2024 Minors

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea: The Age of the Fighting Sail (1760-1820)  

Taught by Brendon Floyd 

“Argh! Avast, Run a shot Across the Bow!” Come experience the rough and tumble world as a sailor during the Age of the Fighting Sail. In this class, we will turn the old adage “dead men tell no tales” on its head by reading real life sailor narratives, learning about life at sea, mutiny, revolution, pirates, and recreating epic battles that have fueled imaginations for centuries. We will unmask the men and women who sailed on these ships and helped create the modern world. The legends and language of the sea remain part of our everyday lives, and yet rarely do we ever discuss it in school. So come swear like a sailor, spin your yarn, and batten down the hatches as we explore what it was like to be Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea.  

Blame it on the Algorithm…but what are they? 

Taught by Kristofferson Culmer 

Why is this on my timeline…? Blame it on the algorithm. How does my Rumba robot know where to go…? Blame it on the algorithm. Why is this app behaving like this…? Blame it on the algorithm. You’ve heard about them, but what are they, and why are they so important? From computers, mobile devices, and other electronics; to ever day mundane processes, algorithms are everywhere. We use them and create them without even knowing it. From tying our shoelaces to watching streaming media, and shopping online; they are everywhere. In this course, students will learn what algorithms are and why they are so important, while learning how to create, evaluate, and optimize them. We will cover some classic algorithms in computer science and also algorithms that are present in everyday life, not related to computers. Most importantly, we will study the logic behind why these algorithms work. Don’t know how to program? Not a problem. This course will cater to scholars who cannot program and those that can. 

Comics vs. the World 

Taught by Mike Kersulov 

Superheroes, zombies, and talking mice. The face of literature is changing, and we are finding new ways to write short stories: comic books! This course will explore storytelling with comic books and graphic novels and how they have influenced other forms – even our culture as a whole. We will cover the foundations of sequential art that help create the combination of the verbal and visual text, reading some of the most highly praised works in the field. We will look at a variety of comics, including superheroes, manga, webtoons, zines, picto-essays, travel diaries, and memoirs. We will also write comics, apply new theories, and by the end you might even find yourself dressed as a superhero. 

Crime and Punishment in Medieval England 

Taught by Brian Matz 

The examination of crime and punishment in medieval England reveals a tapestry of complex issues, ranging from the mundane of tracing the history itself to recognizing the dissonance between the texts’ projections of ideal society and the realities of social life. Fortunately, we are aided in this examination by not just legal codes themselves but also sheriff, coroner, and court records and outlaw stories, which help not only to differentiate between the ideal and the real but also to highlight the intolerance of commoners for unjust social structures. Along the way, scholars will craft their own outlaw stories in the fashion of a medieval manuscript. 

Drugs, Politics, Religion and Smut! Radical Literature 

Taught by Ben Batzer 

According to the American Library Association, 729 books were challenged or banned last year in the United States, up from 347 the previous year. Objections range from “glorifies criminals” to “political viewpoint” to “occult Satanism.” In this class we will study radical literature—literature that questions institutions of power, challenges moral viewpoints, and interrogates injustice. Beginning with the 2022 “Top 10 Challenged Books,” we will then examine alternative forms of radical literature: poetry, TED talks, song, photography, and children’s books. 

Escape the Academy! 

Taught by Sam Rayburn 

In this minor, scholars will explore outside-the-box and lateral thinking by solving riddles, puzzles, word problems, and other thought experiments. After developing an understanding of how puzzles and riddles are structured, scholars will begin developing their own puzzles for each other to solve. At the end of the Academy, scholars will develop their own escape-room style themed puzzle room that encourages teamwork, critical thinking, and humility to solve. In addition, scholars will explore other puzzle-style games and how to create a successful, marketable gaming product along with compelling narratives that tie their puzzles together. Will you accept the challenge and escape the Academy before it’s too late? 

