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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: Spring 2006

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

Spring 2006

An Endeavor to Persuade

Monday 1400-1550
Cabell 116
Robert Patterson, Director of Academic Approvals & Assistant Professor, Cont. & Prof. Studies
Spring 2006

An essential domain of knowledge and art, passed down to our epoch in a myriad of forms, has its origins in ancient Greece and Rome. 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 proofs and foundational works of classic rhetoricians such as Plato, Isocrates, and Quintilian will inform our perspectives. Yet, we will explore more recent constructs of human oral communication, and develop and hone rhetorical criticism by evaluating the rhetor (the speaker or artist), the audience, the exigence, narratives, and the invention and delivery of cogent argument.

Our time will be divided between theoretically informed critiques of both historical and contemporary public discourse and the academic/life skill of giving public speeches. Three speeches (the informative, the ideological, and the commemorative) will be delivered. Additionally, contemporary communication content areas (e.g., dyadic and political communication, listening, culture, and small group problem solving) will be surveyed. Our goals, through competent critique and practice of the fundamentals of organization, content, delivery, will be to hone the listening, presentational, and evaluation habits needed to become cultivated critics and originators of thoughtful messages here at UVA and beyond.

Argumentation

Wednesday
Pavilion VIII, Room 108
David Rubin, Professor Emeritus, French
Spring 2006

What makes an argument sound? What determines its relative strength? How and why do arguments fail? In this USEM we will critically examine the anatomy and physiology of claims, backing, and assumptions in various kinds of text, including foundational documents of American government and political cu8lture. Concurrently, we will structure, discuss (and undoubtedly revise) our own grounded and warranted theses in the light of widely accepted criteria. This introduction will provide a broad basis for conceptualizing position in inquiry-based courses, and for participating effectively in critical discussion. The instructor will be available for e-mail and face-to-face tutorials throughout the term.

Australia

Mark Thomas, Associate 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.

Be the Spider, Not the Fly

Monday, 1400-1550
McLeod Hall, Room 2005
Sarah Farrell, Assistant Professor, School of Nursing
Spring 2006

Wont 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.

Clones & Genomes: New Biology

Tuesday, 1300-1450
Pavilion VIII, Room 108
Michael Wormington, Associate Professor, Biology
Spring 2006

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 five years, Dolly has been joined by a plethora of cloned mice, cattle, primates, and most recently, a calico cat. A comparable method of gene transfer used to propagate these cloned animals has been successfully used to treat female infertility in humans and the generation and exploitation of human stem cells continues to raise ethical and science policy issues. The completion of a "first draft" of the human genome sequence in 2000 provides us for the first time with the genetic "blueprint" for our species. This USEM 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. Class meetings will focus on discussions and student presentations.

Desire: Ancient and Modern

Monday, 1500-1650
Cabell 130
David Rubin, Professor Emeritus, French
Spring 2006

Discussion will focus successively on the spiritualization of desire in Platos Symposium; its equivocal representation in the Old Testament Song of Songs; the synthesis of idealism and carnality in Romeo and Juliet; the socio-political reframing of ardor in Chonderlos Lacloss Dangerous Liaisons, and the unstable ironies of Woody Allen's classic film Annie Hall.

The Edge of Darkness

Wednesday, 1200-1350
Physics Bldg, Room 313
Bradley Cox, Professor, Physics
Spring 2006

This USEM will explore aspects of the physical makeup of our universe that perplex physicists at the beginning of the third millennium. Examples of these puzzles are: the recent discovery that expansion of the universe is accelerating rather than decelerating; the strange phenomenon of non-locality which implies that every part of the universe affects every other part instantaneously; the limits on our ability to precisely define all the physical aspects of any situation exactly imposed by the Heisenberg uncertainty principle; and the intriguing fact embedded in the anthropic principle that the fundamental parameters of the physical world are very precisely tuned to make carbon-based life possible.

Ethics in Modern Society

Tuesday 1530-1720
Location: MON 120
Brad Brown

Director of International Affairs, and Associate Professor of Commerce
This course is designed to let students explore ethical issues and ethical decision making in today's complex society. They discover consensus values that they jointly agree constitute ethical behavior. They study the ethical theories of the great philosophers, and then explore some of the most challenging ethical dilemmas of contemporary society. The primary goals are to help students clarify their thinking about ethical behavior, and to practice expressing themselves persuasively when discussing these critical and emotional issues.

