HCOL 086 First Year Seminars - Spring 2019

HCOL 86A - D2: Gender and Ways of Knowing - Prof. Lisa Schnell, English

CAS:  Literature
GSB: D2, Social Science Core or Humanities Core
CALS:  Social Sciences
CEMS:  Engineering Students - Gen Ed Elective; Math/Stat/CS/DS students check with your advisor
RSENR: Consult with your academic advisor
CNHS: Elective – consult with your academic advisor for further clarification
CESS: Consult with advisor 

PDF iconCourse Syllabus

In “Gender and Ways Knowing,” we will focus on the concepts of space and place in our discussions of the ways in which gender is constructed and experienced by us and others as a form of knowledge. The space of language, the space of our body, the spaces between people, the historical and cultural space that separates us (or not) from texts like Paradise Lost, actual physical spaces we live in—all these will be the subject of our explorations.

The course has two “plots.” The main plot is the work we will be doing in class with our primary texts: the biblical book of Genesis, John Milton’s Paradise Lost, Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home, Jennie Livingston’s 1990 film, “Paris is Burning,” and Janet Mock’s Redefining Realness. Many of our discussions will focus on the spaces of possibility that are opened by these texts, particularly when we put them into conversation with the secondary texts that the course will draw on, a number of theory-based essays on gender, power, and privilege. Often in the course, we will pause to consider events and people in the news and in popular culture

The second plot of the course will move us from the consideration of these “imaginative spaces” (as geographers would refer to them) to actual spaces (built and virtual) in which we experience and imagine gender in our lives. This part of the course will be conducted in a semester-long progressive project, and will culminate in group presentations prepared for the HCOL First-Year Research Symposium at the end of April.

HCOL 86B - QR: Knowledge in the Age of Big Data - Prof. Sara Cahan, Biology

CAS:  CAS Credit
GSB:  Elective Credit Only
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 your academic advisor
CESS: Consult with academic advisor

PDF iconCourse Syllabus

In the digital age, we have the capacity to generate, store, and analyze essentially limitless amounts of information about our physical, biological, and social environments.  Collectively, this storehouse of information is referred to as Big Data: information far larger and/or more complex than our minds can easily comprehend in its entirety.  The advent of Big Data has been alternatively hailed as a tool to solve our most vexing problems, and as a false prophet that deceives us as much as (or more than) it enlightens us.  In this course, we will explore what it means to take a data-driven approach to problems, and how such an approach fits into the larger human quest for knowledge, wisdom, and understanding.  What does it mean to “collect data”?  Do data represent objective truth?  Should they replace or supersede other ways of knowing?  What kind of questions can they answer?  How is meaning created from a bunch of numbers?  Can data be misused, and if so, are they of any objective value at all?  What should we, as consumers of information, trust?

HCOL 86C - SU: Ethics and the Philosophy of the Environment - Prof. Mike Ashooh, Philosophy

CAS:  Humanities
GSB: Humanities Core
CALS: Humanities
CEMS: Engineering Students - Gen Ed Elective; Math/Stat/CS/DS students check with your advisor
RSENR: Consult with your academic advisor
CNHS: Consult with your academic advisor
CESS: Consult with your academic advisor

This course surveys a number of philosophical themes related to the environment and our understanding of it.  The course is divided into roughly two categories of questions.  On the one hand, we will ask:  What do we mean by “the environment” and nature generally and what are we referring to?  What do the various sciences tell us about the state of the environment?  How accurate and reliable is our knowledge of the environment?  We will explore some philosophical and scientific approaches to answering these questions.  We then explore our moral obligations to the environment broadly construed.  What are our moral obligations to ecosystems, animals, species, future generations, and to the just treatment of those disproportionately affected by environmental threats?  By investigating these issues, the course aims to investigate the intersection of environmental ethics and environmental philosophy.

