Fall 2019 First Year Seminars

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ANTHROPOLOGY

ANTH 053H.001 | Darwin’s Dangerous Idea

TR, 9:30 am – 10:45 am. Instructor: Paul Leslie. Enrollment = 24.
Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection is central to one of the most profound revolutions in the history of thought, generating stunning insights but also some misunderstanding and tragic abuse. This seminar aims to provide a clear understanding of how natural selection works, and how it doesn’t. We will examine objections to the theory; how the environmental and health problems we face today reflect processes of natural selection; and recent attempts to understand why we get sick, how we respond to disease, why we get old, why we choose mates the way we do, and more. Class sessions will feature a mix of lecture and discussion of concepts and issues. Students will also engage in small group projects—cooperative explorations of problems raised in class or in the readings and/or designing mini research projects.

FIRST YEAR STUDENTS ONLY.

Paul Leslie’s professional interests focus on human ecology, and he has pursued this primarily through research among nomadic peoples in East Africa. His most recent project entails studying (while nursing an aged Land Rover across the African savanna) human-environment interactions in northern Tanzania, especially how the changing land use and livelihood patterns of the Maasai people living there affect and are affected by wildlife and conservation efforts. When not teaching or practicing anthropology, he enjoys bicycling, motorcycling, woodworking, and jazz.

ANTH 066H.001 | Saving the World? Humanitarianism in Action

MWF, 11:15 am – 12:05 pm. Instructor: Peter Redfield. Enrollment = 24.
What happens when people try to “do good”, especially at a global scale? In this seminar we will explore international aid, with an emphasis on its medical end and the set of organizations and institutions that exist to offer assistance to people suffering from disaster, endemic poverty and health disparities. The current aid complex includes a wide variety of forms and activities, from large bureaucracies to tiny NGOs, massive health campaigns to lonely clinics. We will approach this phenomenon from the critical and comparative perspective of anthropology, focusing on actual human practice. Which forms of suffering receive international attention, and which do not? How do money and services flow and stop relative to inequality? What range of outcomes do different aid projects produce?

Over the semester we will engage in two collective endeavors. First, to better situate current problems, we will review the background history of humanitarianism and development, including colonial missions as well as state oriented projects of social welfare. Thus equipped, we will then examine a number of case studies. During this section of the course students will engage in research projects, exploring specific examples in greater depth.

FIRST YEAR STUDENTS ONLY.

Peter Redfield is Professor of Anthropology. He received his undergraduate degree from Harvard University and his doctorate from U.C. Berkeley. His specialty concerns relations between science, technology and society, particularly in post-colonial settings. He also teaches courses on human rights and humanitarianism, and recently completed a book project on the organization Doctors Without Borders.

ART HISTORY

ARTH 055H.001 | Art, Gender, and Power in Early Modern Europe

TR, 9:30 am – 10:45 am. Instructor: Tania String. Enrollment = 20.
What did it mean to be a man or to be a woman in the Renaissance? This seminar will explore the ways in which constructions of gender are critical to understandings of the visual arts in the early modern period (c. 1400-1650). We will discuss and analyze a focused group of representations of men and women: portraits, mythological and biblical paintings and sculptures, and even turn our attention to the buildings these men and women inhabited. We will study the work of artists such as Michelangelo, Donatello, Titian, Holbein, and Rubens, amongst others, to find ways of understanding how masculinity and femininity were central concerns in early modern society and in the art produced in this period.

FIRST YEAR STUDENTS ONLY.

Dr Tania String is an art historian specializing in the art of the Tudor period in England, and the Renaissance more broadly. She is the author of numerous books and articles on the portraits of Henry VIII. Before coming to UNC in 2010 she taught in England at the University of Bristol and in Spring 2019 she is back in the UK as the Faculty Director of UNC’s Honors Semester in London.

BIOLOGY

BIOL 062H.001 | Mountains Beyond Mountains: Infectious Disease in the Developing World

TR, 11:00 am – 12:15 pm. Instructor: Mark Peifer. Enrollment = 24.
In this course we will examine the challenges of treating infectious disease in the developing world, and explore the root causes of global health care inequity.

