Fall 2019 Connections 1 Seminars
CNX 100. What is the Examined Life?
Socrates claimed that the unexamined life is not worth living. But what exactly is the examined life? In this course, we examine the many ways philosophers, writers and artists have examined human life in their work, and the consequences this examination has had in their own life, from the ancient period to the current day.
CNX 103. Rivers and Regions.
This course will examine a number of American rivers and their surrounding landscapes. Although historically based, the course will be very interdisciplinary and include sections devoted to literature, folklore, landscape painting , photography, and geology as we examine how rivers formed, how settlement impacted them, and how the interplay of the human presence and the natural world has evolved over time. The course will pay close attention to the pollution that has despoiled so many of our rivers and efforts to clean up noble streams such as the Hudson.
CNX 104. America in the Age of Nixon.
Richard Nixon haunts American culture. His contentious public life spanned nearly the entire second half of the twentieth century—from Cold War crusades against domestic communism, wars in Korea and Vietnam, political and social upheaval in the 1960s, the conservative resurgence, and Watergate. This seminar will explore the variety of conflicting stories told about Nixon in non-fiction, fiction, drama, and film during what has been called “the age of Nixon.” In doing so, we will test the hypothesis that fighting over the meaning of Nixon is more than just a dispute over the significance of one man’s life in U.S. history. Rather, these reinventions of Richard Nixon provide a battleground for struggle to define a vision of national identity—what the country was, what it is, and what it should become.
CNX 110. Digital City.
The city is a material text that contains the imprints of human action written in stone, brick, and mortar. Unlike literature, art, music, dance, and other products of human culture, the city is embedded in lived reality and cannot be read by a single language (words, colors, sounds, motion). The class will develop two sets of skills, the critical reading of discreet traditional sources and the integration of these sources into a digital platform. First, we will learn how to read a multiplicity of primary sources required to reconstruct the city. They include historical narratives in books, oral testimonies in audio, spatial narratives in maps, visual records in photography, tabular data in census records, and, most importantly, the language of material culture. Second, the diversity of these primary sources about a single neighborhood in Lancaster will be integrated in a digital geo-spatial platform, which will cultivate digital literacy in Geographic Information Systems, 3D-modeling, and digital storytelling. Using the city of Lancaster as a laboratory, we will study how social space is produced through experienced realities and how race, class, and ethnicity intersect in the American city. Students must be willing to walk through in Lancaster, participate in the excavation of its physical fabric, engage with its diverse local community and translate those experiences in the computer lab, where they will learn software like ArcGIS, SketchUp, and Agisoft.
CNX 115. Mortality and Meaning.
In this course, we trace attempts to give meaning to human mortality. We explore how poets, artists, theologians, scientists, philosophers, and political theorists have sought meaning in immortal remembrance, eternal life, earthly perfection, or nothingness. We will be working on developing your own voice in your writing as we take an intellectual journey with such authors and artists as Homer, Augustine, Nietzsche, Camus, Munch, and Arendt.
CNX 117. Americans in Paris.
From the Founding Fathers to the Lost Generation, from Impressionist painters to jazz musicians, from 19th century satirist Mark Twain to late 20th and early 21st century humorist David Sedaris, Paris has always fascinated Americans. Through close readings and oral and written analysis of primary sources, literary descriptions, films and historical accounts, this course explores the attraction the City of Light holds, the creativity it inspires, the stereotypes it reinforces and those it debunks.
CNX 120. The “I” of Music.
How does music help us to articulate a sense of self? Do our tastes in music merely reflect who we are on the inside, or is the cultivation of musical taste itself an act of self-definition? What kind of story does our music tell us about who we are and where we come from? What freedom can it grant us to explore another kind of self, an alternative way of being? This course addresses these and related questions to develop an understanding of the “I” of musical experience. Musical styles to be considered will range from various forms of folk music to the blues, country, and punk rock. No musical background necessary.
CNX 122. Critical Perspectives on Technology.
This course will offer an overview of Western modernity with special emphasis on the ways in which technologies have shaped, and been shaped by, human practices, value-systems, and imaginations. Our goal is to acquire an understanding of the principal currents that have shaped Western culture from the sixteenth to the twentieth century. Though our primary focus is on technologies and their impact in the world, we will consider the historical and material conditions that provide the necessary context for the machines, systems, and technics in any given period. In doing so, this course introduces students to a range of issues revolving around the significance of technology—historical, philosophical, sociological, phenomenological, and ethical.
CNX 128. Solo Performance Art.
This course will consider the poetics and politics of solo performance. We will contemplate the spectacle of a lone individual on stage and the ways in which his or her singularity produces a specific mode of theatricality. The course's practical focus will be split between writing/theorizing on solo performance and the creation of original performance pieces. Three distinct methodological approaches will be surveyed, through an examination of performance artists Danny Hoch, Anna Deavere Smith, and Spalding Gray, with the occasion of solo performance allowing us to entertain larger theoretical issues and concerns about the production of subjectivity. Issues of race, gender, and sexuality will also animate our readings and discussions. Our practical and theoretical discussions of these three models will serve to inform the original solo performance writing and practice created in the class itself. Using storytelling, gender deconstruction, automatic writing, and various actorly/writerly tools, each student will create three 8-minute solo performance pieces, to be performed before an audience of the class itself. Critical and analytical writing on the form is an equally significant part of the course.
CNX 134. Why Shakespeare?
