2023 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? 

How (and Why) To Think Like a Philosopher 

Taught by Fernando Alvear 

Learn how to think like a philosopher and develop the critical thinking skills that can help you solve real-world problems. In this course, we’ll explore fundamental philosophical concepts in ethics, epistemology, and metaphysics through engaging discussions and thought-provoking exercises. You’ll gain a deeper understanding of how philosophical ideas influence our daily lives and the world around us, and learn how to analyze complex issues and develop compelling arguments. 

It’s All Relative: An 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. 

It’s the End of the World (As We Know It): An Exploration of -ISMS 

Taught by Brian Stuhlman 

Einstein. Picasso. Marx. Seuss. Kermit (the Frog)…artists…philosophers…music-makers…dreamers of dreams… The world we know changes every day, to be replaced by exciting new worlds full of varied tastes, mixed opinions, and seemingly random ideas. Our perceptions and our expressions (artistic and otherwise) are in a constant dance that gets more frenzied every day. In this minor, we will take a look at the past ~125 years (or so), and examine the instants, the people, the thoughts and ideas, that created some of the most influential -ISM movements of the modern age. While we may do something creative/artistic every day, no arts experience is required…you need only possess a creative spirit and an open mind to enjoy, to learn from, and to emulate the written, visual, and performance arts that have helped define either an age OR a way of thinking. We’ll create, we’ll analyze, and we’ll encounter and try to understand the arts and philosophies of the last century in an effort to find out where we were, where we are, and where we might be going! 

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! 

Quite Puzzling 

Taught by Melissa Mease 

Come prepared for some challenging mathematical problems and puzzles. Your knowledge of mathematical strategies and problem-solving skills will be put to the test! We will also explore some of the puzzling conundrums that helped shape entire fields of mathematics! You’ll find this class Quite Puzzling. 

Saving the World one Science Fair at a Time 

Taught by Megan Lilien 

You’ll use the “real” scientific method to solve big problems in this class. Science is more than procedures and lab textbooks. It’s a creative, innovative, and ongoing global process. When solving global problems, scientists are not handed step-by-step instructions on how to fix the issue. Instead, science is a process of discovery to gain knowledge and understand nature. This knowledge is used to develop new technology, cure diseases, and solve many different problems. Through the course, you will practice being scientists 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!  

The Culture of the Deaf Community 

Taught by Sally Backer 

The culture of the Deaf is a minority culture in mainstream America. Come and learn of its beauty and unique qualities. We will learn about the history of the Deaf, famous Deaf Americans, the art and literature of the Deaf community. Learn the do’s and don’ts of communicating with people who have a hearing loss and some basic survival signs as well! 

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. 

This Minor is Socially Constructed 

Taught by Doug Valentine 

Why do boys like blue and girls like pink? Who determines what counts as low, middle, or upperclass? Does race exist? What are the material and social consequences of arbitrary divisions among people? Is science objective? If you have ever asked any of these questions, look no further! This minor will critically examine the taken-for-granted categories that make up our world from a sociological perspective. Hannah Arendt once said, “there are no dangerous thoughts; thinking itself is a dangerous activity.” Warning: danger ahead.