Intro Level Core Courses

HON 1000, 1001, 1003 Interdisc I

MARK SHIFFMAN (Philosophy)
DAVID CREGAN (Literature/Fine Arts)
PAUL DANOVE (Theology)

MWF 9:30-11:20, 12:30-1:20

HON 1000-Shiffman

“Philosophia” is a Greek word meaning “love of wisdom.”  What is wisdom, and how can human beings attain it?  Is that even possible?  What are the things we really want to know?  What things do we need to know about before we can understand anything else?  What questions have we never thought to ask but really need to raise?  Above all, what is the best way to live a fully human and satisfying life?  These are the kinds of questions we will explore in this course, with the help and guidance of the philosophers of ancient Greece and Rome who wrote about their own explorations as a guide for other seekers of wisdom.  By examining texts of Plato, Aristotle, Lucretius, Epictetus, Plotinus and Augustine, students will learn attentive and inquisitive reading, the scope and depth of philosophical inquiry, and careful articulation of their own thoughts and questions in discussion and writing.

HON 1001-Cregan

This course will explore the timeless personal, social and political ideas indicative to Ancient Greek Drama. We will do script analysis of the plays using original translations and innovative contemporary adaptations. In addition, we will take the plays from page to stage through studio performance practices, with a special focus on ensemble work through the Greek Chorus. The course will integrate critical textual analysis with voice and movement. No performance experience necessary, just an open mind.  

HON 1003-Danove

The Theology/Religious Studies component of this course introduces the exegetical methods used to study the Gospels of Mark, Luke, and John, four Pauline Epistles (Philemon, 1 Thessalonians, Philippians, and Galatians), and the Letter of James and employs these methods to investigate the theological concerns of their authors.

Course Objectives:

1. To introduce the methods of source, textual, literary, redaction, and narrative analysis

2. To apply the methods of literary, redaction, and narrative analysis

3. To provide an exegetical survey of Mark, Luke, John, Philemon, 1 Thessalonians, Philippians, Galatians, and James

4. To develop an appreciation of the theological themes emphasized by the New Testament authors

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ACS 1000-H01 Ancients (VSB)

JOHN-PAUL SPIRO
MW 1:3O-2:45

This version of the Augustine and Culture Seminar is designed specifically for Honors students in the Villanova School of Business. All ACS courses pose the question: “Who Am I?” This is not a therapeutic quest for self-esteem so much as an inquiry into what it means to be human, a rigorous introduction to the lifelong practice of striving to know oneself and/with others, contemplating one’s place in the world, in history, and in the varied forms of the human community. Together we will work through Homer’s Iliad, sections of the Holy Bible (Genesis, Exodus, and the Gospel of Luke), Saint Augustine’s Confessions, and Dante’s Inferno, along with excerpts from Plutarch’s Lives, Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, and the Qur’an. These works will serve as models of the pursuit of (self-)knowledge, a pursuit often expressed as the individual’s and the community’s process of understanding their bond with the divine and the transcendent. Meditating on these works and their implications can be astonishing for those of us who are accustomed to thinking of themselves purely in terms of family, friendship, and market-relations.

We will also develop our reading, writing, and conversational skills.

Restricted to Honors students in the School of Business.

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ACS 1000-H02 Ancients (VSB)

KARL HEFTY
MW 1:30-2:45

This ACS seminar is designed for Honors students in the Villanova School of Business. The guiding question of our semester is Augustine’s own: “Who am I, and what am I?” We will investigate together what it means to be human, not merely as an academic exercise, but in order to understand ourselves better as people and as members of our communities, whether familial, social, or religious. Together, we will read Homer’s Iliad, sections of the Holy Bible (Genesis, Exodus, and the Gospel of Luke), Saint Augustine’s Confessions, and Dante’s Inferno, along with excerpts from Plutarch’s Lives, Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, and the Qur’an. Each of these texts has something important to teach us about our own search for self-understanding, and about what makes life meaningful. You may be surprised to find yourself transformed in the process—and, in turn, your ideas about work and leisure, friendship and solitude, humanity and God, your present and your future. Vibrant seminar discussions will also prepare you to think critically, to read closely and carefully, and to write and speak persuasively.  

Restricted to Honors students in the School of Business.

