human sexuality 1140-99

contact information
teaching philosophy
intellectual history
curriculum vitae
Work Station
english 1111-98 /-99
english 1114
human sexuality 1140-99
innovative technology and instruction- 1140-99
interdisciplinary studies 1125
interdisciplinary studies 1140-99
u of phx
online projects
development resources
instructional design
hypertext library
editing / writing projects
online teaching resources
digital media
listserv utilities
educational gaming
idea log
computer science
Tea Party
building blocks
publishing resources
beta peregrini
online architecture
blog lines (rss feeds)

Colette Wanless-Sobel

Web site:

Phone:    Home:   530.268.3248 Pacific Time (no later than 9:00 PM, please;

                answering machine available)

E-mail address:





~~Online Readings. Links to online readings provided in D2L.


REQUIRED FILMS (You will be asked to rent one of these films and view it.)


A Ma Soeur (2001). Catherine Breillat Director.  France.  Run-time: 


Brokeback Mountain (2005).  Ang Lee, Director.  United States.  Run-time:  134 minutes.


Kissed (1996).  Lynne Stopkewich, Director. Canadian.  Run-time: 78 minutes.


Rocky Horror Picture Show. (1975).   Jim Sharman, Director.  United States.   Run-time: 100 minutes.


These films are available for rental in VHS or DVD in video shops in the Twin Cities, or, if you are a member, through NETFLIX.



A good desk dictionary, such as Webster’s New Collegiate.   



“Human Sexuality” is an interdisciplinary study of sexuality that will assist in better understanding of sexual values and practice in a pluralistic society. This is a writing intensive course and will be noted accordingly on your transcript.


The main purpose of this course is to invite you to think more critically and thoughtfully about what sexuality is.  It is easy to assume sexuality is about biology, anatomy, genes, drives and desires, and, of course, it is in part. But sexuality is also much more than this, and it is this much more we shall be exploring this semester.



Because I assume that you can locate material elsewhere relating to biology and anatomy, we shall not spend a lot of time on the human physiology of sexuality.  Instead, we shall focus on the social, cultural, and historical contexts in which people develop and express their sexuality.  In addressing the larger picture of sexuality, we shall examine the following:


~~Language:  Language about sexuality utilizes writing, images, syntax sound, and also gestures and nonverbal cues. 


~~Culture:  Sexual values and practices in specific times and cultures. Although the class is framed largely in a contemporary American context, the coursework should serve as a springboard to stimulate independent thinking about issues of sexuality historically and globally.  Questions:  What role does culture play in developing and controlling sexuality?  How do we learn those attitudes, values and goals?


~~Socialization:  As human beings living in a particular time and place, we are members of many social groups and subcultures.  Question:  How is socialization used to develop and control individual and group expressions of sexuality?


~~Demographics and variables.  How do these variables influence sexuality: Race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, biological sex, social class, age, physical/ mental ability, religion, geography?


~~Critical thinking:  Critical thinking is necessary to explore human sexuality.  We need the habit of mind to question what we read, think, hear and feel involving sexuality.   We need to keep in mind the difference between attitudinal and value statements about sexuality, and statements of fact.





In recent years, human sexuality courses, even at the college level, have become somewhat controversial.  Because of this, it has become important for instructors to obtain informed consent.  Students enrolled in sexuality courses need to know exactly what the courses entail, and what they might expect.

In reference to 1140-99, relevant issues include the following:



Warning. As the title of this course implies, we will cover a wide range of sensitive topics.   Please think seriously about whether or not such issues will offend you before you decide to take this class.  Recognizing your limits demonstrates a high level of maturity.  At the same time, because this class approaches sexuality intellectually, academically and critically, it is not titillating or obscene.


Willingness to discuss sexuality.   Although “Human Sexuality” is not a sexuality support group or encounter group, team discussions and full-class discussions are a large part of the class.  Participation in these activities is mandatory, and although expression of personal attitudes and values will be encouraged, there will be no obligation to self-disclose personal sexual behavior.  In small group discussions, students may choose to “pass” if they do not wish to be part of the discussion of a particular topic.  It should be noted however, that when students consistently fail to enter into discussion or evidence discomfort with most topics discussed, it tends to be disruptive to the group.  Therefore, if you feel you would be uncomfortable discussing sexuality topics at all, you should probably consider dropping the course. Every effort will be made to inform students ahead of time of what to expect from classroom activities, and withdrawal from any structured exercise will always be an option.


