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Now that the 12th class day for Spring 2015 has passed, I want to thank all of our followers and readers for making the first run of Course Snapshots such a success. A special thank you goes out to the faculty members who agreed to be interviewed and provided pictures and other content material.

Also, our sincerest thanks to the faculty members and administrators in our departments and centers who have been wonderfully supportive in reading, following, liking, tweeting, and sharing our posts. We’re already looking forward to some great Snapshots and Spotlights posted in time for Summer and Fall 2015 advising and registration. We’re also considering some new blog categories, i.e., Faculty Spotlights or Q&As and Top 5 or 10 lists.

In addition to posting Course Snapshots and Spotlights, our Facebook Page also includes course and advising flyers and “shares” to course-related university postings. Please take a moment to follow us and, in the future, share/like some of our postings. Some of the flyers being prepared for Summer 2015 include Writing-flagged courses, online courses, and foreign languages being offered.

Not on Facebook? No worries, you can now follow our twitter feed, https://twitter.com/UTCOLA_Courses. We’ll be posting much of the same content as the Facebook Page but we’ll also be re-tweeting interesting higher education news and events. We’ve only had a few posts so be patient with us as we add content.

Any suggestions or recommendations for our sites? Have items you’d like us to post/share? Want us to follow you? Please let me know or write a comment.

Spring 15 Snapshots: Last Edition

R S 375S, 43285, Religion in the American South

R S 375S church

Whether you’re new to Texas or a long-time resident, you’ve probably noticed that there’s a church at least every other town block. For many people, the ubiquitous presence of religion in the South may be a given, but have you ever really wondered why it is? The course, Religious Studies 375S “Religion in the American South”, taught by Dr. Chad Seales aims to address the myths and ironies of religious life in the South.

The objective of the class is to trace how religion and region has changed over time in frames of history from slavery, industry, and ethnic diversity. What does it really mean to be a Southerner? What makes the South more religious than other places in the US? Case studies will be used to examine the questions posed and allow students to apply theories of both region and religion to various ideologies and practices of Southerners.

This course carries Writing and Independent Inquiry flags.

MEL 321, 40790, Turks in Europe

Matthew Brunwasser

Matthew Brunwasser, matthewbrunwasser.com

Understanding diversity and learning about other cultures is the first step in breaking stereotypes and developing a much more knowledgeable viewpoint of the world as a student. The last century has been marked by changes in international markets, political conditions, and a desire to attain a better life – with interactions between the Europeans and Turks as a prime example of a new socio-cultural and political-economic constellation.

The objective of this class, taught by Dr. Jeannette Okur, is to examine the Turkish presence in Europe and evaluate its impact in politics, media, education, arts, language, etc. By looking at local and transnational forces that drives such interactions for the 9 million Turks in Europe, students will be asked to form a critical analysis of the topics presented in both text and film. With subjects such as the relationship of civil society and Islam, ethnic businesses and communities, citizenship and political participation, asylum movements and xenophobia, students will truly be able to trace the transition of a Turkish guest worker to a transnational citizen of Europe.

This course carries a Global Cultures flag and is cross-listed with European Studies (EUS) 347 and Islamic Studies (ISL) 372.

J S 365, 39446, NGOs in Israel/Northern Ireland: Conflict Area Case Studies

N Ireland graffiti

Loyalist mural on a building in Belfast, January 2000; Picture: PA

War zones. What types of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and Non-Profit Organizations (NPOs) go into those areas? How do they operate in such unsafe environments? What services do they provide? This course will address the impact of the proliferation NGOs and NPOs as influential actors with vast resources and presence on the ground by looking at a crucial case study, conflict areas. The NGOs’ ability to influence and bring a change under the most unfavorable conditions operates as an indication of this sector’s effect and role in other fields.

The “Troubles” in Northern Ireland, and the Israeli- Palestinian Conflict both underline a democracy that copes with an enduring low-intensity conflict between two groups who share the same territory. Instructor Ori Swed will look at the two cases’ similarities and dissimilarities while focusing on the NGO activity on both arenas and its impact.

This course is cross-listed with Sociology (SOC) 321K.

Spring 15 Snapshots-Late Edition

LAS 328, 39644, K’ichee’ Peoples: Culture, History, and Language

Diego Rivera Creation

The most significant source on Mayan culture and beliefs – the Popol Vuh, sometimes called the “Mayan Bible” – was written in a language still spoken in the highlands of Guatemala – K’ichee’. Prior to the Spanish conquest in 1519, the K’ichee’ peoples were the founders of the most powerful state in the region. The surviving K’ichee’ have gone on to play a leading role in anti-colonial struggles into the twenty-first century.

This course will delve into both historic and contemporary aspects of K’ichee’ society. Students will learn about such topics as the history leading up to the Spanish invasion; the genealogy of the Popol Vuh; the introduction of Christianity into highland Guatemala; the K’ichee’ role in Guatemala’s independence from Spain in 1821; K’ichee’ guerrillas and revolutionaries in the 1980s; Maya spirituality and K’ichee’ prophets; and Maya art and poetry.

Students who have studied K’ichee’ in the past will be able to continue improving their language skills.

