The World Around You

Philosophy Begins in Wonder


Section: 1020/73087
Meeting Time: Tuesdays, 9:30-10:20 AM
Semester Length: Regular Session

Although everyone has a philosophy, many wonder about what philosophy is, what the study of philosophy involves, and whether taking courses in it has any value. We will explore these wonders in the context of the college education you are just beginning and, in particular, how you can maximize the benefit you get from this journey by engaging in the intellectual life of our community, connecting with other students and faculty, and getting involved in co-curricular activities.

We will start by discussing some of the challenges you will face in college and form groups to learn about and report on different resources and activities that can help you meet these challenges. We will then discuss some challenging philosophical questions embedded in the Common Read book. We will conclude the course by exploring the philosophical issue of whether or not we have free will.


Lou Katzner

Position: Trustee Professor - Philosophy Department
Address: 308 Shatzel Hall

Lou Katzner joined the philosophy department at Bowling Green State University in 1969. He has studied the values that arise in human and social interactions in a variety of areas: medicine, law, politics, and the education of children.

Lou served as an administrator for 13 years beginning in 1985. He was named Trustee Professor of Philosophy upon returning to teaching philosophy on a full-time basis in 1998.

Creatures and Features of the Great Black Swamp

Section: 1036/77092
Meeting Time: Thursdays, 1:30-2:20PM
Semester Length: Regular Session

This team-taught course will take an interdisciplinary look at The Great Black Swamp, the unique area in which BGSU and communities in NW Ohio are located. The Swamp is an area about the size of Connecticut that has been described as “an oozing mass of water, mud, snakes, wolves, wildcats, biting flies, and clouds of gnats and mosquitoes.” The Great Black Swamp was formed by receding glaciers that left behind a pattern of sand dunes interspersed with thick black muck, impassible and uninhabitable. The history and legacy of the Great Black Swamp are important to the character of this area. This seminar will be consist of a set of interactive activities lead by different faculty members who have been participating in their own exploration of the Great Black Swamp together. Faculty come from a variety of backgrounds and each will run one two-hour session of the course, engaging students in swampy activities from their own disciplinary perspective. 

Learning Outcomes

  1. Engage students in the intellectual life of the university and the relevance of the seminar topic: What better way to engage students in the intellectual life of the university than to expose them to multiple disciplinary perspectives and pedagogical styles. The faculty team are part of a learning community examining the relevance of “place” for sustainability. As learners themselves they are well-positioned to share with students their excitement about the topic and its relevance. 
  2. Connect students with faculty and peers: Students will connect directly with at least four faculty members who will each present and engage with students on a different aspect of the Great Black Swamp. The activities will include a kayak experience on the Maumee River, a visit to Wintergarden Park in Bowling Green, photography to document their experiences, and reading and composing poetry. These are just some examples of activities that will inspire students to connect with each other as they undertake these explorations. 
  3. Involve students in co-curricular activities on campus and in the community: As described above, students will experience at least a couple of field trips to explore the local environment that remains of the Great Black Swamp. They will learn about the flora and fauna of the area while observing it for themselves on foot and in a kayak. Students will meet local naturalists in the field who will share their expertise. There will be opportunities for students to help with activities such as gathering seeds to help protect native species. 

Margaret Weinberger

Position: Senior Lecturer - Sociology
Address: 241 Williams Hall

Margaret J. Weinberger, Ph.D., is a Senior Lecturer and Director of the Undergraduate Program in the Department of Sociology. Her doctorate is in American Culture Studies with an emphasis on Popular Culture. She teaches Cultural Anthropology and a number of different sociology courses, including Minority Groups, Sociology of Gender, and Environmental Sociology. She has extensive experience in animal rescue and is passionate about threats to wildlife as well as the welfare of domestic animals. A long-time resident of Bowling Green, she has roots in the Great Black Swamp having played in its forest areas and ditches, and spent considerable time on the Maumee River. She shares her home with three dogs and two cats.


