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Freshman Inquiry: Human/Nature

The human animal is considered to be both a part of and yet distinct from nature. This relationship between our human selves and the natural world we inhabit is complicated and perplexing. This theme explores the complex connections between humans and nature. In what ways are we humans "natural"? Is there such a thing as human nature, and if so, what is it? How are we related to nature and our larger natural surrounds? How have we described and represented nature to ourselves? How have humans over the course of time understood and interacted with the natural world? How have our understandings of nature changed? Do humans have unique responsibilities toward the natural world and if so, what are they? Over the course of the year we will attempt to answer these questions, drawing on the resources of the social and biological sciences, history, literature and the arts.

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Becky Boesch has taught in University Studies since its inception in 1993 and has a wide range of experience teaching in Freshman Inquiry, Sophomore Inquiry and Transfer Transition. Her disciplinary background encompasses American and English literature, applied linguistics, and postsecondary education with a specific focus on immigrant literature and issues surrounding immigration and immigrants in higher education. Becky grew up in South Dakota and is herself a child of an immigrant. She also has a strong environmental ethic and during her free time, she can be found hiking, camping, wildlife viewing and gardening.

Michele Gamburd

Alan MacCormack has been with the University Studies Program since 1999. He is a zoologist and ecologist with a doctoral degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an undergraduate degree from Antioch College. Alan has worked with pesticide pollution, the social behavior of wasps, bird migration, and biological rhythms. Current interests include evolutionary theory, science education and the philosophy of science. He is happy to discuss almost anything other than golf and reality shows.

Anmarie Trimble is editor of Born Magazine ( ), an experimental online publication that features collaborations between writers and multimedia artists. She's particularly interested in the impact of multimedia on the literary arts, and she has lectured extensively on this subject for technology and literary audiences. This intersection between technology and writing stems from a life-long passion for science that influences her poetry. Her poetry has appeared in Black Warrior Review and Field: Contemporary Poetry and Poetics, and other publications. She has also worked in the Web industry as an editor and researcher, developing web sites and kiosks for Experience Music Project, National Geographic, Discovery Channel, PBS, and others. When she's not gardening, hiking in the woods, or making music, she dreams of being official poet to the first manned mission to Mars.

Tony Wolk is a professor in the English Department. He has also done stints in the Freshman Inquiry program since its inception: specifically with "Embracing Einstein's Universe," "The Cyborg Millennium," and most recently, "Human/Nature." In the English Department he teaches writing classes, and also courses on Shakespeare, Dante, Philip K. Dick, Jorge Luis Borges, and Italo Calvino. Ooligan Press of Portland State has published his series of novels which center on Abraham Lincoln's scarcely known brief visit to Evanston, Illinois, in 1955. "Abraham Lincoln, a Novel Life" is the first of these novels. When Wolk served on the Oregon Lincoln Bicentennial Commission (2008-2010) he described himself as "the false historian."