Skip to Content

John D. Simon

John D. Simon
Executive Vice President & Provost

Contact Us

P.O. Box 400226
Charlottesville, VA 22904-4226




USEMS: Fall 2006

University Seminars: Fall 2006

University Seminars (USEMS) are designed to give first-year students the opportunity to develop critical-thinking skills and explore new ideas in an environment that encourages interactive learning and intensive discussion. The seminars are based on ideas that have changed the way we think about our relation to the world around us. The seminars are given by prominent faculty in departments and schools across the University, carry two or three hours of credit, and are restricted to 18 first-year students during the initial course enrollment. If space is remaining, second-, third-, and fourth-year students may enroll using a Course Action Form.

Refer to the Course Offering Directory for a list of specific offerings each semester.

Twelve New 3 Credit Courses are being offered this Fall in addition to our traditional 2 credit courses. Note: College of Arts & Sciences' student only: USEM 170s count as credit and 180s count as elective credit inside the College of Arts & Sciences ONLY.

Art of Rock Concert Lighting: A 3 Credit Course

Tuesday plus lab 1400-1550
Drama Rm 217 TTI Media Rm
R. Lee Kennedy, Associate Professor, Drama
Fall 06

The exploration of the history of concert lighting design and technology from its roots in ‘60s counter-culture to the contemporary corporate rock technological spectacle. Through structured discussion and research into video, print, and web sources, students will investigate the elements of concert visual imagery and their influence on other media such as Broadway musical theatre, television, film and the themed restaurant and retail environments. In hands-on-projects in the lighting studio students will explore the artistic and perceptual relationship between music and light and gain a practical understanding of the sophisticated technology behind the dynamic imagery so prevalent in popular entertainment.

Buddhism in Fiction and Film: A 3-Credit Course

Tuesday 1400-16:30pm
Wilson 215
Kurtis R. Schaeffer, Associate Professor in Religion
Fall 06

This course is an introduction to Buddhism and an exploration of the place of Buddhism within contemporary Asian, European, and North American fiction and film. It offers a solid and engaging introduction to the history and doctrines one of the world’s great religious traditions, as well as an introduction to the study of non-western culture in contemporary global setting. By focusing upon the presence of Buddhist themes within six contemporary novels and six films produced throughout the world – from India, China, Japan, Korea and India to Germany, Russia, Scotland, and the United States – the course encourages students to consider Buddhism (and religion in general) not as an ancient, monolithic, and isolated tradition but as a vibrant, adaptable, and contested aspect of modern global culture. The interpretive goals in each case are to identify possible Buddhist sources for narrative themes and, more importantly, to consider how, why, and by whom Buddhism is employed in recent film and fiction to address contemporary issues

Designing a Sustainable Future A 3-Credit Course

Wednesday 1400-1550
Wilson 140
P. Paxton Marshall (and 18 additional instructors)
Professor and Associate Dean, SEAS
Fall 06

This USEM will address challenges and opportunities as humankind adjusts to life on a resource-constrained planet. Instructors from a variety of disciplines will address the implications, prospects and solutions to resource and environmental constraints in a wide-range of human activities.

Reading Robert Frost Anew A 3 Credit Course

Tuesday and Thursday 1530-1645
MCL 2007
Walter Jost, Professor, English, limited to only 15 students
Fall 06

The usual picture of the poet, Robert Frost, as friendly grandfather-figure leaning against a birch fence, or amiably posed on a granite boulder, is not so much wrong as misleadingly one-sided. My own recent work on Robert Frost has begun to show that this beloved American poet is less an aged hedgehog than he is an agile fox, gratifyingly accessible but craftily elusive, concerned with the everyday and ordinary but intent on turning the reader around until the familiar becomes, not strange exactly, but at once a wonder and a mystery to behold. This course will focus on a careful selection from Frost’s Collected Poems (with side-glances at the work of his poetic contemporaries and our own). We will enjoy several “student-faculty dialogues” with visiting professors from English and Drama; performance (for our own edification) of some of Frost’s dramatic dialogues at the Helms theater; frequent in-class use of audiotapes of Frost’s, others’, and our own readings of his poems; several films about Frost’s life and times; and even some music scored to Frost’s lyrics.

