Courses

Courses

Fall Semester 2013
  • HPSS-S673

    ANTHROPOLOGY OF GENDER

    Credits: 3.00

    From an anthropological, cross-cultural perspective this course will focus on the ways genders are distinguished, constructed, and valued in different societies. Although gender categories often draw on perceptions of anatomical and physiological differences among bodies, these perceptions are mediated by cultural categories, meanings, and beliefs. We will consider the notion of gender as a multidimensional category of personhood that encompasses distinct patterns of social differences, such as the Zuni berdache and the treatment of intersexed people. In terms of gender diversity and social change across the globe, we will explore beliefs and practices linked to the formulation of genders in various societies and address the question of what it means to be human. The course consists of lectures, class discussions of the readings, and films. Requirements include several short analytical papers, two short essay quizzes, and a final project.
  • HPSS-C729

    ARCHAEOLOGY OF JERUSALEM

    Credits: 3.00

    Jerusalem has earned a special eminence among the famed ancient cities of the world. Its sanctity to Jews, Christians, and Moslems has made the city a focus of discussions and controversies regarding the evolving and changing identifies throughout its long urban history. Early and recent studies and discoveries, as well as old and new theories with a special emphasis on the Roman, Byzantine, and Early Islamic periods (ca. 63 BCE - 1099 CE) will be examined in the seminar. A particular focus will be placed on how to identify ethnicity, religious identity, and gender in the archaeological record. Though politics and religion have often biased related scholarship and the way excavations and their interpretations have been presented to the public, the goal of the seminar is to understand and examine various opinions and viewpoints. This seminar will consist of regular meetings, with illustrated lectures, student presentations, and discussions. In addition to the presentations, weekly reading assignments, a mid-term exam, and a final term paper will be required.
    Also offered as HAVC C729. Register in the course for which credit is desired
  • HPSS-S569

    ARCHAEOLOGY OF THE WESTERN MIND

    Credits: 3.00

    The Greek historian Thucydides wrote that knowing the past is useful for understanding the present because, so long as human nature remains the same, things that happened once "will recur in similar or comparable ways." The Greeks of the 6th century BCE began a systematic, critical inquiry aimed at making sense of the world around us and within us. This "Greek Enlightenment" was as revolutionary and had as far-reaching consequences as the subsequent European Enlightenment. We will examine history's first tumultuous passage from religious myth to scientific theory and philosophical argument. Readings will be drawn from Hesiod, the philosophers before Socrates, Sophists, Plato, Aristotle, Greek poets, dramatists, and historians.
  • HPSS-C735

    ART AND CULTURES OF ANCIENT MESOAMERICA

    Credits: 3.00

    The art and architecture of ancient Mexico as well as that of selected neighboring areas, will be examined against the background of the growth of complex cultural systems. The course will consist of readings and lectures including the presentation of visual materials dealing with ancient Mesoamerica (a culture area), and the archaeological and historical research which sheds light on its development. Museum visits to RISD and Brown will allow us to become familiar with real pre-Columbian art and artifacts for a closer association to ancient cultures that produced them.
    Also offered as HAVC C735. Register in the course for which credit is desired
  • HPSS-S664

    COMBAT & CULTURE: WAR IN PUBLIC CONSCIOUSNESS

    Credits: 3.00

    War is endemic to human civilization. To some it has been an opportunity for glory, to many more a source of horror. What are some of the ideas and ideals that have precipitated wars? How has the way it has been experienced by both combatants and noncombatants changed over time? What are the legacies of war? War and culture have had a defining influence on each other, most evident in art, language, literature, popular culture, design, and constructs of virtue. This course will examine current wars through the lens of past wars, notably the Spanish-American War and World War One, touching on such topics as nationalism, terrorism, liberation movements, and the cultures that inspired them. Through required readings, individual research and writing, and classroom discussion, students will examine some of the experiences, impacts and artifacts of war through the cultural manifestations that attend them. There will be a field trip to a local military historic site.
  • HPSS-S613

    CULTURAL HISTORY OF WESTERN MUSIC

    Credits:

    The history of Western classical music lives on through concerts in public venues and recorded performances, enjoyed at home or anywhere on our mp3 players. While the templates for creating new works were discarded over time, the music of Middles Ages, Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, Romantic, and Modern periods is still with us. This course aims to foster listening imaginatively to feel the music in its historical setting not just by learning what to listen for, but also in understanding its internal organization and how it related to the cultures in which it flourished. Class will involve some group singing, performances, listening, lecture and discussion. The course uses quizzes and exams to test your grasp of the material and requires several short papers. No prior musical experience or training is required.
  • HPSS-C792

    DIALOGUE ACROSS THE DIASPORA: HAITI, SOUTH AFRICA, ART, AND NARRATIVES OF RESISTANCE

    Credits: 3.00

    On December 5, 2013, the exhibition "Reframing Haiti: The Gods Are Always Amongst the People" exhibit will open at the South African National Gallery in Cape Town, South Africa. This course will take advantage of that occasion to engage in the dialogue between Haiti and South Africa. This is an unprecedented opportunity for RISD students to work on a major international exhibition of art that represents a culture, a history, and a nation. We will be a part of the research surrounding the exhibition, researching the biographies of the artists and the times in which they lived. Informing the course will be the reading of historical narratives and narrative fiction. The tumultuous history of the two countries and the challenges of racial injustice and poverty will be explored in novels by Edwidge Danticat, René Depestré, Alex La Guma, Zakes Mda, Phaswane Mpe, and Antjie Krong. Questions we will be asking include: how does one narrate atrocity; what has been called "historical catastrophic" contexts? What is the role of the artist and art in impoverished circumstances? How do socially conscious artists, writers, and performers balance the aesthetic and the political in their work? What is the relationship between aesthetics and politics? How do South African and Haitian artists speak to each other through their works? What potentials are there for greater dialogue? This seminar will also involve weekly communication with South African students working on the exhibition in Cape Town.
    Also offered as LAS-C792 and HAVC-C792. Register in the course for which type of credit is desired.
  • HPSS-S632

    ECOLOGICAL RESPONSIBILITY IN ART AND DESIGN

    Credits: 3.00

    Starting from the premise that we are facing some serious global ecological problems (such as rapid extinction of species, depletion of resources, holes in the ozone layers, etc.), we shall first examine the cultural, philosophical, political and economic factors contributing to these problems. Then we shall look at the content of our responsibility regarding the ecological issues as citizens and consumers. Finally, we will conclude the course by investigating and formulating the nature of our responsibility, specifically as artists and designers. Lecture and discussion will be supplemented by field trips and guest lectures. In addition to reading and writing everyone is required to participate in a class presentation.
    HPSS S101 is a prerequisite for undergraduates admitted to RISD in 2008 or after.
  • LAEL-LE80

    ECOLOGY: MICROBES TO MANATEES

    Credits: 3.00

    What do we know about the environment, and how do we know it? This course will combine field trips and ecology experiments with lectures and readings to explore the natural world and humanity's interaction with it. We will study the principles of ecology and how natural systems work, and look critically at pressing environmental problems such as climate change, global loss of biodiversity, and explosive human population growth.
  • HPSS-S649

