IDST-010 Ignatius Seminar
Fall for 2016-2017
Drawing on the educational insights of Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits, these courses seek to cultivate the Ignatian ideal of cura personalis: care for each person's individuality and care for his or her integral wholeness. Like other Renaissance educators, Jesuits sought to educate the whole person--mind, body and spirit--a tradition alive at Georgetown College today. The Ignatius Seminars focus not only on conveying information and intellectual content, but also on building a home for wisdom and enriching all dimensions of our students' lives.

Designed for the intellectually curious student interested in an integrative and personal approach to learning, the small class setting of these first-year seminars enables students to get to know their professors and each other well. In this atmosphere, the faculty can recognize the strengths and educational needs of each student, creating a teaching and mentoring environment. Each professor's expression of his or her particular scholarly pursuit provides students with a tangible example of the interplay of mind and spirit, of disciplined work and intellectual excitement, of academic rigor and creative play.

The Ignatius Seminars initiate opportunities early in your time at Georgetown to cultivate basic skills that faculty identify as important: reading a text with thought and insight, speaking clearly and persuasively in an academic discussion, and writing a structured and sustained argument. This is a chance to experience Georgetown College and university learning at its best.
Credits: 3
Prerequisites: None

Course syllabi
The following syllabi may help you learn more about this course (login required):
Fall '16: Jackson, M. (description, file download)
Fall '16: Stohr, K (description)
Additional syllabi may be available in prior academic years.

Sections:

IDST-010-01 Ignatius Seminar: Borders: Self, Nation, and Beyond
Fall for 2016-2017
Each of us in particular circumstances has probably had difficulty conforming to rigid categories and has felt the need to trespass demarcating boundaries to give space to the multiplicity of elements that compose us. As the French poet Arthur Rimbaud claimed, “I is someone else.”

In our seminar, we will explore the relationships between sameness and alterity through the image of the border. Borders can be bulwarks and sites of conflict, but also bridges reconciling contrasting constituents of the self, or connecting people, nations and cultures, allowing us to appreciate the complexity within and around ourselves.

The works of leading authors from different areas of the world—such as Mario Vargas Llosa, Amitav Ghosh, Primo Levi, Jamaica Kincaid, Jules Verne, Milan Kundera and Ben Jelloun, among others—will helps us appreciate the role of borders in the construction of individual and collective identity, and in our approach to “the other.” Through borders we will discuss crucial topics such as gender and race, moral values, exile and migration, internationalism and globalization. What leads to the creation of borders and why do we need them? What has changed in the conceptualization of borders across space and time? Why and how do we cross dividing lines—be they geographical, ethnic, linguistic boundaries, national frontiers, the confines of subjectivity, or ideological and ethical limits?

In our interconnected age, borders may generate clashes of traditions, practices, and beliefs, as much as foster negotiations and exchanges between “us” and “them.” Our seminar will make us reflect upon the challenges and rewards of cultural dialogue, focusing not only on the desire to break down borders but also on the complex relationship between individual freedom and intolerance, and, ultimately, on the responsibility to draw new frontiers against ideological extremism.

We will cross disciplinary boundaries in class by working with multiple literary genres, the visual arts, cinema, history, anthropology and sociology. And we will also traverse the borders of our classroom by enriching our syllabus with field trips to DC museums, and, why not, with get-togethers in front of good food—Italian...and, of course, beyond!
Credits: 3
Prerequisites: None
IDST-010-02 Ignatius Seminar: Traveling in Search of Self and Others
Fall for 2016-2017
This seminar will explore the writing of the Self and the Other represented (and perhaps created) in travel literature. We will concentrate on the negotiations between an observer and the observed, analyzing the process through which the travelers attempt to describe, interpret and represent places and peoples distant and different from their own. Although there is an inherently personal dimension of travel writing, there are cultural and political dimensions as well. We will see how travel narratives negotiate cultural boundaries while at the same time establishing such boundaries. Stephen Greenblatt notes that “if culture functions as a structure of limits, it also functions as the regulator and guarantor of movement. Indeed, the limits are virtually meaningless without movement; it is only through improvisation, experiment, and exchange that cultural boundaries can be established.” We will analyze how travel writing produces “the world”: how it has invented ‘others’ in order to craft a certain image of the self. We will also travel ourselves: Visits are planned to the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, the National Archives, and an international restaurant in DC.

