P.O. Box 400226
Charlottesville, VA 22904-4226
USEMS: Spring 2007
UNIVERSITY SEMINARS: Spring 2007
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.
Seven New 3 Credit Courses are being offered this spring 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.
Designing a Sustainable Future A 3-Credit Course
P. Paxton Marshall (and 18 additional instructors)
Professor and Associate Dean, SEAS
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
Bryan Hall 310
Walter Jost, Professor, English, limited to only 15 students Spring 07
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 (satisfies second writing requirement)
Tuesday 1500-1650 PV8 108
Thursday 1530-1800 TBD-do not want to use Monroe Rm 114
PV8, Room 108 or 103
David Rubin, Professor Emeritus, French
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, then 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 as well as Joseph Williams and Gregory Colomb's The Craft of Argument 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, medicine) will also receive detailed attention. This USEM is designed for several types of first-year student: those exempted from the first writing requirement (FWR), where argumentation is introduced; those held for the FWR and interested 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, 1530-1800 Munford
Yuri Urbanovich, Lecturer, Department of Politics
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.
African Americans, Science & Technology 3 Credit Course
Tuesday and Thursday
Patricia Click, Associate Professor, School of Engineering, Science, Technology and Society
Although most African Americans were denied access to higher education throughout a good portion of American history, they were intimately involved—as both creators and users—with American science and technology. This course will focus on the history of African-American science and technology from colonial times to the present. Students will study the social and cultural context of African Americans’ contributions to science and technology, as well as the impact of these contributions on American society and culture. This course will also include a community engagement component; students will work in teams to share their knowledge of course topics with a local fourth-grade class. Course materials will include books, journal articles, primary documents, and films. Course assignments will include short papers, class discussion leadership (team), a research project paper and poster project, and a research project oral presentation.
The Politics of Southern Africa Leading to Democracy, 3 credits
Andrew Lawrence, Lecturer in Politics
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.
Behavioral Economics – 2 Credit Course, 2 Sections
Wilson 235 (experimental economics research lab).
Charles A. Holt, A. Willis Robertson Professor of Political Economy
Course will address selected topics in economics and politics from a behavioral perspective based on the psychology of how people actually make decisions. Students will participant in a series of market simulations and games (“experiments”), and the resulting data patterns will be compared with economic predictions. Topics include: marginal analysis, market dynamics and efficiency, bargaining and fairness, trust, game theory, strategic voting, auctions, altruism and contributions to a public good. One course in calculus (possibly concurrent) is recommended.
Keeping a Personal Journal 2 Credit Course
Ruffner 202 (Audio-visual/photography lab)
John Bunch, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Curry School of Education
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
Enrico Cesaretti, Associate Professor, Spanish
Location Cathen 112
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
McLeod Hall, Room 1003
Sarah Farrell, Assistant Professor, School of Nursing
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
Cauthen House 116
Robert Patterson, Director of Academic Approvals & Assistant Professor, Cont. & Prof. Studies
Students will learn to present public speeches (e.g., informative, commemorative, and persuasive) on topics of culture and diversity having clear central ideas and cogent main points, and students will use 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.
Work Life Balance 2 Credit Course
Monroe Hall, 120
Rebecca Leonard, Asst. Dean, Undergraduate Studies, Commerce
Students will increase their understanding and awareness of issues related to work life balance on both a personal and organizational level. Students will be given an opportunity to complete an interest inventory profile and gain information their own work styles and organizational needs. The course will emphasize the challenges faced by women, the current state of women in the labor market and evaluate the difficulties that all employees face in combining family and personal needs with career success. The role that employers and managers can play in supporting work life balance will also be examined as well as the personal choices that individuals face throughout their work life.
Journeys Through Hell,2 Credit Course
Dariusz Tolczyk, Assoc. Prof.
Slavic Languages & Literature
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
McLeod Rm 2006
Richard H. Steeves, Professor
School of Nursing
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
Vittorio Celli, Professor, Physics
Has the universe always existed or was it created from nothing? Is it finite or infinite in extent? Until the 1920's, scientists by and large left these 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,.But was there something before the Bang, and how did it come about? 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 from Hawking's "History of Time", web sites, and current articles
The Legacy of Brown V. Board 2 Credit Course, 2 sections
Wednesday, 1200-1350 and 1400-1550 (1400-1550 location TBA-requested same location PV8 103)
Selena Cozart, Assistant Professor, Curry
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 multilayered view of the implications of Brown on their own educational experiences.
The Biological Bases of Drug Addiction 2 Credit Course
William B. Levy, Professor, School of Medicine
Great progress is being made in understanding the neurobiology of drug addiction. The basis of this understanding arises from work that studies the neurobiology basis of pleasure and pain and the neurobiology of wanting and liking. Addictive drugs push brain and behavior to the limits of pleasure and pain and are therefore a useful tool in understanding normal brain function itself. There is now strong scientific understanding of the brain circuits that medicate pleasure and pain. Other brain regions, ones that directly control decision-making, respond to activation of the primary motivation circuits in behaviorally meaningful situations. Neurophysiological experiments, lesion studies, neurochemical analyses, and pharmacological manipulation reveal the cellular correlates of our lost pleasure as we become more experienced with a situation that produces a pleasurable feeling.
The seminar will read and review experimental studies performed over the last ten years which have given us new insights into the issues. The readings will be accompanied by neurophamacology that are relevant to pleasure, pain and addiction.
