Ashley Christensen ’16

Major: Criminal Justice and Sociology
Hometown:Champlin, MN

We have an opportunity to change the world, and that can only be done by giving back as much as possible and helping others succeed.

Theme Clusters

(revised 3.16.15)

Students must take a pair of courses from the same theme cluster in two distinct disciplines to complete the theme requirement portion of the Integrative Core. The theme requirement may also be satisfied through 4-credit hours taken while studying abroad and 4-credit hours of approved coursework completed at the University of Mount Union. Theme courses may count toward a major or minor (limit of one per major, one per minor). The prerequisite for all theme courses is completion of all four foundation courses or Junior standing.

Students can count no more than one course that is marked with a * towards the Theme requirement.

Cluster 1 - Truth & Beauty in Art and Design: More than Meets the Eye
Is beauty in the eye of the beholder? Or does it exist beyond our common experience?  Art and design are born of complex relationships between creativity and reality, the world of ideas and the physical or social worlds.  Courses in this cluster explore these relationships across a range of disciplines and from a variety of disciplinary perspectives.  What relationships exist between art/design and political structures, social movements, history, and ethical values?  What is the relationship between creative expression and our perceptions of truth and reality? How does reality combine with imagination, philosophy, and purpose to shape the design process? The performance or creation of a work of art?  These questions go to the heart of what inspires and motivates artists, writers, musicians, performers, designers, and others in the creative world.

  • ART 215 Design II
  • ART 351  Modern Art History
  • COM 450  Popular Culture in Context
  • ENG 265  British Literature II
  • FRN 302  French and Francophone Theater Workshop [taught in French]
  • HST 201  Museum Studies
  • MUS 352  World Music and Ethnographic Study
  • PHL 260  Aesthetics
  • PHY 254 Science Sound and Music
  • PSY 260  Sensation and Perception
  • THE 343  Costume Design
  • WRT 310  Theory and Practice of Editing

Cluster 2 - Am I Healthy? Understanding & Promoting Wellness
“How are you? I’m well, thanks”: exchanges like this one mark dozens of your daily encounters, but have you ever stopped to wonder, what does it mean to be “well”?  Wellness takes many forms -- mental, emotional, spiritual, physical, social, economic, cognitive, intellectual – and university life presents each of us with a range of challenges to wellness.  Courses in this cluster explore issues of wellness as defined by and from a range of disciplinary perspectives.

  • *ATP 394  Cultural Competencies in Healthcare
  • CHE 232  Organic Chemistry II
  • ECN 310  Health Economics
  • MUS 350  Hearing Heaven: Death, Dying, and the Music of Mahler
  • *PBH 300  Principles of Health Behavior and Health Education
  • PSY 280  Health Psychology
  • PSY 390  Intro to Marriage and Family Therapy
  • REL 270  Death and Dying
  • SOC 250  Medical Sociology
  • SOC 225 Family Violence

Cluster 3 - Data and Information in the Technology Age
Was Churchill right?   Does “[t]rue Genius resides in the capacity for evaluation of uncertain, hazardous, and conflicting information”?  In this our Digital Age technology both floods us with information and provides us the tools for making sense of it all.  Courses in this cluster explore and engage with the use and analysis of data and information through technology as used across a range of disciplines and disciplinary perspectives.

  • CHE 210  Environmental Chemistry
  • *CSC 270  Computer Organization
  • *EDU 218  Educational Technology
  • PHY 230  Electronics
  • WRT 311  Publications Management
  • WRT 312  Writing and the Web

Cluster 4 – Ethics, Justice, and Society
Is justice a moral virtue of character?  A desirable quality of political society? How does it apply in our ethical and social decision-making? Courses in this cluster addresses issues justice, values and ethics across a range of disciplines and disciplinary perspectives centered on the common concern with relationships between Self and Other.  How are these attitudes shaped? Explained? Justified?  Do I treat others with respect or compassion?  Why should I?  If I should, then why is this often so difficult? Am I responsible to others?  Why?  And which others? Is this responsibility reciprocal? How broadly should the moral community be conceived? These questions go to the heart of the role of values in a society, including ours at the university.

  • PHL 270  Ethics
  • PHL 290  Environmental Ethics
  • POL 240  Environmental Policy
  • PSY 350  Social Responsibility
  • PSY 385  Psychology of Prejudice and Power
  • REL 340  Christian Social Ethics

Cluster 5 - Flash of the Spirit: Diaspora Aesthetics & the Sounds of Blackness
The Black Church was the crucible of the African diaspora experience in the Americas and the incubator of the Gospel music phenomenon.  Literature and music are cultural expressions of the African diaspora, both are the functioning and transformative arms of the Black Church. Visual, material, and cultural expressions of the peoples of the diaspora center on the traditional West African assumptions of the permeability of borders between the physical and metaphysical, with aesthetic and aesthetic expressions as specific manifestations of ashe – the power-to-make-things-happen – for good or for ill in the physical world.  Courses in this cluster introduce these questions of the aesthetic, the relationship between the physical and metaphysical realms as they touch upon the spiritual/religious, rhetorical and narrative traditions of the African Diaspora.

