Fall 2018

  1. (Hi)stories Of Repair

    Focusing on stories of repair in its many manifestations, his course examines the concept of "repair" from as many angles as we can develop. Why do people repair things? What gets repaired and what doesn't? What does it mean to say something is "beyond repair"? What is the particular value of a repaired thing, and how is it different from the value of something that has never been broken?

    Taking advantage of a year-long exhibition at the RISD Museum called "Repair and Design Futures", the course will combine instruction in the process of collecting oral histories, with a topical focus on stories of repair. We will explore traditions of repair, habits of repair, processes of repair, the aesthetics and poetics of repair, as well as places and cultures of repair, through the stories people tell about these processes. Students will examine practices of repair on many levels, moving from the concrete and material to the ecological, the ethical, and the metaphorical. In all cases, repair will be examined "as an active process of remembering - an ongoing acknowledgment of use, abuse, accident and/or error - that insists on not forgetting the thing and its history" (Kate Irvin, Costume and Textiles Curator, RISD Museum). In other words, we will be exploring, collecting and finding compelling ways to present (hi)stories of repair.
    HPSS-S101 is a prerequisite for undergraduates.

  2. Aesthetic Challenges

    To philosophize about the beauty and aesthetic engagement with art and beyond is to face a landscape of conflicting theories about the nature and experience of beauty and art as well what its role should be in our lives. There has never been a time when these issues have been settled, but it feels like our time is the most challenging. This course invites you into the debates within philosophical aesthetics as they have been waged over the nature of aesthetic experience and appreciation, pleasure, beauty, as they bear on questions of art, and appreciation of nature, and everyday objects. The course involves focused discussion and writing on the readings and engagement with particular works in various media, historical and contemporary.

    HPSS-S101 is a prerequisite for undergraduates.

  3. 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.

    HPSS-S101 is a prerequisite if the student desires HPSS credit.

  4. 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.

    HPSS-S101 is a prerequisite if the student desires HPSS credit.

  5. Archaeology Of The Western Mind

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

    HPSS-S101 is a prerequisite if the student desires HPSS credit.

  6. Art Of Communicating Science

    This 6-credit course invites undergraduate and graduate students to improve their skills in communicating and illustrating science. They also discover that science communication is about more than delivering just the facts. It can be entertaining, surprising, and controversial. The general topic is changing biodiversity: how humans impact plants, animals, and their environment. Examples will be presented from around the world. Through a series of exercises students will practice analyzing and interpreting scientific information in order to both understand and present it visually. The science content will be delivered through lectures, readings, videos, and a visit 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, meaningful, visible, and accessible. 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 different audiences and venues, including general interest or editorial publications, art for public spaces such as galleries, educational and peer-to-peer science materials. Class work includes weekly reading and response questions, in-studio exercises, weekly assignments, three completed artworks, and a comprehensive final project, which includes a written paper and a public engagement piece.

    The Departments of Illustration and History, Philosophy, and Social Sciences will teach the course collaboratively.

    Also offered as ILLUS-3912 or IDISC-3912; Register in the course for which credit is desired.

    Students must plan and register for both SCI-3912 and ILLUS-3912 or IDISC-3912 and will receive 3 studio credits and 3 liberal arts elective credits.

  7. Arts Of The First Nations Of The Americas

    This course is designed to acquaint students with a variety of non-Western traditional aesthetic expressions from the Americas. The course will explore the indigenous contexts, both historical and contemporary, in which these art forms are or were created and function. We will explore the cultural matrix and aesthetics of selected communities from the Americas, particularly from North America, such as the Inuit, the Kwakwaka, the Plains nations, the Eastern sea board, the Southwest of the US, such as the Hopi and Navajo, and Northern Mexico communities, time permitting. We will frame the presentations and discussions from both an ethnographic and an art historical perspective.

    Also offered as HVAC-C517; register in the course for which credit is desired.

    HPSS-S101 is a prerequisite if the student desires HPSS credit.

