Fall Semester 2013 House Courses
59.01 Serial Killer Psychology: From Dahmer to Dexter
Monday, 7:00-8:30 p.m., Keohane Quad 4D, 201
Class limit: 15
From Jack the Ripper’s brutal slayings to Ted Bundy’s necrophilia, serial killers never cease to fascinate the public. Yet why do these seemingly normal people kill so senselessly? And why are we continually enthralled by their bloody exploits? This course explores the psychology behind serial murder from neurobiological and psychiatric perspectives while also examining society’s obsession through a sociological and cultural lens. Case study analysis provides the foundation of the course as students first learn how to interpret the actions of a serial killer and then subsequently apply their newfound knowledge to analyze the public’s portrayal of these murderers through literature, television, and film. Caution: Due to the nature of the subject matter, this course involves discussion of crime scenarios and exposure to images that some might find disturbing.
59.02 Personal Finance: Saving, Investing, and Creating a Future
Wednesday, 6:30-8:00 p.m., Keohane Quad 4B, 402
Class limit: 10
This course is focused on teaching students fiscal responsibility and learning about various ways of savings, types of loans, and other topics related to surviving in the real world. This couse will teach you how to file tax returns, create a budget, different types of investments, and help you create a sustainable future.
59.03 Created Worlds
Tuesday, 6:00-7:30 p.m., Keohane Quad 4B, 402
Class limit: 15
Why do people create their own fictional realities? From Tolkien's Middle Earth to Asimov's Galactic Empire, these created worlds take our imaginations to places they have never been, and provide not only a means of escapism, but of reflection. In science experiments, a single variable is altered, so that its impact on the whole system is understood. In thought experiments, variables of our entire universe may be altered in an attempt to discover the essence of our world. This course will examine the reasons behind the creation of fictional worlds, the process of creation, and what it tells us about various disciplines. The course will specifically analyze the synthesis of fictional science, religion, language, mythology, history, politics, and more.
59.04 Ethics and Harry Potter: Lessons for Muggles
Monday, 6:30-7:50 p.m., Keohane 4B, 402
Class limit: 15
The Harry Potter novels are an international cultural phenomenon and one of the most influential book series of our era. Yet, beyond the spells, potions, and horcruxes lie complex issues of philosophical significance--good versus evil, virtue and vice, the use and abuse of magic, and so on. The goal of this course is to analyze the Harry Potter series through an ethical lens in an attempt to better understand morality in our muggle world. Throughout the course, we will compare and contrast different ethical theories and critically evaluate how these approaches relate to a specific dilemma in the series.
Each week we will focus on one character and analyze how their actions are considered “good” or “bad,” not only within the context of the story, but also in the real world. Everyone considers Harry Potter to be the good, moral character...but is he? What exactly makes a person’s actions good or bad: motives, beliefs, outcomes? As we examine how the characters approach their issues at Hogwarts, we will consider analogous situations at Duke. For instance, how does using Felix Felicis, the lucky potion, to enhance academic or Quidditch performance compare to taking Adderall or steroids in our society? Students will wrestle with various ethical responses to the question of “how ought we live” and ultimately beget a magical understanding of ethics that can be applied to their daily lives.
59.05 Ending Malaria
Wednesday, 6:00-7:30 p.m., Keohane Quad 4D, 201
Department / Sponsor: Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, Carlos Rojas firstname.lastname@example.org
Class limit: 16
It starts with a bite. After a few days, symptoms develop: a sudden feeling of coldness, bouts of nausea, unpredicatble fever, persistent sweats... and at the end, a coma, or even death. What is malaria, and how can we address it in an increasingly global world? This class will present an exploration of malaria from historical, biological, global health, economic, environmental, and ethical perspectives. This course will involve discussion of the current tools employed in malaria prevention and treatment, colored by real-life accounts of malaria victims. Ultimately, students will be asked to apply their knowledge in answering the question: Can malaria be eradicated? Films including Malaria: Fever Wars and Rx for Survival will be used to supplement the material. Guest speakers include Dr. Mohamed Noor and Dr. Jason Cross.
