Interdisciplinary Honors Seminars

Fall 2009 Interdisciplinary Honors Seminars

  • How Sex Changed: Sex Research in the 20th Century
  • Imperial Nations and Their Fictions
  • Communication and Ethnicity: Asian Americans
  • Disaster, Culture, and Society
  • Trauma and Social Memory
  • Global Warming: Policy withouth Politics
  • The Science and Life of Albert Einstein
  • Crime and the Big City
  • Enduring Questions: What is the Human?
  • Freedom
  • Introduction to Systems Thinking
  • American Regionalism
  • Energy Materials and the Environment
  • Complementarity in Physics, Life Sciences, and Philosophy
  • Physics and Photography
  • The Origins of Western Morality
  • Communications and Human Values


How Sex Changed: Sex Research in the 20th Century

01:090:250 Index #30034
Professor James Reed, SAS - History
W 04:30-07:30P   Brett Hall Seminar Room
College Avenue Campus

This is a seminar about the relationship between scientists and human sexuality.  We will examine some of the most important efforts to understand and to control sexual behavior.  Who studied sex?  How did they define it? What methods did they use? Why did they do it?  Who paid for the work? What is the relationship between this science, gender systems, and other salient aspects of U.S. society? What can we learn from the immense discourse constructed by sex researchers?

We will begin with the "crisis in civilized sexual morality" and Freud's visit to the U.S. in 1909, and end with the emergence of the intersexed and transsexuals as self-conscious minorities successfully struggling for civil rights. We will have an Alfred Kinsey film festival, and will devote several weeks to the career of John Money, the Johns Hopkins University clinical psychologist who championed the cause of surgical sex reassignment.  Assigned readings will include: Susan Stryker, Transgender History; Anne Fausto-Sterling, Sexing the Body: Gender Politics and the Construction of Sexuality; Deborah Rudacille, The Riddle of Gender; John Coalpinto, As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was Raised as a Girl; and other materials provided by the instructor.  All participants in the class will be expected to make a presentation (15 minutes maximum) about a researcher, novel, autobiography, journal, or website that is relevant to our story.  There will be two short written assignments (5 pages) and a longer essay (minimum 10 pages) that will serve as a final exam.

JAMES REED has professed History at Rutgers since 1975.  He got his B.A. at Louisiana State University and his A.M. and Ph.D. at Harvard.  Among historians he is best known for From Private Vice to Public Virtue, a history of birth control in the United States  He has also written on intelligence tests, penitentiaries, and biomedical sex research.  His current writing project is a history of biomedical sex research, with the working title Sex Research in America: From Social Hygiene to Sexology.  Among Rutgers students he is best known as the instructor in Development of the U.S. I & II, as well as more specialized courses such as Health and the Environment in the U.S., Sport in History, and The IQ Controversy.”  He served as Dean of Rutgers College from 1985 to 1994. NEXT

Imperial Nations and Their Fictions
01:090:251 Index #30035
Professor Edyta Bojanowska, SAS - Dept of Germanic Russian and East European L&L
TH 09:50A-12:50P   Brett Hall Seminar Room
College Avenue Campus

Nations and empires are in many ways antithetical. Nations coalesce around the idea of sameness – constructed upon the notion of a community’s shared ethnic, cultural, political, or historical heritage – and are located in a specific, delimited territory. Empires, by contrast, demand an allegiance that transcends such similarities, and have an endless appetite for expansion. And yet both nation and empire thrived in symbiotic unions throughout much of the last two centuries. Some of the most dynamic nationalisms produced the “fittest” empires: Britain, Russia, the Unites States.

This seminar will examine the twin energies of nationalism and imperialism in an art form that was most effective in both disseminating and questioning these ideologies: the narrative. We will focus on the fiction of nineteenth-century British, Russian, and American authors: Austen, Kingsley, Kipling, Lermontov, Tolstoy, Twain, Cooper, and Chekhov. Most fundamentally, we will ask how the experience of empire shaped the national identities of imperializing countries themselves, as reflected in these fictions. We will examine these texts’ “imagined communities” and fictional geographies, asking how they combine the concerns of nationalism with the “civilizing” mission of imperialism. We will study how these works construct identities and stereotypes and will investigate the moral, political, and narrative implications of imperial encounters. Secondary texts will include key theoretical texts on nationalism, imperial history, and cultural criticism

EDYTA BOJANOWSKA is an Assistant Professor of Russian Literature at the Department of Germanic, Russian, and East European Languages and Literatures and at the Program in Comparative Literature.  She studied English and Russian at Barnard College and received her Ph.D. in Slavic Languages and Literatures from Harvard University.  She published "Nikolai Gogol: Between Ukrainian and Russian Nationalism" (Harvard UP, 2007) and is working on a book on empire and nation in the Russian literature of the 1850s-1910s (Dostoevsky, Leskov, Tolstoy, Chekhov, Bely)


