HCOL 185 Sophomore Seminars - Fall 2018

HCOL 185A - SU: Sustainability: A Cultural History - Prof. Mark Usher, Department of Classics

CAS:  Humanities
GSB:  Humanities Core
CALS: Humanities
CEMS: ENGR: Gen Ed Elective; CS, STAT,MATH: check with your academic advisor
RSENR: Consult with your academic advisor
CNHS: Consult with your academic advisor
CESS: Consult with your academic advisor

PDF iconCourse Syllabus:

Proponents of sustainability tend to present their ideas and prescriptions as new and innovative and argue that sustainable living is a defining concern of our time.  Sustainable living is indeed an urgent, pressing issue for today’s world, but students in this course will learn that many of the fundamental tenets of the modern sustainability movement are also hallmarks of ancient Greek culture and thought.  This course, a foray into the genealogy of ideas, traces the trajectory of modern notions of ecological and socio-economic sustainability back through time.  Through selected readings spanning over two thousand years, students will see old ideas and precepts cropping up repeatedly over the course of history, up to and including the present day.  They will grapple with conceptual and philosophical aspects of sustainability and with sustainable living itself (and the inevitable trade-offs and contradictions therein) experientially via a field trip to the small, diversified farm my wife and I built from scratch as an experiment in sustainable living and where we raise sheep, tend a large garden, and manage a maple sugarbush.

HCOL 185B - Culture in Exile: Berlin/NY/LA - Natalie Neuert, Department of Music and Dance

CAS:  Fine Arts or Humanities
GSB:  Humanities
CALS: Humanities
CEMS: ENGR: Gen Ed Elective; CS, STAT,MATH: check with your academic advisor
RSENR: Consult with Academic Advisor
CNHS: Consult with Academic Advisor
CESS: Consult CESS advisor

PDF iconCourse Syllabus

1920’s Berlin saw an extraordinary cultural renaissance in theater, music, literature, film, architecture, and design. This historical period, known as the Weimar Republic, came crashing down with Hitler’s appointment as Chancellor of Germany in 1933. The daring, subversive, political, progressive artists of the period, many of whom were Jewish, began an exodus West: to New York, and onward to Hollywood. This course will examine the American flowering of these artists, and their work in exile. We will read two of the seminal chroniclers of the period, Stefan Zweig and Christopher Isherwood, study the work of Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill, and examine the films of artists such as Ernst Lubitsch, Max Ophuls, Erik von Stroheim, and Fritz Lang.  The course will also focus on contemporary work which is clearly connected to the Weimar ethos: The films of Wes Anderson, underground cabaret artists such as Taylor Mac, choreographer Bob Fosse, the television work of Jill Soloway (Transparent) and more.

 

HCOL 185C - D1: War, Race and Identity in America - Prof. Andy Buchanan, Department of History

CAS:  Humanities
GSB:  Humanities Core
CALS: Humanities
CEMS: ENGR: Gen Ed Elective; CS, STAT,MATH: check with your academic advisor
RSENR: Consult with academic advisor
CNHS: Consult with academic advisor
CESS: Consult with academic advisor

PDF iconCourse Syllabus

This seminar will examine the intersection of war, race, and identity in America focused around two critical sites.  Firstly, the racialized othering of Native America from the wars of colonial conquest to the defeat of the Plains Indians; and secondly the Civil War, viewed as war for the overthrow of slavery and as it was transformed in memory into a valorous war between brothers in which questions of race were marginalized.  These sites are critical to race and race relations in America, working to define who is, and who is not included with its racialized boundaries.

Based in the discipline of History, the seminar will embrace approaches drawn from gender studies, critical race theory, anthropology and film studies. Seminar discussions will be based on academic monographs and on cultural products, particularly in film.  I also plan to organize a visit to the “Dreaming of Timbuctoo” exhibit at the John Brown Farm in Lake Placid as part of a discussion on Civil-War era Black settlement in the Adirondacks.

