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Fall 2020

  1. 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.

  2. Biology Of Animal-human Interactions

    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. Brown Dual-degree Course

  4. Brown University Course

  5. Buddhism and Society

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

    HPSS-S101 is a prerequisite for undergraduates.

  6. 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.

  7. Election 2020

    Against the background of the 2020 US Presidential campaign and looking forward to election night on Tuesday, November 3, 2020 this course will explore the role of media and image-making in US electoral politics, both past and present. The topics addressed in this course will include: campaign advertising; the staging and design of presidential and vice-presidential debates; the use of fashion to promote political identity; the material culture and objects of US presidential campaigns; the electoral college; the changing demography of the US electorate; and the impact of geo-political events, cultural moments, and weather/natural disasters on the course and outcome of US presidential campaigns.

    HPSS-S101 is a prerequisite for undergraduates.

    Open to sophomores and above.

  8. 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.

  9. Environmental Justice and Injustice

    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.

    HPSS-S101 is a prerequisite for undergraduates.

  10. Environmental Psychology

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

    HPSS-S101 is a prerequisite for undergraduates.

  11. Freedom Dreams: Race, Gender, and Resistance

    In this lecture course, we will explore how freedom has been imagined as a critical and creative vision for resistance and social justice. We will examine how the critiques of freedom, democracy, and rights made by artists, activists, and communities respond to and affect social change. Through analysis of different artistic and political visions of freedom, we will study the evolving social and cultural history of African Americans. We will examine how power, resistance, injustice, and collectivity are defined and redefined depending on time and circumstance.

    HPSS-S101 is a prerequisite for undergraduates.

  12. From Opium To Atomic Bomb: The Making Of Modern East Asia

    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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. Many Ways To Have A Relationship: Symbioses In Nature

    Deception, manipulation, reproduction. Life, death, or something in-between. What does it mean when cowbirds move into your neighborhood? Can plants cause animals to have bizarre sexual practices, for their benefit? Are most wasp species pest colonies that torment humans, or parasitoids that benefit ecosystems? This course will focus on the intimate relationships within ecology, morphology and behavior in the evolution and diversification of plants, animals, and other living things. Symbiosis (pl. symbioses) is when different species "live together". Sometimes both benefit (mutualism), but often one benefits at a cost to the other (e.g., parasitism). The focus of this course will be to observe and study examples of the myriad of ecological interactions that involve symbioses. We will examine the structures and relationships that exist in a variety of ecosystems and learn to understand why things look (or act) the way they do. The basic biology of many types of organisms will also be covered. We will consult diverse scientific literature and films, and conduct (solo) forays into nature. Coursework will combine lecture, discussion and presentation; weekly readings; frequent homework assignments; final synthesis.

    Open to sophomores and above.

  19. 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 sophomores and juniors.

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

  20. 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.

  21. 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.

  22. 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.

  23. Property: Information, Ideas, Land

    In this seminar, we will explore property, one of the foundational areas of the law. We will look at how property is defined, specifically the idea of it being a bundle of rights, and how that definition applies to information, ideas, and identities. Property suggests ownership and contestation over ownership. We will examine what rules ought to apply to the ownership of information (personal data for example), ideas (copyright springs to mind), and land (property taxes and public school funding for example). We will contemplate alternate models of property to address emerging political, cultural, and social issues.

    HPSS-S101 is a prerequisite for undergraduates.

  24. 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 for undergraduates.

  25. 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.

    HPSS-S101 is a prerequisite for undergraduates.

  26. 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.

    HPSS-S101 is a prerequisite for undergraduates.

  27. Social Movements, Backlash & Narrative

    What is a social movement? This course examines how individuals and groups engage in collective activity to change social, economic, political, and cultural institutions. Importantly, we will examine countermovements, backlash, and a range of conservative and progressive movements. We will investigate the ways in which social movements develop narrative frames, art, and imagery to build movement resonance. In parallel, we will examine the strategies movement opponents may use to dismiss, appropriate, or re-frame contentious issues. This course will provide an introduction to major academic theories on social movement formation, tactical strategy, and decline, while exploring the ways in which social movement activism shapes and is shaped by culture. This course will draw on concrete examples from the Civil Rights, Environmental, Conservative, and Black Lives Matter Movements.

    HPSS-S101 is a prerequisite for undergraduates.

  28. 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.

  29. 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.

  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.

    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.

  31. Understanding Models Of Dis/ability

    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.

Wintersession 2021

  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.

