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IDST-010 Ignatius Seminar
Fall for 2014-2015
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 '14: Maloof M (web site)
Additional syllabi may be available in prior academic years.

Sections:

IDST-010-01 Ignatius Seminar: Faith, Fiction, and Film
Fall for 2014-2015
Faculty:
  • Mujica, Barbara
  • Is faith a fundamental human need or a psychological crutch? Does faith liberate or stifle us? Why do we employ myth to convey what we see as spiritual truth? In what sense is fiction—whether expressed in stories, novels, plays, or film—essential to spiritual expression?

    In this course we will explore both the role of faith in inspiring fiction and the role of fiction in nurturing and reinforcing faith. We will consider the role of traditional religions in today’s world, how they continue to speak to us and how they fail. Finally, we will also examine the need to question our myths and how such questioning can strengthen, weaken, or alter our beliefs.

    We will approach our subject from diverse perspectives through the works of authors of differing traditions: from Christians, Jews, and Muslims to Communists and atheists.

    The works we will discuss are Don Quixote (selections), by Miguel de Cervantes; “Man of La Mancha” (film); Monsignor Quixote, by Graham Greene (novel and film); “The Mission” (film); Sister Teresa, by Bárbara Mujica (novel); Contact, by Carl Sagan (novel and film); “Higher Ground” (film); My Name is Asher Lev, by Chaim Potok (novel); The Sparrow, by Mary Doria Russell (novel); and The Life of Pi, by Yann Martel (novel).

    Activities will include guest lectures, a movie and dinner in town, and possibly trips to the National Cathedral, the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, a Carmelite monastery, and the National Air and Space Museum.
    Credits: 3
    Prerequisites: None
    IDST-010-02 Ignatius Seminar:Staging Selves: Identity, Performance, and the Quest for the Contemporary Self
    Fall for 2014-2015
    Faculty:
  • Fink, Jennifer
  • All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players. —William Shakespeare

    Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation. —Oscar Wilde

    What is a self? Is the “real” self something that lies beneath our social/theatrical performances, or is it a product of such stagings? Can the stage not merely represent but actually create the post/modern self? How do spirit and body inhabit the stage, and what might this coupling have to do with the formation of anti-normative identities? In this seminar, we will probe, parse, and perform the relationship between theater and identity-formation. Pairing key theoretical and critical texts with play and performance texts, we’ll explore how theatrical performance reflects, refracts, and refutes diverse notions personhood. The fraught relationship between performance, body, and spirit will be a key site of our investigation. Also making a guest appearance will be the relationship between theory and practice. Key critical lenses such as feminism, post-structuralism, queer theory, and post-colonialism will be employed.

    We’ll be particularly concerned with how our contemporary notions of identity are enmeshed with those of the stage. Beginning with Oscar Wilde’s notorious The Importance of Being Earnest and ending with Moises Kaufman’s revisiting of Wilde in The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde, we’ll examine the special relationship between so-called minoritarian identities and the stage, and consider how these minoritarian performances transform and challenge normative notions of identity. We’ll make performance theory tango with theatrical practice. We’ll see shows, both on campus and off, and respond to them through conversation, criticism, critical writing, and performance. While theatrical talent and experience are optional, passion for the theater is the only prerequisite.

    Expect to read, write, and reflect with rigor and passion. Expect to write critically and creatively; expect to perform your identity. Expect to be challenged. Expect to be shocked. Expect to play. Expect to perform yourself…and stage your self/selves as a performance!
    Credits: 3
    Prerequisites: None
    IDST-010-03 Ignatius Seminar: Religion and Politics: Athens, Jerusalem, and Washington
    Fall for 2014-2015
    Faculty:
  • Langan, John
  • The boundaries and connections between religion and politics are contested territory in most societies, not least in contemporary American politics. Different proposals have been advanced at different times; some of them have led to violent disputes; some have achieved authoritative status in different countries. We will start by reading and discussing four plays which raise important religious and political issues in different eras and different contexts. These are Antigone by Sophocles, a conflict between religious and family feeling and state policy; Murder in the Cathedral by T.S. Eliot, a modern treatment of medieval struggle between church and state and their leaders; Nathan the Wise by Lessing, an Enlightenment play about issues raised by and around religious pluralism; Measure for Measure by Shakespeare, which deals with the unintended consequences of giving legal status to moral requirements.