Intellectual Humility: The Philosophy of Knowing You Might Be Wrong

Taught by Fernando Alvear 

Intellectual humility is defined as the awareness that the things you believe in might in fact be wrong. But is this a good thing? I believe it is, but I might be wrong! In this class, we will discuss the concept of intellectual humility from both scientific and philosophical perspectives. We will analyze the pros and cons of intellectual overconfidence, why we are so prone to overestimate our knowledge, and why it’s so hard to be open to other people’s views. We will evaluate arguments stating that intellectual humility is a virtue, and explore how it can lead us to be more curious, make better decisions, and reason more effectively. Additionally, we will discuss intellectual humility in the context of important philosophical problems in ethics, epistemology, philosophy of religion, and political philosophy.

Einstein in a Flash: A brief introduction to Einstein’s Theory of Special Relativity

Taught by Joe Milliano 

In 1905, Einstein published his amazing theory about space, and it was about time, too! Einstein’s paper “On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies” revolutionized our understanding of the physical world, debuting his Theory of Special Relativity. As the title of the paper suggests, this theory is all about “moving bodies,” or objects in motion. Objects which are in motion relative to one another experience both space and time differently from one another, often in surprising and counterintuitive ways. The “electrodynamics” part of the title deals with another key aspect of the theory: the motion of light, an electromagnetic wave. In this course, we will take a deep dive into this famous theory, learning about everything from how different observers experience the passage of time differently to Einstein’s famous equation E=mc². Join us on this journey as we challenge our assumptions about reality and expand our understanding of how the physical world operates.

As a Minor course, we will not delve into the theory as deeply as the major, but the students will still leave with an appreciation for how the theory changed our perspective in the universe. This treatment will largely stay qualitative and rely heavily on graphs and diagrams to communicate key ideas.


Art for Non-Artists

Taught by Jennifer Fisher 

Do you love scrolling through social media and seeing cool art projects that you’d never make yourself? Do you sometimes buy sketchbooks to fill with your own drawings, but then get overwhelmed staring at the blank pages? Do you like to visit art museums but feel like you don’t really know enough to talk about your ideas and opinions? Then this is the class for you! (Side note: folks who DO consider themselves artists are also welcome!) In this course, we will try to answer questions like, “What is art?”; “Why does art invite controversy?”; “Should art ever be censored?”; and “Who gets to be an artist?” We will talk about the anxiety many folks have about art, doodle in our sketchbooks, and get comfortable with talking about the uncomfortable. We’ll analyze the work of both contemporary and ancient artists, and we’ll question our own understandings of what makes for “good” art. So whether you struggle to draw a stick person or have the skills to rival Michelangelo, come join us for an amazing artistic experience! 

James Bond in Literature and Film 

Taught by Stephanie Hasty 

During this course students will explore the world (myth and lore) of James Bond both through the novels and films to learn about 20th/21st century history and modern-day literature. The class will be discussion based and your participation through discussion questions is vital as we explore the movies, parodies, books and articles analyzing and interpreting James Bond and his relation to topics covered in class. 

Math Imitates Art 

Taught by Frank Corley 

Or does art imitate math? We see in an area such as architecture that there is important interplay between these two seemingly separate disciplines. But are there really ”two cultures”? Or can poetry, music and visual art speak to mathematics? Can the fine arts be approached in a mathematical way? Bring both your left brain and your right brain to class every day, because you never know which you’ll need, probably both! 

Nutgrafs, Ledes, & Bylines: A Survey of Journalism Strategies 

Taught by Caitlin Palmer 

In this minor, we will tour a local newsroom, radio station, and TV station, to see how an article, a radio ad, or a news feature is made. Then, working in groups, we will create our own short introduction to MSA in each journalistic mode. We will learn about and practice interviewing, writing headlines and captions, photo composition, and writing a column. Next, we will query or “pitch” our ideas to The Missourian, KOPN, and KOMU-TV and see if anyone wants to publish our work, or cover our program. We will use the skills we learn to create a real-world product. Being active citizens and journalists is a conversation, and we’re going to speak up! 

Ready, Set, Wreck-Why America Demolishes its Cities

Taught by Michael Koscielniak

“Nice building you got there. It would be a shame if something happened to it.”

