Core Curriculum

Mission Seminar Section Descriptions Spring 2016

VUSM 100 Level Courses and Sections


VUSM 100: Section 1, MWF 8:00am – 8:55am
Mike Behan and Nicole Van Ert

This mission seminar course will examine and apply the core Franciscan values to investigate contemporary business/marketing challenges faced by all organizations. The course will be taught by occasionally “flipping” the class, meaning traditional homework will be done in class via applied cases and content accessed outside of class. No prior business knowledge or courses necessary.

VUSM 100: Section 2, TR 11:00am – 12:20pm
Jackie Herbers
Franciscan Arguments

St Francis once said, “Preach always; if necessary, use words.”   Here, St. Francis conveys his message that it is better for Christians to show their faith through serving others than to just speak of their faith.  In Franciscan Arguments, students will consider the question, “What are the values shown in society today?” by using rhetorical approaches to critically analyze a variety of artifacts.  These artifacts include, but are not limited to, speeches, articles, web sites, advertisements and songs.  After analyzing these artifacts, students will decide for themselves which values they see and will compare those to the values St. Francis tried to live.  Finally, students will argue what they see as positive values in our society and what values they would like to see change.

VUSM 101: Section 1 MWF 11:15am - 12:20pm, Section 2 TR 12:30pm – 1:50pm
Jan Janiszewski
Leading by Serving

This seminar is designed for the active student learner. Students will learn the principles of Servant Leadership, examine Franciscan, values and participate in a variety of leadership experiences which build a foundation for leadership in any career.

VUSM 110: MWF 12:20pm – 1:1:15pm
Laura Nettles
Relationships, Health and Well-Being

Using the stories of Francis, Clare, and Rose as a lens to reflect on contemporary and personal narratives, this seminar examines Franciscan values and traditions as they relate to relationships and health and well-being. Students may not earn credit for more than one VUSM course at the 100 level.

VUSM 151: TR 2:00pm – 3:20pm
Janet McLean
Beauty and Art in the Franciscan Tradition

Viterbo University was founded in 1890 by the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration. This entry-level seminar examines that heritage and what it means to be and behave like a Franciscan. These courses will use the works of Saints Francis, Clare, and Rose of Viterbo as a foundation for exploring the university’s core values of hospitality, integrity, contemplation, stewardship, and service.  This course is approved to co-count as an Artistic Awareness Way of Thinking Course.

VUSM 170: TR 9:30am – 11:50am
Sr. Lucille Slinger
Franciscan Sustainability Praxis

In this course students will explore the Franciscan perspective and traditions of caring for creation; a sustainability praxis.   The tension, synergy and significance of how science/technology and theology/spirituality differ will be discussed and applied to local, national and global sustainability issues. Students will be engaged in laboratory activities to develop and understanding of the origin and limitations of scientific knowledge. Through class activities, media, readings, discussion and nature experiences, students will learn to the clearly articulate a personally held sense of place and worldview. Students will learn how worldview differences, held beliefs, and lack of scientific knowledge are the root causes of sustainability conflicts and key to implementation of successful resolutions. This course includes a one hour a week lab and is approved to co-count as a Scientific Reasoning in the Natural Sciences Way of Thinking Course.


VUSM 200 Level Courses and Sections


VUSM-200-001: T 5:00pm - 8:00pm
Jeff Nyseth
Living in a Diverse World

“Our species exhibits considerable diversity; diversity in physical appearance, in beliefs, and in behaviors. How this diversity is portrayed is often dictated by the hegemonic culture; the culture that exerts the predominant influence over the populous. This course will explore issues in diversity through the lens of film and pop culture. We will look at how racial, gender, ethnic, social class, age, and disability stereotypes are used, created, and perpetuated through the popular media including film, TV, and advertising.”

VUSM-200-002: M 5:00pm - 8:00pm
Melissa Collum
Living in a Diverse World: Examining the Life of a T-shirt

What you wear is a reflection of who you are and what you have to say to the world around you… This course will examine every aspect of the Life of a T-Shirt.  The moral and ethical understandings of the t-shirt wearer, the origins of the t-shirt, and most importantly the impact of one t-shirt on people, places, things and the world . . .

