Mini College 2009 Archive - Classes

Classes offered during Mini College 2009:

Alternative Realities in Pyongyang: Images of the Capital of North Korea

  • Marsha Haufler, Art History

Dr. Haufler has visited North Korea twice in the last two years, and is doing research on the Socialist art and architecture of the North Korean capital, Pyongyang. She will share her images, experiences, and expertise on this dynamic, and often controversial, part of the world.

The Art of Collecting: Curators Share how Museum Pieces are Chosen

Spencer Museum of Art curators will lead a course that will focus on developing an eye for art and the topics of collecting and gifting, resulting in a Spencer Museum of Art acquisition selected by participants. Speakers include:

  • Saralyn Reece Hardy - Director of Spencer Museum
  • Kristina Mitchell Walker - Director of Education
  • Susan Earle - Curator of European and American Art on European and American Painting or Sculpture
  • Kris Ercums - Curator of Asian Art and Asian Decorative Arts
  • Nancy Mahaney - Curator of Arts & Cultures of the Americas, Africa & Oceania on Navajo Weaving
  • Steve Goddard - Curator of Prints and Drawings on Prints and Photographs

Astronomy at the South Pole: Viewing the Universe from the Antarctic Ice Cap

  • David Besson, Physics and Astronomy

Dr. Besson will discuss particle astrophysics involving two astrophysics experiments at the South Pole and Siberia. In the former case, his research team uses the Antarctic icecap as a target for 'cosmic rays' which are bombarding the earth from outside the Milky Way. Cosmic rays have historically been the source of much of our information about the extraterrestrial world.

Balancing the Federal Budget: Could You Do Better?

  • Michael Lynch, Political Science

Dr. Lynch will offer a simulation exercise in which the class will be asked to balance the federal budget. Participants will be given a list of about 40 tax issues and federal programs to evaluate and decide where spending should be cut and where it should be increased.

Brain and Cognitive (Dys)function in Depression

  • Ruth Atchley, Psychology

The field of clinical psychology has benefited greatly from the incorporation of a cognitive perspective on depression, but the clinical assessment of depressive cognition has remained largely uninformed by recent methodological and theoretical advances in the domain of cognitive neuroscience. Dr. Atchley will discuss a program of research that employs various methods to understand how perception and comprehension changes in individuals who have experienced depression.

Building the Parthenon

  • John Younger, Classics/Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Ancient Greek inscriptions survive that give the annual cost of building temples, including the Parthenon in Athens. Dr. Younger will examine these accounts. By matching the phases of the architectural process, he will reconstruct how the Parthenon (and other temples) were built.

The Crusades and Christian-Muslim-Jewish Relations in the Mediterranean World

  • Steven Epstein, History

Dr. Epstein will cover the relationship of the three faiths from the medieval origins of crusading down to the eighteenth century. He will also examine how factors that led to the Crusades and their outcomes have persisted into modernity and continue to fuel current conflicts.

Darwin and Evolution

  • Chris Haufler

In 1858, Charles Darwin and Alfred Wallace developed hypotheses that sought to explain how biodiversity originates. By presenting the pattern of "descent with modification" and the process of "natural selection," Darwin and Wallace launched the science of evolutionary biology. After thousands of experiments, the theory of evolution forms the foundation of modern biological science. Dr. Haufler will discuss the origin of evolutionary thought and its importance to contemporary science.

Digging in the dirt: how land use history and climate change will feedback to global warming

  • Sharon Billings
  • Ford Ballantyne
  • Scott Campbell
  • Helen Alexander

An overview and brief tour of the Field Station will be provided by Scott Campbell (Research Associate, Kansas Biological Survey), followed by research presentations given by Professors Billings and Ballantyne. They will explore how changing land cover types - from grasslands to forests, for example - can influence regional and global climate. They also will discuss how the rising temperatures linked to greenhouse gases can, in fact, induce further greenhouse gas production. This class will specifically discuss carbon dioxide as it fluxes between the atmosphere and terrestrial ecosystems. It is recommended that participants dress appropriately for walking about one mile on an easy nature trail.

Ethical Issues in Contemporary Capitalism

  • Ann Cudd, Philosophy

Capitalism can have both virtues and vices as an economic and social system. Dr. Cudd will explore how capitalism relates to individual freedom and wellbeing, when social inequalities are unjust, whether capitalism destroys communal or social values that are worth preserving, and whether capitalism could offer opportunities for women to transcend oppressive cultural practices.

