Imagining Asia: Russia and the East
This course examines the important role of the East in Russian literature and nationalism. Focusing specifically on the Caucasus, Central Asia, Iran, and Turkey, this course will analyze how Russian writers connected the East to Russian identity, and how their approaches implicate different artistic periods (Romanticism, Realism, Socialist Realism, Post-Modernism) and different political atmospheres (Tsarist Russia, Soviet Union, Post-Soviet).
Students will also ascertain how Russian literature on the East has affected and influenced literature and political movements produced in the East. In particular, students will analyze how Soviet Central Asian writers, Iranian Socialists, and contemporary Turkish writers were influenced by Russian literature and Soviet ideology. Ultimately, this course examines the impact of Russia's cultural and political history in 20th century Central Asia and the Middle East. Readings will include works by: Pushkin, Lermontov, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Platonov, Chingiz Aitmatov, Sadek Hedayat, Orhan Pamuk, and others.Cross-Cultural Analysis
Legal systems have attempted to evaluate and measure human behavior long before psychology, psychiatry and neuroscience were scientific disciplines. Current legal systems rely on behavioral science in both criminal and civil litigation. For example, intent is a prerequisite of criminal responsibility, motive is used to identify likely suspects, and mental illness or cognitive ability can be a defense to crime or a mitigating factor in a death penalty determination as well as a reason to deny a parent custody of a child. In the last decade, there has been substantial progress in behavioral neuroscience; a development not lost on the court system. Brain imaging techniques--such as functional and structural Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Positron Emission Tomography--have become part of all phases of legal proceedings and have forced courts to reconsider the use of behavioral science and the role of juries in courtroom decision-making. The goal of this course is to enable students to understand the present and the potential future role of behavioral neuroscience evidence in the justice system. The introductory part of the course will provide students with a very basic introduction to the judicial system and courtroom evidence and to the behavioral neuroscience constructs and techniques that are critical to law, such as motivation, violence, empathy, deception and morality. Students will then be asked to critically evaluate the use of brain imaging and other quantitative neuroscience techniques as evidence in representative legal cases. For each case studied, small teams of students will be assigned to serve as neuroscience advisors on each side of the case and will argue the strengths and weaknesses of the neuroscience evidence at issue. Students will be asked to prepare written arguments outlining the neuroscience evidence, present their arguments in class, and defend them against the opposing team. Case presentations will be followed by class and instructor comments. Performance evaluation will be based on students’ oral case presentation (40%) and the written term paper (60%) developed from their case presentation. Through this course, students will learn the basic concepts in behavioral neuroscience, medical imaging and scientific legal evidence, and will develop the ability to critically evaluate neuroscience data in forensic and legal settings. This course is open to all undergraduate students and will be of particular interest to students with interest in law, neuroscience, criminology and psychology. Background in science or biology is helpful but is not required.
The Superbug Epidemic
The discovery of penicillin ushered in a new medical era - the antibiotic era - where patients no longer died from simple infections. We are now in a seemingly never-ending cycle of new antibiotics. However, the pipeline for antibiotics has slowed and we are rapidly entering the superbug era. We will use antibiotic resistance as a lens through which to understand the critical role that science plays in public health policy. At the end of the course, students should understand how these science-based public health decisions are made with the help of different stakeholders, which in this case include the government and healthcare system, basic and clinical scientists, the food industry and pharmaceutical companies, doctors and veterinarians, individuals and their communities.
Honors Physics II: Electromagnetism and Radiation
This course parallels and extends the content of PHYS 151, at a somewhat higher mathematical level. Recommended for well-prepared students in engineering and the physical sciences, and particularly for those planning to major in physics. Electric and magnetic fields; Coulomb's, Ampere's, and Faraday's laws; special relativity; Maxwell's equations, electromagnetic radiation.
Students must enroll in both the seminar (section 301, shown below) and one of the labs (302 or 303, below). The seminar meets for a fourth hour on:
Mondays from 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.
PHYS 171.302 (lab) | Tuesday | 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., or
PHYS 171.303 (lab) | Thursday | 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Structural Biology and Genomics
Structural biology is the scientific method of describing, predicting and changing the properties of living organisms, including humans, based on “complete” genome chemical structures (sequence) and 3-dimensional structures of cellular components. The intellectual and technical revolutions that occurred during the 20th century made this possible. It is today's approach to understanding biology and solving problems in medicine. We will discuss how macroscopic biological properties, such as reproduction, locomotion and viral infection, are determined by the physics and chemistry of proteins and nucleic acids. Changes in biological function, in hereditary diseases like cystic fibrosis or sickle cell anemia, result from minute changes in individual proteins. Much larger changes in genome and protein structure are often tolerated without consequence. Understanding and exploiting these phenomena at the molecular level is the basis of new technology in the agricultural, energy and drug industries. The broad range of medical, social and political problems associated with the advances will be considered. We will attempt to distinguish real progress from fads and fashion. The weekly reading assignment will be Science and the Tuesday New York Times. This is a two-semester seminar with 0.5 credit unit each semester of the academic year.
Big Data In Linguistics
Big, fast, cheap computers; ubiquitous digital networks; huge and growing archives of text and speech; improving algorithms for automatic analysis of text and speech: all of this creates a cornucopia of research opportunities, at every level of linguistic analysis from phonetics to pragmatics, and in applications from linguistic science to information extraction and sentiment analysis. This course will survey the history and prospects of corpus-based research on speech, language, and communication, in the context of class participation in a series of representative projects.Quantitative Data Analysis
Proving Things: Algebra
This course focuses on the creative side of mathematics, with an emphasis on discovery, reasoning, proofs and effective communication, while at the same time studying arithmetic, algebra, linear algebra, groups, rings and fields. Small class sizes permit an informal, discussion-type atmosphere, and often the entire class works together on a given problem. Homework is intended to be thought-provoking, rather than skill-sharpening.
Math in the Age of Information
This is an experimental course about mathematical reasoning and the media. Embedded in many stories one finds in the media are mathematical questions as well as implicit mathematical models for how the world behaves. We will discuss ways to recognize such questions and models, and how to think about them from a mathematical perspective. A key part of the course will be about what constitutes a mathematical proof, and what passes for proof in various media contexts. The course will cover a variety of topics in logic, probably and statistics as well as how these subjects can be used and abused.