Fall 2023: Self and Society Seminar
As part of the First-Year Experience at Truman, you have access to the Self and Society Seminar, a selection of unique courses designed exclusively for incoming students. These seminars inspire you to engage the big questions, cultivate intellectual and practical values, and foster character as you become grounded in the methods of critical, multidisciplinary, and intercultural thinking.
The Self and Society Seminar is a required course your first year at Truman and is taken concurrently with the Truman Symposium.
Self and Society Topics Seminars
If your major does not require a discipline-specific section of the Self and Society Seminar, you will choose any section you would like from the list of Topic Seminars. Your choice should be guided by your interests (not necessarily your major!) and your availability. Make a short list of sections you’re interested in and have that list on hand when you go through Summer Orientation. You’re encouraged to explore a seminar topic that sounds engaging, whether or not it aligns with your major. Please note that there are a few courses in the next section that can also be taken by anyone interested in the discipline – feel free to explore!
This course will explore our identity and place in society through immersing ourselves in a dialog about current events. The news will be your textbook and breaking news will influence the course’s trajectory and define its discussions. You will acquire key critical thinking and research tools, develop your speaking and writing abilities, develop an understanding about how different disciplines approach national and global issues, and work with your peers to develop a greater capacity to discuss challenging and controversial issues in a collegial, scholarly manner.
Section 25 | TR 1:30-2:50 | Instructor: Kevin Minch
Welcome to the prisoner’s dilemma. You and a friend are caught by the police plotting a big caper. Do you act like a rat fink for time off or take the fall. The paradox is if you both refuse to talk, the case against you both is weak. This begins our look into how as humans we behave in conflict, how we deal with struggles against nature, to plumb questions of human free will, to think about the economy and political environment we operate in, and even how to play games. There will be regular opportunities for classroom discussion and your participation in discussions is expected and graded. The remainder of the class is devoted to topics that encourage you to reflect on your motivations, goals, and plans, particularly for your time at Truman.
Section 23 | TR 9:00-10:20 | Modality: Fully on Campus | Instructor: Philip Ryan
Each of us belongs to multiple cultures and subcultures. In this course, we will explore the fascinating and multi-faceted topic of culture, discussing questions such as ‘What is culture?’ ‘How do cultures develop?’ and ‘What are the effects of cultures?’ We will pay particular attention to the Truman culture. For example, we will discuss the cultural values of institutions of higher learning in general, and trace the development of a Liberal Arts & Sciences culture. We will read pertinent essays and look at other media, engage in class discussion, and work on various assignments to further our understanding of the concept of culture.
Section 24 | TR 10:30-11:50 | Instructor: Dan Doman
This class will devote itself to the examination of the role of higher education in American society as well as your role as students and, in the future, alumni and working adults. American college campuses have long been seen as hotbeds of political activism and social unrest, as well as the home of cutting-edge research, high-profile sports, and overactive social lives. But what else is “college?” What more does it do for society? For the individual? Is it fair to deride current students as “snowflakes,” as some pundits do? And more specifically, what is your place in college? What is your role in the university hierarchy and how will that change as you progress through your undergraduate years? What will your attendance here, and your degree, do for you in the future? Why even go to college at all?
Section 21 | TR 2:30-3:50 | Instructor: Dr. John Jones, Education
The purpose of this course is to cultivate the habits of curiosity, good scholarship, ethical consideration, and community engagement needed for students to grow as liberally educated lifelong learners. Students will explore the notion of the self and how each individual’s role is influenced within the broader context of the world, relevant groups, the local community, and society. The course serves as an introduction to critical, multidisciplinary, and intercultural thinking. This course must be taken concurrently with the Truman Shared Experiences. We will examine self and society through the lens of “Are you educated?” You will engage in a group investigation. In addition, I expect we will challenge some of your pre-conceived notions in terms of what it means to be educated and what that might look like for different social economic means.
Section 22 | T 5:30-8:20 | Instructor: Dr. Wendy Miner, Education
Our seminar section will be oriented around the study of self and society by studying writers, researching their practice and the professional steps required in identifying and reaching out to an audience, as well as exploring the creative process, more broadly.
