P.O. Box 400226
Charlottesville, VA 22904-4226
University Seminars: Fall 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 s are being offered this fall in addition to our traditional s. Note: College of Arts & Sciences' student only: USEM 170s count as credit and 180s count as elective credit inside the College of Arts & Sciences in the course web site before enrolling.
3 Credit Courses
Know Thyself3 Credit Course
Wednesday 1200-1400 and Thursday 830-920
Mitchell Green, Associate Professor
The Delphic Oracle is said to have had two premier injunctions: Nothing in excess, and Know thyself. This course will be an examination of the latter injunction. Our central questions fall into two categories. First what is it? We shall inquire into just what self-knowledge is: Is it a form of inner perception, somewhat like proprioception, by virtue of which our minds (and hearts) have internal scanners of their own states? Or should we construe self-knowledge in a way not crucially relying on a perceptual model? In that case, what other model might we use? Second, why is it such a big deal? We shall inquire into the question why self-knowledge should be thought so important. Just what, if anything, is missing from a person lacking in self-knowledge that makes her significantly less wise, virtuous, or able than others who have this capacity? Our exploration will take us into research in Western philosophy, psychoanalysis, current experimental psychology, neuroscience, aesthetics, and Eastern philosophy as well. In aid of these investigations we will become students of our own dreams, and cultivate a variety of meditative practices. Course requirements are two papers, a midterm and final examination, and active participation in discussion section.
Reading Robert Frost Anew3 Credit Course
Tuesday and Thursday 1530-1645
Walter Jost, Professor
The usual picture of 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 Frost is beginning 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 terror 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.
The Past and the Present of Global Public Health3 Credit Course
New Cabell Hall 335
Introduction to Global Health3 Credit Course
Monroe Hall 110
Christian McMillen, Assistant Professor
Women’s Health: A Global Perspective3 Credit Course
Monroe Hall 110
Breyette Lorntz, Assistant Professor
Common Meeting3 Credit Course
Monroe Hall, Room 110
Course will introduce students to a broad range of topics in global health. The course is made up of three two-hour sections on different aspects of global health joined together by a third hour of guest lectures from various experts in a number if different fields related to global health from around Grounds. While our sections are different, we will provide a sampling of a broad range of common themes to explore major world health problems and health disparities around the world. Some of the common themes/topics we will explore are: diabetes, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, infant and maternal health, cardiovascular disease, access to clean water, immunizations, research ethics, prevention and intervention. By way of introduction to the field all three sections will begin the semester reading Tracy Kidder’s Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the World. From that common starting point each section will then explore its particular focus as we progress from 1) global women’s health, 2) the history of global public health, and 3) practical solutions for world health problems. By combining our expertise, and bringing in guest speakers, we will be able to introduce students to an extraordinary range of issues in global health.
Designing a Sustainable Future3 Credit Course
Monday and Wednesday 1530-1645
Thornton Hall D222
Paxton Marshall, Professor
Designing sustainable practices, institutions, and technologies for a resource constrained world is the great challenge to humankind in the third millennium c.e. Success in this endeavor will require an integrated approach hitherto unknown in academia. This seminar will engage students with faculty from across the spectrum of disciplines at UVA to address the various components of this effort. Acting under the dictum, “Think Globally, Act Locally”, student participants will research, analyze, and design a solution to address a specific instance of one of the challenges addressed in the course.
A History of Miracles and Pilgrimage3 Credit Course
New Cabell Hall 335
Virginia Mosser, General Faculty
This course will examine the diversity of religious belief by looking at miracles and pilgrimage. Though the focus of this course is primarily historical, we will include a variety of philosophical, psychological and theological perspectives. Although many of the readings will look at the Judeo-Christian tradition, we will examine other religions as well: Islam, Buddhism, Judaism, and Hinduism. We will also sample some of the many pilgrimage “case studies”. These will range from nineteenth-century France, modern-American South, and twentieth-century New York City.
Argumentation3 Credit Course
Monday and Wednesday 1530-164
Pavilion VIII, 103
David Rubin, Professor Emeritus, French
How do journalists, academics and other professionals’ reason? This highly interactive USEM-which satisfies the Second Writing Requirement-introduces a standard model of informal logic and provides abundant practice in the analysis, critique, and construction of arguments. While learning the model, participants will focus-with increasing breadth, depth, and acuity-on op-ed columns from The New York Times and The Washington Post. Then, after a transitional survey of reasoning in medicine, law, and ethics, the class will turn to expert position papers in the debate over euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide.
