Inquiry Seminars

Inquiry seminars are designed exclusively for first-year students. These courses help you transition to college by guiding you through the ways in which college-educated people ask questions, gather information to address the questions, and then share with other people what they've learned. Inquiry seminars are small, no more than 25 students per section, and you'll work with your classmates to explore and find answers to important questions in an academic discipline. Your professor will work with you on both the topic and the best techniques for learning. Incoming freshmen at Clarion choose their top three choices for an inquiry seminar and are placed according to their preferences. Incoming freshmen should log into their D2L to complete their Inquiry Seminar placement module.

The following INQ 100 courses will be offered during the Fall 2019. Below each title there is a brief description of the course.  Log in to your D2L account to complete the Inquiry Seminar Survey to choose your top 3.

What responsibility do we have to others? TR 12:30

This course focuses on empathy and working to see the world from other people’s perspectives by sharing and valuing others’ experiences and stories. We will consider our responsibilities to family members, friends, peers, strangers, our communities, and even to the environment. We will discuss, research, and consider how our views are shaped and constructed through experience; we will examine how our experiences affect how we understand and interact with others, and we will reflect on what this means for both our personal and professional lives. We will also consider the limits of empathy and responsibilities. You will have the opportunity to explore the issues of the course that you find most relevant and interesting in a final research project.

What’s right with being wrong? TR 9:30

Did you pick the right smartphone? Is your significant other “the one” for you? Did you pick the right college, the right roommate or even the right shoes? Most of us go through life assuming we are right about nearly everything and are hesitant to admit when we are uncertain or have made a mistake, but why? Why does it feel so good to be right and so bad to be wrong? This course examines a culture of “rightness” in America that affects our education, our values, our purchasing decisions and even our relationships. We will question the potential role and value of mistakes and consider why we would want to make more room in our lives for error.

What’s your story? MWF 10:00 and 1:00

So, what are your favorite movies, novels or songs? Why do you love them? Each tells a story. What stories do they tell? Most important, what does storytelling tell us about ourselves? We are the “storytelling animal.” Imagine the number of hours each day we spend telling and listening to stories, whether by daydreaming, watching television, playing video-games, or imagining our futures. In this course, you will select the movies, novels and songs that we will examine, and you will ask questions about them to guide your research. In the process, you’ll learn something about yourself, about the stories we tell ourselves, and what it means to be the storytelling animal.

Check your privilege TR 11:00

Have your heard (or used) the idiom “blondes have more fun?” What about “lock up your daughters?” Do you walk to your car alone, at night? Do you have flesh-colored bandages in your medicine cabinet? Are you comfortable in your student desk? Questions like these are starting points for our inquiry into “privilege.” Does “privilege” exist and, if so, who has it, who doesn’t, and why? Does American culture represent privilege? How and to what effect? Is privilege good? Bad? Neutral? In other words, buckle up.

Pay to Play: The Economics of Video Games

Video games have become the dominant form of entertainment for a whole generation of young people.  The average age of a gamer is now in the low to mid 30s.  The potential impact of this phenomena on the players, including on their empathy, social skills, brain development, and aggression is a source of ongoing research.  Game designers are concerned about these issues as well, as they attempt to make games challenging, but also interesting enough to keep gamers coming back.  As games have evolved from a self-contained platform-based system, such as Nintendo 64, to games where the console is a gateway to the internet, developers have embedded economic value-added components into the games.  Of particular interest are the “digital rights management” (DRM) systems video game designers/publishers put in place to discourage piracy, “downloadable content” (DLC) and ‘microtransactions’, whereby players are incentivized to use real money, either within or outside the game proper, to purchase real merchandise, or virtual merchandise such as upgrades to the avatar/character, or to buy additional levels or maps, or hints for completing the game.  Other issues include backwards compatibility, and how some developers continue to honor it, while other developers do not.

We will explore the impact of games on players and on society.  An essential question we explore is this: “If gamers  have to Pay to Play, are they really playing games or are they being played?”  The course structure will be very flexible to incorporate student interests and questions they want to explore related to gaming.

What can film teach us? TR 1:30 and 3:30

What can film teach us…about race…class…immigration…our politics…prejudices…and ourselves? In our age of media saturation, political polarization, and institutional dysfunction, we will employ film, television, and video – including satire and comedy – to shed light on myths, realities, and our shared and diverse beliefs and experiences. Through discussion, reflection, small group activities, and presentations, we will examine what film can teach us about major issues and debates and in turn, how we can engage each other as informed citizens.

