Foundational Interdisciplinary Sequences 2018-2019
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Introduction to the Honors Foundational Interdisciplinary Sequences
American Civilization, section 01
Fall Semester: HNR 213 and 214, section 01: American Civilization 1 & 2
Winter Semester: HNR 223 and 224, section 01: American Civilization 3 & 4
NOTE: You must take section 01 for both semesters.
Schedule (First Semester): MWF 9:00-10:50am HON 218
Schedule (Second Semester): MWF 9:00-10:50am HON 218
Avis Hewitt, Professor of English
Douglas Montagna, Associate Professor of History
Fall: Course provides a survey of American history, literature, and intellectual progress from European Colonization through Reconstruction.
Winter: Continues the study of American Civilization begun in HNR 213. Emphasis is on philosophy and arts in American culture.
*Our course is a rich and comprehensive journey through the evolution of American cultural life, especially as reflected in our literature and history. We examine a variety of narratives that serve as markers of our sense of the past and the formation of the American self (or selves), and we explicate works of fiction, poetry, and drama that serve as particularly articulate responses to being not only American but also human. Topics and works range from the earliest colonies to the twenty-first century. Both history and literature thrive on relentless investigation and interpretation. We are interested in what our students think and have to say about the topics we study. Our classes are full of research, discussion, presentations, group work, and writing—both formal and informal. From George Washington’s remarkable career, the life of a late eighteenth century Midwife, and the experiences of a family of American diplomats in Nazi Germany to provocative permutations of Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross, and Don DeLillo’s White Noise, we look deeply into both sorts of “major hitters”—that is, the giants of history and literature—as well as into the daily lives of Americans in a variety of eras. Students often find that our course is not only about the knowledge they acquire and the skills they develop, but also about the delight of being part of a community of learners where good will and good times get privileged along with proficiency.
American Civilization, section 02
Fall Semester: HNR 213 and 214, section 02: American Civilization 1 & 2
Winter Semester: HNR 223 and 224, section 02: American Civilization 3 & 4
NOTE: You must take section 02 for both semesters.
Schedule (First Semester): MW 3:00-5:45pm HON 219
Schedule (Second Semester): MW 3:00-5:45pm HON 219
Steve Tripp, Professor of History
Michael Webster, Professor of English
This section of the Honors Foundation course focuses exclusively on the United States during the twentieth century, what publisher Henry Luce boldly identified as the “American Century.” Using literature, poetry, film, autobiography, art, photography, and music, we will examine the lives of people who lived through the industrial revolution, the Jazz Age, the Great Depression, two world wars, de-industrialization, revolt, and reaction. During the Fall semester, we will pay particular attention to the concept of Modernity in all its glorious manifestations. In the Winter, we will consider the fate of Modernity amidst the social, political, and cultural upheaval of post-World War II America.
Asia and the World
Fall Semester: HNR 256 & 257 section 01, East Asia and the World 1 & 2
Winter Semester: HNR 276 & 277 section 01, East Asia and the World 3 & 4
Schedule (Fall and Winter): MW 3:00-5:45 HON 218
Craig Benjamin, Associate Professor of History
Yosay Wangdi, Associate Professor of History
This course explores the history and culture of China, Korea, Japan, South Asia, Southeast Asia, and Central Asia from ancient times to the present. Asian history and culture is often neglected in mainstream Western education systems, but over recent decades we have come to realize the fundamental significance of this vast world zone to global history. China, for example, has the longest continuous history of any civilization, and for millennia was the wealthiest and most powerful empire on Earth. Today 20% of the world’s population lives in China, a nation undergoing rapid economic growth and social and political transformation. South Asia also has a long and rich history, from the establishment of the ancient Indus Civilization five thousand years ago through to the dynamic economic and cultural region it has become today, home to almost 25% of the world’s population. This course explores the extraordinary technological, artistic and philosophical contributions the eastern and southern regions of Asia have made to world culture through a detailed consideration of the political, military, economic and cultural history of China, India and the other major nations of Asia.
