Mini-Course Descriptions

Photo courtesy of Caren Andrus, c. 1986

Note: Running at the same time as mini-courses is Cosmic Zinefest at University Hall. You can read more about Cosmic Zinefest here.

Mini-Course Schedule

Session 1

1 - 2 p.m.
What Johnstonians Bring from the Center into the World: Stories of Civic Engagement and Social Justice
Patricia Karlin-Neumann, JC 1976, and Eli Orner Kramer, JC 2012
Location: Hall of Letters 100 (Large Capacity Room)
Patricia and Eli experienced Johnston in different eras, yet share a profound passion for our education.  At the 40th Renewal, Patricia began to ask several questions: How do we bring our education into the world?  What happens after Johnston?  Is there a relationship between experimental pedagogy and social justice?  In 2010, Patricia offered a Johnston seminar on innovative education attended by Eli, now a Philosophy professor, and we began collaborating on the study. We interviewed 11 faculty members, 33 alumni, read their graduation contracts, and surveyed 115 alumni ( We will share some preliminary findings to jumpstart a discussion with fellow Johnstonians. 
The Power of Love
Fran Grace, JC/CAS faculty member, Religious Studies
Location: Larsen Hall, Room 228
Fran will share stories from her new book, The Power of Love: A Transformed Heart Changes the World, an inspiring chronicle of life-changing encounters, personal transformation and a vision of love that transcends the everyday definition, to embrace universal compassion, based on the knowledge that all beings are one family and that our capacity to love is one of the world's most hidden yet powerful resources. One chapter is based on her Compassion class with JC/CAS students.  Reviewers say: “A masterpiece,” “splendid and moving narrative,” “reveals love in all of its facets,” “awakens the mind again and again.” 
50 Years of Wine Knowledge in an Hour
Wes Hagen, CAS 1992, honorary Johnstonian
Location: Gregory Hall, Room 177
An amusing romp through 200,000,000 years of wine and booze history:  Pangaea to Pasteur, with four stops in between to taste and learn how pros evaluate wine, and whether a hedonistic, humanistic or scientific method works the best while tasting wine.  If you want a stuffy discussion of barrel and malolactic fermentation, run away.  NOW!  NOTE: Also presented from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m.  Due to space limitations, to attend this session, please pick up free ticket vouchers at registration: first come, first served.
What Have You Done with Your One Wild and Precious Life … So Far
Kathy Ogren, U of R Provost, former JC Director, a.k.a. Coyotess
Location: Hall of Letters, Room 207
In this seminar we will create a collaborative mini-autobiography about the impact of Johnston education.  I taught autobiographical explorations of  many kinds in Johnston seminars, from Black and Native American Literature, to The Documentary Eye, to Jazz and Blues Literature, to Writing the West. How did you come of age in Johnston and why does it matter now?  Because beyond our storytelling, we will craft some visions for using our collaboration to move the community forward for future students and faculty. It’s our 2019 version of the  Bildungsroman meets strategic planning. (That’s what I do now.)
Virtual to Reality and Reality to Virtual: Exploring a Makerspace
Iyan Sandri, JC/CAS computer lab supervisor, JC 2008
Location: Armacost Library, Room 138
Ever wanted to design and own your own 3D item?  Fly over the earth? Travel to another county but were limited in means? Experience an all immersive environment?  Or revisit the location you studied abroad? If so come to this Mini Course where we will be looking at the University’s new Makerspace. Here you will be able to experience some of the tools students have access to, learn about the 3D printing process, and take home your very own 3D printed object.  NOTE: Due to space limitations, to attend this session, please pick up free ticket vouchers at registration: first come, first served.
The Anxiety of Writing: Conquering Self-Doubt, Perfectionism, and Procrastination
Sophie Schuyler, JC 2014
Location: Larsen Hall, Room 123
Do you often feel paralyzed, stressed, or fearful when it comes to completing creative or scholarly writing projects?  Would you label yourself as a procrastinator or a perfectionist?  Anxiety related to writing can bring up intense feelings of self-doubt, causing us to question our capabilities and hindering our productivity.  We will discuss the psychological underpinnings of writing anxiety, explore our complex relationships to the writing process through artistic and experiential exercises, learn from each other’s stories, and offer support.  The ultimate goal will be to begin to address our fears and move toward our full potential as writers.
Becoming a Magical Manifestor: DIY Career(s) after Johnston
Greg Van Hyfte, JC 1999
Location: Duke Hall, Room 102
Have you found that no single job quite fits your really cool studies and interests?  Do you have that creative spark but want to learn more about how to manifest and structure your career(s)?  Through sharing stories of my experience co-founding a yoga service nonprofit organization (YogaCare and a consulting company that does grant writing, project management, organizational development and program evaluation (GrowthVisionHealth, we’ll discuss example pathways and resources to help turn your own ideas and mission into realities.  Bring your musings and questions, and we’ll generate recommendations for making your dream career(s) a reality — DIY Johnston style!
Mastering the Masters Program: or How I Survived Grad School the Johnston Way
Eric Wong, JC 2010
Location: Larsen Hall, Room 227
This mini course will bring together Johnstonians who have pursued or are pursuing a graduate degree to share how they adjusted from Johnston’s model of highly individualized education to the grad school experience. We’ll have a conversation about how alums’ graduate experiences were shaped by Johnston, how Johnston prepared them for the rigors of higher education, what they needed to learn or unlearn regarding expectations, and how they carried the Johnston academic philosophy in an environment with likely very different academic approaches, constraints, and attitudes.  Anyone considering seeking a masters’ degree is strongly encouraged to attend for questions and advice!
End of Life: Preparation and Decision Making
Michael Wynn, JC 1973
Location: Larsen Hall, Room 125
As those of us from the early Johnston years enter our fifth, sixth and seventh decades, we are caring for parents at the ends of their lives and facing the same for ourselves.   How do people die?   What should we expect to happen?  How are we prepared?  What decisions should we be making ahead of time and how should those decisions be communicated to those around us?  