  8. Brown Dual-degree Course

  9. Brown University Course

  10. 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.

    HPSS-S101 is a prerequisite for undergraduates.

  11. Climate Futures and A Sociology Of The Just Transition

    We have to change. In this course students will learn how to critical interrogate, probe and appraise the diverse visions of the sustainable transition that are now being conceptualized and, in part, implemented in the global North and South. We will draw from emerging discussions of the sustainable transition occurring in environmental sociology, political ecology, critical design studies and energy/technology studies concerned (variously) with ecological modernization, "green growth", degrowth and "the green new deal." We will sociologically evaluate the contributions that organized labor, women, indigenous people, and diverse peoples of color have made to imagining the "just sustainable transition", "redirective practices", plenitude, and buen vivir. We will look at how transition talk is transforming ecology, design and the arts. Finally, students will be encouraged to consider how their own creative and critical practice might generate new reconstructive fusions between environmental sociology and art/design and film that might move us beyond our current impasse and towards a more hopeful vision of our planetary futures.

    HPSS-S101 is a prerequisite for undergraduates.

  12. Collaborative Study

    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.

    Permission of Instructor Required and GPA of 3.0 or higher

    Register by completing the Collaborative Study Registration Form available on the Registrar's website.

  13. Design Geographies

    Technological change is often considered to be neutral, objective or merely to provide useful solutions to problems. However geographic perspectives on design explore the ways technologies are always situated in place, as well as linked to other places. We will investigate how geographic concepts such as place, scale, difference, representation, power and nature might inform the politics of design. We will examine the contributions human geography makes to understanding the ongoing and dramatic changes occurring in the collision of history, place, design, society and nature. There will be opportunities to reflect on the extent to which processes of technological change and design might be rendered more accountable, sustainable and reflexive. And in turn, to consider how all of this might impact your own understandings of art and design praxis.

    Open to sophomore and above.

    HPSS-S101 is a prerequisite for undergraduates.

  14. Election 2018: 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.

    HPSS-S101 is a prerequisite for undergraduates.

  15. 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.

  16. Geographies Of Social Differences and Justice

    This seminar provides an introduction to contemporary geographic thought about social difference and justice, with a focus on urban environments. Cities are often presented as sites of diversity, choice, and opportunities. But possibilities are not equally available to all. We will foreground geographic understandings of the intersections of social difference, power, nature and space. We will consider who benefits and who loses from particular socio-spatial arrangements; study how social and spatial difference shape one another (for example, through racial and ethnic segregation); and investigate grassroots struggles for justice and claims for a right to the city. The seminar offers students concepts and opportunities to see urban environments, and their place within them, in new ways.

    HPSS-S101 is a prerequisite for undergraduates.

  17. 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.

    HPSS-S101 is a prerequisite for undergraduates.

  18. HPSS Independent Study

    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.

  19. Hpss: Outgoing Exchange Pgm

    This course registers an outgoing exchange student into a pre-approved HPSS course which is taken at the exchange school. Successful completion of the course will result in a "T" grade once receipt of the official transcript from the partner school has arrived at Registrar's Office.

  20. ISP Major

    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.

  21. International Human Rights and Law

    This course explores the development of international human rights norms and international human rights treaties. We explore the origins of human rights as an issue in world politics and examine competing theoretical predictions of the legitimacy and effectiveness of international human rights law. Relying on a body of empirical work in political science, we explore factors that explain the provision and protection of key human rights, seeking to understand the gap between the promises of international human rights law and actual state behavior.

    HPSS-S101 is a prerequisite for undergraduates.

  22. 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).

  23. 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.

  24. LAEL Independent Study

    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.

  25. NCSS Core Seminar

    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 sophomore and junior students

    Permission of Instructor required. Course not available via web registration.

    Also offered as LAEL-2403; Register in the course for which credit is desired.

  26. Neuroethics

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

    HPSS-S101 is a prerequisite for undergraduates.