Personal accommodations. Because sexuality is a highly personal and sensitive topic, and because some students may have had specific past negative experiences, reactions to course content and activities will vary and sometimes be unpredictable.  Students are encouraged to communicate any concerns or reactions they may have with the instructor about the course or subject matter.  Often, adjustments can be made to alleviate students' concerns and to avoid potential problems.  Also, communication can be a helpful in resolving any negative reactions to class experiences that may have occurred.  If a student knows in advance there is a topic that will be difficult for him/her, she/ he should let the instructor know, and an accommodation can be made.


Jokes and vulgarity. Jokes, vulgarity and inappropriate comments or behavior are annoying to others and will not be tolerated. Furthermore, jokes and vulgarity do not generally contribute to a better understanding of sexuality. If you encounter this behavior in the class, please let me know, and I will take care of it.  (Note:  One of the assignments does ask people to post a sexual joke to the Discussion board and analyze it.)


Language.  Students are likely to be exposed to a wide range of sexual words and language during the term of this course.  Some exercises specifically solicit “dirty words” and analyze language usage.  At the same time, the course does not mimic the sexual banter of a locker-room.  In general, socially appropriate technical and non-obscene language will be used and encouraged. E.g.  When talking about breasts, use the word breasts.


Use of explicit material / films.   Explicit reading material, films and slides (e.g. material typically X-rated or material that is used for sex education and therapy) will not be used in this course, although each student will have the option to explore such material in the secondary research essay at the end of the term.


“Advocacy” of Specific Topics:  The presentation of a particular topic or its inclusion in the textbook does not imply advocacy.  For example, inclusion of the topic of same-sex marriage does not imply that your instructor or the author of the text is suggesting heterosexual marriage is bad, and that heterosexuals, will find happiness only with a same-sex partner.  As ludicrous as this reads, it is very common for students to assume covering a topic implies advocacy.  No sexual, religious, political, or ethical advocacy is entailed in this course.



Thinking critically and meta-cognitively about sexuality

Interdisciplinary study and sexuality

Language and sexuality:

  Sexual jokes / humor

  Peer conversation
  Rap lyrics ( such as Eminem)

  Online chatrooms and forums

Sexuality and Consumerism:


  Magazine Niche Marketing

 The sexualization of objects 

Sexuality and Television

  Sex and the City

  Desperate Housewives

Sexuality and Film

  A Ma Soeur, Brokeback Mountain, Kissed,   Rocky Horror Picture Show,  

Secondary Research:  Literature Review on Selected Topic


Sex workers / prostitution

Same-sex marriage


Cross-cultural attitudes toward sexuality

Tourism and sexual recreation

Gay / Lesbian / Transgender parenting

Sex clubs

Strip clubs

Sex toy shops



The Laramie Project
Sex education



Students will…

A. Employ the methods and data that social and behavioral scientists use.

B. Examine social institutions and processes across a range of historical

     periods and cultures, although the focus is on American culture

C. Use and critique alternative systems or theories.

D. Develop and communicate alternative explanations for contemporary

      social issues.

E. Examine, articulate, and apply their own ethical views.

F. Understand and apply core concepts to specific issues.

G. Analyze and reflect on the relationships between ethical, legal, social and scientific issues.

H.  Gain an enhanced awareness of individual differences in values, attitudes, and behavior among different people and an increased ability to accept (not necessarily condone) these differences.

I. Foster independent, creative, and interactive learning.

J. Experience ample opportunities to discuss course topics and material.

K. Work effectively and responsibly in collaboration with others, simulating and modeling teamwork required in many professional venues.

L. Learn to access information and use the information effectively and ethically.




1. Obtain factual knowledge about human sexuality

2. Evaluate sexuality research

3. Clarify sexual values/ethics

4. Improve sexual communication abilities

5. Help develop a positive sexuality self-concept

6. Critically think and write about sexuality

7. Locate credible secondary sources on selected topic

8. Conduct ethnographic research
9.  Approach human sexuality from an interdisciplinary perspective

10. Collaborate learning with team members and class members

11. Develop knowledge construction skills, such as mapping and linking, both  important for 21st century information literacy

12.  Become familiar with the informative nature of cyberspace, which has a logical existence independent from physical boundaries




1. Analytical essays on course topics

2. Primary / ethnographic research

3. Secondary research essay (literature review) on selected topic (1)

4. Class discussion

5. Team discussion




How does one begin to write about her or his teaching philosophy?  I find it difficult to articulate my teaching philosophy per se; however, there is a consistency in “themes” or "choreography” in each of the courses I teach. Let me briefly outline these for you here.