  2. Art Of Communicating Science

    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.

    Estimated Materials Cost: $50.00

    The Departments of Illustration (Doyle) and History, Philosophy, and Social Sciences (Spelman) teach this course collaboratively. Students must plan and 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. Chinese History Through Films

    In this course we will examine modern Chinese history through the lens of film. We will watch films about and by Chinese, produced in and outside of mainland China. We will examine films both as representations of particular historical moments and as re-enactments of political and cultural transformations that happened in the recent Chinese past. These films will help us critically analyze historical developments and ordinary people's experience in China as well as the assumptions and biases that go into the making of a film about China. Through this process, we will develop a deeper appreciation for China's complexities and the problems the country faces. Our main objectives will be to achieve a greater understanding of the modern history of China and to analyze the relationship between history and historical representation.

  4. Cinematic Representation Of The Vietnam War

    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. Civic Ecologies: Attending To Difference In Urban Design

    This course focuses on a key theoretical tension in urban ecological praxis; urban ecology and postcoloniality. In the first half of the course, we will engage with an appreciative inquiry approach focused on the conceptual framing of Civic Ecology. This frame draws from the field of Natural Resources Management, a field that incorporates insights from sociology, psychology and anthropology to support community-led environmental actions. In the second half of the course we will situate ecological praxis through a postcolonial lens, with a focus on the pluralities of ecological ways of knowing. Situating these practices opens up questions about whose knowledge and what ways of knowing are being utilized in ecological praxis, in this case focusing still on small ground up approaches. This course is interdisciplinary and yet remains conceptually bounded by keeping the focus on ground-up ecological praxis. Throughout the course, students will investigate their own lived-experience and positionality, developing and sharing stories of their orientation to caring for meaningful places. Through the transdisicplinary study of place, students learn about stituated stewardship practices, particularly in the context of social and environmental justice. As a final project, students create a multimedia "story" of a civic ecology practice of their choosing.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. Ethnic Notions: The Changing Cultures Of The Us

    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.

  9. Fragile Facts: Technology & Tyranny

    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.

  10. Horror, Fear, & Human Condition

    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.

  11. 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.

  12. Myth-making/image-making

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

    Also offered as THAD-W504; Register in the course for which credit is desired.

  13. Optics & Holograms

    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.

  14. Pan African Aesthetics: Past, Present, Future

    Pan-Africanism is a political philosophy that argues for a united African continent free of European domination, as well as the liberation of people of African descent spread throughout the world by forced migration and enslavement. But what are Pan-African aesthetics? This course examines the way that diverse cultural elements from the continent of Africa have been deployed together in visual and popular culture from the early 20th century to present day. It asks questions about the history, purpose, political implications, and possible limitations of a Pan-African aesthetic. The first unit, "A Short History of Pan-Africanism," will cover the birth of Pan-African philosophy. The second unit, "Past", explores the way that Pan-African visual tropes were deployed during roughly three decades: the 1920s, 1970s, and 1990s. The third unit, "Present," interrogates the reemergence of Pan-African motifs in the digital age. The fourth unit, "Future," examines what is meant by Afro-futurism, and what these visions of the future have to do with a united Africa and African diaspora.

    While the course is divided according to a periodization, students will be encouraged to challenge this periodization as a way of understanding the Pan-African movement. Nothing in the course-not even the structure-is to be taken for granted.

    Learning Goals: Visual literacy and analysis; concepts of nation and supranational political movements; race, class, and gender.

    Also offered as HPSS-W212; register in the course for which credit is desired.

  15. Race, Empire and Colonialism In World War I

    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.

  16. Sem: Disease In History

    Through a survey of history's great pandemics this course addresses, from an historical perspective, humanity's response to the appearance and spread of epidemic diseases. While the biological aspects surrounding the contraction and spread of epidemic diseases will be discussed, this course will concern itself primarily with the transnational, environmental, and technological factors that have promoted and sustained regional or world-wide outbreaks of epidemic disease. Specific topics addressed in this course include: the connection between climatic or environmental conditions and the spread of disease; displacement, migration, and disease; and the development and evolution of medical institutions, quarantines, and public health systems.

  17. The Meaning Of Life

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

  18. 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.

  19. Water Pollution and Design Solutions

    Lead in city water, Mercury in fish, "boil water" advisories in Southern RI, 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 and participate in live (online) discussions. No prior science background is required.

