Classes

    Disease, Illness, and Health through Literature (Gen Ed 1078)

    Semester: 

    Fall

    Offered: 

    2020

    As healthcare costs soar and considerable suffering from disease and illness continues despite regular advances in medical technology, what should we advocate for in our communities, our societies, our nations, and beyond to ease the burden of disease and illness on health professionals, family caregivers, and care recipients alike?

     

    Aesthetics & Culture icon with text

    Karen Thornber

    Inevitably, at some point in our lives, most of us will develop a health condition that requires medical treatment and care. We also, regardless of our career, are likely to be called on to provide care for individuals (loved ones and/or patients) whose health conditions make it impossible for them to care for themselves.... Read more about Disease, Illness, and Health through Literature (Gen Ed 1078)

    Loss (Gen Ed 1131)

    Semester: 

    Fall

    Offered: 

    2022

    How are we to cope with the inevitability that some of what we most love in life we will lose?

     

    Aesthetics & Culture icon with text

    Kathleen Coleman

    Loss is an inevitable fact of human existence. Small losses most of us learn to bear with equanimity. But enormous, wrenching, life-changing losses open voids in our lives for which we can never feel adequately prepared, even if we can see them coming.... Read more about Loss (Gen Ed 1131)

    Why Is There No Cure for Health? (Gen Ed 1079)

    Semester: 

    Fall

    Offered: 

    2022

    Given all our technological advances, why are we still not able to prevent preventable diseases, provide affordable healthcare for millions of people, and deliver cures for curable diseases?

     

    Science & Technology in Society icon with text

    David M. Cutler

    Around the world, billions of dollars are spent on health care treatments, public health initiatives, and pharmaceutical research and development. So why are we still not able to prevent preventable diseases, provide affordable healthcare for millions of people, and deliver cures for curable diseases? And what are the best ways to address these issues? Because these questions are so large, we will focus our discussion around questions like: What steps should be taken to address epidemics? How should the United States reform its health care system? And how should prescription drugs be produced and sold?... Read more about Why Is There No Cure for Health? (Gen Ed 1079)

    Energy Resources and the Environment (Gen Ed 1085)

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2022

    How can we make sound, realistic choices about the ways we produce energy to support our growing global economies while fulfilling our responsibility as stewards of the environment?  

     

    Science & Technology in Society icon with text

    John Shaw

    This is a revolutionary time of change regarding how we produce and utilize energy around the world. How will we provide enough energy to support our growing global economy while protecting our environment? This class examines the full life cycle of each energy resource, including where it comes from geologically, how we acquire it, the way it is used in our economies, and the environmental impacts of these activities.... Read more about Energy Resources and the Environment (Gen Ed 1085)

    Natural Disasters (Gen Ed 1098)

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2023

    What makes our planet so dangerous?

     

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    Brendan Meade

    Poster for Gen Ed 1098 - Natural Disasters. Image is a satellite photograph of a hurricane. Text includes course time (Tuesday & Thursday, 10:30-1145am) and location (Haller Hall, Geology Museum).

    From Mexico to India, San Francisco to Tokyo, natural disasters have shaped both the surface of our planet and the development of civilizations. These catastrophes claim thousands of lives and cause tens of billions of dollars in damage each year, and the impact of natural disasters is only increasing as a result of human population growth and urbanization. This course uses the methods and skills associated with earth science to help you to develop an understanding of both the causes and impacts of these events.... Read more about Natural Disasters (Gen Ed 1098)

    Ancestry: Where do we come from and why do we care? (Gen Ed 1014)

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2021

    How does ancestry affect our opportunities, our rights, and our sense of who we are?

     

    Histories, Societies, Individuals icon with text Science & Technology in Society icon with text

    Maya Jasanoff

    Everyone comes from somewhere. We carry our ancestries in our DNA, genealogy, family stories, and more. What do these forms of evidence tell us about who we are, as a species, as a social group, or as an individual? This course looks at ancestry from a range of perspectives: biology, anthropology, genealogy, history, law, and memory—from the origins of human populations to the origins of you.... Read more about Ancestry: Where do we come from and why do we care? (Gen Ed 1014)

    Is the U.S. Civil War Still Being Fought? (Gen Ed 1133)

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2023

    How and why does the U.S. Civil War continue to shape national politics, laws, literature, and culture---especially in relation to our understanding of race, freedom, and equality?