 

HCOL 185D - Evolution & Ethics - Prof. Mike Ashooh, Department of Philosophy

CAS: No CAS credit
GSB:  Humanities Core
CALS: Humanities
CEMS:  ENGR: Gen Ed Elective; CS, STAT,MATH: check with your academic advisor
RSENR: Consult with your academic advisor
CNHS: Consult with your academic advisor
CESS: Consult with your academic advisor

PDF iconCourse Syllabus


Evolutionary theory suggests that individuals are motivated by self-interest, a “survival instinct”, which promotes self-preservation sometimes at the cost of the interests of others.   On the other hand, it is hard to deny that many people behave altruistically, with moral regard for others, and in fact make extreme sacrifices for moral reasons to benefit others.  How then can morality be squared with the principles of evolution?  In this class, we will explore this issue in detail.  Several responses will be considered.
In doing so, we will explore a variety of cultural norms and beliefs that evolutionary anthropologist have used as evidence of a group selection model and draw on resources in the growing field of moral anthropology that survey the variety of social and cultural norms in an effort to identify common features and principles that are trans-cultural.  In considering the conflicts between various cultures moral norms, we will ask whether an objective or universal notion of morality can be sustained, and if not, what becomes of ethics in light of evolutionary theory.  We will be asking whether our ethical beliefs are attempts to describe objective features of the world we live in or whether they are merely the cultural artifacts of highly evolved and very diverse humans.

HCOL 185E - Individualism & Its Dangers - Prof. Alex Zakaras, Department of Political Science

CAS: Humanities
GSB:  Social Science Core
CALS: Humanities
CEMS: ENGR: Gen Ed Elective; CS, STAT,MATH: check with your academic advisor
RSENR: Consult with Academic Advisor
CNHS: Consult with Academic Advisor for further clarification
CESS: Consult with Academic Advisor for General Education Requirement Approval

PDF iconCourse Syllabus

The term “individualism” is often used to describe a pervasive tendency in the culture and politics of the modern West.  Since the 1820’s, critics have used it to describe the disintegration of community and tradition, the erosion of civic allegiance, the triumph of selfishness, and the pervasive experience of personal alienation.  Almost as soon as the term was introduced, however, others began hold it up as an ethical and political ideal.  To them, “individualism” (and the related term “individuality”) was a celebration of the power, beauty, and creativity of the self-reliant individual: the rugged frontiersman, the yeoman farmer, the artist, the rebel, or the self-made businessman.  Both points of view are still powerfully represented in contemporary literature, poetry, film, philosophy, and social theory.  The tension between them gives rise to a number of enduring questions.  Which forms of individualism, if any, are worth aspiring to? What are their dangers? And which forms should be resisted?  These questions pertain directly to the oldest of ethical questions: What is the good life? But they also have important implications for the related questions: What is the good society? And what are the proper aims (and limits) of government?

HCOL 185F - D2: Women in Science - Prof. Donna Toufexis, Department of Psychological Sciences

CAS:  Social Science
GSB:  Social Science Core
CALS:  Humanities, Social Science
CEMS: ENGR: Gen Ed Elective; CS, STAT,MATH: check with your academic advisor
RSENR: Consult with your academic advisor
CNHS: Consult with your academic advisor
CESS: Consult with your academic advisor

PDF iconCourse Syllabus

In 2005 Larry Summers, the President of Harvard University, gave a speech at a conference on diversity in which he stated, “there is a difference in the standard deviation and variability of the male and female population.”  A finding, he went on to say, that explains why there would be more men than women at the elite levels of mathematical ability, and thus, why there are so few women represented in science and engineering. These remarks engendered a great deal of anger and debate. But what exactly was he saying?  And is there any truth behind his remarks? In this course, we will examine sex-differences in the brain and behavior. We will also examine the paradigm of western science. What exactly is the scientific method? Does sex affect the way science is done? We will also discuss the work and lives of several prominent scientists who are women. Why are there so few examples of successful women scientists? What factors, including nature and nurture, led these particular women into science? Were they stymied by their sex?  What obstacles hindered these women in their pursuit of science as a career? Do these barriers still exist?