  27. Political Economy Of Global Supply Chains

    How do design objects, transformed into good/products in the production process, get from producers to consumers? In this course, we examine the global supply chains involved in the global system of organizations, people, processes, and resources that transform raw materials into finished products. 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.

    HPSS-S101 is a prerequisite for undergraduates.

  28. Positive Psychology: The Science Of Attaining A Better Life

    In the late 1990's and early 2000's research psychologists began the field of positive psychology to combat two trends: 1) a large and growing body of faux scientific self-help literature that was not based on empirical science, and 2) a historical legacy of the field of psychology almost exclusively focusing on the function and operation of negative emotions (fear, anxiety, depression, anger, etc.). Positive psychology focuses squarely on positive emotions (e.g., happiness, gratitude, love, awe) as well as experiences like forgiveness, resilience, and flow that improve our psychological well-being. With a focus on human strengths and virtues, the difference between that which we think will make us happy compared to what will actually improve happiness, the ways in which we can improve our satisfaction with relationships, and meaningful cognitive and behavioral changes that can have a big impact on one's psychological well-being, this class will review research on how to achieve a more satisfying life. Although this is not a "self-help" or "self-care" course, by reviewing the scientific literature and assigning exercises for personal practice this course will offer meaningful experiences for self-reflection and insight into how techniques can be applied to one's own daily life.

    HPSS-S101 is a prerequisite if the student desires HPSS credit.

  29. Professional Internship

    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.

  30. Research Seminar

    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 junior, senior, fifth-year, and graduate students.

    Permission of Instructor required. Course not available via web registration. HPSS-S101 is a prerequisite for undergraduates.

  31. 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.

    HPSS-S101 is a prerequisite for undergraduates.

  32. 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.

    Open to sophomore and above

    HPSS-S101 is a prerequisite for undergraduates.

  33. The Fourth Estate: Mass Media Politics

    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.

  34. 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.

    Open to sophomore and above.

    HPSS-S101 is a prerequisite for undergraduates.

  35. 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.

  36. Topics: History, Philosophy, & The Social Sciences

    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.

    For a list of Spring 2018 course descriptions for S101 Click here

    Freshman registration instructors and course descriptions can be found on the Registrar website.

  37. Tradition and Changes: Modern East Asia 1800 To Present

    This lecture course covers East Asian in the modern age. Its focus is on the interdependent, yet culturally distinct, histories of China, Korea, and Japan. Broadly speaking, the period from 1800 until the present has been marked by East Asia's steep decline and equally sharp rise. We will trace the many twists and turns of this path, learning how the region struggled to survive foreign incursions and severe domestic rebellions, as well as bouts of ideological extremism and intense cultural critique, to emerge where it is today. Questions that we will ask include: What constitutes "East Asia"? What does it mean to be "modern"? And what relationship should East Asian nations pursue with each other and with the rest of the world? By the end of the course, students will possess a better understanding of East Asian history at both the elite and the popular level. They will also have empathy for the viewpoints of people who sought to defend and improve their fortunes in tumultuous times.

    HPSS-S101 is a prerequisite if the student desires HPSS credit.

Wintersession 2019

  1. 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?

  2. Botany In The Kitchen

    While we eat foods from over 60 different plant families, we rarely stop to consider how any of those plants might be related from an evolutionary standpoint, or why we might eat one species of the family (say the potato), but not another (the deadly nightshade). This course will look at the context in which the plants we eat exist among the hundreds of thousands of plants on this planet. Organized around the human culinary uses of plants, the class will explore the evolutionary relationships between foods, and discover what it is, that links them together. We will examine the parts of plants humans consume, and in so doing discover how taste and nutritional value found in leaves, seeds, and roots, is linked to nutrition and protection for plants themselves. The seminar will culminate with a botanical feast, created by the class and featuring unique dishes created from taxonomically related groups of plants.

