Spring 2023 First-Year Seminars

Spring 2023 First-Year Seminars

First-Year Seminars Connected to the
"What Now?" Network of First-Year Seminars

This first grouping of seminars are part of the What Now? network of first-year seminars. What Now? courses contain a shared “wellness lab,” offering opportunities to engage with faculty and students in other participating seminars. Register for this .5-credit component of the program by adding Ethics 189 to your schedule. Scroll down for the full range of first-year seminars offered during Spring 2023.

What now? Emotion, Evolution, and Ethics (NS, EI)

Fear, love, anger, pride, regret, envy – the emotions seem to play a big role in our lives, as well as in the lives of certain other animal species.  But what are the emotions?  Are they guides to behavior?  Are they judgments, or perhaps biases of judgment?  Are they motivations? Or maybe they are epiphenomenal – mere side effects of other mental processes, essentially irrelevant to proper mental function.  The course explores what the emotions are, what they are for, and how they evolved.  We begin with readings of some classic treatments of behavior and emotion in certain animal species, including gulls and chimpanzees. We then consider emotions in humans, reading selections from important works in psychology, neurobiology, and ethics. The central issue in the last part of the course will be the role of the emotions in human judgment, especially moral judgment. Part of the What Now? network of first-year seminars.
Professor: Dan McShea

Daniel McShea, Ph.D. (The University of Chicago) is a Professor of Biology. His research and teaching interests include large-scale evolutionary trends, hierarchy theory, and emotions in mammals.


What Now? Why Are We Here: Finding Purpose and Meaning in Education (Codes Forthcoming)

The aims of education in general - and the purpose of college in particular - often remain invisible to and unexamined by students and faculty.  This seminar will examine the multiple functions and purposes college serves - from credentialing to career preparation to finding meaning and purpose in one's life.  We will examine current critiques of higher ed as well as research on emerging identities during young adulthood. Students will examine scholarship on teaching and learning (SoTL) with a particular focus on emerging trends in progressive education such as self-authorship, integrative learning, experiential learning, growth mindset, and digital innovation.  Students will explore theories of identity and emerging adulthood development - including racial identity development. Students will analyze divergent philosophies of education and then develop and articulate their own educational philosophy and statement of purpose.  Ethical issues and inequities in educational opportunities will be explored.  Students will engage in a service-learning experience focused on development of an initiative aimed at changing campus culture to create a more inclusive and equitable campus community. Part of the What Now? network of first-year seminars.
Professors: John Blackshear and Kimberly Blackshear
John Blackshear, Ph.D. (Georgia State University), is Associate Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education and Dean of Students. Dr. Blackshear helps coordinate shared priorities between Student Affairs, the university’s academic deans and the Office of Undergraduate Education and has a private practice where he specializes in forensic psychology, post traumatic stress disorder, sexual identity and development, acculturative stress, psychological assessment, eating disorders, family and couples psychology, and general psychology for individuals ages 13 and up.

Kimberly Blackshear, MSW (Fordham University), is Director of Duke's Time Away Office. She previously served as Program Coordinator for the National Child Traumatic Stress Network and as Associate Director/Dissemination and Outreach Coordinator for the Duke University Center for Child and Family Policy.


What Now? Guns in the United States: Cultural and Ethical Perspectives (SS, CCI, EI)

Guns hold a vexingly unique place in U.S. American life. The United States has by far the highest rate of private firearm ownership and firearm-caused death among high-income nations in the world. As such, the place of guns in the United States is an ironic display of American exceptionalism. In this course, we will explore why this is the case, reading texts from cultural studies, sociology, and history to probe and understand the various expressions of gun culture in the United States today. We will ask why these gun cultures persist in contemporary American life and the histories and motivations that lay beneath them. We will then turn toward ethical considerations to ask how we should think about the place of guns in American life, exploring how we might make normative claims about gun ownership from the perspective of a variety of ethical theories. Part of the What Now? network of first-year seminars.
Professor: Michael Remedios Grigoni

Michael Remedios Grigoni, Ph.D. (Duke University) is Assistant Director of Faculty Initiatives at the Kenan Institute for Ethics. His research and teaching interests include Christian ethics, political theology, and ethnographic theology.