Argumentation A 3 Credit Course, 2 sections

Monday 1500-1650 PV8 108
Wednesday 1530-1800 Monroe Rm 114
Pavilion VIII, Room 108 or 103
David Rubin, Professor Emeritus, French
Fall 06

This highly collaborative USEM will enhance preparation for many types of advanced course and for critical exchange in a wide variety of contexts. We will begin by distinguishing between formal reasoning and argumentation, the focus on schematic (as opposed to essayistic) construction, analysis, critique, and countering of arguments. Abundant discussion problems from Stephen Toulmin’s classic Introduction to Reasoning will assure the transition from theory to practice. Our capstone project will address a controversy playing out on the op-ed pages of national periodicals. Time permitting, argumentation in special fields (eg. Law, ethics, criticism) will also receive detailed attention. This USEM is designed for several types of first-year students: those exempted from the first writing requirement (FWR), where argumentation is introduced; those held for the FWR and interested in a head start – or reinforcement of studies in progress; and those who have completed the FWR and wish to extend as well as deepen their deliberative skills.

Rise and Fall of the Soviet Union 3 Credit Course, 2 Sections

Tuesday, 1530-1720 Munford
Other time to be listed on COD soon
Tentatively in M. Munford
Yuri Urbanovich, Research Associate, Government and Foreign Affairs
Fall 06

This course is about Russia and the Soviet Union. It is about the development of socialist revolution, and it is about the peasants, workers, soldiers, and leaders who waged and won a revolution which for a time shook the foundations of western capitalism. Topics of discussion will include tsars and Bolsheviks, bloody civil war, socialism, New Economic Policy, industrialization, collectivization, the Great Purges, the Great Patriotic War and the cold war, and the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Lenin, Trotskii, Stalin, Khrushchev, Gorbachev are major characters in the epic, tragic story of a great and cultured people fighting for a better life and fighting sometimes for national survival. We will look at Russia as Russians saw and see their country. We will make sense of the present through an understanding of the history, culture, and politics on which it builds.

Technology and Democracy 3 Credit Course, 4 sections

Tuesdays and Thursdays,9:30-10:45
* Location tbd by Instructor *
Nicole Hurd, Kathryn Neeley, William Wilson, Deborah Johnson
Fall 06

This course explores a Jeffersonian vision for the 21st century, understanding how technology can be shaped in accordance with democratic principles and managed as a resource to maintain the vitality of democracy. It prepares students to contribute to the democratic shaping of technology regardless of their chosen field.

Keeping a Personal Journal 2 Credit Course

Wednesday 1230-1420
Cauthen 116
John Bunch, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Curry School of Education
Fall 06

Our writing/discussion group will explore the various ways one can use the journal keeping process for greater personal insights and self-expression. We will include making sketches and photographs as tools that are closely related to the journal writing process (for personal use--not "art."). The examples we will read about and discuss include journal-keeping as problem-solving, process meditation, dialogue with the deeper self, thought shaping and clarification, and as a prelude to writing and other forms of expression. Specific journal assignments topics will be Lists, Portraits, Maps, Snapshots, Tear-sheets, Sketches, Dialogues, Guided Imagery, Points of View and Unsent Letters; we will also read selections from among the genres of the diary/journal such as Chroniclers, Travelers, Creators, Apologists, Confessors and Prisoners. Course requirements will be to keep a personal journal, to read assigned selections on journal keeping, to submit journal entries on specific topics and themes, and to submit a narrative discussion of a person’s diary or journal.

Utopias: Italian Style 2 Credit Course

Wednesdays 10-12:00
Brown 312
Enrico Cesaretti, Associate Professor, Spanish
Fall 06

This seminar intends to introduce students to the multifaceted and peculiar contributions that Italian writers and intellectuals have made to utopian (and anti-utopian) literature during the Nineteenth and Twentieth century. Topics of study will range from discussing the relationship of utopian and dystopian thinking with fiction, race, politics, technology, travel and gastronomy, to investigating, the implicit dangers and contradictions that the human quest for perfection and harmony inevitably involves. The ultimate goal of the course is (also) to encourage students to reflect on contemporary, general manifestations of utopian/dystopian discourses and on their potential influence on our daily lives.

