Honors Course Offerings


Inequality and Opportunity in America

01:090:261 Index#57900
Patricia Roos
SAS – Sociology
TH 09:50A- 12:50P
Brett Hall Seminar Room
College Avenue Campus

Issues of inequality are central to the research that many social scientists do.  Sociologists have long studied how inequality gets produced and reproduced, and how ascriptive inequalities such as gender or race shape our access to a wide range of opportunities.  These core issues will be the focus of this seminar, and we’ll investigate these issues in the context of the deeply polarized discourse of the Fall 2012 election.  

We begin with an overview of why class still matters in contemporary American society.  We’ll assess how important class remains in defining our life chances, and our opportunity to pursue the American Dream.  More specifically, with respect to the workplace we'll see how people end up in the jobs they do and what factors affect their promotions and salaries.  We will explore how and why inequalities in wealth have been rising in recent years.  We’ll talk about popular responses to rising inequality (e.g., Occupy Wall St.), and examine how scholars, policy makers, and the news media are responding to these political actions. 

We’ll focus on categorical (i.e., group) inequalities, especially the "big three" (race, class, and gender), but will address other forms of inequality (e.g., education) as well.  As more overt forms of discrimination have declined, researchers have begun to examine the more subtle ways in which inequality is reproduced, especially in the workplace.  We'll talk about these more subtle mechanisms of inequity, and discuss the ways they are often embedded in interactions among people and in the policies and procedures of our social institutions.

There are no prerequisites for this seminar. Although many of the readings come from a variety of disciplines, an important goal of this seminar is to introduce you to the sociological imagination.  Students are required to attend each class session.  This course is a "seminar" and not a "lecture" course.  Its success thus depends on active participation, and the small class size should facilitate this goal.  Assigned readings should be completed prior to class meetings, and you should come to class prepared to discuss.

PATRICIA ROOS is a Professor of Sociology.  She received her BA and MA in sociology from the University of California, Davis, and her Ph.D. in sociology from UCLA.  She teaches courses on work; inequalities; work, family, and politics; gender and work; and research methods.  She won both the President’s and Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence in Teaching while at SUNY Stony Brook.  Professor Roos has published widely in gender and work, the feminization of traditionally male occupations, and work and family.  Three projects are currently on her research agenda:  (1) gender equity in higher education, (2) race, class, and gender differences in work/family behavior and attitudes, and (3) a collaborative project with Rutgers colleagues on how to move toward real gender equality among women and men.


Ancient Rome in the Modern World

01:090:270 Index#53080
Serena Connolly
SAS - Classics
M 10:55A-01:55P
Hickman Hall Rm 132
Douglass Campus

The early curriculum of Queen’s College, the design of the White House, and Jean Michel Basquiat’s Speaks for Itself. The items in this seemingly disparate list have one thing in common: all were inspired by ancient Roman civilization. In this seminar we will explore its enduring legacy in the modern world, especially that of North America and Europe from ca. 1700, in particular in its systems of governance, built environment, language and culture. By studying why and how the modern world has adopted aspects of Roman civilization, students of the ancient world among you will better appreciate how your understanding of it has been mediated by your modern cultural and political context, while those of you interested in modern history and culture will develop a more nuanced appreciation of its ancient roots.

Topics will include: the role of Latin in shaping and defining modern European and American languages, thought, culture and science; Classical education and the formation of the modern curriculum, with a focus on that of Queen’s (later Rutgers) College; the influence of ancient Rome on state formation—most notably that of the United States—and modern American political discourse, on the role of ancient Rome in socio-political thought, especially concerning slavery; on the import of claims that Germany, the US and the European Union have been or are successors to the Roman Empire. Our focus then shifts to the arts: later authors’ responses to ancient Rome—from Shakespeare to T.S. Eliot; neo-Classical architecture’s re-imagining of Roman buildings, reactions to and re-presentations of Rome by Cy Twombly and Basquiat, among others; finally, Hollywood’s versions of Rome, refracted through the lens first of 1950s politics and culture in the swords-and-sandals epics and more recently of the vastly different mores of the 2000s in HBO’s Rome.

