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Course Descriptions

First-Year Studies Courses

FIYS 106: Medical Mysteries of the Mind

This course is for beginning students interested in exploring the human brain in a rigorous interdisciplinary way. If you are intensely interested in how your brain helps you think, feel, sense, read, write, eat, sleep, dream, learn and move, this course is for you. You will learn how brain dysfunction causes complex medical illnesses, like Alzheimer's, Autism, and Schizophrenia. You will meet Chicago's world-class neuroscientists through guest seminars and class-trips to famous laboratories. You will debate ethical dilemmas that face society and dissect human brains. Lastly, you will present at the Brain Awareness Week on campus. One year each of high school biology and chemistry is recommended. (Under the Forester Fundamental Curriculum, this course meets the First Year Studies requirement. )


FIYS 109: The Future

In the fall of 2015, according to the 1989 film Back to the Future Part II, Americans would be traveling in hovercars, wearing self-lacing sneakers, scooting around on hoverboards, and - most improbably - celebrating the victory of the Chicago Cubs in the World Series. Predicting the future is clearly difficult. So-called experts in various fields have routinely failed to accurately predict events such as the housing bubble of 2007, weather catastrophes, the outcome of political races, whether bridges can withstand stress loads, pandemics, and so on. Yet, to be human is to make predictions. In this course, we will explore the ways people have tried to see into the future, both on a mundane and a profound level. Examining fields across the liberal arts curriculum, we will assess the quality of these predictions and ultimately make predictions of our own, to be placed in a time capsule for our future amusement.


FIYS 113: Music and Math

In this course, students will investigate the connections between the fields of music and mathematics. Commonalities to be explored will include the musical concepts of rhythm, meter, scales, tuning, and temperament, and the mathematical concepts of geometric series, rational and irrational numbers, modular arithmetic, and symmetries of the square. No previous knowledge of music theory is required, only a desire to use critical and analytical skills to understand and appreciate music. (Under the Forester Fundamental Curriculum, this course meets the First Year Studies requirement. )


FIYS 114: Media Art & Technology

(From Now On: Media Art & Technology.) Digital media, technology and the arts have become potent forces creating changes in aesthetics, communication, social engagement, political movements, and economic conditions. From social media to Virtual Reality, the lines between reality and artifice blur. As these forces combine, reconfigure and create innovations, how will these changes impact our everyday experience? What we should expect in the world of work? Mass access to design software allows everyone to be a maker capable of creating shifts in cultural and social trends. How can one thrive in a such a dynamic world? Artists have played an important role as a counterpoint to mass-media by creating work that articulates important questions and examines such changes. Through discussions, readings, exercises and projects the course examines the impact of new fields in art and technology. This course will help students to identify, learn about, and potentially create tools to navigate a technologically dense future. (Under the Forester Fundamental Curriculum, this course meets the First Year Studies requirement. )


FIYS 119: Chicago Media Industries

Over the last 170 years, Chicago has been home to a diverse and vibrant set of media industries. From the founding of the Chicago Tribune in 1847, to the production of iconic films like Ferris Buehler's Day Off in the 1980s, to the current boom in television production started by Dick Wolf's Chicago Fire franchise in 2012, there is no doubt that Chicago has made an indelible mark on the U.S. media landscape. In this class, we will examine the history, policies, and practices of Chicago media industries, including print, film, radio, and television. We will also look at the way Chicago media industries have been impacted by larger political and economic trends, such as new media's effect on the newspaper industry, and growing international competition for Hollywood investment, known as "runaway production." This course will include a field trip to a Chicago media company as well as famous movie locations around the city.