What Now? Film School: Reimagining Education Through Fiction & Film (SS, CCI, EI)

When we think of “school,” most of us envision rooms full of desks in rows with students facing a teacher imparting knowledge. Was this nearly-250-year-old way of learning ever the best way to educate? In this course we will explore this question through film and fiction to help us to reconsider what education is—and also what it could be: Why are we here at Duke? What really is the purpose of education? We will use imagined worlds of speculative fiction and sci-fi to interrogate and critically re-examine our own educational experiences—in classrooms, in our personal lives and in larger patterns of education globally. Through this work, we will analyze the choices and decisions educators make in designing curriculum, choosing approaches to teaching, organizing learning experiences, and creating educational spaces. Students will put these ideas into practice via a service-learning experience in local schools in which undergraduates co-develop creative futuristic projects with K-12 students. Part of the What Now? network of first-year seminars.
Professors: Sarah Ishmael and David Malone

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.

Sarah Ishmael, M.Ed (University of Texas at Austin) is an Associate in Research at the Kenan Institute for Ethics. Her research and teaching interests include curriculum, instruction, and educational policy and planning.


What Now? What We Owe to Each Other (CZ, EI)

What obligations do we have to each other? Do we have different obligations to friends, family, and strangers? Is loyalty a moral value or is impartiality more important? We will consider whether social life is necessary for or an impediment to the best human life. In particular, we will focus on altruism--giving to others with nothing expected in return--and on collective moral obligations. When a moral problem, like alleviating global poverty or remedying climate change, is solvable not by individual action, but by coordinated, collective action, does that morally obligate each of us individually? Part of the What Now? network of first-year seminars.
Professor: Jesse Summers
Jesse Summers, Ph.D. (University of California, Los Angeles) is Associate Director, Graduate and Professional Programs, The Purpose Project, Senior Fellow, Kenan Institute for Ethics, Senior Research Scholar, Divinity School, and Adjunct Assistant Professor of Philosophy. His research and teaching interests include ethics and morality associated with cognitive enhancement drugs, freedom, and political polarization.


What Now? Creative Collaboration in the Arts (ALP, CCI)

This course explores creative collaboration in the visual arts and music, with emphasis on The Beatles and Duke Ellington Orchestra. We will pay close attention to the nature of these collaborations as we learn about Big Band Jazz from the '20s through the '50s and Rock and Roll in the '50s and '60s. Visual arts include painting workshops in the Renaissance, Picasso and Braque, Warhol, Charles and Ray Eames and movie making. Course work includes a term paper on a collaborative situation of your choice. Part of the What Now? network of first-year seminars.
Professor: Thomas Brothers
Thomas Brothers, Ph.D. (University of California, Berkeley), is a Professor of Music. His research and teaching interests include Louis Armstrong, African-American music and rock, as well as in the medieval and renaissance periods. 


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

How do we find composure amidst countless stressors in our lives? Answering that question well requires inquiry across disciplines as well as hands-on experience. This course offers exploration into the arts and sciences of stress, identity, and wellness: What are structural causes of stress and how do they impact our sense of self and community ethics? What can arts of wellness, including yoga, mindfulness, and art-based therapies tell us about how we experience who we are, how we function, and how we act with others? How does stress impact us physiologically? This course will employ writing both as a method and object of study for the exploration of stress, identity, and wellness. Composing Oneself includes hands-on experience with stress-reducing wellbeing strategies, theoretical and research-based texts, and nonfiction, fiction, poetry, art, and performance. The writing component includes a semester-long blog (visible only to class members) for reflection on wellness practices, a book review about wellness, and a final project about stress, identity, and wellness. Each student chooses their own final project content (i.e., music and wellness; compassion and race; illness and art therapies; Wall Street and mindfulness, etc.) and format (i.e., a musical composition; a visual artifact such as a scrapbook or photographic essay; a research-based essay, etc.). 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.
Professor: Denise Comer
Denise Comer, Ph.D. (University of South Carolina), is a Professor of the Practice of Writing Studies. Her research and teaching interests include narrative medicine, media studies, travel writing, writing pedagogy, and writing transfer. 

