COVID-19 precautions and policies are in place to ensure the health and safety of our campus community. Information can be found on our main COVID-19 page

2022 FIYS Courses

FIYS Courses for Fall 2022

FIYS 107: Public Policy: College Access and Completion (Professor Dawn Abt-Perkins)

This course explores key issues surrounding the accessibility of college in the United States, including questions about college debt, college funding formulas, and the impact these policies have on the ability of students from various identity groups to afford and attend college. Furthermore, the course considers factors that impact students’ ability to complete their college degrees, as well as policies that might help close the “graduation gaps” that exist between different populations of students and increase college completion rates. Finally, the course works to quantify the economic “worth” of a college diploma in the United States and the implications that graduation gaps (racial, socioeconomic, etc.) have on societal outcomes.

FIYS 109: The Future (Professor Don Meyer)

According to an article published in the Dayton Daily News in September 1920, by the year 2020: “No one can doubt but that the flying machines of a new and important type, not known today, will be in general use a century removed… The automobile will be succeeded by something entirely different [and] human beings a century hence will become either much smaller or much larger than they are today. Everything will have changed.” Predicting the future is clearly difficult! Experts in numerous fields are routinely called upon to make predictions, and often fail miserably at their task—not foreseeing a pandemic, the outcome of political races, economic upheaval, whether bridges can withstand stress loads, and so on. And yet, we cannot avoid making predictions—it is an essential part of being human. This course explores the way people have made predictions in the past, both good and bad; students also learn sound methods for improving our own ability to see into the future.

FIYS 112: Wild Chicago: Exploring the Urban Jungle (Professor Sean Menke)

This course offers students a clear understanding of the wildlife around us and how humans interact with their environment. The goal for the class is to help students think and write clearly and critically, form educated opinions about a wide range of environmental issues in urban environments, and defend those opinions. Based on our own observations we also learn how to ask educated questions about the relationships between humans and the environment. By visiting with a carefully selected group of environmental professionals and regularly observing and recording information on the environment in which we live, we explore how wildlife interacts with humans on an everyday basis.

FIYS 114: From Now On: Art, Society, and Technology (Professor David Sanchez Burr)

Digital media, technology, and the arts have become potent forces creating changes in aesthetics, communication, social engagement, political movements, and economic conditions. From social media to Virtual Reality, the lines between reality and artifice blur. As these forces combine, reconfigure, and create innovations, how will these changes impact our everyday experience? What we should expect in the world of work? Mass access to design software allows everyone to be a maker capable of creating shifts in cultural and social trends. How can one thrive in a such a dynamic world? Artists have played an important role as a counterpoint to mass-media by creating work that articulates important questions and examines such changes. Through discussions, readings, exercises and projects the course examines the impact of new fields in art and technology. This course helps students to identify, learn about, and potentially create tools to navigate a technologically dense future.

FIYS 117: Becoming Adult in Times of Change: Liminal States (Professor Holly Swyers)

You probably don't have a word for it, but the world right now is in a liminal state. In anthropology, a liminal state is a time of being betwixt and between, when things are not the same as they were before, but they haven't yet found a new normal. Starting college is also a liminal state, because you’re not really a high school student anymore but not quite a college student. This course focuses on figuring out your liminal state in three ways: 1) exploring the idea of liminality, including the idea that all of college is a liminal space before adulthood; 2) challenging you (literally) to try something new on a regular basis, while maintaining a “beginner’s mind”; and 3) exposing you to tools you will need in your college and adult life, ranging from negotiating politics at dinner parties to exploring career options. If you’ve read this far and didn’t get put off by the scary title or your assumptions about what this course would be, you have what it takes.

FIYS 119: Chicago Media Industries (Professor Camille Yale)

Over the last 170 years, Chicago has been home to a diverse and vibrant set of media industries. From the founding of the Chicago Tribune in 1847, to the production of iconic films like Ferris Buehler's Day Off in the 1980s, to the current boom in television production started by Dick Wolf's Chicago Fire franchise in 2012, there is no doubt that Chicago has made an indelible mark on the U.S. media landscape. In this class, we will examine the history, policies, and practices of Chicago media industries, including print, film, radio, and television. We will also look at the way Chicago media industries have been impacted by larger political and economic trends, such as new media's effect on the newspaper industry, and growing international competition for Hollywood investment, known as “runaway production.” This course will include a field trip to a Chicago media company as well as famous movie locations around the city.