    EMPERORS, GODS, SLAVES

    Credits:

    This course is concerned with the history and culture of the Mediterranean world and especially of Greece and Rome in the period extending from the fifth century B.C. through the third century A.D. The era commences with the political coming of age of the Greek polis and ends with a period of crisis and transformation in the Roman Empire. The course's approach will be both chronological and topical. Class discussions will focus on literary, historical and other works produced by the people of the time and on themes such as gender, sexuality, and politics.
    HPSS-S101 is a pre-requisite for undergraduates admitted to RISD in 2008 or after.
  • LAEL-LE87

    EVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGY

    Credits: 3.00

    Evolution is the process by which living organisms change over generations of time. This course examines how evolution occurs through natural selection, mutation, and genetic drift, beginning with the search for the origin of species (speciation) by artist-naturalists Charles Darwin, Alfred Wallace, and Henry Bates. Their observations of animal diversity (species variation, island geography, and mimicry) provided evidence for common descent within the animal kingdom, and led to the development of the theory of evolution by natural selection. Studies of the fossil record paleontology yielded more evidence. Eventually, the genetic basis of evolution was explained by Gregor Mendel's discovery of heritable traits, later named genes. Today, studies of evolution continue on a molecular scale with DNA and RNA (genomics) and proteins (protenomics). Students will be graded based upon responses to study questions, participation during class discussion, performance on two written exams and a project on scientific visualization.
  • HPSS-S507

    HIGH MIDDLE AGES: 1000-1400

    Credits:

    This course focuses on European society from approximately 1000 to 1400 A.D, one of the most innovative and disturbing periods in its history. The High Middle Ages produced the English Parliament, the Gothic cathedral and the first universities. But it also witnessed the creation of industrial sweatshops, the persecution of minorities, and the outbreak of the Black Death. The men and women who inhabited its cities and countryside, filled its bustling marketplaces, and described their feelings in a growing number of autobiographies and personal testaments appear more and more "modern" as the age progresses. In other ways, the gulf separating the average medieval European from his or her modern counterpart is enormous. The absence of any distinction between the natural and supernatural worlds, for example, may strike modern observers as thoroughly un-modern. This course will examine medieval society as a formative period in the emergence of the modern world, but also in terms of it indisputable otherness.
    HPSS-S101 is a pre-requisite for undergraduates admitted to RISD in 2008 or after
  • LAEL-LE89

    INTRODUCTION TO INSECT MORPHOLOGY AND ECOLOGY

    Credits: 3.00

    Has the unfathomable diversity of insects ever fascinated you, but left you wondering where to begin? This is a basic course in entomology for the natural historian and artist. All orders of Class Insecta will be introduced, with both field and lab components whenever possible. Basic insect morphology and ecology will be covered for most orders, with opportunities for artistic rendition and use of both live and dead specimens as models. Students will learn basic insect anatomy and taxonomy for the identification of insects to order-level. Elements of insect ecology will infiltrate everything we look at, in both the field and the lab. Emphasis will be placed on the major orders (beetles, flies, butterflies/moths, etc.); the minor orders will be covered to varying degrees, but this can be adjusted according to the class consensus. Coursework will include field collecting trips, observation and drawing of specimens using a microscope, identification quizzes, and a course project that will emphasize the creation of materials for educational outreach. Additionally, students will finish with their own curated insect collection identified to order-level (or beyond, if student desires).
  • HPSS-S656

    INTRODUCTION TO PSYCHOLOGY

    Credits: 3.00

    As the study of behavior and mental processes, psychology allows us to better understand how people think, feel and act. This introductory course provides a broad overview of the major content areas within the field of psychology (e.g., physiological, developmental, social and cognitive psychology) and will introduce you to the psychological theories and research used to understand human behavior. We will cover a wide variety of topics, including how people learn, process and store information, why people possess distinct personalities, how social situations and cultural norms affect our behavior, how we grow and develop throughout our lives, etc. Throughout the course we will critically evaluate the merit of classic psychological theory and research in understanding people's thoughts, feelings and actions in real world situations. This course will provide a broad knowledge base for those interested in taking upper level psychology classes.
    HPSS S101 is a prerequisite for undergraduates admitted to RISD in 2008 or after.
  • HPSS-S549

    MEANING AND MESSAGE: INTRODUCTION TO THE THEORY OF SIGNS

    Credits:

    We live amid a world of signs without which we could scarcely communicate or find our way through life. The theory of signs, or semiotics, seeks to understand the nature of signs as vehicles of meaning in our perceptions and messages we send and receive in our spoken, textual, and visual communications. This course moves from the analysis of signs and communication to a critical examination of the extension of semiotics to the surface and hidden meanings of dreams, handwriting, literary and art works. At each step, we will endeavor to test the theories "in practice," to carefully evaluate their merits and limitations. Through this, semiotics will emerge as a humanistic discipline that underwrites our critical and creative understanding of the world as well as funds our creative efforts to make the world anew. Problem-based, discussion and lecture oriented with quizzes, practice-assignments, and short papers.
  • HPSS-S448

    MIND AND LANGUAGE

    Credits: 3.00

    This course will introduce students to a variety of topics related to the nature of mind and the nature of language. We'll explore such questions as: What is the relationship between the mind and the brain? Is there a conscious and an unconscious mind? Is it possible for a computer or robot to have a mind? Can animals think? What are the important characteristics of human language? Are human languages importantly different from animal communication systems? How do children acquire language? Are there important differences between male and female speech? Readings will come from both the philosophical and the psychological literature.
    Course Level: Sophomore and Above
  • IDISC-2403

    NCSS CORE SEMINAR

    Credits: 3.00

    This course provides an inter-disciplinary but comprehensive introduction to key issues in Nature-Culture-Sustainability studies. It will provide an in depth engagement with sustainable material use exploring the "five kingdoms" of nature, the "five core principles of sustainability" and "the five flows through the built environment". The course will also address Biomimetics, Ecological Economics, Environmental Health and Wonder as well as providing indepth discussion of existing real world projects involving the use of sustainable materials. Attempts will be made to arm students with an effective understanding of how they can apply principles of sustainability to their future studies and careers. This course will lay the foundation for the NCSS Concentration students as they pursue their major degree as well as their participation in the NCSS Concentration. The course format will be lecture/seminar with occasional guest lectures.

    Also offered as HPSS S564. Register in the course for which credit is desired.
    Course Level: Sophomore, Junior

  • HPSS-S564

    NCSS CORE SEMINAR

    Credits: 3.00

    This course provides an inter-disciplinary but comprehensive introduction to key issues in Nature-Culture-Sustainability studies. It will provide an in depth engagement with sustainable material use exploring the "five kingdoms" of nature, the "five core principles of sustainability" and "the five flows through the built environment". The course will also address Biomimetics, Ecological Economics, Environmental Health and Wonder as well as providing indepth discussion of existing real world projects involving the use of sustainable materials. Attempts will be made to arm students with an effective understanding of how they can apply principles of sustainability to their future studies and careers. This course will lay the foundation for the NCSS Concentration students as they pursue their major degree as well as their participation in the NCSS Concentration. The course format will be lecture/seminar with occasional guest lectures.

