Fall 2021

  1. 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 understand global connections as we study the built environment, economies, and experience of cities such as Mumbai, Kunming, Sao Paolo, Bangkok, and Lagos. The course will explore the resonances between these cities and the kinds of challenges they face as they encounter rapid urban growth and renewal. We will ask: What do cities of the Global South tell us about urbanism and urbanization today? What formal and economic similarities do cities of the Global South exhibit? What forms of knowledge, activism, and contestation emerge from urban areas in the Global South? Like most courses in the History, Philosophy, and Social Sciences (HPSS) department, this course builds a critical understanding of diverse cultures of the world, raises ethical questions that arise as different groups interact, and develops an analysis of social situations in the world and highlights forms of power and inequity. Class texts will case study different cities and compare experience in cities in Latin America, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. Modules in the class will discuss planning and the built environment, commodities and capital, informality and body politics, infrastructure and energy, as well as think through theory from the Global South. This is a discussion-based seminar and active in-class participation is required of all students. Class activities will include mapping sessions, group work, and discussions on films. This course will be taught in a hybrid format. The balance of in person and online teaching will be determined by the instructor in order to optimize pedagogy (in response to changing distancing and safety regulations and the COVID-19 comfort and safety levels of members in the course). HPSS-S101 is a prerequisite for undergraduates.
  2. This course, taught by zoological medicine veterinarian Dr. Lucy Spelman examines how we interact with animals-both domestic and wild-and how, in turn, these interactions affect us. Each week we focus on a different species, working our way up the taxonomic tree from corals to gorillas. We study the animal's basic biology, including its anatomy, natural history, and ecology. We consider the role it plays in human society, including as companions, as food, and, as sources of medicine and spiritual inspiration. We study how human activity is affecting its health and the ripple effect on our own health. We explore how agriculture, climate change, emerging diseases, habitat loss, hunting, and trade are driving many species to extinction. In the process, we discover that while many human-animal interactions are positive, many more are problematic, and that although we have solutions for most of these negative interactions, we often fail to implement them. Examples include excessive antibiotic use in cows, the continued loss of wetlands threatening frogs, and, the increasing number of coyotes favored by urban landscapes. We explore some of the underlying reasons for this inaction. In their final project, students identify a problematic human-animal interaction and explore solutions. This course is designed to encourage you to explore the range of biological complexity in the animal world, the many ways we interact with animals, both domestic and wild, and, the scientific basis of the interconnectedness of health. You will also have the opportunity to explore solutions for problematic human-animal interactions; it is possible to live in balance with animals if we make informed decisions. The material presented will challenge you to learn more about animal classification, zoology, ecology, food animal science, veterinary medicine, public health, and conservation biology. For your final project, you will research a problematic human-animal interaction, explore potential solutions, and create a work of art or design that inspires others to take action
  3. This course exposes students to the key figures, texts and concepts that constitute Black Feminism. In this course we will establish a solid understanding of Black feminist thought and related theoretical concepts by exploring the lived experiences of Black women. We will develop a historical understanding of Black feminism and how it supports intersectionality. We will assess new "schools" of thought like hip-hop feminism and trace the influence of Black feminism in critical race theory and Women's Studies as a whole. HPSS-S101 is a prerequisite for undergraduates.
  4. The goal of the course is to explore how fundamental questions in philosophy, psychology, and medicine are currently being addressed by research in modern cognitive neuroscience. This course will examine the relationship between the brain and cognition by focusing on topics including perception, attention, memory, language, emotions, decision-making, mental representation, knowledge, and intelligence. Interactive participation will be encouraged as students investigate these topics by actively engaging in experimental design, debates, and demonstrations. Throughout the course, the future of cognitive neuroscience will be discussed including how developments in the field will influence society and the ethical implications of these advancements. HPSS-S101 is a prerequisite for undergraduates.
  5. A Collaborative Study Project (CSP) allows two students to work collaboratively to complete a faculty supervised project of independent study. Usually, a CSP is supervised by two faculty members, but with approval it may be supervised by one faculty member. Its purpose is to meet individual student needs by providing an alternative to regularly offered courses, though it is not a substitute for a course if that course is regularly offered.
  6. In this seminar (discussion-based), students will explore the field of critical race theory, paying particular attention to its origins within the study of the law and race, as well as its influence on other fields of inquiry, including ethnic studies, cultural studies, sociology, and education. Throughout the course students will develop an understanding of the intellectual history of critical race theory and develop facility with applying its principles to issues around structural racism, inequality, police brutality, and difference, among other topics. Students will write several short essays, give oral presentations, and complete a final project. This course will primarily meet in person. HPSS-S101 is a prerequisite for undergraduates.
  7. Developmental psychology provides an overview of human development throughout the lifespan. The goal of the course is to establish a basis for understanding the processes of developmental change through which humans progress. Physical, cognitive, and psychosocial aspects of human development are explored as well as the methods and philosophies that guide the associated research. Coursework consists of weekly readings with comprehension quizzes, lectures, small group discussions and a final project of student's choosing related to a developmental period. Students pursuing a career that will necessitate working with and being sensitive to people of various ages will find this course valuable. Prenatal development up to young adulthood will be covered in the spring 2021 semester. Middle adulthood to death will be covered in the Fall 2021 semester. HPSS-S101 is a prerequisite for undergraduates.
  8. 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.
  9. Proponents of environmental justice affirm that all people have the right to live in a clean environment free from hazardous pollution or contamination, with access to the resources necessary to sustain a healthy livelihood. This class will examine how and why some people are denied this basic right. We will ask what social, political, economic, and racial processes drive environmental injustice. What material and ideological approaches can be used to undo, repair, or prevent environmental injustice? To answer these questions we will explore how social movement advocates and scholars identify, analyze, and engage with environmental inequalities. We will focus on the rise of the Environmental Justice Movement in the U.S. and globally, paying particular attention to: climate justice, Indigenous environmental movements, settler colonialism, the Green New Deal, and local environmental justice issues in Providence, RI. This class will be held in a hybrid format that meets asynchronously one day a week, and live for the second class meeting of the week. HPSS-S101 is a prerequisite for undergraduates.