Section 8 | TR 4:00-5:20 | Instructor: Dr. Jamie D’Agostino, English/Creative Writing
The ideologies of nationalism and democracy have greatly shaped modern political life. Ideologies are normative outlooks meant to shape mass behavior. Each ideology that we shall study has moral or ethical obligations associated with their views of justice as well as who is a member of a particular community. So in this class we will ask: Who is a member of our nation or our political community? What obligations do we have to members of the same nations or political community? What is the best form of government? What do we owe, if anything, to fellow human beings outside of our society? We will examine the role of major political, social, and economic ideologies and their implications on national identity, political community, political and economic rights, any obligations we owe to others within our community, as well as on any international obligations emerging from our ideological views of the world. In this course, we see how different ideologies lead us to different answers by examining nationalism, classical liberalism, modern liberalism, socialism, Marxism, anarchism, fascism, feminism, and environmentalism. We will also explore other traditional sources of identity.
Recommended for Political Science majors. All majors welcome.
Section 1 | MWF 9:30 | Instructor: John Quinn
Section 2 | MWF 1:30 | Instructor: John Quinn
In this class we will explore what it means for us as individuals and for the societies we are a part of to live in a time of unprecedented human modification of the natural world and unprecedented rates of environmental, demographic, and social change. Together, we will explore the evidence scientists are considering as they decide whether and how to formally designate a new geological epoch recognizing the magnitude of human impact on our planet. We will look for connections between the big questions and content of this class and other classes you are taking, and we will practice thinking from disciplinary and interdisciplinary perspectives.
Section 17 | TR: 10:30-11:50 | Instructor: Amber Johnson
An exploration of how macroeconomics, public policy, and societal norms influence the decision-making of the individual with respect to managing their own financial resources and accumulating household wealth.
Recommended for Business and Accounting majors. All majors welcome.
Section 20 | MWF 12:30 | Instructor: Scott Templeton
We investigate the foundations of Self and Society by exploring our world reality as informed by disciplines that evolved from the Scottish enlightenment period, once known as Moral Sciences. We know some of them as Economics, History, Political Science, Psychology, and Sociology, along with a recent blending of Economics and Political Science known as Public Choice. Drawing on literature from such disciplines, including statistics, we examine what we think we know, what actually is, and explore where we should go as we and our society move forward. We provide a framework for addressing both timeless and modern societal concerns as found today in all forms of media, political debates, and conversations among friends.
All majors welcome.
Section 6 | TR 9:00-10:20 | Instructor: David Gillette
In this section students will consider music through the lens of many disciplines, including biology, psychology, philosophy, and sociology. Students will explore the various factors that contribute to music preference, the acoustic and physiological processes of sound, how music is used and celebrated in society, and the use of music for therapeutic purposes. Students do not need to have prior formal music training to enroll in this class.
Recommended for music majors. All majors welcome.
Section 19 | MW 1:30-2:50 | Instructor: Amanda Turnbull
While the term “heartland” is often used to describe the central geographic area of the United States, especially its more rural regions, in this class the term is used to draw attention to the ways in which the places in which we spend our formative years play a role in shaping our sense of identity. People tend to express affinity for the place that they call home—their “heartland”. And that place tends to infuse them with particular worldviews and values that may travel with them even when they leave the place. We will explore how those worldviews tend to differ for places or communities of different sizes spread across the urban suburban-rural continuum and how the economic and cultural differences between these places can be either a source of strength or of division in the broader society.
All majors welcome.
Section 10 | MWF 11:30 | Instructor: Michael Seipel
The course will look at why gays have been traditionally attracted to the theater; how homosexuals have been depicted historically in theater; how the LGBT community is depicted in contemporary theater; who the major LGBT playwrights have been (since Oscar Wilde); how spectators perceive LGBT characters and performances; and in what way is all the world a stage, and all its inhabitants, merely players.
All majors welcome.
