(For 2013–2014 academic year)
Director K. Valente
Colgate’s Core program is a defining feature of its liberal arts curriculum. The Core Curriculum at Colgate takes seriously the faculty’s mission to engage students in the fullness of a liberal arts education: to learn, reflect, and live with an expanding awareness of one’s responsibility to self, community, and the larger world. As such, Colgate’s Core Curriculum aims to prepare students for rich and fulfilling lives in a context of rapid change here and around the globe.
CORE 151 Legacies of the Ancient World
Director A. Cooper
This course, taught by an interdisciplinary staff, explores texts from the ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern world that have given rise to some of the philosophical, political, religious, and artistic traditions associated with “The West.” The texts of this component articulate perennial issues: the nature of the human and the divine; the virtues and the good life; the true, the just and the beautiful; the difference between subjective opinion and objective knowledge. They exemplify basic modes of speech, literary forms, and patterns of thinking that establish the terminology of academic and intellectual discourse and critical thought: epic, rhetoric, tragedy, epistemology, science, democracy, rationality, the soul, spirit, law, grace. Such terms have shaped the patterns of life, norms, and prejudices that have been continually challenged, criticized, and refashioned throughout history.
To highlight both the dialogue and conflicts between the texts and these traditions, this course focuses on both the historical contexts of these texts and the ongoing retellings and reinterpretations of them through time. Moreover, the course emphasizes that Western traditions were not formed in a vacuum but developed in dialogue and conflict with other traditions, some of which lie beyond the geographical area of “The West.” To accomplish its objectives the course is necessarily multidisciplinary. Common to all sections of this component are classic works such as Homer, the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament, Plato, and a Roman text. Complementary texts or visual materials from the ancient period, in and beyond the Western world, and/or response texts from the medieval or contemporary periods are added in individual sections or groups of sections. Thus, some groups of sections may have particular themes. These themes will be identified at registration every term.
CORE 152 Challenges of Modernity
Director C. Baldwin
Modernity is a crucial element of the intellectual legacy to which we are heirs. A matrix of intellectual, social, and material forces that have transformed the world over the last quarter millennium, modernity has introduced new problems and possibilities into human life. Within modernity, issues of meaning, identity, and morality have been critiqued in distinctive ways. People of different social classes, racial groups, ethnic backgrounds, genders and sexual identities have contributed to an increasingly rich public discourse. The human psyche has been problematized, and the dynamic character of the world, both natural and social, has been explored. Urbanization and technological development have transformed the patterns of everyday life. Imperialism has had a complex and lasting impact on the entire globe.
The human capability to ameliorate social and physical ills has increased exponentially, and yet so has the human capacity for mass destruction and exploitation. In this course, taught by an interdisciplinary staff, students explore texts from a variety of media that engage with the ideas and phenomena central to modernity. To ensure a substantially common experience for students, the staff each year chooses texts to be taught in all sections of the course. This component of the Core Curriculum encourages students to think broadly and critically about the world that they inhabit, asking them to see their contemporary concerns in the perspective of the long-standing discourses of modernity.
Scientific Perspectives on the World
Director K. Segall
All people routinely face important decisions about their own lives and about issues of broader social significance that require scientific literacy. In order to make thoughtful decisions about such matters, it is necessary to have a solid understanding of how scientific knowledge is obtained and an appreciation for the complexities of applying scientific findings to broader issues. The courses in the Scientific Perspectives (SP) program are designed to address both of these needs, and are unified by two common purposes. First, these courses deepen students’ understanding of the methods used in scientific fields to acquire knowledge about the world. Each of the SP courses focuses on an area of scientific research to give students grounding in the interplay of scientific analysis, verification, and explanation. Second, the SP courses broaden students’ understanding of the relevance of scientific methods by helping students to apply scientific methods and findings to a broad range of issues.
Specifically, these courses help students to connect their growing understanding of scientific methods either to a topic relevant to society and the human experience or to an area of knowledge or mode of inquiry outside the natural sciences and mathematics. In this way, SP courses are multi-disciplinary in focus. Because empirical methods and quantitative reasoning are used in a variety of disciplines, the topics of the SP courses span the study of the physical world, biological processes, human behavior, mathematical methods, and technological innovations. SP courses provide an illustration of the application of the scientific method through an active learning, problem-oriented experience for students.
The courses listed below can be used to fulfill the Scientific Perspectives (SP) component of the Liberal Arts Core Curriculum. MATH 102 (CORE 143S), COSC 100 (CORE 126S), COSC 150 (CORE 142S) are currently crosslisted as Scientific Perspectives courses; however, these courses may not be used to satisfy both the Areas of Inquiry and Core SP requirements. Check the course offerings posted online each term for additional Scientific Perspectives offerings as well as selected first-year seminars that may fulfill this requirement.
100S Sport and the Scientific Method
In today’s world of sports, how is knowledge obtained? On what principles are strategy determined, personnel decisions made, and honors awarded? Until somewhat recently, “knowledge” in sports consisted mostly of the wisdom of players and of coaches acquired through the years. While some of this wisdom is well founded, for years much of it was not able to be checked in a scientific, empirical way. The advent of computers and the availability of large databases of sports statistics changed all of that, however, and now many of conventional sports’ “truths” can be checked empirically.
Questions of strategy and team decisions can now be addressed in a scientific fashion, causing a major impact in sports, particularly in baseball. Behind this revolution lies the scientific method of inquiry, including the notion of falsifiability and the relationship between theory and observation. This course explores these ideas using examples in sports to illustrate the more general concepts of scientific inquiry and the scientific method. Students explore the impact of empirical knowledge on the games themselves, and how it has caused changes in strategies and team decisions. Finally, the students ask their own sports questions and answer them in a scientific, empirical fashion.
101S Energy and Sustainability
P. Crotty, M.E. Parks
Fossil fuels, which were deposited on Earth over hundreds of millions of years, will largely be exhausted over the course of a few hundred years. As the public has become aware of how quickly non-renewable resources are being used, sustainability has become a goal. This class focuses on energy use as the impediment to sustainability that will probably have the greatest impact on American lifestyle in coming years. Students learn what the scientific method can tell them about this coming revolution. How is quantitative knowledge helpful in discovering problems and formulating policy, and what are its limitations? The focus is on energy use in the home, with students completing a class project in which they measure energy use in a house in Hamilton and determine how it could be powered from sustainable energy sources. Students also discuss what, if anything, should be done to promote a national transition to sustainable energy sources.
