Fall Semester 2014 House Courses

59.01   An Intergenerational Perspective on Contemporary Issues and Practical Ethics

Sundays, 2:00-3:30 pm,   Bishop’s House

Sponsor/Department:                   Betsy Alden, Kenan Institute for Ethics

Instructors:                                      Dominique Beaudry              

                                                           Priya Achaibar                        

Class limit:  12

This course explores different generations' perspectives on ethical issues relevant in our world today. The approach is an interactive one, where undergraduates partner with their counterparts in the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) in pursuing and sharing perspectives on current issues. The course takes its cue from Socrates, "The unexamined life is not worth living". The issues, topics of social and political interest with ethical grounding, provide the fodder for exploration and discovery.

Human beings are quintessentially social beings, and the class builds on this. Current events from a range of topics are explored and shared by intergenerational pairs, within the context of humankind as a moral animal. In examining such issues through an intergenerational lens, the course fosters ethical inquiry in the life of the university, a community in which a diversity of undergraduates interact with a diversity of faculty, staff and graduate students. The emphasis of the course is on "Who am I becoming?" rather than on "What's the right thing to do?" Our guiding question for all discussion is from Socrates: "How, then, shall we live?"

59.02   Barriers and Medical Technology:  Access and Innovation

Thursdays, 7:00-8:30 pm, Keohane 4B, Seminar Room 402

Sponsor/Department:                   Anthony So, Duke Global Health Institute

Instructors:                                      Karishma Popli                    

                                                          Mark Chee                             

Class limit:   15

An important and critical topic in global health is the availability of and access to medicines (pharmaceuticals) and similar products in the developing world. While medicines help in treating individuals, the availability of those products is controlled by complex interactions between law, economics, policy, and medicine.

This course will serve as an introductory course to highlight the fundamentals of intellectual property rights, the pharmaceutical development process, and examine effective strategies that have been used to increase access to essential medicines in developing countries. Within those fields the course will look at the stakeholders in global health and the underlying ethical issues.

This class will provide a substantial overview of these topics and inform students on a topic they may not otherwise have exposure to during their undergraduate years. The course will allow students to foster an understanding and enthusiasm for the complex issues that underlie access to medicines; a topic which is normally inaccessible to many undergraduates. Such a multidisciplinary approach will expand individuals’ perceptions of global health and emphasize the strong potential for non-medically related fields to impact global health.

No prior experience in global health is necessary. The course will also cover basic fundamentals to get students acquainted with global health.

59.03   Tools for Financial Coaching

Mondays, 6:00-7:30 pm, GA Down Under

Sponsor/Department:                   Kathy Sikes, Program in Education

Instructors:                                      Daniel Stublen                     

                                                          Rhondu Smithwick              

Class limit:   30

This course will equip students with the tools they need to be successful financial coaches. Guest speakers from local agencies will come to teach in-depth about each week’s topic. Case studies will accompany each topic, and instructors will facilitate discussions and exercises to apply concepts to the practical context of volunteering as an Advocate with the Community Empowerment Fund (CEF), an organization which pairs teams of volunteers to work one-on-one with individuals living in transitional housing.  Students will provide 1.5 hours of service each week outside of the house course as a CEF Advocate at an office hour location.

59.04   Know Your Status: An Interdisciplinary Inquiry into HIV/AIDS

Tuesdays, 7:00-8:30 pm, Kilgo House N: N 001-SEM (Basement of Kilgo N)

Sponsor/Department:                   Kearsley Stewart, Duke Global Health Institute

Instructor:                                        Jenny Li                                 

Class limit:   18

HIV/AIDS is a global epidemic that has affected millions of people worldwide. Traditional study into this subject has largely focused on gaining a better understanding of the science behind HIV/AIDS. This house course will provide a multidisciplinary approach to the subject, exploring topics and issues that go far beyond the science, issues that are just as important to comprehending the effect of HIV/AIDS. Topics explored range from faith to gender to contemporary media portrayals, all revolving around HIV/AIDS. This course was created from the Duke University student organization, Know Your Status, and looks to increase awareness about the different issues related to HIV/AIDS within the Duke population.

59.05   Creating Spaces for Meaningful Conversation

Mondays, 6:00-7:20 pm, Kilgo J Common Room

Sponsor/Department:                   Janie Long, Women’s Studies

Instructor:                                         Viju Mathew                         

Class limit:   15

This course is based on the idea that having meaningful and deep discussions often requires a certain level of awareness and a specific set of skills. These tools allow someone to question the undertones weaved into the conversation, keep participants engaged and committed, and redirect or refocus things when they aren’t going as planned. While a majority of the readings, and thus discussions, revolve around social justice, the class is not specifically focused on these topics. This course will provide tips for individuals to actively listen, ask questions that will further the conversation, and genuinely validate participants.

