Courses

Current Courses, Fall 2020

Core Courses

Note: All McBride sophomores must take the following two required classes.  Each course will be offered twice, in the fall and spring.

HNRS 305: Explorations in Modern America (Latici)

Course Theme: Woke and Dreaming in America

Somnambulist: (n) one who walks about in her sleep; a sleepwalker.

Who counts (and is counted) as a person in this country? Relying heavily on primary source documentation, we will investigate the interplay between repression and rebellion, both historically and currently. This class will ask you, inevitably, to become comfortable with discomfort. We will discuss racism, oppression, injustice, and responsibility, for these are the forces that, when left unexamined, most reliably repeat themselves, often masquerading in different forms. But just as we will inevitably study some of the more unsettling aspects of American culture, we will engage in active, creative, and artistic responses to these injustices, and in so doing affirm our own humanity, and our own right to stand up and be heard, to be counted.

Prerequisite: Admission to the Program and LAIS100: Nature & Human Values or HNRS 105 and HNRS 115 (Thorson First-Year Program). 3 lecture hours, 3 credit hours.

Schedule Listing: HNRS305, Explorations in Modern America
Registration Number: 80600
Class Meetings: Wednesdays, 6:00-8:50 PM
Instructor: Justin Latici

HNRS 315: Explorations in the Modern World (Brandt)

Course Theme: Humormanity: Humor and the Narratives of Humanity

Perhaps the most underestimated yet most extraordinary component that shapes our experience of being human is humor. In its essence, humor is a vehicle for making sense of ourselves and our world which is present in all societies throughout place and time. Among the varied ways that it impacts our lives, humor provides us with pathways through tragedies, inroads to cultures, weapons for abuse of power, agents for change, provocations for dialogue, and mirrors for reflection. Using humor as a tool for exploration of the world and the human condition encourages us to ask: Does humor allow us to process and express ideas and information that we cannot in other forms of communication? How do we use humor to manipulate our perceptions of ourselves and others? Do we use humor as a dialectic to confirm and/or challenge our ideologies? If humor is “not serious,” how and why do we use it to determine our serious Truths? Where does its power come from? Overall, what does the universality of humor tell us about our shared humanity? We will investigate these questions as we seek out the ways that people use humor within their narrative constructions of their global, historical, political, and cultural dimensions. Our explorations will include a variety of mediums produced during the late 20th and 21st centuries—including literary texts, films, and performances—that express diverse views and voices, and integrate a mixture of lenses to discover how and why humor is interwoven into the very fabric of the human experience.

Schedule Listing: HNRS315, Explorations in the Modern World
Registration Number: 80969
Class Meetings: Wednesdays, 6:00-8:50 PM
Instructor: Melanie Brandt

Upper-Level Electives

Note: McBride juniors and seniors may enroll in any one of the following courses. Note that the CSM online course schedule identifies these courses by their generic titles (e.g. “Explorations in Earth, Energy, & the Environment) but each course has a specific theme listed and described below (e.g. “Communicating Across Cultures”). Occasionally, some courses may have the same time title, but will address different themes. Be sure to register for the appropriate section; double-check the instructor name(s) and registration numbers.

HNRS 425: Explorations in Politics, Policy & Leadership (Terry)

Course Theme: “Hey Alexa, are you my best friend?”:  Psychological Investigation of Technology on Humans 

The manner by which humans develop, behave, and coexist has dramatically changed over the past few decades with the proliferation and advancement of technology at work, in society, and at home. Why do humans talk to their computers? Are we ever truly alone, or are we more alone than ever before? Why do we love the feel and smell of a good book? This course will pivot around contemporary and emerging technology-relevant topics related with human development, behavior, and community through the lens of psychology – including developmental, cognitive, educational, and social psychology. Students will complete the course with a heightened level of self-awareness related to their own subconscious behavior and guiding orientations; not to mention the ways they are already part of the debate. The course will be heavily seminar style, with persistent out-of-class reading/research and in-class structured discourse.  

Schedule Listing: HNRS 425: Explorations in Politics, Policy, and Leadership
Registration Number: 82065
Class Meetings: Wednesdays, 6:00-8:50 PM
Instructor: Colin Terry

HNRS 430: Explorations in Ideas, Ethics & Religion (Zhu)

Course Theme: Science, Technology and Confucian Ethics

This course examines the ethical ideas in classical Confucianism (e.g., Confucius, Mencius) and how these ethical ideas can shape the ways in which scientific and technological problems are defined and solved. Students in this class will be expected to read both classical Confucian texts such as Analects and Mencius and works by contemporary authors that examine the social, ethical, and political issues in scientific and technological domains such as gene editing technology, robotics, social media technology, and engineering through the lens of Confucian ethics. A major goal of this course is to help students challenge some prevalent ideologies in Western ethics such as autonomous individualism (e.g., individuals are understood as merely rights-bearing persons). It also helps students cultivate a cultural sensitivity toward scientific and technological practice in a global context. Students will be asked to reflect on some challenging and yet valuable ethical questions such as: How to justify some occasions in which we treat people differently in a democratic society? Why in some cases do we have to prioritize some human rights over others? Are there some gene editing technologies more morally justifiable than others? What is our relationship with social robots? Should we design these robots to be capable of blaming their human teammates? Can and should robots acquire some level of personhood? Our exploration of these questions will help students develop their “self-knowledge” that has been extensively missing in current engineering education system. Students are encouraged to think reflectively and critically about why they are engineers, for those benefit they want to work, and the kind of world they want to design and live in by using the powerful technologies they create.

Schedule Listing: HNRS 430: Explorations in Ideas, Ethics & Religion
Registration Number: 81069
Class Meetings: Wednesdays, 6:00-8:50 PM
Instructors: Qin Zhu

HNRS 435: Explorations in Culture, Society and Creative Arts (Pass)

Course Theme: “Magic and murals and music and myth”: The Words and Wonder of Irish Literature and Culture

Despite–or perhaps because of–its long and painful history of poverty, oppression, and exploitation, Ireland has maintained a magnificent and mystical culture of literature, legend, and music. Our class journey will begin where Ireland’s identity begins, in ancient Celtic mythology. The source material for Irish literature continues to evolve through manuscripts recording the spiritual union of Christian and pagan traditions. A rich oral tradition of songs, ballads, and narrative poems preserves the experiences of legendary leaders, as well as ordinary people. As Ireland’s identity is usurped by the imposition of English rule, its literature becomes increasingly infused with irony, shared symbolism, nostalgia, lyricism, and a stubborn will to resist and rebel against the violation of freedom and resources. Voices of prose writers like Jonathan Swift and James Joyce harmonize with those of such poets as William Butler Yeats and dramatists including John Synge. These voices echo and swell into the innovative fiction, non-fiction, drama, film, and music of later 20th-century and early 21st-century artists. Our exploration of Irish literary identity invites students to pursue, perform, and present their individual curiosities and continuing interests in such areas as religion, history, anthropology, politics, linguistics, economics, visual arts, feminism, theatre, architecture, environmental studies, geology, dance, cinema, instrumental and vocal music, traditional crafts, and culinary arts. Together, we will sample and savor and stir the stew that is Ireland and carefully untangle its tarnished rosary of decades, mysteries, crosses, relics, jewels, and chains. As we bear witness to the rapid and radical social changes in contemporary Ireland, we will join our peers (both here and there and throughout the Irish diaspora) in choosing and creating new modes of analysis and expression. Depending upon the state of national and international travel restrictions, this course may include opportunities for students to travel to Ireland and/or the Institute for Irish Studies at Boston College.