During the semester we will read representative texts from travelers who come from several points in the world and who lived and wrote in different historical periods. The texts to be studied are: Homer’s Odyssey, The Travels of Marco Polo, The Travels of Sir John de Mandeville, The Travels of Ibn Battuta; Columbus’s Letter to Santangel, The Lieutenant Nun: Memoir of a Basque Transvestite in the New World by Catalina de Erauso, Original Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition 1804-1806, The Letters of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, Among Flowers: A Walk in the Himalayas by Jamaica Kincaid, and Travel with Herodotus. Our last text will be a film of space travel.

Starting with ca. 650 BC, when the known world was reduced to Mediterranean Sea, we will see how it opened throughout the centuries, expanding knowledge and territories until we will arrive at the ultimate frontier to be conquered: outer space.

Credits: 3
Prerequisites: None
IDST-010-03 Ignatius Seminar: Shakespeare in His Time and Ours
Fall for 2016-2017
Faculty:
We shall look closely at five plays by Shakespeare: Macbeth, The Merchant of Venice, Hamlet, and two others. We shall consider the plays primarily as scripts that were written to be performed, and we shall therefore look closely at the words of the plays to discover the various ways they might be brought to life on a stage, as well as the various impacts they might make on their audiences and their readers. We shall try to make those discoveries by imagining the choices the words might offer an actor, by observing the work of actors in recorded performances (Al Pacino’s Shylock, for example), and by analyzing, rehearsing, and performing the words ourselves. (You do not need any acting experience to take the course or, for that matter, to do well in it, but you do need to be willing to learn about the plays by doing the work that actors and directors do).

We shall try as well to understand something of the world in which Shakespeare lived: We shall consider what the plays might have said to Shakespeare’s contemporaries (how the plays might reflect the world in which Shakespeare lived), and we shall look at the various theatres for which he wrote his plays. We shall examine some books from Shakespeare’s time (including the Folio of 1623, the first collection of his plays) and to learn how the plays were printed and, through the work of countless editors, preserved and transmitted to our own time. We also shall go to the theatre ourselves to see a performance of one of the plays we are reading in order to understand how contemporary actors work with Shakespeare’s scripts. We’ll talk to an actor about the way he or she approaches and articulates, through voice and movement, a script by Shakespeare.

Finally, we shall try to answer a crucial question—one that might explain why we still read the plays and see them performed today (and why Georgetown continues to offer courses on them)—what do the plays of Shakespeare say to us and do for us at the beginning of the 21st Century?
Credits: 3
Prerequisites: None
IDST-010-04 Ignatius Seminar: African American Food Culture
Fall for 2016-2017
Faculty:
An anonymous American once described Washington, DC as “a city where the American Dream and the American nightmare pass each other daily on the street and do not speak.” Today she could be speaking about the plight of many in the nation’s capital: African Americans; Latin Americans; the homeless, many of them veterans, and others who have not benefited from the American Dream. In fact, DC is only capital city in the world where voters do not select their own voting representative to Congress.

In this class, we will explore the “other Washington;” not just the city of grand monuments and the Capital of the nation. We will study the city where Duke Ellington was born, and where Frederick Douglass died. We will look first at Washington, DC as a city of slaves, including in Georgetown and at Georgetown University, and then as a city of freedmen and freedwomen and home to the Freedman’s Bureau. Then we will look at how the city and its population developed over the 20th and into the 21st Century.

We will explore issues of race, class, sex, the riots of 1835, 1919 and 1968, education, gentrification, and political activity. We will study the migration of blacks from the American South, Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America (some who came to work and others to attend Howard University and other schools), all of whom brought something special to the makeup of Washington, DC. The city will become part of our classroom, with occasional visits from special guests and trips to important points of interest during the semester.
Credits: 3
Prerequisites: None
IDST-010-05 Ignatius Seminar: Seeking the Good at Hogwarts
Fall for 2016-2017
Faculty:
This course is an exploration of perennial philosophical themes in the beloved Harry Potter series. We will use the novels as a launching pad into the ideas and theories of thinkers across thousands of years of history. You’ll be spending the semester talking and writing about the following questions:

What is love, and how could it be powerful enough to defeat Voldemort? Does a person choose to be evil, or is it something in his or her nature? Was it even possible for Voldemort to repent? Are there degrees of evil and goodness? Can you be both virtuous and vicious at the same time? Would you even know if you were evil, or do evil people think they’re good? How do friends affect our characters? Would Harry have turned out differently if he had started his wizard life hanging out with the Malfoys, rather than Hagrid and the Weasleys? How do we know what to believe? Can we always trust our own judgment? What about what we read in the news or hear other people say? Does Dumbledore deserve Harry’s trust? Does Snape deserve Dumbledore’s? Does the division of Hogwarts into those four houses contribute to its strength, or does it just produce dangerous animosity? Is it okay to feel contempt for Slytherins? Why do so many wizards think they are superior to Muggles, goblins, and house-elves? Why hasn’t anyone set the Hogwarts house-elves free already? Who really owns the Sword of Gryffindor—goblins or wizards? Does power always corrupt those who seek it? Is Dumbledore right that what’s “just” in your head is still real?

