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The unifying theme of this course is how astronomical practice and knowledge is central to ancient civilizations and how that emphasis continues today as manifested through scientific endeavor and also as strongly through the power of unifying myth.
This seminar will focus on three age-related neurological disorders: Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Huntington disease. These diseases pose enormous social and economic impact, and current drug-based therapeutic approaches are limited and may not be suited to deal with the imminent problems. The seminar will examine lifestyle changes (i.e., diet, exercise, vitamins, and other habits such as reading) that are implicated in preventing or slowing down these disorders. The focus on a medical topic with important socioeconomic ramifications will provide a novel approach to enhancing critical thinking and communication skills.
This four-credit seminar will guide students to critically evaluate the evidence, uncertainties, and value judgments pertinent to some of the world’s pressing environmental issues. We will begin by studying climate change. Students will decide the topics of exploration to follow. Through reading, field trips, discussions and writing we will investigate natural environmental processes and how they have changed with the growth in human population and technology. Students will learn about the scientific process and will consider the roll of science and technology and their limits in making decisions about shared resources.
Based on the premise that cities are never “finished,” and constantly being remade, we will look at the technological and cultural history of cities from the ancient world to the present day. Students will explore the history of building materials–wood, brick, steel, concrete, and glass–used in the construction of cities. We will also trace the development of city infrastructure such as water and sewage systems; streets, bridges, and subways; electricity, telephone and the internet. Specific technological innovations, such as the elevator and the automobile, will receive special consideration. We will move both geographically and temporally to visit the world’s great cities, Athens, Mexico City, Tokyo, and New York City. As we do, we will study the examples of significant building projects, such as the Brooklyn Bridge, the Chicago World’s Fair, Washington, DC’s Metro, and Cleveland’s first skyscraper, the Rockefeller Building. The course will cover the history of the professions–engineering, architecture, and urban planning–that have contributed to the construction of cities, and will review the works of these practitioners, as well as that of artists, reformers, and utopians that have imagined new directions for the city. We will also explore first person narratives of the city, the impact of the city on personal and collective memory, and the possibilities and pitfalls of the “virtual” city. Through lecture, discussion, textual analysis, computer simulations, and writing assignments, Cities (Under Construction) will help students gain a deeper understanding of their role in remaking and sustaining the built environment
This four credit-hour SAGES seminar provides an introduction to various dimensions of academic life through open-ended intellectual inquiry and guided by reading from primary and secondary sources. The course will require practice in written and oral communications in small groups. A primary focus of the seminar will be to examine the impact of engineering materials on societal development through human history using a few specific materials of interest as examples: concrete, steel, and semi-conductors. At the conclusion of the course, students will be encouraged to explore the impact of other materials on the development of specific technologies as a group project.
This four-credit-hour course provides an introduction to collegiate writing and to various dimensions of academic life, but will focus on the critical appreciation of the challenges we face in transitioning–or failing to transition–to a sustainable society. Climate change, along with increased development and population, are altering the natural environment we live in and rely on. This course will review some of the current and future impacts of these changes, and explore alternate paths forward and how they might be forged. The class will involve both literacy and numeracy, and students will learn to become comfortable handling some of the quantitative measures relevant to sustainability issues. The class will be characterized by intense yet open-ended intellectual inquiry, guided by reading, lectures and discussion, and will include practice in written and oral communication.
This course will delve into the world of spices. Each commercially important spice will be discussed with the goal of understanding the influence spices and the spice trade had on the history, culture, and cuisines of different parts of the world. The chemistry of some of the natural compounds present in the spices and their effect on various diseases will be explored by reading and discussing scientific literature. Finally, the class will cook with some of these spices and sample other distinctly spiced foods to learn more about various cuisines and cultures.
Almost half (47%) of the people in Africa have incomes less than $1.25 per day. Most of these people live as subsistence farmers in small villages with no electricity, running water or automobiles (but with cell phones). Through readings, group discussions, writing assignments, and open-ended experiential learning activities, the course will address ways that engineering solutions can improve peoples’ lives within these severe economic constraints. A hands-on component of the course will involve designing and building affordable devices to meet specific needs. We have developed interactions with villages in Senegal, Malawi, and Botswana, and the engineering solutions will be explored within the context of these villages.
Innovation and design are cornerstones of the engineering profession and are responsible for many of the improvements in the quality of life that have taken place over the last century. Innovation is also viewed as the essential skill that will drive economies and solve many of the challenges facing societies around the globe. This seminar-based course will provide a disciplined approach to engineering innovation and design. The course requires students to engage in written and oral communications as well as working in small teams to complete open-ended design/build-related assignments. The course will culminate in the design, fabrication and validation of a prototype product to meet an identified need. The design, fabrication and validation of these products will be carried out in think[box] 1.0 (Prentke-Romich Collaboratory), and the Reinberger Design Studio.
Fuel Cells convert hydrogen and other fuels directly to electricity and are viewed as a key technology for non-polluting, oil-independent energy in the future. In this course, we will study and critically analyze the prospects, technical and economic barriers, and impact of broad implementation of fuel cells, focusing on the transportation sector and portable power. Major topics of the course include: (i) World and US energy outlook; (ii) Potential role and impact of fuel-cells; their advantages, principles of operation, design and materials issues, limitations and prospects for improvements; (iii) Special focus on details of a polymer type fuel cells (PEMFCs) for transportation and portable power; (iv) Modeling fuel cell performance and evaluation of controlling mechanisms that limit performance. The course is designed for students from all disciplines. Students will be expected to read assigned texts and articles and critically analyze statements and points of view presented. Quantitative analysis will be encouraged and developed. Student teams will develop a hypothesis to improve fuel cell performance by modifying the design of a component of the fuel cell. The new component design with then be fabricated and tested in an operating prototype fuel cell. Data analysis, hypothesis conclusion, and reporting of results are expected.
BioDesign basics explores the art of finding patient needs. No prior clinical or medical education is required, as we focus on acquiring and refining the underpinning critical thinking skills needed to identify and articulate unmet clinical patient needs in contemporary healthcare settings. Many–if not a majority of–ideas leading to healthcare innovation are derived from issues that arise during the daily activities of caring for patients. Whether it is frustration with the use of a specific surgical instrument, processes that interfere with health care delivery, better waiting rooms for the family, designing more comfortable hospital gowns, or materials inadequate for intended outcomes, patient needs cover a broad range of physical and emotional states. Many students find the idea of identifying a “patient need” quite ambiguous at first, but the BioDesign process for defining patient need is a widely use national model developed at Stanford University that the student will find contains easy-to-follow steps that are simple and appealing. As an interactive and “hands-on” course, students will be engaged in discussions, events and activities to promote a first-hand understanding of “needs finding” to support individual mastery of writing and oral presentation skills. The Fourth Hour will be centered on “walking tours” of local medical institutions around University Circle as well as actual use of medical devices (wheelchairs and crutches) on campus as ways to help your efforts identify a patient need based on those observations. In short, you will create your own experiences leading to stories that make writing fun. The course requires students to engage in written and oral communications as well as working in small teams to complete open-ended assignments.
Half of the world’s population lives in poverty. The causes of poverty and injustice are complex and the ramifications are numerous and serious and include grave risk to human health and to the environment. Through reading, analysis, writing, and rigorous discussion the class will investigate issues surrounding poverty and disparities in health and opportunity. We will also explore how innovation and engineering design can help address causes of poverty and disparity and meet needs of people at risk. Design teams will work throughout the semester to identify an unmet need to engineer a solution to benefit an under-served or under-resourced population. Fourth-hour activities will include interviewing knowledgeable stakeholders (locally and abroad via teleconference), learning about and volunteering with service organizations, and visiting local institutions and/or companies addressing these issues.
Together we will explore the nature of the human mind by asking the question, “Is the mind what the brain does?” Through an exploration of neurological and psychological case studies, empirical research studies, direct experimentation, and readings and films about brain structure and function, we will form hypotheses about the relationship between the mind and the brain and gather evidence to test our hypotheses. Writing assignments will explore ideas about your own mind and brain, examples of other individuals with unusual or atypical brains and minds, and a research topic of your choice
Water is an essential, valuable resource that is protected by a wide variety of social, legal, and technical institutions. However, not all water is desirable. Hostile water is unwanted water from which we seek to protect ourselves. Hostile waters challenge our understanding of the natural world and the social doctrine upon which our understanding is based. This course will examine how historical “hostile water” events have altered our social perceptions and legal institutions, led to structural flood control, “damn” engineering, the National Flood Insurance Program, Landsat satellites, “Wild Rivers,” FEMA, wetlands preservation, detention basins, etc., and to homeowner stormwater management options such as rain barrels and rain gardens. The course will begin with a review of the original documentation and modern interpretation of the Johnstown Flood. Students will then conduct research on historical events and prepare written briefing documents and oral presentations focusing on the physical impacts and social consequences of dramatic hostile water events. The course will end with a critical review of the Hurricane Katrina event. Class discussions will examine how hostile water events have impacted U.S. policies and institutions, and appears to be leading to stormwater management obligations for individual homeowners.