People around the world read and perform the works of William Shakespeare. How have these words held so much attention for over 400 years? Do they truly animate and illuminate the universal human condition, or is it just a case of superb brand-name marketing combined with colonialism? Examining text, context, criticism, performance, and adaptation, we will try to understand Shakespeare’s powerful position in past and present global culture.
CNX 136. Self in Life and Literature.
What is a ‘self’? Why do we talk about identity? Very different, often contradictory, yet intriguing answers to questions like these have been formulated by psychologists, sociologists, philosophers, filmmakers, novelists, poets, dramatists, and choreographers, among others. In this course, we engage these varying perspectives on identity and the self. Through discussions, writing assignments, and in-class exercises, we will discover that the notions of the ‘self’ in aesthetic works and in academic disciplines are often interrelated in interesting and surprising ways.
CNX 143. Community and Connectedness.
This course is an examination of some of the broad issues related to connectedness and community life. Topics will include the role of trust, the impact of the Internet, “third places”, fandom, health outcomes, the effects of disaster, and trends in engagement. In addition, connectedness in neighborhood communities will be examined with some attention to race/ethnicity, gayborhoods, and co-housing. The ways in which marginalized groups seek and find ways to build community off- and on-line will also be explored.
CNX 164. #Science: Engaging the Public.
What have you seen or read about science that fascinated you? Was it a museum exhibit on the strange world of the atom? Or a riveting memoir by a geobiologist? How about a theater production on the development of general relativity? Science thrives only when scientists and other creators can convey its importance and relevance effectively. But how and why do they do this? In this CNX1 seminar, we'll look critically at science communication in various forms and develop essential skills: critical reading and listening and effective writing and speaking.
CNX 166. The Dance of Body and Earth.
What is the relationship between our bodies and our terrestrial environment? What role does planetary awareness play in our thoughts and actions? How do we cultivate a planetary awareness in the face of increasing technological engagements that distract us from physical, earthly experience? How do we perceive the body/Earth awareness and what are the cultural influences that shape this understanding? This course will investigate these questions (and more) through the study of works by performing and visual artists, philosophers, and scientists. Classes will involve close readings, discussion, writing, and movement explorations of class topics.
CNX 173. The Politics and Culture of Food.
We are what we eat. Our identities are tied up with our food ways. Food is more than just calories consumed to sustain life: this course explores how food is central to our sociocultural being and the politics of food production and consumption. Throughout, we will read lots of great food writers and do a lot of our own writing about food.
CNX 185. Who Reads Books?
"Who Reads Books?" will examine each word in this title, as a way to understand the many connections among readers, reading, and books. What can we learn from sociology and economics about the demographics of readers? What can we learn from psychology and biology about the cognition of reading? What can we learn from history and art about the materiality, and immateriality, of books across time? We will be self-conscious and reflective about our examination, with the expectation that we become critical readers and writers. The class will actually write and produce a book for the F&M campus to read.
CONNECTIONS I TOPICS COURSES
CNX 102. Thinking About Seeing. Kaufer
CNX 105. The Value of Tragedy. Stoll
CNX 109. From the Iliad to El Deafo: The Radical Evolution of the Graphic Novel. Fowler
CNX 114. Human Security. Stinchfield
CNX 119. Geographies of Religion. Merriman
CNX 132. Material Culture. Smith
CNX 140. Who Owns Culture? Aleci
CNX 141. Democracy and Disagreement. Medvic
CNX 144. World Cup Connections: The Global Game in Context. Mitchell
CNX 151. When Black Lives Matter. Gosse
CNX 157: Becoming a Brand: Identity, Image, and the Art of Storytelling. Mackenzie
CNX 158. Social Activism: Effective Dialogue. Roncolato
CNX 163. Dis/ability. Di Giulio
CNX 176. Woman and the Sense of Nation. Tisnado
CNX 180. Animal Welfare. Bashaw
CNX 181. Mountains, Natural Resources and Water. Ismat
CNX 182. Gods, Monsters and (Super)heroes. Huber
CNX 186. What Aren’t We Addicted To? Lacy
CNX 191. Con Artists/Frauds/Plagiarists. Singer
CNX 199. The Time of Your Life: Memory and the Self. Shuck
CNX 200. Israel in Context.
The trauma of the Shoah, the Zionist appropriation of the biblically-rooted notion of Jewish “chosenness,” the 1948 conflict, and the sweeping victory of the six-day war in 1967 have contributed to the perception of Israel as a country with an exceptional character and destiny. This course aims to revisit this perception by placing Israel in a historical, cultural, and social comparative context. In addition to exploring the complexities surrounding Israel, this course offers several opportunities to reflect more broadly on the link between language, ethnicity, and nationhood, and provides grounds for a reflection on the nature of migrant cultures and divided loyalties. While engaging in a sustained research process, we will become conversant with key concepts and methodologies current in the scholarly discourse on Israel, and will hone critical thinking skills for evaluating primary and secondary sources from a broad multidisciplinary perspective.
CNX 201. Progress and Its Critics.
This course begins with a question: why should we expect life to be better tomorrow than it is today? The idea of progress is embedded in Western life and thought; it informs our politics, economic decisions, educational pursuits, religious beliefs, and personal relationships. We take progress for granted. Even if we are cynical about the future, we still believe our children’s lives should be more prosperous, easier, and fulfilling than ours. Why is this? On what grounds do we hold these expectations? Is progress a natural thing? Does if make us freer? We will begin our exploration of progress by considering its historical roots in the Renaissance, Age of Exploration, Scientific Revolution, and the Enlightenment. Much of our time will be taken up with the words and actions of contemporary critics. Who are these people, and why do they oppose what most of us believe is progress in diverse areas such as medicine, technology, consumer culture, education, and human rights?
