Classes

    Artificial and Natural Intelligence (Gen Ed 1125)

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2021

    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)

    World Health: Challenges and Opportunities (Gen Ed 1063)

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2021

    How can we acquire an interdisciplinary understanding of population health by learning to ask the right questions?

     

    Science & Technology in Society icon with text

    Sue Goldie

    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)

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

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2021

    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?

     

    Histories, Societies, Individuals icon with text

    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)

    Dark Satanic Mills: How the Factory Made Our World (Gen Ed 1143)

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2021

    How have changes in the way that things are manufactured and made transformed the world beyond the factory and other sites of production?

     

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    Victor Seow

    From spam to smart phones, much of the stuff we consume in our daily lives are factory-made. In the process of producing for our endless needs and wants, the factory has mobilized and motivated some of the latest advances in science and technology, defined and redefined the nature of work, and, through its polluting presence, pushed against the limits of our planetary boundaries.... Read more about Dark Satanic Mills: How the Factory Made Our World (Gen Ed 1143)

    Ancestry: Where do we come from and why do we care? (Gen Ed 1014)

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2021

    How does ancestry affect our opportunities, our rights, and our sense of who we are?

     

    Histories, Societies, Individuals icon with text Science & Technology in Society icon with text

    Maya Jasanoff

    Everyone comes from somewhere. We carry our ancestries in our DNA, genealogy, family stories, and more. What do these forms of evidence tell us about who we are, as a species, as a social group, or as an individual? This course looks at ancestry from a range of perspectives: biology, anthropology, genealogy, history, law, and memory—from the origins of human populations to the origins of you.... Read more about Ancestry: Where do we come from and why do we care? (Gen Ed 1014)

    Scientific Critical Thinking (Gen Ed 1024)

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2021

    How can we (as individuals and as whole societies) better incorporate into our thinking and decision making the problem-solving techniques characteristic of science at its best?

     

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    Edward J. Hall and Douglas Finkbeiner

    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)

    American Capitalism (Gen Ed 1159)

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2021

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

     

    Histories, Societies, Individuals icon with text

    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)

    Nature (Gen Ed 1117)

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2021

    Saving the planet is necessary and will actually make us happy, right?

     

    Ethics & Civics icon with text

    Joyce Chaplin

    So, the good news is that we’re already using ethics to define how we can and should do the right thing in relation to the natural world. In fact, all ethics in the western tradition have used “nature” and “natural” as foundational definitions—we’re more than halfway there! But, obviously, we need to be conscious that we’re using those definitions and we must decide which of them to correct or reject. (Ethics from western philosophy have an outsized place in global debates over policy and science, for instance, but should this continue to be the case?)

    ... Read more about Nature (Gen Ed 1117)

    The Philosopher and the Tyrant (Gen Ed 1030)

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2021

    In a time of rising authoritarianism and polarized debate, what role can the love of wisdom have in tempering the pursuit of power?

     

    Aesthetics & Culture icon with textEthics & Civics icon with text

    David Damrosch

    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)

    Global Japanese Cinema (Gen Ed 1145)

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2021

    What can film from Japan tell us about the strange pair of intensifying global interconnections and rising nationalism in the world today?

     

    Aesthetics & Culture icon with text

    Alexander Zahlten

    Global Japanese Cinema introduces some of the masterworks from the rich history of Japanese cinema as a way of exploring the global language of film. Participants will learn how to analyze moving images and the ways they influence us – a basic media literacy that we all need for life in a media- saturated society.... Read more about Global Japanese Cinema (Gen Ed 1145)

    The Challenge of Human Induced Climate Change: Transitioning to a Post Fossil Fuel Future (Gen Ed 1137)

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2021

    What can we do now to avoid the most serious consequences of climate change, which poses an immediate problem for global society?

     

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    Michael B. McElroy

    Human induced climate change has the potential to alter the function of natural ecosystems and the lives of people on a global scale. The prospect lies not in the distant future but is imminent. Our choice is either to act immediately to change the nature of our global energy system (abandon our dependence on fossil fuels) or accept the consequences (included among which are increased incidence of violent storms, fires, floods and droughts, changes in the spatial distribution and properties of critical ecosystems, and rising sea level).... Read more about The Challenge of Human Induced Climate Change: Transitioning to a Post Fossil Fuel Future (Gen Ed 1137)

    Loss (Gen Ed 1131)

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2021

    How are we to cope with the inevitability that some of what we most love in life we will lose?

     

    Aesthetics & Culture icon with text

    Kathleen Coleman

    Loss is an inevitable fact of human existence. Small losses most of us learn to bear with equanimity. But enormous, wrenching, life-changing losses open voids in our lives for which we can never feel adequately prepared, even if we can see them coming.... Read more about Loss (Gen Ed 1131)

    Creativity (Gen Ed 1067)

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2021

    Where does creativity come from, how does it work, and how can we deepen its role in our own lives?

     

    Aesthetics & Culture icon with text

    David Atherton

    Geniuses are said to possess it. Self-help books offer to teach it. Both the arts and the sciences celebrate it. It sits at the heart of some of our oldest myths and is the subject of up-to-the-minute neuroscientific research. Some say it comes in momentary flashes; others call it a way of life. Some identify it as the key to deep fulfillment; others claim that it entails intense suffering. Many agree that it sets us apart as a species—but does it? What is creativity?... Read more about Creativity (Gen Ed 1067)

    Is War Inevitable? (Gen Ed 1095)

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2021

    Is aggression inherent in relations between states, or between factions within states, and if so, can it be deterred, stopped, or mitigated?

     

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    Derek J. Penslar

    League of Nations poster

     

    What is war, and why has it been nearly constant throughout history? Why do wars start, how can they be stopped, and what can be done to prevent them? 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 Is War Inevitable? (Gen Ed 1095)

    Understanding Islam and Contemporary Muslim Societies (Gen Ed 1134)

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2021

    How does one understand a major global religion in a highly polarized and fragmented world?

     

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    Ali Asani

    People from diverse religious backgrounds are in closer contact with one another than ever before. Yet, without the intellectual tools needed to engage with and understand religious difference, this closer contact often has resulted in misunderstanding and stereotypes.... Read more about Understanding Islam and Contemporary Muslim Societies (Gen Ed 1134)

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