Rise and Fall of the Soviet Union3 Credit Course
Mary Munford House
Yuri Urbanovich, Lecturer
This course is about Russia and the Soviet Union. It is designed to explore some of the country’s major political themes of the twentieth century through an understanding of Russia’s history, culture, and politics.
Business and the Environment3 Credit Course
Monroe Hall 118
Mark White, Associate Professor
This course provides an introduction to business’ role in exacerbating and mitigating environmental damage. It begins with a brief history and description of 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 includes discussion, hands-on exercises, cases, simulations and a group digital storytelling project.
2 Credit Courses2 Credit Course
Keeping a Personal JournalThursday 1230-1420
Cauthen House 116
John B. Bunch, Associate Professor Curry School of Education
Our writing/discussion group will explore the various ways one can use the journal keeping process for personal insights academic understandings 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, scientific investigation, social research, and thought clarification as a prelude to writing and other forms of expression. Specific journal assignments will include Lists, Portraits, Maps, Snapshots, Tear-sheets, Sketches, Dialogues, Guided Imagery, Points of View and Unsent Letters; we will read selections from the disciplines such as science, history, anthropology and the arts and 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 selection 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.
The Origin of the Universe2 Credit Course
Vittorio Celli, Professor Emeritus
Has the universe always existed or was it created from nothing? It is finite or infinite in extent? If it 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 known, with readings from Hawking’s “Brief History of Time”, web sites, and current articles.
HIV/AIDS: Students Fighting Back2 Credit Course
McLeod Hall 2005
Reba Childress, Assistant Professor of Nursing
The objectives of this undergraduate seminar provide students the opportunity to 1) identify risk factors associated with HIV infection; 2) gain knowledge to assist in educating peers about HIV infection; and 3) position them to assist in decreasing the spread of HIV within the university and communities at-large through networking with internal and external organizations. An overview of the historical, medical, psychosocial, legal, ethical, political, economic, and cultural issues associated with the HIV/AIDS pandemic will be explored in order to prepare peer HIV educator-counselors. While large didactic courses can cover this information, the seminar format provides an opportunity for both active and service style learning.
Learning methods will include discussion, analysis of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) statistics, interviewing of panel guests, and learning about and developing community resources.
Iran: Culture, History, Religion2 Credit Course
Pavilion VIII. Room 103
Yuly Ioannesyan, PHD
This introductory course initiates the students into the culture of Iranian peoples, their history and religions from a historic and modern perspective. Iran in the historic and cultural sense implies the vast territories of modern Iran. Afghanistan and Central Asia. Iranian peoples and their languages have been spread throughout the ages over this area. The latter is a region which has contributed greatly to the cultural development of humanity and its history. The region has been in birthplace of several religions, great philosophers and thinkers and has given rise to a world popular literature. Iranians have kept their ethical identity since ancient times, despite the change of several civilizations in the region. The students will learn from this course who were the peoples shaping the history of this vast region, what languages they spoke, what were their culture and religion.
Righting Unrightable Wrongs2 Credit Course
Pavilion VIII, 103
Franklin Dukes, Lecturer
From Native Americans seeking a return of lands and sovereignty, to Japanese-Americans drawing attention to the shame of internment, to African-Americans demanding payment for slavery and its aftermath of segregation and discrimination, many groups have sought to right past harms and ongoing injustices. Can individuals, communities and nations ever make right what appear to be irreparable wrongs? This course examines that question for problems ranging from genocide and slavery to racial discrimination and environmental contamination. The literature of reparations and restorative justice will be enhanced by examining specific cases within the instructor’s experience. These include a site affected by severe environmental contamination and Japanese-American internment during World War II (Bainbridge Island, WA); a city coming to terms with killings of labor organizers and civil rights workers through a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (Greensboro, NC); a Native American community seeking redress for degradation of traditional cultural properties (Mattaponi, Upper Mattaponi, and Pamunkey tribes in Virginia); and other examples. The final part of the class turns to the question of the legacy of slavery and segregation at the University of Virginia.
Evaluating Health Care on the Internet: Be the Spider not the Fly2 Credit Course
McLeod Hall 5044
Sarah Farrell, Associate Professor
The objective of this course is to help students research, evaluate and use health care resources on the internet. Students will gain an understanding of the history, political/legal, economic, social, cultural, environmental and technological nature of health resources on the internet. The students will gain experience in researching, evaluating and using health care resources as well as developing their own web page. The course involves service learning project where the students conduct a needs assessment with a non-profit agency on a topic matching their research topic.