    Also offered as IDISC 2403. Register in the course for which credit is desired.
    Course Level: Sophomore, Junior

  • HPSS-S666

    NEUROETHICS

    Credits: 3.00

    In this course we will examine many of the ethical, social and philosophical issues raised by ongoing developments in the brain sciences. With improved understanding of how the brain works comes new powers for understanding, monitoring, and manipulating human cognitive, emotional and behavioral functioning; such new powers have potentially profound implications for the law, social policy, clinical practice, and personal experience. Topics to be covered will include: moral judgment and decision making, freedom of the will, moral and legal responsibility, use of psychopharmacology for enhancement of mood and cognition, the neural basis of pro-social and anti-social behavior, neuroimaging and privacy, the use of neuroimaging data in courts of law (e.g., to assess truth-telling and the accuracy of memory), brain injury and brain death, the development of neurotechnologies, and the importance of ethical and social guidelines.
  • HPSS-S151

    RETHINKING GREEN URBANISM

    Credits: 3.00

    As over half the world's population has come to live in cities, urbanization has moved to the center of the environmental debate. This course will provide an interdisciplinary reflection on the past, present and future of ecological urbanism. Co-taught between a liberal arts and an architecture professor, (but open to all majors) the course will attempt to interrogate the ways in which green urban design has been conceptualized to date. It will interrogate the limits of present conceptions and it will explore cutting edge contemporary debates around the future of the green urban project.
  • HPSS-S582

    REVOLUTION, CAPITAL & WAR

    Credits: 3.00

    Europe: 1750-1950. This is an introductory survey history course with special attention given to: the Enlightenment; the French Revolution; the Industrial Revolution; the bourgeoisification and masculinization of public culture; liberalism and Marxism; national unification; imperialism; total war; and fascist and communist dictatorships. Midterms, quizzes, and final. Lectures with discussions and student led topic discussions with papers.
    Sophomore and above
  • HPSS-S453

    SEM: HISTORY AND THE NATURAL ENVIRONMENT

    Credits: 3.00

    Through readings in the field of global and American environmental history and in-class discussions, this course examines the relationship between human societies and the natural environment over time. We will examine how various societies incorporated the natural environment into their social, political, and religious systems and how those systems affected the environment. How did people of the past use, abuse and think about nature? How were their lives and aspirations affected by changes in the natural environment and by large-scale environmental events such as climate change.
    Sophomore and above
  • HPSS-S594

    SEM: MODERN BRITAIN

    Credits:

    The sandwich-railroads-Rhode Island-the Titanic-trial by jury-capitalism-imperialism-navalism-monarchy-TV-r ugby-Ascot ties-Jersey cows-tea-gin. In a profoundly significant sense, each of these was or is British. In many areas, a few islands off the coast of Europe known as the British Isles have managed to exert a powerful influence over much of European and Global history. So much so that one wag, paraphrasing Thomas Hobbes (an Englishman) claimed that life in a state of nature was "nasty, short, and British." We will pay close attention to the major currents of Modern British history including: industrialization, social customs, Anglo-Celtic interactions and the formation of a national British identity, overseas ventures, class conflict, sexual politics, and democratization. Midterm, quizzes, final.Lecture and discussion.
  • HPSS-S464

    SEM: OPEN SEMINAR IN HPSS

    Credits: 3.00

    This experimental course offers students the opportunity to seriously explore some topic or question in history, philosophy, or one of the social sciences, which has a bearing on their degree project. Students will be guided through the process of formulating a research project, identifying the relevant literature, critically reading that literature, and working out how the HPSS material (content and/or methodology) can deepen and enrich their studio practice. We'll look at some artists and designers who have made these sorts of connections and but spend most of the time in discussion of student work. Coursework will be tailored to the needs of individual participants. To obtain permission to register for the course, send an email to the instructor with the following information: your name, major, year in school (junior, senior, graduate student), and a description of (a) your studio degree project, as you currently conceive of it, and (b) the area, topic, or question in history, philosophy, or the social sciences that you want to explore.
    Open to juniors, seniors, 5th year, and graduate students.
  • HPSS-S526

    SEM: PHILOSOPHY OF DEATH

    Credits:

    Socrates described philosophy as an intellectual preparation for death. He recognized that how we react to, think about, and cope with finality tells us a great deal of what we think about the core of our existence. Philosophers have been divided between a "bald scenario" that death is nothing but the end of our material existence to which we are limited, and the more reassuring view that death is a door to another personal plane of existence. Death is nothing vs. death is everything. We will examine these phenomena from philosophical points of view through reflection primarily on philosophical works but will include religious sources and literary works. While philosophers have primarily focused understandably on the individual confronting death, we will constantly place these questions and their answers within interpersonal and social spheres of consideration. We will focus on: What is Death? The role of death in the meaning of life; personal survival in various scenarios; ethical issues surrounding suicide, euthanasia, and other voluntary ending of life. We will look at a few of the social practices surrounding death and examine their meaning and functionality. Intensive reading, writing, and participation in seminar format.
    Sophomore and above
  • HPSS-S705

    SEM: PSYCHOLOGY OF EVIL

    Credits: 3.00

    Evil has long been a topic of study for theologians and philosophers, but has only recently been studied by psychologists. Although evil is an inherently subjective topic, we will attempt to take an objective, scientific approach to understanding why people engage in evil behavior. Thus, we will begin by attempting to suspend the notion that we can divide the world into good and evil, and instead understand the situational and psychological factors that could lead anyone to harm others. Specifically, we will focus on classic psychological studies that show how everyday people can be led to act in deplorable ways by manipulating the situational circumstances. We will also discuss how inter-group processes can lead to conflict and large scale acts of violence like war and genocide. Finally, we will study the nature of the psychopathic personality in order to better understand those individuals who feel no guilt or remorse for harming others (e.g., brutal dictators and serial killers). This is a very interactive class and will require you to contribute in discussion and prepare an in-depth presentation on an area of your own interest related to the psychology of evil.
  • HPSS-S528

    SEM: REFUGEES, MIGRANTS, DISPLACED PEOPLE

    Credits: 3.00

    This course looks at key issues relating to migration, displacement and refugeeism in the world today. It frames these issues in terms of the factors which force movements and restrict the movement of people across national boundaries. It considers both the causes and consequences of such movements in relation to legal, political, economic, social and cultural factors. It looks at the images of citizen, nation and state that are constructed through the regulation of national boundaries, and compares these with the goals, identities and cultural processes of the people who move or are across regulated borders. In working out how to think about people who live at the edge of conventional social science categories we will reconsider such basic concepts as ethnicity, identity, nation, culture and homeland.
    Sophomore and above<
  • HPSS-S734