HCOL 86D - D1: Representing Race - Prof. David Jenemann, Honors College & English

CAS: Humanities
GSB: D1, Humanities Core
CALS: Humanities
CEMS: Engineering Students - Gen Ed Elective; Math/Stat/CS/DS students check with your advisor
RSENR: Consult with your academic advisor
CNHS: Consult with your academic advisor
CESS: Consult with your academic advisor

PDF iconCourse Syllabus

Representing Race” is a follow-up to the fall semester of the FY Honors College seminar (“The Pursuit of Knowledge”) in which the students read three philosophers—Descartes, Hume, and Aristotle—who gave them three different perspectives on how and what we know: rationalism, empiricism, and a kind of humanistic thinking that we referred to as narrativism.  In the reading that followed our exploration of those philosophical texts, we looked, sometimes directly, often indirectly, at the ways in which subjectivity can play a role in the construction of knowledge. Following on that experience, “Representing Race” narrows the focus to consider questions of knowledge (what do we know?), persuasion (how do we know it?) and power (who decides?) in the field of race and race relations. These are exceedingly vexing questions which play out across disciplinary boundaries. How biologists consider race is likely different than how a legal scholar thinks of the issue and distinct once again from how a poet, a painter, or philosopher thinks about the question. At the turn of the twentieth century, the issue of racial representation was further complicated by the births of cinema and the mass media, which offered spectators images of race that were at once “authentic” pictures of reality while at the same time culturally-determined fabrications. Hence in the first half of Representing Race, we will take a broad view of racial representations across a variety of disciplines, (biology, legal theory, visual arts, literature, philosophy, etc.) dating from antiquity to the present-day. In the second half of the semester, we will examine how these various types of knowledge play into representations of race in the mass-media from early silent films to television shows to the Internet, and beyond. In addition to traditional assignments, the course will culminate in the opportunity to a creative, collaborative project incorporating materials and ideas from the class.

HCOL 86E - D2: Meanings of Madness: Global Effects of Western Mental Health Practices - Prof. Judith Christensen, Psychological Sciences

CAS:   Social Science
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 your academic advisor
CESS: Consult with academic advisor

PDF iconCourse Syllabus

Why use such a pejorative term as "madness" for the title of this course? This term has long history and illustrates the stigma often associated with mental health diagnoses. Using historical assessments, cultural differences worldwide, and psychological science research, students will use this multi-perspective approach to understand what is behind mental health stigma and will examine ways to break down such destructive stereotypes and treatment barriers.

Apply your knowledge to your own mental health processes (for example, categories of problems, evaluation, client/patient care, treatment methods and strategies, treatment outcomes) through weekly reflective assignments, class discussions and to professional applications such as education, communication disorders, law, clinical psychology/mental health, and social relationships.

HCOl 86F - D2:Latin American Authoritarianism - Prof. Sara Osten, History

CAS: Humanities, Non-European Cultures
GSB: Humanities Core
CALS:  
CEMS:  Engineering Students - Gen Ed Elective; Math/Stat/CS/DS students check with your advisor
RSENR: Consult with academic advisor
CNHS:  Consult with your academic advisor
CESS: Consult with academic advisor

PDF iconCourse Syllabus

In the United States, Latin America is often associated with authoritarianism, corruption and human rights violations.  This course invites students to consider why this is, and the local, regional and global factors that have historically contributed to the rise of authoritarian regimes in the region, as well as their undoing during periods of democratization.  In the process, we will study the particular impact of different kinds of authoritarianism, both left and right, on particular populations that were targeted by these regimes, including indigenous people, women, LGBTQ people, and young people in general.  This is therefore also a course about long-term struggles in Latin America for human rights in addition to political freedom and civil rights.

 

HCOL 86G - D2: Thinking and Acting: Theories of Engagement - Prof. Joseph Acquisto, Romance Languages

CAS:  Humanities
GSB:  D2, Social Science Core or Humanities Core
CALS:   Humanities & 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 your academic advisor
CESS: Consult with academic advisor

PDF iconCourse Syllabus

This course takes its inspiration from an essay by Hannah Arendt, “Thinking and Moral Considerations,” which we will read in the course and in which she explores the problem of the move from theoretical discussions of justice to real political action in the world. While all recognize the need to base political action on firm philosophical principles, the life of the mind, in its constant questioning, problematizing, and reconsideration of its own foundations, does not at first glance seem to support political action, which ideally rests on commitment to firmly held convictions. And yet no thinker would want to shut down the possibility of acting for political change, broadly defined, on account of the ever-changing interrogations of what we mean by “equality,” “justice,” and so on.