HCOL 185G - How We Learn: Brain, Mind & Education, Prof. Sean Hurley, College of Education and Social Services

CAS:  CAS Credit only
GSB:  Elective Credit only
CALS:  Consult with Academic Advisor
CEMS: ENGR: Gen Ed Elective; CS, STAT,MATH: check with your academic advisor
RSENR: Consult with your academic advisor
CNHS: Consult with your academic advisor
CESS: Consult with your academic advisor

PDF iconCourse Syllabus

This course will explore what it means to think, learn, know and understand and the cognitive structures and processes involved with those activities.  We will look at learning as it occurs in formal learning environments (i.e., classrooms) because much of the research has taken place in those contexts with the goal of improving classroom instruction, but this course will extend what has been learned in classroom settings to learning in other contexts.

Topics will include learning by analogy, the transfer of knowledge across different domains, the development of expertise and what it means to be an expert, the role of motivation and emotion in learning, and learning disabilities/differences.  Recent developments in neuroscience have informed our understanding of how people learn will also be covered.

HCOL 185H - Issues in Food Systems, Food Safety - Prof. Catherine Donnelly, Department of Nutrition and Food Services

CAS: No CAS credit
GSB: Elective Credit Only
CALS: Social Science
CEMS: ENGR: Gen Ed Elective; CS, STAT,MATH: check with your academic advisor
RSENR: Consult with your academic advisor
CNHS: Consult with your academic advisor
CESS: Consult with your academic advisor

PDF iconCourse Syllabus


Disease outbreaks linked to a variety of foodborne pathogens including Salmonella, E. coli O157:H7 and Listeria cause over 48 million people to become ill each year in the US. This course will address food safety issues by reviewing outbreaks caused by notable pathogens. We will explore the development of microbiological food safety policy through analysis of how science and risk assessment are used in establishing policy. Using selected case studies and readings, we will examine the factors that have created current food safety policies and explore how pending legislation can either protect or compromise public health. Students will become familiar with the roles and responsibilities of the FDA, USDA and CDC in shaping policy, as well as the use of tools such as HACCP, risk assessment, FoodNet and PulseNet in identification of emerging food safety issues. Through extensive class writings, students will become familiar and gain experience in submitting written public comments to Federal Register notices concerning changes in food safety policy.

HCOL 185I - D1: Social Inequities: Separating Cause from Consequences - Prof. Stephanie Seguino, Department of Economics

CAS: Social Science
GSB: Social Science Core
CALS: Social Science
CEMS: ENGR: Gen Ed Elective; CS, STAT,MATH: check with your academic advisor
RSENR:  Consult with your academic advisor
CNHS: Consult with your academic advisor
CESS: Consult with your academic advisor

PDF iconCourse Syllabus


The proposed course will discuss the major areas where social inequalities have existed and have been persistent: gender, class, and race. For each of these categories, we will evaluate, discuss, and evaluate the existing causes and consequences, antiquated and modern. We will discuss the classical “nature-nurture” dichotomy, and discuss how it is inadequate (at best) for a proper handle on social inequalities. We will take a rigorous look at the possible explanations for certain inequalities, using real-world cases

HCOL 185J - D2: At Work in America: Oral Histories - Prof. Holly Painter, Department of English

CAS:  Humanities
GSB:  Social Science Core
CALS: Social Science
CEMS: ENGR: Gen Ed Elective; CS, STAT,MATH: check with your academic advisor
RSENR: Consult with your academic advisor
CNHS: Consult with your academic advisor
CESS: Consult with your academic advisor

PDF iconCourse Syllabus


In the first few weeks of the course, students will learn and practice field research skills and gain a foundational understanding of large economic trends that shape work in the U.S. In the second part of the course, they will interview three different workers in the community. Students will present each oral history in a different way in three major assignments that build on each other: first, a lightly edited transcription; second, a magazine-style article that synthesizes their field research with database research; and third, a creative piece and reflection paper. Each assignment will be guided by readings that both model what the students will produce and provide further history and context for the larger theme of how jobs are changing in the U.S.