CNX 202. Learning from the Past – People and Environment.
What can ancient societies teach us about modern questions and problems? In this course we will strive to build connections between ancient and modern societies with the objective of exploring how an understanding of the relationship between past peoples and their environments can help us to confront the environmental problems we face today. Our readings and discussions will connect knowledge and debate from a variety of disciplines including archaeology, ecology, geography, climate science, epidemiology, and sociocultural anthropology. We will examine case studies from throughout the Americas including the dry desert coast of Peru, the Amazon rainforest, the Maya lowlands of Guatemala and Mexico, Easter Island, the Bolivian Andes, and the US Southwest.
CNX 203. Propaganda and Genocide.
This course attempts to find the root cause that creates killers out of otherwise ordinary citizens. This course will begin the exploration of mind manipulation through the mass media – first in apparently “harmless” exploits, then in slightly more sinister delivery methods with stronger intentions – resulting in the ultimate crime – genocide. This course will look at first hand examples of propaganda throughout the 20th and 21st centuries in different parts of the world, including Nazi Germany, Africa and Cambodia. Additionally, the course explores the affective techniques used in the creation of propaganda.
CNX 204. International Security Dilemmas.
In this course we will explore a variety of historical and current international security dilemmas. We will analyze several lenses through which such dilemmas are considered, survey different institutions responsible for preventing and responding to dilemmas, and conduct in-depth analyses of several different cases. Students will explore connections between current security dilemmas and regions’ histories, cultures, geographies, and development. As a CNX2 course, students will also undertake a semester-long research project investigating the origins of, and possible solutions to, a current international security dilemma.
CNX 205. Bringing Up Bodies.
Death is inevitable but burial is not. Rulers construct pyramids and families buy plots to lie together for eternity; the ashes of a man may be scattered in an exotic location he once visited, while a homeless woman is placed in a paper box and interred in a communal grave. This course will center on the treatment of the corpse in historical and cultural contexts using several archaeological and anthropological case studies. Far from being a depressing topic, these grave matters allow us to reflect on the real lives of people we have never met.
CNX 206. Understanding Terrorism.
What goes through someone’s head when he decides that flying a plane into a skyscraper is the right thing to do? Why does someone choose to detonate herself to kill random people in a marketplace? Are they crazy? Religious fanatics? Tragically misled by charismatic leaders? Are they driven by greed? Or desperation? Can their causes be noble or are they simply evil? In sum, what do we really know about why terrorists choose such tactics? In considering the causes of terrorism, we will take a critical look at how the subject is framed and explained by a variety of disciplinary perspectives, including history, anthropology, political science, sociology, psychology, economics, philosophy, and women’s studies. We will examine many of the ongoing debates regarding terrorism and compare the different approaches and types of evidence various types of researchers bring to the issue.
CNX 207. Politics, Poverty and Gender.
This course explores how poverty and development processes affect women and men around the world. Using countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America as our classroom, we will ask ourselves several questions during the semester, such as: What is poverty and why does it exist? What is development? How do development and poverty affect women and girls, differently if at all? These questions matter. International organizations like the World Bank and the Food and Agriculture Organization estimate that approximately 1.3 billion people live on less than $1.25 a day and are malnourished. Many argue that women are disproportionately affected by poverty. For example, fewer girls than boys receive basic education and millions of girls are trafficked every year to generate income. Our understanding of these issues can help us better formulate public policy, both in the United States and abroad, and help to improve the lives of millions of people around the world.
CNX 208. Infinity.
In this course we will take a look at some of the many (maybe infinitely many?) aspects of infinity. We start by investigating some differences between the very, very big and the infinite. We then consider some of the classic infinity paradoxes, pay a visit to Borges's library, and consider the multiverse theory. We also show that there are many different sizes of infinity. Since this is a Connections 2 course, you will further develop the reading, writing, and research skills you learned in Connections 1, including writing a research paper from multiple sources that explore an aspect of infinity of interest to you.
CNX 209. Nature of Hope.
It may be argued that of all emotions, none is more important than hope to human survival and development. In this Connections II Seminar we draw upon a range of psychological, philosophical, spiritual and literary works in order to examine the multifaceted nature of hope. We are interested in exploring, in conversation, lecture, and in your own carefully constructed writing, the many ways in which hope expresses itself. We will also examine the ethical, social and aesthetic conditions under which hope seems most able to thrive. Of particular note will be our effort to integrate scientific and empirical traditions of western research with philosophical and mystical traditions that have characterized eastern approaches to the study and practice of hope.
CNX 210. False Realities: From Plato to The Matrix.
What is real? Is the world the way it appears to be? How can reality be distinguished from mere appearance? Given the difficulty of making a clear distinction, what can we truly know? These questions have been troubling the human mind for centuries and are especially relevant today, in the world of virtual realities. This course will explore how this universal concern with the nature of reality connects different times and disciplines.
CNX 211. The Future of Public Education in America.
This class will take a careful, critical look at the current state of public education in America, including contemporary critiques of public schools and key reform proposals in four key areas: teachers, curriculum, accountability, and choice. Drawing from research in psychology and sociology on the factors that affect student learning, and in public policy on the factors that shape effective reforms, we will examine the claims of both critics and supporters of public education. This is a CBL class; an integral component of our work will be the 2 hours/week students will spend tutoring in the local public schools.