During the first semester, Professor Benjamin explores the rich history of China from the Paleolithic Era to the Tang Dynasty, including China’s engagement with ancient Central Asia along the Silk Roads. At the same time, Professor Wangdi will offer a comprehensive overview of the history and culture of South Asia from ancient times through to the early Mughal Period (c. 1600 CE). In the second semester, Professor Benjamin follows Chinese history from the Tang Dynasty through to today, and also investigates the long and fascinating history of Japan, Korea, and Southeast Asia. Professor Wangdi also continues her comprehensive overview of the history and culture of South Asia, particularly the region’s largest nation India, through to the twenty-first century. By the end of this two-semester course students will have gained a deep understanding and appreciation of the fascinating history and culture of these dynamic regions, and the extraordinary contributions their peoples have made to global culture. This course fulfills the General Education Program's Foundations (Philosophy and Literature Emphasis) and World Perspective (Culture Emphasis), and WRT 150 designations. You will also learn how to research and write extensive and rigorous research essays.
Cultures in Contact, Points of Change (Medieval Cultures: Continuity and Change 600-1650)
Fall Semester: HNR 280 section 07 Cultures in Contact, Points of Change 1 (Must also enroll in a Live. Learn. Lead.)
Winter Semester: HNR 280 sections 09 &10 Cultures in Contact, Points of Change 2 & 3 (SWS)
Schedule (Fall): TR 8:30-9:45am HHLC 207A
Schedule (Winter): TR 8:30-9:45am & 10:00-11:15am HHLC 109A
Alice Chapman, Associate Professor of History
Sigrid Danielson, Associate Professor of Visual and Media Arts
Knights, ladies, wars, monks, and peasants are all popular figures associated with the medieval world, but what do we really know about this era? To what extent is the middle ages simultaneously a useful concept and an “invention” as suggested by the scholar Norman Cantor? Traditional models define the era as the 1000 years between the “Fall of Rome” in the fifth century and concluding with the “Renaissance” in the 15th century. Using an interdisciplinary foundation this two-semester Honors sequence explores our understanding of the medieval past with the study of pivotal themes that reverberate across the years between 600 and 1650.
We will revisit conventional narratives to question assumptions about the middle ages with “snapshots” from history. The sources are diverse, including textual, visual, and literary works that provide a deeper understanding of the medieval world. The fall semester will introduce some of the overarching approaches that have influenced the study of the middle ages with a focus on the period between 600 and 1000. The winter term will be team taught, as we consider the years between1000 and 1650. Both semesters engage with specific key topics including religious identity, power and rule, concepts of the body, the natural world, and technological change. These themes provide a foundation to broaden our scope of inquiry to examine the roles of gender, ethnic and religious identity, as well as concepts of the individual, community and outsider. This approach encourages a deeper understanding of the world and the complex structures that bind societies together and mark change over time.
Europe: The Center and the Margins, section 02
Fall Semester: HNR 215 and 216, section 02: European Civilization 1 & 2
Winter Semester: HNR 225 and 226, section 02 European Civilization 3 & 4
NOTE: You must take section 02 for both semesters.
Schedule (First Semester): TR 1:00-3:45pm HON 220
Schedule (Second Semester): TR 1:00-3:45pm HON 220
Grace Coolidge, Professor of History
Diane Wright, Professor of Modern Languages
Gabriela Pozzi, Professor of Modern Languages
While this course covers all of European history and culture, we put a special emphasis on Spain. Spain occupied a unique historical and geographical position as the cultural crossroad of East and West, where the three “peoples of the book” (Christians, Jews and Muslims) coexisted in complex patterns of harmony and tension. The Spanish empire dominated the early modern world, and Spain was home to a rich cultural Renaissance. By contrast, twentieth-century Spain survived a brutal civil war and the longest-running Fascist dictatorship in European history to become a thriving modern democracy. We explore the twists and turns of Spanish history and compare and contrast Spain to the rest of Europe, learning about its uniqueness as well as about the common ties that bind it to the mainland. The course covers Spanish and European history and culture from the medieval period to the present day European union. We learn how to cure love-sickness, follow a cross-dressing nun in her adventures across Spain and the new world, meet the famous witch Celestina, and wrestle with the Frankenstein monster. In the 19th century the class uses a six-week simulation in which students play the parts of workers and factory owners caught up in the Industrial Revolution, making choices and living with the consequences in this fast-changing culture. We explore the tragic, disillusioned poetry of World War One, the impact of the Holocaust, and the slow rebuilding of a traumatized Europe into today’s European Union. The class puts special emphasis on learning to write historical and literary essays and to handle a college-level reading load, skills that will benefit students in any discipline they pursue.
