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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

 

 

USEMS: Spring 2008

University Seminars: Spring 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 courseenrollment. 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.

Five New 3 Credit Courses are being offered this spring in addition to our traditional 2 creditcourses. Note: College of Arts & Sciences' students only: USEM 170s count as credit and 180s count as elective credit inside the College of Arts & Sciences. Please check the course web site before enrolling.

Reading Robert Frost Anew

3 Credit Course
Tuesday and Thursday 1400-1515
Randall 212
Walter Jost, Professor
Spring 2008

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 poeticcontemporaries 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.

Designing a Sustainable Future

3 Credit Course
Monday and Wednesday 1530-1645
Thornton Hall D222
Paxton Marshall, Professor
Spring 2008

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.

Argumentation

3 Credit Course
(Satisfies Second Writing Requirement)
Monday and Wednesday 1530-1645
Pavilion VIII, 103
David Rubin, Professor Emeritus, French
Spring 2008

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 major media. 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 Union

3 Credit Course
Monday 0900-1130
Mary Munford House
Yuri Urbanovich, Lecturer
Spring 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.

Design + Politics | Town + Gown

3 Credit Course
Tuesday 1800-2030
Pavilion VIII, 103
Kenneth Schwartz, Professor
Spring 2008

Politics and design interact in many intriguing and at times disconcerting ways. These issues can be examined in a broad conceptual framework through the American urban and suburban context and a body of literature that has explored interconnections between political discourse and built expression. This course will draw from this conceptual foundation (literature, political science, and contemporary design discourse) while focusing on place-specific considerations with Charlottesville and the University of Virginia as our “laboratory”. Through the lens of design, students in Arts & Sciences can gain substantial insights into the theory and applications of design in the public realm within our unique form of participatory democracy and gain a better understanding of the political, urban and architectural dynamics between a major University and the community in which it is located. The community engagement aspect of this course will be conducted in collaboration with Katie Swenson, Executive Director of the Charlottesville Community Design Center (on the downtown Mall).

African Americans, Science, and Technology

2 Credit Course
Thursday 1530-1720
Thornton Hall D222
Patricia C. Click, Associate Professor
Spring 2008
Although most African Americans were denied access to higher education throughout a good portion of American history, they were intimately involved-as both creators and users-with American science and technology. This course will focus on the history of African Americans, science, and technology from colonial times to the present. Students will study the social and cultural context of African Americans’ contributions to science and technology, as well as the impact of these contributions on American society and culture. In addition, students will study the impact, in general, of science and technology on African Americans. The intent is to move beyond a list of accomplishments to an analysis of the complexities and subtleties of the relationships among African Americans, science, and technology. Course materials will include books, journal articles, primary documents, and films.

Keeping a Personal Journal

2 Credit Course
Thursday 1230-1420
Cauthen House 116
John B. Bunch, Associate Professor Curry School of Education
Spring 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 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 End of Conflict

2 Credit Course
Friday 1300-1450
Pavilion VIII, 103
E. Franklin Dukes, Ph.D., Lecturer
Spring 2008

Genocide, war, terror, devastation of the environment, divorce – we have become so familiar with destructive conflict in places such as Darfur, Iraq, and Afghanistan, as well as here in the United States, that the prospect of a world without such conflict does not even occur. Does the 21st century world need to accept that destructive conflict is inevitable? This course argues against that premise. “The End of Conflict” invites students instead to hold the possibility that destructive conflict can be managed and even resolved. There are already in place institutions, structures and processes thathave been successfully employed to mitigate, resolve and transform destructive conflict. Students will undertake a survey of the range of such institutions and processes, including school peer-mediation, restorative justice, divorce mediation, environmental conflict resolution, and finally communal and international conflicts. The course will emphasize the historical sources of conflict transformation in indigenous practices as well as contemporary innovations in alternative dispute resolution. It will also include examples from the many supposedly intractable conflicts that have been resolved successfully by nonviolent means, including specifically and most recently the troubles in Northern Ireland.