CNX 214. Collage.
The fiction writer Donald Barthelme famously declared, “the principle of collage is the central principle of all art in the 20th century.” In this course, we will use collage to explore such questions as: How does the transformation of raw materials itself constitute meaning? How do ideas become form, and how does form communicate symbolic content? What is the relationship between abstraction and representation? Students will gain hands-on collage experience, and will research, write and present on collage artists. These projects will be supplemented with readings in art history, art criticism, and philosophy; discussion and short writing assignments. The collage work will emphasize visual problem-solving and invention, and the development of thematic materials through multiple revisions, using both paper and digital media. Students will work with Adobe Photoshop; no prior experience is required.
CNX 215. Geographic Boundaries and Cultural Isolation.
What is the role or geographic boundaries on cultural development? We will examine how maintain ranges, in particular, have limited cultural exchange between communities. We will examine how mountains form, geologically. We will explore mountain ranges and cultures around the world, but focus on the varied topography and peoples of the Appalachians and western Himalayas.
CNX 216. Reasons in Action.
This is a class about acting rationally: what it means, why we sometimes fail at it, and how we can do better. We will look at issues in practical rationality via literature from decision and game theory, economics, psychology, and philosophy. Topics include collective action problems, the connection between reasons, desires, and self-interest, heuristics and biases in decision-making, willpower, and responsibility.
CNX 217. Language and World.
We will look at the ways in which language presupposes certain things about the world and whether these presuppositions are correct. We will pay close attention to issues involving existence, identity, time, possibility, and truth. We will also discuss to what extent different languages make different presuppositions about the world and whether these differences should make us skeptical of drawing connections between language and the world.
CNX 219. Food.
Food. We need it, long for it, fight over it, even kill for it. Through our manipulations of food, we express our love, our anger, and our tenderness. Yet, the ordinariness and availability of food also dulls us to its significance. Food is not only about nutrition and the need for sustenance; it is packed with social and cultural meaning. Although all human beings eat, we don’t all eat the same things or in the same way. Let’s pay attention to food and what we eat by examining what can food tell us about our identities, about who we are culturally and socially. This course will enhance your skills as a critical reader and writer even as we engage with issues surrounding the production and consumption of food.
CNX 220. Childbirth and Midwifery Across Time and Disciplines.
We typically think of childbirth as a most fundamental and universal human experience. In fact, childbirth and the identities of the people who deliver babies have varied tremendously over time and from culture to culture. In this course we will explore childbirth and the delivery of infants from the perspectives of history, anthropology, medicine, biology, feminist thought, religion, law, and literature. Students will have an opportunity to carry out a research project on childbirth and delivery within a particular disciplinary perspective and gain exposure to a wide array of cross-disciplinary approaches as they collaborate with other students.
CNX 221. Rebels, Revolutionaries and Empire in the Eighteenth Century Atlantic.
This course traces the connections between the Atlantic revolutions of the eighteenth century and the struggle for human rights and citizenship. Drawing on primary as well as secondary materials from an array of disciplines, including history, literary studies, and political theory, students will explore how ordinary people, both free and enslaved, in North America, France, and Saint Domingue (now Haiti) connected the experiences of their own lives to larger questions about liberty, enslavement, and political rights. We then turn to the campaign in England to abolish the international slave trade as an example of a popular movement dedicated to human rights. The course concludes with two case studies about the struggles for citizenship and rights; first, the years of the Civil War and Reconstruction (1861-1877) and, second, the struggle for gay rights, by looking at the Stonewall riots that triggered the modern gay rights movement of the 1970's.
CNX 222. Better Worlds.
Hunger, poverty, disease, climate change, violent conflict—the world’s problems demand attention. What are the dangers in accepting this status-quo? Are there also dangers in seeking to realize the better world? What role do utopian visions play in society? In this course we consider a range of efforts to envision or realize the “better” or “utopian” world from the standpoint of the natural sciences, film studies, philosophy, literature, religious studies and economics.
CNX 224. The Political Economy of Health Care Reform.
This course focuses on efforts by health care providers, policy analysts, and politicians to reform the U.S. health care system. We shall investigate the reasons why people have both favored and opposed such reforms and evaluate the prospects for the further evolution of the American system of health care.
CNX 225. Banned Books and Jailed Writers.
The history of language and communication is also the history of censorship and the prohibition of expressing ideas. In considering the nature of preventing certain works and thoughts from circulating and punishing their authors, this course will touch upon questions of literary taste, political and ideological writing, blasphemy and heresy, morality, and pornography. Through primary and secondary readings and regular writing and research assignments, students will juxtapose the right of free speech with the needs of society. The goal of this course is to explore the complex social and cultural forces revealed by censorship and to understand the importance of the fights and debates provoked when books are banned. We will utilize this nuanced and multi-faceted topic to hone critical thinking skills and discuss ideas from a variety of perspectives.
CNX 226. Things: The Social Life of Objects.
What do our belongings say about us? Why are some possessions more meaningful than others? Is it simply materialism? Or does their value lie in something more complex? If objects could talk, what stories would they tell? How do they bear witness to our own and other lives? In this course we will explore these questions using readings, film, and museum exhibitions that understand history and culture through the biographies of objects. We will also explore this phenomenon through expressive culture like music, dance, and visual art. Finally, we will localize and personalize this technique, digging into a few Lancastrian cases and examining how we personally use objects as repositories for memories of our own lives and family histories. Students will continue to grow their capacities in the liberal arts, strengthening their productive (written and oral) and receptive (reading and listening) skills as they develop individualized practices of critical thinking.
