The Collegiate Center is the general education curriculum at Hendrix and begins in the first year with The Engaged Citizen (TEC) and Explorations: Liberal Arts for Life.
The Engaged Citizen (TEC) is a one-semester interdisciplinary course for all first-year Hendrix students. Pairs of faculty from across the institution explore a topic from different disciplinary approaches to provoke discussion and reflection on what it means to be involved in our communities, whether locally or globally.
How should engaged citizens and governmental agencies respond to epidemics? This course traces important themes about human responses to disease from biological and historical perspectives. In studying outbreaks from the fourteenth to the twenty-first century, we will examine public health efforts, vaccines, and other attempts to control and eradicate diseases. We will consider the molecular mechanisms of microbial survival and transmission, evaluating how pathogens have evolved with human biology and behavior to create opportunities for disease spread. By placing history and biology in dialogue, we raise important questions about the constantly evolving relationships between pathogens and human society.
Listen to John Coltrane and Charles Mingus! Jazz, Spirit, and Community explores how jazz and other forms of popular music (rock, country, folk, roots, hip-hop) provide contexts for social engagement and spiritual sustenance in service to what Martin Luther King. Jr. calls "beloved community:" a community that is creative, compassionate, participatory, inclusive, multi-cultural, and multi-religious with no one left behind. This music touches, provokes, consoles and evokes the human spirit. Jazz, Spirit, and Community explores the intersection of art, community action, and spiritual experience.
It's never been easier to access data about the world around us-and yet we must worry more and more about how misleading statistics and fake news can do us harm. In this course, we'll take a critical look at the roles data play in our lives as engaged citizens. We'll reflect on what statistics and other quantitative methods offer as we think about big human problems; we'll also consider these methods' limits. Our goal is not to achieve perfect objectivity, but rather to understand how numbers, statistics, and data persuade us and motivate us to act in the world.
We will engage the topic of French Existentialism through the philosophical and literary texts of Sartre, de Beauvoir, and Camus. We will interrogate Sartre's famous dictum that "existence precedes essence," which means that humans lack a pre-established essence, a pre-determined telos for life, or a stable, knowable meaning for life. We are, thus, thrown into the world with the responsibility to make choices and act, but without any guidance. How can this lead us to engage with the world instead of hiding from it? What is the point?
This course seeks to both aid students' understanding of representative democracy in the United States through an examination of various ways in which aspects of mathematics shape democratic processes and seeks to bring nontraditional mathematics to life by applying the theory and practice of mathematics to political phenomena. Topics covered in the class include voting methods at the ballot box and in legislative bodies, the mathematics of political power including the politics of district line drawing, and the power (and limitations) of data in modern US elections.
Studying the Spanish Civil War has something for everyone: history, literature and film, art, archaeology, Spanish language and culture, politics, journalistic ethics, globalism, religion and, of course, engaged citizenship. This course is intended to provide students with a space to reflect on what it means to be an engaged citizen, through the different perspectives of history, literature, film, and the arts at large. By participating in class discussions, by writing essays, and by sharing presentations, students taking this course will learn about the history of the Spanish Civil War as well as the artistic representation which emerged as a response to the conflict and have continued to emerge until the present.
Across the Americas, indigenous people are often citizens of both sovereign indigenous communities and nation-states. This course will explore the history and current experiences of these populations as a means to think more deeply about citizenship and sovereignty in the Western Hemisphere. Through a focus on key contemporary topics, such as indigenous political activity, media representations, land and territorial rights, casino gambling, and military service, students will examine the challenges and opportunities associated with indigenous citizenship in North America and Latin America today and will consider the impact of these on their own experiences of being engaged citizens.
Designers have the responsibility of creating devices that are of maximal utility to citizens. Further, technology innovation can change the underlying structure of society, affecting both social connections and potentially causing social isolation. This course explores the principles behind the design of useful technological devices. From the psychological perspective, we study the impacts and unintended consequences of technology on people, exploring how scientists use human factors research to determine effective design. From the perspective of computer science, students create multiple prototypes of smartphone applications then assess and improve them through user testing.
In the United States there is a rich interplay of religiously motivated social reform and democratic action. Some call for democratic reform in the name of their faith; others see religion as a threat to democratic practices. In this course we will read personal histories of social reformers in the U.S as well as philosophical, political, and theological treatises that show a disparity of opinions about the place of religious expression and motivation in democratic social reform. Students are invited to explore their own views of the proper role of religion and religious expression in the democratic state.
This course explores how mass communication technologies (e.g., film, radio, television, online media) have shaped our understandings of race and race relations in the U.S. One of the goals of the course is to help students think of race not as a static or intrinsic concept, but rather as fluid and dynamic, negotiated in part through popular entertainment, art, and news media. By taking a sociohistorical and cultural perspective, we hope to provide students with a framework for how to critically understand the relationship between representations of race and the ways in which we experience our racial identity.
Embodied resistance is a type of engaged citizenship, using one's body-individually and collectively-to insist on political change. Public assemblies, protests, and civil disobedience can be understood as pleas for empathy for experiences and identities of subjects on the margins of living in precarity. We discuss embodied resistance as the performance of bodily movement that is transgressive and as moral expressions that shift our norms beyond the status quo. We will investigate performance art and collective assembly in the context of the emerging concept of performative justice as a mode of creating new forms of care for the vulnerable.
Explorations is a one-semester required course for all students enrolled in The Engaged Citizen in their first semester at Hendrix. The course is designed to foster an ongoing engagement with the liberal arts experience, to help new students transition to the Hendrix community, and to enhance students' potential for success at Hendrix.
Explorations topics include higher education and the liberal arts, the aims and expectations of Hendrix, engaged learning, academic and career explorations, and self-inquiry and personal development. The seminar also focuses on refining student knowledge, perspectives and skills requisite to successful academic work and integration into the Hendrix community.