FIYS 120: Religious Violence and Coexistence (Professor Anna Jones)

How do people of different religious faiths interact? How do they create professional and personal relationships—and what limits are placed on those relationships, either by law or by the individuals themselves? Conversely, what causes hostility and even violence between faiths? How do people go about “othering” those whose beliefs and practices are different than their own? This course investigates these eternal questions through an in-depth study of relations between Christianity, Judaism, and Islam in the ancient and medieval Mediterranean world. We begin with the earliest interactions between these religious traditions, as Christianity and Judaism diverged from common roots into separate faiths in the first two centuries of the Common Era, and as Islam emerged in the seventh century. In our second unit, we study medieval Spain, where Christians, Jews, and Muslims coexisted relatively peacefully for centuries, but where that toleration crumbled in the later Middle Ages, culminating in the expulsion of Jews (1492) and Muslims (1502) from the kingdom, and in the establishment of the Spanish Inquisition.

FIYS 125: Public Policy: Special Needs Students in the Classroom (Professor Christine Walker)

The passage of the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA) in 1990 mandated a “free and appropriate education” to every child in the United States through the age of 18, regardless of disabilities. For the past 30 years, American schools have been required to provide support for medical conditions, learning differences, and other challenges to students who qualify. In this course, students learn how the law was created, how student supports are paid for, what regulations are in place to ensure family involvement in creating an Individual Education Plan (IEP), how mandates regarding the “least restrictive environment” possibly led to unintended and negative consequences, and how parents work with government officials on issues related to the IDEA. Students evaluate the effectiveness of the law, study the challenges in enforcing compliance (while the IDEA was enacted at the federal level, individual state boards of education are responsible for ensuring each school district complies), and contemplate legislative improvements for future special needs students.

FIYS 127: Pandemic History: The Black Death (Professor Noah Blan)

Since early 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic has reminded the world of a harsh reality familiar to nearly everyone in premodern history: in a time without vaccines or robust public health interventions, virulent and novel pathogens and the pandemics they caused were frightening facts of life. Infectious diseases have shaped humankind since the late Neolithic era, but the Black Death (or, simply, “plague”) of the mid-14th century was the most catastrophic pandemic in human history, in terms of the mortality rate of the populations it impacted. From the mid 1340s to the 1350s, the plague claimed the lives of nearly half of the people living in the affected areas of Africa, Asia, and Europe. This course takes an interdisciplinary approach to the study of the Black Death, while also discussing earlier (6th century) and later (19th-20th century) outbreaks of plague. We begin by establishing a baseline understanding of the causative factors, symptoms, spread, and treatments of plague. We then turn to the unique genomic and human history of this illness and its cultural, economic, environmental, religious, and political impact. We also explore multiple facets of the human response to these natural disasters which ranged from prayer and medical treatments to quarantines and scapegoating. In addition to addressing the history of the plague, this course offers a lens through which to view the current pandemic and future public health challenges.

FIYS 129: Reading College (Professor Zachary Martin)

No, that isn’t a misprint. This is not a course on reading in college, though you’re in college and we’ll certainly be reading. This is a course on how to read and interpret college as an institution and concept: how it has been represented in literature, criticism, film, and popular culture and how these representations enhance, distort, and sometimes transform academia. Course texts will include novels, short stories, essays, criticism, films, TV shows, and archival materials that describe (and often criticize) the postsecondary academic experience in the United States. We’ll examine these texts in light of our own personal experiences, with the goal of coming to a better understanding of college as an institution, our own aims and roles within that institution, and how we can inspire change within that institution and our society more broadly.

FIYS 130: The Science of Cooking (Professor Elizabeth Fischer)

Since 1992, the term molecular gastronomy has become part of understanding the world’s cuisine. This course examines the chemistry and physics of cooking, and the physiology of taste and flavor. We explore such questions as what is the science behind making a foam or gel; how do you prevent food bacteria from forming; and what does it mean to temper chocolate? The science of cooking includes the important works of Hervé This, Heston Blumenthal, Ferran Adria, José Andrés, and Grant Achatz, among others. We read their work and not only become familiar with the latest materials and methods of the world’s most innovative cuisine, but also learn how these methods may be part of the solution to ending world hunger. We work with a chef to perform experiments to elucidate the theory we will be studying.

FIYS 140: Global Science Fiction (Professor Tessa Sermet)

Science fiction is more popular than ever: it is almost impossible nowadays to avoid superhero movie “universes,” while dystopian novels such as The Handmaid’s Tale—and their TV adaptations—are everywhere. This market seems to be dominated by Anglo-American science fiction, but Anglophones do not have a monopoly on this genre. How does science fiction from other regions and languages embrace and address its (multi-) cultural diversity, and how does it differ from Anglo-American science fiction? Is the experience of reading science fiction different because that work originated in another language and culture? This course explores these questions through texts and films from all over the world. Even if originally published in other languages, all texts will be available in English.