This seminar introduces students to the idea that engineering can be found in all sorts of unexpected places, even in our hobbies. To test our hypothesis, we will examine the hobbies enjoyed by the course instructors: baseball and building synthetic coral reef aquariums. Students will then work under the instructors’ guidance to analyze how principles of engineering can be used to understand the successes and failures they have encountered in their own hobbies, with the ultimate goal of developing a proposal for improving their experience of these hobbies
This First Seminar will consider the ongoing energy revolution driven by technological advances in renewable energy and energy efficiency. To better understand the technological and social opportunities and challenges of this transition, we will focus on Germany’s plan, commonly referred to as Energiewende, which consists of proactive energy policies to promote the development and deployment of renewable energy and energy conservation technologies. We will consider such questions as: What are the implications of this German success story, both for the US and the rest of the world? What lessons can be applied to other situations? What factors might limit the utility of those lessons? In the process of our investigation, we will examine such important issues as globalization, resource finiteness, and sustainability challenges, including economic crises, climate change, energy insecurity, and global competition.
Robots, smart cities, wind energy, modern prosthetics, 3-D printing, and smart phones are but a few examples of the pervasiveness of modern engineering. This seminar will examine what engineers do, the skills needed to be successful in engineering and many other professions, how some things work, and how to actually design and build something. We will examine the engineering design process, how things are designed and built, and how things work and/or fail. Successful engineers also need to be good at communications, teamwork, time management and organization, and understand professional responsibility and ethics. The class will read and discuss in a seminar format the skills engineers need to know, how things are designed, how to evaluate a design, and how to build something of their own design. Writing assignments will refine your ability to communicate information and opinions and persuade others to your viewpoint. The course will conclude with student teams proposing, designing, and prototyping designs of their choice. Multiple opportunities will be available for seminar students to interact with engineering faculty and upperclass engineering students. The course will use the Sears Design Lab and Think[box].
Chocolate – beloved by the masses, and humorously described by some as its own food group. You may know some of the history of this New World product, which when brought back to Europe, spawned a gastronomical industry. In addition to learning more about this history, in this seminar we will examine chocolate’s remarkable chemical and physical properties. Students will learn how to produce a chocolate mold by 3D printing in CWRU’s Think[box] facility. By molding chocolates of varying compositions, they will also learn about different crystal structures, as well as how to use x-ray scattering experiments to determine those structures. They will then apply differential scanning calorimetry experiments to determine the thermal behaviors of these various chocolate compositions. Through this investigation of the science of chocolate, students will be introduced to the engineering behaviors of other materials, especially polymers. Of course, we will also consider chocolate’s other virtues, both as a flavorful food and as a mood enhancer, by consulting with local experts in cuisine and neurochemistry.
About 300 million tons of plastics are produced globally each year, but only about 10 percent of these products are recycled, despite the fact that recycling uses significantly less energy and produces fewer greenhouse gas emissions than does manufacture of the virgin materials. This course will address the scientific, economic, environmental, and political issues involved in plastics recycling. Following an introduction to the chemical structures and properties of commodity plastics, we will discuss the actual recycling of plastics in municipal waste including the problems faced in collection and sorting of plastic waste and recycling economics. Then we will address the commercial applications and properties of recycled plastics and why they generally have inferior properties to virgin materials, which significantly reduces their market value. Finally we will look at biodegradable alternatives to oil-based materials as well as some options to plastics recycling, including land filling, burning for power generation, and monomer reclamation.
The rise of the creative class into the world of “making” has resulted in new economic models, new definitions of manufacturing, and new ways of working. “Making” is inclusive of a wide variety of activities, from the arts and crafts, to woodworking, to high technology integrating with traditional craftsmanship, to products with embedded sensors in traditional materials, to the use of 3D printing of everything from polymers to metals to chocolate. Within all of these approaches, “innovation” is often the buzzword, the common denominator. What does innovation mean in this context? Are innovators and makers today any different from the innovators and manufacturers of the past? What role does science and math have in making and manufacturing? Through both a hands-on and historical approach, we will explore the commonalities between today’s makers and yesterday’s manufacturers, and arrive at an understanding of innovation and apply this understanding to a project that could continue throughout your time at CWRU.
This seminar is designed to explore the advent and applications of nanoscience and nanotechnology, in the world of biomedicine. The seminar will begin with a brief overview of the history, science, and terminology of “nano scale”, “nanotechnology,” and “nanomedicine”. Subsequently, we will turn to the exciting opportunities and daunting challenges that “nano” poses in biomedical applications. Our discussion won’t be limited to the scientific and engineering aspects of these opportunities and challenges. We will also consider the ethical, economic, and social implication of current and future applications of this technology field. The seminar will draw on a variety of texts including book sections, newspaper articles, editorials, scientific journal articles, fiction, and movies to understand the realm of nanoscience and nanotechnology in biomedical applications.
The central theme of this seminar is the basic functioning of engineered devices and systems. The devices/systems covered will be 1) automobiles, 2) airplanes, and 3) production of electric power. Material for the seminar will come from a wide range of sources, including a reference book “How Things Work”, historical references, popular pseudo-technical periodicals, and technical journal articles. We will discuss topics ranging from a) how to characterize the basic physical principles at work in the devices/systems to z) how popular opinion can affect the adoption or abandonment of sound technology.
In this course, we examine how places become imbued with certain meanings, and how these meanings change over time. In turn, we ask how concepts of space and place affect the way we interact with the physical environment and with each other. Although the texts and places we examine this term will be diverse in subject, style, and form, we will attempt to unify our inquiry by returning to common questions: How does this text or place “map” certain values or political priorities? What other kinds of maps might be possible in this context? A strong emphasis will be placed on writing and thinking that is both critical and imaginative. We borrow terms and concepts from geography and other fields, but our inquiry is open to many disciplines and interdisciplinary approaches. The formal writing will be analytical and argument-based. Through field trips and discussion, we will explore the Case Western Reserve environment, University Circle, and Cleveland more broadly.
This four-credit course provides an introduction to various dimensions of philanthropy and volunteerism. Using the seminar format and an array of interactive activities, we will conduct a broad but intellectual inquiry into the systems and ethics of giving time and money to charitable causes. In four units of inquiry, we will consider the giving traditions that have influenced American culture and society since its colonial days. We will examine the role that the Third Sector (also known as the Independent or Nonprofit Sector) plays as an agent of social change in a functioning democratic republic. We will explore the nature of donors and volunteers and take a critical look at the missions and goals of a cross section of nonprofit organizations. We will wrestle with ethical issues related to philanthropy and consider the giving patterns of different social, religious, and ethnic groups. We will also turn our collective thinking to how the nonprofit sector might better serve the social needs of the nation and the world. At the end of the semester, we will reflect on how our ideas about philanthropy have changed over the course of fifteen weeks.
This course has two major foci: poverty and social policies designed to ameliorate poverty. Sociologists in the United States and in other countries have made major contributions to studies of poverty. They have primarily focused on income-based poverty, but more recently, have also studied other forms of poverty. In this class, we will examine different conceptualizations and measures of poverty. We will then examine short-term and long-term poverty experiences and their potential consequences. We will then turn to explanations of poverty: why are some individuals more likely to experience periods of low income than others? While the United States will be the focus of the course, we will contrast the experiences of other countries. The second component will be an analysis of social policies designed to ameliorate poverty. In particular, we will examine the development and retrenchment of welfare states and other social policies, the various goals of social policy, and the different impacts social policies have had on individuals, families, other groups, and the country overall. This discussion will reflect on experiences of other countries
This seminar is an introduction to some of the most important global developments of our times. We will examine these events through political, historical, economic, cultural, sociological, scientific and ethical lenses. Readings will come from a wide-range of sources, and assignments will include exercises in written and oral communication. The professor will choose the first three global developments to be investigated as well as the relevant readings. His topics will most likely be the proliferation of nuclear weapons, the rise of China as a great power and the fiftieth anniversary of the European Union. Each of the remaining seven will be chosen by small groups of students, who will assign the readings and run the sessions for their respective topic. Possible topics include the global food crisis, genocide and the failure of the world community to stop it, global warming and the growing gap between the world’s rich and poor.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has” (Margaret Mead, 1901-1978). This seminar is about understanding what enables people to make a generative impact on the world. Students will explore the socio-emotional and motivational characteristics of effective leaders and their ability to create positive change. Students will also be encouraged to develop their own theories of leadership and to explore their personal approaches to making a difference. The seminar will profile leaders from different occupations and walks of life. Seminar sessions will feature assigned readings on leaders and change agents, class discussion on what drives movers and shakers, and individual and group presentations on class members’ emergent leadership perspectives. A key objective of the seminar is the development of critical thinking skills, writing skills, and verbal skills. Consequently, the weekly class readings, reflection papers on class readings, class discussions, class presentations (individual and group), and final project are vital features of the seminar experience. Students will be expected to leave the seminar with a grounded perspective on leaders and leadership, and the ability to articulate their own personal views on making a difference in the world.
This class will bring to life the tales of wartime through the journalists and historians who have learned to listen and the people who lived the stories behind the words. Students will read nonfiction accounts of the United States’ involvement in major conflicts, specifically World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. After discussions of each book (along with other, shorter readings), students will hear from guest speakers with expertise from different perspectives on that conflict. Guest speakers, both in person and via videoconference, will include a politically and ethically diverse group of soldiers, civilians, and former refugees along with family members of those killed in action. Students will be required to prepare questions for the guest speakers and write personal reflections following each discussion. Some of these discussions will develop into personal essays. A portion of the class will be spent examining the role of journalists in wartime, highlighted by videoconferences with reporters in Iraq and Afghanistan. The class will build toward the final project, which involves an in-depth individual interview with a veteran at the Louis Stokes Veteran’s Administration Medical Center in University Circle. Some of the interviews will take place in the newly-opened (May, 2011) Homeless Domiciliary and Administration Building. These interviews will require at least three visits with the veteran. The final project will end with a formal presentation of the student’s story about the veteran at the VA building in front of a gathered audience, possibly including the veteran and his or her family as the student closes the circle, and becomes the storyteller.