    Members of the seminar will be asked to prepare and discuss two reports, one dealing with a significant figure in American history and how he/she was affected by conflicts between religious identity and political demands, the other dealing with how the boundaries between religion and politics are understood in different societies in the contemporary world. The seminar will then take up three different theoretical approaches to resolving the problems: a) medieval Christendom (the Bible, St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas); b) American legal liberalism (human rights theory, John Rawls); c) contemporary demands for an Islamic state. In summing up the course, members of the seminar will be required to prepare and present a paper on a particular problem in the interaction of politics and religion. They will also be asked to draw up a set of propositions giving their views on the main issues of the course. The course will emphasize discussion and exploration of issues that are both controversial and interdisciplinary.
    Credits: 3
    Prerequisites: None
    IDST-010-04 Ignatius Seminar: African American Food Culture
    Fall for 2014-2015
    African American chef and cookbook writer Edna Lewis once said, “As a child...I thought all food tasted delicious...After growing up, I didn’t think food tasted the same, so it has been my lifelong effort to try and recapture those good flavors of the past.” What role does food play in our lives? How does food connect us to our pasts, our culture and our own lifelong efforts? How do we understand ourselves as members of a family and citizens of a nation through the food we make and enjoy?

    These questions guide “African American Food Culture,” an interdisciplinary course that focuses on African American foodways, with particular emphasis on the construction of diets from slavery to freedom, the development of black cuisine, and the role race has played in how food is marketed and distributed in the United States.

    Students will have the opportunity to reconsider the everyday act of producing and consuming food by looking at how race shapes what is grown, cooked and eaten. In a small seminar setting, we will explore how black identities have been tied to food, how civil rights legislation and food policies have impacted African American health, and debate the various controversies surrounding related food issues, including access to healthy foods in communities of color.

    Assigned readings will include Black Hunger: Soul Food and America by Doris Witt, Eating the Other: Desire or Resistance by bell hooks, Vibration Cooking by Vertamae Smart-Grosvenor, Building Houses Out of Chicken Legs: Black Women, Food, & Power by Psyche Williams-Forson. We will also read news articles about food politics, and excerpts from African American chefs.

    The course will include field trips to community gardens, the city’s food trucks, and historic African American restaurants in Washington, DC, including Ben’s Chili Bowl, Florida Avenue Grill, and Cake Love. We will also welcome speakers in food history and local chefs to contextualize our explorations of the political and social nature of eating and making food. Students will have an opportunity to explore food-related archives at the Smithsonian Institution, the Library of Congress, and the National Archives.
    Credits: 3
    Prerequisites: None
    IDST-010-05 Ignatius Seminar: Italy and Imagination
    Fall for 2014-2015
    Italy is a protean place. Its ribs of unstable mountains and volcanoes reach down from the Alps deep into the Mediterranean creating an astonishing diversity of ecosystems, from the green Tyrolean valleys and grey, snow covered peaks of the north to the quasi-desert of the Sicilian plains and the enormous black and smoking Mount Etna in the south. In this bewilderingly various and rich place many of the most important cultures in Western history, from the Etruscans, Greeks, and Romans through the divisions of the medieval period to the surge in humanistic creativity in the Renaissance and on to today’s flourishing yet troubled modern society present an inexhaustible opportunity for discovery, learning, and experience. Going “to” Italy, responding to Italy, being transformed by Italy has become a part of world culture as the swarms of contemporary visitors there from all over the globe affirm. What Italy means to each is necessarily different. Some, perhaps the most remarkable, visitors try to translate what they see, hear, touch, taste, smell, and feel through imagination into various forms of aesthetic expression. Simultaneously, of course, Italians through the centuries have similarly responded to their homeland, its history, traditions, achievements, thus adding through their own imaginative responses to its ever growing cultural heritage. This phenomenon—how through experience people come to imagine Italy—is the topic of the seminar.

