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Fourth Hour runs from 12.45-2.00 on either Monday, Wednesday or Friday, depending on the course.
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 world of energy. Currently, most of the world runs on non-renewable resources; this course is designed to help students develop viewpoints about these issues, and to express themselves in a clear, coherent way. The class will involve both literacy and numeracy, and students will learn to become comfortable handling some of the quantitative measures of energy use. 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 individually and in small groups.
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.
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 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.
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.
We all rely on technologies such as smartphones, wireless and wired communication, and embedded electronics. But access to these technologies depends on the availability and affordability of the materials used to make them. Rapid technological development and sustainability concerns have created novel demands on the infrastructure that extracts raw materials and converts them into useful devices. As a result, new classes of materials offering unique properties have been developed. This seminar examines the development and life cycle of materials. Key to our analysis will be a framework for understanding materials flow, including the prospect of closed loop production. Topics will include: patterns in raw material extraction around the world, including the north-south divide; shifts in socioeconomic drivers underlying shifts in demand for materials; material properties needed for today¹s technologies; methods for predicting demand for materials and constraints of meeting that demand.
For designers, the “wicked problem” is the recognition that decision-making is full of contingencies, including multiple perspectives and approaches, and while problems may be solved, elegant solutions are rarely without faults. This course investigates how these contingencies affect the design process in art and engineering, ultimately looking at the overlap between these two disciplines. What are the differences between artistic and engineering approaches to design? How can a hybrid approach that integrates aspects from each discipline solve persistent design challenges? Working with students from the Cleveland Institute of Art (CIA) in a seminar-studio setting, students will experience first-hand the importance of disciplinary diversity and innovative thinking in the design process. Collaboratively and individually, students will reveal and explore ways of design thinking shared by art and engineering in written, digital, and fabricated assignments.
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.
“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.
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.
History of Berlin From its emergence as a fishing village in the sandy marshes of the eastern frontier of Germany, to its 21st-century role as a cosmopolitan metropolis, Berlin has embodied the arc of change over time in human society. This course uses the history of the city of Berlin as the lens through which to contemplate the complexity of human social and cultural arrangements, their expression in economics and politics (including war), and the imbrication of human cultural and social constructions with the “natural” world. We will read books and articles about the history, culture, economy, and politics of Berlin, primarily from its establishment as the capital of new German Empire in 1871 to the present. We will view films that introduce us to the manic energy that Berlin represented in the transition to modernity. We will visit local museums that house examples of the material culture of Berlin, from the Cleveland Museum of Art to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. We will listen to the music of Berlin, from the baroque of the Brandenburg Concertos to the heavy metal of the Skorpions. And we will learn its history, from fishing village, to court city, to imperial metropolis and industrial engine, to divided symbol of the Cold War, to de-industrialized center of art, government, education, and incubator of high-technology. This First Seminar will prepare students to pursue their undergraduate degrees grounded in thinking about places in time, about change over time, and about human creativity, while preparing them to write and speak about their arguments with clarity and grace.
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.
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.
In this seminar we will engage in the exploration of Brazil’s history, society, and culture from a multidisciplinary and comparative perspective. Host of the latest Soccer Cup and Summer Olympics, Brazil is one of the largest and most diverse countries in the world, as well as one the largest economies and democracies. Known by its natural beauty and resources, tropical climate, vibrant culture and friendly population, the land of soccer and Carnival is also marked by inequality, poverty, corruption, and 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. Over the course of the semester, you will have the opportunity to read, analyze and discuss relevant academic sources, news articles and audiovisual materials, like music and films; learn and experience first-hand basic aspects of Brazilian language and culture, including food and music; and interact with Brazilian students and faculty on campus.
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 quantitative and qualitative 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.
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.
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.
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.
This course will explore diverse aspects of the largest forced migration in human history, and its economic, social, and cultural impact on four continents: Africa, both Americas, and Europe. A central preoccupation of the course will be understanding the ways the Atlantic Slave Trade, far from being merely a remote event, shaped the world we continue to live in. We will also consider the following sorts of questions: Why did this coerced trade in human beings begin, and why did it last for as long as it did? Was Atlantic slavery an integral part of modern capitalism, or a remnant of earlier social forms? Who resisted the trade, and in what ways?