Injustice. What do you think of when you hear that word? There are all types of injustice in this world, and chances are that during our lifetime we will either find ourselves in a position or system of power, perpetrating injustice on others; or in a position or system of supposed impotence, a subject of injustice. What are our choices? How will we respond? In this course we will examine the topic of living with and making decisions concerning injustice using, as an example, the specific injustice of slavery, examining the lives and decisions of both a famous slaveholder and two not-so-famous slaves; and learning from their lives and decisions how we might, ourselves, live with and make decisions concerning injustices we face in our lives.\
During the gilded age, Cleveland became one of this country’s most powerful centers of business, industry, and political power. For example, John D. Rockefeller, who started his business career in Cleveland, became the wealthiest individual in human history, and Mark Hanna, the leader of Cleveland’s Republican political machine, selected and engineered the election of eight Ohio-born Presidents of the United States, setting a state record which is still unbroken. As late as the 1930s, Henry Luce located the headquarters of Time, Life and Fortune magazines in Cleveland; and the Terminal Tower, the nexus of the vast, sprawling railroad and real-estate Empire of the Van Sweringen Brothers, was the country’s highest building outside of New York. This class will examine one of the by-products of this accumulation of power and money: the flowering of art and culture in Cleveland during the early 20th century, and the creation of notable cultural institutions, such as one of this country’s finest symphony orchestras, one of its top ten art museums, a major university, and an array of other notable entities, many of them housed in buildings of architectural distinction. The class will also examine the economic, cultural and intellectual decline of Cleveland in the second half of the 20th century, and recent attempts to reverse this trend through intensive efforts to revitalize University Circle. In addition to classroom sessions, the course will include field trips to the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Western Reserve Historical Society, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, and an architectural tour of downtown Cleveland. The class will be centered on three interrelated questions: What makes a great city? How can the artistic and cultural life of a great city be developed and sustained? How can the social and economic collapse of a great city be reversed?
This seminar will have a focus on creativity in the arts, sciences, and engineering. What are the similarities and differences in the creative process in these three different broad fields? How are the creative products different? What are the creative processes involved in these different domains. Are there differences in personalities between scientists and artists? How can we foster creativity in children and adults in these fields? We all read about and discuss the different dimensions of creativity; what makes something creative; what helps people become creative; the role of cognition and emotion in the creative process in the arts and sciences; and mental illness and creativity.
This seminar will explore the transformative nature of travel, especially in regard to individual and cultural identity. Through seminar discussions, extensive writing and revision, and formal oral presentations, our class will explore how individuals, including ourselves, define themselves in personal, local, and national contexts and how we redefine ourselves and our world as we cross geographical borders. Course texts will include works of fiction, non-fiction travel narratives, films, and scholarly essays that will compel us to question our everyday world and consider matters of cultural exchange and social belonging.
Although social cognition allows us to process vast amounts of information quickly, we are not always aware of the subtle forces that guide our decision making. This course will use a seminar approach to explore rational and irrational forces that influence decision making. We will use a multi-disciplinary approach to decision making, including topics such as personality factors, incentive-based decision making, cognitive biases, automatic information processing, and theories of mind. These topics will be explored using class discussion, writings, and student presentations.
This is a seminar designed to refine skills of critical thinking and reading, listening, learning. writing and verbal presentation while considering the topic of touch. We will consider touch in different situations and for different purposes – touch in child development, touch in socialization, therapeutic animal touch, touch and violence/harassment, touch in the workplace, touch and technology, taste as a function of touch, healing touch comforting and noxious touch, and things we are afraid to touch.
In measuring the cultural profile of a metropolitan area, the presence of a successful symphony orchestra is often used as a model to determine culture sophistication and refinement. In recent years, however, the model of the orchestra has encountered significant challenges. Using the world-renowned Cleveland Orchestra as a paradigm, this seminar will examine the role of the orchestra in ascertaining a city’s cultural health. Topics of discussion, oral presentations, and writing assignments will address the historical legacy of the classical orchestra; traditional concert-going etiquette and its relevance in 21st-century culture; how orchestras have handled recent financial trials; and defining the importance of the orchestra in today’s urban society. Students will have the opportunity to attend orchestral concerts during Fourth Hour, and occasional guests from the Cleveland Orchestra and other University Circle institutions will provide a direct cultural perspective.
Gender is an organizing tool in every human society. This course explores the creation and depictions of adolescence in the United States as a means of understanding how such ideologies becomes naturalized. Along with readings in history, sociology, literature and current events, we will explore depictions in film, music and other media. We make use of the Cleveland Museum of Art and the Rock `n Roll Hall of Fame. Students will hone critical thinking, writing, and public speaking skills as they come to an understanding of how intersection of gender and age organize the world in which they live.
This seminar is an academic and experiential introduction to Brazil’s history, society, and culture from a multidisciplinary and comparative perspective. Host of the latest soccer World Cup and upcoming Summer Olympics, Brazil is one of the largest and most diverse countries in the world, as well as a thriving democracy with a strong economy. Known for its natural beauty and resources, tropical climate, vibrant culture, and friendly population, the land of soccer and Carnival is also marked by poverty, corruption, and widespread violence. Due to this complex, challenging, and fascinating profile, Brazil defies easy categorizations and provides a unique context for the development of essential academic skills such as critical thinking, socio-cultural analysis, and cross-cultural comparison and tolerance. Over the course of the semester, students will have the opportunity to read, analyze, and discuss relevant academic sources, news articles, and audiovisual materials such as music and films; experience basic aspects of Brazilian language and culture first-hand, including food and dance; and interact with Brazilian students and faculty on campus, as well as other Brazilians living in the Cleveland area.
What counts as hand made? Since the Industrial Revolution, modes of production have been increasingly mechanized to ensure efficient production involving fewer skilled workers. Opposition to industrialization has existed since the earliest moments of the Revolution, when skilled stocking knitters destroyed stocking frames, a technology meant to replace them by putting the ability to create stockings in the hands of unskilled laborers. Today, we find ourselves in the midst of a hyper-technological age, but with an increasingly vocal artisanal subculture valorizing the artist or craftsperson who creates unique goods by hand. Our class will explore the tensions and sympathies between industry and craft, the machine and the hand, technology and the imagination. We will focus our inquiry on the production of cloth, since it was the need to produce cloth more efficiently that motivated the Industrial Revolution’s earliest technological innovations. We will consider the human relationships and institutions that support the production of textiles and cloth (especially silk and cotton) and which, in turn, create global and local economies that influence social organization. This seminar will be discussion based and writing intensive, and will include field trips to a local clothing factory and to the art museum to see and analyze historic fabrics. We will also speak with local fashion and textile designers. Students will experiment with knitting, weaving, or a cloth craft of their choice in order to participate in the technical–and creative–side of cloth production.
This seminar will focus on the rapidly expanding understanding of the interaction of biological and social forces–including the interaction of genes and environment. We will explore claims that are made in science and popular culture about the role of genes in development. We will focus on the role that social forces play in shaping the effects of genes in development, and health, through epigenetics and related mechanisms. Adopting a sociology-of-science perspective, we will consider the wider and future implications of gene-environment interactions for politics, the economy, and culture.
In this course, students examine diversity, privilege, and power in US society. Social categories such as gender, heritage, language, race, religion, and sexuality affect the status of both individuals and groups, at times producing unequal distribution of resources and marginalization. No group or individual belongs to one category; therefore, we will also consider how the intersection of these categories produces their own unique effects. Students are expected to analyze and critique social institutions, belief systems, and practices that promote inequality and social justice through data- based dialogue and writing. Modes of inquiry will include qualitative and quantitative research methods and current scholarly literature. This course is conducted in a seminar format that requires students to engage in active, relevant and insightful discussions regarding the course content. Students have the opportunity to hear from guest experts in the field and participate in off-campus learning activities. Reflective and scholarly writing are major components of the course.
This course is an interdisciplinary examination of predictions about social events, how we make them, why they go wrong, and how we respond. While some things, like election results, are easy to predict, dramatic events like wars, depressions, and stock market crashes are harder to predict. The course will begin with the basic elements of probability theory to lay the groundwork for the class. Then, we will examine the psychological research on the types of errors people are prone to make regarding probability and the consequences of such biases in perception and estimation. The course will then move on to discuss predicting specific social events, such as elections and stock trends, comparing the empirical research to conventional beliefs. Then the course will address the role of scholarly research more generally, and the empirical work discussing how political scientists, economists, and other scholars often fail to predict the most significant and dramatic events because of their cognitive styles, which vary in the degree to which they rely on simplified models. Finally, the course will discuss how people respond when their predictions go wrong, and their basic tendency to rationalize away errors.
There are more Muslims in South Asia than any other region in the world. But within the region, Islam is far from a monolith. What variety of religious practices and traditions of debate characterize Muslims in South Asia? When meshed with different political projects, how do we understand Islam as a deeply contested ideological field? What roles did Muslims play in the history of South Asia? These are some of the questions we will pursue in class. The long history of Muslim presence in the region, which includes India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, will offer opportunities for studying Muslims in a wide range of social and political contexts: as actors in cosmopolitan, commercial networks of Indian Ocean trade; as rulers consolidating states and empires governing large multi-ethnic and multi-religious populations; as “modernizers” and “traditionalists;” as religious minorities and majorities in different nation-states. Additionally, this seminar will provide entry points for understanding Islam in an array of modern settings: from a nation-state created as a “Muslim” homeland to a rejection of religion as an adequate basis of national identity; from democracy to military rule; and, from Cold War politics to the “Global War on Terror.”
