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Liberal Arts Core Curriculum

(For 2015–2016 academic year)

Director K. Valente

Colgate’s Core program is a defining feature of its liberal arts curriculum. The Core Curriculum at Colgate takes seriously the faculty’s mission to engage students in the fullness of a liberal arts education: to learn, reflect, and live with an expanding awareness of one’s responsibility to self, community, and the larger world. As such, Colgate’s Core Curriculum aims to prepare students for rich and fulfilling lives in a context of rapid change here and around the globe.

Course Offerings

CORE 151 Legacies of the Ancient World

Director A. Cooper
This course, taught by an interdisciplinary staff, explores texts from the ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern world that have given rise to some of the philosophical, political, religious, and artistic traditions associated with “The West.” The texts of this component articulate perennial issues: the nature of the human and the divine; the virtues and the good life; the true, the just and the beautiful; the difference between subjective opinion and objective knowledge. They exemplify basic modes of speech, literary forms, and patterns of thinking that establish the terminology of academic and intellectual discourse and critical thought: epic, rhetoric, tragedy, epistemology, science, democracy, rationality, the soul, spirit, law, grace. Such terms have shaped the patterns of life, norms, and prejudices that have been continually challenged, criticized, and refashioned throughout history. To highlight both the dialogue and conflicts between the texts and these traditions, this course focuses on both the historical contexts of these texts and the ongoing retellings and reinterpretations of them through time. Moreover, the course emphasizes that Western traditions were not formed in a vacuum but developed in dialogue and conflict with other traditions, some of which lie beyond the geographical area of “The West.” To accomplish its objectives the course is necessarily multidisciplinary. Common to all sections of this component are classic works such as Homer, the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament, Plato, and a Roman text. Complementary texts or visual materials from the ancient period, in and beyond the Western world, and/or response texts from the medieval or contemporary periods are added in individual sections or groups of sections. Thus, some groups of sections may have particular themes. These themes will be identified at registration every term.

CORE 152 Challenges of Modernity

Director M. Tumulty
Modernity is a crucial element of the intellectual legacy to which we are heirs. A matrix of intellectual, social, and material forces that have transformed the world over the last quarter millennium, modernity has introduced new problems and possibilities into human life. Within modernity, issues of meaning, identity, and morality have been critiqued in distinctive ways. People of different social classes, racial groups, ethnic backgrounds, genders and sexual identities have contributed to an increasingly rich public discourse. The human psyche has been problematized, and the dynamic character of the world, both natural and social, has been explored. Urbanization and technological development have transformed the patterns of everyday life. Imperialism has had a complex and lasting impact on the entire globe. The human capability to ameliorate social and physical ills has increased exponentially, and yet so has the human capacity for mass destruction and exploitation. In this course, taught by an interdisciplinary staff, students explore texts from a variety of media that engage with the ideas and phenomena central to modernity. To ensure a substantially common experience for students, the staff each year chooses texts to be taught in all sections of the course. This component of the Core Curriculum encourages students to think broadly and critically about the world that they inhabit, asking them to see their contemporary concerns in the perspective of the long-standing discourses of modernity.

Scientific Perspectives on the World

Director K. Segall
All people routinely face important decisions about their own lives and about issues of broader social significance that require scientific literacy. In order to make thoughtful decisions about such matters, it is necessary to have a solid understanding of how scientific knowledge is obtained and an appreciation for the complexities of applying scientific findings to broader issues. The courses in the Scientific Perspectives (SP) program are designed to address both of these needs, and are unified by two common purposes. First, these courses deepen students’ understanding of the methods used in scientific fields to acquire knowledge about the world. Each of the SP courses focuses on an area of scientific research to give students grounding in the interplay of scientific analysis, verification, and explanation. Second, the SP courses broaden students’ understanding of the relevance of scientific methods by helping students to apply scientific methods and findings to a broad range of issues. Specifically, these courses help students to connect their growing understanding of scientific methods either to a topic relevant to society and the human experience or to an area of knowledge or mode of inquiry outside the natural sciences and mathematics. In this way, SP courses are multi-disciplinary in focus. Because empirical methods and quantitative reasoning are used in a variety of disciplines, the topics of the SP courses span the study of the physical world, biological processes, human behavior, mathematical methods, and technological innovations. SP courses provide an illustration of the application of the scientific method through an active learning, problem-oriented experience for students.

The courses listed below can be used to fulfill the Scientific Perspectives (SP) component of the Liberal Arts Core Curriculum. MATH 102 (CORE 143S), COSC 100 (CORE 126S), and COSC 150 (CORE 142S) are currently crosslisted as Scientific Perspectives courses; however, these courses may not be used to satisfy both the Areas of Inquiry and Core SP requirements. Check the course offerings posted online each term for additional Scientific Perspectives offerings as well as selected first-year seminars that may fulfill this requirement.

100S  Sports and the Scientific Method
K. Segall
In today’s world of sports, how is knowledge obtained? On what principles are strategy determined, personnel decisions made, and honors awarded? The advent of computers and the availability of large statistical databases have moved the source of knowledge away from conventional wisdom to more scientific and testable ideas. Questions of strategy and team decisions can now be addressed in an empirical fashion, causing a major impact in sports. Behind this revolution lies the scientific method of inquiry, including the notion of falsifiability and the relationship between theory and observation. This course explores these ideas using examples in sports to illustrate more general scientific concepts. Students explore the impact of empirical knowledge on the games themselves, and how it has caused changes in strategies and team decisions. Finally, the students ask their own sports questions and answer them in a scientific fashion.

101S  Energy and Sustainability
P. Crotty, M.E. Parks
Our current use of energy is unsustainable. Fossil fuels, which were deposited on Earth over hundreds of millions of years, will largely be exhausted over the course of just a few hundred years. Global climate change makes our situation even more unsustainable — we need to stop using fossil fuels long before they run out if we want to avoid catastrophic environmental change. This course takes a quantitative approach to learning about our current energy use, so that students can understand how our personal choices and lifestyles affect energy use. We also discuss how we might meet our energy needs in the future through renewable resources: what technologies are available now, what are their costs, and how much energy can they provide.

102S  Molecules, Energy, and Environment
A. Chianese, Q. Shen
When reduced to fundamentals, virtually all of our environmental problems deal with chemicals in the wrong place: noxious and reactive gases in our atmosphere, insecticides and toxic metals in our ground and drinking water, and spilled nuclear wastes. Unfortunately, many citizens in our society do not understand the fundamentals of these environmental problems. This course — designed for students without experience in other university-level science courses — explores the chemistry behind some of our more pressing environmental dilemmas. Topics include some consequences of fossil fuel combustion (the greenhouse effect, acid rain, urban smog), the ozone hole, nuclear energy/wastes, and ground water contamination. The emphasis is on the science behind these problems, what we know about how the problems have come about, and what we can do, if anything, to ease the problems. This course is for the student who has not taken college-level chemistry, but is concerned about our threatened environment.

103S  Remote Sensing of the Environment
P. Scull
Remote sensing is the art and science of obtaining information about a phenomenon through a device that is not in contact with the object. The remote sensing process involves collection and analysis of data about energy, reflected from or emitted by an object. Remote sensing is used to better understand, measure, and monitor features and human activities on Earth. After an introduction to the interplay among science, technology, and remote sensing, students examine the development of remote sensing technology. Students focus on the physical principles upon which remote sensing is based, explore the basic tools of photography and photograph interpretation, and consider the principles of acquiring and interpreting data collected by non-photographic sensors. Throughout the semester, students consider how remote sensing has improved our understanding of biophysical processes using a case-study approach to demonstrate the theoretical underpinnings. Finally, consideration is given to the ethical implications of remote sensing.

