Classes

    One Book, Two Religions, Many Truths (Gen Ed 1149)

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2021

    How are Judaism and Christianity the same and how are they different?

     

    Aesthetics & Culture icon with text

    Shaye J.D. Cohen

    The Hebrew Scriptures, what Christians call the “Old Testament” and Jews call the “Bible,” are the basis of both Judaism and Christianity, and stand behind many debates in our contemporary culture wars. In this course we shall survey how this work of literature, through interpretation and re-interpretation, spawned and spawns a wide variety of truths.... Read more about One Book, Two Religions, Many Truths (Gen Ed 1149)

    Prediction: The Past and Present of the Future (Gen Ed 1112)

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2021

    How and why do humans try to divine their own futures?

     

    Science & Technology in Society icon with text

    Alyssa Goodman

    Human beings are the only creatures in the animal kingdom properly defined as worriers. We are the only ones who expend tremendous amounts of time, energy, and resources trying (sometimes obsessively) to understand our futures before they happen. While the innate ability of individual people to predict has not changed much in the past few millennia, developments in mathematical and conceptual models have inordinately improved predictive systems.... Read more about Prediction: The Past and Present of the Future (Gen Ed 1112)

    Race in a Polarized America (Gen Ed 1052)

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2021

    Is the United States a beacon of liberal, democratic, diverse values and practices, that also has a pattern of racial injustice – or is the US at its core a white supremicist society, in which some people aspire to creating a genuinely tolerant liberal democracy?

     

    Histories, Societies, Individuals icon with text

    Jennifer L. Hochschild

    How do we manage issues of race, ethnicity, and immigration in a polarized political era?  What role did race play in the election of President Trump, after eight years of the presidency of Barack Obama? How can we be good citizens of the world when Americans have such mixed views and take such mixed actions in engaging with racial hierarchy, identity, or interaction?... Read more about Race in a Polarized America (Gen Ed 1052)

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

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2021

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

     

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    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)

    Classical Mythology: Myth in Antiquity and Today (Gen Ed 1110)

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2021

    Why do some stories get told over and over for thousands of years, and how do those ancient tales still shape (and get shaped by) us today?

     

    Aesthetics & Culture icon with text

    Brigitte Libby

    The myths of ancient Greece and Rome embody both our worst nightmares and our most fabulous fantasies. Heroism, happy endings, and everlasting love blend with disturbing themes of parricide, cannibalism, incest, misogyny, and unthinkable violence.  The resulting stories have fascinated generations of artists, writers, and thinkers, and this course will serve as an introduction to this distant but strangely familiar world. We will move from the very first works of Greek literature through the classic Greek tragedies and the Roman tales in Ovid’s Metamorphoses.... Read more about Classical Mythology: Myth in Antiquity and Today (Gen Ed 1110)

    Pyramid Schemes: What Can Ancient Egyptian Civilization Teach Us? (Gen Ed 1099)

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2021

    How does ancient Egypt enlighten our times about what defines a civilization, and were those ancient humans, with their pyramids, hieroglyphs, and pharaohs, exactly like or nothing like us?

     

    Histories, Societies, Individuals icon with text

    Peter Der Manuelian

    How much of your impression of the ancient world was put there by Hollywood, music videos, or orientalist musings out of the West? How accurate are these depictions? Does it matter? This course examines the quintessential example of the “exotic, mysterious ancient world” – Ancient Egypt – to interrogate these questions.  Who has “used” ancient Egypt as a construct, and to what purpose? Did you know that pyramids, mummies, King Tut, and Cleopatra represent just the (overhyped) tip of a very rich civilization that holds plenty of life lessons for today?... Read more about Pyramid Schemes: What Can Ancient Egyptian Civilization Teach Us? (Gen Ed 1099)

    Political Economy and its Future (Gen Ed 1054)

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2021

    What should we make of the market economy?

     

    Histories, Societies, Individuals icon with text

    Roberto Mangabeira Unger and Dani Rodrik

    The world’s economic and political order reels under mounting challenges: the global financial crisis, the austerity debacle, a slowdown in economic growth and productivity, the aggravation of inequality and the inadequacy of conventional responses to it, the discrediting of the Washington Consensus, the globalization backlash, the re-emergence of nationalist politics in Europe and the United States, and a contest over the meaning, value, and requirements of democracy. We examine connections among these phenomena and explore alternative ways of thinking about contemporary market economies and their reconstruction.

    ... Read more about Political Economy and its Future (Gen Ed 1054)

    Human Evolution and Human Health (Gen Ed 1027)

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2021

    How did the human body evolve to be the way it is, and how does that evolutionary history influence how we can promote health and prevent disease?

     

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    Daniel Lieberman

    How and why did humans evolve to be the way we are, and what are the implications of our evolved anatomy and physiology for human health in a post-industrial world? Why do we get sick, and how can we use principles of evolution to improve health and wellbeing?... Read more about Human Evolution and Human Health (Gen Ed 1027)

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

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2021

    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)

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

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2021

    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)

    Higher Education: Students, Institutions and Controversies (Gen Ed 1039)

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2021

    What are the effects of COVID-19 on higher education?

     

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    Manja Klemenčič

    Though we may think of universities and colleges as centers of learning and research, they too are subject of teaching and burgeoning research. This course explores contemporary higher education institutions and their students through a number of different perspectives and approaches.... Read more about Higher Education: Students, Institutions and Controversies (Gen Ed 1039)

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

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2021

    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?

     

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    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: 

    2021

    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)

    Who Do You Think You Are? The Ethics of Identity (Gen Ed 1009)

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2021

    Who are you, how did you come to be that way and what are the possible persons you could become?

     

    Ethics & Civics icon with text

    Jay Harris

    Who are you? We typically answer this question with a name and a collection of identity terms. Our identities may be ascribed or chosen; we often experience them as simply given, and we sometimes struggle against them. We use these identity categories, in turn, to structure decisions, negotiate relationships, and otherwise shape our lives.... Read more about Who Do You Think You Are? The Ethics of Identity (Gen Ed 1009)

    Ethics of Climate Change (Gen Ed 1015)

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2021

    What are individuals, scientists, businesses, and governments morally required to do to prevent catastrophic climate change?

     

    Ethics & Civics icon with text

    Lucas Stanczyk

    How should governments respond to the problem of climate change? What should happen to the level of greenhouse gas emissions and how quickly? How much can the present generation be expected to sacrifice to improve conditions for future generations?... Read more about Ethics of Climate Change (Gen Ed 1015)

    Deep History (Gen Ed 1044)

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2021

    Who are we, how did we get here... and how far back in time do we have to go to start asking the question?

     

    Histories, Societies, Individuals icon with text

    Matthew J. Liebmann and Daniel Lord Smail

    When does history begin? To judge by the typical history textbook, the answer is straightforward: six thousand years ago. So what about the tens of thousands of years of human existence described by archaeology and related disciplines? Is that history too?... Read more about Deep History (Gen Ed 1044)

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