Spring 2019 First-Year Seminars

Think Molecules (NS)

How do incredibly tiny things like membranes, proteins, RNA, DNA, look, act, and produce life? You will explore through discussion and hands-on experiments how life's molecules are born, shaped, and work. You will create membranes from their components, unwind and rewind DNA, unfold and re-fold a protein. You will connect molecular structure with self-assembly and function. You will "see" DNA replicate inside cells, DNA make RNA, and RNA make protein, the foundations of all life. The ideas learned are used to discuss origin-of-life scenarios. Grading is based on interest and occasional written tests. Available if you plan to take Bio 201/202 eventually and do not have Bio 20 (AP) credit. Click here for more information about Think Molecules.
Professor: Daniele Armaleo
Daniele Armaleo, Ph.D. (Duke University), is an Associate Professor of the Practice of Biology. His teaching and research interests include developmental and molecular biology.




Live Long and Evolve: What Star Trek Can Teach Us about Evolution, Genetics, and Life on Other Worlds (NS, STS)

We'll use depictions of genetics and evolution as observed in Star Trek, a popular science fiction series, as an entrypoint to go over how the processes described work in the real world. We'll talk about the evidence for evolution, processes involved in inheritance, how natural selection works, what happens when species hybridize, and more. We will also look at scientific papers. No advance knowledge of biology or Star Trek needed. Not open to students who have taken or are concurrently enrolled in Biology 202L or who have BIO 20 (AP) credit.

Professor: Mohamed Noor

Mohamed Noor, Ph.D. (University of Chicago), is a Professor of Biology. His teaching and research explore how genetic changes contribute to species formation and molecular evolution.




Discovering the Tree of Life (NS)

55 years ago Zukerkandl and Pauling discovered that genes behave much like a ticking clock, with mutations marking the seconds as they pass.  The longer it has been since a species is formed, the larger percent divergence is observed between the DNA in its genes and its closest relatives.  The improvements at sequencing DNA starting in 1980 has allowed Scientists to discover the “family tree” of much of Life’s Diversity, coming close to achieving a “Holy Grail” for Evolutionary Biologists.  In this seminar, we will begin by exploring the amazing story behind confirming the closest relatives to humans — a story which includes data falsification and the destruction of hopes and careers.  We will have regular debates, and use as our guide David Quammen’s new book “The Tangled Tree”.

Professor: Cliff Cunningham
Cliff Cunningham, Ph.D. (Yale University), is a Full Professor of Biology, one of the pioneers of using DNA to discover the “Family Tree” of animals.  His interests include the “Trans-Arctic Invasion” of Pacific marine animals into the North Atlantic after the first opening of the Bering Strait.  He likes to promote scientific synthesis and sing 70’s style folk music. 




Science of Health: Chemistry and Biology of Life (NS, STS)

Presents the science of life processes ranging from communication to health.  The molecules behind life functions and managing disease will be discussed. Concepts of drug discovery and management will be introduced. The final project will involve student presentations on a health topic.

Professor: Emily Derbyshire

Emily Derbyshire, Ph.D. (University of California, Berkeley) is an Assistant Profssor of Chemistry. Her research uses both chemical tools and biological methods to uncover novel aspects of malaria parasite biology with the ultimate aim of identifying druggable targets. 




The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Models of Heroism, Ancient and Modern (ALP, CZ, CCI, EI)

In this class we will conduct cross-cultural discovery and investigation of major historical models of heroism and their memorialization. The civilizations under study will range from ancient Greece and Rome to our increasingly globalized Western world. We will analyze critically the ethical values at issue in the construction of heroic narratives, and the contested ways in which societies resort to heroes for positive and negative models of behavior. Our critique will be informed by modern scholarship on heroism and classic texts on ethics by Aristotle and others. The narratives examined will come from ancient epics, tragedies, prose accounts, English poetry, modern comics, and movies. The course will also consider the reception and reappropriation of ancient models.

