Please note that if this information clashes with SIS, then SIS is correct.

If the course has a Writing Instructor, they are listed here in brackets.


USNA 211 – Einstein, Space and Time

Jeffrey Kriessler

TuTh 1:00PM – 2:15PM  Sears 552

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.


USNA 226 – Evolution of Human Behavior

Marianne Reeves / (John Wiehl)

TuTh 8:30AM – 9:45AM  Sears 326

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.


USNA 287C – Animals and Humans: Making Sense of the Human-Animal Bond

Ronald Oldfield / (Matthew Burkhart)

MoWeFr 10:35AM – 11:25AM     AW Smith 29

Humans have an incredibly complex relationship with (non-human) animals.  We eat some animals and consider other animals members of our family.  We worship some animals and vilify others.  This class examines the complexities of our relationship with (non-human) animals.  Through exploring human emotional, practical, and epistemological ties with animals, this course examines what it means to be animal as well as what it means to be human.  We analyze the following questions.  How do we come to know and understand animals?  What are the issues surrounding the use of animals in scientific speculation, classification and experimentation, such as vivisection, cloning and the human-animal relationship in technoscience?  Do some non-human animals possess material culture, social morality, and emotions such as grief and sadness?  Why do animals populate our popular culture and art?


USNA 287G – Genes, Genomes and Society

Helen Salz / (Arthur Russell)

MoWe 3:20PM – 4:35PM               Biomed Research Bldg 732

2013 marks 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.


USNA 287S – Society and Natural Resources       

Scott Hardy / (Eric Chilton)

TuTh 5:30PM – 6:45PM  Crawford Hall 111

The relationship between humans and the natural world can be defined in large part by how societies manage natural resources. In this seminar, students will analyze how society-environment interactions have undergone substantial shifts over time…from John Locke’s Labor Theory of Value and the rise of utilitarian conservation to more recent approaches based on ecosystem management that emphasize ecological integrity and stakeholder collaboration. Course readings will challenge students to think critically about how humans conceptualize and impact the environment. Class time will be spent discussing the evolution of effective human-ecological systems interactions as outlined in the readings, as well as reviewing student reflection papers that connect course concepts to real word scenarios.


USNA 288I – Beyond Silicon Valley: Growing Entrepreneurship in Transitioning Economies          

Michael Goldberg / (John Higgins)

MoWe 12:45PM – 2:00PM            Mather Memorial 125

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.


USNA 288J – Sustainable Energy: Resources, Technologies and Impact   

Ali Ahmed

TuTh 2:30PM – 3:45PM  Nord Hall 213

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.


USNA 288R – Data Acquisition and the Internet of Things             

Craig Virnelson / (James Stephens)

TuTh 10:00AM – 11:15AM             Sears 333

The Internet of Things (IoT) is the network of physical objects or “things” embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and network connectivity, which enable these objects to collect and exchange data. Example objects include garage door minders that send texts when we have forgotten to close them or cars that report driving habits to insurance companies. This class proposes to explore the question “What is involved in creating an ‘Internet of Things’ device and what might the future of the IoT look like?”  Virtually everyone benefits from the Internet of Things, but for most individuals the IoT is little understood.  The goal here is to demystify the IoT by engaging students in a guided hands-on IoT project that begins with data acquisition and concludes in a working device.  Through the project, readings, and discussion, students will be challenged to consider a future world that is even more connected than today and to consider the practical, societal and ethical issues that the IoT creates.


USNA 289A – Antibiotics: From Miracle Drugs to Superbugs        

[100 Section] Marianne Pusztai-Carey

MoWe 4:50PM – 6:05PM               Wood Building W428

[101 Section] Paul Carey

TuTh 1:00PM – 2:15PM  Wood Building W428

Since the discovery of penicillin in 1928, antibiotics have become an essential drug in the treatment and prevention of bacterial infections. They are used to cure sexually transmitted diseases, to ward off complications after surgery, and to boost the yield and safety of our food supply. This widespread use has created a significant problem: antibiotic-resistant “superbugs” are emerging at an alarming rate. It has been estimated that the useful lifetime of an antibiotic is only eight years. What can physicians, patients, policy-makers, corporations, and consumers do to address this trend? In this seminar, we will examine the science and history of antibiotics, some of the reasons for their overuse, and possible solutions to the problem of antibiotic resistance.


