Why did Nazi sights, sounds, and propaganda prove to be so captivating and compelling for German audiences of a modern nation and how do we explain the continuing impact of Nazi images and fantasies to this very day, which is to ask, what do “they” have to do with “us”?
As thinking beings we consider the limits of human potential and wonder what is the worst. The Nazis obsess us because they were masters of extremity who brought to the world unprecedented violence, destruction, and murder. They were also masters of propaganda who engineered sophisticated techniques of mass manipulation; in this endeavor cinema and modern media assumed a seminal role.... Read more about The Art and Politics of Propaganda (Gen Ed 1012)
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)
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)
How should we understand conflict in our own lives and in the world around us? At all levels of society, people tend to approach conflict as an adversarial battle—communities polarize, ethnopolitical groups clash, and nations and international institutions face daily political tensions.... Read more about Conflict Resolution in a Divided World (Gen Ed 1033)
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)
Feminism shapes the world we live in today. Debates about women's and sexual rights define almost every public debate today -- from sexual harassment, to electoral politics, to development, public health, human rights, and political protest. But when, and where, did ideas of women's equal rights and liberation emerge?... Read more about Global Feminisms (Gen Ed 1036)
Facing the edifice of preexisting knowledge, how are breakthrough scientific discoveries made that contradict the existing canon? Twelve great experiments that have transformed our understanding of nature will guide us, first through immersion in the scholarship and popular beliefs of the time. Next, how did the discoverer prepare? What were the motivations, prior experiences, and training that led to the threshold of a fruitful advance?... Read more about Experiments that Changed Our World (Gen Ed 1037)
Taking the Marvel blockbuster “Black Panther” as a starting point, the course will explore the African spiritual heritage both on the continent and the diaspora communities (Black Atlantic diasporas). We will begin by spelling out the features of African indigenous religious traditions: cosmology, cosmogony, mythology, ritual practices, divination, healing ceremonies, sacred kingship, etc.... Read more about African Spirituality and the Challenges of Modern Times (Gen Ed 1071)
How can a globalizing world of differing countries – rich and poor, democratic and authoritarian – best promote inclusive growth and human security by meeting the challenges of inequality, climate change, rising populism, and global disease?
Why is populism becoming pervasive - and is there a revolt against global integration? What is the right balance between national sovereignty and international integration? Is the US equipped to sustain its role as a global leader? How does international trade affect prosperity and inequality?... Read more about The Political Economy of Globalization (Gen Ed 1120)
“War is the only proper school for surgeons,” the Ancient Greek physician, Hippocrates, is quoted to have said. This saying has been used to show how medicine and war have been thought for millennia to shape each. Medicine has played a major role in situations of political conflict, ever since human societies engaged in war and started elaborating “just war doctrines,” that determine how belligerent parties should conduct war, as an attempt to “civilize” war and mitigate its scourges.... Read more about Medicine and Conflict: The History and Ethics of Healing in Political Turmoil (Gen Ed 1150)
The First Folio of Shakespeare’s plays was published in 1623, seven years after the playwright’s death. A memorial poem by Ben Jonson, included in the book, described Shakespeare, famously, as “not of an age, but for all time.” This course will argue that the works of Shakespeare—like all great works of literature—are both “of an age” and “for all time.”... Read more about Shakespeare's Timeliness (Gen Ed 1153)
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)
This course explores classical and contemporary theories of justice and applies them to the ethical issues raised by the COVID-19 pandemic. For example: Should we be willing to accept a certain number of deaths to re-open economic activity? Should the state use surveillance tracking of citizens to enforce social distancing? Is it wrong to pay people to submit to certain risks, such as testing new vaccines? What, if anything, does the experience of the pandemic suggest about how our economy and society should be organized?
What is the role that religion plays in the political life of Middle Eastern Muslim-majority societies today, and how does our understanding of that compare with conventional wisdom, including what we are often exposed to in the news media?
Today’s news headlines consistently point to the role that religion plays in the political life of Middle Eastern societies. But do these headlines tell the whole story? This course will challenge simplistic explanations of the dominant role of Islam in Middle Eastern politics by putting it in historical perspective.... Read more about Islam and Politics in the Modern Middle East (Gen Ed 1123)
This course provides students with the opportunity to explore how the study of pre-Hispanic and Colonial Mexican and Latina/o cultures provide vital context for understanding today's changing world. The emphasis is on the mythical and social origins, glory days and political collapse of the Aztec Empire and Maya civilizations as a pivot to the study of the sexual, religious and racial interactions of the Great Encounter between Mesoamerica, Africa, Europe, and the independent nations of Mexico and the United States.... Read more about Moctezuma's Mexico, Then and Now: The Past, the Present and Pandemics in North America (Gen Ed 1148)
How does our society deal with religious, ethical, and cultural diversity, and what challenges do we face as people of different faith communities encounter one another in cities and public institutions, schools and businesses, neighborhoods and families?
Who do we mean when we say “we?” How does a society deal with religious, ethical, and cultural diversity? What challenges do we face as people of different communities encounter one another in cities and public institutions, schools and businesses, neighborhoods and families? These are urgent questions in many nations today, but in this course we focus on the United States.... Read more about Pluralism: Case Studies in American Diversity (Gen Ed 1166)