Well, that’s usually what happens! In this minor, we’ll turn our attention to an important but misunderstood part of urban and neighborhood change: demolition. Whether spectacular or surgical, demolition is an ordinary feature of communities and how they deliver on promises of change. Bulldozers barrel through obsolete buildings and new structures pop up in their place. In the United States, we usually call this clearance a form of progress. Whether Detroit, MI or Jacksonville, FL, cities use demolition to achieve their goals and reinvent themselves. But what does it mean if we’re always transforming our neighborhoods and cities through wrecking and removal? Why do we need to remove things in the first place? We’ll discuss the technical and engineering aspects of demolition but we’ll also examine how demolition became something of an American tradition. Knocking down buildings is easy, managing the consequences for people and communities is typically way more difficult. Who is most affected by demolition? Does demolition always culminate in new development? Is it really the best solution to any problems? Over the course of this minor, we’ll explore who supports demolition and who opposes demolition, as well as the short-term and long-term consequences of destroying buildings and neighborhoods.

Science in Action

Taught by Megan Lilien 

Move beyond the conventional boundaries of lab procedures and textbooks and delve into the dynamic, creative, and transformative aspects of science in the real world. This course challenges you to embrace the true essence of the scientific method by solving substantial real-world problems. Unlike the controlled environments of traditional laboratories, the global challenges we face do not come with pre-determined solutions. Instead, you will learn how science is a continual process of discovery, fostering creativity, innovation, and a global perspective. This knowledge is used to develop new technology, cure diseases, and solve many different problems. Throughout this course, you will practice being a scientist through lab activities, debate, questions, creativity, and reflection.

Serene Time 

Taught by Tina Casagrand 

Through the lens of print publishing, we’ll journey through time, technology and hands-on creativity. This eclectic class teaches about the history of media and story, the basics of book arts, the psychology of attention, and how to reclaim time from technology to focus on our own goals and creativity. We’ll look at old books and art books, make our own small publication, tour the school of visual studies and the journalism school, and meditate daily. 

The Blues, Jazz, and the American Experience: Thriving on a Riff 

Taught by Jordan Henson 

“Jazz is not just music, it’s a way of life, it’s a way of being, a way of thinking.” – Nina Simone. The blues and jazz were the first musical forms to emerge exclusively on American soil. Their emergence from the unique cultural blending of late 19th and early 20th century New Orleans mirrors the great “melting pot” of America, and their history is implicitly tied to the history of its country. The blues and jazz quickly jumped out of the musical staff and into literature, art, and even philosophy. Students in this minor will study and listen to the blues and jazz, tracing their history and influences among other artistic disciplines, discussing how they differ from other musical forms, and investigating how jazz performance and improvisation can help one navigate the notes, high, low, blue, and everywhere in between, of life’s grand melody. No prior musical experience required!  

Introduction to Deaf Culture 

Taught by Sally Backer 

Do you like to learn about cultures that are different than yours? Come and learn about the culture of the Deaf, a community that lives right here in the USA. We will learn about their history, stories, way of being and even some sign language. You will be able to explain why we use the word Deaf (with a capital D) to describe members of this community.

The Spoken Word: Performance Poetry  

Taught by Chris Holmes 

Spoken word poetry combines the skill of using words to create images with the art of delivering these words to stir emotions. Poets – both novice and veteran – will study how to mix writing and performance by analyzing professional spoken word poetry, practicing the creative process with a hyper-focus on word choice, and delivering performances that literally mess with people’s emotions (in the best way) with mind-blowing metaphors and messages, word plays and rhythms. An MSA Slam also adds a layer of healthy competition. This is your opportunity and venue to take words, passions and big ideas, mix a hefty amount of originality with a dash of spice, and serve a rich fare of panache and emotion. 

With Friends Like These, Who Needs Hegemonies? Employing the Sociological Imagination 

Taught by Doug Valentine 

Why do boys like blue and girls like pink? Who determines what constitutes poverty? Does race exist? What are the material and social consequences of these divisions? Is science objective? If you have ever asked any of these questions, look no further! Using a sociological perspective, we will examine the categories of race, gender, class, and much more. We will discuss important local, national, and global news while exploring topics such as inequality, social construction, universal human rights, and cultural relativism. We will investigate how the social institutions of education, the family, government, religion, and media contribute to our socialization, police “deviant” behavior, and inform our sense of self. It’s a big world with diverse perspectives. Let’s explore a few. When we use the sociological imagination, things get real.