Race Rage: Write It Out

Ridha Kapoor, JC 2020, and Hanna Bratton, JC 2014

Location: Larsen Hall, Room 222

Inviting all POC who need to let out your frustrations to journal anything you want about your struggles. Release your anger, reflect on your experiences. Join us in connecting them to the outside world.

Conversations with Dwayne Orton at the University Club: A Retelling

Pres McCoy, Johnston College's first Chancellor

Location of Hall of Letters, Room 101

Pres McCoy retells "word for word" the conversations he had with Dwayne Orton before the beginning of Johnston College. 

2 - 4:30 p.m.
Peace and Unity for People of Color
Holt Lobby (Building is labeled "Bekins/Holt" on the exterior)
Dear People of Color,
We invite you to come share space in Holt Lobby with other Johnston students of color, both past and present. We would like to facilitate a healing space and take this time to reconceptualize the different ways that healing can be felt and understood. We spend so much time fixating on relaying our racialized experiences to white students, faculty, and friends and want this space to be free of the burdensome expectations that come with a PWI. Feel free to stop by whenever you can.

Session 2

2:15 - 3:15 p.m.
Johnston in the #metoo Era
Kelly Hankin and Tim Seiber, JC faculty members
Location: Hall of Letters 100 (Large Capacity Room)
Recently, popular attention has been paid to questions of sexual assault and consent, including on college campuses. In Fall 2018, Johnston’s First Year Seminar addressed these concerns through a discussion of two widely circulated articles: “Cat Person” and “On Aziz Ansari and Sex That Feels Criminal Even When It’s Not.”  Students found this conversation particularly challenging, especially as Johnston is both a site of feminist activism and a community not immune from gendered violence. In this mini-course, we reproduce this class, puzzling through these articles and exploring difficult questions around consent, Title IX, and sexual assault. Links to the readings are
Dostoevsky’s Petersburg
James Boobar, JC 2001
Location: Duke Hall, Room 108
Explore the interplay of the writings and life of Fyodor Michailovich Dostoevsky through text, story, and visual elements with the unique "Venice of the North," a city of fascinating history and beauty, St Petersburg, Russia.  We will be considering how Dostoevsky's Petersburg still reverberates today.
Gaia Yoga: The Art and Wisdom of Living Holistically, Unifying Spirit, Self, Community, and Earth
Ano Tarletz Hanamana, JC 1990
Location: Hall of Letters, Room 205
After 25 years of living in off-grid intentional communities, eating all raw food, practicing permaculture, and developing holistic culture in Hawaii, I have deep clarity about how our culture and cultural consciousness affects every aspect of life.  If we’re not living in a culture that is in alignment with our full human nature we will end up choosing between getting "the goodies" of society and being true to ourselves. This is not True Human Freedom. To experience this we need a new culture to live in or we will be compromised and crippled.  There is another way … let me show you.
If Not Me, Then Who?
Jahmari Johnson, JC 2021, and Hedy Yu, JC 2019
Location: Larsen Hall, Room 125

Innovation isn’t just for the business-savvy. It is for anyone who has ever had the vision to reinvent the present and/or create what didn’t exist before: artists, businesspeople, policy writers, activists, etc. In this mini-hands-on-workshop, participants will learn and practice using design-thinking, a non-linear process that challenges assumptions and identifies alternative solutions. Current and past Johnston students will come together to tackle a topic or issue relevant to Johnston today, but design-thinking can be used in any and all aspects of career and life. 

