Each Messina course pairing is keyed towards an interdisciplinary theme that will allow students to make connections across the two courses and through our course enrichment sessions. We invite you to explore the different options.
Galileo, Marie Curie, Martin Luther King, Dorothy Day, Steve Jobs, Ignatius Loyola. Visionaries imagine what does not yet exist, but might—someday. They often suffer hardship, criticism, and ridicule as others fail to share their visions. What drives the visionary? Necessity, ego, faith, justice, the vision itself? How does the world come to recognize the visionary and eventually come to share in that vision? This theme explores the individuals who have transformed the world with their imagination, courage, and insight.
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Self and Other
How do our relationships with others shape us? What circles of belonging do we draw around ourselves (self, family, school, parish, race or ethnicity, nation), and how do these influence who we are? Where do the circles end and why, and what is our connection and obligation to those outside of them? How do our encounters with others, both near and far, historical and fictional, help us better to understand not just what is different from us, but who we are and might become? Students enrolled in Self and Other course pairings will explore how we imagine the other, and how those imaginings shape our willingness to learn from, sympathize with, and open ourselves to the other.
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Stories We Tell
It has been said that the destiny of the world is determined less by the battles that are lost and won than by the stories it loves and believes in. Why do we tell stories? For entertainment, certainly. To move, to persuade; to shape belief, to inspire action. We use stories to explain ourselves to others, to make sense of our history and our experience. Ultimately, we use them to organize our world. This theme explores the power of the stories we tell.
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The Good Life
What does it mean to live the good life? What influences our understanding of what it means to live well? This theme challenges us to examine individual, local, and global frameworks for defining "the good life." An understanding of the good life requires discriminating between wants and needs; it also requires the consideration of more than material goods and possessions. The good life, above all, is defined by values—most notions of the good life include a sense of belonging, spiritual fulfillment, and the attainment of knowledge. How do we aspire to specific ways of being, and how do those aspirations shape the way we live?
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Potential Theme for Future Years:
Male-Female; U.S.-Mexico; mind-body; animal, vegetable, mineral: we seem to need to divide things from one another. How and by whom are borders defined? Why does crossing borderlines so frequently create tension and conflict? Is it possible to inhabit the border itself? We often find comfort staying inside the lines; at the same time, we cross borders to expand our horizons and enrich our understanding. This theme examines borders, divisions, edges, and overlaps: not just in the sense of political or geographical boundaries, but also in terms of art, society, philosophy, and ideology.