Communication and Ethnicity: Asian Americans01:090:252 Index #30036
Professor Hui-Min Kuo, SCILS - Communication
T 01:10-04:10P   Brett Hall Seminar Room
College Avenue Campus

This seminar will introduce the theories, approaches, and processes involved in communicating with individuals of different cultural backgrounds, specifically, Asian American, while examining potential challenges and issues relevant to this context.  The purpose of this seminar is to advance the understanding of Asian and Asian American communication in a globalized world by focusing on how the concepts of ethnicity and culture can influence everyday communication.  The seminar will explore (a) the theoretical assumptions of Asian and Asian American culture and communication, (b) the role of ethnicity and communication in Asian and Asian American cultures, (c) the perspectives and development of ethnic and cultural identities, (d) the communication patterns and styles of Asians and Asian Americans, and (e) the practical implications for interactions with Asians and Asian Americans.

Students will learn fundamental theories of Asian American cultural communication; critically assess the theoretical construct and application of various concepts relevant to Asian American cultural communication; critically compare and contrast applications of the approaches studied in interpersonal, family, or organizational settings; identify potential challenges and perceptual similarities and differences relating to Asian American communication and cultures; and complete research assignments by participating in the processes of literature review, research methods, discussion and results, and writing research reports.  Besides research, students will discuss the assigned readings, present small group projects based on contemporary films, and attend cultural events.

HUI-MIN KUO is Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Department of Communication.  Her teaching and research interests are in intercultural communication, organizational culture, and instructional communication.  She earned her PhD in Communication from Rutgers.  With diverse professional experiences in instruction, administration, and services to students and faculty, she is interested in connecting communication perspectives to everyday practices.  As a first-generation Asian American, she is particularly fascinated by studying the development of communication norms and representations of Asian Americans in a multicultural society.  Through integrating theory and application, her goal is to enrich the learning processes of undergraduate students. NEXT


Disaster, Culture, and Society01:090:253 Index #30159
Professor Lee Clarke, SAS - Sociology
TH 01:10-04:10P   Brett Hall Seminar Room
College Avenue Campus

Katrina was a bell-weather event for American society.  Along with 9/11 it threw into bold relief just how vulnerable we can be.  Such events are intellectual opportunities, chances to look into how society works and fails to work. There will be more big disasters, and the consequences from them will continue to be severe. But the main reasons for these trends is not, as some have claimed, global warming, nor, as others have said, because nature or God are somehow punishing us. The main reasons have to do with how society is organized.

We usually think disasters are special but they are prosaic, part of rather than discontinuous with “normal” reality. In normal reality we must make sense of things. We excel at that, applying familiar categories to organize events, motives, and histories. Generically, disasters are not different from other events that need ordering. It is easy to imagine all kinds of non-disastrous things or times that must be confronted with, “How shall I make sense of this?” Big disasters, like Katrina, just do that in a big way.

This seminar will mainly be case-based, which means that I’ll organize the materials around particular events. Examples are accidents (Bhopal, Titanic, Challenger, Columbia) natural” disasters (Katrina, the threat from near earth objects) and epidemics (1918 flu). The focus will be on the interplay between culture, social institutions, and calamity. We will use video and internet resources throughout.

I will also construct exercises for students to participate in. An example might be giving groups of students a potential disaster scenario and then making them “advisors” to the President: what will you do? What do you recommend? What will be the consequences if you follow one path rather than another? We will run these exercises at key points in the semester, as knowledge about disaster accumulates.

I will ask students to write one-page “reaction memos” to readings.  Examples of what these should look like will be provided, but basically they are critical reflections on what has been read.  Students will email these memos to everyone in the class and we will use them to drive the seminar discussion on any particular day.  Students will participate very actively in the seminar, as we weave into and out of key ideas concerning culture and disaster

LEE CLARKE is an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology.  His areas of expertise include leadership, culture, disaster, and organizational and technological failures.  Clarke has won two awards for his teaching and enjoys interacting with motivated and interested students. He has written or edited 6 books and over 50 articles.  He has written about the Y2K problem, risk communication, panic, civil defense, evacuation, community response to disaster, organizational failure, and near earth objects; his most recent book, Worst Cases: Terror and Catastrophe in the Popular Imagination was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.  In August 2005 he was honored with the Fred Buttel Distinguished Scholarship Award by the Environment and Technology section of the American Sociological Association.  He has most recently appeared on the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, ABC World News Tonight, and National Public Radio's affiliate in Irvine, CA, KUCI.  Visit www.leeclarke.com for more information.

