2024 FIYS Courses

First Year Studies Courses for Fall 2024.

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

(Public Policy: College Access and Completion.) 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 118: Chicago, First City of Comedy (Professor Elizabeth Benacka)

In 1955, Viola Spolin and Paul Sills founded the Compass Players in Chicago and established the city as the birthplace of improvisational theater. Chicagois now home to Second City and dozens of other improv clubs that both feature and train aspiring comedians and actors. It also hosts Chicago SketchFest, the world's largest sketch comedy festival. In this course we will examine the early development of improv in Chicago and analyze the role of Chicago improv in humor production today. We will take class trips to comedy clubs, to attend shows and discuss this genre with practitioners and instructors. Students will learn to distinguish among different types of humor production and reception, and will consider the value of improv beyond the realm of entertainment (e.g., how improvisational theater games may help individuals prepare for the unexpected on the stage and in life). (Under the Forester Fundamental Curriculum, this course meets the First Year Studies requirement.)

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

(Public Policy: Special Needs Students in the Classroom.) 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. (Under the Forester Fundamental Curriculum, this course meets the First Year Studies requirement.)

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. (Under the Forester Fundamental Curriculum, this course meets the First Year Studies requirement.)

FIYS 138: Art in Chicago (Professor Lia Alexopoulos)

While Chicago’s extensive contributions to modern architecture are known throughout the world, it’s been a critical center of visual art in all media since its earliest years. This course explores the rich and dynamic history of art-making in Chicago from before the Great Fire of 1871 to the present, as well as the city’s role as a center for experimentation and learning in the visual arts. Throughout its history, Chicago has been home to an art community that has always charted its own path, free from the constraints of more commercial centers like New York, and in so doing has had great impact on visual art and our broader visual culture. The city itself is a critical resource for this class, as course content - in the form of readings, discussion, and various activities - is augmented by visits to diverse art institutions and meetings with influential art-makers. (Under the Forester Fundamental Curriculum, this course meets the First Year Studies requirement.)

FIYS 146: BFFs: Besties and Female Friendship (Professor Katy Reedy)

(BFFs: "Besties" and Female Friendship.) "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. (Under the Forester Fundamental Curriculum, this course meets the First Year Studies requirement.)

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. (Under the Forester Fundamental Curriculum, this course meets the First Year Studies requirement.)

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. (Under the Forester Fundamental Curriculum, this course meets the First Year Studies requirement.)

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 164: Archaeology of Chicago (Professor Rebecca Graff)

This course introduces the discipline of archaeology by exploring the city of Chicago, using it to discuss and to engage with the social complexity found in the urban U.S. Archaeology, a disciplinary subfield of anthropology, considers the material traces of human behaviors. Historical archaeological research looks at the complex interrelation of materiality with the documentary record, revealing everyday experiences and social relations and can challenge dominant narratives. Through the lens of archaeology, including recent AI-aided technologies for data visualization and reconstruction, we explore Chicago as a key site within a precontact trail system, its place as a multicultural fur trade entrepôt, the attention from the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, and its current preeminence as a global city. Readings cover foundational concepts in archaeology; an introduction to historical archaeology; historical background on Chicago; and recent examples of analysis, interpretation, and broader dissemination through AI-aided technologies. (Under the Forester Fundamental Curriculum, this course meets the First Year Studies requirement.)*

*This course is part of HUMAN, Lake Forest College’s initiative about artificial intelligence and the humanities.

FIYS 168: Free Speech on Campus (Professor Evan Oxman)

On college campuses like our own, there can be a tension between the values of free speech and open inquiry on one hand, and the need to create an inclusive and comfortable environment for all community members, on the other. In this course, we examine this potential tension by critically interrogating and questioning various recent examples where such conflicts developed. In particular, we focus on examples where there were calls to limit and/or ban the use of certain phrases/images/texts/arguments. Throughout our pursuit of this matter, our aim is to model how to discuss sensitive political matters with civility and empathy, and how to discuss charged topics while being thoughtful. (Under the Forester Fundamental Curriculum, this course meets the First Year Studies requirement.)

FIYS 170: Representation,Political & 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. (Under the Forester Fundamental Curriculum, this course meets the First Year Studies requirement.)