  3. China In Film: Contested Pasts, Uncertain Futures

    From the very first "electric shadow plays" that were shown in Shanghai teahouses in the 1890s, to the domestic 3D blockbusters that gross billions of RMB today, Chinese films have engaged complicated issues of national and cultural identity. Cinematic depictions of China as a land of timeless splendor, an arena fraught with political intrigue, or a probable yet dystopian future all include value judgments about greater "China" and its relation with the world. This interdisciplinary class presents cinema as a historical genre that probes competing narratives of Chinese pasts, presents, and futures. We will engage independent and commercial films from Mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, and situate these works within the historical contexts in which they were made. How does film's status as an affect-driven medium - and its need for financial backing - shape the kinds of stories to be told? And what will be the fate of Chinese film as it transitions from a domestic to an international genre? By the end of the class, students will have familiarity with representative works of Chinese cinema, as well as a better understanding of Chinese history. More importantly, they will realize that "China," like film itself, is perpetually in flux.

  4. 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.

  5. Embodying Feminisms/feminist Embodiments

    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. Interpreting Narragansett Bay Socioecology

    In this class we will take a kaleidoscopic view of Narragansett Bay's socioecology. Specifically, we will read literature relating to cultural, social, historical, and ecological aspects of the bay and watershed. We will dedicate a third of our time to reading and discussing the literature, a third on experiential and observational activities, and a third on reflecting on what we have observed. The aim of the course is to instill a fascination relating to Narragansett Bay, and to reflect on the relationship between people and the bay.

  7. 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.

  8. Musical Theatre As Social Commentary

    This course will examine the ways in which musical theatre from ancient Greece to the 21st century has addressed issues of contemporary social significance. We will consider the political and cultural landscapes of 5th century BCE Athens, 19th century England, and 20th century United States. Students will read and discuss works from each period within its surrounding social context. In addition to dramatic texts, readings will include historical surveys of musical theatre and of the three periods. Students will be expected to produce two 3 to 5 page essays synthesizing the social issue about which a playwright/composer wrote with the resulting dramatic work; a mid-semester exam and a final project. Class meetings will include lecture, discussion and presentations. There will be a two-day field trip to New York to see musical plays and meet with theatre professionals. Lab fee covers theatre tickets, travel to and accommodation in New York.

    Open to sophomore and above.

  9. 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.

  10. Politics Of Harry Potter

    The Harry Potter series is a worldwide phenomenon. Although dismissed by some as simply books for children, the series grapples with real and difficult political and ethical questions. In particular, the author addresses different aspects of racism and its effect on all parts of society, from the treatment of house-elves and goblins, the way some creatures (like werewolves) are ostracized by society, to the ever-present tension between pure-blood wizards and muggle-borns. In this course, with the assistance of philosophers such as Hannah Arendt and Niccolo Machiavelli, we will address these topics through lens of political philosophy to determine what the series can teach us about the nature and purpose of politics and power.

  11. Race, Class and Girlhood

    This seminar provides an introduction to girlhood studies, both historically and theoretically, and positions girls at the center of popular culture analysis. In particular, this course examines the intersections of race, class, and gender in the construction of "girlhood" within the U.S. Through an analysis of different forms of popular culture, 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."

  12. 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.

  13. The City In Film

    Pairing a range of films with essential readings in urban studies and geography, in this class we will investigate how cities and films inform one another. We will examine social and historical contexts for the development of representations of urban space through film. We will consider not just geographies represented within films, but also how cultures and economies of film-going, film production, and film industries inform urban environments - and vice versa. The course provides an introduction to human geography, urban studies and theories of urban development through key geographic concepts such as space, place, power, difference, and nature, as well as debates about contemporary urban politics. We will also consider the dynamics of socio-environmental world-making embedded within film visions of urban greening, postcarbon energy technologies, and postcapitalist alternatives.

  14. 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.

