Honors Interdisciplinary Seminars

Fall 2019

HONR 3310-01
Building a (Better) Book

Times: Mon, Wed, Thurs. / 1:35-2:40pm
CRN: 17642

Ryan Cordell, Department of English

In this studio-based course, students will investigate intersections among media, literature, and computation in order to understand the history of the book and imagine its future. Students will cultivate new technical skills that will enable them to effectively use a range of historical and contemporary textual technologies, including letterpress, binding, 3D printing, and interactive, online storytelling. The course will draw extensively on resources such as Huskiana Press <https://cssh.northeastern.edu/huskiana/>, NU’s new experiential letterpress studio, and Snell Library’s 3D Printing Studio. Students will use the skills they develop over the course of the semester to develop multimodal creative or research projects: in short, students will build their own print-digital books.

As a studio course, “Building a (Better) Book” will center around students’ conceiving, developing, and workshopping these independent projects. In addition, the course will include a number of trips to archives and museums around the Boston area such as the Massachusetts Historical Society, local letterpress shops, and Boston Cyberarts.

HONR 3310-02
Examining Family Business Dynamics Through Film

Times: Tuesdays, 5:20pm-8:20pm
CRN: 16348

Kimberly Eddleston, Entrepreneurship & Innovation

Family businesses are the predominant form of business around the world. Yet, because of the inextricable link between the family and business, there is much diversity in their goals, values and how they are managed. Most unique to family businesses is the central role of the family and its influence on the business. An instrumental tool to discover, identify, and evaluate family relationships and family business dynamics is film. As such, in this course, students will learn to critically analyze and evaluate family relationships and family business dynamics through the examination of various television shows and films and how they reflect research and theories. By watching, analyzing and discussing these films, the complexities of family businesses will come to life, offering students a unique glimpse into how family relationships impact the business and in turn, the business affects family relationships.

HONR 3310-03
Violence and Non-Violence: Politics, Ethics and Religion

Times: Mon, Wed. / 2:50-4:30pm
CRN: 17736

Whitney Kelting, Department of Philosophy and Religion

Defining and shaping our thinking about violence and non-violence are ideas drawn from political theory, ethics, religions and specific cases and exemplary individuals. Tracking the threads of state violence, resistance, non-violent movements, civil and uncivil disobedience, ethical and religious responses, and statements of individual commitments, this course will explore the ethical landscape of the discourse and actions associated with violence and non-violence. We will read debates centered around the justifications and rejections of warfare, the responses to state violence and explore contemporary questions through these lenses. The seminar will develop a collective research project based on one of the cases and will share their findings beyond the classroom in a public form like a symposium or public access publication.

HONR 3310-04
Pop Culture and Mental Health

Times: Mon, Thurs. / 11:45am-1:25pm
CRN: 17793

Maureen Kelleher, Department of Sociology

The social history of mental illness in the United States and the manner in which this health issue is portrayed cements a perspective of mental illness that is often linked to tensions between normality and social deviance. This course will track this tension by focusing on three broad themes. First, the course will situate the historical response to mental illness by tracking the emergence of the asylum movement in the United States through to present day mental health interventions. Second this course will explore how the category of mental illness is socially constructed and will address how gender, age and social class among other variables affect perceptions of who is mentally ill, why they are ill, and how we should respond to this “illness.” Finally, this course will assess how cultural forms such as contemporary film, fiction and memoirs have helped to shape our perceptions of mental illness and influence our contemporary public policy response. We will be using the lens of sociology to help frame our conversations.

HONR 3310-06
Slam Poetry and Social Justice

Times: Tues., Fri. / 9:50-11:30am
CRN: 16225
NU Path: IC, EI

Ellen Noonan, Department of English

The title of the course may seem fairly straightforward: Slam Poetry and Social Justice. Those concepts, though, those “performances,” can be complicated (and I am using “complicated” as both verb and adjective here), and that complicating will be the work of our class. We’ll start with questions: What is Slam Poetry? How is it made, performed? What is Social Justice? How is it made, performed? How do we integrate these so that poetry can work towards social justice, so that social justice might have poetry’s energy, immediacy, and grace? These are my opening questions: we will ask many more questions together, while also reading many kinds of texts, and writing, performing, and workshopping our own texts in a collaborative writing and learning space where all voices will be valued and heard.