The Making of Latin America
Fall Semester: HNR 280 04 & 05
Winter Semester: HNR 280 10& 11
Schedule (First Semester): MWF 1:00-1:50pm & 2:00-2:50pm HHLC 107A
Schedule (Second Semester): MWF 1:00-1:50pm and 2:00-2:50pm HHLC 109A
David Stark, Professor of History
Medar Serrata, Associate Professor of Modern Languages and Literatures
The Making of Latin America 1 & 2: When Worlds Collide
What is Latin America? This course examines Latin American civilizations and cultures from pre-conquest times to the nineteenth century. It will survey the history, culture, art, economy, literature, and politics of Latin America from the time of its first inhabitants until the independence period. Five major themes will be addressed: the development of the great Amerindian civilizations, the encounter between Amerindians, Europeans, and Africans, the making of a colonial society, the struggles leading to the collapse of colonial rule, and the wars of independence. Students will come away from this class with a better understanding of how the different peoples and cultures came together in the Americas shaping the colonial societies, and how some elements of this legacy persisted or were transformed by different social groups after independence.
The Making of Latin America 3 & 4: In Search of Modernity
What does it mean to be Latin American? This course examines Latin American civilizations and cultures from the independence period in the nineteenth century to the present day. Given the vastness of Latin America the approach of the course is thematic and chronological rather than regional. We will pay attention to five specific and interconnected themes: the struggle to define the nation, imperialism and intervention, divergent paths of political and economic development, resistance and revolution, and confronting the challenges of modernity. These themes will be explored through an interdisciplinary lens: history, culture, art, economy, literature, film, and politics of Latin America. By the end of the class, students will be able to approach the diversity and complexities surrounding Latin America(n) identity(ies) through a historical and cultural perspective.
The Middle East Beyond the Headlines
Fall Semester: HNR 209 and 210, section 01
Winter Semester: HNR 219 and 220, section 01
Schedule (First Semester): MW 12:00-1:15pm and 1:30– 2:45pm HON 219
Schedule (Second Semester): MW 12:00-1:15 and 1:30-2:45pm HON 219
Coeli Fitzpatrick, Professor of Philosophy
Majd Al-Mallah, Professor of Modern Languages and Literatures
Fall, Middle East Beyond the Headlines I & II: This course looks at the rise of Islam from the hot desert of the Arabian Peninsula and traces its development and expansion through the region and beyond until the decline of the last Islamic Caliphate, the Ottoman Empire. Students will learn about the world that was Muhammad’s birthplace, and answers to questions about him and the new religion of Islam. What was the world of Mecca and Medina like before Muhammad? What did this new religion change? How did was the message of the Qur’an revealed and received? What does the Qur’an really say? How did the Muslims conquer the Middle East so quickly—did they ride through the region with swords in one hand and Qur’ans in the other? How did Muslims and Middle Eastern Christians and Jews experience the Crusades? What is it like to view these historical events through their eyes? In answering these and many other questions, we will explore the rich cultural, literary, philosophical and artistic legacy created by the Muslims in this period called the Classical period of Islam.