FIYS 120: Religious Violence and Coexist

How do people of different religious faiths interact? How do they create professional and personal relationships - and what limits are placed on those relationships, either by law or by the individuals themselves? Conversely, what causes hostility and violence between faiths? This course investigates these eternal questions through an in-depth study of relations between Christianity, Judaism, and Islam in the medieval Mediterranean world. We will begin with the earliest interactions between these religious traditions, as Christianity and Judaism diverged from common roots into separate faiths in the first two centuries CE, and as Islam emerged in the seventh century. In our second unit, we will study medieval Spain, where Christians, Jews, and Muslims coexisted relatively peacefully for centuries, but where that toleration crumbled in the later Middle Ages, culminating in the Spanish Inquisition. (Under the Forester Fundamental Curriculum, this course meets the First Year Studies requirement. )


FIYS 123: Global Epidemics: From Aids to

What makes an emerging infectious disease become an epidemic, like the recent West-Africa Ebola outbreak? Why isn’t a vaccine widely available? We will explore the medical, biological, and molecular complexities of a variety of infectious diseases that plague the world, such as malaria, cholera, and Dengue fever. We will study the viruses and microbes that cause the diseases, how they are transmitted, and the chemical and biological challenges of making and distributing vaccines in less developed countries. Finally, we will examine the potential intentional outbreak of disease that may be used by bioterrorists. For instance, the smallpox disease essentially has been wiped off the earth, but stocks of it could one day be used, or even synthesized, as a biological weapon. In addition to class discussions and writing assignments, students will investigate microbial morphology through a high-powered laboratory microscope and even make bacterial art. (Under the Forester Fundamental Curriculum, this course meets the First Year Studies requirement. )


FIYS 128: Robots & Brains:Fantasies & Fa

Will computers ever become conscious? Will robots ever have the degree of sentience described in science fiction or shown in films? How does the human mind emerge from the workings of the human brain? How is our brain different from, and simultaneously similar to, the brains of other animals? How are the 'wet brains' of animals different from, and similar to, the 'dry brains' of computers? Readings will include introductory materials on the brain, on mind and consciousness, on science fiction stories about robots, on scholarly and popular articles from current work in neuroscience and artificial intelligence. The course will include films, computer simulations, guest lectures, and field trips, all related to brain, mind, robots, and artificial intelligence.


FIYS 130: The Science of Cooking

Since 1992, the term molecular gastronomy has become part of understanding the world’s cuisine. This course examines the chemistry and physics of cooking, and the physiology of taste and flavor. We explore such questions as what is the science behind making a foam or gel; how do you prevent food bacteria from forming; and what does it mean to temper chocolate? The science of cooking includes the important works of Hervé This, Heston Blumenthal, Ferran Adria, José Andrés, and Grant Achatz, among others. We read their work and not only become familiar with the latest materials and methods of the world’s most innovative cuisine, but also learn how these methods may be part of the solution to ending world hunger. We work with a chef to perform experiments to elucidate the theory we will be studying. (Under the Forester Fundamental Curriculum, this course meets the First Year Studies requirement. )


FIYS 131: Civil Disobedience/Pol Obligat

(Civil Disobedience and Political Obligation.) Every society imposes rules upon its members; without such rules societies could not exist. In liberal societies individuals agree to constrain their behavior through a social contract. That is, individuals consent to their own rule by the majority. Social contracts are considered the most just methods of social organization, because members consent and because rights are traditionally preserved. Rule is maintained through a codified law, made known to all, with proscribed punishments for failure to obey. But sometimes the obligation to obey society conflicts with other obligations: to family, to God, to justice. These conflicts cause crises in both the individual and in society. Our course will explore these crises historically and theoretically. Antigone, the heroine of Sophocles' ancient Greek play, made the choice of obeying the religious commandments but in doing so violated the laws of the city. Socrates, on being condemned to death by Athens, was offered the opportunity to escape the city and save his life, but refused for it would mean breaking the laws of the city. When individuals commit civil disobedience, when they purposely and publicly break a law they feel to be immoral or unjust, how should society react? Is there a minimum of obligation that can be demanded? Can civil disobedience be justified? If so, can violence against the state also be justified? Our course explores these questions through traditional literature, such as the writings of Plato, Shakespeare, Locke, Thoreau, King, and Malcolm X. (Under the Forester Fundamental Curriculum, this course meets the First Year Studies requirement. )


FIYS 135: Birth & Death in Chicago: 1850

(Birthing and Dying in Chicago: 1850 to the present) This course will examine the complex answers to a simple question: who lives, who dies and why? How are life and death issues defined and who decides what constitutes a threat to public health and safety? Focusing on Chicago, students will study the social, political, environmental and economic factors that have impacted the city's demographic patterns over the last 150 years. From the outbreak of the first cholera epidemic in 1854, Chicago has faced many public health crises. Race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and class continue to impact birth and death rates in Chicago. Topics will include early battles to provide birth control and family planning, the polio epidemic, ethical and legal responses to the AIDS crisis of the 1980s and current efforts to define gun violence and related deaths as a public health issue. Guest speakers and field trips will supplement class meetings and readings.