104S  Fundamental Quests in Science: From Subatomic to Cosmological
E. Galvez
Where are we? What are we made of? How do we know? These are fundamental questions in science. This course explores these questions via several topics of much research in science today. It looks at fundamental questions at the cosmological scale, like the big bang, the structure of the universe, birth and death of stars, and the nature of black holes; and then inward to fundamental questions in the subatomic world, made up of baryons, mesons, leptons, and quarks. The exercise shows that the properties of elementary particles and their interactions are intimately tied to the cosmological questions. The discussion centers on what we know about these topics and how we investigate them. An important component of this course is the discussion of the outstanding puzzles today, like dark matter in the universe, the missing energy fueling its expansion, and whether certain fundamental particles exist or not. In exploring these questions the course provides an introductory coverage of the major physical theories: Newtonian mechanics, quantum mechanics, and relativity. How do these questions affect society and humanity? The course also examines some of the current controversies and debates.

105S  The Science and Potential Implications of Nanotechnology
R. Geier
Imagine repairing your body without surgery and no longer burning fossil fuels. Imagine enjoying abundance with no manufacturing costs and taking an elevator to the moon. Imagine also the loss of all personal privacy and the irreversible poisoning of the environment. Such are the hopes, hype, and fears of nanotechnology — the study of materials and devices with dimensions on the nanoscale (1 x 10-9m, the realm of assemblies of molecules). This course provides an introduction to the science and potential implications of molecular nanotechnology. Scientific and sensationalist visions of nanotechnology are critically examined through a combination of readings, lectures, discussions, and presentations. The course forges an appreciation for the nanoscale, an understanding of the excitement and the challenges, and an awareness of the societal and ethical implications. Through the lens of nanotechnology, students gain insights applicable to the broad landscape of emerging technologies and their potential impacts.

106S  Saving the Appearances: Galileo, the Church, and the Scientific Endeavor
J. Bary
Four hundred years ago, Galileo Galilei turned his modest telescope skyward. The universe he discovered was a stark contrast to the universe described by the ancient Greek philosophers whose cosmology had held sway for over a millennium. Some 60 years after the publication of Copernicus’ Death, Galileo used his new found insights to support the heliocentric model of the universe, challenging both the authority of Aristotelian cosmology and the doctrine of the Catholic Church. This episode in the history of western science and the development of the Church is often cited as one of the original clashes between modern science and religious traditions. The discoveries, writings, and trial of Galileo will serve as both a focus and backdrop for students to explore the practical development of scientific thought and the evolution of the Church. In this course students repeat many of the observations Galileo made using a hand-held telescope similar to the one he built.

108S  The Story of Colorants
P. Jue
Colors are all around and people tend to take them for granted. Throughout history, humans have employed colors in artistic and creative expression, particularly in jewelry, ceramics, textile and metal art and in paintings. Some colorants occur naturally. Other colorants are manufactured, and thus the result of scientific and industrial development. In this course, students explore the history and material science of colorants. The interplay between artistic expression and science/technological discovery is considered with emphasis on the materials used in textile art and in paintings. In the process, students learn how science can be used to authenticate artwork. Is a work of art an original by a “famous artist,” have parts been reworked by someone else, or is it a forgery? In addition to lectures and discussions, students participate in small group hands-on projects.

110S  Discovering Biology
N. Pruitt
This course examines the major questions that have informed human understanding of the living world over the past 150 years. The course begins with perhaps the oldest biological question of all: why are there so many living things? It shows how Charles Darwin’s brilliant answer forms the foundation for much of modern biology. By following the path of discovery leading from Darwin, students learn about a devout monk named Gregor Mendel, a feisty chemist named Louis Pasteur, and two brash young scientists named Watson and Crick. The course explores the great diversity of life and how organisms adapt and change. The approach is student-active and hands-on; students work together to unravel a few of the mysteries of life. This course is intended for those who are interested in biology but probably will not choose to major in the life sciences.

111S  The Artful Brain: An Exploration in Neuro-aesthetics
B. Hansen
This course consists of an exploration in the aesthetic experience of art as it relates to the sensory and perceptual mechanisms of the brain. Many of the topics discussed in the course are centered on the view that the function of art and the function of the visual brain are one and the same. Students thus consider that the aims of the artist in rendering a particular piece of art essentially constitute an extension of the processes of the visual brain. By taking this point of view (through an introductory understanding of the sensory and perceptual processes of the visual brain) students discuss possible outlines of a theory of aesthetics that is biologically based. Students are required to read chapters from different textbooks devoted to sensory and perceptual processes as they relate to visual art, as well as review articles from professional journals.

114S  Ecology, Ethics, and Wilderness
P. Pinet
This course explores the ways in which scientific concepts, such as deep geologic time and Earth history, biological evolution and co-evolution, and ecosystem dynamics can inform humans about radical moral stances (e.g., biocentrism, deep ecology). Also, the course investigates whether a scientific perspective, in and of itself, is sufficient to resolve pressing environmental problems, most of which are the outcome of complex social, economic, political, philosophical, and historical forces that operate on regional and global scales.

115S  Brains and Tongues: How Do We Acquire Language?
Y. Hirata
This course explores how infants and adults acquire native and foreign languages. What goes on in the brains of new-born infants before they discover the meanings of words? What might be the linguistic and social consequence of acquiring an English dialectal accent, distinguishing or not distinguishing between Mary, merry, and marry? Why do some adults succeed in learning a second language, while others do not? Why are some Japanese unable to tell the difference between rice and lice? When a girl had no contact with a language speaking community, is she able to acquire her first language after puberty? Are bonobo chimpanzees able to learn human language? Students read books and articles that address these issues, watch films and have some direct experience of learning a difficult second language. Physiological, linguistic, psychological, and social factors that determine whether one succeeds or fails to acquire native and foreign languages are discussed.

116S  Critical Analysis of Health Issues: AIDS
J. Yoshino
The course examines the epidemiology of AIDS in the United States and in students’ hometowns. The readings introduce students to the history, politics, science, and public health issues of the disease. Students examine their perceptions about AIDS by collecting and analyzing articles from their local newspapers, after obtaining the demographic breakdown of the AIDS cases in their hometowns. Correlative statistics are used to determine what factor (race, income, educational attainment, etc.) correlates with the incidence of AIDS. Lastly, the students develop public policy statements for the prevention and treatment of AIDS in their hometowns.

118S  Gems
R. April
Gems and precious stones have been the objects of fascination and delight for thousands of years. They have been worn as adornments and amulets to bring their wearer strength and invincibility, health and luck, love and wisdom. Gems have been portrayed as having magical powers, and the desire to own these crystalline droplets of beauty has led to murder and intrigue, theft and deception, wars and suffering. This course examines the origin, history, myths, and lore of diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and emeralds, as well as a score of other precious stones. Students study their physical, crystallographic, and optical properties; how they form; and where they are found. They assess the cost — in environmental degradation and human lives — to extract gems from the Earth, and read about the brutal history and mysterious ways of the diamond business. Finally, students discuss and evaluate New Age claims for crystal healing and crystal power.

119S  Environmental Activism, Science, and the Arts
R. Turner
For several decades, artists using a variety of media have consciously been using their art to promote environmental activism. There is an even longer history of art reflecting and perhaps affecting people’s appreciation of and understanding of the relationships between humans and nature. Using examples from painting, photography, sculpture, music, film, dance, theater, poetry, and other media, including multimedia performances and installations, this course examines two questions about the relationships among environmental activism, science, and the arts. First, how do activist artists use scientific understanding in their environmental arts? Second, does activist environmental art affect environmental attitudes, perceptions, beliefs, and/or behavior? By addressing these questions, the course explores scientific perspectives, connects them to a topic outside the natural sciences and mathematics, and contrasts them with other ways of knowing.