Winter, Middle East Beyond the Headlines III & IV: The decline of the last Islamic Caliphate, the Ottoman Empire, used to be described by historians as a history of “the sick man of Europe.” The final demise of the sick man happens after WW I, and it is a period of immense change in the Middle East—indeed it is the period where the “Middle East” and many of its countries are invented—with the border lines of some countries literally drawn up by European politicians. These massive changes leave their marks everywhere in the society: Islam undergoes a major reform, socially and politically and comes to be a vehicle of resistance towards outside interference; Muslim modernizers and revivalists struggles over the influence of Islam within society; Allah’s gift of oil to the Arabs and Muslims is discovered; new literary genres are developed and we see the rise of the Arabic novel; the state of Israel is created; the feminist movement begins and women demand more rights; all citizens demand representation. But most of the Middle East today is still governed by monarchies and dictators—why? And what about terrorists from the Middle East? The Western world views the Middle East as a hotbed of fanatical Muslims. What truth is there to this view? What do average Muslims think about the West? This sequel to HNR 209/210 explores the modern Middle East in all its fascinating aspects: religion, culture, society, literature, history. This makes reading the news much more relevant and interesting!
Theory and Practice of Rights **This class is full for 2018-19**
Fall Semester: HNR 263 section 01 (Must register for section 07 of HNR 201: Live, Learn, Lead)
Winter Semester: HNR 264 & 265 section 01
Schedule (First semester): MW 3:00 -4:15pm HON 220
Schedule (Second semester): TR 2:30-3:45pm, 4:00-5:15pm HON 148
Karen Zivi, Associate Professor of Political Science
Pamela Galbraith, Professor of Anthropology
If the 1960s marked a “rights revolution” in the United States, the 21st century has been witness to that revolution’s expansion around the globe. But what are rights? Where do they come from? What do they do? And how do they work? This 3-course sequence takes a multi-disciplinary approach to the study of rights theory and practice. In the first semester, students will examine the philosophical meanings of and justifications for using rights to challenge political authority. The focus will be on 18th and 19th century European and American debates and conflicts, and particular attention will be given to questions of gender and race. In the second semester, students will examine rights philosophy and practice from a more contemporary and broader cross-cultural perspective with emphasis placed on assessing the benefits and limits of using rights language to address inequality and injustice in realms such as gender, sexuality, and health.
The Worlds of Greece and Rome **This class is full for 2018-19**
Fall Semester: HNR 211 and 212, section 01
Winter Semester: HNR 221 and 222, section 01
Schedule (First Semester): MWF 1:00-2:50pm HON 220
Schedule (Second Semester): MWF 1:00-2:50pm HON 220
Charles Pazdernik, Professor of Classics
Charles Ham, Assistant Professor, Classics
Quinn Griffin, Assistant Professor of Classics
This course takes a multi-disciplinary approach to the study of the history, literature, intellectual history, philosophy, and arts of the Classical period with emphasis on Greeks and Romans. This approach includes close and extensive reading of primary sources (such as literary texts and artifacts) and secondary sources (including history and art history textbooks).
Urbanism **This class is full for 2018-19**
Fall Semester: HNR 280 section 11
Winter Semester: HNR 280 sections 03 and 04
Schedule (First Semester): TR 2:30-3:45 HON 219
Schedule (Second Semester): TR 2:30-5:15 EC 510
Melissa Morison, Associate Professor of Classics
Matthew Daley, Associate Professor of History
Cathedrals or wastelands, solutions or nightmares, cities rank amongst the most fundamental political, economic, and socio-cultural phenomena of human society. We have built, modified, praised, and cursed our cities for thousands of years. Cities have become the primary tools used by more than half of the human beings on our planet to organize their shelter, food, water, government, education, religion, and entertainment.
But this was not always the case. What prompted the emergence of the earliest cities? Can it be true, as some scholars have suggested, that cities were an inevitable development? Can we imagine other viable long-term options? Is the “Age of Cities” coming to an end? In the first semester of the course (3 credits; Professor Morison), we will examine the city as “artifact,” analyzing the broad spectrum of ways that cities have developed and functioned across time and space. We will consider planning strategies, cultural and environmental interaction, infrastructure, meaning, form, and representation of the city in the visual arts. We will also use the Fall semester to develop an understanding of key theoretical approaches and the language of architectural and urban analysis.
