Mission Seminar section descriptions, fall, 2013 


VUSM 100, Franciscan Values and Traditions

 Section 1 

 VUSM-100-001 (38172) Michael Lopez-Kaley 

Viterbo University was founded in 1890 by the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration.  This entry-level course examines that heritage and what it means to be and behave like a Franciscan.  This Section 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.  As an Honors section, this course will focus on leadership and how one grows into leadership roles.


 VUSM 200, Living in a Diverse World 

Sections 1  & 2 

VUSM-200-001 (38167) & VUSM-200-002 (38168) Jerilyn Dinsmoor 

 Popular Culture and Leadership:  

After learning foundational principles of diversity, students will become a critic of popular culture with new eyes and ears. Students will pay attention to how artists, writers, film makers, musicians, television producers, and comedians are helping society confront some of the “isms” in our culture, and how others are exacerbating the problem. In addition, students will pay attention to the media’s treatment of current events, and the public’s response, as it relates to diversity. Finally, students will develop personal skills for managing diversity in the workplace and society.   


Section 3 

VUSM-200-003 (38169) Matthew Bersagel-Braley 


This seminar explores how diverse interpretations of health, healing, and human flourishing complicate responses to current issues in global health. Specifically, the course examines tensions that arise when communities disagree on the origins of disease, the moral meaning of illness and suffering, and the authority of various types of healers and healthcare providers. Course materials will be drawn from multiple disciplines including anthropology, sociology, philosophy, leadership studies, and global health. 


Section 4 

VUSM-200-004 (38170) Naomi Stennes-Spidahl 

 This seminar takes a multimedia, interdisciplinary approach to a range of historical, literary, artistic, and religious questions crucial to the understanding of colonial and post-colonial Africa south of the Sahara.  We will examine historical texts, literary texts, the visual arts, music, and maps as we raise questions about identity and community.  We will consider sculpture, masquerades, and body art, along with traditional and contemporary music.  We will read writers such as Chinua Achebe and Chimamanda Ngozi Achidie as well as some of the central works of postcolonial theory.  This course will not co-count as a Literary Analysis Way of Thinking course. 


Section 5 

VUSM-200-005 (38171) Keith Knutson 

 In this section we look at the medieval Franciscan approach to diversity in the world as it was understood in that time. We begin with St Francis of Assisi visiting the Sultan of Egypt in 1219 during the 5th Crusade. Modern Franciscans have used this encounter to develop an active dialogue with Muslims in the 21st century. We will then learn about some of Francis’s contemporaneous brothers who travelled to China shortly after the founder’s death. Their arduous missions were on behalf of the Roman Latin Christian Church Pontificate, to negotiate with the Great Khans of the Mongols, who were threatening European invasion during the 13th century. These Franciscans actually went to China before the renowned Marco Polo, even today still (mistakenly) considered the first recorded western visitor to China. Our semester will conclude by reading Polo’s Travels.  


VUSM 300, Serving the Common Good 

Section 1 

 VUSM-300-001 (38176) Lynda Fernholz 

Students who engage in community service and then return to their classrooms readily link those experiences to concepts that, until then, were strictly theoretical.  This course will ask students to participate in experiences that adhere to the principles of service learning and are a response to community needs while also meeting course objectives. A minimum of 25 hours of service learning will be completed during the semester through a variety of activities in conjunction with the Boys’ and Girls’ Club at the Mathy Center on the Viterbo campus.  This course will foster intelligent reflection and thoughtful analysis of the world as students are asked to share their intellect and abilities by way of action and critical thinking. 


Section 2 

VUSM-300-002 (38178) Mike Behan 

 This mission seminar course will examine and apply the value of serving the common good from the marketing/business perspective by working on a project for a local non-for-profit organization. In helping the organization satisfy their marketing/business needs, students will share their talents to promote and appreciate the benefits of serving the common good. No prior business knowledge or courses are necessary.  Prerequisite: any 200 level VUSM course or transfer student placement.  


Section 3 

VUSM-300-003 (38179) Kari Reyburn 

Adopting a psychological perspective, this Common Good section will examine and apply the StrengthsQuest perspective/assessment in order to determine each student’s individual talents. This way of knowing will allow students to use their individual talents within a service-learning project of their choice. Through this practice, students will learn the importance of becoming better citizens of the community and how to serve. 