Professor: José M. González

José M. González, Ph.D. (Harvard University) is associate professor of Classics. He studies the ancient civilizations of Greece and Rome and is fascinated by the parallels and contrasts they offer to our own times and way of life. His research focuses on Greek literature in its social context, with a strong emphasis on intellectual history. In his teaching, he loves joining students in their journeys of self-discovery and exploring questions of personal meaning and significance.




What Now? Why Are We Here? (CCI, EI, SS)

In 2006 the Dean of Harvard College (the undergraduate liberal arts college of Harvard University) published a critique of undergraduate education entitled Excellence without a Soul. He wrote:

In short, universities have forgotten their larger educational role for college students. They succeed, better than ever, as creators and repositories of knowledge. But they have forgotten that the fundamental job of undergraduate education to turn eighteen and nineteen year olds into twenty-one and twenty-two year olds, to help them grow up, to learn who they are, to search for a larger purpose for their lives, and to leave college as better human beings…..Rarely will you hear more that bromides about personal strength, integrity, kindness, cooperation, compassion, and how to leave the world a better place than you found it. The greater the university, the more intent it is on competitive success in the marketplace of faculty, students, and research money. And the less likely it is to talk seriously to students about their development into people of good character who will know that they owe something to society for the privileged education they have received.

This seminar is an effort “to talk seriously to students about their development”- their development as a whole person – intellectual, academic, career, personal, social, moral, intercultural, emotional, physical, gender, sexual, identity.

Why are we really here? What’s the purpose of college? What responsibility does Duke have to foster in intentional strategic ways the holistic integrated development of all of our students, staff, and faculty?  What are the true aims of education?  What is the purpose of college? Part of the What Now? network of first-year seminars.

Professors: David Malone & John Blackshear

David Malone, Ph.D., (Duke University) is a Professor of the Practice of Education. His research and teaching interests are in educational psychology, school psychology, student-centered approaches to teaching and learning, experiential and service-learning, innovative educational approaches in higher education.

John Blackshear, Ph.D., (Georgia State University) is an Academic Dean in Trinity College. His teaching interests are in psychology, interpersonal dynamics and philosophy.




What Now? Organizing for Equity: Ethics, Education, and Social Change (CCI, EI, CZ, SS)

How do communities, schools, and neighborhoods organize for social change? How do individuals organize their own commitments and energies to change the world around them? This course examines political activism, ethics, and education in the contemporary United States. It will introduce students to central philosophical and practical approaches to political organizing, help student develop skills in understanding and critiquing segregation and resegregation in the US, and enable students to locate their own commitments, callings, and aptitudes within the variety of accounts of organizing for social change. Part of the What Now? network of first-year seminars.

Professor: Adam Hollowell

Adam Hollowell, Ph.D. (University of Edinburgh) serves as Senior Research Associate at the Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity and Faculty Director of the Benjamin N. Duke Memorial Scholarship Program. His teaching and research focus broadly on ethics, religion, race, and public policy. 




Energy and Society (EI, STS, CZ)

How do the production, transmission, and consumption of energy shape human society? Conversely, how do cultural, political, and economic structures inform the decisions societies make about energy? This course explores those questions by examining the interplay between energy and society from the origins of a fossil-fueled society to the present. Through reading and discussion of current events, historical analyses, and fiction, you will develop an understanding of the contemporary debates around energy, cutting edge solutions to problems like sustainability, environmental impact, and inequality, and the profound effects that past energy choices have had on human society. Assignments include weekly reflections and team-based projects such as brief research primers, which will deepen both your understanding of energy issues and your engagement with Duke’s robust community of energy experts.

Professor: Jonathon Free
Jonathon Free is a Postdoctoral Associate in the Department of History and he works with the Energy Initiative. His research and teaching interests include the history of energy and the modern U.S., with an emphasis on energy, political economy, and the environment.