  10. 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.
  11. East Asia has the largest population and one of the most vital economies in the world today. While serving as an economic powerhouse, the region also faces persistent social, cultural, and political challenges. Many of those challenges, such as the tension on the Korean peninsula and across the Taiwan strait, could be traced to the earlier history. This course provides an introduction to the histories of East Asia over the last four centuries. It would examine significant events in the region's history, including the encounter with the West, colonialism and imperialism, the rise of nationalism and Communist revolution, decolonization, World War Two, and the impact of the Cold War. We will explore the historical forces behind the changes of East Asian politics, society and cultures. Furthermore, through analyzing the historical complexity of East Asian affairs, we hope to contribute to the fostering of a peaceful, rational, and dynamic mechanism in the region. HPSS-S101 is a prerequisite for undergraduates.
  12. The Independent Study Project (ISP) allows students to supplement the established curriculum by completing a faculty supervised project for credit in a specific area of interest. Its purpose is to meet individual student needs by providing an alternative to regularly offered courses. Permission of Instructor and GPA of 3.0 or higher is required. Register by completing the Independent Study Application available on the Registrar's website; the course is not available via web registration.
  13. 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).
  14. 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.
  15. The Independent Study Project (ISP) allows students to supplement the established curriculum by completing a faculty supervised project for credit in a specific area of interest. Its purpose is to meet individual student needs by providing an alternative to regularly offered courses. Register by completing the Independent Study Application available on the Registrar's website.
  16. The Independent Study Project (ISP) allows students to supplement the established curriculum by completing a faculty supervised project for credit in a specific area of interest. Its purpose is to meet individual student needs by providing an alternative to regularly offered courses. Permission of instructor and GPA of 3.0 or higher is required. Register by completing the Independent Study Application available on the Registrar's website; the course is not available via web registration.
  17. Leadership of Social Change is designed to help us better understand how social change happens while developing an understanding of our roles as agents of change. We live in an era of extreme crisis, confronted by global pandemic, climate change, systemic inequality, racism, and an economy that increasingly redefines human beings as human resources. It's an era that calls into question the systems and hierarchies that define public and private leadership - perhaps upending the models that have defined previous generations. David Foster Wallace wrote that "a real leader is somebody who can help us overcome the limitations of our own individual laziness and selfishness and weakness and fear and get us to do better things than we can get ourselves to do on our own." But is this true? Or does it reinforce the idea of leaders and followers in narrow ways? Or is charismatic inspiration something we require to move toward solutions? Reflecting on historical and contemporary models of social change - including government, public intellectuals and creators, community organizing, and activist networks - this course is designed to consider ways that social crises are both enabled and addressed by current models of leadership while also exploring models of distributive, collective action. While looking at leadership broadly, the course will also pay special attention to the ways that artists and designers bring unique perspectives to processes of social change. HPSS-S101 is a prerequisite for undergraduates.
  18. In the NCSS Core Seminar, students explore key issues in nature-culture-sustainability studies, developing an inter-disciplinary understanding of the need for integrative approaches to issues including mobility and infrastructure, environmental justice and equity, sustainable food and water systems and the very real present and future of climate change. Beginning with definitions of "nature" and natural systems, drawn from environmental literature and history, we will dig into questions of what we mean by "culture" and "sustainability". The vitality of the ecologic and social and built environment upon which we all depend will form the core of our investigations. How and where we live matters; in the present Anthropocene, questions of resiliency and adaptation take on ever greater urgency. We will study contemporary conditions with examples from across the globe, with an eye to understanding how innovation and creative practices in art and design impact future planetary health. This course lays the foundation for students pursuing the NCSS concentration. The seminar will include lectures and discussions of readings and case studies. Occasional guests will include scientists, designers and others engaged at the forefront of environmental activism and research. Students may ground their final course project in a topic connected to their own work, relating it to their major or another concentration, in addition to NCSS. Open to sophomores and juniors. Also offered as IDISC-2403; Register in the course for which credit is desired.
  19. How do goods/products get from producers to consumers? Global supply chains are involved in the global system of organizations, people, processes, and resources that transform raw materials into finished products. Additionally, these complex processes and networks are responsible for delivering finished products to consumers. 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 organizations, and non-governmental organizations involved in global supply chains. This course adopts the flipped classroom approach, requiring students to spend one class session a week working asynchronously and the second class session in in-person guided hands-on and group activities. HPSS-S101 is a prerequisite for undergraduates.
  20. The professional Internship provides valuable exposure to a professional setting, enabling students to better establish a career path and define practical aspirations. Internship proposals are carefully vetted to determine legitimacy and must meet the contact hour requirements listed in the RISD Course Announcement.
  21. Since Europeans began colonizing the Narragansett, Wampanoag, and Niantic land that would later become Rhode Island, race and racism became central to the development of the state. Indigenous people, Europeans, and people of African descent were thrown into constantly changing, often tumultuous, and at times intimate relationships with each other, as people of color worked to contest the white colonial regime which sought to expropriate Native land and African labor. This course traces the development of these contestations and relationships from Roger Williams's arrival through King Philip's War, the American Revolution, the abolitionist movement - centering the struggles by Narragansett communities for autonomy and integration and by Black Rhode Islanders for full and equal citizenship rights. We will consider articles written by historians, do close readings of primary documents, and learn the stories of Rhode Islanders of color in the state's first two and a half centuries of existence. In-class discussions will help us understand how and why racial ideas developed, how and why they were contested, how and why they helped create the Rhode Island of today, and how and why the push for equity and social justice should continue in the future. Students will be expected to complete three writing assignments (two papers and a final summation) designed to analyze how their perspectives have changed as a result of what they are learning. HPSS-S101 is a prerequisite for undergraduates.