  15. Water Pollution and Design Solutions

    Lead in city water, the Dead Zone in the Gulf, Mercury in fish, PCB's, PAH's, BPA and more. In this class, we will examine a variety of types of water pollution - how pollutants get into the water, what they do there and how they have been traditionally treated/removed. We will examine emerging techniques for finding and mitigating water pollution, and brainstorm design solutions of our own. We will review case studies, visit water treatment and sewage treatment plants as well as other possibly interesting sites. No prior science background is required.

  16. You Must Be Joking! The Philosophy Of Laughter

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

Spring 2019

  1. American History Through Things

    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.

    HPSS-S101 is a prerequisite for undergraduates.

  2. 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.

    HPSS-S101 is a prerequisite if the student desires HPSS credit.

  3. 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.

    HPSS-S101 is a prerequisite if the student desires HPSS credit.

  4. Buying The American Dream: American Consumer Culture

    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 if the student desires HPSS credit.

  5. Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy: Form and Function

    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.

  6. 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.

  7. Controversial Issues In Abnormal Psychology

    In this course we will examine a number of controversies over various scientific, clinical, and social practices concerning mental illness. Topics include: classification and diagnosis (e.g, Is mental illness a myth?, Can mental health professionals distinguish normality from abnormality?, Is psychiatric classification useful?, Is there a gender bias in psychiatric classification?), the character of specific psychiatric conditions (e.g., alcoholism, depression, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), treatment issues (e.g., the psychotropic medication of young children, electroconvulsive therapy, suicide prevention), and social issues (e.g., the insanity defense, involuntary commitment, the duty to warn.)

    HPSS-S101 is a prerequisite for undergraduates.

  8. Economics Of Art & Design: How Artists and Designers Define Value Of Art

    Value of any commodity is not fixed by one person or even organization. Once it enters the marketplace, a commodity is being evaluated in the process of interaction between the seller and the buyer. In this course, we will look at the interaction between artists and customers as they the negotiate value of objects of art. The latter, of course, are not an ordinary commodity. Still, when monetary value is in question, it is determined in the course of market or quasi-market transactions. The course, therefore, will pay attention to the market as a specific social institution, with its own well-established patterns of interaction. Concepts of scarcity, demand, rationality, and information are central to the market and will be studied in the course.

    Art is being traded within certain cultural and social structures. We will explore how these structures impact the behavior of actors in the art valuation and trading process and how they shape the marketplace. As the marketplace transforms over time, 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. Historically, the exploration will span a hundred and fifty years, from the formation of market for French Impressionist paintings to the strange economics of the art of Damian Hirst. Historical comparison will be the central method in this course.

    The course will be divided into four parts. In the first part, we will look at different perspectives of art valuation: the economic, the sociological, and the cultural. The second part will discuss transactions between artists and non-market entities, such as guilds and guild-like institutions, patronage chains, and the government. The emergence of artist-entrepreneur and interaction between artists and those groups that participate in the shaping of the marketplace (such as art critics and museums) will be the subject of Part Three. Here we will also discuss the formation of artists' networks, the process that acquired economic significance in the late 19th century. In the fourth part we will investigate the changes in today's arts market, specifically the emergence of corporate structures, such as auction houses, and the use of branding as the main tool of marketing of art. This kind of corporate behavior tends to benefit very few artists, while distorting the marketplace and increasing the power of middlemen. We will finish with a discussion of a possibility of returning to the relatively egalitarian artist networks of the late nineteenth century as a counterbalance to the power of dealers and auction houses. Changes in art marketplace will be discussed within the conceptual framework that includes trust, cultural value, symbol, agency and structure.

    HPSS-S101 is a prerequisite for undergraduates.

  9. Gender In East Asia

    This is a seminar course on East Asian gender identity from ancient times to the present. Employing the rubrics of Gender History and Cultural Studies, we will examine the ways in which Chinese, Japanese, and Korean conceptions of "masculine" and "feminine" have evolved in relation to a myriad of political and economic forces, as well as through the self-directed endeavors of people in this area to discover and express their "true" selves. After first going over the conceptual and social underpinnings of traditional East Asian gender roles via close readings of representative primary sources, the remainder of the course will engage recent scholarship to uncover how these roles have developed in the modern and contemporary eras. Particular emphasis will be placed on how national conceptions of gender identity are formed within a broader environment of transnational cultural consumption. The course will conclude with student presentations on a self-selected research topic.