Despised by the church, reviled by New Orleans society, Jazz was the bad boy music of the early 20th century. But by WWII it was the most popular music style in the US. Since then, jazz has become a minority taste, embraced by the academy, but viewed with an intimidated indifference by the general public. How did this happen? How have views of this odd marriage of European and African musical styles changed through the years? Can jazz regain relevancy? Should jazz musicians even care about relevancy? And if not, what does the future hold for them and their music? In this course, we will examine the history of the development of jazz, what makes the music so important in American culture, and some of the reasons why–despite this importance–few people listen to it anymore. Students need not have prior familiarity with jazz, only a willingness to listen to, and read about, the music.
Whether in the classroom, at work, or with friends and family, smartphones are undoubtedly a powerful tool for communication. Nevertheless there are concerns that these devices may in fact prevent us from communicating effectively. In this seminar, we will consider the new technologies of communication and the economic, social, and psychological implications of these developments. The use of smartphones in the classroom is one illustration of this dilemma. One side points out, correctly, that these phones open up an entire world of information that can be accessed almost instantaneously. Denying students access to that information prevents developing the skill of just-in-time learning that is becoming increasingly important in a world of exploding information. The other side argues that the distraction created by smartphones far outweighs the benefits. Banning them altogether might be the appropriate course of action. We will consider the use (and abuse) of smartphones in particular but will also explore email, social networking, crowdsourcing and other “modern” communication vehicles and tools. In addition, we will look closely at behaviors and trends that are associated with these new technologies, such as multi-tasking, anonymous posting, spoofing, information sharing and grass-roots organizing. Ultimately, in this seminar we want to consider ways we can use technology for effective communication, personal growth and professional development while reflecting on the impact of technological tools on our personal and social interactions
Our food choices affect more than our individual health; what we decide to put into our bodies has important consequences for our environment, the livelihood of farmers, and even the general well-being of a society. These choices also reveal moral, cultural, and religious values we deem important. In this seminar, we will examine the environmental and social consequences of our food choices by interrogating both our individual habits as well as current (often controversial) food policy issues. In line with the requirements of a SAGES First Seminar, this course is designed to improve students’ ability to read critically and interpret moral and political arguments. We will analyze a wide range of writings on food-related issues in order to develop sophisticated perspectives on our food choices. Hopefully, this thoughtful consideration will translate to mindful habits when we convene around food with our friends, families, and communities. Class discussions will be accompanied by class visits to urban gardens, restaurants with a sustainability mission, and farmers’ markets. We’ll also meet representatives of community organizations like the Greater Cleveland Food Bank.
Since 2002, when social scientist Richard Florida first began to promote his idea of the “creative city,” the arts have become increasingly central to the way cities are produced. As formerly industrial cities–like Cleveland–shift from a manufacturing economy to one that is “knowledge-based,” city leaders and urban planners have sought to cultivate the growth not only of sectors like finance, education, technology, and medicine, but also fields that are typically associated with creativity such as design, architecture, fine arts, and high-end cuisine. It is believed that enriching cultural offerings makes urban living more appealing (thus fueling the real estate market) and generates a creative synergy that catalyzes entrepreneurs in fields like bio-technology, engineering, and technology. With Florida’s theory in mind, this course considers how Cleveland’s recent resurgence has resulted from efforts to build the creative city. Therefore, this course will investigate how the arts have contributed to the physical rehabilitation of some of Cleveland’s most popular neighborhoods like Tremont, Ohio City, Collinwood, and University Circle. It will also study how things like art walks, a locavore foodie culture, and the proliferation of “ruin porn” (in which people take artistic photos of derelict buildings) inform the branding and promotion of the city. While much of this economic restructuring has led to what is persistently referred to as a renaissance in Cleveland, there still remains stark inequality and devastating poverty in the city. Thus, this course will evaluate the overall success of the creative city as a development model and assess whether Cleveland has truly benefited in the way that Florida’s theory suggests. Students will read work by scholars of urban studies and essays about Cleveland to complement their use of blogs, social media, and field work in preparation for carrying out final projects focused on key neighborhoods in the city.
An abiding task of ancient philosophy was to style your life with wisdom. The Greek and Roman schools of philosophy so common to cities around the Mediterranean two thousand years ago developed all sorts of techniques for people to become self-styled sages-in-training. The modern variant, as Michael Foucault and his student Jacques Rancière noted, was to transpose wisdom into a critical attitude where the goal of style was not sagacity but liberation. In this course, we work as in a lab -a modern philosophical workplace- to style your lives critically, articulating stratagems and ideals of liberation. In particular, we focus on becoming a multi-dimensional human, on finding time and space in the midst of work for utopian dreams, on loving relationships, and on education as a developmental experience.
What is the enduring appeal of the works of William Shakespeare? Not only are the plays themselves popular today; there are also many film versions and adaptations, some recent and some dating back to the early days of cinema. In this First Seminar, students will read approximately six Shakespeare plays, including at least one history, comedy, and tragedy. In addition, they will view at least one film version or adaptation of each play. With the help of Kelvin Smith Library, the films will be made available on streaming video with password-protected access, enabling students to view them when convenient and as often as necessary. Since this class (like all First Seminars) is writing-intensive, students will complete four formal essays as well as frequent in-class writing activities. There will also be in-class readings from the plays, discussions of the various film adaptations, and one or two short oral presentations or activities.
For the first years of our schooling, we are taught to play make-believe. Then, we are taught to understand facts. Whatever happened to the imagination? What is it? What are the theories that help to explain it? And what is its place at a research university? In this class, we will read, talk, think, and write about the purposes and scope of the human imagination, which is often understood as the symbolic realm of images and ideas that exists as part of our mental life. We will look at how the imagination has been understood by various thinkers and artists, and we will consider how the physical world interacts with the imagination in stories, music, film, and scientific ideas. Even though we may think that imagination means “something from nothing,” it is much more complicated and collaborative than that, as we will see in our examination of larger imaginative projects such as the Sistine Chapel, Star Wars, Legos, and Disney World. We will examine the role of the imagination in as many disciplines as possible, including physics, sports, fantasy, politics, and the media. As we interrogate these sources, we will learn the basic tenets of argument and research that will help you in your upcoming SAGES courses. Are there imaginative practices that can help us succeed here at Case? How can we turn our own imaginations into reality?
What is Happiness? And why do Americans consider its pursuit a self-evident, inalienable right? To what extent is happiness a component of the American Dream? How have writers used stories to illustrate the possibilities and limits of this ideal? This course examines the various ways that thinkers have defined happiness, using both theoretical frameworks and literary examples. Students will carefully analyze the validity and utility of these models, selecting elements to construct their own personal philosophies of happiness.
This seminar intends to provide students with an understanding of the origins and representation of traditional martial arts through movies, novels, and comics. We will emphasize the moral, historical, and cognitive issues involved in the practice of these older fighting techniques. We will also examine how practitioners might have been forced to compromise some of their tenets to accommodate contemporary life and a broader audience.
College students are likely to have seen Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre-Dame. Few, however, are likely to have read the novel that inspired it, Victor Hugo’s Notre-Dame of Paris (1831). In this seminar, we will read this 500-page novel and in the process explore Hugo’s intentions in writing it, its place in 19th-century French literature, and why it continues to capture the imaginations of readers today. Of special interest in our investigation will be the significance of the hunchback bell-ringer, Quasimodo. What is the relationship between the cathedral’s Gothic architecture and Quasimodo’s deformed body? Why are readers so fascinated by the grotesque body, such that Hugo’s novel continues to be interpreted on stage and in film? How might depictions of Quasimodo be compared to other deformed figures in works such as The Phantom of the Opera, Elephant Man, or Mask? In considering Quasimodo’s marginalized body, we will also examine other forms of marginalization, including the political oppression of the Romani people, as figured in the character Esmeralda.
Novelists, poets, graphic artists and filmmakers responded to the tragedy of 9/11 in a myriad of ways. We will look at some of the common themes that run through these works and also at points of departure. Do these artists use art to provoke or heal? And how do they influence our cultural and political understanding of that epochal event? Has our cultural discourse shifted as a result of their work? We will also consider questions of adaptation and how the meaning of a work changes when it is adapted from one medium to another. Do we “read” cinema differently than we do books? Are comics and graphic novels an appropriate medium to discuss so solemn an historical event? How have these different art forms incorporated the grief and trauma of that day and set the tone for how we mourn and remember?
According to WorldCat–the world’s largest database of library content–the amount of literature on fly fishing dwarfs that of any other sport. What explains this interest? In this seminar, we will examine the appeal and cultural significance of fly fishing, especially as a site for understanding an individual’s relationship to the natural world. We will read both fiction and non-fiction works that will help us explore the fundamental nature of sport, how it varies from other forms of recreation, and whether sport can be considered art. We will also investigate what prompts authors to imbue fly fishing with metaphysical, spiritual, or aesthetic dimensions. And we will study how the intent and style of such works differ from traditional academic research writing, as well as how those elements of craft might be integrated into an effective academic writing style. We will also learn by experiencing some of the sport’s skills, including fly tying and casting.