    While we will concentrate on work from the past two centuries—the 19th and the 20th—since the writers, musicians, painters, film makers we will be considering are themselves interested in the incredible diversity of the Italian past we will necessarily also be talking about Rome, the Renaissance, Italy during the two World Wars of the 20th century, and so on. In each case we will consider how an artist imagines—thereby evoking and understanding—an Italy. Thus Byron, wandering down the peninsula in 1818, Nathaniel Hawthorne in Rome in the 1850s, the often bewildered travelers of Henry James and E.M. Forster, Ernest Hemingway’s World War I, and Michael Ondaatje’s World War II will carry us into a rich diversity of places, times, and people. While literary texts will be our principle focus, we will be learning a lot about pictures, buildings, gardens, food, movies—you name it. And at the center: how human imagination works. During the semester, the seminar participants will write frequent short papers, and we will devote an important part of our time to improving writing skills. There will be a series of visits to places and events around Washington linked to the course content, including a couple of to-die-for Italian meals.
    Credits: 3
    Prerequisites: None
    IDST-010-06 Ignatius Seminar: Science and Religion in the West: Historical Perspectives
    Fall for 2014-2015
    Faculty:
  • Collins, David
  • Science and religion have played powerful roles in shaping Western civilization, and they share responsibility for many of the West’s proudest accomplishments and cruelest wrongdoings. Thought of together, science and religion conventionally conjure up images of conflict. Historical controversies over the structure of the cosmos and modern-day debates over the science curriculum in U.S. high schools seem to support a conclusion that science and religion exist in an unrelenting state of warfare.

    The aim of this course is to test that generalization by examining the actual history. We will begin in late antiquity and analyze early debates within the newly Christianized Roman Empire over whether pagan knowledge—and thus the natural sciences —should be learned at all. We will study the High Middle Ages as Westerners became newly excited by Greek philosophical reflections on the natural world and their subsequent interpretation by Muslim and Jewish thinkers and will explore whether some religions are more conducive to scientific development than others. In the Scientific Revolution we must also consider how and why religion could encourage the new thinking of Copernicus, but less than a century later squelch the theorizing of Galileo, and then how and why the natural sciences lent support to the witch hunts. The course concludes with an examination of on-going controversies related to the theories of evolution and the big bang that have significant social and educational ramifications in the U.S.

    The “warfare thesis” may make for eye-catching headlines, but what we will find is that the actual history of the relationship between science and religion in the West is far more complex, more constructive, more ambivalent, indeed more fascinating. How best to describe it in the end: that is the goal of the seminar.
    Credits: 3
    Prerequisites: None
    IDST-010-07 Ignatius Seminar: Computer Science: Past, Present and Future!
    Fall for 2014-2015
    There are many misconceptions about computation, computers, and computer science. We mostly think of computing as akin to doing arithmetic very quickly. But looked at in the right way, we can see computation happening all around us as something fundamental to all life, as part and parcel of being, and as the fundamental basis of the physical universe. We will explore different definitions of computation and some of their major consequences.

    We will also look at the architectural structure of rapidly evolving computing machinery and how these technologies reflect the model underlying modern conceptions of computation. We will explore the various parts used in building a computer and gain an understanding of what a computational engine is and how it operates. We will see how this engine has at once shrunk to submicroscopic size while astronomically increasing its speed and informational capacity becoming correspondingly cheaper and more efficient. We will see how this has driven their introduction into all aspects of our lives until they have become ubiquitously present in everything from aircraft to appliances, laptops to cell phones.

    Finally, we will expound the differences between computers, computation, and computer science. We will discover that a computer scientist is someone who thinks differently by switching between multiple hierarchical levels of abstraction and concrete details and searches for different ways to solve problems. Computer science can be broadly defined as a live science that works by looking through the lens of finding cheap, efficient, fast, and alternative solutions to problems. We will gain an appreciation of how this applies to specific activities such as capturing and manipulating imagery, as well as how this shapes our intellectual perspectives and imagination. We will see how computer science has had a massive impact in connecting people and eliminating time and geographical boundaries between them.
    Credits: 3
    Prerequisites: None
    IDST-010-08 Ignatius Seminar: Following in the Framers' Footsteps: Rewriting the Constitution For The 21st Century
    Fall for 2014-2015
    Faculty:
  • Lengle, James
  • This course offers students an opportunity to reflect on the U.S. Constitution and to evaluate its effects on policymaking, governance, and democracy in the United States.

    Since the Framers wrote the Constitution over 200 years ago, the United States has experienced tremendous social, economic, and political change. Yet, except for 27 amendments, our Constitution remains unchanged. This raises many interesting and important questions. Are the Constitution and political system antiquated in light of today’s world? Are the principles upon which our government is based (e.g. federalism, separation of powers, checks and balances) still relevant to addressing and solving contemporary problems? Are the rights and liberties protected by the Constitution (freedom of speech, press, religion, assembly, etc.) still valued in light of the contemporary moral climate and domestic and international security concerns? What parts of the Constitution still serve us well (e.g. bill of rights)? What parts can be changed to serve us better (e.g. the powers of the president, Congress and the courts, the electoral system, the amending process, the impeachment process, etc.)?