USNA 289B – Everyday Toxic Chemicals

Kurt Rhoads / (Joanne Friedman)

TuTh 11:30AM – 12:45PM             Bingham 204

Each of us uses hundreds of chemicals every day.  While many of these chemicals are designed to make our products safer, cheaper, more convenient to use, and more effective, they can also present risks to ourselves and to the environment. Certainly, there are times when the benefits of using toxic chemicals outweigh the risk. For example, if you were on a ship that had caught fire, you would probably want to use the best possible firefighting foam, even if it were toxic. On the other hand, if you were choosing which microwave popcorn to buy, you might choose the one that did not use a cancer-causing chemical on the bags, even though it made them less grease-proof. How do we determine whether a chemical is toxic? Who decides when the risks outweigh the benefits? In this seminar, we will analyze the lifecycle of everyday products such as food packaging and shampoo, tracing their path from production, to use, to final place in the environment. We will also examine methods to evaluate the risk chemicals present to ourselves and to wildlife, and how these evaluation paradigms inform regulations.


USNA 289G – Exploring the Drivers of FinTech   

Gregory Harmon / (Scott Dill)

MoWe 12:45PM – 2:00PM            Peter B Lewis 120

The field of finance has experienced a burst of technological advances that have disrupted and transformed the traditional methods of accessing, allocating, and transferring capital. Understanding the evolution of traditional finance methods is increasingly important for meaningfully distinguishing the advantages and disadvantages of traditional versus emerging methods and models.  Unfortunately, many people’s exposure to this revolution is limited to two ideas that are prevalent in the media:  crypto-currencies and disruption.  While these are key pieces of FinTech, to really appreciate the change it is necessary to understand the three pillars of innovation that are driving it.  This course will provide the forum to gain an understanding of those three pillars of FinTech innovation: the Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence, and Blockchain.  Armed with this understanding we will explore how they are changing finance broadly, how that may impact the need for regulation, how it is driving change in social acceptance of conducting financial transactions, and how it raises possible concerns in new areas like the need for privacy and security.  More technology may not always be the right answer.


USNA 289H – You Are What You Eat

Nicole Burt / (Denna Iammarino)

MoWeFr 11:40AM – 12:30PM      Mather Memorial 225

The atoms from the foods that you eat are used to build your body, from your skin and hair to your blood, nerves, muscles, bones, and organs, you are literally–as the saying goes–what you eat. We know how food affects the health of individuals, but we can also use scientific techniques to determine the diet of groups of people past and present. This understanding allows us to explore a variety of important questions. How has diet affected human evolution? Why is diet so important for defining a culture? How are current dietary habits changing who we are and how we live? This class reviews what food humans evolved to eat in terms of biological need, but also explores how adaptive diets allow us to navigate a changing environment. We will also examine how diet continues to affect the creation of our individual and collective identities. Using key principles from anthropology, public health, and evolutionary medicine, we will analyze the ways we reconstruct, judge, and intervene in human diets.


USSO 286L – Exploring Non-Profit Organizations               

Barbara Clemenson / (Caitlin Kelly)

TuTh 2:30PM – 3:45PM  Peter B Lewis 220

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.


USSO 286X – The Future of News             

William Doll / (Cara Byrne)

MoWe 4:50PM – 6:05PM               Sears 323

The saying goes, “Strong Press, Strong Democracy.”  But what of strong democracy in the Internet Age when the traditional press seems weak?  That’s this seminar’s big question.  Can the “old” media, struggling to avoid financial collapse, still deliver the news necessary to be democracy’s watchdog, as in the past?  Can the new internet media–blogs, YouTube, viral videos, “hyperlocalism” experiments, pro publica investigations, crowd sourcing, instant news, Facebook, Gawker, True/Slant, Drudge and the proliferation of the other news and entertainment sources–take its place or complement traditional journalism?  How do these new entrants change the nature of news and the role of the media in our society?  These are uncharted developments, but they go to the heart of the continued success of America’s democratic experiment.  Our goal is to grasp more clearly the connections between media, news, citizenship and democracy in this new age.


USSO 287E – Clash of the Titans: Economic, Industrial and Social Trends for the 21st Century      

Joao Maia / (James Newlin)

TuTh 4:00PM – 5:15PM  Kent Hale Smith 123

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.