Prime learning environment.  Part of my job as an instructor is to continually seek new exercises and assignments that lead students in critical thinking and meta-cognitive analyses on the class subject. In order for this to occur, students need to be situated within a prime learning environment. What are the features of a prime learning environment?

  • Individualized instruction
  • Multi-sensory stimulation
  • Timely feedback and positive reinforcement
  • Student control of the learning environment

Accordingly, I design all of these features into my online classes.

Intellectual polyphony.   Readings, Web sites, and class discussions are based on whatever disciplines, knowledge and experiences will best illuminate the subject we are studying.  My goal is to construct a “smorgasbord” of ideas —an intellectual buffet table— from which students can select whatever best helps them to understand the issues and subject material.  So students travel through sociology, psychology, literature, ecology, cultural geography, cultural history, anthropology, philosophy, music, dance, art history, graphic arts, film studies, economics, marketing, Internet culture and popular culture such as advertising.

Critical thinking.   A favorite word of mine is why.  I encourage and nurture students to question, search for cause-effect and relationships, and evaluate inferential reasoning.  Students learn to present their ideas (in oral and written form) and provide the rationale or evidence that underlies their propositions.  Students also use creative, imaginative discovery as well as the scientific method, qualitative and quantitative.  The social and individual impact of thinking, ideas, and decisions is also emphasized.

Textual analysis for political and social encoding.  I suppose my training as an intellectual / cultural historian comes into play here, since I stress the importance of culture, class, gender, and ethnicity in textual analysis, both explicitly and sub-textually.  This approach helps position students for the multi-cultural, global thinking required in the twenty-first century.  Perhaps more importantly, this cultural approach prepares students for the complexity in their social, cultural and political environments in twenty-first century America.

Lifelong learning is modeled.  Every class I teach is an opportunity to model lifelong learning, since I am learning all the time, despite my Ph.D.  Furthermore, I am always seeking new conceptual and practical ideas to apply to class material.  For this reason, there is always experimentation, improvisation, creativity, and passion in the courses I teach, and my courses change and evolve every time I teach or “facilitate” them.  Doing so is risky, of course, because I give up the polish and security of tested material and instead venture into the unknown with students.  Venturing into the unknown, and having the intellectual confidence to tackle the unknown, is one life skill a rigorous liberal arts education can provide.  Indeed, a liberal arts education is not so much having the “right answers” but assuming an intellectual, critical posture in your life that will aid you, even provide succor, in all life’s endeavors.

Computer-Internet literacy is developed. Computer / information literacy is defined as “a new liberal art that extends from knowing how to use computers and access information to critical reflection on the nature of information itself, its technical infrastructure, and its social, cultural and even philosophical context and impact” - Shapiro, Jeremy J. and Shelley K. Hughes. Educom Review. 3.2. Mar. / Apr. 1996.   Class work in D2L and the Internet will develop skills in this new liberal art.

Service learning / civic engagement for enrichment.  By service learning / civic engagement, I mean experiential learning that employs service or real life problem applications in some form to government, community, private sector and non-profit agencies.  Service learning enhances the traditional classroom by actively engaging students in their own educations through experiential learning in course-relevant contexts. Furthermore, service learning fosters lifelong connections between students, their communities, and the larger human community —the world outside the classroom.

Here is a list of benefits service learning provides:

increases retention of course material;

increases the relevancy of education to real world applications;

enhances personalized education for students;

empower students as learners and democratic citizens;

invites students to become active members of their own communities; and

teaches job skills and prepares students for careers after college.



Now a little about me and where I am coming from, personally speaking.