102S Molecules, Energy, and Environment
A. Chianese, Q. Shen
When reduced to fundamentals, virtually all of our environmental problems deal with chemicals in the wrong place: noxious and reactive gases in our atmosphere, insecticides and toxic metals in our ground and drinking water, and spilled nuclear wastes. Unfortunately, many citizens in our society do not understand the fundamentals of these environmental problems. This course — designed for students without experience in other university-level science courses — explores the chemistry behind some of our more pressing environmental dilemmas. Topics include some consequences of fossil fuel combustion (the greenhouse effect, acid rain, urban smog), the ozone hole, nuclear energy/wastes, and ground water contamination. The emphasis is on the science behind these problems, what we know about how the problems have come about, and what we can do, if anything, to ease the problems. This course is for the student who has not taken college-level chemistry, but is concerned about our threatened environment.
103S Remote Sensing of the Environment
Remote sensing is the art and science of obtaining information about a phenomenon through a device that is not in contact with the object. The remote sensing process involves collection and analysis of data about energy, reflected from or emitted by an object. Remote sensing is used to better understand, measure, and monitor features and human activities on Earth. After an introduction to the interplay among science, technology, and remote sensing, students examine the development of remote sensing technology. Students focus on the physical principles upon which remote sensing is based, explore the basic tools of photography and photograph interpretation, and consider the principles of acquiring and interpreting data collected by non-photographic sensors. Throughout the semester, students consider how remote sensing has improved our understanding of biophysical processes using a case-study approach to demonstrate the theoretical underpinnings. Finally, consideration is given to the ethical implications of remote sensing.
104S Fundamental Quests in Science: From Subatomic to Cosmological
Where are we? What are we made of? How do we know? These are fundamental questions in science. This course explores these questions via several topics of much research in science today. It looks at fundamental questions at the cosmological scale, like the big bang, the structure of the universe, birth and death of stars, and the nature of black holes; and then inward to fundamental questions in the subatomic world, made up of baryons, mesons, leptons, and quarks. The exercise shows that the properties of elementary particles and their interactions are intimately tied to the cosmological questions. The discussion centers on what we know about these topics and how we investigate them. An important component of this course is the discussion of the outstanding puzzles today, like dark matter in the universe, the missing energy fueling its expansion, and whether certain fundamental particles exist or not. In exploring these questions the course provides an introductory coverage of the major physical theories: Newtonian mechanics, quantum mechanics, and relativity. How do these questions affect society and humanity? The course also examines some of the current controversies and debates.
105S The Science and Potential Implications of Nanotechnology
Imagine repairing your body without surgery and no longer burning fossil fuels. Imagine enjoying abundance with no manufacturing costs and taking an elevator to the moon. Imagine also the loss of all personal privacy and the irreversible poisoning of the environment. Such are the hopes, hype, and fears of nanotechnology — the study of materials and devices with dimensions on the nanoscale (1 x 10-9m, the realm of assemblies of molecules). This course provides an introduction to the science and potential implications of molecular nanotechnology. Scientific and sensationalist visions of nanotechnology are critically examined through a combination of readings, lectures, discussions, and presentations. The course forges an appreciation for the nanoscale, an understanding of the excitement and the challenges, and an awareness of the societal and ethical implications. Through the lens of nanotechnology, students gain insights applicable to the broad landscape of emerging technologies — and encourage curiosity towards the future
106S Saving the Appearances: Galileo, the Church, and the Scientific Endeavor
Four hundred years ago, Galileo Galilei turned his modest telescope skyward. The universe he discovered was a stark contrast to the universe described by the ancient Greek philosophers whose cosmology had held sway for over a millennium. Some 60 years after the publication of Copernicus’ treatise On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, Galileo used his newfound insight into the nature of the heavens to support the heliocentric model of the universe. In so doing, Galileo challenged not only the authority of Aristotelian cosmology, but also the religious tradition and interpretation of the scripture by the Holy Fathers of the Catholic Church. This episode in the history of western science and the development of the Church is often cited as one of the original clashes between modern science and religious traditions. The discoveries, writings, and trial of Galileo Galilei serves as both a focus and backdrop for students to explore the practical development of scientific thought and the near simultaneous invention and re-invention of the Church. In addition to readings, written responses, and classroom discussions, the course requires students to repeat many of the ground-breaking observations Galileo made using a hand-held refracting telescope similar in size and shape to the one he built.
107S Conserving Nature
This course is a study of the conservation and management of natural resources, including forests, soils, streams, and wild animals. A scientific approach is used to understand the ways that people affect natural resources through their actions. Particular attention is paid to management activities, such as hunting and timber harvest. Students are confronted with the limitations of science in guiding moral decisions. Thus, the class also examines the role of ethical analysis in natural resource issues. Scientific and ethical approaches are used to formulate well-conceived opinions regarding how natural resources ought to be managed locally, nationally, and internationally. The course involves several weekend field trips.
108S The Science of Art
How have scientific and technological innovations influenced works of art, artistic expression, and media? Conversely, has artistic expression fueled the technological development of artistic medium? How are scientific methods used to determine the age and authenticity of works of art? Students explore the science of light and color, the chemistry of pigments and their binders, and the material science and history of art media. In addition to lectures and discussions, students participate in small group hands-on projects. The course explores works of the West (Europe) and Asia, but the artistic expression of other cultures is considered as well. High school chemistry is beneficial, but not a requirement for the course.
110S Discovering Biology
How do humans know what is known about life on Earth? This course looks at some of the major questions that have informed human understanding of the living world over the past 150 years. The course begins with perhaps the oldest biological question of all: why are there so many living things? It shows how Charles Darwin’s brilliant answer forms the foundation for much of modern biology. By following the path of discovery leading from Darwin, students learn about a devout monk named Gregor Mendel, a feisty chemist named Louis Pasteur, two brash young scientists named Watson and Crick, and many more. The course explores the great diversity of life, what fuels the living world, how organisms adapt to change, and aspects of how they interact with each other and with the physical environment. The approach is student-active and hands-on; students work together to unravel a few of the mysteries of life. This course is intended for those who are interested in biology but probably will not choose to major in the life sciences.
111S The Artful Brain: An Exploration in Neuro-aesthetics
This course consists of an exploration in the aesthetic experience of art as it relates to the sensory and perceptual mechanisms of the brain. Many of the topics discussed in the course are centered on the view that the function of art and the function of the visual brain are one and the same. Students thus consider that the aims of the artist in rendering a particular piece of art essentially constitute an extension of the processes of the visual brain. By taking this point of view (through an introductory understanding of the sensory and perceptual processes of the visual brain) students discuss possible outlines of a theory of aesthetics that is biologically based. Students are required to read chapters from different textbooks devoted to sensory and perceptual processes as they relate to visual art, as well as review articles from professional journals.
