Classes

    The Holocaust (Gen Ed 1118)

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2022

    How could the Holocaust have happened/how did it happen?

     

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    Kevin Madigan

    Photograph of menorah and swastika

    Who is responsible for genocide? Through the lens of the Holocaust – perhaps the most-studied genocide of the modern era – we will grapple with the issues of good and evil, blame and responsibility, duty and dissent as they pertain to violence enacted at the personal and state levels.... Read more about The Holocaust (Gen Ed 1118)

    Understanding Darwinism (Gen Ed 1004)

    Semester: 

    Fall

    Offered: 

    2021

    How has our understanding of evolution evolved since Darwin?

     

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    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)

    The Celts: People or Construct? (Gen Ed 1081)

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2022

    Who and what define an ethnic group?

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    Catherine McKenna

    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)

    The United States and China (Gen Ed 1068)

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2022

    Are the United States and China destined for conflict or can they lead the world in addressing common challenges?

     

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    William C. Kirby

    The United States and China are global economic and military powers. They have a rich history of commerce, friendship, alliance, and antagonism. Both countries have been shaped and re-shaped by the nature of their mutual relations. Their relationship is in crisis, the outcome of which will do much to define the world of the 21st century.... Read more about The United States and China (Gen Ed 1068)

    Ballots and Bibles: Why and How Americans Bring Scriptures into Their Politics (Gen Ed 1062)

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2020

    Why do Americans’ sacred texts have a close, frequently fraught relationship with their political history?

     

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    David Holland

    In 2018, in a public speech to law enforcement officers, the attorney general of the United States used a scriptural passage to defend tougher implementation of immigration laws. His reference bewildered observers who were unaware of a long tradition of citing Romans 13 in American political controversies, including such formative conflicts as the American Revolution and the sectional crisis over slavery.... Read more about Ballots and Bibles: Why and How Americans Bring Scriptures into Their Politics (Gen Ed 1062)

    War and Peace (Gen Ed 1095)

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2021

    Why do wars start, how can they be stopped, and what can be done to prevent them?

     

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    Derek J. Penslar

    League of Nations poster

     

    What is war, and why has it been nearly constant throughout human history? Is aggression inherent in relations between states, or between factions within states, and if so, can it be deterred, stopped, or mitigated? This course seeks to answer these questions. It ranges from antiquity to the present, with an emphasis on the last 300 years.... Read more about War and Peace (Gen Ed 1095)

    Contemporary Developing Countries: Entrepreneurial Solutions to Intractable Problems (Gen Ed 1011)

    Semester: 

    Fall

    Offered: 

    2022

    How do you successfully design and implement solutions to intractable social and economic problems in the developing world?

     

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    Tarun Khanna and Satchit Balsari

    What problems do developing countries face, and how can individuals contribute to solutions rather than awaiting the largesse of the state or other actors? Intractable problems – such as lack of access to education and healthcare, forced reliance on contaminated food, deep-seated corruption – are part of the quotidian existence of the vast majority of five of the world’s seven billion people.... Read more about Contemporary Developing Countries: Entrepreneurial Solutions to Intractable Problems (Gen Ed 1011)

    The Caribbean Crucible: Colonialism, Capitalism and Post-Colonial Misdevelopment In The Region (Gen Ed 1019)

    Semester: 

    Fall

    Offered: 

    2022

    How does the growing inequality between and within nations—which is the major global issue of our times—impact the Caribbean region and, in turn, its U.S. neighbor?

     

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    Orlando Patterson

    This course explores the complex, formative role of the Caribbean in the development of Western colonialism and capitalism and the consequences for the peoples of the region. Four major themes will be examined. First, the importance of the region in the origin and early development of Western imperialism and capitalism: Why did both Western Europe and America begin their imperial and colonial expansion in this region and to what degree did the region’s slave based economies influence the nature and development of Western capitalism?... Read more about The Caribbean Crucible: Colonialism, Capitalism and Post-Colonial Misdevelopment In The Region (Gen Ed 1019)

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

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2023

    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?

     

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    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)

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

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2023

    Why do we seek higher education, how do we experience and conduct higher education and what do we do with higher education?

     

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    Manja Klemenčič

    Five people in silhouette wearing graduation clothing.

    Enrolling in higher education is an aspiration of ever more people. Within a generation there has been an extraordinary global expansion of higher education, in all but the poorest countries. This remarkable transformation raises questions about the effects of higher education on students and its broader societal impact, access to higher education and its role in addressing social inequalities, and how governments, markets and individuals and institutions shape higher education. This course explores contemporary higher education institutions, their students and controversies through international comparative perspective and diverse multidisciplinary approaches.... Read more about Higher Education: Students, Institutions and Controversies (Gen Ed 1039)

    Deep History (Gen Ed 1044)

    Semester: 

    Fall

    Offered: 

    2022

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

     

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    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)

    Race in a Polarized America (Gen Ed 1052)

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2023

    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?

     

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    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)

    African Spirituality and the Challenges of Modern Times (Gen Ed 1071)

    Semester: 

    Fall

    Offered: 

    2022

    What can African spiritual traditions contribute to human flourishing in the contemporary age?

     

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    Jacob K. Olupona

    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)

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

    Semester: 

    Fall

    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: 

    2023

    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)

    The Two Koreas in the Modern World (Gen Ed 1100)

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2023

    Why is it that the Two Koreas (North and South Korea), sharing the same small peninsula, have followed such radically divergent paths in the modern world?

     

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    Carter Eckert

    How and why did there come to be two competing and adversarial states on the Korean peninsula in our contemporary world, one a prosperous capitalist democracy of global reach, and the other an impoverished dictatorship, bordering on theocracy and almost totally estranged from the international community—both claiming exclusive rights to speak for the Korean people and the Korean “nation” as a whole? In this course, we will explore not only the two contemporary Korean societies, North and South, but also to Korea’s pre-modern and colonial periods, and to explore together the roles played by China, Japan, the United States, and Russia (Soviet Union) in shaping modern Korean history.... Read more about The Two Koreas in the Modern World (Gen Ed 1100)

    Making Change When Change Is Hard: the Law, Politics, and Policy of Social Change (Gen Ed 1102)

    Semester: 

    Fall

    Offered: 

    2022

    How does social change happen?


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    Cass Sunstein

    How does change happen? When, why, and how do people, and whole nations, come to together to influence large-scale policies and actions on issues like the environment, equality, criminal justice? Why do revolutions occur? This course will try to answer these questions, and do so by exploring a diversity of efforts related to societal change.... Read more about Making Change When Change Is Hard: the Law, Politics, and Policy of Social Change (Gen Ed 1102)

    Can We Know Our Past? (Gen Ed 1105)

    Semester: 

    Fall

    Offered: 

    2022

    In a time when histories are being contested, monuments removed, and alternative facts compete with established orthodoxy, how do we evaluate competing narratives about what really happened in the past?

     

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    Jason Ur and Matthew Liebmann

    What happened in the past? How do you know? Even though today we take great pains to document every major event that occurs, more than 99% of human history is not written down.... Read more about Can We Know Our Past? (Gen Ed 1105)

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

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2023

    Why do slavery, human trafficking and other forms of servitude thrive today globally, including the USA, and what can we do about it?

     

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    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)

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