Southern Grotesque (EI, W, ALP, CZ)

“Whenever I’m asked why Southern writers particularly have a penchant for writing about freaks, I say it is because we are still able to recognize one.” --Flannery O’Connor


This course will reckon with representations of the region of the United States that, as William Faulkner describes in Absalom, Absalom!, has been “dead since 1865 and peopled with garrulous outraged baffled ghosts.”

Our ongoing subject here is the post-Civil War South, with a particular emphasis on the recent past. The historical lens of slavery produces a condition of grotesquerie that itself has blossomed into fields of insanity.  Our tour of the South will seek these out, focusing in on the unsavory, haunted and peculiar figures we meet along the way—figures, who, according to O’Connor, are “not images of the man in the street…[but] images of the man forced out to meet the extremes of his own nature…the result of what our social history has bequeathed to us, and what our literary history forces our writers to attempt.”  

So, rather than consider works that romanticize or apologize for the South’s sordid history, our syllabus will be populated by works that offer distorted visions of Southern life, history and culture.


We will consider depictions of the South in fiction (novels, plays and short stories), music (country, blues, bluegrass, gospel), film and television.  This evolving character analysis of the region will tend toward the fantastic, terrible and estranged. With this in mind, your assignments will help you develop strategies for understanding and writing about forms of representation that are, in and of themselves, uncanny and highly stylized. 


Students enrolled in this course will be expected to participate in class discussion and to complete three short (5-7 page) essays.  Potential authors: Dorothy Allison, Truman Capote, William Faulkner, Toni Morrison, Flannery O’Connor, Edgar Allan Poe, Tennessee Williams.  Potential films: Deliverance (1979), Wise Blood (1979), Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (1997), George Washington (2000), Winter’s Bone (2010).

Professor: Taylor Black

Taylor Black, Ph.D. (Rutgers University) is an Assistant Professor of English. He is interested in twentieth century American literature, popular music, gender and sexuality studies and, above all, the subject and practices of style.  




Linguistic Landscapes (CCI)

Urban spaces in which we live and move – streets, buildings, shopping centers, parking lots, cafés and restaurants – are marked with linguistic signs. All around us are store signboards, billboards, notices, posters, advertisements. In this course we will examine the local meanings of language visible in the spaces around us. We will read about linguistic landscapes around the world, from ancient cities to recently expanding modern ones, from train stations and airports to refugee camps and other transitional spaces. Through photographs and stories that situate them, students will document and map multilingual texts visible in public spaces in Durham and the Triangle. This course is linked with the Linguistic Landscapes stream in the Representing Migration Humanities Lab in the English Department.

Professor: Dominika M Baran

Dominika M. Baran, Ph.D. (Harvard University) is an Associate Professor in Linguistics. Her main research interests lie in the area of language, identity, and migration, and she is particularly interested in how migrant identities are formed and enacted through discourse and linguistic practices, such as code-switching and translanguaging. 




Gulf Disasters and Recovery (STS, NS)

The Gulf of Mexico is bounded by five coastal states with economic interests in tourism, sport and commercial fishing, and recreation. Explores negative impacts of Deep Horizon oil spill (DHOS) on water resources, migratory fishes and marine mammals; habitats and fauna of coastal states. Examines restoration efforts initiated in 2013. Compares ecosystem recovery efforts related to DHOS and impact of hurricane Harvey.  Questions addressed through governance (federal and state) and state of coastal ecosystems prior to event. Using discussions, debates, and focused literature reviews, determine if effective monitoring is in place to provide critical baseline data prior to future events.

Professor: David Hinton

David Hinton, Ph.D. (University of Mississippi), is Nicholas Professor of Environmental Quality in the Nicholas School of the Environment. His research and teaching interests include mechanistic toxicity in all life stages of small, aquarium model fish and in selected species with particular environmental relevance (freshwater and marine).