This course is informed by my own ongoing research on specifically (near) obsolete jobs, for which I have travelled across the country interviewing and photographing 50 workers in their workplaces. In the role of the scholar-teacher, I will model for students this kind of research and the possible directions it can lead.

HCOL 185K - D1:Dance in Minstrelsy & Hip Hop - Prof. Paul Besaw, Department of Music

CAS:  Fine Arts
GSB:  Humanities Core
CALS:  Humanities or Fine Arts
CEMS:  ENGR: Gen Ed Elective; CS, STAT,MATH: check with your academic advisor
RSENR: Consult with your academic advisor
CNHS: Consult with your academic advisor
CESS: Consult with your academic advisor

PDF iconCourse Syllabus

This course is an in-depth study of the legacy and influence of African and African-derived dance forms on American social/vernacular dance (including hip hop), as well as American Theatre Jazz, Modern Dance, and Ballet.  The course will examine Africanist aesthetics in American history and culture, and the body as a site of resistance, survival, and activism.  Topics include dance in the context of: the Middle Passage, American plantation life, Minstrelsy and early American musical theater, early 20th century African American social dance, African American contributions to the modern dance and ballet, dance in the Civil Rights era, dance in music video, the birth and evolution of hip hop, and American hip hop as a global enterprise.

HCOL 185L - D2: Philosophical Perspectives on Mental Illness - Prof. G. Scott Waterman, Department of Psychiatry

CAS:  CAS Credit, no distribution 
GSB:  Social Science Core or Humanities Core
CALS: Social Science, Humanities
CEMS: ENGR: Gen Ed Elective, CS,STAT,MATH: check with your academic advisor
RSENR: Consult with your academic advisor
CNHS: Consult with your academic advisor
CESS: Consult with your academic advisor

PDF iconCourse Syllabus

Can the mind be ill? According to many estimates, upward of a quarter of all people will at some point in their lives experience mental illness. That is a staggering figure, but what does it mean? The significance – with respect to public health and to individual wellbeing – of psychiatric disorders is increasingly acknowledged, if not breathlessly promoted. But without a serious effort at philosophical analysis, understandings of the nature and implications of mental illness are likely to be inadequate or simply wrong.

This course will address a number of important conceptual problems entailed in the disciplines of psychiatry and clinical psychology and their intersections with the rest of society. It will challenge intuitive or culturally normative notions about the realm of the “mental”; about what constitutes “illness”; about personal identity, agency, freedom, and responsibility; about the role of the legal system in regulating behavior; and about our capacities to grasp, categorize, and explain the experiences of others. Participants in this seminar will learn that the question “What is mental illness?” is as complicated and controversial as it is intriguing.

HCOL 185M - Crafting Democratic Institutions - Prof. Ned McMahon, Department of Political Science

CAS: Social Science 
GSB: Social Science Core
CALS:  Humanities, Social Science
CEMS:  ENGR: Gen Ed Elective; CS, STAT,MATH: check with your academic advisor
RSENR: Consult with academic advisor
CNHS: Elective – Consult with Academic Advisor for further clarification
CESS: Consult CESS advisor for General Education Requirement Approval

PDF iconCourse Syllabus

Developing lasting political structures that are representative of and responsive to human needs is a subtle and challenging endeavor.  In recent years, many countries have sought to do this and shed legacies of political authoritarianism.  Operationalizing the democracy concept at the level of the nation-state, however, often proves tricky.  There are many issues to be considered in creating and adapting democratic governance institutions.  For example, should the system be presidential or parliamentary, or a hybrid incorporating elements of both approaches?  What elections systems should be used?  How should the executive branch be structured? 