FIRST YEAR STUDENTS ONLY.

Ever since beginning graduate work in the Bender lab at Harvard Medical School, I have been interested in how a fertilized egg self-assembles itself into an animal.  As a postdoc with Eric Wieschaus at Princeton, I began work on ß-catenin, exploring its dual roles in cell adhesion and Wnt signaling.  Since the lab at UNC began in 1992, we have continued and expanded this work, taking advantage of the exceptionally strong community here in cell and developmental biology, and the cutting edge imaging equipment available here.  Outside the lab, I live in the woods near Saxapahaw with my spouse and two daughters, and am obsessed with native wildflowers and with reducing global inequities in education and health care.  Ask me about my trips to Haiti, or about that mystery flag which is flying outside my office.

 

CLASSICS

CLAR 051H.001 | Who Owns the Past?

MWF, 11:15 am – 12:05 pm. Instructor: Jennifer Gates-Foster. Enrollment = 24.
Archaeology is all about the past, but it is embedded in the politics and realities of the present day. This course will introduce you to the ethical, moral and political dimensions of archaeological sites and artifacts, especially in situations where the meaning and stewardship of ancient artifacts is under dispute. This course develops your awareness both of the nature of archaeological evidence, but also (and perhaps more importantly) stimulates you to think about the role played by modern interests in how that evidence is preserved, presented and interpreted. You will be required to articulate your own ethical positions on these issues while working to understand the legal and moral codes in place in society to guide the treatment of these important resources.

FIRST YEAR STUDENTS ONLY.

Jennifer Gates-Foster received her Ph.D. in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan and comes to UNC by way of Cambridge and the University of Texas at Austin. She has excavated on Roman and Greek sites across the modern Middle East and Mediterranean and her research focuses on the lands of the Near East, especially Egypt, under Greek and Roman rule.

COMPUTER SCIENCE

COMP 089H.001 | Human and Artificial Intelligence Through the Prism of Language

TR, 11:00 am – 12:15 pm. Instructors: Katya Pertsova / Mohit Bansal. Enrollment = 12.
The development of AI on the one hand is motivated by solving concrete practical problems. On the other hand, AI has important implications for our understanding of humanity and human intelligence, as well as the nature of knowledge and meaning. Because language is at the center of human ability to reason, communicate, and encode knowledge, many current advances in AI are focused on linguistic technologies — after all, we hope to be able to communicate and interact with the intelligence that we create. Thus, understanding how language works, how it is shaped by facts of human cognition as well as social interaction is important for developing human-friendly AI. At the same time, machine learning tools used in AI can also be useful in the scientific study of language, for example for testing hypotheses about laws that govern human language acquisition, language change, and language use. The goal of this course is to expose students, not necessarily familiar with either of the two disciplines, to these two complementary and mutually beneficial approaches. Students will get a basic understanding of the progress that has been made in linguistics and computer science at modeling language in the context of AI and of the challenges that remain. They will have a chance to compare and contrast the similarities and differences between ways in which human and (current) artificial intelligence work. In this seminar students will also be exposed to different research methods and ways of pursuing scientific questions used in the two disciplines.

FIRST YEAR STUDENTS ONLY.

CROSSLISTED WITH LING 89H.

Dr. Katya Pertsova is an Associate Professor in the Linguistics Department. She received her PhD. from UCLA in 2007, spent some time at MIT, and two years at the Center of Cognitive Studies at Tufts University. Her research centers on the theoretical and computational models of language learning and human cognition. Her current work, funded by the National Science Foundation, focuses on exploring parallels between linguistic and non-linguistic categorization in connection to so-called “cognitive biases”, systematic predispositions towards particular patterns of thought. She has on-going collaboration with the center of brain and language at the HSE university in Moscow, Russia and with the Psychology and Linguistics departments at the University of UMass, Amherst.

