Signature Courses Available by Term

Spring 2019

UNIV 1402 Signature Course vary by topic and integrated disciplines. Below are the courses offered during this term.

Neurobiology of love and sex

  • PROFESSOR: Angelique Blackburn, Ph.D.

  • Seminar Instructors: Virginia Watkins Grayson, M.S. and Daniel Levant, M.S. 

  • ABSTRACT: According to Datingsitesreviews.com, Match.com has created approximately half a million relationships, close to 100,000 marriages, and a million babies. The success of this site is due in part to the research underscoring its platform. Researchers have tested personality types, attachment styles, and other factors that determine compatibility. But why are we so eager for love? Why is the feeling intoxicating and unavoidable? Why do we seek this psychological state, even when it can end in devastation? And why is losing a romantic partner as painful as physical injury or drug withdrawal? In this course, we will discuss the neuroscience underlying the stages of romantic love and rejection, as well as psychological factors that underscore compatibility. We will also discuss the psychological and neurological basis of social bonding, including the close bond that mothers experience for their children. By the end of the course, you will understand what attracts us to our partners, encourages us to form lasting companionships, and enables us to create loving families. 

  • DISCIPLINES EMBEDDED: Neurobiology, Psychology, Neuroscience 

  • Unavailable for Psychology majors 
Angelique Blackburn

Angelique Blackburn, Ph.D.
Virginia Watkins Grayson

Virginia Watkins Grayson, M.S. 
Seminar Instructor 
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Daniel Levant, M.S.
Seminar Instructor

Growth, grit, and grace: What brain plasticity can do for you
(Service-Learning Course)
  • PROFESSOR: Paty Cantu, M.A.

  • Seminar Instructors: Paty Cantu, M.A.  and Daniel Levant, M.S. 

  • “Fire and fury!” Words or weapons? Heart or fist? How we choose to handle difficult situations is influenced by the world around us and the world within us. However, is it possible to “train the mind” and change the brain to become more resilient, persistent, and compassionate? In other words, is it possible to grow grit and grace? And, if so, how? Join us for the Signature Course Growth, Grit, and Grace: What Brain Plasticity Can Do for You! We will explore connections between brain plasticity and psychology in order to tackle questions about social issues, such as can our brains be manipulated to dehumanize others, and is it possible to program our brains to develop more kindness and compassion? We will also create a service-learning project that encourages others in our community to learn about and celebrate the brains' amazing ability to change in ways that lead to positive and productive outcomes.

  • DISCIPLINES EMBEDDED: Psychology, Neuroscience, Sociology 
lilia cantu

Paty Cantu, M.A. 
Professor & Seminar Instructor
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Daniel Levant, M.S. 
Seminar Instructor

James Bond: The Spy who taught me
  • PROFESSOR: Paul Niemeyer, Ph.D.

  • Seminar Instructors: Juan Espinoza, M.P.A. and Karla Linero, M.S.

  • ABSTRACT: James Bond has been a major global figure for over fifty years, and this course examines why. We will look at how Bond embodies both our greatest ambitions and our deepest fears, from the Cold War to the age of terrorism and cybercrime. We will also consider the role of women, from the sexualized “Bond Girls” of the 1960s to Bond getting a female boss in 1990s. Last, we will look at the “Science of Bond”—the nuclearized threats of the villains and the wild gadgets of yesterday that are now part of today’s world.

  • DISCIPLINES EMBEDDED: English, History, Systems Engineering, Gender Studies

  • Unavailable for English majors 

paul niemeyer

Paul Niemeyer, Ph.D. 
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Juan Espinoza, M.P.A. 
Seminar Instructor
karla linero

Karla Linero, M.S. 
Seminar Instructor

Climate change and sustainability 
(Service-Learning Course)
  • PROFESSOR: Puneet Gill, Ph.D.

  • Seminar Instructor: Abby Garza, M.S. 

  • ABSTRACT: Climate change is an often-discussed issue in the news, politics and in local communities. Recent events have indicated meaningful discussions about climate change can be strengthened with sustainability discussions. In Half Earth: Our Planets Fight For Life, Dr. E. O. Wilson puts forth the proposal that if we commit half of the planets surface to biodiversity we will be able to stabilize the environment necessary for our survival. Paired with the documentary series Years of Living Dangerously, you will evaluate evidence claims through a lesson plan methodology, evaluate the long term impacts of climate change and the fragile relationship between biodiversity and the impacts of climatic events. Towards the the end of the course, you will argue in defense or support of the Half- Earth proposal set forth by Dr. E.O. Wilson and analyze the feasibility of sustainable solutions to issues that relate to your major or future career aspirations.

  • DISCIPLINES EMBEDDED: Science, Environmental Sustainability
  • Unavailable for Education majors 
puneet gill

Puneet Gill, Ph.D. 
ruth garza

Abby Garza, M.S. 
Seminar Instructor

an"other" perspective
(service-Learning Course)
  • PROFESSOR: Hayley Kazen, Ph.D.

  • Seminar Instructor: Hayley Kazen, Ph.D.

  • ABSTRACT: Why do we fear the “other”? How does fear impact policy? How are groups negatively impacted? In this course, students will learn the negative consequences and ethical issues that fear of the “other” has on marginalized groups. We will examine how forced relocation, assimilation attempts, discrimination and religion has had a lasting negative impact on marginalized groups’ physical and mental health, culture, and educational attainment. With both nationalism and immigration on the rise, nationally and globally, it is important to understand how nationalistic attitudes and policies have affected people historically.