  22. This course looks at reproductive outcomes for womb bearing persons through a social justice lens. In this course we will take a holistic approach and include physical and mental health options/choices along with systemic factors such as classism, racism, and sexism. We will discuss the human rights framework of reproductive justice and the nuances between reproductive health and reproductive rights. HPSS-S101 is a prerequisite for undergraduates.
  23. In this lecture (discussion-based) class, we will explore the field of sound studies and examine how race, ethnicity, and gender shape our understandings of what "sound" constitutes as a technology, cultural form, performance, political tool, and more. As an interdisciplinary course, students will cover material across a variety of fields, including history, American studies, music, and performance studies, as well as explore theoretical texts reflecting on sound and culture. In addition to regular writing throughout the semester, students will complete end of the term projects that demonstrate how "sound" impacts our culture in the contemporary moment. This hybrid course will blend in person instruction with online class meetings and assignments. HPSS-S101 is a prerequisite for undergraduates.
  24. Until the late 20th century, philosophical aesthetics was a field almost entirely focused on the fine arts. However, today many aestheticians are devoting much intellectual industry into questions regarding our sensory experiences of everyday life, our activities and world beyond the arts. This seminar will explore the genesis and debates regarding the nature of the aesthetic experience, purpose, and scope of Everyday Aesthetics. HPSS-S101 is a prerequisite for undergraduates.
  25. As Agenda Setting Theory states, "[t]he press may not be successful much of the time in telling people what to think, but it is stunningly successful in telling its readers what to think about." (Cohen, 1963). The press plays an important role in any democracy, and in the case of the United States, it also has a special place in public life, one guaranteed in the constitution by the first amendment. However, in recent times the media has contributed to a polarization of political attitudes by framing stories through an ideologically-driven lens. This has become evident in public opinion polls, and at the ballot box. This course will introduce students to the complex process through which politicians use media to get elected, stay in office, and achieve policy goals. Additionally, we will examine the role that the media plays as the fourth estate, by informing the citizenry on the issues that are crucial to government and the sociopolitical process. Through varied in-class exercises and case studies, students will learn to analyze and assess the trustworthiness and veracity of news outlets. HPSS-S101 is a prerequisite for undergraduates.
  26. This lecture and discussion course presents a history of modern natural and physical sciences from the 16th to 20th century, treating the development of modern physics, chemistry, geology, and biology. By looking at the history of science through the scientists and their ideas the course also examines the methodological, technological, and experimental systems that underpin the scientific fields, and led to the development of techniques still used today. The course also focuses on conflicts in scientific inquiry, the development of a culture of science, and the scientists over time. Examples of special topics include the development of the heliocentric planetary view, the quest for a theory of everything, the age of the earth and its distance from the sun, and how Darwinian evolution compares to 19th century evolutionary theories among others. The requirements for this class include a book review, a ten-page research paper and two tests. HPSS-S101 is a prerequisite for undergraduates.
  27. This course is meant to introduce and give students the space to explore, through discussions and reflective writing, the variety of social movements that have made up what historians call the "long Black freedom struggle," or the "Long Civil Rights Movement." We will conduct a broad survey of the multiple movements, the peaks and valleys, the people and places, the street battles and mass gatherings that have made up the broader push for equal civil rights in our country's history. We begin with the movement to abolish slavery, the first American social movement to visualize a democratic country we may recognize and strive for today, and a movement so massive that nearly every other movement in American history can trace its roots back to it. We then move into an analysis of the promises and downfall of Reconstruction, and the activism that continued and bridged the age of abolition with that of the more famous Civil Rights Movement of the mid-twentieth century. We finish with the heightened activism in the name of civil rights, which - as we were reminded of in the summer of 2020 - is still with us today. Readings will cover engaging aspects of the long Black freedom struggle, including accounts by historians, primary sources, and we will be reading the memoir of Anne Moody, a college student and civil rights activist during the height of the Civil Rights Movement. Students will be expected to complete three writing assignments (two short papers and a final summation) designed to analyze how their perspectives have changed as a result of what they are learning. HPSS-S101 is a prerequisite for undergraduates.
  28. 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.
  29. 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 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. Freshman registration: see PDF on the Registrar's Office website for instructors and course description information. Transfer students: register for one of the evening sections available to upperclass and transfer students.
  30. This class will provide an overview of models of dis/ability (e.g.: Moral/religious, Medical, Social, Critical theory and Bio-psychosocial). We will explore the schools of thought that these models developed from through theoretical and illustrative readings and movies. Throughout the class we will investigate how these models influenced thinking about dis/ability and the subsequent program and policies that developed from this thinking. A recurring theme of this class will be to understand the intersection of gender, dis/ability, race/ethnicity, and socioeconomic status. HPSS-S101 is a prerequisite for undergraduates.
  31. The field of Visual Anthropology has sustained necessary and formidable conceptual and paradigmatic changes over the last twenty-five years. The development of easily accessible technologies, the changed positioning of indigenous cultural communities, and the self- and reflexive representation by filmmakers have contributed, not only to an increase in global perspectives but also to dramatic alteration of genre classification. The differentiation between what is an ethnographic documentary and a fiction film, or the use of "real" images vs. animation in documentation techniques are re-inventing cinema globally. In this course, will look at the history of these visual "hybrids" and shifting perspectives by screening films from a number of filmmakers from around the globe. HPSS-S101 is a prerequisite for undergraduates.
  32. In this course we will examine the major psychological theories of color, form, depth, and motion perception. To this end, we will explore the nature of light and optics, the structure of the eye and visual pathways of the brain, and the sensory and cognitive processes which mediate visual perception. The roles of learning, memory, imagination, as well as social and cultural factors will be explored. There will be weekly class discussions of readings as well as individual presentations on various topics, some quizzes, a final paper and final class presentation.