Dr. Mohit Bansal is the Director of the UNC-NLP Lab and an assistant professor in the Computer Science department at the University of North Carolina (UNC) Chapel Hill. Prior to this, he was a research assistant professor (3-year endowed position) at TTI-Chicago. He received his Ph.D. in 2013 from the University of California at Berkeley and his B.Tech. from the Indian Institute of Technology at Kanpur in 2008. He has also spent time at Google Research, Microsoft Research, and Cornell University. His research expertise is in statistical natural language processing and machine learning, with a particular focus on multimodal, grounded, and embodied semantics (i.e., language with vision and speech, for robotics), human-like language generation and Q&A/dialogue, and interpretable and generalizable deep learning. He is a recipient of the 2018 ARO Young Investigator Award (YIP), 2017 DARPA Young Faculty Award (YFA), and several faculty awards from Google (2016, 2014), Facebook (2018, 2017), IBM (2018, 2014), Adobe (2018), and Bloomberg (2016).

DRAMATIC ART

DRAM 081H.001 | Staging America: The American Drama

TR, 2:00 pm – 3:15 pm. Instructor: Greg Kable. Enrollment = 24.
This seminar examines our national drama from its colonial origins to the present. Participants read plays and criticism, screen videos, engage in critical writing, and consider performance as related means of exploring the visions and revisions constituting American dramatic history. We will approach American drama as both a literary and commercial art form, and look to its history to provide a context for current American theater practice. Readings are chosen for their intrinsic merit and historical importance, but also for their treatment of key issues and events in American life. Our focus throughout will be on the forces that shaped the American drama as well as, in turn, that drama’s ability to shed light on the national experience.

FIRST YEAR STUDENTS ONLY.

Gregory Kable is a Teaching Professor in the Department of Dramatic Art, where he teaches dramatic literature, theatre history, and performance courses and serves as an Associate Dramaturg for PlayMakers Repertory Company. He also teaches seminars on Modern British Drama and American Musicals for the Honors program. He has directed dozens of productions at UNC and throughout the local community, and is a graduate of the Yale School of Drama.

ECONOMICS

ECON 055H.001 | Economics of Sports

TR, 9:30 am – 10:45 am. Instructor: Rita Balaban. Enrollment = 24.
Many Americans enjoy watching and/or participating in sporting activities. The popularity of collegiate and professional sports, however, extends beyond the talented athletes and the fierce rivalries. Economic decision making has played a key part in its success. This seminar uses a variety of economic tools to analyze selected topics and issues related to professional and collegiate athletics. Some of the questions to be considered include: How have the structure and organization of leagues contributed to their success? What role should communities play in retaining or attracting teams? How much should professional athletes be paid? Do owners prefer profits over wins? Does discrimination exist in college sports? Has doping helped or hindered the popularity of sports? Upon completion of this seminar, students are more likely to enjoy watching sports through the eyes of an economist.

FIRST YEAR STUDENTS ONLY.

Prior to joining the Department of Economics as a lecturer in 2006, Rita Balaban taught at the College of Charleston and Samford University. She has directed over 20 undergraduate research projects in various areas of economics that include the music and radio industries, international trade, and the economics of sports. She also enjoys doing volunteer work with students in the community.

FOLKLORE

FOLK 077H.001 | The Poetic Roots of Hip Hop

TR, 11:00 am – 12:15 pm. Instructor: Glenn Hinson. Enrollment = 24.
“There ain’t nothing new about rapping.” That’s what elders from a host of African American communities declared when hip-hop first exploded onto the scene. This “new” form, they claimed, was just a skilled re-working of poetic forms that had been around for generations. Each elder seemed to point to a different form—some to the wordplay of rhyming radio deejays, others to the bawdy flow of streetcorner poets, still others to the rhymed storytelling of sanctified singers. And each was right; elegant rhyming has indeed marked African American talk for generations. Yet because most such rhyming was spoken, its history remains hidden. In this seminar, we’ll explore this lost history, talking to poets and hip-hop emcees while probing the archives to uncover the hidden heritage of African American eloquence. Our goal is nothing short of writing the prehistory of hip-hop, and in so doing demonstrating rhyme’s longstanding role as a key marker of African American identity.

FIRST YEAR STUDENTS ONLY.