     

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    John Stauffer

    Most of us were taught that the Civil War between the Confederacy and the Union was fought on battlefields chiefly in the American South between the years of 1861-1865. In this narrative, the North won and the South lost. But what if the issues that resulted in such devastating bloodshed were never resolved? What if the war never ended? This course demonstrates the ways in which the United States is still fighting the Civil War, arguably THE defining event in U.S. history.... Read more about Is the U.S. Civil War Still Being Fought? (Gen Ed 1133)

    The Holocaust (Gen Ed 1118)

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2022

    How could the Holocaust have happened/how did it happen?

     

    Histories, Societies, Individuals icon with text

    Kevin Madigan

    Photograph of menorah and swastika

    Who is responsible for genocide? Through the lens of the Holocaust – perhaps the most-studied genocide of the modern era – we will grapple with the issues of good and evil, blame and responsibility, duty and dissent as they pertain to violence enacted at the personal and state levels.... Read more about The Holocaust (Gen Ed 1118)

    Human Trafficking, Slavery and Abolition in the Modern World (Gen Ed 1115)

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2023

    Why do slavery, human trafficking and other forms of servitude thrive today globally, including the USA, and what can we do about it?

     

    Ethics & Civics icon with textHistories, Societies, Individuals icon with text

    Orlando Patterson

    We often think of slavery as being a dark chapter in our past, but this is a tragic oversimplification. What defines slavery in the modern world, and what are the moral, political and social implications of its continued existence? As we explore its underpinnings, we discover that all of us may be in some way complicit in its survival.... Read more about Human Trafficking, Slavery and Abolition in the Modern World (Gen Ed 1115)

    Brains, Identity, and Moral Agency (Gen Ed 1064)

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2023

    Can we reconcile the scientific 'brain as a machine' view with our strong experience of moral agency?

     

    Ethics & Civics icon with textScience & Technology in Society icon with text

    Steven Hyman

    Advances in brain science have the potential to diminish many forms of human suffering and disability that are rooted in disordered brain function. But what are the ethical implications involved in altering the structure and function of human brains? What’s at stake when we have the ability to alter a person’s narrative identity, create brain-computer interfaces, and manipulate social and moral emotion? In this course, you will ask and attempt to answer these questions, and discuss the implications of mechanistic explanations of decision-making and action for widely-held concepts of moral agency and legal culpability.... Read more about Brains, Identity, and Moral Agency (Gen Ed 1064)

    Ignorance, Lies, Hogwash, and Humbug (Gen Ed 1023)

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2023

    Fake news, echo chambers, conspiracies, propaganda, information pollution--what are these and other features of the post truth era and how can we successfully navigate them?

     

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    Christopher Robichaud

    Time magazine cover - "Is Truth Dead?"

    Is truth dead? Time Magazine posed this question in bold red print on its April 3, 2017 cover. It’s a surprising concern, given that information of every sort imaginable is merely a click away on our phones, access to educational resources is robust for both traditional students and online learners, and direct interaction with public figures is more unencumbered than ever before with the help of social networks.... Read more about Ignorance, Lies, Hogwash, and Humbug (Gen Ed 1023)

    Nature (Gen Ed 1117)

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2021

    Saving the planet is necessary and will actually make us happy, right?

     

    Ethics & Civics icon with text

    Joyce Chaplin

    So, the good news is that we’re already using ethics to define how we can and should do the right thing in relation to the natural world. In fact, all ethics in the western tradition have used “nature” and “natural” as foundational definitions—we’re more than halfway there! But, obviously, we need to be conscious that we’re using those definitions and we must decide which of them to correct or reject. (Ethics from western philosophy have an outsized place in global debates over policy and science, for instance, but should this continue to be the case?)

    ... Read more about Nature (Gen Ed 1117)

    Medical Ethics and History (Gen Ed 1116)

    Semester: 

    Fall

    Offered: 

    2021

    Why have debates about medicine and public health (e.g., vaccination, abortion, etc.) become so polarized and contentious in the United States?

     

    Ethics & Civics icon with textHistories, Societies, Individuals icon with text

    David Shumway Jones

    'The Doctor' painting by Luke Fildes

    Students will encounter the ethical dilemmas of medical practice throughout their lives, whether with their own health, or with the health of their families and friends.  This course will equip them with the tools of moral philosophy so that they can recognize, critique, and craft arguments grounded in appeals to utilitarianism, deontology, or rights.... Read more about Medical Ethics and History (Gen Ed 1116)

    Texts in Transition (Gen Ed 1034)

    Semester: 

    Fall

    Offered: 

    2021

    What makes some texts long-lived while others are ephemeral, today and in the past?

