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)
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)
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 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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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 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)
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)
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?