59.06 Programming Languages
Tuesday, 4:40-7:30 p.m., Perkins LINK 2-065, Classroom 2
Class limit: 15
Duke's Computer Science Curriculum offers a wide selection of courses in various application areas, such as Bio Informatics, Mobile Applications, Databases, Distributed Systems, etc., and specific fields within Computer Science, such as Algorithms, Information Theory, and Artificial Intelligence. However, despite the breadth of the Curriculum and areas covered, many courses, introductory courses in particular, use Java, C++, and other similar Object Oriented languages exclusively. While this is a great decision to help students build foundations, Object Oriented languages are not the universal solutions to every kind of problem. At the moment, there are no courses on Functional Programming or other types of languages. This house course is student lead an attempt to fill this gap.
Each language has its own set of idioms, its strengths, and its weaknesses. By learning several different programming languages, you will be able to see which language is best suited to the kinds of problems that interest you most. In this course, we will learn about each of the following 7 languages:
We will examine each language in the following areas:
Whether the typing of a language is strong (Java) or weak (C), static (Java) or dynamic (Ruby), and how the trade-offs impact a developer in making decisions about how to tackle a particular problem
Whether a language is object-oriented, functional, procedural, or some type of hybrid.
The selected languages span 4 different programming models:
1 logic-based programming language (Prolog)
2 with full support for object-oriented concepts (Ruby, Scala)
4 that are functional in nature (Scala, Erlang, Clojure, Haskell)
1 prototype language (Io)
Whether a language is compiled or interpreted, have virtual machines or not, and how these differences affect the forms of interactions with the language and workflows. In this course, we will be mostly using interactive shells or input source files.
Core Control and Data Structure
What a language offers to control of the flow and logic of programs, such as pattern matching in Erlang and Scala, or unification in Prolog, or standard conditionals and loops, etc. And how data are stored and manipulated within a language. For example, collections are very important in every language, yet the ways they are used are vastly different.
What differentiates a language from another? High-level constructs such as Clojure's macros or Io's message interpretation, Erlang's BEAM or the JVM that Scala runs on, Prolog's ability to use logic to solve constraints, as well as concurrency models such as Io's implementation of futures, Scala's actors, or Erlang's "Let it crash" philosophy, how Haskell programmers leave mutable state behind, or how Clojure uses versioning to solve some of the most difficult concurrency problems.
When you're through, you will not be an expert in any of these languages, but you will know what each uniquely has to offer.
59.07 Neuroscience of Decision Making: From Serial Killers to Life Choices
Tuesday, 7:00-8:30 p.m., Keohane Quad 4D, 201
Class limit: 12
From Ted Bundy's plethora of sexual murders to your choices at Shooters last night, it is a wonder why people choose to do the things that they do. Why do you think you want to be a doctor? Why do you really think you want to put in all those hours for an Investment Banking internship? This class will evaluate the neurolgical components that allow us as individuals to make decisions and will delve into the biological, and social factors that drive what we do and why and how we do it.
Economically, we will delve in the Prisoner's Dilemma, why people gamble, and how to apply decision making to neuro-economics and neuro-marketing (the anatomy and process of decisions). Socially, we will evaluate our own life choices in Duke's culture and even our own life decisions. Individually, this introspective view will give you a grasp on what is in your control in the factors humans use to decide. The course will even go into case studies of classic serial killers in the media, such as "Dexter" and "Criminal Minds" in order to compare the fMRI scans between our thought-processes with even a "wet lab" dissection of the human brain! Each discussion will be team-based in class along with an outside pre-quiz, yet the course goal will be to help you understand how to improve your own decision-making and understanding of life.
59.08 Beyond DukeEngage: A Student's Perspective of Civic Engagement, Social Justice, & Activism
Thursday, 7:00-9:00p.m., Keohane Quad 4B, 402
Class limit: 20
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 discussion about the history and development of civic engagement throught the ages, the course will evolve to discussion around current social issues and projects as diverse as microfinancing to HIV/AIDS relief to the PeaceCorps. We will also discuss 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, as 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 as a class.