I received my BA degree from Macalester College in Saint Paul, where I majored in humanities and English.  I began my graduate work at Tulane University in New Orleans and then transferred to the University of Minnesota to complete my Ph.D. in American/ cultural studies, concentrating in American intellectual history. My first teaching job was at the University of Saint Thomas in Saint Paul.  Since 1993, I have been at the University of Minnesota in Distance Education.  I have been teaching part time at Inver Hills Community College since 1999.  Lately, I have been developing online courses for Inver Hills.   Most recently, I began teaching online for the University of Phoenix.


Since this profile of me so far might lead you to think I am just a bookworm, let me add that, I also have a passion for numerous “nonacademic” activities:  farming; equestrian riding (dressage); friendships with people and my “companion” animals (three dogs, one cat, one blue and gold macaw, and one horse); community work for the city where I reside; and, last but not least, family life with a husband and two sons.


Some little-known facts about me:


~While reading E-mails and assignment submissions from students, I work at my desk at home, drinking coffee and sitting with my companion animals: three dogs, a blue and gold macaw and a big Tom cat.


~One day, I would like to have a small dairy goat herd and produce artisan cheese.


~ I would some day like to adopt a burro and a Mustang from the United States Department of the Interior.


~My house is often so dusty that, I run a spider motel. (I like spiders, though.)


~I always wished I was “good” at math.


~I am a passionate blogger and Web master, and I love computers.



So where do you fit in with all of this?


Essentially, for the next several weeks, I shall be your intellectual coach.  My job as a professional is to nurture you:  push you to be the best that you can be in terms of the course goals, and I take my job seriously. This does not mean I am a humorless slave driver.  What is does mean, though, is that I shall encourage active, engaged learners, and many students are uncomfortable and hostile to this endeavor, which is understandable, given most students have not been expected to assume the stance of active intellectuals/ thinkers before.  I hope you enjoy our sixteen weeks together.





--Safe Space in This Online Classroom: There are things from which I think every classroom, on-site or online, ought to constitute safe space. Here is my list:  (1) safety from sexual assault, abuse, threat or harassment; (2) safety from verbal assault ,abuse, threat or harassment;  (3) safety from sexism, gender-ism and homophobia; (4)  safety from class bias and chauvinism ; (5) safety from political and economic persecution; (6) safety from retaliation or revenge for expressing one's beliefs, feelings and ideas;  (7) safety from the instructors' abuse of power;  (8) safety from bias and insensitivity to individuals with special needs; and  (9) safety from physical assault, abuse or harassment.  I shall do my utmost to assure these safety standards are met and maintained in the class.  If at any time you feel "unsafe" for any reason, please let me know.

At the same time, it is important to point out that, there is a major difference between intellectual challenge with respect to ideas, and personal attacks against the holders of ideas.


 —Online Attendance:  This is not an independent study course, where you can log-in irregularly and fulfill assignments whenever you please, as long as work is submitted before the end of the term. This course requires you to complete work by certain due dates and to post online a number of times a week.   If you have an emergency situation, or an extended illness, contact me to rearrange work deadlines.  Note:  1/3 of the final grade is based on attendance and participation.  I emphasize this caveat not as a threat or to hold you hostage in class; however, I do want to inform you how much active participation counts in the class, and if you do not log–in to class, you can not participate.


—Late papers:  Late papers throw me and, most importantly, you off schedule.  Papers are due at the times specified, though, I am willing to allow exceptions when illness or other class assignments intrude.  It is your responsibility, however, to contact me to rearrange work deadlines.   Negotiating work deadlines is an important work /life skill, so practice it. In this class failure to do so will result in a grade reduction for the paper (s).  Once again, I do not like to begin the term by issuing threats.  Not only do threats set a negative tone for the class but they also counteract our relationship as colleagues.  Colleagues do not threaten each other —or at least they shouldn’t. My rules here for papers are mainly to avoid logistical nightmares (papers being turned in at all times) and also establish rules of fairness for all class members.  All of us are busy; all of us are juggling work, family responsibilities, school, and social obligations.  Meeting established deadlines is just common courtesy; however, if the deadlines can not be met, I respectfully request you renegotiate the deadline with me.


—Word processing.  All papers should be word processed, and proofread.


—Submissions.  All assignments may be submitted electronically via the D2L assignment dropbox system.


—Revision work:  When submitting revision work, please attach a copy of the “first draft,” too. More about this later.