USSO 287Z – Concubines, Soldiers and Field Hands: World Slavery from Antiquity to the Present              

Lisa Nielson

TuTh 2:30PM – 3:45PM  Sears 326

For many Americans, the most familiar type of slavery is plantation slavery of the Americas and the horrific consequences to the indigenous peoples and transplanted peoples from Africa. The longevity of the institution of slavery, and acceptance of the practice by many different cultures and belief systems, however, reaches from antiquity to the present day. In addition to providing physical labor and domestic services, slaves have been used as entertainers, civil servants, led armies and served in temples. Slavery is a complex legal, religious, moral and social institution, and the relationship between slave, state and owner/slaver is equally complicated; so much so that understanding the bond between them, and what the actual boundary was between “free” and “un-free”, is still difficult to determine in some cultures. In this seminar, we will use a chronological framework to examine the institution of slavery, uses for slaves, methodologies and sources for studying slavery and the slave trade in world history. Beginning with slavery in the Ancient Near East, Egypt, Greece and Rome, the class will include slavery and the feudal system in medieval Europe, indentured servitude and concubinage, slaves in the early Islamic courts, the Ottoman slave trade, the African slave trade and slavery in the Americas, and the current problem of human trafficking. Within each section, students will read primary texts and recent scholarship examining the social, economic and religious rationales behind slavery. We will also study different methodologies and the impact of gender, race and social class on the study of world slavery. As many slaver cultures had different definitions for what it meant to be a slave, we will address questions related to translation, interpretation and perception when dealing with primary sources. The primary goal of the course is to provide a broader context for the institution of slavery in world history as a means not only to understand the impact of slavery has had on American culture, but on other cultures as well.


USSO 288Y – The Secret History of Corporate America   

Theodore Steinberg

MoWe 3:20PM – 4:35PM               Thwing 301

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.


USSO 289C – Ethics For The Real World: Developing a Code of Ethics to Guide Decisions in Work and Life             

Susan Case

TuTh 10:00AM – 11:15AM             Peter B Lewis 124

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.


USSO 289P – Polar Regions in History     

Elizabeth Todd / (Andrea Milne)

TuTh 1:00PM – 2:15PM  Thwing 302

This course will explore the effect the polar regions have had on the strategic ambitions, pursuit of wealth, scientific investigations, and heroic imagination of (mainly Western) individuals, nations, and cultures, focusing on the modern and early modern periods (c. 1500-present).  It will also familiarize students with the physical geography and ecology of the north and south polar regions, the ways in which Arctic-adapted peoples have responded to the challenges of their environment, and the impact that contact with outsiders has had on these environments and peoples.  Students will read books and view videos that recount the personal experiences of polar explorers and others involved in international competition for exploratory “firsts,” describe the efforts nations have made to claim polar resources, and examine debates about climate change.


USSO 289Z – China and the World: 19th and 20th Century Encounters   

Jonathan Tan / (Andrea Milne)

TuTh 11:30AM – 12:45PM             Crawford Hall 11A

Although frequently characterized as a country with a past that was marked by insularity and disdain for all things foreign, until the West “opened [it] up,” China’s engagement with the world has been long and deep. China–Chinese emperors, Chinese governments, and Chinese people across the social spectrum–have energetically engaged with the broader world, permitting, encouraging, and seeking the circulation of foreign ideas and goods. This course is about how China has taken measure of the world and the goods and ideas that have flowed into and out of China during the past several centuries, from roughly the sixteenth through the twentieth centuries. Students will examine one topic in depth as an historical case study during the semester-long course. Possible topics from which the case study will be drawn include the Opium Wars, meanings of revolution, gender and sexuality, religion and political ideology, the environment, nationalism, history of science and technology, etc. Focus on a single thematic topic serves as a microcosm of social, political, and economic exchanges that highlight the complex ways in which understandings of China and the world have shifted over time.


USSO 290J – Touch Throughout the Life Span     

Susan Ludington / (Carli Leone)

[100 Section] MoWe 12:45PM – 2:00PM NOA 300

[101 Section] MoWe 4:50PM – 6:05PM   NOA 300

This seminar will consider a variety of topics related to touch throughout the life span. Opportunities are provided to learn from colleagues and resources available to the public about the structure, functions, uses, misuses, and health considerations of touch from birth to old age. Touch as it is conveyed through different venues and with different purposes will be explored; touch for development, touch for socialization, therapeutic animal touch and what are pets need, touch as punishment, touch in the workplace, touch and technology, intimate touch, abusive touch, necessity of touch, healing touch, and comforting and noxious touch.


