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Engaging in the idea of diversity – Fall 2020 General Education courses

By Academic Affairs
Posted on 24 July 2020 | 4:55 pm — 

The College of Charleston’s Liberal Arts and Sciences General Education curriculum serves all students, regardless of major, and assures that students are exposed to a breadth of intellectual inquiry distributed across seven areas: First Year Writing, Foreign Languages, Classical or Modern, History, Humanities, Mathematics/Logic, Natural Science, and Social Sciences. Aside from exposing students to the research topics and methods of the various disciplines, General Education courses engage students in conversations and concepts that are important to responsible citizens of contemporary society. Every course will approach these big ideas differently, in ways appropriate to that discipline and the course context.

Engaging the idea of diversity

The following General Education courses being taught in Fall 2020 intentionally engage with the idea of diversity. The definition, context, and relevant content will change from course to course, but in each one students will discuss diversity as it is understood in that discipline and consider how those ideas can be applied outside the classroom. (See the college catalog for the official course descriptions and for the General Education requirement they fulfill. Read more about these courses at

Fall 2020 Offerings

ARTH 101 History of Art: Prehistoric Through Medieval.

This course explores diversity through the study of the visual arts and architecture from the civilizations of the geographical and cultural areas today we know as Europe, Anatolia, the Middle East, and North Africa from the Prehistoric period to the Middle Ages. In this course, students discuss all related aspects which “affect” the art or are affected by art such as religion and religious rituals, politics, daily life requirements, ethnicity, cultural differences, geographical conditions etc. This course will enable the student to identify, analyze and interpret works of art/architecture in a diverse array of traditions.

ARTH 290-04: Special Topics: The Art and Architecture of Mesopotamia and the Ancient Near East

This course investigates the material culture of the civilizations who lived throughout the Eastern Mediterranean and Mesopotamia from the Neolithic period to the Achaemenid Persian Empire.  We will investigate how these different peoples interacted with one another over time and in doing so consider questions of identity.  How did ancient Near Easterners understand their cultural and ethnic differences?  How did these differences influence ancient society and manifest in art and architecture?

CLAS 303/HIST 370

The Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians who inhabited ancient Alexandria followed radically different religious, social, cultural, and economic practices, yet were bound together by their identification as “Alexandrians.” Was this just a geographical description, or did it mean something special to be “Alexandrian”? This course examines relationships and intersections of Alexandria’s communities, whose interactions varied from peaceful to tense to openly violent, and explores the ways in which this diverse community forged a sense of shared identity.

DANC 331: History of Western Dance

This course focuses not just on dance history, but prompts larger conversations about gender disparity in the dance world, sexual harassment and systemic abuses of power, issues of racial and class inequality in opportunities for dance training and performances, and how certain dances reinforces these ideas. These issues have existed since the beginnings of western dance and unfortunately still continue to this day.

ENGL 290: Illness Narratives

Illness does not exist in a vacuum, so factors like neurodiversity, race, ethnicity, sexuality, and gender are important to consider when we read stories about mental or physical dis-ease. Some important readings include Jenny Lawson’s Furiously Happy (a book about depression and anxiety), Susan Nussbaum’s Good Kings, Bad Kings, (about disability and also sexuality), and The Sprit Catches You and You Fall Down, about ethnicity and cultural competence.  We also will be working with diverse members of our community as we hear the stories of hospice patients.

HONS 175 – 01 Approaches to Religion: Making Believe and Making Belief in the Study of Religion

This honors course introduces students to the academic study of religion as a social-cultural phenomenon. Focusing primarily on analytical and methodological approaches drawn from the discipline of Performance Studies, we examine the central importance of embodied practices (rituals, microrituals, habits, comportments) for the development of “religious” consciousness. We examine historical and ethnographic accounts drawn from diverse cultural contexts including: Southeast Asian Buddhism, Euro-American Protestantism, and Haitian Vodou in order to illuminate the various ways that humans make sense of the cosmos.

LACS 101: Introduction to Latin American and Caribbean Studies

The main student learning outcome for this course is for students to demonstrate an understanding of the diversity and complexity of the Latin American and/or Caribbean experiences as well as look at the Latino experience in the United States. The course debunks the myths about the region perpetuated by the United States and students ideally come to understand the region as a diverse, complex, rich, and fascinating region of study.

LTPO 270: Cultural Studies Through Film

All films watched in this class require a cultural component. Students read and learn about the geographic, historic, social, and political contextual background of each film, plus beliefs, knowledge, rituals, morals, habits, traditions, manners, customs. We discuss these issues and how the film director examines a subject through their films. Students discuss and also compare with the same themes/topics in the US. We examine diversity in the sense of social inequality, internal migration, race, and gender.

MEDH 200:  Introduction to Medical Humanities

The culture of medicine (and of most healthcare) has grown to be white and patriarchal; we question this construction through our unit in philosophy (what do people define as illness?  How do race, culture, and gender determine this?), Culture, Race, Gender, and Sexuality.  We also write illness narratives that are framed around issues of race, SES, culture, or gender, and we write an EHRAF paper asking students to use a cultural anthropology database.

PHIL 206: Topics in Law & Morality: Lesbian, Gay, & Transgender Rights

Examines the gap between cultural aspirations some of us have concerning civil and human rights in two closely intertwined (but distinct) areas—gender identity & sexual identity—and the history and current cultural reality of existing legal institutions and practices in this area.