We’ll be considering these questions with the help of great minds like Plato, Aristotle, St. Augustine, Dante Alighieri, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Hannah Arendt, Jane Austen, John Locke, and Martin Luther King. They will be our companions on this intellectual journey, the starting point of which is our shared love for these magical stories. In the words of Jesuit Father Pedro Arrupe, “What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything.”
Credits: 3
Prerequisites: None
IDST-010-06 Ignatius Seminar: Artificial Intelligence: From NAND to Consciousness
Fall for 2016-2017
Faculty:
The notion of mechanized thought traces back to Aristotle’s categorical syllogisms. In the 1830s, Lady Lovelace’s work on Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine, a mechanical computer that was never built, compelled her to remark that the machine “has no pretensions whatever to originate anything. It can do whatever we know how to order it to perform. It can follow analysis; but it has no power of anticipating any analytical relations or truths.” And yet in 2005, Stanley, a self-driving car, drove a 175-mile course in the Mojave Desert unaided by humans and had only two-hour prior notice of the route. Stanley used terrain maps to plan its overall route, but as it drove, it relied on its own analysis of “analytical relations and truths” to anticipate what lay ahead, by navigating the road itself, assessing its condition, and avoiding obstacles. In 2011 on Jeopardy!, an IBM computer named Watson played as a human would and beat Brad Rutter and Ken Jennings, two previous winners.

Whether machines can think, be intelligent, and be conscious are some of the greatest questions of our time—questions that, if answered positively, will have profound societal and ethical impact. This seminar is a combination of computer science, artificial intelligence, neuroscience, cognitive science, and philosophy. We start the seminar with voltage and proceed through logic gates, machine language, high-level programming languages, algorithms, models of computation, and the limits of computation. Building upon this foundation, we examine computational methods of reasoning logically, simulating neural networks, and learning. We conclude the seminar by turning our attention to and grappling with the philosophical and ethical implications of this work through readings and discussions supplemented by guest lectures.

Michael Fellows said, “Computer science is no more about computers than astronomy is about telescopes.” In the spirit of this statement and to encourage broad participation, the seminar intentionally eschews using programming to explore concepts, focusing instead on discussion, thought experiments, exercises, and analysis of books and articles from the primary and secondary literature. In addition to homework assignments and midterm and final exams, there is a semester project on a relevant topic of the student’s choosing.
Credits: 3
Prerequisites: None
IDST-010-07 Ignatius Seminar:You and GU: A Cultural Encounter
Fall for 2016-2017
Why is it that American college students increasingly consider themselves happy, decisive, unique, and destined for success, on one hand, and suffer from stress and depression, on the other? Why do they volunteer their time more and maintain long-term friendships less? Why do they think of themselves as highly independent despite their limited experience with practical independence skills? In what ways do college environments respond to and shape these tendencies? How does Georgetown’s cultural context shape us, and how is it, in turn, shaped by us? In this course, we will consider your transition to Georgetown and your encounters with the wider DC community as an acculturative process. You will reflect on your past experiences with your own cultural context(s), collect and discuss data, watch documentaries, and read works of fiction, nonfiction, and research to examine historical shifts and cross-cultural differences in the models of young adulthood. We will focus on topics such as changes in the cultural models of autonomy, uniqueness, choice, and happiness, as well as shifting models of relationships. Materials will draw on the fields of psychology, sociology, and anthropology.

In turn, we will examine Georgetown as a cultural context with its Jesuit values, and the ways in which they are reflected in the practices, institutions, cultural products, and daily encounters that are fostered by our community. We will examine Georgetown’s cultural models of work ethics and fun, emotions and relationships. We will also consider the ways in which Georgetown incorporates class, religion, race, and ethnicity into its identity. Finally, we will examine Georgetown’s place in the local Washington community.