Schedule Listing: HNRS435: Explorations in Culture, Society and Creative Arts
Registration Number: 81392
Class Meetings: Tuesdays, 1:00-3:50 PM
Instructor: Rose Pass

HNRS 445: Explorations in Science, Technology, and Society (Rea)

Course Theme: Digital Civics in a Post-Truth World of Alternative Facts: Confronting Digital Extremism

This course explores different kinds of extremist activity in today’s online environments, from hate-based political extremism to disinformation campaigns designed to destabilize social institutions. In the wake of the 2016 US Presidential election and August 2017’s “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, there has been increased public attention given to how digital extremists use social media and other online platforms for political organizing and manipulating news media coverage. How do disinformation campaigners exploit social media algorithms to spread their messages? How do extremists use social media and online message boards to recruit and groom new followers? And what can ordinary Internet users do to protect themselves and avoid falling victim to digital extremists? To answer these questions and more, we will explore the social factors that drive anti-science discourses like climate change denialism and the anti-vaxxer movement; how the circumstances around 2014’s #GamerGate helped mobilize a new breed of white supremacist and misogynist politics; how the Russia-based Internet Research Agency uses fake Facebook groups to fan the flames of political division in the United States; and how online trolls spread conspiracy theories like Pizzagate in the hopes of manipulating media narratives. Through course readings, class discussion, and class activities, we will learn about digital extremists’ “toolkits,” methods for identifying and avoiding disinformation and media manipulation, and the practical methods we all can use to confront digital extremism and build new digital civics together.

Schedule Listing: HNRS 445: Explorations in Science, Technology, and Society
Registration Number: 81068
Class Meetings: Wednesdays, 6:00-8:50 PM
Instructor: Stevie Rea

HNRS 405: McBride Practicum

The McBride Practicum requirement is an experiential learning program that is explained in detail on the Practicum page of the McBride website. Typically this course is taken in conjunction with another 400-level McBride seminar. Although this course runs much like an “independent study” there will be several recurring meetings over the course of the semester, at times set to work with students’ schedules. The time listed below a “place holder” time.

Schedule Listing: HNRS405: McBride Practicum
Registration Number: 81390
Class Meetings: Mondays, 6:00-8:50 PM
Instructor: Justin Latici

Previous Courses

Core Courses

HNRS 305: Explorations in Modern America

This is an Honors “core course” that develops student skills in reading, writing, critical thinking, and oral communication through the exploration of selected topics related to the social, cultural, and political ideas and events that have shaped the development of the modern United States. It focuses on some of the most important and controversial developments in contemporary affairs and recent U.S. history. The course also seeks to develop your skills—at reading and writing, in professional communication and planning, and at thinking and perceiving. Its goal is to sharpen your mind and broaden your perspective on the world around you. Above all else, this course seeks to encourage you to ask questions about the modern world: questions about war and peace, questions about relationships between different races, classes and sexes, questions about the government and its role in shaping American life, questions about social practices and popular culture—questions, in short, about life.

HNRS 305: Explorations in Modern America

Course Theme: Narrative and the the Making of American Identity

Since its founding, the United States has been shaped by narratives of freedom, rebellion, and calls to action that were based on personal experiences and beliefs. These narratives in turn were questioned and derided by people who held different views, creating an ongoing dialectic within the country and its culture. We will utilize first-person narratives relating to major events in our America’s history: revolution, slavery, suffrage, environmentalism, labor, religion, and more; and then seek out contemporary counterpoints to each narrative to investigate how these writers and their ideas have catalyzed our understanding of ourselves as a nation. If the self is created through story, how has the United States been created through millions of individual stories, and why do we think about our selves and the country how we do? Through research, reading, discussion, and writing, we’ll attempt to discover answers to these fundamental questions about America’s past, present, and future.

HNRS 305: Explorations in Modern America

This is an Honors “core course” that develops student skills in reading, writing, critical thinking, and oral communication through the exploration of selected topics related to the social, cultural, and political ideas and events that have shaped the development of the modern United States. It focuses on some of the most important and controversial developments in contemporary affairs and recent U.S. history. The course also seeks to develop your skills—at reading and writing, in professional communication and planning, and at thinking and perceiving. Its goal is to sharpen your mind and broaden your perspective on the world around you. Above all else, this course seeks to encourage you to ask questions about the modern world: questions about war and peace, questions about relationships between different races, classes and sexes, questions about the government and its role in shaping American life, questions about social practices and popular culture—questions, in short, about life.

HNRS 315: Explorations in the Modern World

Perhaps the most underestimated yet most extraordinary component that shapes our experience of being human is humor. In its essence, humor is a vehicle for making sense of ourselves and our world which is present in all societies throughout place and time. Among the varied ways that it impacts our lives, humor provides us with pathways through tragedies, inroads to cultures, weapons for abuse of power, agents for change, provocations for dialogue, and mirrors for reflection. Using humor as a tool for exploration of the world and the human condition encourages us to ask: Does humor allow us to process and express ideas and information that we cannot in other forms of communication? How do we use humor to manipulate our perceptions of ourselves and others? Do we use humor as a dialectic to confirm and/or challenge our ideologies? If humor is “not serious,” how and why do we use it determine our serious Truths? Where does its power come from? Overall, what does the universality of humor tell us about our shared humanity? We will investigate these questions as we seek out the ways that people use humor within their narrative constructions of their global, historical, political, and cultural dimensions. Our explorations will include a variety of mediums produced during the late 20th and 21st centuries—including literary texts, films, and performances—that express diverse views and voices, and integrate a mixture of lenses to discover how and why humor is interwoven into the very fabric of the human experience.

HNRS 315: Explorations in the Modern World

Perhaps the most underestimated yet most special component that shapes our experience of being human is humor. Among the many and varied ways that it shapes our lives, humor provides us with pathways through tragedies, inroads to cultures, weapons for abuse of power, agents for change, and mirrors for reflection. In its essence, humor is a vehicle for making sense of ourselves and our world which is present in all societies throughout place and time. Using humor as a tool for exploration of the world and the human condition encourages us to ask: How does humor shape our perspectives? How do we use it to conceive of the self and the other? How do we use it to communicate to one another? And, what does the universality of humor tell us about our shared humanity? We will investigate these questions as we seek out the ways that people use humor within their narrative constructions of their global, historical, political, and cultural dimensions. Our explorations will include a variety of mediums produced during the 21st century—including literary texts, films, and performances—that express diverse views and voices, and a mixture of lenses to discover how and why humor is interwoven into the very fabric of the human experience.

HNRS 315: Explorations in the Modern World

Course Theme: Narrative and the Puzzle of the Human Journey

Humans are accustomed to thinking about life as a journey, one that encompasses many smaller pathways of experience. Yet often the choice of which road to take is puzzling: how do we figure out where we are, where we want to go, and why? What happens when we’re forced into a scenario that wasn’t of our design or choosing? Some of the oldest and most common stories are those of individuals trying to work through this maze of life. By reading novels and writing personal narratives, we will explore human movement—through space and through life—and use the metaphor of the puzzle to understand what compels our personal paths and the decisions we make about them that are common to all people regardless of place, time, or culture.

HNRS 315: Explorations in the Modern World

Appeals to human nature are invoked in debates ranging from definitions of marriage to the benefits of free markets and economic competition. This course investigates the question of innate human qualities, behaviors, and feelings by exploring social and cultural universes around the world. Journeying from West Africa to the South Pacific, from the Middle East to South America, before returning to the United States, we will subject the following topics to our rigorous myth-busting analytic toolkit: race, gender, sex, birth and death, individualism, greed, and love. Taking a cross-cultural perspective on these topics will challenge simplistic assumptions about the biological and genetic basis of human behavior to reveal the complex ways in which nature, culture, environment, and choice interact to influence human experiences. As an honors “core course,” it will develop student writing skills and critical thinking abilities through the exploration of the social, cultural, and political ideas and developments that have shaped the modern world.

