Spring Semester 2015 House Courses

59.01   Neurotheology: Biology of Belief

Wednesdays, 5:30-7:00pm, Keohane 4D, 201 Seminar Room

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.

59.02   Leadership and Prevention: Gender Violence at Duke

Thursdays, 6:00-8:00pm, Few FF 101 Common Room

Sponsor/Department:                   Stephanie Helms Pickett, Program in Education

Instructors:                                      Sarah Darwiche                

                                                           Kyle Moran                        

Class limit:  15

This course explores the ways in which structural gender inequalities contribute to the perpetuation of gender violence, specifically on college campuses.  This will include an analysis of patriarchy, privilege, identity, and cultural norms as each relates to gender violence.  In addition, we will explore the reasons for which gender violence is so frequently perpetrated.  We will also look to develop an understanding of the connections between gender and other forms of identity, including race, religion, sexuality, and socioeconomic background, to show that violence and its derivatives do not occur singularly, but are components of a larger problem posed by oppression.  These bases will then be used to inform an examination of public and media representation, bystander intervention programming, and gender justice activism in their current forms on campus. Following an exploration of different strategies for social change, students will conclude the class by developing their own plan for preventing gender violence on campus at Duke.

59.03   Financial Coaching Tools

Mondays, 6:00-7:30pm, Wannamaker Common Room 04

Sponsor/Department:                   Kathy Sikes, Program in Education

Instructors:                                      Quinn Holmquist             

                                                           Maggie Hom                    

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 each week’s topic in depth. 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), a student-run organization which pairs teams of volunteers to work one-on-one with individuals who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.


59.04   An Interdisciplinary Inquiry into HIV/AIDS

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

Sponsor/Department:                   Kearsley Stewart, Duke Global Health Institute

Instructor:                                        Jenny (Jingwei) Li            

Class limit:   12

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   Personal Finance: Saving and Investing in Your Future

Wednesdays, 6:00-7:30pm, Wannamaker W004

Sponsor/Department:                   John Caccavale, Economics

Instructors:                                      Ruby Hohensee              

                                                          Neda Jamishidi-Azad     

                                                          Diana Lam                       

Class limit:   20

The 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 course will teach you how to file tax returns, create a budget, different types of investments, and help you create a sustainable future.

59.06   North Korean Settlers in South Korea

Thursdays, 7:00-9:00pm, Keohane 4E, 101 ST

Sponsor/Department:                   Hwansoo Kim, Asian and Middle Eastern Studies

Instructors:                                      Yehdahm Kweon            

                                                           Rebecca Kim                  

                                                          Usman Mahmood          

 Class limit:   25

This course aims to establish an understanding of the internationality of the North Korean-South Korean relations through a historical and social context. We will also look into some humanitarian issues that persist throughout the process of escape and resettlement. Specifically, this course is designed to prepare Duke Engagers heading to South Korea to teach and volunteer: the later portions of the class will focus more on education and cultural expectations in South Korea.

59.07   TED Talks: Ideas that Transform and Empower

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

Sponsor/Department:                   Robert Thompson, Psychology and Neuroscience

Instructors:                                      Elizabeth Onstwedder  

                                                           Brendan McCartney      

Class limit:   18

This house 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   Creating Life: The Emergence of Synthetic Biology

Tuesdays, 4:45-6:15pm, Few FF 101 Common Room

Sponsor/Department:                   Nicolas Buchler, Biology

Instructors:                                      Matthew Farnitano        

                                                          Matthew Faw                   

Class limit:   15

From curing genetic diseases to creating wholly artificial life forms, the new field of synthetic biology is rapidly redefining our understanding of life itself.
Synthetic biology combines the vast knowledge of molecular biology developed over the last century with principles of forward design, giving new meaning and purpose to the concept of genetic engineering. The core philosophy of this movement can be summed up by the words of physicist Richard Feynman: “what I cannot create, I do not understand.”

This course serves as an introduction to the synthetic biology movement, as well as a catalyst for dialogue about the potential applications of the young field and its implications for society. We will begin with an introduction to the biological and engineering principles required for an informed discussion on the topic, focusing on the Central Dogma, standard biological parts, and modular design. We will then discuss a variety of current and potential applications in the genres of basic research, gene therapies, and drug development, among others. Finally, we will analyze the potential impact of such technologies on human health, safety, intellectual property, and the environment. Students will have the opportunity to develop their own synthetic project ideas, assessing their implications on ethics and society.

The course will provide students with a foundation of understanding upon which they can critically evaluate developments in synthetic biology and society. As synthetic biotechnologies become more commonplace in our world, it is critical that society’s leaders have the necessary background to make crucial decisions regarding their development and use.

