A course on satire, its power and limitations, from Classical Rome, through medieval Italy, to Elizabethan theatre and 19th-20th century American cartoonists. Serving as both a critique of social norms and the oppression of minorities (anti-women, anti-Jews, etc.), satire has been one of the most practiced and effective languages in Western culture.... Read more about Satire (Gen Ed 1010)
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)
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 Scientific Critical Thinking (Gen Ed 1024)
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)
Philosophers and politicians alike struggle to set the terms for living a good life in a world of conflict. Rulers seek guidance from their counselors, and philosophers have often dreamed of wielding real-world influence. Reading a series of masterpieces of philosophical thought and literary expression, we will examine some striking cases of relations between the pursuit of wisdom and the pursuit of power, from the extremes of conflict (the executions of Socrates, Han Fei, Jesus, Sir Thomas More) to the opposite dream of the philosopher king.... Read more about The Philosopher and the Tyrant (Gen Ed 1030)
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?
“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)
This course introduces major works, genres, and waves of East Asian cinema from the silent era to the present, including films from Mainland China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. We will discuss issues ranging from formal aesthetics to historical representation, from local film industries to transnational audience reception.... Read more about East Asian Cinema (Gen Ed 1049)
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?
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)
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.
Without borders, can there be poetry? The border of white paper surrounds printed poems; national boundaries keep cultural and linguistic traditions distinct; and aesthetic practice and its conventions create genres and demarcate poetry from music or dance or film. How poetry requires but also perversely challenges these limits will be the subject of this course.... Read more about Poetry Without Borders (Gen Ed 1057)
Extraordinary changes in the world present both risks and opportunities to health—unprecedented interconnections across borders, rapidly shifting global demographics, and changing patterns of diseases and injuries. This course will challenge your assumptions about the world’s populations, as you discover surprising similarities and unexpected differences between and within countries.... Read more about World Health: Challenges and Opportunities (Gen Ed 1063)
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)
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)
We are exposed every day to terms referring to ethnic groups, and we tend to accept these terms uncritically, assuming that we know what they mean and to whom they refer. These labels help to shape our sense of ourselves, of others, and of ourselves in relation to others. Yet the ethnic identities associated with such terms are in fact ambiguous and malleable, constructed of a shifting array of elements, including genetics, shared history, language, religion, economy, political institutions, music, architecture, and foodways.... Read more about The Celts: People or Construct? (Gen Ed 1081)
What makes a human? A baby develops from a single cell during the nine months of gestation, but the process that begins so simply has complications that stretch beyond the womb into questions of human identity and individuality.... Read more about The First Nine Months (Gen Ed 1084)
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)