Astronomy 106: Aliens
In this course we will discuss the on-going search for extra-terrestrial life. We will place a strong focus on the scientific hurdles that lie in our understanding the development of life and for its potential evolution towards interstellar travel and communication. The framework of the course will be based upon the Drake Equation, first posed to estimate the total number of intelligent civilizations that might exist in the Galaxy at a given time. Thus we will take a census of the potential for life beyond Earth through an exploration of our own solar system. We will then survey beyond our own star system to the exciting search for “extra-solar” planets and their biological potential. We will end with a group activity where students and professors will try to estimate how many ET civilizations might exist and then move on to discuss our future potential to travel to the stars.
Honors 240: The Games We Play
Games — real and metaphorical, formal and informal — are everywhere where humans are: Games are a metaphor for politics, romance, and much in between. There are children’s games, war games, and the Olympic Games. In the world of fiction, there are games of thrones and hunger games. People watch and play football; others play it on their XBox and Playstation consoles. Some games seem to have a gender, while some gamers want to exclude one gender from their world. Language is a game. There’s the game of life, and college is an important part of it.
Honors 242: Deep Time: The Science of Origins
In this Honors Core course, we explore the intellectual history of the science of origins, beginning in the 17th century, when science had little to say about the origin of anything, and ending on the last day of class, with discoveries made while the course was taking place. Working together, we investigate not only what science has learned about origins, but how these things were discovered, who contributed, and why progress was made where and when it was. In short, we explore the origins of origin science. Along they way, you will learn a lot about how science really works. To learn these things, we will read original scientific works from the 17th through the 21st century, contemporary reviews, historical accounts, and philosophical papers on epistemology. This course is highly interdisciplinary, exploring the origins of the Earth, life, and the universe using approaches drawn from geoscience, biology, physics, chemistry, and statistics.
Linguistics 370: Language and Discrimination
This course examines the ways language serves as a potential site of social statement, and sometimes social conflict, particularly with respect to questions of “race” and ethnicity. We will explore issues concerning language-based discrimination in various public and private contexts, multilingualism, regional and ethnically-linked dialects, ideologies about language and language variation and finally hate speech and political correctness. As we explore these issues, we will also examine the ways in which language is used to construct and reflect social identities and social group boundaries. We will discuss how different aspects of social identity relate to language practice and will use the critical lens of race and ethnicity to center most of our discussions.
Education 333: Videogames and Learning
Why are videogames fun? The answer isn’t as obvious as you might think. Good games draw you in, teach you how to succeed, and keep you engaged with a “just right” level of challenge. Most importantly, players learn while playing a well-designed game. Why isn’t school like that? This class takes a hard look at videogames, a hard look at education, and considers ways that each can be improved to maximize learning.