59.06   Auto-Symposium

Tuesdays, 7:00-8:30pm, Keohane 4B, Seminar Room 402

Sponsor/Department:                   Makeba Wilbourn, Psychology and Neuroscience

Instructor:                                         Michael Zhang                    

Class limit:   12

This course is designed as an opportunity for students to explore their academic identities and interests.  There is no pre-determined content; instead, topics of discussion during each class session will be generated collectively by the class beforehand. Students will be expected to individually engage in a thorough investigation of each topic before class time. The range of topics available for discussion is essentially unlimited.

Since the course content (both in the sense of topics to be discussed and the actual events in the classroom) is wholly determined by the students, we seek participants with two important qualities. The first is the desire to share one’s academic passions with a group of peers and to do so whole-heartedly and enthusiastically. The second is a genuine academic curiosity and willingness to delve into new areas of study. Such a student must be willing to take others’ perspectives and to fully engage any given topic of discussion.


59.07   TED Talks: Ideas that Transform and Empower

Mondays, 6:45-8:15 pm, Few GG, Common Room 101

Sponsor/Department:                   Robert J. Thompson, Psychology and Neuroscience

Instructors:                                      Elizabeth Onstwedder         

                                                          Brendan McCartney              

Class limit:   12

This course will capitalize on a new way of learning: TED talks.  By watching, discussing, and making connections between TED talks, students will evaluate ideas in subject areas ranging from technology and the future to the importance of the arts.  Key themes underlying the entire course include social responsibility, leadership, and inspiration.  The course points towards an emerging 21st century style of learning, based around open source information and the exchange of ideas, and a new style of leadership that focuses on inspiration and empowerment.


59.08   Beyond DukeEngage

Thursdays, 7:00-8:30 pm, Keohane 4D, Seminar Room 201

Sponsor/Department:                   Eric Mlyn, Public Policy Studies

Instructors:                                      Phil Reinhart                         

                                                          Jay Sullivan                            

Class limit:   12

Beyond DukeEngage will focus on prominent domestic and international social issues and how these issues are currently being dealt with by civic institutions, national and international programs, and past and present DukeEngage student projects. Beginning with a debate about the meaning of modern development of civic engagement throughout the ages, the course will evolve to discussions around current social issues and projects as diverse as microfinancing to HIV/AIDs relief to the PeaceCorps. Our discussions will be applied to the perceptions and impact of social entrepreneurship, and tread through the professions in civic engagement and those that stem from civic engagement. Throughout the course, students will be highly immersed in these themes as the course utilizes a variety of speakers, activities, readings, documentaries, and service opportunities to expose the students to civic engagement. Additionally, as the course will work cohesively with the Duke Center for Civic Engagement, especially with its DukeEngage department, students will be provided with examples of real ways through which they can engage the issues discussed in the course through both current collegiate opportunities, like DukeEngage, a well as career pathways in the world post-Duke.

The course structure will include discussion of ethical and political issues surrounding social change for the first few weeks, and then we will follow with several weeks to investigate current and prominent social issues and civic implementations, and how activism can translate to the professional world. The latter eight weeks will contain the following scheme with some modification from class to class: an introduction to the week’s theme, bolstered by relevant readings and discussion; a presentation, activity, documentary, or a combination of these and other elements to further investigate the issue; and then a concluding discussion on the issue and the efficacy of current efforts which seek to employ the techniques visited in class to address the problem at hand. Additionally, throughout the course, students will be expected to further investigate these themes through a paper and service project proposal designed by individual students or in groups.


59.09   Mathematical Beauty in Rhythm, Through the Lens of Carnatic Music

Wednesdays, 7:00-8:30 pm, Keohane 4B, Seminar Room 402

Sponsor/Department                    Purnima Shah, Dance

Instructors:                                      Abhishek Balakrishnan      

                                                           Deepika Potarazu               

Class limit:   10

Rhythm and laya are terms beyond just the beats of a composition, but rather that describe the natural movements throughout the universe.  Upon perceiving sound, be it a drum beat, the tick of a clock, or the raindrops outside, our brain analyzes this sound and creates a sensational response.   Music is as much a science as it is an aesthetic.  Rhythm is fascinating in that it helps us generate an understanding of the mathematics in nature, even if we do not necessarily have an initial mathematical awareness.  This course seeks to explore the origins of sound and trace them to the way we respond to sounds and rhythms.  The emphasis will be on the concept of rhythm through the Carnatic tradition, or South Indian Classical Music.