We live in a world where we are surrounded by images of people. From statues of political leaders to selfies, portraits mediate how we construct power relations, fame, and even group and individual identities. This seminar explores the power of portraits by investigating portraiture in the ancient Roman world. How did Romans define a portrait? What made some images of human figures portraits and others not? Did a portrait actually have to look like the person it represented? Who commissioned portraits in the classical world, and who created them? Why did portraits look certain ways and not others? In what contexts were portraits displayed, and to what ends? We will consider these questions of definition, production, typology, viewer reception, and historical interpretation through close readings of primary texts in translation and secondary scholarship and through case studies of specific artworks. The class will take advantage of the ancient art holdings in the Cleveland Museum of Art, especially the Museum’s excellent collection of Roman portraits. Students will gain a deeper understanding of how portraits both constructed and subverted power relations, communal identities, and social norms in ancient Rome.
When the word “harem” is invoked today, we make an immediate connection to luxurious seclusion and the exotic. Images of scantily clad women living in opulent settings, subservient to one man, can be found in art, music, literature, poetry, and film. Themes of seduction, passivity and mystery continue to reference the harem in contemporary popular culture, including fashion, dance and diverse forms of media. Yet, the practice of gender segregation reaches into antiquity. Nearly every culture, including Western Europe, had a form of gender segregation, with different rules and practices for reinforcement. Although cultures which practiced gender segregation had their own terminology for and usage of women’s spaces, the term “harem”, and all the attendant associations, has continued to be used as a reference for all historical women’s quarters. In this seminar, we will study the harem as a real and symbolic locale in the Eastern and Western imagination. Questions we will consider include: What form has gender segregation taken throughout history? How has the harem been depicted in art, music and literature in both East and West? How has this image impacted how women, especially non-Western women, are viewed and portrayed? Such questions will also present a framework for examining similar questions related to diversity and gender in our contemporary culture. Our Fourth Hour experiences will include visits to cultural institutions in University Circle, short films and guest speakers.
The words “British Empire” evoke many images: grand armies, ships loaded with goods from “exotic” harbors, and the Union Jack fluttering over foreign capitals. But these symbols of the most dominant colonial power of the nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries tell us very little about how the loss of sovereignty in the colonized world affected lives of everyday people. In this course, we will examine different fictional texts that highlight the human cost of building and sustaining different empires in the twentieth century. These texts raise several important questions: How do empires exercise domination abroad? How do empires deal with political dissenters at home? Can personal relationships between colonizers and the colonized escape the asymmetrical nature of their political relationship? What legacies do empires leave behind? Possible texts include Kamila Shamsie’s novel Burnt Shadows, Keiji Nakazawa’s Japanese manga series Barefoot Gen; David Lean’s film adaptation of E. M. Forster’s novel A Passage to India; George Orwell’s essay “Shooting an Elephant;” and excerpts from Steve Coll’s journalistic work Ghost Wars.
How have American poets, novelists, and essayists thought about God? Do they have anything to teach us about the role of religious belief in a country where religious believers make up the statistical majority? What could a late nineteenth century poet possibly teach us about the ways Americans experience religious belief today? How could a contemporary novelist help us better understand the unique cultural history of religious belief in the US and its influence on today’s society?
This course seeks to address these questions by considering a particular strain of American writing that highly values the role of personal experience in religious faith. For these writers, God is not a philosophical idea hidden away in the abstractions of erudition, or a historical curiosity to be studied alongside ancient civilizations, but something to be experienced in an intense and personal way. For one writer God is the “Tender Pioneer” whom Americans would be cowardly not to venture after. Another writer claims that the previous “generations beheld God and nature face to face;” he encourages his readers to ignore others’ opinions and to seek their own “original relation with the universe.” John Grimes in James Baldwin’s novel Go Tell It on the Mountain both longs for and fears a direct, special experience of God whereas John Ames in Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead finds God revealed in the most basic acts of everyday life. What similarities do these ideas share…what differences separate them?
We will use these and other ideas to begin a conversation about why the personal experience of God seems so vital to America writers. We will discuss the ways American writers have created and critiqued the religious value of individuality, as well as how the category of “personal experience” can both hinder and help us in understanding American culture.
This course will explore the profound changes in our conception of space and time brought about by Einstein’s theories of special and general relativity. As a University Seminar, it will also integrate writing and discussion about these topics into the class and explore the philosophical and technological context in which the ideas were developed.
Human behavior is a result of the complex interplay between our genes and the environment, both of which have been shaped by evolutionary forces over millions of years. To what extent does natural selection shape our behavior today? Are humans naturally monogamous? Why do conflicts arise even in our most intimate relationships? Is human behavior ultimately in the service of reproductive success, ensuring that our genes are passed into the next generation? This course reviews the history of evolutionary theories of mind and behavior, as well as current ideas about the ecological and genetic components of behavior. We will examine key principles of neurobiology, sociobiology, and evolutionary psychology to critically evaluate evolutionary interpretations of human behaviors, including those comprising cultural traditions and social institutions. Specific topics to be addressed include human mate choice, parenting strategies, interpersonal conflict, and altruism. The course is structured as a seminar, with emphasis on discussion and formation of logical arguments.
This seminar will focus on the issues and methods of restoring the Great Lakes, with particular emphasis on public action and decision-making processes. Students will learn about the environmental history of the lakes, as well as current challenges to improving water quality and related aspects of the ecosystem. Technical experts, field trips, and other informational resources will enable seminar participants to engage in lively debates on the best ways to address those challenges. Opportunities for observation of and/or direct collaboration with key stakeholders in the restoration process will enhance students’ understanding of the processes by which key environmental decisions are made and implemented.
In this course, we will explore the development of the atom bomb and its historical ramifications. Our guides through this history will be the scientists themselves. Our goal will be to understand their work as well as their motivations, travails, internal conflicts, and the consequences of their achievement.
2013 marked the 60th anniversary of the discovery of the double helix of DNA and the 10th anniversary of the sequencing of the first human genome. Advances in genetics (the study of individual genes), and genomics (the study of an entire genome) have fundamentally altered our understanding of biology. In this seminar, we will focus on topics covered by the mainstream press. We will explore the science behind the news and discuss the philosophical, ethical and societal concerns raised by these scientific advances. Topics will include: the dangers and benefits of genetically modified crops; genetics and the conservation of endangered species; learning about human biology and disease from yeast, flies, worms and fish; the use and potential misuse of genetic fingerprinting by government agencies; genetic testing; personalized medicine; and issues of genetic privacy.
Plants have always been the basis of medicinal treatments, and as they continue to be essential to modern forms of medicine, alternative and traditional alike. In this course, we will consider the history of how humans have used particular plants for medicinal purposes, such as the cinchona tree (Cinchona officinalis) for quinine, willow bark (Salix) for aspirin, and the yew tree (Taxus baccata) for the cancer medication paclitaxel. By investigating how a plant is used medicinally through time, we will also come to understand the culture that used it and how they conceived of health in relationship to nature. We will read texts that show how a plant’s medicinal uses can be tied to colonialism and global exploration. For example, the first botanical gardens were collections of medicinal plants cultivated for use and experimentation, often containing non-native plant-based cures discovered through colonial contact. While this is not a course in botany per se, we will be discussing basic plant biology, cultivation practices, and the contemporary science of using plants as the basis for pharmaceutical cures. Students should be active course participants in class discussion and on field trips. Writing instruction will focus on research-based argument, and students will complete a researched essay focusing on a medicinal plant of their choice.
Is science objectively neutral in that true scientific knowledge would be independent of the discoverer? In this view, the scientific discoverer is more like a midwife that brings forth pre-existing knowledge to the world. Or – is scientific knowledge guided and shaped by the people who practice science, in which case it is influenced by the social context in which it occurs, making the scientist more like a sculptor who creates something new using the tools that are currently available. In this course we will examine this second question by looking specifically at the relationship of gender to science through several lenses. One approach we will use is make case studies of the lives of major women scientists and the way that their gender impacted their work, from the type of scientific research they pursued, the kind of support and encouragement that they obtained as they proceeded in their careers, to the rewards and recognition (or the lack of them) that their work received from their peers. Using a more conjectural line of inquiry, we will also consider the role that gender might have played in developing scientific theories and whether there can be such categories as “masculinist” and “feminist” science. We will conclude this part of our inquiry with an analysis of the current state of science and how well these approaches reflect the way science is pursued today. A third issue involves looking at the relationship of gender and science but from the opposite direction. In other words, we will consider how science has influenced our understanding of gender, rather than how gender has influenced science. Over time, scientific ideas about the physiological and intellectual differences between males and females have changed dramatically several times with major political and sociological ramifications. Consequently, we will examine the science of gender in its cultural and political context from antiquity through the twentieth century. In order to explore these interweaving threads, we will be taking an interdisciplinary approach that will draw on the history and philosophy of science (particularly Thomas Kuhn’s The Revolution of Scientific Ideas), as well as on anthropology and cultural theory. By the conclusion of the course we will have examined the scientific evidence that has supported assumptions about gender in various philosophical paradigms, including humanism, rationalism (i.e., Enlightenment philosophy), nineteenth century moralism, modernism, and postmodernism.
How do changes in science and technology affect American life? How do cultural ideas shape scientific practice? Is technological progress inevitable, or do we get to decide what changes we want and which ones we don’t? How do we make ethical choices about science and technology in a world with inherent power imbalances? This course provides an introduction to thinking through these questions by presenting works by historians, anthropologists, political scientists, philosophers, journalists, and others to explore a range of social issues in modern science and technology. After two weeks of introduction, the course is divided into four sections: (a) Biology, Biotech, and Biomedicine; (b) Science Policy and the Politics of Science; (c) Problems in Social Science; and (d) Computers and Other Thinking Machines. While the course’s content is arranged around these topics, its main purposes are to develop critical thinking skills around ubiquitous and contentious subjects of science, technology, power, culture, and values as well as to hone skills in reading, speaking, research, and essay writing.