If smoking cigarettes is as deadly as the experts say, why does anyone do it? If reducing cigarette consumption is a vital public health goal, does the fact that the rate of smoking by U.S. adults has fallen by two thirds over the past 50 years mean policies have been a great success, or does the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s estimate that about 480,000 Americans suffered premature deaths in 2009 that could be attributed to smoking mean policies have been at best inadequate? Why did the political winds turn against tobacco use and sale in the 1990s? And why do both public health advocates and tobacco companies want to restrict vaping? Those are among the questions we will investigate in this course. It will call on perspectives from, among others, the fields of public health, political science, sociology, and economics. We will begin with readings about the research on tobacco’s physiological effects. Next we will consider tobacco’s attractions–both for individual consumption and as a shared activity. The third section of the course will ask what policies to reduce consumption work, how well, and why. We will then focus on the dramatic political battles of the 1990s. What happened and why? There are many different answers, and that makes the story even more interesting. The final section of the course will focus on current policies and politics, ending with the controversies over e-cigarettes. Why were e-cigarettes included in CWRU’s new anti-smoking policy, and should they have been?
For most of us, the bicycle seems a simple, everyday object, perhaps associated with children’s toys or recreational sport. But deeper analysis reveals that the technology of the bicycle has developed in distinct social contexts, and that aspects of its development are closely intertwined with community values. In this seminar, we will trace the history of bicycles in these technological and social contexts. We will note, for example, the importance of bicycles for the feminist movement of the 1890s and beyond. We will also consider cycling in our present environment, paying attention to debates about urban infrastructure as it pertains to cars, bicycles, and pedestrians. We will engage with popular and scholarly sources, and we will consider the significance of bicycles even for non-cyclists. Topics may include the physics and engineering of bicycle design, the aesthetic aspects of the cycling experience, the role of bicycles in our transportation infrastructure, and the varying perceptions of cycling in cultures throughout the world. We will critically examine claims that increased bicycle use can lead to better energy efficiency, less traffic, improved health, better quality of life, and more fun. Fourth-hour classes will include connections with community cycling organizations, such as Case Cycling and bike advocacy nonprofits. Students will write formal critical essays, exploring topics from readings and discussion in greater depth. Students need not possess any cycling experience to take this class–only an interest in questions of how technology interacts with social values, and how these values are expressed in our everyday lives. We will use Cleveland and University Circle as a laboratory for understanding the complexity and challenges of managing city infrastructure for different kinds of users. Optional group rides if interest exists.
This seminar examines how people forge meaningful relations with the natural world nearest the places they call home. For more than 70% of contemporary Americans, home is in or adjacent to a densely populated city. To better comprehend how people relate to nature in urban environments, we will consider a range of examples and practices that focus on urban geographies and immigration. Cleveland, a city undergoing cultural and economic redefinition, is an ideal place to engage the work of contemporary environmental writers, filmmakers, and community organizers. Some of our seminar’s driving questions will include: Why does American literature typically depict people retreating from urban realms to purportedly untouched, wilderness destinations? How have people in urban settings–across lines of social class and ethnicity–forged meaningful relationships with the natural world? How have urban planning patterns shaped the ways that communities encounter nature in cities? In what ways do global histories of immigration, slavery, and colonization affect our interactions with the natural world? How might privilege and power factor into the greening of blighted urban spaces? Through our exploration of these questions, you will form a better understanding not only of your own relationship to nature, but also of what it means to live thoughtfully at the intersection of nature and culture.
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.
This course explores methods for interpreting films. To interpret a film is a more aggressive and creative activity than is simply viewing one. How do critics and researchers of cinema “make meaning”? What strategies do they use? How does one mount a film interpretation that is both novel and persuasive? The course will emphasize close reading of films as, each week, we screen a film and together discuss what meanings we can infer from it. Also each week, we’ll read an essay that offers an interpretation of the film. We’ll analyze the reading in light of our sense of the film under consideration. Students will write short essays, approximately one every two weeks, in which they analyze the rhetorical and interpretive strategies of a given film analysis. Students will share their essays with the class, and these readings will serve as bases for class discussions. Final writing projects will consist of student interpretations of a film. At least twice during the semester, the class will, in substitution for the weekly required evening screening, attend a film off campus–either at the Cleveland Cinematheque or at the Cleveland Museum of Art. The course emphasizes writing instruction and discussion in a seminar format. There will be required evening screenings each week.
This course chronicles the treatment of scientific themes and the depiction of scientists in major literary texts from the Renaissance and the scientific revolution of the seventeenth century to the present day. This is not a course on science fiction: instead of focusing on sensational pseudo-science, Science in Literature pays close attention to the ways in which literary texts comment upon scientific debates and respond to the questionings of science. This four credit-hour course provides an introduction to various dimensions of academic life. It will be characterized by intense yet open-ended intellectual inquiry. Throughout the semester, we will foreground critical reading, thoughtful analysis, as well as written and oral communication.
