Classes

    The Science of Happiness (Gen Ed 1154)

    Semester: 

    Fall

    Offered: 

    2019

    Science & Technology in Society icon with text

    Jason P. Mitchell

    Recent research in the cognitive sciences—especially psychology, economics, and neuroscience—has begun to examine the factors that promote personal well-being and happiness. One surprising, but consistent, observation has been that many of the things that are widely believed to be crucial for our happiness—wealth, material possessions, “not missing out”, even good grades—not only fail to make many people happy but can actively undermine the sense of well-being.... Read more about The Science of Happiness (Gen Ed 1154)

    Tech Ethics: AI, Biotech, and the Future of Human Nature (Gen Ed 1058)

    Semester: 

    Fall

    Offered: 

    2019

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

    Michael Sandel and Doug Melton

    The course explores the moral, social, and political implications of new technologies. Will biotechnology and AI enable us to hack humanity? Should we edit the genes of our children, extend the human lifespan, and genetically enhance our athletic ability and IQ? Can algorithms be fair? Will robots make work obsolete? Can smart machines outthink us? In an age of big data and social media, is privacy over? Is democracy?... Read more about Tech Ethics: AI, Biotech, and the Future of Human Nature (Gen Ed 1058)

    Why You Hear What You Hear: The Science of Music and Sound (Gen Ed 1106)

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2020

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    Eric Heller

    Sound and music are integral parts of all human cultures, and play critical roles in communications and social interactions. In this course, we study the production, transmission, and perception of sound, with the aim of expanding communication, musical, and artistic horizons. The course includes many class demos and hands on tools for students to explore. Psychoacoustics (the study of how we perceive and interpret sound) is a central theme of the course, providing a lens through which we can better understand the generation, propagation, and analysis of sound.... Read more about Why You Hear What You Hear: The Science of Music and Sound (Gen Ed 1106)

    What is Life? From Quarks to Consciousness (Gen Ed 1029)

    Semester: 

    Fall

    Offered: 

    2020


    Are we — wonderful, human us — really nothing more than complex constellations of interacting atoms?

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    Logan S. McCarty and Andrew Berry

    This course views life through multiple lenses. Quantum physics involves uncertainty and randomness, and yet paradoxically it explains the stability of molecules, such as DNA, that encode information and are critical to life. Thermodynamics is about the universe's ever increasing disorder, and yet living systems remain ordered and intact.... Read more about What is Life? From Quarks to Consciousness (Gen Ed 1029)

    Climate Crossroads (Gen Ed 1167)

    Semester: 

    Fall

    Offered: 

    2020


    Irreversible climate change poses an unprecedented challenge to the stability of all societies:  what are the scientifically viable pathways to a future that is sustainable and just?

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    James G. Anderson and James Engell

    What one thing is changing everything in your lifetime—and for generations to come? It’s changing what you eat; it’s changing buildings you live in; and it’s changing politics, the arts, and finance. The change is accelerating. This course reveals fundamental alterations that climate disruption is bringing to multiple human activities and natural phenomena.... Read more about Climate Crossroads (Gen Ed 1167)

    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?
     

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    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)

    Confronting COVID-19: Science, History, Policy (Gen Ed 1170)

    Semester: 

    Fall

    Offered: 

    2020


    How do pandemics end?

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    Allan M. Brandt and Ingrid Katz

    We are living in a world radically reshaped by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. This course will investigate the wide range of questions raised by the pandemic, its impact and significance. We will also examine how diseases raise fundamental issues for science, policy, and society.... Read more about Confronting COVID-19: Science, History, Policy (Gen Ed 1170)

    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)

    Human Nature (Gen Ed 1056)

    Semester: 

    Fall

    Offered: 

    2021

    What does it mean to be human, from a biological perspective – and how did we get that way?

     

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    Erin Hecht and Martin Surbeck

    This course asks: What makes us behaviorally and psychologically human? In what ways are humans similar to other species and in what ways are we different? What are the evolutionary origins of the behavioral and psychological features found across human societies including parental love, sibling rivalry, pair-bonding, incest aversion, social status, war, norms, altruism, religion, language, and cooking?... Read more about Human Nature (Gen Ed 1056)

    Evolving Morality: From Primordial Soup to Superintelligent Machines (Gen Ed 1046)

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2022

    How can we understand the evolution of morality—from primordial soup to superintelligent machines—and how might the science of morality equip us to meet our most pressing moral challenges?

     

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

    Joshua D. Greene

    In this course we’ll examine the evolution of morality on Earth, from its origins in the biology of unthinking organisms, through the psychology of intelligent primates, and into a future inhabited by machines that may be more intelligent and better organized than humans. First, we ask: What is morality?... Read more about Evolving Morality: From Primordial Soup to Superintelligent Machines (Gen Ed 1046)

    Life as a Planetary Phenomenon (Gen Ed 1070)

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2022

    Is there alien life beyond Earth?

     

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    Dimitar Sasselov

    What is it about Earth that enables life to thrive? This question was reinvigorated with the 2016 ground-breaking discovery of a habitable planet around the nearest star, Proxima Centauri. A decade of exploration confirmed that such planets are common in our galaxy, and the commonality of habitable planets has raised anew some age-old questions: Where do we come from? What is it to be human? Where are we going? Are we alone in the universe?... Read more about Life as a Planetary Phenomenon (Gen Ed 1070)

    Pride & Prejudice & P-values: Scientific Critical Thinking (Gen Ed 1024)

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2022

    How can we (as individuals and as whole societies) better incorporate into our thinking and decision making the problem-solving techniques characteristic of science at its best?

     

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    Edward J. Hall and Douglas Finkbeiner

    We humans have developed rational and systematic methods for solving problems, ways carefully designed to chart a reliable path to the truth. Yet we as individuals, as groups, as whole societies fail to take full advantage of these methods.... Read more about Pride & Prejudice & P-values: Scientific Critical Thinking (Gen Ed 1024)

    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)

    Numbers in Policy and Society (Gen Ed 1173)

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2022

    How can we critically assess the data, models, and numbers used in making policy and hold to account those with the power to produce them?

     

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    Sheila Jasanoff and Sam Weiss Evans

    The ability to critically assess numbers, data and models and hold to account those with the power to generate them is a vital capability for every 21st century citizen. This course will give you an increased understanding of why some important ethical and political perspectives fail to enter into the design of the scientific and technical systems that permeate our societies.... Read more about Numbers in Policy and Society (Gen Ed 1173)

    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)

    Infectious Diseases and Social Injustice (Gen Ed 1129)

    Semester: 

    N/A

    Should we have been better prepared to mitigate the inequities that we are witnessing with COVID-19?

     

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    Donald Goldmann and Ken McIntosh

    Advances in prevention and treatment of infectious disease have left large segments of the global population behind. This course studies the societal impacts of nine infectious diseases: HIV/AIDS, malaria, plague, polio, cholera, smallpox, yellow fever, syphilis, and tuberculosis.... Read more about Infectious Diseases and Social Injustice (Gen Ed 1129)

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