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ACS 1000-H03 Ancients

TIMOTHY HORNER
TR 1:00-2:15

Augustine and Culture seminar based principally on texts and readings drawn from primary sources up to 1650. Extensive written work and seminar discussions. Required readings: Hebrew and Christian scriptures, selections from the works of Augustine, Greek and Renaissance works. Readings from different genres and disciplines. Themes developed by the instructor in accordance with the selected readings.

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ACS 1000-H04 Ancients

MICHAEL THOMPSON
MWF 9:30-10:20

The purpose of this course is to introduce the student to the intellectual life and spiritual values found within the traditions of the western humanities. The essential question posed by the humanities is “What does it mean to be human?” The central question posed by this ACS honors seminar is “Who am I?”  In many ways there is no viable and plausible response for the former without resolving the latter. In New & Collected Poems 2001, the poet Czeslaw Milosz claims that the purpose of poetry is to remind us how difficult it is to remain just one person.   We will attempt to address the concept of “person” and “Who Am I” through reading, studying and discussing some of the central works of the Western humanities tradition. We will be guided in our task by the insights of the Christian theologian and philosopher St. Augustine of Hippo. St. Augustine claims that you are confronted with the choice of becoming whoever you are to be. This choice can be ignored but its consequences cannot be avoided. The focus of our seminar’s presentations will concern interpretations of the nature and meaning of this choice. Choosing who you are concerns relationships between the development of individual identity, truth, and the influences of those factors which you cannot easily change, or not at all, in your life, such as codes of expected behavior, the implications of transgression and the force of contextual circumstances.

We will use the concepts of tragedy, transgression, resistance and what is thought to be “natural” to differentiate the classical Greek and Roman beliefs concerning human nature from those of the monotheistic traditions of Judaism, and Christianity. We will trace the concepts of individual motives and honor in Homer’s Iliad (excerpts) and Sophocles’ Antigone. We will evaluate the peculiar transgressive individuality of Socrates in Plato’s Apology. We will address the Roman interpretation of human nature through the poetic vision of Virgil’s Aeneid, (excerpts). We will find in the Torah’s Genesis and the New Testaments Gospels of Mark and Matthew and St. Augustine’s Confessions that transgression equates with sin which is the product of real choices and  conceptually quite  different from the Greek/Roman notions of tragic destiny. Each ancient tradition has articulated different interpretations for human identity, honorable behavior, tragedy and transgression. We will analyze a range of these concepts within the contexts of these intensely quarrelsome, competitive and brutal life-worlds of pre modernity. We will emphasize the implications of these concepts from both the Augustinian perspective and contemporary application. We will read the great medieval classic Dante’s Inferno, and finish the semester with the proto- modern preamble Prince by Machiavelli. If we have time we will address some central issues within the Qur’an plus the commentary from Sayid Q’utb’s, In the Shade of Qur’an, a major modern intellectual inspiration for the Jihadist Muslim Brotherhood, al Qaeda and the Islamic State.

The format for our seminar will be, primarily, student commentary, with discussion of texts and assigned questions. I will lecture.

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ACS 1000-H05 Ancients

CATHERINE STAPLES
TR 8:30-9:45

Close reading and discussion of selected texts from the time of Homer through the English Renaissance. In this seminar, you will learn to read closely and with care. Weekly journals, free-writing, and “mark-ups” of the texts will help you to find and refine your own critical, and often creative, responses to the reading. Writing will be intensive, with emphasis on revision and on the discovery of a process which works best for you as an individual writer. As many of the works we study have oral origins, we’ll begin with a close look at a tale that’s come down to us through purely oral channels, weighing memory, imagination, and cultural intention. Our readings will be close and full good inquiries. Whether we are contemplating Achilles rage, the spiritual journeys of Augustine and Dante, or the “unstable fictions of gender” in Shakespeare—we will explore the impact of narrative choices, imagery, word choice, and tone. Plan on lively discussion and active daily participation. Course texts will include Homer’s Iliad or Odyssey, Augustine’s Confessions, Dante’s Inferno, Pizan’s Book of the City of Ladies, and Shakespeare’s As You Like It, as well as poetry by Sappho, Erinna, Alkaios, and Simonides. The class will include a trip to the Philadelphia Museum of Art as well as a movie night.

