LAR Class Descriptions

Doane University's First Year Liberal Arts Seminar is a course designed to introduce first-year students to college-level writing, discussion, critical thinking, and critical reading. Faculty will choose a theme for each seminar section in order to help students learn information research skills, to work collaboratively, and to gain an appreciation for interdisciplinary study and multiple perspectives.

Below are the descriptions, times and Professors for our available LAR classes. Check out the videos located at flipgrid.com/lar101 for more information about this required course you will take in the fall.

Monday/Wednesday/Friday Classes

LAR 101-3: Taking a Stance

Time: M/W/F 2:00-2:50 pm

Professor: JL Vertin

This seminar will expose students to several contemporary and historical controversies in order to help them build compelling written and oral arguments for a specific stance.  Students will engage in two intensive role playing games that place them in moments of historical controversy. Students will conduct research, write position papers, and participate in informal debates and negotiations, in order to win the game.   First, students will go back to 1968 and recreate the protests at the Democratic National Convention before moving further back in time for the second game, where they confront the issues that surrounded Americans as they decided whether or not to declare their independence from England. Students will then switch gears and examine the current controversial social issues of immigration, death penalty, and marijuana legalization. The course will conclude with students working in teams in a mock trial debate of one of these social issues.

LAR 101-4: Rejected Rebels: Why the Right Idea Doesn't Always Win

M/W/F 3:00 - 3:50 pm

Professor: Mark Meysenburg

Why are some people “before their time?” Some pioneering thinkers are accepted and hailed in their time, while others are mocked and marginalized. Why have some ideas, which we recognize today as obviously correct, been rejected by experts in the past? What factors led to right ideas being rejected, and what can we learn from history so that we do not repeat it? In this course, we will explore these questions through two specific historic events: Galileo Galilei’s idea of a sun-centered universe in the 1630s, and Charles Babbage’s design of a working computer in the 1830s.

We will attempt to answer these questions through intense Reacting to the Past role-playing games. You will take on historically-based roles, work with your faction, delve deeply into very important historical texts, write and make speeches, debate controversial issues (while staying in character!), participate in laboratory sessions, and try to win the game. Your performance in the game could change the course of history!

LAR 101-5: Journeys

M/W/F 9:00 - 9:50 am

Professor: Kimberly Jarvis

People’s perceptions of the world around them are influenced and affected by their environment and experiences. In this course students will read memoirs and novels that explore their authors’ experiences with and reflections on such issues as identity and political oppression in Iran, China, and Russia. In addition, students will examine and reflect upon their own transition from high school to college.

LAR 101-6: Ethics and the Body

M/W/F 9:00-9:50 am

Professor: Brad Johnson

Students in this course will examine many of the diverse ethical issues related to the human body. Topics such as body modification (tattooing, piercing, etc.), pandemics, organ transplant lists, and artificial bodies/body parts will serve as material for our reading and writing about how we make ethical decisions. Moreover, in the spirit of the Liberal Arts Seminar, we will examine the human body as an interdisciplinary subject, applying concepts from art, biology, religion, philosophy, literature, economics, etc., in an effort to understand how we approach ethical choices from a wide range of perspectives.

LAR 101-11: Field Guide for the Information Age

M/W/F 12:00-12:50 pm

Professor: Cali J. Biaggi

Information is unavoidable. Nearly everyone carries a tiny, powerful computer in their pocket all the time. We have the ability to look up the answer to any question - instantly. But how do we know what information to trust? How can we sift through hundreds of thousands of Google search results to find the answer we need? In this course, students will learn how to define their information needs, research answers to all kinds of questions, and effectively communicate what they find. Along the way, students will also examine the social, cultural, and technological factors that influence their research experience. By the end of this class, students will have a survival kit of tools to help them navigate and succeed in college (and beyond!) in an increasingly complex information environment.

LAR 101-15: Techniques for a Successful Experience at Doane University

M/W/F 11:00 am - 12:00 pm

Professor: Roger Getz

This course will focus on finding the best possible experience at Doane University, something uniquely different for every student. What are your expectations? What are the expectations of your professors, coaches, advisors, etc.? What are your career goals? How will your experience at Doane University reflect your career goals? This course will not only try to instill in you the positive habits and skills for academic success, but assist you in your journey throughout your entire Doane University experience. Students will be exposed to books, articles and guest speakers with a central theme of being a complete student and finding the tools necessary to succeed. Aspects of leadership will be dispersed throughout the course and how sound leadership principles contribute to individual success. Every student will have the opportunity to explore and identify what it means to find success at Doane University, and beyond. 