CNX 227. Chocolate: The Dark Side.
Chocolate: food of the gods, emergency energy ration for American soldiers, coveted treat for costumed children on Halloween. The dark side of chocolate: questionable health "benefits", destructive cultivation practices, exploitative marketing campaigns, and child labor abuses in West Africa. This course will examine the history and culture of chocolate using sources from anthropology, sociology, psychology, economics, film, and literature to inform our discussions. We will attempt to understand why chocolate is so popular and how the constant yet changing demand for chocolate has had an impact on civilization throughout time. Students will continue to develop their writing, reading, critical thinking and research skills by examining the true history of this seemingly harmless sweet and exploring the broader issues surrounding this most decadent of luxury foodstuffs.
CNX 228. Geometry of Art and Illusion.
How do we see the world? How do we mis-see it? To understand realism and illusion, we need to delve into the areas of art, psychology, and geometry. In this course, students will learn the geometric rules of perspective and will use those rules to create realistic 1- and 2- point perspective pictures. But we will go beyond following rules: each student will explore specific examples where an artist uses (or deliberately misuses) those rules to create a perspective illusion or an "impossible figure". The research projects will lead us into scholarly resources in art criticism, art history, the psychology of perception, and mathematical analysis. No mathematics (beyond high school geometry) or artistic skills are required.
CNX 230. Mars and Venus on The Pill.
This Connections 2 Seminar will explore the ethical, political, religious, marketing, and societal implications of the science and technology associated with human sexual reproduction and aging. How the birth control pill and Viagra work will be discussed as well as larger issues associated with contraception, erectile dysfunction, hormone replacement, in vitro fertilization (IVF), clinical trials, health insurance, and government regulations.
The objective of this Connections 2 Seminar is the continuing development of your reading, writing, speaking, critical thinking, and research skills. The Seminar will draw Connections between science and its social impact; e.g., biology and chemistry will be connected with economics and ethics. A theme of the course will be that science does not exist in a vacuum and marketing, politics, and religion can all influence how science and technology affect the everyday life of individuals.
CNX 232. The Modernist Revolution in European Literature.
For a generation of “Modernist” writers at the turn of the twentieth century and in the decades surrounding World War I, the old faiths were dead. Dead was faith in God and a divinely ordered cosmos; dead was faith in human Reason and its power to understand the universe; dead was faith in Progress, led by Science on a path toward the betterment of the human condition. And dead was the mode of writing—“Realism”—most in sync with these certainties. This seminar will be devoted to the disorienting, marvelously innovative fiction of three extraordinary Modernist writers: Marcel Proust, Luigi Pirandello and Franz Kafka, translated from French, Italian and German, respectively.
CNX 233. In and Out of Africa.
What does it mean to be African? Writers both native-born (Insiders) and adoptive (Outsiders) have portrayed the continent in myriad ways. Examining those portrayals from the perspectives of literature, history, and gender studies, among others, we will concentrate on issues of ownership and belonging, contrasting the voices of the Insider and the Outsider. Essay assignments, class discussion, and individual presentations will focus on how the differences between Insiders and Outsiders manifest in the dynamic power structures at work in African society and identity, and the stories that reflect and affect them. Additionally, in a semester-long, multi-disciplinary research project, students will use their own expertise and interest in any academic field to answer a question or solve a problem related to the course theme.
CNX 234. Zeno's Paradoxes.
About 2,500 years ago, Zeno developed four paradoxes that purport to show under any conceivable understanding of space and time that motion is impossible. These arguments seem utterly convincing, and philosophers, mathematicians, and physicists have been struggling ever since to overcome them. We'll join that struggle, re-examining our ordinary assumptions about space, time, and numbers in a fascinating mix of philosophy, math (including set theory, number theory, and transfinite arithmetic), and just a bit of contemporary physics.
CNX 237. What Work Is.
For most people, work is necessary for survival. However, many societies work well beyond what is needed to provide for material existence, and individuals suffer from hurried and stressed working environments. The decoupling of work from the provisioning of necessities suggests that work is about culture. This course explores the cultural dimensions of the activity deemed work. It explores the role of technology, social organization, religion, class, and consumerism on work effort, forms of work, and consequences of working. The course also explores reactions against dominant cultural norms concerning work. In addition students will research and present findings on specific occupations.
CNX 239. Modernity.
This course has two related aims: at the surface level, to gain a chronological understanding of the history of Western ideas from the Renaissance to the 20th-century. Through reading essays, plays, novels, and poems, listening to music, and viewing art—all selected to illustrate the development of “modern” ideas—we will come to appreciate the roots of how and why we think and believe as we do today. But our deeper aim is to evaluate critically the ideas, conceptions, and philosophical attitudes of the past and present. Of course, through this material, we aim to achieve greater depth and skill at critical thinking and argument, both orally and in writing.
CNX 240. The Whale.
This course focuses on The Whale as a focal point for understanding human connections to the natural world, using multiple disciplinary approaches. We will learn about whales’ unique physical/biological adaptation to the environment they live in, as well as how humans have relied on them both directly as a resource, and indirectly/culturally for inspiration. We will take a 360-degree view of the whale, engaging with biology, anthropology, economics, literature, art, and music. In order to examine these different perspectives, students will engage with a range of readings and media sources, and hone critical reading and writing skills, as well as active listening and speaking.
