Freshman Inquiry: Ways of Knowing
How do artists, scientists, writers, social scientists know and also shape their knowledge of the world? This course explores the foundational questions in three major areas of academic inquiry: the humanities, the social sciences and the natural sciences. Each quarter will closely examine the ways in which people create knowledge in these areas and the ways that "disciplines" shape the questions we ask. There will be a particular emphasis on the investigative methods used in these three areas and the ways that these methodologies animate the subjects in question. Students in this course will travel the year together but work with three different faculty members, each of whom represents a particular area of disciplinary expertise. This is a rotational course, students in different sections will take the introductions in different sequences. However, faculty will collaborate across the three quarters to ensure that readings and discussions are connected. Additionally, faculty will collaborate on developmental goals of freshman inquiry: particularly writing and numeracy in order to assure that students experience of the assignments are both progressive and integrated.
Joel Bettridge draws on his background in poetry and philosophy to help students develop their critical thinking and writing skills. Professor Bettridge received his BA from Emory University and his PhD from the State University of New York at Buffalo. A poet and a critic, his interests include American literature, the Modernist tradition and its legacy, contemporary poetry and poetics, and post-secular thought.
Evguenia Davidova is a European historian who specializes in the 19th century, "It took me a while to realize that I like making drastic changes in my life. I have been deciphering 19th-century manuscripts in various archives for a very long time, an exciting effort in challenging my eyes and brains that led to a Ph.D. in history. I also worked on a project 'History of Roma/Gypsies in Eastern Europe' and, like these nomads, have traveled a lot. My imaginary travels into the past and my curiosity about the future influenced my decision to leave my native country Bulgaria and to move to the USA. Hence it is not a coincidence that my current research interests focus on travel literature. In my spare time I enjoy reading books, listening to music, and watching movies."
Ben Perkins is a geologist, environmental scientist, and outdoor enthusiast. His primary research interest is exploring how geology and human activities control the occurrence of problematic trace elements such as arsenic and chromium in surface and ground waters. Ben holds a BS and MS in geology and received his Ph.D. in environmental sciences and resources from Portland State University. He has taught geology courses at Portland State University, Portland Community College, and Washington State University. He worked for eight years as a professional environmental consultant, much of that time in the Willamette Valley. Most recently, he was a postdoctoral fellow with the U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park, California. His wife has a Ph.D. in biochemistry. They both enjoy hiking and camping, gardening, cooking, music, and travel.
John Smyth was educated at Cambridge and Yale Universities, and received his Ph.D in English at the University of Pennsylvania in 1982. He taught in the Division of Literature & Languages at Bennington College from 1981-93, and was Chair of English at Northeast Louisiana University from 1995-98 and PSU from 1998-2003. He is the author of A Question of Eros (1986) and The Habit of Lying (2002). Current work includes "Economics and Liquidity in John Maynard Keynes and Italo Svevo;" and he is working with a colleague at the University of Arizona on a new book concerning social theory, laughter, and deception.