An important repetition, and note: ALL voices in our learning community will be valued and heard. As this is a course with “social justice” at its center, I assume that we all share the belief that, to put it simply, justice for ALL is a good, a great, thing. We might come to that belief or enact it differently, and that’s fine; difference, too, will be valued in this learning community. What isn’t, can’t, and won’t be valued, or tolerated: hate speech in any form. Some of what we read and write will be difficult and uncomfortable; that’s learning and life. Still, we will work thoughtfully and respectfully through difficulties and discomfort to produce and perform important, and evermore necessary, work.

HONR 3310-07
Legalizing Marijuana, the National Debt, and Import Tariffs: Contested Economic Issues

Times: Mon., Wed., Thurs. / 1:35pm-2:40pm
CRN: 17951

Peter Simon, Department of Economics

In the large and complex economy of the United States, there is controversy over what goods and services should be produced. Should we legalize drugs or continue to fight the war on drugs? Should there be a limit to our national debt? What is the economic justification for import tariffs? To understand the nature, the causes, and the ethical implications of these, and many other current controversial and contested issues, is the objective of this course. Students will work in pairs to conduct their own econometric study on a contested economic issue of their choice.

HONR 3310-08
Contemporary Issues in Health Care

Times: Mon., Thurs. / 11:45am-1:25pm
CRN: 16220
NU Path: SI, WI, EX

Lorna Hayward, Department of Physical Therapy
Bouvé College of Health Sciences

This course is a service-learning, honors seminar that is project based and involves examination of the complexity of issues related to a community defined health need. We will examine modern health care issues at the individual, local, national, and global levels. US health care issues will be examined historically. From there, students will develop an understanding of health as it affects them as individuals. Health decisions will be examined from multiple perspectives including: historical, political, ethical, financial, technological, and epidemiological.

HONR 3310-09
Art of Narrative Nonfiction

Times: Wednesdays / 5:00-8:00pm
CRN: 18015

James Ross, Department of Journalism

We will examine how long-form nonfiction has shaped our views of war, crime, mental health, racism and poverty. We will read and discuss groundbreaking books of the 20th and 21st century and explore the research and reporting as well as the narrative style of the authors. We also will critique films that examine these issues. Students lead class discussions about the historical, political, cultural and ethical issues that frame these books and films. The final project is a paper that delves into the meaning of narrative nonfiction.

HONR 3310-10
James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake and World Literature

Times: Mon, Wed, Thurs. / 10:30-11:35am
CRN: 18234
NU Path: IC, WI

Patrick Mullen, Department of English

This seminar will begin with the wild proposition that Joyce’s Finnegans Wake, far from being the most unreadable book (perhaps) written in English, is, to the contrary, the most readable of novels, if we are only willing to learn how to read it. Indeed, Joyce has gone through extreme pains to ensure that the work has a queerly universal reach: he compacted some sixty languages into English to give the work the flavor of the world; he wrote it in what he referred to as the language of the night because humans all must sleep and dream; he based the main character on Humpty Dumpty and children’s stories so that even the young could enjoy it; he made it the funniest book you’ll never pick up with enough sex, puns, and neologisms to put Twitter and the internet to shame; he included visuals from drawings to medieval manuscripts; according to nuclear physicist in Poland he created the only fractal work of literature for those of a more scientific mind; he predicted, in a certain sense, the popularity of television and digital media; finally, rather than have an individual main character, or even any individual character, which any particular reader may or may not like, he literally made everyone the main character (Here Comes Everybody!)—it is the queerest of works where everyone is themselves and everyone else all at the same time. So, while the work has been referred to as an exquisite corpse—a modernist masterpiece so obscure that it is unreadable and marks the exhaustion of the modernist experiment in literature—we will take it rather as the start of a new world of literature collectively read and collectively written.