Bridging these themes, we will discuss the ways in which people respond to cultural transitions, such as transitions to college. We will use an acculturative framework to talk about the diverse ways in which we respond to encounters with the novel cultural models of the self, emotions and relationships, with special emphasis on intergroup contact, negotiating biculturalism, and cultural deviance, as well as acculturative stress and coping.
Credits: 3
Prerequisites: None
IDST-010-08 Ignatius Seminar: The City of the Sun:Catching Fire. Utopia/Dystopia in Literature/Film
Fall for 2016-2017
“Dystopias are usually described as the opposite of utopias… But scratch the surface a little, and you see something more like a yin and yang pattern; within each utopia, a concealed dystopia; within each dystopia, a hidden utopia.” — Margaret Atwood

In this course we will acquaint ourselves with the centuries-old forms and fears that humanity’s projects for an ideal future have evoked across different cultures. We will learn that what some epochs perceive as utopian others may see as dystopian. What some praise as equality, brotherhood, and justice, others—shifting their angle of vision—may disparage as dehumanizing unification, and total state control. In the 20th century, both socialism and capitalism brought to life similar anxieties and similar dystopian images.

We will discuss both literary and visual representations of utopia and dystopia and analyze various genres from classical treatises to recent films, from Campanella’s The City of the Sun, to the recent blockbuster Hunger Games: Catching Fire. Our primary focus will be three major 20th-century novels—Orwell’s 1984, Zamiatin’s We, and Huxley’s Brave New World. We will practice slow reading and detailed textual and cinematic analysis and will discuss what language these representations of the ideal and the terrible require. We will study the connections between urbanism and utopian thinking, compare various city plans for the future, and try to create our own plans. Students will practice writing analytical papers as well as analyzing fictional excerpts.

How is family life, education, and health care organized in these ideal or bad societies? How do we ensure equality if people are not physically and intellectually equal from birth? Is it possible to achieve a balance between freedom, spontaneity, and order? We will contemplate all these questions together in our quest to move beyond binary oppositions.
Credits: 3
Prerequisites: None
IDST-010-09 Ignatius Seminar: Serving the Common Good
Fall for 2016-2017
Faculty:
What can we do to make the world a better place? Philosophers, scientists, theologians, economists, poets, lawyers, and politicians have all struggled to find compelling, effective answers to that question. We make progress, but we have a long way to go.

Do we do our best by working as hard as we can to make as much money as we can and trust the system we work in will provide? Or do we devote our entire lives to selfless charitable work for others? What choices lie between those extremes? Your university years are a critical time for you to think about your responsibilities to others and the opportunities you face. If you use them well, you can learn the discipline associated with reflection, interior freedom, and discernment. This seminar can be your place to start.

We will concentrate on learning and thinking about organizations directly intended to serve the common good: not-for-profit and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). Volunteers devote time, donors provide funds, and governments give grants to capture this special spirit and its capacities. The range of problems and intended scope of impact are vast and tap untold generosity and good will. Achievements and aspirations are stunning and are growing rapidly.

But these complex organizations are also big business. The not-for-profit sector in the United States exceeds $2.5 trillion; in India alone there are more than two million NGOs. Leaders in this field need to be as smart, pragmatic, resourceful, and tough-minded about what works as anybody in the for-profit sector.

The old models of “charity” are changing. What is the common good? How much impact do organizations have? What are best practices? Why have a huge sector of the economy called “not” and “non?” What is the role of philanthropy? What are the human and political complexities inherent in mission-driven organizations? How do you assess the value proposition in this area? What is my role in serving the common good?

This course will be unique in its critical analysis of the not-for-profit industry and fair assessment of the ways the public and commercial sectors also contribute to the common good. There is space where shared skills and harmony would optimize social goals. Readings are selected from history, theology, business, science, and policy. Case studies and conversations with leaders in the field will illustrate how values translate to action, discernment of options and opportunities, and ethical decision-making.
Credits: 3
Prerequisites: None
IDST-010-10 Ignatius Seminar: Contributing to (in)Justice
Fall for 2016-2017
Faculty:
How do we—as individuals, as members of communities, as participants in societies and in the institutions they have established and the structures they enable—contribute to Justice, but also, wittingly or not, how we contribute to Injustice?

We will explore what Justice (and hence Injustice) means, and implies—to individuals and groups and institutions, engaging with an array of readings, movies, and other materials, along with each other in classroom discussion, amplified with writing assignments that challenge our thinking. Ultimately we will learn how to sharpen our definitions of Justice/Injustice and the implications of this insight for our own lives and for those whom we are affiliated with in our world.

