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Do something BIG with your education. 


First Year Experience “Big History” is an innovative one-year program that provides freshmen at Dominican University with a common intellectual experience while preparing them to be thoughtful global citizens in the twenty-first century. The first semester is devoted entirely to Big History, defined by Christian, Brown, and Benjamin as “a modern, scientific creation story…based on the best findings of modern science…a history that includes all human societies, and places their histories within the larger histories of the earth and the Universe as a whole” (2010). The second semester provides a reiteration of the larger concepts and patterns of Big History through the lens of a discipline.

Semester 1

FYE 1000 Big History: Nature and Culture from the Big Bang to the Present (3 units)
In Big History we take an immense voyage through time. We witness the first moments of our universe, the birth of stars and planets; we watch as life forms on earth, grows and develops in complexity, until human consciousness dawns. We then trace the evolution of human cultures through geography, migration patterns, and social structures, until we finally peer over the threshold of the present into possible futures for us and for our planet.

HONORS FYE 2000 Big History: Nature and Culture from the Big Bang to the Present (3 units)
This course describes the first moments of our universe, the birth of stars and planets, the formation and evolution of life on earth, the origins of humanity, the evolution of human culture to the present, and goes further by theorizing about potential futures for us and for our planet. The class discussions will be enriched by including the works of notable scholars from a diverse array of humanities and scientific disciplines.

Semester 2

FYE 1100 Visual Art through the Lens of Big History (3 units)
This course offers a lively introduction to the visual arts through their fundamental importance in representing and communicating the Universe Story. It studies the significant and creative roles the visual arts play in humanity's ongoing attempt to find meaning within an ever-changing world. The wide-ranging material is especially geared to the development of skills in Visual Literacy that are so critical and necessary today. Through appreciation, analysis, and interpretation of visual data, the course approaches the materials via: a) studying how the visual arts narrate the unfolding cultural evolutionary epic; b) examining how visual materials may be used in diverse cultures; c) investigating ways in which visual evidence can be interpreted.

FYE 1210 Human Cultures through the Lens of Big History (3 units)
This course will trace the development of human cultures from the beginning of time to the near future, including factors that influence the development of human cultures, such as evolutionary biology, diverse geographical regions and natural environments, migration patterns, human economies and technologies, and the diversity of human social values and lifestyles. Additionally, this course will examine the impact of culture on human behavior, including the creation of symbolic consciousness evident in various origin stories, myths and rituals, language and writing.

FYE 1220 Power and Politics through the Lens of Big History (3 units)
This course will trace the development of power and politics from the beginning of time to the near future, first through the lens of evolutionary biology, and then by comparing and contrasting the power relations of egalitarian communal or tribal societies of ancient times with hierarchical political systems of modern times. Other major topics of this course includes an analysis of war and peace, or violence and non-violence, throughout human history, as well as the human battle over natural resources which is at the core of all political systems.

FYE 1310 Mythology through the lens of Big History (3 units)
Comparative readings of selections from world mythologies are used to re-examine the Big History narrative as told in traditional myths, looking both at the content of the myths themselves, and at the anthropological and historical sources of the myths. Questions considered include how and why myths widely separated by time and geography can be so similar to each other, what value myths still retain in the modern world, and how mythology can both shape and express our world view. 

FYE 1320 Big Literature through the Lens of Big History (3 units)
Are we hurtling toward apocalypse or utopia? Many of the scientific discoveries of the Big History narrative unfolded in the last century, and literary authors were there to predict or respond to the news with dread or optimism. How do the uniquely human arts of reading and writing contribute to our ability to interpret the primordial soup of our origins, and understand our individual role in the cosmos? Revisit key concepts within the thresholds of Big History through engagement with the literature of meaning and despair. Consider how great works of literature support us in our desire to make meaning in a complex universe.

FYE 1330 Myth and Ritual through the Lens of Big History (3 units)
What are the stories that shape us?  The reading, discussion, and performance of myths and rituals from diverse cultures of the world– from early human to contemporary mythologies– shed light on the implications of the Big History narrative as humankind imagines the origins of the universe, seeks understanding of the present, and attempts to shape the future.