     

    Histories, Societies, Individuals icon with text Aesthetics & Culture icon with text

    Ann Blair and Leah Whittington

    We live in a moment of “crisis” around regimes of preservation and loss. As our communication becomes ever more digital— and, therefore, simultaneously more ephemeral and more durable—the attitudes and tools we have for preserving our culture have come to seem less apt than they may have seemed as recently as a generation ago. This course examines how texts have been transmitted from the past to the present, and how we can plan for their survival into the future.... Read more about Texts in Transition (Gen Ed 1034)

    What is a Book? From the Clay Tablet to the Kindle (Gen Ed 1090)

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2023

    What is the nature of the object that has been the focus of your education since you began to read--and at the core of Western culture since its inception-- and why is it important to understand and appreciate its presence before your eyes even if it's all but transparent?

     

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    David Stern

    You have spent much of your life since kindergarten (and perhaps earlier) reading books; and you will spend much of your time at Harvard continuing to read them. But do you even know what a “book” is?... Read more about What is a Book? From the Clay Tablet to the Kindle (Gen Ed 1090)

    Confronting Climate Change: A Foundation in Science, Technology and Policy (Gen Ed 1094)

    Semester: 

    Fall

    Offered: 

    2022

    How can we address the issue of climate change, reducing the damages by preparing for impacts already underway and fixing the problem by transforming our energy system?

     

    Science & Technology in Society icon with text

    Daniel Schrag

    This course will consider the challenge of climate change and what to do about it.   Students will be introduced to the basic science of climate change, including the radiation budget of the Earth, the carbon cycle, and the physics and chemistry of the oceans and atmosphere.... Read more about Confronting Climate Change: A Foundation in Science, Technology and Policy (Gen Ed 1094)

    Finding Our Way (Gen Ed 1031)

    Semester: 

    Fall

    Offered: 

    2020


    How did/do humans find their way across the planet, and how can we replicate their wayfinding?
     

    Science & Technology in Society icon with text

    John Huth

    How do you navigate our increasingly automated culture? In this course, we will use the theme of primitive navigation to open our eyes to the physical world in a direct and palpable manner. Basic principles include human cognition of physical and mental maps, dead reckoning, direction finding from nature. The course includes the basics of astronomy, including planetary orbits, meteorology, thermodynamics, bird behavior, electromagnetic radiation, optics, waves, tides, ocean currents, and fluid dynamics.... Read more about Finding Our Way (Gen Ed 1031)

    Americans as Occupiers and Nation Builders (Gen Ed 1017)

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2022

    How have perceptions of racial difference shaped US military occupations abroad, such as the Philippines, Japan, and most recently Afghanistan and Iraq?

     

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    Andrew Gordon and Erez Manela

    The United States has launched numerous projects of military occupation and nation-building in foreign lands since the late 19th century. These have been contradictory enterprises, carrying ideals of freedom and self-determination "offered" by force or by fiat.... Read more about Americans as Occupiers and Nation Builders (Gen Ed 1017)

    Understanding Darwinism (Gen Ed 1004)

    Semester: 

    Fall

    Offered: 

    2021

    How has our understanding of evolution evolved since Darwin?

     

    Histories, Societies, Individuals icon with textScience & Technology in Society icon with text

    Andrew Berry and Janet Browne

    How does scientific knowledge develop, how is it shaped by history, and what effect does it have on society? An interdisciplinary exploration of Darwin's ideas and their impact on science and society, this course links the history of Darwin's ideas with the key features of modern evolutionary biology. We review the development of the main elements of the theory of evolution, highlighting the areas in which Darwin's ideas have proved remarkably robust and areas in which subsequent developments have significantly modified the theory.... Read more about Understanding Darwinism (Gen Ed 1004)

    The Democracy Project (Gen Ed 1002)

    Semester: 

    Fall

    Offered: 

    2021

    At a time when democracies are collapsing all over the world and when American democracy lies in a state of crisis, what, of its future, can be learned from its past?

     

    Ethics & Civics icon with textHistories, Societies, Individuals icon with text

    Jill Lepore

    The history of the United States is the story of a struggle to realize two ideas: that all people are created equal and that people can govern themselves. “Our great experiment,” generations of Americans have called the United States, and with good cause. Democracy has always been, at heart, an inquiry, a question: Can the people rule? In 1787, when Alexander Hamilton asked whether it’s possible to establish a government ruled by reflection and choice rather than by accident and force, that was a hypothetical question.... Read more about The Democracy Project (Gen Ed 1002)

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