What’s a hero? What’s a superhero? Who gets to be one, and who decides? Why are superheroes so popular now? What do their stories tell us—casual viewers and devoted readers, fans and non-fans and aspiring writers-- about how power works, about its social, emotional, material and economic dimensions, and about how we represent power in art?... Read more about Superheroes and Power (Gen Ed 1165)
How is a civilization built and sustained over millennia? How are political systems supported or undermined by cultural, economic, and ecological challenges? How does the need for shared values in a nation compete with individual interest and creativity?
How does Shazam know what song is playing? Why do some rooms have better acoustics than others? How and why do singers harmonize? Do high-end musical instruments sound better than cheap ones? How do electronic synthesizers work? What processes are common in designing a device and composing a piece of music? How is music stored and manipulated in a digital form? This class explores these and related themes in an accessible way for all concentrators, regardless of technical background.... Read more about How Music Works: Engineering the Acoustical World (Gen Ed 1080)
This course asks: What makes us behaviorally and psychologically human? In what ways are humans similar to other species and in what ways are we different? What are the evolutionary origins of the behavioral and psychological features found across human societies including parental love, sibling rivalry, pair-bonding, incest aversion, social status, war, norms, altruism, religion, language, and cooking?... Read more about Human Nature (Gen Ed 1056)
What is sleep? Why do we sleep? Why don't we sleep? How much sleep do you need? What are circadian rhythms? How do technology and culture impact sleep? This course will explore the role of sleep and circadian timing in maintaining health, improving performance and enhancing safety.... Read more about Sleep (Gen Ed 1038)
In 1977 humanity sent a mixtape into outer space. The two spacecraft of NASA’s Voyager mission include a Golden Record, featuring greetings in 55 earth languages, 116 images of the planet and its inhabitants, plus examples of music from a range of cultures across the world: from Azerbaijani bagpipes to Zaire pygmy songs, from English Renaissance dances to Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, and from Louis Armstrong to Chuck Berry.... Read more about Music from Earth (Gen Ed 1006)
How to face death? Concentrating on this central human question, we will explore some of the greatest works of ancient Greek literature (in English translation). For the Greeks, a special way to address the problem of death was to think long and hard about what they called heroes in their myths.... Read more about The Ancient Greek Hero (Gen Ed 1074)
What can anime’s development in Japan and its global dissemination teach us about the messy world of contemporary media culture where art and commerce, aesthetic and technology, and producers and consumers are inextricably entangled with each other?
In this course, students will learn to engage Japanese or Japanese-style animation (sometimes known as anime) through two-pronged approaches. First, the students will learn to evaluate the aesthetic and socio-cultural relevance of anime in relation to the criteria and perspectives developed through the study of more established artistic forms such literature, cinema and visual arts. We will cover topics including, anime’s generic conventions, formal aesthetic, and narrative motifs.... Read more about Anime as Global Popular Culture (Gen Ed 1042)
Each year, between September and June some 52 million students attend public schools in America. But why? Why do we have K-12 schools in America? What is their purpose? What we do expect schools to accomplish? Headlines decrying the failed state of our nation’s schools and clarion calls for the improved quality and reach of American schooling in the 21st century are commonplace.... Read more about Equity and Excellence in K12 American Schools (Gen Ed 1076)
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?