As we wrestle with these issues over the weeks of the seminar, we will grapple with a range of age-old and yet completely relevant questions for today. For example: Do some groups—people—“deserve” more “Justice” than others—maybe because of historical “injustices?” Why? Why not? Do we think of Justice in terms of punishment—bringing the proverbial bad guys “to justice?” If “Justice” is punishment, why do we need to have “justice proceedings” like those held at the International Criminal Court? Do we consider Justice in terms of Reconciliation? Forgiveness? Do we think of Justice in terms of “bad” things that have happened, in contrast to ensuring that “bad” things don’t happen? How can we be sure whether we are looking at what is happening now in light of Justice/Injustice? And crucially, what does “justice” mean in our own lives? Where does it intersect with ethics, for instance?
Credits: 3
Prerequisites: None
IDST-010-11 Ignatius Seminar: Living Responsibilities
Offered academic year 2016-2017
Faculty:
“Globalization has its own logic, but not its own ethic,” notes J. Bryan Hehir, Parker Gilbert Montgomery Professor of Religion and Public Life at Harvard’s Kennedy School. In this course we will grapple with that statement, asking ourselves some difficult questions and struggling with the complexities that arise in attempting to answer them.

The popular phrase is that “we live in a globalized world.” Does that imply that we acknowledge the needs of others as legitimate on their own—and as legitimate demands on ourselves? How, in fact, would we identify, understand, and ultimately accept moral responsibilities to one another—even to strangers? What would enable us to embrace a sense of obligation to those around us? Are there limits to our obligations?

We will begin by broadly examining how we, individually and collectively, manage our everyday existence, in particular, our access to the basics of life—water and food. Lying behind that “management” is a host of assumptions about organization, development, improvement, innovation, and growth. We, in so-called developed societies, take for granted access to not only these essentials of life but to an ever increasing array of consumer “goods.” Meanwhile, we are warned that even in our privileged cases, access to both the basics and the “goods” can be jeopardized by disruptions spurred by global warming. Given a potential scarcity of resources, how do we think about our responsibilities—to ourselves, to others? A deeper question is whether this scarcity changes our self-understanding of our responsibilities to others.

At the core of these questions is a fundamental tension between respect for the individual and the demands made on each of us to acknowledge responsibilities to each other. In this seminar we will explore this tension and seek to understand how best to balance our individual freedom with the needs of others.
Credits: 3
Prerequisites: None
IDST-010-12 Ignatius Seminar: Living Global
Fall for 2016-2017
Faculty:
We live in a world we inherit yet also create. Enabling us to make sense of it is a “horizon of significance” that provides us with concepts, values, practices, and customs that we constantly challenge as we continually reckon with our own, individual place in this global world. In this seminar, we will see how this horizon is becoming a global vision, a venue for exchanging experiences and reflections about how we are both common and separate.

In this seminar we will address what that horizon encompasses and how we, individually and collectively, are to act given such awareness. How are we to live given this broader horizon? How does this impact our responsibilities to one another? Is there an ethic that guides us?

First, we will begin to orient ourselves in “global” terms today by looking at the significance of “global” achievements in the past. There have been multiple attempts to create an interconnectedness of peoples and social orders that achieved highly integrated states. How is our current form of globalization similar and different? How do we understand the very term, “globalization?” today and historically?

Second, we will look at the manifestations of globalization taking place in our world today. We will explore issues that define our contemporary world—climate change, HIV/AIDS, hunger, labor and trade, migration, and growing inequality. We’ll also look at the wonderful connections that the technology of globalization enables. The political demonstrations mobilized through facebook, the music that spans the planet, even the videos of dancing babies and funny pets that go viral instantly—all this is “global,” too: the joy of being together, if only on Youtube. How do we understand the challenges—and pleasures—that emerge in the context of our expanding horizon? In particular, does this expansion create new moral responsibilities? If so, what are they?

So, in the third part of the seminar, we will wrestle with the idea of whether the globalization we are experiencing demands something else—in particular, whether it asks of us a self-understanding that would activate responsibilities to the “others” of whom we have become so intimately aware. What would a self-awareness of our place in this world of others demand of us? Overall, through this seminar we will live with some very important questions and explore the nature of our selves, our place, and the responsibilities that emerge from a widening global horizon and our way of life within that larger view.
Credits: 3
Prerequisites: None
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