The second semester (6 credits; Professor Daley), continues the analysis of urban forms from the Renaissance to the present day taking an even closer examination of what constitutes an urban society. Drawing on the first semester’s concepts we will examine the impact of industrialization, the emergence of professional urban planners, and the changes brought by the automobile. The rise of increasingly globalized and urbanizing societies will also be a major focus. To understand these changes, the Winter semester will also utilize metropolitan Grand Rapids as a research site to consider these changes at the local and global levels.
Alliance and Conflict: World Construction in Religion and Society **This class is full for 2018-19**
Fall Semester: HNR 260 section 01 (Must also register in section 09 of HNR 201: Live, Learn, Lead)
Winter Semester: HNR 261/262 section 01
Schedule (First Semester): MWF 12-12:50 HON 218
Schedule (Second Semester): MWF 11:00-12:50 HON 218
Jeremiah Cataldo, Assistant Professor of History and Meijer Honors College
Dwayne Tunstall, Associate Professor of Philosophy
At the heart of every social relationship, whether among human collectives or with the natural world, exists either alliance or conflict. In this sequence, we investigate the nature of those dialectical relationships as they take place between religion and society. We will look at how those relationships have defined or framed in particular collective identities, behaviors, morals, truths, and laws. We will look also at how those relationships have affected the construction of knowledge.
This sequence will be taught from a social-scientific approach, introducing students to different types of critical theories. Drawing upon select religious and cultural contexts, areas of focus will include: religious and cultural “normatives,” texts, art, philosophy, theology, linguistics, and politics. The first semester of this sequence will focus both on an introduction to different critical theories and select religions and societies before and during the so-called “Axial Age” (800-200 BCE). The second semester will pursue a relative mastery of critical theory and focus on post-“Axial Age” religions and societies. By the end of the sequence, students will have an understanding of how religion and society are mutually constructive through relations of alliance and conflict. In addition, the theories and analytical procedures used throughout the sequence will provide helpful tools for critical analysis in other courses in the humanities and the social- and political-sciences.
Big History **This class is full for 2018-19**
Schedule (Fall): TR 2:30-3:45 & 4:00-5:15pm
Schedule (Winter): TR 2:30-3:45 & 4:00-5:15pm
Craig Benjamin, Associate Professor of History
Everything that exists has a history: each person, plant, animal and object, our planet, and the entire universe. Each of these histories offers valuable insights; but collectively they reveal even more. Big history weaves evidence and perspectives from many scientific and historical disciplines into a single, accessible origin story – one that explores who we are, how we got here, how we are connected to everything around us, and where we may be heading. Big History examines these connected histories on very large scales across long time frames through a multidisciplinary approach focused on both the history of the non-human world, and on the major adaptations and alterations in the human experience.
This Big History course will examine the past on the largest possible time scale: it begins with the origins of the universe, and goes on to tell a series of linked stories about the origins of stars and planets, of life on earth, the emergence of human beings, and the various types of human societies that have existed up to the present day. History on this sort of scale encourages each of us to consider our place in the global world of the twenty-first century, and to think of how we might contribute to the future of that world. Both semesters of the course will be taught by Professor Benjamin, who is a leading big historian and a member of the Executive of the International Big History Association. He will be joined throughout the course by many different professors from various academic disciplines who will bring their expertise to the course through a series of guest lectures. This course fulfills the General Education Program's Foundations (Historical Perspectives and Social Science Emphasis) and World Perspective (Culture Emphasis), and WRT 150 and one SWS designations. You will also learn how to research and write extensive and rigorous research essays in a range of scientific and historical subjects.
