Professors strive to elicit interest in Quest

Story by Mykaela Cross, Assistant Editor

The Quest program, created as a tool for training students to be well-rounded scholars before their time ends at Baker, continues to come up with new courses intended to draw student interest as well as instill university values. Marriage and the pop culture hit, The Hunger Games, are a few of the new Quest course themes designed to both interest and educate students.

According to the Baker University website, “Quest is Baker University’s general education curriculum: a tailored, personalized program that gives students the ability to pursue topics they are passionate about while developing the foundational skills necessary to succeed in graduate school or the profession of their choice.”

The website goes one to explain that, “Quest instills the essential core competencies: written and oral communication, ethical decision making, critical thinking, and problem solving in an inquiry-based format.”

Professor of Communications Studies Susan Emel is only a few weeks into her new QS311: Controversies on the Meaning of Marriage class, a course inspired by a book Emel found on the subject.

“It brings together so many things both globally and locally, such as how marriage laws define citizenship in our country,” Emel said.

Emel said the course is booked full and overflowing with students. She believes her students have reacted well to the course thus far, but notices that not all of what she has shared was common knowledge to her class.

“They seem surprised that the U.S. has these issues,” Emel said. “Some of the things we’ll be talking about are domestic violence, divorce, polygamy, free love and misogyny.”

One of Emel’s students, junior Dani Carlson, was excited to take the class. Because of her major, Carlson was already partial to Emel and her teaching, but there were other things that interested her about the class as well.

“Marriage is something important to any culture,” Carlson said. “But I’m most excited to talk about free love because it’s new to me. I’m also looking forward to learning more about divorce laws in our country.”

Now that class has begun, Carlson’s favorite part of the course is the class discussions she and her classmates have over marital topics.

“We had our first discussion, and it was one of the most thoughtful discussions I’ve ever had in a Quest class,” Carlson said. “I think this is going to be one of the most beneficial Quest classes I’ve taken just because every day we’re having discussions like we had today and I think that we’re just going to get better at the debating and the discussing and I think it will be really beneficial to us.”

Sophomore Amanda Moody’s reason for choosing her Quest class differs from Carlson’s. When she saw The Hunger Games as Allegory of American Pop Culture class, she enrolled simply because she liked the movie.

“I loved the movie so I thought it would be really cool to be required to read the book,” Moody said. “It’s also really nice that the class discussions have been so interesting.”

One of the class elements Moody is looking forward to is the Water Wars, a game much like those in the novel. Students are given water guns and then try to be the last person to be hit by water over a short period of time.

“I really like how we’re tying in pop culture in general to the book,” Moody said. “It shows you a different way to look at how much power the media has within our society.”

Some of the other distinctive classes the Baker Quest program is offering the spring 2015 semester are Monsters and Madmen in Film and Literature and Vampire Literature, both taught by Instructor of English Rob Howard along with Sport: The New World Religion, taught by Assistant Professor of Sports Administration Ronald Christian.