CNX 245. Decision Making: The Rational and the Emotional.
Revised: Drawing from a variety of disciplinary perspectives, this course will examine various factors that influence individuals as they make decisions that affect their everyday lives. Close examinations of rational choice theory, emotion, social identity, and memory will frame debates about the decision-making process and hone students’ ability to research, self-reflect, think critically, and communicate clearly in speech and in writing.
CNX 247. Cross-Examining the Witness.
According to Annette Wieviorka, we live in "the era of the witness." Individual testimonies are cultivated and often applauded, whether they be from trauma survivors, bystanders of police brutality, or Nike-sponsored athletes. We will critically approach this cultural tradition by analyzing historical, legal, and literary testimonies and studying disciplinary differences about how works of witness ought to be approached. Writing assignments will guide you to closely read archival and contemporary texts, evaluate contrasting works of scholarship, and pursue an informed, nuanced argument.
CNX 248. Human Rights and the Humanitarian Response.
Human rights (a set of ideas or principles) and humanitarian efforts (a set of practices) both have a history. As rights claims have arisen and expanded globally over the last two hundred years or more, individual and collective efforts have also arisen and expanded to address them. We will use the work of biographers, historians, philosophers, economists, anthropologists, and others to trace these parallel developments and intertwined histories, not to seek definitive answers, but to raise important questions. Are rights universal? How should we respond individually and collectively to violations of rights? Are humanitarian actions effective in addressing human rights claims?
CNX 250. The Story of You: An Autoethnographic Exploration.
Autoethnography is a form of interdisciplinary self-study, combining personal reflection (memoir) and academic research (scholarship) to understand events and elements of one’s life in a broader cultural context. In this course, students will develop critical thinking, reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills. They will learn the meaning of autoethnography, analyze examples from a variety of disciplines (e.g., sociology, anthropology, race and gender studies) in essays and class discussions, and write and present their own autoethnographies on topics they choose.
CNX 251. 9/11 in Public Memory.
“Never Forget 9/11.” At least once a year, we hear this command. But what exactly are we being asked to remember? Using a variety of sources, such as journalistic accounts and government reports, as well as novels, film, and TV, this course will look at the shaping in public memory of the September 11, 2001 attacks and the subsequent war on terror. With this multi-media approach, we will come to understand that the ways in which we remember—and we forget—certain aspects of 9/11 play a role in shaping our understanding of the United States and its place on the world stage. Writing assignments will include a researched essay, pursued in stages throughout the semester.
CNX 253. Invention of Childhood.
This seminar-style class explores how different societies view or have viewed children. We will address the questions of whether childhood is a socially constructed entity; how children become functioning adults in their culture; and how adults’ beliefs about children affect the ways children are—or are not—taught, disciplined, spoken to, and given freedom. Frequently our focus will be on American childhoods. Students will gain significant practice in public speaking (formal and informal), academic writing, critical thinking, and research methods.
CNX 255. Why We Hate.
Why have groups of people targeted other groups of people for hatred, discrimination, and persecution throughout human history? In this course we will use multiple disciplinary perspectives to begin to answer this fundamental question. We will look at a number of historical examples of group hatred; examine some of the root causes of these hatreds; explore modern examples of Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing, and research and analyze Hate groups in contemporary America.
CNX 257. Europe-America:(Mis)perception.
Drawing from a variety of disciplinary perspectives, this course will examine European-American relations and (mis)perceptions with special attention to how historic patterns and experiences shape contemporary transatlantic discourses. Analysis of tropes of racism, civilization, and democracy will frame investigations of revolution, war, and cultural exchange designed to hone liberal arts skills of critical thinking, engaged reading, effective writing, research, information literacy, and thoughtful self-expression.
CNX 258. Object Lessons.
What can we learn from things? From family heirlooms to commodities to stolen goods—the objects filling this world importantly shape our individual and collective identities. We explore this proposition by developing the fundamental skills of close reading and careful looking, and through individual research projects on the exhibitions and collections of F&M’s Phillips Museum of Art. Focusing on connections between objects, collectors, anthropologists, immigrants, thieves, historians and others, students learn to “read” the tangible, exploring the many stories that objects yield.
CNX 259. Elusive Justice.
Justice issues dominate our news. Dictators arrest dissidents on trumped up charges, police kill unarmed citizens, victims of civil war are treated like outcasts. Is justice really so hard to achieve? If it is, why? Doesn't the fact that we seek justice foreshadow a better society? This course examines four thinkers who grappled with these questions from philosophical, religious, and political perspectives. Exploring their ideas helps students develop skills in argumentation, concise writing, and doing scholarly research.
CNX 263. Materials and Humanity.
Diamond, gold, copper, glass, iron, and clay: Materials like these have played a key role in the success of the human enterprise from the Paleolithic to the present. This CNX seminar will explore the properties and utilization of different materials that have influenced human history and underpin modern society. Through reading, writing, and experimentation, we’ll explore materials from multiple perspectives to understand how humans have exploited materials to innovate and advance technology and society. As part of this process, students will conduct a research project on a specific material that will culminate in a final report.
CNX 265. U.S. in the World, 1914-19.
