250. Sophomore Seminar. Open to Honors students. (3). (SS).
Section 003 – The Discovery of the Universe. This seminar is about the human side of scientific discovery. Using case studies in the history of our attempts to comprehend the astronomical universe in the last century, we will examine a number of topics of current interest: how to educate the imagination, the tension between theory and observation, the changing roles of women in science, the funding of research and outside control, the possibilities of fraud, the rise and fall of science education, role of the media, and the like. This is NOT a science course; it is, instead, an opportunity for us to study the ways in which scientific knowledge advances and the very human face of scientific work. (Lindner)
Section 004 – The Psychology of Social Movements. In this course we will examine social movements through the lens of psychology. We will study potentially illuminative psychological principles including: (a) individual factors like moral development, personality, motivation, defense mechanisms; and (b) group factors like conformity, obedience, persuasion, and leadership. We will read accounts of these modern social movements: the American Freedom Summer Civil Rights movement of 1964, the Chinese Cultural Revolution, and the successful anti-Nazi resistance movement enacted by the French village of LeChambon. We will analyze these social movements, asking questions like: Why did people join these movements? Why did they behave as they did as part of these collectivities? What make social movements go wrong – or right? Mastery of this material will be assessed through an exam. Class discussions will be based on frequent written analyses of the assigned readings. In a longer paper, students will analyze: (a) a personal experience as a participant in a social movement or group; or (b) a historical social movement of their choice. WL:3 (Landman)
Section 005. Guest lecturers will share insights into critical thinking and problem solving in their own academic and professional specialties. Students will prepare two term papers – the first on critical thinking and problem solving, and the second on an article appearing in the "Skeptical Inquirer." Students will present a formal critique of one of these two papers. The section does not fulfill a writing requirement. Students will bring to class current written accounts of news which illustrate flawed critical thinking for discussion. (Whitehouse)
251. Sophomore Seminar. Open to Honors students. (3). (HU).
Section 003 – Poetry and Poetics. Involves readings, research work, and an option in creative writing, in a unified attempt to understand major trends in modern poetry and poetics. We shall read some poems from several countries as well as poetry published currently in the U.S. (all material for this course is in English). We shall try to identify the major trends in today's poetry and whether any generalizations can be made in this regard. We shall ask how contemporary poetry responds to some of the expectations formulated with regard to poetry earlier this century. In addition, we shall discuss a number of theoretical statements dealing at a conceptual level with such questions as: criteria for literary evaluation, definitions of what is literature, the question of artistic intention, and more. Students will prepare several written responses for presentation in class. There will be no exam. As a final paper for this course, students will be given the option between a research work in contemporary poetry or a creative literary work prepared during the course and presented for discussion in class, preferably in poetry, but short stories and one-act plays will be considered too. (Hertz)
252. Sophomore Seminar. Open to Honors students. (3). (NS).
Section 001 – Numbers, Reasons, and Data. While the reading list for the seminar is improvised, the principal themes for discussion are quite predictable from one end of the term to the other. The most general of these is the proper role of quantification in the versions of reality constructed by the various disciplines we shall consider. Specific concerns under this heading include the justifications for claiming that numbers or their relationships somehow represent enduring aspects of the real world, the ways in which numbers provide evidence for "theories" or other sorts of assertions of pattern, and the role of computations and arguments about stability, change, and error in the verification of these schemes. Our approach to our subject will be by various methods, including intellectual history (the study of opinions once thought reasonable). Other themes are more specifically statistical: the logic of least-squares techniques (such as averaging), the reality of the Normal distribution, the nature of numerical evidence for causation. This material will be covered mainly by the chapters of Stigler's History of Statistics: The Measurement of Uncertainty to 1900, augmented by notes from me. We are reading Stigler as history and philosophy of science, not as mathematics: you may skip over his formulas (though not over mine) the way you skip names in Russian novels. A final theme cannot be expressed any better than by quoting the titles of a book by Duncan from which you will receive additional extracts: Notes on Social Measurements, Historical and Critical. (Bookstein)
Section 003 – Ideas in Molecular Biology. Prerequisites: Biology 152 or Biology 100 and Chemistry 215. All too often in introductory biology courses, students become so inundated with "facts" that they take little time to see science as a process. In this seminar, we will discuss some of the key experiments and techniques that have ignited a recent explosion in understanding of molecular biology, embracing theory technology, and consequences for human life. Students are expected to lead and to take part in discussions. Extensive reading will be necessary, both in short and (relatively) inexpensive paperback text and also in original scientific publications. There will be two substantial writing assignments. We may even be able to witness major changes in understanding during the term, as new information is announced and published. Cost:1 WL:1 (Shappirio)
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