University Seminars - Fall 2020 Listing

Death, Dying and Bereavement

USEM 1570 – 001
T 4:00-5:50 PM / New Cabell Hall 411
Richard Steeves

You should take this University Seminar if you are interested in exploring death and dying from the scientific and cultural and literary points of view.

Course Description: This course is an exploration of thinking about dying, death and bereavement. Although western culture and American culture in particular has a reputation for being death denying, we do in fact confront images of and talk about death on almost a daily basis. This course will not be a study about death and dying in the news and popular media, rather it will about those who have thought about our mortality seriously and extensively.

Designing a Life of Purpose with Social Impact

USEM 1570 – 002
W 2:00-3:50 PM / New Cabell Hall 415
Christine Mahoney

You should take this University Seminar if you want to design a joyful life with a purpose-driven career.

Course Description: “How do I find a job that I like or maybe even love? How do I balance my career with my family? How do I create space for space and creativity? How do I make a difference in the world?” These are critical questions for us all to answer if we want to design a thriving, joyful life. The vast majority of college students want a purpose-driven careers, but fear they will end up in a traditional job where they are not having a positive impact in their communities. This course uses Design Thinking and mindfulness methodologies to help you discover and articulate: your life philosophy, your work philosophy, when you are in flow state, and how to create more space for the kind of work in which you thrive. The course also introduces you to the wide range of social entrepreneurial models that allow you to use your unique skill sets and passions to make the world a better place.

America and Russia in the Era of Globalization

USEM 1570 – 004
T 3:30-5:20 PM / Gibson Hall 142
Yuri Urbanovich

You should take this University Seminar if you want to understand changing attitudes in America and Russia in the evolving world order.

Course Description: In this University Seminar we will discuss American-Russian relations in their historical and contemporary perspective. As someone who has lived in several republics of the former Soviet Union, and who therefore has literally felt the mood of its diverse peoples in regard to America and Americans, I will offer a discussion of topics that reflect the evolution of Russian representations of the United States, as well as American visions of Russia. We will employ the skills and tools of the historian, political scientist, geographer, psychologist, and student of culture including literature and film, to analyze the factors that have shaped mutual perceptions and misperceptions.

Trauma, Accountability and Healing

USEM 1570 – 005
R 3:30-5:20 PM / Gibson Hall 142
Kathryn Laughon

You should take this University Seminar if you want to think about how to create a more just world.

Course Description: Gender violence is as much a public health problem as a criminal justice problem. Living with trauma has substantial, enduring and perhaps multi-generational effects on physical as well as mental health. As the magnitude of the problem of gender violence has gained prominence, much of our national discourse has focused on criminal justice and similar solutions: increasing prosecutions, adjudication within schools, and use of civil processes to hold offenders accountable. Yet, all objectives measures suggest that these remedies are ineffective and perhaps actively harmful, particularly for marginalized communities and communities of color. Many offenders are never held accountable and many survivors find the adjudication processes traumatizing. It is reasonable to consider that the police intervention and incarceration of offenders may contribute to community trauma that engenders more violence. In this course, we will use fiction, scholarly works, and other writings as well as field trips and guest speakers. Over the course of the semester, we will examine the trauma resulting from sexual and intimate partner violence and the ways in which is embedded in other forms of racial, social and historical traumas. We will explore how institutional betrayal sometimes replicates and sustains that trauma. We will think about the criminal justice system and explore alternative ways to address perpetration, include the controversies surrounding the use of restorative practices for addressing gender violence.

Designing a Carbon Neutral Future

USEM 1570 – 006
M 2:00-3:50 PM / New Cabell Hall 415
Ethan Heil

You should take this University Seminar if you are curious about solving climate change.