Introduction to Child Language

Tuesday 1400-1550
Ruffner Hall, Room 173
Stephen Plaskon, Associate Professor, Curry
Spring 2006

This seminar class will be devoted to a discussion of the basic aspects of the language acquisition and development process. Those interested in exploring the world of early language will find themselves involved in such topics as the role of baby talk; an overview of selected aspects of the development of syntax, semantics, pragmatics, and phonological skills; primary caretaker influences; the role of the environment; and those factors that contribute to the overall development of a child's and adult's linguistic skills. Participants will discuss techniques for collecting language samples and will learn about the transcription and analysis process. All participants will have an opportunity to share their experiences and observations of a child or the results of an investigation into a topic of their choosing. Readings will be assigned from the required text, from select journals, and the popular press. Video and audio presentations will be used to supplement discussions and presentations.

Journeys through Hell

Wednesday, 1600 - 1800
Maury 113
Dariusz Tolczyk, Assoc. Prof. Slavic Languages & Literature
Spring 2006

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.

Keeping a Personal Journal

Thursday, 1230-1420
Pavilion 8, Room 103
John Bunch, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Curry School of Education
Spring 2006

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 persons diary or journal.

Legacy of Brown vs. Board

Selena Cozart
Spring 2006
Students will have the opportunity to gain and demonstrate: basic knowledge of the major events in the history of education in America, focusing on the post-Brown era; an understanding of the development of desegregated schools and the subsequent re-segregation of schools; some familiarity with an area of public policy and legal action that contribute to the variation of educational opportunity in American schools; the ability to critically, evaluate materials expressing oneself persuasively in the discussions and debates.

Native to Nowhere: Global Age

Timothy Beatley
Spring 2006

As the march of globalization continues, it manifests across the continent in places that look and feel alike. Given this cultural, economic and demographic backdrop, how do we go about creating distinctive, special places, places we care about and are willing to commit to? How do we go about planning for and strengthening sense of place and a sense of community, in the face of these powerful tendencies towards the global and general? There are, of course, many things that can be done and a number that are done. Creative initiatives can be cited which aim both to educate the public about the richness and history of landscape and build commitment to these places. Part of the USEM will be able diagnosing and discussing these globalizing trends and forces, but much of the content will focus on positive actions that can be undertaken and positive and compelling stories of communities that have nurtured unique qualities of place.

This USEM is essentially about the theory of place-building and the creative and effective strategies available to strengthen place and personal commitment to place. The title is significant in that it corresponds to a recent book of the author?s by the same name (Native To Nowhere, Island Press, 2004). The course will use the book to provoke and stimulate and the structure of the class will largely follow the chapters and organization of the book.

Reading Robert Frost Anew

Tuesday 1800-1950
RRN 328
Walter Jost, Professor, English
Spring 2006

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 Frosts 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 Frosts dramatic dialogues at the Helms theater; frequent in-class use of audiotapes of Frosts, others, and our own readings of his poems; several films about Frosts life and times; and even some music scored to Frosts lyrics.

Rise and Fall of the Soviet Union

Tuesday, 1530-1720
Cabell 424
Yuri Urbanovich, Research Associate, Government and Foreign Affairs
Spring 2006

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.

Science Fiction and Environmental Literacy

Wednesday 1400-1550
Cauthen Rm 116
Theodore Homyk, Lecturer, Biology
Spring 2006

Students get a very basic introduction to environmental science in the form of 5 to 6 hours of lecture. They then read one to two articles a week from lay scientific journals, like Scientific American, Sierra, and Cosmos, that discuss environmental issues that we face and possible consequences that we might incur if we do not address the environmental problems. Articles are chosen on the basis of their relevance to five books that we discuss in the course. Students are given several questions, a mixture covering factual materials from the articles and speculative, based on their background and experience that they must answer and be prepared to discuss in the following week's class. We also view three documentary films that deal with environmental issues. Students are required to answer several questions related to materials covered in the films.