PSYC 103: Introduction to Psychological Science

How do human beings differ from each other, and from other animals?  Do people from different cultures perceive the world in different ways?  How do different social and cultural groups form?  How do humans develop prejudices against these groups?  What is neurodiversity?  Questions like these are at the heart of psychological science, and each PSYC 103 section will touch on a subset of them.

RELS 101-01: Approaches to Religion: Making Believe and Making Belief in the Study of Religion

This course introduces students to the academic study of religion as a social-cultural phenomenon. Focusing primarily on analytical and methodological approaches drawn from the discipline of Performance Studies, we examine the central importance of embodied practices (rituals, microrituals, habits, comportments) for the development of “religious” consciousness. We examine historical and ethnographic accounts drawn from diverse cultural contexts including: Southeast Asian Buddhism, Euro-American Protestantism, and Haitian Vodou in order to illuminate the various ways that humans make sense of the cosmos.

RELS 105: Introduction to World Religions

is an introduction to the study of religion and of the world’s major religious traditions including Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Our study will include historical development, sacred text, ritual, and concepts of the divine. Students will, 1) learn a critical approach to the study of religion, 2) gain a general knowledge of each of the world’s major religions, 3) ‘cross over’ to the cultural worldview of others, 4) develop greater empathy and appreciation for these cultures.

RELS 120.01/02: Religion, Art, and Culture

“Religion, Art, and Culture,” which has as its subtitle: “Searching for the Sacred, the Strange, and the Substance of Faith in the South.” This course is cross-listed as SOST 175 “Religions in the US South.” The main theme of “searching for the sacred and the strange” takes us away from mainstream Christianity to explore the religiosity and aesthetic expression of socially marginalized individuals, whose visionary experiences inspire their creation of religious art, music, and food. The course features three different social sites and social groups: white rural Southern Evangelical Christian “outsider” artists; then we move to New Orleans, the birthplace of jazz, where we examine the relationship between African religions, voodoo, jazz funerals, and Mardi Gras Indians; and finally, we return to Charleston to examine the African American Gullah-Geechee tradition of communicating with the dead and African ancestors through visions, dreams, stories, sweetgrass basketry, and spirituals. One of the course goals is to gain appreciation for the diversity of Southern subcultures and peoples, their shared humanity and creativity, especially among eccentric “outsiders”: artists, storytellers, musicians and performers.

SPAN 320Introduction to Textual Analysis

In this course, which is an introduction to literature from Spain and Latin America, students engage with and explore diversity through their study of a variety of literary texts which showcase different cultural norms and practices, linguistic varieties, gender and sexual diversities, as well as raise awareness of issues faced by marginalized communities and disadvantaged groups.

Span 333.01: Topics in Hispanic Cultures: Exploring Iberian Cultures: The Foundations of Spain

Multicultural awareness, religious tolerance, and the ability to see the world through diverse viewpoints are of critical importance for citizens of the 21st century. Spain provides a unique test case for examining these issues due to its regional diversity and the religious pluralism that came about as Christians, Jews, and Muslims coexisted in the Iberian Peninsula for more than seven centuries. How can the legacy of convivencia (or living together) and the cultural hybridity among Iberia’s diverse groups help us understand current discourses in multiculturalism, political fragmentation, and religious tolerance in 21st-century America and Spain? This course will allow you a better understanding of Iberian art, geographical and regional diversity, discourses of inclusion and some of the ways that certain citizens get excluded or marginalized by official discourses.

THTR 310: Theatre History Origins to 1750

covers theatrical history and dramatic literature from theatre’s origins in African storytelling traditions through Age of Enlightenment and its accompanying spread of colonialism during the early seventeenth century. Over 1/3 of the theatre and performance examples are drawn from either works by women or non-European traditions (or both!). Throughout the course, students are encouraged to interrogate the canon and propose alternative historiographical questions through a culminating research project.

THTR 321: Children’s Theatre 

This course opens up the world of theatre written for children onstage and in the audience. The plays and musicals studied include stories from Native American, African American, and Cajun Black Magic culture along with strong female protagonists. We will discuss how these plays reflect the culture of their origin and introduce children to diverse voices. Playwriting, acting, directing, design and technical  theatre is explored throughout the course through practical learning experiences that are ”non-theatre major friendly,” but are still very useful for theatre majors.

WGST200: Introduction to Women’s and Gender Studies

Introduction to Women’s and Gender Studies engages with issues related to diversity, equity, inclusion and social justice through readings, course activities, and assignments. Students can expect to develop a deeper understanding of how historical and current societies are organized by gender as well as by race, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation, social class, (dis)ability and other social categories. Students also will explore how individual identities and experiences are shaped by these categories and the various hierarchies associated with them. As an interdisciplinary course, students can expect to also engage with a diversity of approaches, perspectives, and disciplinary conventions as they explore a wide range of topics.

HONS 226 Honors Colloquium: Foundations of Western Civilization Pre-Modern History

All honors colloquia are required to focus on a central and enduring question.  For this course, that question is: what are the ideas that shaped Western identity in the pre-modern world?  This course-wide theme also envelopes a history specific one.  The vital reason that a knowledge of history is key to all educated voters in a democracy is that people utilize the past:  they use it to describe themselves and people like them as good, and individuals different from them as bad.  The class will provide specific examples of this process.


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