Other Worlds & Fantastic Beings 2 Credit Course
Monroe Hall, Rm 110
Janette Martin, Assistant Professor, McIntire School of Commerce
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
Virginia Mosser, General Faculty, School of Continuing & Professional Studies
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
Margaret Odahowski, Director of Studies, International Residence College
In our fast paced culture it seems counter intuitive to slow down in order to get more accomplished. Yet, research has demonstrated the benefits of training the mind as an effective means to handle the complexity of today’s world. When we have a quiet mind we have the capacity to focus, engage fully, and enjoy each moment. Cultivating awareness and developing a reflective practice are the keys to greater emotional intelligence, optimism and creativity. We will experiment with creating opportunities for quieting the mind, reflection, and connection in our daily lives to create a work life balance and enhance our creativity.
This class will integrate the spiritual, biological, cognitive and social dimensions of life. We will gain an understanding of interconnectedness of our world through ecoliteracy, mindfulness, and systems thinking. The readings will explore both the personal and societal systematic approach to sustainable living.Together as a learning community we will address the following questions: What role does mindfulness awareness play in transcending barriers to change? What role does collective inquiry have in leadership and social change? What would be the value of stillness (quieting the mind) to our connection to self, community and society?
Quantum Theory & Consciousness 2 Credit Course
Physics, Room 313
Stanley Sobottka, Professor Emeritus, Physics
A science-based discussion of nondual 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; disidentification 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 website before enrolling.
Australia2 Credit Course
Mark Thomas, Professor, History
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.
Science Fiction and Our Future-2 Credit Course
Theodore “Ted” Homyk, Lecturer in Biology
Progress in science and technology and changes in cultural values are bringing us to a point at which mankind will no longer be exempt from biological bionic enhancements and where humans are no longer the only sentient beings which possess self awareness, superior intelligence, and imagination. Such progress holds many promises that could improve our lives by enhancing physical and mental capabilities, for descendents in our so called post human future, as well as providing us with talented and necessary companions with “whom” to explore the universe.
But such promises come with significant changes. Will the changes improve life or devalue life. Will we become commodities, like so many domesticated animals, or will we gain freedoms we never dreamed of and become better persons? Will new social and cultural unrest arise with increasing presence and independence of artificially created intelligent beings? Students will be prodded to search for answers to these questions as well as to ask questions of their own as they read up on the recent advances in science and technology and ponder the writings and imaginations of science fiction authors and film makers.
USEM 171 Art, Death, and Ritual: Mysteries of Ancient China-2 Credit Course
Fayerweather Hall 206
Dorothy Wong, Associate Professor, Art
Great archaeological discoveries of the twentieth century have unraveled many riddles of China’s ancient past. Astonishing finds include bronzes, jades, lacquer objects, and silk paintings of superb craftsmanship. Most of these objects were found in tombs and were intended as ritual objects. Through a study of several well-documented tombs and their grave goods, this seminar examines the form and content of ritual art of ancient China—from the Neolithic period (5000–1000 BCE) to the Han dynasty (206 BCE–220 CE). It also explores the Chinese notions of afterlife, ancestor worship, state ritual, and immortality cults. Important tombs that will be examined include: the Fu Hao Tomb at Anyang, the Sanxingdui sacrificial site, Tomb of the Marquis Yi of Zeng, Tomb of the First Emperor of Qin (where the famous terra cotta army is found), and the Mawangdui tombs. No prerequisite knowledge of China is required. Through this seminar students will gain a knowledge of the material culture of ancient China, and a comprehensive understanding of the period when ancient Chinese civilization was formed.
The Cinema of Stanley Kubrick 2 Credit Course
Walter Korte, Associate Professor, Drama
The seminar will examine Kubrick's major films ("The Killing", "Paths of Glory", "Lolita", "Dr. Strangelove", "2001", "A Clockwork Orange", "Barry Lyndon", "The Shining", "Full Metal Jacket", "Eyes Wide Shut") as a body of work exhibiting a distinct unity of theme and visual style. We will investigate the often controversial nature of his projects, how they challenged notions of censorship and social control of film content, were met initially with hostility from many mainstream film critics, and ultimately expanded our notions of visual storytelling in ways unmatched by very few other filmmakers in the history of the medium.
A Survey of Language Learning 2 Credit Course
Ruffner Hall 283
Stephen Plaskon, Associate Professor, Curry School of Education, Curriculum, Instruction and Special Education
This seminar class will be devoted to a discussion of the basic aspects of language acquisition and development. Selected aspects of the development of syntax, semantics, pragmatics, and phonology; primary caretaker influences, and the role of the environment in language development will be the principle areas of discussion. All participants will have an opportunity to share their observations of a child or the results of an investigation into a topic of their choosing. Readings will be assigned from the required text as well as from select journals and the popular press. Video and audio presentations will be used to supplement discussions and presentations.
Race, Health Care, and Genomics 2 Credit Course
Brown College, Monroe Hill House
Carl Trindle, Professor Chemistry and m Knaus, Professor, Public Health Sciences
The genomic era has the potential to advance our understanding of human genetic variation and its role in health and disease. A fundamental challenge is to understand the relationships between genomics, race, and ethnicity and their implications for effective medical care.
Education and Poverty, 3 credits
Nicole Hurd, Lecturer
This course will explore the relationship between socio-economic status and educational opportunity. After surveying the history and goals of the American education system, we will look at current issues such as "No Child Left Behind" and access to higher education.