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University Professor Course Offerings (Spring Semester 2015)

Family Connections and Social Media
Professor: Jennifer Chabot, Ph.D. (Social and Public Health)

Course Overview 

I am absolutely fascinated with the role social media (smart phones, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc…) plays in family rituals, family relationships and ways we connect with family. As family is at the heart of my academic discipline, I am intrigued how college students connect with family via these forms of communication. I often ask students who they are talking to on their cell phones once they leave my class. The most common response? “My mom.” I then wonder, “What do you talk about?” Since I enjoy teaching students how to be researchers, I could see my class as one where we could conduct research as a research team on how today’s college students use social media to stay connected to family. I’m interested in knowing if students talk about family rituals on social media and/or talk about family in general on social media. I plan to involve students in designing the methodology, collecting and analyzing the findings, and co-author as a class a manuscript for one of my discipline’s academic journals (Journal of Family Relations, Journal of Family Sciences Review or Journal of Marriage and Family). We will be examining the role family rituals have in our lives as both individuals and members of a family system, as more and more of these become publically shared via social media; so our family rituals move from private to very public.


Product Design and Design Thinking
Professor: Gary Coombs, Ph.D. (Management)


Course Overview 
This course will introduce students to the design thinking approach to product/service design as developed at the Hasso-Plattner Institute of Design (“d-school”) at Stanford University.  Design thinking is fundamentally human-centered and integrative, beginning with the designer developing empathy for the user rather than first coming up with a “cool idea” and then trying to find someone who might want to use it.  The designer can then define the challenge or opportunity that needs to be addressed. It is only after the human need and desirability have been addressed that the issues of technological feasibility and economic viability are integrated into the process.  Next, design thinking uses ideation techniques to generate many alternative concepts that have the potential to fulfill the need.  From the range of divergent ideas, design thinking emphasizes rapid prototyping and testing those ideas with users. At each step, the user is the focus of attention. Students will start with one of the exercises, created at the d-school, that takes participants through a full design cycle. A team project will focus on designing with a practical purpose and the use of inexpensive materials, most likely recycled. The specific project would be tailored to the needs of the Athens community.


Global Change Through Charitable Giving
Professor: Cory Crawford, Ph.D. (Classics & World Religions)

Course Overview 

Few in the United States today would fail to recognize the appeals to the Bible for support for one side or another in major controversies such as same-sex marriage and abortion. Yet biblical attitudes toward sex are anything but straightforward, especially when many biblical heroes fail to honor the prohibitions and biblical ideals of family and marriage are only very loosely defined. In this course we will attempt not only to unpack and tease apart these attitudes, but we will also look carefully and critically at how concepts of sex, gender, and sexuality are used in the biblical period as a fundamental means of shaping and reshaping their world in ways that might seem both foreign and familiar to us today. We will examine such topics as gender construction, sexual orientation, taboos, prostitution, idolatry-adultery, family relations, cross-cultural marriage, slavery and trafficking, erotic literature, and others. The course will be structured so that students will regularly be responsible for interrogating the biblical texts themselves and engaging a variety of methods when doing so.

Days with The Times: Thinking and Learning with a Really Good Newspaper
Professor: Deborah Thorne, Ph.D. (Sociology and Anthropology)

Course Overview 

Good newspapers lead us to places, events, and ideas that we would never have otherwise considered. When we hold a newspaper in our hands, it virtually demands our full attention. Newspapers provide a wonderful excuse for us to be still, introspective, and intellectual. And as such, I believe a newspaper is one of the best (and most underutilized) teaching and critical thinking tools we have available. The centerpiece of this class is The New York Times. Each meeting, we will spend at least 30 minutes reading the paper (in silence and in hardcopy—with maybe a little mood music in the background), drinking coffee or tea, and snacking on treats. For the remainder of the class, we will discuss and critique the import and consequences of what we have read. Moreover, whenever possible, I will invite faculty who are experts on a topic/issue that was of particular interest to join us during a subsequent class and indulge us with a private mini-lecture. Our class will have a course blog and a Twitter account, and every couple weeks writing teams will post a well-developed and researched blog article on a topic or issue that originated with something they read in The Times. The team will synthesize, assess, and develop a powerful and thought-provoking piece that originated with something they read in The Times for their primary audience, Ohio University students.





2013-2014 University Professor Award Recipients

  • Youngsun Kim; Communication Sciences & Disorders
  • Nancy J. Manring; Political Science
  • Arthur Trese; Environment & Plant Biology
  • Kenneth K. Walsh; Civil Engineering

CLICK HERE to see a list of the offered courses for these University Professor winners


Previous University Professor Winners