Glenn Hinson’s engagement with African American expressive culture emerges from decades of work with artists that range from blues musicians and gospel singers to tapdancers, vaudeville comics, and hip-hop emcees. As a folklorist (and associate professor) who teaches in the Departments of American Studies and Anthropology, he studies everyday performances and the ways that they offer insights into the workings of culture. Professor Hinson’s current research focuses on oral poetry, self-taught art, and the intersections between faith and creativity.

GEOLOGICAL SCIENCES

GEOL 072H.001 | Field Geology of Eastern California

TR, 2:00 pm – 3:15 pm. Instructor: Drew Coleman. Enrollment = 20.
Have you ever wanted to stand on a volcano, see a glacier, trace out an earthquake fault, or see the Earth’s oldest living things? This seminar is designed around a one-week field trip to eastern California, where students will study geologic features including active volcanoes, earthquake-producing faults, and evidence for recent glaciation and extreme climate change. Before the field trip (which will take place the week of Fall Break and be based at a research station near Bishop, California), the class will meet twice a week to learn basic geologic principles and to work on developing field research topics. During the field trip students will work on field exercises (e.g. mapping, measuring, and describing an active fault; observing and recording glacial features) and collect data for the research projects. After the field trip, students will obtain laboratory data from samples collected during the trip and test research hypotheses using field and laboratory data. Grading will be based on presentation of group research projects, and on a variety of small projects during the trip (notebook descriptions, mapping projects, etc.). Students will be required to pay some of the costs of the trip (estimated at about $900.) This course will require missing three days of classes. The course is designed to teach basic geology “on the rocks”, so there are no prerequisites. Link to Yosemite Nature Notes video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y5RQp77uVPA

FIRST YEAR STUDENTS ONLY.

Drew Coleman’s research focuses on understanding how the Earth works by determining the rates of processes (mountain building, extinction, volcanism, etc.) that occurred in the past. To accomplish this he and his students date rocks. His teaching is inquiry based and he is most happy when he is teaching “hands on” in the field or lab.

GERMANIC & SLAVIC LANGUAGES & LITERATURES

GSLL 068H.001 | Intensity, Vitality, Ecstasy: Affects in Literature, Film, and Philosophy

TR, 12:30 pm – 1:45 pm. Instructor: Gabriel Trop. Enrollment = 24.
Intensity, Vitality, Ecstasy in Philosophy and Literature
What cultural and intellectual resources do we have to increase the intensity of our inner lives, to feel more vitally plugged into the world, and to be attracted to extraordinary modes of perception? We will read texts by famous philosophers, mystics, and poets in order to help us answer these questions. Assignments will explore creative and alternative forms of writing (rather than the standard academic essay): dialogues, narratives, letters, and free writing, among others. Authors include: Plato, Sappho, Marcus Aurelius, Hildegard von Bingen, Mechthild von Magdeburg, Meister Eckhart, Descartes, Pascal, Goethe, Kafka, Musil, Deleuze, and Rilke, among others. (Course taught in English. No prerequisites.)

FIRST YEAR STUDENTS ONLY

Gabriel Trop is Associate Professor of German at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. He earned his Ph.D. in German and Medieval Studies from the University of California at Berkeley. His research tends to focus on the relationship between literature, philosophy, and science, with a special emphasis on poetics and aesthetics. Both his scholarship and his teaching within this broader framework is rather comparative: he has engaged with texts and ideas from Ancient Greece, Roman Antiquity, the Middle Ages (mainly Middle High German), and German and French literature and philosophy from the eighteenth century to the twentieth century.

GLOBAL STUDIES

GLBL 089H.001 | The Migratory Experience

MWF, 11:15 am – 12:05 pm. Instructor(s): Carmen Huerta-Bapat. Enrollment = 24.
The course will critically analyze the migrant experience in both North America and Europe. Migration is a calculated decision that individuals, families, and groups make in an effort to improve their living conditions. We will adopt an interdisciplinary approach to understanding the motivation of migrants, the nature of the migrant journey to their destination states, and their integration into their new societies. Specifically, we will cover causes of migration in their home country, immigrant incorporation in destination states, and the politics of backlash.

FIRST YEAR STUDENTS ONLY.

