History, Philosophy + the Social Sciences

Courses

  • Fall 2016

    BUDDHISM AND SOCIETY

    This course is an anthropological consideration of Buddhism in its social and cultural contexts. Beginning with an introduction to the historical Buddha and the basic principles of his teaching, the course will briefly examine the main branches of Buddhism that were established after the Buddha's death. With this as our foundation, we will then look at how Buddhist principles are put into practice in different societies. The course will focus on how Buddhism in practice (like all religions) is always part of broader cultural processes, with distinctive characteristics and significance in different societies.
    Open to sophomore and above

    CITIES OF THE GLOBAL SOUTH

    In this class we compare and contrast various cities of the Global South and examine their relationship to the Global North. We ponder upon the valences and representations of the terms Global South and North, and examine the politics and processes of urban life. We will travel the world to examine the built environment, economies, and experience of cities such as Mumbai, Kunming, Sao Paolo, Cairo, Bangkok, and Bogota. The course will explore the resonances between these cities and the kinds of challenges they face as they encounter rapid urban growth and renewal.

    AFRICAN STUDIES: SELECTED TOPICS

    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 HPSS C519. Register in the course for which credit is desired.

    AFRICAN STUDIES:SELECTED TOPICS

    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.

    ART & ARCHITECTURE OF ANCIENT PERU

    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.

    ART + ACTIVISM

    Is there such thing as a 'Neo-Avant Garde'? Hal Foster argues that throughout history, artistic 'avant-gardes'have been brought on by societal upheavals. Artists often take on the role of activists, using their abilities to translate stories visually to inform the public about socio-political issues. In this class, we will be looking at artists that have used their platform as makers and creators to advocate for social change. This class will be broken down into three sections: Politics, Appropriation, and Mediation. Students will research how they compose themselves and how they react to their surroundings. Weekly readings will be discussed in class, as well as used to initiate 'debates'. Students are also expected to research contemporary artists that address issues regarding issues surrounding class, race, and gender to bring to class discussions. Readings include excerpts from Angela Davis' 'Abolition Democracy', and Robert Klanten's 'Art & Agenda: Political Art and Activism' as well as other assorted readings.
    HPSS S101 is a prerequisite for Undergraduates.

    ART AND ARCHITECTURE OF ANCIENT PERU

    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.

    CONSOLATIONS OF PHILOSOPHY

    Philosophy after Alexander the Great differed from what had gone before. Gone with Alexander were the small, self-governing communities in which each citizen had a place and a role to play. Secure in such communities, citizens had begun to philosophize in a disinterested search for knowledge. The conquests of Alexander brought into being a world-empire extending from Greece to India, Egypt to Kazakhstan. There were not citizens of this empire but unconnected and atomistic subjects of a foreign bureaucracy whose lives had been uprooted from all vital community. In such circumstances, people began to look to philosophy for answers to new questions: questions about their place in the world and the meaning of their lives. This course will examine the alternative communities that philosophy after Alexander offered to a vast, disenfranchised, and multi-ethnic population, preparing the ground for the new world-religions of Christianity and Islam that were to follow.

    CULTURAL HISTORY OF WESTERN MUSIC

    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.

    ELECTION 2016: ART AND DESIGN IN U.S. PRESIDENTIAL POLITICS

    Against the background of a US presidential campaign and paying particular attention to the US presidential election on November 8, 2016, this course will explore the place, role, and importance of art and design in US presidential politics, both past and present. Focusing on the theatrical qualities of US presidential campaigns and elections, the topics addressed in this course will include: campaign advertising; the staging and design of presidential debates; the use of fashion to promote political identity; presidential style(s); image and image-making; identity politics; the art of campaign posters; electoral maps and map-making; sloganeering; and the geography of the electoral college.

    ELECTRONIC MUSIC HISTORIES

    An introduction to electronic music histories as evolving narratives of technology in musical practices. This survey course critically investigates the origins of music technology and provides a foundation for basic acoustics, modes of listening, and creative output. Extensive listening, brief weekly writing, and an end-of-term paper illustrate and analyze the impact of technological development on popular and experimental forms.

