—something already in process or something on the verge of realization—through the steps from inception to completion. The course will be constructed to accommodate a variety of projects, from articles, stories, and papers, to presentations and talks—or whatever students are currently working on. The focus will be on revision, audience consideration, research methods, and finding a suitable venue for publication or sharing. We will have workshop and working time in class to help each student fine-tune the work to fit their goals.