Dates: Wednesdays; Oct. 11–Nov. 15

Time: 10:00 a.m. to Noon

Location: Hope Lutheran Church

Does it matter that we are the only creatures we know of who are aware of their mortality? Does consciousness of our finitude impel us to create culture, symbolic meaning systems and immortality schemas to manage our fears? Is it possible that fear of death figures in human conflict, ethnic tensions, the “battle of the sexes,” contemporary “culture wars” and both our greatest triumphs and our most heartbreaking tragedies? As mythologist Joseph Campbell explains, the first function of myth in cultures across the planet is to reconcile our awareness of mortality by anchoring human existence in meaningful belief systems.

Class Format: lecture and discussion Readings: The Worm at the Core: The Role of Death in Life by Sheldon Solomon, Jeff Greenberg & Tom Pyszczynski. Suggested: The Denial of Death by Ernest Becker; Being Mortal by Atul Gawande; Escape from Evil by Ernest Becker

Donovan ThomasInstructor: Dr. Thomas Patrick Donovan has been teaching graduate and undergraduate students since 2004 and has served as a Faculty Fellow in the Honors College at MSU since 2011. He holds a doctorate in Psychology and is particularly interested in the existential questions regarding living a meaningful life that inform the human condition the world over.