First year students at Westminster (except for those in the Honors Program) begin their college journey by taking Inquiry. The Inquiry 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.
Many of this year’s Inquiry sections will be organized around special themes. Students are invited to select the themes that they find most interesting from the list below. Please indicate your top four choices so that we can put you in a section that works well with your schedule while appealing to your interests. (Times listed may be subject to change).
All entering students, other than those who have been admitted into the All-College Honors Program will receive an email with instructions on how to submit your preferences. The All-College Honors Program contains courses that fulfill First-Year Program requirements including Inquiry 111. Students need to submit their choices by June 16th. Schedules for sections of Inquiry and WST 101 will be completed by the end of July.
Inquiry Section Preference Form
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.
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.
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? What in the world could the Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley have been thinking when he wrote that “poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world”? 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.
What exactly is wonder? Where does it live? How can we find it? What gifts does it give? In this course, we’ll answer these questions by exploring the four elements of wonder: surprise, curiosity, freedom, and inspiration. We will explore learning theory through high engagement methods and wonder-filled fiction and nonfiction texts culminating in a multi-genre passion project. Throughout this course, we will celebrate and grow skills that make each day more joyful and creative, gaining a greater sense of self in the process.
Every day, we make decisions based on scientific information. Those decisions affect all aspects of our lives, including the food we eat, products we use, activities we participate in, healthcare we receive, how we think of ourselves, and our responses to other people and our environment. In this class, we will examine the role of science in modern society – how the scientific process works and the kinds of information it can and cannot provide, how scientific information is communicated to nonscientists, how that information is used and misused, and why we sometimes reject science in favor of speculation and conspiracy theories.
What does it mean to be happy? Why does lasting happiness seem to be such a challenge for so many people? 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. Alongside these perspectives and traditions, we will focus on the contemporary issues reshaping the nature of happiness, like COVID-19, social media, and climate change.
This section of Inquiry will critically analyze causes of violence in contemporary society from an interdisciplinary perspective. Students will explore ways to reduce violence and promote peace, both locally and globally. Coursework will emphasize the importance of human rights, cross-cultural understanding, and social justice as core components of sustainable peace.
People value “wellness,” but not everyone defines that concept in the same way. In this section, we will explore the concept of “wellness” from eight different dimensions, including social, spiritual, emotional, and physical wellness. It is through these dimensions that a person enjoys a quality of life. We will learn how the interaction among various dimensions affects wellness, and how other factors may interfere with our ability to feel “well.”
We hear it from time to time when we are down on our luck: “Life’s not fair.” But what is fair? By playing games, discussing biases and social justice, and investigating governmental structures, we will explore how different perspectives color our perception of fairness. Further, these games and discussions will help us understand how fairness impacts our lives. To this end, we will build social, historical, and quantitative lenses through which to interpret the question ``what is fair?’’
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 and knowledge and its ethical dilemmas. Acquiring a better understanding on these issues could make our world a fairer and more just place for everyone.
Even though we may not give much thought to the larger implications of our clothes, what we wear makes a statement and connects us to the larger world. Our fashion choices empower some people, while disempowering others across the world. In this section, we will study the global effects of the garment industry and consumerism from its production to its after-effects. We will explore the fashion industry through multiple perspectives (economic, environmental, psychological) and become more engaged global citizens by considering the moral and ethical responsibilities of buyers.
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 ways of understanding the known and unknown while considering the limitations of perception and assumptions. Students will encounter the diversity of human experiences used for different ways of knowing. As we watch the characters in this fictional drama use critical thinking to investigate supernatural claims, students think critically about the world. Our learning community embraces healthy curiosity and the value of interdisciplinary learning. “Evil” (2019) has viewer content advisory ratings that range from TV-14 and TV-MA.
This section of Inquiry will give students the opportunity to explore the effects of globalization and to develop an understanding of how our lives connect with others around the globe. In this sections we will pay attention to the transnational linkages between individuals and societies and how these linkages shape and impact the lives of those connected. Extra attention will be paid to various aspects of globalization, including its impact on economic wellbeing, it effects on society and its impact on individual and national identities.