University Seminars (USEMS): Fall 2017

Rise and Fall of the Soviet Union (USEM 1570-004)

3 Credit Course
Monday, 3:30 – 6:00 PM
Pavilion VIII, Room 103
Yuri Urbanovich, School of Continuing and Professional Studies

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

Australia (USEM 1580-001)
2 Credit Course
Thursday, 4:00 – 5:50 PM
Pavilion VIII, Room 108
Mark Thomas, Professor of History

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 identify 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 filmmaker.

How College Works (USEM 1570-001)
2 Credit Course
Monday, 2:00 – 3:50 PM
Rotunda Room 152
Karen Connors, Center for Teaching Excellences

A car has many moving parts, different makes and models, and diverse options within the same brand. It is possible to drive a car without knowledge of these details. Yet, knowing how the car works can make it easier to maintain, fix when it breaks down and sell. The same can be said about higher education for which there is a wide variety of institutions, many moving parts, and varied options within the same university. Students can attend college without really understanding how universities work. By knowing how your college works, you can better navigate this complex and dynamic system as well as maintain and repair your experience. As a class, we will collaboratively work to gain a deeper understating of how college works. Understanding how this university works, you will engage in your college experience at UVA at a deeper level and unpack similar complex machines throughout your life.

The Psychology of Information and Persuasion (USEM 1570-002)
2 Credit Course
Wenesday, 2:00 – 3:50 PM
Dell 1, Room 104
Barbara Spellman, Professor of Law

Everyday we are bombarded with information from people who are trying to sell us something or persuade us of something. They muster facts and arguments and hurl statistics and graphs. But why should we believe them? In this class, we will dissect the sorts of arguments made by advertisers, charlatans, lawyers and even scientists in their attempts to influence our thinking. Should we believe in ESP or astrology? Should we believe that “no other medicine has been proven to be more effective…” Are eggs good for us and is alcohol bad for us- or is it the opposite this year? In this course, we will investigate why people often do believe strange and demonstrably false things- including the emerging problem of fake news. And we will consider why it is so difficult to un-remember untrue information. Finally, we will “tune up” or own thinking so that we ourselves will be less easily duped.

We will read from books such as ”Why Do People Believe Weird Things and A Field Guide to Lies". And we will scrutinize newspapers, magazines, television, the internet (and our other classes!) for exactly those arguments that we shouldn’t believe. You will leave this course with a better understanding of why things that seem believable aren’t’ always true, and be prepared to apply your knowledge to school, work, and live. This course should make you a better student, a better consumer of products and of information, a better advocate, and a better citizen.

History of U.S. Nursing (USEM 1570-005)
2 Credit Course
Tuesday, 2:00 – 3:50 PM
Claude Moore Nursing Education Building, Room 3020
Arlene Keeling, Professor of Nursing

This course combines the disciplines of history and nursing to provide first year students with an overview of how nursing developed as a profession in the United States, from 1607 when the first English settlers arrive in Jamestown to the present. There will be discussion of race, class and gender to emphasize the diverse nature of people in the profession.

Emphasizing the importance of traditional historical methods and a social history framework, the course will focus on the use of primary source data for historical research. Students will have hands-on experience in using such data in achieves here on Grounds.

Journeys through Hell (USEM 1580-002)
2 Credit Course
Dariusz Tolczyk, Professor of Slavic Languages and Literature

Extreme experiences of evil and oppression – concentration camps, prisons, mass terror, and other forms of victimization – have been 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 be 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 background 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 Eialniang, 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. This course will also include a strong experiential element. The students will meet and talk with Mr. Julian Kulski, a survivor of Nazi camps, a veteran of the World-War II anti-Nazi resistance, and the author of The Color of Courage: A Boy at War.

Central Banking in the New Millennium: Change and Divergence (USEM 1580-006)
2 Credit Course
Wednesday, 9:00 – 10:50 PM
Edwin Burton

US Monetary policy since 1945 has been mainly based upon increasing or reducing excess reserves in the commercial banking system. Sometimes this has been described as ‘targeting the Federal Funds Rate.’ This policy was no longer possible after 2009 due to the buildup of the Federal Reserve balance sheet through the policy of quantitative easing. Thus, beginning in December of 2015, the Fed took an entirely different tack with the “Fed Liftoff” in that month. This course addresses the change in policy and will attempt to assess its successes and failures and what the future might be for Fed policy both in the US and in other developed economies.

Contemporary Perspectives on Social Justice Movements, Action and Change (USEM 1580-003)
2 Credit Course
Thursday, 2:00 – 3:50 PM
Pavilion VIII 103
Lecturer of Women, Gender and Sexuality

The purpose of this course is to engage students in critical thought and discussion about social justice movements, both well known and more obscure, which represent community and citizen-based responses to injustice and inequality. This course uses feminist theory to focus on the concept of agency and resilience and the ways in which seemingly divergent populations of people have utilized various strategies for achieving recognition and change. The course will incorporate several themes; exploring the role of identity and difference at personal and relational levels, the historical context of these concepts, and theoretical frameworks considered from local and global perspectives. The aim of the course is to compel students to explore a sense of purpose and plan of action grounded in engaged scholarship and social responsibility. The structure of the course includes lecture, readings, interactive exercises, films, discussion, guest speakers, critical written evaluation, and personal written reflection of the weekly topics.

Immigration in the Age of Trump (USEM 1580-004)
2 Credit Course
Monday, 6:00 – 8:00 PM
New Cabell Hall 187
Milton Vickerman, Professor of Sociology

The election of Donald Trump as U.S. president and Brexit in June, 2016 have provoked surprise and alarm in many quarters. These events represent a radical break with expectations and tradition and portend an upheaval in the global economic and political order. Analysts point to many causes for these outcomes, but they converge in the belief that globalization, not the unambiguous good it has long seemed, has produced a backlash among white workers in the U.S. and U.K. who trace the loss of manufacturing jobs to low wage countries. White workers also associate this loss with the influx of people from poorer countries. Increasingly, legal immigrants, the undocumented, and refugees are being perceived as threatening to western democracies in North America, Western Europe, and even Australia. But beneath the tensions that are inherent in the meeting of natives and immigrants from sharply different economic levels lurk cultural, religious, and racial markers of difference that may be even more threatening than fears of economic dislocation. The intertwining of these multiple factors means that the growing tensions surrounding immigration in the U.S. and other countries can only be understood by studying the issue from multiple perspectives. This course offers such an analysis by showing how history, politics, economics, and racial and cultural considerations have conspired to produce the crisis surrounding immigration in the age of Trump.

The Ukraine Crisis: East and West (USEM 1570-003)
3 Credit Course
Tuesday, 3:30 – 6:00 PM
Pavilion VIII, Room 103
Yuri Urbanovich, School of Continuing and Professional Studies

The Ukrainian former president’s (Victor Yanukovych) decision in November 2013 to pull out of an association deal with the European Union sparked massive street protests that eventually led to his downfall. In March 2014, Russia reacted by annexing the Ukraine’s autonomous republic of Crimea and unrest erupted in eastern Ukraine, where pro-Russian sentiment is strong. The Ukraine crisis has brought relations between the West and Russia to their lowest level in a quarter century. This USEM course investigates domestic political, social and economic questions, including issues of identity based on historical glories and traumas; foreign policy orientations; relations with NATO, U.S. and the EU; the influence of Russia; and possible solutions to end the crisis in the near future.