Classes

    Ethics of Climate Change (Gen Ed 1015)

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2022

    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)

    Human Evolution and Human Health (Gen Ed 1027)

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2022

    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?

     

    Science & Technology in Society icon with text

    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)

    Res Publica: A History of Representative Government (Gen Ed 1032)

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2022

    What is a democratic republic, and can such a regime — one that trusts citizens to capably choose and monitor those in power, and one that trusts those in power to restrain themselves and each other while attending to the public good — survive and protect us from tyranny?

     

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

    Daniel Carpenter

    “A republic, if you can keep it.”  So did Benjamin Franklin characterize his hopes for American government. What did Franklin and others mean by republic, and why did he and so many others worry that it might be something hard to hold onto? This course will give you the theoretical basis and historical evolution of republics so that you can understand the American system of a democratic republic, now spread widely around the planet even as it is considered under threat.... Read more about Res Publica: A History of Representative Government (Gen Ed 1032)

    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)

    Race in a Polarized America (Gen Ed 1052)

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2022

    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)

    Political Economy and its Future (Gen Ed 1054)

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2022

    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)

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

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2022

    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)

    Life as a Planetary Phenomenon (Gen Ed 1070)

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2022

    Is there alien life beyond Earth?

     

    Science & Technology in Society icon with text

    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)

    The Border: Race, Politics and Health in Modern Mexico (Gen Ed 1089)

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2022

    What can histories of tension and cooperation at the U.S.-Mexico border tell us about our own nation's public health programs and national racism?

     

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    Gabriela Soto Laveaga

    Why does the Mexico-U.S. border continue to be a space for debate and controversy? This course examines how the creation of the U.S.-Mexico border in 1848 shaped modern Mexican society from the nineteenth century to our present.... Read more about The Border: Race, Politics and Health in Modern Mexico (Gen Ed 1089)

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

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2022

    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?

     

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    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)

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

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2022

    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?

     

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    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)

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

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2022

    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)

    Artificial and Natural Intelligence (Gen Ed 1125)

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2022

    What does it mean for a machine to be intelligent, how does current artificial intelligence compare with animal intelligence, and should we be worried?

     

    Science & Technology in Society icon with text

    Venkatesh Murthy

    What is intelligence? An inquiry into the nature of intelligence can take different forms – philosophical, biological, mathematical or technological. In this course, we will use machine intelligence (everything from voice recognizing smartphones to game-playing computers) as a handle to think about natural intelligence (brains and behavior of animals). Although we will start with big, general questions, we will quickly move to concrete queries about brains and computers.... Read more about Artificial and Natural Intelligence (Gen Ed 1125)

    American Capitalism (Gen Ed 1159)

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2022

    What is capitalism and how has it unfolded in American history?

     

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    Sven Beckert

    How did capitalism emerge, expand and transform daily life in North America over the past 500 years? In this course, students will gain an in-depth understanding of how North America turned from a minor outpost of the Atlantic economy into the powerhouse of the world economy, how Americans built a capitalist economy and how that capitalism, in turn, changed every aspect of their lives.... Read more about American Capitalism (Gen Ed 1159)

    LGBT Literature, Politics, and Identity (Gen Ed 1176)

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2022

    What is the relationship between LGBT literary representation and politics, activism, and culture?

     

    Aesthetics & Culture icon with text

    Linda Schlossberg

    In this course, we’ll learn how sexual identity and desire are understood and represented in different social and historical circumstances, We’ll move beyond the binary of identifying images as “positive” or “negative,” paying attention to how depictions, definitions, and understandings of sexuality are shaped by specific historical moments, as well as the aesthetic traditions and personal experiences shaping these individual works.... Read more about LGBT Literature, Politics, and Identity (Gen Ed 1176)

    Race and Caste (Gen Ed 1126)

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2022

    What can thinking about race and caste together tell us about identity and inequality?

     

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

    Ajantha Subramanian

    Race and caste are two of the most enduring forms of social stratification. While their histories date well before the advent of political democracy, they have taken on new forms in the context of democratic social transformation and capitalist development. In this course, we will grapple with the meanings, uses, and politics of race and caste historically and in the contemporary moment.... Read more about Race and Caste (Gen Ed 1126)

    Harvard Gets Medieval (Gen Ed 1160)

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2022

    How did our world come to be suffused with medieval images and motifs, and what do we learn about the past and ourselves as we begin to explore the fascinating time on the other side of the stereotypes?

     

    Aesthetics & Culture icon with text

    Daniel Lord Smail

    Starting in the late nineteenth century, Harvard got medieval. Through direct purchase and through the collecting activity of numerous alumnae/i, we began collecting all sorts of texts and artifacts generated by the medieval world of Arabic, Greek, and Latin civilizations. The things that arrived in Harvard’s collections came in many forms, ranging from great architectural monuments and motifs to little stuff such as belt buckles, pilgrims’ flasks, and fragments of pottery.... Read more about Harvard Gets Medieval (Gen Ed 1160)

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