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New Fall 2010 Signature Courses Announced

The School of Arts and Sciences Signature Courses are foundational courses designed and taught by our great scholars and scientists who are recognized for their specialized research and as eloquent and demanding award-winning teachers, each course comprises capacious lectures by faculty and small discussion sections led by graduate students from our nationally-ranked graduate programs. 

For more information on the SAS Signature Course Initiative, contact Susan Lawrence, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Fall 2010 Signature Course Descriptions

Professors Alan Goldman, Paul Falkowski, Monica Mazurek, Ronald Ransome, Joe Seneca, and Lily Young
Departments of Chemistry, Marine, Earth & Planetary Sciences, Civil & Environmental Engineering, Physics, Planning & Public Policy/Economics, and Environmental Sciences.

Wondering what the “energy” problem is all about? Here is your chance to learn what energy is, where it comes from, how we make it, how we use it, and how we will have to change the way we make it in the coming decades.  “Energy and Climate” introduces non-science majors to science and the scientific method in the context of one of the most critical challenges facing us today: society’s need for energy and the resulting impact on climate and the environment. The course surveys climatology, physics, chemistry, biology, engineering, economics and public policy as they relate to energy and sustainability considered from a global perspective. 

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Professor Rob Scott, Department of Anthropology

Do you worry about nuclear annihilation? Does the possibility of bioterrorism scare you? Are you dismayed by growing political violence and on-going cultural genocides in places such as Darfur?  Are you concerned about habitat destruction, catastrophic climate change, widespread famine, or newly drug resistant diseases? Ever wonder what it means to be a species that can imagine its own demise, understand its role in the demise of another, or contemplate the end of all life? Extinction takes a multi-perspective, interdisciplinary approach to understanding extinction as a biological and cultural process and probes the meaning and significance of such processes for humans around the globe in the 21st century.

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Professors Carlos Decena and Robyn Rodriguez
Departments of Latino and Hispanic Caribbean Studies, Sociology, and Women’s and Gender Studies.

New Jersey is one of the top immigrant destinations in the U.S., yet it is also one of the most ethnically and racially segregated states in the country.  What accounts for this contradiction?  How have people from vastly different parts of the world like the Dominican Republic, the Philippines, Mexico, and China come to establish “Jersey roots” through overlapping yet distinct “routes?” Amid New Jersey’s remarkable diversity, why do so many know so very little about the histories and experiences of their own neighbors of different backgrounds?  How has 21st century technology fundamentally changed the immigrant experience by allowing the country of origin to be a site for the making of identity and belonging?  In Immigrant States: Jersey’s Global Routes you will transcend your “Jersey roots, global reach” to analyze how and why ethnic and racial difference shape a person’s experiences of and perspectives on the world. 

Professors Daniel Ogilvie and Leonard Hamilton, Department of Psychology

Throughout history, the vast majority of people around the globe have believed they have, however defined, a “soul.”  While the question of whether the soul exists cannot be answered by science, what we can study are the causes and consequences of various beliefs about the soul.  Why are beliefs in a soul so common in human history?  Is there some adaptive advantage to assuming souls exist?  What cognitive development is necessary in order to believe in a self that transcends the body?  Are there brain structures that have evolved specifically for maintaining soul beliefs? Why?  How do these beliefs shape the worldviews of different cultures and our collective lives? What is the role of competing afterlife beliefs in religion, science, politics, and war?  Soul Beliefs explores one of the oldest and most ephemeral axes of human difference.

Spring 2010 Signature Courses

Fall 2009 Signature Courses

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