FIYS 138: Art in Chicago

While Chicago’s extensive contributions to modern architecture are known throughout the world, it’s been a critical center of visual art in all media since its earliest years. This course explores the rich and dynamic history of art-making in Chicago from before the Great Fire of 1871 to the present, as well as the city’s role as a center for experimentation and learning in the visual arts. Throughout its history, Chicago has been home to an art community that has always charted its own path, free from the constraints of more commercial centers like New York, and in so doing has had great impact on visual art and our broader visual culture. The city itself is a critical resource for this class, as course content - in the form of readings, discussion, and various activities - is augmented by visits to diverse art institutions and meetings with influential art-makers. (Under the Forester Fundamental Curriculum, this course meets the First Year Studies requirement. )


FIYS 142: Dostoevsky on Good and Evil

Is a student who murders a wealthy old pawnbroker justified in his murder, if he uses her money for the common good? Can a novelist realistically represent a purely good person, or would readers regard such a person as nothing more than an "idiot"? If the Devil visited one's bedroom, what would he look like and what conversation might he make? These are just a few of the fascinating questions prompted by Fyodor Dostoevsky's novels. This course will explore the evolution of Dostoevsky's literary and intellectual work leading up to his final novel of ideas, The Brothers Karamazov. We will focus on the genesis and development of that novel through Dostoevsky's contact with other novelists, such as Turgenev and Dickens. We will explore the novel against Dostoevsky's dramatic biographical and historical context. And we will examine the provocative philosophical, theological, political and aesthetic debates his novel broaches--debates that are as relevant today as they were in Dostoevsky's day.


FIYS 143: Money and Happiness

Can money buy happiness? If you ask "would you rather be rich or happy?" the response may imply that the two are synonymous. This course will examine the relationship between money and happiness and will give you tools to get what you want and want what you have in your search for a happy life. You will learn negotiating skills along with influence and persuasion techniques, and explore the "happiness equation." Using documentaries, articles, texts and case studies as a basis for our discussions, we will explore these questions: What is a fulfilling life? Is happiness learned or genetic?What role is played by humor, friendship, achievement, spirituality and love? In addition to writing about these topics, students will test these approaches and techniques during in-the-field experiments. This course will make you think and challenge your assumptions as you prepare for what lies ahead in your college experience and well beyond. (Under the Forester Fundamental Curriculum, this course meets the First Year Studies requirement. )


FIYS 146: BFFs: Besties and Female Frien

(BFFs: "Besties" and Female Friendship.) "Besties" are found everywhere in contemporary fiction, television, and film. Usually placed behind romantic relationships, female friendship is now understood to be a powerful and even transformative dynamic, one that is central to female identity. Men and lovers take a back seat: A "Coldplay song plays in my heart" whenever Hannah Horvath sees her two closest friends in "Girls." Are BFFs taking over the usual unions of romantic or erotic love? How much are girlfriends the focus of these stories? In this course, we examine these contemporary representations of female friendship, from television programs such as "Girls" to the erotic and dangerous "besties" of Emma Cline's The Girls. Throughout, we discover the many sides of this complex, and contradictory, relationship. (Under the Forester Fundamental Curriculum, this course meets the First Year Studies requirement. )


FIYS 150: Entrepreneurship in Action

Entrepreneurship involves more than merely starting a new business that addresses a problem worth solving or innovating within an existing organization; it is a life skill that contributes to success in any field. This course explores the history of entrepreneurship through case studies, articles, and other activities. Students investigate the evolution of entrepreneurial best practices and pitfalls throughout the years. We dissect recent successes and failures in the world of entrepreneurship, and examine the role of technology in the future of the field. (Under the Forester Fundamental Curriculum, this course meets the First Year Studies requirement. )