"Study of the years 1914-1919 will show how the Great War affected the lives of people and nations on every continent. The war involved soldiers and nurses as well as people on the home front. After the war debates raged about the shape of the peace. How would the aggressors pay for the war, and would the age of imperialism end? The course draws on wartime fiction, film, poems, diaries, paintings, and postwar monuments. Assignments will teach students the process of research, including finding authorities and primary sources and preparation of a coherent, purposeful narrative.
CNX 269. Psychology and Religion.
What can psychology teach us about religion? The course begins with important 19th century philosophers and psychologists, turns to Freud and other psychoanalytic thinkers on religion, and concludes with a contemporary attempt to fuse psychodynamic theory with evolutionary psychology to develop a modern scientific psychology of religion. The course work is geared toward learning skills for doing academic research and combining them in a final research paper on a religious phenomenon of choice analyzed in light of psychological theories.
CNX 271. Islam in North America.
This course will introduce students to the history of Islam and Muslims in North America, and to the contribution of Muslims to the religious, cultural, and political life of the United States and Canada. Particular attention will be paid to the experience and contribution of African American Muslims, a fascinating narrative and topic that often gets left out of discussions on the interaction of race and religion in the region. A key goal of this course will be to highlight the diversity of the Muslim American Community and the challenges it has faced overtime. This course will focus on the development of student skills in close reading, writing, class discussion, and library research. The course will be scaffolded by a semester long research project on the themes of the course.
CNX 281. Unequal America.
Since the Declaration of Independence, the United States has celebrated ‘equality’ as a founding principle. But there are striking inconsistencies between the value of equality and the actual conditions of social, economic, and democratic life. The central question posed by this course is: What are the implications of inequality for American democracy today? As we examine the nation’s uneven landscape of class and civic status, students will sharpen their academic skills of synthesizing information and writing a critical research paper.
CNX 291. The Shape of Space.
Although the earth has finite area, one could walk forever and never reach an edge. The same may be true for our universe (finite volume with no edges). We will learn about the mathematical possibilities for the shape of space and about the early cosmos. We will then connect the two through a program that may uncover the exact shape of our universe. The course will culminate in individual research projects that build on skills developed in CNX1. In these projects, students will further explore the math, the cosmology, and the connections between them, sharing their findings both orally and in writing.
CONNECTIONS 2 TOPICS COURSES
CNX 218. Southern Stories. Stevenson
CNX 238. Follow the Money. Nersisyan
CNX 243. Music and Violence, Music and Peace. Katz-Rosene
CNX 244. Exploring WWI Through Literature. Redmann
CNX 256. Senses and the City. Fognani
CNX 280. Exile. Tisnado
CNX 282. Navigating Longitude. Krebs
CNX 286. Physiology of Sport. Thompson
CNX 292. Music and Emotion. Leistra-Jones
CNX 295. Crime. Stachura
CNX 297. Landscapes People Water. Merritts
CNX 299. Tooth & Claw: Story of the Wolf. Dawson
NSP 109. How and Why We Run.
Running is both a fundamental form of locomotion and a popular physical activity. This course will examine the act of running from a scientific perspective, focusing on the physiology and biomechanics of running, as well as the emotional and cognitive effects of sustained aerobic activity. We will also explore reasons why different studies can provide contradictory results, and how research on running is represented in the popular media. Note that this course will not require any actual running.
NSP 111. Energy Issues in Science and Society.
This course explores the basic science of energy, world energy use patterns and some of the environmental and social consequences of energy use. Statistics on energy use and energy resources around the world are examined. The laws of physics which govern energy production and conversion are introduced and used to quantitatively discuss energy sources. The scientific principles of electricity generation and alternative energies are discussed in some detail. The course touches upon the interplay between science, public policy and economics in dealing with energy issues.
NSP 112. The Nature of Oceans.
The Nature of Oceans will investigate the questions: what constitutes acceptable evidence in science and how do we make rational decisions about issues that affect shared natural resources? You will confront these questions through a series of case studies of current uses of ocean resources. Throughout the course you will explore the physiology of marine animals as well as the biology of diverse ocean communities and ecosystems.
NSP 117. Women/Science.
This course will introduce students to the role of women in science both as participants in the creation of scientific knowledge, and as the subjects of biological study of the female body. Topics will include sexual development, pregnancy, childbirth, and menopause, as well as education and professional achievement in the sciences. Students will examine the contributions of women scientists through the lens of feminism, with an emphasis on the barriers women have faced historically and those that remain today. Same as WGS 117.
NSP 118. Water, Life and Society.
This course examines the history, development, management, and policy issues associated with one of the most remarkable substances on Earth, water. The storage and flow of water in the natural world are explored to provide a basis for considering how people have rerouted water since the development of agriculture. The association between civilization and the construction of dams and irrigation projects is explored using case studies that include water conflicts and shortages from around the world. As population and consumption grow and water becomes increasingly scarce and/or polluted, water management and policy become more complex.
NSP 119. Biology and Social Constructs.
This course will introduce students to the fundamental biological processes of inheritance and sex determination in living organisms and examine the interplay of these concepts in our (mis)understanding of two social constructs commonly attributed to a biological basis: gender and race. Topics will include diversity of sexual mating systems, mechanisms of sex determination, concepts of genetic transmission and ancestry, pedigree analysis and human population genetics. Students will critically evaluate studies that apply and extend these concepts and their intersection with social constructs. Same as WGS 119.
NSP 136. Science Revolutions.