120S  Earth Resources
W. Peck
Management of the Earth’s energy, mineral, and water resources is a subject of ongoing controversy and debate. This debate revolves around two related issues: the diminishing supply of some resources and the environmental cost of resource extraction and energy production. This course examines the origin and geologic setting of Earth’s resources, and how these factors influence resource exploration, extraction, and use. Environmental and economic aspects of resource extraction are explored. Students examine the public debate about resource management and conservation, as well as the roles of politics and the media in shaping this debate. This course emphasizes student-led discussions of case studies dealing with current resource-related topics. This course emphasizes student-led discussions of case studies dealing with current resource-related topics. The purpose of this course is to create a framework in which resource issues can be evaluated, integrating the scientific and social issues inherent in resource development.

122S  Life in the Universe: A Cosmic Perspective
T. Balonek
This course examines the historical debate on the concept of whether extraterrestrial life exists. Students examine what astronomy and physics tell about the origin and evolution of the Universe, the production of elements that make up living matter on Earth, the evolution of stars like the Sun, and the formation of solar systems. Also examined are the astronomical, geological, chemical, and biological conditions that were responsible for the origin and evolution of life on Earth, and speculate about the possibility of life on other planets in our solar system or on planets around other stars. How would one detect the presence of life on other planets in the solar system; in the galaxy? The development of intelligent life and the possibility of contact between civilizations are examined.

123S  Climate Change and Human History
A. Leventer
As the “Global Warming Summit” made clear, anthropogenic activity has the potential to dramatically alter global climate. The increased introduction of greenhouse gases, sulfate aerosols, and dust through human activities may result in a variety of regional responses, including warming and cooling, changes in precipitation and drought patterns, and rising sea level. Climate change as a force driving human history, however, is not unique to the 20th century. The primary objectives of this course are to present case studies that demonstrate the strong role of climate in driving human evolution, adaptation, and societies; and to assess the relationship between climate forcing and man, with a view toward understanding the potential consequences of modern anthropogenic impacts.

124S  Cells and Human Development
K. Belanger
The fusion of sperm and egg cells to form a single-celled zygote is the initial step in development in most multi-cellular organisms. In humans, repeated divisions of this single fertilized egg are responsible for the production of more than 70 trillion cells of greater than 200 different types. In this course students examine how a fertilized egg undergoes division, how the stem cells produced by these divisions become “determined” to form cells of particular types, and how these determined cells finally differentiate into the highly specialized cells that make up most tissues and organs. Students also explore the relationship between cells and developmental patterns, and investigate how genetic and environmental factors can influence (and alter) cell fate. Biological, social, and ethical aspects of the human manipulation of development are also considered, including examination of such topics as in vitro fertilization, reproductive technology, cloning, fetal surgery, stem cells, and embryonic gene therapy.

126S/126SL  Computers in the Arts and Sciences
This course is crosslisted as COSC 100/100L. For course description, see “Computer Science: Course Offerings.”

128S  Global Change and You
C. Cardelús
Our planet is currently undergoing a level of abiotic and biotic change that is unprecedented in recent history and the scientific consensus is that it is anthropogenic. This course introduces students to the recent data on climate change and inferred causes and consequences of that change. Throughout the course, the way in which humans influence these changes and also the ways in which these changes impact humans are explored. The main focus of the course is the carbon cycle, specifically on human energy consumption, food production, and water use, and how they are linked to biodiversity loss. The many sides of issues (e.g., biofuels) are explored and debated throughout the course. The immediate consequences of global change are demonstrated in a required weekend fieldtrip to the Adirondacks in the third week of the classes to learn about the effects of pollution and climate on our local ecosystems.

129S  Dangerous Earth: Science of Geologic Disasters
M. Wong
Geologic disasters, such as floods, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions, serve as dramatic reminders of the power of nature and the catastrophic impact that these disasters have on society. As recent events such as the 2003 tsunami in Sumatra demonstrate, these disasters can exact a terrible cost in both economic terms and loss of life. Society has a clear interest in understanding what causes these disasters and how to reduce their impact on human populations. Geology provides a scientific framework for understanding the potential risks and effects of geologic disasters. This course examines the science behind four disasters that pose major risks to society: floods, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and meteoric impacts. Students examine significant case studies to understand the types of data collected to study these disasters, ambiguities in the data, and how risk is estimated. Students also examine potential ways to reduce the damage caused by such hazards and the scientific, economic, political, and societal implications of these approaches.

130S  Rejected Knowledge
J. Godwin
“Rejected Knowledge” refers to things known, by whatever process and persons, that do not fit orthodox paradigms of belief and are therefore commonly excluded from academic consideration. The course examines such topics as the evidence for prehistoric high civilizations, the claims of parapsychology, UFO myths, and paranormal phenomena. What are the reasons for their exclusion, and how can the scientific method, properly employed, help in their investigation?

133S  Sex, Drugs, and Chocolate
F. Frey
This course explores the many tasty, interesting, useful, mystical, and illegal uses of plants. Starting with basic plant biology, this course provides a framework for understanding where plant products come from, and then rapidly shifts to human-plant interactions. Course topics include the history of agriculture and its effects on land use and the environment, the origin of common crops, historical and modern human uses of plants, as well as the chemistry, pharmacology, and history of drug use. Current botanical issues such as transgenic crops, ownership of genetic stock material, and bioprospecting are discussed. Students emerge from this course with a new appreciation for what people eat, drink, smoke, and wear.

134S  The Sixth Extinction
C. Soja
The fossil record reveals that Earth has experienced five cataclysmic events, or mass extinctions, which in each instance had a profound effect on its history by redirecting the course of evolution. As detectives attempting to solve the world’s greatest murder mysteries, students of this course examine when each of these catastrophic events occurred, what caused ecosystems and evolutionary processes to be disrupted, why and where biological diversity was greatly diminished, and who survived to begin the evolutionary repair of life during subsequent recovery and radiation phases. In the final part of the course, students use their knowledge of these past events to hypothesize about and investigate the severity of the Sixth Extinction. The course addresses modern conservation practices and specific actions that hope to enhance the future existence of a biologically diverse planet.

136S  Critical Analysis of Health Issues: Cancer
G. Gogel, E. Hagos
This course examines cancer as a disease and as a public health issue. The readings concern the epidemiology of cancer, research to discover causes, research to discover treatments of cancer, psychological responses to life-threatening illness, and methods for preventing cancer. In workshops, students study the logic and methods used by scientists to identify the causes of cancer and to formulate methods of treatment and prevention. The workshops include analysis of statistical correlations between cancer incidence and suspected causes. Finally, students examine in detail a suspected cause of cancer, a treatment for cancer, a method of prevention, or a topic related to personal responses to life-threatening illness, and present their findings in a poster session.

137S  Mind, Body, and Health
A.J. Tierney
The relationship between the mind and the body has been a topic of speculation and controversy through human history. This course explores this relationship by examining how psychological and social factors influence human health. Proponents of Western medicine have frequently dismissed a mind-body link as folklore; others, especially writers for the popular media, have claimed that the mind has miraculous power to cure disease. In recent years, scientists have conducted numerous studies aimed at discovering how thoughts and emotions actually influence physical health, and what mechanisms underlie this influence. Students evaluate this literature, learning about the effects of beliefs, emotional states (depression, anxiety), personality characteristics, and stress on people’s susceptibility to and recovery from illnesses. Students also explore literature suggesting that psychological approaches can prevent or treat physical conditions. By doing hands-on experimentation, students learn how to measure stress and even how to control their own physiological responses to it. The course emphasizes the value and limitations of using Western scientific methodology to gain knowledge, and contrasts this approach with ideas from “alternative” and Eastern approaches to medicine.