    SEMINAR: LOOT

    Credits: 3.00

    Loot? will study the history and analysis of the destruction of archaeological remains and cultural heritage by grave robbers, collectors, and museums. Why are the Elgin Marbles in London, and not on the Acropolis? Why do there seem to be as many mummies in France as there are in Egypt? asks Sharon Waxman in her book Loot (2008). This seminar will examine the changing role of antiquities in the post-imperialist world, and access the moral and ethical questions raised by archaeologists, curators, collectors and lawyers regarding the plunder of ancient sites to feed an international art market. We will also review legal standards regarding cultural properties (1970 UNESCO Convention, 1991 NAGPRA, and 1995 Unidroit Convention) and how they have impacted the protection of ancient archaeological sites, forced the return of many art treasures and lesser artifacts, and become big headaches for everyone involved in the preservation of cultural heritage.
  • HPSS-S461

    THE PHILOSOPHY OF FOOD

    Credits: 3.00

    The issues related to food and eating have been receiving much attention lately in our society and beyond, in response to growing concerns over our health and the environment. However, until recently, Western philosophy did not include those food-related issues in its discourse. In this course we will address a number of philosophical issues related to food and eating. (1) Why were food-related issues neglected in Western philosophy? What are some of the consequences of such neglect? What is the role of food and eating in other philosophical traditions? (2) What are some of the moral, political, and environmental issues involved in the production, distribution, and consumption of food? For example, is there anything morally problematic about meat-eating? Do we have an ethical duty to feed the hungry in our society and other parts of the world? Is any form of the state's paternalistic intervention in people's eating habits an undue infringement on individual freedom? What are the environmental costs of today's industrial farming, fishing, and global trade, what are some of the alternatives to reduce such costs, and are the alternatives successful? Are there any problems regarding genetically modified organisms as a food source? (3) Some regard certain forms of cooking as art, but can food be art? What are the aesthetic dimensions of food and eating? Can there be a standard of taste regarding food, or is it simply "a matter of taste"? (4) Finally, what is the role of cooking and eating in a good life? Does food simply provide nourishment for our physical survival, or can it enrich our lives in other ways? Through studying a variety of materials and films, we will explore these and other issues related to food.
  • HPSS-C503

    THE POWER OF IMAGES: ART AND RITUAL IN RENAISSANCE ITALY

    Credits: 3.00

    This course explores Italian art from ca. 1350 to 1600 within a ritual framework. A ritual can be defined as a codified, solemn, event that occurs within specific temporal and spatial cadres upon occasions such as marriage, birth, death, a ruler's visit to a city ('entry'), a calamity, or a feast day. Rituals work through the display of symbolic objects [here understood as 'images'] such as statues, reliquaries, paintings, elaborate costumes, or flags for which the role of artists was primordial. The power of images resides in their ritual use: colorful paraphernalia and sacred objects flaunted in city-wide processions could ward off the plague, honor a local saint, and turn princely entries or funerals into successful events. Through their symbolic and artistic components, rituals create authority, assert identity, define social status, and maintain order in society. We will study the extant objects themselves as visual evidence for such phenomena as well as representations (in the form of paintings and prints) of ceremonies, spectacles, processions, or ritual domestic settings. We will analyze art through inter-disciplinary methodologies: material culture, anthropology, social history, and iconography. Learning about artistic conventions and traditions will guide us to evaluate to what extent works of art manipulate reality in a 're-presentation' - rather than provide a mere illustration.
    Also offered as HAVC C503. Register in the course for which credit is desired.
  • LAEL-LE45

    TOPICS IN PHYSICS

    Credits: 3.00

    Advanced and basic topics in the physical sciences are explored in this class. An overview of space-time and the expanding universe is followed by topics in: light quantum, the atom, and quantum physics. Other topics include wave-particle duality, gravity, time, black holes, and the special and general theories of relativity. Then we examine the unification of physics through the emerging result of (super) string theory which in spite of the incompatibility between general relativity and quantum mechanics harmoniously unites (and also requires) these conflicting theories. The already non-intuitive dimensions of space-time beautifully expand in the quantum geometry of string theory.
  • HPSS-S101

    TOPICS: HISTORY, PHILOSOPHY, & THE SOCIAL SCIENCES

    Credits: 3.00

    Topics in History, Philosophy and the Social Sciences is an introductory course in which students are encouraged to develop the skills in critical thinking, reading, and writing that are common to the disciplines represented in the Department of History, Philosophy, and the Social Sciences (HPSS). Sections focus on topics typically addressed within the department's disciplines; through discussion about key texts and issues, students are introduced to important disciplinary methodologies and controversies. All sections have frequent writing assignments, which, combined with substantial feedback from HPSS faculty, afford students the opportunity to develop the strategies and techniques of effective writing.
    Required for graduation for all undergraduates, including transfers. There are no waivers for HPSS-S101 except for transfer students who have taken an equivalent college course. Section 16 of this course in the spring is available ONLY for transfers and upperclassmen.

    Click here for the Spring 2014 Course Description for each freshmen section.

  • HPSS-S519

    WOMEN IN ASIA

    Credits: 3.00

    This course looks at how gender intersects with other forms of hierarchy and structures of power in Asian societies, with a particular focus on women. It is an introduction to both anthropological approaches to gender and to women's position in Asian societies. We will look at women in relation to religion; to family, marriage, and kinship structures; to household and national economies; and to various forms of political power. We will read about China, Japan, and Korea, among other Asian societies. The course will require a significant amount of reading and writing.
    HPSS S101 is a prerequisite for undergraduates admitted to RISD in 2008 or after.
Wintersession 2014
  • HPSS-S158

    EMERGENCE OF JAZZ

    Credits: 3.00

    Why did jazz happen at the start of the twentieth century? With this as a guiding question, this course will explore the prehistory of jazz and the social and political conditions that made it possible. Through reading and listening, we will discuss "styles of encounter" between diverse peoples in colonial North America; the politics of 19th century entertainments such as minstrelsy and vaudeville; and the controversies of race, region, sex, and technology in jazz's early years. Throughout, we will treat "jazz" as a complex and changing relationship between sound and society.
  • LAEL-LE68

    ENVIRONMENTAL DISASTERS

    Credits: 3.00

    Natural and man-made environmental disasters dominate the news - flooding, earthquakes, climate change, water pollution and more. Some can be predicted, some can be avoided, and some can be mitigated. But how? In this course, we will explore how the natural world works, and how this working is evident in some of the most pressing environmental issues of today. Learn why you might not want to invest in that beachfront property, how the Burma cyclone was like hurricane Katrina, and whether it's wise to place a swimming pool on that scenic overlook. No prior science background is required.
  • HPSS-C578

    ETHNOGRAPHIC EXHIBIT & DISPLAY

    Credits: 3.00

    This course is object-centered and will explore the theories and methodologies that have been adopted for the display of ethnographic materials in museums over time. Students will have the opportunity to visit a number of local and regional museums, exhibitions and private collections. We will talk to collectors and to curators, and engage in exercises that focus on the display of objects for general audiences. This will give students a general background on such questions as: how can 3D objects best be displayed? What information should objects be displayed with? What are the goals of an ethnographic exhibition? How are exhibitions organized? Is modern technology making museums obsolete? What are the repatriation regulations, and how have they impacted collectors and museums? The course will require a number of weekend visits to collections, as well as a final project that will be object-centered.
    Also offered as ARTH-C578. Register in class for which credit is desired.
  • HPSS-S456