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ACS 1000-H06 Ancients (Good Course)

MARY HIRSCHFELD
MWF 11:30-12:20

The question of the good is implied in the questions “How should I live?” and “How should my society be ordered?”  Thus “The Good” course revolves around questions in Political Philosophy and Ethics.  Since it addresses foundational questions, “The Good” course is a fitting introduction to the learning cohort sequence on transcendental grounding principles.  Readings include selections from Aristotle, Plutarch, Augustine, Aquinas, Thomas Hobbes and Leo Tolstoy.  Co-curricular activities such as trips and combined learning cohort lectures are also a part of this course.

Restricted to students in the Global Scholars Humanities or Good True Beautiful cohorts.

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ACS 1000-H07 Ancients (Good Course)

MARK SHIFFMAN
MWF 11:30-12:20

The question of the good is implied in the questions “How should I live?” and “How should my society be ordered?”  Thus “The Good” course revolves around questions in Political Philosophy and Ethics.  Since it addresses foundational questions, “The Good” course is a fitting introduction to the learning cohort sequence on transcendental grounding principles.  Readings include selections from Aristotle, Plutarch, Augustine, Aquinas, Thomas Hobbes and Leo Tolstoy.  Co-curricular activities such as trips and combined learning cohort lectures are also a part of this course.

Restricted to students in the Global Scholars Humanities or Good True Beautiful cohorts.

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ACS 1000-H08 Ancients (Good Course)

FRANCIS CAPONI
MWF 11:30-12:20

The question of the good is implied in the questions “How should I live?” and “How should my society be ordered?”  Thus “The Good” course revolves around questions in Political Philosophy and Ethics.  Since it addresses foundational questions, “The Good” course is a fitting introduction to the learning cohort sequence on transcendental grounding principles.  Readings include selections from Aristotle, Plutarch, Augustine, Aquinas, Thomas Hobbes and Leo Tolstoy.  Co-curricular activities such as trips and combined learning cohort lectures are also a part of this course.

Restricted to students in the Global Scholars Humanities or Good True Beautiful cohorts.

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HIS 1150-H01 The British Empire

ELIZABETH KOLSKY
TR 10:00-11:15

This course introduces students to the history of the British Empire. At its height, Britain controlled more than half a billion people, one quarter of the earth’s land mass, and was the undisputed master of the seas. With a colony on every continent, Britain’s dominion was so vast that as the saying went, the sun never set on it. This semester we will simultaneously explore Britain’s colonial past and ask questions about how we know what we know about history. We begin by examining the expansion of British power in Ireland and the Americas and follow its growth across Asia and Africa. Emphasis in the course will be placed on: how and why Britain acquired such an enormous global empire; the effects of British colonial rule on the people and places who lived under it; the varied responses of colonized people to foreign domination; and the legacies of empire today.

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PHI 1000-H01 Knowledge Reality Self

WALTER BROGAN
TR 11:30-12:45

In this course, we will study some of the great authors of the history of philosophy in the West: Plato, Aquinas, Descartes, Locke, Marx, and Freud.  Among the philosophical questions we will address will be: what it means to be real; what are the foundations of just law and the basic principles of morality; how do we know we know; can we prove the existence of God and can we understand God’s being? What does it mean to be a person? Since it is a core course, we will focus on developing an understanding of the methods and aims of philosophical thinking. A basic question we will ask is, "What does it mean to be political and rational beings?  What is the ideal community for human beings? The class will encourage sharing ideas and insights and will strive to raise critical questions that allow each of us to seriously confront the texts and ideas we encounter.  Our goal will be to enhance our writing and conversation skills in an academic setting where we discuss together salient philosophical ideas.

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PHI 1000-H02 Knowledge Reality Self

JOHN DOODY
MWF 11:30-12:20

Philosophical responses to the questions of how we can know, what is real, and what is the nature of human existence that explore the dialogue between Catholic, Christian, secular and skeptical perspectives on these questions.

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PHI 1000-H03 Knowledge Reality Self

ANNIKA THIEM
MW 1:30-2:45

Drawing on texts from the history of philosophy, this course will introduce the discipline of philosophy through some of its traditional questions about knowledge and reality and the relationship of these issues to how we orient ourselves in the world. Some of the questions that will guide us in this course are: Where does knowledge come from? By what criteria can we distinguish knowledge from, for example, opinion? What roles do logic and reasoning play in forming knowledge? How do our ways of knowing bear on our sense of reality and our experience of ourselves?

