Fear and Happiness in America

Simpson Colloquium SC 101 – Fear and Happiness in America

Take a look at the United States over the last 50 years and a mystery appears. Our standard of living is higher, our homes are bigger, and we enjoy conveniences that used to be luxuries, but we’re no happier than Americans were way back then. In fact, many people live in constant fear – paranoid about crime, terrorist attacks, big government, and epidemic diseases. In this class, we will explore the extraordinary influence of news media and culture on our perceptions about both risk and well-being (i.e. happiness). Do you think you know what will make you happy? By reflecting on readings and films about happiness and research on the causes of happiness, we hope to find answers to this question.

Meet Your ProfessorKedron-Bardwell-300x127

edron Bardwell, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Political Science

I grew up in the Midwest and Mountain West, went to high school in Denver, and attended a liberal arts college in South Dakota (Augustana). While in college, I immersed myself in student activities (student government, the newspaper, and intramural volleyball and flag football) and tried out a few different majors: math, education, history, and finally political science. I decided to pursue graduate school at the University of Iowa at the urging of a mentor and professor I admired and, honestly, to avoid the “real world” and job search a bit longer.

At the University of Iowa, I learned to love the Hawkeyes, met my wife, and then moved to Michigan to teach at a large state university for three years. But I never lost the itch to teach at a small, liberal arts college. When a position opened up here at Simpson, I jumped at the opportunity. Now I get paid to do the things I love to do (and would probably be doing anyway) in a career that doesn’t feel like “work.” I lead May Term travel experiences to Washington D.C., help students find internships in politics and law, and teach fascinating subjects like public policy, religion and politics, mass media, and the environment. I’m co-director of the First Year Experience and work with students on a research survey of student and faculty political attitudes every presidential election year.

I live just a few blocks from campus with my wife, Rachel, and our two energetic boys: Micah (7) and Eli (5). In my limited free time, I like to spend time with my family, work on DIY projects around the house, read about public affairs, go to Storm athletic events with the boys, and watch college and NFL football.

Meet Your SC LeaderIMG_9945

Britney Steele

Hi everyone!

My name is Britney Steele. This upcoming fall I will be a senior and the Simpson Colloquium Leader for Professor Bardwell. I grew up in Altoona, Iowa and I graduated from Southeast Polk High School in 2011.

I am double majoring in Political Science and Business Management with a concentration in Finance and Insurance, and I’m working toward a minor in Economics. I am the President of Pre-Law Society. My future plans consist of going to Law School.

I also play softball here at Simpson and I am a huge supporter of Simpson Athletics. As a college student my academics and athletics are a priority but I also believe it is necessary to enjoy your time here at Simpson. I’ve met amazing people here both academically and socially. I can’t wait to meet all of you and to help make your experience here at Simpson as enjoyable as mine has been! ​

Meet Your Writing Fellow

Kate Hayden

Hey all,

My name is Kate Hayden and I’ll be your Writing Fellow for Professor Kedron Bardwell’s class as a 2014-15 senior.
I study multimedia journalism with a political science minor, with a bit of a focus on breaking news and photojournalism. I’ve worked with Simpson Student Media all through college, first as reporter/photographer, then as the photography editor and news director for the past two years.

I studied abroad in London at the University of Roehampton during fall 2013, focusing on freedom of speech rights in the U.S./U.K. and the impact of war and international conflict coverage on women and girls in conflict-ridden nations and territories. I like to write a lot.

I’ve worked at the same camp for the past three summers (Camp Okoboji in Milford, IA); I have an Instagram addiction (@xkatehayden); and I have previously knitted a scarf before. Alongside class work, I’d love to talk to you about downtown Des Moines, travel, typewriters and concerts. I’m originally from the Chicago suburbs but grew up in northern Iowa and have spent the past 10+ years living in Indianola. Follow me on Twitter (@xkatehayden) and friend me on Facebook: I know where the best food in town is.


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