Some familiarity with the ancient Roman world will be very helpful. For your grade, you’ll give a couple of in-class presentations and produce a research paper.

Polynomials are Too Beautiful to be Limited to Math
(The Fine Art and Science of Polynomiography)
01:090:271 Index#50949
Bahman Kalantari
SAS - Computer Science
TH  03:20-06:20P
Allison Road Classroom Rm 118
Busch Campus

How many professors do you know who have created an entirely new art form? Join Dr Bahman Kalantari as he explains and helps you explore his creation, Polynomiography.  Dr Kalantari welcomes artists and students from ALL fields. Through Dr Kalantari's unique software, students will be introduced to a fantastic and very powerful medium, easy to use, where polynomials turn into objects that can be used to create artwork of diverse types, invent games,and discover many new concepts and creative ideas. Working with Polynomiography software is similar to learning to work with a sophisticated camera: one needs to learn the basics, the rest is up to the photographer. If you ever wanted to learn and do art and science together, now is your chance! The goal of this particular course is NOT to teach mathematics or algorithms. Through the ease of software students will be able to experiment with polynomials and root-finding algorithms as the basis for creating intricate designs and patterns, even animations. Polynomiography allows virtual painting using the computer screen as its canvas. It could also inspire new artistic styles and actual paintings, originated directly from polynomiography software, or indirectly from its concepts.  The seminar introduces the students to a range of possible course projects to be carried out either individually or in small groups. Sample projects consist of: Creating quality and novel 2D or 3D artwork using polynomiography software, e.g. as prints or video productions. 

BAHMAN KALANTARI is a professor of computer science and the inventor of the U.S. patented technology of Polynomiography. His research interests lie in theory, algorithms, and applications in a wide range of topics that include mathematical programming; discrete and combinatorial optimization; polynomial root-finding and approximation theory; and Polynomiography and its applications in art and eduction. Kalantari's Polynomiography has received national and international media recognition that include the Star-Ledger, New Jersey Savvy Living Magazine, Science News, DISCOVER Magazine, Tiede (popular science magazine of Finland), Muy Interesante (popular science magazine of Spain) and more. His artworks have been exhibited in such venues as a traveling art-math exhibition in France, SIGGRAPH Art Gallery in LA, as well as at Rutgers and around New Jersey. His artworks have also appeared on the cover of publications such as Computer Graphics Quarterly, Princeton University Press, art-math conference proceedings, and in science magazines. He has delivered numerous lectures on Polynomiography and to various audiences, including invited presentations in France, Germany, Austria, Italy, Japan, Belgium Vienna, as well as in middle and high schools in New Jersey, and K-12 teacher conferences. He hopes to internationalize Polynomiography as a medium for art, math, science, and education, and at many di®erent levels. He is the author of, “Polynomial Root-Finding and Polynomiography."  For more information on Polynomiography visit www.polynomiography.com .

Great Trials in Film & Literature
(Courts of Justice: A Cultural History of the Criminal Trial)
01:090:272 Index#49454
Paul Blaney
SAS - English, SAS Honors
TH 02:50-05:50P
35 College Avenue Rm 302
College Ave Campus

Beginning from late 5th-century BCE Athens and ending in late 20th-century LA, this seminar will consider the evolution of the modern trial. How and why did we arrive at the current model (judge, defense counsel, prosecutor, witnesses, 12-person jury)? What are its strengths and weaknesses compared to other possible models? Why has trial by jury proved to be so enduring despite its limitations? What does the trial tell us about Western culture, its beliefs and values?

We’ll also consider the power and variety of the trial as spectacle. With its costumes and props, its conflict and resolution, its heroes and villains, the trial is a drama but what is being shown? Justice? Retribution? Remorse? The balance of power? Or is it primarily for diversion, for public entertainment?  As we attempt to answer these questions, we’ll examine how the trial has adjusted to innovations in the media, to mass-circulation newspapers, radio, and television. We’ll also look at how writers and directors have developed the dramatic potential of the trial, turning defendants into symbolic figures, martyrs and monsters.

