Spring 2020 Semester
Introduction to Biology: Heidi Elmedorf
So much in our world is built on a biological foundation, and gaining insights into that biology empowers people to make smarter decisions as individuals, as members of families, and as members of society. Biology lies at the heart of some of our greatest challenges – from infectious disease to mental health to nutrition to climate change – and also at the heart of some of our most profound progress – from vaccines to personalized medicine to bioengineering to genetic testing
Biology is not just the knowledge – the names of the organelles of a cell, the definition of the central dogma, the stages of development – that helps to explain each of these phenomena. Indeed, almost all knowledge in biology should come with a disclaimer that it represents simply our best current understanding of reality. Real biology is about how scientists discover new knowledge, what limits that knowledge, how one round of questions and answers can give rise to new questions, and how communicating science profoundly shapes our understanding of it. Science is an inherently social endeavor: society shapes science, and science shapes society.
Most introductory biology courses teach science as though biology is a car, and the class is a showroom at a car dealership – it’s all about the external features and gloss. Here we’ll tackle biology as though we are working in the service part of the dealership, looking under the hood, getting a bit dirty, and tinkering with the engine to really see how it runs.
The course will move through four case studies, introducing basic biology concepts and developing analytical and communication skills in the service of better understanding four current biology issues. Students will read from a range of scientific literature, apply their new knowledge on weekly problem sets, and hone their communication skills through both formal and informal writing.
Introduction to Gender, Masculinity, and Sexuality Studies: Melyssa Haffaf
This course offers an introduction to some of the basic concepts and theoretical perspectives in Gender Studies with a focus on the study of men and masculinities. Drawing on interdisciplinary, intersectional and cross-cultural approaches, students will critically engage with issues of gender inequity, sexuality, family, work, media representation and imagery, popular culture, and history. Throughout the course, students will explore men’s gender role socialization and reflect on dominant discourses of masculinity and topics such as fatherhood, military, health, violence, etc.
The Forgotten Humanity of Prisoners: Marc Howard
Fyodor Dostoyevsky famously wrote that “the degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons.” Yet today it is almost impossible for members of free society to go inside of prison walls, much less to interact with incarcerated people as human beings. This 1- credit UNXD course will prepare a select group of Georgetown seniors for life after graduation by exposing them to this forgotten and ignored element of our humanity. It is an extraordinary experience that they will cherish and that will inspire them for the rest of their lives.
Tenacity: Emily Durso
“Tenacity” is a full service set of tools for success in the workplace. Incorporating such scenarios as: how to work as a team, working with people very different from you, what happens when you make a mistake, how to talk to your supervisor, “netiquette” or how to write an email in a professional and respectful manner. The workplace has a code of behavior that once you understand the rules, you will fit in and understand your role and responsibilities creating a successful work experience.
Journalism and Public Affairs: Neil Roland
Introduction to journalism, newspapers and politics. A veteran journalist will lead a seminar that explores principles and practices of journalism. Focus will be on newspapers, with discussions of how to read and analyze articles of various kinds.
What is research? How is it carried out? How do we know if it is “good” research? How can research improve policy and practice? This course offers an introduction to research methods. This course is designed to teach and train students on a variety of approaches available to researchers in order to best address a research question. As the title suggests, this class is “an introduction to the major research methods, their links to theory and practice, and their use in research projects.” As such, it centers on the criteria for selection of a particular method (or set of methods), as well as the learning of such method(s), in order to apply them to a particular project. It is not an advanced methods class on either quantitative or qualitative methods, but a general course offering discussions on the logic of research, whether studied at a comparative, historical, interpretative, or causal/multiple variable level.
“The Logic of Life: The Rational Economics of an Irrational World”: Dylan Dellisanti
The purpose of this course is to provide an introduction to basic economic theory through Tim Harford’s The Logic of Life. The course will show how basic economic principles apply not only to issues in political economy but also to everyday life. In doing so, students will learn the hidden order behind seemingly irrational behavior.
Psychology and Morality
This course is intended as an overview of the psychological foundations of morality, with thematic focus on empirical approaches to morality and a moral evaluation of the foundations of psychological research and practice. We will explore obedience to authority, motivated reasoning and bias, the nature of responsibility and agency, and willpower and the weakness of will. We will consider the ways in which empirical research has been used to either criticize or substantiate traditional views of morality in order to evaluate how successful such projects are. We will also evaluate what this research implies about how we should live and act, and how we should structure our lives, environments, and institutions.