VUSM-200-003: MWF 9:05am - 10:00am
Vee Luz
Living in a Diverse World

This seminar course is designed to increase students’ awareness, understanding, and appreciation of diversity, broadly defined (e.g., diversity in race and ethnicity, social class, gender, age, sexual orientation, disability, and religion). Through completion of this course, students will build knowledge and skills involved in being advocates for cultural competency and responsible citizens in our diverse and changing world. Credits: 3; Prerequisite: any 100 level VUSM course.

VUSM-200-004: TR 11:00am – 12:20pm
David Waters
Living in a Diverse World

We will explore the global sports phenomenon of the Modern Olympics, from its re-introduction in 1896 until current Olympiads. The Olympic Movement has as its cornerstone values: respect, excellence, and friendship. Diversity is also ensured with participation of more than 200+ National Olympic Committees from every area of the planet. This course will introduce and analyze the 3 facets of the Olympic Movement: Olympic Games, Olympic Solidarity, and Olympic Academy. The course will offer opportunities to research issues of diversity, inclusiveness, and disparate perspectives pertinent to the Olympic Movement. Some perspectives may encompass: sport governance, politics, culture, history, media, economics, and education.

VUSM-261: TR 4:30pm - 5:50pm
Diana Cataldi
Global Music in a Diverse World

Global Music in a Diverse World raises critical consciousness of diverse populations through the exploration of various musical and cultural traditions from around the world.  Examples include Indonesia, Puerto Rico, Ghana, Argentina, Jazz, Gospel and other traditions.  These cultures will be studied within the broader context of rituals, memory, migration, politics, transmission, identity and life-cycle events. Students will learn through directed reading, listening, group discussion, giving presentations and attending live performances. Through this seminar course, students will become advocates for cultural competency and responsible citizens in our diverse and changing world.  This course is approved to co-count as an Artistic Awareness Way of Thinking Course.

VUSM 226: MWF 10:10am – 11:05am
Michael Lopez Kaley
Diversity in Religious Perspectives

One of the great challenges facing our society today is the diversity within this country’s borders, diversity that includes diverse races, religions, persuasions, and worldviews.  The challenge for all of us lies in overcoming the biases and prejudices that are deeply rooted within us.  This course will approach racial, economic, age, sexual orientation, and religious diversity through the lens of the Judeo-Christian tradition.  Facts and fallacies regarding what the religious tradition believes and proclaims about the previous diversities will be explored.  The course will also provide opportunities to model leadership in a diverse culture. This course is approved to co-count as an Integrating Faith and Practice Way of Thinking Course.

VUSM 252: TR 9:30am – 10:50am
Janet McLean
Women in Theatre

At its best, theatre helps us understand who we are; it can explain, examine, ridicule, or celebrate the human condition.  Gender is a fundamental aspect of personal and social identity. It is a biological, psychological, and cultural category of paramount importance. In addition, gender is often a criterion for social stratification and differing political treatment, as well as a favored symbol for expressing essential values and beliefs. This course examines specific examples of the representation of women on the American stage, focusing on what this dramatic literature says and implies about women. It illuminates ideas about the “nature” of women and the changing perceptions of their roles in both the family and society throughout the last 100 years, while also addressing how these changes impact the role of men in dramatic literature.  This course is approved to co-count as a Literary Analysis Way of Thinking Course.

VUSM 281: W 5:00pm – 8:00pm
Irene TenEyck
Understanding and Working with Mexicans in the United States

The objective of this course is to learn and respect cultural diversity through the study of the complex relationship between the United States of Mexico and the United States of America. The focus of this course is the present day realities of Mexican people working and living in the US.  The course will offer knowledge, values and skills necessary to understand and work with Mexicans in the US. Students will learn about selected historical, social, cultural, political and economic events that shape the life of today’s Mexicans as well as current policy and political decisions that are impacting Mexican in the US. The skills necessary to communicate with and serve Mexicans with availability of community opportunities to enhance students’ cross-cultural practice experiences.  

VUSM-293: TR 2:00pm – 3:20pm
Jesus Jambrina
Introduction to Latin American Studies

This course will give students theoretical tools to understand Latin America from an interdisciplinary perspective. Using a wide range of cultural products, students will examine the region beyond a descriptive approach by looking into its socio-historical formation. Among other topics, students will examine class, race, 231 and gender as well as political tradition and intellectual history. Cross-listed with LASP 200.


