Finding Our Way (Gen Ed 1031)

Semester: 

Fall

Offered: 

2020


How did/do humans find their way across the planet, and how can we replicate their wayfinding?
 

Science & Technology in Society icon with text

John Huth

How do you navigate our increasingly automated culture? In this course, we will use the theme of primitive navigation to open our eyes to the physical world in a direct and palpable manner. Basic principles include human cognition of physical and mental maps, dead reckoning, direction finding from nature. The course includes the basics of astronomy, including planetary orbits, meteorology, thermodynamics, bird behavior, electromagnetic radiation, optics, waves, tides, ocean currents, and fluid dynamics. Navigational practices of Pacific Islanders, Norse, medieval Arabs, and early western Europeans provide a focus. Main themes of the course will include automation bias, spatial cognition as a template for other forms of cognition, and reasoning when there is no 'right' answer. Some facility with algebra and trigonometry is useful. A series of hands-on projects are employed to understand navigational practices discussed in lecture.

Register for Gen Ed 1031