USSO 290M – The Effects of Race, Class and Education: A Dialogue on Current Issues     

Benjamin Sperry / (Joseph DeLong)

MoWe 3:20PM – 4:35PM               Crawford Hall 111

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 place to ensure strict confidentiality and anonymity in any and all exchanges of views between CWRU students and students at the prison.


USSO 290W – Understanding Body Image through Self-Perception          

Hannah Blake / (Cara Byrne)

TuTh 11:30AM – 12:45PM             Crawford Hall 09A

This course examines the historical, psychological, and cultural approaches to the self-perception of one’s own body. We will explore how body standards have changed throughout history and across cultures, and how this is reflected in portraiture. Additionally, we will investigate psychological studies on body image, acknowledging the challenges in an evidence-based approach and considering medical diagnoses when distortion in self-perception occurs. Finally, we will analyze current body standards perpetuated by the media in regards to body size, shape, and gender. Through reading and discussion, students will gain a deeper understanding of healthy body image and strategies for applying it to their own lives.


USSO 291R – Aging Well               

Evanne Juratovac / (Denna Iammarino)

Th 10:00AM – 11:15AM  Thwing 101

People around the world are living longer. Researchers have examined human aging, and explored factors that contribute to the quality of life for older people. What does it mean for people to age well? Do current explanations about promoting survival, retaining physical and mental abilities, and maintaining family and social connnectedness fit people’s experiences? In this seminar, students will consider current theoretical explanations regarding the physiological, psychological, sociological, cultural, and spiritual dimensions that contribute to aging well. Students will analyze programs and services available in the present day and dream about programs and services of the future that could support aging well.


USSO 292E – Many Ways to Be a Woman: Intersectional Traditions of Feminism and Femininity

Gabrielle Bychowski

MoWe 12:45PM – 2:00PM            Nord Hall 204

If you’ve ever asked, “can a person be a woman *this* way?” then this class is for you! What if she wants to be a housewife? What if she wants to be an engineer? What if she hates dresses? What if she feels powerful in skirts? This class explores the many questions and responses that surround womanhood. This seminar is designed to provide entry into the many intersectional conversations on feminism and femininity, with access points starting from where you are. That means if you do not consider yourself a feminist, you are welcome. If you are not feminine or female, you have a place at the table. If you worry about being called a “bad feminist,” then this class is definitely for you. If you find feminism or femininity to be too narrow to define you, this class is excited to have you. If you take issue with feminism focusing too much on white women, cisgender women, able-bodied women, straight women, then this class needs your voice. If you want to know what the role of men in feminism can be, wonders the same thing! Historically, “feminism” as a word has challenged people’s political and personal investments in different ways as they encounter issues such as voting and jobs, marriage and divorce, racism and classism, homophobia and transphobia, healthcare and disability, personal liberties and social protections. Alongside these traditions of feminism, “femininity” has been a concept that seems simultaneously ancient while also under constant revision as women of color, post-colonialism, disability, queer, transgender and intersex thinkers introduce underrepresented perspectives. Facing these reactions and reforms, some people feel disinclined to identify with either word, adding to the list of “F-words” that can raise conflict in polite company. Yet however one feels about these F-words, feminism and femininity have regularly proven important movements in public debates around government, the work-force, education, and art. This seminar seeks to connect students with intersectional and sometimes conflicting traditions in politics and gender theory in order to broaden the horizons of who or what gets to be identified with feminism and femininity.


USSO 292F – Futbol        

Florin Berindeanu / (Joshua Hoeynck)

MoWeFr 10:35AM – 11:25AM     Mather Memorial 225
This course examines the social and cultural impact of futbol/soccer/football “the beautiful game. We will explore the many reasons for the sport’s popularity among people from every social and economic class, and we will consider why, to its large crowds of followers, it is more than a game. We will also trace the various ways in which futbol influences different cultures and societies, seeking to understand how its consequences can be so diverse when its rules and infrastructure are the same all over the world. In addition to classroom discussions, readings, and writing assignments, the course will include documentaries about the history of the sport, its reception among various social classes, and the music genres fans adopt to support their favorite teams.


