Fall 2023 Courses

All courses taught by Robinson Professors are open to anyone meeting department prerequisites.
Spencer CrewSteven Pearlstein | James Trefil

Spencer Crew

HNRS 240:002 History of the Family

The definition of family and the role of each member of that unit have evolved over the years.  Often the changes are related to economic circumstances and the social mores of the society.  This course will primarily examine the way the American family has changed since colonial days.  In the process we will study how the responsibilities of women, children, and men have altered and why.  We also will compare this with views of family operation in other selected societies such as Rome, India, China, and Japan.

In addition, the class will acquire basic skills in oral history so they can interview family members or close associates to better understand their own family history or the experiences of others growing up.

(TR 10:30 – 11:45 AM)

HIST 300:001 Introduction to Historical Methods – Underground Railroad and Abolition

The course will introduce students to the theory and practice of history.  It will use the Underground Railroad and its connections to slavery and abolition as the vehicle for teaching skills in historical thinking, research, and writing.  The Underground Railroad was a loose network of individuals dedicated to undermining the institution of slavery and gaining freedom for African Americans enslaved by the institution.  Studying it will provide an opportunity for using historical skills and methodology to separate myth from truth in the process writing a research paper.

(T 1:30 – 4:20pm)

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Steven Pearlstein

GOVT 367:004 Issues in Government and Politics:  Money, Markets and Economic Policy

No prerequisite. Applies basic economic concepts to an examination of fundamental issues facing the U.S. and global economies. Explores the way markets work, the reasons they sometimes fail and the role of government policy. Topics include productivity and economic growth, taxes, health care, globalization, income distribution and financial crises, with an emphasis on market structure, social institutions and the not-always rational behavior of investors and consumers.

Over the last decade, economics has moved from the periphery of the political conversation to its white hot center. This course will provide a familiarity with the fundamental issues facing the U.S. and global economies, along with an understanding of the economic principles that underlie them. The course is aimed at non-economics majors seeking the economic literacy necessary to do their jobs, manage their lives and participate intelligently as citizens in a democracy.  It is taught by a prize-winning journalist with a knack for demystifying complex economic ideas and policy choices and translating them into conversational English. There are no prerequisites and the course involves very little math. Critical thinkers with curious minds are strongly encouraged to enroll. (MW 1:30 – 2:45 pm)

Govt 467:001 & Pogo 550-003 Current Issues Economic Policy (How Washington Really Works)

The purpose of this course is to provide students with an understanding of how decisions and policy are really made in Washington. Through six case studies, the course will explore modern American policy debates, politics and institutional dynamics, with a particular focus on the personalities, motivations, and ambitions of elected leaders. The role of interest groups, think tanks and media will also be examined. The course will use Socratic-style lectures, class discussions, and weekly class speakers to explore these issues. In the final weeks of the course, students working in groups of politically-like-minded colleagues will be tasked with crafting comprehensive, politically-realistic policy proposals to lower health care costs, reduce poverty and regulate big tech. Enrollment is by permission of the instructor. Students must have familiarity with, and interest in, modern American history, politics and government.

This course will be offered jointly to students from both the University of Pennsylvania and George Mason University and co-taught by one professor from each school. The course will be held on neither campus, but at the Penn Biden Center located at the base of Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. Students from both schools will attend the same class sessions, read the same materials and be evaluated in the same manner.. (F 11:15-3:15pm)

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James Trefil

PHYS 122:003 Inside Relativity

Introductory course describing Einstein’s theories of special and general relativity intended for majors and nonmajors.

(Aug 22-Oct 9 TR 9:00am-10:15am)

PHYS 123:004 Inside the Quantum World

Introductory course describing quantum theory intended for majors and nonmajors.

(Oct 12-Dec 15 TR 9:00am-10:15am)

HNRS 360:004 The History of Science

This course will trace the development of science from the construction of monuments like Stonehenge to the latest ideas about the Large Hadron Collider and the Multiverse. No previous scientific knowledge will be presumed, and the major ideas of science will be developed in their historical context. The course will include readings from important historical texts, and students will be asked to dvelop and present biographies of major scientific figures.

(M 4:30-7:10 pm)

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