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Spring 2014 Signature Courses Explore Conflict and Diversity

Written By John Chadwick | SAS Senior Writer

pasttoday360x240The School of Arts and Sciences is offering six Signature Courses in the spring 2014 semester including two that probe deep beneath the surface of human conflict and human nature.

The courses are: Past Today: Why Conflicts Endure and Human Nature and Human Diversity.

Read about all the courses for spring 2014:  Signature Courses.

Signature Courses are foundational classes that examine topics of wide scope and enduring importance, from war, to climate change, to race in America.

RichardSerrano French 150x220Richard Serrano, a professor of French and Comparative Literature, who teaches the Past Today course, said students will learn how contemporary conflicts are deeply rooted in the cultures in which the conflicts take place.

Students will study three specific conflicts: North and South Korea; Buenos Aires and the rest of Argentina, and the United States and radical Islam.

But rather than examine the conflicts from a political perspective, the course will look at literature and arts and history to understand the deeper origins of the conflict within the culture.

“The thing I really want students to take away is that no matter how simple a conflict may appear, it is more complex than it seems,” Serrano said. “And ultimately the way we come to terms with learn the complexity is to learn about the culture.”

This course is particularly recommended for students who intend to pursue majors in American Studies, Anthropology, Art History, Asian Languages and Cultures, Asian Studies, Comparative Literature, English, History, Middle Eastern Studies, Latin American Studies, Political Science, Sociology, South Asian Studies, and AMESALL. This course carries credit toward the major and minor in Comparative Literature. Past Today can be used to meet the SAS Core Curriculum goals in 21st Century Challenges [21C] and Arts and Humanities [AHo and AHp]. 

pasttoday360x240In Human Nature and Human Diversity Professor Stephen Stich draws from cognitive science to shed new light on a range of philosophical issues focusing on mating (sex, love, and parenting), morality, religion and race.

 “We will be talking about disputes ranging from polygamy to racism,” said Stich, a professor in the Department of Philosophy and the Center for Cognitive Science.

The course is partly a philosophy class and will help students gain precise analytical skills to examine political, moral and policy disputes.

Students will also get exposure to the core ideas of cognitive science - a growing field which focuses on the ways the mind works - and how those ideas can illuminate and expand our understanding of the issues. humandiversity360x240

“This is really the first time we are making the core ideas of cognitive science available to large numbers of undergraduates while bringing those ideas together with 21st century sorts of issues,” Stich said. “I believe that cognitive science has a great deal to say to people concerned about contemporary issues like the role of religion, and the moral disagreements that characterize political debate.”

The course course is particularly recommended for students who intend to pursue majors or minors in area studies, languages, Anthropology, Art History, Biological Sciences, Cognitive Science, Communication, Comparative Literature, Criminal Justice, English, History, Philosophy Political Science, Psychology, Sociology, and Women’s and Gender Studies. This course carries credit toward the major and minor in Philosophy. Human Nature and Human Diversity can be used to meet the SAS Core Curriculum goals in 21st Century Challenges [21C] and Arts and Humanities [AHo].

 

 

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