Liberal Arts and Sciences Electives
This course surveys the history of scientific knowledge from classical antiquity to the present, emphasizing two key ideas. The relation between science and utility and the ways in which science emerged over the course of the last few centuries as an inherently global practice.
This course introduces students to the major discoveries and basic concepts in physics that examine how scientists make sense of the physical world in which we live. Topics discussed include the scientific method, basic principles of classical physics, gravity, laws of motion and conservation, thermodynamics, and relativity and quantum mechanics.
An introduction to major scientific, mathematical, and philosophical theories and debates about the nature of space and time, and the way these shape our understanding of the physical world. Theorists and thinkers considered include Aristotle, Euclid, Descartes, Newton, Leibniz, Galileo, Riemann, Poincare, Einstein, Schrodinger, and Hawking.
An introduction to the history and scope of the environmental sciences, methods of research, and experiment that produce scientific knowledge about the environment, major problems (global warming, pollution, industrial development) that degrade biological ecosystems, and a complex understanding of the impact human societies have had and continue to have on the natural world.
The purpose of the course is to present the major scientific ideas and principles that shape ecology and conservation science, especially as these relate to frequently encountered environmental issues. Topics discussed will include population regulation, species decline, competition and predation, dynamics of ecosystems, habitat fragmentation, ecotourism, and the role of biological and physical factors in developing community structures.
A survey introduction to theories of evolution, evolutionary history, and evolutionary processes and patterns that have produced life on earth, this course considers evolutionary biology as a way of knowing and discovering, a set of approaches to questions about the living world that inform how biologists organize and produce scientific knowledge.
This course will provide an introduction to the geological sciences, covering geological materials and processes, and including an historical background. Lectures and discussions will focus on the practical applications of geology to everyday life. Students will gain an overview of the biophysical history of the Earth, including its formation. They will identify the ways in which geology affects our lives, and discover interactions between geology and other realms of knowledge.
Our world is saturated with an extraordinary range of visual images: advertisements, films, television programs, music videos, photographs, posters, billboards, newspapers, magazines, paintings, graffiti, architecture. Reading and analyzing visual material, however, requires a different set of approaches than reading and analyzing text. This introductory course investigates the visual in its myriad manifestations.
This course will offer students a broad introduction to the aesthetic and social interpretation of selected works of art from classical antiquity to the renaissance, with an emphasis on the comparative analysis of Asian, Greco-Roman, and Medieval traditions. The course introduces the student to the basic terminology of the arts, the language of aesthetic criticism, and the relationship of the arts to each other and to their historical context.
This course will offer students a broad introduction to the aesthetic and social interpretation of selected works of art from 1500 to the present. The course introduces the student to the basic terminology of the arts, the language of aesthetic criticism, and the relationship of the arts to each other and to their historical context.
This course introduces students to the rich aesthetic history and culture of the Islamic world, from the 8th century to the present day. Lectures and discussions will concentrate on selected monuments, paintings, and other visual material produced in the Arab Middle East, North Africa, Spain, Iran, Turkey, South Asia, and the Far East, with special emphasis on the historical, geographical, and cultural contexts within which this art was produced.
This course examines different aspects of design by examining larger questions of production, consumption, and use, and their participation in a larger discourse about design and visual culture. Reading and discussion will assess the relationship between design and the visual by investigating questions about spatial control, framing, sequence, and social communication.
This class addresses how our experiences of the colonial and the postcolonial eras are shaped and mediated by visual texts. Readings and discussions will introduce students to major theories of colonialism and postcolonialism, and to the politics of postcolonial representation. We will examine how contemporary artists resist, reconfigure, or appropriate their colonial heritage, how questions of cultural agency and cultural hybridity inform frames of social and aesthetic analysis, and how individual works may be read as both contiguous with, and as breaking away from an imperial past.
This course will introduce students to basic principles and concepts in architectural design. Students will learn how to look at, appreciate, and analyze the aesthetic richness of our built environment. Students will examine both historical and contemporary structures, the social and geographical contexts in which they were built, the manner in which these structures configure public and private space, and their impact on historical and contemporary ways of experiencing our world.
