Spring 2013 Mission Seminar descriptions (generic sections only)

VUSM 100, Franciscan Values & Traditions

 Section 1: St. Francis the Marketer (Mike Behan)  

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

Section 3: Franciscan Arguments (Jackie Herbers) 

 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.  

Section 5Franciscan Values and Scriptural Values (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 also explore how to implement them in their lives on campus as well as after graduation.  Student Success Students only. 

Section 6:  Franciscan Values in a Modern Detective Novel (Keith Knutson) 

In 1980, Umberto Eco, a professor at the University of Bologna, Italy, published a famous novel entitled The Name of the Rose. Although the setting was a Benedictine monastery in northern Italy during the early 14th century, the novel’s hero was a Franciscan friar. Eco is very good in translating the dynamism of medieval religious movements into modern terms. The aim of this course is to understand that dynamism through the history of medieval reform movements, the reading and discussion of the novel, and the study of the characters in the motion picture made from the novel, starring Sean Connery as the Franciscan friar William of Baskerville.   

Section 7: Francis, Leader and Servant (Emily Dykman) 

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. 


VUSM 200, Living in a Diverse World 

 Section 1: Caribbean Women Writers (Apryl Denny)  

 This course examines, in their cultural and historical contexts, contemporary, Caribbean women’s novels written in English.  Writers studied may include, but are not limited to, Jamaica Kincaid, Cristina Garcia, Edwidge Danticat, Maryse Conde, Paule Marshall, Audre Lorde, Michelle Cliff, Esmeralda Santiago, Jean Rhys, Julia Alvarez, and Sandra Cisneros.    

 Section 2: Cultural Imperialism and the Development of Philosophy in Latin America (Jason Howard)  

The purpose of this VUSM 200 Mission Seminar “Living in a Diverse World: Cultural Imperialism and the Development of Philosophy in Latin America” is to introduce students to the depth and diversity of philosophy in Latin America.  The course examines how philosophy in Latin America develops in response to the growing socio-political-economic challenges of life in Latin America from the 16th to the 20th century.  Because the philosophical diversity in Latin America is so extensive, the course will largely focus on how philosophy develops into a critical tool against the cultural imperialism of Western Europe and the United States, exploring issues such as: the analysis of race and racial identity, the politics of gender and white-privilege, ideologies of subjugation, dialogues of colonized resistance, and philosophies of liberation.  In examining the different ways that philosophy is pursued in Latin America, students will also discuss the extent to which Latin American philosophy changes the nature of “doing” philosophy, setting new directions for leadership and education at the same time. 

Section 3An Exploration of White Privilege  (Audrey E. Elegbede)  

This course is an exploration of white racial privilege in contemporary American society. Considering whiteness as both race and power-based system, this course attempts deeper understanding of the persistence of racism and its impact on all segments of society. Questions of denial and resistance, collaboration in systems of privilege, ‘colorblindness’, and personal and intellectual responses to those explorations highlight how privilege influences human interaction. The distribution of privilege within American society at personal, institutional, and cultural levels, as well as how whiteness operates within social constructs of class and gender, will be analyzed. Students ultimately develop strategies for confronting racism. 



VUSM 300, Serving the Common Good 

All sections of Serving the Common Good ask students to complete 25 hours or 10 instances of service learning. These requirements are 20 hours and 8 instances in 7-week versions of the course.

 Section 1Healthy Communities, Healing Neighborhoods (Matthew Bersagel Braley) 

This course begins in Viterbo's own backyard. The neighborhoods surrounding Viterbo serve as the lens through which students will explore the sociological and religious meanings of the question: what does it mean to be a good neighbor? Drawing on personal interaction with our neighbors, attendance at public meetings, readings about the neighborhood, and theories and practices of community building (e.g., community assets mapping), students will work together to understand, first, what affects the vitality of a community and, second, the unique role of servant leaders in helping to revitalize neighborhoods. Particular attention will be focused on the role of faith communities in the work of building healthy communities and serving neighbors. In addition to the required service hours, students will be expected to engage in active learning outside of the classroom as they immerse themselves in the day-to-day activities of the neighborhood. These activities serve as one of the required “texts” for the course.   

 Section 2: Sound Choices (Mary Ellen Haupert) 

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” (elsistema.org).  This section will partner with Advocates for Community through Music Excellence (ACME—a branch of El Sistema USA) and Camden Music School (another Minneapolis 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 a required spring break service-learning trip (March 1-4, 2013) to Minneapolis to work with both ACME and Camden Music School.  There may be a nominal fee to defray travel and lodging costs for the trip. Prerequisite: any 200 level VUSM course.   

Section 3: Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Woman Worldwide (Sara Cook and Anita Wood) 

Across the globe, courageous, inspiring individuals are confronting oppression and developing real, meaningful solutions through health care, education, and economic empowerment for women and girls.  The linked problems of human trafficking, forced prostitution, gender-based violence, and maternal mortality present to us this critically important opportunity to change the world.   Based on the suggestions and resources outlined in the widely acclaimed book by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, this course explores the issues underlying and resulting from oppression of women.  Their stories help us see that the key to economic progress lies in unleashing women’s potential, how so many people have helped do that, and how we can each contribute.   

Section 4: Mentoring: The Praxis of Psychology   (Valerie Kokott-Rebhahn)  

This Mission Seminar will focus on working with children in our community, specifically with children and/or their parents at Hamilton Early Learning Center in La Crosse.  This seminar will cover the following: (a) prevention theory; (b) cultivating resilience in children; (c) defining service learning; (d) attitudes and actions regarding servant leadership, social justice, and the common good; (e) the different kinds of models of service learning; and (f) intercultural experience from multiple perspectives.  Respect for and support of the common good will be emphasized in all aspects of the seminar.  Because the course requires working with children/minors, all students who will work directly with the children must agree to a background check and complete a volunteer form through Hamilton Early Learning Center.    

Section 5Emerging and Historical Pandemics: Where Science and the Common Good Meet  (Scott Gabriel) 

This course will begin by exploring diseases which have altered the course of human history and seek to understand the biological basis of these outbreaks along with the societal, religious, and political forces involved in the spread of these diseases. The course will then explore more modern examples of pandemics such as HIV, SARS, or MRSA and examine how advances in global health initiatives have increased our ability to respond to these microbial challenges but still leave us vulnerable to other newly emerging pathogens. Students will serve in a local health care setting to provide a local context for our class discussion and be encouraged to investigate the challenges of and solutions to the presented diseases from a multitude of views and approaches.   

Section 7: The Common Good in the Life of a Christian (Jeffrey Kupperman)  

“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 section is a version of VUSM 325.


Section 8: Homelessness, Poverty, and Us (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. 

VUSM 400, The Ethical Life

Section 1: Servant Leadership and the Ethical Life (Rick Kyte, 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.  

Section 2: Health Care Ethics (Jackie Kuennen) 

This course provides a foundation in ethics theory, principles, and decision making to introduce students to the deliberative process typically associated with an examination of ethical issues in health care.  Questions addressed in the course include the following: If I take this position, what principles will I support or violate? How will I justify my position about a particular ethical issue when faced with oppositional forces?  Historical and contemporary health care issues will be integrated throughout the course. Students will have the opportunity to apply an ethical decision making model.