Trauma and Social Memory01:090:254 Index #30037
Professor Judith Gerson, SAS - Women's and Gender Studies
M 10:55A-01:55P   VC 005
Douglass Campus

"Trauma" and "memory" have become key words across several fields of inquiry. The burgeoning scholarship on genocide, (Darfur and the Holocaust in particular), natural disaster (Katrina), narratives of survivors and perpetrators, the politics of commemoration, and programs of reconciliation and forgiveness all indicate a growing interest in trauma and social or collective memory.  This seminar begins with questions about what constitutes trauma, which remains a complex and vexed subject among scholars, survivors, perpetrators and bystanders, and various public audiences. Memory is never automatic nor a direct or an exact recollection of the past. In the case of trauma, this effect is further complicated because those who experience trauma are often unable or unwilling to acknowledge or speak it, even years after the catastrophe has presumably ended. Since people remember as members of groups, their social relationships shape the ways they experience, recall, forget and deny trauma. For example, various groups of women and men may have different memories because they often live their lives in distinct ways. Memories of trauma, moreover, are located in time and place, and here we will consider various legacies of trauma for the second generation. Institutional forms of memory also exist. We will pay particular attention to the public expressions and uses of traumatic memory, looking at memorial sites, museums, and commemorative ceremonies. Finally we consider various programs of forgiveness, reconciliation, restitution and reparations.

The goal of the seminar is to introduce students to a range of scholarly approaches to studying trauma and social memory rather than concentrate on the empirical specifics of any particular trauma, its aftermath and recollection. Our seminar relies on an interdisciplinary, comparative historical approach, which understands particular cases as rooted in larger transnational circuits. Several visual presentations and possibly a tour of memorial sites in New York City will supplement the readings, which form the core of the seminar. Seminar requirements include short weekly response papers to the assigned readings, an in-class oral presentation, and an original research paper.

JUDITH GERSON is on the faculty in the Departments of Sociology and Women's and Gender Studies and an affiliate faculty in the Department of Jewish Studies.  Her research and teaching interests center on diaspora, collective memory, gender, and epistemology.  She is co-editor of Sociology Confronts the Holocaust: Memories, Identities and Diasporas (Duke University Press, 2007) and is completing a book manuscript on German Jewish forced emigration during the Nazi era.  She was a recipient of a residential research fellowship at the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. 

Global Warming: Policy withouth Politics01:090:255 Index #30038
Professor Sunil Somalwar, SAS - Physics & Astronomy
MW 01:40-03:00P   HLL Rm 009
Busch Campus

Everybody is concerned about energy and global warming these days. Politicians and entrepreneurs are pushing their favorite solutions, many of which are not sensible. In the meanwhile, the United States continues to use enough energy to bring the entire Lake Erie to a boil within a couple of years. Is energy consumption on such enormous scale necessary to maintain our living standards?  Is it possible that reducing our energy consumption via increased efficiency will in fact increase our technology base and living standards?  What are the European and Japanese experiences and how do they compare to ours?

In this class, we will examine the use of energy in modern society that has resulted in the dramatic increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, learn the basics of the greenhouse effect and global warming, and discuss the consequences.  We will explore how individual actions (such as commuting, housing choices, etc.) impact global warming.  We will evaluate the relative merits of various approaches, and discuss the political and public policy implications.  There are many “unintended consequences” here, so instead of proposing pat answers, we will learn how to evaluate proposed solutions critically.  For example, are solar panels cost effective?  Does the electric car make sense?

This seminar will take an interdisciplinary approach to exploring energy and climate change policy, and should be of interest to both science and non-science majors.

PROFESSOR SUNIL SOMALWAR smashes very high energy particles at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) near Chicago and the CERN laboratory in Geneva, Switzerland.  The protons he studies collide head on while travelling at about 99.999999% of the speed of light. These collisions create conditions that existed in our universe soon after the Big Bang and help us answer fundamental questions such as how the universe came about, what it is made of, why things attract or repel each other and where all the antimatter has gone. Professor Somalwar is also very concerned about how we humans are smashing the natural world, which is partly why he teaches classes on energy and global warming. He also runs a nonprofit to save the world's remaining few wild tigers (yes, really!) and is a volunteer activist with New Jersey's Sierra Club.


The Science and Life of Albert Einstein01:090:257 Index #30040
Professor John Hughes, SAS - Physics & Astronomy
MW 02:50-04:10P   Brett Hall Seminar Room
College Avenue Campus

In this seminar we will explore the development of physics and astronomy over the past century through the contributions of Albert Einstein.  Students will gain an understanding of special and general relativity, the development of physics through the 20th century, and the crucial role of Einstein's theories in modern astronomy and cosmology.

We will begin with the state of physics at the turn of the 20th century and the so-called myth of the "end of physics." We will contrast the fields of physics and astronomy at this time based on a set of popular level lectures given in the 1920's. Newton's definition of absolute space and time taken from the Principia sets the stage for an in-depth review of Special and General Relativity following Einstein's popular level book from 1915. The consequences of these theories will be explored, and we will look at some of the detailed tests, including the famous eclipse expedition of 1919, that established these theories as among the most important laws of physics.