FIYS 179: Bob Dylan: Music and Text (Professor Nicholas Wallin)

Musician, Poet, Social Activist, Reluctant Celebrity, Nobel Prize Winner – these are just some of the roles that Bob Dylan has played over the past 60 years. During that time, he has exerted an outsized influence on popular culture. This course explores Bob Dylan’s songs with a detailed look at their musical and lyrical content. We examine his musical influences, especially his relationship to Woody Guthrie, and his poetic inspiration, including Rimbaud, Petrarch, and Whitman. We also examine the numerous cover versions of his songs by musicians such as Jimi Hendrix, Adele, The Byrds, Garth Brooks, and others. No previous musical experience is required, only a desire to both listen and read critically.

FIYS 180: Philosophy of Humans and Animals (Professor Janet McCracken)

Western philosophers since Aristotle - at least - have claimed that human beings, as a species and alone among species, are capable of complex reasoning. The seventeenth-century French philosopher Descartes, famously, denied that non-human animals have minds or could think, claiming that they are essentially robots. From these kinds of premises, philosophers have inferred a wide range of ethical and religious claims, e.g., it is ethically permissible to eat non-human animals. Alternative claims, however, have just as long a history. In this course, we will read and discuss an array of philosophical opinions on the similarities and differences between humans and other animals, and the practices of industrial farming, training animals to work or entertain, building and patronizing zoos, animal experimentation, and other controversial topics. This course requires participation in some evening and/or weekend field trips or events, so consider your other commitments (such as off-campus employment or a fall/winter sports participation) as you identify courses of interest to you. (Under the Forester Fundamental Curriculum, this course meets the First Year Studies requirement.)

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. (Under the Forester Fundamental Curriculum, this course meets the First Year Studies requirement.)

FIYS 185: Graphic Medicine (Professor Dustin Mengelkoch)

This course examines the visual aspects of the practice of medicine by focusing on medical comics and graphic novels collectively known as graphic medicine. During our semester, we study how visuals support medical diagnoses, assist in communication between doctor and patient, and record experiences of illness via medical staff, patients, and caregivers. To have the clearest understanding of what is at stake in our study, we also make our own visuals and comics that respond to and use both primary and secondary sources. All told, we gain insight into some of the most important themes in contemporary graphic medicine. (Great artistic ability is not required in this course, but a commitment to sketching, drawing, and doodling is.)

FIYS 189: Digital Dawn: Hum, Cyberspace & AI (Professor Justin Kee)

(Digital Dawn: Humanity, Cyberspace, and the Rise of Artificial Intelligence) This course explores the development of cyberspace, the migration of human activity to its digital platforms, and the emergence of Artificial Intelligence (AI) as the “first intelligent creations” that reside entirely in a digital space. We will explore new and pressing questions about human identity and the necessary responses caused by AI's rapid advancement. The course will tackle the complexities arising from AI’s growing influence in the real world, including a range of emerging issues, regulatory concerns, and policy-making challenges. We will trace the historical trajectory of generative AI, from its science fiction roots to its connections to remix culture and social media. We will explore everything from advanced deep learning technologies to the creation of AI-generated content and the development of AI as a potential companion for humans. We will highlight the ethical challenges posed by these technologies, with emphasis on equal access to computational resources and inherent biases in AI datasets. (Under the Forester Fundamental Curriculum, this course meets the First Year Studies requirement.)*

*This course is part of HUMAN, Lake Forest College’s initiative about artificial intelligence and the humanities.

FIYS 190: TikTok, Friend or Foe? (Professor David Noskin)

(TikTok, Friend or Foe? Understanding Your Social Media Footprint) Facebook and Tumblr were all the rage in the mid 2010s. Today, it’s TikTok, YouTube, Instagram, and Snapchat. Tomorrow, who knows? Just as fast as internet and social media platforms change, so too does our relationship with this technology. Are you as dependent on it as you were in high school? Can your mood change for the better after two minutes on your smartphone? Are you tagged on photos that could be embarrassing if seen by the wrong person? In this course, we examine your social media presence and use from a psychological, social, and ethical/professional perspective. We study the rise of the internet in the 2000s, the effects it has had on teenagers and young adults of intersecting identities, and how we carry those impacts into adulthood. We read about young professionals whose social media footprints have negatively impacted careers or relationships. We try to figure out what it means to make sure our use of social media and the internet is healthy and productive.