    GLOBAL ENCOUNTERS

    It is fair to say that the world is a semi-integrated collection of diverse cultures, societies, polities, economies and unequal power relationships. To a considerable degree, this is the legacy of the modern explosion of Western technology, military force, entrepreneurial capitalism, and cultural values onto Africa, Asia and the Pacific. This course will delve into that stage of cross cultural interaction known as the Age of High Imperialism. We will explore its causes and motivations, its major modes of expression, and above all, the experiences and responses of those who colonized. A special emphasis will be placed on the African experience of colonialism. Lectures and discussion.

    HISTORY OF SEXUALITY: HOMOSEXUALITY

    This seminar 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.
    Sophomore and above

    HUMAN ANATOMY: FORM AND FUNCTION

    This course examines the form and function of the human body, with a focus on the musculoskeletal system and surface form. Each week, we will cover a different area of the body, working our way through the trunk and limbs to the neck and head. For each area, we will first consider the anatomical structure, including the bones, muscles, nerves, arteries and veins. We will then study the function, including movement, systems and processes. Each area will be further explored through common injuries and syndromes with an anatomical basis, which are illustrative of function through dysfunction. We will discuss treatments with an anatomical basis, including typical surgical approaches and procedures, and the design of prosthetics. Through this course, we will demystify and develop an appreciation for the wondrous complexity of the human body and its role in art and design.

    INTRODUCTION TO INSECT MORPHOLOGY AND ECOLOGY

    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).

    INTRODUCTION TO PSYCHOLOGY

    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.

    ISTANBUL

    Drawing upon literary works to reconstruct and imagine urban life, this course focuses on the historical development of Istanbul - the capital city of the Ottoman Empire for 500 years and the largest and most important city in the Republic of Turkey today. Economic, social, and cultural institutions, forms of entertainment, and communal relations that enriched daily life in Istanbul are addressed. This look at the pleasures of the city is counterbalanced by an examination of the vicissitudes of violence, disease, and natural disasters which ravaged the residents of Istanbul across the Ottoman centuries. The last part of the class addresses the transformation and modernization of Istanbul in the nineteenth century and its place in the Republic of Turkey in the twentieth century.
    Sophomore and above
    HPSS S101 is a prerequisite for undergradutes

    MEANING AND MESSAGE: INTRODUCTION TO THE THEORY OF SIGNS

    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.

    NCSS CORE SEMINAR

    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 Biometics, Ecological Economics, Environmental Health and Wonder as well as providing in depth 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.

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

    NCSS CORE SEMINAR

    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.

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

    PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION

    Religion has long been a part of human life. Prehistoric burials include utensils and companions (sacrifice) for life in another world. Early writings pray for divine intercession or advise how to win divine favor. Are beliefs such as these in survival after death and in supernatural beings reasonable? Philosophy of religion asks this of these beliefs and others: Is belief based on experience (mysticism) and not argument reasonable? Can the divine be proved to exist by argument, or proved not to exist (or care) by the prevalence of suffering? Does the supernatural intervene in nature (miracles)? These and other questions will be examined through reading classic and contemporary writings, lectures, discussion, and student presentations.

    POLITICAL ECONOMY OF GLOBAL SUPPLY CHAINS

    How do goods/products get from producers to consumers? How are they disposed? After a design object is absorbed into the production process, global supply chains are involved in the global system of organizations, people, processes, and resources that transform raw materials into finished products. Additionally, this complex process and network is responsible for delivering finished products to consumers and the disposal of related waste. In this course, we will first lay a foundation for understanding global supply chains, drawing from political science, economics, and management. Next, we will engage in critical analysis of the process and network with respect to issues that include human rights, gender, the environment, and labor standards. We will correspondingly examine the roles of actors such as governments, firms, consumers, international organization, and non-governmental organizations involved in global supply chains.