  • AFR 299 History and Evolution of Gospel Music
  • AFR 326  Black Diaspora Culture
  • ENG 310  Africana Literatures
  • REL 235  The Black Church

Cluster 6 - Food Ways
“Tell me what you eat and I will tell you who you are.”  Food plays a vital role in creating, maintaining, and sustaining healthy people, societies, and cultures.  How does socio-economic class influence menus? How are food choices guided by beliefs about, personal feelings associated with certain foods? How do the factors that determine food access, production, and nutritive value shape our cultures and rituals around food, our tastes?  Are we, indeed, what we eat?

  • AFR 326 Black Diaspora Culture
  • BIO 260  Plant Structure and Function
  • *HED 250  Nutrition
  • SOC 220  The Many Faces of Poverty

Cluster 7 – Gender in International Context
This cluster will engage in comparative studies of gender and gender roles in international contexts, considering assumptions and norms that shape the performance and reception of gender in diverse social, political, economic and religious realms.

  • ECN 330  Economics of Gender
  • ENG 345  Gender Issues in Literature and Culture
  • GEN 330 International Perspectives on Gender
  • HST 260  Women in East Asia
  • REL 370  Gender and Religion

Cluster 8 – Influences on Design Outcomes: Society, Gender, Art and Functionality
Who made that?  And why? Courses in this cluster are organized around questions of how sociological factors, product development teams, and artistic design influence outcomes in any given project.  Class are application oriented, exploring the complex interrelationships between causality and final outcomes.  How does gender influence design? What approaches to design differ between social groups? How do minorities work in product design teams? What is the effect of organizational culture on design outcomes?  What is the role both aesthetically and organizationally of hierarchy on design?  What is the role of art and aesthetics in the functionality of a design?  These questions delve into the relationships between the disciplines of Sociology, Engineering, and Art and promote a deeper, personal understanding of what it means to design.

  • ART 215 Design II
  • ART 220  Sculpture I
  • *EGE 310  Product Design and Development
  • SOC 320  The World of Males and Females
  • SOC 325  Organizational Analysis
  • SOC 330  Minority Group Relations

Cluster 9 – Origins
Where did we come from?  Why are we here?  The modern study of Earth is grounded in humans’ desire to understand our origins.  While the scientific method relies on experiments and processes which are repeatable, courses in this cluster address the study of events and phenomena related to origins which are not reproducible in the laboratory.  Issues ranging from the measuring ages to that of physical phenomena and the analysis and interpretation of evidence will be addressed across a range of perspectives in the natural sciences and the humanities.

  • GEO 220  The History of Life
  • PHL 340  Philosophy of Science
  • PHY 201  Einstein’s Universe – The Big Bang, Black Holes and Beyond

Cluster 10 – Personhood and the State
Who counts as a human being?  When is a person really a person, and, when not? Courses in this cluster examine those ways in which various structures of power and privilege – imperial, colonial power, the power of the nation state, the family or the clan etc . . . – have shaped and/or challenged ideas about human rights and human dignity.  The intersections of power with race, gender and sexuality will be an on-going concern, as will religion, both as a means of resisting power and an obstacle to human rights and dignity.

  • AFR 260  Rap and Rhetoric of the Hip-Hop Generation
  • ENG 335  Literature & Human Rights
  • REL 315  Paul and the Epistles

Cluster 11 - Resource Systems
Courses in this cluster explore the topic of resource systems -- from natural systems like the water cycle to engineered systems like those used in energy production -- across a range of disciplines and disciplinary perspectives. How do resource systems function? Why are resources valued as they are? What are the environmental/economic/societal costs and benefits involved in resource use? How can resources be managed in a sustainable way?

  • BIO 230  Conservation Biology
  • CHE 210  Environmental Chemistry
  • CHE 220  Analytical Chemistry I
  • ECE 360  Water Resource Engineering
  • GEO/ENV 210  Hydrology and Water Resources
  • GEO 301  Earth Materials
  • PHL 290  Environmental Ethics
  • PHY 200  Planets and Moons
  • POL 240  Environmental Policy
  • WRT 399 Science Writing

Cluster 12 - War and Peace
War, what is it good for?  Why does conflict occur? Are human beings simply hard-wired for war and conflict?  Or is war a function of the nation state?  A product of “civilization”?  A function of greed?  Is peace possible?  Courses in this cluster examine the nature of way and the possibility of peace across a range disciplines in the humanities and social sciences.

  • ENG 320  Irish Literature and Culture
  • GEN 320  From Antietam to Tora Bora: American Men at War
  • HST 207  Progressive Movement in American History, 1880 to 1945
  • HST 208  United States Since 1945
  • HST 345  Contemporary Europe
  • HST 350  Ancient Greece and Rome
  • HST 355  Medieval Europe
  • POL 225  International Relations
  • REL 300  Old Testament Interpretation
  • REL 360  Religious Conflict and Peacebuilding

Cluster 13 – The World on Film
From Facebook to our favorite TV shows, modern life is largely lived on screen.  The courses in this cluster focus on the “silver screen,” exploring cultures around the world through film and examining the many ways in which cinema shapes our perceptions of ourselves as well as of others.  What can movies teach us about the societies that produce and consume them?  How have filmmakers transformed the way we see everything from sacred texts and literary classics to schizophrenia, and, why?  Courses in “The World on Film” look for insight through a variety of disciplinary lens.