—Plagiarism:  Scholastic honesty is expected.  I am obliged to report academic misconduct to the Dean of Students. See the college handbook for rules and regulations on this matter.


Readings:  You are required to keep up with all the reading in the course.  I shall give ample notice of due dates.  Since I do not depend much on the lecture method, our class sessions greatly depend on your reading the course material and coming to class and discussing it.


—Discussion:  Discussion sessions, online and in-class, will be an integral part of the instruction method employed in class.  “Why is discussion so important,” you ask.  Well, let me tell you:


--It helps students explore a diversity of perspectives.

--It increases students’ awareness of and tolerance for ambiguity or complexity

--It helps students recognize and investigate their assumptions.

--It encourages attentive, respectful listening.

--It encourages new appreciations for continuing differences.

--It increases intellectual agility.

--It helps students become connected to a topic.

--It shows respect for students’ voices and experiences.

--It helps students learn the processes and habits of democratic disclosure.

--It affirms students as co-creators of knowledge.

--It develops the capacity for the clear communication of ideas and meaning.

--It develops habits of collaborative learning.

--It increases breadth and makes students more empathic.

--It helps students develop skills of synthesis and integration.

--It leads to transformation. *


*Brookfield, Stephen D.  and Stephen Preskill.  Discussion as a Way of Teaching (San Francisco:  Jossey-Bass Publishers, 1999), pp.22-23


—Respect and collegiality:  Online, asynchronous class discussions allow peer interaction that is difficult to manage in regular lecture settings.   I designed “Human Sexuality” so as to make the most of our online class setting.   Accordingly, throughout the course, we all shall share our ideas and perspectives about research, writing, and critical thinking. In order for our class sessions to run smoothly, it is important to listen to others with an attitude of respect, and open-mindedness.   Polite disagreement with others’ ideas is permissible but contrariness or snide commentary is not.  Rude speech will not be tolerated.


—Team work:  Class time will consist of some “lecture” (very little, actually) online class discussion and small group (team) work.  Working in small groups is a rich intellectual and social experience, which I want all students to enjoy.  Small group work is not the occasion, however, to discuss last week’s party, or the latest sports’ scores.  Although some social interaction is only natural, the group is expected to concentrate on the assigned task.  Each student should take an active part in group activity and work toward advancing the group’s assigned task.  Active engagement is the key phrase here and is the basis for 1/3 of the course grade.


—Course work load:  Be prepared for a rigorous workload.  Essentially, you hired me to be your intellectual “coach” for the next sixteen weeks, and I am going to challenge you.  At the same time, I do take into account that, many of you work outside school and have family lives to attend to.


—Incompletes:  This course is not set up for incompletes; accordingly, only certified illness or emergency situations will be accommodated.  Students must initiate requests for either an incomplete grade or withdrawal from a course by filing the appropriate form


—Exams:  There is no midterm exam or final exam in this course.


—Special needs:  Students with special needs will be accommodated.  Students should contact me or Disabled Student Services.




--New Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy:

Effective Summer 2007 all Inver Hills students must maintain a 67% completion rate for all credits attempted. This is in addition to the existing requirement that students earn a cumulative Grade Point Average of 2.0 or above. See for the complete policy.


The final course grade is based on the following % of 1000-point total for individual / team projects.



A= 92% +

(920-1000 Points)

B= 91-84%

(919-840 Points)

C= 83%-76%

(839-760 Points)

D= 75%-68%



F= Below 68%

(Below 680 Points)

—If at any time during the semester you feel unsure about your “grade,” request an assessment from me.


—You always have the option of revising your work for a higher grade.  With this said, let me also add that revision work for a higher grade needs to be substantive, not shallow.  In other words, if you do the work required, you will earn a higher grade.   Sloppy, poor quality revisions will not be rewarded.


—Instructor evaluations:  At the end of the term, I shall ask you to complete a course evaluation. Another form of feedback I would appreciate, however, is your comments/suggestions as the course progresses.  Dialogue between us is crucial, as I use your ideas and concerns to tailor and fine-tune the course. Typically, SURVEYS in D2L is used to fine-tune the course and read the course pulse.



Topics and assignments are fleshed out in D2L CONTENT.


Typically, a new assignment is provided each Tuesday and the assignment is due the following Monday.  In other words, the course week is from Tuesday to Monday.


“See” you online!