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)
Vaccination is among the oldest and most effective of medical interventions, yet paradoxically, it is also one of the most controversial. In its modern form, it has been used for centuries to prevent some of the most virulent infectious scourges of our time. Today, immunization is one of the most successful and effective interventions available to medicine and public health, reducing morbidity and mortality across the world.... Read more about Vaccines: History, Science, Policy (Gen Ed 1175)
In 2019, geologists voted to make the Anthropocene a time unit in the Geological Time scale. For scientists, this means that future geologists will be able to see the effects of human activities in the stratigraphic record and thereby distinguish this epoch from the ones that came before.... Read more about Life and Death in the Anthropocene (Gen Ed 1174)
Mental health experts believe that globally, more than 1 billion people have a mental illness. And yet the biases and misperceptions surrounding mental illness, not to mention the dehumanization and abuse in many communities of individuals with a mental illness, remains acute. This course uses literature and the arts to help students learn about more about some of the prevalent biases/misperceptions/myths/stigmas against individuals with mental illness and how these biases can be (or in the past have been) ameliorated.... Read more about Mental Health and Mental Illness through Literature and the Arts (Gen Ed 1144)
How does our society deal with religious, ethical, and cultural diversity, and what challenges do we face as people of different faith communities encounter one another in cities and public institutions, schools and businesses, neighborhoods and families?
Who do we mean when we say “we?” How does a society deal with religious, ethical, and cultural diversity? What challenges do we face as people of different communities encounter one another in cities and public institutions, schools and businesses, neighborhoods and families? These are urgent questions in many nations today, but in this course we focus on the United States.... Read more about Pluralism: Case Studies in American Diversity (Gen Ed 1166)
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)
We all agree that racism is wrong. Yet beneath this abstract consensus we find deep disagreements about what to do about it, and even about what racism is. We will address these questions by thinking about some very specific issues, drawing on work in philosophy, law, history, and the social sciences.... Read more about Race and Justice (Gen Ed 1146)
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)
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)
"To thine own self be true,” runs the famous line in Hamlet. But which self? And why? And who’s judging? Does this injunction to be authentic even make sense today, when profiles proliferate online and surveillance is ubiquitous?... Read more about Act Natural (Gen Ed 1050)