In the latter part of the seminar we fast forward to the current day and reveal why Einstein's theories are at the forefront of astronomy and cosmology. We will cover gravitational lensing, the big bang theory evidence for cosmic acceleration, and other topics according to the interests of the class.

Throughout the seminar we will look at Einstein as a philosopher, humanist, and icon in the world at large.  He was a notorious pacifist, yet he encouraged Roosevelt to develop the atomic bomb.  He was deeply religious, but not in a traditional sense.

The seminar will entail weekly readings and written assignments that are expected to form the basis for extensive class discussion.  Two longer papers -- one on Einstein's life and one on his science -- will be required as well.

While some background in mathematics and physics will be helpful, this seminar is designed for non-science majors.

JOHN P. HUGHES grew up in NYC and attended Columbia University.  He was a staff scientist at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory until 1996 when he moved to Rutgers, where he is currently a Professor of Physics and Astronomy. Dr. Hughes uses both space- and ground-based astronomical observatories to research various topics in astrophysics and cosmology.  (For more information visit his web site http://www.physics.rutgers.edu/~jackph/)

Crime and the Big City01:090:258 Index #30041 (cross listed with 01:202:388:01 Index# 36709)
Professor Patrick Carr, SAS - Sociology, Criminal Justice
MTH 11:30-12:50P   35 College Avenue Rm 302
College Avenue Campus

Why is crime, especially violent crime, predominantly a big city problem?  And why, even within big cities, is crime concentrated only in certain areas?  As homicide rates in some big cities declined in the 1990s, other similar places experienced an alarming increase in violent crime.  Why is there such a disparity between places, and what can we learn from case studies to better combat rising rates of violent crime?

This seminar will explore the phenomenon of big city violent crime by examining the experience of Philadelphia over the past two decades.  The course will combine readings, discussion, and field immersion as we get to see first hand what drives crime in a major city, and what is being done to try to reduce it.  Students will have the opportunity to visit a level one trauma center, to speak with homicide detectives and DAs, and to see firsthand some of the on-the-ground efforts to reduce violence.

In this course, students will investigate in-depth one of society's most persistent and least publicized problems.  Some of the issues we will discuss are the proximate and underlying causes of serious crime, the primary big city responses to violent crime, the Stop Snitching Movement, and the programs aimed at reducing crime that have been tried in the past two decades.  Over the course of the semester students will come to appreciate the complexities of the big city crime problem and the real difficulties in crafting a response that will actually reduce crime.

PATRICK CARR is Assistant Professor of Sociology at Rutgers University, and is an Associate Member of the MacArthur Foundation’s Research Network on the Transitions to Adulthood and Public Policy.  He earned his Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Chicago, and his research interests include communities and crime, informal social control, youth violence, and transitions to adulthood.  He is a currently a fellow at the Institute for Research on Women at Rutgers University.  He is the author of Clean Streets: Controlling Crime, Maintaining Order and Building Community Activism (2005, NYU Press), and with Maria J. Kefalas of the forthcoming Hollowing Out the Middle: The Rural Brain Drain and What it Means for America (Beacon Press, 2009).  His work has been published in the American Journal of Sociology, Criminology and Sociological Forum.  He is currently working and on a multi-city study of the Stop Snitching Movement.
Enduring Questions: What is the Human?
01:090:259 Index #31447
Professor Henry Turner, SAS - English
MTH 09:50-11:10A   Murray Hall Rm 003
College Avenue Campus

From the studia humanitatis of the medieval and Renaissance periods to the modern university of our own day, the definition of the “human” has lain at the center of the “humanities” as a collection of disciplines, providing the conceptual foundation for these disciplines and acting as their primary justifying principle.  Why do we study literature, or philosophy, or history, or art, or music, or political theory?  We do so in order to understand what is “human” about ourselves and to test our intuitions against the arguments of previous centuries.  And yet we immerse ourselves so quickly in the specialized questions that define our fields that we rarely stop to consider what it means to be “human” in the first place: the notion persists as a comfortable bundle of assumptions, assumptions that allow us to launch an inquiry but that we forget to submit to scrutiny.  Arguably this task of scrutiny falls uniquely to the humanities: to Philosophy, defined as the art of asking questions, from Socrates forward; to Literature, which uses the resources of language and of fiction to explore the most difficult questions that living humans face; to History, which examines how attitudes toward the “human” have emerged over time and shows us how differently other cultures have often defined it.

Today the task of defining the “human” has become more complex than ever: advances in biotechnology have outstripped familiar systems of classification, producing chimeric substances that Darwin would never recognize.  Human populations have swollen, placing unprecedented demands on natural resources, while political conflicts have posed the question of human rights with new urgency. 