  33. This course investigates the questions and answers posed by sources chosen across history, across the world, drawn from philosophy, world religions, and psychology regarding the nature of wisdom. Methodological frameworks from transcendentalism, existentialism, pragmatism, and recent cognitive psychology will frame these explorations. The course will involve lectures, discussions, and student presentations. It will require short papers, tests, and a final project with presentation. HPSS-S101 is a prerequisite for undergraduates.

Wintersession 2022

  1. This course is designed to introduce students to the study of physical objects. Class readings and discussions of them introduce students to the field of material culture studies and the interpretive tools used by those who study things. Periodically students will be assigned specific objects to study and describe. The class will be hands on and also mobile taking advantage of our location and the variety of object classes nearby. Course requirements will include object analysis papers, reading responses and a final presentation which offers some element of American History through things and the interpretation of it.
  2. This is a co-requisite course. Course is not available via web-registration. Students self-register for ILLUS-3912 or IDISC-3912: Art of Communicating Science via Student Planning. Registration for the co-requisite course, SCI-W912: Art of Communicating Science, is processed by the Registrar's Office. This 6-credit course fuses studio investigations and science topics in a studio/seminar model that is centered on the Sixth Mass Extinction and how biodiversity is changing because of human. Coursework invites undergraduate and graduate students to consider complex issues impacting the environment through lectures, readings, videos, visits to local sites (nature sanctuaries, watersheds, and the zoo) while improving their skills in recording observations through drawing. Methods of visualizing information synthesized from a variety of sources will be presented discussed and experimented with. Students will discover that science communication is more than delivering just the facts: it can be entertaining, surprising, and controversial. Each week we will focus on one of the major drivers of extinction today: Agriculture, Hunting/Fishing, Habitat Destruction (urbanization, pollution, resource extraction) and Climate Change. Examples will be presented from around the world as well as from New England. Students will spend substantial amounts of time drawing on location-not only to create visual records of experiences but also to sort through what is seen and felt. They will experiment with different ways of working in the field; (re)consider the use of photography; learn to synthesize multi-modal input .and explore mapping and other graphical means of communicating abstract ideas. Each will devise a personal approach to the goals and format of a field-journal. During classroom studios, students will practice analyzing and interpreting scientific information in order to both understand and present it visually. For their final project, students will research a topic in depth relevant to human impacts on biodiversity, and create original artwork designed to communicate the topic to the public. The Departments of Illustration (Deszo) and History, Philosophy, and Social Sciences (Spelman) teach this course collaboratively. Students must register for ILLUS-3912 or IDISC-3912 and SCI-3912 (HPSS). Classes are held Mon-Wed (9am-7pm) at variable windows. Students must be available during those times. This course fulfills Illustration Concepts for Illustration majors.
  3. Since Europeans began colonizing the Narragansett, Wampanoag, and Niantic land that would later become Rhode Island, race and racism became central to the development of the state. Indigenous people, Europeans, and people of African descent were thrown into constantly changing, often tumultuous, and at times intimate relationships with each other, as people of color worked to contest the white colonial regime which sought to expropriate Native land and African labor. This course traces the development of these contestations and relationships from Roger Williams's arrival through King Philip's War, the American Revolution, the abolitionist movement - centering the struggles by Narragansett communities for autonomy and integration and by Black Rhode Islanders for full and equal citizenship rights. We will be visiting and receiving visits from historical and racial justice organizations from around the state, including from the Tomaquag Museum (Narragansett), Stages of Freedom, and the Rhode Island Historical Society. Learning the stories of Rhode Islanders of color in the state's first two and a half centuries of existence helps us understand how and why racial ideas developed, how and why they were contested, how and why they helped create the Rhode Island of today, and how and why the push for equity and social justice should continue in the future.
  4. Most people have developed their perspectives on the Vietnam War primarily through the medium of film. We will examine works ranging from Hollywood blockbusters such as "Apocalypse Now" to Southeast Asian perspectives as in "First they Came for my Father" to the most recent contribution: "Da 5 Bloods." We will explore in particular the following questions: What is the relationship between the history presented in Vietnam War films and the history as presented by academic historians? How do the racial, gender, ethnic, and class positions of movie creators and consumers shape the product? How do the films portray American, South Vietnamese, North Vietnamese, Vietcong, and indigenous Southeast Asian people? How do these movies serve as cultural artifacts offering insight into political discourses at the time of their production? Assignments include reading, screening, discussion, a film journal, and a final project.
  5. For much of its history, feminism has revolved around and centered on the gendered body, whether in terms of the body contextualized within time, space, and culture; in terms of the mind and body as oppositional forces; in terms of health, reproduction, or representation; or in terms of the body as part of or outside "nature." This course will examine feminist relationships to the gendered body in terms of various social and historical locations, as well as in relationship to dis/ability, queerness, reproduction, and the "natural" and built environment.
  6. In this course we will explore how ethnic studies pushes us to reimagine what we define as American identity and its culture. We will focus on the ways in which cultural practice creates the social and political space to challenge conventional notions of Americanness, who represents this idea, and how it changes over time. We will also focus on the development of ethnic studies as a discipline to think about how knowledge is formed over time.
  7. 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.
