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Senior Seminar Course Descriptions, Fall 2009 

IDS 431: Female, Male, Human
Lynn Japinga
In this seminar we will read a number of autobiographies and memoirs which explore the role of gender, race, class, religion, and sexual orientation in shaping the author's life.  Students will explore these factors in their own lives as they write the life-view paper.

IDS 452: Education and Christian Ways of Living
C. Baars Bultman

(Meets first 5 weeks of semester only.)
This seminar asks you to examine your own complex and arduous search for the moral high ground. Our discussions will be framed by the seminar’s on-going concern with search, struggle, sacrifice and service. The course readings will be varied and will include works by the novelist Walker Percy and the moralist and child psychiatrist Robert Coles, as well as the libretto from “Les Miserables.”

IDS 452: Education and Christian Ways of Living
Dianne Portfleet

An examination of how Christians thing they ought to live, how and why they think they ought to live that way, and how Christian ways of living can and should affect teachers, teaching and learning. Special attention is given to the influence teachers have on the values of their students.

 IDS 461: Science and Christian Perspectives
Steve Taylor

The course centers on issues of natural science and Christianity. Among issues considered are: Are science and Christianity in conflict, hard to reconcile, or in agreement? Where are the areas of potential tension and compatibility? How have Christians contributed to science in the past? Current perspectives on medicine, science and human values (and how they are connected to our lives) will be covered.

The books chosen for the course are very readable, and deal with an adjustment to life with Christian values in mind. Students will read works by Timothy Johnson, C.S. Lewis, H.F. Schaefer, Lewis B. Smedes, and John C. Polkinghorne.

IDS 495: Do No Harm – Ethics of Health Care
Catherine Clarey-Sanford

This course focuses on an in-depth examination of the legal and ethical rights, responsibilities, and obligations of the practicing health care provider in a changing medical environment. We will discuss what it means to "do no harm" with an emphasis being placed on the analysis of what is morally right or good for those in our care. In this course, we will examine various topics that arise in the field of medicine—euthanasia; truth-telling by physicians; rationing of health care, and other issues—and attempt to reach reasoned conclusions regarding the moral issues we encounter. We will try to strike a balance between the practical and the theoretical: we will read and discuss actual cases and will attempt to extract the "universal principles" and general lessons from these cases.

IDS 495: Vocation and Health Care
Steve Hoogerwerf

This course is designed to explore what it means to think about the meaning of vocation (from the Latin vocare, to call) especially in the context of health care. Using the concept of vocation suggests several questions that might be addressed: What would it mean to be "called" as a care-giver or healer? How would health care be different if one approached it as a vocation than if one considered it simply a career? How does theology, spirituality and ethics become an integral part of the vocation to care for those who are sick? If you do not expect to be working in health care, similar questions can be posed within the context of your own life and work. In fact, I encourage you to frame some of your own questions and share them with me early in the course.

When we consider our vocations or callings, we do not only think about jobs. Our life is more than our work, and our sense of calling can (and I think ought to) inform all of life: our relationships, leisure, citizenship, use of natural resources, and our service to the wider communities we live in. So, while we will often talk about vocation in the context of health care, we can and should expand our considerations to the whole of our lives.

The way we frame our questions and answers will unavoidably draw on the religious or philosophical perspectives we bring, so our topic is inescapably concerned with our worldviews. Throughout the course it is my intention that our class provides a safe and nurturing context in which each student can explore, clarify, verbalize, and question his or her worldview. As the course draws to a close, students will be invited to formulate their answers to these and other questions as they work toward completing their life view paper and presentation. A variety of readings, video presentations, classroom guests and creative learning activities will provide the basis for our semester-long conversation.

IDS 495: Activists and Advocates
Julie Kipp

This course is designed to promote “service learning.” This is to say that the course aims to get you out in the world doing something rather than just into the library thinking about what others have done, or what you might at some time do. We will be reading, discussing, and responding in writing to texts that grapple with questions about service (how/when/why/if we are called “serve” one another), but we will also develop and carry-out specific projects that involve service in our community. This might involve volunteering your time, advocating a cause, taking action on a specific issue close to your heart. In The Call of Service: A Witness to Idealism, Pulitzer Prize winner Robert Coles claims that “all service is directly or indirectly ethical activity, a reply to a moral call within, one that answers a moral need in the world.” To this end, this course is designed not simply to help you to think about activism and advocacy as a way of life, but to encourage you to begin living that life right now. My mother used to tell me that “much is expected of those to whom much has been given.” This course will push you first to consider what that means for you and then to go out and do something about it.

IDS 495: Scripture, Theology and the Market System
John Lunn

It becomes clearer every day that the problems facing the American economy have significant moral and ethical implications. This course will examine how the Christian religion can contribute to an understanding of these problems. Beginning by building a framework to examine the relation between the biblical message and economic organization, the course will move to examining critiques of markets by some theologians, the differences between modern economies and the agrarian economy of Israel in the biblical period, and an examination of "bourgeoise virtues."

IDS 495: Routes and Roots - Travel, Writing, and Hope in the New Millennium Jesus Montano

Travel. Journey. Faith. Why is it that the farther we venture afar the deeper we go into the recesses of our hearts? Footsteps on the beach, on the desert floor, or slowly winding their way up a creek in the mountains. Why is it that the farther we venture afar the more we discover that we are following those who came before? The road of the vagabond, the highway of tomorrow and tomorrow, or the spiritual journey of the mystic, leading to paradise or to nothing. Why is it that the farther we venture afar the more we come to realize that the path on earthen ground and the path on ethereal heaven are one and the same, interlocked and intertwined because flesh-bound spirit-carriers must walk on earth and in heaven? Home. Home. Home. Why is it that the farther we venture afar we always return home, even if we do not know exactly what home is, especially now after our venture?

This is a course on creative writing, photography, and travel. This course is about local and global concerns, about the creative powers of literature and the restorative powers of the imagination, about the need to wander far on routes both lonely and well traveled and the need to dig roots deep into the dark ground, and about Today and Tomorrow. Take this course if you want to discuss travel, writing, and Hope in the new millennium.

IDS 495: What’s Worth Remembering?
John Shaughnessy

In this seminar we will explore what it means to remember from a variety of perspectives (including our own) to discover the ways in which remembering influences our understanding of others and ourselves. Memory will serve as a window for engaging in reflection and critical examination of our life experiences to discern and articulate why we believe what we believe and why we do what we do. We will read and discuss memoirs as one way to encounter people’s reflections on their remembered lives. These memoirs will serve as a framework for the life view paper students will write.