Fall 2017 Courses

All courses taught by Robinson Professors are open to anyone meeting department prerequisites.
Spencer Crew |  Robert Hazen | Carma HintonSteven Pearlstein | James Trefil | Laurie Robinson


 Spencer Crew

HNRS 240:002 Reading the Past
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 12:00 – 1:15pm)

HIST 300:004 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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Robert Hazen

PROV 301:001 Great Ideas in Science
A non-technical introduction to the ideas that have shaped the growth of science. The idea behind each major advance is treated in its historical context, with special attention to its importance in mankind’s understanding of the nature of the universe. Examples are taken from the physical, geological, and biological sciences.

(M 4:30 – 7:10pm)

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Carma Hinton

HNRS 122:003 Reading the Arts
This course introduces students to some basic concepts and practices of Chinese art. Through in-depth studies of a variety of ancient as well as contemporary art, including painting, calligraphy, sculpture, and architecture, the course will explore the particular ways in which the relationship between convention and innovation, discipline and freedom, community and individuality, and high art and popular art evolved in China’s long cultural tradition. Considerable emphasis will be given to examining the role of art and artist in society.

(T 4:30-7:10 pm)
CHIN 320:001 Contemporary Chinese Film
This course provides a historical overview of Chinese language cinema, focusing on productions from Mainland China.  The story of Chinese cinema is closely entwined with the turbulent history of 20th century China.  Since its beginnings in the early 1900s – during the final years of the last imperial dynasty – Chinese cinema has embodied and responded to the profound challenges brought about by a rapidly changing world.  In exploring this story, we will study the works of a number of key directors and examine moments of dramatic shifts in cinematic style within a broader social and political context.  We will pay particular attention to issues of national, cultural, and gender identities, the relationship between art and politics, and cross-cultural communication.

(Also listed as ARTH 303 and FAVS 399 T 7:20-10:00 pm)

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Steven Pearlstein

GOVT 367:001 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 3:00-4:15 pm)

HNRS 122:00x Reading the Arts

Story-telling has always been at the heart of great journalism. In this course we’ll explore the last century of American history by reading some of the best examples of narrative—that is, story-telling—journalism published in books, newspapers and magazines. The reading (and listening) list includes works of H.L. Mencken, Truman Capote, E.B. White, John Updike, Tom Wolfe, Malcolm Gladwell, Michael Lewis, Ira Glass and Sarah Koenig. We will explore how narrative journalism is done, what is the historical and media context in which it is written and published, what makes it effective and what impact it has had on readers and society. This is not a journalism course as much as it is a literature and history course. The aim is not to learn how to write great journalism but how to recognize it and get the most out of reading it.

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James Trefil

PHYS 122:002 Inside Relativity
Introductory course describing Einstein’s theories of special and general relativity intended for majors and nonmajors.

(Aug 25-Oct 13 TR 9:00am-10:15am)

PHYS 123:002 Inside the Quantum World
Introductory course describing quantum theory intended for majors and nonmajors.

(Oct 14-Dec 17 TR 9:00am-10:15am)

HNRS 240:001 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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Laurie Robinson

HNRS 353:002 Effective responses to crime: policies and strategies

While the violent crime rate in the U.S. today is some  75% lower than 20 years ago — and is far closer to rates in the 1960s — the nation continues to face challenges in areas such as gun violence, gang crime, domestic violence and high rates of incarceration, and there is clear concern about how fairly the criminal justice system responds to racial and ethnic minorities, as events over the past 18 months in Ferguson, Missouri and numerous other jurisdictions have highlighted.  In the 1960s, a Presidential Commission appointed by Lyndon B. Johnson issued a landmark report that comprehensively looked at all facets of the criminal justice system and set out a blueprint for reform.  No single document in criminal justice since that time has been so influential.

In this seminar, Honors College students will act as members of a criminal justice commission to look at key aspects of the crime problem in the United States and what solutions are — or could be — used to address them effectively.  They will examine issues around policing, prisons and sentencing, juvenile justice, substance abuse, courts and (more broadly) innovation and hold “hearings” at which they can question expert guest witnesses (for example, frontline criminal justice practitioners, such as police chiefs) and explore evidence-based approaches that are being, and should be, taken to address problems.  Students will serve on subject area task forces and develop reports on their topics.

The work will culminate in the students presenting their policy-oriented research reports in class at the end of the semester.

This seminar is suitable for any student interested in public policy, government, technology, communications, criminology, political science, conflict resolution, or economics. (TR 1:30-2:45 pm)

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