VUSM 300 Level Courses and Sections


VUSM-300: Section 1 MWF 1:25pm – 2:20pm
Francis Kroncke
Serving the Common Good

“The Common Good” is a notion that originated over two thousand years ago in the writings of Western culture’s philosophers, namely, Plato, Aristotle, and Cicero. It is generally defined as “certain general societal conditions that are equally to everyone's benefit.”  The Roman Catholic religious tradition—which has a long history of struggling to define and promote the Common Good—defines the “Common Good” as “the sum of those conditions of social life which allow social groups and their individual members relatively thorough and ready access to their own fulfillment.” The Common Good, then, consists primarily of having the social systems, institutions, and environments on which we all must depend working in a manner that benefits everyone. As a Catholic, Franciscan, ecumenical University, this course critically examines and evaluates the Christian theological experience and its application to personal and communal life. The core claim is that the New Testament and Christian theological tradition, notably as anchored in the Franciscan theological movement, can provide a basis for developing a vision to guide Globalization in a multicultural, advanced scientific, and increasingly secular age. Specific to the Roman Catholic tradition, the contemporary movements energized by Vatican Council II that are inspiring the papacy of Pope Francis are considered.

VUSM-300: Section 2 T 4:30pm – 6:30pm
Matthew Bersagel-Braley
Serving the Common Good – Kairos and Community in South Africa

It is the “moral duty of all who are oppressed to resist oppression and to struggle for liberation and justice.” These words, declared in 1985 by South African religious leaders, will serve as the lens for examining the relationship between kairos (moments of truth) and the common good in the Apartheid struggle and the response to the AIDS crisis - two social movements that have transformed the young Republic of South Africa. This course concludes with a two-week study abroad experience in South Africa. Enrollment in the course requires an accepted global education application form as well as course fees to cover the cost of the trip.  This course is approved to co-count as a Historical Analysis Way of Thinking Course.

VUSM-300: Section 3 R 4:30pm – 7:00pm
Tom Thibodeau

The number of people who are homeless and living in poverty is growing. It is real, it is everywhere. We will explore causes and responses and personal responsibility for serving the least among us. This course has a class trip, a night in a cardboard box in February, and 25 service hours in a local organization serving our brothers and sisters. Cross-listed as SOCL 370.

VUSM-300: Section 4 TR 10:00am – 12:20pm
Mary Ellen Haupert
Serving the Common Good

The focus of this Serving the Common Good seminar is the El Sistema movement, which has transformed music education into an agent of social change.  “The System” was the brain-child of Venezuelan economist Dr. José Antonio Abreu who taught “300,000 of Venezuela’s poorest children, demonstrating the power of ensemble music to dramatically change the life trajectory of hundreds of thousands of a nation’s youth while transforming the communities around them” (  This section of VUSM 300 will partner with Advocates for Community through Music Excellence (ACME—a branch of El Sistema USA) and Camden Music School (another community school that advocates for social change) in community events committed to raising awareness and scholarship funds for its participants.  This Common Good seminar provides an opportunity for civic engagement through required outreach service-learning trips.  There may be a nominal fee to defray travel and lodging costs for the trip. Prerequisite: any 200 level VUSM course.

VUSM-300: Section 5 W 5:00pm-8:00pm; Find or fine- tune your passion for service
Melissa Collum
Serving the Common Good

“No man is an island, entire to himself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.” ~ John Donne
Are you ready to step out of your comfort zone and discover your personal potential? Are you willing to expand your knowledge and understanding of the world? Are you able to look into your soul to see what you are made of? CAN you, literally and figuratively, “walk a mile” in someone else’s shoes, to experience a life different than yours? Together we shall discover, via the historic and contemporary lens of citizenship, civil action and courage, that we do not exist for ourselves alone ~we are here for a greater good, not for what it gives us, but of what it enables us to give others…… We shall be reflecting on JFK’s call to “Ask not what your country can do for you...” in The Power of Citizenship: Why JFK Matters to a New Generation, using the Kielburger’s call to hear and aid humanities’ Global Voices. There is no prescribed service project for this course; together we shall discover your strengths and passion thus leading to your path of service.