In the course of the seminar, we’ll focus on a number of celebrated trials. Those in the dock will include Socrates, Sir Thomas More, Galileo, the Salem witches, Madame Caillaux, Adolf Eichmann, and O.J. Simpson. In each case we’ll aim to understand not just the trial and its outcomes, but the cultural and ideological conflicts in which it was embedded.

In addition to primary and secondary sources on these trials, we’ll consider the portrayal of trials in the creative work of writers and directors as diverse as Kafka, Brecht, Robert Bolt, Orson Welles, E.M Forster, Lewis Carroll and Hannah Arendt. For their final project students will compose a piece of original fiction or a one-act play based on a trial of their choice and reflecting the cultural and historical context within which it took place.

Evolutionary Approach to Social and Economic Behavior

01:090:273 Index#47640
Tomas Sjostrom
SAS - Economics
W 04:30-07:30P
Brett Hall Seminar Room
College Ave Campus

Economists study competitive and cooperative interactions in small-scale face-to-face groups, as well as anonymous large-scale markets. The traditional assumption is that people will act rationally, that is, they behave in their own (typically narrowly-defined) best interests, as profit- or utility-maximizers. But in reality, people behave in ways that economists fi…nd hard to explain. Why do tourists leave tips in foreign restaurants to which they will never return? Why do people get angry and do things that hurt themselves more than they hurt anyone else? Why do CEOs, who already have more money than they can spend in a lifetime, risk everything by engaging in illegal accounting practices?

To answer such questions, economists gather empirical data on human behavior in various ways, including controlled laboratory experiments and neuroimaging. To provide a theoretical framework, they combine evolutionary (“Darwinian”) reasoning with game theory (which is a formal framework for analyzing strategic interaction). This seminar will introduce the participants to these emerging sub-fields of economics, both empirical and theoretical. Of course, humans aren’’t robots, blindly programmed by evolution to leave tips in restaurants: behavior is influenced by social norms, culture, education and many other things. But why are we so easily influenced? Ultimately, we are trying to understand the nature of humankind.

The grade will be based on class participation, several quizzes, and a term paper. Class attendance is mandatory and class participation is essential. The required readings include class handouts and the following three books: "The Selfi…sh Gene" by Richard Dawkins; "Predictably Irrational - The Hidden Forces that Shape our Decisions" by Dan Ariely; and "The Price of Altruism" by Oren Harman.

TOMAS SJOSTROM is the holder of the James Cullen Chair in Economics.  He did his undergraduate studies in Stockholm and received a Ph.D. from the University of Rochester in 1991. He taught at Harvard and Penn State before moving to Rutgers in 2004. His research interests include Game Theory, especially game theoretic models of conflict, and Neuroeconomics. Currently, he is involved in fMRI studies in Taiwan, where he and his colleagues try to understand how the brain makes decisions.

Wonderful Life Genes and Evolution

01:090:274 Index#47641
Frank Deis
SAS - Division of Life Sciences
MW 01:40-03:00P
Allison Road Classroom Rm 203
Busch Campus

Life appears to have originated on Earth nearly 4.5 billion years ago when the oceans boiled and the atmosphere had no oxygen.  The changing conditions on our planet have defined the parameters within which life has existed.  An increase in the amount of oxygen in the air from 2.5 billion to 500 million years ago eventually permitted “modern” animals to exist.  Massive extinctions (especially at the end of the Permian Period) have narrowed the spectrum of species on the planet.

One theme of the seminar will be the origin of life, early evolution, implications for life in extreme environments, and possible life on Mars.  Students with an appreciation of chemistry will perhaps better understand the concepts in this part of the seminar than those without, but the readings are intended to be non-technical.

A second theme of the seminar is that science, as a human endeavor, is full of disagreements and political axes to grind.  One of the most controversial areas of evolutionary science is the connection between genes and behavior.  We will try to illuminate this controversy through class readings and discussions.

The reading materials throughout the seminar will be enhanced and complemented by materials in other media, especially video and film.  Books by Stephen Jay Gould and other writers on evolution and paleontology will be assigned.  Professor Deis will also bring in appropriate fossils, shells, and minerals from his collection.