How Plants Cope With Stress

  • Craig Martin

Dr. Martin will lead a discussion about some of the fascinating physiological and morphological adaptations that allow plants to survive in some of the harshest habitats on earth. (No botanical background assumed).

Imagining Evita: Myths and Realities

  • Jill Kuhnheim, Spanish & Portugese

When the movie Evita came out in the 1990's, the mythification of Eva Peron reached its apex. By focusing on how Eva Perón has been represented in both fiction and film, Dr. Kuhnheim will discuss how she offers another possibility to talk about a range of issues: women's roles in Argentina, Latin America, and the US; politics in Argentina; and the relationships between history, fiction, legend, and myth.

Independent Film: Outsiders Voices

In 1998, Associate Professor Kevin Willmott returned to Kansas with the idea of starting an independent film movement capable of creating Hollywood-quality movies, with subject matter Hollywood would never touch. Ten years later, Willmott (with the assistance of working partners Associate Professor Matthew Jacobson and Assistant Professor Robert Hurst) has completed four feature films, all of which have played to national and international acclaim ( and two of which have screened at Sundance). More importantly, these three have led the way in a growing renaissance in regional filmmaking in Kansas, acting as inspiration to a whole generation of new filmmakers who have realized they don't have to move to either coast to make films that matter.

  • Ninth Street (1998), a film about the infamous red-light district in Junction City, starring Isaac Hayes and Martin Sheen and introduced by Professor Willmott.
  • CSA: Confederate States of America (2005), the Sundance favorite alternate-history documentary about a world where the South won the Civil War, introduced by Professor Jacobson.
  • Bunker Hill (2008), a modern War-on-Terror allegorical Western with James McDaniel and Saeed Jaffrey, introduced by Professor Hurst.
  • Professors Willmott, Jacobson, and Hurst will lead a discussion about the history and future of independent filmmaking in Kansas. They will also screen clips from their latest Sundance-screened film, The Only Good Indian (2009).

International Conflict in the 21st Century

  • Philip Schrodt, Political Science

International conflict has changed radically in the 60 years since the end of World War II, as conflict between major military powers has almost disappeared, while militarized conflicts involving non-state actors on one or both sides have become the norm. Dr. Schrodt's lecture will explore the evolution and implications of these developments, as well as highlighting work at the KU Center for International Political Analysis on monitoring and forecasting such conflicts.

Is Life Absurd? An Introduction to Existentialism

  • James Woelfel, Philosophy/Humanities and Western Civilization

Existentialism is the only philosophical movement of the 20th century to have become part of both literary and popular culture, and its influence endures. However, myths and mistaken impressions persist. Dr. Woelfel will briefly introduce the themes that existentialist thinkers and writers have in common, and correct some of the popular misunderstandings such as that existentialism is atheistic, morally relativistic, and imbued with a despairing sense that life is without meaning.

Is the U.S. Guilty of Torture? Examining the Treatment of Detainees and POW's

  • Sharon O'Brien, Political Science

The international community has condemned the U.S. for its treatment and torture of Guantanamo detainees and POW's in Iraq and Afghanistan. Dr. O'Brien will examine the international legal principles regarding the classification and treatment of POW's and definitions of torture.

KU at the Energy Frontier: Our Role in the Large Hadron Collider

  • Philip Baringer, Physics and Astronomy

Dr. Baringer will highlight KU's role in the Large Hadron Collider. He will discuss the basic ideas of the field of particle physics, the topics that are investigated at hadron accelerators like Fermilab and the LHC, and give an update on the status of the LHC project.

Lifestyle-based Treatment for Depression

  • Stephen Ilardi, Psychology

Dr. Ilardi will talk about his clinical research in developing a lifestyle-based treatment for depression, Therapeutic Lifestyle Change (TLC), which has shown great promise as an alternative (or addition) to antidepressant medication.

Living Together: Intentional Communities in American History

  • Tim Miller, Religious Studies

This visual presentation will survey communal experiments in American history, from the Shakers down to modern communal groups and movements. Dr. Miller will discuss these groups, of which there are more than most suspect.