Be the Spider, Not the Fly 2 Credit Course

Wednesday, 1430-1530
McLeod Hall, Room 1003
Sarah Farrell, Assistant Professor,School of Nursing
Fall 06

Won’t you come into my parlor said the spider to the fly? The objective of this course is to help students evaluate and use health care resources on the Internet. Students will gain an understanding of the history, political/legal, economic, social, and technological nature of health care resources on the Internet. The way into my parlor is up a winding stair, and there are many pretty things to show you when you are there! The students will gain experience in evaluating and using health care resources as well as develop their own web page full of content and critique on a health care topic of their choice.

Public Speaking about Diversity 2 Credit Course

Monday 1400-1600
Cauthen House 116
Robert Patterson, Director of Academic Approvals & Assistant Professor, Cont. & Prof. Studies
Fall 06

Students will learn to present public speeches on topics of culture and diversity having clear central ideas and cogent main points, and students will us transitions between main points, internalize knowledge and vocabularies, use evidence and comparative argument, cite viable and quality sources, summarize ideas, and use effective delivery to support their content and connect with audiences.

The Business of Diversity 2 Credit Course

Tuesday, 1400-1600
Monroe Hall, 120
Rebecca Leonard, Asst. Dean, Undergraduate Studies, Commerce
Fall 06

Diversity is a competitive business strategy, which firm’s in today’s global marketplace must embrace to remain successful. Understanding differences and creating inclusive work environments is a key skill for managers today. The objective of this course is to increase students understanding and awareness of issues related to differences and the impact of differences on: individual behavior in organizations, team development and effectiveness, organizational change and effectiveness and organizational success. This course will examine, define and create a greater understanding of diversity as a business imperative as well as challenge students to examine their own biases and stereotypes and how they can create positive changes for a more inclusive environment at U.Va.

Journeys through Hell, 2 Credit Course

PV8 103
Dariusz Tolczyk, Assoc. Prof.
Slavic Languages & Literature
Fall 06

Extreme experiences of oppression and unjustified suffering have often been presented by survivors as opportunities for personal growth and spiritual ascent. Survivors of twentieth-century's prisons, concentration camps, and other atrocities often placed their memoirs and testimonies in the context of these traditions. Some confirmed, others revised, questioned or rejected them. The main goal of this seminar is to examine a series of prominent testimonies to twentieth-century's political prisons, camps, and atrocities in this longstanding context dating back to archaic rites of passage, Greek and Roman antiquity, the Bible, and medieval heroic/martyrological literature. Readings include Elie Wiesel, Primo Levi, Varlam Shalamov, Eugenia Ginzburg, Tadeusz Borowski, Gustaw Herling, and others. Several films will be viewed and discussed.

I’d Rather Be in Philadelphia, 2 Credit Course

Wednesday 1600-1750
McLeod Rm 2005
Richard H. Steeves, Professor
School of Nursing
Fall 06

The title refers to what the comic W.C. Fields was reported to have wanted written on his gravestone, “On the whole, I’d rather be in Philadelphia”. This course is an exploration of thinking about dying, death and bereavement. Although western culture and American culture in particular has a reputation for being death denying, we do in fact confront images of and talk about death on almost a daily basis. This course will not be a study about death and dying in the news and popular media, rather it will be about those who have thought about or mortality seriously and extensively. The course will be divided into three foci: (a) writers and poets, (b) death professionals such as hospice workers, funeral directors and grief counselors, (c) social scientists who study homicide, suicide, bereavement and related topics. The goal is to explore different ways of thinking about what may truly be beyond our understanding, death.

The Origin of the Universe 2 Credit Course

Wednesday, 1400-1550
Physics 210
Vittorio Celli, Professor, Physics
Fall 06

Has the universe always existed or was it created from nothing? Is it finite or infinite in extent? If it is finite, does it have an edge? Until the 1920’s, scientists by and large left these kinds of questions to religion and philosophy. Then Hubble found that the universe is expanding, as predicted by Einstein’s theory of General Relativity. Now we have plenty of evidence that, as far in the sky as our instruments can see, it all started about 14 billion years ago with a Big Bang. We will discuss what is known, what is still uncertain or speculative, and what appear to be the ultimate limits of human ability to know, with readings.

The Legacy of Brown V. Board 2 Credit Course, 2 sections

Wednesday, 1200-1350 PV108
Wednesday, 1400-1550 PV108
Selena Cozart, Assistant Professor, Curry
Fall 06

In the midst of the 50th anniversary of both the Brown Decision of 1954 and the Brown II Decision of 1955, the impact of these decisions on equitable education for all remains a complicated and heavily debated area of study, with many of the outcomes yet to materialize. In this course, students will study the America that produced a need for the Brown decision and investigate what that America has done with that decision in the intervening years. Using memoir, biography, and historical documents and commentary, students will gain a multi layered view of the implications of Brown on their own educational experiences.