FIYS 191: Voices of Leadership (Professor Gary Johnson)

“Voices of Leadership” invites students on a journey through perspectives of leadership ranging from mythic tales of an ancient Botswanan village to reports from leaders and thinkers from the contemporary United States. Students examine topics such as diverse leadership styles, the intersection of ethics and power, and the ethical and human challenges facing today’s emerging leaders in the age of artificial intelligence (including questions of data bias social impact). The seminar fosters critical thinking and nuanced understanding of leadership in different contexts, encouraging students to engage with the material both in individual assignments and group activities. Students develop their own leadership voices, equipped to apply their insights in their own lives.*

*This course is part of HUMAN, Lake Forest College’s initiative about artificial intelligence and the humanities.

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. (Under the Forester Fundamental Curriculum, this course meets the First Year Studies requirement.)

FIYS 193: Mathematics & the Theater (Professor Andrew Gard and Professor Chloe Johnston)

What do the arts contribute to mathematics? How does STEM find a home in the theater? In this course, we investigate the value that each of these domains brings to the other, the overlap between them, and the blank spaces waiting to be filled by the next generation of artists and mathematicians. Students read plays and watch performances incorporating mathematical concepts and history, meet with professionals whose work exists at the intersections of arts and science, and learn how artists can help us make sense of scientific data – and vice versa. In addition, the course will explore Artificial Intelligence and the theater, with emphasis on “algorithmic theater” and large language models such as ChatGPT. (Under the Forester Fundamental Curriculum, this course meets the First Year Studies requirement.)*

*This course is part of HUMAN, Lake Forest College’s initiative about artificial intelligence and the humanities.

FIYS 195: Governing the Global Climate (Professor Jim Marquardt)

(Public Policy: Governing the Global Climate.) In this seminar, students investigate the politics and policy making of on-going efforts to establish and manage a system of global climate governance. The emission of greenhouse gases associated with industrialization has steadily increased global temperatures over the past 150 years. If emissions are not reduced dramatically over the next decade or so, climate scientists have concluded that the environment will experience major and irreversible damage that threatens life on earth as we know it. For decades, countries and other international actors have been striving to build a governance system for the global climate, one that allows for the adaptation to climate change and the mitigation of its effects - and that urgently steers the world toward a post-carbon, renewable energy future. Students use concepts and models drawn from the academic disciplines of political science, economics, and public policy to study the polycentric system of global climate governance that has emerged since the late 1980s. As a major contributor to climate change and a leading global actor, the United States has a critical role to play in determining the development and effectiveness of global climate governance. Consequently, students also study how American domestic politics has shaped the United States' climate policy at home and abroad. (Under the Forester Fundamental Curriculum, this course meets the First Year Studies requirement.)

FIYS 196: American Playwrights in Chicago (Professor Ben Goluboff)

Chicago is home to a vivid and diverse theater scene that includes everything from tiny stages in the back rooms of bars to glitzy Broadway-style productions. This course examines a selection of American-authored plays from the Chicago season as the materials for an introduction to literary studies. As such, the course considers the plays we see and read as an occasion to develop skills in critical thinking, research, and writing. A secondary objective is to connect the various plays to particular moments or themes in American history and culture. We proceed from the acquisition of a simple critical vocabulary for describing a play’s form and content, through character study, to more complex questions of the director’s decisions in taking a play from the page to the stage. (Under the Forester Fundamental Curriculum, this course meets the First Year Studies requirement.)

FIYS 199: The Past and Future of a Plague (Professor Anna Trumbore Jones)

This course takes an interdisciplinary approach to the study of a disease that has afflicted humanity for its entire history: tuberculosis (TB). We begin by establishing a baseline understanding of the etiology, epidemiology, symptoms, and treatments (past and present) of tuberculosis. We then turn to the unique history of this illness and its cultural, economic, and political impact. TB may be the only epidemic disease closely equated with glamor and genius: idealized in the nineteenth century as a "beautiful death," TB influenced understanding of beauty, fashion, and the creative process. The reality of TB, however, is that of a terrible disease that particularly ravages marginalized groups, including the poor, industrial laborers, sex workers, migrants, the unhoused, and indigenous or enslaved peoples in European colonial empires. Our study of TB thus illuminates the intersection of disease with systems of oppression based on race, class, and gender. The course concludes with an examination of the recent history and possible futures of TB, including its deadly confluence with HIV/AIDS and the evolution of multi-drug resistant strains of the bacterium. (Under the Forester Fundamental Curriculum, this course meets the First Year Studies requirement.)