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 Spring 2019. Below each title there is a brief description of the course. First-year students who did not take or pass an Inquiry 100 course during the Fall 2018 semester must take it in Spring 2019.

Why do I hate what others love?

Have you ever asked yourself why
 you hate stuff that everybody else loves? Have you ever tried really
hard to enjoy what some people consider to be a “cool” band, only to fail miserably at it? Are you secretly ashamed of some things you really like or don’t like? In this Inquiry Seminar, students will explore the factors that shape our tastes in many areas such as music, books, movies, art, leisure time activities and food. We’ll discuss related issues—such as how what we love and hate defines us and others (as jocks, nerds, foodies, snobs, etc.). And, to boot, we will also learn how to become more understanding and tolerant of other people’s tastes.

Communicating from generation to generation: Do they really understand me?

When grandparents tell stories about their lives and express how they think about things, what can you learn? Grandparents communicate many things, but what do they say that you need to remember? These questions will be explored by investigating current research, interviewing grandparents, evaluating the conversations, and reflecting on values.

Pay to Play

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.

Why do we ask people where they are from?

Why do we ask people where they are from? To whom are we most likely to ask this question? By asking the question, are we trying to understand better who they are, find a connection with them, or make ourselves feel safe? What if you are being asked where you are from? Does it matter who is the person asking? In what context the question is asked? Or how it is asked? In a world well connected physically and virtually any moment and anywhere, asking questions like “where are you from?” is part of the first contact and has great impact on how communication will proceed from there. Shouldn’t we look into this experience and find out about its meaning?

 Where do you rank?

Who are the greatest running backs of all time? Who are the worst presidents in our nation’s history? Where are the best vacation resorts in the world? And who gets to decide? Rankings have the ability to influence our decisions and manipulate our actions. This course will prompt you to dive into various rankings to create meaningful debate, while allowing you to create your own, justifiable rankings of the people, places and events that make up our history and culture. You will be working “behind the scenes” to determine how valid rankings really are. Who knows? At the end of this course you might rank this as the greatest class at Clarion University.

Check your privilege at the door

Have your heard (or used) the idiom “blondes have more fun?” What about “lock up your daughters?” Do you walk to you 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.

What can pop culture teach us?

What can pop culture 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 pop culture can teach us about major issues and debates and in turn, how we can engage each other as informed citizens.

Last Updated 10/18/18