Skip to Content

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 2011

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 Student Information System Course Catalog for a list of specific offerings each semester.

Two 3 Credit Courses are being offered this fall in addition to our traditional 2 credit courses. Note: College of Arts & Sciences' student only: USEM 1570s count as credit and 1580s count as elective credit inside the College of Arts & Sciences. Please check the course website before enrolling.

Keeping a Personal Journal
2 Credit Course
Thursday 2:00 – 3:50pm
Cauthen House 116
John Bunch, Associate Professor

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.

Electronica World Music
2 Credit Course
Monday 1:00 – 3:30pm
Pavilion VIII, 108
Matthew Burtner, Associate Professor

The proliferation of electronic and digital audio tools provides an opportunity to study how the occidental approach to computer music is adapted and refined as it migrates and combines with music traditions from around the world. In this seminar we will study a broad variety of electronic world music as a means of studying cultural diversity and the trans-national blending of aesthetics encouraged by new technologies. Some musical styles we will explore include Indian Goa, Japanese Noise, Moroccan Gnawa Fusion, Chinese 8-bit, Brazilian Nu-Brazil, Thai Electronic Luk Thung, Jamaican Dub, Ibiza Trance, Mauritian Seggae, Polynesian Fenua, and more. These diverse musical expressions reveal nuanced approaches to electronic music highly tied to tradition and culture. Students will also experiment with tools and techniques for composing their own electronic music. No previous music experience is necessary to join this seminar.

Booms, Busts, and Cycles
2 Credit Course
Friday, 9:00-10:50am
Monroe Hall 120
Edwin Burton, Professor

This seminar focuses on financial crises. The motivating event for offering this course was the global financial crisis of 2008, the aftermath of which we are still experiencing. The class will read about and study both the worldwide depression of the 1930s and the recent global crisis. Collectively, we will read three books. Each student will pick a relevant additional book that provides a basis for their own verbal report to the class. The book chosen by a student may come from either the 1930s experience or the 2008 crisis, but must be approved by the instructor. It should not be assumed that a student must be necessarily planning on majoring in Economics or attending the Commerce school. Any interested first year is welcome to interview for admission to this seminar. Email Professor Burton at burton@virginia.edu for additional information about this seminar. Those interesting in reading one of the books this summer should consider acquiring "This Time Is Different" by Rogoff and Reinhart.

The Origin of the Universe
2 Credit Course
Wednesday 2:00-3:50pm
Pavilion VIII, 108
Vittorio Celli, Professor Emeritus

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 13.7 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.

Righting Unrightable Wrongs
2 Credit Course
Friday 1:00-3:30pm
Pavilion VIII, 103
Franklin Dukes, Lecturer

From indigenous peoples pursuing a return of lands and sovereignty, to Japanese-Americans memorializing the experience of internment during WWII, to African-Americans seeking redress 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 environmental contamination and racial discrimination. 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.

Health on the Internet
2 Credit Course
Wednesday 3:30-5:10pm
Pavilion VIII, 103
Sarah Farrell, Associate Professor

The objective of this course is to discuss, research, analyze and evaluate a problem in health care in order to design and create and finally reflect upon and evaluate a solution to the issue. 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 resources. The course involves a service learning project where the students conduct a needs assessment with a community health care provider/educator and consumer of health care on a topic matching both their research interest and community needs. Students use emerging social media tools to disseminate health information such as wikis, blogs, tweets, and podcasts to the population in the community interested in the project.

Gender Violence and Culture
2 Credit Course
Monday 1:00-3:30pm
Pavilion VIII, 103
Kathryn Laughon, Associate Professor

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 lifespan 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, websites, 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.

Diversity in the US Workplace
2 Credit Course
Tuesday 3:30-5:20pm
Robertson 221
Rebecca Leonard, Associate Dean

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. This course will discuss issues related to diversity (race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, etc) and the impact and these differences on: Individual behavior in organizations, team development and effectiveness, organizational change and effectiveness and organizational success. The 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 and in the future workplaces.

Picturing Reality
2 Credit Course
Monday 2:00-3:50pm
Cauthen House 116
Deandra Little, Associate Professor

Scholars, pundits, and everyday people continue to debate whether images now dominate words as the chief ways we create and communicate meaning in modern society. In this class, we’ll examine such claims from a variety of interdisciplinary perspectives, focusing specifically on photographic images. We’ll discuss a number of the following big questions along the way: How do we perceive and process images differently than text? Why do photographs at times seem more “real” than our memories? What effect do perception and memory have on how we represent and remember concepts, events and conflicts? Have the ethics of representation been redefined in the age of easy creating &* manipulation of images? Together we’ll learn more about how images “work” as we contemplate what and how photographic images “mean.”

Stories of Work in the United States
2 Credit Course
Thursday 5:00-6:50pm
New Cabell Hall 334
Janette Martin, Assistant Professor

This course includes fiction and non-fiction writing from nineteenth-century American Indian narratives to twenty first century writings. Discussions will center on literary genres as well as the social, political, and economic contexts from which the works evolved. We’ll select a range of writings that reflect the diversity of the American work experience.