    FEMINIST THEORIES: ACTIVISM AND METHODOLOGIES: AN INTRODUCTION

    Credits: 3.00

    The feminist movement has changed the world in profound ways despite sometimes radical resistance against it. Through readings, film, and field trips, this course will examine the basic theories of feminism, some of the forms of feminist activism (including humor and art), and the methods by which feminist scholars and activists question, challenge, and reshape power structures.
    Prequisite for Undergraduate levels HPSS S101.
  • HPSS-S674

    FIELDS OF GLORY: SPORTS AS CULTURAL INFLUENCE

    Credits: 3.00

    In most advanced cultures of the world, the passion for sports has reached into many and unexpected aspects of society. As participants or observers, we all, at one time or another, recognize the power of sports as spectacle, distraction or metaphor. This course will examine the evolution of sport from competition among individual athletes in the ancient world through the rise of team sports in the 19th and 20th centuries. It will then consider the influence of sports on language, politics, gender identity, art and architecture, literature, media, and apparel, among others. Sports inevitably have an interrelation with class, race, and nationalism; and they have developed their own myth & ritual & hagiography, aesthetics, economy, cult of celebrity and statistical idiom. There will be readings, assigned papers, classroom presentations, an exam and field trips to local sports events.
  • HPSS-C344

    FRAMING HAITI: HISTORY, CULTURE, POLITICS, AND LITERATURE

    Credits: 3.00

    This course aims to present students with an opportunity to delve into substantive multidisciplinary resources that expose, analyze, and deconstruct the forces that have shaped and continue to shape Haiti. Following sufficient exploration, students will engage in discussions and other activities to develop their ideas about various issues relating to Haiti- its past, its present condition, and its future. In broadest terms, the objective will be to introduce students to the varied nature of the Haitian society and its fluid and dynamic culture, and then attempt to make historical and socio-anthropological sense of the country in relation to the region as a whole (particularly to the United States and Dominican Republic). Throughout the course we will discuss the dynamics of power in the realm of governance, with particular emphasis placed on the notion of struggle for sovereignty and the culture of resistance (through the arts) that forms the fundamental character of the national culture. A particular focus on issues of race, power, inequality, subjugation, imperialism/neo-imperialism and resistance will be discussed. Music, film and literature will be integral to the course.
    Also offered as LAS C344. Register into class for which credit is desired
  • HPSS-S469

    INDIGENOUS KNOWLEDGE

    Credits: 3.00

    The course will examine why indigenous knowledge systems have been portrayed as more effective ways of addressing pressing environmental challenges: sustainable development, climate change, biodiversity conservation, energy, sustainable agriculture, and the negative effects of globalization. We will demonstrate how art and design can make visible the often marginalized knowledge systems and practices of indigenous communities.
    Open to Undergraduates only.
  • LAEL-LE88

    MIND, BRAIN, & BEHAVIOR: AN INTRODUCTION TO COGNITIVE NEUROSCIENCE

    Credits: 3.00

    This course will address questions of how psychological and cognitive functions are produced by the brain. The field of cognitive neuroscience aims to link the mind, the brain and behavior by trying to understand the biological nature of human thought and behavior. In this introductory course we will discuss several topics including: How is the brain built and how well can it rewire itself? How can we measure the living brain? What functions do various parts of the brain support? In particular we will discuss the neural underpinnings of perception, attention, memory, language, executive function, emotion, social cognition, and decision-making.
  • LAEL-LE14

    OPTICS: MAKING HOLOGRAMS

    Credits: 3.00

    This Wintersession seminar has a focus on making holograms with lasers and on understanding the physics that makes holograms and lasers work. Ideas from familiar phenomena help us see the connections between everyday life and the abstract ideas of physics. This non-mathematical presentation of optics leads us to an appreciation of the logic and beauty behind the behavior of light. Starting with the fundamental properties of light, we pass through the geometric optics of reflection and refraction, and the wave optics of interference and diffraction to the clarity of particle waves, lasers, holography, and special relativity.
  • HPSS-S672

    SCIENCE & SOCIAL CONTROVERSY

    Credits: 3.00

    In this course we will examine the institution of science and its relations to the social context in which it is embedded. The idea of "value free science" has been appropriately abandoned as a false ideal. In its wake there have arisen a number of questions concerning how social and moral values ought to play a role in determining the directions of scientific research, the conduct of such research, and the application of research findings to social problems. In addition to examining such topics as scientific objectivity, scientific authority, sources of bias in science, and the social accountability of scientists, we will discuss several case studies including controversies over race and IQ, the safety and efficacy of psychiatric medications, the human genome project, and research concerning gender differences. The course will consist of discussion of assigned readings, several short writing assignments, and a group research project and presentation.
  • HPSS-C502

    TASTE MATTERS: CLASS, "CULTURE", & THE POLITICS OF THE AESTHETIC IN 19TH -AND 20TH CENTURY U.S. LITERATURE

    Credits: 3.00

    Our tastes--culinary, sartorial, literary, aesthetic-are never simply personal or obviously natural; they are inextricably intertwined with larger political questions about class, gender, sexuality, race, and nation. This course will pay attention to what is at stake in the claims to "good taste," particularly to how assertions of superior taste are linked to notions of social and moral superiority. We will explore the complex relationship between taste and consumption; democracy and distinction; economic and cultural capital. We will be reading a mix of classic U.S. literary, theoretical, and historical texts, as well as seeing some films and considering other visual materials and cultural artifacts. Although we will concentrate on literary case studies, our goal is to think about the course concepts in relation to the arts and our own lives. Also offered as LAS-C502. Register in the course for which credit is desired.
  • HPSS-S457

    TEXTILE TRADITIONS OF THE ANDES

    Credits: 3.00

    Hand weaving and related yarn manipulations in Peru date back to the Cotton Pre-ceramic (3000 BC.) and the subsequent domestication of Andean camelids. The dry desert coast has preserved a record number of ancient textiles which richly document the development and evolution of a textile tradition which continues in isolated villages today. This course will examine techniques, styles, and iconography of Andean textiles over time and the important place of cloth in pre-Columbian and contemporary native culture. One day a week will be spent analyzing ancient textiles in the collection of the RISD Museum: some of the most beautiful and technically complex cloths you will ever see.
  • HPSS-S156

    THE MEANING OF LIFE

    Credits: 3.00

    The question, "What is the meaning of life?" is unclear in large measure because the word "meaning" is ambiguous. The various ways "meaning" can be construed, both objectively and subjectively, in everyday life and in the philosophical arena will be explored. Literature, film, and philosophical texts will be used as vehicles to illuminate how reflection, experience, and transitions through life's stages influence assignment of value to one's existence.
  • HPSS-S466