The seminars listed above are part of the What Now? network of first-year seminars. What Now? courses contain a shared “wellness lab,” offering opportunities to engage with faculty and students in other participating seminars. Register for this .5-credit component of the program by adding Ethics 189 to your schedule. Scroll down for the full range of first-year seminars offered Spring 2023. 


Real Science Behind the News (NS)

Cutting edge science discoveries are often covered by journalists and news outlets.  These written publications or videos often use language and explanations that a broad audience can understand.  But what is the real science behind these stories? The main purpose of this course is to deepen your critical analysis skills in reading scientific journal articles on topics that are often covered by the mainstream media. We will read news articles or summaries and watch videos to help build background knowledge about the topic. Then we will delve into the scientific literature.  By the end of this course, you will feel more confident in utilizing primary scientific literature to enhance what you read in the news.  You will feel more confident in reading the scientific literature and presenting the material to the class.
Professor: Jessica Harrell
Jessica Harrell, Ph.D. (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill) is Director of Academic Engagement, Natural and Quantitative Sciences in the Academic Advising Center. Her research and teaching interests include exploring the engagement and persistence of students from under-represented (UR) groups in the biomedical sciences and on scientific career paths, with the ultimate goal of increasing diversity within the scientific enterprise. 


Chemistry and Biology of Life (NS)

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 Associate Professor of Chemistry. Her research and teaching interests include chemical tools and biological methods to uncover novel aspects of malaria parasite biology with the ultimate aim of identifying druggable targets.


Troy: Excavating an Epic (ALP, CZ, CCI, W)

Troy is one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world—but to paraphrase the Roman poet Lucan, already by the first century CE, ‘even the ruins were ruined’. The site and the legends that grew up around it nonetheless played a starring role in the art and literature of ancient Greece and Rome, in the imagination of 19th-century Europeans who pioneered ‘modern’ archaeology, and even in contemporary American culture, with retellings of Homer’s Iliad set in war zones like Iraq. In this course we will work to disentangle the afterlife of Troy and the Trojan War in myth-building exercises, ancient and modern, from the very real life of the city over the millennia. Archaeologists reconstruct nine Troys, built one on top of the other on the hill of Hisarlık (literally “place of fortresses”) in modern Turkey. Which one was Homer’s Troy? When did the ‘real’ Trojan war take place, if ever, and who fought in it? Most of all, why should we, or do we still, care?
Professor: Kathryn R. Morgan
Kathryn R. Morgan, Ph.D. (University of Pennsylvania)is an Assistant Professor of Classical Studies. She is an archaeologist of the ancient Mediterranean who leads excavations in modern Turkey. Her research and teaching interests include political organization, group identity formation, cross-cultural communication, feasting, craft production, ritual performance, and the intersection of material and textual histories.


World of Sports (SS, CCI)

This course will examine the significant role that sports play in contemporary politics, social change, and culture around the world. We will begin with the longer history of play and games and explore the historical contexts which created structures in which sport could grow. The course will explore the political, economic, social, and cultural dimensions that shape sports, and how various actors within the sporting industry use sport to initiate social change. We will address questions about why people play sports, how they play them, and how they change. Together, we will think through the ways race, gender, sexuality, class, nation, ethnicity, impact sport and representation. As sport serves as a central means through which culture and ideology are shaped, we will consider how sport reflects and initiates social change.
Professor: Orin Starn
Orin Starn, Ph.D. (Stanford University), is a Professor of Cultural Anthropology and History. His research and teaching interests include Latin America, Native North America, social movements and indigenous politics, sports and society, and the history of anthropology.


