Spring 2020 Courses


SPCL 400.301 | Issues and Innovation in Rural American Healthcare

Student Instructor: Aditi Adhikari
Faculty Mentor: Maryann Feldman
W, 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm. Graham Memorial 210.

This course will explore the Rural American healthcare context through the lens of public policy and business innovation. Though there are federal and state level policies in place to support rural health infrastructure, the private sector is often tasked with filling the gaps in American healthcare, and that is no different in a rural context. For example, even if makes food stamps available to rural populations, grocery stores must still be compelled to enter into rural markets to provide healthy food options. Thus, the public and private sectors work in tandem to address issues facing rural Americans.

We will start by understanding the unique issues facing rural health in America, continue with an overview of the current policies and practices, and end by thinking about how the private sector, entrepreneurship, and innovation can help address the current gaps in health access. We will look to both international and domestic best practices, and think critically about how those practices can be implemented in the States. Everyday coursework will consist of lectures, discussions, speakers, and workshops. By the end of this course, students will have a better understanding of how the public and private sectors must work together to address health disparities in America, and will also propose an entrepreneurial solution to today’s issues in rural American healthcare.

SPCL 400.302 | An Exploration of the Interdisciplinary Value of Nature

Student Instructors: Olivia Corriere & Rachel Morris
Faculty Mentor: Margaret O’Shaughnessey
W, 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm. Graham Memorial 213.

How do we value nature? This class is an introspective analysis on the many lenses we use to quantify the value of our environment. Some of those lenses include:

  • Storytelling
  • Psychology
  • Ecology
  • Economic efficiency
  • Food/ Agriculture
  • Climate Science and Sustainability
  • Trees
  • Philosophy

This course aims to be engaging by hosting class in different spaces on campus, focussing on reflection, and straying away from traditional lectures and take-home work. We are excited about learning how different people interact with their environments and how we can better value the spaces we occupy.

SPCL 400.303 | Game Show Theory: How They Work, How to Win, and Why it Matters

Student Instructor: Justin Hadad
Faculty Mentor: Daniel Young
T, 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm. Graham Memorial 212

When do you accept the banker’s offer in “Deal or no Deal”? How do you form alliances in “Survivor”? When do you fold in “Blackjack”?

The study of game shows lies at the intersection of two large academic fields: anthropology and mathematics. In this course we will peruse the anthropological deployment of game shows, the nature of which is often socially dependent and ritualistic. Anthropological study reveals the reliance game shows have upon continuity; and contrarily, how game shows fall apart when things don’t go as planned.

Also in this course, we will analyze mathematical solutions to certain games, and will apply game theory, real analysis, gauge theory, and more to determine how we should best play these games. The examination of game shows in both mathematical and anthropological lights reveals that even though “solutions” (we may use the term equilibria) to certain games do exist, they’re hard to reach, unless we decide to ruthlessly destroy our fellow participants.

SPCL 400.304 | “There Are No Facts”: An Inquiry into Scientific Rationality

Student Instructor: Daniel Malawsky
Faculty Mentor: Cynthia Current
T, 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm. Hamilton 351

Course Description: For Josef Mengele, Auschwitz constituted a scientific laboratory. In Nazi Germany, the study of biology was a political task and the political task was framed in the language of biology. An enlightened trajectory of scientific progress is a concept that needs to be abandoned, but surely science should not be. The task of rescuing science requires a critical inquiry into its limitations. In this course, we will investigate the complex dynamics between scientific thought, research, and politics. In order to develop a comprehensive framework to address this topic, which requires familiarity with the history and philosophy of science and political philosophy, we will read works by Paul Feyerabend, Michel Foucault, Judith Butler, and Hannah Arendt. Concurrently, we will examine primary source materials including journal articles, scientific texts, and other essays to motivate and enhance our readings of the philosophers. By the end of the course, we will have developed a thorough understanding of epistemological and political issues in science and a critique of the production of facts and their representation.

SPCL 400.305 | Coming to Terms with U.S. Intervention in Latin America during the Cold War

Student Instructors: Tori Matus & David Smith
Faculty Mentor: Jonathan Hartlyn
T, 3:30 pm – 5:30 pm. Graham Memorial 038

Course Description: How has U.S. intervention in Latin America been justified? How should individuals living in an intervening state like the U.S. interact with this legacy? Is there a version of international relations that does not have these political interventions, or can things in the future ever be better than they were in the past?

This course will examine U.S. interventions in Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Chile, Nicaragua, and Guatemala during the Cold War. As a class we will come to understand the basic realities of these interventions before moving on to deeper analysis questions.The emphasis on the course will be class discussions that push students towards a more profound understanding of the questions above.”

SPCL 400.306 | A Brief History of Western Economic Thought

Student Instructor: Evelyn Morris
Faculty Mentor: Kalina Staub
M, 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm. Graham Memorial 213

Course Description: Did economics start and end with Adam Smith? Was Marx a Classical economist? Where does the idea of a rational actor come from? As economics courses become more technical, the history of economic thought has been sidelined in university curricula, leading even economics PhD students to graduate without a basic understanding of the development of economic thought. This course attempts to address this gap by introducing students to the roots of the economic theory taught at UNC (in ECON 101, 410, and 420). Students who have wondered why we are taught what we are taught in economics and how economics became what it is today will begin to find answers in this class. We will learn to appraise the validity and soundness of economic arguments in their own context and question how economic thinkers are presented in contemporary economic arguments.

ECON 101 will be helpful for understanding the economic concepts covered in the class.

SPCL 400.307 | Conceptualizing Modern Governments: Political & Technological Systems in the 21st Century

Student Instructors: Logan Practico
Faculty Mentor: Michael Tsin
M, 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm. Stone Center 200.

Course Description: This course introduces students to the sociopolitical transitions in the 21st century that have occurred as a result of the technological revolution. Pulling from case studies in Asia, Eastern Europe and the United States, this course aims to address the current trends within the framework of the digital age. Does the internet make things more democratic? Do we have a right to privacy when all of our information exists for the world to see? With a focus on political censorship, social movements, digital governments, and rights to privacy this course aims to provide students with a deeper understanding of the all-encompassing nature of technology.

SPCL 400.308 | Inside the Mind of a Climate Denier, and Other Intersections of Climate Change & Psychology

Student Instructors: Megan Raisle & Lizzie Wilson
Faculty Mentor: Gabriela Valdivia
T, 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm. Graham Memorial 213.

Climate scientists have been sounding alarm bells about the idea of an anthropogenic warming of the global climate since the early 1970s. Despite many scientists’ and supporters’ best efforts, these warnings remained in relatively quiet circles of academia and policy for decades. In the last twenty years, climate dialogue has changed as the general public has begun to question uncharacteristic changes to their environments. Today, it is hard to go more than a week without reading about a drought, increasing severity of natural disasters, community resiliency, or, more recently, the Green New Deal, in popular headlines. This awakening of the public consciousness has often caused singular, politically-motivated dialogues to develop around discussions of climate in the United States. Yet, a changing climate permeates and complicates issues of environmental justice, our perceptions of the developing world, natural disaster response and recovery, altruism, individual responsibilities, determinants of behavior, and many other issues. As the effects of climate change become more severe and the conflicting information in the public arena more extreme, it is vital that we gain perspective on the scope of the climate issue and  addresses climate change through the lens of social and behavioral psychology. This class aims to explore these topics and give students the tools to effectively communicate about climate change in their personal lives and more broadly.