  8. It was an American automobile maker who invented the assembly line. When that same automobile maker, Henry Ford, decided to pay his workers a five-dollar-a-day wage, he also invented America's middle class, by paying his workers enough for them to enter the ranks of the nation's consumers. Cars have come a long way since those first Model T's rolled off of Ford's assembly line. Through their ever-changing styles, from the streamlined interwar years to the tailfins of the postwar years, we can trace both the aesthetic evolution of American modernism and its connection to Cold War politics and ambivalence towards the Atomic Age. Cars became the centerpiece of American consumer culture, which meant that they also served as a lightning rod for anti-consumerist sentiment, cries for consumer protections, and assaults on corporate greed. For more than a century, the auto industry's need for petroleum and rubber has fueled American imperialism in Latin America, Asia, and the Middle East. More compact designs and an emphasis on fuel economy heralded an era of increased foreign competition. From coast to coast cars created a new cultural landscape, one filled with highways, suburbs, shopping malls, and roadside oddities. Throughout its long history, the car has been a shifting symbol of innovation, prosperity, and the American Dream; youth culture, rebellion, and sex; both liberation and oppression for women, people of color, and immigrants; and, more recently, environmental degradation, deindustrialization, the decline of labor unions, and America's struggle to compete in an increasingly globalized economy. Now, in the twenty-first century, the rise of Uber and ride-sharing, the advent of self-driving vehicles, a renewed emphasis on public transportation and walkability, and an entire generation that appears uninterested in driving, one cannot help but wonder whether we are witnessing the end of America's long love affair with car culture.
  9. How and why does fear motivate human action? In what ways do we try to address the effects of fear, both individually and collectively? How do things like morality and religion inform our solutions to the problem(s) of fear? To what extent do concepts such as virtue or ethics hold up in the face of fear? In this class we will use literature from the horror genre as well as excerpts from select philosophers, to address these questions. In addressing these questions, this course speaks to how both the horror genre specifically and literature more generally aid philosophy in its attempt to help us understand important aspects of the human experience.
  10. This mostly 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. This Wintersession seminar on optics has a section on understanding the physics that makes laser holograms and lasers work. Ideas from familiar phenomena help us see the connections between everyday life and the abstract ideas of optics and physics.
  11. By examining the role of European colonies and colonial soldiers in World War I, this course offers a corrective to the standard narrative that the Great War was primarily a conflict between (White) Europeans. In addition to the material resources that the Europeans plundered from the colonies to support the war effort, at least four million colonial subjects from Africa and Asia fought under European rule. This class addresses WWI as a global conflict, thinking about how understandings of "difference" such as race, ethnicity, gender, and religion were constructed through transnational encounters, and how those constructs figured in to ideologies of culture and civilization. Contributing to this discussion will be an examination of the Russian and Ottomon Empires, including the Armenian genocide; the American Infantry Division called the "Black Rattlers" comprised of African American and Puerto Rican soldiers; and the restructuring of the Middle East.
  12. 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. Permission of Instructor required. Course not available via web registration. This is a co-requisite course. Students must plan and register for FD-2451. Students will receive 3 studio credits and 3 liberal arts credits for a total of 6 credits.
  13. 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.
  14. This course focuses on how humans use energy and how our needs can be met using "green" methods. We will briefly cover the energy of the past (wood, coal, water, animal etc.), alternatives to this energy (nuclear, fuel cells, biofuel etc.) as well as the renewing of some old techniques (wind, water, solar etc.) The goals of this course are threefold: (1) To understand how and why humans currently use energy (2) To understand how traditional energy production has been used to satisfy these needs and how alternative energy addresses the same needs (3) To develop innovative alternatives to traditional energy production or uses. This course will include a final project design solution to an aspect of one of the energy issues touched on in class. Two field trips will be scheduled to view alternative energy in action. No prior science background is required.
  15. 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.
  16. When British artist Maggi Hambling is asked about the work she plans to make in the future, she often replies "I'm not a fortune teller. I don't know what's going to happen to me. Art comes from life!" The power of art and design comes from its ability to inform and advance human experience. The content of art and design comes from the ideas and experiences we encounter, and especially from our our ability to be present to and critical of what we witness. This course will look critically at contemporary social issues, including climate change, racial justice, and political participation, with an eye to better understanding what we encounter and as the prompt for new creative works. Together, we'll consider contemporary art and design that investigates critical social issues, the ethical considerations that inform such works, and the discourses in social science that deepen our understanding of the issues we encounter. Using writings from Ibram X. Kendi, Rutger Bregman, and Claudia Rankin (among others), we'll explore how assumptions about human culture are constructed and how artists and thinkers shift assumptions through creative problem-solving and the creation of new culture. Students will engage in weekly writing and interactive exercises as well as develop new creative works related to the course objectives. By the end of Winter Session, everyone will craft a creative statement that speaks to the particular content that currently shapes their creative practice.
  17. For much of the period of time we in the temperate regions of the northern hemisphere call winter, the trees around us appear lifeless. But are they? Dormancy in trees is a slowing of metabolic function, brought on and maintained by a combination of temperature and day length. Each species has a different response. The shortest day of the year marks a turning point for the plant world, as from that pivotal point day length steadily increases. So what are trees doing in January and February? In this class you will make daily observations and sketches of a single tree, from root to bud. Through daily observation and documentation you will really come to understand your tree and how its various parts function in all weather. On-line class lectures on biological function will inform your observations. In addition, samples of a variety of species will be brought inside to observe their responses to warmer temperatures. Each species' response will be documented through sketches and measurements of change in bud size, and emersion of leaf and/or flower. By observing the response of different species to increases in ambient temperature, we will become more informed about the implications of dramatic fluctuations in winter temperatures for trees in the future.