What Now? Composing Oneself: Stress, Identity & Wellness (ALP, SS, EI, W)

Interdisciplinary exploration of arts and science related to stress, identity, and wellness. The course adopts a multi-dimensional focus using science, theory, art, literature, and performance. Students use these approaches to understand structural causes of stress, their physiological effects, and how these stressors impact our identities and community ethics. Through text analysis and hands-on experience, students also explore how various arts of wellness, including yoga, mindfulness, and art therapies, impact stress, identity, and ethics. Course texts include literary and discourse theory, social science research, and neuroscience, as well as a variety of primary texts related to stress, identity, and/or wellness, including nonfiction, fiction, poetry, art, and performance. By the end of the course, students should be able to practice stress-reducing wellness strategies. Throughout the course, students keep a semester-long blog for in-depth reflection on their wellness practices; write a paper using theory and science research to analyze a primary text about stress, identity, and wellness; compose two critical reviews of a text, performance, or exhibit; and create a major written document (or equivalent) about stress, identity, and wellness in a particular context. Example topics for this major document or equivalent include identity and wellness on college campuses; failure, stress, and wellness; Buddhism and stress management; music, identity, and wellness; compassion and race; mindfulness and Wall Street; illness and art therapies; self-care in health professions. Course includes opportunities to visit relevant art exhibits, attend related performances, and engage in meaningful interactions with other students, staff, and faculty on campus working in associated areas of research and practice. Part of the What Now? network of first-year seminars.

Professors: Denise Comer and Christian Ferney
Denise Comer, Ph.D. (University of South Carolina) is Associate Professor of the Practice of Writing Studies. Her research and teaching interests include narrative medicine, new media, travel writing, writing pedagogy, and writing transfer. 
Christian Ferney, Ph.D. (Duke University) is a program director at the Kenan Institute for Ethics. He oversees university-wide ethics initiatives, ethics curriculum development, and the KIE alumni network. His teaching and research interests include sociology, ethics, globalization, and nationalism. 




What Now? The Examined Life (EI)

Provides opportunity to ponder, critique, and reflectively engage diverse perspectives on persistent questions related to the concept of a life well-lived. Includes such topics as purpose, vision, direction, passion, creativity, courage, determination, accomplishment, success, failure, death, virtue, character, habit, friendship, and community. Readings, exercises, and discussions encourage students to examine how these topics intersect with their own lives and those of others. Part of the What Now? network of first-year seminars. Note: This course has been offered to first-year students in past semesters as Ethics 111S.  

Professor: Alexander Hartemink

Alexander Hartemink, Ph.D. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) is a Professor of Computer Science and Biology. His research interest is the development of new algorithms in statistical machine learning and artificial intelligence, and on the application of those methods to complex problems in computational genomics. 




Feminism and the Environment (CCI, EI, SS)

What does feminism have to do with "the environment”? In this class, we will use feminist analysis to rethink discussions about climate change and other environmental problems. Focusing on North Carolina as a location of environmental justice, this class will examine how environmental violence intersects with oppression based on race, class, gender, and sexuality. We will explore this in several sites of feminist environmental inquiry – including toxic waste disposal, animal agriculture, overpopulation panics, and birth control – in order to think through how activists can effectively engage these issues.

Professor: Logan Natalie O'Laughlin

Logan Natalie O’Laughlin, Ph.D. (University of Washington) is a postdoctoral researcher in the Gender, Sexuality, and Feminism Department. Logan's research interrogates contemporary anxieties about environmental toxins and their effects on sex, sexual development, and reproduction in North America. 




Terrorism and Literature (CCI, EI, R, ALP, CZ)

This course is conducted as a seminar focusing on the depiction of terrorism in literature. The novels to be read & discussed were mainly written by Russian, British and American writers in the 19th and early 20th century. Writers sought to grapple with the meaning of the violence in vivid and imaginative ways. Among the books we will read/discuss are:  “The Secret Agent” by Joseph Conrad, “The Devils” by Fedor Dostoevsky, “Mother” by Maxim Gorky, and “Petersburg” by Andrei Belyi.

Professor: Martin Miller

Martin Miller, Ph.D. (University of Chicago) is a Professor of History. His interests are in Modern Russian history, the history of psychoanalysis in Russia, and comparative and international terrorist movements.