FYE 1400 Trade through the Lens of Big History (3 units)
Beginning with hunter/gatherers and continuing to the present, this course takes an interdisciplinary look at issues like wealth creation, how societies manage excess wealth, organization of labor, environmental impacts of business activity, marketing, the increasing complexity of business forms and trade relationships, and the role of the consumer.

FYE 1510 Philosophy through the Lens of Big History: Humanity’s Quest for Meaning (3 units)
This course explores the developments in human cognitive and cultural evolution that led to the dawn of philosophy in the first millennium BCE. Students will study an array of global wisdom traditions, from pre-agrarian endeavors to explain the cosmos to contemporary responses to increasing complexity and future challenges.

FYE 1520 Religion through the Lens of Big History: Homo sapiens and the Religious Experience (3 units)
Throughout the history of humankind, Homo sapiens have developed complex systems of beliefs, doctrines and theologies; rituals and liturgical practices; and religious institutions to make sense of the world around them. This course delves more deeply into four time periods—the Paleolithic Era, the Agrarian Era, the Industrial Era, and the near future—to explore how religious responses to each of these epochs has consistently and continuously enabled individuals to ponder their place in the universe.

FYE 1600 Sex and Gender through the Lens of Big History (3 units) 
This course retells the story of Big History from the perspective of sex and gender. We investigate how the major turning points in this narrative—the advent of biological sexual reproduction, of hunter-gatherers, of the agricultural age, of the industrial revolution and of current social structures— have shaped our understanding of sex and gender. Conversely, we also examine how sex and gender shape our understanding of culture.

FYE 1700 Music through the Lens of Big History (3 units)
“How does music represent and interpret the Big History Narrative?” is the fundamental question that we will consider during our study. We will explore the physical nature of sound and consider the dialects of music occurring within history and cultures. We will hone our listening skills, study forms of music, musical instruments (including the voice) and, at least to a small degree, create and make music.

FYE 1800 Health and Healing through the Lens of Big History (3 units)
In this course we will explore the concepts of health and healing through the eight thresholds of Big History, with topics including a) death and life; b) the changing health and healing of the earth, organisms, and communities; c) the role of health and healing in evolution; d) disease in humankind; and e) cultural diversity related to health and healing through time. Ultimately, we will look to the future of a healthy universe.

FYE 1900 Visualizing Big History: Art (3 units) 
The wealth of narratives, innovations, and theories unfolding from the eight thresholds in Big History become points of departure for a series of visual art projects. In each project students will illuminate connections between methods and contexts of creating art, and the key concepts in the creation of the universe to inspire new inquiries about our future and the future of our planet. Students will explore a variety of mediums and processes including poster design, collage, painting, bookmaking, and sculpture.

FYE 1910 Creative Writing and Big History (3 units)
Write an epic poem about the dawn of time! Create a play starring the first hominid to stand upright! Craft a short story about a love affair between two supernovae! Let the Universe be your inspiration—explore Big History through creative writing. Generative writing exercises and writing workshops will inform writing assignments for which students will consider the key thresholds of Big History, as leaps in complexity become points of departure for major creative work. What part of the story do you want to tell?

HONORS FYE 2100 Visualizing the Sacred through the Lens of Big History (3 units)
Following and expanding upon the first-semester course in Big History, this seminar addresses how humans have perceived the universe from Paleolithic times to the present day with specific attention to the art and architectural forms devoted to visualizing the sacred. The wonders of the cosmos, the position of planet Earth within this, and the role of humans in creating meaning through diverse religious beliefs are addressed.  The course especially concentrates on the visible manifestations of faith systems via coverage of the art and architecture associated with the religions of the world.

Honors FYE 2200 Beauty through the Lens of Big History (3 units)
Why is something—an idea, a building, a protozoan cell—beautiful? This seminar uses the scholarship of beauty, aesthetics, to examine the ways humanity has defined beauty and to ask questions. What in the universe—the past and the present of the Big History narrative—conforms to formal ideals of beauty? Who defines beauty? Is the re-engineering of natural beauty a good idea? Will our great grandchildren be beautiful beings in a beautiful universe? We will define our own ideas about beauty and then speculate on how our ideals of beauty might impact the future.

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