USSO 292G – Creativity and Spirituality

Irena Kenneley / Thomas Dawkins
MoWe 4:50PM – 6:05PM               Clark Hall 302
Some religious thinkers and philosophers believe that, just as all organisms evolve biologically, humans have been developing the capacity to understand the supernatural forces that shape the universe and the meaning of our existence within it. This spiritual evolution is powered by humanity’s integral primeval drive to be creative. We tend to look to the arts and sciences as a visible demonstration of creativity, but we all engage that creative instinct, consciously or unconsciously, in every facet of our lives. We draw on creativity whether we are dealing with everyday problems or significant transformative experiences. But what is creativity exactly? How does it work? Is creativity in the arts the same as creativity in the sciences? In this seminar, we will examine a variety of theories that attempt to explain creativity. We will also use research in the field of psychology and creativity studies to explore the relationship between an individual’s creativity and their personality, experience, and environment, as well as whether creativity can be an acquired skill (and if so, how?). What role can creativity play in our work and play? What role does creativity play in our sense of selves as spiritual beings? We will investigate these questions using an integrated multi-dimensional methodology that combines theoretical and experiential approaches.


USSO 292H – Religion and Human Rights

Bharat Ranganathan
TuTh 1:00PM – 2:15PM Sears 336
This seminar examines the theories that underwrite human rights, as well as some contemporary human rights issues. We will begin by familiarizing ourselves with the history and theory of human rights. In doing so, we will examine how thinking about human rights is different from the way we think about legal and political rights. Then, we will use this historical and theoretical framework to examine the intersection between human rights issues–including gender rights, minority rights, and religious freedom–and religious belief and practice. We will use a variety of cases, from the place of racial and religious minorities in North American to gender and women’s rights in India, to understand how these issues manifest themselves. How far do our historical and theoretical explorations help us understand and perhaps offer solutions to these vexing issues?


USSO  292I – Making Sense of Healthcare Today

Deborah Dillon / (Andrea Milne)
TuTh 4:00PM – 5:15PM NOA 260
The course will examine the complex issue of today’s healthcare system. Students will examine how the U.S. model compares with other countries and their outcomes. What would the ideal healthcare system look like? Students will discuss and debate the ethical dilemmas associated with these choices. What are the various healthcare delivery models available, their advantages and disadvantages? Does the U.S. have the best healthcare system? Students will explore the available data on healthcare in the U.S. compared with other countries. They will examine the supply demand theory as it relates to healthcare access and availability. Other topics include examining other types of healthcare providers in today’s system. Do they provide a solution or contribute to the problem? To answer these and other questions, we will explore the ethical, moral, and financial aspects of U.S. healthcare today.


USSY 280 – Passport to Eastern Europe

Narcisz Fejes

TuTh 11:30AM – 12:45PM     Sears 336

Images and texts shape rather than merely reflect the world and its geopolitical structures.  Novels, films, and myths make significant contributions to the varied ways that people make sense of continents, nations, and other (often too conveniently used) geopolitical categories such and the East and West.  After considering the ways in which the European continent has been imagined over the centuries, we will explore texts and films that have contributed to the invention of East Central Europe and the Balkans and continue to shape our understanding of the eastern parts of Europe.  The class will include analyses of current news coverage of this area to unpack representations disseminated by the media and to reflect on the forces that aim to shape our understanding of geopolitical entities.  Ultimately, the course hopes to address geopolitical assumptions, evaluate cultural contexts, and help you think critically about the constructed nature of geopolitical categories.


USSY 286U – Puzzled

Bernard Jim

MoWeFr 9:30AM – 10:20AM     Mather Memorial 125

“Puzzled” will look at the practice of puzzle making and puzzle-solving and explore the meaning of puzzles for different cultures throughout history.  We will read works from the disciplines of math, history, anthropology, philosophy, and literature.  We will explore why certain types of puzzles became popular and how puzzles have transferred from one culture to another. We will examine the role of code writing and code-breaking in the military and in the world of business.  We will read examples of fiction and watch films that adopt the form of the puzzle as a narrative device.  We will think about the function of puzzles as instruments to exercise the faculties of reason and logic and as a means of leisure or pleasant distraction.   Students will be asked to both solve and create puzzles over the course of the semester.  They will write analytical essays on topics related to the practice and history of puzzle making and puzzle solving, and they will pursue a research topic that revolves around an issue or problem that has “puzzled” them.


USSY 287X – Paris in the Arts

Annie Pecastaings

MoWe 3:20PM – 4:35PM     Sears 326

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.