Math and Medicine (NS, QS, R)
In modern medicine, mathematical modeling and statistical (big) data analysis are playing an increasingly important role to uncover complex disease mechanisms. In this course, we undertake an excursion into the world of quantitative biomedical research and discover a range of fascinating mathematical principles that govern human health and disease. Based on a series of concrete research topics we will learn how to critically read the biomedical literature and develop our own hypotheses. We will translate biomedical problems into the language of mathematics and tackle them using a combination of analytic reasoning and data analysis. 
Course topics will include a selection of the following: heart and circulation, heat and temperature regulation, immune system and infectious diseases, cancer evolution, cancer therapeutics, cancer prevention and control. This course has a substantial research component. As such, particular emphasis will be placed on mathematical reasoning, problem solving and the effective communication of scientific ideas, both through writing and oral presentations. The overarching goal of this course is to dive head-first into the exciting world of research at the interface of mathematics and medicine.
Professor: Marc Ryser
Marc Ryser, Ph.D. (McGill University) is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Population Health Sciences and the Department of Mathematics. His scientific interests converge at the intersection of mathematical modeling, clinical research and epidemiology. His current research is focused on the management of ductal carcinoma in situ, also known as stage 0 breast cancer.



Musical Shakespeare (ALP, CCI)

Considered by many to be the greatest writer in English of all time (if not any language), the works of William Shakespeare have exerted a powerful influence, not only on literature and drama, but on the other arts as well. Composers of every age from the Renaissance to present day, have created music expressly for the performance of his plays and sonnets as well as music inspired by and based upon his canon. Our interdisciplinary seminar will explore this repertoire by examining masterworks of music in relation to the Shakespearean works which spawned their creation. We have chosen four works:  "A Midsummer Night's Dream," "Romeo and Juliet," "Othello" and "The Tempest." These plays will be read and reviewed in relation to compositions by Purcell, Mendelssohn, Britten, Berlioz, Bernstein, Verdi, Mozart, Sibelius, and others with an emphasis on how these composers sought to capture in their medium of sound, the essence of the Shakespearean dramatic work under consideration. Relationships between works will be explored as well as between the genres they represent.

Professor: Harry Davidson

Harry Davidson, M.MUS (Pacific Lutheran University), is Professor of the Practice of Music. He has led numerous symphonies and orchestras around the world.




Discovering Music (ALP, CZ)

An introduction to Western music, tracing its storied history from the Middle Ages to the present.  The course begins by considering the elements of Western music and their notation, and then examines the music of the principal historical periods (Middle Ages, Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, Romantic, Modern and Post-modern) by turning to major celebrated compositions and examining them in their cultural and historical contexts. While focusing on Western classical music, the course also looks at examples of non-Western music and popular music.

Professor: R Larry Todd

R. Larry Todd, Ph.D. (Yale University), is the Arts & Sciences Professor of Music. His research and teaching interests include 18th-20th Century music, music of Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy and Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel, and Beethoven.




Orchestral Music from the Baroque to Star Wars (ALP)

This seminar will examine the long evolution of the modern orchestra from its origins in the Baroque to present times, focusing on iconic orchestral works drawn from composers such as J. S. Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Wagner, Mussorgsky, Richard Strauss, Debussy, Stravinsky, Prokofiev, Bartok, Still, Copland, Zwilich, and John Williams.  Topics to be considered will include the development of the orchestra as a cultural institution, the secular/sacred divide in orchestral music, the art of orchestration, the 20th-century advent of the lush-sounding film score in movies and animated cartoons (Disney’s “Fantasia"), and the rise of the virtuoso conductor.  Enhancing the learning experience will be visits to the Duke Symphony Orchestra and its two spring concerts.

Professor: R Larry Todd

R. Larry Todd, Ph.D. (Yale University), is the Arts & Sciences Professor of Music. His research and teaching interests include 18th-20th Century music, music of Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy and Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel, and Beethoven.