Periodic papers will be assigned.  The factual content of the course will require an occasional short quiz.  Attendance and active class participation will contribute to each student’s grade.

FRANK DEIS studied Chemistry at Rice University and the University of Virginia, and Medicinal Chemistry at the Medical College of Virginia.  He has taught Biochemistry at Rutgers since 1977, and is author of Companion to Biochemistry (W.H. Freeman 2006).

Molecular View of Human Anatomy: The Immune System
01:090:275 Index#47713
Helen Berman and Shuchismita Dutta
SAS - Chemistry & Chemical Biology
M 01:40-04:40P
Proteomics Building Rm 120
Busch Campus

What do proteins, DNA, and other biological molecules look like? Where do these molecules fit in your body and how do they work? This seminar will introduce you to the basics of structural biology using human anatomy, physiology, and disease as themes. The main focus in the class will be understanding molecules related to the immune system – what are they, what do they look like and how do they function.

In the first half of this seminar, students will learn the fundamentals of structural biology - how proteins and DNA are shaped and how their structures are experimentally determined. They will also be introduced to current concepts in immunology. Through the second half of the seminar, students will conduct research on molecules related to the immune system in health and disease. They will learn about a structural perspective of antibodies and immune receptors in infections, auto-immune diseases and AIDS.

Students will learn to critically read articles, in scientific journals and in lay press. This seminar will also provide an opportunity for students to interactively use computers for self-publishing. Students are encouraged to bring in their own laptop to class.

This seminar has no pre-requisites; non-science majors are particularly encouraged to enroll. Students will be evaluated on two written reports and one oral presentation related to structural aspects of the course theme and participation in class discussions/activities. The main aim of the seminar is to encourage research-based learning and to familiarize students with a molecular view of biology.

HELEN BERMAN is a Board of Governors Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Rutgers University.  Her research area is structural biology and bioinformatics, with a special focus on protein-nucleic acid interactions.  She is the founder of the Nucleic Acid Database, a repository of information about the structures of nucleic acid-containing molecules; and is the co-founder and Director of the Protein Data Bank, the international repository of the structures of biological macromolecules.  She is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and of the Biophysical Society, from which she received the Distinguished Service Award in 2000.  A past president of the American Crystallographic Association, she is a recipient of the Buerger Award (2006).  Dr. Berman received her A.B. in 1964 from Barnard College and a Ph.D. in 1967 from the University of Pittsburgh.

SHUCHISMITA DUTTA is a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Rutgers. She completed her Ph.D. in 2000 from Boston University and followed it by a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard University. With her background in crystallography and expert knowledge of the Protein Data Bank (PDB), she has taught various audiences about structural biology and the use of structural data archived in the PDB. She has been teaching this honors seminar course since 2006.

Our Vampires, Ourselves: Literature, Culture, History, Cinema

01:090:277 Index#47715
Dianne Sadoff
SAS - English
MW 01:10-02:30P
Brett Hall Seminar Room
College Ave Campus

Our focus in this SAS Honors seminar will be on vampires, parasites, and other modern vermin.  I have called the course “Our Vampires, Ourselves” because I believe that the horror genre does remarkable cultural work for the modern cultural consumer and for the nation at large. Questions we will ask include: how are nineteenth-century vampires “modern”? Why have their tales lived on to “haunt” us? What kinds of social problems do they address for twentieth- and twenty-first-century readers and film-goers? How does the vampire morph into an identity thief? Into a cosmetic surgeon? Into a self-representing artist? Into the medical-industrial complex? How, then, are vampires “ourselves”? And finally, why is movie-generated fear so much fun?

I also hope to expose you to a wide range of films, some of which you may have seen, many not.  We will view films from a variety of film genres: silent movies, mainstream Hollywood cinema, and foreign art film.  We will read the nineteenth- and twentieth-century novels from which these films were adapted or on which they're based to discover how the films appropriate and remediate the narratives (that is, rewrite them in a new medium).