This seminar will invite students to contemplate what defines the human by participating in the process of creating definitions, and it will do so by focusing on a problem central to the humanities: what is the value of asking questions in the first place?  What is an effective mode of questioning?  And what forms have effective questions taken? 

Using the question of the “human” as an exercise in intellectual biography—a biography that is our own, as well as a biography of our disciplines, majors, and universities—the seminar will explore several forms for raising “enduring questions,” from philosophical dialogue to scientific hypothesis, from drama to novel, from historical writing to memoir and personal reflection.

The seminar will have four sections:

  • Making and Imagining: The Human Discovers
  • Thinking and Remembering: The Human Learns
  • Grouping and Classifying: The Human Defines
  • Socializing and Assembling: Humans Together


The seminar will include a trip to the Museum of Natural History in New York, and at least one evening film screening and discussion.

HENRY TURNER is Associate Professor English at Rutgers University.  He specializes in Renaissance literature, with a particular emphasis on the history of drama, literary criticism, and the history of science.  He is also interested in contemporary science and in the relationship between the arts and the sciences at the modern university and in everyday life.  Among other publications, he has written a short book entitled Shakespeare’s Double Helix (Continuum, 2007), which compares the nature of “life” and the “human” in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream with modern definitions of these ideas in biotechnology.  For more information, go to: http://rci.rutgers.edu/~hsturner/

Freedom
01:090:260 Index #34181
Pofessor Andrew Murphy, SAS - Political Science
MTH 02:50-04:10p   35 College Avenue Rm 302
College Avenue Campus

The language of freedom permeates American society, from the earliest colonial enterprises to yesterday’s news. But we rarely seem to stop and contemplate what this notion is all about, and what sorts of tradeoffs or drawbacks our national obsession with freedom might entail. This seminar aims to broaden and deepen students’ understandings of this important concept, and to help them explore and refine their own views of freedom. I pursue this objective by organizing the seminar around a few basic questions.

Should we consider freedom primarily a negative notion (removing  obstacles to doing what we want), or does it necessarily involve  some sort of overarching moral, ethical, or even religious dimension?

What sorts of social or political institutions follow from different understandings of freedom?

How can the insights of a variety of disciplines and media – political thought, philosophy, literature, history, economics, film – illuminate our exploration of the many aspects of freedom?

Although my own training is in political theory and the history of political thought, the seminar is richly interdisciplinary, and I have taught it successfully several times in the interdisciplinary honors college at Valparaiso University, where it appealed to students from a variety of majors. The seminar integrates works from across the disciplines, all of which attempt to confront students with the complexity inherent in the concept of freedom, and to think through its implications for their own lives, as well as their social and political commitments.

ANDREW MURPHY received his undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina, and his M. A. and Ph. D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Before joining the faculty at Rutgers, he taught at Villanova University, the University of Chicago, and Valparaiso University. His interests focus on the intersections between religious and political thought and practice, focusing especially on the Anglo-American tradition, in both historical and contemporary contexts. He is the author of *Conscience and Community: Revisiting Toleration and Religious Dissent in Early Modern England and America* (Penn State, 2001), and *Prodigal Nation: Moral Decline and Divine Punishment from New England to 9-11* (Oxford, 2008). He has edited *The Political Writings of William Penn* (Liberty Fund, 2002); *Religion, Politics, and American Identity: New Directions, New Controversies*, with David S. Gutterman (Lexington, 2006); and *The Blackwell Companion to Religion and Violence* (forthcoming). He is currently working on the life and thought of William Penn.

Introduction to Systems Thinking
01:090:261 Index #30042
Professor George Nieswand, Cook - Ecology Evolution and Natural Resources
W 02:15-05:15P   VC 005
Douglass Campus

This seminar provides an introduction to the philosophy and conceptual underpinnings of systems thinking and the systems approach, their use in developing comprehensive understandings of complex problem situations, and alternatives for their improvement.  Emphasis is placed on the qualitative, rather than quantitative, aspects of systems thinking.  Application to a broad range of problems involving environmental and human activity systems will be explored.

A singularly important goal for this seminar experience is that it have a profound impact on the manner in which you observe, question, reflect on, understand, and approach the complexity in the world of which you are a part, and particularly in terms of your introduction to the use of systems thinking and a systems approach in exploring alternatives for the improvement of complex problem situations.

My intent is that we treat this seminar experience as a journey of exploration, discovery, and learning.  I will be your tour guide, as well as a fellow traveler. While there are a number of destinations that I definitely want to visit with you, I will try to maintain some flexibility in our itinerary to accommodate a few side trips that may not have been anticipated. Along the way I will expect you to pay close attention to what you see and hear, and to spend a considerable amount of time thinking about your experiences so that you can record your thoughts, participate in discussions, and ask some good questions. Though I have been on this trip many times as a guide, I find that there is always something new to be discovered, as well as things to be learned from those whom I am guiding. I am looking forward to the trip and trust that you will find it worthwhile.