The course takes an interdisciplinary approach to learning music and relies heavily on recordings and live demonstrations of the theoretical concepts in music and how they are presented today.  Through highly interactive lessons, students will actively engage with key components of the musical form including but not limited to percussion instruments, beat cycles, and rhythmic composition construction.  There are no prerequisites (be it music, math, neuroscience, or psychology) required for this course.  Students will ideally leave the course with a fundamental understanding of rhythm in the context of classical Indian music and dance and how rhythm and mathematics are intimately connected.


59.10   Women and International Development

Mondays, 7:00-8:30 pm, Keohane 4B, Seminar Room 402

Sponsor/Department                    Sherryl Broverman, Biology

Instructors:                                       Ishan Thakore                     

                                                           Sofia Stafford                       

                                                           Madelaine Katz                    

Class limit:   12

This course is an overview of the issues facing women in international development. We will focus on women in developing nations, and each class will cover a different pertinent topic, from HIV/AIDS to access to secondary education. We will examine these issues from multiple perspectives, including public policy, cultural anthropology and human rights viewpoints. The main topics covered are women’s health, women’s education and women’s economic contributions. Throughout our discussions, we will be exploring organizations dedicated to ameliorating gender disparities.

59.11   Monkey Business: The Physiology and Sexuality of Primates

Thursdays, 7:00-8:30 pm, Crowell CC Common Room

Sponsor/Department:                   Christine Drea, Evolutionary Anthropology

Instructors:                                       Andrew Luo                          

                                                           Krishan Sivaraj                     

Class limit:   12

Since the publication of On the Origin of Species in 1859, the scientific community has firmly established that chimpanzees and other non-human primates are human’s closest living relatives. On one hand, the two species exhibit numerous physiological similarities, including their methods of circulation, respiration, sensation, and locomotion. These similarities extend down to our basic genetics: humans are 96% similar to the great ape species, with the number of genetic differences between humans and chimps being 10 times smaller than that between mice and rats! Yet despite the biological similarities, primate species (including us humans) display a diverse array of social systems, courtship behaviors, and communication patterns.

This course will aim to give students with little to no background in primate biology an overview of the physiological functions and social behaviors of primates. The course is intended to act as a basic introduction to various systems in the primate body and as a preparation for advanced courses, such as Evolutionary Anthropology 341, Primate Sexuality, and Biology 329D, Animal Physiology. Additionally, we will discuss special applications of the course material in the fields of Emergency Medicine and Neuroscience.

Throughout the course, students will be exposed to various topics surrounding primate behavior. Light homework assignments, consisting of written summaries or worksheets, will be assigned on a regular basis, and students will work in collaborative groups to discuss weekly assignments. At the conclusion of the course, students will deliver a 5-page paper on a related topic of their choosing, which will draw from the material covered in class.

59.12   Sex, Obscenity, and Censorship

Tuesdays, 7:00-9:00 pm, Few GG, Room 101 CM

Sponsor/Department:                   Kathi Weeks, Women’s Studies

Instructors:                                      John Un                                  

                                                          Jillian Williams                      

Class limit:   15

In 1973 U.S. Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart held "I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced [as obscene content]; and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so.  But I know it when I see it, and the motion picture involved in this case is not that" (emphasis added).  Considered to be one of the most famous cases in contemporary obscenity law, Justice Stewart’s comment typifies of the ambiguity of the obscene. It is in response to this that this course seeks to define the relationship between sex, obscenity, and censorship.  How does the policing of sex and obscenity impact identities (such as race, gender, class, sexual orientation) and institutions (such as the family)?  Drawing from a variety of media – art, music, film, photography, news broadcasting, television, etc. – as well as readings on obscenity law, feminist theory, and philosophy, we will explore how media communicates pleasure and/or resistance in a way that incites controversy.  In particular we will ask what it means to be censored, what (if anything) should be censored, and address issues of power, suppression, repression, and free choice.  WARNING: Some texts/class materials may contain graphic sexual content. Please contact instructor for more information.