Righting Unrightable Wrongs 2 Credit Course

Monday 1400-1550
CAB 335
E. Franklin Dukes, Lecturer, Dept of Urban & Environmental Planning, School of Architecture
Fall 06

From African-Americans demanding payment for slavery and its aftermath, to Native Americans seeking a return of lands, to Japanese-Americans attempting to draw attention to the shame of internment, the United States faces many groups seeking to right past harm and resultant in justices. Can nations ever make right what appear to be irreparable wrongs? This course will examine that large question within the context of reparations for slavery, Native American forced displacement and genocide, Japanese-American internment during World War II, and relevant examples from around the world, before turning to the question of African-American history at the University of Virginia.

Biology of Consciousness 2 Credit Course

Wednesday 1500-1650
Bryan 332
William B. Levy, Professor, School of Medicine
Fall 06

In the last decade, brain-imaging techniques such as functional MRI and PET have confirmed the crucial nature of prefrontal cortex for conscious thought. Moreover, the conscious acts of problem-solving, of speaking, of certain kinds of memory recall, and of emotion-based decision making all have separate, relatively distinct localizations within the prefrontal cortex. In producing these various aspects of consciousness, the prefrontal cortex seems to be orchestrating activation of a variety of specific neocortical regions. The seminar will explore and review published brain imaging experiments that support such ideas and produce specific hypotheses of localized brain function. Students will be responsible for weekly readings and presentations, and a paper will be required at the end of the semester.

Other Worlds & Fantastic Beings 2 Credit Course

Janette Martin, Assistant Professor,McIntire School of Commerce
Tuesday, 1600-1750
Monroe Hall, Rm 120
Fall 06

We'll begin our reading with the first mass audience science fiction novel, Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley and follow with twentieth century works by Octavia Butler, Ursula LeGuin, Anne Rice and others. Discussions will include the science fiction genre as women writers have particularly rendered it as well as the social, political, and economic contexts from which the works evolved.

Food: Exploring the Way We Eat 2 Credit Course

Monday 1900-2050
Cabell 335
Virginia Mosser, General Faculty, School of Continuing & Professional Studies
Fall 06

The course will explore the ways in which food has influenced culture. First, we will take a brief overview of the history of food from prehistoric time to the present. Next, our focus will be the psychology and sociology of food, that is the ways in which opinions about food have caused cultural and religious conflicts. Our third area of inquiry will be nutrition and its influence on our eating habits. Finally, we will consider questions about the food industry from fast food to famous restaurants.

Mindfulness and Social Change 2 Credit Course

Thursday, 3-4:50pm
M. Munford/IRC
Margaret Odahowski, Director of Studies,International Residence College
Fall 06

An in-depth discussion of how culture and food are intertwined. We will look at culture and food as see how this gives meaning to our connection to self, community and society. We will explore why in American society we are often left feeling an unfulfilled wanting for something more and we will look at other cultures for lessons of fulfillment. The craving appears to be a relationship connection. The relationship is first inward to our own power, knowing and intuition, then to others in a compassionate connection and lastly our connection to community with spirit and collaboration. We will practice and discuss how to enhance these three important relationship connections using mindfulness. In addition, we will explore food politics and how to use mindfulness in creating sustainable social change.

Design and Politics 2 Credit Course

Tuesdays 2:00 to 3:50 pm
Campbell 107
Kenneth Schwartz, Associate Professor, Architecture
Fall 06

Politics and design interact in many intriguing and at times disconcerting ways. Using the American urban and suburban context as our "laboratory", and drawing from literature, political science, and contemporary design discourse, we will discuss and analyze a number of case studies. This seminar will draw connections between early explorations of the implications of our new Republic (through readings in the Federalist Papers and de Tocqueville) and contemporary issues of design in cities and suburbs today. The form of our physical environment is seldom understood as a direct product of political decisions, yet there are dramatic examples including the interstate highway system and parallel initiatives of "urban renewal" developed after World War II and during the Cold War. Additionally, there is a rich body of literature of critique and protest surrounding the problems of cities in history, ranging from the muckrakers of the 1930's to utopian visions. Connecting readings with physical manifestations in the urban and suburban environment represents a unique learning opportunity for students.