    Open to sophomore and above.

    HPSS-S101 is a prerequisite for undergraduates.

  10. 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.

  11. Global Water Crisis

    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.

  12. 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.

    HPSS-S101 is a prerequisite for undergraduates.

  13. Introduction To Political Philosophy

    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.

  14. 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.

    HPSS-S101 is a prerequisite for undergraduates.

  15. Media Culture & Theory

    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 if the student desires HPSS credit.

  16. 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.

    Open to sophomore and above.

    HPSS-S101 is a prerequisite for undergraduates.

  17. Multicultural Psychology

    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.

  18. NCSS Core Seminar

    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 sophomore and junior students

    Permission of Instructor required. Course not available via web registration.

    Also offered as LAEL-2403; Register in the course for which credit is desired.

  19. 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.

    HPSS-S101 is a prerequisite if the student desires HPSS credit.

  20. 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.

    HPSS-S101 is a prerequisite if the student desires HPSS credit.

  21. Research Seminar

    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 junior, senior, fifth-year, and graduate students.

    Permission of Instructor required. Course not available via web registration. HPSS-S101 is a prerequisite for undergraduates.

  22. Rethinking Green Urbanism

    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.

    Permission of Instructor required.

    HPSS-S101 is a prerequisite for undergraduates.

    Also offered as ARCH-1519; Register in the course for which credit is desired.

  23. 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.

    HPSS-S101 is a prerequisite for undergraduates.

  24. 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.

    Open to sophomore and above.

    HPSS-S101 is a prerequisite for undergraduates.

  25. 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.

    HPSS-S101 is a prerequisite if the student desires HPSS credit.

  26. 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. 2018-19 location will be the Hampton National Historical Site in Towson, Maryland. 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 FURN-2451. Students will receive 3 studio credits and 3 liberal arts credits for a total of 6 credits.

  27. Seminar: Loot

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

    Also offered as HPSS-C734; register in the course for which credit is desired.

    HPSS-S101 is a prerequisite if the student desires HPSS credit.

  28. The East Is Red: Asian Socialism

    The most popular song in Maoist China was "The East is Red." This wintersession provides an historical and political overview of socialism in Asia from the late 1910s to the present. In addition to looking at the socialist governments of China, Mongolia, North Korea, Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, we will examine cases of "unsuccessful" socialist movements in Japan, Indonesia, Nepal, and India. Class materials include memoirs of survival by non-state actors, the writings of socialist leaders, and cultural constructions such as revolutionary theatre, songs, and contemporary films. We will also engage secondary scholarship that deals with Asian approaches to modernity, the use of revolutionary and state violence, and gender relations under socialism. Questions that will be addressed include: Why did Marxism, a European theory, find such resonance in Asia? Twenty-five years after the fall of communism, why have Asian socialist states remained in power? And in the scales of history, how should we judge the effects of socialism in Asia?

    HPSS-S101 is a prerequisite for undergraduates.

  29. The New England Landscape

    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.

  30. Topics: History, Philosophy, & The Social Sciences

    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.

    For a list of Spring 2018 course descriptions for S101 Click here

    Freshman registration instructors and course descriptions can be found on the Registrar website.

  31. 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.

  32. 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.

Departments

Apparel Design Architecture Ceramics Digital + Media Film / Animation / Video Furniture Design Glass Graphic Design History, Philosophy + the Social Sciences Illustration Industrial Design Interior Architecture Jewelry + Metalsmithing Landscape Architecture Literary Arts + Studies Painting Photography Printmaking Sculpture Teaching + Learning in Art + Design Textiles Theory + History of Art + Design