You will be expected to come to class having thought about the seminar materials and their application, and prepared therefore to ask questions, to add your thoughts to class discussion, and to demonstrate your understanding of systems concepts and their application.

The first portion of each of our class meetings will generally be spent discussing your thoughts and mine about the place we last visited. The second portion will generally be spent at a new location.

GEORGE NIESWAND has taught at Rutgers since 1965, during which time he pioneered the development of both undergraduate and graduate offerings in the field of systems thinking and the systems approach. He has also directed and participated in numerous multidisciplinary research projects and administrative assignments that have drawn on his experience with the application of systems thinking and a systems approach to a wide variety of problems. His approach to the subject matter of systems thinking is eclectic, drawing ideas freely from diverse sources which may not appear relevant at first blush to the casual observer. He also likes to challenge the established way of viewing a situation by approaching it from a number of different and often unusual perspectives. NEXT

American Regionalism
01:090:264 Index #30045 (cross-listed with 10:762:495:01 Index#34533)
Professor Frank Popper, Bloustein School
M 03:55-06:55P   VC 005
Douglass Campus

This seminar will explore the history, planning, and prospects of five large American regions: central Appalachia, the Corn Belt, the Great Plains, northern New England, and the Upper Midwest.  The instructor is now co-writing a short book on the subject tentatively titled "Great American Expectations: Why Regional Decline Can Mean National Opportunity."  Hehas been writing about the Great Plains for the last generation, and has decisively influenced national opinion about it.

The seminar will begin by exploring the concepts of regions and regionalism in American life.  We will then analyze the experiences of the five regions, and move on to comparisons between them, links among them, and the implications for other parts of the country and the nation as a whole.  The seminar will also look at the experiences of cities and metropolitan areas in the regions to see how they relate to those of the regions as a whole.  If time permits, the seminar will make cross-national comparisons, particularly with Europe and East Asia.  The seminar should draw students interested in history, planning, economics, politics, geography, literature, and American studies. The instructor intends to make the seminar maximally interdisciplinary.

FRANK J. POPPER teaches in the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University, where he also participates in the American Studies, Geography, Human Ecology and Political Science Departments.  He teaches regularly as a visiting professor in the Environmental Studies Program at Princeton University.  He is author of The President's Commissions (1970) and The Politics of Land-Use Reform (1981), coauthor of Urban Nongrowth: City Planning for People (1976) and coeditor of Land Reform, American Style (1984).  His article "The Great Plains: From Dust to Dust" (Planning, December 1987), written with his wife, Deborah Popper, a geographer at the City University of New York, put forward the controversial Buffalo Commons idea that touched off a national debate on the future of the depopulating rural parts of the Great Plains region.  The Poppers are now at work on a series of articles and a book extending the Buffalo Commons concept and related approaches to other depopulating rural regions (for instance, Appalachia, the Lower Mississippi Delta and northern New England), large and mid-sized shrinking cities (Detroit, St. Louis, Birmingham [Alabama] and Camden [New Jersey]) and comparable places abroad (central Spain, eastern France and the former East Germany).

Energy Materials and the Environment
01:090:265 Index #30046
Professor Gabriel Kotliar, SAS - Physics & Astronomy
M 11:30-02:30P   Brett Hall Seminar Room
College Avenue Campus

Will we run out of energy in the next century?  How will nations deal with the increasing competition for scarce natural resources?  As the world standard of living and the energy consumption per capita increases, can we avoid destroying our own habitat?  Is there a technologically viable solution to the current energy crisis, or is the survival of our human species dependent on technological breakthroughs that have not yet taken place?  We do not know the full answers to these pressing questions, but we can learn elementary physical ideas connected to the field of energy, and discuss the constraints imposed by the laws of physics when addressing these questions.

In this seminar, then, we will look at these questions from the perspective of a physicist.  The seminar will start by asking what energy is.  We will then describe the different forms that energy can take such as nuclear, solar, chemical, electrical, chemical, and mechanical.  We will discuss the issue of conversion between the different forms of energy, how efficient this energy conversion can be, and the effects that energy conversion has on the environment.

The physics that relate to these topics will be presented at an elementary level, and should be suitable for a motivated non-science major with a good high school science education.  The goal of the seminar is to learn about energy, and to elicit discussions about the current options that we as a society have in facing the current energy and climate crisis.

GABRIEL KOTLIAR is a theoretical physicist with interests in materials science. He got his Ph.D in Princeton and is currently a Board of Governors Professor at Rutgers University.  Kotliar received the 2006 Agilent Technologies Europhysics Prize for his work on strongly correlated electron materials. He is also a recipient of a Guggenheim fellowship, a Sloan fellowship, and a Lady Davis fellowship.  He was a recipient of the 2005 Blaise Pascal Chair and has been a frequent visitor at the Physics Departments of Ecole Normale Superieure, Ecole Polytechnique, and the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.  His research interests are in the theory of materials, and his goal is to speed up the discovery of materials with useful properties  For this purpose he uses quantum field theory methods, algorithms, and computer simulations. He believes that education and scientific research are the key investments that society needs to make to ensure a better future.