Science Fiction and Environmental Literacy2 Credit Course
Theodore Homyk, Lecturer
The course will incorporate readings of fiction and non-fictional materials, viewing of fictional and non-fictional videos, and lectures to increase awareness and understanding of environmental issues that become more pressing each day. Students will be educated to make their own decisions on pressing issues such as global warming, the ozone hole, chemical pollution, overpopulation, etc. that place unnatural and unsustainable stresses on the environment and threaten the planet with mass extinctions – possibly including our own. Class discussions will entail consideration and analysis of the facts, as they stand, and the validity of possible consequences, presented in the academic literature and in fiction, if our growing environmental problems are not intelligently addressed.
Multicultural Iberia: The Middle Ages2 Credit Course
Tuesday and Thursday 1400-1450
Pavilion VIII, Room 103
E. Michael Gerli, Commonwealth Professor of Spanish
An investigation and sustained discussion of the history of the multiethnic and multicultural relations between all-Andalus, Sepharad (Medieval Muslim and Jewish Iberia respectively) and Christian Spain from the year 711 until the expulsion of the Moriscos (Muslims converted, often forcibly after 1492, to Christianity) from early modern Spain in 1609.
Dams and the Environment2 Credit Course
Janet Herman, Professor
Complex and difficult societal decisions must be made in the management of water resources that support human life. An environmental legacy from earlier decisions about building dams to provide water supplies for drinking, irrigation, and power generation as well as flood protection can be examined for impact upon sustainable water supply, species survival, economic costs and benefits, and cultural and ethnic bias.
Two Cultures of Fascism2 Credit Course
Volker Kaiser, Associate Professor
Christina Coletta, Professor
USEM 171: “Two Cultures of Fascism: Italy and Germany 1922-45.” Studies the National-Socialist and Fascist eras in Germany and Italy, respectively, in an inter-and trans-cultural framework. Using different media (film, literature, art, architecture, and popular culture), this course discusses the semiotics, ideology, perceptions, and images of National Socialism and Fascism in Europe between 1918 and 1945. Its purpose is to enable students to read and understand the cultural, political and discursive techniques which contribute to the formation of political power and the establishment of cultural hegemony.
Art of Rock Concert Lighting2 Credit Course
Drama Room 217
Lee Kennedy, Associate Professor
An exploration of the history of concert lighting design and technology from its roots in ‘60s counter-culture to the contemporary corporate rock technological spectacle.
The Business of Diversity2 Credit Course
Rebecca Leonard, Assistant Dean
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 UVA.
Other Worlds & Fantastic Beings2 Credit Course
Janette Martin, Assistant Professor
We'll begin our reading with the first mass audience science fiction novel, Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley and follow with twentieth century works by Anne Rice, Margaret Atwood 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.
Go Slow: Mindfulness & Social Change2 Credit Course
M. Munford/IRC Classroom
Margaret Odahowski, Director of Studies, International Residence College
SLOW is the new Fast. 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 compassionate awareness through a practice is key to enhancing emotional intelligence, optimism and creativity.
In this class will experiment with GO SLOW by creating opportunities for quieting the mind, reflection, and connection in our daily lives to create a work life balance that enhances creativity. The class we will gain an understanding of interconnectedness of our world through exploring the ecoliteracy of SLOW FOOD. Integrating the spiritual, biological, cognitive and social dimensions of life, the readings will explore both the personal and societal systematic approach to sustainable living.
Rhetoric & Public Speaking2 Credit Course
Cauthen Hall 116
Rob Patterson, Assistant Professor
An essential domain of knowledge and art, passed down to our epoch in a myriad of forms, has its origins in ancient Greece. Rhetoric, defined by Aristotle, as the use of the available means of persuasion, has become a complex term in U.S. representative democracy. We will explore the multiple meanings of rhetoric. The rhetorical ideas and foundational works of classicists such as Plato, Isocrates, and Aristotle will inform our perspectives. Yet, we will explore more recent constructs and theories of human oral communication, and develop and hone rhetorical criticism by roles and agencies of rhetors (speakers or artists), audience, tropes, narratives, and the invention and delivery of cogent arguments.
Time will be divided between theoretical explorations of rhetoric and the academic/lifelong knowledge and skill of giving extemporaneous public speeches. Three speeches (the informative, the commemorative, and the persuasive) will be delivered. Our goals, through theoretical exploration and practice of the fundamentals of organization, content, delivery, will be to hone the listening, presentational, and evaluation habits needed to become engaged theorists and competent speakers of thoughtful messages here at UVA and beyond.
American Health Care2 Credit Course
Emergency Medicine Classroom, Hospital West
Robert Powers, Professor
This course offers an opportunity to learn about the structure and function of the health care system in the United States. It is of interest to those contemplating a career in the health professionals as well as anyone seeking to be an informed citizen. Lectures and seminar discussion will cover the history, current status, and challenges that face providers, patients, and policy makers as health care becomes more effective and more expensive. Issues related to financing, access, disparities, and technology will be addressed, with discussion of approaches to understanding and solution of the most significant problems.