    POLITICAL ECONOMY OF NATURAL RESOURCES

    Natural resources are materials that are naturally occurring in the environment. They include resources such as water, hydrocarbons, and metal ores. Some of these resources have been accorded a strategic quality that has prompted their role in political and economic dynamics in the domestic and international arena. In this course, we shall consider natural resources from a political and economic perspective and examine their implications in a variety of contexts that include policymaking, conflict, foreign investment, and development.

    SEM: OPEN SEMINAR IN HPSS

    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. Permission of instructor required.

    SEM: PHILOSOPHY OF DEATH

    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

    SEM: PSYCHOLOGY OF EVIL

    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.

    SEM: REFUGEES, MIGRANTS, DISPLACED PEOPLE

    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<

    SEM:ANCIENT CHINESE ART&ARCHA ANCIENT CHINESE ART & ARCHAELOGY

    This course is designed to introduce students to the major historical and intellectual developments in the field of ancient Chinese art, and to the local tradition of antiquarian studies. It will provide a general overview of art of the period of the time spanning from the Neolithic to the Han dynasty, concentrating on crucial research issues on such topics as (among others): the iconography of early settled societies, the art of prehistoric jade carving, the art of the ritual bronze vessels of the Shang and Zhou dynasties, the political use of bronze and jade in the dynastic period, lacquer and silk painting in the late pre-imperial phase, and the burial customs and architecture of the early imperial period.
    Also offered as HAVC-C632. Register into the course for which credit is desired.

    THE ANTHROPOLOGY OF INNOVATION

    The human condition is defined by its ability to adapt and innovate. The emphasis on innovation and creative solutions rises powerfully in this decade as the world rises to meet crises such as climate change, economic instability, and global health concerns. In this course we explore the definitions, processes, and politics of innovation through specific case studies and ponder on how to improve the innovations we are interested in. We will move between science, art, and everyday innovation and explore their resonances and differences. We will ask: Why and how do we innovate? What does it mean to innovate? What are the historical and geographic conditions, and the tools and technologies that enable innovation? In this day and age of celebration of entrepreneurial activity and creative collaborations: we ask who is read as innovative and what are the limits of the innovative endeavor?
    Sophomore and above

    THE POWER OF IMAGES: IN RENAISSANCE ITALY

    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.

    TOPICS IN PHYSICS

    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.

    TOPICS: HISTORY, PHILOSOPHY, & THE SOCIAL SCIENCES

    Topics in History, Philospohy, 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 the 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.

    For a list of Fall 2016 course descriptions for S101 Click here

    Wintersession 2017

    *CUBA:PRINTMAKING, HISTORY, AND ART

    How does a country forged by revolution and hardened by deprivation nevertheless manage to foster and encourage art making? What can we learn about Cuba's culture and history that allowed it's Printmaking and Art to thrive. A culture and history impacted by European colonialism, slavery and more recently isolation, from its powerful northern neighbor. This travel course will explore Cuba; the studio component, will include printmaking and visits to Havana's print shops, the Liberal Arts portion of this course is designed to familiarize students with Cuban culture in general, and more particularly, to explore Cuban performative and visual arts. It will include lectures on both the African roots of Cuban culture and the contemporary arts scene in Havana and beyond. The class will have the opportunity to explore the contemporary art scene in Havana and include travel to Santiago de Cuba, a beautiful colonial city rich in history and cultural treasures. Knowledge of Spanish not required, but helpful.

    This is a co-requisite course with PRINT-4412-01. Students will receive 3 studio credits and 3 liberal arts credits.

    All students are required to remain in good academic standing in order to participate in the WS travel course/studio. Failure to remain in good academic standing can lead to removal from the course, either before or during the course. Also in cases where WS travel courses and studios do not reach student capacity, the course may be cancelled after the last day of Wintersession travel course registration. As such, all students are advised not to purchase flights for participation in Wintersession travel courses until the course is confirmed to run, which happens within the week after the final Wintersession travel course registration period.