112S Social Life: The Paradox of Cooperative Behavior
If survival of the fittest is the law of the land, why are so many animals (including humans) compelled to live in cooperative, complex societies? Cooperative behavior among organisms is recognized as one of the major transitions in evolutionary biology. Seeming to defy the selfish laws of natural selection, the evolution of social behavior has fascinated biologists, psychologists, sociologists, philosophers, and economists alike. In this course, students explore the basic foundations of sociobiology, the study of social behavior in animals, and solve the paradox of how cooperative behaviors can evolve by natural selection. Using detailed case studies from organisms as diverse as dolphins, birds, ants, and humans, students discuss the mechanisms driving social interactions and the ecological and evolutionary consequences of cooperative behavior. Case studies include both classical ethological studies and cutting-edge research in animal behavior. Students discuss the philosophical, ethical, and political controversy that erupted with the emergence of sociobiology in the 1970s — a debate that is still smoldering today — and explore the application of social behavior principles to human behavior and the organization of human societies.
113S How to Build a Baby: A Developmental Science Approach to the Nature-Nurture Debate
If one were a highly developed, extraterrestrial scientist with advanced technology to engineer organisms from other planets, how would one build a human baby? What kind of brain would one design? What kinds of social, emotional, and cognitive predispositions would be included? What kind of environment would one provide? To answer these questions, one must determine what is innate and what is learned in human development. Although this “nature-nurture” question can be traced back to ancient philosophers (right here on Earth!), modern-day science has made great strides in exploring (and reformulating) this question. In this class, students first explore some pop-culture approaches to this issue. Then, they briefly trace the history of the debate to its foundations in classical and modern philosophy. Finally, students compare these philosophical and pop-culture perspectives to modern-day scientific approaches. This is accomplished through primary and secondary readings, class discussions, and group presentations. In the end, students may discover that the answers to the “nature-nurture” question are not on a planet far, far way — but rather closer to home than they have ever been.
114S Ecology, Ethics, and Wilderness
This course explores the ways in which modern science, employing abstractions, logic, and quantification, effectively describes the workings of the natural world and provides a framework for considering new ethical relationships among humans, nonhumans, and the nonliving world. The course examines the ways in which scientific concepts, such as deep geologic time and Earth history, biological evolution and co-evolution, and ecosystem dynamics can inform humans about radical moral stances (e.g., biocentrism, deep ecology). Also, the course investigates whether a scientific perspective, in and of itself, is sufficient to resolve pressing environmental problems, most of which are the outcome of complex social, economic, political, philosophical, and historical forces that operate on regional and global scales.
115S Brains and Tongues: How Do We Acquire Language?
This course explores how infants and adults acquire native and foreign languages. What goes on in the brains of new-born infants before they discover the meanings of words? What might be the linguistic and social consequence of acquiring an English dialectal accent, distinguishing or not distinguishing between Mary, merry, and marry? Why do some adults succeed in learning a second language, while others do not? Why are some Japanese unable to tell the difference between rice and lice? When a girl was isolated in a room where she had no contact with a language speaking community until she was 13 years old, was she able to acquire her first language at any age? When bonobo chimpanzees are taught human language, how much can they learn, and why are they unable to speak? Students read books and articles that address these issues, watch films and have some direct experience of learning a difficult second language. Physiological, linguistic, psychological, and social factors that determine whether one succeeds or fails to acquire native and foreign languages are discussed.
116S Critical Analysis of Health Issues: AIDS
The course examines the epidemiology of AIDS in the United States and in students’ hometowns. The readings introduce students to the history, politics, science, and public health issues of the disease. Students examine their perceptions about AIDS by collecting and analyzing articles from their local newspapers, after obtaining the demographic breakdown of the AIDS cases in their hometowns. Correlative statistics are used to determine what factor (race, income, educational attainment, etc.) correlates with the incidence of AIDS. Lastly, the students develop public policy statements for the prevention and treatment of AIDS in their hometowns.
117S Outbreak! Historical Pandemics and Emerging Infectious Diseases
Outbreaks of infectious disease are an inevitable component of human existence. Ranging in severity from the common cold to the 1918 influenza pandemic that killed 2.5 – 5 percent of the human population, outbreaks have altered the course of human history and continue to exert a dramatic influence on human activity. This course examines historical pandemics, including the “Black Death” and 1918 “Spanish flu,” and some more recent outbreaks, including SARS. Through lecture, discussion, and in-class exercises, these outbreaks are used as a framework for investigation into basic epidemiological principles. Students investigate different methodologies of epidemiologic data collection and analyze data sets derived from various outbreaks. The class also discusses the microbiologic, social, and environmental factors that contribute to disease pathogenesis, and examine current preparedness for future infectious outbreaks.
Gems and precious stones have been the objects of fascination and delight for thousands of years. They have been worn as adornments and amulets to bring their wearer strength and invincibility, good health and luck, love and wisdom. Gems have been portrayed as having magical powers, and the desire to own these crystalline droplets of beauty has led to murder and intrigue, theft and deception, wars and suffering. This course examines the origin, history, myths, and lore of diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and emeralds, as well as a score of other precious stones. Students study their chemical, physical, crystallographic, and optical properties; how they form; and where they are found. They assess the cost — in environmental degradation and human lives — to extract gems from the Earth’s crust, and read about the brutal history and mysterious ways of the diamond business. Finally, students discuss and evaluate New Age claims for crystal healing, crystal balls, and crystals used as amulets and talismans.
120S Earth Resources
Management of the Earth’s energy, mineral, and water resources is a subject of ongoing controversy and debate. This debate revolves around two related issues: the diminishing supply of some resources and the environmental cost of resource extraction and energy production. This course examines the origin and geologic setting of Earth’s resources, and how these factors influence resource exploration, extraction, and use. Environmental and economic aspects of resource extraction are explored. Students examine the public debate about resource management and conservation, as well as the roles of politics and the media in shaping this debate. This course emphasizes student-led discussions of case studies dealing with current resource-related topics. The purpose of this course is to create a framework in which resource issues can be evaluated, integrating the scientific and social issues inherent in resource development.
121S Mathematical Innovations and Social Contexts
This course invites students interested in mathematics to explore aspects of the discipline that are not typically addressed elsewhere in the curriculum. It does so by emphasizing the historical and social contexts in which significant ideas emerged. The period of primary interest includes the late 19th and early 20th centuries. During this time, continuing developments (e.g., non-Euclidean geometry and the precise conception of an infinite set) in mathematical thinking led many to consider seriously, and perhaps for the first time, fundamental questions. What constitutes mathematics? What accounts for the certainty of its knowledge? Ultimately there are not simple or unambiguous answers. However, by examining the discipline’s “crisis in foundations,” students can investigate the special nature, production, and possible limitations of mathematical knowledge. Additionally, the course pays attention to ways in which mathematical debates of the day were promoted, interpreted, and used to specific ends by and for those outside of the discipline. No mathematics beyond the high school level is assumed.