The Biological Bases of Drug Addiction

2 Credit Course
Wednesday 1500-1650
Wilson 140
William B. Levy, Professor, School of Medicine
Spring 2008

Great progress is being made in understanding the neurobiology of drug addiction.The basis of this understanding arises from work that studies the neurobiology basis of pleasure and pain and the neurobiology of wanting and liking. Addictive drugs push brain and behavior to the limits of pleasure and pain and are therefore a useful tool in understanding normal brain function itself. There is now strong scientific understandingof the brain circuits that medicate pleasure and pain. Other brain regions, ones that directlycontrol decision-making, respond to activation of the primary motivation circuits in behaviorally meaningful situations. Neurophysiological experiments, lesion studies, neurochemical analyses, and pharmacological manipulation reveal the cellular correlatesof our lost pleasure as we become more experienced with a situation that produces a pleasurable feeling. The seminar will read and review experimental studies performed over the last ten years which have given us new insights into the issues. The readings will be accompanied by neurophamacology that are relevant to pleasure, pain and addiction.

US Latinas: Women Between Cultures

2 Credit Course
Wednesday 1500-1650
Bryan Hall 312
Maria-Ines Lagos, Professor
Spring 2008

In the last decades, Mexican-American, Chicana, Nuyorican, Pureto Rican, Cuban-American, Dominican-American, and other 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 demonstrate the diversity within the Latino community in the United States and suggest how women have assimilated to US culture. We will also discuss recent American films portraying Latinas. Class participation, oral presentation and interview with Latina, take-home exam, short paper.

Women in Modern Philosophy

2 Credit Course Monday 1900-2050
Cocke Hall, 101
Antonia LoLordo, Assistant Professor
Spring 2008

Medieval philosophy was exclusively a university affair, dependent on mastery of dead languages and a group of technical skills, and hence women, with no access to higher education, were excluded almost entirely. Beginning in the 17th century, however, philosophy became the province of public intellectuals: suddenly it was discussed in the vernacular, in the salons of the rich and in the burgeoning popular press. This meant that women could now take part in philosophical discourse-and many of them did. Their contributions ranged from natural science to the most abstract metaphysics to political theory.Some of them wrote consciously as women for women, others did not. Some were radicals, others conservatives. We will read and discuss some works of important 17th, 18th and 19th century women philosophers, aiming to understand the broad range of questions they were concerned with and to answer some of the following questions: What sorts of writings count as philosophy? Is there a distinctively female way of doing philosophy? If so, what is it? If not, is there any other reason to treat ‘women in philosophy’ as a group? When did these women philosophers become forgotten, and why? What, if anything, does this tell us about the role of women intellectuals today?

A History of Miracles and Pilgrimage

2 Credit Course
Monday 1830-2020
Bryan Hall 332
Virginia Mosser, General Faculty
Spring 2008

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.

Evaluating Health Care on the Internet: Be the Spider not the Fly

2 Credit Course
Wednesday 1530-1720
McLeod Hall 5044
Sarah Farrell, Associate Professor
Spring 2008

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 Literacy

2 Credit Course
Wednesday 1400-1550
Cauthen House 116
Theodore Homyk, Lecturer
Spring 2008

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.

Other Worlds & Fantastic Beings

2 Credit Course
Thursday 1700 and 1850
Rouss and Robertson Halls 403
Janette Martin, Assistant Professor
Spring 2008

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.

Rhetoric & Public Speaking

2 Credit Course
Tuesday 1600-1750
Rouss and Robertson Halls 410
Rob Patterson, Assistant Professor
Spring 2008

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 Care

2 Credit Course
Tuesday 1400-1550
Emergency Medicine Classroom, Hospital West
Robert Powers, MD, MPH, Professor of Emergency Medicine
Spring 2008

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 professions 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

Quantum Theory and Consciousness

2 Credit Course
Thursday 1400-1550
Physics Room 313
Stanley Sobottka, Emeritus Professor of Physics
Spring 2008

A science-based discussion of nondual reality, including the major metaphysical philosophies; quantum theory and consciousness; science and conscious mind; the perceived and the perceiver; the functioning of the mind; religion and belief; time, space, and causality; free will and responsibility; identification and suffering; disidentification and freedom.This course will be appreciated most by students who are willing to carefully examine their beliefs. Interested students are strongly urged to read the syllabus on the course web site before enrolling.