Course Description: Designing a Carbon Neutral Future is an interactive seminar designed to engage students in the rapidly evolving concept of economy-wide decarbonization. This seminar intends to provide students with the tools and support to participate directly in UVA’s plans to develop a ‘Carbon Neutral by 2030’ strategy. This course will introduce the concept, rationale, mechanisms, and pathways underlying decarbonization. Students will become familiar with the major sectors contributing to climate change and analyze pathways for decarbonization. Over the course of the semester, students will work in multidisciplinary teams to select an operational unit of the University with which to collaborate and develop a carbon neutral plan. Weekly guest speakers with expertise in each sector will be invited to provide insight and act as a resource for student groups.

Journeys through Hell

USEM 1580 – 001
R 5:30-7:20 PM / Cocke Hall 101
Dariusz Tolczyk

You should take this University Seminar if you would like to better understand how the most unspeakable modern assaults against humanity – such as Auschwitz and the Gulag – were possible, and what their survivors discovered about human nature.

Course Description: Extreme experiences of evil and oppression – concentration camps, prisons, mass terror, and other forms of victimization – have often been presented as opportunities for unusual personal growth and spiritual ascent. From archaic initiation rites of diverse cultures through ancient Greek, Roman, and Biblical wisdom, as well as many literary traditions, the point has been stressed repeatedly that being exposed to suffering and oppression not only can make us better, stronger, and more enlightened human beings but, in fact, tends to be a necessary condition of such profound ennoblement.

Is this true? Survivors of extreme experiences of the twentieth century, including the Holocaust, the Soviet Gulag, Communist prisons of Eastern Europe, and Chinese mind-reform camps ask this question while describing their own ordeals. What can we learn from them about humanity, both in general and our own? In this seminar, we will explore and discuss cultural, religious and intellectual roots of the conviction that extreme oppression can ennoble us. We will confront these traditions with survivors' writings about Nazi and Communist oppression. In our explorations, we will ask some profound questions: What motivates human beings under extreme conditions? Are human beings good by nature? How does mass-scale evil originate in history? How do diverse cultural backgrounds affect ways in which people react to these assaults against their humanity?

Our discussions will allow us to explore human experiences not directly accessible for most of us, and confront our own assumptions with discoveries of those who lived through extreme experiences. Readings include short excerpts from the Bible, Plato, Juvenal and some more recent thinkers, as well as prison/camp memoirs by Elie Wiesel, Aleksandr Solzhenistyn, Zhang Xianliang, Eugenia Ginzburg, Varlam Shalamov, Gustaw Herling, Tadeusz Borowski. Films "Korczak" (by Andrzej Wajda), "Life is Beautiful" (by Roberto Benigni), and "Interrogation" (by Ryszard Bugajski) will be viewed outside of class and discussed in class.

Renaissance Art and Science

USEM 1580 – 002
M 5:30-7:20 PM / Fayerweather Hall 206 
Francesca Fiorani

You should take this University Seminar if you are interested in reflecting how innovation emerged from the interaction of arts, science, and technology in the past.

Course Description: The seminar examines the relations between art, science, and technology in the Renaissance, when disciplinary boundaries were not as clearly distinct as they are today. Interdisciplinary in approach, it addresses specifically the work of past artists, architects, scientists, craftsmen, and polymaths who regarded images and instruments as fundamental to their observation of the natural world, to their interpretation and conceptualization of natural phenomena, and to the transmission of knowledge. Pertinent case studies include machines built by architect Filippo Brunelleschi, optical diagrams by artist Leonardo da Vinci, anatomical studies by doctor Andreas Vesalius, drawings of the moon by astronomer Galileo Galileo, maps by various polymaths, diagram of planetary motions by astronomer Kepler, and images based on the microscope by polymath Robert Hooks. Every week students will read a scholarly article and pertinent primary sources.

This seminar expands beyond the classroom offering first-year students extensive hands-on experience taking advantage of various university collections and resources, which generally first-year students don't know about. Depending on the class schedule, sessions will be held at Special Collection, which holds a rich collection of maps and science books of the early modern period, as well as fabulous facsimiles of Leonardo’s notebooks; at the UVA Museums to look at works of art; and to the Health Science Library, which holds rare Renaissance books on anatomy.