Upon completion of this course, students will have an understanding of the following:
• The synthetic biology movement, its origins, and its unique characteristics
• The molecular processes of gene expression according to the Central Dogma
• The characteristics that define a BioBrick or synthetic biological device
• The concept of forward engineering and its application to biology
• The importance of modeling and mathematics in design
• The relationship between basic and applied science

In addition, students will be equipped to critically evaluate the following:
• Intellectual property concerns in synthetic biology
• The benefits and concerns of synthetic gene therapies
• The environmental impact of biotechnologies
• Bioethical concerns involving synthetic biological parts and systems
• Strategies for the safe and ethical advancement of research

59.09   Beyond Christian Intentions:  Colonialism, Evangelism, and Reconciliation in Native American Communities

Tuesdays, 7:30-9:00pm, Wesley Office, Duke Chapel

Sponsor/Department:                   Suzanne Shanahan, Kenan Institute for Ethics

Instructors:                                      Christine Delp                

                                                          Korrine Terroso               

Class limit:   8

This course will explore the effect of Christianity on indigenous communities in North America, focusing more specifically on Native Alaskans. Through historical, theological, and socio-cultural lenses we will examine the various lines between church colonialism, missions, and evangelism, as well as the contemporary church’s role in reconciling past wrongs against native peoples. Using the case study of Community United Methodist Church (CUMC) in Nome, Alaska, we will then consider what it means to live in Christian community “on the margins”, or in areas of remote geographic, economic, and political isolation, while simultaneously challenging the notion of the native “other.” Students will also have the opportunity to take an optional field trip over spring break to Nome, Alaska in partnership with CUMC in order to critically evaluate the topics of the course. Ultimately, through discussion, fieldwork, and individual research projects, this course will foster students’ thinking about ethical engagement in native communities: how can the church respond to the needs and lifestyles of modern indigenous peoples while remaining wary of its culpable past?

59.10   Women and International Development

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

Sponsor/Department:                   Sherryl Broverman, Biology

Instructors:                                      Ritika Jain                           

                                                           Joy Sun                               

                                                           Christina Schmidt                

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 mutiple 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   Urbanization in China

Mondays, 7:00-8:30pm, Few FF 101 Common Room

Sponsor/Department:                   Ralph Litzinger, Cultural Anthropology

Instructors:                                      Emily Feng                        

                                                          Yueran Zhang                   

Class limit:   15

Understanding urbanization in China, probably the most magnificent and dramatic urbanization process human history has ever witnessed, is crucial not only for grasping key facets of contemporary Chinese society, but also for comprehending the world we live in. This course explores the forces driving urbanization in China by tracking the myriad ways in which urbanization has been unfolding and assessing the consequences urbanization has for economic development, political dynamics, social structures, cultural production, and the daily lives of China’s citizens. It is organized into four sections centered on distinct yet interrelated themes: an introduction and overview; division and interaction between rural and urban China; urbanization as dynamic, uneven and contested processes; and consequences of urbanization. As a whole, the course seeks to provide a comprehensive, systematic account of this phenomenon and encourages students to appreciate the nuances and complexities of its multi-faceted nature. All materials and class activities are in English; Chinese proficiency is NOT necessary. The full syllabus can be accessed here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1sGdI2w7pr6umVfce6tTo4hLdciK1c95zmxqGW5ZTGg8/pub

59.12   How We Do Mission: Sustainable, Informed, and Relational Christian Service Abroad

Mondays, 3:00-5:00pm, Chapel Basement Kitchen

Sponsor/Department:                   Zoila Airall, Department of Education

Instructors:                                      Lindsey Huth                 

                                                          Alexis Macdermott        

Class limit:   11

This course introduces a new approach to international service.  It prepares participants to carry out sustainable, relational, informed, and effective Christian mission work while at Duke and beyond.  We will approach the issue of service from several perspectives: religious, historical, cultural, interpersonal, and structural.  Participants may join the optional Chapel-sponsored spring break trip to Costa Rica, which will offer the opportunity to engage in service, relationships, and reflection.

Overview: Participants will read academic work, engage with guest speakers, write analytical and reflective essays, and discuss topics with the class.  The first weeks of the course engage with the theoretical framework of mission: Why do Christians serve?  How should we serve?  What works best?  We will then dig into the case study of Costa Rica by examining the country’s history, culture, and language.  These sessions will also discuss America’s role in the world, and the power dynamic inherent in international service.  The last portion of the course will be dedicated to ‘unpacking’ students’ spring break experiences, whether or not they attend the optional field trip.  We will reflect through discussion, writing (including a workshop), and a photo essay.  Certain elements will recur throughout the course: team-building, prayer and worship, and Spanish practice.