122S Life in the Universe: A Cosmic Perspective
This course examines the historical debate on the concept of whether extraterrestrial life exists. Students examine what astronomy and physics tell about the origin and evolution of the Universe, the production of elements that make up living matter on Earth, the evolution of stars like the Sun, and the formation of solar systems. Also examined are the astronomical, geological, chemical, and biological conditions that were responsible for the origin and evolution of life on Earth, and speculate about the possibility of life on other planets in our solar system or on planets around other stars. How would one detect the presence of life on other planets in the solar system; in the galaxy? The development of intelligent life and the possibility of contact between civilizations are examined.
123S Climate Change and Human History
As the “Global Warming Summit” made clear, anthropogenic activity has the potential to dramatically alter global climate. The increased introduction of greenhouse gases, sulfate aerosols, and dust through human activities may result in a variety of regional responses, including warming and cooling, changes in precipitation and drought patterns, and rising sea level. Climate change as a force driving human history, however, is not unique to the 20th century. The primary objectives of this course are to present case studies that demonstrate the strong role of climate in driving human evolution, adaptation, and societies; and to assess the relationship between climate forcing and man, with a view toward understanding the potential consequences of modern anthropogenic impacts.
124S Cells and Human Development
The fusion of sperm and egg cells to form a single-celled zygote is the initial step in development in most multi-cellular organisms. In humans, repeated divisions of this single fertilized egg are responsible for the production of more than 70 trillion cells of greater than 200 different types. In this course students examine how a fertilized egg undergoes division, how the stem cells produced by these divisions become “determined” to form cells of particular types, and how these determined cells finally differentiate into the highly specialized cells that make up most tissues and organs. As this process is examined, students also explore the relationship between cells and developmental patterns, and investigate how genetic and environmental factors can influence (and alter) cell fate. Biological, social, and ethical aspects of the human manipulation of development are also considered, including examination of such topics as cloning by nuclear transfer, reproductive technology, fetal surgery, stem cells, and embryonic gene therapy.
125S History of Life
This course studies, within an environmental and tectonic context, the evolution of life on Earth from its origin to the present. Discussions link the most important evolutionary events in the Earth’s past, from the Cambrian radiation, transition to life on land, and the Permian and Cretaceous mass extinctions, to dramatic physical and climatic changes occurring on our planet. Perspectives on primates and the place of humans in the history of life are final themes of the course. (Not open to students who have taken GEOL 190.)
126S/126SL Computers in the Arts and Sciences
This course is crosslisted as COSC 100/100L. For course description, see “Computer Science: Course Offerings.”
128S Global Change and You
Our planet is currently undergoing a level of abiotic and biotic change that is unprecedented in recent history. There is widespread consensus in the scientific community that much of this change is anthropogenic. This course introduces students to the recent data on climate change and inferred causes and consequences of that change. Throughout the course, the way in which humans influence these changes and also the ways in which these changes impact humans are explored. The main focus of the course is the carbon cycle, specifically on human energy consumption, food production, and water use, and how they are linked to biodiversity loss. The many sides of issues (e.g., biofuels) are explored and debated throughout the course. The immediate consequences of global change are demonstrated in a required weekend fieldtrip to the Adirondacks in the third week of the classes to learn about the effects of pollution and climate on our local ecosystems.
129S Dangerous Earth: Science of Geologic Disasters
Geologic disasters, such as floods, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions, serve as dramatic reminders of the power of nature and the catastrophic impact that these disasters have on society. As recent events such as the 2003 tsunami in Sumatra demonstrate, these disasters can exact a terrible cost in both economic terms and loss of life. Society has a clear interest in understanding what causes these disasters and how to reduce their impact on human populations. Geology provides a scientific framework for understanding the potential risks and effects of geologic disasters. This course examines the science behind four disasters that pose major risks to society: floods, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and meteoric impacts. Students examine significant case studies to understand the types of data collected to study these disasters, ambiguities in the data, and how risk is estimated. Students also examine potential ways to reduce the damage caused by such hazards and the scientific, economic, political, and societal implications of these approaches.
130S Rejected Knowledge
“Rejected Knowledge” refers to things known, by whatever process and persons, that do not fit orthodox paradigms of belief and are therefore commonly excluded from academic consideration. The course examines such topics as the evidence for prehistoric high civilizations, the claims of parapsychology, UFO myths, and paranormal phenomena. What are the reasons for their exclusion, and how can the scientific method, properly employed, help in their investigation?
131S The Art of Problem Solving
The central theme of this course — the ways and means of invention and discovery — is pursued using mathematics as its main tool. Exploring basic mathematical structures, formulating conjectures based on observations, and nullifying or verifying the conjectures is the approach used. Mathematics is only the language of investigation; this course emphasizes process over content. By the end of the course, students have a good foundation in the art of problem solving that should prove invaluable in all scientific fields. No mathematics beyond the high school level is assumed. Topics covered include plane geometry, interest theory, voting systems, sequence analysis, statistics, and global warming.
132S Science and Exploration
This course addresses the fundamental question of why humans explore and investigates scientific achievements based on voyages of discovery. Advancements in all scientific endeavors — from continental scale exploration, to exploration of the natural history of our planet, to exploration of outer space — are examined as students read the adventures of great explorers, ranging from famous Antarctic explorers, to less well-known paleontologists, naturalists, and astronauts. The class investigates the complex and crucial relationship between exploration and science, as well as issues of leadership, team building, group dynamics, and personal faith. Laboratory sessions focus on examination of real samples, and the generation and interpretation of data; these labs are derived directly from the scientific investigations detailed in the course readings.
133S Sex, Drugs, and Chocolate
This course explores the many tasty, interesting, useful, mystical, and illegal uses of plants. Starting with basic plant biology, this course provides a framework for understanding where plant products come from, and then rapidly shifts to human-plant interactions. Course topics include the history of agriculture and its effects on land use and the environment, the origin of common crops, historical and modern human uses of plants, as well as the chemistry, pharmacology, and history of drug use. Current botanical issues such as transgenic crops, ownership of genetic stock material, and bioprospecting are discussed. Students emerge from this course with a new appreciation for what people eat, drink, smoke, and wear.