USSY 288C – Fly Fishing: the Sport, the Metaphysics, and the Literature

John Orlock

MoWe 4:50PM – 6:05PM    Clark Hall 302

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.


USSY 288R – Cultural and Ethical Issues in American-Chinese Business Relations               

Steven Feldman / (Steve Pinkerton)

MoWe 4:50PM – 6:05PM               Peter B Lewis 220

The American and Chinese economies are the two biggest economies in the world.  The Chinese economy is the fastest growing large economy in the world.  The dynamic American economy is unique in its combination of large multinational enterprises and small entrepreneurial firms.  The American economy is characterized by a vast private sector, the rule of law, and the largest private capital markets in the world.  The Chinese economy is 30 years into a period of reform from communist industrial organization to “socialism with Chinese characteristics”, which includes a significant role for the private sector.  The Chinese economy is still an experiment.  The established American business system exists within a democratic political system, where corporate lobbying has a significant influence on the creation of laws and government policy.  The Chinese economy is still under the tight control of the Chinese Communist Party, a one-party dictatorship. When Americans go to China to do business, they find the cultural, social, political, and moral systems vastly different than what they are familiar with.  Transparency International Ranks China 27 out of 28 of the most corrupt large economies in the world.  In China, bribery of government officials and kickbacks to sales and purchasing managers is common.  Key questions we will investigate are: 1. In what ways are the two business systems similar and different? 2.What is the nature of Chinese social relations?  How do they differ from American social relations?  What effect do they have on business? 3. What is the nature of the Chinese political system?  What impact does it have on business in China? 4. How do American business people negotiate the Chinese business system?


USSY 289Y – Reading and Writing Biography       

Bradley Ricca

TuTh 10:00AM – 11:15AM             Thwing 301

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.


USSY 292I – The Cinema of Otherness    

Terri Mester

MoWe 12:45PM – 2:00PM            Nord Hall 212

One way that humans understand themselves is to consider some counterpart entity–an Other–against which the Self can be understood.  This Other, though perhaps based on knowledge of a real person or people, is always shaped by the Self’s projected fears and desires.  At a cultural level, these projections result in generally held stereotypes that the powerful use to maintain their superior position in a hierarchical relationship.  Movies are one place where stereotypes of the Other are created and maintained.  Movies shape how we see, think and feel toward the Other.  In this course, we will attempt to understand how film manufactures Otherness by studying several key Hollywood movies.  We will examine their use of racial and ethnic categories of Otherness, as well as how they position the viewing Self as white. We will also examine other sites of difference, such as gender, sexual orientation, religion, bodily disfigurement, paying special attention to symbolic representations of these differences in the form of robots, monsters and aliens.


USSY 292K – 21st Century American Theater USSY 292K – 21st Century American Theater             

David Vegh / (Eric Chilton)

TuTh 1:00PM – 2:15PM  Clark Hall 308

With its roots tracing back to Ancient Greece, theater is one of our earliest forms of storytelling and entertainment.  However, in the age of streaming video on demand, and massively multiplayer online games, can this venerable art form still be considered relevant, when even our movie multiplexes are going by the wayside?  Recent Broadway musicals such as Hamilton have certainly made a powerful case for the theater’s continued relevancy, simultaneously breaking box office records and offering innovative approaches to content and form while appealing to younger and non-traditional theater audiences.  In this seminar we will consider a number of major plays and musicals produced on and off Broadway since the year 2000. Among the questions to be considered over the course of the semester: What does it mean to create and experience theater in the context of emerging technologies?  Has theater continued to evolve to address the changing needs and sensibilities of 21st century audiences?  In what ways does it provide a voice to marginalized social groups? In addition to readings and class discussions, students will also be required to attend live performances (both professional and academic) and compose essays offering informed critiques evaluating particular aspects of the theatrical whole.


USSY 293A – Racism and Human Diversity: Reading from the Winners of the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards

Gabrielle Bychowski

MoWe 5:30PM – 6:45PM               Sears 336

In this seminar, we will read texts that explore race, how it informs identity, and the impact of racism on individuals and society.  For 80 years, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards have honored the best fiction and non-fiction books that deepen our understanding of racism and human diversity.  In reading a selection of these winners and other texts, we will address some of the most pressing questions of our time: How can society productively address its persistent racial and cultural divisions? How do individuals make sense of their identities at a time when older notions of race, class, gender, and other forms of identity have been changing? What role can literature and scholarship play in helping us understand human diversity and promote acceptance of others? Through these award-winning books, we will enrich our understanding of the human experience and explore the possibilities for a more just society.  Students who have taken FSSO 153 may not receive credit for this course.