Readings include 5 books. One of the books, Silent Spring, by Rachel Carson, is one of the first factual books ever written that addresses chemical pollution. The other 4 books are novels. My Ishmael by Daniel Quinn speculates how our thinking came to be and how it has generated the problems we now face; Ecotopia, by Ernst Callenbach proposes how a concerned population designed an ecologically sustainable civilization; while two novels, Last Blade of Grass by John Christopher and A Canticle for Leibowitz, by Arthur Miller, Jr., are speculative scenarios that follow the collapse of ecosystems, which leads to a collapse of our culture. Students are expected not only to read the novels but to ponder each novel's plausibility.

The Sixties in Black and White

Tuesday, 1530-1720
Cabell Hall, Room 318
Julian Bond, Professor, History
Spring 2006

The sixties saw a generation of young people begin to build movements which would stop a violent war abroad and start a nonviolent war at home. An ideological attack has been leveled against the decade, obscuring a progressive history and attempting to erase and discredit models successive generations might follow. As a result, '60s history is ambiguous. What made the movements for peace and equal rights possible? What events triggered them? Who were their participants? What is their legacy for the present? This seminar will attempt to answer these and other questions as we examine the history, events, personalities and culture of the 1960s. Students are required to write two brief but comprehensive papers on a '60s individual, organization or movement, and/or a '60s philosophy.

Technology and Democracy

Tuesday and Thursday 9:30-10:45
Classroom tbd by instructors
Nicole Hurd, Lecturer, Undergrad Excellence/Religious Studies
Kathryn Neeley, Associate Professor, SEAS- Science, Technology, and Society
Dean Nieusma, Assistant Professor, SEAS- Science, Technology, and Society
William Wilson, Lecturer, CLAS-Undergrad Deans Office/Religious Studies
Spring 2006

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

Tesla: A Study In Creativity

Tuesday 1230-1420
Pavilion 8, Room 103
W Bernard Carlson
Spring 2006

What is the nature of creative genius? How is creativity a mix of luck, talent, and hard work? To begin to answer these questions, this seminar will examine the career of the inventor Nikola Tesla (1856-1943). Tesla invented not only a practical AC electric motor but also conducted pioneering research on radio waves. Ever a visionary, Tesla dreamed in the late 1890s of broadcasting power around the world through the earths crust. In looking at his creativity, we will consider his methodology, business connections, family background, mental state, and sexual orientation. Through this course, students should come away with an appreciation for the factors shaping invention and creativity as well as an understanding for how scholars study inventors.

US Latinas in Their Literature: Women Between Cultures

Mondays 1400-1550
Wilson 215
Maria-Ines Lagos, Professor Of Spanish
Spring 2006

In the last decades, Chicana, Nuyorican, Puerto Rican, Cuban-American, Dominican-American, and Latin American women writing in the United States have created an important corpus that deals with being a woman in-between two cultures. This course will examine how Latina women have articulated in their narratives the experience of living within two sets of cultural codes, considering variants such as class, race, religious beliefs, language, etc. The readings show the diversity within the Latino community in the United States.

Texts: (available in the bookstore, except when noted)
Nicholasa Mohr, Nilda (get via mail order)
Sandra Cisneros, The House on Mango Street
Julia Alvarez, How the Garcia Girls Lost their Accents
Cristina Garcia, Dreaming in Cuban
Esmeralda Santiago, When I Was Puerto Rican
Rosaro Ferr Sleeping Beauty (toolkit)
Isabel Allende, Paula
Gloria Anzalda, Borderlands/La Frontera, the New Mestiza
Audio visual materials (in class)

Class Format: This course is a seminar, therefore the class will be devoted to discussing the readings and audiovisual materials. Since there will be no formal lectures students should come prepared to discuss the texts, bring up questions, etc. Students will give an oral presentation on a topic related to the readings and report on an interview with a Latina (These can be individual or group activities). One exam on the readings and one short paper.

Women in Business Balancing

Wednesday, 1400-1550
Monroe Hall, 120
Rebecca Leonard, Asst. Dean, Undergraduate Studies, Commerce
Spring 2006

The objective of this course is to increase students understanding and awareness of issues related to women in professional careers both on a personal and organizational level. For generations, women in the U.S. workforce have found themselves at a disadvantage. This course will examine the current state of women in the labor market and evaluate the challenges that parents face in combining family needs with career success. The role that employers and managers can play in the balancing act will also be examined.