    THE SOCIOLOGY OF BUSINESS, ORGANIZATION AND ENTREPRENEURSHIP

    Credits: 3.00

    While many tend to think about bureaucracies in emotionally charged terms (for example, Kafka and Orwell) or treat them with sarcastic derision (e.g., Parkinson), bureaucratic organizations are specific social structures possessing well-defined characteristics and following certain logic of behavior and development. They are present in government and business, as well as non-government organizations. Individual entrepreneurs and small businesses have to deal with bureaucracies to survive and thrive. This course will tell you how to behave around bureaucratic organizations. There are four major themes: organizational behavior, organizational boundaries, organizational environment, and interaction between organizations. Each theme will be looked at from the point of view of various types of bureaucracies: government, private, and non-profit. We will have a specific discussion of social entrepreneurship and its ability to navigate bureaucratic structures. Special attention will be paid to interaction between government and private bureaucracies. The course relies on a combination of lectures and in-class discussion. Students will be asked to write four short papers based on case studies and present them in class. There will be a final exam.
  • HPSS-S468

    THINKING AND WRITING PHILOSOPHICALLY

    Credits: 3.00

    Analytic philosophy provides us with many tools for thinking and writing clearly about virtually any topic, not just those that are traditionally considered to be philosophical. These tools include, among others: analyzing concepts, stating claims clearly, evaluating claims, and formulating, analyzing, and evaluating arguments. In this workshop, students will learn and practice using these tools and then apply them to a question of their own choosing. Come to the first class prepared to discuss the question or issue you want to explore.
  • HPSS-WS07

    TRADITIONAL JAPANESE AESTHETIC

    Credits: 3.00

    Since the process of Westernization began in Japan during the mid-19th century, Japanese culture has been going through dramatic transformations. However, in the midst of high-tech industry, skyscrapers, and McDonald's, the traditional Japanese sensibilities which were formed before Westernization still dominate many aspects of people's lives. This course investigates those traditional Japanese aesthetic tastes which are considered "uniquely" or "truly" Japanese. Emphasis will be on classical literary texts, traditional art forms and Zen texts.
  • HPSS-S467

    UNITED STATES HISTORY TO 1860

    Credits: 3.00

    This course surveys the history of the territory of what would eventually become the United States from roughly 1500 to 1860. Topics include: the development of Western European societies and their early colonial encounters with societies in the Western Hemisphere; the establishment of British North American colonies and their regional diversity; labor and the evolution of African slavery; the evolution of colonial society to 1756; British imperial developments and the origins of the American Revolution, the Revolution and its aftermath; the Constitution and the political founding of the United States; Jeffersonian Republicanism; Jacksonian Democracy; the market revolution and reform movements; and the expansion of slavery, sectional conflict, and the coming of the Civil War.
  • HPSS-S157

    YOU MUST BE JOKING! THE PHILOSOPHY OF LAUGHTER

    Credits: 3.00

    Explain a joke; kill it? We'll keep it alive on life support in this short philosophical survey of what's funny. We will consider a range of theories of laughter and humor, from both analytic and practical perspective. To evaluate these theories, we will apply them to various types of humor, such as comedies, jokes, and especially in visual illustration such as cartoons, and the like. The serious business of analysis will share the stage with our engagement with funny business as well as creating our own. Throughout, we will consider the ethical issues of humor and laughter as they arise in the theories and the practices of humor. Course requires a sense of humor and will involve active participation, even performing humor. Several papers and a project of either analyzing something comedic or developing your own.
Spring Semester 2014
  • HPSS-C519

    AFRICAN ARTS & CULTURES: SELECTED TOPICS

    Credits: 3.00

    The course offers an introduction to the arts of several sub-Saharan African communities. We will explore the creative process and the context of specific African traditions as well as the impact of the African diaspora on the arts of other communities, particularly in the Caribbean.
    Also offered as HAVC C519. Register in the course for which credit is desired.
  • HPSS-C736

    ART & ARCHITECTURE OF ANCIENT PERU

    Credits: 3.00

    We will examine the art styles and technologies, as well as the architectural forms and implied social organization found in the archaeological record of ancient Peru. Our goal will be to trace the history of cultural development, in this isolated setting, from the earliest hunter/gatherers to the complex civilization of the Incas. This semester there will be special attention given to three media: architecture, ceramics, and textiles.
    Also offered as HAVC-C736. Register in the course for which credit is desired.
  • HAVC-C736

    ART AND ARCHITECTURE OF ANCIENT PERU

    Credits: 3.00

    We will examine the art styles and technologies, as well as the architectural forms and implied social organization found in the archaeological record of ancient Peru. Our goal will be to trace the history of cultural development, in this isolated setting, from the earliest hunter/gatherers to the complex civilization of the Incas. This semester there will be special attention given to three media: architecture, ceramics, and textiles.
    Also offered as HPSS-C736. Register in the course for which credit is desired.
  • HPSS-C726

    ARTS OF AMERICAS AND PACIFIC

    Credits: 3.00

    This course is designed to acquaint students with a variety of non-Western aesthetic expressions in the Americas and the Pacific. The course will explore the indigenous contexts, both contemporary and historical, in which these art forms are or were created and function. We will look at the art and its context in selected communities of the American northwest coast such as the Inuit, Kwakiutl and Haida, the Southwest of the US, such as the Hopi and Navajo, and parts of Australia, Papua-New Guinea and some of the Pacific islands.
    Also offered at HAVC C726. Register in the course for which credit is desired
  • HPSS-S159

    CAPITALISM AND ITS CRISES

    Credits: 3.00

    In mid-2007, the United States was at the center of a financial meltdown that spread to the entire world, by now a capitalist world dominated by a set of economic relations often identified as "free-market neo-liberalism." How did this crisis come about? How are we to understand it as not only a crisis of a particular form of capitalism, but as a crisis of capitalism itself as a historic form of organizing the societies within which all of us, everywhere, live out our lives? In this course we will seek such an understanding through an analysis of global capitalism as it appears in several regions of the world, notably the United States and Western Europe; China, Korea, and East Asia; Vietnam, Cambodia, and Southeast Asia; Brazil and Latin America; and India. Some attention will also be given to crucial aspects of neo-liberal capitalism in Africa and the Middle East.
  • LAEL-LE07

    CONCEPTS IN MATHEMATICS

    Credits: 3.00

    Mathematicians are artists of the imagination. This course is an exploration of their abstract conceptual systems which have almost inadvertently yielded spectacularly successful real world results. It also looks at suggested artistic modes of thought and strategies of artistic exploration. Discussions will include imagination as a valid perception of the world (a sixth sense); high orders of infinity; abstraction, idealization and reality; the geometry of vision, other non-Euclidean geometries and the relation of these geometries to our universe. Regular attendance, some assignments and outside reading are required.
  • HPSS-S517

    HISTORY OF SEXUALITY: HOMOSEXUALITY

    Credits: 3.00

    This lecture and discussion class examines the historical forces that in the West (Europe and the United States) gave rise to the identification of the homosexual to certain patterns of psychosexual practices, to the making of such practices sinful, illegal, and pathological, to the emergence if the same-sex subcultures and communities and finally, to the development of a national politics referenced to sexual orientation. We will explore questions of sexuality formation in a sociological but not a biological sense and also look at the ways in which sexuality and gender intersect. Some knowledge of Western history will be very useful (but not formally required) for this course. Readings will be extensive. Attendance and active vocal participation are required, as are exams and an out-of-class essay paper.
    Sophomore and above
  • HPSS-S447