59.13   Ending Malaria

Tuesdays, 6:00-7:30pm, Keohane 4B, 402 Seminar Room

Sponsor/Department:                   Carlos Rojas, Asian and Middle Eastern Studies

Instructor:                                           Rifat Rahman                    

Class limit:   8

Join us on a journey from the ivory towers to the villages of the people who live on less than a dollar a day. We will immerse ourselves in global health case studies – both failures and successes – that shed insight into the pathologies of poverty. Why would a poor, malnourished man choose to spend his money on a brand new television rather than food? Why are some 1.5 million people dying every year of a disease that could be treated with boiled water, sugar, and salt? Ultimately, this course will ask us to envision a world where no child suffers from malaria – and then think collaboratively about how to make that happen. We will discuss the current tools employed in malaria prevention and treatment, colored by real-life accounts of malaria victims. Course content will draw heavily from the work of Esther Duflo, Paul Farmer, and João Biehl. This course is an exercise in reimagination: to ask more of ourselves, to dream a bit bigger, and to redefine what is possible.

Background in biology is suggested, but not required.


59.14   Chemistry in Society

Thursdays, 5:00-6:30pm, French Family Science Center 1218

Sponsor/Department:                   Christopher Roy, Chemistry

Instructor:                                        James Tian                         

Class limit:   20

The role of chemistry in society is a fascinating subject. Chemistry has had significant historical implications and is used in our everyday life, but society as a whole understands little of it. In this course, we will be examining significant historical innovations, important chemicals and reactions in our everyday lives, and the use of chemistry in technological applications, such as medical equipment, construction materials, and weaponry. Topics also include the chemistry of cooking, cleaning products, and alcohol.

Besides being exposed to the wide field of Chemistry applications, students will learn to examine the scientific literature behind common Chemistry. We will start with popular science news and blogs and delve deeper into the literature that explains the processes scientifically. We also hope to demonstrate the importance of Chemistry and educate students about the further direction of research. There is both significant interest and material in the role of chemistry in society, and we hope this class of curiosity-driven students can learn to be more aware of just how prevalent Chemistry is.

At the end of this course, students will be able to:
• Be knowledgeable about the applications of Chemistry in Society
• Be able to explain the chemical mechanisms behind many of these processes
• Gain an in-depth understanding of the current scientific literature, and how to explore further topics through research
• Appreciate the rich history of Chemistry innovation and technology

Small level of background experience to Chemistry recommended but not required.

59.15   Durham Giving Project

Tuesdays, 7:00-8:30pm, C002R Wannamaker

Sponsor/Department:                   Sam Miglarese, Program in Education

Instructors:                                      Alesha Daniels                  

                                                          Cassie Yuan                       

Class limit:   15

The Durham Giving Project has two major components:
1) Establishing a broader understanding of Durham, its struggles and its triumphs
2) Creating a giving circle to fund grants for local non-profit organizations
After learning about the history of Durham and discussing current events, the class will review grant applications from non-profit organizations within the Duke-Durham neighborhood partnership. The class will decide how to distribute and allocate funds among these organizations.
To prepare for the grant distribution process, students will learn about philanthropy and the philosophy of giving.  Throughout the 12 weeks of the course, students will be taught about the rich history of Durham and the social justice issues that impact the city today.  We hope that by teaching students about issues that impact their immediate environment they will be inspired to act and create positive social change.  By the end of the course, students will have:
• Discussed the influence of historical legacy in understanding social justice issues that affect the city today
• Learned about each of the three social justice issues central to the Durham Giving Project: economic development, youth & education, and healthcare.
• Assessed Duke’s vision and role of philanthropy in the community
• Developed skills on how to successfully complete the grant-making process


59.16   Spoken Word and Slam Poetry in Context: The Art of Social Commentary

Tuesdays, 6:00-7:30pm, Keohane 4B 301D

Sponsor/Department:                   Jay O’Berski, Theater Studies

Instructors:                                      Yemi Adewuyi                  

                                                          Tiana Horn                       

Class limit:   15

In 2011, Jefferson Bethke struck a chord with the American public when he dared to criticize one of America’s most fundamental institutions in his spoken word YouTube video “Why I Hate Religion but Love Jesus.” Certainly the claims he made were provocative in themselves, but much of the message’s appeal comes from its lyrical and poetic style. This class will examine the larger Spoken Word movement from which this poem arose and is founded upon the idea that through tongue tactics people can inspire revolutions, paint pictures with poems that would make Picasso jealous and transform a variety of their personal experiences, convictions and intuitions into works of art that bring new consciousness to societal conversations often silenced.  This is class is founded upon the belief that spoken word is not simply poetry read aloud.  At its core, spoken word is the art of social commentary.