Looking for the Knowledge Frontier

  • Leonard Krishtalka

Ever since humans evolved on Earth, their survival has demanded the discovery and management of knowledge. Dr. Krishtalka will discuss how surviving the 21st Century will demand arduous expeditions to new knowledge frontiers—nothing short of managing a small planet. Science alone will not succeed. Crossing the frontiers will require the intimate teaming of art, science, humanities, engineering and every other human enterprise.

Meet the Authors: English Faculty Book Club

Aspiring authors and lovers of literature will delight in this four-day, behind the scenes journey through the creative writing process. Come enjoy this rare opportunity to discuss four literary works with the authors who created them!

  • Michael Johnson
    Hunger for the Wild: America's Obsession with the Untamed West
    (University of Kansas Press, 2007)

Dr. Johnson will relate the experiences that led to his writing the book, discuss the process of writing and publishing it, share some brief anecdotes about responses to it, and invite the participants to enlarge upon the whole topic of the "wildness" of the West and its appeal.

  • Brian Daldorph
    From the Inside Out: Sonnets
    (Woodley P, 2008)

Dr. Daldorph's session will include a reading from his book, a discussion of sonnet form and individual poems, and a class participation exercise: Write your own sonnet.

  • Laura Moriarty
    The Center of Everything
    (Hyperion, 2004)

Dr. Moriarty's session will include a description of the writing process for The Center of Everything, small and large group discussion of the book, and a short writing exercise for participants.

  • Tom Lorenz
    Cottonwood Review

Originally founded in the mid-1960s, Cottonwood is a literary review that is sponsored by the Department of English. It features poetry, short stories, essays, and sometimes art work and reviews. Dr. Lorenz will discuss the role and importance of literary reviews in the American literary landscape, focusing on Cottonwood and other examples. He will talk about how material for the journal is selected and put together, and how to submit your own writing to journals and reviews. He will also discuss the work that is featured in the most recent issue, Cottonwood 66, with a special attention paid to the short fiction.

The Middle School Science Academy: Approaches to Serving Middle School Teachers

  • Joseph Heppert, Chemistry

The Middle School Science Academy project is a collaboration involving the KU Center for Science Education, and the Topeka and Kansas City Kansas Public Schools. Dr. Heppert will discuss how the program provides participating middle school science teachers with substantial enhancements of their science content backgrounds, experience with applying research-based pedagogy in instruction, and a clear grounding in the nature and practice of the scientific enterprise. This course will discuss challenges in middle school science instruction and provide real world examples of some of the projects undertaken by middle school teachers.

Money Makes the World Go 'Round: Geographies of Global Finance

  • Barney Warf, Geography

Dramatic changes in the world economy in the late 20th century created a series of new geographies. Chief among the most globalized industries is finance and banking. Dr. Warf will examine how the contemporary wave of globalization has reshaped the nature and location of international flows of money, including three broad areas: 1) electronic funds transfer systems, 2) the rise of offshore financial systems, and 3) the growth of world cities such as New York, London, and Tokyo.

One Renegade Cell: Understanding Cancer

  • Kristi Neufeld, Molecular Biosciences

Cancer—the word instills fear in those who hear it. What do scientists know about the changes that convert a "well behaving" normal cell into a "renegade" cancer cell? This lecture will discuss common alterations shared by most cancers.

Personalized Medicine: The Genetic Basis of Individual Disease Risk

  • Stuart Macdonald, Molecular Biosciences

Dr. Macdonald will discuss the idea of personalized medicine, and why this is important (and inevitable). He will then describe the kinds of genomic technologies and experiments scientists are carrying out to find the sequence variations that increase/decrease disease risk. Finally, he will describe what this kind of data means (and doesn't mean), and how it can be interpreted to get an idea of your susceptibility for a disease.

Plant growth under high carbon dioxide: Fossil forests from Antarctica

  • Edith Taylor

Dr. Taylor's field is paleobotany and she studies ancient plants (230-260 million years old) from Antarctica. The tree rings in these fossils can tell us something about the climate at polar latitudes in the past. They can also provide clues about the future as our world becomes warmer.

Plant growth under low carbon dioxide: Fossil plants from the La Brea tar pits

  • Joy Ward

Dr. Ward's work explores the future effects of rising atmospheric carbon dioxide on the physiology and growth of plants. She also compares modern plants with ice age plants from the La Brea tar pits in order to understand how plants adapted to low carbon dioxide availability in the geologic past.

