Methods of Inquiry

The Methods of Inquiry (MOI) course, CORE 1929, is the bridge that connects the Foundation Tier courses in Philosophy, Theology, and Rhetoric with the multi-disciplinary examination of a theme within the Discovery Tier. Each MOI examines a single topic or question from the vantage point of three distinct disciplines. This approach prepares students for the Discovery Tier, which provides a deeper dive into multi-disciplinary examinations of themes related to our basic needs and assumptions.


CORE 1929

Methods of Inquiry Schedule, Spring 2020



Water Quality

MW 10-10:50


Jennifer Gaul Stout, Educational Policy and Leadership

Krassimira Hristova, Biological Sciences

Jill Birren, Nursing


This class will explore the causes of water pollution and the consequences for environmental and human health. We will focus on an influential case in Wisconsin in which agricultural practices have contaminated both ground and surface water. This issue has generated statewide attention on the efficacy and implementation of environmental policies and regulations. Because this is a multi-faceted issue, we will look at it through three different perspectives to improve our understanding of the complexities of water governance in the United States: science, public policy, and public engagement. We will: (1) learn how scientific data are used to identify and assess water contamination concerns; (2) engage debates about the effectiveness of federal, state, and local policies; and (3) examine how various actors engage science to affect policy change. 



Energy and Human-Induced Climate Change

MWF 11-11:50


Tim Tharp, Physics

Jame Schaefer, Theology

David Nowacek, Social and Cultural Sciences


Students enrolled in this methods of inquiry course will address the local, real-world challenges of spurring Marquette University to greatly reduce its effects on global climate change. Students’ ability to engage this challenge will be built upon the insights of three distinct disciplines—physics, theology, and sociology. Students will learn the fundamental scientific principles governing climate change and energy use, consider the theologically grounded ethical imperatives that require altering our energy strategy, and explore some institutional constraints and possibilities open to Marquette that can minimize its impact on the climate. If our institutions of higher learning cannot lead in this crucial endeavor, who will?




MW 12-12:50


Karen Hoffman, Political Science

Julissa Ventura, Educational Policy and Leadership



What is citizenship in the United States? Who decides whether an individual in the United States is a citizen? The idea of citizenship is contested in American society and involves legal, political, social, and cultural considerations. This course will examine American citizenship from three perspectives: as a legal concept determined by law, as a social/cultural attribute shaped by political discourse, and as a civic concept that has influenced policies and practices in schools.  



Constructing Disability

MW 2-3:15


Enaya Othman, Languages, Literatures, and Cultures

Linda Menck, Communications

Karalee Surface, Honors Program


Disability is a complex and multifaceted term which is often socially constructed. It has elusive and evolving meanings. It also has cultural, legal, historical, and social understandings loaded with idiosyncrasies. Its meaning is subject to change over time or even from one social or cultural group to another. It can be used to describe any chronic health condition (including physical, intellectual, mental, emotional, or addiction condition) that would affect an individual’s ability to do everyday activities related to mobility, communication, work, etc. This class will explore the social construct of disability in three ways: “finding” them in the historical record, “perceiving” them through cultural lens, and “including” them in the larger society through design and technology.  



Be Rational

T-Th 9:30-10:45


Brittany Pladek, English

Yoon Choi, Philosophy

Michael Zimmer, Computer Science


Reason is a powerful marker of authority in our most passionate public debates. Whether the topic is climate change or racial politics, being seen as rational is a winning strategy. But what does being “rational ” really mean, and how do we know if reason is guiding our actions and thoughts? In this Methods of Inquiry class, we'll explore what reason is (and isn't) by working with faculty from Philosophy, English, and Computer Science. Do you think you're a rational person, that computers are more rational than human beings, that there’s only rhyme and no reason in poetry? This course will show you why the answers aren't as clear—or reasonable—as you might think.




T-Th 12:30-1:45


Tara Daly, Languages, Literatures, and Cultures

David McDaniel, History

Fr. Michael Maher, History


What does it mean to be modern, to look modern, or to sound modern? While the term “modern” is commonly used as short hand to mean “presently” or “just now,” modernity refers to a historical period particularly associated with the 19th century up until, or just prior to, WWII. In this course, we will look at modernity at the turn of the century as a way of seeing the world characterized by (1) the rise of technology (2) the celebration and culmination of Enlightenment ideals and (3) the formation of subjects who see and develop technology vs. those who are seen as objects of photographic, literary, or historical inquiry. In other words, we will tease apart how modernity comes to mean by looking at what and whom it includes and excludes. We will consider texts and images from both sides of the Atlantic Ocean and from North and South America, drawing on methods from history, literature, and the visual arts to track the ways that modernity has been framed within the context of different geographic, cultural, and disciplinary traditions.