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Courses use creative approaches to explore the liberal arts

By Kimber Williams | Emory Report | Aug. 27, 2012

At Emory, there is no place the strength of the liberal arts tradition is better illustrated than in the classroom, where engaged scholarship, service-based learning and academic rigor intersect with current events and new ideas.

A sampling of courses depicts the range of creative approaches to multidisciplinary topics offered this fall:

Business & Society

Taught By: Wesley Longhofer, assistant professor of organization & management, Goizueta Business School

This course surveys the complex and evolving relationship between corporations and society, from Chick-Fil-A’s recent statements to Patagonia’s sustainability efforts. The class considers the challenges and opportunities that corporations confront in their interactions with society, including struggles to build partnerships and solve complex global problems. A significant portion of the course will address corporate social responsibility, including a project with UNICEF to help protect the world’s children through business acumen.

Cognitive Science and Fiction

Taught By: Laura Otis, English professor and director of graduate studies

Sponsored by the Center for Mind, Brain, and Culture (CMBC), this course will juxtapose innovative literature and cutting-edge scientific studies, examining how newfound knowledge about the brain can enrich  appreciation of literature. Scientific observations will help students understand how good literature works. Both fiction writers and scientists will address the class and students will attend the CMBC lecture series.

The class is led by Laura Otis, who began her career as a scientist and has studied the ways in which scientific and literary thinking coincide and foster each other's growth.

Creek/Mvskoke Language & Ecology

Taught By: Rosemary McCombs Maxey, adjunct faculty in Environmental Studies

Long before the Emory campus took shape, Mvskoke (Creek) Indians inhabited the region. This fall, Rosemary McCombs Maxey — a writer, teacher, minister and elder in the Mvskoke nation — will teach the Mvskoke language, examining the history of the local landscape and employing Mvskoke (Creek) words to describe it. A longtime advocate of language preservation, Maxey is among a shrinking pool of first-language speakers teaching the now-critically endangered language that was once the indigenous tongue for much of the Southeastern U.S. The class will feature a combination of videoconferencing and on-site teaching.

Ghosts of the Plantation

Taught By: Valerie Loichot, associate professor and director of graduate studies in French

This course explores how the plantation structure of bygone days produced repeating cultural and literary patterns throughout the Americas, and the modern-day legacy of that system. The class will consider the question of race and examine how the present is still haunted by “the ghosts of slavery.” Readings focus on literary texts and cultural documents from Martinique, Guadeloupe, Haiti and the U.S. South, including an examination of Atlanta and Emory.

From Archives to iPads

Taught By: Donna Troka, associate director, CFDE and
adjunct assistant professor, Graduate Institute of Liberal Arts

How has sexuality been represented in Emory publications? Examining primary documents, including the Emory Wheel and Emory Report, those representations will be studied within the historical context of sexuality. Time will be spent in the Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library (MARBL) uncovering what was discussed and also what was omitted in the publications. Students will be introduced to scholarship on sexual identity, sexual health and sexual violence, while learning how to do archival research and develop digital scholarship.

Human Learning & Memory

Taught By: Stephan Hamann, associate professorof psychology

From amnesia to Alzheimer's disease, this course examines the basic structure and organization of human memory. Through research and theory, students will learn how information about the world is acquired and remembered. Major topic include: methods for improving memory; age-related memory disorders; the debate over recovered traumatic memory; short-and-long-term memory, applications of memory research and the neural basis of memory.

Math: Sports, Games & Gambling

Taught By: Ronald Gould, Goodrich C. White professor

Fundamental laws of probability can be fun when applied to games such as poker, blackjack, backgammon, lotteries and more. This course is designed to examine the laws of probability, statistics and game theory through familiar games and sports. Counting techniques will be used to determine outcomes and card tricks based on mathematical principles will be demonstrated to learn information encoding basics. Games will be employed to develop winning strategies or determine when a win is not possible.

Men Stopping Violence

Taught By: Ulester Douglas, associate director of Men Stopping Violence

Male intimate partner violence against women happens with alarming frequency. What can we do to make a difference? This course is supported through a partnership between Emory and Men Stopping Violence, an Atlanta-based nonprofit dedicated to community-centered responses to domestic violence. From sexual violence and stalking to the lingering impact of violence, the course emphasizes how to build healthy interpersonal relationships.

Nonprofits and Politics

Taught By: Michael L. Owens, associate professor of political science

How do we equate the traditional image of nonprofits — from soup kitchens and homeless shelters to churches — with think tanks, political parties and Super PACS? Taking advantage of a lively election year climate, this course will examine how the existence of nonprofits and politics inform and influence each other. Topics will include trust and altruism; public good and collective responsibility; church and state relations; social movements; and government-nonprofit interdependence at the municipal level.

Old People In Society

Taught By: Michael M. McQuaide, professor of sociology, Oxford College

In a rapidly aging society — one in every eight Americans is now 65 or older — it's important to understand the psychological and sociological perspectives and generational differences of this population. The course will review current gerontological theories, selected problems among older people, and applications of social-psychological theories to adjustments of the aged.