This course provides an introduction to key concepts and is followed by focus on the executive branch, and then the legislature. It then considers election systems and administration, models of decentralization, and several country case studies.  The course ends with a concluding segment designed to pull together and summarize the proceedings over the semester.  The course is designed to be fast-paced, participatory and hands-on.  It is not designed to provide “yes or no” answers but will instead provide an understanding of key concepts in the field, how they are utilized, what successes and failures have been in the field of governance institution design, and what can be learned from them.

HCOL 185N - Shakespeare and the Classical Tradition - Prof. Angeline Chiu, Department of Classics

CAS: Literature
GSB: Humanities Core
CALS: Humanities
CEMS: ENGR: Gen Ed Elective; CS, STAT,MATH: check with your academic advisor
RSENR: Consult with Academic Advisor
CNHS: Consult with Academic Advisor
CESS: Consult CESS advisor 

This course examines in detail both selections of Shakespeare’s work and the cultural context in which it first was written and performed, focusing on the classical tradition both as an influence on Elizabethan English culture in general and on Shakespeare in particular. Specific areas of interest include the intersection of history, literature, and theater; we focus on the classical tradition in terms of historical figures and events and also classical mythology as largely expressed by Ovid. This course is intensive in the areas of reading, writing, and participation as we consider how Shakespeare actively engages with the classical tradition. The semester concludes by considering how Shakespeare himself is part of the transmission of the classical tradition to the modern age. Four papers, a reading journal, several presentations/declamations, and a final exam are required.

HCOL 185O - Language and Representation - Prof. Louis deRosset, Department of Philosophy

University/college requirement distribution to be announced in Fall 2018.

CAS:  Humanities
GSB:  Humanities Core
CALS:  Social Science

CEMS: ENGR: Gen Ed Elective; CS, STAT,MATH: check with your academic advisor
RSENR: Consult with Academic Advisor
CNHS: Consult with Academic Advisor
CESS: Consult CESS advisor

PDF iconCourse Syllabus

This course is about representation in language.  That is, the course is about how we manage to use language meaningfully to talk about things.  Doing so comes as naturally and easily to most of us as eating.  You've been succeeding at it since before you can remember.  But that should not obscure the magnitude of the achievement.  It is not altogether clear how we do it.  In this course, we will explore four questions regarding the nature of linguistic representation:

  1.  The referential bond: In virtue of what does a particular word or phrase refer to a particular thing?
  2.  Information value: In virtue of what does a particular word or phrase carry the information that it does?
  3.  Speech acts: What is the nature of the actions we perform when we use language?
  4.  Semantics and pragmatics: What is the relation between what a word or phrase means and what we use it to do?

Written assignments will include a midterm and final exam, and two shorter (3-5 pp.) papers.  The midterm and final will have an open book format.  Each of your papers will undergo a process of anonymous peer review, similar to the process for work by practicing researchers.  You will submit a draft, receive assessments and commentary from your peers, and revise in light of their insights.

HCOL 185P - SU: Climate Change and Human Health - Prof. Christine Vatovec, Department of Biochemistry

CAS:   CAS elective credit
GSB:   Social Science Core
CALS:  Social Science 
CEMS: Engineering Students - Gen Ed Elective; Math/Stat/CS/DS students check with your advisor
RSENR: Consult with Academic Advisor
CNHS: Consult with Academic Advisor
CESS: Consult CESS advisor 

PDF iconCourse Syllabus

Global climate change is among the “greatest health risks of the 21st Century,” according to the World Health Organization. The health effects of climate change are already being felt around the world, including increased prevalence of heat-related illness, transmission and spread of infectious disease, risks from extreme weather events, and effects on the quality and quantity of environmental determinants of health including air, water, and food. Using a lens of sustainability, and engaging with authentic hope for creating a more sustainable future, this course will critically examine the human health effects of climate change, and the options for mitigating these negative health outcomes. We will focus our efforts around recent scholarship that suggests many mitigation and adaptation strategies will produce co-benefits that will promote both human and ecological flourishing.