Energy & Society (SS, EI, STS)

This course examines how the production, transmission, and use of energy transform our daily lives. By reflecting on the centrality of energy in humanity's interaction with nature, we will explore questions at the very core of the environmental, economic, political, and cultural dimensions of society. Readings, discussions, hands-on activities, and visiting experts will introduce students to subjects and themes that will include power systems, energy access, energy in pop culture, energy and the environment, as well as topics with contemporary salience such as intensive extraction techniques (fracking, mountaintop removal, etc.), microgrids, energy storage, and the current dimensions of energy consumption on Duke's campus. Through this seminar, students will gain knowledge and understanding of the major connections between energy and society, develop skill in the analysis of secondary sources and current events, and begin to explore the landscape of energy scholarship at Duke.
Professor: Tom Cinq-Mars
Tom J. Cinq-Mars, Ph.D. (Duke University), is Administrative Manager and Assistant Director for Research Development in the Duke Energy Initiative. His research and teaching interests revolve around questions at the intersections of business, energy, and the environment in terms of change over time, especially in terms of links between modern (Soviet) Russia’s oil industry and economic diversity within the former Soviet Bloc.


Conjuring the Americas: African-Derived Spiritualities in African-American & Caribbean Literatures (ALP, CZ, CCI)

Known variously as conjure and hoodoo in the United States, vodou in Haiti, obeah in Jamaica, and Santería in Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic, African-derived religious, spiritual, healing, and magic practices survived in the Americas despite slavery’s inordinate brutalities and consistent efforts to eradicate them. Bringing together writers from the United States and the Caribbean, this course will explore how enslaved Africans and their descendants retained and remade their knowledge of the supernatural world as strategies of resistance and agency, healing and survival. Reading across a range of literary genres—including the southern gothic, magical realism, and historical fiction—as well as anthropology, we will mobilize conjure (and its Caribbean variants) to chart a hemispheric conception of African Diaspora literature. Readings include works by Charles Chesnutt, Zora Neale Hurston, Alejo Carpentier, Gloria Naylor, Maryse Condé, and Erna Brodber, among others. The course will also include representations of conjure in film and television such as Julie Dash’s Daughters of the Dust and Beyoncé’s Lemonade. Some questions we may take up include: What is the sociopolitical function of conjure in African Diaspora literature and culture? How are these practices gendered in the tradition? How does conjure converge with and/or depart from Judeo-Christian religious practices and notions of Western rationality? What alternative epistemologies and ontologies emerge from the space and practice of conjure?
Professor: Jarvis McInnis
Jarvis C. McInnis, Ph.D. (Columbia University), is the Cordelia and William Laverack Family Assistant Professor of English. His research and teaching interests include African American & African Diaspora literature and culture, the global south (primarily the US South and the Caribbean), sound studies, performance studies, and visual culture.


Environmental Change in the Big-Data Era (Codes Forthcoming)

A revolution in how we understand environmental change is underway, from the type and amount of data that are available to the ways in which it is synthesized and interpreted.   The training needed for the next generation of scientists, engineers, and decision makers includes a blend of modeling, computation, and the capacity to exploit large data streams, often accessed through the internet.  Students will be introduced to sources of data, their strengths and limitations, and interpretation through readings and discussions of scientific literature and data exploration.  Examples will introduce basic concepts in R software applied to climate change, human impacts, and biodiversity loss.
Professor: James Clark
James S. Clark, Ph.D. (University of Minnesota, Twin Cities) is the Nicholas Professor of Environment Science and a Professor of Statistical Science. His research and teaching interests focus on how global change affects populations, communities, and ecosystems, as well as the consequences of climate, CO2, and disturbance on dynamics of forests. 


Feminist Feelings: The Gendered Politics of Emotion (Codes Forthcoming)

Anger and rage, fear and shame, love and lust, joy and happiness: gender, race, class, and sexuality matter for how each of these feelings is experienced by individuals and received by others.  Turning on its head the Western historical tradition that has casts women and feminine people as more emotional, this class explores what contemporary feminist thinkers have to say about how feelings are involved in the construction of, and struggle against, gender inequality and subordination.
Professor: Kathi Weeks
Kathi Weeks, Ph.D. (University of Washington) is a Professor of Gender, Sexuality & Feminist Studies. Her research and teaching interests include the intersections between political theory and feminist scholarship.