Dr. Huerta holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from UNC-Chapel Hill, a M.A in sociology from UNC-Chapel Hill, and a M.A. in political science from Rice University. Her research agenda takes an interdisciplinary approach to understanding how American institutions such as universities, schools and police bureaucracies are working to incorporate underrepresented racial and ethnic groups. Her current research explores the impact of micro-aggressions on the lived experience of First-Generation College Students, police behavior toward new Latino migrants in North Carolina during the 2000s, and the social and health impacts associated with the immigration enforcement climate in the U.S. on Latino communities.

Dr. Huerta has considerable experience teaching interdisciplinary courses, including those in Spanish literature, political science, sociology, public administration and education. She has taught at various elite institutions over the past 20 years including: Duke, Penn State, Rice, Elon and UNC.

She draws on her personal experience as a Latina first-generation college student to guide her student-centered teaching philosophy.

LINGUISTICS

LING 089H.001 | Human and Artificial Intelligence Through the Prism of Language

TR, 11:00 am – 12:15 pm. Instructors: Katya Pertsova / Mohit Bansal. Enrollment = 12.
The development of AI on the one hand is motivated by solving concrete practical problems. On the other hand, AI has important implications for our understanding of humanity and human intelligence, as well as the nature of knowledge and meaning. Because language is at the center of human ability to reason, communicate, and encode knowledge, many current advances in AI are focused on linguistic technologies — after all, we hope to be able to communicate and interact with the intelligence that we create. Thus, understanding how language works, how it is shaped by facts of human cognition as well as social interaction is important for developing human-friendly AI. At the same time, machine learning tools used in AI can also be useful in the scientific study of language, for example for testing hypotheses about laws that govern human language acquisition, language change, and language use. The goal of this course is to expose students, not necessarily familiar with either of the two disciplines, to these two complementary and mutually beneficial approaches. Students will get a basic understanding of the progress that has been made in linguistics and computer science at modeling language in the context of AI and of the challenges that remain. They will have a chance to compare and contrast the similarities and differences between ways in which human and (current) artificial intelligence work. In this seminar students will also be exposed to different research methods and ways of pursuing scientific questions used in the two disciplines.

FIRST YEAR STUDENTS ONLY.

CROSSLISTED WITH COMP 89H.

Dr. Katya Pertsova is an Associate Professor in the Linguistics Department. She received her PhD. from UCLA in 2007, spent some time at MIT, and two years at the Center of Cognitive Studies at Tufts University. Her research centers on the theoretical and computational models of language learning and human cognition. Her current work, funded by the National Science Foundation, focuses on exploring parallels between linguistic and non-linguistic categorization in connection to so-called “cognitive biases”, systematic predispositions towards particular patterns of thought. She has on-going collaboration with the center of brain and language at the HSE university in Moscow, Russia and with the Psychology and Linguistics departments at the University of UMass, Amherst.

Dr. Mohit Bansal is the Director of the UNC-NLP Lab and an assistant professor in the Computer Science department at the University of North Carolina (UNC) Chapel Hill. Prior to this, he was a research assistant professor (3-year endowed position) at TTI-Chicago. He received his Ph.D. in 2013 from the University of California at Berkeley and his B.Tech. from the Indian Institute of Technology at Kanpur in 2008. He has also spent time at Google Research, Microsoft Research, and Cornell University. His research expertise is in statistical natural language processing and machine learning, with a particular focus on multimodal, grounded, and embodied semantics (i.e., language with vision and speech, for robotics), human-like language generation and Q&A/dialogue, and interpretable and generalizable deep learning. He is a recipient of the 2018 ARO Young Investigator Award (YIP), 2017 DARPA Young Faculty Award (YFA), and several faculty awards from Google (2016, 2014), Facebook (2018, 2017), IBM (2018, 2014), Adobe (2018), and Bloomberg (2016).

