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John D. Simon

John D. Simon
Executive Vice President & Provost

Contact Us

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

Phone:
434-982-2362
Fax:
434-924-1497
Email:
jwt5z@virginia.edu

 

 

University Seminars: Fall 2008

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.

Eight 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 in the course web site before enrolling.

3 Credit Courses

Adventures in Human Genetics

3 Credit Course
Tuesday and Thursday 1400-1515
Chemistry Building 262
Claire Cronmiller, Professor
Fall 2008

This course is designed to give students an understanding and appreciation of basic principles of genetics and how they apply to the human condition. Topics will include human heredity and genetic disorders, gene therapies, alternative reproductive strategies and genetic engineering. Introductory background information in genetics will be presented in the context of case studies, drawn from stories from the historical past, as well as recent news media headlines. Case discussions will also include consideration of key ethical dilemmas that have arisen as a result of major research advances in human genetics.

Designing a Sustainable Future

3 Credit Course
Tuesday and Thursday 1400-1515
Mechanical Engineering Building 216
Paxton Marshall, Professor
Fall 2008

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 issues in a wide-range of human activities. Students will design an action plan for a local problem of their choice.

West Meets East

3 Credit Course
Tuesday and Thursday 1400-1515
McLeod Hall 2005
John Nemec, Assistant Professor
Fall 2008

India has commanded a certain alluring promise for western intellectuals, adventurers, and spiritual seekers since the time of Alexander the Great. Europeans and Americans have turned to India in times of personal and spiritual crisis, in ambitious quests for wealth and power, and with a missionary zeal to convert the masses, or to liberate them from poverty. India, in turn, has had an influence on western culture, philosophy, religion, and politics since the beginnings of recorded history. This course examines western encounters with India by reading the fiction and travel writing that Europeans and Americans have written about India. Authors include Mark Twain, Herman Hesse, and Rudyard Kipling, as well as expatriated Indian writers such as V.S. Naipaul and Suketu Mehta. In a word, this course asks how it is we come to know a place other than home, and how encounters with “the other” inspire, challenge, transform, or confirm our own notions of self, society, religion, and way of life.

Argumentation

3 Credit Course
Monday and Wednesday 1500-1615
New Cabell Hall 247
David Rubin, Professor Emeritus
Fall 2008

How do scholars and other professionals reason? This highly interactive, 3-hour USEM which satisfies the second writing requirement introduces a widely accepted model of informal logic and provides ample practice in the construction, analysis, appraisal, and countering of arguments. While mastering the model, participants will write about and discuss recent op-ed columns from leading periodicals. Then after a brief survey of reasoning in law and ethics the focus will shift to major positions in the controversy over academic freedom. This course is primarily intended for entering students exempt from the first writing requirement; through current and past ENWR 110 registrants are welcome.

Rise and Fall of the Soviet Union

3 Credit Course
Monday 900-1130
Clemons Library 322A
Yuri Urbanovich, Lecturer
Fall 2008

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 Environment

3 Credit Course
Tuesday 1730-2015
Rouss Hall 410
Mark White, Associate Professor
Fall 2008

This course provides an introduction to business’ role in exacerbating and mitigating environmental damage. It begins with a brief history and descriptions 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.

Clones & Genomes: The New Biology

3 Credit Course
Tuesday and Thursday 1400-1515
Chemistry Building 303
Michael Wormington, Associate Professor
Fall 2008

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 the 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.

2 Credit Courses

LGBTQ in Virginia: Past and Future

2 Credit Course
Tuesday 1500-1700
Campbell Hall 107
Ellen Bass, Assistant Professor
Fall 2008

At the nation level, lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) Americans suffer discrimination and have fewer civil rights solely based on the virtue of being LGBTQ. In Virginia, LGBTQ citizens have even fewer rights than those in other states. The University Seminar will survey the past and current status of LGBTQ civil rights at the national and state level. It will provide students with a basic understanding of the following issues affecting LGBTQ Virginians: transgender issues, hate crimes, the impact of faith traditions, health related concerns, marriage/family/parenting issues, issues specific to LGBTQ youth, LGBTQ people of color, and the issues surrounding LGBTQs in the military.

Keeping a Personal Journal

2 Credit Course
Wednesday 1230-1420
Ruffner Hall 173
John Bunch, Associate Professor
Fall 2008

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 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.

Live Electric Music Performance

2 Credit Course
Monday 1300-1450
Ruffner Hall 173
Matthew Burtner, Associate Professor
Fall 2008

Live Electric Music Performance: DJs Riot Grrrls, Cyborgs and Beyond examines music performed with electric and computer instruments. Listening, reading, writings and discussions explore diverse musical styles covering a variety of international cultural, socioeconomic and geographical contexts. Students will also receive a hands-on opportunity to jam with electronic instruments and interactive computer music software. Guests will include expert practitioners in areas such as turntablism, laptop performance, new interfaces, musical robots and sound installation art.