This course was taught by Jessica Smith Rolston, an anthropologist in LAIS who had conducted NSF-sponsored ethnographic research in Cuba, Peru, and multiple sites in the American West. She specializes in the sociocultural dynamics of extractive industries, with a focus on gender, kinship, labor, social justice, and corporate social responsibility.

HNRS 315: Explorations in the Modern World

Course Theme: “Journey as Narrative, Narrative as Journey”

This course  examined the ways that journeys, and writing about journeys, influence the way we think about our lives and our world. We utilized both fiction and non-fiction texts to investigate how the stories we tell about places and our selves in those places create our understanding of reality. Our focus was onthe modernist era (1900-1950), which was a time of immense change: the world was rocked by cultural, political, social, scientific, and religious upheaval. It was also a time of profound movement; whether by choice or by necessity, people travelled all over the globe in numbers never before seen. Writers and intellectuals responded to this movement and change by making this a prominent focus of their work: undertaking and chronicling journeys was a way they sought to make sense of new “landscapes” of the mind and the body. The influence of their writing lingers today; half a century later, it still shapes the way we perceive events, places, and our own necessity to journey. Through reading, writing, and mapping, we explored multiple continents—of the globe, of the mind, and of words.

Upper-Level Electives

HNRS 425: Explorations in Politics, Policy & Leadership

Course Theme: Foggy Lenses, Foggy Mirror: Ambiguity and Clarity in Mass Media

This course explores the role, scope, and complexities of the mass media. To develop professional communication, collaboration and critical thinking skills, the content will focus on key questions:

  • What constitutes fake news? Propaganda? Alternative facts? Public deception?
  • What role do mass and social media technologies play in exacerbating political polarization?
  • Given recent mass media research, what are the implications for participatory democracy and policy shaping?
  • What are the effects of the U.S. public relying primarily on for-profit mass media? Does such media need to rely on sensationalism and viewer ideological alignment to “win” viewers? If so, with what social and political effects?
  • In an age of abundant information, why are some crucial issues ignored or not emphasized—such as stories about science, public health/environment, government, the private sector, education, etc.—while others are commonplace, including stories about celebrities, gossip, bizarre or titillating yet socially irrelevant events?
  • On critical scientific, foreign policy, and other issues, why is the public often misinformed or uninformed?
  • Why do stereotypical mass mediated misrepresentations persist, of multiple groups—veterans, women, men, Asian Americans, African Americans, Hispanics/Latinx, LGBTQ individuals, etc.
  • What are the effects of social structures (economic, political, organizational/ professional, etc.) on mass media content?

Students should end this course with an appreciation for the ambiguity inherent in diverse responses to these questions. They should also have achieved clarity in how the lenses through which we see the world and our own individual and social identities shape not only what we see, but how we filter and interpret it.

This course was taught by Jon Leydens.

HNRS 425: Explorations in Politics, Policy & Leadership

Course Theme: Renewable Energy Politics: The Individuals, Interests, and Institutions behind the Energy Transition

Renewable energy (RE) production and consumption is on the rise. Climate change, pollution, jobs, and nature conservancy are all driving the agenda but can we move faster? Questions abound. If Republicans love oil and gas, as we often hear, then why is heavily-Republican Texas the leading state in wind energy? How did energy efficiency become our third most important energy source? Why is coal-heavy Xcel Energy (a key electricity provider in Colorado) rushing past its goals for more RE? Why is coal-heavy South Africa investing in a massive hydroelectric power dam in the Democratic Republic of Congo, 3,500 miles away? Why is a major non-governmental organization in California also opposed to this dam? To answer these questions, we have to understand the global, state, and local politics behind renewable energy.

In this class, we will start high and go low: we begin at the global level, then onto the US and other countries, down to Colorado and other states of interest (Texas, California, others) and finally to individuals (“political entrepreneurs”) who are key players in the energy transition. You will drive the syllabus: your interests will determine what countries, states, cities, people, and types of energy we focus on. Along the way, we will hear from lobbyists for RE companies, representatives at RE non-governmental organizations, an engineer who became an expert witness on RE issues, local political leaders, and others who can give us a richer understanding of how politics and RE intersect. Ultimately, using social science research design and methods, we will collectively conduct original research toward a final report on RE and then present our findings in a public forum.

This course was taught by Kathleen Hancock.

HNRS 425: Explorations in Politics, Policy & Leadership

Course Theme: Scientists, Engineers, and Sausage-Maker

“Laws are like sausages: it is better not to see them being made.”  According to this well-known maxim attributed to Otto von Bismarck, laws are crafted in a messy and sometimes unappetizing process.  So too is public policy. The policy process may appear to be at odds with a world inhabited by scientists and engineers, where problem-solving is governed by the laws of physics and chemistry and is based on a rational process of experimentation and design.  In this course, we will explore the interplay of public policy, science, and engineering.  How are public policies crafted?  How do topics rise to the top of the policy agenda?  How are policy options formed?  Who decides?  What are the different ways to evaluate the quality of a policy?  What roles and influence do scientists and engineers have in the policy process?  What should those roles be?

Every person, company, and community is profoundly affected by public policies; i.e., the laws and regulations that touch on innumerable aspects of our lives and careers, such as environmental quality, national security, health care, law enforcement, transportation, and others.  Many public policies involve the application of technical expertise–including science and engineering.  As citizens with science and engineering training, it is our moral and professional obligation to understand and engage in the policy making process.  This course prepares you to do so.  We will attend to a number of key aspects of the dynamic interaction between engineering, science and policy: how engineers and scientists participate in and influence the policymaking process; how scientific data and interpretations become points of leverage and contention during policy debates; how federal funding and regulatory decisions affect research trajectories; and how the governance of science and technology implicates a variety of social forces ranging from explicit government intervention, to corporate behavior, to university policies, to direct involvement by citizens.

This course was taught by Graham Davis, from Economics and Business, and Edmund Toy, a guest instructor with remarkable policymaking experience.

HNRS 425: Explorations in Politics, Policy & Leadership

Course Theme: Eyes Wide Open: How Public Policy Can Affect You, and How You Can Affect Public Policy

Public policies—policies made and enforced by governments, firms, and other organizations—impact us all. Some impact us favorably, but others may cause us harm individually or as a society. Policies, even those involving science and technology, are made not via some linear, rational process, but instead via a political struggle over values and ideas. As citizens with science and technology training, it is our moral and professional obligation to understand and engage in the policy making process. Indeed, it is unlikely that any of us can avoid being involved in policy making as we go through our lives or careers. This course prepares you to engage in the policy process with your head up and eyes open, such that you can be a more effective participant.

A sampling of topics includes: (1) Frameworks for policy and policymaking (2) Citizen engagement with science and technology policy (3) The role of science and engineering in policy making (4) How policies for ‘responsible innovation’ and ‘upstream public engagement’ affect scientists and engineers (5) Using behavioral science to design policies that get people to do what you want them to do. Students will be asked to participate in and influence an actual policy making process of their choosing during the semester.

The course was taught by Graham A. Davis, an award-winning professor of economics in Mines’ Division of Economics and Business.

HNRS 430: Explorations in Ideas, Ethics & Religion

Course Theme: Science & Spirituality

The education at Mines focuses on the development and application of science and engineering, but leaves little space for the big spiritual questions that arise in most of us. In this class we explore the interface of science and spirituality, and we will study questions such as:

  • How did how our worldview change in history?
  • Is the universe a mindless machine? What does quantum mechanics teach us about this?
  • What is the connection between mind and matter? (Does mind matter? Does matter mind?)
  • Why can humans be both devils and saints?
  • What are the roles of rational thinking and intuition?