The central activity of this course will be the reading of the Wake in its entirety. This will be the ultimate reading experience. You will never experience reading like this again in your life and reading the Wake will set you apart. Learning to read the Wake is like Olympic training for your brain—through the course of the semester your mind will become more supple and agile, your ear will be more attuned, and your senses heightened. Given this mental and physical enrichment, we will double down on our bet and will read a series of works that went into the making of the Wake and a series of works that have come out of it. These works will challenge traditional notions of discipline, genre, and literary history and range from the medieval Book of Kells, to Alice through the Looking Glass, to Humument, and John Cage’s musical interpretation of the work.

Key to our readings will be the question: does Finnegans Wake make a truly world literature possible? Are the experimental features of the work—its linguistic range, its humor, its sound and feel, its interest in human bodies and their circadian rhythms, its music, its scientific reach, its empathies and playfulness—enough to make it readable in a way that our more traditional notions of literature and culture never were?

We will undertake a series of activities: we will keep dream journals; we will do scholarly research into literary theory, psychology, and biology; we will create a critical dictionary of portmanteau terms for our new practice of reading; we will produce visual interpretations; we will do close readings; we will reach out to the public and invite them to read with us. The course will also call upon the particular areas of expertise from its members and we will incorporate activities based on the majors and interests of the class. So, come ye curious and brave, English majors and scientists, naysayers and fanatics, those longing for meaning in dark times and those seeking relief from meaning, and those in need of a good laugh and the power of a reading community—Let’s Wake up!

HONR 3310-11
Creating the Future: Transforming Healthcare with Mobile Health (mHealth)

Times: Wed. / 4:00pm-7:30pm
CRN: 18275

Misha Pavel, Professor of the Practice
Khoury College of Computer Sciences & Bouvé College of Health Sciences

Healthcare needs innovative solutions that will help people live healthier and higher quality lives. Recent advances in mobile technology are enabling novel approaches to deliver care for people outside of clinics and hospitals. The emerging technologies offer promise for inferring health and mental conditions during people’s regular life by measuring unobtrusively and continuously physiological and behavioral facets. mHealth technologies can also use gathered data to deliver just-in-time interventions to help individuals make better health-related decisions. This course will introduce students to the principles and applications of this new technology in several areas. Students will first learn how to recognize health problems that would benefit from mHealth solutions and how to identify people who care about addressing those problems (stakeholders). Students will then learn to develop innovative and creative solutions using mHealth technologies as well as ways to test and evaluate their mHealth applications. The course will not require any prior programming experience: Students who do not wish to code can use a platform that my team has developed which will enable them to use existing components to develop their applications. Students who either know or wish to learn to code will be encouraged to learn how to program their phones to achieve more flexibility. Although getting hands-on experience will be an important part of their experience, students will also learn to incorporate principles of design, usability testing and evaluation in the mHealth domain. Student learning will be assessed on the basis of the innovative and creative solutions that students come up with on individual and group projects.

HONR 3310-12
Non Fiction Writing & Social Justice Issues

Times: Mon. / 5:00pm-8:00pm
CRN: 18276

Michael Patrick MacDonald, Professor of the Practice
University Honors Program

In order to write the most effective non-fiction around social justice issues, a writer might undertake personal reflection on his/her own life to access that “place” that allows for greater empathy. When we write about issues affecting other people’s lives, it is important to engage in a process of contemplation that will lead to more in-depth understanding, and create a unique and passionate Voice which pulls the reader in.
This is true, no matter where we come from or our degree of previous exposure to the issues at hand (it is my belief that one does not have to come from poverty to write effectively about poverty, come from domestic violence to write effectively about domestic violence etc.; however, I do believe that one would be well served by accessing their own place of vulnerability in order to write empathically about social justice issues). In order to help students find their own writing voice, this seminar will engage students in critical thought and discussion of a wide range of social justice issues. We will do so through text as well as interactions with local Boston activists, grassroots movements and community-building efforts.

Central unifying themes of the course will be class/poverty and the attendant violence of poverty, the criminal justice system and incarceration. We will look at the intertwining of class inequality with racism and gender inequality. This seminar will approach social justice issues through a Restorative Justice lens, thereby paying special attention to the role of personal narratives at the intersection of justice-and-healing in Greater Boston communities that have been most impacted by these issues.

