New interdisciplinary courses to be taught in fall


The Office of the Provost awarded four Interdisciplinary Team Teaching Grants as part of the Future Maker Grant Program to develop interdisciplinary courses that will be taught in fall 2024. 

According to the Office of Strategic Planning and Initiative’s website, The Future Maker Grant Program offers opportunities for Lehigh community members to receive support for projects aligned with the goals or initiatives of the Strategic Plan. 

The courses in development are: “All Fun & Games: How Does Play Change Us?”; “Are Children People?”; “What is Reality?”; and “Opium Wars to the Opioid Epidemic,” all of which are Big Question Seminars. 

Big Question Seminars are a graduation requirement in Lehigh’s curriculum, typically taken by first-years in the fall. The goal of these courses is to have students focus on a complex question with no simple answer. Many of these classes showcase how multiple fields approach the question at hand in a variety of ways. 

Brooke Rollins, an English professor at Lehigh, will be co-teaching “All Fun & Games: How Does Play Change Us?”

Rollins said students will have opportunities to explore the social, cultural and theoretical importance of gaming in human life, allowing them to creatively apply this knowledge through game play, game design and playful inquiry.

“The course brings humanities-based game studies theory drawn particularly from philosophy, sociology and cultural studies together with theater-based practices in emergent storytelling, creative problem solving, experiences design and embodied narrative,” Rollins said.

Will Lowry, a theatre studies professor, will be teaching the course alongside Rollins. He said the principles of gaming and gaming theory already intersect with several disciplines.

“Gaming and gaming study as a field pervades so much of our society, but does so in a way that we don’t fully clock how much it intersects with our individual lives,” Lowry said. 

Lowry said the course will embrace activity and agency in students’ interactions with the material.

Rollins said she hopes the course will help students in their lives and careers after college.

“We hope that by the end of the class students will have internalized some ways to use play and games to learn, to solve problems, to meaningfully communicate and interact with others,” Rollins said. 

Dustin Stoltz, a sociology and cognitive science professor, and Amy Johnson, a sociology professor, will be co-teaching the course “Opium Wars to the Opioid Epidemic.”

Stoltz said this course is deeply interdisciplinary, meaning a variety of students can benefit from it because it will touch on so many different areas of social life. 

“I kind of come at it from an economic sociology perspective, thinking about networks and international trade policy,” Stoltz said.

Johnson said the course will be a combination of lecture and discussion. She wants students to talk to each other, as well as to hear from experts such as Lehigh student EMTs, social scientists and historians. 

“The guest speakers are something that is cool about this class that we couldn’t do without the funding from the Strategic Plan,” Johnson said. “We have a lot of big dreams of getting lots of different experts to come into this course.”

Stoltz said this class will encourage students to see these problems as social issues when the solutions are rooted in engagement with a community. He said he thinks this is a lesson students can take beyond the opioid epidemic. 

Johnson said she thinks this course will be helpful for students to take to learn how big social problems come to be. 

“Our goal is to have students question their prior assumptions and think a little bit more deeply,” Johnson said. “A big part of that is going to be bringing in this bigger picture, this sociological lens, looking beyond individuals.”

To find more information on the courses being offered, visit the Office of Strategic Planning and Initiatives website

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1 Comment

  1. Robert Davenport on

    With all the problems in America and the world seemingly becoming worse; what has the rejection of religious concepts done to influence this trend.

    Has the victim mentality and other concepts replaced the idea of good and evil?

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