USSY 293B – Rendering Life in Literature, BioArt, and Scientific Data

Melissa Pompili

TuTh 2:30PM – 3:45PM  Crawford Hall 09A

What does it mean to render life? To render something means to make something, to cause something to come into being, to break something down, or to represent something artistically. In this class, we will explore the ways the human body has been rendered in literature, in visual art, in scientific illustration, and in data in order to explore how (and question if) our conception of life is partially constructed by the artwork with which we interact. This course will continually investigate several questions: what do we mean when we say the word “life?”  How do works of art shape our understanding of the human body and even of life itself?  Throughout the course, we will explore the ways that the humanities have played a role in shaping the way we view our own bodies and our own conceptions of what constitutes life itself. Specifically, students will explore the archives and collections in the Dittrick Museum of Medical History, create their own renderings of life processes, read literature that explores the boundary between life and death, and write about contemporary artworks made of organic, living materials. In this seminar, we will also continuously focus on rendering — working out and representing — our own ideas, and the ideas of others, in writing.


USSY 293O – Monsters and Disability     

Gabrielle Bychowski

MoWe 3:20PM – 4:35PM               Crawford Hall 09A

Why are monsters so ubiquitous in literature and art? How do they, and other literary villains and anti-heroes, reinforce cultural values and anxieties? Who or what are the monsters of our own cultural moment? In this seminar, we will explore the history and representation of monsters in western culture. Using J.J. Cohen’s Monster Theory, as well as other texts from disability and post-colonial studies, we will examine monsters not merely as otherworldly creatures, but as figures that stand in for a wide range of “undesirables” and “others.” Readings and films for this class will be drawn from the distant medieval past up to modern horror and fantasy films, and will feature the monsters said to live on the edge of the known world, mystical visionaries, sideshow freaks, hallucinatory apparitions, witches, and even a few vampires and werewolves.


USSY 293R – The AIDS Crisis and the American Imagination         

Michael Chiappini

TuTh 4:00PM – 5:15PM  Thwing 301

In this course, we will examine how the AIDS Crisis of the 1980s and 1990s was represented in American literature, film, and art, and how authors and artists engaged imaginatively with the Crisis. As we examine a number of works that represent the AIDS Crisis, our inquiry will focus on the following questions: How do activists use literary and artistic works for political and social change? How do artists and writers use and represent activism in their works? More specifically, what role does metaphor play in how HIV/AIDS is understood? What are the ethics of representing the AIDS Crisis? Is it unethical for writers and artists to use tragic events imaginatively? To answer these questions, we will examine a variety of representations of the Crisis across a number of genres, notably novels, short stories, zines, films, and conceptual art. The texts under examination represent a variety of perspectives on the topic of HIV/AIDS, from activists and artists, members of the LGBTQ community, racial and ethnic minorities, and differing socioeconomic classes. By comparing these genres, we trace the often-conflicting strategies used by authors and artists for representing the AIDS Crisis. Theoretical texts will introduce students to queer perspectives, concepts of testimonial writing and bearing witness to tragic events, the uses of the imagination in creating art and literature, and the functioning of metaphor in art and society.


USSY 293T – Spaces of the Dead               

Thomas Mira y Lopez

MoWe 12:45PM – 2:00PM            Kent Hale Smith 119

The spaces of death–whether garden cemetery or mass grave, cremation urn or Facebook memorial–speak to the values, desires, and conditions of the living. Why do the living commemorate the dead in the way that they do? How do the particularities of these spaces shape the way visitors think about the dead? About the living? In this seminar, we will examine various approaches to representing the often taboo subject of death. The course will begin with an overview of burial practices in the United States, many of which are based on European traditions, while looking at the social and political forces that gave rise to the public cemetery, the funeral industry, and the rituals we currently associate with death in the twenty-first century United States. We will look at American funerary architecture, cross-cultural grief practices, and the documentation of deaths along the US-Mexico border. Students will then consider examples of how spaces of death are written about in contemporary literature. In conjunction, the class will examine how new media projects have changed representations of death in the contemporary imagination.