We will read Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Patricia Highsmith’s Talented Mr. Ripley and other modern vampire tales. We’ll read selections from Sander Gilman’s Making the Body Beautiful, newspaper pieces and research essays about anxieties that surround New Reproductive Technologies, essays and portraits by Cindy Sherman that unsettle our notions of modern identity. We’ll watch movies by some of the following filmmakers: F. W. Murnau, James Whale, Kenneth Branagh, Francis Ford Coppola, Werner Herzog, and Pedro Alomdóvar.

DIANNE F. SADOFF studies nineteenth-century British literature and culture, psychoanalysis and psychoanalytic theory, and film adaptation.  Her books include Monsters of Affection: Dickens, Bronte and Eliot on Fatherhood; Sciences of the Flesh: Representing Body and Subject in Psychoanalysis; and the co-edited books, Teaching Theory to Undergraduates, and Victorian Afterlife: Postmodern Culture Rewrites the Nineteenth Century.  She has completed a new book, Victorian Vogue: The Nineteenth-Century British Novel On Screen.  She attended Oberlin College, the University of Oregon, and the University of Rochester.  She has always been interested in interdisciplinary teaching and research.

Three Modernist Cities: London, Paris, Harlem

01:090:278 Index#48421
Carol Smith
SAS - English
W 09:50A-12:50P
Brett Hall Seminar Room
College Ave Campus

London, Paris, and Harlem have come to known as centers of 20th century modernist culture.  In this seminar we will look at the cities themselves and how they became the urban spaces that drew early 20th century writers and artists.  For each city we will examine a pair of writers, one male, one female, who were part of the city’s cultural debates and who, in most cases, used the cities themselves as a backdrop for the texts we will read.

We will look first at the London that attracted American writers such as Ezra Pound and T. S. Eliot, as well as British writers and intellectuals who were part of the Bloomsbury Group, especially Virginia Woolf.  Next will be post World War I Paris and the expatriate literary colony centered on the Left Bank.  We will discuss the painters who attracted and influenced writers like Gertrude Stein and Ernest Hemingway, as well as the proliferation of experimental presses, bookstores, and literary salons where writers and artists gathered.  Finally we will look at Harlem and the literary movement of the Harlem Renaissance, including the close connections between Left Bank Paris and Harlem.  Here we will focus on texts by Zora Neale Hurston and Ralph Ellison, as well as the cultural battles over the way black culture should be presented to the public.  We will end the discussion of each city with a roundtable with short reports on individual student research projects.

CAROL SMITH is Professor Emerita of English.  She has taught many courses on modernism and 20th century literature in the Department of English.  She directed the Graduate Program in English, and served as chair of the Douglass English department and as Acting Dean of Douglass College.  She is the author of T. S. Eliot’s Dramatic Theory and Practice and many articles on American and British 20th century authors.  Her special interests include the cultural backgrounds of modernism and 20th century women writers.

Living in a World of Unpredictable Events
01:090:279 Index#47716
Virginia Yans
SAS - History
M 10:55A-01:55P
Hickman Hall Rm 129
Douglass Campus

How do you think about history?  Do you see the past as an orderly place, where we can observe repeating patterns, linear developments and probable connections between causes and effects?  Or do you believe that some events, including world-changing events, are random and unpredictable, beyond the grasp of conventional historical practice? 

Today there are a group of visionary thinkers, from history, geography, physics, biology, finance, climatology, cosmology and economics who point to unpredictable events, even seemingly random events, that have changed the course of human history. They urge that we pay heed to this new way of thinking about our world.

In this Honors Seminar, we will examine what these visionary thinkers say about global and local, long and short-term historical happenings. Those who take the “long view” ponder explanations for civilizations crashing, forms of life disappearing, or climate change. Those who study short-term sequences such as stock and financial market crashes argue that failure to honor the possibility of the unpredictable produces economic disaster. Still others, drawing upon mathematical physics and “chaos theory” propose what is often referred to as the “butterfly effect”: they look to seemingly inconsequential “events” like the fluttering of a butterfly’s wings to explain major weather catastrophes or grave disease epidemics. Historians of medicine call attention to the unpredictable in their narratives of brain death research that produced unanticipated useful outcomes.   Historians’ studies of seemingly inconsequential local events  (Shay’s rebellion) and of unpredictable events (political assassinations or 9/11) also encourage attention to the random and the unpredictable.