134S The Sixth Extinction
The fossil record reveals that Earth has experienced five cataclysmic events, or mass extinctions, which in each instance had a profound effect on its history by redirecting the course of evolution. As detectives attempting to solve the world’s greatest murder mysteries, students of this course examine when each of these catastrophic events occurred, what caused ecosystems and evolutionary processes to be disrupted, why and where biological diversity was greatly diminished, and who survived to begin the evolutionary repair of life during subsequent recovery and radiation phases. In the final part of the course, students use their knowledge of these past events to hypothesize about and investigate the severity of the Sixth Extinction. The course addresses modern conservation practices and specific actions that hope to enhance the future existence of a biologically diverse planet.
135S Technologies for Electronic Commerce
The explosive growth of the Internet has fundamentally changed how business is conducted. Many of the online services that people use every day rely on important technological advances that motivate and support their success. This course introduces students to the computer science that drives electronic commerce and its consequences for society. Among other topics, students discuss how the Internet’s design permits so many uses without being managed by one single entity; how compression and security have affected the distribution of entertainment and have affected the legal system; how to search through and organize massive amounts of information, and how doing so creates new markets and new business opportunities; how a mathematical model of human behavior helps the design of online auctions; and how web interaction and collaboration have created educational and social communities, making problems easier to solve and bringing people together in new ways.
136S Critical Analysis of Health Issues: Cancer
G. Gogel, E. Hagos
This course examines cancer as a disease and as a public health issue. The readings concern the epidemiology of cancer, research to discover causes, research to discover treatments of cancer, psychological responses to life-threatening illness, and methods for preventing cancer. In workshops, students study the logic and methods used by scientists to identify the causes of cancer and to formulate methods of treatment and prevention. The workshops include analysis of statistical correlations between cancer incidence and suspected causes. Finally, students examine in detail a suspected cause of cancer, a treatment for cancer, a method of prevention, or a topic related to personal responses to life-threatening illness, and present their findings in a poster session.
137S Mind, Body, and Health
The relationship between the mind and the body has been a topic of speculation and controversy through human history. This course explores this relationship by examining how psychological and social factors influence human health. Proponents of Western medicine have frequently dismissed a mind-body link as folklore; others, especially writers for the popular media, have claimed that the mind has miraculous power to cure disease. In recent years, scientists have conducted numerous studies aimed at discovering how thoughts and emotions actually influence physical health, and what mechanisms underlie this influence. Students evaluate this literature, learning about the effects of beliefs, emotional states (depression, anxiety), personality characteristics, and stress on people’s susceptibility to and recovery from illnesses. Students also explore literature suggesting that psychological approaches can prevent or treat physical conditions. By doing hands-on experimentation, students learn how to measure stress and even how to control their own physiological responses to it. The course emphasizes the value and limitations of using Western scientific methodology to gain knowledge, and contrasts this approach with ideas from “alternative” and Eastern approaches to medicine.
138S The Advent of the Atomic Bomb
This course examines the scientific evolution of nuclear weapons and the historical context in which they were developed. World War II made urgent the exploitation of atomic power for military purposes. Topics include the scientific thought that made harnessing nuclear power possible, the political pressure that shaped that process, the ramifications of the bomb for science and politics during and immediately after the war, and the subsequent impact of nuclear bomb use on the population and the environment. The course includes consideration of post-WWII developments of nuclear weapons, weapons testing, and nuclear power generation, with an emphasis on their environmental impact.
139S Election Methods and Voting Technology
How should we elect our president and other government officials? Is our method of election fair to all voters? What is the best way to cast and record our votes? This course surveys different methods of conducting elections and voting. This gives students tools to assess the fairness of our election methods in this country and how they might make policy decisions related to elections and voting. These policies concern both the ways of casting our votes (voting technology) and the election methods. One part of the course compares different ways of electing candidates and the mathematical theory behind these methods. Methods considered include plurality (candidate with the most votes wins), different run-off methods, and other methods. It also looks at the two-stage process for the US presidential elections where in the second stage, states vote using a weighted vote (the Electoral College). The second part of the course considers different ways that votes can be cast. This includes the history of different methods of voting and their vulnerability to fraud. This leads to current debates about voting technology: How effective are different modern systems, such as electronically scanned paper ballots and direct recording electronic (DRE) voting machines, for accurately and securely recording votes and protecting against voting fraud? How can people systematically compare and weigh the risks associates with different voting methods?
140S Language and Cognition
What is the relationship between language and cognition? To answer this question this course explores the interrelation between verbal expression and such cognitive faculties as bodily experience, imagination, memory, categorization, and abstract thought. The study of language as a cognitive phenomenon is a relatively new discipline. It originated in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Since then, cognitive linguistics has been a rapidly growing field that has both benefited from and contributed to its allied disciplines of cognitive psychology, cognitive anthropology, and cognitive neuroscience. The course begins by examining the advantages and shortcomings of the cognitive perspective on the different levels of language (e.g., sounds, words, sentences, texts, etc.). Students explore the connections of cognitive linguistics with the related fields that are broadly referred to as the “cognitive sciences.” No background in linguistics is required, but interest in linguistics is expected.
141S From the Atkins Diet to the Kyoto Treaty: Science, the News Media, and You
Many of the important issues that confront society, from health-related concerns to environmental protection, are scientific at their core, and society relies almost exclusively on the news media for information about them. However, a lot can happen to scientific data on its way to becoming a headline. Politicians, industries, and other groups have a stake in the perception of scientific issues and can potentially influence the content and presentation of news. This course dissects the forces that control perception of scientific news and provides strategies for obtaining more detailed information. The course comprises a series of self-contained units that each focus on a single issue and may include such disparate topics as the Atkins diet, the Kyoto Protocol, nanotechnology, the human genome project, and space exploration, as well as some of the students’ choosing. Each unit begins with a general introduction to the underlying science, moves on to explore social, political, and economic aspects, and culminates with a writing assignment or class-wide participatory event.
142S Contemporary Issues in Computer Science
This course is crosslisted as COSC 150. For course description, see “Computer Science: Course Offerings.”
143S Introduction to Statistics
This course is crosslisted as MATH 102. For course description, see “Mathematics: Course Offerings.”
144S The Psychology of Oppression
The United States was founded on the proposition that “all men [sic] are created equal.” Nevertheless, over 200 years later, systematic disparities in economic, social, and physical well-being still exist between Whites and people of color and between men and women. This course explores psychological influences that contribute to prejudice and oppression by majority groups, and how the experience of prejudice and oppression can shape the psychology of minority groups. The focus of the course is on Black-White relations in the United States, but gender relations and relations involving immigrants and other racial and ethnic groups are also considered. The course adopts a scientific perspective, begins with an overview of the scientific method and scientific reasoning, and incorporates “hands-on” activities. The links between scientific evidence and social policy, and current controversial issues are also explored.
