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Inquiry 111 Section Themes

Most first-year students at Westminster begin their college journey by taking Inquiry. The Inquiry 111 course introduces students to the study of the liberal arts, explores different ways of “knowing” and “understanding,” and applies the liberal arts perspective to specific social, moral and political issues. The All-College Honors Program contains alternative courses that fulfill First-Year Program requirements, including Inquiry 111

Many of this year’s Inquiry sections will be organized around special themes, which are described below. Students are invited to indicate the four themes that they find most interesting when they complete the Academic Interest Form, so that they can be placed in one of the sections that aligns with their interests.


A Practical Guide to Thinking

Together in "A Practical Guide to Thinking," we will study critical thinking skills to employ and fallacies and biases to avoid. No matter your major, you will encounter many new words and ideas in college that should be used carefully and not abused recklessly. In this section of Inquiry we will practice college-level thinking by applying a broad range of ideas to help us understand many kinds of data and media.



What does it mean to be happy? Why does lasting happiness seem to be such a challenge for so many people? How can we use our time in college to prioritize our own well-being as a crucial component of our overall education? In this course, we will explore perspectives on happiness ranging from ancient philosophy and the wisdom traditions of the world's religions to scientific perspectives ranging from neuroscience to social psychology and cultural anthropology


Making the World a Better Place

In this section of Inquiry, we'll use the lens of the liberal arts to uncover the ways individuals contribute to making our world a better place. Embark on a journey through historical and contemporary contexts of changemaking, from grand-scale transformations to the power of small-scale changes. Get ready to reflect on the impact of changemaking in your own backyard, discovering your unique role in sparking positive transformations. This course culminates in a hands-on community engagement project where you and your peers will join forces with community members, channeling your passion into a real, positive change right here in our local area. Get ready to be inspired, motivated, and actively involved in shaping a better world!


Perspectives on Cancer

A cancer diagnosis can have a broad impact on not just the individual, but their community and support networks as well. Therefore, this section of Inquiry will explore the influence of cancer from a broad range of liberal arts viewpoints. In addition to an understanding of the science, medicine and statistics of the disease, students will investigate historical perspectives on cancer as well as its emotional and ethical impacts and the roles of creative expression and cultural beliefs in successful cancer care.


Poetic Justice

Why might we prefer to listen to a rapper instead of a lawyer on the subjects of crime and punishment? Why do we turn to poetry, music, and visual art when we consider what is just and what is unjust? What special powers do these means of expression provide? We’ll try to address these questions as we read and write poetry while making our inquiry into the liberal arts and responsible citizenship. This adventure will require us to learn from multiple perspectives as we learn to appreciate and create just representations of our world.


Science and Society

Every day, we make decisions based on information that resulted from scientific inquiry. Those decisions affect all aspects of our lives, including the food we eat, the healthcare we receive, the products we use, how we think of ourselves, and our responses to other people and our environment. In this section, we will examine the role of science in modern society – how scientific information is derived, how it’s communicated to nonscientists, how scientific information is used and misused, and why we sometimes reject science in favor of speculation and conspiracy theories.


Sustainability and the Triple Bottom Line

Through this course, we will explore the concept of sustainability through the three P’s of the triple bottom line: people, profit, and planet. Businesses are moving away from a profit-only model to one that considers the effects the business has on its people (employees, customers, stakeholders, suppliers, etc.), society as a whole, and the earth. We will consider the major environmental issues facing our planet and the role businesses, governments, and individuals play in those issues. As a class, we will complete a community-engaged learning project in which we apply concepts of the triple bottom line on behalf of the local community.


The “Evil” Edition

Using the CBS television series "EVIL," this themed seminar explores liberal arts education skills and experiences that help us question what we see and what we can't see. Students explore the known and unknown while understanding the limitations of perception and assumptions. They encounter the diversity of the human experience through multiple lenses. Just as the characters in this television drama use critical thinking and different ways of knowing to investigate supernatural claims, students use these approaches to investigate classic and emerging questions about human social and intellectual concerns. Our learning community examines how the liberal arts mission embraces healthy curiosity, fosters experiences through various intellectual perspectives and uses interdisciplinary study tools to become lifelong learners, critical thinkers, and engaged global citizens in a rapidly changing world.


The Intersection between Science and Social Justice

Scientific thought is not always objective, neutral, and equitable because it can be shaped by people’s beliefs, social values, and biases. This can affect our lifestyles, how we die, our position in society, and even how we form our opinions about society. In this course we will explore new and “lost” stories about science discovery, knowledge, and ethical dilemmas.


The Liberal Arts and the Meaningful Life

How do we know what’s true? How do we decide what matters? How can we prepare to engage with questions that haven’t even been asked or phenomena that haven’t been discovered yet? In this section, students will be exposed to a wide range of written texts and other forms of expression. Throughout the course students will engage in a variety of activities designed to sharpen their critical thinking, writing and presentation skills.

The Impact of Music on Society

What would life be like if music did not exist? Would there be drama in movies? Would you be able to dance? Would you be able to stay entertained on a long road trip? In this section of inquiry, we will discuss and analyze a broad range of musical genres and artist to assess if music is truly a necessity in society.