    Registration begins in October at a time to be announced.
    Permission of instructor required.
    Estimated Travel Cost: $3,590.00 - airfare not included.
    ***Off-Campus Study***

    AMERICAN GOVERNMENT: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW FOR THE NEXT ELECTION

    Two hundred years ago the ideas of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness became the essence of an emerging nation that soon represented a new paradigm for the rest of the hemisphere and the rest of the world. Today, the US population is more than 300 million people distributed into 50 states, not to mention the US territories. Context is different, we have cellphones, TVs, internet, social networks, and other gadgets that allow us to have access to information at a speed that was impossible to imagine in 1776. But we still look for answers to similar questions. How do you govern a country that is so big and diverse? How do we know that a system that was created more than 200 years ago is still responsive and valid to our current needs? In addition to these questions we will discuss the constitutional foundations of the American political system and we will connect them to relevant issues: how democratic is the Electoral College? Why is the idea of universal healthcare more controversial in the United States than in other advanced democracies? Why do we see increasing polarization between the major parties? What role should the media play in the political process?

    CINEMATIC REPRESENTATION OF THE VIETNAM WAR

    Most young people have developed their perspectives on the Vietnam War primarily through the medium of film. We will examine several of the most popular movies about America's longest war, such as "Apocalypse Now," "Platoon," and "Full Metal Jacket." We will explore in particular the following questions. What is the relationship between the history presented in Vietnam War films and the history of the era as presented by professional historians? How might these films shape popular understandings of the war? How might these films act as cultural artifacts offering insight into American political discourse at the time of their production? Assignments will include reading, discussion, and written reactions to the films. You will need no particular background in history, film, or cultural studies to learn from and enjoy this course.

    ENVIRONMENTAL DISASTERS AND DESIGN SOLUTIONS

    The goals of this course are threefold: (1) to explain how the natural world works, and how humans physically change and are changed by some of its processes, (2) To emphasize how society understands, evaluates and confronts the dangers posed by these natural processes and (3) To encourage students to view the unique sets of problems caused by flooding, earthquakes, tsunami, climate change and other earth functions as challenges demanding intelligent and creative solutions that they are equipped to deliver. Case studies of recent natural disasters and design solutions will be discussed, and students own creativity and concepts for potential design solutions will be employed. No prior science background is required.

    FEMINIST THEORY AND ACTIVISM

    Some complain that feminist theory is "too academic," that it has no ties to social justice or activism. On the other hand, there are those in the academy who accuse gender/women's studies of not being sufficiently academic, of not being intellectually rigorous. With those two stereotypes in mind, we will read a variety of feminist theorists, some generally thought of as "academic," and some generally seen as "activist." Can academic theory be useful to political and social activists? Can activism inform academic theorizing? With those questions in mind, we will look particularly at feminist theories and activism as they seek to counter, contextualize, and respond to war and other manifestations of violence; theories and activism around reproductive rights and justice; theories and activism addressing environmental justice and ecofeminism; and theories and activism around bodies and their relationships to the other issues we will examine. Throughout the course, we will keep in mind art's place within feminist theory and activism.

    FIELDS OF GLORY: SPORTS AS CULTURAL INFLUENCE

    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.

    HOW TO DO THINGS WITH ART

    Drawing on Searle's book Speech Acts and Ian Hacking's Social Construction of What?, this course will engage students, as a class, in the creative development of a theory of art acts.

    Our exploration will have three stages. First, we will consider the theory of speech acts and theories of social construction as models for doing such things with works of art, as expressing feelings, documenting facts, raising consciousness, or asking questions. Second, students will research and present for discussion and analysis chosen examples of art acts, making use of the RISD Museum as well as the internet and the RISD Library. And finally, each student will make a work whose presentation constitutes an art act. In this way, theory will inform interpretation and making; and interpretation and making will inform theory.

    INDIGENOUS KNOWLEDGE

    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.

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

    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.

    MINORITY POLITICAL BEHAVIOR

    This is a seminar for students interested in how minority group identity influences political behavior. While this course could be taught through the black/white binary, we will explore minority group identity broadly, covering race, ethnicity, immigrant status, religion, gender, and sexual orientation. We will focus on political relationships between several minority groups and their relationship to political participation, party affiliation, voting coalitions, and public opinion, in addition to other groups. Throughout American history, the United States passed laws to restrict the rights of racial and ethnic minorities to purposely keep them outside the political system. In recent years, there has been a growing trend by political parties and politicians to court minority voters and promote diversity. During this semester, we will take up this debate and explore the current state of racial and ethnic politics in the U.S.