    This seminar is organized as a constitutional convention. As the new Framers, your goals will be: first, to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the Constitution and, second, to rewrite the document both in light of your evaluation and in response to contemporary American culture and conditions. During the semester you will analyze, evaluate, and debate important constitutional principles, the structure of our political system, the formal powers of our political institutions, the relationships between the major branches of government, the responsibilities and rights of citizens, and the relationships among citizens and between citizens and their government.

    Credits: 3
    Prerequisites: None
    IDST-010-09 Ignatius Seminar: Culture and Identity in Egypt
    Fall for 2014-2015
    Faculty:
  • Bassiouney, Reem
  • During the Egyptian revolution that began on the January 25, 2011, Egyptians claimed that they have broken the barrier of fear. However, more importantly they said, ‘We have regained our true identity.’

    Is identity an entity that you can lose and regain? Is there one ‘true’ identity to all Egyptians? What distinguishes Egyptians from others? Is it common for nations and states to think of themselves as unique, and to regard their identities and cultures as special? Did Egyptians need to topple a regime first before regaining their identity? And, more importantly, do all Egyptians have one unified and coherent identity? Such questions will recur often in this course.

    Identity and culture are non-exhaustive terms and understanding both is our purpose. To express culture and identity people employ language. Language in this case is not just a means of communication but a social process that enables us to understand our surroundings, our political aspirations, our frustrations, our defeats, and our glorious past. In this course we will use Egyptian films, songs, poems, novels, and even translated Egyptian jokes. To understand culture we need to also understand history and myths and to understand culture we need to tackle food, recipes, and their linguistic associations.

    The aim of this course is also to make us consider issues of identity throughout the world and compare and contrast the Egyptian case with other cases.
    Credits: 3
    Prerequisites: None
    IDST-010-10 Ignatius Seminar: What's Next? Thinking About the Future
    Fall for 2014-2015
    This seminar offers an opportunity to explore the future. We will begin by thinking about some past efforts to imagine ‘What’s next?’ Plato’s myth of the Afterlife, Jewish and Christian apocalypses, doctrines of progress and European assessments of the New World will form a preamble—along with modern classics like Brave New World, 1984, and I, Robot.

    After considering ‘futures past,’ we will look at some contemporary scenarios. Nick Bostrom has drawn up a ‘Transhumanist Manifesto,’ and Ray Kurzweil’s ‘Singularity’ has spawned its own university. British astronomer, Martin Rees has proposed an extra-planetary future for humans, and Craig Venter’s bio-digital converter promises to feed the colonists. Students will be invited to bring in their own favorite ‘futures’. Resources include texts, film, online games, museum exhibits, science fairs, Hogwarts, and Hadoop.

    Efforts to imagine the future will lead us to particular topics. We will try to get smarter about emerging technologies. And the future of nature. And news about the brain. We might even try to think about the future of College. And the Big East.

    The dean of the College has made a small fund available to underwrite our efforts. We will decide how to use that fund when we assemble in fall 2013. See you in September.
    Credits: 3
    Prerequisites: None
    IDST-010-11 Ignatius Seminar: Fusing Horizons: Knowing Each Other, Knowing Our Selves
    Fall for 2014-2015
    Faculty:
  • DeGioia, John
  • What enables us to deepen our understanding of our selves? How do we grasp the depth and breadth of the inescapable background context through which we establish meaning in our world? How do we expand the range of possibilities for exercising our individual freedom? How can we break through the blocks and obstacles that inhibit our ability to creatively respond to the most urgent challenges facing our world? These are some of the question we confront when we appropriate a way of life within a university community.

    The university is a place where we explore these questions. The university provides a context where we can confront ideas—resources for living with these questions. We make sense of our lives within what the philosopher Charles Taylor calls a “horizon of significance.” Some of our most powerful experiences come when we meet others who are oriented through a different horizon.

    In this seminar we will explore the experience of engaging the “other” and the promise and potential of “fusing horizons.” We will explore four examples of such fusing: the encounter in the late 16th century of Matteo Ricci in China, the quest for interreligious understanding within Islam and Christianity, the influence of science on the idea of the university, and the urgency of fusing horizons with the poor.

    Credits: 3
    Prerequisites: None
    IDST-010-12 Ignatius Seminar: Living Global
    Fall for 2014-2015
    Faculty:
  • DeGioia, John
  • 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
    More information
    Look for this course in the schedule of classes.

    The academic department web site for this program may provide other details about this course.

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