Gender and Science (Codes Forthcoming)

This seminar provides an overview of research that puts science and scientists themselves under the lens to be studied in relation to gender, sexuality, race, and colonialism. We consider questions such as: How does inequality affect scientific practice and knowledge? Do colonial, racist, or sexist contexts matter for the science produced? Does the identity of the scientist matter? In addition to scientific papers, our readings center on an interdisciplinary field known as Feminist Science Studies, that draws on sociological, ethnographic, historical and literary approaches to science. We also consider how scientists themselves are creating feminist and decolonial approaches to their research. This course is designed for those interested in combining feminist and other social justice perspectives with careers in STEM as well as students curious about feminist humanities and social-science approaches in general. As a seminar, classes will focus on discussions of readings and participation is required as well as some regular written work.
Professor: Ara Wilson
Ara Wilson, Ph.D. (City University of New York), is an Associate Professor of Gender, Sexuality & Feminist Studies. Her research and teaching interests include the feminist study of globalization and queer political economy (QPE), Science & Technology Studies (STS) approaches with materialist theories, and empirical research, especially ethnographically informed depictions of life under global capitalism.


Ethical Dilemmas in Philosophy and Literature (ALP, EI)

An introduction to moral theory through philosophical and literary texts. We will study the three main accounts of the nature of morality: as determined by an action’s results, as determined by universal rules, and as determined by an agent’s character. Each of these moral theories presents intuitively plausible answers to the following questions: What is moral goodness? What is justice? What is the morally right thing to do? However, the respective answers differ immensely, and each approach entails intriguing dilemmas, where our initially plausible intuitions seem at odds with what the given account apparently requires. Authors will include: Plato, Aristotle, Mill, Kant, Dostoevsky, Kleist, Le Guin, and others.
Professor: Henry W. Pickford
Henry Pickford, Ph.D. (Yale University), is a Professor of German Studies. His research and teaching interests include modern philosophy and literature in German and Russian, with emphasis on the German philosophical tradition from Kant to Critical Theory.


Banned Books (ALP, CZ, CCI, EI)

When are books considered too dangerous to read? This course explores this question by reading across a wide range of banned texts, from George Orwell’s 1984 to Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye to the most censored text in the US in 2022, Maia Kobabe’s Gender Queer. Our aim is to understand the potency attributed to literature as a form of political influence and social instruction. By the end of the term, students will have a broader understanding of the role that literature—and by extension the humanities as a whole—has played in political struggles over cultural representation, historical memory, identity, and democratic debate.  
Professor: Robyn Wiegman
Robyn Weigman, Ph.D. (American University), is a Professor of the Programs in Literature and Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies. Her research and teaching interests include feminist theory, queer theory, American Studies, critical race theory, and film and media studies.


Math and Medicine (QS, R)

Data science and mathematical modeling are playing an increasingly central role in biomedical research. In this course, we undertake an excursion into the fascinating world of modern medicine and explore how (big) data are essential for effective prevention, detection and and treatment of disease. Based on a series of concrete research topics, ranging from precision oncology and cardiology to infectious disease control, we will learn how mathematical and statistical approaches can be harnessed to improve human health. This course is very interactive and hands-on, preparing students for future research endeavors in the health sciences.
Professor: Marc Ryser
Marc Ryser, Ph.D. (McGill University) is an Assistant Professor of Population Health Sciences and Mathematics. His research and teaching interests include mathematical modeling in cancer early detection, with a particular focus on breast cancer overdiagnosis and overtreatment.


