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Integrative Capstone Seminar

Students with junior status who have completed all Tier I and Tier II core curriculum course requirements will take the Integrative Capstone Seminar.  

For the Spring 2024 semester, students can choose from Integrative Capstone Seminar topics such as:

Cantatas and Coffee: This course is on communication, using music and a challenge to convey our thoughts, ideas, and beliefs more effectively. This course will look at the cantatas as a model for perfection in musical art from the 18th century and how the music expresses balance, rhythmic patterns, emphasis of motives, unity, and variety, as well as principals of morality, ethics, spirituality, and meditation. These masterpieces are worthy of study, not just by and for a music student, but especially for the liberal arts student who is interested in what is at the center of the power of music. The course will also consider the history and socialization of coffee, including varieties, blends, brewing techniques, free trade use and the effects of coffee in everyday consumption.

Feminism and Theatre: Presents a detailed study of theatrical works written by women within the context of feminist theory. Examines how feminism has shaped theatre and investigates connections to the past and present. Our explorations will lead to discussions highlighting identity and the situated nature of knowledge creation. Discussions will cover key topics such as the lost theatrical traditions of women, challenges of representation, the complex definitions of various types of feminisms, and lessons of intersectionality. By means of advanced work in analysis, interpretation, and research, this course engages challenges faced by women in mainstream theatre and presents possibilities for dismantling patriarchal institutions and misogyny through feminist interventions in the field.

Practicing Justice: This course facilitates students’ theoretical and experiential exploration of social justice as both a process and an outcome. Drawing on literature from multiple academic disciplines (including but not limited to Social Work, Sociology, and Social Justice Education), students will integrate concepts of oppression, liberation, and justice into their understanding of the academic and professional fields of interest to them. Students will conduct critical analyses of their chosen fields, engage in independent research on justice practitioners in those fields, and participate in collective and individual reflection on how their own social identities might impact their practice of social justice both now and in the future.

Honors: Sex and Violence This course is an interdisciplinary core capstone honors seminar that invites students to identify a topic related to the themes of sex and violence, and to engage in an extensive process of research and writing about your topic of choice.  We will engage in readings in the general areas of psychoanalysis, feminism, queer theory, and critical race theory to help frame our inquiries.  We will be dedicating a great deal of time to supporting each other’s research processes, including by critiquing and editing each other’s writing.  Note: As with all Honors courses, both non-honors and honors students can register for this course.

Capstone topics offered in other recent semesters include:

Ethical Issues in Healthcare: This course is intended to serve as a broad introduction to the field of bioethics. The course examines the moral traditions and ethical principles relevant to life, and their application in present-day clinical care and biomedical research. The course introduces students to the historical, theoretical, and thematic dimensions of medical ethics. The course focuses on main ethical terms and concepts, as well as decision-making procedures that students can use to discern and defend moral courses of action in healthcare.

Representation of the Other: Visual Analysis and Literacy (Art History Topic): In Culture and Imperialism, Edward Said argues that even though direct colonialism has largely ended, imperialism lingers in a cultural sphere as well as in specific political, ideological, economic, and social practice. He further contends that literature from the West makes constant references to itself as somehow participating in Europe’s overseas expansion, and therefore creates “structures of feeling” that support, elaborate, and consolidate the practice of empire. Said’s argument sharply resonates with many other writers who consider art as a site that reflects, articulates, and reproduces power. Engaging with works by writers such as Carol Duncan, Griselda Pollock, Rey Chow, and Simone Brown, this course examines the ways in which the Other has been depicted and represented in modern and contemporary art and visual culture in the US. How do politics of race, gender, and class visually unfold in art? How can we study artworks while avoiding the reproduction of a colonial gaze? How does one navigate the politics of formulating and rendering history, while consciously acknowledging one’s position as an in/outsider? In short, how can we ethically and responsibly study the Other?

Indigenous America: This course provides a broad introduction to the history of Native people in America from before European contact to the present day. In it, we will explore the diverse and complex Indigenous societies that populated North America prior to European arrival as well as how contact and colonization impacted those societies. Through the lenses of slavery, diplomacy, economics, violence, race and gender, students will assess how the dynamics of Native-settler relations helped forge the United States into a modern nation. Furthermore, students will interrogate the processes of dispossession and resistance that not only comprised the Indigenous-American historical experience, but continue to shape the most pressing issues among Native communities today. By the end of the course students should be able to think critically and communicate intelligently about questions related to colonialism, sovereignty, Indigeneity, cultural representation and cultural appropriation. 

Communicating Across Cultures:  In our globalized world, the ability to successfully communicate information is an invaluable skill in the business, medical, education, and other fields. This course is designed to help students study, develop, refine, and practice interpersonal and intercultural communication skills across differences between—and among—cultures.

Economics of Poverty and Discrimination: Employs economic and social reasoning to investigate the causes of discrimination and poverty in the United States and to a lesser extent elsewhere in the world. Attempts to answer questions such as: How is poverty defined? What are the dimensions of poverty? Why are some people poor and not others? Course material on discrimination focuses on the root causes of discrimination and evaluates the amount and extent of discrimination in the labor and housing markets.

The Changing North American Landscape: The technological conveniences and material prosperity that we enjoy in the 21st century United States is largely a product of how people have used the abundant natural resources of this continent. Examine one central question - how do people influence the environment and how does the environment influence people?

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Service Leadership: Learning will “come alive” as students explore elements of leadership, civic participation, and effective teamwork by actively choosing, coordinating, and facilitating a service project of their choosing. In this hands-on community-based learning course, students will examine and experience the intersection between leadership and civic involvement, including in the context of the college experience. The class will explore the term leadership and identify the many ways we impact others and our community.  Critical elements of the course will include active participation in the service project both in and out of class, discussion, and reflection.  Students will acquire skills and knowledge that are transferable and can be applied to all aspects of their lives. The MCLA Food Pantry, campus mural, community service programs, and other successful MCLA events and initiatives were designed and created from this course. 


Integrative Capstone Seminar

Courses designated as Capstone will meet all of the overall Integrative Core Curriculum Student Learning Outcome Goals as noted in all specified ways enumerated below.

Goal: MCLA’s graduates are effective communicators who utilize multiple forms of expression to participate in our global community.

  1. Communicate effectively in different contexts, making clear the interdependence of language, thought, and expression.
  2. Locate and use high quality, credible, relevant sources from diverse perspectives to appropriately defend positions.

Goal: MCLA’S graduates engage in analytical inquiry to address complex problems.

  1. Synthesize information to construct a clear and insightful problem statement.
  2. Apply the most appropriate approach(es) to solve problems.
  3. Draw conclusions by combining examples, facts, or theories from more than one field of study or perspective.

Goal: MCLA’s graduates are active, engaged, and ethical individuals.

  1. Make explicit connections to previous learning and apply their knowledge and skills to demonstrate comprehension and performance in novel situations.
  2. Reflect on their contributions to their communities.
  3. Reflect on the complexity of their own and others' identities in relation to the course topic or problem.