Games, Behavior and Economics

2 Credit Course
Friday 0900-1050
New Cabell Hall B028
Edwin Burton, Visiting Professor
Fall 2008

A selective survey of Game Theory, Behavioral Finance, and some Traditional Economics. This course would be intended to introduce students, in an informal way to some of the most interesting areas of recent research in Economics.

The Origin of the Universe

2 Credit Course
Wednesday 1400-1550
Physics Building 218
Vittorio Celli, Professor Emeritus
Fall 2008

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 “Brief History of Time”, web sites, and current articles in this rapidly evolving field.

HIV/AIDS: Students Fighting Back

2 Credit Course
Monday 1800-1950
McLeod Hall 1006
Reba Moyer Childress, Assistant Professor
Fall 2008

This undergraduate seminar provides 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 learning. Learning methods will include discussion, analyses of CDC statistics, interviewing of panel guests, learning about community resources, learning about and developing community resources.

Collapse of Ecosystems and Societies

2 Credit Course
Tuesday 1500-1650
Clark Hall G054
Paolo D’Odorico, Associate Professor
Fall 2008

This seminar course will focus on interactions between environmental processes and societies in a changing world. The seminar topics include: major ongoing environmental changes around the world. Interactions between societies and the environment: equilibrium, stability and resilience. Continuous/discontinuous state changes. Catastrophic shifts in coupled societal-environmental systems. Reversibility, irreversibility, and feedback loops. Tropical Deforestation: impacts on climate, soils, and societies. Desertification: do humans create the deserts? Collapse of ecosystems and societies at the desert margins. The water crisis: changes in the water cycle; sustainable water use; water-limited societies. Invasive species. Shrub encroachment in arid rangelands. Species extinction: the advantage of having a bio-diverse environment and diverse societies. Learning from history: unsustainable use of resources and collapse of past societies: The case of Easter Island, the Anasazi, the Mayans, the Vikings. Sustaining ecosystems and societies in a changing world. The course will include a number of discussion sessions, which will provide a forum for the critical discussion of the assigned readings.

Righting Unrightable Wrongs: Challenges of Restitution and Reparations

2 Credit Course
Friday 1400-1550
Campbell Hall 107
E. Franklin Dukes, Lecturer
Fall 2008

From Native Americans pursuing a return of lands and sovereignty, to Japanese-Americans drawing attention to the shame of interment, to African-Americans seeking 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); and Native American communities in Virginia seeking redress for degradation of traditional cultural properties. The unifying theme of the class will be the question of the legacy of slavery and segregation at the University of Virginia and its impact on the surrounding community of Charlottesville-Albemarle.

Be the Spider Not the Fly: Evaluating Health Care Resources on the Internet

2 Credit Course
Wednesday 1530-1720
McLeod Hall 2006
Sarah Farrell, Associate Dean
Fall 2008

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 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.

Theatre and the Spirit of Reform

2 Credit Course
Tuesday 1500-1645
Drama Education Building 206
John Frick, Professor
Fall 2008

Since its inception, the drama has been utilized to promote social reform. As early as Aristophanes’ anti-war Lysistrata, theatre was transformed into a vehicle for social protest and, since then, the drama has proven to be easily rendered polemical in both tone and intent. The proposed seminar will examine those playtexts and theatrical movements that advanced the cause of reform, both American and foreign. Reading playtexts as social documents, students will examine various historical protest/reform movements and trends from stances against war and intemperance to those in favor of abolition, labor organization, woman’s rights and other reforms. The plays read will be supplemented by secondary sources that discuss theatre and reform and by relevant extant primary documents {pamphlets, tracts, written accounts of speeches by reformers, etc.}.

Dams and the Environment

2 Credit Course
Monday 1500-1650
Clark Hall G054
Janet Herman, Professor
Fall 2008

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 cost and benefits, and cultural and ethnic bias.

Science Fiction and Environmental Literacy

2 Credit Course
Wednesday 1400-1550
Cauthen House 134
Theodore Homyk, Jr., Lecturer
Fall 2008

The course will incorporate readings of fiction and non-fictional materials, viewing of documentary 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, and ecosystem encroachment and collapse 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, of our growing environmental problems are not intelligently addressed.

Art of Rock Concert Lighting

2 Credit Course
Wednesday 1400-1550
Drama Education Building 217
R. Lee Kennedy, Associate Professor
Fall 2008

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. Through structured discussion and research into video, print, and web sources, students will investigate the elements of concert visual imagery and its influence on other media such as Broadway musical theatre, television, film, and 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.