FIYS 153: History Reversed; You to the W

Usually, history courses start deep in the past, and move towards the present. In this class, we flip the script, and start with you, right here, right now, at Lake Forest College. By tracing our individual ancestries, we will situate our local lives at the College and in the city of Chicago within a global historical context. Using large-scale datasets and wide-ranging historical sources, we will explore Chicago as a global city of immigrants and the Midwest as an ancient civilization of indigenous peoples. Rewinding from the present, the course will chart a global path back thousands of years to the origins of the human species in Africa. By investigating and debating how change happens over time, we will understand our own place in history. (Under the Forester Fundamental Curriculum, this course meets the First Year Studies requirement. )


FIYS 154: The Irish in Chicago

This course places Irish history in context and examine the large-scale emigration from Ireland to the United States in the mid-19th century. It traces the destinations of the Irish as they settled in America and focuses primarily on those who came to Chicago. It researches where and how the Irish community lived in the city and surrounding areas. It examines how the Irish immigrants contended with the darker side of this new life through impoverished times and the rise of mob activity, and yet, how the cultural aspects of Irish life (among them sports, music, dance, art, crafts, literature, and theater) not only survived the transatlantic crossing, but thrived in their new home, and continue to be part of life for the Irish community in 21st-century Chicago.


FIYS 155: Chicago: Land of Hope

In the half-century following World War I, millions of African Americans left the American South in the Great Migration. Settling in northern cities like Chicago, which many called the “Land of Hope,” black migrants dramatically reshaped American life and culture. This course explores the connections between that history of northward movement and African American cultural production and experiences. We do this through a special focus on Chicago, where the black population grew from just over 44,000 to more than 1.1 million. We read closely and contextualize a variety of texts, including novels, plays, photographs, maps, sociological surveys, oral histories, and correspondence. We examine the historical significance of these texts from a variety of disciplinary perspectives - including history, literary and film criticism, sociology, critical race studies, and cultural studies (Under the Forester Fundamental Curriculum, this course meets the First Year Studies requirement. )


FIYS 158: Women Onstage: Antigone to Bey

(Women Onstage: From Antigone to Beyoncé.) "One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman."—Simone deBeauvoir

Gender is learned—a collection of behaviors that we all learn to replicate through a kind of performance that happens on and offstage. In this course, we will think about how this understanding of gender plays out in performance spaces. We'll take a broad look at the ways women have been portrayed onstage in different kinds of theatrical performance, from plays to music. We'll look at how women have expressed themselves and addressed political issues through theatre and performance—and how their voices have, at times, been excluded. We'll look at the changing answers to the question—what is a woman? (Under the Forester Fundamental Curriculum, this course meets the First Year Studies requirement. )


FIYS 163: Independent Media in Chicago

This course focuses on the role played by independent media in the contemporary cultural landscape. Students become familiar with the workings of different independent media, as represented by the workings of film-makers, music venues, newspapers, zines, comic books, video games, and record labels that survive without direct connections to the large corporations that dominate the mass mediated culture in the U.S. At all times, readings concerning the role of the media in society contextualize the importance of the independent media. This class features several trips to the sites where these media outlets operate, with likely visits to: Quimby’s Queer Store, The Hideout, Kartemquin Films, and The Chicago Reader. Paper assignments find students applying these experiences to the broader meanings of independent media. Students get a first-hand look at what the production of culture looks like in the context of independent media in Chicago. (Under the Forester Fundamental Curriculum, this course meets the First Year Studies requirement. )


FIYS 164: Archaeology of Chicago

This course provides an introduction to the discipline of archaeology by exploring the city of Chicago, using to discuss and to engage with the social complexity found in urban America. Archaeology, a disciplinary subfield of anthropology, considers the material traces of human behaviors. Urban archaeological research looks at the complex interrelation of materiality and the documentary record, revealing everyday experiences and social relations at several levels. Through the lens of archaeology, we will cover Chicago as important stop along a prehistoric trail system, its place as a multicultural fur trade entrepôt, the attention from the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition, and its current preeminence as a global city. Readings cover foundational concepts in archaeology, an introduction to historical archaeology, historical background on Chicago, and comparative urban case studies. Visits to current and future sites of archaeological excavations will be complemented with work on the preliminary archaeological assessment of a Chicago site.