138S  The Advent of the Atomic Bomb
K. Harpp
This course examines the scientific evolution of nuclear weapons and the historical context in which they were developed. World War II made urgent the exploitation of atomic power for military purposes. Topics include the scientific thought that made harnessing nuclear power possible, the political pressure that shaped that process, the ramifications of the bomb for science and politics during and immediately after the war, and the subsequent impact of nuclear bomb use on the population and the environment. The course includes consideration of post-WWII developments of nuclear weapons, weapons testing, and nuclear power generation, with an emphasis on their environmental impact.

139S  Election Methods and Voting Technology
C. Nevison
How should we elect our president and other officials? What is the best way to cast and record our votes? This course surveys different methods of conducting elections. We develop tools to assess the fairness of our election methods in this country and how they might make policy decisions related to elections. These policies concern the ways of casting our votes (voting technology) and the election methods. One part of the course compares different ways of electing candidates and the mathematical theory behind these methods. The second part of the course considers different ways that votes can be cast. This includes the history of different methods of voting and their vulnerability to fraud. This leads to current debates about voting technology: How effective are different modern systems, such as electronically scanned ballots and direct recording electronic (DRE) voting machines, for accurately and securely recording votes and protecting against voting fraud?

140S  Language and Cognition
N. Stolova
What is the relationship between language and cognition? To answer this question this course explores the interrelation between verbal expression and such cognitive faculties as bodily experience, imagination, memory, categorization, and abstract thought. The study of language as a cognitive phenomenon is a relatively new discipline. It originated in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Since then, cognitive linguistics has been a rapidly growing field that has both benefited from and contributed to its allied disciplines of cognitive psychology, cognitive anthropology, and cognitive neuroscience. The course begins by examining the advantages and shortcomings of the cognitive perspective on the different levels of language (e.g., sounds, words, sentences, texts, etc.). Students explore the connections of cognitive linguistics with the related fields that are broadly referred to as the “cognitive sciences.” No background in linguistics is required, but interest in linguistics is expected.

142S  Contemporary Issues in Computer Science
This course is crosslisted as COSC 150. For course description, see “Computer Science: Course Offerings.”

143S  Introduction to Statistics
Introduces students to statistical thinking by examining data collected to solve real-world problems. A wide range of applications are considered. Topics include experimental design, descriptive statistics, the normal curve, correlation and regression, probability theory, sampling, the central limit theorem, estimation, hypothesis testing, paired observations, and the chi-square test. Particular emphasis is given to the models that underlie statistical inference. Prerequisite: three years of secondary school mathematics. Note: This course is not open to students who have either received credit for or are currently enrolled in MATH 317. This course is no longer crosslisted as MATH 102.

145S  Mind and Brain in Meditation
R. Braaten
Dhyana, Ch’an, Zazen, Meditation: These are all words for the ancient practice of mindful sitting. This simple practice has endured for millennia and has thrived in a wide variety of cultures. To the Western mind, this practice of “doing nothing” is full of paradox. In this course students explore the practice, both academically and experientially. They study the effects of meditation on the structure and function of the brain, and on psychological measures of concentration, cognition, consciousness, and well-being. The course seeks explanations from research on mind, brain, and behavior, for how “doing nothing” can have such profound effects. Students sit regularly in meditation and use themselves as subjects of their own research on the effects of meditation. This course should give students a better understanding of psychology, scientific research, and meditation, and no previous experience with any of these is necessary to fully participate in the course.

146S  The Good Life: Perspectives from Psychological Science
R. Shiner
Throughout history, men and women have been captivated by questions of what constitutes the “good life” and how such a life can be cultivated. What is the nature of human happiness, joy, and pleasure? How can people most effectively cope with the inevitable difficulties faced in life? Are some people simply born more content than others? How are happiness and life satisfaction affected by health, relationships, material wealth, culture, habits of thought, and spiritual practice? This course focuses on how contemporary psychological research can be used to answer these enduring questions. Students read original research articles on these topics and gain hands-on experience collecting and analyzing data. Throughout the course, students are helped to recognize the strengths and limitations of the scientific method for approaching questions such as these, and students are encouraged to articulate their own emerging views of what constitutes a life worth living.

147S  The Underside of the Internet
J. Sommers
The internet is the communication medium of today. It reaches nearly all corners of the globe and is relied upon daily by millions of financial transactions, information sharing, massive multi-player games, and near-instant communication. Yet its unprecedented growth has not come uncontested and without significant techno-scientific and socio-political challenges. Through readings, lecture, discussion, and in-class laboratory sessions, this course introduces students to problems and possible solutions across three facets of the internet’s underside: (1) its technical and scientific underpinnings, (2) environmental problems that have been fueled in part by its rapid worldwide growth, and (3) global security threats that have arisen due to its lack of integrated security mechanisms. Students are expected to be proficient users of the web and of word processing and/or spreadsheet software, but no programming experience is necessary. Not open to students who have completed COSC 130.

149S  The Scientific Study of Willpower
R. Conti
Willpower allows people to delay gratification, resist temptations, and reach challenging long-term goals. This course is devoted to the study of this unique human capacity to regulate behavior. Students explore the psychological mechanisms underlying willpower from a scientific perspective. While reading relevant theoretical and empirical works, students test the ideas under study through laboratory exercises. Discussions explore the broader implications of research findings and apply these principles to the self-regulatory challenges that one faces every day. Assignments focus on developing strong writing and scientific-reasoning skills, and gaining useful insight into one’s own motivational tendencies. A final research project allows students to investigate empirically an original idea on the nature of willpower.

150S  Linguistics: Data, Theory and Experiments
Y. Hirata, A.D. Nakhimovsky
Language is by far the most important means of communication among humans and the central cognitive ability separating them from the rest of the animal kingdom. Linguistic activity is all-pervasive and forms the foundation of all other high-level symbolic activities. At the same time, many aspects of this activity remain deeply mysterious. How did the language ability come about? Why is it that children learn their first language with such ease, while most adults have great difficulties learning a second one? How is it possible to learn such a complex set of rules in such a short time, on the basis of a very small corpus of data, much of it grammatically incorrect? These and other questions form the subject matter of the field of linguistics and are explored in this course.

154S  Caribbean Ecology and Environmental Concerns
A. Baptiste
When we think of the Caribbean, the first images that come to mind are beautiful, clear, blue oceans, white sandy beaches, never-ending sunshine, and perpetual serenity with laid-back populations. Yet these images do not capture the presence of the myriad ecological and social concerns of the region. What are the different ecological settings of these islands, ranging from the terrestrial to the marine? What are the human-environment interactions within these ecological contexts? How have these interactions led to stressors within the ecological settings, and what are the implications of these stressors? This course seeks to address how these questions are answered through the use of science and also seeks to highlight some of the limitations of science when contending with complex ecological and social systems, using the Caribbean region as the area of focus.

156S  Drugs, Brain, and Behavior
S. Kraly
Drugs, used recreationally and medicinally, can have physiological and behavioral consequences that are important to both the individual and society. The processes in the brain and nervous system that mediate drug-induced effects on behavior and physiology are examined with emphasis on the strategies and methods used to evaluate, scientifically, the effects of drugs. This course is designed for students with no background in the field of neuroscience.

158S  Molecules That Rock Your World
E. Nolen
How could a collection of atoms, tethered together to form molecules, have played such important roles in colonization, health, environment, lifestyle, and so forth? We will look at 13 of the most intriguing molecules in history. As we explore these interesting histories, we will catalogue a few of the relevant scientific observations and molecular structures that give rise to the important characteristics of particular “world rocking” molecules. Molecular modeling, demonstrations, and lab-like exercises will illustrate the connection between structure and function. Students will also suggest and research other molecules that have impacted history or might be projected to have a profound influence in the future.