We will not try to settle what the “correct answers” to these questions are. Rather, our goal in this course will be to understand how different thinkers have tarried with these questions and we will examine the consequences of different ways of approaching these questions. As we attend to ancient, Christian, Enlightenment, and modern philosophical approaches, we will see how different ways of thinking about knowledge and reality delineate different ways of relating to the world, others, ourselves, and God.

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PHI 1000-H04 Knowledge Reality Self

JULIE KLEIN
TR 1:00-2:15

Philosophers have spilled much ink defining what makes us human, and how our souls or minds are related to our bodies.  For example, is the mind different from the brain?  Do we think the way we do because we have a particular neuro-anatomy?  Our culture is full of expressions like “mind over matter,” but what do we really mean?  Topics for our class include the nature of the mind or soul and the nature of body; ideas about knowledge and consciousness; how to think about what some have called the human or rational animal in relation to other animals; and how we are or inhabit our own bodies.  We’ll work with classic texts in the history of philosophy and contemporary reflections.  Philosophers work in many different literary genres.  We will read dialogues, treatises, essays, letters, memoirs, and fiction. We’ll also watch some films together.  Throughout the course, we will rely on seminar discussion to figure things out together.

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PHI 1000-H05 Knowledge Reality Self

GABRIEL ROCKHILL
TR 10:00-11:15

Drawing on an array of texts that surpass the standard ‘Western’ canon, this course will grapple with some of the most expansive and intimidating philosophic questions: What is the meaning of life? What is the nature of reality? Who are we? What—if anything—can we know? What is philosophy itself, and how might it help to elucidate some of these questions? In each case, we will approach these issues from multiple and diverse perspectives, often reframing or displacing them in order to reveal hidden philosophic assumptions.

Rather than seeking to find definitive closure or unanimous consensus, this seminar will cultivate a process of open-ended collective inquiry in which students will be encouraged to think autonomously and challenge facile solutions. The material covered will include ancient, Christian, modern and contemporary sources, as well as texts from beyond the canonized—and largely white, male, European—history of philosophy. This will allow us to critically reflect on the deep-seated presuppositions of particular cultural traditions, while engaging with radically different practices of philosophic interrogation. Students should come away from the course with an expanded sense of theoretical possibilities, as well as an arsenal of critical tools for developing creative and rigorous thinking.

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PSC 1100-H01 American Government

MATTHEW KERBEL
TR 10:00-11:15

This foundational political science course explores the structures and functions of American government so that we might understand the relationship between politics and policy, and how the theoretical basis of the American political system matches up against the way the process works in practice.  Our overarching question will be whether and why we should care about American democracy and invest in making it work.  We will begin our exploration by examining the Constitution, federalism, and other defining "ground rules" of the American political system, and consider how we become political creatures, how our opinions may or may not resonate in the political process, and how we are connected to that process through such institutions as the mass media, political parties, elections, and interest groups.  We will then consider the primary institutions of American government — Congress, the presidency, the executive branch, and the Courts — and how effectively they produce domestic and foreign policy while protecting our rights and liberties.  We will read a mix of primary and secondary source materials, popular items from newspapers, blogs and social media, and an interactive textbook published by the instructor.  Coursework will include a mix of objective assessments and original writing.

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PSC 1200-H01 International Relations

LANCE KENNEY
TR 11:30-12:45

This course is an introduction to the study of international relations (IR), a distinct academic discipline that involves elements of political science, history, economics, sociology, and philosophy. The aim is to present the key concepts, theories, and paradigms that shape and influence world politics. Simply reporting on contemporary international events is NOT the goal: evaluating and critically assessing those events IS the goal.

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PSY 1000-H01 General Psychology

REBECCA BRAND
TR 2:30-3:45

Introductory examination of the fundamental concepts of psychology, with particular emphasis on the description of normal human behavior and those factors that underlie it.  Students will read and discuss primary source articles in addition to text material.

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SOC 1000-H01 Intro Sociology

RICK ECKSTEIN
TR 8:30-9:45

This course will develop a sociological imagination for understanding human behavior.  This is related to but not synonymous with learning about the discipline of sociology (what professional sociologists do) or about the vocabulary of sociology (a secret language).  Instead, we will cultivate a structural, systematic, and, critical perspective for understanding how people both shape and are shaped by the larger world around them.

This course is for first-year students only. A second-semester companion course (also fulfills Core requirement) is strongly recommended.

