We all need to eat and drink each day to nourish our bodies. Yet how often do you pause to think deeply about why you eat what you eat? Your food habits are likely influenced by family traditions, but also by a range of other factors like income, age, ethnicity, religion, politics, and the environment. What does the food we eat tell us about ourselves—as individuals, communities and countries—and how has humanity’s relationship with food changed over time?... Read more about Mexico and the Making of Global Cuisine (Gen Ed 1178)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
Most of us were taught that the Civil War between the Confederacy and the Union was fought on battlefields chiefly in the American South between the years of 1861-1865. In this narrative, the North won and the South lost. But what if the issues that resulted in such devastating bloodshed were never resolved? What if the war never ended? This course demonstrates the ways in which the United States is still fighting the Civil War, arguably THE defining event in U.S. history.... Read more about Is the U.S. Civil War Still Being Fought? (Gen Ed 1133)
How does the English language shape our world? And how does the world shape English? Our “world” includes our most intimate thoughts and feelings, but it also can expand into an ever-widening social network; either way, whether personal or global, the English language has a profound and reciprocal relation with its speakers.... Read more about The English Language Today, Yesterday, and Tomorrow (Gen Ed 1183)
How does intellectual change happen and how do diverse communities respond to new ideas such as evolution, paying attention to different historical forces in social, religious, scientific, and cultural context?
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)
This course provides students with the opportunity to explore how the study of pre-Hispanic and Colonial Mexican and Latina/o cultures provide vital context for understanding today's changing world. The emphasis is on the mythical and social origins, glory days and political collapse of the Aztec Empire and Maya civilizations as a pivot to the study of the sexual, religious and racial interactions of the Great Encounter between Mesoamerica, Africa, Europe, and the independent nations of Mexico and the United States.... Read more about Moctezuma's Mexico, Then and Now: The Past, the Present and Pandemics in North America (Gen Ed 1148)
As a society, we pay particular attention to borders when incidents such as children separated from their asylum-seeking parents or tear-gas being used to deter entry throw the legal divide between two nation states into sharp relief. But seldom do we stop to think about what a border is, or when and why some borders are defended more aggressively than others.
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)