159S  Ecology and the Quality of the Environment
R. Fuller
A mix of interlocking problems is reaching crisis levels on our planet, which is the only home for us and a rich diversity of other life forms. The bad news is the growing evidence that we are depleting the Earth’s natural capital at unprecedented and accelerated rates by living in ways that are eventually unsustainable. This seminar introduces students to a variety of ecological principles that explain the nature of the environment. Topics include human population dynamics, matter and energy resources, ecosystems, and others. The master ecological concepts are applied to current world environmental problems to help explain water pollution, hazardous waste disposal, renewable and nonrenewable resources, etc. Environmental degradation and pollution are approached from an ecological perspective, but students also search environmental ethics and economic and political aspects for potential solutions.

160S  Psychology of Sport and Exercise
D. Johnson
Knowledge and beliefs related to sport and exercise behaviors are based on a variety of approaches, ranging from superstition to the scientific method. This information is also variously transmitted, ranging from verbal folklore, popular media, textbooks, and peer-reviewed science journals. Sport and exercise psychology is the scientific study of human behavior as it relates to sport and exercise. It forms an excellent canvas on which to view, comparatively, the strengths and weaknesses of using the scientific method to address issues of practical importance. This course provides a broad overview of sport and exercise psychology, explicitly addressing the scientific perspective. This course requires no prior exposure to psychology and makes no assumptions regarding prior athletic experiences.

162S  Foodwise
J. Chanatry, R. Metzler
Food is essential for all of us to survive but we often take food and food preparation for granted. Have you ever wondered why some food tastes as it does or how food preparation can alter the taste of consistency of a dish? What is a balanced diet and why do we strive to have one? In this course students explore how understanding the science of food and cooking enhances our enjoyment of it as well as our benefit from it. Students look at the history and culture of human nourishment, and explore some controversial aspects of food and food technology, such as use of additives, genetically modified organisms, and diets and weight loss programs. If you have an appetite for learning or are just food motivated, this course may appeal to your senses.

163S  This Old Earth: Scientific and Cultural Perspectives on the Discovery of Deep Time
W. Peck
The antiquity of the Earth is geology’s most important contribution to science. In the late 18th and 19th centuries new findings about the Earth’s history and fossil record came into conflict with religious and cultural understandings of creation, evolution, and the place of man in the universe. These issues have been debated since Darwin first articulated his theory of evolution by natural selection. More recently, controversy over anthropogenic climate change has provoked similar questions: How long has our present climate lasted, and what has been the scale of climate change in the past? Knowledge of the Earth’s vast age has reached past scientific debates and influenced all aspects of life, including religion, poetry, art, and architecture. In this course, students explore the changing cultural and scientific views of the age of the Earth and how these longstanding debates influence how science is seen by non-scientists.

164S  Shifting Boundaries of Science and Law
C. Henke
If a researcher makes a billion dollars selling cells from a person’s spleen, does that person deserve a cut? Should a scientist be allowed to patent an oil-slick-eating microorganism? Who counts as an “expert witness”? According to the U.S. Supreme Court, the answers are “no,” “yes,” and “it depends”; and each of these decisions has brought the domains of science and law together in complex and often conflicting ways. This course explores the interaction of science and law in the context of 20th- and 21st-century U.S. society, drawing on a number of legal decisions and policy issues. Students present data for both a mock trial and a mock policy hearing, submitting papers based on their experiences with these projects and in relation to the course materials.

165S  The (Ir)rationality of Everyday Decisions
C. Castilla
For a long time, economics has assumed that individuals are perfectly rational in the sense that they are able to process an unlimited amount of information, make complex decisions, and predict future outcomes. The finding of a significant set of anomalies has prompted economists to seek for explanations outside of the perfect rationality model. The emerging field of behavioral economics is the result of relaxing the assumption of perfect rationality in modeling individual decision making. The course provides students the opportunity to think about their own decision-making process, compare it to what has been found in the literature, and then apply this knowledge to the application of the scientific method to examine a hypothesis of their own. The course provides students the opportunity to think about their own decision-making process, compare it to what has been found in the literature, and then apply this knowledge to the application of the scientific method to examine a hypothesis of their own by running a field experiment on campus. This course requires no prior exposure to economics or statistics.

166S  The Air Up There
J. Levine
Weather and climate command our attention because they deeply affect life on Earth. Now more than ever, life on Earth also affects atmospheric conditions, with vitally important scientific, political, cultural, and ethical implications. Course readings, discussions, and lectures examine the atmosphere from microscopic and macroscopic points of view, exploring the atomic basis for atmospheric properties such as pressure, temperature, and transparency; investigating the physical processes behind weather patterns and disturbances; and examining some of the complexities of global climate change. The course emphasizes interactions between the atmosphere and humans, as well as interactions between science and other human endeavors. Students better their understanding of the atmosphere, weather phenomena, climate change, and the power and limitations of scientific inquiry. A term project allows students to study an atmospheric phenomenon of their choosing and to strengthen their knowledge through written, oral, and visual presentations.

168S  Stem Cells, Gene Therapy, and Bionics: The Making and Remaking of the Human Body
J. Meyers
This course examines several topics on the cutting edge of regenerative science. It initially focuses on the body’s ability to repair itself. Students examine the nature of stem cells, as well as the limitations and potential for future work with these cells. The course then explores how gene therapy techniques have the potential to repair a wide variety of genetic disorders, but may also bring about the possibility of selective improvement in normally functioning bodies. Finally, students look at how scientists are developing techniques to grow organs in the laboratory to replace damaged or injured organs, and how bionic parts are being investigated increasingly as alternatives to biological replacements. Along the way, the class considers the ethical and social concerns that surround each of these approaches, and explores whether current definitions of humanity will apply well to a future where we can increasingly manipulate fundamental aspects of the human body.

170S  Media Effects
A. Simmons
This course uses a social scientific approach to examine the effects that media exposure has on audience members. Students develop an understanding of how the media affects audience members’ physiology, cognition, beliefs, attitudes, affective states, and behavior. Key media topics studied include violence, sex, politics, and portrayals of groups. Key types of media studied include television, music, video games, and social media.

172S  The Biology of Women: Sex, Gender, Reproduction, and Disease
P. VanWynsberghe
Myths regarding the female body have been circulating for centuries and still influence human behavior throughout the world. Though female and male anatomies differ, the underlying genetic material of each is very similar. This course investigates the historical and environmental construction of gender, the biological aspects of sex, the unique characteristics of female anatomy and reproduction, and the effect of sexually transmitted diseases and cancer on female health. Lectures, discussions, and in-class exercises explore the scientific methods used to acquire our current understanding of hormonal signaling, genetic inheritance, development, microbial pathogenesis, and cell biology that underlie these topics. Social and ethical issues that exist and are raised by the biological differences between males and females are also discussed, including hormonal therapy, in vitro fertilization, prenatal genetic testing, female genital mutilation, and the use of birth control to prevent AIDS transmission. This course is open to both men and women.

174S  Applied Natural History
J. Watkins
Perhaps Janine M. Benyus says it best: “For the 99 percent of the time we’ve been on Earth, we were hunter and gatherers, our lives dependent on knowing the fine, small details of our world. Deep inside, people still have a longing to be reconnected with the nature that shaped our imagination, our language, our song and dance, our sense of the divine.” Yet as our lives become more digital, we become less connected to the natural world. This perilous journey results in an erosion of our sense of place and a disconnect from our deepest roots. This course focuses on connecting students to the natural world. Together students develop the skills to read modern landscapes and use both plant and animal analyses to interpret the history and ecology of forested regions. Students become familiar with Hamilton’s local ecosystems and some of the more unusual regional ecosystems of central NY. Whereas students largely focus on plants, the course exposes them to techniques of plant, insect, and animal collection and identification. Students read extensively from the primary and secondary literature and spend considerable time thinking about how humans interact with their natural world. They look to other cultures and how they use plants and animals for spiritual and curative purposes. Finally, students put together conservation strategies for one of Hamilton’s most unusual and threatened habitats: the carnivorous plant bog.