Interpersonal Reunion
Kirsten Orrahood, JC 2021, and Fred Rabinowitz, JC/CAS faculty member, Psychology
Location: Larsen Hall, Room 126
Throughout the course of Johnston’s history there has been a beating pulse of interpersonal relationships. Whether you partook in The Psychology of Interpersonal Relationships last year or decades ago, this is a space to reconvene and reignite the embers of old relationships and to kindle the sparks of new ones.  We will engage in meaningful discussions about how this course has shaped you, how you form relationships, and will work to examine the long-term effects of Interpersonal Relationships.  So, be present in the moment as we invite you to reembark on your interpersonal journey!
The Origins of Totalitarianism: A Sampler
Sharon Oster, JC/CAS faculty member, English, with Elise Eifler, JC 2019, Kate Emmons, JC 2019, Theo Whitcomb, JC 2019
Location: Hall of Letters, Room 105
Hannah Arendt’s The Origins of Totalitarianism (1951), the landmark political analysis of the major totalitarian movements of the twentieth century, Nazism and Stalinism, was frequently cited this past year due to a sea change in U.S. politics and culture.  Arendt illuminates how the foundational principles of Democracy become eroded, signs of which we see today: starkly-visible white supremacist groups, police violence against people of color, anti-immigrant sentiment and policy, homophobia and misogyny, among other ills. In response, resistance movements have expanded at all levels, revising models for achieving social justice. We will have short lectures and discussion of Arendt’s theory.
Mead Brewing
Iyan Sandri, JC/CAS computer lab supervisor, JC 2008
Location: Stafford Complex (by Gregory, Appleton, Hedco, and Lewis Halls)
Rain Location: Gregory Hall, Room 176
This will be an informal panel and demonstration on home brewing mead. Iyan will discuss the process of brewing mead and how his interest in mead started in Johnston. Supplies needed for brewing will be present and questions related to brewing will be answered as they brew a batch of mead. Other home brewers (of any type) are welcome and encouraged to talk about their process.
How Your Brain Works When It Doesn’t
Barbara Schrock, JC 1975
Location: Hall of Letters, Room 211
We will start with a quick talk on How the Brain Works followed by a discussion of your favorite brain disorders, such as concussion, dementia, and Your Brain on Weed.
Living and Learning in the Literary Community
Rebecca Schuh, JC 2013
Location: Hall of Letters, Room 213
How does a person foster a dedication to community in the land of careers and bills? How can you make a love of writing and part of your lifestyle rather than a hobby? Since I graduated from Johnston, I've found the answer to both in my work within the literary community. Professionally, we'll talk about publishing book reviews, author interviews, and the world of online literary journals. Socially, we'll talk about online writing communities and literary events. As is the Johnston way, we'll also think about how those social and professional worlds intersect! 
Doug Bowman Meditation Room Dedication
Facilitator: John Walsh, University Chaplain
Location: Meditation Room, Bekins Basement 8

 The dedication of the renovated Meditation Room in Bekins Basement to Doug Bowman along with a guided meditation.