The path for entrepreneurs to grow their companies outside of well-developed entrepreneurial ecosystems like Silicon Valley is challenging. Most markets around the world do not look like Silicon Valley and they never will. But there are other models to support new businesses. In transitioning markets (where entrepreneurs do not have much access to private sector financing), government officials, donors, and business leaders are experimenting with creative approaches to support the growth of entrepreneurs. Cleveland is one such place exploring innovative approaches to support new businesses. For over ten years, there has been a massive intervention of government and donor resources to cultivate this entrepreneurial ecosystem. Has this intervention worked in Cleveland? How should success be measured? How does Cleveland’s approach differ from approaches elsewhere around the world? In an unusual twist for a SAGES seminar, the regular classroom discussions will be complemented by your enrollment in a massive open online course (MOOC) that I developed for CWRU. The MOOC is called “Beyond Silicon Valley: Growing Entrepreneurship in Transitioning Economies” and examines the Cleveland case study in depth. The course has attracted over 44,000 students from 190 countries since its launch in April 2014. So, not only will you explore how communities around the world support entrepreneurship, you will also learn about the rapidly developing field of online learning and MOOCs.
We hear about sustainable energy but what does that mean? What energy sources are considered sustainable and why? What fraction of our energy needs is likely to come from sustainable energy in the future? Are these estimates reasonable and what are the technological and societal challenges to broader use of sustainable energy? This seminar will explore these and other questions as we learn about energy resources, technologies and solutions that affect our lives and our planet today and in the future. We will evaluate (from a scientific, mathematical and societal perspective) the trade-offs and uncertainties of various energy systems and explore a framework for assessing possible solutions.
In the title of his novel Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury was referring to the autoignition temperature for paper. But why does cellulose burn at 451 degrees and not some other temperature? Why do other materials ignite at other temperatures? What exactly happens when materials burn? How can we apply an understanding of the chemistry of combustion to various engineering and social challenges? For example, how does one test flammability? How can we use this knowledge to reduce fire accidents, for example by producing less flammable materials? To inform our investigation, we will read about the history of fire and society, experiment with the basics of materials combustion and testing, and observe how this knowledge is applied at a flammability testing facility.
Fall Semester Classes: W 12:30-1:45
Foreign Travel: 3-10 January 2016 (students must be able to travel to EU)
Final Meeting: 31 January (TBC)
Among the greatest societal challenges we face today is to find means of meeting our energy requirements without jeopardizing the environment or fostering geopolitical conflicts. This course investigates what we can do both individually and collectively to tackle this challenge. The questions we will consider include: To what extent is the world aware of the energy challenge and its environmental implications? What is already being done to meet this challenge? What role can technology play in addressing it? What research can we be doing now to help predict the future of our energy needs and potential environmental impacts? By investigating these questions, students will develop a fuller and more precise understanding of the energy challenge, as well as generate possible solutions. As an important and indeed unique aspect of this course that will greatly enhance their learning experience, students will compare strategies implemented in the State of Ohio and an international location to meet the energy and the environment challenge. To this end the course will require enrolled students to join the instructor in an international location for five or more days over a University break to visit energy conversion and storage installations involving solar thermal, solar photovoltaic, wind farms, geothermal and hydroelectric and acquire profound knowledge of technological and economic factors involved in their operation and maintenance. Students may not receive credit for both USNA 287U and USNA 288L.
This seminar is designed to explore the exciting new advances in understanding sleep and how nighttime sleep impacts daily activities. The seminar will begin with a brief and general overview of the human brain during sleep and how brain activity varies during sleep. We will then consider various questions related to sleep. Why do we do sleep? What makes sleep so mysterious and interesting to think about? What are dreams? Why do we sleepwalk? How does a basic understanding of neurophysiology help us understand sleep and its importance for health? How does technology influence our sleep? Our discussions will also extend to the ethical and social implications associated with sleep disorders including self-imposed sleep loss and corresponding personal and legal liabilities. Readings and assignments will include overviews of comparative sleep durations between species including humans, and current sleep testing technologies and their application to modern medicine. In addition to reading, discussing, and writing about sleep, this course will use role-playing as an experiential means of understanding the ethical dilemmas associated with sleep loss.
An interdisciplinary venture. This seminar will focus on law in literature by examining representations of the legal process in poems, plays, short stories, and novels. It will provide a taste of the vastness and variety of human life–and will broaden and deepen students’ understanding of the role law plays in society.
This seminar will examine the topic of spectacle both chronologically and typologically to better understand the power of remarkable visual experiences to awe, entertain, persuade, and create meaning from the colonial period to the present day. In the 17th century, the religious beliefs of the New England community and its need to maintain social cohesiveness gave rise to the spectacle of witch trials and public punishments. As Americans moved westward, the natural world became the focus of the spectacular. In the nineteenth century, the campaigns and debates of presidential candidates became political theater. The latter half of the century gave rise to Consumption as Spectacle as exemplified in the may expositions and World’s Fairs. Today, spectacle has reached all facets of our lives. Americans are willing to expose the most intimate details of their personal relationships on television shows like Jerry Springer and The Real World. Although frequently used to maintain power, spectacle also has been employed as a tactic of resistance and as an instrument for creating alternative meaning by subcultures. More recently, spectacle has served as an instrument of terror. Through lectures, discussion, multimedia presentations, and writing assignments, we will have an opportunity to reflect on the many forms and uses of spectacle in American history.
This course investigates the role of the United States in globalization. The first third examines the claim that globalization entrails cultural “Americanization,” the middle third covers the resistance of local cultures, and the last part explores the ways in which American invented technologies do, in fact, spread culturally specific ways of working and behavior.
Tourism can be viewed as a metaphor for contemporary existence in an increasingly globalizing world where attachments and ties to a concrete place are often temporary. Besides capturing the essence of present-day mobility, tourism is a phenomenon that can be researched both politically and economically. Indeed, 10 percent of global GNP comes from tourism and many poor countries rely on the tourism industry to sustain national economic development. In this class, we will touch on the economic and political significance of tourism, but will spend most of our time thinking of what happens in the tourist encounter, what tourists expect, what drives them, and who loses as well as benefits in the encounter. Some of the specific themes include: the nature of tourist destinations, quest for authentic sites, entertainment tourism (Disneyland, Dracula-Park), tourism to Auschwitz, culinary tourism, sex tourism, and eco-tourism. By reading theoretical works, travel blogs, and literature, we will gain insight to the motivations of tourists, the inhabitants of the places being visited, and international organizations as well as governments who oversee this industry.
This seminar is structured to expose students to the opportunities and challenges of working in and running non-profit organizations. Students will explore the importance and significant roles non-profit organizations play in our society. The class will learn how non-profits are organized and regulated and the importance of the organization’s mission is to determining the impact of the non-profit organization in the community. Additionally, the students will learn how non-profits are funded and how these organizations maintain their financial stability and sustainability in the community. These goals will be accomplished through group analysis of non-profit organizational principles, and investigation of existing non-profit organizations.
This course will explore the cross cultural, self-care approaches to health problems. It covers substance-based (e.g., herbs, acupuncture), mind-body (e.g., yoga, qigong), spiritual (e.g., prayer) and social (e.g., communal, family) approaches that have been used to manage chronic diseases and promote wellness in various cultural settings.
Since the beginning of recorded human civilization, locally dominant societies have risen, prospered, decayed and finally ended, with new ones taking their place. Starting in the 15th century, however, Europe established global dominance and maintained it for four centuries, from the age of New World exploration through the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century. Then came the rise of the United States, which in the late 20th century became the world’s only superpower, economically, industrially, militarily and, increasingly, culturally. In the late 20th and early 21st centuries, we are witnessing the “flattening” of the world due to the technological revolution, a phenomenon brought about by the instant and worldwide generation of and access to information. Two major consequences of this evolution are: a) Individuals are more empowered than at any time in history and the traditional societal structure is under constant challenge; b) Companies have changed their business structures and practices and have begun to operate on a truly global scale. The main goal of the course is to help students learn the lessons of history and use them to develop an educated argument as to whether the US will continue in its prominent leadership role, or whether one or both of the emerging Asian economic powerhouses, China and India, will supplant it and become dominant.
The corporation is the most powerful economic institution of our time. How did it come to reign, and how does its power affect us economically, politically, and socially? This course will chart the history and impact of corporate capitalism. Topics will include the corporation’s impact on democracy, consumer culture, the environment, and even the university itself. If you have ever wondered why products are purposely designed to wear out (planned obsolescence), why unions are so powerless in America, why the military is as powerful as it is, why it takes special technology from the Diebold corporation to run a simple election, why broadcasting companies are allowed to profit by using the public airwaves for free, why it looks like there are a million publishers of books when in truth giant companies dominate 80 percent of the book market, why the perfect lawn is a marketing ploy to get consumers to buy a lot of chemical inputs, why universities, which are supposed to be bastions of independent thought, are now dominated by an army of administrators who run around talking about return on investment instead of figuring out how to create a culture where students can learn, then this is the course for you.
This seminar addresses two major questions: How do the contexts in which we live or work affect ethical behavior? And how can we manage to struggle through personal and organizational challenges if we find they present us with something ethically compromising? In this course, we look to religion, spiritual teaching and cultural upbringing to understand sources of personal values and standards of behavior that might help structure one’s life in the midst of difficult contexts. One way we consider this is through practical exercises including development of your own personal code of ethics, an iterative process designed to help you articulate the principles of your own moral construction. These can serve as a foundation for leadership integrity and moral courage for ethical decisions throughout life and work.