Ultimately, we will focus on the implications of all of the above for writers of non-fiction on these topics. This course will present an insider’s view into writing with a greater consciousness of social justice issues (in particular, questions of socio-economic inequality) by starting with some of the instructor’s own work, which includes two memoirs, a third memoir-in-progress and multiple essays. Secondly, the course will move outward to the works of other significant writers of non-fiction, using different writing approaches to related issues, whether through personalised journalism, straight (omniscient voice) journalism, or opinion/advocacy essay. What makes various approaches work effectively? What works for which audiences? How might the works influence contemporary social problems? Are there policy links to any of these writings?

The course will frame a discussion of the many ways to write non-fiction about social justice issues as well as the many vehicles for such writing, including books, essays, speeches, podcasts, documentary, one-person shows, spoken word, and graphic narrative. This is a reading, writing, discussion and experiential class with trips into the communities to interact with some of Boston’s most hopeful social justice champions.

HONR 3310-13
Drug Development and Translational Medicine

Times: Mon, Wed, Thu. / 10:30-11:35am
CRN: 18276

Nishil Desai, Pharmaceutical Sciences
Bouvé College of Health Sciences

In this course, students will actively explore the principles of translational medicine, the application of science to patient care with a focus on pharmaceuticals. Presentations and discussions in the course will be led by accomplished scientists and practitioners who are engaged in teaching and research area of drug discovery, development and delivery, and with expertise in the pharmaceutical, biomedical, social and administrative and clinical sciences. Student will visit research laboratories and receive first-hand accounts of how medications are used in patient care settings.

Summer 2 2019

HONR 3310-01
Global Ethics and Human Rights: Examining Humanity’s Toughest Challenges in the 21st Century

Times: Tue, Thu / 1:30pm-5:00pm
CRN: 61161

Serena Parekh, Department of Philosophy and Religion
College of Social Sciences and Humanities

This course will give students an opportunity examine the ethical dimensions of some of humanity’s most pressing challenges. After discussing theories of human rights and different views on global ethics, students will examine in-depth a number of challenges facing our world today, including: refugees and global displacement; climate change; terrorism and failed states; global poverty and inequality; sex and labor trafficking; genocide and humanitarian intervention; global health challenges, including pandemics, among others. Though philosophical reading, films, journalist accounts and other sources, students will develop a deep sense of the complexities of these issues and learn to apply ethical frameworks to understand them. Class will be structured through presentations, discussions, and a final research paper where students will have the opportunity to conduct independent research on a topic that is of interest to them or connected to their major.

Summer 1 2019

HONR 3310-01
Science of Play

Times: Mon, Wed. / 1:30pm-5:00pm
CRN: 41448

Emily Mann, Human Services Program
College of Social Sciences and Humanities

Students will actively engage in the scholarship of play and explore the role and function, benefits and barriers, of play in childhood. Course topics will include the background and significance of play in history, the role of play as a predictor of academic and social functioning, the use of play in character/moral development, and the use of play to prevent, intervene, and treat trauma. Clinical and non-clinical implications of play will be explored, as well as the physiological and social implications of play, using contemporary research on brain science and brain development. Students will alternate between classroom time and field experiences throughout the local Boston community. Field experiences may include walking tours of local playgrounds, site visits to local public schools to engage in recess interventions, and a trip to the Children’s Museum, where play will be investigated and experienced first-hand. Service-based research projects will be developed with community partners to address key questions related to the science of play.

Spring 2019

HONR 3310-01
Enabling the Sharing Economy with Computing Technology and Digital Business Model Innovations

Times: Mon. / 5:00-8:00pm
CRN: 37597

David Kaeli, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
College of Engineering

Co-taught with Yakov Bart, D’Amore-McKim School of Business

The Sharing Economy can be characterized as an economic system of distributed networks and marketplaces that enables more effective and efficient access to underutilized and poorly managed assets and resources. The Sharing Economy is forecast to grow to over $335 billion by 2025. Technological innovations have allowed a variety of innovative business models to flourish, disrupting many mature industries and transforming the future of commerce, healthcare, transportation, lodging, energy, computing, and other services. More generally, growing Sharing Economy practices are transforming societies all over the world.