This eclectic class is a true exploration in the sense that most of these questions cannot be tackled as a science or engineering problem; instead we will dive in deep together.

This course was taught by Roel Snieder.

HNRS 430: Explorations in Ideas, Ethics & Religion

Course Theme: Science, Technology, and Confucian Ethics

The field science and technology ethics has been persistently dominated by Western ethical resources that are often derived from the idea of “autonomous individualism.” This class invites students to challenge such autonomous individualistic assumption in scientific and technological practices by employing the concepts, theories, and tools from Confucian ethics. This course leads students to experience a different way of defining, understanding, and analyzing scientific and technological problems.

Today, the Communist Party in China frequently uses Confucian ideas to guide policymaking and justify the rationality of its policies. Confucianism still has significant influence in cultures beyond Mainland China. Among the top 15 trading partners with the United States, four are the Confucian heritage cultures (CHCs). This course contributes to the global STEM education program that prepares future leaders in applied science and engineering for effectively working with people from other cultures especially STEM professionals from these Confucian heritage cultures.

Students in this class will be expected to read both classical Confucian texts such as Analects and Mencius and works by contemporary authors that examine the social, ethical, and political issues in scientific and technological domains such as biomedical science, robotics, information technology, and engineering through the lens of Confucian ethics.

This course was taught by Qin Zhu.

HNRS 430: Explorations in Ideas, Ethics & Religion

Course Theme: Madness and Morality: The Dark Side of Psychology

In the past, psychology researchers conducted many experiments that we would find horrifying today, with shocking treatment of the mentally ill, prisoners and prisoners of war, homeless persons, and other unwitting subjects, both healthy and unhealthy. Many steps were taken to bring these unethical practices to an end. Reports, laws and regulations, the Geneva Convention, various ethical constructs, and institutional review boards sought to address the problem with mixed success.  Even today, today, cults brainwash people to obtain new converts, people are tortured for information, and horrifying practices take place in prisons. This course will examine the dark side of psychology and the changes that have attempted to enforce the humane treatments of experimental subjects, prisoners, the mentally ill, and others.

This course was taught by Cynthia Norrgran.

HNRS 430: Explorations in Ideas, Ethics & Religion

Course Theme: The Ethical World: Timeless Concepts and Contemporary Debate

This course focused on examination of important ethical theories and theorists in western philosophy, from Aristotle to Rawls. Students worked with classic texts and study basic concepts underlying moral philosophy, such as conceptions of good, evil, value and justice.  In addition to developing a grounding in key ethical theories, the course included preparation for the 2015 Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl, in which a students competed against other university students in ethical debate.    Because participation in the competition was a core element of the course, students saught instructor permission to register for this course from Sandra Woodson.

This course was taught by Sandra Woodson, Teaching professor in LAIS.

HNRS 435A: Explorations in Culture, Society, & Creative Arts

Course Theme: Poetry Workshop: A Poetic Guide to the World

Carl Sandburg writes in the Ten Definitions of Poetry that “poetry is a theorem of a yellow-silk handkerchief knotted with riddles, sealed in a balloon tied to the tail of a kite flying in a white wind against a blue sky.” The art and craft of poetry tethers the writer’s vision to that yellow-silk image and helps us make meaning of the phenomena we collect daily with our senses, in our conversations with others, in our connections and perplexities to the world around us.

This reading and writing intensive workshop explores the literary context of poetry with special attention placed on creating original work. We will focus on the craft—how a poem becomes a poem—while examining the tools a poet may use. Poets read differently than other people. They must read voraciously and engage in a process that simultaneously plunges them into the experience of a poem and into their own perception of that poem’s making—the artist’s craft. As a community of poets, we will follow the kite string of the imagination as place, self, identity, and experience unfolds the metaphors and our ability to carry our ideas across every imaginable sky.

This course was taught by Toni Lefton.

HNRS 435B: Explorations in Culture, Society, & Creative Arts

Course Theme: Irish Literature and Culture

Such are the themes of Irish Literature, both ancient and contemporary:
Mysticism and myth and magic and music
Saints and superstitions and soldiers and storytellers
Politics and poverty and poetry and pagans and St. Patrick
Religion, revelry, repentance, romance, rebellion, and revolution
Legends and lyrics and liars and lilting melodies
Ballads and blessings and Britain and betrayals and bombings
Famines and feuds and fiddles and farms and fanaticism
Dancing and druids and demons and domination
Reverence for all things natural and supernatural

5th Century: St. Patrick

This course was taught by Rose Pass.

HNRS 435: Explorations in Culture, Society and Creative Arts

Course Theme: Soul Food – Plating our Cultural Narratives

Cooking. Eating. Writing. Reading. Italy. More or less in that order. This course examines the ways in which food creates culture, culture creates identity, and identity is expressed through narrative. We’ll read narratives to help us understand how food underpins some of the most fundamental stories we tell ourselves. Was the American Revolution spurred by lofty ideals about freedom from tyranny, or was it because the colonies found financial independence through salted codfish? Does the CIA tell you what cereal to eat? What happens to our freedom of expression when free market economics dictate the types of food we produce? How have our taste buds turned our love of consumption into poetry and art? This class will be a mashup of the philosophical, analytical, creative, and practical. As we explore the relationship between food and cultural identity, we will also create it: our classes will take place in the context of the kitchen table. Students will prepare food to share and stories to tell. We will eat and listen and in so doing, reclaim and reaffirm the ways in which food literally and figuratively makes us who we are. Not an aspiring chef? No problem! We’ll explore some of the fundamental techniques of food preparation and presentation. Additionally, the class will culminate with an optional week-long trip to Spannocchia, a working farm outside of Sienna, Italy that specializes in preserving traditional methods of agriculture and animal husbandry. The trip is scheduled to take place in the 4th week of May, 2020. More info about the locale at https://www.spannocchia.org/.

This course was co-taught by Justin Latici and Toni Lefton.

HNRS 435: Explorations in Culture, Society, & Creative Arts

Course Theme: Gilded Ages in Gilded Cages

Military might. Technological mastery. Unprecedented wealth. The Gilded Age and Progressive America (1880-1914) promised all and more to its inhabitants, as its cities grew into global metropoles. Progressive dreams of social reform took root, and capitalist ambitions spawned new industries and labor markets. But age revealed its dark sides as well: the vast disparity between the rich and the poor helped fan racial and ethnic hatreds; unchecked capitalism promoted violence and labor revolts; and resource barons plundered public and private lands. American authors picked up these themes and more in the novels, short stories, poems, and other literatures of the period. In this class, we will examine some of these key texts by writers such as Mark Twain, Stephen Crane, Edith Wharton, James Weldon Johnson, and others, who explored the illusions and realities of the age. In the process, we will consider how America in the 21st century reflects similar promises and preoccupations, triumphs and tragedies.

This course was taught by Tina Gianquitto.

HNRS 435: Explorations in Culture, Society, & Creative Arts

Course Theme: The Literature of WAR: Creativity, Conflict, Catharsis

This course will launch an inquiry into important literary developments in contemporary and 20th century war writing and how those developments speak to cultural and social change around war. This class will examine both sides of certain conflicts as well as how the literature brings social, economic, political, environmental, and spiritual struggle to the forefront. We will examine war literature through the lenses of Creative Nonfiction, Poetry, and Fiction, and these works in differing genres will help students develop analytical and critical tools for perceiving, assessing, and analyzing differing literary texts and how they support or struggle with our perception of how wars are waged and how we are all impacted by the aftermath. On another level, this course seeks to develop your skills—at reading and writing—In professional communication and planning, and at thinking and perceiving.