  20. Winter Tree Watching

    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 2021

  1. Africa: Central and East Africa's Global Connections and Traditional Arts

    This course examinea a number of artistic traditio ns from sub-Saharan Africa and will be divided int o two sections: (1) Africa's place in the global c ontext from the 7th c. on and (2) sub-Saharan Afri can aesthetic expressions, particularly those of C entral and East Africa.  In each section, we will look at a select numbe of examples and practices. (1) Africa's global Con nections will focus on kingdoms and chiefdoms of t he Great Rift Valley and the Swahili coast's trade  both internally and through the Indian Ocean. (2)  African aesthetic practices will be presented thr ough specific regional forms selected from Central  and East Africa and will include a look at some c ontemporary artists. Materials will be viewed through the lenses of bot h anthropology and art history, and will be apprec iated not only as objects, but also as agents of c ultural identity, spirituality and power.

    Also offered as THAD-C519; Register in the course for which credit is desired.

    HPSS-S101 is a prerequisite if taken for HPSS credit.

  2. 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 for undergraduates.

  3. 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.

  4. Development Through The Lifespan I

    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.

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

    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.

  6. Ecosystems

    This course will explore ecosystem concepts and their usage in both the biodiversity conservation narrative and the neoliberal marketization narratives of "natural capital" and "ecosystem services." Most class time will focus on ecosystem concepts of stability, disturbance, equilibrium, chaos, resilience, and sustainability. This will be accomplished through ecosystem case studies, discussions, and simulation experiments. In addition, students will create simple computer visualizations of ecosystem states and flows to explore how forecasts are made and unexpected behaviors are discovered. As this knowledge accumulates, we will apply it toward discussion of whether and how the dominant narratives have constrained imagination in solutions to environmental problems and injustices, including climate change.

    Open to sophomores and above.

  7. Free Will and The Brain: An Interdisciplinary Approach

    What are you -- you who are reading this course description and trying to figure out what classes to take? You've made lots of choices in your life, some small and some important, some good and some bad; and you probably think you're responsible for at least some of those choices. You probably also think (though you might not) that, in general, our brains are responsible for how our mental lives go -- how we experience the world, what we think and what emotions we feel, and even what choices we make. But brains are basically biological machines, acting according to impersonal physical laws. ?All of that makes for a deep puzzle: can our choices be both `up to us' and the (in principle) predictable outcomes of the laws of physics playing out in our brains??The goal of this course is to make some progress on an answer, through a combination of philosophy, psychology, and neuroscience. Though most of the material we'll be reading directly addresses free will, we will also be covering some independently relevant state-of-the-art cognitive science of decision-making and, maybe surprisingly, some of the philosophy and cognitive science of emotions, which are increasingly recognized as central to the experience of making choices and to our evaluations of responsibility.?The main work for the course will be one or two 15- to 20-page readings per week, very short weekly reading responses (one to three sentences), one short paper (about five pages), and one longer paper (about 8 pages). There are no prerequisites, and a major focus will always be on how the philosophy, psychology, and neuroscience that we read relates to our own experiences of making choices in the world. So anyone who has made choices (including whether or not to enroll for this course!) has the right qualifications.

    HPSS-S101 is a prerequisite for undergraduates.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. Infectious Disease Triangles: The Body Of Human-animal Diseases

    In this course, we examine the world's most important zoonotic diseases and their impact on human society. Also known as zoonoses, zoonotic dieases are infections (bacterial, fungal, parasitic, prion, viral) that originate in non-human animals and move to humans, and vice versa. We begin by studying two important concepts: the "infectious disease triangle" (pathogen-host-environment interactions) and the "stages of emergence" (introduction, spread, establishment) using older well-known diseases as examples. These include Ebola, Influenza, Malaria, Tuberculosis and Rabies. We continue by exploring the impact of our actions - farming, hunting, urbanization, trade, resource extraction - on disease emergence using more recent examples, such as HIV-AIDS, SARS-Cov2-Covid 19, and West Nile Virus. We also study the factors that determine how severely a zoonotic disease affects its host, including genetics and epigenetics (chemical exposure, nutritional status, immune system status, and stress level.) Finally, we consider what can be done to prevent or mitigate existing, as well as future outbreaks of zoonotic diseases. For their major project, students choose a disease not covered in the lectures or readings, study it, write a literature review paper, and create a work of art designed to raise the general public's science literacy about it.

    Open to sophomores and above.

  11. Introduction To Gender and Women's Studies

    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. 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.

  13. Leadership Of Social Change

    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. 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.