VUSM-300: Section 6 T 4:00pm – 6:00pm
Connie Fossen
Interprofessional Practice

In this course students in professional programs will learn to collaborate effectively in interprofessional teams. Students will explore their discipline specific roles and scope of practice to understand and appreciate allied professions. The course will focus on knowledge and skills for effective communication, team dynamics, cultural competency and ethical decision-making. Together, students in professions of dietetics and nutrition, education, nursing, social work, psychology, education and other allied fields will learn about person-centered services. Teaching strategies will include presentations, media and small group interprofessional activities. This Common Good Mission Seminar will include a spring break service-learning trip to Nicaragua as part of a Gundersen Health System Global Partners team.  Students will apply cultural and interprofessional practice to learn from and serve with local professionals in the Matagalpa region of Nicaragua. 

VUSM-300: Section 7 TR 9:30am – 10:50am
Lynda Fernholz
Serving the Common Good: Working toward Equity and Social Justice

In order to truly serve the common good, a deep understanding of Social Justice is required. Social Justice includes the view that everyone deserves equal economic, political and social rights and opportunities. Servant Leaders aim to open the doors of access and opportunity for every human being, particularly those in greatest need by building positive relationships and communities that promote a better future. Therefore, this course will examine the background, structures and effects of bias, prejudice, and discrimination in society. Students will consider social and cultural differences related to race and ethnicity (e.g., Hmong, Hispanic, and Native Tribes of Wisconsin), social class, religion, sex, sexuality, ableism, age and their intersections. Students will begin to develop servant leader characteristics through authentic field experiences that will represent “the greatest good for the greatest possible number of individuals”. This course is approved to co-count as aScientific Reasoning in the Social Sciences Way of Thinking Course.

VUSM-325: MWF 10:10am – 11:05am
Bill Reese
The Common Good in the Life of a Christian

“The common good” is a notion that originated over two thousand years ago in the writings of Plato, Aristotle, and Cicero. It is generally defined as "certain general societal conditions that are equally to everyone's benefit.  The Catholic religious tradition, which has a long history of struggling to define and promote the common good, defines the “common good” as "the sum of those conditions of social life which allow social groups and their individual members relatively thorough and ready access to their own fulfillment." The common good, then, consists primarily of having the social systems, institutions, and environments on which we all must depend working in a manner that benefits everyone. This course of study will examine the environments that establish and enhance the common good among us. Using philosophical principles, ethical theories, and religious traditions, the student will come to understand the utilitarian aspects of the common good while pursuing a just, compassionate, and virtuous worldview.  This course is approved to co-count as an Integrating Faith and Practice Way of Thinking Course.  (Restricted to transfer students or by permission of instructor)

VUSM-330: MWF 12:20pm – 1:15pm
Jason Howard
Classical Conceptions of the Common Good

The purpose of the course Classical Conceptions of the Common Good is to introduce students to the early development of the idea of the common good in ancient Greek and Roman Philosophy.  Through their conceptions of virtue, the Good, justice, politics, and philosophy as the way to the good life, people like Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Epicurus, and Marcus Aurelius, provided the foundation for many later notions of the common good.  The main goal of the class is to show students the continuing relevancy of the classical idea of philosophy as a way of life and its deep connection to serving the common good.   As a section of the Common Good Mission Seminars, this course also gives students an opportunity to experience civic engagement first hand as part of the course requirements.  Throughout the class, students are required to participate in activities designed to foster the common good while reflecting on their own values and social responsibility. In line with the emphasis of this class on the philosophical foundations of the common good, Philosophy for Children (which follows the Socratic model of educational engagement) will be introduced as another model of service that uses philosophy to empower children to be respectful, reflective and morally responsible. This course is approved to co-count as a Philosophical Inquiry Way of Thinking Course.