Why do I forget what I study? MW 3:00-4:15

Have you ever wondered how we learn information, or what even is a memory? Does it ever feel like all the information leaves your brain just before, during, or right after a test? What factors influence our ability to remember things? In this course, we will explore the biology behind learning and memory and discuss how we can use ideas and research from the fields of Philosophy, Education, Psychology, and Neuroscience to improve our ability to study and ultimately, learn. From this, you will have the opportunity to design and test an individualized strategic learning plan with a goal of developing strong academic practices. We will also consider questions regarding how we measure and evaluate learning, the roles and responsibilities of both educator and student, different teaching styles and techniques, and the efficacy of the education system.

Where’s My Face?  A critical look at the story we tell about the history of science and mathematics. MWF 11:00

Page through any science textbook. Most start with a timeline of the important discoveries in the field and the people who made them. Albert Einstein, Charles Darwin, Galileo,...  We have seen their faces so many times that we know them at a glance. Is it true that science is advanced through the work of a small number of people, most of whom are white, male, and dead? This course will focus on the story that we tell: why we tell it, who it serves, and who it leaves out.  We will explore together the Black and African-American contributions to science and mathematics to determine if the story we tell is true and why the answer matters. This course will focus on critical thinking, inquiry, teamwork, and discussion as a means to investigate answers to questions such as "Where are the faces like mine in the history of science?"

 What’s law go to do with it? TR 2:00

This course is an exploration into the nature of law.  What are the various types of law? What are the impacts and weights of the various types of law?  A wide range of what law means will be examined, from what is commonly understood as law to less recognized forms such as cultural constraints of human behavior.  Through research, writings, and presentations, students will reflect and gain insight as to how their lives are guided and influenced by all of the various types and facts of law.  The course will be conducted as a seminar where students will be actively learning through collaboration, discussions, and presentations.

So You Want to Be Rich?  MW 2:00

This seminar will explore what it means to be rich, how others might define wealth, how can you measure wealth, and what ways can you obtain wealth.  The seminar will teach skills on how to research and how can you quantify the amount of income to achieve your desired wealth.  In this seminar we will explore stocks, bonds, precious metals, collectables, and real estate as vehicles to achieve wealth.  Finally, we will explore how the wealthiest in this country made their wealth.  In this course the student will be required to write and present a paper (or poster) on a topic related to being rich that will be agreed upon with the instructor.

Why Happiness? TR 11:00 and 2:00

Happiness is an emotion that is brought to us through experiences. In our daily lives, we may think of happiness in terms of family, friends, relationships, and laughter. Happiness can also be understood and explored from an economic perspective—from understanding economic growth and stability. We often think that people in well-developed, thriving countries who have a lot of material wealth may also experience the most joy, but that is not necessarily true. Economic success can result in happiness at both an individual and a national level, but it is also important to consider other products of that economic success, such as life satisfaction, interpersonal relationships, and well-being. This course will guide students in discussion, self-reflection, and research about the science and economics of happiness. An important by-product of this course is to learn how to be happier and how to lead a more fulfilling and productive life.

Why do we ask people where they are from? MW 12:30 and 2:00

When we meet or learn about a new person or group, an initial question that we often want to know is, “Where are you from?” The answer to this question may impact our opinion of others. Combined with other observations or knowledge, we can come to the mistaken impression that we fully understand a given person or group. While this is true in some situations, in most cases, our knowledge of others is based on or influenced by many factors, including what we see, hear, and read. This semester we will examine how our bias and widely held cultural stereotypes shape how we view other people in both positive and negative ways.  

What in the World?! | Who would you be if you were not you? TR 9:30 and 12:30

Have you ever wanted to be another person? Most of us have, but our “dream” selves are often unique individuals, either historical or fictional. But as the old saying goes, to empathize with other people, you have to “walk a mile in their shoes.” In this course, you will gain greater cultural competence. This semester you will examine what it is like to live in another culture. Specifically, you will explore aspects of your life that are taken for granted but that are fundamental to defining who you are and your worldview such as cultural norms and traditions. Our primary motivation will be to make the strange familiar and the familiar strange.


Last Updated 6/10/19