Session 3

3:30 - 4:30 p.m.
Representations of the Afterlife in American Popular Culture
Kevin O’Neill, founding JC faculty member
Location: Hall of Letters 100 (Large Capacity Room)
Americans have been remarkably original in creating visions of what happens after we die.  Few American afterlives follow traditional models.  God, judgment, and punishment have little role to play in representations of Heaven.  We are also fascinated with the “undead” — the zombies, vampires, and ghosts who crowd our bookshelves, multiplexes, and DVRs — and with the spirits of family members and friends whom we contact through mediums.  We also love to visit the afterlife, as our NDEs and OBEs testify.  This session will examine how we represent these afterlives in film, TV series, and print, including comic books and graphic novels.
Strategies to Make the Kind of Impact You Want
Kelly Dries, U of R Director, Career & Professional Development
Location: Duke Hall, Room 102
Have you ever felt anxious about your future? Do you feel like you should know what you want to do with your life but you aren’t sure where to start?  In this session, we will utilize design thinking principles from the #1 New York Times best seller, Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life to understand the “life story” that has brought you to where you are right now, and examine what gives you energy and what drains you, so you can design a life that fills you up!   
Tantra, a Gentle Introduction
Steve Engle, JC 1983, and Angela Blessing
Location: Theater Arts Building, Room 210
We will present a brief introduction to Tantra, as we learn the ritual of creating a sacred space. Tantra is an ancient practice of presence and openness. This ritual is a very sweet process of creating connection between the members of a couple.  It can be a regular practice used to create intimacy by itself, or it can be the beginning of other sensual activities. Couples only please.  All genders and orientations are welcomed.  Participants need not be married, and will remain with their partner throughout the course.  There will no nudity or sex during the course. NOTE: Due to space limitations, to attend this session, please pick up free ticket vouchers at registration: first come, first served.  This course will conclude as late as 5 p.m. rather than 4:30 to allow more time for our exploration together.
50 Years of Wine Knowledge in an Hour
Wes Hagen, CAS 1992, honorary Johnstonian
Location: Gregory Hall, Room 177
An amusing romp through 200,000,000 years of wine and booze history:  Pangaea to Pasteur, with four stops in between to taste and learn how pros evaluate wine, and whether a hedonistic, humanistic or scientific method works the best while tasting wine.  If you want a stuffy discussion of barrel and malolactic fermentation, run away.  NOW!  NOTE: Also presented from 1 - 2 p.m.  Due to space limitations, to attend this session, please pick up free ticket vouchers at registration: first come, first served.
LGBTQ Discussion
Daniel Kiefer, JC/CAS faculty member, English
Location: Larsen Hall, Room 224
A conversation among Johnston folks of different affiliations and generations about our experiences with sexual identity, gender fluency, intersectionality, and social action.  We’ll tell stories of coming out, falling in love, making friends, advancing sexual and racial politics, forming alliances, and enjoying our lives.  
Queer and trans students of color in Johnston will lead this LGBTQ discussion, which is open to everyone. We'll recommend readings that raise questions about queer and trans experience across age, ethnicity, class, gender, and color.
Contemporary Revivalism in Trump’s America
Amy Moff Hudec, Associate Director, Community Service Learning
Location: Larsen Hall, Room 126
The revivals of the 19th century were brought on by fears that Americans were “not religious enough.” While data suggests that individuals are moving away from institutionalized religion, some argue that we are in the midst of another revival. In this mini-course, we will discuss the current state of conservative religious commitment, the “emerging” church, and the trends of religious individualism in the United States.
Mapping Johnston Sentiments with GIS for Experiential and Collaborative Learning
Steven Moore, U of R Director, Center for Spatial Studies
Location: Duke Hall, Room 200
New cloud-based geographic information system (GIS) applications such as Survey123 for ArcGIS make it easy for people to spin up online surveys that can be used to create crowd-sourced maps of nearly any kind of geographic information. In this mini course, participants will create one or more surveys designed to map important Johnstonian questions such as “where did you first ______ while attending the U of R?” and “where was your favorite place to ______ on campus or in Redlands?” In less than 60 minutes, course participants will design a crowd-sourced survey that they can take themselves and share with other Johnston renewal attendees.
Reconnecting with "Ending Oppression"
Keith Osajima, JC/CAS faculty member, Race & Ethnic Studies
Location: Larsen Hall, Room 228
All alums who took  the "Ending Oppression" class are invited to this mini-course.  We'll use those useful RC ideas and tools to re-connect with Keith, connect with others, and notice what it's like to be at the Renewal.  
In-roads to Publication
Rebecca Schuh, JC 2013
Location: Hall of Letters, Room 213
A Johnston education is the perfect incubator for fostering a writing process. Where to next?  "Publication" is an umbrella word—in this course we'll get specific, focusing on the different avenues, including personal essays, reported stories, op-eds, fiction, and book reviews, available to a writer and the practical steps on getting started in each. We'll discuss pitching stories, getting editorial contacts, developing an online portfolio, and brainstorm about each other's work. 


British Painter Stanley Spencer: The Influencers’ Influencer

Layne Murphy, JC 1976, and John Murphy, professor of Humanities

Location: Hall of Letters, Room 207

Stanley Spencer (1891-1959) inspired David Hockney and Lucian Freud. Many of his works depict biblical allegories, played out in the tiny Berkshire village of Cookham, where he lived most of his life.  Spencer's devout, if unconventional, Christian faith is channeled into many of his paintings.  But also, a sexuality that borders on lurid is apparent in much of his work.  The painter served as a medic in the First World War and produced 16 enormous canvasses that convey his horror at the atrocities of war, as well as his fervent Christian faith.  We'll project images of Spencer's most intriguing work and provide a brief biographical sketch of an artist whose personal life was as unconventional, and not of his time, as his work.