Moral Change and Human Nature: How Are Moral Conversions Possible? (Codes Forthcoming)

We are fascinated by individuals who make a dramatic change in themselves for the better.  In the film, "The Lives of Others," an agent for the East German secret police ends up trying to save the people he is assigned to spy upon.  During the Second World War, Oskar Schindler changed from a roguish playboy to an industrialist who sheltered Jews from the Nazis.  C.P. Ellis was a high official of the Ku Klux Klan in Durham who formed a friendship with black civil rights activist Ann Atwater and helped integrate the Durham public schools.  What happened to them?  We will discuss these cases and explore their implications for the possibility of moral change.  What in human nature makes change possible?  Do people come to know something, to see something, that they did not see before, that changes them?  We will read philosopher and novelist Iris Murdoch who argues for this view. Does it take events of great emotional impact to bring about change?  We will read David Hume's theory of sentiment as the primary human motivation.  To become a good person, must one already have some goodness that is inborn?  The classical Chinese philosopher Mencius held that there are moral "sprouts" such as natural compassion that can be nurtured and grown.  His theory also raises the question of what environmental, social and institutional conditions need to be in pace for moral growth and conversion to take place.  We will read psychological literature on what makes for a "resilient" person who can overcome early adversity and a disadvantaging environment.  We will also look at psychological studies of human tendencies that might stand in the way of moral change such as the Milgram study of obedience to authority.
Professor: David Wong
David Wong is the Susan Fox Beischer and George D. Beischer Professor of Philosophy. His research and teaching interests include moral differences and similarities across and within societies, the attempt to understand morality naturalistically, and the nature of conflicts between basic moral values.


Special Topics in Nutrition: Analysis of Dietary Trends

In this course you will get an overview of the basic components of nutrition as well as skills to evaluate your own eating patterns in addition to current popular dietary trends.  You will also be introduced to several current topics in nutrition in order to develop a deeper awareness of dietary patterns.
Professor: Sheri Branson
Sheri Branson, M.A. (Meredith College) is a full-time Instructor. Her teaching interests include Promotion of lifelong fitness and wellness; Exercise performance, recovery, and restoration; and Sports Nutrition.


From Quarks to the Cosmos (NS)

The quest to understand the ultimate laws of nature is an ancient one. The roots of our investigations reach back to the first philosophers. At its heart, we seek to answer: what are the basic building blocks of the observed universe, how do they interact and what is the nature of the space that contains them? Remarkably, the physics of the smallest things we know is also tied to universe cosmology, the largest distances and structures we can measure. The beautiful theories describing this physics are the culmination of generations of scientists and are strikingly predictive. However, today’s picture is far from complete. Over 95% of the universe seems to be made of matter or energy we cannot explain. The universe is expanding at faster rates, creating even more of itself as a function of time. On top of all of this, our world unaccountably seems to exist solely of matter and not anti-matter. How did we come to understand these things about the universe and how are we addressing remaining questions? We will use lectures, discussions, readings, quantitative mathematical problem solving, frequent presentations by students, problem sets and projects to learn some history and basics of astronomy, modern particle physics and cosmology.  We will pay attention to the instruments and measurements people have used to infer what we know and how and why people came to accept results. Students will study a topic of their choice in further depth with a final project and presentation.
Professor: Christopher Walter
Christopher Walter, Ph.D. (California Institute of Technology), is a Professor of Physics. His research and teaching interests include particle physics and cosmology.


Political Liberty in Film (Codes Forthcoming)

Notions of political liberty contest conceptions of order and convention, often in ways that are intentionally subversive. This course examines films in four areas (Individualism, Classical Liberalism, Resistance to Capitalism, and Science Fiction), and matches the films being considered with literature in political theory and political economy.
Professor: Michael Munger
Michael Munger, Ph.D. (Washington University in St. Louis), is a Professor of Political Science. His research and teaching interests include the functioning of markets, regulation, and government institutions.


Capitalism, For and Against (Codes Forthcoming)

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.