Culture, Power, and Inequality **This class is full for 2018-19**
Fall Semester: HNR 280 sections 12 & 13
Winter Semester: HNR 280 sections 15 & 16
Schedule (Both Semesters): TR 11:30am-2:15pm HHLC 109A
Joel Stillerman, Professor of Sociology
Heather VanWormer, Associate Professor of Anthropology
Why do the three richest people in the U.S. have as much wealth as the poorest half of the population? Why is sexual assault so widespread even though it is illegal? If race does not matter, why are black women more likely to die of breast cancer than white women? In a time when gay marriage is legal in the U.S., why is the existence of transgender bathrooms deemed dangerous? What are the sources of power and powerlessness in societies? We explore these questions by addressing the social and cultural systems that shape our opportunities and behavior even when we are not aware of them. We will investigate some pressing current topics, such as global income inequality, social injustice and oppression, environmental racism, unequal access to healthcare, the uncertain effects of digital technology on our world, and other issues of power and inequality. We will also explore how people unite to resist the corrosive effects of systemic inequality and oppression through political participation, protest, online activism, creative expression, and other forms of collective action. We will examine these issues of inequality and protest in the U.S. and around the world. Students will have the opportunity to explore some of these issues through small, independent research projects based on their specific interests both inside and outside the classroom. Students will gain experience with writing-to-learn and writing-for-mastery assignments as well as guided revisions of their writing. Classroom activities will include lecture, discussion, student presentations, multi-media activities, and field trips.
Design Thinking for Social Product Innovation **This class is full for 2018-19**
Fall Semester: HNR 280 06 (Must take a Live, Learn, Lead.)
Winter Semester: HNR 280 07 & 08 (SWS)
Schedule (Fall Semester): W 3:00-5:50pm HON 148
Schedule (Winter Semester): TR 11:30am-12:45pm, 1:00-2:15pm HON 219
Paul Lane, Professor of Marketing
Ryan Lafferty, Adjunct Professor
Join us on a quest to find innovative, sustainable solutions to relevant world problems and become part of a close-knit community of engaging students and instructors! This lively, multidisciplinary sequence includes a study of the past, present and future of innovation, as well as creative project-based research and development of products and services; energetic collaborative learning, discussion, and brainstorming; inspiring field trips and guest speakers; and optional social gatherings. Students with diverse backgrounds and interests benefit from the course, as innovation flourishes when participants bring varied perspectives, experience, and training to the creation, development, and evaluation processes. After completing Social Product Innovation, students may participate for academic credit in the annual trip to Nicaragua in May.
Europe: The Center and the Margins, section 01 **This class is full for 2018-19**
Fall Semester: HNR 215 and 216, section 01: European Civilization 1 & 2
Winter Semester: HNR 225 and 226, section 02: European Civilization 3 & 4
Note: You must take section 01 for both semesters.
Schedule (First Semester): TR 10:00am-12:45pm HON 218
Schedule (Second Semester): TR 10:00am-12:45pm HON 218
Ellen Adams, Assistant Professor of Art
David Eick, Associate Professor of Modern Languages and Literatures
Fall: This course examines the sweeping political and cultural changes that roiled Europe from the Renaissance through the eve of the French Revolution. Studying art and literature in tandem will yield insights into the ways in which intellectuals challenged dominant ideologies and promoted new values like tolerance of difference, freedom of thought and expression, equality and human rights. We will delve into the Renaissance and the Enlightenment via two “Reacting to the Past” (RTTP) games: “Machiavelli & the Florentine Republic, 1494-1512; and “The Enlightenment in Crisis: Diderot’s Encyclopédie in a Parisian Salon,” in which we will canvass the bold ideas which inspired the most ambitious enterprise in the history of publishing. Throughout the semester, we will explore the how the lives and work of ordinary people, writers, artists, and musicians both reflected and shaped historical events.
Winter: This course examines the sweeping political and cultural changes taking place in Europe in the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries and the ways in which writers, artists, filmmakers, and musicians—and even restaurant chefs!--reflect and shape these changes. How does a society move towards industrialization and what implications does this have for traditional ideas about class, gender, and family? How do advances in technology affect the nineteenth century and the onset of total war in the twentieth century? How do people experience ideas and movements linked to politics, nationalism, psychology, and gender at the end of the nineteenth century? How can we see the European experience in its global context during a period of empire building? What were the social, political and cultural effects of total war, fascism and decolonization in the twentieth century? What can we learn about our modern society and ourselves by understanding this past?