This interdisciplinary course examines the Sharing Economy through two different lenses. First, we discuss the underlying computing technologies that have emerged to support more convenient and cost-effective access to assets and resources via sharing. Second, we examine the key economic drivers and building blocks of digital business transformations underlying the best practices of the Sharing Economy, and discuss how companies and governments can successfully take advantage of emerging multi-sided platforms and market-driven network externalities. We use both technology- and consumer-based perspectives to highlight potential biases and discrimination arising in the Sharing Economy, and consider various approaches for establishing fair and appropriate regulations and policies to mitigate such issues.

This interdisciplinary honor seminar will be co-taught by faculty from the areas of computer technology and marketing. The class will include industry speakers currently engaged in the Sharing Economy. Associated coursework will include the development of several briefs on selected factors impacting the Sharing Economy, as well as a final team project.

HONR 3310-02
Hopscotch, Soccer, and Broccoli: Implications of Neuroscience for Promoting Children’s Brain Health

Times: Tuesdays, 3:30-6:30pm
CRN: 37712

Lauren Raine, Department of Physical Therapy, Movement, & Rehabilitation Sciences
Bouvé College of Health Sciences

To what extent does brain health depend on lifestyle choices that are made early in life? This course highlights the implications of lifestyle factors on brain health during childhood and adolescence, with particular focus on factors such as physical activity, diet, obesity, and sleep. Various perspectives and methods for measuring lifestyle factors and brain health will be examined through readings, class discussions and exercises, and tours of various Northeastern laboratories. Students will be introduced to emerging methodologies and techniques in the field of neuroscience, including electroencephalogram (EEG), functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), and behavioral outcomes.

Students will develop critical thinking and analytic skills as we use the scientific readings and laboratory observations to evaluate the quality of scientific evidence supporting the importance of particular lifestyle factors in promoting brain health.  Upon completion of the course, students will be able to integrate knowledge emerging from multiple disciplines, including neuroscience, movement sciences, nutrition, and psychology.

HONR 3310-03
Experiments of the Scientific Revolution

Times: Mon, Thur. / 11:45am-1:25pm
CRN: 37604
NU Path: IC

Chris Parsons, Department of History
College of Social Sciences and Humanities

Between 1500 and 1700CE, the scientific experiments of historical figures such as Isaac Newton, Robert Boyle, and Galileo Galilei changed how Western Europe understood the world around them. In this class, students will recreate these experiments – learn how to use early navigational technologies, build Galilean telescopes, collect and analyze plants as Renaissance naturalists did, study the circulation system, and build a vacuum chamber – to study the intellectual transformations of the period we now call “The Scientific Revolution.” We can easily point to profound transformations in the artistic and creative productions of renaissance and early modern Europe, but it is the birth of a recognizably modern scientific outlook that has had the largest impact on how we live our lives since. Our class is organized around three fundamental transformations in European thought that produced the Scientific Revolution. Where are we? In this section we will investigate transformations in navigational and astronomical science that sent Europeans into the wider world and turned their eyes towards the heavens. What are we? In the next section, we will look at innovations in the medical and biological sciences that literally opened up human bodies to investigation and that sought to classify the new plants and animals that explorers were bringing back. Who are we? In our final section we will trace out how empirical experimentation influenced new understandings of society in the work of figures such as Robert Boyle, John Locke and Montesquieu.

HONR 3310-04
Getting Smart: The Nature/Nurture Debate

Times: Tues. / 5:30-8:30pm
CRN: 37606

David Lewkowicz, Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders
Bouvé College of Health Sciences

How do we acquire the knowledge that we have? Philosophers and scientists have debated the origins of human knowledge for millennia. Some have argued that knowledge is inborn whereas others have argued that it is learned. In modern times, this nature/nurture dichotomy has been challenged on theoretical grounds and by scientific findings from developmental biology, genetics, developmental robotics, and developmental psychology. We will begin by discussing the philosophical roots of the nature/nurture dichotomy and then explore the theoretical challenges to it. We will end by considering the empirical evidence showing that the dichotomy has out-lived its usefulness and will consider an alternative view that acknowledges the dynamic and fully interactive nature of the developmental process and the critical role that early experience plays in shaping who we become and what we come to know.