The broader goal is to sharpen your mind and broaden your perspective; after all, many of our current students have not known a time when we were not at war here in the US. Above all else, this course encourages you to ask questions about the modern world and that relationship: questions about war and peace, questions about relationships between different races, classes and sexes, questions about the government and its role in shaping American life through war, questions about social practices and popular culture, questions about what we remember and what we choose to forget about the past—questions, in short, about life and our relationship to war.

This course was taught by Seth Tucker.

HNRS 435: Explorations in Culture, Society, & Creative Arts

Course theme: Gender Studies

An interdisciplinary course, Gender Studies analyzed gender distinctions such as “woman,” “man,” “gay,” “straight,” “bisexual,” and “transgender” to understand the role gender has played in society and our daily lives. We analyzed gender as a historical and contextual concept at the intersection of race, ethnicity, class, age, citizenship, and sexuality. The goal of Gender Studies was to encourage critical thinking about how gender constructions have shaped historical, cultural, social, political, and economic contexts of our lives. Over the course of the semester, these ideas were addressed through a plethora of articles, films, videos, literary texts, and case studies.

This course was taught by Paula Farca

HNRS 435: Explorations in Culture, Society, & Creative Arts

Course Theme: Creativity, Cognition, and Catharthis: Global Paradigms & Modes of Thoughts

Creativity is at the heart of what it means to be human. The course will investigate creativity between and across cultures, utilizing multiple modes of expression to explore the creative process.  The course will draw upon the instructors’ and students’ experiences, and it will synthesize different modes of thought to increase creativity and create new mental tools for solving science and engineering problems, as well as addressing the role of creativity across a wide range of human endeavors.

This course was team-taught by Toni Lefton, Teaching Professor in Liberal Arts & International Studies and Dr. Lincoln Carr, Professor in the Department of Physics.

HNRS 435: Explorations in Culture, Society, & Creative Arts

Course Theme: Communicating Across Cultures

This course explores a communication across a broad range of cultural divides: gender, social class, engineering cultures, national, ethnic, and more. Some case studies are situated in engineering and applied science contexts, and all course content is designed to bolster intercultural competence, to augment cultural self-awareness, other-culture awareness, and understanding of the dynamics that arise in interactions between people from different cultures. At the end of this course, we should be able to identify how and why socially constructed systems of exploitation and exclusion—such as racism, sexism, and classism—are historically based and to recognize how privilege and discrimination are perpetuated today. Based on that knowledge, we should be able to develop alternative attitudes and actions to challenge and dismantle such systems of exclusion and oppression and to make critical connections between local and global issues as well as past and the present cases by examining the historical, political, and economic dimensions of intercultural communication in the context of globalization.

The course was taught by Dr. Jon Leydens, Associate Professor in Liberal Arts & International Studies.

HNRS 440: Explorations in International Studies & Global Affairs

Course Theme: Real World Applications of Development Practices in Nepal

This course will explore development and society in Nepal. Though one of the poorest countries in the world, Nepal possesses a rich cultural heritage, varied languages and religions, and unparalleled natural beauty. Sandwiched between the two most populous countries in the world, India and China, Nepal has long been a crossroads for trade and ideas. It is also changing rapidly. Its political system has shifted from monarchy, to Maoist state, to a budding democracy. Tourism and economic development have also wrought dramatic changes. For example, in rural areas such as the Khumbu Valley that lay below Mt. Everest, virtually all travel between villages is “on foot.” But cell phones, computers, and other forms of technology are connecting these communities to the wider world.

We will explore the following questions: How can Nepali develop their quality of life while maintaining their cultural traditions? Can Nepal modernize AND preserve its unique-to-the-world culture for the benefit of its peoples, not just for tourists and foreign corporations? How can non-governmental organizations (NGOs), such as Mines’ Hike for Help, assist in this enterprise? Using real-world case studies grounded in meaningful cultural learning, we will review, evaluate, and revise plans for development projects in the Khumbu Valley. We will coordinate with Nepali representatives from local governments and NGOs. We will assess such factors as cultural and environmental impact, economic feasibility, sustainability, and technical requirements. We will learn how fund-raising helps support these programs. We will communicate our goals and accomplishments to varied audiences. And we will use the case of Nepal as a lens through which to explore challenges facing societies around the globe. Through it all, we will explore the beauty and wonder of Nepal and its people. Students are strongly encouraged, though not required, to travel with the class to Nepal at the end of the semester.

This class was co-taught by Rachel Osgood and John Spear.

HNRS 440: Explorations in International Studies & Global Affairs

Course Theme: Spies and Lies: Intelligence and National Security

The contemporary global landscape has been affected in remarkable ways by intelligence operations that are often left out of U.S. history textbooks and all but ignored in most international relations courses. Yet, as recent revelations about U.S. predator drone strikes and the National Security Agency’s wide-ranging electronic surveillance remind us, intelligence operations are in fact critical and consequential instruments of U.S. foreign policy. This course explores what we know, and what we don’t know, about the secret world of spies. It traces the impact of U.S. intelligence operations and propaganda on foreign affairs and on American politics. Topics include: U.S. espionage and covert operations abroad; the role of intelligence collection and analysis in shaping U.S. national security policies; domestic censorship, surveillance, and intelligence activities; wartime propaganda and efforts to “sell” war to the American public; the history of the CIA, FBI, and other intelligence agencies; the role of intelligence in counterterrorism operations; the politics of secrecy and the relationship between secrecy and presidential power; and human rights and civil liberties.

The course was taught by then McBride Director Kenneth Osgood, a historian who has published four books on propaganda and U.S. foreign relations.

HNRS 440: Explorations in International Studies & Global Affairs

Course Theme: Introduction to China

China is the most populous country in the world and the one with the longest continuous history. But beginning in the 1800s it experienced more than a century of humiliation, and during World War II bore the brunt of Japanese aggression (with more than 20 millions deaths). The subsequent Chinese Civil War and first three decades of the new China brought more trauma (at last 30 million deaths), but in the last 30 years China has been undergoing historically unprecedented development, to the point where it is now a great power — but one in a fraught relationship with the United States. This course will offer a selective introduction to Chinese history and cultural achievements (philosophy, literature, art, and architecture) to help students become more globally aware of one of the most important civilizations in the world.

This course was taught by Carl Mitcham

HNRS 440: Explorations in International Studies & Global Affairs

Course Theme: Spies, Madmen, and the Red Menace

The same organization that turned Smokey the Bear into a cultural icon secretly worked with the intelligence community on a decades-long propaganda campaign to “sell” the Cold War to the American public.  The Ad Council, best known for its public service announcements, also conducted a remarkable form of privatized propaganda on behalf of the CIA – in violation of the agency’s charter, which prohibits it from operating domestically.  The result was the “Crusade for Freedom”: quite possibly the longest running campaign of political propaganda in U.S. history, and one that has all but escaped historical attention.  This course will use this strange connection between the CIA, the advertising industry, and business and political elites as a mechanism for understanding the inner workings of American society – as well as the country’s larger vision of its role in world affairs.

The course will also be run as a novel experiment in research methods.  We will be applying the scientific method of working in interdisciplinary teams to the humanities – where most research is conducted by the lone scholar, in a state of semi-isolation, typically in dusty and poorly lit basements.  Our research team will be pouring over many hundreds of pages of classified documents, we will work to get additional critical sources declassified, we will toil to make connections that the documents themselves do not make, and we will attempt to find bigger meaning in the process.

