Spring 2022 Courses


SPCL 400.301 | The Science and Art of Cooking for Health: Food As Medicine

Student Instructor: Serenity Bennett
Faculty Mentor: Alice Ammerman
T, 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm
035 Graham Memorial

Food is highly connected to overall health and wellbeing. As a result, inequitable access to healthy and nutritious foods are directly linked to health disparities. Therefore, all healthcare workers should be well versed in nutrition and practical cooking so they can advise their patients and the communities they are serving. The main goal of this course is to provide future healthcare and public health workers with the tools needed to address health disparities through culinary medicine (although those not interested in healthcare are also welcome to attend).

This course will take a nuanced and multi-disciplinary approach to understanding the role of food in maintaining and restoring health. By integrating the fields of nutrition, biology, culinary arts, anthropology and public health, the course will explore the context and research behind the use of food as medicine.

Interactive lectures, cooking demonstrations, ingredients analysis, and hands on activities that will allow students to answer the following questions:

  1. What is culinary medicine?
  2. How can we look at nutrition from a disease lens?
  3. How does a healthcare worker encourage healthy eating habits?
  4. How do we incorporate cultural humility and sensitivity in nutrition advising?
  5. How is culinary medicine tied to the overall concept of food justice?
  6. How do inequities in food access relate to health disparities?

SPCL 400.302 | Exploring Themes of Childhood and Adolescence in Literature

Student Instructor: Emily Clemente
Faculty Mentor: Jennifer Larson
T, 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm
210 Graham Memorial

From Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird to J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye, child and adolescent narratives have long existed as prominent agents in literature by demonstrating how young individuals interact with and perceive the world. By moving beyond this literary canon and exploring more contemporary works of fiction and memoir, this course will engage in critical examination of the ways that youth is portrayed in literary texts. Rather than focusing on narratives that are specifically written for an audience of child readers, this course will identify and closely engage with adult literature that focuses on stories of child and adolescent narrators and characters.

In this course, we will explore questions and discussions regarding how childhood and adolescence manifest in these literary works and offer unique thematic topics. Some of these topics and questions might include: 1) Why is childhood/adolescence common in literature? 2) What can we learn from coming-of-age stories? 3) How do young characters shape the literary nature or storytelling of a narrative?

By studying these texts, we can learn more about the ways that childhood is portrayed and how it is operative in literature, with the ultimate goal of understanding how our experiences are shaped and recognized regarding young perspectives in the world in which we live.

SPCL 400.303 | The Representation and Medicalization of Disease Pathologies in Modern Film

Student Instructor: Chelsea Deitelzweig
Faculty Mentor: Bradley Hammer
R, 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm
210 Graham Memorial

Does modern film accurately portray the healthcare conditions our society currently faces? Can movies impact the way we view illness?

This course will aim to explore how certain diseases and health conditions are medicalized and represented in modern films, including but not limited to mental illness, alcoholism, obesity, aging, abortion, AIDS, and cancer. Over the course of this class, we will synthesize the study of film narratives, cultural understanding, and medical nomenclature for a nuanced and holistic analysis of the movie media we consume and how it compares to real-world experiences of illness. Examples of films included in our course of study will include Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, Rent, and Silver Linings Playbook. By studying character arc, archetypes, threads, conflict, and social/moral commentary in film, we will also explore how depictions of disease pathologies relate to larger social issues, such as racial discrimination, gender equality, and LGBTQ rights.

Overall, this course will engage students in discussion as we investigate the relationship among literary representation and healthcare.

SPCL 400.304 | The Intersection of Public Health and Neuroscience Research: Alcohol Use Disorders

Student Instructor: David Gonzalez
Faculty Mentor: Todd Thiele
W, 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm
210 Graham Memorial

In a dual perspective, the course is designed to examine alcohol use disorders within a public health sector and its motivation for neuroscience research. In order to understand the origins of neuroscience research in alcohol use disorders, one must understand the growing concerns involved with its influence on public health. Specifically, why is there a need to invest in neuroscience research specific to alcohol use disorders? The questions examined in the first portion of the course will involve addressing the extent of biological and sociological pre-dispositions to alcohol use disorders. Specifically, what pre-dispositions increase an individual’s risk of developing an alcohol use disorder, and how is our current understanding of these pre-dispositions used to combat the current alcohol use disorder epidemic? Additionally, we will examine the micro and macro-level implications of alcohol use disorders in a sociological, economic, and public health context when discussing the extent of risks and consequences of alcohol use disorders. By understanding alcohol use disorders in a wide array of contexts in a multi-layered model, we will draw on and examine current public policy and the effects of the dynamic relationship implicated by public policy on alcohol use disorders, specifically in its overall outcomes for individuals affected directly and indirectly by alcohol use disorders.