Spring 2022

  1. 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 understand global connections as we study the built environment, economies, and experience of cities such as Mumbai, Kunming, Sao Paolo, Bangkok, and Lagos. The course will explore the resonances between these cities and the kinds of challenges they face as they encounter rapid urban growth and renewal. We will ask: What do cities of the Global South tell us about urbanism and urbanization today? What formal and economic similarities do cities of the Global South exhibit? What forms of knowledge, activism, and contestation emerge from urban areas in the Global South? Like most courses in the History, Philosophy, and Social Sciences (HPSS) department, this course builds a critical understanding of diverse cultures of the world, raises ethical questions that arise as different groups interact, and develops an analysis of social situations in the world and highlights forms of power and inequity. Class texts will case study different cities and compare experience in cities in Latin America, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. Modules in the class will discuss planning and the built environment, commodities and capital, informality and body politics, infrastructure and energy, as well as think through theory from the Global South. This is a discussion-based seminar and active in-class participation is required of all students. Class activities will include mapping sessions, group work, and discussions on films. This course will be taught in a hybrid format. The balance of in person and online teaching will be determined by the instructor in order to optimize pedagogy (in response to changing distancing and safety regulations and the COVID-19 comfort and safety levels of members in the course). HPSS-S101 is a prerequisite for undergraduates.
  2. The health of the American economy and, at times, the strength of our spirit as a people are measured by how much we spend on consumer goods. Both individually and collectively, we are defined not only by what we purchase, but by the act of shopping itself. How did we become a nation of consumers? Why do we spend? What drives consumer demand? Already in the late 19th century, middle-class values were shifting from thrift to indulgence. At the time, however, we were still a producer nation and remained so for much of the 20th century. More recently, the decline of manufacturing in the United States and the outsourcing of production in an increasingly globalized context have done little to cool our love affair with consumer goods. Using an interdisciplinary American Studies approach that explores the intersections of history, material culture, gender and sexuality, race, immigration and ethnicity, and the built environment, this course examines the nature and expansion of mass consumption, the democratization of desire, types of consumer behaviors, the meanings attached to consumer goods and the act of spending, the role of technology and advertising, and the impact of mass consumption upon the built environment. Neither a singular consumer monoculture nor American exceptionalism is assumed, moreover. Different groups consume for different reasons and assign different meanings to the goods they purchase. We will investigate consumption patterns over time among women, African-Americans, immigrants and their descendants, sexual minorities, and youth. At the same time, studies of consumption within ethnic communities, in particular, suggest the creation of a transnational identity. As a result, we will also explore globalized consumer products and patterns. Finally, the course will look at the various kinds of controls to which American consumerism has been subjected. For example, regulation is a control; so are recession and war. Regulation controls the supply side, affecting what goods are available, while recession puts restraints on consumer spending. War achieves both. No less powerful are the internal restraints arising from movements ranging from organized boycotts to visions of simplicity that embrace a more conscious or environmentally friendly consumption in some instances and, in rarer instances, eschew consumption altogether. Fortunately for global manufacturers and American retailers alike, the Spartan practices of radical critics like "No Impact Man" have had limited appeal. HPSS-S101 is a prerequisite for undergraduates.
  3. This course examines the form and function of the vertebrate body using a comparative approach. We will study the following anatomical structures and how they work by comparing them across vertebrate animals: eye/vision, ear/hearing, nose/smell, throat/taste, teeth and jaws/chewing, heart/circulation, lung/oxygen exchange, intestinal tract/digestion, kidneys/protein and electrolyte balance, musculoskeletal system/locomotion, lymph tissue/immune system, reproductive tract/reproduction, and the brain and spinal cord/nervous system. Reference animals will include those for which anatomy is best-known, including humans, dogs, cats, horses, cows, chickens, bullfrogs, and salmon. Each session will begin with an examination of the structure of an anatomical region followed by an exploration of its function, including movements and processes in example species. For their final project, students will be encouraged to explore a highly developed or specialized form and its function, such how kangaroos jump, how octopuses see, and how giant pandas digest bamboo. Through this course, we will demystify and develop an appreciation for the wondrous complexity of the vertebrate body and its role in art and design. This is a lecture-style course that includes in-class discussion, research and activities. Course work includes weekly readings and written responses, a series of completed anatomical sketches, and a final project.
  4. 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.
  5. It is often assumed that once a country achieves a certain level of economic and political development, democratic consolidation is permanent. Recent trends in American politics and around the world combined with the devastating effects of the global pandemic, have led some commentators to question this assumption. In this course we will explore the causes and consequences of democratic erosion in comparative and historical perspective, with a focus on better understanding our own unique political moment. Importantly, this course is not intended as a partisan critique of any particular American politician or political party. Rather, it is designed to provide an opportunity for you to engage, critically and carefully, with the claims you have doubtlessly already heard about the state of democracy in the US and elsewhere; to evaluate whether those claims are valid; and, if they are, to consider strategies for mitigating the risk of democractic erosion here and abroad. This course approaches these questions through the lenses of history and political science. This course is a cross-university collaboration. Faculty at dozens of different institutions will teach elements from the same syllabus at roughly the same time. Students at all participating universities will collaborate on a number of assignments, and will be expected to engage not only with their own classmates, but with students at other universities as well. HPSS-S101 is a prerequisite for undergraduates.
  6. Developmental psychology provides an overview of human development throughout the lifespan. The goal of the course is to establish a basis for understanding the processes of developmental change through which humans progress. Physical, cognitive, and psychosocial aspects of human development are explored as well as the methods and philosophies that guide the associated research. Coursework consists of weekly readings with comprehension quizzes, lectures, small group discussions and a final project of student's choosing related to a developmental period. Students pursuing a career that will necessitate working with and being sensitive to people of various ages will find this course valuable. Prenatal development up to young adulthood will be covered in the spring 2021 semester. Middle adulthood to death will be covered in the fall 2021 semester. Open to sophomores and above. HPSS-S101 is a prerequisite for undergraduates.
