Spring 2012 Mission Seminar Section Descriptions

VUSM100, Franciscan Values and Traditions  

Section 1 Choosing, Changing, or Confirming Your Calling (William Reese) 

his course of study will review the life of St. Francisc from the perspective of career/vocation choices and the struggles that led him to such a magnificent life. A study of Franciscan values as they apply to vocation as well as presentations on vocational choices from local business, church, and community leaders  will serve as the foundation for this section.  

Section 2 (Lyon Evans) 

The most popular and beloved of all the Catholic saints, St. Francis of Assisi (1182-1226) has inspired millions of people around the world-- Christian and non-Christian; Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant alike--for centuries.  The son of a wealthy cloth merchant in Assisi, Italy, and groomed from an early age to take over and run the family business, Francis profoundly challenged the prevailing materialism of his day: i.e., the belief that the highest value in life is the acquisition of wealth and material possessions and comforts.  Francis challenged this ethic by publicly renouncing his father’s materialistic way of life, taking a vow of poverty, and pledging to imitate Jesus Christ in his words and deeds.  In our class, we’ll see how Francis’ extraordinary renunciation and spiritual quest has reverberated down the centuries, inspiring writers as diverse as Henry David Thoreau, a 19th century American; Leo Tolstoy, a 19th century Russian; Herman Hesse, a 20th century German Swiss; and Jon Krakauer, a contemporary American journalist, whose non-fiction book, Into the Wild,  charts the life and death of Chris McCandless, a young man who, on graduating from college,  renounced law school, gave away his inheritance, and sought spiritual fulfillment by “bumming” around the country and hiking into the Alaskan wilderness.  In our class, Francis’s renunciation of materialism and spiritual quest will be the central focus; but we’ll also explore other aspects of Francis’ extraordinary life.  For example, Francis created the first crèche; sought ecumenical dialogue with Muslims (an effort as urgent today as it was in the 13th century); loved and blessed all of God’s creatures; and preached and practice reverence for the natural world. For his environmental awareness— centuries ahead of his time--Francis was proclaimed the “patron saint of ecology” in 1986.  Throughout the course, we’ll give homage to, and note the continuing relevance of, the Franciscan Core Values. 

Section 3: Literature and Leaving Home (Jackie Herbers) 

St. Francis, St. Clare and St. Rose were young adults when they left on their lives’ journeys, and they developed their own identities and values as a result of their new experiences.  Students in this course will review the lives and teachings of St. Francis, St. Clare and St. Rose and will be invited on a journey of their own as they read literature about leaving home.  Literature selections include works byAmy Tan, Toni Morrison, Tim O’Brien, Sandra Cisneros, Norma Fox Mazer, and J.D. Salinger. 

Section 4: Art, Beauty and the Franciscan Tradition (Janet McLean) 

The student will study St. Francis and his love of beauty, how beauty may be defined, and the relationship of beauty to the concept of art. This course asks the student to come to an understanding of how art is defined, and specifically how the theatrical art form reflects the Franciscan tradition of celebrating beauty in art.  Readings will include a study of aesthetics, and plays such as Shakespeare’s Hamlet.  

Section 5 (Sr. Laura Nettles) 

Using the lens of St. Francis of Assisi and St. Clare of Assisi, students will be introduced to Franciscan women saints, the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration and the Viterbo University community and the unique ways in which they live(d) out Franciscan values in their lives. Students will consider how these models might become mirrors for their own lives and faith journeys. 

Section 6: Franciscan Values in the 21st Century (Ray Preiss) 

Franciscan values are examined in the context of current trends in the social sciences.  Students will study the teachings of Saints Francis, Clare, and Rose of Viterbo as a way to explore core values of hospitality, integrity, contemplation, stewardship and service. Students will trace the development of social scientific theories about these values.  While researching current theories, students will make comparisons to the Franciscan tradition and assess the evidence used in modern approaches to persistent and vexing questions about the nature of the human experience.   

Section 7 (Emily Dykman) 

Using the lens of St. Francis of Assisi and St. Clare of Assisi, students will be introduced characteristics and methods of effective leadership that remain true and rooted in the spirit of our Franciscan heritage. Following a discussion of leadership theory, student will be introduced to the concept of civil society and the manner with which Franciscan values can assist one in developing a more civil society.  

Section 8: (Michael Lopez-Kaley) 

With St. Francis of Assisi and St. Clare of Assisi as models, students will explore the history of these two people who have inspired the founders of Viterbo University (the FSPA sisters).  Students will explore how the values that the university community holds are found in the lives of Francis, Clare, and Rose of Viterbo (patroness of the FSPA sisters).  They will also trace these values back to Scripture, the source for Francis.  Because these values are so key to the university, students will explore how to implement them in their own lives on campus as well as after graduation. The course will also teach skills for developing a Christian mind, helping to construct a solid foundation for thinking through life’s most important issues. Units on Scripture, Christology, ecclesiology, morality and spirituality will develop the Christian worldview as it intersects with the secular age. Students will be taught how theological concepts were significant for Francis and Clare, as well as learning the key components to those concepts. Co-counts as a Theological Inquiry Way of Thinking. 