HONR 3310-05
Making the World a Better Place

Times: Mon, Wed. / 2:50-4:30pm
CRN: 37607

Patricia Illingworth, Department of Philosophy and Religion
College of Social Sciences and Humanities

This course looks at the ethics of philanthropy. It considers giving practices through the lens of moral, social, political and legal lenses. Some of the topics to be discussed are: Does everyone have an obligation to give and how much should they give? We will also ask to whom donors should give and whether there is reason to prefer domestic over international giving. Finally, we will consider whether there is such a thing as “bad philanthropy.”

HONR 3310-06
Cold War Spies

Times: Wed. / 5:00-8:00pm
CRN: 37608

Jeff Burds, Department of History
College of Social Sciences and Humanities

“There are very few reliable histories of espionage, and with good cause. The sources lie, are lost, are nonexistent, are withheld. Journalists (often) lack the patience, scholars (often) lack the clout to gain access, to stay the course, to outlast those who would with both good and malign intent seek to influence the writer’s conclusions.”
–Robin Winks, 1994

Commonly referred to as the world’s “second oldest profession,” espionage is an intrinsic part of the relations between communities, institutions, and states, and an essential basis for policy decisions by world leaders. Drawing from a wide variety of published and unpublished primary and secondary sources, supplemented by modern theoretical and social science perspectives, literature, and films, this course explores the history of espionage during the Cold War era (1943-1991) and its immediate aftermath through a series of case studies. This lecture course will lead students through the history of covert operations over the past 50 years focusing on these sub-themes: the origins of the Cold War in World War II; the postwar battle for German scientists; Containment and Rollback; Operation Gladio; Venona and codebreaking; nuclear spies; defectors; proxy wars; insurgencies and counterinsurgencies; terrorism; technological espionage; cyberespionage; propaganda; the psychology of betrayal; and mind control (MKULTRA).

Each student will make two presentations on themes/readings to be negotiated with Professor Burds. Students may write two short (5-7 page) papers, or one longer paper based on those presentations.

HONR 3310-07
Covering Race and Class in America

Times: Mon. / 4:30-7:30pm
CRN: 37612
NU Path: AD, DD

Jonathan Kaufman, School of Journalism
College of Arts, Media, & Design

Charlottesville. Ferguson. Colin Kaepernick and the NFL. The debate over mass incarceration. The scourge of inequality.
Race and class are fundamental to understanding American history, and grappling with the problems society faces today. Every day the media shapes how we view these issues, how we talk about them, how we vote on them. This class will examine how the media covers race and class—where it has done well, where it has done badly and how it can do better. We will read and watch seminal works on race and class in America and meet with journalists, academics and community activists, exploring the narrative and ethical challenges of telling these stories. You will then report and write your own.

HONR 3310-08
Law, Public Policy, and Human Behavior

Times: Mon, Wed. / 2:50-4:30pm
CRN: 37614
NU Path: SI

Richard Daynard
School of Law

Many public policies and legal decisions rest on the assumption that each individual can best understand what would make himself or herself happy, and that governmental limitations on choice must therefore make people less happy. This seminar will challenge this “rational actor” model, suggesting that it mis-describes human self-understanding and behavior. We will test this in a variety of contexts, including behaviors like eating, smoking and gambling, the behavior of various actors in the legal system including judges, juries, experts, eyewitnesses, and prosecutors, how we approach health, health care, and “informed consent”, and implications for the environment, global warming and the future of our species. Students are expected to participate actively in seminar discussions, and to write a paper testing “rational actor” assumptions in an area of their choosing.