Section 3 | TR 1:30-2:50 | Instructor: James Hammerstrand
This particular section “Is the world getting better or worse?” focuses on evidence-based decision making. The conversation includes how we had made decisions about world issues, how one’s background affected the perception, what is our role in the society promoting “correct” information, and how to make a good decision which hopefully makes the world better.
Recommended for Statistics majors. All majors welcome.
Section 16 | MWF 11:30 | Instructor: Scott Alberts
Story sits on the curb at the intersection of self and society. This S&S section will look at the tool of story, its historical development, and the wide variety of ways we use it (and abuse it) in order to make sense out of the world, both collectively as cultures and individually as we consciously and unconsciously go through identity development.
All majors welcome.
Section 9 | MWF 10:30 | Instructor: David Leaton
In this section, we will use speculative fiction—particularly science fiction and fantasy stories—to approach the issues of Self and Society. Once framed as niche interests, these stories make up some of the biggest pieces of intellectual property in the world today. Such stories might seem like simple entertainments featuring wizards and elves and dragons, but these worlds and the ideas we bring with us to talk about them reflect very present concerns about society and our place in them. So step through the wardrobe with me and let’s see how we can use these stories to better understand ourselves.
Section 14 | MWF 2:30 | Instructor: Joshua Nudell
We explore the intersection of chemistry, biochemistry, and societal issues in the pursuit of sustainability. It is expected that incoming CHEM and BCMB majors will take this course, but it would be interesting and accessible to all students with minimal chemistry background.
Recommended for Chemistry majors. All majors welcome.
Section 13 | MWF 3:30 | Instructor: Billy Miller
This course will introduce students to the fields of studio art, design, and art history with an emphasis on the big ideas that visual thinkers address in their work. Students will explore the role of individual identity, culture, and society in the pursuit of artistic research and what it means to be a responsible cultural producer. The course includes reading, writing, discussion, and lecture, as well as two studio-based projects. Think, Make, Art is intended for studio art, design, and art history majors as well as anyone interested in visual arts.
Recommended for Studio Art, Design, and Art History majors. All majors welcome.
Section 7 | TR 9:00-10:20 | Instructor: Priya Kambli
What is a natural resource? How do we construct the value of those resources, and what is considered a common good? How do we think about water that flows from drinking fountains versus that in a can of soda, or an industrial solvent versus an aquifer? Given the central role of water’s many forms across ecological, cultural, and economic landscapes, it’s no surprise that questions of water governance span centuries and continents. In this class, we will examine concepts of water in two different societies: the Roman Empire, and the contemporary United States. We will explore water management in ancient and contemporary cities. As a class, we will analyze the various ways in which people value and think about water: drinking water, recreation, sanitation, economic resource, and catastrophic floods or droughts. To what extent do these concepts emerge as a part of our cultural identity? How did the perspective of past peoples differ, and what can we learn from those differences?
Recommended for History majors. All majors welcome.
Section 15 | MWF 1:30 | Instructor: Stephanie Russell
Section 18 | MWF 10:30 | Instructor: Stephanie Russell
The purpose of this course is to cultivate the habits of curiosity, good scholarship, ethical consideration, and community engagement needed for students to grow as liberally educated lifelong learners. Students will explore the notion of the self and how each individual’s role is influenced within the broader context of a major or occupation, relevant groups, the local community, and society. The course serves as an introduction to critical multi-disciplinary, and intercultural thinking. This course is designed to be taken concurrently with the Truman Symposium.
This section will examine self and society through the lens of health care professions/disciplines with a social and historical context. Students will compare and contrast the impact of social structures upon health care of individuals and communities, as well as the health care professionals providing care. Topics for discussion will include the historical evolution of health care professions, with a particular emphasis upon the ethics of caring and research in growing a body of disciplinary and interdisciplinary knowledge.
Section 11 | MWF 11:30 | Instructor: Teak Nelson
This class will explore the intersection between identity and performance. We are surrounded by an abundance of mediated and unmediated performances — from Tik Tok to the stages of Broadway. In all of these we find performances of identity. You will work with your peers to develop a greater capacity to discuss challenging and controversial issues related to identity, as well as develop an understanding about how different disciplines approach the idea of performance as a critical lens to analyze how cultures and individuals form, and reform identities.
