Theme Description: Explores theoretical questions concerning the nature of the mind, knowledge, and mental phenomena. Examines the nature of knowledge, creativity, the concept of “truth,” as well as theories of the mind from biological, philosophical, anthropological, perceptual, social, developmental and experimental perspectives. Considers the social, cultural, theoretical, and political pressures that contribute to our understanding of the mind. 

Theme Coordinator:   Dr. Catherine Fountain



IDS 3260. Creativity: An Introduction (3). On Demand
An interdisciplinary and cross-cultural investigation of creativity as an individual, social, cultural, and natural phenomenon. Although often associated with artistry, creativity contributes to the development of all academic and professional disciplines and is an important component in non-academic culture and in individual life. The concept of creativity has deep roots in Western culture (going back at least to Augustine), and the cross disciplinary study of creativity has burgeoned in the United States since WWII. The class will explore: the history of the concept of creativity; creativity and self-fulfillment; psychological, anthropological, and sociological theories of creativity; practices claiming to enhance creativity; and case studies of creative individuals and creative breakthroughs.

FL 2050. Say What? Language in Mind and Society (3).F; S
An exploration of the issues surrounding human language and its relationship with thought, cognition and culture. Students will have the opportunity to learn how the sounds, structures and meanings of human languages are produced and interpreted, and will explore variation among world languages as well as the relationship among language, society, and culture. Different theoretical approaches to these issues will be explained. The course will also examine the interaction between language and mind and the neurological basis of human language, and will look at the application of linguistic principles in language learning and artificial intelligence.

PHL 1501. Everyday Philosophy: Historical and Social Perspectives (3). F;S
An introduction to special problems, topics, or issues in philosophy from historical and social perspectives. The subject matter of this course will vary. (CORE: HUMANITIES)

HIS 3923. The Truth in History and the Truth of History (3). On Demand
The primary goal of this course is to help students understand how historians determine the truth in history. The class will use the example of a specific historical event. Students will examine reasoned arguments about truth, relevant social theories necessary for understanding social processes, and primary and secondary sources about the event in question. The class will integrate these materials to explore how historians determine the truth in history and the truth of history.

PSY 1200. Psychology: Historical, Social, and Scientific Foundations (3). F;S
This course will focus on the biological and cognitive foundations of individual behavior, as well as the individual in the social context. Research on psychological phenomena will be reviewed to demonstrate the logic of the scientific method, to foster critical thinking, to identify potential shortcomings in interpretations of behavior (e.g., claims presented in the popular media), and to describe linkages to everyday experiences (e.g., aesthetic and perceptual judgments, improved studying, friendship and attraction, and development of political attitudes). Students will have the opportunity to learn how to use empirical data to draw sound conclusions about behavior. Finally, connections to other thematic areas of scholarly inquiry within other disciplines will be presented. (CORE: SOCIAL SCIENCES)


How These Courses Integrate into Theme:

Students in each course will explore the following topics: (1) conceptions of mind: personal identity (2) how the mind works: ignorance, knowledge and rationality, (3) perception: empirical knowledge, (4) culture, history, mind: interactions, (5) altered mind: modes of cognition, and (6) research methods: philosophical inquiry. Students will also examine the following questions: What is the nature of consciousness and how does it relate to our concept of humanity? Why do we distinguish between mind and brain, and what is the difference between the two? And what is the relationship between thought and language?