Increasing complexity is a hallmark of contemporary human life. In environments across the globe, elaborate and varied material conditions are linked to fast-paced, globalizing changes in economic, social and cultural arrangements. This course is concerned with struggles for justice in such spaces and places of globalization. How are people now formulating their interests, having them heard and getting them satisfied? What are the shapes assumed by contemporary struggles for justice? We will approach such questions of “the social” by first considering theories and models of complexity and globalization. Students will consider how material, economic and socio-cultural forms are integrated, how these arrangements are tied to global processes, how they change, and how political processes fit in. These theoretical concerns will then be fleshed out through extended case studies of social life in the rainforests of southeastern Madagascar and the urban neighborhoods of Cleveland, Ohio. In Madagascar, we will look at the attempts by indigenous Tanala (People of the Forest) to keep their land and hold on to their way of life in the face of international conservation groups managing a national park. In Cleveland, the focus will be on poor African-American communities living on the city’s east side who try to gain a voice in city planning issues. The instructor has carried-out long term field and historical research in both locations, and insights and and examples culled from his work will be employed throughout the term. The course will also take an interdisciplinary approach, employing theories and methods from the fields of anthropology, sociology, geography, ecology, and urban studies. Readings, extended class discussion, focused writing projects and research presentations will help prepare students for a required research paper on a specific society living with issues of complexity.
This seminar addresses two major questions: How do the contexts in which we live or work affect ethical behavior? And how can we manage to struggle through personal and organizational challenges if we find they present us with something ethically compromising? In this course, we look to religion, spiritual teaching and cultural upbringing to understand sources of personal values and standards of behavior that might help structure one’s life in the midst of difficult contexts. One way we consider this is through practical exercises including development of your own personal code of ethics, an iterative process designed to help you articulate the principles of your own moral construction. These can serve as a foundation for leadership integrity and moral courage for ethical decisions throughout life and work.
This course looks at the psychological experience of individuals receiving medical care, especially as it relates to the difference between seeing oneself as a person and seeing oneself as a patient. How does being a patient affect the way people view their place in a family or a community? Conversely, how does their position in a family or community affect their perception of the medical system? What allowances do medical professionals make for the psychology of their patients? What aspects of the psychological experience of patients do they sometimes overlook? Using a mix of first-hand accounts and scholarly secondary sources, we will investigate the factors that influence patient psychology and their implications for designing effective, patient-centered treatments.
This course looks at ordinary people, prosaic objects, mundane places, single incidents and fleeting moments, and the ways we might interpret micro cases to make sense of macro developments in our world. Spanning the Middle Ages to the present and crisscrossing several continents, this seminar also ranges among history, anthropology and literature. Topics may include a flower, an orphan abduction, a cockfight, a flood, a peasant, a pencil, a miracle, a midwife, a murder, an unfinished stocking and a year.
Recent decades have seen a growing income and opportunity disparity in America. In our seminar, we will examine a variety of overlapping issues related to this crisis, with special attention to the impact of race, class and educational levels in determining how people fare in society. The larger set of issues includes poverty, income inequality, job loss and its effect on the industrial city, the concept of a “living wage,” affordable housing, education, and sentencing and incarceration. Readings, class discussions, and student papers will all explore these topics. In urban communities such as Cleveland and Northeast Ohio, the income and opportunity divide is especially visible and persistent. Recognizing this, we have incorporated a novel approach to experiential learning in our seminar. Case Western Reserve students will interact with a similarly sized group of students incarcerated at Lorain Correctional Institution, a state prison located in nearby Grafton, Ohio. The two groups will conduct workshops together and will hold joint discussions via teleconference throughout the semester. The incarcerated students will be studying the same material on the same schedule and will be sharing their views with students in the seminar. We believe there are several benefits to this dialogue. We have two Northeast Ohio institutions – our university and the prison – which are neighbors but whose residents are largely from opposite sides of the divide. It will be useful to consider the income and opportunity divide from both perspectives and to share ideas and experiences related to the overall problem of inequality. A bilateral discussion and interaction will not only enhance the students’ educational experience, but also, we hope, will foster greater understanding. Procedures will be in pace to ensure strict confidentiality and anonymity in any and all exchanges of views between CWRU students and students at the prison.
The inevitability of death encompasses us all. We are all born with the disease of mortality. We all die. And yet, to many of us the details of dying and death are a mystery. It is an abstraction we would rather not think about. This course aims to create thoughtful and reflective dialogue about dying and death, confronting death as something more than an abstract possibility. We will review the physical, psychological, social, spiritual, cultural, ethical, and economic perspectives of dying in America. Reflective thinking will be carefully guided by an array of faculty and guest speakers, both those who are directly involved in the care of the dying and those who provide services to families of the deceased. We are likely to visit a funeral home, a cemetery, and/or a hospice house to explore opportunities to reflect on our own views of dying and death and to consider others’ cultural beliefs and traditions. Finally, we will discuss the concept of quality of life and examine current evidence related to dying and death in America, such as the 2015 Institute of Medicine Report, Dying in America: Improving Quality and Honoring Individual Preferences Near the End of Life.
Live music engenders the full spectrum of reactions from its audiences. There are the sublime intimate moments aroused by these examples of human creativity and artistry. There are also the scandals, impropriety and riots that would be more typical of political or athletic spheres. What are the conditions that produce such extremes and how do responses differ across time, geography, and culture? What is the audience member’s role in the performance contract–observer, co-creator, participant, or something else? What factors determine the kind of behavior appropriate to an audience in a given performance situation? Where do conventions such as the modern concert-hall etiquette come from and could it be adapted to be more responsive to today’s audiences? Tackling questions such as these, and observing audiences at their best and worst, this seminar looks at pivotal moments and general trends in the audience/performer relationship. Drawing on primary and secondary historical sources, recent scholarly discourse and incorporating perspectives from mass and social media as well as personal experience, students will try to make sense of the complex and ephemeral phenomenon of experiencing live music. The methods, in part, will be those of historians, sociologists, philosophers, and analytic journalists. Students will utilize a wide array of sources and experiences to posit meaningful connections. Specialist musical knowledge is by no means a prerequisite, and while the discussions will be focused initially on the Western Classical tradition, the diverse interests and experiences of the class will greatly shape the direction of this course.
This course explores the history of Paris as it became the center of French national life, international culture and politics in the 19th century and a global city in the late 20th. The course acquaints students with the history of Paris as a dynamic environment deeply influenced by industrializing forces during this period. We will study contemporary writings, art and popular culture economic developments, political and military events, and architectural and engineering projects that have profoundly shaped the city and popular responses to it.
This course examines the relationship between medicine and narrative by exploring the representational structures and narrative conventions that have been used to understand and communicate the experience of illness, to tell stories about the human body, and to diagnose and treat disease. The course focuses on literary texts (including novels, plays, short stories and memoirs) written by doctors, patients, nurses and creative writers, as well as on medical case histories from different cultures and historical periods. It examines such topics as the uses of narrative in medical practice; the uses of metaphor in conceptualizing and representing disease; the ethical dilemmas posed by medical research and practice; the therapeutic value of narrative; the structural similarities (and historical links) between detective fiction and medical case histories; the imaginative function of illness in literature; the cultural myths and iconography of disease in different historical periods; the representation of physical and mental illness and the human body in language and art, and cultural responses to major health crises such as bubonic plague, syphilis, and AIDS.
Since the late eighteenth century, Paris has been a favorite subject for visual artists and writers alike, as well as the birthplace of several seminal artistic movements, such as Impressionism, Cubism, and the New Wave. This course will use representations of Paris in the arts as lenses through which the identity and recent history of this major city will come into focus. Further, stories, photographs, and films that stage the city of Paris and its people will also allow us to explore the broader relationship between art, the city, and the plight of modern man. The course will include a wide range of artworks, from mid-nineteenth century photographs documenting the destruction of Medieval Paris and the advent of a rational capital, to stories chronicling the fate of hopeful newcomers, and films where the city is treated either as intimate landscape or impersonal grid. The course will be both discussion based and writing intensive: students will be encouraged to envision class participation and writing assignments as means to analyze collaboratively, as well as individually, the material at hand.
Crime movies and their subgenres (Gangster, film noir, detective, police) are the most enduring and popular of all Hollywood genres. They’ve been around since the silent era and attest to America’s fascination with crime. But another reason we are so attracted to crime films stems from a pair of contradictory narrative projects that underline the genre. On the one hand, these films valorize the distinctions between the genre’s stock characters – criminal, victim and avenger – in order to affirm the social, moral or institutional order. On the other hand, crime movies explore the relations between the three roles in order to mount a critique that challenges that order. In addition to emphasizing film studies, we will study the films for what they say about crime, criminals and criminal law. As most crime films contain an investigation, so too will the organization of the course. There are methods for analyzing film just as there are methods for investigating a crime scene. Investigation requires identifying, collecting, analyzing and interpreting evidence. We’ll start by investigating what makes the genre so enduring – its mise-en-scene, intent or characters? You will be reporting your findings in three scholarly papers: a formal analysis on a specific film, a sociological analysis of a specific film and a research paper with documentation.