    INTRODUCTION TO BUDDHISM

    Credits: 3.00

    This course introduces students to Buddhist ideas, activities, and experiences that are found in various Asian traditions of Buddhism. Borrowing Ninian Smart's description of religion as involving a triple complexity of ideas, activities, and experiences, the approach to Buddhism will be one that seeks to examine how a religious life can be implicated in everything from one's life orientation, to aspirations for an ideal society. Buddhism, in particular, allows us to explore Gotama Buddha's awakening to the Truth of the human condition and the path to transcend that state in order to gain freedom, happiness, and salvation.
  • LAEL-LE95

    INTRODUCTORY GEOLOGY: Dinosaurs to Diamonds

    Credits: 3.00

    The earth is in constant flux. Over the past 4,500 million years (roughly) of earth's history, oceans have formed, opened and closed, mountains have risen and been washed to the sea, and the earth has been populated (and massively DE-populated) with numerous animal assemblages at least five times. We look to rocks and minerals to tell us about the earths past (and also frequently as an excellent economic investment). And we hope to use the past as a way to inform our future. This course will provide an introduction to the science of Geology. No prior science experience necessary.
  • LAEL-LE91

    INVESTIGATING THE BOTANICAL WORLD

    Credits: 3.00

    Plants shape much of the natural world around us. They influence climate and provide organisms with food, shelter and housing. This course will be an introduction to the vascular plant kingdom; its variety, classification, biology, and ecology. Through careful observation and illustration of live and herbarium specimens, students will gain an understanding of plant forms, structure, and reproduction. Field trips will facilitate the observation of plants in natural community assemblages, and will aid in students? understanding of similarities among plant families, as well as their adaptations to environmental conditions. Students will learn the Latin and English names of common species and learn to identify these plants through recognition of their unique morphological traits, as well as through the use of dichotomous keys. Students will learn the importance of documentation for study and scientific record keeping and will create mounted specimens of plant species for the use of all students at the RISD Nature Lab.
  • IDISC-2403

    NCSS CORE SEMINAR

    Credits: 3.00

    This course provides an inter-disciplinary but comprehensive introduction to key issues in Nature-Culture-Sustainability studies. It will provide an in depth engagement with sustainable material use exploring the "five kingdoms" of nature, the "five core principles of sustainability" and "the five flows through the built environment". The course will also address Biomimetics, Ecological Economics, Environmental Health and Wonder as well as providing indepth discussion of existing real world projects involving the use of sustainable materials. Attempts will be made to arm students with an effective understanding of how they can apply principles of sustainability to their future studies and careers. This course will lay the foundation for the NCSS Concentration students as they pursue their major degree as well as their participation in the NCSS Concentration. The course format will be lecture/seminar with occasional guest lectures.

    Also offered as HPSS S564. Register in the course for which credit is desired.
    Course Level: Sophomore, Junior

  • HPSS-S564

    NCSS CORE SEMINAR

    Credits: 3.00

    This course provides an inter-disciplinary but comprehensive introduction to key issues in Nature-Culture-Sustainability studies. It will provide an in depth engagement with sustainable material use exploring the "five kingdoms" of nature, the "five core principles of sustainability" and "the five flows through the built environment". The course will also address Biomimetics, Ecological Economics, Environmental Health and Wonder as well as providing indepth discussion of existing real world projects involving the use of sustainable materials. Attempts will be made to arm students with an effective understanding of how they can apply principles of sustainability to their future studies and careers. This course will lay the foundation for the NCSS Concentration students as they pursue their major degree as well as their participation in the NCSS Concentration. The course format will be lecture/seminar with occasional guest lectures.

    Also offered as IDISC 2403. Register in the course for which credit is desired.
    Course Level: Sophomore, Junior

  • HPSS-S660

    SCHOPENHAUER AND NIETZSCHE

    Credits: 3.00

    Friedrich Nietzsche famously announced "God is Dead" and asked how we should live in the void left by His absence. His answer? The theory of eternal return: we should live lives we would want to live over and over again. Nietzsche was reacting against the pessimism of Arthur Schopenhauer, who believed unhappiness was inevitable. Life is a welter of desires that make us unhappy if not satisfied but that, if satisfied, only bring other desires demanding satisfaction. One of the first Europeans to study Hindu and Buddhist writings, he advocated extinguishing desire. Through reading, discussion, and class and individual projects we will examine how the creative tension between these two thinkers as well as their interactions with Eastern thought stimulate other thinkers and artists.
  • HPSS-S450

    SEM: MATRIX OF WISDOM: PHILOSOPHY & SCI-FI

    Credits: 3.00

    Philosophy, the quest for wisdom, seeks answers to life's deepest and most enduring questions. How should we live? What is the truth? What is real? What and who are we in a universe of things unlike ourselves? At its core, philosophy is a discursive, argumentative probing that pokes at our fundamental assumptions about the world. The philosophical mind, of course, welcomes the challenge. In addition to philosophers raising these questions, fiction has been a vehicle for raising these issues and challenging the status quo mindset of its readers. Science fiction in particular, has long been occupied with questions regarding man's place in the universe and the limits and potentials of science. While such philosophical probity rarely makes for great television viewing, there are a few shows, such as Star Trek, The X-Files and others, that are distinguished by their consistent philosophical texts in conjunction with the study and discussion of selected episodes from these extraordinary television series. Participation, several short papers and group presentations are required.
  • HPSS-S677

    SEM: PSYCHOLOGY OF GENDER

    Credits: 3.00

    Although many theorists and scholars approach gender as a study of women, this course starts with the premise that we cannot understand the experience of either male or femaleness without studying both men and women. In this course we will explore research regarding gender differences and the vast number of similarities between men and women. In addition we will attempt to draw clear distinctions between biological sex, gender identity and sexual orientation, and discuss several different theories of gender and sexuality development (e.g., biological, socio-cultural, cognitive, evolutionary) as well as the relative merit of each theory for understanding how men and women differ. Finally, this course will focus on real world issues that face men and women including family dynamics, gender in the workplace, gender inequality and sexism, and representations of gender in the media. Open to Sophomore and Above
  • HPSS-S449

    SEM: SOCIAL GEOGRAPHIES OF ART, DESIGN, AND COMMUNITY PRACTICE

    Credits: 3.00

    In this seminar, we will take a social geographical approach to investigating a growing trend toward the merging of art and design - and the aestheticization of everyday life - with the social, economic, political and environmental interests of global capitalism. Additionally, we will explore forces within contemporary art, design and community practice that are resisting these trends; examples include a collaborative project involving artists, scientists, landscape designers and many thousands of citizens in "the production of capital" for soil remediation; the design of gaming that specifically draws on measured and predicted effects of climate change; a performance piece that draws equally from local knowledge, public health and medical expertise; and several art and/or design works, focused on justice, that take place on local/regional levels but intervene in larger global processes. Learning and applying concepts and methodologies of social geography (the study of social relations within specific spaces and places) to these conditions will help us gain the insight and understanding needed to evaluate the roles that art, design and community practice have and will continue to play in contemporary societies.
  • HPSS-S732

