Whittier College's response to COVID-19 and plans for Fall 2020
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Books listed here can be purchased online or at your preferred bookstore. Films can be streamed online through your preferred streaming service.
This is first and foremost a writing-focused, developmental college composition course, and students will have extensive practice in reading critically, planning, drafting, revising, and editing papers in a variety of academic genres. Your instructor will emphasize the development of the student’s individual authorial process, as well as writing for rhetorical effect. Our theme--What we will be writing about--is current controversy surrounding what is often called “the refugee crisis.” We will be reading a variety of fiction and non-fiction: Tell Me How It Ends (Luiselli), Exit West (Hamid), and selections from The Displaced: Refugee Writers on Refugee Lives (Nguyen, ed.), among others.
An intensive composition course which aims to develop critical thinking, reading, and writing skills. More importantly, students are guided in understanding writing as a recursive process.
Photographs are all around us: they show us the news; they sell us products in advertising; we share them with friends, family, and strangers on social media; they are a form of identity. We react to photographic images all the time… but why? In this writing seminar, we will develop skills in describing and analyzing what we see and understanding how visual imagery impacts one's sense of the world and sense of self.
In a culture dominated by the tyranny of now, we are compelled to embrace efficiency and expediency as the ultimate values, rapidly accelerating our life pace and in the process unquestionably surrendering quality of experience, emotional presence, space for reflection, mental health, and perhaps our very humanity. We have become caught up in a culture of sensationalism and transience in which the rampant illnesses of our society, both literal and figurative, have been fostered and allowed to fester. Engaging with film, world literary works, and critical essays on culture, we will take time to reflect on and write about the causes of this phenomenon, your own related values, the meanings of quality of life, and making well considered choices on the best experience of time.
What are the stories we have told about race? How have fictions been central to racist culture and how can they be harnessed to the project of challenging white supremacy? Students will engage with representations of bias, intersectionality, rage and whiteness in the work of journalists, sociologists, short-story writers and playwrights.
The U.S.-Mexico border is a place of contradictions. It is the busiest border in the world, where people commute daily across the geopolitical divide to go to work and school. It is also a place where fences and guards attempt to keep people from crossing. The border both contains and provokes mobility. The class will read seminal texts and explore key concepts to help understand how writers in different disciplines construct and support arguments about the border. This is an intensive composition course which aims to develop critical thinking, reading, and writing skills. Students are guided in understanding and participating in writing as a process that unfolds over time and how to read in ways that promote good writing.
This course will ask students to explore the changing landscape of health in the 21st Century and weigh in on the ethics of medical advances and health disparities. The 21st Century will see amazing changes in medical technologies, from stem cell therapy and gene editing to brain computer interfaces and precision medicine. In turn, as our tool set for diagnosing and treating disease grows, society will need to make hard decisions about their use. Do we want to share our genetic information or create designer babies? Are these new tools really safe? Alongside these advances, climate change and population growth are leading to the emergence of new diseases and the expansion of the geographical range of existing diseases. Additionally, the anti-vaccination movement has led to the re-emergence of previously eradicated diseases, such as measles, and the overuse of antibiotics has led to the emergence of superbugs. Together we will make sense of this brave new world.
This course is an introduction to the study of music as a scholarly pursuit, including the professional disciplines of ethnomusicology, historical musicology, and popular music studies. This course explores diverse ways of thinking and writing about music using repertoires drawn from non-Eurogenic traditional, Western classical and mass-mediated musics as case studies. Reading, listening, and writing projects pose core philosophical questions about music’s nature, meaning, cultural significance and distinctiveness among the arts.
Monotheism refers to a tradition that is bound together by a common belief in and worship of one deity. In this course we will examine three such traditions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, exploring each tradition in its historical, cultural, political, and contemporary contexts. We will ask and answer essential questions, including: “how did monotheisms develop” “why people are or are not religious,” and “why do people convert or remain within their birth tradition.” We will point out tensions between how religion is understood (often textually) and how it is actually lived by ordinary people. This course is intended as a comparative conversation. Throughout the semester, we will search for common threads as well as dividing lines among the three traditions.
In this course, we will discuss literacy, art, empowerment, and action in the context of systemic white supremacy.
People make all sorts of extraordinary claims. How do we decide if these things are real or not? By developing your critical thinking skills, you will be able to discriminate between reality and fiction. We will examine such topics as: science denialism, Bigfoot, UFOs and disputes over human induced global climate change.
One struggles to answer the question, “What do we mean by a good society?” because each of us inhabits so many different kinds of societies. From the close-knit, personal societies of family and friends, to the more distant societies of cultures or nations, to the even more distant society of the biosphere, our different societies call out different allegiances, different responsibilities, different actions. This course explores the intersection of who we are as individuals and who we are as communities and how the tension between individual rights and social responsibilities manifest in matters of identity, equality, and sustainability, among others. People, though, often forget how intertwined their “pursuit” of happiness is with that of others. Our choices define our reality, and in turn, form the world we live in. In choosing where to live, what kind of family to make, what to eat, how to dress, what kind of music to hear, what kind of movie to watch, what kind of friends to make, whether or not to practice a religion, and what kind of education to pursue, we express belief systems about what is good for us and those we care about. But to move our choices from the unconscious level to a level of critical, deliberate, and self-aware choosing—in other words, to make our choices free—is much harder. Engaging in this type of conversation is necessary in order to develop the agency and flexibility required to navigate our rapidly changing political, social, and economic environment. The goal then, of this class, is to set up a conversation that allows students to examine what makes an aspect of a society “good,” what makes people happy, and openly investigate the strengths and weaknesses of those ideas.
This class invites you into conversation about how we learn things—including writing. You have done a lot of learning, from tying a shoe to figuring out a new app, but you probably have not explored the social and scientific dimensions of that learning. We will read two books: one explores learning, generally, and the other examines how you learned to write in elementary and high school. Our goal is to think deeply about your learning identities and habits so that you feel ready to tackle college-level learning in whatever major you choose.
This course explores the ideas and methods of nonviolent movements, from the Quakers, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King, Jr. through today's Black Lives Matter movement.
This course is for and about First-Generation college students. If neither of your parents graduated from college, this class is for you. In a small nurturing group, led by a professor who was also the first person in his family to go to college, we will be reading, writing, and having meaningful discussions about the First-Gen experience. We will also develop the practical social and academic skills you need to have a successful four-year experience at Whittier. We hope this class is the beginning of your journey to becoming a successful Poet graduate.
The movement for social justice, like much of our social lives, has moved to social media. Working together over the term we will look closely at #BlackLivesMatter and #MeToo as examples of recent movements for social justice that took off on social media. What is the good, the bad, and the ugly of our life in this new social space? Can we change the world through social media? I look forward to learning the answers to these questions with you this fall!
What do children learn online? The COVID-19 pandemic forced students into online learning from preschool thru college this year. Online education has existed for over 30 years and yet there is still a debate about whether it delivers an education as good as in-person instruction. The main objective of this course is to introduce you to writing and reading at the college level and we will ultimately write about the following questions: What subjects do children learn better or worse online than in in-person instruction? Who did online learning advantage and disadvantage? For example, during the pandemic, schools tried to overcome a digital divide where some poor students lacked internet access and computers to keep up with their school work. How many children in the U.S. experienced limited access to education during the pandemic and how did it affect their learning? Are we all behind in education because of this shift? In addition, we will explore what children learn from the internet, social media and computer programs that are not educational, negative and/or not intended from the developers. We will read research studies on education and child development as well as a variety of opinions to help us answer these questions.
This course will explore the ways literacy has been used in African American communities as a form of resistance, freedom and empowerment.