This course surveys the question of what constitutes a scientific revolution. Beginning with Thomas Kuhn's famous theory in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1970), we survey numerous episodes in the development of the sciences, from the seventeenth century to the present. Using case studies from chemistry, physics, life sciences, and the interdisciplinary field of origin of life studies, we try to determine what it would mean for a scientific revolution to occur, would happen, and how to assess whether such a thing might be underway currently. The course in many ways serves as a broad introduction to history and sociology of science.
NSP 137. History of Space and Time.
This course traces the development of views on space and time, from classical Greece to the modern theory of pace and time, relativity. Students will gain a conceptual understanding of relativity as well as use algebra to work out detailed problems. We will discuss some of the revolutionary aspects of relativity such as black holes, the warping of space, time travel and the big bang. We will explore the philosophical implications of relativity, how our modern view of space and time has changed our view of the world and how it has influenced society, literature and art.
NSP 138. Lakes as Sentinels.
Lakes are considered to be sentinels of environmental change because they respond rapidly to meteorological conditions and are closely linked to the surrounding catchment. The course will focus on basic physics, chemistry, and biology of lakes, as well as the importance of freshwater to humankind. Hands-on experiences in the field and laboratory will be emphasized.
NSP 149. Life on Mars.
Is, or was, there life on Mars? What about in our Solar System or galaxy? These intriguing questions will be addressed by examining the origins and evolution of Mars, and by comparing Mars to the geological and biological evolution of the Earth. From Lowell's observations in the 1890's to exciting new discoveries by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and Phoenix Lander and the European Space Agency's Mars Express missions, our understanding of the red planet is increasing, but many questions remain. Perhaps human exploration of Mars will provide the answers and at the same time increase our appreciation of the uniqueness of planet Earth.
A. de Wet
NSP 157. History of Natural History.
In this course, we’ll cover briefly the history of man’s fascination with Nature, from cave paintings to Ancient Philosophers to New World Explorers and beyond. The history of Natural History reflects very closely the evolution of the scientific method: with advances in philosophical and empirical approaches to interpret their observations, naturalists developed into scientists. The rigor of the scientific method can be understood when current forms of natural history are examined. From the development of ecology as a scientific discipline to the popularization of nature shows, a rigorous examination of natural history will allow students to visualize the different levels of data collection, analysis, confidence and uncertainty. As we learn from the past, students will start their own Naturalist journals as a way to appreciate nature and to develop a keen appetite and respect for the complex structure of our environment. We’ll include a visit to the museum of natural history in Philadelphia, as well as Naturalist-oriented trips to the Millport Conservancy and other locations for exploration and inspiration.
NSP 163. Environment: Science and Policy.
The objective of this Science in Perspective course is to explore fundamental questions such as: What is scientific inquiry? What role should science play in determining environmental policy? This course is designed to foster an appreciation of the scientific method that is rooted in experimental measurement and quantitative uncertainty. Given relevant historical precedents such as the US Acid Rain Program and the UN Montreal Protocol, the issue of climate change will be examined from scientific, economic, political, and ethical perspectives.
NSP 168. Food, Plants and Nutrition.
As the world population continues to increase, how do we feed the world’s people? Who are the world's hungry and why? Can food be grown in a sustainable way? Is organic, local food production really better? What is the impact of livestock on the environment? Are genetically-modified crops the answer to world hunger, or do they threaten the ecosystem? Is there really a global epidemic of obesity? This course will examine concerns about food and nutrition that influence our lives as individuals and as members of local, national, and global communities.
NSP 185. Impact of Reproductive Technology.
This course will examine how reproductive technology has altered the way humans create and view family. Advances in medicine and manufacturing in the past century have produced unprecedented levels of control in preventing or producing offspring. What are the modern ways to make a baby? How have these options altered our views of family planning and parenting? What is the effect on the legal, social, and spiritual standing of the child (or potential child)? How does the impact of modern reproductive practices vary with different religions and cultures?
NSP 210. Genetically Modified Organisms.
This course is designed for students not intending to major in the natural sciences, and is divided into classroom and laboratory components (there is no additional lab time). Topics discussed will include the origins and history of GMOs, their present uses in agriculture, industry and biomedicine, current controversies surrounding GMOs, and potential future applications of GM technology. A key focus of the course will be the use, misuse and selective disregard of evidence in the application of scientific research to policy considerations. Concurrently in the laboratory students will learn the techniques necessary to identify GMOs in food, and create their own (harmless) GMOs.
NSP 295. Coral Reefs in Time and Space.
This course addresses the history of reefs back through geologic time, and looks to the future in light of ocean acidification, coral bleaching, and coastal development. High rates of anthropomorphic change, from overfishing to global warming, threaten coral reefs in ways unprecedented in Earth’s history and this course offers a view of how interconnected global systems affect this important marine community. We examine interactions and connections between geological, biological, physical and chemical systems as they determine reef composition and stability. We discuss the role of reefs in popular culture, from the discovery of these “cities below the sea”, to modern resorts and eco-tourism, and how reefs are expressed in the visual arts for the public good and private goals.
C. de Wet
NSP 365. Occult Science and Pseudoscience.
The class will gain a basic familiarity with the history of the occult sciences and pseudoscience. Students will learn about the boundaries between what they define as "bunk" and what they dub "legitimate" science, what is authentic knowledge about nature, and who gets to define what counts as proper science. Likewise, the class will gain skills to understand the nature of science itself and how it operates. Same as STS 365.
K. A. Miller