Each student will examine and report upon actual examples of unpredictable or seemingly random but consequential historical events.  Readings will include selections from Nassim N. Taleb, The Black Swan; Jared Diamond, Guns, Germs and Disease or his Collapse; Stephen J.  Gould, Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History; Ferdinand Braudel, Memory and the Mediterranean; and articles on brain death, the Spanish flu, chaos theory, the writing of physicists on historical change, and other readings to be determined by student interest.

VIRGINIA YANS is a historian of modern America.   Her interest in visionaries emerges from her work on the anthropologists Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson, both of whom were innovators and visionaries.   It also emerges from her delight in those who think outside the box.

How Sex Changed
01:090:280 Index#47717
James Reed
SAS - History
T 02:50-5:50P
Brett Hall Seminar Room
College Ave 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 transgendered 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.  Students will write substantial essays on the reputation of Alfred Kinsey, the medical management of intersex conditions, and the transgender civil rights movement.

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 Liberation Science.  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.

The Great Epics of India: Ramayana and Mahabharata in Past and Present

01:090:281 Index#47718
Sumit Guha
SAS - History
T 09:50A-12:50P
Brett Hall Seminar Room
College Ave Campus

The Indian sub-continent has one of the longest traditions of popular epic narrative anywhere in the world. The core stories go back thousands of years and their oldest versions are preserved in the Sanskrit language. But they have repeatedly been told and retold, enacted and dramatized in the many languages of South Asia and South-east Asia and also in English.  Episodes from them have also inspired some famous dance performances. Finally, they are frequently depicted in the painting and sculpture of the region though many centuries. In recent decades, made for TV versions have been immensely popular in India and among Indians abroad. In addition, these narratives have also been mobilized for political purposes, often in sinister ways. This course will introduce you to the basic narratives and then to the many ways in which they lived – and live, in Indian culture today. The course will thus introduce you to key texts of a major civilization in their historical context and give you an insight into belief systems, ritual practices and ethical debates of millions of people through the centuries.

SUMIT GUHA has taught in the History Department at Rutgers since 2004 where his courses often include the ancient period of South Asian history.  Professor Guha holds an MA from Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi (1976) and a Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge (1981). He reads Sanskrit, Hindi, Marathi and Bengali

Language, Categories, and Cognition
01:090:282 Index#47719
Kristen Syrett
SAS - Linguistics
TF 11:30A-12:50P
Scott Hall Room 203
College Ave Campus

What role does language play in shaping the way we think about the world? Does it make us to conceptually organize the world in a particular way, or does it serve as a guide, interacting with universal tendencies? In the early part of the 20th century, Edward Sapir argued that humans are “at the mercy” of their “language habits.” His student Benjamin Lee Whorf picked up on this idea and claimed that the concepts we acquire depend on our linguistic knowledge and practices. Since then, researchers across a number of disciplines have argued vehemently in favor of—but probably more often against—these hypotheses. Indeed, these claims stand in stark contrast to Noam Chomsky’s claim that language is a “mirror of the mind” and therefore that speakers across languages and cultures should converge upon similar representations. Perhaps in no area of research is this tension concerning the relationship between language and thought felt as acutely as in language acquisition.

In this honors seminar, we will explore the relationship between language and thought by focusing our attention on process of language acquisition. We will review findings from a number of groundbreaking studies with children 5 months to 5 years of age, which have investigated the influence of language on category formation in the areas of speech perception and word learning. We will complement these studies with discussion of related experiments with adults, shedding light on the degree of continuity or variation cross-linguistically. Our data will cover a wide range of languages.

Students with an interest in linguistic and cognitive development, or in the specific questions addressed above are welcome to attend. No prior knowledge of experimental methodology or linguistic theory will be assumed.

Social Innovation
01:090:283 Index#50950
Matt Matsuda
SAS - History, SAS Honors
TH 04:30-07:30P
Brett Hall Seminar Room
College Ave Campus

Too many students in the arts and sciences still graduate asking, “what can I do with my degree?” The socio-economic “reality” of their generation tells them that they must either make a meaningful difference in the world or make a living with a paycheck.