Australia

2 Credit Course
Tuesday 1600-1750
Pavilion VIII, Room 103
Mark Thomas, Professor
Spring 2008

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 Hell

2 Credit Course
Wednesday 1600-1750
Pavilion VIII, Room 108
Dariusz Tolczyk, Associate Professor
Spring 2008

Extreme 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 Borowski, 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.

The Business of Diversity

2 Credit Course
Tuesday 1400-1550
Rouss and Robertson Halls 403
Rebecca Leonard, Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Studies
Spring 2008

Diversity is a competitive business strategy, which firm’s in today’s global marketplacemust 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 U.Va.

Architecture, Memory, and Self

2 Credit Course
Wednesday 1400-1550
Pavilion VIII, 108
Barbara Nolan, Professor
Spring 2008

In this seminar we’ll explore the theory and practice of “dwelling” as major architects, philosophers, and writers have examined that subject from the time of Vitruvius until the present. We’ll take as our point of departure Martin Heidegger’s seminal 1951 lecture, “Building Dwelling Thinking.” We’ll then ask how classical, early Christian, and medieval theorists and artists depict the “first house” on earth. Finally, and centrally, we’ll study key links between medieval art, architecture, and poetry on one hand, and memory theory on the other, as traditional keys to the project of caring for the Self within the material as well as they psychic spaces we inhabit through the course of our lives.

A Survey of Language Learning

2 Credit Course
Monday 1200-1350
Ruffner 121a
Stephen Plaskon, Associate Professor
Spring 2008

This seminar class will be devoted to a discussion of the basic aspects of language acquisition and development. Selected aspects of the development of syntax, semantics, pragmatics, and phonology; primary caretaker influences, and the role of the environment in language development will be the principle areas of discussion.All participants will have an opportunity to share their observations of a child or the results of an investigation into a topic of their choosing. Readings will be assigned from the required text as well as from select journals and the popular press. Video and audio presentations will be used to supplement discussions and presentations.

Afghanistan: History & Culture

2 Credit Course
Monday 1530-1720
New Cabell Hall
Youli Ioannesyan, Instructor
Spring 2008

The course introduces the students to the history and culture of one of the least studied countries of the Near and Middle East-Afghanistan. Situated in the “heart of Asia” in a mountainous region and being cut off from seas and oceans Afghanistan has for centuries been isolated from the rest of the world. Its culture, history and languages have not attracted enough attention from scholars partly because it remained “under the shadow” of its great neighbors – Iran and India and was perceived as being culturally part of them.The situation changed radically in the second half of the 20th century when after the fall of monarchy it became one of the focal points of the world politics due to its constant instability and unceasing war going on for decades. However, Afghanistan is located in a region which was the cradle of civilizations in the past. The students will learn from this course what was the history of the country prior to its independence and up to the end of the 20th century, who were the people shaping this history and what are their cultural peculiarities. As a participant of the events related to the Soviet military campaign in Afghanistan the instructor will share his first-hand information and impressions with the students.

I’d Rather Be In Philadelphia

2 Credit Course
Tuesday 1530-1720
McLeod Hall 1004
Richard Steeves, Professor
Spring 2008

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.

Responsible Citizenship in a Technological Democracy

2 Credit Course
Monday 1000-1150
Pavilion VIII, 103
William Wulf, Professor
Spring, 2008

Thomas Jefferson said that he was proud of founding the University of Virginia because democracy requires an informed citizenry. He would probably be deeply troubled about the current state of his democracy. The United States is the most advanced technological society in the world and many of its most critical public policy issues reflect that – issues such as climate change, energy policy, privacy, and voting technologies. Unfortunately, a large majority of our citizens do not understand enough science and engineering to meaningfully participate in an informed discussion of these kinds of issues.

This course aims to correct that – that is, it will supply those concepts and mental tools most often needed to think about the technological dimensions of public policy issues. No math or science prerequisites, it’s the concepts that matter.