Complementarity in Physics, Life Sciences, and Philosophy
01:090:266 Index #32244
Professor Sungchul Ji, Pharm - Pharmacology & Toxicology
TTH 04:30-05:50P   Brett Hall Seminar Room
College Avenue Campus

Recent developments in molecular and cell biology indicate that Bohr’s complementarity may play a fundamental role in living processes.  Complementarity-like concepts also occur in psychology, philosophy, semiotics (the study of signs), critical theories [A. Plotnitsky, Complementarity, Duke University Press, 1994], and world religions.  The universality of Bohr’s complementarity may be traced to the complementary neuro-electrophysiological functions of the human brain, including the dichotomy of the left and right hemispheres.  These findings motivated the formulation of a new philosophical framework known as complementarism in the early 1990’s, the essential content of which is that the ultimate reality perceived and communicated by the human brain is a complementary union of irreconcilable opposites [S. Ji, “Complementarism: A Biology-Based Philosophical Framework to Integrate Western Science and Eastern Tao,” in Psychotherapy East and West: Integration of Psychotherapies, The Korean Academy of Psychotherapists, Seoul, Korea, 1995, pp. 518-548]. 

In the latter half of the 1990’s, it was uncovered that living cells use a language (called cell language) whose design principles are very similar to those of human language [S. Ji, BioSystems 44: 17-39 (1997)].  This finding further strengthens the link between biology and philosophy, in agreement with the philosophies of  Aristotle (384-322 BC),  Spinoza (1632-1677), and Maurice Merleau-Ponty (1907-1961).  Thus, complementarism, which embodies both modern biological sciences and classical and modern philosophical systems, may provide a powerful new philosophical basis for integrating not only science and philosophy, but also seemingly irreconcilable philosophies and religions of the world.

During the first half of the semester, students will be introduced to the essentials of complementarism, and their physical and metaphysical supports derived from physics, chemistry, biology, linguistics, philosophy, and semiotics.  The second half of the semester will be devoted to students’ presentation, each 30-minute long, on topics related to some aspects of complementarism or to its application to solving practical problems in contemporary life.  The final grade will be based on classroom participation, including short talks (20%, at least one per student before the final class meeting), presentation (30%), and a written version of the presentation (15–20 pages, single spaced, including figures, tables, and references; 50%) due one week after the oral presentation. 

Pre-requisite:  A college-level introductory course (or equivalents) in biology, chemistry, or physics.    

DR. SUNGCHUL JI received a BA degree in chemistry and mathematics from the University of Minnesota in 1965 and a Ph.D. degree in physical organic chemistry in 1970 from the State University of New York at Albany. After a series of postdoctoral research and teaching experiences in enzymology (University of Wisconsin, Madison), biophysics (University of Pennsylvania), systems physiology (Max Planck Institute, Dortmund, West Germany), and toxicology (University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Chapel Hill), Dr. Ji began teaching pharmacology and toxicology at the Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy, Rutgers University in 1982.  Dr. Ji founded the Theoretical Aspects of Pharmacology course in 2000 at Rutgers  and has been teaching it ever since. He recently completed a book manuscript entitled “Molecular Theory of the Living Cell: Conceptual Foundations, Molecular Mechanisms and Applications” due to be published by Springer, New York, in 2010. NEXT

Physics and Photography01:090:267 Index #32529
Professor Terry Matilsky, SAS - Physics & Astronomy
W 11:30A-02:30P   Civic Square Rm 334
Downtown New Brunswick Campus
Note: All students will be required to pay a materials fee of $25.00 to help defray the costs of film, photographic paper, and chemicals

Many fundamental aspects of physical theory concern themselves with the interaction and interrelationship of space and time, the infrastructure of our universe.  Yet surprisingly, in a totally different context, these constituents can be observed in many aspects of art as well.  In this seminar, we will explore how the photographic image depends on the control of space and time by the photographer.

We will study physical and geometric optics first, with emphasis on image formation, depth of field, resolution, magnification, and perspective.  These investigations will enable us to visualize the world around us, and to begin to control the visual impact of the final print.  At the same time, we will see how the development of the negative affects other aspects of the process, such as contrast.  Extensive darkroom work is contemplated.  While we study the physical processes involved, we will also discuss the Masters in the field.  Each week you will critique a well-known photograph, and attempt to incorporate various ideas into your own work.

Homework will be assigned dealing with both the scientific and artistic content of photography.  Of course, you will be taking pictures (indeed, we will be taking field trips - yay!! - to further stimulate our imagination), and artistic and technical critiques will be done collectively, so students at all levels can participate in the process.  I hope to have rank beginners as well as already serious photographers in the class.  Even advanced students can benefit from a "beginner's mind."