  15. Modern China: Culture, Politices and Society

    China has been undergoing tremendous changes in the modern era. This course explores the Chinese political and social transformations from the beginning of the Qing Dynasty until today. After a broad survey of modern Chinese history in the past four centuries, including the Manchu conquest, the Nationalist Revolution, the Communist Revolution, the Great Famine, the Cultural Revolution, and the Reform and opening-up era, we will take a closer look at the political and social structure, one-child policy, frontier/ethnic issue, urban/rural discrepancy and other issues in modern China. Through readings and discussions, this course will deepen our understanding of China from a critical as well as an empathetic perspective.

    HPSS-S101 is a prerequisite for undergraduates.

  16. 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.

  17. 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 sophomores and juniors.

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

  18. Photography and Race: Blackness and The Self

    This course examines how identity-individual and in relation to others-is constructed as a visual phenomenon. It asks how the concept of race, more specifically, "blackness" is created and recreated through photographic media, and what that construct has to do with concepts of the self, history, and global politics more broadly. Through close analysis of texts, as well as historical and contemporary photographs, we will explore how blackness has been deployed, and the sort of meanings it has been assigned. We will learn how to challenge concepts of race and rethink its relationship to the socio-political present.

    This course is organized into five different thematic units. In the first unit, important theoretical concepts of photography will be introduced. Each of the following four units: Blackness and the Self, The Archival Impulse, Black Life, and Erasures and Potential History, will examine the ways that "blackness" has been constructed, reconstituted, and challenged.

    Open to sophomores and above.

  19. Politics Of Latin America

    This course presents a broad summary of some of the relevant issues about the political and economic development of Latin America since the colonial times to the present. Latin American countries are rich in natural resources, yet poverty and inequality are endemic. Political instability has been a common denominator in the region. Latin American countries have experienced dictatorships followed by democracy, and in some cases the return to authoritarian governments with coup d'états and violent revolutions. Students will learn about the main theories on democracy and development. They will use these theories to better understand why economic inequality and political instability are persistent in Latin America. By the end of this course students will also be able to answer other related questions: why are Latin American democratic institutions weak? What are the factors that explain migration (mostly to the United States)? How has the media contributed to a stereotyped construct of Latin America? Among others.

    HPSS-S101 is a prerequisite for undergraduates.

  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 for undergraduates.

  21. Property: Information, Ideas, Land

    In this seminar, we will explore property, one of the foundational areas of the law. We will look at how property is defined, specifically the idea of it being a bundle of rights, and how that definition applies to information, ideas, and identities. Property suggests ownership and contestation over ownership. We will examine what rules ought to apply to the ownership of information (personal data for example), ideas (copyright springs to mind), and land (property taxes and public school funding for example). We will contemplate alternate models of property to address emerging political, cultural, and social issues.

    HPSS-S101 is a prerequisite for undergraduates.

  22. 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 for undergraduates.

  23. 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.

    HPSS-S101 is a prerequisite for undergraduates.

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

  24. Revolting Bodies: Aesthetics, Representation, and Popular Culture

    Our understanding of others and ourselves are formed by visual images and bodily feelings that are social in origin. They make us feel (un)comfortable, sublime, ridiculous, grotesque. In this course we will examine how the materiality of the body grounds the meanings we attach to identity and subjectivity. The course moves between cultural studies, queer theory, disability studies, literary analysis, and film theory asking how representations structure the way we "know" and "see" bodies. Ultimately, we will explore how revolting bodies-bodies that disgust, repulse, signal their difference-can become bodies in revolt-bodies that resist and imagine new possibilities.

    HPSS-S101 is a prerequisite for undergraduates.

  25. Sci: Visual Stories Of Natural Histories

    This is a co-requisite course. The Departments of Illustration (Jean Blackburn) and History, Philosophy, and Social Sciences (Lucy Spelman) teach this course collaboratively. Students must plan and register for ILLUS-3058 or IDISC-3058 and SCI-2058. Students will receive 3 studio credits and 3 liberal arts credits for a total of 6 credits.

