University Seminars (USEMs): Fall 2010

University Seminars (USEMS) are designed to give first-year students the opportunity to develop critical-thinking skills and explore new ideas in an environment that encourages interactive learning and intensive discussion. The seminars are based on ideas that have changed the way we think about our relation to the world around us. The seminars are given by prominent faculty in departments and schools across the University, carry two or three hours of credit, and are restricted to 18 first-year students during the initial course enrollment. If space is remaining, second-, third-, and fourth-year students may enroll using a Course Action Form.

Refer to the Student Information System Course Catalog for a list of specific offerings each semester.

Two 3 Credit Courses are being offered this fall in addition to our traditional 2 credit courses. Note: College of Arts & Sciences' student only: USEM 1570s count as credit and 1580s count as elective credit inside the College of Arts & Sciences. Please check the course website before enrolling.

Booms, Bust & Cycles
2 Credit Course
Friday 9:00 – 10:50 am
Clark G054
Edwin Burton, Professor

This course studies the Great Depression and the recent (2006-Present) financial collapse and economic recession. We read five books and each class is devoted to discussion of some facet of either or both of these financial and economic crises.

Righting Unrightable Wrongs
2 Credit Course
Friday 1:00 – 2:50 pm
Bryan Hall 332
Franklin Dukes, Lecturer

From indigenous peoples pursuing a return of lands and sovereignty, to Japanese-Americans drawing memorializing the shame of internment during WWII, to African-Americans seeking redress for slavery and its aftermath of segregation and discrimination, many groups have sought to right past harms and ongoing injustices. Can individuals, communities and nations ever make right what appear to be irreparable wrongs? This course examines that question for problems ranging from genocide and slavery to environmental contamination and racial discrimination. The literature of reparations and restorative justice will be enhanced by examining specific cases within the instructor’s experience. These include a site affected by severe environmental contamination and Japanese-American internment during World War II (Bainbridge Island, WA); a city coming to terms with killings of labor organizers and civil rights workers through a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (Greensboro, NC); and Native American communities in Virginia seeking redress for degradation of traditional cultural properties. The unifying theme of the class will be the question of the legacy of slavery and segregation at the University of Virginia and its impact on the surrounding community of Charlottesville-Albemarle.

Theatre and the Spirit of Reform
2 Credit Course
Monday 2:00 – 3:50 pm
Drama Education 206
John Frick, Professor

Since its inception, the drama has been utilized to promote social reform. As early as Aristophanes’ anti-war Lysistrata, a theatre was transformed into a vehicle for social protect and, since then, the drama has proven to be easily rendered polemical in both tone and intent. The proposed seminar will examine those playtexts and theatrical movements that advanced the cause of reform, both American and foreign. Reading playtexts as social documents, students will examine various historical protest/reform movements and trends from stances against war and intemperance to those in favor of abolition, labor organization, woman’s rights and other reforms. The plays read will be supplemented by secondary sources that discuss theatre and reform and by relevant extant primary documents {pamphlets, tracts, written accounts of speeches by reformers, etc.}.

Gender, Violence and Culture
2 Credit Course
Wednesday 3:00 – 4:50 pm
New Cabell Hall 335
Kathryn Laughon, Assistant Professor

Popular discussions about violence against girls and women grossly exaggerate some forms of violence and seriously minimize others. In this course, we will explore how we define violence, theories of why violence exists, and will contrast what the data tell us about how girls and women experience violence across their lifespan with how female-directed violence is depicted in newspapers, magazine and entertainment media. We will examine how risk of violence varies according to the type of violence, the type of perpetrator, and the victims’ age, race, and class. Students will critically examine how and why images of violence are presented and distorted in the news, songs, movies, and other media. Course materials include academic journal articles, newspaper articles, fiction, websites, and movies. Students will have the opportunity to observe court cases and meet with a prosecutor, victim advocates, survivors of violence, and sexual assault nurse examiners.