VUSM 400 Level Courses and Sections

VUSM-400: Section 1 MWF 1:25pm – 2:20pm
Susan Cosby Ronnenberg
The Ethical Life

The Ethical Life builds upon the student's ethical reasoning to examine the role of moral values and to explore real world ethical dilemmas. The seminars may approach ethical living from a variety of perspectives, professions, and disciplines. This course explores the three major ethical perspectives of deontology, utilitarianism, and virtue ethics, asking students to apply their tenets to moral problems presented in English literature. Most ethical arguments arise out of stories that we tell ourselves about who we are and what we are doing; at the same time, there is scarcely a work of literature that does not carry a weight of moral urgency or exemplify an ethical position. We tell stories to make sense of the world and to give us perspective on decisions we might otherwise take too casually, or challenges that at first resist our attempts to resolve; they rank among our oldest and most persistent means of achieving consensus. They contribute to developing what we refer to as our ethical standards. Our attention to ethical philosophy will be always in service to close reading and discussion of a number of important works of literature, in the form of short stories, drama, novels, and poetry.  Topics covered will include: questions of fairness and equality, questions about consequences and the greatest good, and questions about character and moral habituation. The course emphasizes close and perceptive reading, thoughtful discussion and reflection. This is not a literary analysis class, though; we are using literary stories to better understand approaches to ethical reasoning and decision making.

VUSM-400: Section 2 R 3:30pm-6:30pm
Robyn Gaier
Ethical Decision-Making and Mental Health

What does it mean to be morally responsible for an action? Is an addict morally responsible while under the influence of his or her addiction? What are the ethical limitations of personal autonomy? In what way, or ways, is physician-assisted suicide different from other instances of suicide? Various answers to these questions are investigated in this seminar. Ethical issues in mental health provide a unique lens through which moral agency, in particular, may be further investigated. Students will develop an understanding of the following ethical theories: deontology, utilitarianism, virtue ethics, and the ethics of care. Additionally, the incarceration of those who suffer from mental illnesses will be a central concern when we examine particular methods of ethical decision-making. Specifically, students will learn how to apply the four-way method of ethical decision-making to particular case studies regarding mental health and, thereby, bridge the gap between both theory and practice.     

VUSM-400: Section 3 TR 2:00pm-3:20pm;
Melissa Collum
The Hitchhikers Guide to an Ethical Life

Are you a passenger on the road of life? Passively gazing out the window, listening to tunes on the radio of someone else’s choosing? Or are you the driver? Plotting a clear course only to get stuck in a traffic jam? Better yet, be a hitchhiker – sometimes driving and other times a passenger, yet always in control of your ultimate destiny. 
The course shall aid you in setting your moral/ethical compass for life’s journey. Guided by Guillebeau’s The Art of Non-Conformity, we shall tackle the moral incubus of Kafka’s The Trial, to the provoking account of Wiesenthal’s, The Sunflower, to Stangroom’s the paradoxical ethical dilemmas in Would You Eat Your Cat?
Our journey shall take you to from the depths of your soul to the expanses of the moral universe all the time preparing you to be a hitchhiker in the world of the unknown.

VUSM-400: Section 4 MWF 2:30pm–3:25pm
Jeff Nyseth
The Ethical Life

The Ethical Life develops students’ ethical reasoning to examine real-world ethical dilemmas, using a four-way model built upon truth, consequences, fairness, and character. The seminars may approach ethical living from a variety of perspectives, professions, and disciplines. By the end of the seminar students should be able to identify and analyze their own ethical values as well as apply ethical principles to clarify/resolve a wide range of issues.

VUSM-400-005:  M  6:00pm-9:00pm
Rick Kyte and Tom Thibodeau
The Ethical Life

This particular section of The Ethical Life prepares students for taking on the ethical challenges that come with assuming a leadership role in a profession, organization, or community.  We will look in particular at Servant Leadership, see how it is grounded in an ethical approach to life, and then examine ways in which servant leaders can create ethical cultures and resolve ethical problems in real life situations. This course places a strong emphasis on class participation and student initiative in bringing examples to class for discussion.     

VUSM-431: MWF 9:05am – 10:00am
Jeffrey Kupperman
The Ethical Life from the New Testament Gospels

“What did Jesus do?” is a question that remains the hallmark of the Christian Church’s message to the world. It is the Christian Church’s that sets it apart from all other religious movements or spiritual sects. “What would Jesus do?” however, is the major question this course of study will ask as it relates the divine command ethics of Jesus to utilitarian, deontological, and virtue ethics.  What are the determined features of the ethical life Jesus Christ modeled and taught? How do Jesus’ ethics contrast those taught by Kant, Rand, Bentham, Plato, and others. “The Ethical Life from the New Testament Gospels” is a VUSM Ethical Life seminar course that also qualifies for Philosophy General Education credit. This is an upper-class moral philosophy class with an emphasis on Biblical interpretation. Participation in classroom discussion and university-level writing is expected.