59.13   Neurotheology: The Biology of Belief

Wednesdays, 5:15-6:46 pm, Keohane 4B, Seminar Room 402

Sponsor/Department:                   Leonard White, Duke Institute for Brain Sciences

Instructors:                                      Parth Chodavadia                 

                                                           Vaishali Oza                           

Class limit:   10

Are our brains wired for religion? Or does practicing religion alter the landscapes of our brains? For centuries, both neuroscientists and theologians have been trying to answer these elusive questions. With the development of novel neuroimaging techniques however, identifying and pinpointing the neuroscientific basis for religion no longer remains an enigma. This course aims to bring attention to these recent developments in neurotheology – a field that bridges the divide between neuroscience and faith. We will explore topics such as the neurogenetic basis of belief, epilepsy-induced hyperreligiosity, hallucinations and out-of-body experiences, psychedelic mystical experiences, and our brain’s ability to construct reality. By the end of this class, we will not only be at the forefront of comprehending the changes that occur in our brain as a result of spiritual practice but also be able to foster discussion in our community on the contemporary interplay between science and religion.

59.14   The Ever-Expanding Barrio

Mondays, 6:00-7:45 pm, Few GG 6th Floor Commons

Sponsor/Department:                   Joan Clifford, Romance Studies

Instructors:                                      Leslie Niiro                              

                                                          Deanna White                         

                                                          Fausto Paguada Figueroa    

Class limit:   15

The space for Latin@s seems like lip service. A corner in cities, in factories, in television, but most tragically, in academia. In spite of their vast contributions to the United States, Latin@s remain footnotes in Western imaginary. It is this lagging, worse, the compact accommodation that perpetuates epistemic poverty (stereotype as its epitome). As a Latin@, there exists an internal crisis, one in which cultural memory is confined to the subjective, the metaphysical, the soulful. It seems the modern nation-state sends ambivalent signals, unsure of where to relegate the essence of Latin@s as domestic or foreign. The embodiment of contradiction, Latin@s remain inscribed in the colonial borderlands of unofficiated territories. As eloquent and articulate a Latin@ may be, as rapid-fire as forked tongues may be, the mark of the migrant lingers. Afflicted with tensions of dual identity, the periphery of status provides solace insofar as it exposes multiple narratives – oral histories, corridos, bailes vis a vis American exceptionalism, founding fathers, questions of loyalty. The partitioning of self is as much a blessing as it is a burden. And without ample opportunity to flesh out these intricate experiences, the existence of Latin@s will remain problematic.

This House Course on the Latin@ Experience is testament to the aspirations of a bourgeoning Latin@ force, one determined to define itself within its own agency, yet fully aware of the seemingly insurmountable obstacles of a nation-state still trapped in Manifest destiny illusions. Furthermore, the issues of undocumented immigration, Latin@ identity and the process of border crossing are constantly posing complex and controversial questions in our society. The border itself, as Gloria Anzaldua wrote:

Es una herida abierta where the Third World grates against the First and bleeds. And before a scab forms it hemorrhages again, the lifeblood of two world merging to form a third country—a border culture. Borders are set up to define the places that are safe and unsafe, to distinguish us from them. A border is a dividing line, a narrow strip along a steep edge. A borderland is a vague and undetermined place created by the emotional residue of an unnatural boundary. It is in a constant state of transition.”

The course seeks to articulate the various plights that surround Latinos here in the United States. Issues such as (illegal) immigration (its socio-economic, political imperatives), narratives of border crossing, the demythologization of the Latino archetype, (border) identity, gender inequality (Machismo; Marianismo), health, higher education, resistance, etc., are the foreground of our analysis. Moreover, as an intermediary between officiated bodies of knowledge (professors and faculty) and students, we understand the initial nervousness surrounding a privileged, academic body. As such, a vital facet of this House Course is to introduce an element of informality insofar as it encourages students to test their perspectives coming into the discussion. It serves not as a bully pulpit, but as a bi-directional discourse, where experienced lives may learn from the preconceived notions, and vice versa. Let us clarify: the goal is to stress the horizontality of this seminar and strive towards a collective understanding, between cultures, beyond labels (Latino, woman, Asian, white, poor, farmworker).

Throughout the course, students will be highly immersed in these themes as the course analyzes the Latin@ experience through different lenses. We will have a variety of speakers, all uniquely involved with the immigrant experience, including student/community activists, scholars, undocumented Latin@ community members, and Latin@ construction and maintenance personnel. Through a combination of activities, readings, documentaries, service opportunities, optional field trips, and sustained dialogue, students will begin to understand how their own identities intertwine with those of the greater community. Additionally, as the course will work cohesively with the Women’s Center, Program for Latin@ Studies in the Global South, Spanish Language Program, and Romance Studies Department, students will be provided with opportunities to apply what they learned outside the classroom so they can better act on their own social responsibilities.