Leadership by Design
2 Credit Course
Tuesday 1:00-3:30pm
NRN
Marga Odahowski, Director

Throughout our careers and in life we are called to lead. Many of us have little formal education in the skills of observation, teaming and reflection that are necessary in leadership development. Drawing from cognitive science, business and the arts this course will introduce students to current research and practices as it relates to the leadership skills of self-mastery that enhance leadership development. This course will emphasis the personal and professional development of students and ways they can effectively begin to contribute to an organization (be a leader at any level) as well as achieve personal fulfillment and build the skill set for innovation. Students will be exposed to information and exercises to increase their capacity to listen deeply, demonstrate mutual respect and empathy and generate from a possibilities mindset.

Argumentation
2 Credit Course
Monday and Wednesday 2:00-2:50pm
New Cabell Hall 334
David Rubin, Professor Emeritus

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 construction, analysis, and appraisal of arguments. While learning the model during the first third of the course, participants will focus—with increasing breadth, depth, and acuity—on opinion columns from leading periodicals. Then, after brief, transitional work on controversy, the class will turn to expert position papers in the debate over academic freedom.

Contemporary Perspectives on Social Justice Movements, Action & Change
2 Credit Course
Wednesday 1:00-3:30pm
Pavilion VIII, 103
Lisa Speidel, Outreach Coordinator
Loren Intolubbe-Chmil, Graduate Student

The purpose of this course is to engage students in critical thought and discussion about social justice movements, both well known and more obscure, which represent community and citizen-based responses to injustice and inequality. This course will focus on the concept of agency and resilience and the ways in which seemingly divergent populations of people have utilized various strategies for achieving recognition and change. The course will incorporate several themes; exploring the role of identity and difference at personal and relational levels, the historical context of these concepts, and theoretical frameworks considered from local and global perspectives. The aim of the course is to compel students to explore a sense of purpose and plan of action grounded in engaged scholarship and social responsibility. The structure of the course includes lecture, readings, interactive exercises, films, discussion, guest speaker, critical written evaluation, blog discussion and personal written reflection of the weekly topics.

Dying, Death and Grief or I’d Rather be in Philly
2 Credit Course
Tuesday 1:00-3:30pm
Pavilion VIII, 108
Richard Steeves, Professor

The title refers to what the comic W. C. Fields was reported to have wanted written on this gravestone, “On the whole, I’d rather bin 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 our 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.

Readings in Mediterranean Literature
2 Credit Course
Wednesday 3:00-4:50pm
New Cabell Hall 334
Gordon Stewart, Professor

This course, following Mark Twain’s voyage of 1867 (and travelogue of 1869, The Innocents Abroad) to the Mediterranean will consider current and prominent writers from several Mediterranean countries to include Spain, Italy, Croatia, Greece, Turkey, Egypt, and Morocco.

Science and Ethical Issues in Nanotechnology
2 Credit Course
Tuesday 1:00-3:30pm
Pavilion VIII, 103
Carl Trindle, Professor Emeritus

We will survey the hopes and fears attached to nanotechnology, develop the ideas necessary for an understanding of the field, and review its accomplishments and disappointments. Active researchers at UVa will give views of the latest developments.

Rise and Fall of the Soviet Union
3 Credit Course
Monday 3:30-6:00pm
Clemons Library 322B
Yuri Urbanovich, Lecturer

This course is about Russia and the Soviet Union. It is designed to explore some of this country’s major political themes of the twentieth century through an understanding of Russia’s history, culture, and politics.

Post-Soviet Political Challenges: Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, Separatism and Irredentism
3 Credit Course
Tuesday 3:30 – 6:00pm
Clemons Library 322B
Yuri Urbanovich, Lecturer

The end of the Cold War coincided with a wave of national revivals that spread across Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, and became one of the notable consequences of the collapse of communist regimes. This course will focus specifically on the origins of nationalism, separatism, secessions, and irredentist claims in the Russian Federation and other former Soviet republics.

Systems Thinking and Sustainable Business
2 Credit Course
Tuesday 6:00 – 7:50pm
Pavilion VIII, 103
Mark White, Associate Professor

Sometimes we think we’re making the right decision, but that decision has unforeseen or unintended consequences. Sometimes the collective action of rational individuals leads to irrational outcomes. Sometimes our experiences blind us to alternative, better solutions. Systems thinking – a disciplined approach to wholistic problem-solving – offers promise for resolving these and other challenges. As businesspersons in both the developed and developing worlds seek to incorporate sustainability concepts into their planning and operations, an understanding of “the big picture” is of critical importance. This course introduces students to the fundamental concepts (mental models, casual loop diagrams, systems analysis) of systems thinking and examines their application to real-world sustainable business practices.

Clones & Genomes: The New Biology
2 Credit Course
Mondays and Wednesdays 1:00-1:50pm
Chemistry 262
Michael Wormington, Associate Professor

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 completion of a "first draft" of the human genome sequence in 2000, 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; the enormity of the impact of the human genome sequence on human biology; and the ethical, political and societal ramifications of both. 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.