Union Where You Are: Plans for 2020-21

Minervas Online (Spring 2021)

Our world has become more complex, and the big questions we face are increasingly difficult to answer. Union's world-class faculty from a variety of disciplines have created Minervas Online, a suite of interdisciplinary courses designed to help students understand the complexity of, and develop solutions to, large-scale societal challenges.

These courses are taught by a single faculty member, team-taught by faculty in different disciplines, or taught by multiple faculty across the College. Alumni, artists, activists, scientists and local and global community members will be included as speakers to provide their unique perspectives on the particular societal challenge.

Can You Live More Sustainably? (MIN 206)
Professor Henseler

If you want to be part of the solution, be part of this class. Pledge to change your habits and develop a project of your choice to implement on campus or in your community. In this class you will read articles, watch TED Talks and documentaries, and examine the impact of what you eat, wear, and consume, how you live, travel, and even think about your future careers. You will research impact studies, explore companies and innovators that do good, interview friends and family, invite speakers, and design a sustainability project of your choice. In this class you will increase your own awareness of how to live a more sustainable life and you will take action and have a direct impact on our world.

[Counts toward the Environmental Policy Major as a Section E course.]

World Constitutions: Constitutionalism, Imagination, and the Idea of Democracy (MIN 210)
Professors Mosquera, Hays, Schmidt, Pease

This seminar explores comparative constitutional law and design in an interdisciplinary way, looking at how constitutions from a select number of countries come to be, evolve, and are implemented; how they echo similar concerns and desires; how they reflect and impact cultural and political formations over time; and how they might offer answers for some of the greatest challenges of our time. With the goal of fostering analyses and debate around multiculturalism and social justice, ecological crises, mythological forces around nationalism or secularism, and possibilities for collective introspection and renewal, the course will examine aspects of the US Constitution, some Latin American examples (Uruguay, Colombia, Bolivia and the composition in Chile of a constitutional assembly to be voted on in 2021), Israel's non-constitution constitutional case, Russia and its recent constitutional alterations, distinctions between theocratic and secular constitutions in countries like Saudi Arabia and Mauritania and cases such as Vatican City, and make a brief incursion into the Tunisian 2012-14 constitutional experiment after its Arab revolution and the ousting of President Ben Ali.

[Counts as an LCC course, and also toward the Political Science major and minor.]

Conspiracy Theories and Their Defenders (MIN 211)

Professor Stablein

In recent years, conspiracy theories have entered into popular discourse and pervaded American politics, exploiting particularly vulnerable groups and threatening the integrity of our democracy. In this course we will explore why people believe in conspiracy theories and misinformation, the actors involved, and motivations for perpetuating these beliefs in the absence of evidence. Conspiracy theories attempt to explain a wide variety of events and actions that have occurred throughout our history which call into question generally accepted narratives and explanations (such as the moon landing, the JFK assassination, and the 9/11 terrorist attacks). Conspiracy theories also attempt to create and explain the presence of fictitious, clandestine entities and affairs such as the existence of a “deep state” or a “new world order” or the actions and motivations of these groups and their involvement in nefarious affairs (e.g. QAnon). Each week, students will evaluate selected conspiracy theories and research which attempt to explain the psychology and sociology of conspiracy theory belief, as well as explanations offered by political scientists, economists, and historians. Each class, students will evaluate specific conspiracy theories and their proponents. Students will also explore these topics on their own through independent research projects in an effort to disentangle fact from fiction and the rationale for their adoption.

[Counts as a SOCS course, as well as toward the Sociology major and minor.]

Narrative Medicine, Grief, and Social Justice (MIN 212)

Professor Nelson

This course is an introduction to the field of Narrative Medicine, an approach to collaborative communication, deep listening, and communal storytelling. In its practice and application, Narrative Medicine addresses issues of trauma, suffering, the body, and intersubjectivity in their social, cultural, political, and historical contexts as they appear in story form. In this course, we examine narrative techniques and representational strategies in texts in a range of genres (drama, poetry, short stories, memoirs, essays, graphic novels, and film created by diverse writers and artists) to examine how language and form shape, structure, and express experiences of suffering, injustice, and grief. We also explore the connections between storytelling, creative vision, transformational change, intersectionality, and social justice, as well as grapple with discourses of power and privilege. Do stories we tell, and are told, contribute to social injustice or justice? How can we transform such stories into narratives of justice, healing, activism, resistance, and change?