The course also included an optional spring break trip to Washington, D.C., students researched in declassified documents at the National Archives, toured CIA headquarters and met with intelligence analysts, and consulted with experts on intelligence history and operations.  It was taught by Kenneth Osgood, a historian specializing in propaganda and intelligence.

HNRS 445: Explorations in Science, Technology, and Society

Course Theme: Thermo Human Dynamics – Heat, Energy, and Time

This course examines the history of thermodynamics, from the discovery of energy conservation and entropy in the mid-nineteenth century, to its impact on 20th century science. The laws of thermodynamics provide scientists with a blueprint for how the world works, offering explanations for why time only runs in one direction, why a simmering cup of coffee loses heat rather than pulling it from the air, and why perpetual motion machines cannot exist. We will trace these developments by examining the lives of the scientists who formulated the laws of thermodynamics and the historical circumstances that motivated their work. However, this course is not just a history of scientific progress, but an excavation of often overlooked connections between science and the arts.

Thermodynamic findings had a profound impact on nineteenth and twentieth century art, literature, philosophy, and social theory. Victorian poets used the concepts of entropy, heat death and energy conservation to make sense of loss, while fiction writers like H.G. Wells used the concept of entropy as social metaphor. Freud’s theory of personality was shaped by a series of lectures on thermodynamics, and his contemporaries tried to use thermodynamics to prove the existence of ghosts! More recently, science fiction writers like Isaac Asimov and Ted Chiang have written meditations on thermodynamics, and artists like Robert Smithson have produced works inspired by the first and second laws. Through examining these and other works, we will come to a deeper understanding of the history of thermodynamics and its cultural impacts in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, while exploring the broader question of how culture shapes science, and science shapes culture.

This course was co-taught by Eliza Buhrer and Rachel Morrish.

HNRS 445: Explorations in Science, Technology, & Society

Course Theme: Pathways to Innovation: Building Synergy between the Sciences and Humanities

To solve the great scientific, technological, engineering, and mathematical problems we face in the 21st century, ranging from clean water and sustainable energy to the social and practical impact of the imminent arrival of cognitive assist and artificial intelligence, we need to have all the mental tools invented over the last 4,000 years at our disposal. Beginning with the 20th century invention of quantum logic by physicists and representations of relativity in the paintings of Salvador Dali, I will move backward and forward through time and modes of thought, studying and learning from great thinkers throughout intellectual history from Gilgamesh in ancient Sumeria to the globally connected community we now enjoy.  In this reading- and writing-intensive course students will experience a massive expansion of their cognitive toolbox, including philosophical rigor and dialectic; non-binary logic; skepticism and the experimental framework beyond the textbook scientific method; intuition, contemplation, and meditation; lucid dream incubation; gestalt and direct sensory experience; and artistic approaches to creative problem solving ranging from mind maps to stream of consciousness. Considering that the invention of many of these tools can be traced to a specific point in history, e.g. the origin of the scientific method in early 11th century Cairo, the ultimate goal of the course is to enable students to invent their own new cognitive tools in the future, synergizing the sciences and the humanities in a global perspective.

This course was taught by Lincoln Carr.

HNRS 445: Explorations in Science, Technology, & Society

Course Theme: Blow Minds: Teach Science

Unlock the mysteries of how the brain works and learn how to spark curiosity in students of all ages. If you’ve ever wanted to go behind the scenes to see how science curriculum is developed and delivered, whether you are a future science teacher or just love learning how to learn, this course is for you. In-class activities will be hands-on, and each student will also get to spend 25 hours (over the course of the semester) in a local K-12 classroom. Regular class meeting times will be modified to allow for three on-campus collaborative events: A Saturday morning workshop with high school science teachers and two all-day Thursday workshops with teacher residents (excused absences will be provided).

This class was co-taught by Kristine Callan and Wendy Adams.

HNRS 445: Explorations in Science, Technology, & Society

Course Theme: Let’s Go Global!

In this course we will embark on a global journey exploring science, technology and society through the “hot topic” theme of Climate Change.  We will research the science behind Climate Change, analyze existing climate change resiliency, technology, and innovation, and identify societal impacts of climate change.  Our roadmap will take us on side-trip adventures with the United States (US) and International environmental regulatory frameworks, the United Nations (UN) and the UN Sustainable Development Goals, the US Patent and Trademark Office, and the Circular Economy.  Based on learning at these road stops, students will work in teams to examine how engineering decisions based on science and technology affect society.  After circling the globe, Teams will prepare and present an environmental and social impacts plan that describes sustainable development during each phase of the engineering project lifecycle and identifies risks and mitigation measures.  Finally, we will meet back at our original point of departure to synthesize and discuss our recommendations going forward to address Climate Change through science, technology, and society.

This course was taught by Linda A. Battalora, JD, PhD.

HNRS 445: Explorations in Science, Technology, & Society

Course Theme: Pathways to Innovation: Synergies between the Sciences and Humanities across Time and Space

To solve the great scientific, technological, engineering, and mathematical problems we face in the 21st century, ranging from clean water and sustainable energy to the the social and practical impact of the imminent arrival of cognitive assist and artificial intelligence, we need to have all the mental tools invented over the last 4,000 years at our disposal.  Beginning with the 20th century invention of quantum logic by physicists and representations of relativity in the paintings of Salvador Dali, we will move backward and forward through time and modes of thought, studying and learning from great thinkers throughout intellectual history from ancient Sumeria to the globally connected community we now enjoy.  In this journey of exploration, students will experience a massive expansion of their cognitive toolbox, including philosophical rigor and dialectic; non-binary logic; skepticism and the experimental framework beyond the textbook scientific method; intuition, contemplation, and meditation; lucid dream incubation; gestalt and direct sensory experience; and artistic approaches to creative problem-solving ranging from mind maps to stream of consciousness.  Considering that the invention of many of these tools can be traced to a specific point in history, e.g. the origin of the scientific method in early 11th century Cairo, the ultimate goal of the course is to enable students to invent their own new cognitive tools, synergizing the sciences and the humanities in a global perspective.

This course was taught by Lincoln Carr.

HNRS 445: Explorations in Science, Technology, & Society

Course Theme: From the Lab to the Page: Revolutions in Science, Literature, & Society

Although the world of the arts is often viewed as somehow distinct from the world of science, in fact they are closely linked. This course explores those connections by focusing on revolutions in science, literature, and society. Over the semester, we will come to see the remarkable synergy between revolutions in science and technology and revolutions in human creativity and expression (the arts, politics).

A sampling of topics includes: (1) Fundamentals of Science: unity, complexity, and harmony; space-time and causality; physics vs. metaphysics; poetry and cognitive science: how metaphors work. (2) Society: women in science and literature; energy; science and religion; the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Arab Spring; human rights. (3) Technology: exploration of identity, self, and what it means to be human; transhumanism; drones and autonomous machines; nuclear medicine and world destruction. Students will come to understand, for example, that the communications revolution spawned by cell phones, which depends heavily on GPS timing and therefore a correct understanding of the nature of time, resulted from early philosophical and literary speculation. We will also explore the intellectual and personal courage of scientists who have worked to counter mainstream ideas, and we will discuss science and literature that advances social equity, freedom of speech, freedom of worship, and the extension of human rights.

The course was team-taught by professors Toni Lefton, a prize-winning poet and writer as well as award-winning teacher, and Lincoln Carr, a physicist who has won an NSF Career award for research and education and who has worked for years to combine science and humanities perspectives in various intellectual academic and non-academic communities.