    SEM: WITNESS TREE PROJECT

    Credits: 3.00

    Witness trees, as designated by the National Park Service, are long-standing trees that have "witnessed" key events, trends, and people in history. In this joint studio/liberal arts course, students have the unique opportunity to study and work with a fallen witness tree, shipped to RISD from a national historic site. The course will involve three components: 1) a field trip to the tree's site at the beginning of the semester; 2) classroom-based exploration of American history, memory, landscape, and material culture; and 3) studio-based building of a series of objects from the tree's wood, in response to both the site and students' classroom study. Overall, the course will explore both how material artifacts shape historical understanding and how historical knowledge can create meaningful design.
    Must also register for FURN 2451.
    Students will receive 3 credits in Furniture and 3 credits in HPSS, for a total of 6 credits.
    A single fee of $100.00 will be charged for your concurrent registration
    Permission of Instructor required
  • HPSS-S521

    SEMINAR: HISTORICAL FUNCTION OF FILM

    Credits: 3.00

    In this course we will screen and examine narrative, interpretive films that expressly depict a historical event, personality or situation. We will be expressly concerned with ways in which the film can be studied as a historical text and the use of nationalism, mythology or political ideologies in the construction of a particular historical moment. Films to be viewed include: Glory, Potemkin, October Sky, and Nixon.
  • LAEL-C447

    THE SCIENCE & SOCIOLOGY OF CLIMATE CHANGE

    Credits: 3.00

    Anthropogenic climate change has been described as a "wicked problem" (Hulme, 2011). It is produced by a range of complicated interacting socio-ecological dynamics and consequently predicting the trajectory of anthropogenic climate change over the next century has brought into being a range of inter-disciplinary scientific platforms. Understanding the social and ecological impacts of different climate change scenarios necessitates inter-disciplinary inquiry. Addressing the ways in which we might mitigate or adapt to climate change in the next century by necessity draws ecological and climatological research into some kind of necessary engagement the social sciences and beyond. Engaging with the climate issue in an adequate fashion clearly requires a degree of scientific literacy around the basics of climate science. However, the science itself cannot answer questions such as what should we put at risk and how much risk should we view as acceptable. It cannot by itself clarify how we should resolve trade-offs between environmental damage and economic growth.
    Also offered as HPSS-C447. Register for the course for which credit is desired.
  • HPSS-C447

    THE SCIENCE & SOCIOLOGY OF CLIMATE CHANGE

    Credits: 3.00

    Anthropogenic climate change has been described as a "wicked problem" (Hulme, 2011). It is produced by a range of complicated interacting socio-ecological dynamics and consequently predicting the trajectory of anthropogenic climate change over the next century has brought into being a range of inter-disciplinary scientific platforms. Understanding the social and ecological impacts of different climate change scenarios necessitates inter-disciplinary inquiry. Addressing the ways in which we might mitigate or adapt to climate change in the next century by necessity draws ecological and climatological research into some kind of necessary engagement the social sciences and beyond. Engaging with the climate issue in an adequate fashion clearly requires a degree of scientific literacy around the basics of climate science. However, the science itself cannot answer questions such as what should we put at risk and how much risk should we view as acceptable. It cannot by itself clarify how we should resolve trade-offs between environmental damage and economic growth.
    Also offered as LAEL-C447. Register for the course in which credit is desired.
  • HPSS-S101

    TOPICS: HISTORY, PHILOSOPHY, & THE SOCIAL SCIENCES

    Credits: 3.00

    Topics in History, Philosophy and the Social Sciences is an introductory course in which students are encouraged to develop the skills in critical thinking, reading, and writing that are common to the disciplines represented in the Department of History, Philosophy, and the Social Sciences (HPSS). Sections focus on topics typically addressed within the department's disciplines; through discussion about key texts and issues, students are introduced to important disciplinary methodologies and controversies. All sections have frequent writing assignments, which, combined with substantial feedback from HPSS faculty, afford students the opportunity to develop the strategies and techniques of effective writing.
    Required for graduation for all undergraduates, including transfers. There are no waivers for HPSS-S101 except for transfer students who have taken an equivalent college course. Section 16 of this course in the spring is available ONLY for transfers and upperclassmen.

    Click here for the Spring 2014 Course Description for each freshmen section.

  • LAEL-LE96

    URBAN ECOLOGY: HOW WILDLIFE INTERACTS WITH URBANIZING LANDSCAPE

    Credits: 3.00

    We frequently hear about animal (and plant) species that become common nuisances in urban areas, and we hear about how natural habitat loss leads to the disappearance of other species. This course will approach the area of urban ecology from a natural science perspective. We will learn about a broad variety of North American organisms (vertebrate, invertebrate and plant), from diverse habitat types, and their ecological patterns and processes with regard to urbanization. We will also conduct some field experiments to evaluate certain patterns in our greater Providence landscape for ourselves. Ultimately, how do urban wildlife patterns affect the lives of our species, Homo sapiens? Coursework will include frequent readings, outdoor field trips, observational chronicling and group discussions.
  • LAEL-LE92

    VISUAL PERCEPTION

    Credits: 3.00

    In this course we will examine some prominent psychological theories of color, form, depth, and motion perception. As much as possible, we will experience specific examples of visual processes through a number of in class experiments. The roles of learning, memory, imagination, and other cognitive processes will be explored.
  • LAEL-1513

    VISUALIZING THE NATURAL SCIENCES

    Credits: 3.00

    This 6-credit course invites undergraduate and graduate students to improve their skills in communicating and illustrating science. The general topic is changing biodiversity, how humans impact plants, animals, and their environment. Examples will be presented from around the world, as well as from Rhode Island. Through a series of exercises, students will practice analyzing and interpreting scientific information in order to both understand and present it. The science content will be delivered through lectures, visits to research labs, and to a nearby nature sanctuary. The course is designed to introduce students to relevant scientific concepts and challenge them to use their art to make these ideas more concrete and meaningful. In some cases, the goal may be to educate; in others, it may be to raise awareness, stimulate debate, or entertain. Students will explore the use of different media, including 2-D, 3-D animated, and interactive modes. They will also target differentcaudiences and venues, including: general interest or editorial publications, art for public spaces including galleries, educational and peer- to-peer science materials. Class work includes assigned reading, several minor projects, an exam, and a comprehensive final project. Students will choose a recent research study on the topic of human impacts on biodiversity for the subject of their final project, which is a written paper combined with original artwork designed for a public space or public interaction.
    The Departments of Illustration and History, Philosophy, and Social Sciences will teach the course collaboratively.
    Students must register for both LAEL 3912 and ILLUS 3912.
English Foreground Image 6
Most liberal arts classes are held in RISD's College Building, a classic old multipurpose facility built in 1936.