Hot Topics in Health

This course will provide an overview of the components of health and wellness, with more specific topics/current trends or issues being explored within each component.  Emphasis will be on information, resources, and skills to help students achieve and maintain a healthy lifestyle, as well as an understanding of the broader health issues facing our current society.

Professor: Janis Hampton

Janis Hampton, M.A. (UNC–Greensboro) is Assistant Professor in the Practice of Health, Wellness and Physical Education. Her fields of teaching and research interest center on developing awareness of health and fitness issues for the general population as well as young adults.




Muslims in Europe (SS, EI, CCI)

Muslims in Europe constitute about 5% of the population.  As a significant minority with social, cultural, and identity claims in France, Germany, the UK and other West European countries, they raise fundamental political challenges to liberal democracy. This course examines questions such as secularism and religious minority rights, multiculturalism, social and economic exclusion, integration and national identity, racism, islamophobia and antisemitism in select West European countries.  Students acquire verbal, analytical, and research skills interpreting qualitative materials and immigration data from the European Commission 

Professor: Abdeslam E M Maghraoui

Abdeslam E M Maghraoui, Ph.D. (Princeton University)is Associate Professor of the Practice of Political Science. He is core faculty in the Duke Islamic Studies Center and Duke University Middle East Studies Center. His research focuses on the interactions between culture and politics in the context of Arab and Muslim majority countries.




Capitalism, For and Against (SS, EI)
This seminar compares and contrasts arguments for capitalism (from conservative, libertarian, and objectivist perspectives) and against capitalism (from socialist, environmentalist, and feminist perspectives). Explores historically prominent assessments of capitalism from moral, political, and economic perspectives. Readings from utilitarian, conservative, and liberal proponents of capitalism including Smith, Say, Bastiat, Mises, Hayek, Rand, Friedman, Nozick, Buchanan, and Simon.  Readings from socialist, feminist, and environmentalist opponents of capitalism including Malthus, Fourier, Marx, Veblen, Keynes, Galbraith, Rawls, Nussbaum, Piketty, and Graeber.

Professor: Richard Salsman

Richard Salsman, Ph.D. (Duke University) is a Lecturing Fellow of Political Science. His teaching and research interests are in political economy and political theory.




Brazil, Race, Sex, and the Body (ALP, CCI)

Brazil is commonly understood as an example of a “racially democratic” nation, but as scholars have recently shown, racism permeates all aspects of Brazilian society. This course examines the development of the theorization of race, racial identity and race relations in contemporary Brazil, and will explore very closely the role of sex, and sexuality in the construction of race relations. We will attend to questions such as: how is desire racialized? How is racial difference produced through sex as a material practice and what is the function of sex in racial (self)formation? How do we reconcile questions of pleasure and desire and the structures of power and national identity? The approach of the course will be interdisciplinary, drawing upon works from literature, music, film, anthropology and history. Topics will include colonialism and enslavement, abolition, nationalism, social activism, and popular culture. We will also consider how Brazilian social relations differ from or conform to other racialized patterns in other nation-states in the Americas. Particular attention will be placed on the impact of the interrelationship between race, gender, class, and nation on the lives of black Brazilians. Conducted in English.

Professor: Lamonte Aidoo
Lamonte Aidoo, Ph.D. (Brown University), is an Assistant Professor of Portuguese Studies. He teaches courses on 19th-20th century Brazilian literature, Afro-Brazilian cultural studies, comparative Brazilian and inter-American racial formations, the confluence of sexuality and national identity. His research interests include slavery and abolition in the Americas, miscegenation, comparative trans-Atlantic studies (Anglophone, Francophone, Hispanic, Lusophone).