One of the most striking trends of the current generation has been the phenomenon of young people taking matters into their own hands by starting their own businesses or assisting in the development of a business.

Within this group is a dedicated subset with experience in humanitarian work, volunteerism, and activism, committed to integrating social justice and global change-making priorities with basic business and finance models. They come from backgrounds from literature and political science to math and design, from history, sociology, psychology, public health, and economics to philosophy.

Today we call them social entrepreneurs, or leaders of social business. Many are the creators of small start-ups, some have well-known global support from Echoing Green, the Acumen Fund, the Skoll Foundation, or the Ashoka group. Famous examples include the microfinance work of Kiva.org or the legendary Grameen Bank under Muhammad Yunus.  They aim to make a difference and make a living around the world.

Not a business class (the Rutgers Business School runs its own fine social entrepreneurship courses), this seminar is an overview of the history and fundamental principles and issues that drive this new-generation phenomenon. We’ll study the ways that local projects integrate with the United Nations Millennium Goals, and look at classic case studies of success and failure. We’ll connect our social business learning with Big Questions by analyzing works like Nobel prize-winner Amartya Sen’s Development as Freedom, Yunus’ Building Social Business, and journalistic accounts of social entrepreneurship around the world. We’ll review basic business terminology and planning approaches.

Most critically, the main challenge of the class will be for participants to work in small teams to develop social enterprise plans. This will require assaying a major global issue, understanding how it manifests itself in a local context, surveying the community to determine actual needs, and developing a logical “business plan” to make a difference. We’ll explore support and funding possibilities for the most viable projects and have connections and critique from our own colleagues at the Intersect Fund and other social business development firms. Opportunities can include field visits and having face time and feedback from experts in the field.

MATT MATSUDA is the Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences Honors Program as well as College Avenue Campus Dean.  He teaches and researches Modern European (particularly French) and Asia and Pacific comparative questions in the History Department.  He has written books about memory and historical thinking, empire and emotions, and is working on a general study of civilizations and encounters in the ocean-world of the Pacific.  He is a recipient of undergraduate teaching awards, and, as College Avenue Campus Dean, works regularly with social action, global rights, and environmental and activist groups. He is also developing teaching in social entrepreneurship: the crossover of business and social justice initiatives. A guitarist and performer on the Los Angeles scene during the post-punk, indie, New Wave era, he is happy to discuss all of the creative, fun, and unusual ways we can learn together.

Sustainability: Energy Materials and the Environment
01:090:284 Index#53576
Gabriel Kotliar
SAS - Physics & Astronomy
TH 01:40-04:40P
Allison Road Classroom Rm 203
Busch Campus

In the twenty first century humans are no longer a small perturbation on their habitat. Excess carbon dioxide in the air from burning fossil fuels has been linked to climate change, ocean acidification and indirectly responsible for drastic reductions in the amount of phytoplankton that make up the bottom of the food chain in the ocean.

We will examine these problems and potential solutions, focusing on the following questions:

  1. How do we resolve the increasing world demand for fossil fuels with the finite supply of economically accessible resources?
  2. As the world's standard of living and energy consumption per capita increase can we avoid destroying our own habitat?
  3. Is there a technologically viable solution to the current energy crisis, or is the survival of our way of life dependent on technological breakthroughs that have not yet taken place?
  4. If problems with energy, the ocean and climate change problem are so pressing, than why is it so hard to take concerted action?

We will discuss the relative importance of energy and excess carbon dioxide air concentrations from a policy perspective in light of other critical 21st century problems, such as eradication of poverty, warfare and environmental degradation.  Students will be provided with a solid  understanding of the issues and will develop the skills necessary to understand the constraints imposed by the laws of physics when these questions are addressed.