    OPTICS & MAKING HOLOGRAMS

    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.

    RACE, CLASS AND GIRLHOOD

    This seminar provides an introduction to girlhood studies, both historically and theoretically, and positions girls at the center of contemporary popular culture analysis. In particular, this course examines the intersections of race, class, and gender in the construction of "girlhood" within the U.S. and transnationally. Through an analysis of film, novels, music, advertising, and other popular culture commodities, students in this course will gain an understanding of the politics of production and consumption and the diverging discourses around what it means to "be a girl." In this course, students will gain experience analyzing and writing about different forms of popular culture.

    RUSSIA: PAST AND PRESENT

    This course is designed to introduce students to the history and culture of Imperial Russia and the Soviet Union. The themes that will be developed in the course include: the historical process of imperial formation, transformation, and collapse; the spatial dimension in Russian imperial history; Islam in Russia; reform, modernization, and "westernization" in the Russian context; migration and human mobility; and political violence and revolution. The question of Russian "national" identity, both historically and today, will be an over-arching theme of this course. From a methodological perspective, therefore, the themes and topics addressed in this course are designed to help students contextualize contemporary economic, political, and social developments in the Russian Federation.
    This course is organized around assigned readings and in-class discussions designed to isolate and illuminate the various scholarly and disciplinary elements embedded in RISD's art and design curriculum. In combination with engaged reading of the assigned textbook for the course and the content provided through "mini-lectures", films, videos, and literary works will serve to extend the imaginary and visual dimensions of the course. The reading and discussion of historically-based works of literature within the context of Russian history as well as the viewing and discussion of a film on contemporary Russia will, therefore, help elucidate and humanize the various themes developed in the course.

    THE MEANING OF LIFE

    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.

    THE SOCIOLOGY OF BUSINESS, ORGANIZATION AND ENTREPRENEURSHIP

    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.

    Spring 2017

    ARTS OF AMERICAS AND PACIFIC

    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

    CONCEPTS IN MATHEMATICS

    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.

    DESIGN ANTHROPOLOGY

    This course explores the relationship between the fields of design and anthropology. Taking readings from both disciplines we will examine topics such as form, texture, scale, and color to fertilize disciplinary approaches. We will examine design processes and think through them ethnographically. Students will select design objects within Providence and redesign them based on class discussions and activities.
    Sophomore and above

    ENVIRONMENTAL PSYCHOLOGY

    This course offers an overview of the interdisciplinary field of environmental psychology. We will explore the dynamic relationships between people and places in order to understand how our behavior and cultural values shape our environment, and how in turn, our surroundings affect us. Using the lens of environments where we live, work and play, we will examine the everyday experience of different types of places including the home, institutional settings, public space, and play spaces. Attention will be placed upon social and spatial inequalities, local and global relations, and intersections of race, gender, sexual orientation, culture, and power. We will explore psychological questions of perception, place identity, culture, place attachment, cognition, and the meaning of spaces through readings, film, visual exercises, and environmental analysis.
    HPSS S101 is a prerequisite for undergraduates.

    GLOBAL ENVIRONMENTAL CHANGE

    Most scientists agree that humanity is changing Earth's environment and consuming natural resources at rates that are unsustainable. These changes are more problematic or immediate for some regions or socioeconomic groups than others. An understanding of the causes, magnitude, geography and time scales of environmental change prepares us to consider socially just and sustainable solutions, whether through design, analysis, communication, expression, or governance. This course will focus on perceptions of environmental change arising from the so-called natural sciences: ecology, evolutionary biology, geology, oceanography, climatology. Smaller portions of the course will consider environmental justice and the social consequences of histrionics in both climate activism and denialism. Course time will be divided between lectures and group discussions, the latter being motivated by readings, observational exercises, and local field trips. Scientific background is not required but critical thinking and participation are essential.