145S Mind and Brain in Meditation
Dhyana, Ch’an, Zazen, Meditation: These are all words for the ancient practice of mindful sitting. This simple practice has endured for millennia and has thrived in a wide variety of cultures, including, most recently, the West. To the Western mind, this practice of “doing nothing” is full of paradox. In this course students explore the practice, both academically and experientially. They study the effects of meditation on the structure and function of the brain, and on psychological measures of concentration, cognition, consciousness, and well-being. The course seeks explanations from research on mind, brain, and behavior, for how “doing nothing” can have such profound effects. Students sit regularly in meditation and use themselves as subjects of their own research on the effects of meditation. This course should give students a better understanding of psychology, scientific research, and meditation, and no previous experience with any of these is necessary to fully participate in the course.
146S The Good Life: Perspectives from Psychological Science
Throughout history, men and women have been captivated by questions of what constitutes the “good life” and how such a life can be cultivated. What is the nature of human happiness, joy, and pleasure? How can altruism be encouraged? Are some people simply born more content or more kind than other people? Are material wealth, spiritual practice, or outward achievement related to happiness? This course surveys contemporary psychological research addressing these enduring questions. Students are introduced to a variety of psychological methods and apply these methods through hands-on demonstrations. Throughout the course, students are helped to recognize the unique strengths and limitations of the scientific method for approaching questions such as these, and students are encouraged to articulate their own emerging views on what constitutes a life worth living.
148S Biotechnology and the New Genetics
The advent of recombinant DNA technology in the 1970s initiated a scientific revolution in areas as diverse as forensics, agriculture, and medicine. The pace of new technology has continued to increase since that time, forcing the average citizen to consider the potential benefits and risks, and the ethical issues, related to the use of this technology. This course explores the scientific basics of the technology used in creating recombinant DNA molecules and “transgenic” animals and plants, the current and potential uses of this technology in agriculture and medicine, and the ethical and societal issues raised by the uses of biotechnology.
149S The Scientific Study of Willpower
Willpower allows people to delay gratification, resist temptations, and reach challenging long-term goals. This course is devoted to the study of this unique human capacity to regulate behavior. Students explore the psychological mechanisms underlying willpower from a scientific perspective. While reading relevant theoretical and empirical works, students test the ideas under study through laboratory exercises. Discussions explore the broader implications of research findings and apply these principles to the self-regulatory challenges that one faces every day. Assignments focus on developing strong writing and scientific-reasoning skills, and gaining useful insight into one’s own motivational tendencies. A final research project allows students to investigate empirically an original idea on the nature of willpower.
150S Linguistics: Data, Theory and Experiments
Y. Hirata, A.D. Nakhimovsky
Language is by far the most important means of communication among humans and the central cognitive ability separating them from the rest of the animal kingdom. Linguistic activity is all-pervasive and forms the foundation of all other high-level symbolic activities. At the same time, many aspects of this activity remain deeply mysterious. How did the language ability come about? Why is it that children learn their first language with such ease, while most adults have great difficulties learning a second one? How is it possible to learn such a complex set of rules in such a short time, on the basis of a very small corpus of data, much of it grammatically incorrect? These and other questions form the subject matter of the field of linguistics and are explored in this course.
154S Caribbean Ecology and Environmental Concerns
When we think of the Caribbean, the first images that come to mind are beautiful, clear, blue oceans, white sandy beaches, never-ending sunshine, and perpetual serenity with laid-back populations. Yet these images do not capture the presence of the myriad ecological and social concerns of the region. What are the different ecological settings of these islands, ranging from the terrestrial to the marine? What are the human-environment interactions within these ecological contexts? How have these interactions led to stressors within the ecological settings, and what are the implications of these stressors? This course seeks to address how these questions are answered through the use of science and also seeks to highlight some of the limitations of science when contending with complex ecological and social systems, using the Caribbean region as the area of focus.
156S Drugs, Brain, and Behavior
Drugs, used recreationally and medicinally, can have physiological and behavioral consequences that are important to both the individual and society. The processes in the brain and nervous system that mediate drug-induced effects on behavior and physiology are examined with emphasis on the strategies and methods used to evaluate, scientifically, the effects of drugs. This course is designed for students with no background in the field of neuroscience.
157S Music, Perception, and Cognition
This course introduces students to the cross-disciplinary field of the psychology of music and the scientific methods of studying the perception and cognition of music. The focus is on tone perception: pitch, color, melody, and tonality (key). What makes one hear a high violin note and not a low guitar note? Are there perceptual laws for good tunes? Is there a scientific basis for musical expressivity? These are some of the questions that may be discussed. The course evaluates the respective contributions of musicians and psychologists to this field and looks at experimental methods of data collection and competing theories. No formal training in music or psychology is necessary.
158S Molecules That Rock Your World
In this course students read accounts of how elements and molecules have affected the course of civilization from ancient to current times. Elements, like iron, and alloys, like bronze, have entire “ages” name after them. Student may be familiar with notorious elements like uranium and plutonium and their impact on world events, but how did tin change the course of history? Moving quickly from elements to molecules, the course looks at some of the roles molecules have played in colonization, health, environment, lifestyle, and so forth. The emphasis is not on the history of molecules, but rather molecules in history. As students explore these interesting histories, they pull in a few of the relevant scientific observations and molecular structures that give rise to the important characteristics of particular “world rocking” molecules. Molecular modeling, demonstration, and lab-like exercises illustrate the connection between structure and program. Students also suggest and research other molecules that have impacted history or might be projected to have a profound influence in the future.
159S Ecology and the Quality of the Environment
A mix of interlocking problems is reaching crisis levels on our planet, which is the only home for us and a rich diversity of other life forms. The bad news is the growing evidence that we are depleting the Earth’s natural capital at unprecedented and accelerated rates by living in ways that are eventually unsustainable. This seminar introduces students to a variety of ecological principles that explain the nature of the environment. Topics include human population dynamics, matter and energy resources, ecosystems, and others. The master ecological concepts are applied to current world environmental problems to help explain water pollution, hazardous waste disposal, renewable and nonrenewable resources, etc. Environmental degradation and pollution are approached from an ecological perspective, but students also search environmental ethics and economic and political aspects for potential solutions.