Concepts such as freedom, choice, moral responsibility, and autonomy are commonly invoked to describe our sense, as human beings, that our actions and thoughts are really our own. This seems like experiential commonsense-when I choose to read a novel instead of a philosophy text it feels like the decision to do so was made by me, that there was no coercion, or other seen or unseen force, that intervened to make me choose as I did. We extend this logic to the judgment of moral and legal responsibility. If you engage in good behavior, you get the praise; if you do bad things, you are blameworthy. Despite our self-perception that we freely make decisions and choose our actions, we sometimes invoke the notion that certain events are the result of some prior cause or circumstance that determines what occurs in the present. In this instance, we do not appear to be fully free in our choices because we cannot undo the causes that dictate what is taking place here and now. To the extent that we experience current actions as having a cause in the past, we are flirting with the idea that our behavior is not wholly free, but determined or conditioned by what has come before. Determinism, necessity, fate, destiny, predestination: these are terms typically used to describe the sense that our actions and thoughts are the result of unknown forces or circumstances beyond our control. This course uses classic and contemporary texts, taken from multiple cultural traditions, to explore the problem of free will and related issues of body/mind dualism and personal identity. Although the term “free will” does not appear in all cultural contexts, found everywhere are questions of whether we are free to act and think as we wish or whether our thoughts and actions are in some way determined. We also read science fiction short stories as thought experiments in order to help us understand the ramifications of various positions on free will and related problems. This course is discussion-based and writing-intensive. Classes focus on analysis and interpretation of texts and ideas
The study and practice of biography, that is, writing about someone’s life, is an important tool for understanding how meaning is constructed. In this class, we will learn some of the history of biography and what it hopes to accomplish in its various sub-genres. Why are biographies so popular? Why are we so interested in them? What do they do? Is it possible to perfectly represent an objective truth of someone or does the discussion of someone else’s life require a more symbolic interpretation of things? We will engage in reading and discussing some important and contemporary biographies in a variety of styles and genres from autobiography to works of near-fiction. We will learn how researchers use facts to construct more symbolic narratives around an argument that tells a story about someone’s life in a way that engages with important issues of self, audience, and the location of truth. As our final research project, we will undertake our own biographical projects where we will do primary research in order to construct focused narratives of people of our own choosing. To work up to this point, we will work on our own autobiographies, look at the lives of things, and look at some films which foreground the narrative of life. This course will be of great use to writers and researchers who must be able to communicate by any kind of true account in a way that is both engaging and comprehensive.
To gain a better understanding of the experience and history of slavery from the perspective of the enslaved, we will read the works of Octavia Butler. She knew that the problem with the historical narrative was that slaves did not write it. As a science fiction and fantasy author, Butler spent her career giving voice to the enslaved by recovering their experience and exposing it to the reader through the lens of imagined and symbolic worlds. By reading her work, we will come to understand a different way of viewing history. We will join the historical narrative with the science fiction narrative to arrive at a deeper understanding of the human experience with subjugation and oppression. The class readings will have time travel, vampires, and aliens. However, the most frightening monsters of all will be human.
The form and nature of the novel has changed a lot since the nineteenth-century. There’s been the modern novel, the post-modern novel, the experimental novel, the graphic novel, and who knows what’s coming next? This course is about what the continental novel was like in the nineteenth-century, the Golden Age of the genre. Its major premise is that you don’t have to be a literature major to read, enjoy, and profit from the old-style classic novels. We will read novels by Balzac, Flaubert, Turgenev, and Tolstoy in modern translations, and we will take our time with them, looking closely at the component parts: narrator, plot, setting, character, dialogue, where the meaning comes from. The course offers, in part, obviously, a chance to read some of the great European novels of the nineteenth-century. It also provides a chance to go at a slow enough pace to allow time to study and discuss in detail the techniques these masters of the novel used so brilliantly. Students who complete the course, therefore, will become both familiar with classic texts and more knowledgeable and skillful readers of any and all narrative fiction.
You don’t hate it. In fact, you probably already love poetry, even if you don’t know it. You might copy moody indie rock lyrics into your journal or quote the rhymes in a rap verse to your friends. You might hum advertising jingles to yourself; you speak in slang and think in metaphor. Why do we tend to treat only some of these instances of figurative language as poems? Is there a difference between poems and poetry? What can our individual attitudes about poetry reveal about what and whom we value on a cultural scale? In this course we will ask these and other questions about our collective love/hate relationship with poetry. All of this attention to how poems and poetry work will help us understand how our own writing should work. This course also focuses on the development of independent research skills and the creation of complex, analytic, well-supported arguments. We will write in a variety of lengths and genres; our reading and research will culminate in a project challenging students to compile an anthology of essential “poetry” with a critical introduction.
In this seminar, we will read selections of poetry, short stories and books by winners of the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards and use them as a framework to discuss diversity, social justice and identity. For 80 years, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards, sometimes called “the black Pulitzer,” have honored the best fiction and non-fiction books that deepen our understanding of and appreciation for cultural difference. Questions we will consider over the semester include: What is social justice? What does it mean to be tolerant? What is acceptance? What does diversity encompass? How are these questions addressed in literature? How do our personal and cultural experiences of race, class, gender and identity impact our perception of these questions? By engaging the lived experiences of these authors, as well as the themes of their texts, students will have a deeper understanding not only of contemporary literature, but also of the importance of social justice to a liberal arts education. Students who have taken FSSO 153 may not receive credit for this course.
Is it reality or is it spin? We all know the terms–“it’s spin,” “it’s P.R.,” “he’s a flack”–and none of them are said kindly. Yet, over the past century public relations has become an often invisible multi-billion dollar manipulation of our collective perception of reality. Sometimes this manipulation is benign. But just as often it can weaken our democracy through weapons of words, images, and argument. This seminar will explore the origins and consequences of this silent, symbolic revolution. We will look at the uses of P.R. today in business, politics, and popular culture; examine the tools used to construct and sell those perceptions; and look into the values underlying these activities. We will do so through both academic and media materials, as well as through writing, research, and discussion. All of these are intended to deepen your critical thinking and writing skills, and build your research, discussion, and oral presentation strengths. Students who have received credit for USSO 260 may not receive credit for this course.
Since its inception in eighteenth-century Europe, museums have provided modern societies with a powerful tool to display and define their own cultures as well as those from around the world. During the twentieth century, the Cleveland Museum of Art built a world-class collection of Asian art. How and why did this occur? How and why have museums in the United States, Britain, China, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan collected and displayed Asian objects as art? In this course, we will take a cross-cultural and comparative approach to explore the meanings created by the assemblage of Asian objects in museums. Through a series of case studies, we will examine the development of specific museum collections of Asian materials, as well as the national, institutional, cultural, and personal aims for collecting, displaying, and interpreting them. In the process, we will consider how museums have re-framed objects beyond their original contexts; the overlapping roles of private collectors, dealers, curators, and scholars; and the complex motives (e.g., national identity, cross-cultural diplomacy, preservation of cultural heritage) that museums have had for acquiring Asian objects. Frequent visits to the Cleveland Museum of Art will anchor our investigations. We will also examine emerging interactive technologies that are changing how we experience Asian art, both within and beyond the physical spaces of the museum.
This course will explore the ways in which communication media (from painting, to print volumes, to websites, to mobile applications) impact, shape, change, and encourage or prohibit certain ways of knowing about the world. Looking at both analog forms, like the book, and digital forms, like the blog, we will explore the relationship between medium and message. Situating our course material historically, we will seek to understand shifts toward and between analog and digital communication and material and virtual texts, and the impacts such shifts have on our ways of understanding the world and each other. In addition to exploring key works that seek to understand what media is and has been, students will also work collaboratively to produce their own texts in a variety of media (both old and new). Critical writing will be paired with alternative approaches to studying media, including the employment of data visualization and textual analysis software, online mapping platforms and text encoding. Students will gain critical writing skills as well as aptitude in collaborative, digital approaches to media.
The image of Ernesto “Che” Guevara is embossed in many a t-shirt, poster, and bumper sticker across college campuses. Guevara’s writings and, more specifically, select catchy quotes, also have circulated in websites and popular films for the last couple of decades. In this course we will examine the myths surrounding men like Guevara by tracing the history of conquistadores, nuns, mystics, insurgents, and revolutionaries in Latin America from the colonial to the modern period. Toward this goal we will look at an array of personal letters, diary entries, government documents, religious texts, essays, prose, and works of literature written by women and men who viewed themselves, and were viewed by others, as speaking to, or ushering in, transformative change. As a class we will also examine the connections between imperial projects and calls for action in colonial and early modern Latin America and the Caribbean, explore the relationships between slavery, gender norms, and capitalism, and assess the changing nature of what freedom, reform, and revolution meant to various actors from the late eighteenth century to the late twentieth century. Indeed, our end goal as a class is to map out what some of our assumptions have been regarding what it means to be a guerrilla fighter, connect it to how calls for change have manifested themselves across time, unearth the ironies and allure of radical frameworks, and investigate what this understanding can do for us as we tackle questions of change and possibility.
After a generation of alternating scorn and neglect in the mass media, artists and writers from the Industrial Midwest are now garnering regional and national attention. The story of the Rust Belt is at last being told in the words and art of its inhabitants. In this course we will read, view, and hear those stories as a way of understanding the place we share. Although we will primarily focus on the literature, art, film, and music of the Rust Belt, we will also seek to understand the socioeconomic conditions from which the Rust Belt rose, fell, and begins to rise again. In this regard we will rely on the expertise of guest lecturers and visiting scholars who can address the history of the region and present efforts to remake it. Most importantly, we will make use of our most precious available resource “the city itself” to make sense of the story of the Rust Belt, a story that, for any of us who live in this region long enough, becomes our own.