  • ENG 330  Literature to Film
  • *FRN 203  French Cinema
  • *JPN 204  Japanese through Film
  • PSY 300  Movies and Madness
  •  REL 330  Buddhism in Films

Cluster 14 - Culture and Global Society
The courses in this cluster address the question of how differences in culture (social groups, treatment of minorities, educational systems etc. . .) are reflected in and constructed by societal and political structures globally?  Further, they ask, how culture affects the development of societal, political, and economic structures.

  • AFR 306  Pan-Africanism
  • *EDU 215  Multicultural Education
  • FRN 201  The Francophone World
  • GRN 201  Issues in Contemporary German Society
  • JPN 302  Cultural Study of Japan
  • POL 245  Comparative Politics
  • POL 340  International Political Economy
  • POL 347  Post Soviet Politics
  • POL 348  Politics of the Developing World
  • SOC 245  The World of Education: A Sociological Perspective

Cluster 15 - Globalization: Competition vs. Cooperation
The world has become a “global village” with globalization the concept of the day.  What are the ramifications of “globalization” for regions, nations, communities? Does globalization lead to increased international competition or increased international cooperation? How and why? Does globalization ‘level the playing field’ for competition and/or cooperation between and among countries?  Increase pressure on countries to ‘sharpen their competitive edge’?  These questions are at the heart of what the global community means across a variety of disciplines in the humanities and the social sciences.

  • ECN 327  International Trade
  • ECN 365  Global Macroeconomics
  • ECN 380  Comparative Economic Systems
  • ECN 390  Economics of the Asian Pacific Rim
  • HST 208  United States Since 1945
  • HST 360  Modern China
  • HST 370  Modern Japan
  • HST 385  Modern Russia
  • POL 340  International Political Economy

Cluster 16 - Lighting the Page on Fire: Creating Inspiration for the Classroom and Beyond
“All the world’s a stage,/And all men and women merely players;/They have their exits and their entrances,/And one man in his time play many parts. . .”so says the Bard and nowhere is this more true than in the classroom.  Teaching is performance.  So that our teachers in training can fully engage their students in classrooms that are expressive and vibrant, we propose to breathe life into several different genres of literature and oral traditions by equipping students to create living stories brought to life through the power of live Theatre.

  • *EDU 355  Content Area Literacy
  • ENG 210  Children’s Literature
  • ENG 215  Literature for Adolescents
  • ENG 310  Africana Literature
  • ENG 315  Native American Literature
  • THE 225  Creative Dramatics

Cluster 17 - What is Modernism?
This cluster addresses the challenging question of modernism – a movement that cuts across many disciplines from painting, sculpture, dance, music, literature, architecture and philosophy – as influenced by politics, scientific and technological innovation and the Industrial Revolution.  Courses in this cluster address the question of Modernism as more than a style or a period, as an attitude and perspective including a determination to break with the past and to free the artist from the stifling rules of convention and etiquette.  Students will engage with various modes of experimentation and avant-gardism as well as the sense of despair which often accompanied the changing worldview filtered through much of British, European and American societies as well as the emerging of new political and cultural identities in the wake of colonialism.

  • ART 351  Modern Art History
  • ENG 305  Global Anglophone Literature(s)
  • ENG 340  Modernism and Postmodernism
  • FRN 304  Modern French Poetry
  • HST 207  Progressive Movement in American History

Cluster 18 - Why We Do It: The Evolution and Psychology of Sex
How do evolution and psychology influence human sexual anatomy, attitudes and behavior?  How do social and cultural influences shape these attitudes and behaviors into culturally constructed gendered and sexual identities?  The goal for this cluster is to help students identify and integrate topics of evolutionary biology, human psychology and cultural studies as they contribute to human sexual health and wellness.

  • AFR 260  Rap and Rhetoric of the Hip Hop Generation
  • BIO 215  Evolutionary Biology
  • GEN 210  Introduction to Men’s Studies
  • PSY 345 Human Sexual Behavior

Cluster 19 - People and Place: Culture and Environment of the Appalachians
Regional cultures develop in the context of their physical environments, with the environments providing both resources and limitations. Human cultures inevitably modify their environments with negative and positive long term effect on both the culture and its environment.

These courses will look at a particular region, the Central Appalachians of North America, through a variety of disciplinary perspectives.   The stories of the Appalachians are often embedded in a strong sense of place.  The stories and their tellers can often be understood more clearly when the natural environment from which the story emerged is also understood.

  • ENG 299  Literature of the Appalachians
  • ENV 299  Appalachian Environments

(new course numbers to be permanently assigned)

To The Top!