The course will examine the ways power and privilege have been theorized, with attention to class, gender, race, and other categories, by those who go on actively to support, and also to engage in, activity that promotes political change in the world that is in line with the complexity of their own abstract reflections about engagement with the world. We will spend time looking at the relationship between education and democracy, with readings that trace the necessity of an informed citizenry, the obstacles to cultivating a life of the mind in a democracy and ways to overcome them, and the question of how best to cultivate cosmopolitanism in education. In the second section of the course, we will inquire why the habits of mind encouraged by the formation of intellect (the questioning, creative life of the mind as opposed to the goal-oriented, narrowly focused problem-solving of intelligence) so often lead, not to withdrawn contemplation but rather to progressive political engagement (and to resistance from dominant mainstream culture threatened by intellect). We will then examine theoretical and autobiographical writings by those who have both articulated and lived theories of social change across questions of class, race, culture, and sexuality and how the life of the mind informed, shaped, and altered the course of their political engagement. These figures include a diverse range of intellectuals, artists, and political figures from both within and beyond the United States.

HCOL 86H - D1: Texture of Memory - Prof. Helga Schreckenberger, German & Russian

CAS:   Humanities
GSB:  D1, Humanities Core
CALS:  Humanities
CEMS: Engineering Students - Gen Ed Elective; Math/Stat/CS/DS students check with your advisor 
RSENR: Consult with academic advisor
CNHS:  Consult with your academic advisor
CESS: Consult with academic advisor

PDF iconCourse Syllabus

Memory is essential to our understanding of ourselves, of our collective past and present and our existence as humans.  But how does memory work?  Which parts of our brain are responsible for our memories? What happens when these parts do not function?  Can memory be manipulated? What role does memory play for the formation of identity?  These are some of the questions we will address in this seminar.  We will begin with learning about the general mechanisms of memory formation in the brain.  We will take these findings to examine our own experiences and memories.  From there we will proceed to study examples of individual, collective, and cultural memory from a variety of disciplines. We will learn how these memories are shaped and how they, in turn, shape us.

HCOL 86I - D2: Encountering the Other in the Middle Ages & The Renaissance - Prof. Charles Briggs, History

CAS:  Humanities
GSB: D2: History Core #1 or Global & Regional Studies Core #5
CALS:  Humanities & Social Sciences
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 with your academic advisor 

PDF iconCourse Syllabus

Toleration and, indeed, acceptance or even celebration of difference (whether of race, ethnicity, class, gender, culture, or religion) are very recent and, in a global context, hardly generalized values.  This course aims to explore the meaning of toleration and the processes by which it can be achieved through an examination of encounters with difference in medieval and Renaissance Europe, a culture which, on the whole, valued intolerance.  The course will begin with readings that familiarize students with the structure of this society and the key normative values, categories, principles, and expectations that informed its identity as well as its approach to people who did not appear to conform to these norms.  Students will then analyze primary-source texts and images that bear witness to a number of encounters which threw into sharp relief the difference between the normative (i.e. Catholic, male, heterosexual, and often elite) European and the “Other.”  These encounters were fraught and often hostile, but they opened the eyes of many European observers to the ubiquity of difference and the humanity of those who were different.  This was the beginning of a complex process of self-examination and familiarization with difference that formed the basis for the possibility of creating the concept of toleration.  As an extension of the themes in HCOL 085, students will also consider the different “ways of knowing” that were used by the contemporaries of these encounters, and that evolved or were challenged in trying to make sense of them.

HCOL 86J - D2: The Social Construct of Disability - Prof. Holly-Lynn Busier, College of Education and Social Services

CAS: No distribution credit, CAS Elective credit only
GSB: Social Science Core, Diversity 2
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 with academic advisor

PDF iconCourse Syllabus


The focus of HCOL 086 is on the theoretical questions concerning how our culture understands the social construct of disability. Students will examine, critically reflect upon, and engage in dialogue about the historical, biological, social, cultural, political, and economic trends and factors in the societal construction of disability. In addition, students will explore the concept of disability as it relates to issues of diversity.

HCOL 86L - D2: Gender and History - Prof. Ian Grimmer, Honors College & History

CAS:  Humanities
GSB: D2, History Core or Social Science Core
CALS:  Humanities & Social Sciences
CEMS:  Engineering Students - Gen Ed Elective; Math/Stat/CS/DS students check with your advisor
RSENR: Consult with your academic advisor
CNHS: Consult with your academic advisor 
CESS: Consult with your academic advisor

This course is concerned with the history of the normative meanings attributed to femininity and masculinity in the modern period. Working from a theoretical understanding of their constructed and relational character, we will explore ways in which these representations have both shaped some of the major transformations in European history and have also undergone significant changes in response to them. Our interest in gender as a “way of knowing” is thus in a dual sense: as a system of ideas and practices that constitute social relationships defined by power, and also as a critical analytic category though which society can be more adequately understood. The course will likewise inquire into how these different representations of gender intersect with the history of sexuality and of the body.