LAR 101-16: Taking a Stance

M/W/F 11:00 am - 12:00 pm

Professor: JL Vertin

This seminar will focus on developing habits and skills to improve argumentation by examining several contemporary and historical controversies in order to help them build compelling written and oral arguments for a specific stance.  Students will engage in two intensive role playing games that place them in moments of historical controversy as well as examine the current controversial social issues of immigration, death penalty, and marijuana legalization. Students will conduct research, write position papers, and participate in informal debates and negotiations, in order to win the games. The course will conclude with students working in teams in a mock trial debate of one of these current social issues.

LAR 101-17: The Dancing Mind: Peace and Nonviolence

M/W/F 1:00 - 1:50 pm

Professor: Jeremy Caldwell

What is the nature of peace? How are peace, war, nonviolence and violence related to fundamental aspects of human nature? The course of human history has been marked by an abundance of war, exploitation, and violence, but there are some who have offered an alternative path, through pacifism and nonviolent strategies. Peace and Nonviolence studies, as it is formally known, is an interdisciplinary project and as such we will view important contributions from psychology, biology, sociology, anthropology, philosophy, history, political theory, religion, security studies, and others. The purpose is to uncover and discover ways in which research and practice informs the theory and vice versa. Together, we will attempt to respond to these questions and perspectives, from Plato’s Crito to the current war in Ukraine.

Tuesday/Thursday Classes

LAR 101-2: Know Thyself

T/TH 11:00 am - 12:15 pm

Professor: Lucas Kellison

"Nothing contributes so much to tranquilize the mind as a steady purpose, a point on which the soul may fix its intellectual eye." – Mary Shelley

What is the purpose of a liberal arts education?  What does it mean to be free?  A wide range of topics will be covered in this course using the lenses of literature, philosophy, history, religion, science, and politics.  At Doane, it is our stated mission to create leaders, but what needs to be in place in one’s life before one can responsibly lead others?  With help from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Plato, Campbell, and many more great minds, these questions will be explored further in order to equip students with a more refined understanding of self in order to move forward with an open, alert, and truth-seeking mind.

LAR 101-4: American Experiences

T/Th 9:30-10:45 a.m.

Professor: Josh Pope

We have all heard talk of the United States being "one nation under God." Does this quote from the Pledge of Allegiance truly reflect the reality of the country we live in? How does the meaning of the term “American” differ in various communities? In this course, we consider aspects of these broad questions while practicing critical thinking, reading, writing, and discussion skills. Specifically, we will use a variety of media to analyze and discuss what it means to have an American experience. How are American experiences different with regard to race, gender, military service, and other factors? In addition, attention will be given to American experiences people have in and around Crete. By the end of this course, students should have a heightened sense of the diversity present in this country and that there is not just one American experience but many.

LAR 101-7: What in the World!?

T/Th 11:00 am - 12:15 pm

Professor: Becky Hunke

In this seminar class we will examine questions that can help us better understand ourselves and the world in which we live. These questions focus on important issues that we might not think about very often including, what does it mean to be happy? What is the big deal about this adjustment to college? Why is there homelessness and poverty? Why do children go hungry everyday? This course also serves as an introduction to college life, and so we will also spend some time discussing college skills and strategies for success.

LAR 101-12: The History of Work

T/TH 1:00 - 2:15 pm

Professor: Sarah Begay

Do we work because we have to, because we want to, or a combination of both?  How has work and the worker changed over time?  How have they stayed the same?  This course will examine the history of work beginning with our hunter-and-gatherer ancestors to the present zoom meeting era.  Students will reflect upon and discuss how this knowledge can help them advocate for and create their own working life. 

LAR 101-13: Know Thyself

T/TH 1:00 - 2:15 pm

Professor: Lucas Kellison

"Nothing contributes so much to tranquilize the mind as a steady purpose, a point on which the soul may fix its intellectual eye." – Mary Shelley

What is the purpose of a liberal arts education?  What does it mean to be free?  A wide range of topics will be covered in this course using the lenses of literature, philosophy, history, religion, science, and politics.  At Doane, it is our stated mission to create leaders, but what needs to be in place in one’s life before one can responsibly lead others?  With help from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Plato, Campbell, and many more great minds, these questions will be explored further in order to equip students with a more refined understanding of self in order to move forward with an open, alert, and truth-seeking mind.

LAR 101-14: Power Dynamics in Film

T/TH 1:00 - 2:15 pm

Professor: Blake Tobey

Life is a constant series of exchanges of power. But in any given situation, who has the power? Do the people and institutions we assume are in power actually in power, or are they only in power because people think they are in power? How do factors such as relationships, history, race, gender, sexuality, socioeconomic circumstances, politics, society, and the environment impact the distribution of power? To explore these questions, we will read a filmmaking textbook, dissect several articles, and analyze several short and long films through a variety of critical lenses and learn common filmmaking techniques to better understand how power dynamics on the screen can help us better understand and interact with power in real life.