  • DISCIPLINES EMBEDDED: Sociology, Public Health, Education 

hayley kazen

Hayley Kazen, Ph.D. 
Professor & Seminar Instructor

Media literacy 
  • PROFESSORS: Daniel De La Miyar, Ph.D. and Jonathan Martinez, M.A. 

  • Seminar Instructors: Daniel De La Miyar, Ph.D. and Jonathan Martinez, M.A. 

  • ABSTRACT: Signs and symbols tell a story the viewer may be able to understand its meaning and purpose. This course will teach the diverse uses of semiotics, its applications, forms of use in non-textual style (messages), non-sounding (memes) signs and symbols and how individuals encounter semiotics on a daily basis. Western hegemony, however, has established dominance through the acquisition and control of goods that have certain value. Throughout history, cultures have developed unwritten rules to establish classism, which, arguably, has evolved into racism. Hispanic—with particular emphasis on Mexican-American—culture, demonstrates how they place and label individuals within their respective societies.

  • DISCIPLINES EMBEDDED: Semiotics, Culture, Language, Media Literacy  
de la miyar 2

Daniel De La Miyar, Ph.D. 
Professor & Seminar Instructor
jonathan martinez

Jonathan Martinez, M.A. 
Professor & Seminar Instructor

Border issues in Chicano Literature 
  • PROFESSORS: Lucy Maldonado, M.B.A and Maria Guerra de Charur, M.A.

  • Seminar Instructors: Joe Gutierrez, Jr., M.A.

  • ABSTRACT: What do you think of the border? Is the border more than what we see on the media? Life on the border goes beyond what we see in the media. Cultural identity, racism, gender issues, language barriers, immigration, and education are some of the issues impacting those living on the US-Mexico border communities. In this course, you will analyze several Chicano texts that will uncover and identify problems presented in border life. At the end of this course, you will produce a newspaper article that will be published in one of Laredo’s local newspapers.

  • DISCIPLINES EMBEDDED: Literature, Border Issues, Communication 
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Lucy Maldonado, M.B.A. 
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Maria Guerra de Charur, M.A. 
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Joe Gutierrez, Jr., M.A. 
Seminar Instructor

Becoming resilient: positive minds, active bodies  
  • PROFESSORS: Brett Nickerson, Ph.D. and Ediza Garcia, Ph.D. 

  • Seminar Instructor: Tami Summers, M.S. 

  • ABSTRACT: This course provides students with an overview of the factors that constitute resilience and examines the interchange between physical fitness and psychological health. The course reviews how one’s physiological responses to specific physical activity programs lead to improvements in physical fitness. Students also learn about common mental health disorders within a prevention framework. Through a careful examination of the relationship between physical fitness and psychological health, students obtain knowledge and skills for promoting positive change within themselves, thereby, increasing their levels of resilience. This course utilizes an applied approach in teaching the concepts and include practical steps for improving well-being.

  • DISCIPLINES EMBEDDED: Mental Health, Psychology, Physiology Performance  

  • Unavailable for Non-Certification Kinesiology and Psychology majors 
brett nickerson

Brett Nickerson, Ph.D. 
Ediza Garcia

Ediza Garcia, Ph.D. 
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Tami Summers, M.S. 
Seminar Instructor

The politics of Food Culture
  • PROFESSOR: Deborah Scaggs, Ph.D. 

  • Seminar Instructors: Gaby Medina, M.S. and Stephanie Martinez, M.A. 

  • ABSTRACT: What we choose to eat is shaped by several factors: cultural traditions, social surrounding, economic status, geography, advertising, and federal laws. Known as “food politics,” the intersection of these factors shapes with what we actually eat, and what we “choose” to eat is not as democratic as we think. Not only is human health at stake, but also the impact on our environment. Examining food politics as the reflection of one's individual, national, and global identities will allow students to consider the interconnectedness of several components of food beyond what is on their plate.

  • DISCIPLINES EMBEDDED: Dietary Science, Sociology, Anthropology, Political Science, Rhetoric 

  • Unavailable for English majors 

Deborah Scaggs

Deborah Scaggs, Ph.D. 
gabriela medina

Gaby Medina, M.S. 
Seminar Instructor
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Stephanie Martinez, M.S. 
Seminar Instructor

Social justice
  • PROFESSOR: John Kilburn, Ph.D. 

  • Seminar Instructor: Destine Holmgreen, M.A. 

  • ABSTRACT: Each of us has our own definition of what is socially just in society. Various types of people appear to be competing for finite resources. In most cases, this competition manifests itself through a form of individuals looking out for their own self-interest and offering less regard to the interests of others. This course examines how basic needs are regulated in terms of opportunities for employment, educational attainment, access to health care, and governmental benefits. Public perception of unfairness leads to significant discord that ranges from petty interpersonal incivilities to violence and war.

  • DISCIPLINES EMBEDDED: Sociology, Business & Economics, Political Science, Philosophy, Public Health, Criminology

  • Unavailable for Sociology and Criminal Justice majors 

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John Kilburn, Ph.D. 
destine holmgreen

Destine Holmgreen, M.A. 
Seminar Instructor

University College 
Zaffirini Student Success Center 223 
Phone 326-2134 
Fax 326-2129