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LAR Class Descriptions

LAR Class Descriptions

Doane University's First Year Liberal Arts Seminar is a course designed to introduce first-year students to college-level writing, discussion, critical thinking, and critical reading. Faculty will choose a theme for each seminar section in order to help students learn information research skills, to work collaboratively, and to gain an appreciation for interdisciplinary study and multiple perspectives.

Below are the descriptions, times and Professors for our available LAR classes. Check out the videos located at for more information about this required course you will take in the fall.

Monday/Wednesday/Friday Classes

  • LAR 101-3: Taking a Stance

    Time: M/W/F 2:00-2:50 pm

    Professor: JL Vertin

    This seminar will expose students to several contemporary and historical controversies in order to help them build compelling written and oral arguments for a specific stance.  Students will engage in two intensive role playing games that place them in moments of historical controversy. Students will conduct research, write position papers, and participate in informal debates and negotiations, in order to win the game.   First, students will go back to 1968 and recreate the protests at the Democratic National Convention before moving further back in time for the second game, where they confront the issues that surrounded Americans as they decided whether or not to declare their independence from England. Students will then switch gears and examine the current controversial social issues of immigration, death penalty, and marijuana legalization. The course will conclude with students working in teams in a mock trial debate of one of these social issues.

  • LAR 101-6: Ethics and the Body

    M/W/F 9:00-9:50 am

    Professor: Brad Johnson

    Students in this course will examine many of the diverse ethical issues related to the human body. Topics such as body modification (tattooing, piercing, etc.), pandemics, organ transplant lists, and artificial bodies/body parts will serve as material for our reading and writing about how we make ethical decisions. Moreover, in the spirit of the Liberal Arts Seminar, we will examine the human body as an interdisciplinary subject, applying concepts from art, biology, religion, philosophy, literature, economics, etc., in an effort to understand how we approach ethical choices from a wide range of perspectives.


  • LAR 101-8: Journeys

    M/W/F 9:00-9:50 am

    Professor: Kimberly Jarvis

    People’s perceptions of the world around them are influenced and affected by their environment and experiences. In this course students will read memoirs and novels that explore their authors’ experiences with and reflections on such issues as identity and political oppression in Iran, China, and Russia. In addition, students will examine and reflect upon their own transition from high school to college.


  • LAR 101-9: Journeys

    M/W/F 10-10:50 am

    Professor: Kimberly Jarvis

    People’s perceptions of the world around them are influenced and affected by their environment and experiences. In this course students will read memoirs and novels that explore their authors’ experiences with and reflections on such issues as identity and political oppression in Iran, China, and Russia. In addition, students will examine and reflect upon their own transition from high school to college.


  • LAR 101-10: Rejected Rebels: Why the Right Idea Doesn’t Always Win

    M/W/F 9-9:50 am

    Professor: Mark Meysenburg

    Why are some people “before their time?” Some pioneering thinkers are accepted and hailed in their time, while others are mocked and marginalized. Why have some ideas, which we recognize today as obviously correct, been rejected by experts in the past? What factors led to right ideas being rejected, and what can we learn from history so that we do not repeat it? In this course, we will explore these questions through two specific historic events: Galileo Galilei’s idea of a sun-centered universe in the 1630s, and Charles Babbage’s design of a working computer in the 1830s.

    We will attempt to answer these questions through intense Reacting to the Past role-playing games. You will take on historically-based roles, work with your faction, delve deeply into very important historical texts, write and make speeches, debate controversial issues (while staying in character!), participate in laboratory sessions, and try to win the game. Your performance in the game could change the course of history!


  • LAR 101-11: Heroes

    M/W/F 10:00-10:50 am

    Professor: Dan Clanton

    What does it mean to be human? What does real companionship mean? What happens after we die? How should men and women behave? How should humans relate to the Divine? What does it mean to be honorable and/or heroic? What is the price of duty, or responsibility to oneself and others? What is “justice,” and how is it achieved? These, and other questions, have been asked and answered in cultures of the past through stories about heroes. This class will examine three classic epics—Gilgamesh, the Iliad, and Beowulf—in order to discover how ancient and medieval western cultures answered questions like these. We will also address answers to these questions and the concept of heroism in our modern culture by examining our own modern mythology, as found in stories of comic book superheroes.


Tuesday and Thursday Classes

  • LAR 101-2: The Social Dilemma – the promise and peril of technology

    T/TH 9:30-10:45 am

    Professor: Kate Marley

    Gretchen Rubin, a best-selling author writes, “Technology is a good servant but a bad master.” So much of where we are as a society is thanks to technological innovation. And how we, as a global community, will escape the worst ravages of climate change and autocratic rule will likely depend on more innovations. But what happens when our technology is actually controlling us instead of the other way around? And will our future be under our control, or manipulated and controlled by entities that want to profit from us and don’t care about our best interests? Does that matter to you? In this class we will examine the promise and peril of technology in fiction and non-fiction to explore these questions. As with all LAR 101 courses, we will focus on developing as college readers, researchers, and writers and use technology, for good or evil, as our lens for that work.

  • LAR 101-4: American Experiences

    T/Th 9:30-10:45 a.m.

    Professor: Josh Pope

    We have all heard talk of the United States being "one nation under God." Does this quote from the Pledge of Allegiance truly reflect the reality of the country we live in? How does the meaning of the term “American” differ in various communities? In this course, we consider aspects of these broad questions while practicing critical thinking, reading, writing, and discussion skills. Specifically, we will use a variety of media to analyze and discuss what it means to have an American experience. How are American experiences different with regard to race, gender, military service, and other factors? In addition, attention will be given to American experiences people have in and around Crete. By the end of this course, students should have a heightened sense of the diversity present in this country and that there is not just one American experience but many.

  • LAR 101-7: A Human Rights Journey: From Inquiry to Awareness

    T/Th 9:30-10:45 am

    Professor: Alec Engebretson

    This course will take students on a human rights and human wrongs journey. Taking this journey will enhance a student’s ability to engage in ethical reasoning by intentionally thinking critically, creatively, and practically. In addition, this journey will generate an understanding of identity, stories, ethics, and an individual’s universe of obligation as they relate to human rights as outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The course culminates with the class hosting a community human rights symposium where students will use Ted Talks, poetry, imagery, and movement to create an awareness of human rights violations happening locally, nationally and globally.

  • LAR 101-12: What In The World!?

    T/TH 11:00-12:15 pm

    Professor: Becky Hunke

    In this seminar class we will examine questions that can help us better understand ourselves and the world in which we live. These questions focus on important issues that we might not think about very often including, what does it mean to be happy? What is the big deal about this adjustment to college? Why is there homelessness and poverty? Why do children go hungry everyday? This course also serves as an introduction to college life, and so we will also spend some time discussing college skills and strategies for success.


  • LAR 101-15: Exploring Current Topics in the American Healthcare System

    T/TH 2:30-3:45 pm

    Professor: Melissa Clouse

    The United States healthcare system has huge impacts on our national policy and economy, and on our individual quality of life. Students will investigate scenarios, identify high interest topics, and examine ethics surrounding common healthcare debates. Viewing each situation from a variety of viewpoints will be encouraged. Issues examined may include topics such as universal healthcare, acceptance of vaccination initiatives, euthanasia, and the changing understanding of the term “health”.  Students will explore these topics using a variety of readings, news media broadcasts and videos, as well as interactions with practicing clinicians.