During the second latter of the course, we will examine the development and progress of alcohol use disorder research. Specifically, we will address early and developing experimental technique designs and models and wide-range use of methodological approaches. We will discuss critical milestones taken in alcohol use disorder research such as the reproducibility of the human brain and behavior through rodents, chemogenetic manipulations, and environmental models. We will discuss a range of paradigms for alcohol use disorders from a neural circuity model to an epigenetic model, techniques in histology and behavioral recordings, as well as the projected direction and current questions in the progress of alcohol use disorder research.

SPCL 400.305 | Food, Family, and Forehead Kisses: The Study of the Poetry of Community

Student Instructors: Maggie Helmke & Jo Snow
Faculty Mentor: Michael McFee
W, 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm
212 Graham Memorial

Irish Poet Brendan Kennelly once stated: “Poetry is, above all, a singing art of natural and magical connection because, though it is born out of one’s person’s solitude, it has the ability to reach out and touch in a humane and warmly illuminating way the solitude, even the loneliness, of others.” Since March 2020, humanity has operated in either a quarantined or pseudo-isolated fashion, compromising relationships, family connections, and human life. Yet despite all of these challenges, humanity, and therefore community persists; using poetry as a lens, this course will examine the mechanisms behind the persistence of interpersonal relationships and understandings of community following moments of loss.

“Rebuilding Community: Poetry of Loss, Family, and Food” will help students process their pandemic experiences and (re)connect with their surroundings, themselves, and each other, while learning and questioning what defines a community. This course will encourage participants to ask questions, offer discussion, and facilitate commentary on how loss, food, family inform and build a community, the very community a global pandemic stole.

SPCL 400.306 | The Mathematics of Probability Games

Student Instructors: Harrison Lewis & Nisarg Shah
Faculty Mentor: Mario Giacomazzo
T, 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm
038 Graham Memorial

Have you ever wondered if the topics you have been learning in math class beginning from elementary school all the way through calculus and statistics can be applied to something more practical and fun?

Mathematical foundations (such as statistics, discrete probability, and mathematical logic) can in fact be used to have tangible implications for the decision-making behind real-world games. Ranging from simple probability games such as heads or tails to more complex sports analytics, mathematics is often used to create more analytical approaches to the games we have come to love over time.

With the increasingly data- and analytically-focused world that we live in today, the players of these games have come to rely upon a significant amount of mathematics to inform the way they approach their respective games. In order to understand the power of mathematics in these various game-based scenarios, this class will take a deep dive into three key categories of games: basic probability games (i.e. dice and coin games), advanced card games (poker, blackjack, rummy), and sports games (i.e. football, baseball, and horse race betting).

Throughout the course, we will rely upon basic high school algebra (no prerequisites in mathematics required) to obtain a deep understanding of how you, as an individual player, as well as how organizations (i.e. sports teams) can create advantages based on specific applications of mathematics in the real world.

SPCL 400.307 | Gender Relations in South Korea

Student Instructor: Eleanor Murray
Faculty Mentor: Ji-Yeon Jo
M, 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm
210 Graham Memorial

In a survey conducted by the South Korean Ministry of Gender Equality and Family in 2020, 74.6% of female respondents felt that “South [Korean] society was unfair to women, while only 18.6% of male respondents felt the same” (KWDI, 2021). Out of all the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) nations, South Korea remains the one with the widest gender pay gap. During our class, we will explore gender relations within South Korea and the effects of inequality. We will examine women’s relationship with the military, the positioning of single mothers, the monolith of “ajummas,” and women in the Kpop industry.  