There are no prerequisites for the seminar, but you must have a desire to learn about the scientific as well as the artistic aspects of the photographic process.  You must also have a focusing camera in which shutter speeds and f-stops can be adjusted manually.  Automatic cameras are not acceptable!  If you are contemplating buying a camera for the seminar, see me and I can make some recommendations.

TERRY MATILSKY is a professor in the Department of Physics.  His specialty is in astrophysics.  He served as Director of the Rutgers College Honors Program from 1989 to 1996.  He has taken pictures from rockets from 100 miles in space (no, he hasn't been in them), but enjoys ground-based landscapes -- preferably wilderness areas like Yosemite and Yellowstone -- best.  He has sold some of his least favorite photographs to ad agencies on Madison Avenue, just to see whether it could be done, but remains almost totally undiscovered as a true artist.

The Origins of Western Morality
01:090:268 Index #32714
Professor Emma Wasserman, SAS - Religion
TTH 12:35-01:55P   Loree Hall Rm 131
Douglass Campus

The seminar treats the ways that early Christian groups appropriated Jewish and Hellenistic moral traditions and reshaped them according to their developing preoccupations.  These preoccupations came to shape the moral language, laws, politics, social codes, and sociality of Christian Europe and America.  The seminar will pay particular attention to the roles of Hellenistic philosophy, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible, the letters of Paul, the teachings attributed to Jesus in writings from the end of the first century C. E., and the development of ascetic practices and ideology.  This approach holds that “morals” are involved in the organization of sociality, power, economic production, distribution and consumption; cultural production, distribution and consumption.  Issues of importance to the seminar include the variety of ancient options available for thinking about ethical psychology, the concept of porneia (harlotry) and the attack on traditional Mediterranean religion, the family/household and opposition to it, wealth/poverty, usury/the market, slavery, sexual ethics and gender norms.

Communications and Human Values

01:090:271 Index #32744 Index #31671 (cross-listed with 04:189:441:01)
**Interview Required, By Special Permission.
Professor Richard Heffner, SCILS – Communication
T 09:50A-12:50P   Scott Hall Rm 201
College Avenue Campus

**Please contact Prof. Heffner at 212-799-7979 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  Prof. Heffner will hold interviews with students on Wednesday, April 15, and Friday, April 17, roughly from 10 AM to 3 PM, Room 236 Scott Hall, College Avenue Campus.

This seminar is an intellectual inquiry into the development of American public policy as it relates to mass communications.  It is not a practicum, not a "how-to" seminar about film and television, or not about the media generally.

The seminar's purpose is to analyze how much of our sense of what it means to be an American early in the 21st century has been molded by the media -- first print and now increasingly electronic -- with particular reference to their socializing and value-legitimating content.  To learn then to deal appropriately and reasonably with such media power, students are asked first to identify their own respective approaches to the role of the state and its proper relationship to the individual through class discussion of such readings as Walter Lippmann's Public Opinion, Robert Merton's Mass Persuasion, J. S. Mill's On Liberty, Herman Melville's Billy Budd, and Neil Postman's Amusing Ourselves to Death; of such films as Hearts and Minds, JFK, and Fahrenheit 9/11; and of the increasingly unfair and unbalanced rants and raves of America's newer communications outlets.

Finally, class emphasis is placed on analyzing and resolving such contemporary media issues as a Fairness Doctrine (the real or imagined "chilling effect" of a requirement for media fairness and balance); cameras in the courts (do televised trials enhance justice, or instead create a "mobocracy", with trial by a new jury of public opinion?); the importance of journalistic "privilege"; and media self-regulation (can there in fact be meaningful voluntary self-discipline in a free market, free speech, mass media-driven society?).

RICHARD D. HEFFNER is University Professor of Communications and Public Policy at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, where he began to teach in 1948.  Trained as an American historian, Mr. Heffner is the author of A Documentary History of the United States and the editor of Alexis de Tocqueville's classic Democracy In America.  His most recent book, a collaboration entitled Conversations With Elie Wiesel, derives from The Open Mind, the prize winning television program which he began in 1956 and which he still produces and moderates each week on public broadcasting stations around the country.  In 1961, after serving on-the-air and as an executive at CBS, ABC and NBC, Professor Heffner played a leading role in the acquisition and activation of Channel 13 in New York, becoming its Founding General Manager.  For twenty years (1974 to 1994), he also commuted to Hollywood, serving as Chairman of the Board of the motion picture industry's voluntary film classification and rating system.  Professor Heffner and his wife, Dr. Elaine Heffner, live in New York City.  They have two sons -- Daniel, a filmmaker; and Andrew, an Assistant New York State Attorney General -- and four grandchildren.


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