Yet, spoken word is not only a powerful medium to critique the state of society, but also a fun and entertaining means of self-expression. As such, this course has two goals:  First, it seeks to expose students to the rich history and current status of spoken word and slam poetry.  Second, it seeks to build students’ confidence by encouraging both novice and seasoned spoken word artists to experiment with this form of oral expression in new and interesting ways. In order to accomplish these goals, this course will draw upon scholarly literature, social media, and guest speakers. Each week we will confront different topics spoken word artists often treat in their poems. The topics will range from identity (i.e. racial, gender, sexual orientation, etc.) to politics to Duke culture and everything in between. The course will ultimately culminate in a performance in which students will have the opportunity to showcase their own spoken word to a live audience.

Important!! You do not have to have any prior experience with spoken word, theater, speech and debate, etc. to take this course. Only a positive attitude and willingness to try are prerequisites.

59.17   Human Rights in Northern Ireland: Understanding the Troubles

Thursdays, 7:30-10:00pm, Keohane 4D 201

Sponsor/Department:                   Robin Kirk, Cultural Anthropology

Instructors:                                      Steven Brenner                  

                                                          Lily Doron                           

Class limit:   15

This multidisciplinary class examines Northern Ireland's thirty-year sectarian conflict, known colloquially as "The Troubles," asking how human rights are conceptualized and enacted during times of conflict, transition and post-conflict reconstruction. Despite progress in recent years between Northern Irish Catholics and Protestants, Northern Ireland remains riven by sectarianism, tension, trauma, clashing identities and competing visions of the future. While the Good Friday Agreements of 1998, which officially ended the Troubles, represent a moment of transition for Northern Irish society, this class will investigate the question of peace as an emerging and constantly evolving process that continues to this day.  This course will cover both the historical development of the conflict, its legacy, and its modern iterations, with a special focus on the various impacts on and understandings of the Troubles in different segments of Northern Irish society.  Central questions will include how truth is constructed and told, the use of memory and the persistence of trauma, and societal transitions.  Prospective Duke Engage Belfast participants are encouraged to enroll, as well as anyone with an interest in human rights, Irish history or conflict resolution.


59.18   Introduction to Experiential Education

Tuesdays, 7:30-10:00pm, GA Downunder

Sponsor/Departments:                 Gunther Peck, History

Instructors:                                       Emma Arata                      

                                                           Ben Chesnut                     

Class limit:   85

This course provides an introduction to experiential education, a philosophy of learning that encourages the use of direct experience and focused reflection to increase knowledge, develop skills, clarify values, and develop one's capacity to contribute to their communities. Students will explore such themes as stereotypes and perceptions, risk-taking, leadership and facilitation, group dynamics, and experiences in nature. Through small group discussions, assigned readings, group activities, and field trips, this course provides students with a unique opportunity
to contemplate their relationships with others, their environment, and themselves.
Unconventional methods of teaching and learning will be explored in order to engage students in a process of self-discovery. A backpacking trip to Pisgah National Forest and a student-designed weekend excursion will allow students to apply knowledge and skills learned throughout the course.


59.19   Benjamin N. Duke Carolina Summer of Service

Thursdays, 5:30-7:00pm, Bell Tower 110

Sponsor/Department:                   Charles Thompson, Cultural Anthropology

Instructors:                                      Bruna Liborio                    

                                                          Chuma Eruchalu              

                                                           Meghana Rao                   

Class limit:   11

This course will prepare the B.N. Duke Freshmen Scholars for the Carolina Summer of Service.  By engaging with readings, class discussions, guest speakers and films, students will begin to understand the Georgetown, SC community they will work with during the summer 2015.  They will learn how to impact the community in a positive way; connect with segments of the community that the program has not previously been successful in reaching; approach people as "partners" rather than "clients"; employ the idea of sacrifice; focus on assets over needs, solutions over problems; and most importantly - listen more than they talk.

59.20   Auto-Symposium

Tuesdays, 7:15-8:45pm, Crowell House CC 107C Commons

Sponsor/Department:                   Suzanne Wasiolek, Program in Education

Instructor:                                         Lauren Rosen                   

Class limit:   12

This course is designed as an opportunity for students to freely 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 select topics in class together, research these topics during the week, and discuss them in the following class. The range of topics available for discussion is essentially unlimited. To better understand the variety of potential topics, Fall 2014 topics included: Money, 9/11, Reincarnation, and Beyoncé.

Because 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 intellectual passions with a group of peers and to do so enthusiastically. The second is a genuine academic curiosity and willingness to delve into new areas of study. In order to foster a creative and intellectually exciting atmosphere, students must be willing to be engaged when exploring unfamiliar topics, and to thoughtfully consider the perspectives of others.

At the conclusion of the course, students will write a five double-spaced page paper combining elements of further discussion of past topics and a critical meta-analysis of one’s work during the semester.