 

VUSM200, Living in a Diverse World 

Section 2: Cross-Cultural Psychology (Liza Ware)  

 

Living in a diverse world necessitates understanding how culture and diversity shape human behavior and mental processes. This course explores how culture and diversity influence psychological processes, such as perception, cognition, development, social behavior, relationships, emotions, personality, and mental health. We will study cross-cultural psychology theories and research in order to learn about both cultural similarities and differences. We will also consider what factors influence whether psychological research and assessment methods are sensitive to cultural effects. 

Section 3: Multicultural American Literature (Rolf Samuels)  

In this course, students will examine narratives representing five different immigrant cultures, Indian American to Asian American. Authors range from Toni Morrison to Kao Kalia Yang. Because we will look at texts from multiple cultures, we will often ask about the common ground among these hyphenated cultures—efforts to assimilate, intergenerational conflicts that come with assimilation, conflicting values, the consequences of difference. What it means to “read multiculturally” will be an ongoing course question.  

Section 4: Diversity in America, Past and Present (Margaret Anderson) 

This seminar promotes awareness, understanding, and appreciation of diversity in the United States, past and present.  We will examine American history through a global lens, discussing race, ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation. Students will also research and report one area of interest, and communicate their knowledge to the class using appropriate cultural awareness.  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. 

 

VUSM300, Serving the Common Good 

Sections 1 & 2 (Jennie Anderson-Meger) 

Following in the Franciscan tradition and Viterbo value of service, Serving the Common Good Seminar provides an opportunity for students to experience civic engagement.  Students will participate in activities designed to foster the common good while reflecting on their values and practices of community, servant leadership, and collaboration.  Partnerships and collaborations with community partners will allow students to demonstrate a developing competency of community engagement and responsibility. In addition, the course explores the diverse field of the helping professions in and outside the classroom through exposure, observation and 25 hours of volunteer service in a human service agency.   Students will examine the congruence of personal values with professional values and explore the professional use of self in the helping professions using an empowerment perspective.  Various client populations encountered in the helping professions will be discussed.  Students will develop an awareness of professional expectations, integration of knowledge, values and skills and cultural competence.   
Pre-requisites:VUSM100 and VUSM200 equivalent or with instructor’s permission.
 

Section 3: Serving the Common Good: The Lakota of the Great Plains (Michael Smuksta) 

The focus of section 003 of this Serving the Common Good seminar is Northern Great Plains Indian History, specifically the history of the Lakota from pre-contact times to the present.  In addition to defining the common good, the reading will examine Lakota history and the importance of the Black Hills to the Lakota.  Class work will emphasize discussion of the readings and journaling to record your reflections.  This Common Good seminar provides an opportunity for students to experience civic engagement through a required spring break service-learning trip to the Cheyenne River Youth Project (CRYP) on the Cheyenne River Reservation in Eagle Butte, SD.  This service trip to the CRYP provides students the opportunities to interact with Native American pre-school through high school youth, as well as elderly residents.  There is a fee of $300 for this section to defray travel and lodging costs for the weeklong service trip.   

Section 4: The Common Good in the Life of a Christian (Steve Minnema) 

The notion of “the common good” originated over two thousand years ago in the writings of Plato, Aristotle, and Cicero. Contemporary philosopher John Rawls defines the common good as “certain general conditions that are . . . equally to everyone's benefit.”  Pope Paul VI called the common good “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, work in a manner that benefits everyone. This course will examine the environments that establish and enhance the common good among us. Using philosophical principles, ethical theories, and religious traditions, students will learn the utilitarian aspects of the common good while they pursue a just, compassionate, and virtuous worldview. 

Section 5: The Common Good in the Life of a Christian (TBA) 

The notion of “the common good” originated over two thousand years ago in the writings of Plato, Aristotle, and Cicero. Contemporary philosopher John Rawls defines the common good as “certain general conditions that are . . . equally to everyone's benefit.”  Pope Paul VI called the common good “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, work in a manner that benefits everyone. This course will examine the environments that establish and enhance the common good among us. Using philosophical principles, ethical theories, and religious traditions, students will learn the utilitarian aspects of the common good while they pursue a just, compassionate, and virtuous worldview. 

  

 

VUSM400, The Ethical Life 

Section 1: The Land Ethic, an Ethics Mission Seminar (Rick Kyte, Troy Hess) 

 This seminar is an in-depth look at making ethically responsible decisions regarding the use and care for natural resources.  A variety of issues that arise in the local region will be explored, using Aldo Leopold’s articulation of the “land ethic” as a touchstone for discussion.  The course will include several guest lecturers and field trips to gain insight into particular issues, such as farming, hunting, invasive species control, mining, river management, landfills, and forestry.   

Section 2 (Tom Thibodeau) 

Servant Leadership has grown out of Robert Greenleaf’s theory of applied ethics. This course will study the theoretical framework of ethical decision making necessary for servant leadership. We will study and contemplate the inter relationship of a life of virtue and the social justice teaching of the Catholic Church as foundational in the practice of servant leadership.