Becoming Human

Courses in this cluster raise questions about the evolutionary dimensions of human behavior, scientific interventions into what it means to be human, and how technologies intersect with patterns of social behavior.

Course Descriptions

CC100: Surveillance Society

Instructor: Cayce Hughes
Learning Across the Liberal Arts Designation: Societies & Human Behavior
CRN# 13891
Block: 1

In today’s “surveillance society,” we have become accustomed to trading personal information—wittingly or not—for goods, services, and simply to participate in everyday life. With the rise of big data, state and market institutions routinely collect and analyze data to monitor our purchasing patterns, social networks, and physical movements. However, some people are more insulated from scrutiny than others, and exposure to surveillance of various kinds depends on social status and the matrix of identities each of us hold. In this course, we will examine surveillance through a sociological lens, focusing on how surveillance can generate and reproduce social inequalities. We will cover various formal institutions that surveil particular populations, including the criminal justice, welfare, and child protective systems, and explore contexts where everyday surveillance occurs, including school and workplaces, on social media, and in public spaces. We will also discuss the possibilities for resisting surveillance through formal and informal means. Throughout the course we will consider how being surveilled—and surveilling others—shapes our understanding of ourselves and reflects on the power relations that structure society.

CC120: Writing for Social Justice

Instructor: Wade Roberts
CRN# 13892
Block: 3

This course examines the role of social science research in exposing social inequalities and informing social change efforts. We will explore both qualitative and quantitative forms of research and how insights can be communicated effectively to different audiences, from policymakers to community partners. Students will conduct their own research as part of the class, learning how data analysis and writing can work together to further the cause of social justice.

Note: The course does involve regular lab use to conduct spatial and statistical analyses but that work can be done independently by students.


CC100: Evolutionary Perspectives on Human Behavior

Instructor: Greg Peters
Learning Across the Liberal Arts Designation: Societies and Human Behavior
CRN# 14076
Block: 1

Humans are just one of approximately 250 species of primates on earth. This course will examine various aspects of human life including culture, stress, racism, aggression and altruism through the lens of primatology. Students will become familiar with how researchers in the biological sciences approach study questions about animal behavior by using those same approaches to examine the behavior of humans themselves. The class will explore the features of human behavior that set us apart from other primates, but maybe more importantly we will examine the behavioral characteristics that humans share with other species. Students will develop an understanding of our own behavior beyond the perspective of human “uniqueness” and will learn to think critically about the evolutionary origins of human behavior, which will inevitably include confronting who we are both at our best and our worst. 

CC120: Sport, Media, and Society

Instructor: Taylor Nygaard
CRN# 13894
Block: 2

This course examines the ways in which discourse surrounding sports influences culture, politics, and identity. Using the tools of media and cultural studies students analyze the discourses surrounding topics such as the rhetorical construction of the athlete, sporting events, athletes as racialized and gendered bodies, the commodification of the athlete, athletes and activism, as well as fandom and identification. This isn’t a class about the rules or the appreciation of sport. It’s about how sport is commemorated, how its heroes and villains are constructed and represented, and most importantly what that tells us about how contemporary popular culture values different racial, gendered, and class identities. The aim of the course overall is to introduce students to the kinds of questions scholars ask in studying sport and to enable students to improve their writing by learning to assess and analyze sources more carefully, and to position their own perspective among others in a way that is informed, critical, and civil.


CC100: The Science and Ethics of Genome Editing

Instructor: Darrell Killian
Learning Across the Liberal Arts Designation: Scientific Analysis
CRN# 13897
Block: 1

Recent technological advances have empowered scientists with molecular tools that facilitate the modification of the blueprints of life—the genomes within living organisms. Students in this course will learn about the science behind genome editing by performing genome-editing experiments in the context of addressing a biological research question. Students will learn about how scientists use (or plan to use) genome-editing technology for applications such as biotechnology, gene-edited foods, pest control, and gene therapy. With such vast applications, genome editing has raised important questions about its ethical use. Students will be challenged to consider the possible benefits, alternative approaches, and unintended negative consequences of genome editing.

Note: Some afternoon labs and discussions from 1-3pm.

CC120: Russia: Language, Literature, and Film

Instructor: Alexei Pavlenko
CRN# 13898
Block: 2

An inquiry into Russia's past and present through the lenses of its language, literature, and film, with an added focus on developing students' writing skills for self-expression, research, and analysis. In their research projects, students will address some of the defining questions of the discipline: What is "intelligentsia"? What is the role of the dissident in the evolution of the Russian literary canon? What are the distinguishing features of the Soviet and post-Soviet propaganda?


Report an issue - Last updated: 07/22/2022