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THL 1000-H01 Faith Reason and Culture

CHRISTOPHER BARNETT
TR 4:00-5:15

Researchers at MIT recently hailed Jesus of Nazareth as the most influential person in the history of the world, and Christianity stands as one of the major forces behind the development of Western culture. At the same time, however, religious faith is increasingly under attack, and some persons are claiming that atheism has won “the culture war.” How can we make sense of such a situation? This course will aim to do so in three main ways. First, under the rubric of “Culture,” it will survey the contemporary social and religious landscape, focusing on the rise of atheism in modernity and on how Christians have sought to address it. Second, with regard to “Reason,” it will explore what may be the greatest question to confront the human mind: does God exist? Finally, with an eye to “Faith,” it will examine the origin and nature of what Christians believe about God. The upshot, it is hoped, will be a course that will not only equip students to better understand the core teachings of Christianity, but also will help them to situate those teachings in the context of humanity’s perpetual interest in, and questioning of, the possibility of transcendence.

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THL 1000-H02 Faith Reason and Culture

RACHEL SMITH
TR 2:30-3:45

This course offers an introduction to the history of Christianity through a careful reading of primary texts from the Eastern and Western traditions. Throughout the semester, we will explore how certain beliefs, doctrines, and practices emerged, changed over time, and interacted with the dominant cultures in which they were situated. We will read texts from a variety of genres—including saints’ lives, mystical writings, sermons, systematic treatises, poetry, and contemporary spiritual memoirs. We will also examine practices of devotion and piety, including pilgrimage, prayer, meditation, and fasting, in order to consider the dynamic relationship between belief and practice, high ideals and the complicated realities of everyday life.

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THL 1000-H03 Faith Reason and Culture

GREGORY GRIMES
MWF 10:30-11:20

This course will examine and discuss the role Christianity, and more specifically Catholicism, has to play in politics or the public sphere. This will be explored through several different but related topics.

1) What clues are present in Scripture for thinking about political engagement: how do the Gospels portray Jesus, what was his fundamental message, and how did he see himself in terms of the political atmosphere of his time? And further, how is this interpreted by early Christians in Scripture, especially in Acts and Paul?

2) How do ancient and mediaeval theologians, especially Augustine and Thomas Aquinas, discern the role Christianity is to have in relation to governing political bodies and legal codes?

3) Important trends in late mediaeval and early modern theology also had a striking role to play in the development of the modern nation state and our current political economic structures. We will examine and discuss the most striking features of these, especially in relation to how they affect political structures today.

4) How does the question of the rationality of faith, and the nature of the relationship between faith and reason, affect the role of religion in politics and the public sphere today? How is reason/rationality thought of today, and is this adequate? Is there a reasonable quality about faith? Do all schools of thought, even science, rely on some element of ‘faith’? How is reason itself challenged and thought of differently today? How can a more robust understanding of both faith and reason, and their relationship, help Christianity to have a more positive impact in contemporary society and culture?

5) Throughout the course we will return specifically to how economics and ‘the market’ affect society and the capacity for social change. Does Christianity offer helpful insights for transformation toward a more just political economy that challenge principles that are often simply accepted as unavoidable or advantageous, but socially destructive and unjust? What might alternatives look like? We will explore relevant aspects of Catholic social teaching and analyse one particular alternative, frequently referred to as ‘distributism’.  

In the end we will tie these threads together by examining the question: might politics benefit from responsible citizens engaging politically as knowledgeable Christians/Catholics, rather than having to translate the political convictions stemming from their tradition into some ‘neutral’, secular discourse?

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THL 1000-H04 Faith Reason and Culture

BERNARD PRUSAK
MW 3:00-4:15

The message of Christianity must be (and always has been) thought out within the bounds of interpretative models that reflect and are linked to the horizon of human experience. In that regard, this section of the course will presuppose and be in dialogue with the scientific understanding of an evolving universe, a process of some 13.8 billion years.  Intelligence or reason—as embodied in science and culture—engaged in a dialogue with faith can mutually challenge and enrich our human creativity, freedom, self-mastery, and solidarity. The course will focus on the Christian understanding of God, Creation as an ongoing relationship, God's relation with humans, human freedom and "sin," the problem of suffering, Jesus as God become fully human, and the community coming from Jesus. It will provide an overview of contemporary biblical methodology, with a reading of selected passages from the Hebrew and the Christian Scriptures.

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