Diversity in the US Workplace
2 Credit Course
Tuesday 2:00 – 3:50 pm
Rouss Hall 403
Rebecca Leonard, Professor

Diversity is a competitive business strategy, which U.S. firm’s in today’s global marketplace must embrace to remain successful. Understanding differences and creating inclusive work environments is a key skill for managers today. The objective of this course is to increase students understanding and awareness of issues related to differences and the impact of differences on: individual behavior in organizations, team development and effectiveness, organizational change and effectiveness and organizational success. This course will examine, define and create a greater understanding of diversity as a business imperative as well as challenge students to examine their own biases and stereotypes and how they can create positive changes for a more inclusive environment at UVA and in their future workplaces.

The Neural Basis of Addiction
2 Credit Course
Wednesday 3:00 – 4:50 pm
New Cabell Hall 330
William Levy, Professor

Great process is being made in understanding the neurobiology of drug addiction. Addictive drugs push brain and behavior to the limits of pleasure and pain and are therefore a useful tool in understanding normal brain circuits that mediate pleasure and pain. In addition to the basal ganglia, which mediate important aspects of pleasure and reward, other brain regions, such as the prefrontal cortex and limbic system, weigh the benefits and costs of making any decision, such as taking a drug. Classes are a combination of lectures and discussions. In this seminar, we will read one or recently-published journal articles each week. Students are responsible for one presentation each semester and a final paper consisting of about 12 pages. Preparation for each class and participation in discussion is expected.

The seminar will read and review experimental studies performed over the last ten years which have given us insights what drugs of abuse do to the brain. The readings will be accompanied by lectures which address specific aspects of neuroanatomy, neurochemistry, neurobiology, and neuropharmacology that are relevant to pleasure, pain, and addiction. An important aspect of this seminar is teaching students how to read and evaluate published scientific research.

Community, Engagement, and Democracy
2 Credit Course
Wednesday 2:00 – 3:50 pm
Pavilion VIII, 103
Paul Martin, Assistant Professor

This is a service-learning course requiring focusing on the question of what it means to be a citizen in the contemporary United States. The class broadly considers completing ideas about community and identify as well as the trade-offs between the civic and political engagement.

The Collapse of Prehistoric & Historic Complex Societies
2 Credit Course
Wednesday 9:00 – 10:50 am
Clark Hall G054
Rachel Most, Professor

The media is filled with compelling and intriguing images of lost civilizations of societies who came into power and then fell. It is hard to ignore these images and our minds race to question what happened to these powerful societies – to Egypt, Rome, and the Inka, for example. What led to their demise? Famine? Invaders? Environmental degradation? What we see from prehistory and history is that no civilization is permanent; as was written about the Roman Empire: “Civilization can die, because has already died once.” During this class we will examine the collapse of some of the greatest civilizations and explore what led to their demise.

Mindful Leadership
2 Credit Course
Tuesday 9:00 – 10:50 am
Fayerweather 215
Marga Odahowski, Director of Studies

In our fast changing world, our economic leaders suggest the future belongs to the creative’s. The ability to negotiate change and innovation without losing one’s own rhythms and goals is important in today’s complex world. This integrated course marries active relaxation, mindfulness practices, and positive psychology practices to explore this new thinking and way of being in the world. The class will focus on researched practices along with discussion, and activities.

Rhetorical Thinking & Speaking
2 Credit Course
Tuesday 4:00 – 5:50 pm
Robertson Hall 227
Rob Patterson, Assistant Professor

The course will begin by exploring the rhetorical ideas and foundational works of classicists such as Plato, Isocrates, and Aristotle. We will explore the multiple meanings of rhetoric and how to think rhetorically. Moreover, the theoretical grounding of this course is build upon common ground between these thinkers, which is that effective rhetorical education is rooted in three essential elements: natural ability; knowledge, and practice. The idea is that students will: 1) explore, embrace, and work within their natural abilities, 2) acquire knowledge on how to structure ideas for public speeches and model good delivery through discussion and by viewing and critiquing Great Speeches, and 3) practice their craft by rehearsing and delivering speeches. Some student speeches will be taped and reviewed together by the student and instructor. Our time will be divided between theoretical explorations of rhetoric and the academic/lifelong knowledge and skill of giving public speeches. Three extemporaneous speeches (the informative, the ceremonial, and the persuasive) will be delivered. In addition, students will deliver two impromptu speeches. Our goals, through theoretical exploration and practice of the fundamentals of organization, content, delivery, will be to hone listening, presentational, and evaluation habits – the habits needed to become engaged critics and competent speakers thoughtful messages here at UVA and beyond.