175S  The Science of Drinking: Methods in Alcohol Research
J. Martinez
Even before the dawn of written history, humans left evidence that they enjoyed alcohol. Despite this long history, though, there is still much to be learned about alcohol and its consumption. For example, why do people drink? When is drinking considered a problem? How can alcohol problems be addressed and treated? While topics like these can often be influenced by media events and political agendas, the goal of this course is to approach drinking from the perspective of scientific inquiry. The course explores recent theories of alcohol use and methods in alcohol research that are aimed at answering these three questions. Students engage in a real, ongoing intervention research project in partnership with the Shaw Wellness Institute.

Communities and Identities

Director P. Kaimal
Courses in the Communities and Identities (CI) component are designed to provide a textured understanding of identities, cultures, and human experiences in particular communities and regions of the world. They seek to examine critically the multiple forms of social life that contribute to the world’s cultural diversity, and to analyze the ways in which any one society functions as a unified whole and yet encompasses multiple, sometimes conflicting identities (based, for example, on gender, race, status, class, sexual identities, religion, and language). As investigations into a particular place and its extensions, they consider cultures and communities in their own right, with their own practices, histories, beliefs, and values, their own instantiations of modernity, and lastly, with their own capacities to produce and shape complex identities. Furthermore, because many of the societies that are the subject of study have had significant and enduring encounters with imperial powers or other forms of domination, these courses examine the tensions and permutations, asymmetries and alliances that such relationships have produced. Multidisciplinary in focus and materials, these courses explore the complex identities of persons through study of their geography, history, politics, and economics as well as their languages, literature, film, art, music, and religions. Students develop a comparative, historical frame of reference between the community being studied and the communities to which they belong.

163C  The Caribbean
K. Page
The archipelago of islands and mainland nations called the Caribbean constitutes a complex montage of races, ethnic groups, languages, and nations. Stretching from Guyana in South America to as far north as the Bahamas, minutes from the coast of Miami, the region is joined by a common history of slavery, imperialism, and resistant self-definition. This seminar studies literature, film, and music of the region to trace a socio-cultural history of the Caribbean. What are the continued effects of slavery and imperialism on the Caribbean? How does Afro-Creole culture in particular respond to these continued effects? How do tourism, advertising, music, and film inform/construct people’s relationship to the Caribbean in the global present? Students are assessed on the basis of a midterm and final exam, a research paper, and their contribution to class discussion.

164C  Argentina
E. Shever
From gauchos in the Pampa, to immigrants in Buenos Aires, to oil workers in Patagonia, Argentina offers a fascinating place to examine the creation, transformation and contestation of identities and communities. This course introduces students to some of the events, institutions, people and sites that have been important for the development of Argentina, from before the land’s European colonization, to the rise of populism, dictatorship and resistance in the 20th century, to neoliberal globalization in the current moment. In the process, students gain new ways to understand identity, community, nation, and culture, which they can use wherever they encounter people different from themselves. The course is interdisciplinary and draws from anthropology, history, geography, literature, film, and related disciplines.

165C  China
J. Crespi, D. Robinson, W. Shi, J. Wang, T. Zhou
China has the distinction of being one of the world’s oldest continuous cultures, with 5,000 years of rich, complex history. Today, it is also a rising international power with the second largest economy on the globe. CORE 165 approaches China not as a monolithic entity, but as a complicated place and people through diverse perspectives, including but not limited to history, economics, geography, literature, art, politics, environment, society, ethnicity, gender, migration, and diaspora. Students also gain indispensable research skills as they develop their own projects.

166C  India
P. Kaimal, E. Kent, N. Rajasingham, J. Balachandran
This course offers a wide-ranging and challenging introduction to contemporary India — its famed social, political and cultural diversity, its conflicts and contradictions, its literature and history. India as it is known today, with its population of more than a billion, is a recent creation, a product of the partition of the South Asian colonies of the British Raj (Empire). How has such a diverse region come together, and been held together, as one nation? How have its conflicts and contradictions — of class, caste, ethnicity, language, religion and politics — been managed by its rulers and politicians? How have these conflicts and contradictions been captured in novels and on film? The course goal is to subject the “Idea of India” to a detailed investigation, beginning in the present, and working through a process of excavation, discovery and critique.

167C  Japan
Y. Aizawa, Y. Hirata, T. Kato, D. Yamamoto
This course engages in dialogue with popular discourses, scholarly literature, and primary information sources of Japan and those who live in the island nation state. Much of the course focuses on key social and cultural issues that characterize contemporary Japan while also paying attention to its historical experiences and traditions that variably shape the present. The course examines such topics as changing ‘western’ views on the Japanese, diversity in Japanese society, socio-demographic challenges, literature and religion, Japanese political economy and globalization, societal response to natural disasters, and popular culture. The course employs a wide range of learning methods, including lecture, class discussion, films, hands-on experiences (e.g., calligraphy), and intensive projects which require students to collect, analyze and synthesize a wide range of scholarly and non-scholarly sources. Ultimately this course aims to nurture students’ ability to understand and empathize with the logic (and illogic), experiences, and emotions of the Japanese people; that is to say, to understand them as you would understand yourselves.

168C  The Arctic
M. Kagle
The circumpolar north spans three continents and eight countries, and encompasses numerous indigenous groups, but is unified by its distinct ecosystem. The region has held sway in the popular imagination as an isolated realm apart, but is in fact an integral part of global society that has both been influenced by outsiders and has influenced the cultures of the West for centuries. This course surveys the land and peoples of the circumpolar north, looking at both traditional cultures and the region’s current inhabitants. It is a multi-disciplinary course focused on the interactions of people and their environment which explores the region’s geography; indigenous cultures including lifeways, art, and stories; Western exploration of the circumpolar north and its impact on both indigenous people and Western cultures; and current challenges facing the region such as cultural disruption, the discovery of fossil fuels, and the impacts of climate change.

169C  Rwanda
S. Thomson
This course is a multidisciplinary examination of the ways in which community and identity have been formed, are politicized and remain relatively static over time. This is not a course about the 1994 genocide, but rather one about how such an event could have happened. This watershed event is historically situated and culturally contextualized as a way to study Rwanda’s past and the questions it raises about its future. The experience of Rwandans and consideration of how they understand themselves are analyzed. The course assesses the historical and social implications of being ethnic Hutu, Tutsi or Twa in Rwanda, whether at particular watershed moments — in for example 1894, 1931, 1959, or 1994 — or during periods of so-called ‘normalcy’ that the country has enjoyed in the past and is experiencing at the moment.

170C  Islamic North Africa
E. Spadola
This course surveys the varied ethno-national and religious identities and communities of Islamic North Africa, or “the Maghreb”: Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia, and sometimes Libya, Western Sahara, and Mauritania. The course briefly surveys pre-modern Maghreb history from the 7th century advance of Islam to 19th-century French colonialism. The course then focuses on the modern Maghreb from the colonial 19th century to the global 21st. Pursuing central CI themes, the course examines the region from “the natives’ point of view,” i.e., from North Africans’ perspectives on Islam and politics, European and American imperialism, authoritarianism and democracy, technological media, gender, and class. Central to this discussion are the recent Arab revolutions and their continuing aftermath.