Beyond Reason: Empathy and Identity (SS, NS, 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. Seminar discussions focus on selected readings and Ted Talks. Students continue the discussion and dialogue between sessions through postings to the seminar discussion board. As a writing course, the focus is on both learning-to-write and writing-to-learn through feedback and revision.  Students write three, 3-8 page, synthesis/reflection papers based on the assigned readings and a 15-20 page research review paper on a topic of their choice. 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 synthesis/reflection paper accounts for 15% of the grade, the research paper accounts for 40%; and class participation accounts for 15%.
Professor: Robert J. 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.


Race and Sex in Brazilian History and Society (CZ, CCI)

This interdisciplinary course will examine the historical development and connections between race, sex, and gender in shaping Brazilian racial relations from slavery to the present day. We will explore the role of sex, deviance, and the body in shaping national identity and how Brazil is viewed from the outside. This course will include readings from anthropology, history, sociology, and literature as well film. Topics to be explored include slavery and colonialism, miscegenation, sexual tourism, prostitution, plastic surgery, and lesbian, gay, and transgender identities. Conducted in English.
Professor: Lamonte Aidoo
Lamonte Aidoo, Ph.D. (Brown University), is the Kiser Family Associate Professor of Romance 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).


Life in “The Hole”: Solitary Confinement in Contemporary United States (SS, EI)

This course considers the most extreme form of incarceration that people living and working in prisons and jails will ever face—solitary confinement, colloquially called “the Hole.” The class investigates how short- and long-term solitary confinement came to become “normal” in American prisons and jails throughout the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries. Using psychological and sociological perspectives on how being placed in solitary confinement could shape health and well-being and exploring research literature and personal depictions of what doing time in “the Hole” is like, the course provides insight into the short- and long-term effects of solitary confinement on individuals and communities.
Professor: Christopher Wildeman
Christopher Wildeman, Ph.D. (Princeton University), is a Professor of Sociology. His research and teaching interests focus on the prevalence, causes, and consequences of contact with the criminal legal system and the child welfare system for families.


Educational Inequality within the United States (Codes Forthcoming)

Education is becoming increasingly important for upward social mobility in the U.S. and abroad.  Education has been linked to societal inequalities in health, income, and other life-chance measures.  Thus, schools play a central role in social and economic well-being, particularly for women and minority groups. Given that the minority population within the U.S. has been steadily increasing and is projected to comprise 40 percent of the U.S. population within the next 20 years, understanding racial differences in achievement is important for scholars, educators, and policy makers. This course will engage both quantitative and qualitative studies to help you gain 1) knowledge of the historical trends and understanding of racial differences in achievement, and 2) a broad understanding of the current issues/debates in the literature.
Professor: Angel Harris

Angel Harris, Ph.D. (University of Michigan), is a Professor of Sociology and Director of the program for Research on Education and Development of Youth. His research interests include social inequality, policy, and education, focusing on the social psychological determinants of the racial achievement gap. 


Improvisation (ALP, CCI)

We will explore techniques for spontaneous behavior, immediate creation, and developing your creativity and truth on stage.  The goal of our work will be to build community and collaboration, to deepen your communication skills, and to strengthen your natural sense of humor.  Emphasis on team building, confidence, connecting, being present in the moment, listening, adaptability, presentation skills, emotion, expressivity, and vulnerability.  Our aim, first and foremost, is to investigate and explore ways to genuinely investigate and give theatrical expression to our own personal, political, and spiritual interior lives, values, observations, and beliefs.  We will study the basics of improvisation: patterns, theory, connections, and the philosophy of long-form improvisation.  You will discover your strengths, focus on character creation, “the group mind”, and object/environment work.  We will work on the 2-person scene, the anchor of long-form improvisation.  The class will include a segment on stand up. We will study the works of Del Close and Charna Halpern (iO), Viola Spolin, and Keith Johnstone.
Professor: Jody McAuliffe
Jody McAuliffe (MFA, Yale University), is a Professor of the Practice of Theater Studies and Slavic and Eurasian Studies. Her research and teaching interests include directing, adaptation, dramaturgy, performance and integrated media, documentary, and development of new work. Most recently, as Resident Artist at Abrons Arts Center in New York, she adapted and directed Don DeLillo’s The Body Artist.