HONR 3310-09
Online Creative Writing Workshop: Borrowings

Times: Online
CRN: 37615

Ellen Noonan, Department of English
College of Social Sciences and Humanities

Using language—writing, reading, etc.—is a social activity, one way to connect with others (past, present, future others)—and to document and, sometimes, to trouble, those connections. By thinking about and “practicing” language in this way, by adopting this approach, you will all see and practice how the rhetorical choices writers make are consequential, impacting not only the clarity of the sentences (an annoyingly persistent view of writing that reduces the complexity of writing (situations, circumstances, audiences, identities, genres…) to a simplistic exercise in skill building, i.e., learning the rules of a monolithic grammar), but also, and most importantly, the shaping of what is possible to think about, what is worth thinking about, what is worth writing about. The courses within the NU creative writing program are not, in fact, focused on “skill building” or THE right way to write; rather, they aim to raise your level of awareness, to make you conscious of the complex social nature of writing and reading, their dynamism and power.

In this course, we will be using the “frame” of connections and connectedness (and disconnections and disconnectedness) alongside the concepts of “translating,” “borrowing,” and “adapting” to think about the “tools” that writing uses to construct identities— personal, social, private, public: How do you (how might you) use writing to create a space in the world? How is identity crafted? How is identity understood by others (your readers, your audience)? What tools are at your disposal as a maker? How do you negotiate the myriad choices of purpose and audience and tone and style? These questions have many answers, which I hope to explore with you; there are also many more questions to ask, which will—along with generating lots of “writing”— be our most important class activity.

HONR 3310-10
The Enlightenment: From a Pre-factual World to a Post-factual One

Times: Mon, Wed, Thur. / 10:30am-11:35am
CRN: 37641
NU Path: ER

Holbrook Robinson, Department of Cultures, Societies and Global Studies
College of Social Sciences and Humanities

The Enlightenment was an intellectual revolution that occurred in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in Western Europe that created a radical new intellectual way of looking at the world. The place of religion as the principal way of explaining the natural world gave way to what we now call science. Empirical Induction, deduction and reductionism were developed as methods of inquiry, and Deism– the idea that a creator got the world started and then stepped aside– was promulgated to validate this new way of looking at the natural world. The dream of the Enlightenment was that unfettered human reason would yield the answers to all the questions posed in many intellectual domains, ranging from the purely scientific investigation of physical phenomena to more social phenomena such as economics, morality, and politics. Its scope was enormous and highly ambitious: it claimed that all of man’s problems could be understood and solved by the patient use of human reason stretching over multiple generations. The very notion of human progress was one of its many intellectual children, and it painted a glorious picture of possible outcomes. It was a bold, brash, exhilarating intellectual and in some ways spiritual revolution that marked indelibly all the countries of the West, particularly the United States. In many ways our country can be considered to be one of the principal creations of the Enlightenment: its political system, its belief in technology, and science, and progress, and its optimism about the future are all legacies of the Enlightenment. Almost every topic that takes up room in today’s public discourse is related in one way or the other to this intellectual revolution.

In many ways, however, the Enlightenment has been a failure. The bloody 20th century seemingly refutes many of the Enlightenment’s theories about progress and the primacy of reason in human affairs. Auschwitz and Hiroshima are in some ways products of the Enlightenment. And today, some of the most basic premises of the Enlightenment, namely it’s denunciation of the effects of tribalistic religions and its support of science have been all-to-obviously undermined in the world, and in our own country. Today we read about fake news, the idea of truth is questioned, facts appear to have only relativistic significance, and climate change and evolutionary theories are denied. Moral relativism flourishes. In addition, the ideals of societal integration, such as those that created the European Union, are challenged in ways that the Enlightenment thinkers would have found very familiar, since they had fought against those impulsions, and had hoped, perhaps wistfully, that they had won those battles. But they hadn’t won all these battles. These battles are being fought to this day, and we all find ourselves with first row seats that give onto the combat. We are, indeed, fighting once again almost all those old conflicts.

In this course we will examine the principal ideas that animated the Enlightenment, with emphasis on the thinkers who promulgated them. These ideas were essentially epistemological, in that they all sought to create new knowledge about our world and about the creatures that live in it. The rise of science, the ideas underlying human rights, the power of mathematics, new ideas about morality, and the ideal of progress in all forms will be analyzed. Then, as a counterpoint, we will look at the movement broadly called “postmodernism,” which is a recent series of counter attacks against some of the most cherished Enlightenment ideals; this movement has animated some of the intellectual life of the late twentieth century and our own epoch. The belief that truth and knowledge are hopelessly relative, that language is incapable of having real meaning, that there is no way of ever finding out what is true, and that all knowledge is a human construct and thus hopelessly ambiguous and uncertain are its principal claims. We will discuss what the collision of these two ways of thinking has done to our current lives, and seek to understand the currents that have led us to where we all are today.

