Great Issues in Humanities
HSP 131 CRN 2367
10:10am – Noon
Tuesday & Thursday
Dr. Gene Cline
We focus on discourse about crucial value issues, including the meaning of life, our framing of life-and-death decisions (Who should live and who should die? Who decides? How should we talk about it?), how we talk about the "ultimate" value of human life in a world of finite resources that mandates trade-offs, whether it is better to develop a logic of comparison for answering value questions or whether it is better to insure that our values and actions simply "fit" our reflectively acceptable lives, and the like. Students are encouraged to develop their own philosophy of valuation, comparison, or action on topics of our mutual choosing. The professor is expected to be open to related topics from each student's areas of interest.
Great Issues in Science: 8 Big Ideas that Shaped Science
HSP 124 CRN 2163
1:10 – 2:00pm
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday
Dr. Mark Bollman
This course will examine eight major scientific ideas, each one of which has had a revolutionary impact on a particular area of science.
- Astronomy: Big Bang theory
- Biochemistry: DNA structure
- Biology: Evolution
- Chemistry: Periodic Law
- Computer science: Information theory
- Geology: Plate tectonics
- Mathematics: Non-Euclidean geometry
- Physics: Atomic structure
In several cases, students will read the original papers that reported the discovery. Laboratory work with Geometer's Sketchpad will be used to explore the world of hyperbolic geometry. Evaluation will be based on a sequence of short papers, a collection of laboratory reports from Sketchpad, and a substantial final project.
The reading list will include:
- The Discoveries, Lightman
- The Canon, Angier
- A Well-Ordered Thing, Gordin
- The Non-Euclidean Revolution, Trudeau
- The Double Helix, Watson
- The Origin Of Species, Darwin
- The Origin Of Continents And Oceans, Wegener
Great Issues in Fine Arts: From the Ballroom to Hell
Schubert's Vienna ca. 1815
HSP 172 CRN 2638
This course will look at Vienna around 1815—its background of Napoleonic war, politics, censorship, secret police, and rapidly changing society, as well as the diversions young people sought out to "escape" from unpleasant reality.
These diversions ranged from grand public spectacle (major concerts, opera, the theatre, grand balls, celebrity virtuosos) to the intimate salon and Schubertiade, held in private homes and including poetry, song, and tableaux.
To counter the horrors and chaos of war and the battlefield (where men reigned), the ballroom in particular became the dominion of the ladies, including the development of elaborate rituals and games concerning costume, etiquette and dance. In tandem with dramatic and rapid changes in dress from the French aristocratic model to the more free and form-revealing "Josephine" style, new and scandalous dances (such as the Waltz—but not at all the sedate version we know today!) developed. Ballroom "games" for choosing one's dance partner, including "The Mirror" and "Whips and Reins", frequently resulted in embarrassment and great hilarity. Secret messages could be sent to a lover through glove and handkerchief flirtations. All these activities were a form of "escape" within "safe" societal boundaries.
This class will study the political, social, and musical context in which all these reactions to the times developed. We will study the Congress of Vienna and read the diary of a Napoleonic footsoldier. We will read etiquette and dance manuals from the period, and look at historical costume and hairstyles. We will listen to music of Schubert and his contemporaries, and look at some of the poetry Schubert chose to set to music.
We will present our findings in a combination Schubertiade/salon/ball in a public performance near the end of the semester. The evening will contain music, historical skits, dance, costume, games, and all will participate/contribute, each according to interests and abilities.
You do NOT have to be a dancer, singer, actor, poet, or musician in order to contribute. You do NOT have to be a historian or a political scientist. But if you have special interest or ability in any of these areas, that contribution will be welcome!