    GLOBAL ENVIRONMENTAL INEQUALITY, LOCAL ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE

    In this course we will explore the interdisciplinary subjects of global environmental justice, environmental racism, and other environmental inequalities. The primary goal of this course is for students to comprehend the multiplicity of critical issues, debates, and responses within global and local environmental justice. We will discuss and analyze environmental justice as a movement that involves marginalized communities in diverse ways in a globalized world. Using case studies, this course will consider examples of toxic distribution and exposure, accidents and disasters, regulatory failures, barriers to political participation, and the commodification of land and labor. The course will identify contemporary responses to environmental inequalities including grassroots local and international advocacy, climate justice, food justice, indigenous rights, ecofeminism, and Julian Agyeman's concept of "just sustainabilities." The class will travel to a unique brownfields and envrionmental justice restoration site on a Native American reservation in the Hudson Valley.

    INVESTIGATING THE BOTANICAL WORLD

    Plants shape much of the natural world around us. They influence climate and provide organisms with food, shelter and housing. This course is an introduction to studies of the 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 and outdoor class assignments, will focus on observation of plant morphology, adaptations to environmental conditions, as well as observation of plants as they transition out of dormancy. Students will learn to identify plants through recognition of morphological traits, as well as through the use of dichotomous keys. Documentation of observations, through the use of field journals, will reinforce the importance of scientific record-keeping.

    LEADERSHIP OF SOCIAL CHANGE

    Reflecting on historical and contemporary models of leadership, this course is designed to engage an active dialogue with the ways that collective social problems are both enabled and addressed by leaders. It also examines individual leadership potential by exploring how personal affinities can be focused and developed into effective strategies for solving problems, advancing ideas, and making change. Finally, it considers ethics, especially looking at the ways leadership can solve human problems. While primarily focused on public issues, this course will consider leadership in all economic spheres, and will look at the ways artists and designers practice leadership. In addition to reading, classroom discussion, and writing assignments, students will complete a community-based project in Providence.

    LIFESPAN DEVELOPMENT

    How are we the way we are, shaped by nature and nurture? In this course, we will survey human growth and development through the lifespan. We will explore biological, historical, and sociocultural influences on human development. We will examine physical, cognitive, and psychosocial aspects of development through the lens of developmental theories and empirical research. The knowledge gained through reflecting upon human growth and development will add to our awareness of our own and others' beliefs, expectations, and thinking.
    HPSS S101 is a prerequisite for undergraduates

    MIND AND LANGUAGE

    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.
    Sophomore and Above

    MYTH-MAKING/IMAGE-MAKING

    This course is designed to explore the relationship between sacred "texts" (including those that have been transmitted verbally for generations) and the images that are associated with them and/or inspired artists in their traditional contexts. We will look at the cultural context of sacred narratives in such communities as the Kwakwaka, the Hopi, the Maya and other Mexican communities, the Dogon, Australian traditional aboriginal groups, and other Pacific communities, time permitting. Topics will include sacred texts and landscape, sacred narratives and the notion of a person, sacred texts and contemporary arts, and other related topics. The course will require a final research project.
    Also offered as HAVC C504. Register in the course for which credit is desired.

    NCSS CORE SEMINAR

    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 Biometics, Ecological Economics, Environmental Health and Wonder as well as providing in depth 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.

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

    NCSS CORE SEMINAR

    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.

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

    NEW SONIC IDENTITIES

    New Sonic Identities investigates the work and identities of today's diverse artists working in experimental electronic dance music, ambient and noise cultures, and sound art. Readings from critical race and sexuality studies provide necessary framing for class discussions and creative projects. Course participants will be introduced to experimental approaches to various audio technologies. All majors, backgrounds, and levels of technical experience (including none) are encouraged and welcome.
    HPSS S101 is a prerequisite for undergraduates

    PROPAGANDA

    The course will examine ways that many media, especially film, respond to the great social forces of their time and their culture. Some films, and other creative expressions, reflect an inherent endorsement or criticism of the politics contemporary to them. We will examine social critics' roles in some of the influential movements of the West in the 20th century--the Russian Revolution, German Nazism, the New Deal, World War Two, the Cold War and Third World Liberation movements. Requirements include readings and screenings from each of the eras covered, written assignments and exams, and participation in class discussions. In addition to three hours of class each week, there will be evening film screenings.