160S Psychology of Sport and Exercise
Exercise is considered vital for a healthy lifestyle and most school-age Americans participate in organized athletic activities. Knowledge and beliefs related to sport and exercise behaviors are based on a variety of approaches, ranging from superstition to the scientific method. This information is also variously transmitted, ranging from verbal folk lore, popular media, textbooks, and peer-reviewed science journals. Sport and exercise psychology is the scientific study of human behavior as it relates to sport and exercise. It forms an excellent canvas on which to view, comparatively, the strengths and weaknesses of using the scientific method to address issues of practical importance. Within this context the course provides a broad overview of sport and exercise psychology, explicitly addressing the scientific perspective on questions such as, does participating in aerobic exercise combat anxiety and depression? Are superior attention and perception abilities required to excel at “skilled” sports? What is leadership, and does leadership developed in an athletic context transfer to other environments? Does team cohesiveness predict group success? What allows some adults to adhere to an exercise program while others drop out? This course requires no prior exposure to psychology and makes no assumptions regarding prior athletic experiences.
J. Chanatry, R. Metzler
Food is essential for all of us to survive but we often take food and food preparation for granted. Have you ever wondered why some food tastes as it does or how food preparation can alter the taste of consistency of a dish? What is a balanced diet and why do we strive to have one? In this course students explore how understanding the science of food and cooking enhances our enjoyment of it as well as our benefit from it. Students look at the history and culture of human nourishment, and explore some controversial aspects of food and food technology, such as use of additives, genetically modified organisms, and diets and weight loss programs. If you have an appetite for learning or are just food motivated, this course may appeal to your senses.
163S This Old Earth: Scientific and Cultural Perspectives on the Discovery of Deep Time
The antiquity of the Earth is geology’s most important contribution to science. In the late 18th and 19th centuries new findings about the Earth’s history and fossil record came into conflict with religious and cultural understandings of creation, evolution, and the place of man in the universe. These issues have been debated since Darwin first articulated his theory of evolution by natural selection. More recently, controversy over anthropogenic climate change has provoked similar questions: How long has our present climate lasted, and what has been the scale of climate change in the past? Knowledge of the Earth’s vast age has reached past scientific debates and influenced all aspects of life, including religion, poetry, art, and architecture. In this course, students explore the changing cultural and scientific views of the age of the Earth and how these longstanding debates influence how science is seen by non-scientists.
164S Shifting Boundaries of Science and Law
If a researcher makes a billion dollars selling cells from a person’s spleen, does that person deserve a cut? Should a scientist be allowed to patent an oil-slick-eating microorganism? Who counts as an “expert witness”? According to the U.S. Supreme Court, the answers are “no,” “yes,” and “it depends”; and each of these decisions has brought the domains of science and law together in complex and often conflicting ways. This course explores the interaction of science and law in the context of 20th- and 21st-century U.S. society, drawing on a number of legal decisions and policy issues. Students present data for both a mock trial and a mock policy hearing, submitting papers based on their experiences with these projects and in relation to the course materials.
165S The (Ir)rationality of Everyday Decisions
For a long time, economics has assumed that individuals are perfectly rational in the sense that they are able to process an unlimited amount of information, make complex decisions, and predict future outcomes. The finding of a significant set of anomalies has prompted economists to seek for explanations outside of the perfect rationality model. The emerging field of behavioral economics is the result of relaxing the assumption of perfect rationality in modeling individual decision making. The course provides students the opportunity to think about their own decision-making process, compare it to what has been found in the literature, and then apply this knowledge to the application of the scientific method to examine a hypothesis of their own. This course provides a broad overview of behavioral economics, explicitly addressing the scientific perspective on questions: How do we make decisions? Do people know what they want and do they know the expected well-being they get from it? Does the status quo matter? Do we care what others think? Are individuals truly selfish? Do individuals keep mental accounts? This course requires no prior exposure to economics or statistics.
166S The Air Up There
Weather and climate command our attention because they deeply affect life on Earth. Now more than ever, life on Earth also affects atmospheric conditions, with vitally important scientific, political, cultural, and ethical implications. Course readings, discussions, and lectures examine the atmosphere from microscopic and macroscopic points of view, exploring the atomic basis for atmospheric properties such as pressure, temperature, and transparency; investigating the physical processes behind weather patterns and disturbances; and examining some of the complexities of global climate change. The course emphasizes interactions between the atmosphere and humans, as well as interactions between science and other human endeavors. Students better their understanding of the atmosphere, weather phenomena, climate change, and the power and limitations of scientific inquiry. A term project allows students to study an atmospheric phenomenon of their choosing and to strengthen their knowledge through written, oral, and visual presentations.
168S Stem Cells, Gene Therapy, and Bionics: The Making and Remaking of the Human Body
This course examines several topics on the cutting edge of regenerative science. It initially focuses on the body’s innate ability to repair itself. Students examine the nature of our body’s stem cells, as well as the limitations and potential for future work with these cells. The course then explores how gene therapy techniques have the potential to repair a wide variety of genetic disorders, but may also bring about the possibility of selective improvement in normally functioning bodies. Finally, students look at how scientists are developing techniques to grow organs in the laboratory to replace damaged or injured organs, and how bionic parts are being investigated increasingly as alternatives to biological replacements. Along the way, the class considers the ethical and social concerns that surround each of these approaches, and explores whether current definitions of humanity will apply well to a future where we can increasingly manipulate fundamental aspects of the human body.
169S Languages, Grammars, and Machines: The Complexity of Human and Computer Languages
This course introduces students to the theory of formal grammars and associated abstract machines (automata) as it relates to the complexity of human language. This theory, initiated by Noam Chomsky in the 1950s, had a profound effect on the fields of linguistics and psychology, and is also an essential component of the general theory of computation as studied in computer science. Students in the course study the theory through readings and problem sets, and apply its concepts and tools to data from human languages. The central questions of the course are: How is the notion of language complexity defined in the theory of formal grammars? Can this notion be usefully applied to human languages? If so, what does it tell us about the mental mechanism of human children who all miraculously learn a language of great complexity in relatively short time and on the basis of a small body of empirical data? Chomsky’s goals in developing the theory were to support his claims about how children acquire language, and how the mind has to be structured to make it possible. In the end of the course students examine those claims in the context of their current understanding of language acquisition.
170S Media Effects
This course uses a social scientific approach to examine the effects that media exposure has on audience members. Students develop an understanding of how the media affects audience members’ physiology, cognition, beliefs, attitudes, affective states, and behavior. Key media topics studied include violence, sex, politics, and portrayals of groups. Key types of media studied include television, music, video games, and social media.
171S The Eye: From Light to Vision
This course examines the eye from various points of view in the sciences: the physics of light and image formation; the physics, chemistry, and biology of light-detection by cells; the physiology of the human eye and the visual cortex; and the psychology of vision and perception. Class activities include hands-on experimentation and algebra-level mathematics. Discussion and projects also include other ways nature has developed to see.