HNRS 445: Explorations in Science, Technology, & Society

Course Theme: Ulcer Bugs, Cold Fusion, and Darwin’s Origin of Species: Rhetorical Bumbling and Brilliance in Science and Engineering

Ulcer bugs, cold fusion, Darwin’s Origin of Species, Newton’s Opticks, and the birth of molecular biology…. What thematic threads connect these scientific controversies? All were shaped and redefined by the rhetoric of science and engineering: the very words chosen to articulate concepts and ideas.   By examining national and international, historical and contemporary scientific and engineering controversies through the lens of the rhetoric of science and engineering, students will learn about the roles rhetoric plays as scientific controversies arise, evolve, and are resolved, both within scientific circles and in scientist-public debates.

By exploring case studies of such controversies, we develop a better understanding on how scientific and engineering controversies shape and are shaped by communication, and to some degree by public policy. We also identify additional responses and dimensions to important questions: How do scientists and engineers communicate in various scientific and engineering contexts? What can we learn from the examples—ranging from bumbling to brilliant—of scientific and engineering communication? Students will investigate a scientific or engineering-related case study of their choosing and develop responses to their questions as informed by the rhetoric of science and engineering.

The course was taught by Jon Leydens, an LAIS scholar with expertise on the interplay between communication and science/engineering controversies. Jon’s research explores the pivotal role of communication in advancing engineering and science.

HNRS 445: Explorations in Science, Technology, & Society

Course Theme: The Social Media Maelstrom

Social media now pervades human interaction worldwide.  This course will explore the interface between technology and society by examining different technical, political, cultural, journalistic, and business contexts of social media. The many possible topics for discussion and analysis include: privacy issues, identity theft, the ethics of social media use, government policy and access to data, the economics and business of social media, social media in electoral politics, social media addiction, and the impact of social media on traditional news organizations.

The course was taught by Mark Coffey, a physicist with broad scientific and other interests, including the interplay between technology and social interactions.

HNRS 445: Explorations in Science, Technology, & Society

Course Theme: Our SAD World: Stress, Anxiety, and Depression

The three biggest psychological disorders facing young adults today are stress, anxiety, and depression. This course will help you to identify the symptoms of these three conditions and explore their effects on the body. Discover how PTSD and panic attacks manifest and distort reality. Assess how stress, anxiety and depression become entangled into a bigger disorder that is prevalent today. Compare and contrast how artists and engineers have been successful, or failed, in overcoming these problems. Categorize the current treatment modalities by the underlying neuroscience. This course is a way to become familiar with the current concepts of the cause, symptoms, signs, and end point of stress, anxiety, and depression. Also, these disorders are seen differently in different cultures and in the peer groups with whom you associate. Society as a whole has changed over the last several decades in the acceptance of these conditions. Learn how this has affected these disorders, now that they are no longer hidden but freely talked about [and even seen in television commercials]. There will be an opportunity to delve into an aspect of stress, anxiety, or depression in depth as part of the course.

This course was taught by Cynthia Norrgran.

HNRS 445: Explorations in Science, Technology, & Society

Course Theme: Science and Spirituality

The Mines education focuses on the development and application of science and engineering, but leaves little space for the big spiritual questions that arise in most of us. In this class we explored the interface of science and spirituality, and we  studied questions such as the following:  How did our worldview change in history? Is the universe a mindless machine?  What does quantum mechanics teach us about this?  What is the connection between mind and matter?  (Does mind matter? Does matter mind?)  Why can humans be devils or saints? What are the roles of rational thinking and intuition?  This class was a true exploration in the sense that most questions above cannot be tackled as a science or engineering problem; instead we dove deeper by exploring together.

This course was taught by Roel Snieder.

HNRS 450: Explorations in Earth, Energy, and Environment

Course Theme: Nature or Natural Resources? We Can Have It All: STEAM and Environmental Justice in Mining

This collaborative course taught by HASS, EDS, and Mining Engineering faculty will raise awareness about environmental challenges and empower students’ self-expression, creativity, and collaboration. Environmental Justice in Mining will introduce students to situations in which they tell stories on environmental justice not only through technology but also through their artistic vision. The goal of this class is to help students create new, visually pleasing, and environmentally just STEAM projects on mining that represent stakeholders equally and equitably. We also hope to promote a collaborative dialogue on environmental justice, and mining; develop interdisciplinary approaches, and understand the human-environment relationship. By introducing environmental justice theory in the context of engineering design, air pollution, and mining engineering, we hope to instill values such as justice, equity, unity, and empathy in our McBride students. Bridging together disciplines in the humanities (literature, film) and STEM (mining, environmental engineering, and engineering design), this interdisciplinary course features case studies, fiction, non-fiction, poetry, film, photography, and assignments on STEAM group projects.

This class was co-taught by Jurgen Brune, Alina Handorean, & Paula Farca

HNRS 450: Explorations in Earth, Energy, and Environment

Course Theme: Environmental Film

This class explores the ways in which films convey competing narratives about the relationship between humans and the environment. Students will learn to analyze and interpret visual culture in order to understand how cinematic narratives have shaped our societal understandings of the so-called “natural” world and our engagement with energy sources. By examining competing stories that embed different messages about what audiences should think, feel, and do in order to balance energy needs against environmental crises, students in the class will be able to answer the following questions: In what ways are terms like “nature” and the “environment” constructed, and how do these constructions substantively change not only environmental imaginaries but the lived experience of global citizens? How have the cultural and historical contexts in which environmental discourses have been produced affected the production and reception of those narratives and the people who perpetuate them? How do representations of the environment and energy on film impact popular opinions and inflect the ways in which we are able to communicate politically – on individual, national, and global scales?

This class was taught by Shannon Mancus.

HNRS 450: Explorations in Earth, Energy, and Environment

Course Theme: Energy and Culture: The Good, the Bad, and the Human

“Benjamin Franklin may have discovered electricity, but it was the man who invented the meter who made the money.” Earl Wilson
“It doesn’t matter what temperature the room is, it’s always room temperature.” Steven Wright
“Most people give off as much heat as a 100 watt bulb, but not as much light.” Anonymous

As seen from the funny quotations above, energy is linked to people and this course will explore this connection. Energy and Culture: The Good, the Bad, and the Human focuses on the relation between individuals and energy use in recent humanities, social sciences, and technical texts and proposes to show connections among energy, society, culture, and environment. Drawing on articles, case studies, films, documentaries, and literary texts, this course will examine how recent authors present energy sources ranging from coal, natural gas, oil to solar, nuclear and how these sources affect individuals, local and global communities, and the environment. Energy and Culture strives to address the following questions: What are the environmental, social, political, cultural, and economic ramifications of energy sources? What problems do certain energy sources create or solve and for whom? How do we balance between people’s need for energy and their duty to preserve the environment? How do authors address pollution problems? What ethical choices do individuals make about energy? How do issues of gender, race, ethnicity, and class intersect with energy issues?

A sampling of topics include: cultural and social dimensions of current energy use; interdisciplinary research of energy from perspectives that include science, ethics, cultural studies, literature, film, and art; divergent arguments about the relationship between energy and different aspects of contemporary life, politics, and culture.

This course was team-taught by a McBride alumna, Dr. Carrie McClelland who teaches in Petroleum Engineering, and Dr. Paula Farca, an LAIS professor and scholar.

HNRS 450: Explorations in Earth, Energy, and Environment

Course Theme: Water, Energy, and the West

What do you get when you cross a hydrologist with a scholar of literature of the American West? A course that combines scientific, literary, cultural, historical, and engineering perspectives on issues of water in the West. In this course, we’ll consider changes in the water system associated with agriculture, development, and climate with specific focus on the feedbacks between humans and the environment. We will evaluate multiple perspectives on water and develop our own understanding of the coupled human-water ecosystem, and will learn to write and present our opinions to both scientific and popular audiences. A sampling of topics include: the history of Colorado water use and rights, causes of water conflict, development and future planning of water systems, the role of engineering and economics in water crises, and water ethics and environmental justice. Class will involve short lectures, guest speakers, group discussions driven by you and your readings, and evaluation of popular media. In a year of floods and droughts, the life you save learning about water in the West may be your own!