PUBLIC POLICY

PLCY 061H.001 | Policy Entrepreneurship and Public-Private Partnerships

TR, 12:30 pm – 1:45 pm. Instructor: Daniel Gitterman. Enrollment = 24.
This seminar will define a policy entrepreneur and examine strategies used by policy entrepreneurs to achieve policy change or innovation in the policy making process. This course also aims to explore ways that public, private, and non-profit sectors collaborate to address problems that cannot be solved by one sector alone. There is growing recognition that sustainable solutions to some of the most complex challenges confronting our communities can benefit from these collaborative or “intersector” approaches.

FIRST YEAR STUDENTS ONLY.

Daniel P. Gitterman is Thomas Willis Lambeth Distinguished Chair in Public Policy and Director of the Honors Carolina Burch Field Research Seminar in Domestic and International Affairs.

PLCY 076H.001 | Global Health Policy

TR, 11:00 am – 12:15 pm. Instructor: Benjamin Meier. Enrollment = 24.
Global health policy impacts the health and well being of individuals and peoples throughout the world. Many determinants of health operate at a global level, and many national policies, social practices, and individual health behaviors are structured by global forces. Concern for the spread of infectious diseases, increasing rates of chronic diseases and the effectiveness of health systems to provide quality care are among the daunting challenges to health policy makers.
With profound social, political and economic changes rapidly challenging global health, the aim of this course in Global Health Policy is to provide students with a variety of opportunities to understand the epidemiologic trends in world health, the institutions of global health governance, and the effects of globalization on global and national health policy.
This course provides an introduction to the relationship between international relations, global health policy and public health outcomes. The focus of this course will be on public policy approaches to global health, employing interdisciplinary methodologies to understand selected public health policies, programs, and interventions. Providing a foundation for responding to global health harms, this course will teach students how to apply policy analysis to a wide range of critical issues in global health determinants, interventions, and impacts.

FIRST YEAR STUDENTS ONLY.

Professor Meier’s interdisciplinary research—at the intersection of international law, public policy, and global health—examines the human rights norms that underlie global health policy.  In teaching UNC courses in Justice in Public Policy, Health & Human Rights, and Global Health Policy, Professor Meier has been awarded the 2011 William C. Friday Award for Excellence in Teaching, the 2013 James M. Johnston Teaching Excellence Award, the 2015 Zachary Taylor Smith Distinguished Professorship in Undergraduate Teaching, and six straight annual awards for Best Teacher in Public Policy.  He received his Ph.D. in Sociomedical Sciences from Columbia University, his J.D. and LL.M. in International and Comparative Law from Cornell Law School, and his B.A. in Biochemistry from Cornell University.

SOCIOLOGY

SOCI 057H.001 | Rationalization and the Changing Nature of Social Life in 21st-Century America

TR, 3:30 pm – 4:45 pm. Instructor: Howard Aldrich. Enrollment = 24.
Today, fast food restaurants have become a model for everyday life. Some scholars have even talked about the “McDonaldization” of the nation and the world. By that, scholars mean a drive toward greater efficiency, predictability, calculability, and control by non-human technologies in modern organizations. This drive has shaped many features of American life, including health care, law, and education. Such forces have even affected personal relationships. Sociologists have a term for this process: “rationalization.” In this course, we will explore that social process through a process called “active learning”: field trips, making things in a makerspace, presentations by visitors, videos, classroom simulations, and other activities. You will be assessed based on your monthly contributions to blog posts, class participation, four short (two page) papers, a major research project culminating in a term paper (15-20 pages), and a group presentation.

FIRST YEAR STUDENTS ONLY.

Howard E. Aldrich is Kenan Professor of Sociology. He has won numerous awards for his teaching and mentoring: Favorite Professor Award from the senior class at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; graduate students’ Award for Best Teaching, Department of Sociology, several times; and the J Carlyle Sitterson Freshman Teaching Award from the University of Carolina Chapel Hill. His two sons and his daughters-in-law graduated from Carolina. His main research interests are entrepreneurship, entrepreneurial team formation, gender and entrepreneurship, and evolutionary theory. He writes a regular column, “Speaking from Experience,” for The National Teaching and Learning Forum. He fly fishes year-round in the mountains of Western North Carolina and Eastern Tennessee and wherever else his travels may take him. Photos of his catches may be seen on his homepage.