2 Credit Course
Monday and Wednesday 3:30 – 4:20 pm
New Cabell Hall 234
David Rubin, Professor Emeritus
Fulfills Second Writing Requirement

How do journalists, academics and other professionals reason? This highly interactive USEM introduces a standard model of informal logic and provides abundant practice in the construction, analysis, and appraisal of arguments. While learning the model during the first third of the course, participants will focus—with increasing breadth, depth, and acuity—on opinion columns from leading periodicals. Then, after brief, transitional work on controversy, the class will turn to expert position papers in the debate over academic freedom.

Dying, Death and Grief or I’d Rather be in Philly
2 Credit Course Tuesday 3:30 – 5:20 pm
Pavilion VIII, 108
Richard Steeves, Professor

The title refers to what the comic W.C. Fields was reported to have wanted written on his gravestone, “On the whole, I’d rather be in Philadelphia”. 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 be about those who have thought about our mortality seriously and extensively. The course will be divided into three foci: (a) writers and poets, (b) death professionals such as hospice workers, funeral directors and grief counselors, (c), social scientists who study homicide, suicide, bereavement and related topics. The goal is to explore different ways of thinking about what may truly be beyond our understanding, death.

Readings in Mediterranean Literature
2 Credit Course
Wednesday 3:30 – 6:00 pm
New Cabell Hall 334
Gordon Stewart, Professor

This course will consider current and prominent writers from several Mediterranean countries to include Spain, Italy, Croatia, Greece, Turkey, Egypt, and Morocco.

2 Credit Course
Monday 4:00 – 5:50 pm
Pavilion VIII, 108
Mark Thomas, Professor

This course will look at the history, culture and society of the land ‘down under.’ Australia is a land of opportunity and paradox. It began as a penal colony and became the richest country in the world within a hundred years. It is a country that has been independent of Britain for a century, yet still has the Queen as head of state. It is a vast continent of only 15 million inhabitants, yet has remarkable regional diversity. It has long been among the most urbanized of global societies, yet its cultural identity is largely shaped by rural idealism. To understand contemporary Australia, one must understand its past, both as myth and reality. This course will look closely at some of the major events in Australian history, from the voyages of Captain Cook and the landing of the First Fleet at Botany Bay, through the excitements of the Gold Rush and Ned Kelly, the traumas of Gallipoli and the Great Depression, to the economic, political and social problems faced in the uncertain world of the new millennium. We will use both traditional and non-traditional means to understand these events, applying the realist perspective of the historian, the subjective perceptions of the diarist and novelist, and the powerful imagery of the artist and the film-maker.

Journeys Through Hell
2 Credit Course
Wednesday 4:00 – 5:50 pm
New Cabell Hall 236
Dariusz Tolczyk, Associate Professor

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’ writing 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 Xialniang, Eugenia Ginzburg, Varlam Shalamov, Gustaw Herling, Tadeusz Borowski. Films “Korczak” (by Wndrzej Wajda), “Life is Beautiful” (by Roberto Benigni), and “Interrogation” (by Ryszard Bugajski) will be viewed outside of class and discussed in class.

Witness to Revolution: QM & DNA
2 Credit Course
Monday 3:30 – 5:20 pm
New Cabell Hall 318
Carl Trindle, Professor

We tell the life stories of six scientists who were at the heart of two revolutions in 20th century science: nuclear physics and molecular genetics. These are Marie Curie, Leo Szilard, and Lise Meitner in physics; James Watson, Francis Crick, and Rosalind Franklin in biology.

Post-Soviet Political Challenges: Nationalism Ethnic Conflict, Separatism and Irredentism
3 Credit Course
Tuesday 9:30 – 12:00 pm
Clemons Library 322B
Yuri Urbanovich, Lecturer

The end of the Cold War coincided with a wave of national revivals that spread across Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, and became one of the notable consequences of the collapse of communist regimes. This course will focus specifically on the origins of nationalism, separatism, secessions, and irredentist claims in the Russian Federation and other former Soviet republics.