From an interdisciplinary perspective, the seminar will start by asking what energy is and how it is used in various settings. We will then describe the different forms that energy can take, such as nuclear, solar, chemical, electrical, and mechanical as well as the efficiency of converting between the various forms of energy, (solar, chemical, electrical, chemical, a mechanical, etc,) .  We will brainstorm which steps are the most likely to be effective in reducing reliance on fossil fuels as well as what steps are currently being taken.  The physics, chemistry, mathematics and biology 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 teach students to think quantitatively and scientifically  about important problems  and to elicit discussions about the current options that we as a society have in facing the current energy and climate crisis.  Further information will be made available in http://physcgi/user-html/gkguest/CourseContent/index.php

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 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.

Cosmology from Ancient Greece to the Modern Era
01:090:285 Index#56234
Jerry Sellwood
SAS - Physics & Astronomy
MTH 10:20-11:40A
Allison Road Classroom Rm 203
Busch Campus

For centuries, mankind has attempted to understand the universe in which we find ourselves. The motions of the Sun, Moon and planets have intrigued some of the most powerful minds throughout history. The astronomical foundations laid by Aristarchus, Aristotle, Ptolemy and others contained both surprising insights and profound misconceptions. Most errors were dispelled in the Renaissance by Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo and Newton. The true scale of the universe was not grasped until the work of Einstein and Hubble in the early the 20th century and our understanding of the universe is still developing today.

The seminar will trace this history, focusing both on the scientific concepts and the characters behind them. We will review the observational data that demand explanation and the development of the scientific process. We will conclude with an assessment of our current picture and ask in what ways it may still be wrong. Students will not need any college level math or science, but competence in high school math, including geometry and science will be assumed.

JERRY SELLWOOD completed his PhD in Astronomy at Manchester University, England in 1977. He has held positions at the European Southern Observatory, Groningen University (The Netherlands), Cambridge University (England), and the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore. He has been on the Faculty at Rutgers University since 1991.

He is a member of the International Astronomical Union and of the American Astronomical Society. He is also a Life Member of Clare Hall Cambridge and recipient of the 1999 Graduate Teaching Award from Rutgers Graduate School.  His main interests are structure and evolution of galaxies, their formation and their dark matter content. He is an expert on disk dynamics, bars and spirals in galaxies, and uses state-of-the-art N-body simulations to learn about these systems. He has published over 100 papers, edited three volumes of conference proceedings, and delivered more than 40 invited lectures at international conferences.

CrIME: Criminal Investigation through Mathematical Examination

01:090:287 Index#49631
Eugene Fiorini
M 03:20-06:20P
CoRE Rm 433
Busch Campus

Forensic science is the collection and study of evidence from crime scenes to help solve crimes.  Forensic techniques are also applied to sites such as archeological digs to help reconstruct ancient societies and their culture and to fields such as epidemiology to determine how diseases are started and spread. Mathematics plays an essential part in many forensic techniques. Mathematical forensics is the application of mathematics to forensic methods as a means to solving problem. General mathematics is used to take measurements of bodies and bone fragments to determine gender and general body size. Algebraic functions and graphs are used to determine blood alcohol level and time of death through such measurements as body temperature. Additional mathematical topics such as Trigonometry, Calculus, and Vector Analysis are used to determine ballistics and blood spatter patterns. These examples are a few of the ways in which mathematics is used within forensic science to help solve crimes. This seminar will provide students with a better understanding of mathematical forensics and the role it plays in solving mysteries, to gain an appreciation for mathematical applications, and to give some appreciation of forensic science as a career. This will be achieved through a series of activities designed to introduce the students to the forensics methodologies. The activities will be organized according to the mathematical concepts relevant to the methodologies. Mathematical concepts will be covered in the seminar as they are needed.

Student progress will be assessed through several formative and summative activities that emphasize the applications. A final assessment will be presented as a staged “crime scene” scenario set up at a campus location. Students will be asked to demonstrate understanding of the concepts by applying them to the staged scene and solving the “crime” through the use of those concepts and techniques covered in class.


Nelson Biological Labs
Room A-110
P 848-445-3912


Milledoler Hall
Room 12
P 848-932-1406


Ruth Adams Building
Suite 108 
P 848-932-2011


Lucy Stone Hall
Room A-201
P 848-445-3206


100 Rockafeller Rd
Rm. 1031
P 848-445-3206

CAC Main Office

35 College Avenue