171C  Mexico
C. Serna
This course is an interdisciplinary introduction to the history, people, art and cultures of Mexico, a country of diverse ethnic, sexual, gendered, class, and political identities that shares a 2,000-mile border with the United States. How does Mexico’s colonial past inform the present? On what terms has a Mexican national identity been defined and who is included or excluded from rights and citizenship? The objectives of Core Mexico are to examine Mexico’s complex history and social fabric; to study Mexican identities, politics, and cultural expressions with relation to this history; and to gain a general understanding of contemporary Mexico in the context of current events and Mexico’s relationship to the United States.

172C  California
L. Klugherz
This course examines the fabric of California’s syncretic cultures in historical, geographic, sociologic, artistic, racial, literary, political, and economic contexts. The diverse settlement patterns, environmental and economic challenge/opportunity, explosion of art forms, and continuous creation of new communities often foreshadowed trends of the entire nation. Readings explore major themes and issues of California history, while literary and personal narratives provide insight into social and political realities, including the struggles of successive waves of immigrants to interact with the established populations. Artistic and architectural expressions that document cultural phenomena offer tangible examples of the creative forces that shaped Californian intellectual and physical communities. Sociological case studies as well as economic, political, and environmental reporting assist students to understand the challenges, failures, and victories of the composite California culture. Underlying all of this is a continuous study of the variegated geography of California, which has both offered and required substantial human choices.

173C  Ethiopia
T. Etefa
This seminar surveys the culture, religion, communities, history, and socio-economic developments of Ethiopia from the ancient times to the modern period. Ethiopia is a home to over 80 ethnic groups with striking cultures that are distinct from Western traditions. Major themes include peoples and languages; traditional customs and beliefs; Christianity and Islam; marriages; community service organizations; literature, novels; education; ethnic relations; traditional art and music; colonial resistance; sports; socio-economic developments; natural resources usage; Ethiopia and Europe; the Ethiopian revolution; Ethiopian immigrants in the United States; traditional harmful practices; and politics. Emphasis is also given to contemporary issues. Lectures are supplemented by discussions, film presentation, group activity, and coffee ceremony.

174C  Multi-Ethnic Israel
A. Guez, S. Kepnes
This course examines the diverse society of Israel, and its transformation from “Melting Pot” to “Multi Ethnic Society.” It focuses on different Jewish and non-Jewish ethnic groups, their cultural traditions, and how ethnicity itself has played a central role in shaping Israeli society. The course begins with a study of the Zionist movement and the corresponding waves of immigration of Jews to Israel. Some issues addressed along the way include: the Zionist movement’s attitudes towards the ‘negation of the Diaspora,’ the ‘melting-pot approach’ to diversity, the range and types of ‘Sephardic protests’ that arose over the years and the politics of ethnicity as it has been witnessed in and through events like the rise of the ‘Shas’ (religious-political) Party. The objective of this course is to examine the political, sociological, and cultural implications of this demographic composition and how it manifests in contemporary Israel — in social life, music, film and popular culture.

176C  North American Indians
J. Kerber, C. Vecsey
This course provides an overview of North American Indians by drawing on case studies from four groupings: New England tribes; Iroquois; Cheyenne; and Pueblos. These cultures are studied in terms of their historical and political relationship to Anglo-American society and institutions, attending to Native Americans’ resistance to attempted conquest by European or American powers, the creation of reservation systems, and the use of institutions (e.g., the Bureau of Indian Affairs, schools, missions) to change Native American cultures. The course also examines the response of Native Americans to outside pressures. The course explores other issues, such as sovereignty, identity, gambling, repatriation, land claims, and education, and their impact on North American Indians. Videotapes and Native American artifacts are studied throughout the semester. Evaluation is based on a group presentation, three short essays, a research paper, a midterm and final exam, and class participation.

177C  Peru
M. Hays-Mitchell
This course is an interdisciplinary inquiry into the beliefs, values, institutions, practices and conditions of the diverse peoples who constitute the Latin American country of Peru. It begins by exploring the distinct geography and ecology of the central Andean region in order to understand how these features have shaped, and been shaped by, the societies of ancient and present-day Peru. This involves analyzing the evolution and organization of Pre-Columbian societies as well as the ideologies, institutions and practices introduced with the Spanish conquest and era of colonialism. Study of contemporary Peru juxtaposes rural and urban life and the ties between the two spheres. Specific issues include the internal armed conflict, the coca culture and cocaine economy, shantytowns and land invasions, oil extraction and indigenous resistance, among other compelling issues. Throughout the term, the course emphasizes the many paradoxes of this intriguing land.

178C  Korea
J. Palmer
This course is designed for students to explore the culture of Korea/Corea. In order to engage in critical learning and dialogue, the course looks at a wide range of academic and non-academic materials from an interdisciplinary approach. Thereby, throughout the semester the course delves into issues that have had a deep impact upon post-modern society, which include the cultural-historical and sociocultural foundations of Corea (i.e., social and political history and religious influence), international relations and influences on the economy, the social and political identities of North and South Corea, and current cultural structures of North and South Corea. Some of the topics covered in this class may include but are not limited to the Opening of Corea in 1882, Japanese colonial years (1910–1945), division and reunification of Corea (1945–present), the Korean War (1950–1953), North Korea’s Juche Policy, South Corea’s attempts at democracy and current governmental system, educational reform in South Corea, women’s movement in South Corea, and globalization’s impact on higher education in South Corea. The main objective is to draw the students’ interests towards understanding the world from multiple perspectives, the impacts globalization has upon these multiple systems and institutions, and their individual role in the ever changing world.

179C  Central Asia
M. Erley
Central Asia lies at the intersection of East and South Asian, Islamic, and European ecumenes. Yet Central Asia possesses a unique culture of its own, shared by nomads of the steppes and settled peoples of the oasis cities throughout the region constituted by the modern nation-states of Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. This course offers an introduction to this multiethnic, multinational community through the eyes of its participants, from medieval geographers to nomad bards to pan-Turkist revolutionaries and post-Soviet autocrats. This course approaches the region not only as a collection of nation-states but as a continuous cultural zone of shared religious, linguistic, and political traditions. This course takes a thematic, rather than chronological, approach to the region and its core concerns, examining such topics as the future of nomadism, Islamic cultural reform, national mythmaking, and the legacies of war, colonialism, and socialism.

183C  The Middle East
N. Khan, B. Rutherford, E. Spadola
This course is a multi-disciplinary introduction both to the region conventionally referred to as the Middle East, and also to the academic discipline of Middle Eastern Studies. In other words, it is a study of the people, region, religion, history, and culture of the region and also about the politics of studying that region. One of the presuppositions in this course is that a careful, rigorous, and critical study of cultural studies can help one understand one’s own assumptions, presuppositions, etc. Among the topics the course examines are the multiple interpretations of religion, including sects within Islam, that exist in the region, a variety of cultural practices and various languages, and the effect of imperialism and colonialism on the area. Readings include what current native commentators are saying on cultural, economic, and social debates.

184C  The Danube
M. Miller
The Danube is Europe’s second largest river: from its beginnings in the German Black Forest to the Romanian and Ukrainian shores where it meets the Black Sea, the Danube flows through and/or borders ten countries, while its watershed covers four more. The river serves as a unifying artery of economic, cultural, and international exchanges in the diverse region of central and southeastern Europe. The course structures its multidisciplinary inquiry around the river to examine the region’s longstanding history as a neglected, maligned, and contested multilingual, multicultural, and multinational space. Culturally mapping the region by focusing on the river’s peoples, their intertwined histories, and their cultural imaginaries, the course traces the turbulent history of the region from antiquity, with an emphasis on the 19th century up to the present, to explore the Danube as a quintessential site of cross-cultural engagement in the New Europe.