In addition to the classroom component, there is a community engagement portion which consists of observation and interaction with providers and patients in the U.Va. Hospital Emergency Department. Students will be qualified and credentialed as clinical observers and research associates and will participate in quality assurance and research data gathering.
Quantum Theory and Consciousness2 Credit Course
Physics Room 313
Stanley Sobottka, Emeritus Professor of Physics
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; 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 web site before enrolling.
I’d Rather Be In Philadelphia2 Credit Course
McLeod Hall 1004
Richard Steeves, Professor
The title refers to what the comic W.C. Fields was reported to have wanted written on his grave, “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 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 about those who have thought about our mortality seriously and exclusively. 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.
Australia2 Credit Course
Pavilion VIII, Room 103
Mark Thomas, Professor
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 a 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.
Journeys Through Hell2 Credit Course
Pavilion VIII, Room 108
Dariusz Tolczyk, Associate Professor
Executive experiences of evil and oppression--concentration camp, prison, and other forms of enslavement--have often been presented as opportunities for unusual personal growth and spiritual ascent. From archaic initiation rites of various cultures through ancient Greek, Roman, and Biblical wisdom, as well as Romantic literature, the point has been stressed now and again that being exposed to suffering and oppression not only can make us better, stronger, and more enlightened human beings but, in fact, tends to be a necessary condition of such profound ennoblement.
Is it true? Survivors of extreme experiences of the twentieth century, including the Holocaust and the Soviet Gulag, restate this question while describing their own horrendous experiences. What are their conclusions and what can we learn from them about humanity, both in general and our own? In this seminar, we will explore and discuss cultural, religious and intellectual roots of the conviction that extreme oppression can ennoble us. We will confront these traditions with survivors’ writing about Nazi and Soviet oppression. In our explorations, we will ask some profound questions: What motivates human beings under extreme conditions? Are human beings good by nature? How does mass-scale evil originate in history? Our discussions will allow us to explore human experiences not directly accessible for most of us, and confront our own assumptions with discoveries of those who lived through extreme experiences. Readings include excerpts from the Bible, Plato, Juvenal and some modern writings, as well as prison/camp memoirs by Silvio Pellico, Eugenia Ginzburg, Varlam Shalamov, Gustaw Herling, Tadeusz Borowitz, Jean Amery, and Elie Wiesel. Films “The Pianist” (by Roman Polanski), “Life is Beautiful” (by Roberto Begnini), “Kanal” (by Andrzej Wajda) and “Interrogation” (by Ryszard Bugajski) will be shown and discussed.
Oppenheimer, Teller, Sakharov2 Credit Course
Brown College at Monroe Hill House
Carl Trindle, Professor
The fathers of the atomic bomb (Oppenheimer), the American hydrogen bomb (Teller), and the Soviet hydrogen bomb (Sakharov) responded to their offspring in vividly contrasting ways. We trace the development on nuclear arm, the moral issues that arise as their use becomes possible, and the reactions of each of these giants of the age to the implications of their creations.
Clones & Genomes: New Biology2 Credit Course
Michael Wormington, Associate Professor, Biology
Cloning humans, the creation of genetically identical individuals from differentiated adult cells, and once the exclusive domain of science fiction, has moved to the front pages of reputable newspapers and prestigious scientific journals. In 1997, the first scientifically substantiated report of a cloned mammal, Dolly the ewe, fomented considerable debate and discussion, and evoked vigorous responses from politicians, pundits, professors, theologians, and entrepreneurs alike. In the past decade, Dolly has been joined by a plethora of cloned mammals. A comparable method of gene transfer used to propagate these cloned animals has been successfully used to treat female infertility in humans. The generation and exploitation of human stem cells and "therapeutic cloning" continue to raise profound ethical and science policy issues. The recent completion of a "first draft" of the human genome sequence has provided us for the first time with the genetic "blueprint" for our species and opportunities for unparalleled diagnostic and therapeutic options. This course will address the fundamental importance of cloning organisms to developmental and reproductive biology and the enormity of the impact of the human genome sequence on human biology. Students will gain an appreciation for the intellectual and methodological challenges posed by these questions and the experimental approaches employed to answer them. The applications of these technologies and their moral, ethical, and legal ramifications will be considered and discussed in a variety of contexts. Topics and assigned readings will be derived from the scientific literature, books, magazines, newspapers and resources available online.