172S The Biology of Women: Sex, Gender, Reproduction, and Disease
Myths regarding the female body have been circulating for centuries and still influence human behavior throughout the world. Though female and male anatomies differ, the underlying genetic material of each is very similar. This course investigates the historical and environmental construction of gender, the biological aspects of sex, the unique characteristics of female anatomy and reproduction, and the effect of sexually transmitted diseases and cancer on female health. Lectures, discussions, and in-class exercises explore the scientific methods used to acquire our current understanding of hormonal signaling, genetic inheritance, development, microbial pathogenesis, and cell biology that underlie these topics. Social and ethical issues that exist and are raised by the biological differences between males and females are also discussed, including hormonal therapy, in vitro fertilization, prenatal genetic testing, female genital mutilation, and the use of birth control to prevent AIDS transmission. This course is open to both men and women.
173S Neurodiversity: Broken Brains or Continuums of Competence
This course undertakes a multi-disciplinary examination of “neurodiversity,” a paradigm shift that conceptualizes differences in cognitive functioning as normal human variation rather than deficiency. In examining this paradigm, students apply psychological, neurological, and sociological lenses to the investigation of different neurological profiles, such as autism, dyslexia, and attention deficit disorder. Students examine the origins of scientific knowledge in these areas, reading primary source articles and chapters on the neurological bases of these “disorders.” Students also consider the complexities of applying this knowledge to individual people as well as to broader social issues. Finally students read books, journal articles and first-person accounts from a neurodiversity framework, considering such questions as: What societal implications arise from a judgment that the lives of people with neurological differences are less worthy that the rest of ours? What does it mean to experience and see the world in a different way? What does it mean to be a “normal” human being? What does it mean to be considered abnormal, disordered, or sick? What is the impact of a “cure” for these conditions on broader societal issues such as acceptance of diversity, individualism, and genetic testing? Do people with these “conditions” (or differences) desire a cure, or do they value the strengths inherent in their differences? In addition to being introduced to original research articles and a variety of research methods, students discuss strength and limitations of science in attending to such moral dilemmas.
Communities and Identities
Director P. Kaimal
Courses in the Communities and Identities (CI) component are designed to provide a textured understanding of identities, cultures, and human experiences in particular communities and regions of the world. They seek to examine critically the multiple forms of social life that contribute to the world’s cultural diversity, and to analyze the ways in which any one society functions as a unified whole and yet encompasses multiple, sometimes conflicting identities (based, for example, on gender, race, status, class, sexual identities, religion, and language). As investigations into a particular place and its extensions, they consider cultures and communities in their own right, with their own practices, histories, beliefs, and values, their own instantiations of modernity, and lastly, with their own capacities to produce and shape complex identities. Furthermore, because many of the societies that are the subject of study have had significant and enduring encounters with imperial powers or other forms of domination, these courses examine the tensions and permutations, asymmetries and alliances that such relationships have produced. Multidisciplinary in focus and materials, these courses explore the complex identities of persons through study of their geography, history, politics, and economics as well as their languages, literature, film, art, music, and religions. Students develop a comparative, historical frame of reference between the community being studied and the communities to which they belong.
163C The Caribbean
M. Cheng, J. Crespi, C. Long, D. Robinson
P. Kaimal, E. Kent
Y. Aizawa, Y. Hirata, T. Kato, D. Yamamoto
168C The Arctic
170C Islamic North Africa
174C Multi-Ethnic Israel
A. Guez, S. Kepnes, D. Monk
176C North American Indians
J. Kerber, C. Vecsey
M. Hays-Mitchell, A. Groleau
181C Pakistan and India
183C The Middle East
N. Khan, B. Rutherford, E. Spadola
184C The Danube
185C The Sahara
186C The Balkans
187C Russia at the Crossroads of East and West
D. Epstein, J. Graybill, I. Helfant, A.S. Nakhimovsky, N. Ries
188C The Iroquois
M. Taylor, C. Vecsey
190C South Africa
J. Hyslop, M. Rayneard
194C The Caucasus
Director J. Graybill
Living thoughtfully in the multicultural, globalized world of the 21st century requires critical engagement with complex phenomena and varied perspectives. Courses in this component provide the opportunity to analyze the conditions and consequences of human diversity in its local and transnational forms. To satisfy this requirement, each student will successfully complete a designated course that inquires into the ways that people seek to make sense of a diverse and increasingly interconnected world. Global Engagements (GE) courses come from departments and programs throughout the university, and they take a variety of forms. For instance, a course in this component might ask students to do one of the following:
• examine the consequences of globalization in one or more of its many forms,
• investigate issues or processes that have an impact that can be fully understood only by using a global perspective,
• experience the cross-cultural understanding that comes from intensive language learning or study group participation,
• cross boundaries by examining how diversity finds expression in human culture, or
• consider human diversity in dimensions such as race, class, and gender.
Ultimately, the GE requirement seeks to empower students to live responsibly in contexts that require an understanding of the complexity of human beings and their impact, whether in the United States or in the broader world.
A Global Engagements course may count toward a student’s major or minor; it may also fulfill an Area of Inquiry requirement. Students are expected to take at least one CI or GE course that is not focused exclusively on the United States.
Global Engagements courses will be identified in the registration materials available each semester.
Distinction Seminar in the Liberal Arts Core
Director J. Graybill
The goal of the distinction seminar is to complement honors work in departments and programs by giving select students the opportunity to reflect on the broader, interdisciplinary contexts of their honors projects. Through readings assigned by the seminar instructors, students explore the methodologies of their own and other disciplines. Each student writes a substantial interdisciplinary paper relevant to the student’s departmental honors work. This requirement may be satisfied in one of the following ways:
1. by extending a departmental honors project to explore interdisciplinary perspectives on the project topic or to examine the social implications or historical foundations of the project;
2. by self-consciously considering the generation and evaluation of knowledge in the major; or
3. by collaborating with one or more members of the seminar to explore themes common to the students’ departmental projects.
To enroll in the distinction seminar, students must achieve a 3.33 (B+) or better in the five Core components: Legacies of the Ancient World, Challenges of Modernity, Scientific Perspectives on the World, Communities and Identities, and Global Engagements. For students who repeat or complete multiple courses with a Common Core component, only the grade in the first course is considered. A cumulative grade for all Global Engagements courses completed is averaged in the Core GPA. To earn Distinction in the Liberal Arts Core, students must earn an A- or better in the distinction seminar, earn departmental honors with the completion of the department honors project, and achieve an overall GPA of 3.33 or better at the time of graduation.