185C  The Sahara
J. Mundy
The Sahara has loomed large in the Western imagination yet it has rarely been understood on its own terms. The Sahara’s role in world history has been framed as a bridge or a barrier, the dividing line between Arab and African Africa. Such framings obscure the agency of the people in the Sahara and the land itself. This course explores the relationship between imagination and imperialism in the Sahara, problematizing the idea of objective and disinterested knowledge about the Other — other peoples, other places, and other histories. The central themes of this course are power, racism, and imperialism, which are examined through theories of Orientalism; neocolonialism and world systems theory; post-colonialism and subaltern studies; as well as feminist, gendered, and queer studies approaches.

187C  Russia at the Crossroads of East and West
D. Epstein, J. Graybill, I. Helfant, A.S. Nakhimovsky, N. Ries
This course covers Russian society, culture, and identity, past and present. Tracing Russia’s self-image and national identity through eras of Tsarism, revolution, social engineering, war, and societal transformations, it explores Russia’s distinctiveness, place in the world, collective struggles, successes, and challenges and how these are understood and contested by the country’s people themselves. Examining the roots of Russian identity, it considers the images of leaders from Peter the Great to Stalin to Vladimir Putin, as well as the cultural production and legacies of creative figures such as Alexander Pushkin. Another major focus is peoples’ everyday lives during political and social upheavals — asking what life was like during the Stalinist 1930s, through the traumas of World War II (“The Great Patriotic War”), Perestroika in the 1980s, and into the post-Soviet present. Students also learn about the dynamic ways that culture, history, politics and identity intertwine in any society.

188C  The Iroquois
C. Vecsey
This course examines the archaeology, culture, history, economics, religion, literature, arts, politics, law, and individual lives of the Iroquois (Haudenosaunee) Indians — Colgate’s closest Native American neighbors — from the period before European contact to the present day. The course places Iroquois experiences in North American Indian contexts (comparing the Iroquois, e.g., to the Cherokee), especially regarding the loss and persistence of tribal sovereignty; and investigates Iroquois relations with New York State and the United States, especially in regard to competing land claims.

189C  Africa
M. Moran
This course is an introduction to the interdisciplinary study of Africa and to the African Studies major and minor at Colgate. The goal is to introduce students to a major world area with which many, even highly educated, Westerners are unfamiliar. Africa is the original home of the human species, and the intellectual contributions of the continent and its people to the concept of a common humanity are tremendous, including agricultural and industrial technologies, artistic and aesthetic principles, and religious and philosophical ideas. However, due to early patterns of globalization and European colonization in the western hemisphere, the Atlantic slave trade, and ultimately colonialism on the continent itself, Africa was configured as “the Dark Continent” in European discourses of the 19th century. Today, most Americans picture Africa as a place of poverty, famine, war, disease, and political instability. This course strives for a more balanced and nuanced view of the continent as a whole.

190C  South Africa
J. Hyslop, R. Solomon
This class aims to provide students with an overview of the social, cultural, political and economic dynamics that have shaped life in South Africa. Students and faculty work together to better understand the way in which the country of South Africa came into being, how that national identity has been a site of struggle and contestation, particularly in the case of the struggle to overcome Apartheid, and how South Africans are working to overcome the legacy of racism and oppression that have marked much of the social and cultural experience of South Africa. In doing so, the course investigates the changing dynamics of race, gender, and culture in South Africa, with a particular focus on understanding the ways South Africans are actively reshaping and unsettling existing social identities and distinctions.

191C  Spain
A. Ríos-Rojas
This course covers diverse aspects of “Spanish” society, history, and culture, past and present. Tracing Spain’s cultural self-image and national identities through its encounters with war, fascism, democracy, and societal transformations during this global era, students explore its place in the world, its collective struggles, its encounters and negotiations of diversity, and how these have been understood and contested by “Spaniards” themselves. Drawing on fictional works, art, music, and ethnographic texts, a significant portion of the course examines peoples’ everyday lives in contexts of violence, war, and socio-cultural change. In sum, this course grapples with an inherent paradox in the study of “Spain”: the failure to create a homogenous national identity and a coherent, commonly shared historical memory.

193C  Brazil
H. Roller
This course examines communities and identities in Brazil, the largest nation in Latin America. It focuses on the formation of communities under the constraints of Portuguese colonialism, within slavery, in the vast interior of the country, under conditions of extreme violence and poverty, and in the realm of Brazil’s vibrant popular culture. Particular attention is paid to the role of individuals in forming and maintaining communities, and to the complex processes of regional and national identity formation. The course spans the colonial period to the present, with readings drawn from history, anthropology, literature, ethnography, and journalism, as well as a range of visual sources.

195C  West Africa
D. Koter
In contrast to Western journalists’ focus on Africa’s underdevelopment and widespread disease, West Africa stands out as an area of remarkably vibrant culture. West Africa has always been a space of much social interaction between its various peoples, with many shared cultural practices. In this course, students examine how the pre-colonial and colonial histories shaped social identities. Using an interdisciplinary approach, students analyze how people in West Africa express and reinvent their identities through art, music, dance, clothes, and food. The course draws further on film and literature to understand the specific experiences of West African peoples.

Global Engagements

Director J. Graybill
Living thoughtfully in the multicultural, globalized world of the 21st century requires critical engagement with complex phenomena and varied perspectives. Courses in this component provide the opportunity to analyze the conditions and consequences of human diversity in its local and transnational forms. To satisfy this requirement, each student will successfully complete a designated course that inquires into the ways that people seek to make sense of a diverse and increasingly interconnected world. Global Engagements (GE) courses come from departments and programs throughout the university, and they take a variety of forms. For instance, a course in this component might ask students to do one of the following:
  • examine the consequences of globalization in one or more of its many forms,
  • investigate issues or processes that have an impact that can be fully understood only by using a global perspective,
  • experience the cross-cultural understanding that comes from intensive language learning or study group participation,
  • cross boundaries by examining how diversity finds expression in human culture, or
  • consider human diversity in dimensions such as race, class, and gender.
Ultimately, the GE requirement seeks to empower students to live responsibly in contexts that require an understanding of the complexity of human beings and their impact, whether in the United States or in the broader world.

A Global Engagements course may count toward a student’s major or minor; it may also fulfill an Areas of Inquiry requirement. Students are expected to take at least one CI or GE course that is not focused exclusively on the United States.

Global Engagements courses will be identified in the registration materials available each semester.

Distinction Seminar in the Liberal Arts Core

Director J. Graybill
The goal of the distinction seminar is to complement honors work in departments and programs by giving select students the opportunity to reflect on the broader, interdisciplinary contexts of their honors projects. Through readings assigned by the seminar instructors, students explore the methodologies of their own and other disciplines. Each student writes a substantial interdisciplinary paper relevant to the student’s departmental honors work. This requirement may be satisfied in one of the following ways:
  1. by extending a departmental honors project to explore interdisciplinary perspectives on the project topic or to examine the social implications or historical foundations of the project;
  2. by self-consciously considering the generation and evaluation of knowledge in the major; or
  3. by collaborating with one or more members of the seminar to explore themes common to the students’ departmental projects.
To enroll in the distinction seminar, students must achieve a 3.33 (B+) or better GPA in the five Core components: Legacies of the Ancient World, Challenges of Modernity, Scientific Perspectives on the World, Communities and Identities, and Global Engagements. For students who repeat or complete multiple courses with a Common Core component, only the grade in the first course is considered. A cumulative grade for all Global Engagements courses completed is averaged in the Core GPA. To earn Distinction in the Liberal Arts Core, students must earn an A- or better in the distinction seminar, earn departmental honors with the completion of the department honors project, and achieve an overall GPA of 3.33 or better at the time of graduation.