J S 365, 39443, Israeli Peace & Social Justice

shalom-salaam-peace

Is peace possible amidst the turmoil taking place in the Gaza Strip? Many NGOs and grassroots organizations are currently working toward peace and social justice in this Israeli-Palestinian context, but how successful have they been and is there actually a potential for peace in the future?

This new course, taught by Visiting Professor Julia Chaitin, explores the major activists and organizations in the area that have emerged since the 1970s. The professor will look at the attempts of these actors to overcome obstacles in the area and work for peace-building and reconciliation between two peoples. In order to do this, students will first focus on understanding what peace-building, conflict reconciliation, group-think, de-individuation, de-humanization, and people-to-people processes are, among other things.

In this course, students will also have the opportunity to read and hear about “stories from the ground,” drawing heavily on the presentation and work of organizations on the internet and specifically in social media. How is social media affecting the issues in Israel, and how likely is it that these organizations will actually break ground on peace in the area? Sign up for this class to find out!

This course is cross-listed with Middle Eastern Studies (MES 341, 41024) and Sociology (SOC 321K, 44993).

EUS 347, 35703, Literary Maps of the Ukraine

EUS 347 Ukraine

Ukraine and Russia. We’ve been hearing a lot recently about their tensions and struggles as formerly unified, now neighboring countries. The situation is made even more difficult in part because of the fact that the territory of the Ukraine encompasses various cultural spaces with local rather than national identity. Such powerful opposing views in one country greatly lessens its strength as a whole. What will happen next?

A new course, “Literary Maps of the Ukraine”, will examine the representation of certain geopolitical, geographical, cultural, and memorial spaces in Ukrainian, Yiddish, Polish, and Russian literature since the 18th century.

This course includes a focus on current geopoetics, which encompasses poetry that is fundamentally concerned with a relationship to the earth and the opening of a world, and which is usually approached using local knowledge. What can literature tell us about these countries, including how they have been shaped over time, how they interact with each other, and what they are likely to do in current and future situations? Join visiting professor Erik Martin to find out!

This course carries a Global Cultures flag and is cross-listed with Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies (REE 325, 44183).

Spotlight: Cultural Aspects of Doing Business in Brazil

Course Spotlight: PRC 320E, 45479, Cultural Aspects of Doing Business in Brazil 

PRC Brazil Business

By: Grace Xu

As increasing emphasis is placed on global communication and interaction in the business world, understanding one another and resolving cultural differences is a skill that is undeniably useful. The question is: How are we supposed to identify these cultural issues and develop ways to resolve them? I recently had the pleasure of visiting Professor Orlando Kelm and learning more about his course, Portuguese Civilization (PRC) 320E “Cultural Aspects of Doing Business in Brazil,” which aims to answer all these questions and more.

Walking into Professor Kelm’s office is like walking into a miniature museum, complete with artifacts from a variety of international cultures. On his wall are glittering Chinese New Year cards and traditional paper cutouts, and his bookshelves are filled with trinkets of all kinds from various countries he’s traveled to, such as Brazil, China, Japan, Germany, and many others. As an Associate Professor of Hispanic Linguistics at UT, Professor Kelm speaks an impressive number of languages, including Spanish, Portuguese, Catalan, German, Italian, Chinese, and some Japanese. He currently serves as the Associate Director of Business Language Education for CIBER, or the Center for International Business Education and Research. Highly tech-savvy, he also incorporates all types of technology and social platforms to reach out and engage with his target audiences through blogs and other media. His current podcast project, “Lingua da gente,” aims to provide free Portuguese lessons and can be found on iTunes.

Professor Kelm opened by showing me a gallery of pictures taken in Brazil: Fatty Man, a boutique shoe store, Snob, a napkin brand. There were floss dispensers in public bathrooms, and specific bus seats for not just the elderly and pregnant, but the obese as well. These cultural images are encapsulated in the LESCANT model that Professor Kelm teaches. The model is an acronym that represents seven areas in which cultural issues arise when dealing with business communication: Language, Environment, Social Organization, Context, Authority, Non-verbal, and Time. By applying the LESCANT model to various cases, students will learn how to identify various cultural issues within Brazil and the rest of the world, such as misunderstandings in language, variations in clothing, distinct temporal schedules, different social values and religion, and high context/low context signs and situations.

The next step, Professor Kelm notes, is to learn how to diplomatically resolve these problems through Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions and Trompenaars & Hampden-Turner’s dilemma theory. Having the ability to recognize cultural differences is imperative, but being able to identify strengths from another culture and incorporate them, (for instance, combining American efficiency with Brazilian flexibility), would greatly enhance productivity. Students will be assigned work such as blog entries and comments, presentations of case studies, and executive summaries relating to cultural issues found within Brazilian/ North American practices.

If you are interested in doing business in Brazil in the future, or simply want to know how to identify and incorporate cultural issues and differences, PRC 320E “Cultural Aspects of Doing Business in Brazil” is the perfect course to take. Not only is the information relevant, interesting, and engaging, but also Professor Kelm’s dynamic charisma and energetic presence should make you put this course at the top of your list for next semester.

Check out Professor Kelm’s blog, or find out more about the LESCANT model.

This course carries a Global Cultures flag.

GC Flag Edit