  7. Value of art is a social phenomenon. It is not determined by one person. Instead it emerges as a result of social interactions between the artist and the buyer. The latter can be an individual, a private corporation, or a government organization. In this course, we will look at the interaction between artists and customers as they the negotiate value of objects of art. The course will treat both markets and bureaucracies as specific social institutions, each with its own well-established pattern of interaction. Concepts of scarcity, demand, rationality, and information are central to the market and will be studied in the course. As markets transform, fail and re-emerge, control over the valuation process shifts between three main groups: the artists, the middlemen, and the government. These power shifts will be at the focus of our inquiry. We will investigate how art was supported by politically powerful patrons, from Renaissance monarchs to modern government bureaucracies. We will investigate the changes in today's arts market, specifically the emergence of corporate structures, such as auction houses, which establish dominant market position by controlling the process of branding as the main tool of marketing of art. This benefits very few artists, while distorting the marketplace and increasing the power of intermediaries. We will suggest ways to allow artists greater control over determining value of their work. The course is taught remotely and, where possible, synchronously. Students are expected to write four short papers and take part in class discussion. There will be no final exam. HPSS-S101 is a prerequisite for undergraduates.
  8. Popular narratives about climate change, environmental conservation, and socially just transitions to low carbon futures make frequent reference to fundamental ecosystem concepts such as stability, tipping points, biodiversity, and sustainability. This course explores these concepts and their dependence on ideas about the dynamic behavior of ecosystems, including material cycling, energy flow, equilibrium/disequilibrium, self-organization, and adaptation. Although these ideas are often the subject of advanced ecological and systems research, this course aims for introductory level understanding through analogies with familiar events, case studies of real systems, and simple computer simulation exercises. Students will develop skills needed for critically evaluating the material and energy consequences of design, city planning, industrial life cycles, alternative energies, transportation, and food production. Open to sophomores and above.
  9. For centuries, societies with powerful governments have developed sophisticated (for their times) communication networks which allowed them to control information, thereby enabling an elite class to retain authority and deny their enemies and the less powerful any equivalent means to challenge their rule. Subsequent advances in technology, notably the printing press, allowed more voices to be heard and made elite control of information more difficult. These advances also witnessed the dramatic rise of a powerful new source of information - newspapers, the press - great in number and diverse in opinion. Professional journalists generally strove to provide accurate, corroborated accounts of events, often exposing oppressive practices that sustained those societies, thus gaining them a reputation for reliability. Although the 20th century technologies of radio and television reached even more people, broadcast media were controlled in repressive societies by the government and in more democratic societies by corporations. The advent of the internet promised more avenues of expression for the neglected and oppressed, without the rigid filter of corporate control. It promised a way for unheard voices and information to find a wider audience and to expand the control of information more widely than ever before. Yet the internet simultaneously opened avenues of expression for a less centralized, more insidious manipulation of information. Professional journalistic principles - a desire for accuracy, corroborated accounts, ethical standards - were often no longer required or expected. False and invented information, conspiracy theories and "alternative facts" now claim the same authenticity as corroborated facts. Modern information technology has attracted a new breed of powerful corporations which exert control over the digital gathering and dissemination of information. Content is less restricted while editorial control is both more difficult and less effective. In this course, students will study the history of information, its dissemination and control. Each student will research and report on a current issue, event or story, charting its coverage in government statements, establishment press, and social media, with the aim of identifying and analyzing sources and their motivations. The course will involve reading & film viewing assignments, individual online research with regular oral updates, written assignments, and a final comprehensive analytical report. Consistent active participation in online class discussions is absolutely essential. HPSS-S101 is a prerequisite for undergraduates.
  10. Cape Town, South Africa is predicted to be the first major city to run out of water. Day Zero, when the taps will run dry, is expected in Spring 2018. How did we get here, and how do we fix it? Learn the science behind the planet's water and how humanity interacts with it. We will examine the causes and results of drought, salt-water contamination of wells and streams, shrinking aquifers and more. The goals of this course are threefold: (1) To clarify how water works in earth's systems (2) To outline how humans interact and leave their mark on every step of these cycles and (3) To encourage students to understand these water issues as challenges in need of the intelligent and creative solutions that they are equipped to deliver. No prior science background is required. Open to sophomore and above.
  11. This course will address the dynamics, history, and context of gender-based privilege and intersectional oppression in US culture. We will accomplish this interdisciplinarily through academic text, video, pop-cultural analysis, and personal experiences. Potential topics include: feminist activism, systems of privilege and oppression, learning gender, the body, family dynamics, work, gender-based violence, sex and intimacy, health and reproductive justice, the law, religion, and more. In a cisheteronormative culture, we acknowledge that while the gender binary is not real, its impact is very real. As such, we will analyze the ways the binary affects us all as we grow from children in adulthood, and the realities of living outside of it. HPSS-S101 is a prerequisite for undergraduates.
  12. This course examines the evolution of influential political concepts and theories from ancient cultures to the present day, by those writing in/from/to the West. Through textual analysis, students will explore the historical and contemporary understandings of key terms such as authority, legitimacy, liberty, republicanism, democracy, revolution and "the good." Through an application of political theory methods of analysis and critique, we will also address the manner and extent to which these ideas are relevant today. HPSS-S101 is a prerequisite for undergraduates.
  13. Leadership of Social Change is designed to help us better understand how social change happens while developing an understanding of our roles as agents of change. We live in an era of extreme crisis, confronted by global pandemic, climate change, systemic inequality, racism, and an economy that increasingly redefines human beings as human resources. It's an era that calls into question the systems and hierarchies that define public and private leadership - perhaps upending the models that have defined previous generations. David Foster Wallace wrote that "a real leader is somebody who can help us overcome the limitations of our own individual laziness and selfishness and weakness and fear and get us to do better things than we can get ourselves to do on our own." But is this true? Or does it reinforce the idea of leaders and followers in narrow ways? Or is charismatic inspiration something we require to move toward solutions? Reflecting on historical and contemporary models of social change - including government, public intellectuals and creators, community organizing, and activist networks - this course is designed to consider ways that social crises are both enabled and addressed by current models of leadership while also exploring models of distributive, collective action. While looking at leadership broadly, the course will also pay special attention to the ways that artists and designers bring unique perspectives to processes of social change. HPSS-S101 is a prerequisite for undergraduates.
