joker card

Wildcards are original, timely courses offered on a one-time basis, affording an opportunity to try out new ideas. New courses are often (but not always) offered as Wildcards as a prelude to proposal for a permanent place in the General Education Program.

Fall 2014

GNED-210 Artist's Perspective: Digital Photography
This is an introductory course that explores new technologies in contemporary photographic practice. Though technical aspects of digital photography are covered, the main focus is on making and looking at photographs. Utilizing Photoshop, technical topics center on cultivating a digital workflow, which includes digital capture, image editing, and digital output. Students become familiar with both historic and contemporary photographic work as well as ideas around light, composition, visualization, editing, and sequencing of images. Critiques are the central forum for students to develop their ability to speak about their own work as well as their peers'. The course concludes with students developing a final portfolio of photographs. Students are required to provide their own digital SLR camera and fixed (not zoom) lens. Foundational Area 1

GNED-120 Do the Right Thing
This course will make the case for doing the right thing. We will explore questions about conduct –what to do, how to act, and why –as understood by the most salient theories of ethics. Examining major works in Western philosophy, we will discuss issues including moral goodness and evil, the nature of justice and rights, the relationship between morality and self-interest, the justification of moral judgments, relativism versus objective truth, the role of pleasure in the good life, and the meaning of character and virtue. Another central concern will be to examine the relationship between "doing the right thing" and living the good life. We will do so by applying ethical theories to contemporary moral issues pertinent to both college life (online social relations, academic plagiarism, drug use) and public policy (prostitution, animal rights, responsibility in media coverage). Foundational Area 2

GNED-230 Stories of South Asia: Sovereignty, Strategy, and Satire
This course focuses on ancient and medieval portrayals of Indian politics in classical epics and story collections and considers their relevance to modern South Asia. Foundational Area 3

GNED-230 Ancient Civilizations
The goal of this course is to instill an appreciation for the achievements of ancient civilizations around the world. The course will examine forces leading to the emergence of early complex societies in the New and Old Worlds in a comparative perspective. Our key question will be, what key factors, both internal and external to human communities, have influenced the evolution of ancient societies. Through archaeology we will examine ancient societies' relationships with the environment, economic, social, and political institutions of ancient social formations as well as the art, artifacts, and other contributions of the civilizations of antiquity. We will make connections to contemporary needs and problems around environmental crisis, social inequality, conflict and warfare, and other enduring problems of complex societies. Foundational Area 3

GNED-140 U.S. Law and Legal Systems
U.S. Law and Legal Systems provides students with a general introduction to the study of the U.S. legal system and the practice of law. Students will learn how the U.S. legal system operates, explore various areas of civil and criminal substantive law, and debate the pressing legal issues of our time. Additionally, this course offers the unique opportunity to explore the foundations of U.S. law by using Washington DC as a laboratory;students will engage in experiential learning activities by attending lectures and events at D.C. courts, government agencies and non-governmental organizations. Foundational Area 4

GNED-140 Social Media and Social Change
Social media allows people to sift, shape, and share news and ideas in ways meaningful to themselves and others. The explosive growth of social media has altered fundamentally the ways in which people and groups communicate, collaborate, and mobilize. This course explores the impact of social media on local, state, national, and international activism. Using social media tools, academic texts, online resources, case studies, multimedia presentations, guest lectures, and field trips, students will explore activism pertaining to some of today's most pressing and controversial issues. Foundational Area 4


Past Wildcards

Spring 2014

GNED-230 Modern Africa
This survey of modern African history concentrates on the experiences of Africans under European colonialism (1880s-1960s) and on the legacy of colonialism for contemporary Africa. Topics include the European scramble for Africa and African responses;colonial policies;the growth of African nationalism and independence;as well as the economic, political, and social challenges of post-colonial Africa.Foundational Area 3

GNED-250 Microbes and Society
This introductory biology course uses microbiology to explore the science of life. Students learn about cells, evolution, infectious diseases, vaccines, and antibiotics. Emphasis is on current topics where microbes play a role such as biotechnology, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), biofuels, probiotics, food borne illness, biological weapons, and bioterrorism. Note: This course assumes no prior biology or chemistry and is recommended for non-science majors.Foundational Area 5

GNED-250 Our National Parks: History and Policy
Parks, especially national parks, play an important role both in the cultural life of Americans and as areas of protection of biodiversity. This course examines the history of parks, the conflicts, both historical and present-day, over the role of parks, and has a special focus on the role of science and scientists in national parks.Foundational Area 5

Fall 2013

GNED-110 Artist's Perspective: Printmaking
This introductory printmaking course examines drawing, synthesis, history, and printmaking process as tools of research, discovery, and expression. Students explore traditional and conceptual notions of looking, research, and development and experiment with different historical materials, techniques, and practices in the printmaking discipline in order to examine visual perception. Foundational Area 1

Spring 2013

GNED-110 World Music – Dr. Shalini Ayyagari, Performing Arts
This course will cover a wide array of themes by examining the confluences and divergences of culture that happen in borderland regions – whether geographical, political, or social – through the lens of musical practice. A case study on Umm Kulthum, the queen of a century of Arab music, for example, will open the door to issues of gender, music and politics, nationalism, and pan-Arab identity. Discussing Brazilian samba and West African ceremonial music in relation to each other will reveal themes of colonial nation relations and historical processes of the slave trade, which had deep influences on culture in both Africa and South America. Musical phenomena such as Bhangra music will reveal the role of immigration patterns, diasporic urban community relations, and the confluences of musical practices as diverse as African American hip hop and South Asian folk musics.

Fall 2012

GNED-110 Jane Austen and her World - Dr. Fiona Brideoake, Literature
This Honors seminar will explore the works of Jane Austen in the literary and cultural contexts of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Focusing on Austen’s novels and literary and film adaptations, we will discuss gender and the novel; the public and private spheres; sensibility and sexuality; empire, war, and slavery; and revolution and social change. We will also explore Austen’s status as a ‘hypercanonical’ author – a figure whose life and works inspire academic and popular enthusiasm – and the various critical approaches through which her novels have been considered.

GNED-130 Religion and Globalization - Dr. Evan Berry, Philosophy & Religion
Religion and Globalization offers a different kind of introduction to the study of the world’s major religious traditions. Rather than approaching each religion as an independent tradition that developed in a vacuum, this course looks at the ways that religions develop in conversation with one another. It has always been the case that religions are best understood as being related to one another in geographic families, as with the Dharmic traditions (Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism) or the Abrahamic traditions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam). But close dialogue between traditions is not an artifact of ancient history: exchange, convergence, and hybridization still characterize the way religions interact in the modern era. As people and cultures move across the globe, as ideas are mobilized and transported by media technology, and as the market economy stimulates religious innovation, religions find themselves in contact in new and profound ways. Such forms of contact are the focus of Religion and Globalization, which explores these questions by investigating how religion is lived and experienced in today’s pluralistic, multicultural world. The aim of this course is to provide students with both basic knowledge about specific traditions and to equip them with tools for thinking about how they operate in our global age.

Submit a proposal

Have an idea for an outstanding, innovative General Education course? We want to hear it! Call us at 202-885-3879, or drop us a line at gened@american.edu if you'd like to run an idea by us. When you're ready, submit a formal proposal using the form available on the Office of the Registrar's website.