FIYS 143: Public Art in Chicago (Professor Linda Horwitz)

This course is devoted to an examination of public art in Chicago and its suburbs, including mural painting and sculpture, among other genres. Using photographic documentation, background readings and research, lectures, group discussions, research-based and analytical writings, and select visits to see works of art, students gain insight into the factors involved in the rhetorical construction of cities through public art. The class tackles issues and assignments including: textual analysis, semiotic meaning, visual culture, the construction of public memory, and persuasive writing, all with the goal of gaining practical academic skills while learning about an important facet of the rich cultural experience that Chicago holds for residents, commuters, and tourists. 

FIYS 146: BFFs, “Besties,” and Female Friendship (Professor Catherine Reedy)

“Besties” are found everywhere in contemporary fiction, television, and film. Usually placed behind romantic relationships, female friendship is now understood to be a powerful and even transformative dynamic, one that is central to female identity. Men and lovers take a back seat: A “Coldplay song plays in my heart” whenever Hannah Horvath sees her two closest friends in “Girls.” Are BFFs taking over the usual unions of romantic or erotic love? How much are girlfriends the focus of these stories? In this course, we examine these contemporary representations of female friendship, from television programs such as “Girls” to the erotic and dangerous “besties” of Emma Cline’s The Girls. Throughout, we discover the many sides of this complex, and contradictory, relationship.

FIYS 147: Government and Markets (Professor Kent Grote)

Why is the government involved in some aspects of our lives more than others? This question can be answered in many different ways, depending on one’s theoretical background. Different economists would provide different analyses of the government’s role, especially as it relates to business and markets. They would also base their arguments on fundamental economic theories. The primary goal of this course is to develop an understanding of economic markets and issues where governments have become important participants. Both in the United States and abroad, governments take an active role in the economics of education, the environment, health care, big business, poverty, and unemployment, among other issues. Although the course will be approached from an economic perspective, the topics relate to other fields of study as well, and particularly to the fields of politics and sociology.

FIYS 152: The Politics of Population (Professor Danielle Cohen)

When you were born, you joined about 6 billion other humans on this planet, but by 2050, the world’s population is expected to reach 9.7 billion. What are we going to do with everyone? In this course, we explore the intersections between population growth and its impact on security, economics, and the environment. We explore a range of national efforts to manage population growth, from China’s infamous “One Child Policy” to measures implemented in Japan and Singapore to encourage childbearing. We investigate how the international community shifted from a population control approach to one that prioritizes reproductive health, with accompanying debates surrounding reproductive choice; whether imbalanced sex ratios in a society lead to increased violence, including sex trafficking; and how sustainable development goals inform demographic policies, with particular attention to the impact on both women worldwide and on citizens of the Global South.

FIYS 159: Theatre and Medicine (Professor Chloe Johnston)

This course investigates the intersections of art and science, from therapeutic applications of theatre and performance to plays about medicine. Such collaborations have produced interactive exhibits to teach audiences about neuroscience, used actors to help train doctors, and created plays to educate the public about medical issues. Students in this course read plays, watch performances, and participate in workshops with pioneers in the field of art therapy. Students consider how different kinds of knowledge inform and enrich each other, and they learn about the incredible discoveries that come about when artists and scientists work together. The course makes use of Chicago’s vibrant theatre scene to see live plays and meet artists who explore these disciplinary intersections in their work.

FIYS 161: Narrative and Knowledge Production (Professor Daniel Henke)

Telling stories is a fundamental part of being human. We share stories of our families, friends, and experiences. We examine religious texts, myths, folklore, and the media for insight into ourselves and others. We create, share, and explore internal narratives to better make sense of the world. However, the significance of storytelling is often undervalued in the world of academic knowledge production. In this class, we examine narrative and how it is used to offer legitimacy for our actions and beliefs. Moreover, we look closely at narrative’s relationship to knowledge production and how narrative is interwoven with facets of identity, such as race, gender, sexuality, social class, and ability. We read critical, feminist, working class, and queer theory and examine how writers from nondominant identities use narrative to articulate their own complex position in relation to education and culture. This course demonstrates that stories are both ubiquitous and integral in knowledge production and that they can both subvert and reinforce the status quo.

FIYS 170: Representation, Political and Personal (Professor Zachary Cook)

The first year of college is an opportunity to consider what sociologist Erving Goffman called the “presentation of self,” or the ways that individuals try to make a favorable impression upon others. This course employs an interdisciplinary approach, with a bit of sociology, a bit of psychology, and a lot of political science, to investigate the ways in which people seek, as Dale Carnegie put it, to “win friends and influence people.” Many case studies are drawn from the interactions between politicians and the voters whose support they hope to win; after all, few individuals spend more time thinking rigorously about their presentation of self than elected officials and their staffers. We use examples from national politics, but also take field trips to meet with and observe elected officials around the North Shore and in Chicago. We investigate the art of political representation and how elected officials seek to win constituents’ trust, as well as the possibilities of personal “re-presentation” that first-year students engage in when they arrive in this new college environment.