FIYS 172: Gender and the Renaissance Ima

In the late medieval and early modern period, convention and religious authority relegated women to a position subordinate to men. This course will explore some of the ways that women in the Renaissance overcame the obstacles placed before them to create works of art and to manipulate the culture of their time. Among the topics we will consider are the role of the image in constructing Renaissance notions of women; the manipulation of traditional images of power by women rulers to support their claims to sovereignty; the genres of writing most available to women in the Renaissance, with a special emphasis on the epistolary genre; women's access to art making and patronage activities, in the secular world and in the convent; and strategies by which women influenced the style and messages of works of art. We will also look at how Renaissance women are portrayed in modern works of art, literature, and film. (Under the Forester Fundamental Curriculum, this course meets the First Year Studies requirement. )


FIYS 180: Philosophy of Humans and Anima

Western philosophers since Aristotle - at least - have claimed that human beings, as a species and alone among species, are capable of complex reasoning. The seventeenth-century French philosopher Descartes, famously, denied that non-human animals have minds or could think, claiming that they are essentially robots. From these kinds of premises, philosophers have inferred a wide range of ethical and religious claims, e.g., it is ethically permissible to eat non-human animals. Alternative claims, however, have just as long a history. In this course, we will read and discuss an array of philosophical opinions on the similarities and differences between humans and other animals, and the practices of industrial farming, training animals to work or entertain, building and patronizing zoos, animal experimentation, and other controversial topics. This course requires participation in some evening and/or weekend field trips or events, so consider your other commitments (such as off-campus employment or a fall/winter sports participation) as you identify courses of interest to you. (Under the Forester Fundamental Curriculum, this course meets the First Year Studies requirement. )


FIYS 182: Civilization and Barbarism

This course examines the issue of violence and its relation to cultural rules and principles. We look at violence from two angles: its destructive and generating power and the rich cultural meanings it reveals. We look at civilization as a system of rules that govern human conduct united under a highly selective set of guiding principles. The central theme of this course is to study how the pressure of violence will give rise to different rules of human conduct subsumed under a few major principles. We will study those rules and principles through the actions in order to gain a basic understanding of the fundamental ways culture and civilization shape human behavior.


FIYS 183: Law, Literature and Logic

A lawyer arguing a case tries to shape that case into a coherent, persuasive story: a dry recitation of facts and law is not enough. So, law is a literary - a story-telling - enterprise. And a dramatic one: fiction writers and filmmakers use crimes, investigations, court proceedings, and punishments to generate interest in their works. And yet, we still tend to think of literary flourishes as deceptive - after all, one meaning of “to tell a story” is “to tell a lie.” Legal reasoning, moreover, often seems arcane or merely manipulative, aimed more at obscuring the truth than revealing it. In this course we look into the complex and often bewildering interplay among law, literature, and logic, with the hope of illuminating all three - and with the hope of improving your writing skills, your reasoning skills, your rhetorical skills, and your argumentative skills. (Under the Forester Fundamental Curriculum, this course meets the First Year Studies requirement. )


FIYS 184: Why College? A Chicago Story

Why go to college? Over time, students, families, teachers, employers, and politicians have answered this question in very different ways. In this course, we will explore the changing meaning and realities of college-going in Chicagoland from the 18th to the 21st centuries: from classical finishing school for white clergymen, to teacher-training for new cohorts of women and African Americans, to socialization into a radical youth culture, to "human capital" investment for a knowledge economy. We'll use a range of historical and contemporary sources to answer the questions: Why go to college? Who gets to go to college? Why is college so expensive? Through discussions, debates, and written reflection, we will dig into the past struggles and policy decisions that shape what college means for you here at Lake Forest College today. (Under the Forester Fundamental Curriculum, this course meets the First Year Studies requirement. )


FIYS 190: Exploring Adolescence: Then an

(Exploring Adolescence: The Role of Chicago School Experiences Then and Now). Adolescence is a time of transitions shaped by the context of the experience. We will examine how adolescents develop with a focus on the challenges of the high school experience. Specifically, we will focus on the context of the Chicago public school experience and its impact on adolescent development as it existed both at the turn of the last century and today. To explore the contemporary situation, students traveling as a group will visit and conduct a series of observations at a Chicago high school. The class will develop a research question that can be compared to the past; this will be investigated and the data collected will be analyzed to form a case study. Students will work collaboratively as a research team to explore these questions, and they will use background knowledge and critical thinking skills to discuss the conclusions and implications of the research question.