SPCL 400.308 | Psychology in Television and Film

Student Instructor: Luke Nguyen
Faculty Mentor: Desiree Griffin
M, 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm
213 Graham Memorial

For many of those unaccustomed to mental illness or psychology, their perceptions of these topics are influenced by the tropes they see on TV or movies. The depiction of mental illness across these media is often sacrificed authenticity for the sake of entertainment. Even the depictions that attempt their best to maintain accuracy still don’t present the full experience of individuals suffering from mental illnesses. The inaccuracies in these depictions contribute to the stigma surrounding mental illness. This course will attempt to de-stigmatize mental illness through analysis of mental health depictions in media. Throughout the course, we will take examples of characters in TV shows and movies who exhibit traits of or are directly diagnosed with mental illnesses and compare these depictions with the reality behind the mental illness.

SPCL 400.309 | First on Scene

Student Instructor: Kirti Patel
Faculty Mentor: Sarah Boyd
M, 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm
038 Graham Memorial

Have you ever watched a medical drama where they perform a crazy yet lifesaving procedure on someone having a medical emergency outside of the hospital? Have you then wondered if that would actually work in the real world? Can you relieve pressure in the brain with a drill from your garage? How about performing a cricothyrotomy with a knife and pen? What about making a chest tube from any old piece of tubing? In this class, we will be addressing questions like these, and more importantly, whether someone with adequate training should even attempt them or if it’s all dramatized to make entertaining television.

Each class will be focusing on a specific body system: cardiovascular, respiratory, nervous, digestive, endocrine, immune, skeletal, integumentary, urinary, and reproductive. We will begin by learning about the common emergencies associated with each system, covering first-aid skills that can be performed by anyone during emergencies such as cardiac arrests, obstructed airways, opioid overdoses, allergic reactions, or strokes. In addition, we will discuss the various interventions performed by healthcare providers in both the field and hospital to help save lives. Finally, we will apply the knowledge we have gained to clips from medical dramas to decipher exactly how much of what we are seeing on tv is fact and how much is fiction. By the end of the course, students will gain a working knowledge of various types of medical emergencies, develop clinical decision-making skills, and form a better understanding of the realities of healthcare.

SPCL 400.310 | The Science Behind Human Emotion

Student Instructor: Sandhya Sundar Rajan
Faculty Mentor: Monica Gaudier-Diaz
M, 1:20 pm – 3:20 pm
212 Graham Memorial

What are our emotions? What purpose do they serve? How do emotions relate to our thoughts, memories, and behaviors towards others? What happens when our emotional responses go awry?

Although these questions date back to early philosophical texts, only recently have experimental psychologists begun to explore this vast and exciting domain of study. The course will begin by discussing the evolutionary origins of distinct emotions such as love, anger, fear, and disgust. We will ask how emotions might color our cognitive processes such as thinking and memory, the relationship between emotions and the brain, development of emotions in childhood, and how emotions shape our social relationships.

This course will hope to provide an overview of the scientific study of emotion. Topics will include theoretical models of emotion process and structure.

SPCL 400.311 | Queer Anti-Capitalism in Literature and Visual Media

Student Instructor: X. Ramos-Lara
Faculty Mentor: Geovani Ramirez
R, 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
213 Graham Memorial

Intersectionality takes into account a person’s modes of being oppressed and how oppressive systems can lead to the formation of sociocultural privileges—such as white privilege, “passing,” and straight assimilation. And within intersectional academic and activist approaches to anti-capitalism, queerness is an area that lacks emphasis and support – this will be critiqued and analyzed throughout the semester. In this course we will explore the sources of oppression of minoritized groups of people, especially queer and trans Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), and offer modes of theoretical and practical liberation for those groups. Students of this course will read texts and watch films that detail the sociocultural production queer people stand to proudly offer in the face of their blatant oppression. ‘Workers and oppressed peoples of all countries, unite!’ – Vladimir Lenin”

SPCL 400.312 | The Culture, Science, and Breadth of Integrative Medicine

Student Instructor: Malik Tiedt
Faculty Mentor: Jessica Barnhill
W, 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm
038 Graham Memorial

In simple terms, integrative medicine incorporates complementary and traditional healthcare modalities into the biomedical realm of individualized, patient-centered healthcare. Whether it be taking herbal medicines or consulting with a chiropractor, various populations increasingly rely on complementary and traditional modalities to both maintain wellness and prevent disease. It is therefore imperative for future healthcare practitioners to recognize the complexities of medical pluralism and integrative medicine.

