Illinois State’s faculty are constantly examining their curriculum to make sure students are equipped with crucial knowledge in their fields and can learn more about their own passion.

There are several new courses this semester on topics ranging from the hospitality industry to big data. Here’s a closer look at three of the new courses being offered for the first time during the fall 2014 semester.

Energy for a Sustainable Future (TEC 170)

Department of Technology

A new general education course offered this fall will give students a look at the nature and role of energy in our daily lives.

The course was created by Assistant Professor of Technology Jin Ho Jo and his colleagues based on the framework outlined in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy 101 initiative.

Jin Ho Jo

Assistant Professor of Technology Jin Ho Jo.

Jo, who also serves as associate director of the Center for Renewable Energy, plans to cover broad topics such as energy history and fundamentals, while also looking in-depth at key factors in energy such as energy availability and residential, commercial, and industrial energy consumption.

“I want them to have the very basic and fundamental energy information,” Jo said. “I am not here to just give them a bunch of information. I want them to think about this issue and discuss it further.”

Jo plans to have the course take on a hybrid format where students will meet once a week and then continue discussions online.

Jo’s personal research aligns well with the topic. He received the first Ph.D. in the nation in sustainability and continues to research structures for sustainable energy and how we can assess and identify the optimum level for those resources.

“People may think the more the better, but that’s not true,” Jo said. “If we install more than what we need you end up dumping or wasting the energy. I am trying to propose something ideal for the society, such as an energy structure. In the future we can increase the system’s capacity.”

Criminal Court Systems (CJS 210)

Department of Criminal Justice Sciences

Michael Gizzi

Associate Professor Michael Gizzi.

Associate Professor Michael Gizzi’s new class will examine the judicial process and focus on the criminal courts.

“The criminal justice system has three institutions that comprise the system,” Gizzi said. “We have policing, we have courts, and we have corrections. They are a three-legged stool if you think about it. You don’t get to corrections without going through the courts. I wanted to create a class that would focus on courts and their role in the criminal justice system.”

Students will spend their first day in class viewing clips from popular movies set in courts such as A Few Good Men and My Cousin Vinnie, and then watching clips taken from actual trials. This will begin a dialogue that will compel students to question preconceived notions of what happens in the courts.

“Fact and fiction don’t always interact,” Gizzi said. ”It’s not that there aren’t very compelling moments in trial courts, but most of the time, they do not live up to the drama of Hollywood. More importantly, given that 95 percent of all cases don’t go to trial, I do not spend the bulk of my time teaching about trial. I spend more time exploring plea bargaining, the power of prosecutors, and the shifting nature of the system away from trials.”

Gizzi intends to give his students a broad look at the criminal court system as well as considering such topics as appellate courts, specialized courts, civil justice, and wrongful conviction.

Foundations of U.S. Latino/a Literatures and Cultures (ENG 267)

Department of English

Ana Isabel Roncero-Bellido

Ph.D. student Ana Isabel Roncero-Bellido.

Ana Isabel Roncero-Bellido will be leading students through a survey of Latina feminism. The course will examine the imposition of the Latino and Hispanic labels and how they affect the experiences of Latinas, as well as how Latinas use writing to reflect on these experiences.

The exploration of Latina feminism will cross borders, focusing on different nationalities and the development of women of color feminisms.

“We also need to understand why some Latinas are using the term Latinas as a coalitional term,” said Roncero-Bellido, a Ph.D. student studying Latino/a literatures and cultures in the English Department.

Roncero-Bellido expects to draw students from the English Department, as well as those working toward a minor in Latina studies or women and gender studies. She hopes to attract students from other disciplines as well to enrich the examination of materials and class discussions with a variety of perspectives.

“I would like students to understand why the development of Latina feminism is important and how it differs from other feminisms but at the same time see the commonalities with women of color feminism,” Roncero-Bellido said. “I would like them to understand the implications of imposing the Latina/Latino and Hispanic labels and what the mean to the Latino community.”

Steven Barcus can be reached at


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