Rise and Fall of the Soviet Union
3 Credit Course
Monday 9:30 – 12:00 pm
Clemons Library 322B
Yuri Urbanovich, Lecturer

This course is about Russia and the Soviet Union. It is designed to explore some of this country’s major political themes of the twentieth century through an understanding of Russia’s history, culture and politics.

Systems Thinking and Sustainable Businesses
2 Credit Course
Tuesday 5:50 – 7:20 pm
Robertson Hall 221
Mark White, Associate Professor

Sometimes we think we’re making the right decision, but that decision has unforeseen and unintended consequences. Sometimes the collective action of rational individuals leads to irrational outcomes. Sometimes our experiences blind us to alternative, better solutions. Systems thinking – disciplined approach to wholistic problem-solving-offers promise for resolving these and other challenges. As businesspersons in both the developed and developing worlds seek to incorporate sustainability concepts into their planning and operations, an understanding of “the big picture” is of critical importance. This course introduces students to the fundamental concepts (mental models, casual loop diagrams, systems analysis) of systems thinking and provides practice in their application to real-world sustainability applications in business.

Clones & Genomes: The New Biology
2 Credit Course
Tuesday 3:00 – 3:50 pm and Thursday 3:00 – 3:50 pm
Chemistry Building 303
Michael Wormington, Associate Professor

Cloning humans the creation of genetically identical individuals from differentiated adult cells, and once the exclusive domain of science fiction, has moved to the front pages of reputable newspapers and prestigious scientific journals. In 1997, the first scientifically substantiated report of a cloned mammal, Dolly the ewe, fomented considerable debate and discussion, and evoked vigorous responses from politicians, pundits, professors, theologians, and entrepreneurs alike. In the past decade, Dolly has been joined by a plethora of cloned mammals. A comparable method of gene transfer used to propagate these cloned animals has been successfully used to treat female infertility in humans. The generation and exploitation of human stem cells and “therapeutic cloning” continue to raise profound ethical and science policy issues. The recent completion of a “first draft” of the human genome sequence has provided us for the first time with the genetic “blueprint” for our species and opportunities for unparalleled diagnostic and therapeutic options. This course will address the fundamental importance of cloning organisms to developmental and reproductive biology; the enormity of the impact of the human genome sequence on human biology; and the ethical, political and societal ramifications of both. Students will gain an appreciation for the intellectual and methodological challenges posed by these questions and the experimental approaches employed to answer them. The applications of these technologies and their moral, ethical and legal ramifications will be considered and discussed in a variety of contexts. Topics and assigned readings will be derived from the scientific literature, books, magazines, newspapers and resources available online.

Body Image & The Media
2 Credit Course
Tuesday 5:00 – 6:50 pm
New Cabell Hall 234
Matthew Zimmerman

Body image and eating attitudes develop through a complex interplay of biological, psychological, and socio-cultural factors. This seminar will specifically explore cultural influences reflected in the media including print, film, and television. Particular attention will be given to the interaction of gender and culture, both in the United States and internationally. Students will view media content and be introduced to relevant research analyzing link between body image, eating attitudes, culture and media. Emphasis will be placed on active class participation. Students will also be responsible for a class presentation and final paper of approximately 10 pages.

Living on Internet Time: How the Network Changes Everything
2 Credit Course
Tuesday 2:00 – 3:50 pm
New Cabell Hall B020
James Hilton, Professor of Psychology and Vice President and Chief Information Officer

Through a series of readings, discussion (both online and face-to-face), and projects, our goal in this seminar will be to explore the ways in which technology and public policy shape human behavior. How, for example, has the 24/7 connected nature of modern life shaped our tolerance for risk and altered our perceptions of isolation and definitions of loneliness? How has the digital propensity to rip, mix, and burn influenced our perceptions of authorship, collaboration, and plagiarism? How has file sharing shaped intellectual property law and what consequences might that have for creativity, progress, and free expression? How is the internet changing our boundaries and perceptions of privacy? How does the rapid pace and disruptive nature of technology alter our capacity to make and execute strategic plans? How will information technology change the work place and, by association, what and how we learn?