Spring courses engage students with new perspectives, hands-on learning

By Leslie King | Emory Report | Jan. 23, 2015

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The “Social Enterprise in Nicaragua” course includes a nine-day trip in which students meet Nicaraguan coffee farmers and experience the country’s landscape and culture. Courtesy photo.

Courses offered this spring take students beyond the classroom into the community, out of the country and even — theoretically — across the universe. Here is a sample of courses in a range of disciplines that challenge students to engage with new ways of learning and consider topics from new perspectives:

Children's Shakespeare: Play, Pedagogy and Performance

Instructor: Patricia Cahill, associate professor and director of undergraduate studies, English

Cool factor: Engenders collaboration, experimentation and lots of laughs by devising creative workshops to get third-graders at an Atlanta public school connecting with Shakespearean language via a Graduation Generation partnership

Course description: Turns students into teachers with the help of an actor from the Atlanta Shakespeare Company, focusing on pedagogy and community engagement and introducing the children to the comedy “Much Ado About Nothing”

Department: Freshman seminar in English

Philosophy of Sport

Instructor: Erin C. Tarver, assistant professor of philosophy

Cool factor: Makes attendance at an Atlanta Braves game a point of discussion on the ethics of Native American mascots; compares the philosophical perspectives of fans and athletes; and requires the creation of a multimedia project on a hot topic in sports ethics, such as gender segregation in sports, compensation for NCAA athletes, or the use of performance-enhancing drugs

Course description: Teaches students to apply philosophical methods of analysis to sports and sports fandom to better understand and appreciate the complex ideas underlying sport itself and to take seriously how sport might illuminate some longstanding philosophical problems regarding identity, ethics and the relationship between mind and body

Department: Philosophy, Oxford College

Are We Alone in the Universe?

Instructor: Susanna Widicus Weaver, associate professor of chemistry

Cool factor: Examines the possibility for life to exist elsewhere in the universe and considers the various factors that influence our chances for making contact with other intelligent life forms

Course description: Discusses the development of solar systems with habitable planets, the evolution of life on those planets, the fraction of advanced civilizations that could develop from basic life forms, the rise of technology within a civilization, and the length of time technologically advanced civilizations are likely to exist, among other related topics

Department: Freshman seminar in Chemistry

Women, Race and the South

Instructor: Dawn Peterson, assistant professor of history

Cool factor: Takes a different look at “Southern” history when women’s experiences and actions are placed center stage, focusing on women’s lives and privileging women’s voices to better account for, challenge or change the ways society thinks about the events that have shaped the North American Southeast

Course description: Uses radical scholarship addressing Native American, African American and Euro-American women’s history to consider how women from a wide range of vantage points shaped and dismantled the worlds in which they lived, playing signal roles in both colonialism and decolonization, racial inequality and struggles for freedom

Department: History cross-listed with African American Studies; American Studies; Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies

Food Policy and Food Security

Instructor: Amy Webb Girard, assistant professor of global health, and Julie Self, PhD student in Rollins School of Public Health

Cool factor: Guides students in conducting community-engaged research with partner organizations to develop practical skills to address community food insecurity in context. Students participate in a "food insecurity experience," living on a food stamp budget for one month.

Course description: Explores the determinants and outcomes of access to healthy foods, evaluates the effectiveness and sustainability of existing food security strategies, conducts community-engaged research in local communities on food access issues, and presents research findings at the end of the semester in a symposium for community stakeholders.

Department: Hubert Department of Global Health, Rollins School of Public Health

Viewing Iran through its Cinema

Instructor: Hossein Samei, senior lecturer and language coordinator in Persian

Cool factor: Has students watch films to see how issues of women, war, morality, revolution, education and immigration are reflected in the cinema

Course description: Presents an overview of the modern Iranian society through its cinema, especially in the last 30 years of post-revolutionary Iran

Department: Middle Eastern and South Asian Studies

Introduction to Posthumanism, or Farewell to Humanities

Instructor: Sean Meighoo, assistant professor of comparative literature

Cool factor: Addresses the representation of humans, animals, machines and the close relationships between them in literature, film, music and other forms of popular culture

Course description: Introduces "posthumanism," a new field of interdisciplinary scholarship that calls the classical philosophical tradition of humanism into question, beginning with the premise that the very idea of being human has always depended on our shifting notions of the nonhuman, the subhuman and the inhuman

Department: Comparative Literature

Neuroscience, Religion and the Human Condition

Instructor: Darryl Neill, Goodrich C. White Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Neuroscience

Cool factor: Compares the views of human existence gained from contemporary neuroscience with views traditionally in the provinces of religion and philosophy

Course description: Discusses the place of humans in the animal kingdom, sexual behavior, social roles of men and women, morals, awareness, consciousness of self, empathy, evil, death and near-death experiences. Provides basic information in neuroscience, religion and philosophy and will have guest speakers from various departments

Department: Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology cross-listed with Psychology and Religion

Love, Sex and Globalization

Instructor: Melissa Hackman, post-doctoral teaching fellow in Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and the Institute of African Studies

Cool factor: Examines colonialism, medicalization, romance and the Internet, beauty pageants, the middle class, sex tourism, consumption and commodities, social movements and gay rights with examples from Mexico, India, Barbados, Kenya, Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, Uganda, China and the United States

Course description: Explores the ways that cultural politics, technology and globalization are transforming ideas about gender and sexual rights, what constitutes “appropriate” and “good” sexual and personal relationships, and desirable bodies

Department: Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies cross-listed with Anthropology

Social Enterprise in Nicaragua

Instructor: Wes Longhofer, assistant professor of organization and management

Cool factor: Includes a nine-day trip to Nicaragua to experience first-hand a range of social enterprises plus several different focus areas of development, such as gender, coffee, global health and climate change

Course description: Exposes students to the many development challenges faced in the region and engages them in discussions related to how business acumen can be applied to achieve meaningful societal impacts, such as improving compensation to coffee farmers and helping communities respond to climate change

Department: Organization & Management, Goizueta Business School