FIYS 182: This, That, Here, and There: Borders and Boundaries (Professor Roshni Patel)

This is an uncontroversial claim: nouns are persons, places, things, and ideas. Yet, the precise lines separating a person, place, or thing—and thus delineating their purpose and nature—are more complex. Consider, for example, the type of existence that a historical artifact has in a museum. Labeled and placed within a glass case, it becomes an object of study and observation. However, in its original deployment, it may have been a tool to complete a task, a document that communicated information, or a good exchanged in trade. Whether as an object in a museum or as a thing in a world, its very being emerges from an intricate web of relations. What we determine the object to be is very much affected by where we find it. In different ways, the boundaries surrounding persons, groups (such as a group of citizens of a nation), and places also have hidden intricacies. This course is a study of these limits and the way that their openness or rigidity affects many features of the human and natural world. We will study philosophical sources from ancient India, the United States, and Europe, alongside material from the disciplines of history, robotics, film, and literature. Moreover, students will engage with case studies of boundaries claimed within the city of Chicago, the nation of the US, and groups around the world.

FIYS 183: Law, Literature, and Logic (Professor Chad McCracken)

A lawyer arguing a case tries to shape that case into a coherent, persuasive story: a dry recitation of facts and law is not enough. So, law is a literary—a story-telling—enterprise. And a dramatic one: fiction writers and filmmakers use crimes, investigations, court proceedings, and punishments to generate interest in their works. And yet, we still tend to think of literary flourishes as deceptive—after all, one meaning of “to tell a story” is “to tell a lie.” Legal reasoning, moreover, often seems arcane or merely manipulative, aimed more at obscuring the truth than revealing it. In this course we look into the complex and often bewildering interplay among law, literature, and logic, with the hope of illuminating all three—and with the hope of improving your writing skills, your reasoning skills, your rhetorical skills, and your argumentative skills.

FIYS 188: Tolkien, Lewis, and the Literature of the Inklings (Professor Carla Arnell)

Bilbo Baggins, Gollum, and Smaug. Mr. Tumnus, and the White Witch. Sound familiar? If you thought you’d left those familiar fantasy figures behind with your childhood reading, think again. This seminar will revisit the delightful fantasy worlds of Middle-Earth, Narnia, and other imagined places by examining the rich literary legacy of Tolkien, Lewis, Williams, and Barfield—a group of British writers known as the “Inklings,” who were pioneers of twentieth-century fantasy fiction. This course will involve close reading of major fiction and nonfiction by these authors (and their influential precursors) as well as opportunity to discuss the fascinating biographical, historical, theological, and aesthetic context of their works. The seminar will pay especial attention to the Inklings’ intellectual and artistic indebtedness to the medieval past, to their discourses about religion, politics, and ethics, and to the way their fiction refracts major twentieth-century events, particularly World Wars I and II.

No special technology or other resources needed.

FIYS 192: Public Policy & Law: Police Reform (Professor Stephanie Caparelli)

The murder of George Floyd sparked nationwide protests questioning the legitimacy of America’s policing tactics. Visceral images of police brutality spurned rallying cries to “defund the police” and hold officers and departments accountable, as some Americans pushed for a reevaluation of traditional policing systems deemed ill-equipped to deal with the multifaceted issues endemic in criminal behavior, including addiction, mental illness, poverty, and racism. And yet, the vast majority of policing remains unchanged; notably, voters in Minneapolis, the site of Floyd’s murder, rejected proposals to reallocate police funds, and courts have repeatedly rejected cases that would end qualified immunity defenses for law enforcement. Through a legal lens focusing on legal case studies and media literacy, and through discussions with legal and police experts, this course will evaluate the policy issues and arguments at the heart of policing reforms and consider how effective public policy could bring about meaningful reform.

FIYS 195: Public Policy: Governing the Global Commons (Professor Jim Marquardt)

The global commons are the domains throughout the world – and the resources found there – that are outside the jurisdiction of countries. They include the oceans, the atmosphere, and cyberspace, as well as Antarctica and outer space. This course studies the international politics of the global commons and the tensions between two competing dynamics around the use of global resources. The first is the effort to operate management structures that ensure the sustainable use of these resources for everyone's benefit. The second is the incentive among nations to use these resources for their individual benefit without regard for the common good of all users, which results in the depletion of these resources, to the world’s detriment. Case studies of climate change, ozone depletion, ocean biodiversity, and the militarization of outer space will be used to illustrate these tensions, and policy solutions that rely on global governance will be evaluated.