Food for Thought **This class is full for 2018-19**
Fall Semester: HNR 280 01 (Must also enroll in a section of Live, Learn, Lead)
Winter Semester: HNR 280 sections 01 and 02 (SWS)
Schedule (Fall): TR 11:30am -12:45pm HON 214
Schedule (Winter): MWF 10:00-10:50am and 11:00-11:50am HON 219
Amy McFarland, Professor of Meijer Honors College and Environmental Studies
Jody Vogelzang, Assistant Professor of Allied Health Sciences
This course examines food - from seed to waste and beyond - and its impact on our selves, our communities, and our planet. Beginning with where our food comes from, this class will explore the cultural, scientific, and economic 'evolution' of our food systems, both within the United States and abroad. We will investigate the causes and consequences of producing food for the ever-growing modern world, including issues of excess, waste, and the hidden environmental, economic and social costs. The course will pay special attention to the social class inequality of our choices and their consequences. In the winter, we will turn the lens toward our community and, using Design Thinking methodology, we will understand root problems and explore pathways to positive change.
History of Science **This class is full for 2018-19**
Fall Semester: HNR 258 and 259, section 01
Winter Semester: HNR 278 and 279, section 01
NOTE: You must take section 01 for both semesters.
Schedule (First Semester): TR 8:30-9:45am and 10:00-11:15am HON 148
Schedule (Second Semester): TR 8:30-9:45am and 10:00-11:15am HON 148
Andrew D. Spear, Associate Professor of Philosophy
David Crane, professor of Classics
The world of today – in which the building blocks of life are modified and rearranged for human purposes, heavy machines move effortlessly through air and space, and course descriptions are read on computer screens and can be accessed by anyone anywhere in the world at the click of a button – is unthinkable without science. Yet science (and its much-loved child, technology) did not spring into the world fully formed: it, like everything else, has a history. More importantly, the history of science is just one part of a broader history of the human endeavor to understand our universe and our place in it. This broader endeavor includes not only science, but also religion, literature, art, philosophy, and the study of history itself. This sequence is about this broader human endeavor with special reference to the history of science in Europe (from the Ancient Greeks to around 1850). Themes of the course will include the nature of knowledge, human nature, the relationship between scientific knowledge and other kinds of knowledge and belief, the impact of science and technology on ethics, politics, and the arts (and conversely), and the implications of changing methods and new results in science for our conceptions of ourselves and of the universe. The format of the course is lecture and discussion with occasional in-class group work and/or student presentations.
The first semester explores the history, philosophy, literature, and arts of Europe in an integrated manner, emphasizing the history of science. Specifically, HNR 258 focuses on the historical development of science and some developments in European art beginning in Ancient Greece and then focusing on the period from 1400 – 1650, while HNR 259 focuses on philosophy and theology beginning with Ancient Greece, then concentrating on the period from 1400 – 1650. Together, the two courses work to develop a picture of the Ancient Greek and Medieval-Scholastic (so largely Christian) world-view that had come to dominate European thinking by the 1300s, of the subsequent upheavals brought about by the Renaissance and the Protestant Reformation, and of the beginnings of the Modern Scientific Period and its key breaks with the previous worldview, including new proposals in astronomy and anatomy, and new ways of thinking about the nature, foundations, and goals of science and scientific method. The courses emphasize writing, critical thinking, and research skills.
The second semester continues to explore the history, philosophy, literature, and arts of Europe in an integrated manner, emphasizing the history of science. HNR 278 focuses on historical developments in science and the arts from 1650—1850, while HNR 279 focuses on philosophical, political, and cultural developments during the same period. Beginning with the mechanical philosophy of Rene Descartes and the scientific accomplishments of Isaac Newton, the two sections work together to trace the impact of these developments, as well as reactions to them and parallel developments, through the Enlightenment and Romantic periods, including the political and industrial revolutions. The courses emphasize writing, ethical and political reasoning, and some amount of group work and individual or group presentations.