  14. This course introduces theoretical concepts that have influenced our understanding of media and modern culture. Our aim will be to interrogate the relationship between representation and modernity, exploring how various media structure perceptions of ourselves and the world around us. Students will read a collection of texts from various critical traditions including semiotics, structuralism, post-structuralism, psychoanalysis, social theory, feminism, queer studies, post-modernism, critical race studies, and post-colonial theory. HPSS-S101 is a prerequisite for undergraduates.
  15. Multicultural Psychology is more than just understanding and appreciating diversity, it's about the influence that a multicultural world has on individuals and social systems that exist within it. Together we will explore the social constructs of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, class, and ability through readings, videos, in-class activities, and class discussion. Informed by psychological theory and research, we will examine the impact that these labels have on a person's identity development, societal positioning, and mental and physical health and well-being. By the end of the class, students will be able to explain the advantages and challenges that individuals and societies face as we become more interconnected in a diverse world. HPSS-S101 is a prerequisite for undergraduates.
  16. In the NCSS Core Seminar, students explore key issues in nature-culture-sustainability studies, developing an inter-disciplinary understanding of the need for integrative approaches to issues including mobility and infrastructure, environmental justice and equity, sustainable food and water systems and the very real present and future of climate change. Beginning with definitions of "nature" and natural systems, drawn from environmental literature and history, we will dig into questions of what we mean by "culture" and "sustainability". The vitality of the ecologic and social and built environment upon which we all depend will form the core of our investigations. How and where we live matters; in the present Anthropocene, questions of resiliency and adaptation take on ever greater urgency. We will study contemporary conditions with examples from across the globe, with an eye to understanding how innovation and creative practices in art and design impact future planetary health. This course lays the foundation for students pursuing the NCSS concentration. The seminar will include lectures and discussions of readings and case studies. Occasional guests will include scientists, designers and others engaged at the forefront of environmental activism and research. Students may ground their final course project in a topic connected to their own work, relating it to their major or another concentration, in addition to NCSS. Open to sophomores and juniors. Also offered as IDISC-2403; Register in the course for which credit is desired.
  17. 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. Open to sophomore and above. HPSS-S101 is a prerequisite for undergraduates. Also offered as ARCH-1519; Register in the course for which credit is desired.
  18. 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-S101 is a prerequisite for undergraduates.
  19. Richly varied and dynamic, the New England landscape has been remade many times over, beginning with the arrival of European colonists, through successive waves of deforestation and reforestation, industrialization, the development of leisure and tourism, and today's post-industrial economy. This course explores the different elements of New England's cultural landscape as well as the complex social, cultural, economic, political, and natural forces that have shaped that landscape over four centuries. While examining what different places look like and how they have changed over time, we will pay close attention to the various meanings assigned to them by those who possess and inhabit them. We will also ask what different landscapes can tell us about who holds power, and how power is expressed and resisted. We look at the built environment because it is a valuable primary source in the work of cultural historians, but also because "place" is in itself an important player worthy of exploration and understanding in its own right. We shape places, but they also shape us. By observing and analyzing cities and suburbs, farms and forests, beaches and burial grounds, mansions and mills, townhouses and triple-deckers, colleges and casinos, parks and ports, ski slopes and shipyards, tourist destinations and transit systems, we will attempt to mine the landscape for insights into what makes New England distinctive and what forms our regional identity, keeping in mind the ways in which New England's cultural landscape is also a reflection of the landscape of the United States. Finally, we will consider the ways in which the New England landscape continues to be shaped by new forces, both local and global, as well as an increasingly volatile climate. HPSS-S101 is a prerequisite for undergraduates.
  20. When British artist Maggi Hambling is asked about the work she plans to make in the future, she often replies "I'm not a fortune teller. I don't know what's going to happen to me. Art comes from life!" The power of art and design comes from its ability to inform and advance human experience. The content of art and design comes from the ideas and experiences we encounter, and especially from our our ability to be present to and critical of what we witness. This course will look critically at contemporary social issues, including climate change, racial justice, and political participation, with an eye to better understanding what we encounter and as the prompt for new creative works. Together, we'll consider contemporary art and design that investigates critical social issues, the ethical considerations that inform such works, and the discourses in social science that deepen our understanding of the issues we encounter. Using writings from Ibram X. Kendi, Rutger Bregman, and Claudia Rankin (among others), we'll explore how assumptions about human culture are constructed and how artists and thinkers shift assumptions through creative problem-solving and the creation of new culture. Students will engage in weekly writing and interactive exercises as well as develop new creative works related to the course objectives. By the end of Winter Session, everyone will craft a creative statement that speaks to the particular content that currently shapes their creative practice.
  21. 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 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. Freshman registration: see PDF on the Registrar's Office website for instructors and course description information. Transfer students: register for one of the evening sections available to upperclass and transfer students.
  22. 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.
  23. This course is designed to acquaint students with some of the basic methods and tools that are part of the discipline of ethnography, and learn to feel comfortable in settings that might be unfamiliar to them. Apart from using the technology available to anthropologists and ethnographers, such as cameras and audio recording equipment, many ethnographers find themselves engaged in "fieldwork" in communities where their very presence is questioned, and the use of equipment such as cameras/cell phones is unacceptable or logistically difficult. In such circumstances, ethnographers turn to tools that are easily available, learn to respect cultural norms, allow for the sharing of viewpoints, and work through the ethical considerations of our discipline. Artists and designers might find equally challenging contexts in cultural settings in which they wish to engage in dialogue with in a more participatory manner. We will explore some of these basic "fieldwork" tools, concepts, ethics, cultural and contextual considerations, interviewing skills, the use of sketching and other ways of learning about new settings. HPSS-S101 is a prerequisite for undergraduates.