This multidisciplinary, seminar-based course draws from the fields of public health, medical anthropology, philosophy, ethics, social medicine, implementation science, and more. Through seminar discussions and class activities, pre-health students will explore how these fields perceive various modalities (i.e. acupuncture, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), naturopathy, homeopathy, herbal medicine, yoga…) within the context of their future careers. Students who complete this seminar will hold a basic understanding of the many scientific, cultural, and social factors related to incorporating traditional healthcare modalities into clinical practice.

The following units will be covered in this course:

  1. The fundamentals of biomedicine, complementary and traditional medicine, and integrative healthcare.
  2. Using evidence, science, and research to evaluate the integration of traditional and complementary healthcare therapies into the biomedical healthcare systems.
  3. Decolonizing complementary and traditional healthcare practices: identifying cultural appropriation.
  4. Using implementation science to inform the incorporation of complementary and traditional healthcare practices into the biomedical healthcare system.
  5. The global practice of integrative medicine and medical pluralism.
  6. Professional collaboration and communication within the field of integrative medicine.

SPCL 400.313 | Everyday Decisions, Everyday Impacts

Student Instructors: Niharika Vattikonda & Samuel Zahn
Faculty Mentor: Kevin McGuire
M, 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
035 Graham Memorial

This course examines the activists, advocates, and journalists that have surrounded Supreme Court jurisprudence. The course will pay particular attention to those cases that illustrate American social movements and represent the changing course of American society. This course will also strive to provide students who have not previously studied the Court with an introduction to how the Court may affect their daily lives in a variety of ways whether it be concerning data privacy, online harassment, restrictions on violence against women, or protections for Native American tribes.

SPCL 400.314 | The Asylum and the Archive: The Humanity of Dorothea Dix Asylum in the 19th and Early 20th Century

Student Instructor: Abby Wooten
Faculty Mentor: Robert Allen
W, 4:45 pm – 6:45 pm
035 Graham Memorial

From 1856 to 2012, Dorothea Dix Hospital in Raleigh was the state’s principal insane asylum. Today, the site of the hospital is being reimagined as a “destination” park. The archival records of the hospital, preserved by the State Archives of North Carolina, represent a unique resource for understanding North Carolina history and the emergence of modern psychiatry in America.  Since 2017, UNC’s Community Histories Workshop has excavated these records to recover the lives of thousands of individuals who were treated there. Over the past two years, CHW staff and UNC students have used these records to research and write historical case studies that humanize the plight of individuals treated at the asylum between 1856 and 1918.  These case studies, the records upon which they are based, the burgeoning scholarly literature on the history of psychiatry, and the expertise of UNC researchers and clinicians form the basis for this course.

By the end of this course, students will have used multiple individuals’ life stories as well as conversations with professionals in the humanities, social science, information and library science, and health science to prompt a better understanding of not just North Carolina, but how these patients’ afflictions, illnesses, and circumstances connect with today’s national mental health treatment crisis. This interdisciplinary approach intends to affect students’ understanding of the history of mental illness and its lingering impacts.

SPCL 400.315 | Gayme Studies: How Queer are Video Games?

Student Instructors: Li-Anne Wright
Faculty Mentor: Courtney Rivard
T, 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm
316 Greenlaw

What does it mean to be queer? And what does it mean for a video game to be queer? In this class, we will merge queer studies and game studies to analyze games from a humanities perspective. Students will leave the class with landmark queer theory and game studies concepts under their belt, a new perspective on games, and the ability to critically discuss them.

Like all fiction and cultural/commercial products, games hold possibilities for social commentary, moral arguments, and themes about the human experience. Additionally, video games and their mainstream communities reveal harmful narratives that we form around gender and sexuality. However, games have also long revealed ways we can resist and subvert those narratives. What else can we learn about games when we de-center straightness and whiteness?

Some course topics include the complications of representation, game fan experiences, thinking and playing “queerly,” and how a game can be queer through less obvious aspects like its mechanics. We will spend class discussing and playing video games in the Greenlaw Gameroom.