    In this course, we use visual story-telling to explore the impact of human society on natural systems. We begin with lectures and readings that describe how the flora and fauna, land and seascapes of Rhode Island have changed over time, from pre-Colonial America to the present. (Examples include deforestation, emerging diseases, loss of biodiversity, overfishing, pollution.) We examine how this story is told, by whom, and to what end. We consider how science informs and shapes our understanding of these changes and what we can do to mitigate them. In studio, we find ways to pull narrative threads from the data and practice weaving them together to create visual stories that relate to actual as well as imagined events. Emerging themes, such as colonialism, exoticism, immigration, industrialization, etc. will serve as a starting point for transforming these stories into artist projects. After exploring various research methods, students will begin work on a major project: a visual narrative that relates to a past, present, or near future ecological problem anywhere in the world. These artist stories can be fact or fiction. So that scientific understanding informs the narrative, students will research the relevant science and write a paper that summarizes the literature. (For example, deforestation during Colonial times, water pollution during the Industrial Revolution, climate change in the 20th century.) Studio work during the second half of the semester will focus on the major project, moving from thumbnails and sketches to finished renderings, paintings, sculptures, animations etc. that explore compelling physical and conceptual viewpoints. Themes may be examined using a variety of media and techniques. As a class, we will be searching for visualizations that meaningfully and powerfully address cultural factors that lead to environmental degradation as well as restoration, and the impact of these changes on human society.

    For inspiration, we will examine various artists who address human impacts on nature, including RISD alum and celebrated painter Walton Ford.

    Open to juniors and above.

  26. Sem: Disease In History

    Through a survey of history's great pandemics this course addresses, from an historical perspective, humanity's response to the appearance and spread of epidemic diseases. While the biological aspects surrounding the contraction and spread of epidemic diseases will be discussed, this course will concern itself primarily with the transnational, environmental, and technological factors that have promoted and sustained regional or world-wide outbreaks of epidemic disease. Specific topics addressed in this course include: the connection between climatic or environmental conditions and the spread of disease; displacement, migration, and disease; and the development and evolution of medical institutions, quarantines, and public health systems.

    Sophomore and above

    HPSS S101 is a prerequisite for undergraduates

  27. Seminar: Aestheticians Without Borders

    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.

  28. The Environmental Psychology Of Care

    In this course we will engage with the Environmental Psychology of Care through several areas described below. We will focus briefly on concepts of power and how they are actualized in issues such as racism, class distinctions and the like; techniques of exclusion, exploitation, deflection and distraction. Through readings, visual examples, and discussions, we will explore and analyze how the built environment enables and disables people, and what caring environments entail. Guest speakers will help us to understand these processes. Some of our focus will be on institutional settings, but we will also look carefully at everyday environments- environments designed for diversity and inclusion which allow people with diverse abilities, different cultural backgrounds and possible conflicting needs to feel welcome and participate in society. We will consider the diverse settings and opportunities found in nearby places: I will ask you to engage in phenomenological experiments (e.g. traveling with a stroller or suitcase through different environments). We will also consider innovative new designs, as well as existing models of neighborhoods, global cities, and cultural traditions. We will investigate different ideological and philosophical approaches with implications of how we relate to the environment, ranging from existential approaches of "being-in-the-world" to concepts of "dwelling" and how these attitudes can be manifested in practice, objects and the built environment. We will read about groups who embrace different approaches for working together to care for places, including environmental restoration, community arts and other forms of collective imagining and action. Finally, working in small groups, each class member will be expected to actively apply concepts from the class to a project defined as significant by the entire group.

    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.

    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.

  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 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. Wild Plants Of Providence

    For many of us, the planted and cultivated landscape of urban environments captures our attention. However, the city greenscape is so much more than that. All around us seeds have found their way into spaces created in the cracks and crevices formed within seemingly impermeable urban surfaces. If ignored, and left undisturbed by human activities for any length of time, they transform the soil and set in motion processes of succession which eventually can create urban woodlands. Through this course, we will discover what those species are, and discuss how their growth habits and life cycles are particularly well suited to growth and reproduction in urban environments. What benefit these plants could potentially provide has long been ignored, and we will assess the ability of various species to sequester carbon, filter air, slow stormwater runoff, and provide the cooling effects of shade, as well as habitat, cover, and food for wildlife.

    Students will learn to identify common urban plants, and create a personal herbarium collection of 15 species. Through a combination of sketches and photographs, the class will document where species are growing within the urban environment. To highlight and bring attention to the ecological role these tenacious wild plants play, students will be asked to explore ways in which plant growth habits can be applied to their own work.

    The class will be organized around a combination of independent outdoor field work in all weather, and remote synchronous lecture. Students studying remotely will be required to identify and locate wild plants growing in urban contexts within their own communities. Support for plant identification will be given to all students through shared photographs and the use of localized plant identification apps and field guides.

    HPSS-S101 is a prerequisite for undergraduates.