This four credit-hour course introduces students to the systematic study of the human mind. It will be characterized by intense yet open-minded intellectual inquiry, guided readings in the philosophy of mind and cognitive sciences, and will include practice in writing and oral communication. Two book-length treatments of the dominant issues in the philosophy of mind and cognitive sciences by two leading philosophers, John R. Searle and Alva Noë, will be the primary focus of the course.
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.
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.
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.
Cosmic Horror is the literary genre that most powerfully wrestles with the question of humanity’s place in the universe as revealed by modern science. From its shadowy beginnings in the pulp fiction magazines of the nineteen twenties and thirties, Cosmic Horror has come to occupy the center of contemporary literary culture. Prominent philosophers, ecologists, writers, and programmers have taken inspiration from the genre as they seek to discover meaning in a universe no longer centered on humanity. These works explore a physical world indifferent to human life and human meaning, a world in which human action shrivels into insignificance when faced with the abysses of cosmic temporal and spatial scales. In reading writers such as H. P. Lovecraft and Octavia Butler, and philosophers and scientists such as Eugene Thacker and Carlo Rovelli, we will focus on several key questions. How does “cosmic” horror differ from other kinds of terror? What traditions, beliefs, or practices does modern science threaten for these writers? Why have so many thinkers from diverse fields found themselves drawn to these works in recent years? What resources do these works offer for making sense of the environmental crisis? This class, like other First Seminars, is writing-intensive and will follow the seminar format. It is characterized by intense yet open-ended intellectual inquiry, guided by reading from primary as well as secondary sources. This interdisciplinary course (investigating intersections of literature, philosophy, psychology, and science) will help you recognize the different perspectives that can be used to enter into a discussion on a subject, and enable you to make sometimes surprising connections across different fields, times, and genres.
The end of British rule in India in August 1947 was both a joyous and traumatic event. Though the colonized peoples were now in charge of their destiny, the Indian subcontinent was divided into two nations, a Hindu-majority India and Muslim-majority Pakistan. This partition of the subcontinent led to one of the largest migrations in human history. Then in 1971, the eastern part of Pakistan became the independent country of Bangladesh. While sustained contact between communities had created composite cultures, there were also fault lines that deepened in 1947 and 1971. The reverberations of these events continue to be felt in the region in myriad ways. The creative community from that part of the world has often made these moments of rupture central to their works. In this course, we will turn to key literary texts and films to grapple with the following set of questions: How do fiction writers and filmmakers re-imagine geographical spaces divided by borders? How do personal memories of fictional characters fill gaps in official narratives of history? How do novels and films represent the widening of community fault lines during moments of conflict? How do class and gender identities of characters shape their lens on historical events and their consequences for contemporary society? How do authors and filmmakers represent the relationship of displaced communities to their homelands? We will explore these questions in award-winning works from Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan.
This is a course about female characters, female perspectives. and the highly influential myths of the ancient Greeks and Romans. It is an incontrovertible fact that these Greek and Roman societies were highly patriarchal and deeply sexist, and that the plays and poems they produced were written almost exclusively by men and for men. It is equally true, however, that generations of men and women have found these myths and their representations beautiful, intriguing, and endlessly compelling. As a result of this productive tension, a number of prominent women authors have chosen to retell the old stories in a new way, concentrating on female characters and experiences that sometimes got short shrift in the ancient versions. In this seminar we will read some of these works along with their ancient counterparts and deal with a few central problems: Does an adaptation or retelling of a story have a duty to remain faithful to its “original” text? What are the original texts of ancient myth? And in what terms can we understand this new writing–is it gendered or universal? Transitory or timeless? Original or derivative? Authoritative or revisionist? And can writing be “male,” “female,” or something else? In order to come to grips with these and many other issues we will have recourse to essays by theorists of myth and gender; to in-depth and lively class discussions; and of course to a good deal of writing and re-writing, probably the best way ever invented to develop and refine your ideas.
