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1 - 10 of 38 results for: THINK

THINK 1: The Science of MythBusters

How do scientists actually go about answering practical questions? How does science function as a way of understanding our world, and -- importantly -- how does it differ from other approaches?nnAs its point of departure, this course will examine and critique selected episodes of the television series, MythBusters (Discovery Channel), which tests the validity of many popular beliefs, including myths, rumors, traditions, and stories, in a variety of imaginative ways. We will take the opportunity to delve more deeply into the applicability of the scientific method in understanding a vast range of real-world problems, and into the practical acquisition of fact-based knowledge, which together form the cornerstone of all science. The intellectual framework of this course will be based, first and foremost, on skeptical inquiry, combined with the other key ingredients of good science, which include: careful experimental design, meticulous observation and measurement, quantitative analysis and modeling, the evaluation of statistical significance, recovery from failure, and the continuous cycle of hypothesis and testing. We hope to inculcate in our students ¿a taste for questioning, a sense of observation, intellectual rigor, practice with reasoning, modesty in the face of facts, the ability to distinguish between true and false, and an attachment to logical and precise language.¿ (Yves Quéré, 2010 Science 330:605).
Terms: Aut | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: THINK, WAY-AQR, WAY-SMA | Grading: Letter (ABCD/NP)

THINK 2: The Art of Living

Where do our ideals for living come from, and how should they be structured? How do we justify them in the face of criticism? What role do great works of art play in this creative process?nnnnOur lives are not simply given to us, but also something we make: as we examine the circumstances of our existence, recognizing certain facts as immutable and others as subject to our control, each of us faces the challenge of fashioning out of them a way of living that is both meaningful and justifiable. The Art of Living will explore different ways to think about the nature of that challenge ¿ how to accommodate conflicting demands and values, how to make our choices ¿artfully,¿ how we might use works of imaginative literature to inspire us. We will read important works of literature and philosophy, each of which implies a different value by which to live, whether reason, authenticity, community, art, or faith. In each case, you will be presented with different perspectives and asked to work out for yourself what you find most persuasive, thereby fine-tuning skills essential to your own lifelong project of self-construction.
Terms: Aut | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: THINK, WAY-A-II, WAY-ER | Grading: Letter (ABCD/NP)

THINK 3: Breaking Codes, Finding Patterns

Why are humans drawn to making and breaking codes? To what extent is finding patterns both an art and a science? nnnCryptography has been used for millennia for secure communications, and its counterpart, cryptanalysis, or code breaking, has been around for just slightly less time. In this course we will explore the history of cryptography and cryptanalysis including the Enigma code, Navajo windtalkers, early computer science and the invention of modern Bayesian inference. We will try our own hand at breaking codes using some basic statistical tools for which no prior experience is necessary. Finally, we will consider the topic of patterns more generally, raising such questions as why we impute meaning to patterns, such as Biblical codes, and why we assume a complexity within a pattern when it¿s not there, such as the coincidence of birthdays in a group.
Terms: Aut | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: THINK, WAY-AQR, WAY-FR | Grading: Letter (ABCD/NP)

THINK 4: Can the People Rule?

How did our ideas about democracy as a universal norm evolve from a term once used to describe a handful of ancient Greek city-states? Would American democracy function better if we applied ancient practices that allowed the people to rule more directly and knowledgeably?nnnnIn this course, we will explore the idea of democracy through the experience of the American republic, focusing on the constitutional experiments of the Revolutionary era and the 19th-century democracy analyzed by Alexis de Tocqueville. We then address contemporary criticisms voiced against many democracies today: that the public is not well informed and therefore incapable of governing. You will read and learn to draw on major works of political theory to think critically about the complexities of American democracy. You will also be asked to participate in a two-week experiment in Deliberative Polling, which involves gathering citizens in random groups to study and discuss issues. Through this exercise, you will explore whether this structure might offer an attractive or complementary alternative to representative rule.
Terms: Aut | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: THINK, WAY-ER, WAY-SI | Grading: Letter (ABCD/NP)

