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 2020. Below each title there is a brief description of the course.  Course information can also be viewed on this flyer.

Bacteria - Friend or Foe? MW 3:00 (Course #1594)

Your body is composed of 10 times more bacterial cells than human cells. Are you interested in finding out why these microorganisms are integral to your very existence? On the other hand, how can bacteria help you while also making you sick enough to miss class? Bacteria are essential to all life’s processes but they are also responsible for the death of millions of people every year. In this inquiry seminar course you will use a variety of tools (including sampling your own bacteria!) to investigate the good, the bad, and the ugly in regards to the effects of bacteria on the human body.

Check your privilege TR 12:30 (Course #1589)

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 MWF 9:00 (Course #1561)

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’s right with being wrong? TR 8:00 and 9:30 (Course #1562 and 1563)

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.

Where's my face? MWF 11:00 and 1:00 (Course #1590 and 1591)

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?”

Where in the world will I find myself? MWF 10:00 (Course #2417)

This freshman Inquiry Seminar course focuses on critical thinking, inquiry, discussion, and writing as a means to investigate these questions: where can I travel on my journey of self-discovery? How would I plan for such a trip and negotiate the logistics of travel and daily living? And, once I have reached my destination, how do I communicate with others and behave in culturally appropriate ways? In this seminar, you will explore what it is like to live in another culture as you consider travel or study abroad. Through research, you will develop an awareness of how people live in other parts of the world and how this compares to your own culture and way of life.

Why Happy? TR 11:00 and 2:00 (Course #2415 and 2416)

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.

What difference does it make? TR 12:30 and 3:30 (Course #1592 and 1593)

Does it make a difference whether we say hello to the people we meet every day? bring our own coffee or buy a latte? pick up a piece of trash or walk on by? How have people like you and me made social changes, like those leading to a steep reduction in impaired driving? What could we do to make our university and communities stronger, better places to live and learn? We’ll take a look at what does (or doesn’t) work to make a positive difference in our lives, our university community, and our worlds.


Last Updated 11/4/19