Studies of Culture and Criticism

Myth and Meaning in America
Online via Ecollege
Professor Greg Salyer

“In a fractured age, when cynicism is a god, here is a possible heresy: we live by stories, we also live in them. One way or another we are living the stories planted in us early or along the way, or we are also living the stories we planted—knowingly or unknowingly—in ourselves. We live stories that either give our lives meaning or negate it with meaninglessness. If we change the stories we live by, quite possibly we change our lives”  That is African novelist Ben Okri, but his insight isn’t geographically or culturally limited. We could even say that it applies uniquely to America because America is a story of its own uniqueness. America sees itself through other lenses as well, such as chosen, natural, Christian, millennial, capitalistic, and innocent. Combining theoretical studies of mythology with American historical particulars and interdisciplinary studies in literature, art, music, and dance, Myth and Meaning in America will explore and analyze the many meanings of America from inside and outside of its myths.

Studies of Philosophy & Religion

Psychology of Religious Beliefs, Symbols, and Experiences
Online via Ecollege
Professor Stuart Charmé

This course will introduce you to a number of major psychological approaches to the phenomenon of religion.   Among the areas to be considered are ideas from evolutionary psychology about how religion appeared in human history and what makes it so enduring, psychoanalytic theories about the origin of the idea of God, psychological interpretations of well-know religious stories, like that of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, or the life of Jesus.   We will explore social psychological theories about why religious beliefs are so hard to change and religious groups so hard to leave.  We will discuss the the nature religion in childhood, and everyone in the class will interview a child analyze the evidence of cognitive development in understanding religious ideas.   Finally, we look at a selection of religious experiences that may have psychological dimensions.   These will include things like mystical experiences, psychedelic experience, spirit possession, meditation, near-death experience, reincarnation experience, etc.  


Studies of the 20th Century

Understanding Technological Change: Histories and Philosophies
Online via Ecollege
Professor Silvia Muller

This course will provide students with a set of frameworks to examine some characteristic social patterns that emerge when new technologies are developed and implemented. Different historical cases will be analyzed to demonstrate different use patterns of technology in different fields of human endeavor including education, health, the home, and the military. We will also look at examples of technology adoption and non adoption at the state, the organizational, and the domestic level.