2014-15 Offerings by Semester

« Winter 2013 Spring 2013 Fall 2013 »


CRN: 22477

Many Faces in Science

Many Faces in Science
Are scientists very different from artists? In this seminar we will read biographies of Nobel Prize winning scientists including Marie Curie, Richard Feynman, James Watson, Rita Levi-Montalcini, Linus Pauling, and Kary Mullis to learn the human and artistic sides of these scientists. While we will look at the impact and significance of the work of these scientists, we will not focus on technical details of their science. We may, in the end, discover that they are also fun-loving, creative artists, far from the “scientist” stereotype. 3 hrs. sem.


CRN: 22478

U.S. Economy & Immigrants

Immigrants and the U.S. Economy
The demise of national origin quotas for U.S. immigration in 1965, and its replacement with an emphasis on family reunification, opened the gates to a large and increasing flow of immigrants from the developing countries. Accordingly, this seminar will focus, within an interdisciplinary framework, on such currently pressing immigration issues as: are native-born low-skill workers displaced by recent immigrants? Is English language proficiency crucial for immigrant assimilation in the labor market? What is the role of close-knit communities in facilitating immigrant entrepreneurial activities? The mixture of perspectives should help shed light on diverse immigration policy options. 3 hrs. sem.


CRN: 22479

Geography of War and Peace

The Geography of War and Peace
Whether it is military maps employed in the defense of the Han dynasty or the logistic support for cruise missiles in the Gulf War, geography has always been associated with war and the exercise of power. However, the field of geography also has a lesser known tradition that emphasizes social justice and resistance to oppression. In this seminar we will examine how geography and geographers engage in the propagation and execution of wars and in the education and mobilization for peace. Students will be actively involved in unraveling the story of the geography of war and peace through research projects, fieldtrips, and an online exhibition. 3 hrs. sem.


CRN: 22480

Cults and Violence

Cults and Violence
It is often assumed that religious cults are prone to violence since many seek to transform society into an idealized state based on their theology. Yet history suggests that cultic groups are more often the targets of violence or that they peacefully await the millennial kingdom. In this seminar we will consider a range of factors that produce cultic violence. We will examine such cases as violence and anti-Mormonism in 19th-century America; the collective suicide of 900 Peoples Temple members in Jonestown, Guyana in 1978; the 1993 assault by the American government on the Branch Davidians in Waco, Texas; and apocalyptic violence by the Japanese group Aum Shinrikyo. 3 hrs. sem.


CRN: 22481

Sociology & Utopia

Perfect? Utopias, Dystopias, and the Sociological Imaginary
Don’t mess with perfection: the promise, as well as the trap, of utopian visions. Utopian literature criticizes existing worlds, offering plans for a better society, and better people to stock it. Since one person’s utopia can be another’s dystopia, this “good society” often intensifies tensions it promises to resolve. From Plato’s Republic to Marx’s Communist Manifesto, we will study utopias and dystopias as theories of society and as expressions of sociological perspectives. We will use sociology to explore the possibilities and limits of utopian thinking, and then turn the tables and use utopias to rethink the uses of sociology. 3 hrs. sem.


CRN: 22482

Introduction to Mindfulness

Introduction to Mindfulness
Basic sitting and walking meditation will be taught and practiced. We will use the breath to foster relaxed attention and to gain perspective on our restless minds. We will emphasize these techniques and learn how to use them in daily life and academic endeavors. We will read texts from the contemporary Tibetan and Zen Buddhist traditions, but the meditation will be employed in nonsectarian fashion applicable to any belief system. Truth should be verified by one’s experience. Students will write papers, give presentations, and keep journals. 3 hrs. sem.


CRN: 22582

Renaissance-Use/Abuse of Power

The Use and Abuse of Power During the Renaissance
What comes to mind when you hear the words “Renaissance power?” Corruption, beheadings, and excommunication? The Tudors and the Medici? In this course we will examine Renaissance texts that address how to obtain, preserve, and exercise power. We will begin with the amoral politics of Machiavelli’s The Prince, and conclude with a selection of Montaigne’s Essays, in which the author asserts that extending mercy is the noblest virtue. Along the way, we will read Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice in order to explore how race, religion, and gender reconfigure power arrangements in complicated, and often unexpected, ways. Our literary texts will be complemented by films such as The Princess of Montpensier, The Merchant of Venice, and episodes from the television series The Borgias. No prior knowledge of the Renaissance is expected, as we will discover the period together through our readings and viewings. 3 hrs. sem.