THINK 5: Constituting Justice

How does justice incorporate the ideals of freedom, equality, and security? How are these ideals balanced against each other? How are they made concrete in the U.S. Constitution and law? nnnnIn this course we consider three core ideals that animate the idea of justice: freedom, equality, and security. We explore the relationship between these different concepts through an interdisciplinary inquiry that includes political philosophy, history, and law. In your reading, writing, and thinking, you will move between the realm of abstract ideas and actual legal cases. We begin with the philosophical roots of the ideals of freedom, equality, and security, and then focus on their articulation in the U.S. Constitution and the overarching U.S. legal framework. Students will learn to analyze the distinctive challenges posed to the ideals of freedom, equality, and security by 21st century developments such as the emergence of the internet and the rise of non-state warfare.
Terms: Aut | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: THINK, WAY-ER, WAY-SI | Grading: Letter (ABCD/NP)

THINK 6: Everyday Life: How History Happens

To what extent can individuals¿ daily actions influence world events, and to what extent are individuals influenced by world events? nnnThis course investigates the relationship between private lives and public affairs. We will trace how small acts contribute to global change and, in turn, how global change can shape one¿s sense of self. We will explore the shifting mentalities of individuals during the most dramatic transformations in 20th century Europe ¿ World War I, communist revolution, the rise of Nazism, World War II, the Holocaust, and the Cold War. Through analysis of memoirs, diaries, essays, novels, and state documents, you will examine how social and political developments can reveal the very boundaries between self and society. To make this exploration more personal, you will develop a fictional persona that you will keep throughout the quarter through which you explore the everyday workings behind momentous change.
Terms: Aut | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: THINK | Grading: Letter (ABCD/NP)

THINK 7: Journeys

Is death final or only the beginning of another journey? How do the mysteries of destination give rise to our most basic questions of purpose, meaning, and faith, and challenge us to consider our proper relation to others?nnn nnJourneys will examine works written across a span of some 2,300 years, from Chinese philosophy to American short stories. Each of these forms and genres presents some essential aspect of the journey we all share, and of the various passages we make within that one great journey that relentlessly challenge and transform us even as we advance toward what the poet Thomas Gray called our "inevitable hour." By reading, discussing, and interpreting these works, we will ask you to consider how each text compels us, by the penetration of its vision and the power of its art, to make part of our own journey in its company.
Terms: Aut | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: THINK, WAY-A-II, WAY-ER | Grading: Letter (ABCD/NP)

THINK 8: Sustainability and Collapse

What does it mean to live sustainably? How do our different definitions of nature ¿ scientific, literary, cultural, and historical ¿ shape the way we answer that question? nnnSustainability and Collapse will explore what people in different places and periods of time have envisioned as successful ways of living with nature and how such ways of life have come under pressure. We will focus particularly on the interface between scientific and humanistic approaches to questions of environmental sustainability through a study of novels, historical texts, and works of biogeography. You will learn to ask how textual and visual images inform our ideas about what it means to live sustainably. We will then consider whether those ideas are in accordance with or in conflict with scientific understandings of human uses of nature. This course takes on some of the fundamental problems that presently confront our global community.
Terms: Aut | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: THINK, WAY-A-II | Grading: Letter (ABCD/NP)

THINK 9: Technological Visions of Utopia

How do science and technology shape the frameworks for imagining utopian or dystopian societies? nnnSir Thomas More gave a name to the philosophical ideal of a ¿good society¿ ¿ a word that is now a part of common language: utopia. In the almost 500 years since More¿s Utopia appeared, changes in society ¿ including enormous advances in science and technology ¿ have opened up new possibilities for the utopian society that More and his predecessors could not have envisioned. At the same time science and technology also entail risks that suggest more dystopian scenarios ¿ in their most extreme form, threats to humanity¿s very survival. We will look at several works that consider how literary visions of society have evolved with the progress of science and technology. The readings begin with More and include examples of more technologically determined visions of the late 20th century, as imagined in works of fiction.
Terms: Aut | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: THINK, WAY-A-II, WAY-ER | Grading: Letter (ABCD/NP)

THINK 10: Voyages and Visionaries

How did cross-cultural contact between Europe and Asia in the pre-modern era produce our modern concept of civilization? nnnIn this course we examine five moments of intellectual encounter in the pre-modern era among civilizations of the eastern hemisphere, including India and China and what we now call the Middle East. Through the eyes of scholars, pilgrims, and missionaries, you will learn to map the itineraries of early travelers and to analyze their experiences from a comparative perspective. We will focus on reconstructing the worldviews and geographical imaginations that inform each text with reference to historical maps and images.
Terms: Aut | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: THINK | Grading: Letter (ABCD/NP)
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