Quantum Theory & Consciousness 2 Credit Course

Thursday, 1400-1550
Physics, Room 313
Stanley Sobottka, Professor Emeritus, Physics
Fall 06

A science-based discussion of non dual reality, including the major metaphysical philosophies; quantum theory and consciousness; science and conscious mind; the perceived and the perceiver; the functioning of the mind; religion and belief; time, space, and causality; free will and responsibility; identification and suffering; misidentification and freedom. This course will be appreciated most by students who are willing to carefully examine their beliefs. Interested students are strongly urged to read the syllabus on the course web site before enrolling.

Australia 2 Credit Course

Thursday, 1600-1750
PV8, 103
Mark Thomas, Associate Professor, History
Fall 06

This course will look at the history, culture and society of the land ‘down under.’ Australia is a land of opportunity and paradox. It began as a penal colony and became the richest country in the world within a hundred years. It is a country that has been independent of Britain for a century, yet still has the Queen as head of state. It is a vast continent of only 15 million inhabitants, yet has remarkable regional diversity. It has long been among the most urbanized of global societies, yet its cultural identity is largely shaped by rural idealism. To understand contemporary Australia, one must understand its past, both as myth and reality. This course will look closely at some of the major events in Australian history, from the voyages of Captain Cook and the landing of the First Fleet at Botany Bay, through the excitements of the Gold Rush and Ned Kelly, the traumas of Gallipoli and the Great Depression, to the economic, political and social problems faced in the uncertain world of the new millennium. We will use both traditional and non-traditional means to understand these events, applying the realist perspective of the historian, the subjective perceptions of the diarist and novelist, and the powerful imagery of the artist and the film-maker.

Chance, Necessity and Design 2 Credit Course

Thursday, 1530-1720
Brown College
Carl Trindle, Professor, Chemistry
Fall 06

We look beyond politics and acrimony to the intellectual roots of the “intelligent design” movement and to the way in which evolutionary theorists have dealt with problems attending the appearance of complex physical structures and behavior. Readings include Darwin, Gould, Ruse, Pennock, Behe and Miller.

Business and the Environment 2 Credit Course

Tuesdays, 3:30-5:20
Monroe Hall Room 118
Mark White, Associate Professor McIntire School of Commerce
Fall 06

This course provides an introduction to business’ role in exacerbating or mitigating environmental damage. It begins with a brief description and history of the major environmental problems facing society and introduces alternative solutions grounded in ethics, law and economics. It then moves to a discussion of the opportunities and threats for business posed by increased environmental concerns, and their implications for business strategy and planetary sustainability. Course pedagogy will include discussion, cases, role plays, simulations and group work.

The Politics of Southern Africa Leading to Democracy, 3 credits

Thursday 8:00-10:50am
Cauthen 116
Andrew Lawrence
Fall 06

This course covers the history of Southern Africa prior to the colonial era through the end of Apartheid in South Africa, and the regions’ evolution toward more open, democratic societies. Politically a highly charged and complex region, the impact of Portuguese, British, and German systems of colonialism –combined with the rigidity, brutality and influence of Apartheid –resulted in an unusual array of dynamics as Africa marched toward independence, the post-independence era and finally the onset of democratization in the late 1980’s. Featured countries are South Africa, Namibia, Angola, Mozambique, Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia) and Botswana.

Science Fiction and Environmental Literacy

Wednesday 2-4pm tentative schedule contact instructor to confirm
Cauthen room tbd?
Theodore “Ted” Homyk, Lecturer in Biology
Fall 06

The course incorporates reading of fictional and non-fictional text materials, viewing of fictional and non-fictional videos, and discussions aimed at increasing our awareness and need to understand environmental issues that are becoming more pressing every day. Students will be educated for and encouraged to make their own decisions on issues such as how global warming, ozone depletion, chemical pollution, overpopulation, over fishing, monoculture, and other items that have become an accepted (even expected) part of our consumer oriented society, place an unnatural and unsustainable stress on the environment. Class discussions will entail consideration and analysis of the facts, as they stand, the validity of possible consequences presented in academic literature or depicted in science fiction stories, that might result, if solutions to our growing environmental problems are not sought and implemented in an intelligent way.