The course was team taught by Sarah Jayne Hitt, who studies literature of the American West and is so obsessed about water that her friend named his band “War Over Water” after a comment she made, and Kamini Singha, a hydrologist who has a won a number of teaching awards and has spent many years working on water issues in the U.S. and developing world.

HNRS 450: Explorations in Earth, Energy, and Environment

Course Theme: Unnatural Disasters

Rocky Flats, Love Canal, and Three Mile Island may sound like nice vacation destinations, but in fact they represent some of the most troubling environmental disasters of our time.  This course will examine ‘unnatural disasters’ like these: man-made catastrophes that have happened or are on the horizon.  We will consider many sites of ‘disasters’ that span from individual cell contamination in our bodies to global environmental disasters. Topics will range from the bananas in our supermarkets to nuclear waste at nearby Rocky Flats to the chemical spill in Bhopal, India.  We will consider both the environmental and human toll of such issues and events; the cultural and economic implications; the environmental-justice burden to both developed and growing societies; and consider how to be an informed citizen of the world who can reason and rationalize a path to success when such events occur.  We will examine seven specific topics and case studies over the course of the semester as presented in primary sources, peer-reviewed literature, books, film and video, and personal narrative.  The goal of the course for all of us will be to gain a realization for the impact and importance of ‘unnatural disasters’ and how to better understand, alleviate, and prevent them.

The course was taught by Rachel Osgood, a historian in Liberal Arts and International Studies, and John Spear, a microbiologist in the Civil and Environmental Engineering.

HNRS 450: Explorations in Earth, Energy, and Environment

Course Theme: Spills, Slides, & Meltdowns: Critical Perspectives on Energy Disasters

The production and consumption of energy usually appear in the American consciousness only when prices increase dramatically, or when an energy-related disaster occurs. This course will examine major energy disasters in the United States and internationally, using a critical social and policy-focused approach. Ranging from the Exxon Valdez and Gulf Oil Spills to the meltdowns at Chernobyl and Fukushima, students will read texts addressing engineering and scientific expertise, social theory, and the role of technology emerging from “Disaster Science and Technology Studies,” and communication studies, and will develop independent or small-group areas of expertise on a particular disaster or in a particular disaster studies area. The course will also rely on guest speakers and documentary films for material.

This course was taught by Jen Schneider, an LAIS scholar with expertise in science and environmental communication, with a focus on energy controversies and policy. Jen writes frequently about emerging energy risks, particularly as they are communicated through film and media.

HNRS 450: Explorations in Earth, Energy, and Environment

Course Theme: Naked Trees, Killer Beetles, and Dirty Water

“I speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues”   — the Lorax

The Mountain Pine Beetle (MPB) is a species native to the Rocky Mountain West that has played a role in the changing forest composition throughout time.  Since 1996, the population of the MPB has drastically increased due to changing climate conditions, causing massive destruction to Lodgepole Pine forests in Colorado.  Although destruction is on a decline, the lingering impacts to the hydro-ecosystem are still being studied.

In this course we will examine ongoing physical and social science research applications on the effects of the MPB, a climate-induced ecological disturbance, to regional social-ecological systems.  A unique aspect of this course will be the incorporation of community outreach experience and development, providing students with opportunities to engage and teach K-12 science classes and community members, as well as to develop activities to promote community education on the MPB outbreak.  After learning about ongoing Mountain Pine Beetle research from project researchers, students will then be guided to develop their own methodology to educate students and the community on the environmental impacts of MPB in the Colorado Rockies. The course will be a collaborative learning effort between students and faculty at CSM and Colorado State University. Both classrooms of students will have the opportunity to develop and employ their methods at both home and in the field. Through iteration and sharing of experiences with one another, the students will learn how to become effective science educators by qualitatively communicating “hard science” to the masses.

This course was taught by Reed Maxwell.

HNRS 405: McBride Practicum

The McBride Practicum requirement is an experiential learning program that is explained in detail on the Practicum page of the McBride website. Typically this course is taken in conjunction with another 400-level McBride seminar. Although this course runs much like an “independent study” there will be several recurring meetings over the course of the semester, at times set to work with students’ schedules.

This course was taught by Justin Latici.

HNRS 405: McBride Practicum

The McBride Practicum requirement is an experiential learning program that is explained in detail on the Practicum page of the McBride website. Typically this course is taken in conjunction with another 400-level McBride seminar. Although this course runs much like an “independent study” there will be several recurring meetings over the course of the semester, at times set to work with students’ schedules.

This course was taught by Rachel Osgood.

HNRS 476A: Community Engagement Through Service Learning

Service Learning is a class like no other at Mines because most of the learning takes place outside the classroom and away from campus. This class provides a way to connect with and explore your local community through a weekly service commitment to an underserved population, and then discuss pressing social issues with your classmates. It thus combines a traditional classroom experience with an off-campus volunteer project. In addition, students will have the opportunity to participate in a local project during the semester or the opportunity to participate in a community development project in rural Honduras the week after spring semester ends. The themes of the course are poverty and privilege, ideas that we may hear about, but don’t often discuss at school or experience in a meaningful way. Course work will involve reading about, discussing, and researching and presenting on topics like the following: the working poor, gender, race, age and poverty, education and privilege, global poverty solutions, and sustainable community development.

The course was team-taught by Cortney Holles in LAIS, Ed Cecil from Physics, and Meridee Cecil, geologist and potter.

HNRS 476B: International Service Learning for Nepal

Are you inspired to help others as you help yourself grow and mature as a citizen of the world?  In this course students will do both as they “learn by doing” in a non-traditional classroom about: development and the role of international service, Nepali culture, how to fundraise and form your own non-profit, wilderness first-aid, leadership, and much more!  In addition, students will join a local non-profit organization– Hike for Help – to complete a service project in the Khumbu Valley of Nepal on one of their service projects: either Dec 20-Jan 6 (this trip is full) or May 20-June 10 (dates are approximate).

You will need to contact the instructor to register for this class.

This course was taught by Rachel Osgood.

HASS 476: Community Engagement Through Service Learning

Course Theme: Be The Change – Community Engagement Through Service Learning

This course is an opportunity to “be the change you wish to see” in your community. Students will choose a local non-profit organization to serve weekly, and this service commitment will form the foundation of the course experience. Through personal reflection on your experiences and discussion with classmates, we will come to better understand our biases and actions within the context of underserved populations in our community. During class together, we will explore the themes of poverty and privilege, both historical and contemporary, through podcasts, personal narratives, essays, and videos. We will discover multiple ways to define poverty and investigate privilege in the contexts of race, gender, socio-economic status, and LGBTQIA perspectives. This shared content will help us evaluate the systems that perpetuate inequality and solutions that seek to address discrimination and suffering. Course projects will include an interview-based essay, a researched presentation, and field trips to explore Denver and/or Golden.

PLEASE NOTE: Once you register for this class, it is crucial to choose an organization to serve so you can begin the process of orientation or background checks, as necessary, before the start of Spring semester. I have lots of ideas and am open to yours as well! The main criterion is that you must be interacting with the people served by the organization (not working in the background or on technical support). Email me cholles@mines.edu or stop by Stratton 311 to let me know your thoughts.

This course was taught by Cortney Holles.