FIYS 194: Peace Studies

This course explores the interdisciplinary field of scholarly inquiry and advocacy known as Peace Studies, which seeks paths to end violent conflict and build ethical and harmonious interpersonal, societal, and global relationships. The course considers a range of peace-related topics, including peace concepts and disputes, peace networks, trends in violence, and gender and security. Much of this course focuses on the peace advocacy of one of Chicago’s most famous social activists, Jane Addams (1860-1935). Best known for her settlement work with poor immigrants in Chicago, Addams believed that pacifism would benefit marginalized populations, from poor immigrants in Chicago’s 19th Ward to industrial workers and farmers across the United States. She passionately opposed World War I, believing strongly that people from different nations and cultures were capable of interacting peacefully to advance their shared interests, and that it was necessary to form international institutions that would resolve disputes diplomatically and ensure lasting international peace, security, prosperity, and justice. (Under the Forester Fundamental Curriculum, this course meets the First Year Studies requirement. )


FIYS 196: American Playwrights in Chicag

Chicago is home to a vivid and diverse theater scene that includes everything from tiny stages in the back rooms of bars to glitzy Broadway-style productions. This course examines a selection of American-authored plays from the Chicago season as the materials for an introduction to literary studies. As such, the course considers the plays we see and read as an occasion to develop skills in critical thinking, research, and writing. A secondary objective is to connect the various plays to particular moments or themes in American history and culture. We proceed from the acquisition of a simple critical vocabulary for describing a play’s form and content, through character study, to more complex questions of the director’s decisions in taking a play from the page to the stage. (Under the Forester Fundamental Curriculum, this course meets the First Year Studies requirement. )


FIYS 198: Criminal Justice in Chicago

In Criminal Justice in Chicago, we will analyze historical and contemporary Chicago criminal cases to consider how criminal justice is doled out in the Second City. We will focus on the seemingly disparate cases of four Chicagoans: Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb, notorious jazz-age murderers, legendary R & B artist R Kelly, and Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke, convicted in the murder of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. Despite the differences in the defendants, nature of crimes, backgrounds, and outcomes of these cases, we will examine some of the common themes surrounding their cases to gain a better understanding of how high-profile criminal justice cases are handled in Chicago. We will also draw distinctions between such high-profile cases and more routine violent crime cases charged and tried in Chicago. This class will include classroom visits by professionals from a variety of fields (e.g., legal, media) with personal ties to the cases. (Under the Forester Fundamental Curriculum, this course meets the First Year Studies requirement. )


FIYS 199: The Past and Future of a Plagu

In the mid-1340s, merchant networks in the Mediterranean buzzed with news of a terrible disease ravaging lands further east. That disease—known as "the plague" or the "Black Death"—went on to wreak unprecedented havoc in Europe and the Islamic world, likely killing half the population in the space of a few years. It then continued to cause periodic devastating epidemics around the world until the widespread availability of antibiotics in the mid-20th century. In this course, after learning about the symptoms of plague, the progression of the epidemics, and the identity of the victims, we explore multiple facets of the human response to these natural disasters. These include: schools of thought on disease (humoral medicine, miasmatic theory, contagionism, germ theory); religious responses (penitential movements, massacres of religious minorities); medical measures (quarantine, sanitation, drug treatments); artistic representations; and the intersection of state power (both domestic and imperial) with public health efforts. In addition to addressing the history of the plague, this course offers a lens through which to view the current epidemic and future public health challenges. (Under the Forester Fundamental Curriculum, this course meets the First Year Studies requirement. )