TR 10:30-11:50 | Instructor: Jonathan Wehmeyer
This seminar examines moral theory, legal theory, and the important ways in which the two do and do not intersect. The class will analyze the relationship between self and society through an examination of such questions as: What is a law? What is a just law? How ought one respond to an unjust law? What ought to be the limits of how law may regulate citizens’ lives? The class will explore these ideas through topics such as capital punishment, abortion, marriage, privacy, due process of law, and freedom of expression.
TR 9:00-10:20 | Instructor: Nicole Thompson
Self and Society Discipline-Specific Seminars
Some academic departments have created discipline-specific Self and Society Seminars for students entering their programs. If you’re pursuing one of these areas of study, your full-time academic advisor will create a starter schedule for the fall semester with the Self and Society Seminar for your program. You’ll talk with an adviser about that schedule during Summer Orientation. Please note that some of the courses on this list can be taken by anyone interested in the discipline!
Required of biology majors. All majors welcome.
Biology majors who are eligible for the transfer section should take TRU310:
The purpose of this course is to cultivate the habits of curiosity, good scholarship, ethical consideration, and community engagement needed for students to grow as liberally educated lifelong learners. Students will explore the notion of the self and how each individual’s role is influenced within the broader context of a major or occupation, relevant groups, the local community, and society. The course serves as an introduction to critical, multi-disciplinary, and intercultural thinking. This course will also serve to introduce biology majors to the discipline. Students will explore the role of individual identity, culture, and society in the pursuit of biological research and what it means to be a responsible citizen of the natural world.
TRU 112: Required for Biology Majors. All majors welcome.
NOTE: Biology majors that are eligible for the transfer section should take TRU310.
Section 1 | MWF 8:30 | Instructor: Joanna Hubbard
Section 2 | MWF 9:30 | Instructor: Stephen Hudman
Section 3 | MWF 2:30 | Instructor: Robert Sieg
Restricted to Harry S. Truman Leadership Scholars.
This course is designed with the Harry S. Truman Leadership scholars in mind. This section of the seminar approaches the development of self and identity through the lens of literary study with an emphasis in Leadership. This course offers the groundwork for self and society and leadership through an integrative framework of historical and cultural context, analysis, practice, and reflection. Specifically, this course focuses on ideas pertaining to language, thought, identity, culture, diversity, and the overlap with and impact on society. Additionally, there are opportunities for you to develop best practices for being an ethically engaged citizen and leader at various stages of life. Throughout the course, you will hone your understanding of what it means to hear and interpret narratives of self, how we develop and share an awareness about our own identity and diversity, while recognizing our individual role and responsibility as participants and leaders in our local and global communities.
NOTE: Restricted to Harry S. Truman Leadership Scholars.
TRU 114, Section 1
TR 3:00-4:20 | Instructor: Brian Heston
Recommended for computer science majors. All majors welcome.
TRU 116: Recommended for Computer Science majors. All majors welcome.
Section 1 | MWF 11:30 | Instructor: Ruthie Halma
Section 2 | MWF 1:30 | Instructor: Ruthie Halma
Recommended for math majors. All majors welcome.
TRU 117: Recommended for Math majors. All majors welcome.
Section 1 | MWF 9:30 | Instructor: Don Bindner
Self and Society Transfer Student Seminar
If you are a first-year transfer student who has completed either an Associate’s degree, or the Missouri core transfer curriculum (CORE 42), or one full year of college coursework at another institution prior to transferring to Truman, you will enroll in the Transfer Seminar. All other first-year transfer students will register for a course of their choice from the lists above.
College comes with many opportunities and many challenges. This course works with students to develop a plan of action for both succeeding in college and fostering one’s well being.
TRU 310 | 4:30-5:20 | MW | Baldwin Hall
Oct. 11-December 15, 2023 (2nd block course only)
Instructors: Nancy Daley Moore and Jeanne Harding
Last update: Aug. 9, 2023