59.09 A Tour Inside Your Brain
Monday, 5:00-6:30 p.m., Keohane Quad 4D, 201
Class limit: 15
The human brain--that wrinkled lump of tissue characteristic of all human beings. Weighing only three pounds in the avarage adult, it contains about 100 billion neurons that give us the ability to see, smell, move, weep, talk and read. Furthermore, all we experience and remember--every little thing that makes us who we are--is rooted in the brain.
Within the past century, researchers have learned much about the fundamental workings of the brain, making tremendous gains in knowledge about the molecules that make it run. Neuroscientists have identified genes for receptor proteins that detect smell and taste. They determined that the stuff of memories is, literally, a cascade of biochemical changes at the connections or, synapses, between neurons. And belying an old view that the nervous system is hardwired from birth, experts found that its cells retain some capacity to adapt and reorganize in response to experience, an ability coined "plasticity".
Now, armed with the human genome and a combination of cutting-edge genetic methods and brain imaging techniques, neuroscientists are exploring the neural circuitry in ways they could likely have never dreamed of 20 years ago. Rather than scrutinizing one or two neurons at a time, they aim to study how networks or systems of the cells function to influence behavior--opening up a plethora of new fields such as neurogenetics, neuroeconomics and neurolinguistics, among others. Whether you have existing knowledge about the subject, or are simply curious about the field, this course is intended to guide you through what we believe to be the most interesting of these advancements, providing a framework for exploring the power of the brain.
59.10 Women and International Development
Wednesday, 8:00-9:30 p.m., Keohane Seminar Room 4B 402
Class limit: 15
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 anthopology 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 TED Talks: Ideas that Empower
Monday, 6:45-8:15 p.m., Few GG 101
Class limit: 15
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.
59.12 Understanding Islam: Stereotypes & Misconceptions
Wednesday, 6:30-8:00 p.m., Few FF 101
Class limit: 15
Much like sociology, cultural anthropology, or psychology, a study of religious traditions offers insight into what motivates people around the world to do the things they do. To understand religion is to understand one of the most influential forces for an individual or a community. Today, however, the understanding of religious principles and practices through literature comes secondarily to the beliefs in media and public representations of other religions. In the United States specifically, we see a constant focus on Islam especially after the happenings of 9/11. This course focuses on providing basic information disputing stereotypes and misconceptions that exist today about Islam. We will discuss how stereotyopes originate; we will refer to Islamic literature to either counter or justify theses claims, as well as understand how these stereotypes have manifested. The purpose of this class is to understand Islam in America given the media coverage today. Each week will focus on a specific theme in which many stereotypes exist. Jihad, sex and sexuality, and the hijab, for example, are all topics that will be discussed in this class amongst many others. This course has a final group project that will involve developing and producing a public dialogue about Islam and its misconceptions.
Identifying with a specific path is neither a requirement nor an impediment ot enrolling in this class; participants just have to be curious about and open to various approaches to perennial human questions and willing to explore the relevance of these perspectives to their own lives. In this course, your beliefs matter; everyone should feel encouraged to discuss and respect the other students' opinions.
59.13 Positivity in Action
Thursday, 6:00-7:20 p.m., Keohane Quad 4D 201
Class limit: 12
This course is heavily based in action. Students will be encouraged to apply the teaching to their own lives in order to make themselves achieve their highest potential. Once they have applied the basics of positive psychology in their lives, they will spread their knowledge throughout the Duke community in the form of personal projects. These projects will involve action outside of the classroom, aimed at spreading the notions of positive psychology to other students. Examples include organizing yoga on the quad, working with wellness on a joint student-led initiative, and starting a positive awareness week. Students in the house course will work in groups on a project throughout the semester, which they will eventually implement in the campus culture. Support will be provided by the instructors, who will help guide students through the approval process.
59.14 Intergenerational Ethics
Sunday, 2:00-3:30 p.m., Bishop's House, Rm. 101
Class limit: 10
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?"