Lara Martin Lengel

Position: Professor - Communications
Address: 314 Kuhlin Center

Lara Martin Lengel, Ph.D.,Professor, School of Media and Communication researches and teaches environmental communication and intercultural and international communication. She has published work on environmental health, environmental toxin e-waste in Africa, and environmentalism in music. Her research appears in, among others, Global Health Promotion, Journal of Communication Inquiry, International Journal of Women’s Studies, Communication Studies, Studies in Symbolic Interaction, International Journal of Communication, and International Journal of Health Communication. 


Kim Turner Young

Position: Instructor - School of Art
Address: 108 Fine Arts Center

Kim Turner Young is a Digital Arts Instructor in the School of Art. She teaches courses including Digital Painting, Story and Concept Development for Digital Media, Web-Based Narrative and Game Development, and Professional Practices for Digital Arts. She recently returned from teaching an Education Abroad course in New Zealand that focused on Environmental Art in the context of sustainability. A native of Bowling Green, she grew up playing in what remains of the Black Swamp, and feels a deep connection to the local landscape shaped by the Great Black Swamp.


Ian Young

Position: Senior Lecturer - Philosophy Department
Address: 309 Shatzel Hall

Ian Young is a Senior Lecturer and the Undergraduate Advisor for the Department of Philosophy. His main area of interest is political philosophy, particularly in issues relating to multiculturalism and nationalism. He teaches a variety of undergraduate courses, including introductory courses, political philosophy, business ethics, medical ethics, philosophy of death and dying, environmental ethics and the philosophy of peace and war. In connection with the latter, he helped to create the minor in Peace and Conflict Studies. He also teaches courses at BGSU’s Chapman Learning Community and in the Political Science department. He loves to travel and in January 2019, he and Kim Turner Young of the BGSU School of Art took a group of 14 BGSU students on a three week study abroad trip to his native land of New Zealand, where they focused on environmental issues and activities.

Dust in the Wind: A Stardust Journey


Section: 1009/73083
Meeting Time: Mondays, 1:30-2:20PM
Semester Length: Regular Session

A long time ago, in a solar system far, far away events unfolded that caused the expulsion of material from stars into the interstellar medium, the region between stars in the galaxy. This stardust plays a primary role in the formation of new stars and solar systems as gas and dust coalesce, forming nebulae – the birthplace of new stars and planets. Usually, the gas and dust that are present during the birth of star are melted, broken down, and recombined in a variety of ways, leading to the formation of new materials and chemical compounds. Amazingly, some of the stardust that traveled the incredibly long journey to our region of space and was present during the formation of our Sun has survived to be discovered today in meteorites. This course will explore the incredible life and times of stardust grains, some smaller than human cells, that traveled a distance of many light-years and were present during the formation of our Sun.

Through the use of group discussions, problem-based learning activities, and reflective writing assignments, students will take on the role of a problem-solver, as we investigate the discovery of stardust in meteorites and discuss the study from the viewpoint of an astrophysicist, a material scientist, and a philosopher. Our discussions will be accentuated by our attendance at a campus planetarium show and participation in a campus stargaze activity.


Dr. Eric Mandell

Address: Overman Hall 173

Reptiles are So Cool (They’re Cold-Blooded)


Section: 1021/76178
Meeting Time: Mondays, 1:30-2:30 PM
Semester Length: Regular Session

This will be a hands-on, minds-on experience with reptiles. Starting with a behind the scenes tour of the Reptile House at the Toledo Zoo, we will concentrate on the animals housed in the BGSU Herpetarium, learning the basics of their care and natural history. 

After being given an overview of reptiles in general, each student will choose one of the species housed in the Herpetarium to learn more about. They will perform a literature search, looking for research conducted on the species, information about its natural habitat, and interesting facts that make the species unique. This information will be shared with the class in oral presentations where the student has the animal in hand while they talk about it. Animals in the Herpetarium will be photographed and the class will compile a children’s book using the information they have found, suitable for sharing with school groups who come to visit the Herpetarium, thus completing a service learning project.


Eileen Underwood

Position: Associate Professor - Biological Science

Dr. Underwood is a developmental geneticist by training, who teaches introductory biology (for science majors), developmental biology, and amphibian and reptile husbandry, among other things. She is the director of the BGSU Herpetarium. While past research has involved Drosophila developmental genetics, current research focuses on best practices for students learning and best practices in reptile husbandry.