Religion and Basketball: Naismith's Game

  • Michael Zogry, Religious Studies

Dr. Zogry's lecture will explain how religious beliefs influenced James Naismith's creation of basketball and the commemoration of his legacy. He will also review selected examples of people who combine their interest in basketball with expression of their religious beliefs.

Renewable Energy: Challenges and Perspectives

  • Judy Wu, Physics and Astronomy

Dr. Wu will discuss the development of cheaper, more efficient solar panels and biofuels using nanotechnology. This science deals with the manipulation of individual molecules and other objects smaller than 100 nanometers. A human hair is roughly 50,000 nanometers thick. Current solar technologies are inefficient and expensive. By better understanding photosynthesis in natural and synthetic materials, nanotechnology promises to boost the performance of solar energy capture and conversion, which sets a new bar for renewable energy.

Six Degrees of Separation: How Everything in Nature (and Your Mind) is Connected

  • Michael Vitevitch, Psychology

Many people have experienced the situation in which they meet a complete stranger who knows someone that you know; often one of you notes that, "It's a small world!" This seemingly quirky coincidence does not happen by accident. Dr. Vitevitch will discuss recent work by scientists, from a variety of fields, who have found that many complex systems (including predators and prey in an ecosystem, the nation-wide power grid, the relationships among friends, and many other systems) are structured in such a way to make such "small-world" experiences more, not less, common.

Stuff Accumulates: Managing and Downsizing Possessions

  • David Ekerdt, Gerontology/Sociology

Dr. Ekerdt will discuss how households accumulate possessions over time and why it is so difficult to part with them. Why keep (so many) things? And then, having gone to the trouble to keep things, how can one release them? Keeping or releasing, there is always work to do as possessions scaffold our identities. This talk would be based on an NIH-funded study of possession management and downsizing in later life that is being conducted at KU and also in Detroit. Click to visit the project web site.

Stupid Seismic Experiments I Have Done

  • Don Steeples, Geology

Dr. Steeples will discuss how shallow seismic methods have matured noticeably since the time 25 years ago when the world's scientific literature contained few refereed papers on shallow reflection. Progress attained by Dr. Steeples' research group has occurred through some eccentric experiments with unexpected and occasional serendipitous outcomes. By 1999, they had demonstrated seismic reflection images from depths of less than a meter, easily within reach of a marginally competent grave digger. Practical applications of the seismic imaging methods developed at KU include searching for clandestine tunnels beneath international borders.

The Symbolic DNA of Terrorism

  • Robert Rowland, Communication Studies

Think you know everything about terrorism? In this provocative discussion, Dr. Rowland will examine the underlying messages of terrorist groups and the reasons they give for their actions. What role does religion play? How do they identify and separate themselves in the face of globalization?

The 21st-Century Jane Austen

  • Dorice Elliott, English

Jane Austen has grown steadily in popularity since she wrote and published her novels in the early nineteenth century. Dr. Elliott will focus on the recent extraordinary surge of interest in this obscure spinster from 200 years ago. The class will discuss the cultural authority and pervasiveness of Austen in contemporary culture along with the social, financial, and even political factors from her own time that underlie all the focus on love and romance in her novels. This multimedia presentation will include Austen websites, cultural objects, research by Austen scholars, and clips from Austen-related films.

Understanding the Behavior of Individuals in the Context of Populations and Ecosystems

  • Ford Ballantyne

Issues of scale are paramount when studying ecological systems. Dr. Ballantyne will focus on describing how quantitative approaches can link observations made at small scales, to patterns and processes made at others. Examples he will use to illustrate such approaches, will be the relationship between reproductive behavior of individual trees and the variability in seed output for entire forests. He will also discuss the link between nutrient demand of primary producers (plants and phytoplankton) and whole ecosystem nutrient dynamics.

Use it or Lose it

  • Susan Kemper, Gerontology/Psychology

Can you slow down aging? Dr. Kemper will examine myths and reality of new interventions to slow down our cognitive aging and reduce our risk of developing dementia. Join Dr. Kemper in a discussion that will keep your mind stimulated!

Window Into the Mind: Imaging the Human Brain and its Function

  • Edward Auer, Speech-Language-Hearing

Dr. Auer's lecture will provide a general introduction to the science behind contemporary brain imaging research. This will include a discussion of what these techniques do and don't tell us about brain function with an emphasis on the use of these tools to understand the neural underpinnings of normal speech communication and its rehabilitation.

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