Beyond Reason: Empathy and Identity (NS, SS, R, W)

Leadership in the knowledge-based economy and globally interconnected world of the 21st century requires that students develop their abilities to constructively engage ethnic, religious, and political differences and generate and apply knowledge in the service of society. The premise is that developing the capacity for critical reasoning is necessary but not sufficient. It is also necessary to develop a personal epistemology that is, beliefs about knowledge and its justification, and the capacities of empathy that is, the ability to understand and share the feelings, perspectives, intentions, and mental states of another person, and identity, the integrated experience of oneself as a unique individual that includes one's goals, values, and commitments. This seminar takes a developmental science approach to synthesizing and applying the knowledge and understandings generated across the biological and social sciences and humanities about the nature, development, and enhancement of personal epistemology, empathy, and identity.  Selected readings are provided for each session.  Clinical cases, in the form of videotape, and narratives from literature are utilized to reflect salient issues and processes.  Students write three, 3-8 page, synopsis/application papers based on the assigned readings and a 12-15 page research review paper on a topic of their choice. Students read and respond to each other's work.  In individual meetings with the instructor, feedback is provided on the rough drafts of each paper and students submit revised papers as their final product. Grade is based on the quality of papers and participation in class discussion. Each synopsis paper accounts for 15% of the grade, the research paper accounts for 40%; and class participation accounts for 15%.

Professor: Robert Thompson, Jr.

Robert J. Thompson, Jr., Ph.D. (University of North Dakota) is Emeritus Professor of Psychology. His research interests include how biological and psychosocial processes act together in human development; the adaptation of children and their families to developmental problems and chronic illnesses, including sickle cell disease and cystic fibrosis; and the assessment of teaching and learning in higher education.




Psychology of Student Success (SS)
What does it mean to be “successful” in college? How can students become more successful, be it academically, socially, and/or emotionally? In this first-year seminar, students will discover what psychology—the scientific study of human behavior and mental processes—can teach us about how to succeed in college. Students will discuss the science behind topics that are relevant to academic performance, belonging, and well-being, such as learning, motivation, self-control, culture, relationships, health, and happiness. In addition to completing readings and reflection exercises that apply course concepts to their own lives, students will work on a project to share their newfound knowledge with fellow Duke students.

Professor: Bridgette Hard

Bridgette Hard, Ph.D. (Stanford University) is an Associate Professor of the Practice in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience at Duke University. Her research and teaching interests are in curriculum development and the intersection of psychology and pedagogy.




U.S., China and the Asian Pacific Region (Codes Forthcoming)

The Asian Pacific region is the major center of economic growth in the 21st century.   We can expect a major shift of power and wealth in the world toward this region in the decades ahead.   How the United States and China interact with each other in this region will determine not only peace and prosperity in this region, but also the future of the world. 

Professor: Bai Gao

Bai Gao, Ph.D. (Princeton University), is a Professor of Sociology. His research and teaching interests include economic sociology, political economy, comparative historical sociology, Japanese society, Chinese society, and East Asian capitalism.




The Creative Argument 

Is it possible that the way we write limits the way we think?  This course will study experimental arguments of all kinds--on topics ranging from musicals to neurology, feminism to souvenirs--to unleash new ways of thinking, communicating, and persuading.  If you are a curious person with a passion for thinking that's paired with wit, this is the course for you. You will leave this course as a better writer and a better thinker.  

Professor: Brad Rogers
Bradley Rogers Ph.D., (University of California, Berkeley) is Assistant Professor of Theater Studies and Director of the Duke in London Drama program. His work focuses on musical theatre and on performance theory, with research interests in the relationship between theater, film, and new media; gender and sexuality; the relationships between visuality and aurality; and American theatre and performance.



Visual Culture of Venice (ALP, CZ, CCI, R)
Venice was one of the wealthiest and most powerful states in the Early Modern world (1450-1600). A city whose curved urban form seemingly floated on water, it was experienced, lived, and navigated unlike any in the world. This course entails an extensive analysis of the urban and natural topography of Venice in the Early Modern period, and it investigates the artistic commissions that made the city into one of the most admired and well-visited destinations in the world.
Professor: Kristin Huffman
Kristin Huffman, Ph.D. (University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill) is a Lecturing Fellow of Art, Art History and Visual Studies. Her teaching and research interests include Renaissance and Baroque Art History.