Section 4 

VUSM-300-004 (33956) Ed Wenzel 

Leading by Serving 

The Mission Seminar will focus on working with diverse children, specifically at the Boys’ and Girls’ Club in the Mathy Center on the Viterbo campus.  Among the topics covered in the course are the following: a) defining service learning; b) demonstrating an understanding prevention theory; c) cultivating resilience in children; d) defining attitudes and actions with regard to servant leadership, social justice, and the common good; e) learning about and gaining an appreciation for various models of service learning; and f) developing an understanding of intercultural experience from various perspectives.  The seminar will focus on respect for and support of the common good.  An appreciation for cultural compatibility will also be emphasized.  Because the student will be interacting with children/minors, a background check will be required. 


Section 5 

VUSM-300-005 (38181) Jerilyn Dinsmoor 

 Creativity and the Common Good

This Mission Seminar will focus on connecting our spirituality and creativity to our sense of responsibility. Through engagement with readings, creativity exercises, reflection, and participation in the service component of the course, students will seek to develop a “virtue of creativity” which helps them respond appropriately, yet imaginatively, to community challenges. Students will learn steps to maximize their creative potential by engaging in experiences to help develop their imagination, productivity, and innovation. Journaling (both traditional and art journaling) will be one of the tools used in the course to help students discern their sense of call in relation to promoting the common good.  

 Section 6 

VUSM-300-006 (38182) Sheryl Jacobson and Mary T. Rinzel 

 Serving the Common Good through Spiritual and Caring Practices 

Following in the Franciscan tradition and Viterbo value of service, Serving the Common Good through Spiritual and Caring Practices provides an opportunity for students to explore concepts of holistic care as they relate to vulnerable populations.  Students will participate in activities designed to foster the common good while reflecting on their own values and practices of servant leadership and collaboration within a community.  Partnership and collaboration with the Salvation Army organization in La Crosse will allow students to demonstrate developing competency of community engagement and responsibility. 


VUSM 400, The Ethical Life 

Section 1 

VUSM-400-001 (38183) Susan Cosby Ronnenberg 

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 section will not co-count as a Literary Analysis Way of Thinking course. 


Section 2 

VUSM-400-002 (38184) Robyn Gaier 

Moral Imagination 

What does it mean to see another being as a being worthy of moral respect? What does it mean to see a decision as a moral decision? To attempt to answer these questions, we need to understand the perspectives of others. This course is designed to introduce students to an understanding of moral imagination as well as to investigate the ways in which the intellectual perception required for moral imagination may be developed. Particular attention will be paid to the relationship between moral imagination and moral motivation. Both historical and contemporary illustrations will be incorporated.   


Section 3 

VUSM-400-003 (38185) Thomas Thibodeau and Rick Kyte  

This 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. 


Section 4 

VUSM-400-004 (38186) Dave Bauer and Jason Howard 

Moral Psychology  

 This course introduces students to recent debates surrounding the nature of psychological investigation in relation to morality.  Some of the questions the course will address are as follows: What is distinctive about moral motivation? Is free-will reducible to lower-order neurological processes? Is morality an instinct? How does a psychological understanding of moral behavior differ from a philosophical one? Can morality be adequately explained as an evolutionary adaptation? What is the nature of moral emotions, such as shame and guilt? The final third of the course explores some of the moral debates that arise from the psychological explanation of, and therapeutic approach to, morality.    


Section 5 

VUSM-400-005 (38187) Jessica Madson 

This section provides a foundation in ethics theory, principles and decision making and introduces students to recent debates surrounding the role of nutrition in health promotion and prevention and management of chronic diseases. Examples of topics that will be discussed include medication vs. nutrition management of disease, end-of-life care regarding nutrition, and the use of vitamins and minerals to treat cardiovascular disease. This course will address several topics regarding the role of nutrition in the healthcare system including issues surrounding scope of practice. The course will also address topics related to the ethical situations of providing information to the public that is not evidenced-based.  

 Section 6 

VUSM-400-006 (38188) Derek Cortez and Kem Gambrell 

This course is designed to provide leadership tools, perspectives, and avenues to working with others in an ethical and constructive manner. Leadership models, characteristics, and attributes will be applied and practiced through the use of case study and role modeling. Application will be made to practical issues faced by people in leadership positions. This class will also look at the way in which traditional conceptions of the “good” find expression in the characteristics of leaders and leadership, especially in relation to the growth of self and others. 


Section 7 

VUSM-400-007 (38189) Kim Nelson 

This seminar will build upon students’ ethical reasoning to examine 21st century issues in health care ethics that are facing us as individuals, organizations, and societies.  Thoughtful analysis and discussion will surround such issues as new reproductive technologies, proposals for human cloning, competency, the aging population and access to long term care, health inequalities and inequities, and the ethics of healthcare reform.