Great Books is a course designed to introduce students to enduring works of literature and philosophy. The aim of the course is to develop habits of close critical reading, textual analysis, argumentative writing, aesthetic appreciation, and thoughtful discussion. Authors considered might include Homer, Plato, Kalidasa, Firdousi, Dante, Shikibu, IbnSina, and Shakespeare.
Reading Poetry is a course designed to introduce students to enduring works of lyric expression. The aim of the class is to develop habits of close critical reading, textual analysis, argumentative writing, aesthetic appreciation, and thoughtful discussion. Authors considered might include Chaucer, Donne, Rumi, Coleridge, Basho, Whitman, Dickenson, Hardy, Ghalib, Rimbaud, Frost, Tagore, and Moore.
How do plays work? What is the relation between a dramatic text and a theatrical performance? How can we move from one to the other? How might we profitably approach a reading of character, place, dialogue, costume, movement, sound, rhythm, spatial composition, and story (to name some of the elements which make a performance)? What makes a play different from a novel or a poem, a film or a painting? Which elements represented in these other media does drama also appropriate? These and related questions will inform our study of canonical dramatic texts.
The course presents an introduction to various genres of Urdu literature (read both in translation and in Urdu) as they developed through the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries, with greater emphasis on fiction and poetry. We will examine the works of major writers with close attention to the development of traditional narrative and poetic genres, styles, and influences.
This course surveys colonial and postcolonial narratives in English written in or about India and Pakistan. Authors considered may include Harriet Tytler, E.M Forster, Rudyard Kipling,Nirad Chaudhury, Raj Anand, Ruskin Bond, Khushwant Singh, Anita Desai, Salman Rushdie, BapsiSidhwa, Aamir Husain, Sara Suleri, HanifKureishi, David Davidar, KamilaShamsie, ManizaZaqvi, Arundathi Roy, JeetThayil, and Mohsin Hamid.
This course will introduce students to major questions and issues in philosophy, and its methods of inquiry and analysis. Readings include arguments articulated by major western and eastern philosophers. Topics considered include the problem of evil; free will and determinism; moral imperatives; the limits of knowledge; utilitarian versus deontological ethics; faith and belief; justice and goodness.
This course will acquaint students with basic philosophical and ethical concepts, and methods of logical thinking through close readings of major philosophical texts.
Through close readings of primary classical texts from China, India, and Greece, students will engage in major epistemological debates as these were articulated by different societies and cultures in the ancient world. Specific attention will be paid to how these debates frame and shape how we think today.
This course will give participants an understanding of the worlds major religions: Zoroastrianism, Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam. The course will examine a number of cross-cultural themes in religion, including monotheism vs. pantheism, the soul, the sacred, peace and war, as well as the social and cultural practices of each faith. By the end of the course participants will have an understanding of the history of these religions and the issues they each face in the contemporary world.
George Orwell once wrote that the four great motives for writing were sheer egoism, aesthetic enthusiasm, historical impulse, and political purpose. In this introductory course, students will explore all four motives, and the kinds of prose, poetic, and dramatic texts these produce. Students will work on identifying and sustaining their unique aesthetic voices, languages, and styles; learn strategies for the generation and development of plots, characters, dialogue, and description; discuss how substance relates to form; and explore how shifting points-of-view are crucial to the aesthetic experience of imaginative texts.
The Living Newspaper This course introduces students to techniques and strategies of documentary performance using a form developed in the US during the Great Depression. Students will research a social issue of immediate local and / or national concern, and then use this research to write and stage a living newspaper performance.
This course will focus on a question or topic in a disciplinary or interdisciplinary context within the Social Sciences. By means of this specific focus, the course explores thinking, research, and writing practices in specific fields, and the ways in which scholars and practitioners use writing to communicate their findings to a wider audience. Each course will structure as one of its major assignments a 20-page research paper to be submitted at the end of the semester that requires students to engage with primary and secondary sources of scholarship.