Why do we like what we like? And why does it matter so much? The old Roman proverb warns that “there is no disputing taste” (De gustibus non disputandum est), but we make implicit arguments about taste every time we get dressed, recommend a restaurant, or decide what movie to watch. In this course we will spend the semester investigating the philosophical, cultural, and biological underpinnings of aesthetic taste. We will seek to understand the historical and ongoing socioeconomic and ethical ramifications of these same questions. We will read, hear, and watch various arguments about how and why we develop our aesthetic preferences. We will evaluate those arguments in our own daily seminar conversations, and we will test those preferences with Fourth Hour visits to cultural institutions around Cleveland, potentially including the Cleveland Museum of Art, MOCA (Museum of Contemporary Art), and The Cleveland Orchestra. We will write and think in a variety of genres, including personal essays, critical analyses, book/movie/album reviews, and a collaborative podcast.
It’s hard to resist a good story, and even harder to resist a good mystery story. What is it about mysteries that makes them so enduringly fascinating, so universal? What might they teach us about the nature of storytelling itself? In this course we’ll discuss and write about how narrative works, taking mystery as our guide. In doing so, we’ll also become better readers, viewers, and interpreters. For these stories make detectives out of us all, demanding that we evaluate textual evidence, seek out rhetorical clues, pay keen attention to detail, and even examine our own frameworks of perception. Engaging both classic and less traditional tales of mystery and detection (including a movie or two), we’ll examine the logic of such narratives, the desires and fears that drive them, and the secrets they tell–or try to keep hidden.
Imagine a book we might read by touching the words, speaking out loud, choosing among possible narrative paths, or even by allowing our own faces to be part of the scene. Electronic literature, literary works designed to be read or experienced on a computer, often requires exactly such multisensory engagement, asking readers to make unusual connections between words, images, sounds, or movements and, sometimes, to put themselves into the story. In this class, we will read, experience, and think critically about such unconventional electronic literature (and print literature), including works of interactive fiction, the book-in-a-box, cut up and computer-generated poetry, narrative video games, Twitter novels, and online literary performances. The narratives we read present unfamiliar, often non-linear, modes of storytelling that give us insight into how we conventionally “read” our world, our culture, and ourselves and how digital spaces influence how we understand, experience, and respond to ideas, places, people, objects, and issues.
Works of literature are sometimes so powerful that even though we know we are only reading and not actually living an experience, we nevertheless feel as though we are. We laugh, cry, tremble with fear, or feel inspired. Indeed, the interaction between reader and text is sometimes so powerful that it changes how we see ourselves, how we see the world, and how we act in it. Some readers do more than live vicariously through texts: they physically perform the words and actions depicted. What compels people to recite poetry or bits of a memorial service in a graveyard, extemporaneously? What words do people choose to get tattooed on their bodies? How does the relationship between reading, feeling, doing, and being work? What determines why some experiences have only temporary effects while others create more lasting changes? In this seminar we will use a set of concepts, collectively known as performance theory, to consider why readers identify so deeply with the texts they read, how the performance of certain actions can shape identity, and how authors use an awareness of this phenomenon when creating their stories. As part of our investigation we will perform a variety of actions as depicted in literature, including but not limited to contemplation of a work of art, graveside mourning, and possibly ending a romantic relationship or performing a marriage.
Readers often encounter poems in relative isolation, perhaps on a few scattered pages of a textbook or magazine. However, in this course we will investigate poetry not as a collection of literary artifacts but as an activity that occurs within a dynamic and diverse community. Similarly, you will be asked to reflect on the cultural context and sense of purpose that shape your own writing. Early on, we will cover basic poetic terminology allowing you to describe a poem and its effect on a reader. Our focus will then shift to the question of what it means to be a part of the contemporary American poetry community. We will discuss factors impacting the ability of poets to connect with their audience, such as the accessibility of poetic language and the relatability of subject matter. We will look at different forms of communication that poets use (such as the blurb, book review, interview, and social media) in order to gain insight into the workings of their community. We will also explore controversies related to the effectiveness and fairness of issues such as professional training, financial resources, and literary recognition. Although this course is not a creative writing workshop, interested students will have the opportunity to present and receive feedback on their own poetry.
Although children’s picture books, animated films, and television shows are produced for kids, they tell us a lot about how grown-ups think about childhood…or what adults would like childhood to be. This seminar examines how Americans conceptualize childhood by exploring a selection of art, literature, objects, and physical spaces. Over the course of American history, how have educators, artists, and writers attempted to construct an image of an idealized child? What are the implications of this idealization for real children, especially those who do not conform to this image? How are cultural artifacts intended for children evolving to reflect a more diverse range of children and childhood experiences? How are new technologies changing childhood and the way it is depicted? To inform our investigation, we will discuss popular children’s books and television shows, as well as observe and interact with children in spaces designed for them.