    RHODE ISLAND AND THE RE-MEMORY OF SLAVERY

    This course provides an examination of the tangible and intangible intersections of the history of enslavement, trafficking, rebellion, power and the creation of race in America. Students will investigate primary source documents, oral histories, little known narratives, prints, sculptures and the local built environment for evidence of this nation's collective slave trading past. Along the way we will explore both the peculiar and the familiar in search of our own reflections in the lives of distant others.

    SEM: MATRIX OF WISDOM: PHILOSOPHY & SCI-FI

    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.

    SEM: MODERN BRITAIN

    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.

    SEM: WITNESS TREE PROJECT

    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.
    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

    STORIES OF TRANSFORMATION AND CHANGE

    Providence is a dynamic city, with a complex history and a wealth of individuals and community organizations working to make the city a better place to live and work. This course looks at Providence and its neighborhoods through the stories of people involved in making change happen. It is designed to introduce students to the dynamic of social change through the collection and presentation of oral histories. Students will identify an individual working on a project of interest to them and, through a series of oral history interviews, learn how they work to bring about change in complex economic, social, and cultural circumstance. The course will focus on learning about community engagement and development, recording and editing oral history interviews with key players involved in change, and developing a final project based on these interviews that can contribute to the work of the organization or change agent. It will involve the exploration of unfamiliar neighborhoods and issues, significant out of class work setting up and conducting oral history interviews, and close attention to the language people use to express themselves. This year the course will focus in particular on the stories of women change-makers.
    Sophomore and above
    Permission of instructor required

    THE MIDDLE EAST: PAST AND PRESENT

    This course surveys the history of the modern Middle East (1800-present) and is designed to help students contextualize and understand political, economic, and social developments in the contemporary Middle East. Composed of a mix of lectures and discussions, this course begins with a series of foundational lectures on important events and themes in Middle Eastern history prior to 1800 (such as the emergence of three monotheistic religions in the Middle East - Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and the rise, formation, and expansion of Islamic States in the early-modern period such as the Ottoman and Safavid/Persian Empires). Moving quickly into the modern period, this course focuses in equal measure on the Arab Middle East, Iran, and Turkey. The historical roots of the Arab-Israeli conflict are also addressed.
    Sophomore and above
    HPSS S101 is a prerequisite for undergraduates

    THE PSYCHOLOGY OF TIME

    This course is an introduction to the psychological concept of time. We will examine the psychology of time from a range of different viewpoints including history, religion, philosophy, physics, literature, visual art, music, and cinema. Throughout the class we will look at the way time interacts with our own subjective experience of reality. We will also explore the literary and artistic expressions of the mystery of time. This class is heavily discussion-based, so completion of the readings and participation during class is critical. Assignments are comprised of written reflections on the material as well as a final project.
    HPSS S101 is a prerequisite for undergraduates.

    TOPICS: HISTORY, PHILOSOPHY, & THE SOCIAL SCIENCES

    Topics in History, Philospohy, 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 the 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.

    For a list of Fall 2016 course descriptions for S101 Click here

    URBAN ECOLOGY: HOW WILDLIFE INTERACTS WITH URBANIZING LANDSCAPE

    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-not to mention the emergence of new diseases. 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, plant and pathogen), from diverse habitat types, and their ecological patterns and processes with regard to urbanization. We will also conduct 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.

    VISUAL PERCEPTION

    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.

    VISUALIZING THE NATURAL SCIENCES

    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.

    WOMEN IN THE INTERNATIONAL POLITCAL ECONOMY

    Women are an invisible empirical category in the study of international politics. In this course, we question the assumption that international politics should be gender neutral, deconstruct the role of gender in the field, and view their roles in transformative global change. Particularly, we place women at the center of international and domestic political and economic processes.