Being Female in a Violent World

2 Credit Course
Monday 1400-1550
Physics 218
Kathryn Laughon, Assistant Professor
Fall 2008

Popular discussions about violence against girls and women grossly exaggerate some forms of violence and seriously minimize others. In this course, we will explore how we define violence, theories of why violence exists, and will contrast what the data tell us about how girls and women experience violence across their life span with how female-directed violence is depicted in newspapers, magazine and entertainment media. We will examine how risk of violence varies according to the type of violence, the type of perpetrator, and the victims’ age, race, and class. Students will critically examine how and why images of violence are presented and distorted in the news, songs, movies, and other media. Course materials include academic journal articles, newspaper articles, fiction, web sites, and movies. Students will have the opportunity to observe court cases and meet with a prosecutor, victim advocates, survivors of violence, and sexual assault nurse examiners.

Modern Africa through African Film

2 Credit Course
Thursday 1400-1550
New Cabell Hall 236
Adria LaViolette, Associate Professor
Fall 2008

This University Seminar is based on the close and critical examination of a selection of African feature films from across the continent, combined with supplemental readings. The goal is to introduce students to modern African societies using African-made films as the major source of ethnographic material, rather than films made in the West for Western consumption. Interwoven topics of discussion will include the challenges facing African women and men in contemporary changing urban and rural settings, as well as how Africa’s elite and poor together negotiate these social transformations. Other themes in the films and discussed in class include how relationships between men and women are contextualized and negotiated, and the struggle of people in different circumstances to build new relationships with older beliefs and practices and with new forms of government. Collectively the films make the case that social change in Africa takes place most successfully when motivated and directed by Africans themselves, not by governments and agencies from the outside. The films are presented in three thematic (but overlapping) groups: tradition and modernity; politics and development; men, women, and the future.

Diversity in the U.S. Workplace

2 Credit Course
Tuesday 1400-1550
Rouss Hall 403
Rebecca Leonard, Associate Dean
Fall 2008

Diversity is a competitive business strategy, which U.S. 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.

Introduction to Global Women’s Health

2 Credit Course
Friday 1900-2100
Mary Munford
Breyette Lorntz, Assistant Professor
Fall 2008

What is women’s health? What defines and influences women’s health around the world? This undergraduate seminar provides an engaging and insightful introduction to the multi-disciplinary field of global women’s health. Emphasis will be placed on creating a learning environment for active discussion and critical thinking. Students will be encouraged to explore ties to global women's health from within their proposed areas of study. Course activities will support and challenge students from diverse interests and backgrounds.

Stories of Work: Literature of Labor in the United States

2 Credit Course
Thursday 1700-1850
Rouss Hall 403
Janette Martin, Assistant Professor
Fall 2008

The course includes fiction and non-fiction writing from nineteenth-century American Indian narratives to twenty first century essays and novels. Discussions will center on literary genres as well as the social, political, and economic contexts from which the works evolved. Writings reflect the diversity of the American work experience.

Go Slow: Mindfulness & Social Change

2 Credit Course
Thursday 1500-1650
Mary Munford
Marga Odahowski, Director of Studies
Fall 2008

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 quite 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 case we will experiment with the power of SLOW by creating opportunities for quieting the mind, reflection, and connection in our daily lives to create a work life balance that enhances creativity. In 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 reading will explore both the personal and societal systematic approach to sustainable living.

Fear, Risk and Modernity: The Sociology of Safety

2 Credit Course
Monday 1000-1150
New Cabell Hall 242
Allison Pugh, Assistant Professor
Fall 2008

In this class, we will look at the social construction of safety in public discourse and private lives. Are there particular patterns to commonly held fears? Who is safe, and who is not? How is safety unequally distributed across race, class and gender and other social categories? How does concern about safety inform public debates about such topics as health, education, energy and the environment? In the first third of the course, we will consider the ways in which core insecurities of the modern self are expressed through a rising diffused anxiety. Then we will evaluate the distribution of safety, risk, and concern across social location, examining empirical research into safety trends, and weighing the impact of safety concerns on shaping American life. The latter third of the course will examine these themes against the case study of American childhood, thinking about how common fears link to obesity, consumerism and inequality. Throughout the semester, we will use films and classroom debates to evaluate recurring safety topics such as those about American childbirth practices, nuclear energy, sport-utility vehicles, and the nation's food and drug supply.

I’d Rather be in Philadelphia

2 Credit Course
Wednesday 1530-1720
McLeod Hall 2007
Richard Steeves, Professor
Fall 2008

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 in the news and popular media, rather it will be about those who have thought about our mortality seriously and extensively. The course will be divided into three foci: (a) writers and poets, (b) death professionalism 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 to thinking about what may truly be beyond our understanding, death.

Design and Everyday Technology

2 Credit Course
Thursday 1530-1720
New Cabell Hall 224
Carl Trindle, Professor
Fall 2008

Every manmade object we touch is a product of design choice. With the help of Henry Petroski and Donald Norman we can seek to look with fresh eyes at objects so familiar as the toothpick; the book; the fork; the zipper; and see how they came to be.