HONR 3310-11
The Battle for Global Markets: Who Wins in Trade Wars

Times: Mon. / 4:35-7:30pm
CRN: 37754
NUPath: SI

Jill Dupree, Department of Economics
College of Social Sciences and Humanities

The U.S. has long played an important role in the global economy, and current developments in U.S. trade policy are generating significant controversy within the U.S. and with global trading partners. In this class, students will develop an understanding of economics of trade. We will use this framework to evaluate the consequences of trade policies through current and historical examples. All sectors of the economy are impacted by trade policy, so bring your favorites and we will explore the winners and losers in trade policy. Guest speakers and field trips will be used to bring the issues to life. The path this course takes will depend on how events unfold on the world stage over the next several months and you will have the opportunity to meaningfully participate.

HONR 3310-12
Visual Intelligence: Changing Perceptions through Contemporary Art

Times: Wed / 1:35-5:05pm
CRN: 37815

Gloria Sutton, Department of Art + Design
College of Arts, Media, & Design

In the current Digital Age, there are more things competing for our attention than ever before in human history. According to author Amy Herman, perpetual, byte-sized interactions are not only a detriment to our concentration, focus, productivity, and personal safety, but they’re also hurting our intelligence. Cultivating one’s own Visual Intelligence is a timely and necessary skill. Aimed a broad undergraduate audience, this visual studies and art history course introduces the analytical skills of Visual Intelligence. Visual Intelligence combines powers of observation (formal description, visual data) with techniques of interpretation to sharpen perception and allow students to develop plausible explanations that are applicable to the boardroom, courtroom, and the cultural field in equal measure. This course teaches students to understand how to read, analyze and comprehend contemporary art. It is designed for those with little to no exposure to visual art precisely because art manifests themes of human nature in all their complexity, and because it often makes us uncomfortable. Students gain fluency through workshops that model discomfort and uncertainty which activate our neurons and help us grow as thinkers. This course will introduce students to a broad range of creative professionals who actively use visual intelligence in their dynamic careers.

HONR 3310-13
Platform Business Models

Times: Mon, Wed / 2:50-4:30pm
CRN: 37954

Kevin Boudreau, Department of Entrepreneurship and Innovation
D’Amore-McKim School of Business

Many of today’s leading enterprises—as those above–are organized as platforms. This also include just about all of today’s “Unicorn” businesses and successful startups. Examples include Apple, WeChat, Alibaba, Verizon, Netflix, Amazon, Expedia, Uber, Twitch, Etsy, Unity, Paypal, Youtube, Match.com, Dropbox, Instagram, Twitter, Reddit, IBM Watson.

It is important to understand these new forms of organization, not just from a business and technological standpoint, but also because they have the potential to shape society—and the way people and businesses and machines interact. Just as the modern company defined much of business, economics, and modern life in the last century, platforms will do the same in this century.

Rather than organizing as traditional value chains, platforms acts as hubs to facilitate interactions among actors surrounding them, including users, suppliers of complementary goods and services, and advertisers. They have potential for massive growth and value creation, if they can be successfully launched and managed for growth and innovation.

Platforms are also at the heart of many of today’s most important technology trends such as digitization, big data, automation, the Internet of things, artificial intelligence, and blockchain. Platforms will only accelerate and grow as these technologies advance and proliferate.

The course will largely be taught using case studies from a wide variety of industries. The main lens we will take is to look through the eyes of the owners and managers of these platforms, to gain an understanding of their economic logic, their strategies, their business models and how they grow and achieve success. In the course of considering these issues, we will gain a unique ability to interpret and understand questions of technology, society, and economy, more generally.

The course is suitable for curious students from all disciplines, including those in Business, Economics, Engineering, Computer Science, Humanities, Social Science, Design, Media, and more. If you are interested in learning more about the course themes and structure, you are invited to explore Professor Boudreau’s website.