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Fall 2014 Courses

All courses taught by Robinson Professors are open to anyone meeting department prerequisites.

Shaul Bakhash | Spencer Crew | Paul D'Andrea | Robert Hazen | Hugh Heclo | Carma Hinton | Harold Morowitz | John Paden | Steven Pearlstein | James Trefil | Laurie Robinson

Shaul Bakhash

HIST 460:001 Modern Iran
This course will examine a number of themes in the history of modern Iran: The evolving structure of the state and its institutions; the role of different social groups and classes; state power and opposition to the state; politics as expressed in Islamic and secular ideologies; the role of the great powers, and forms of Iranian response to the Western challenge; and the impact of the Constitution Revolution of 1906 and the Islamic Revolution of 1979. (TR 12:00-1:15pm)

HNRS 131:006  Contemporary Society in Multiple Perspectives: Dictatorship and Dissent
As laid out most graphically in the novels and essays of the Russian writer, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, totalitarian states and autocracies create elaborate systems of prisons and incarceration camps, secret police and interrogators, courts and jailers to silence dissidents, critics, human rights advocates, independent artists and intellectuals and anyone, in short, who refuses to conform to the ideology and policies of the state. Solzhenitsyn also recounts the manner in which often courageous and ordinary men and women cope when caught in these fearful webs of repression—how they attempt to remain whole, retain their dignity and integrity, avoid surrender. Taking Solzhenitsyn as our starting point, we will use fiction and prison memoirs from Russia, China, Nazi Germany, and Iran to examine the nature of the repressive apparatus of the authoritarian state and the response of the men and women who fall victim to it. (TR 1:30-2:45pm)

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Spencer Crew

On leave


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Paul D'Andrea

HNRS 122:002  Reading the Arts
What elements came together to create the Renaissance? Do we have similar or analogous elements in our social, intellectual, and artistic life today? What energies brought about the Renaissance? Can we use those or parallel energies to create an American or perhaps international renaissance? Would that be a satisfactory substitute for war? We will study primary sources only, reading and viewing Petrarch, Donne, Rabelais, Erasmus, Montaigne, Pico, Machiavelli, Castiglione, Donatello, Leonardo, Michelangelo, Botticelli, Milton, Luther and Calvin. Lectures will set these creative figures in context. Disciplines such as art and literary criticism, history or ideas, will be used to interpret the works and try to identify for our use the sources of Renaissance energy. (TR 3-4:15 pm)

HNRS 240:003  The Great Conversation: Rx for Cultural AmnesiaThe Great Conversation is the ongoing, lively, creative discussion among the noble living and the noble dead. “Noble” means simply someone willing and able to read widely and imaginatively.
If we could speak with Aeschylus about his Oresteia (458 BC/BCE), we would learn that he has something priceless to offer us that we can use in our political decisions today, but only if we can grasp the imaginative dimension of his work. Being able to “speak” with him is to participate in the Great Conversation.
If you don’t take part in the Great Conversation, you get cultural amnesia, a leading cause of ideology.
This course helps the student join in the GC, which has, historically, been a major source of creativity.
We will read Aeschylus, Beckett, Boccaccio, Dante, Lessing, Lincoln, Machiavelli, Flannery O’Connor, Ovid, Sylvia Plath, Theodore Roethke, Shakespeare, and Thucydides. (TR 12-1:15 pm)

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Robert Hazen

UNIV 301:001 Great Ideas in Science
A non-technical introduction to the ideas that have shaped the growth of science. The idea behind each major advance is treated in its historical context, with special attention to its importance in mankind's understanding of the nature of the universe. Examples are taken from the physical, geological, and biological sciences. (M 4:30-7:10)

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Hugh Heclo

On leave.

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Carma Hinton

HNRS 122:003 Reading the Arts
This course introduces students to some basic concepts and practices of Chinese art. Through in-depth studies of a variety of ancient as well as contemporary art, including painting, calligraphy, sculpture, and architecture, the course will explore the particular ways in which the relationship between convention and innovation, discipline and freedom, community and individuality, and high art and popular art evolved in China’s long cultural tradition. Considerable emphasis will be given to examining the role of art and artist in society. (T 4:30-7:10 pm)

CHIN 320:001 Contemporary Chinese Film
This course provides a historical overview of Chinese language cinema, focusing on productions from Mainland China.  The story of Chinese cinema is closely entwined with the turbulent history of 20th century China.  Since its beginnings in the early 1900s – during the final years of the last imperial dynasty – Chinese cinema has embodied and responded to the profound challenges brought about by a rapidly changing world.  In exploring this story, we will study the works of a number of key directors and examine moments of dramatic shifts in cinematic style within a broader social and political context.  We will pay particular attention to issues of national, cultural, and gender identities, the relationship between art and politics, and cross-cultural communication. (Also listed as ARTH 303 and FAVS 399 T 7:20-10:00 pm)

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Harold Morowitz

HNRS 353:001: Technology in the Contemporary World: Cultural Literacy of the 20th Century

The class will generate a list of works written in the 20th century which they believe will become part of the cultural literacy of the future, meaning they will be part of the background of future generations of educated individuals.  Each student will choose or be assigned eight works to read and summarize in the order of 400 words.  Each summary will be accompanied by a one paragraph argument for or against placing the work in the canon of important works.  By exchange of written material on line and in oral presentations we will seek a consensus of the class view by vote.   Works will be chosen from literature, science, social science, philosophy and polemic. Grading will be based on written reports, oral presentations and a final exam.

This course requires and application process. To submit your application answer the questions below and email them to Heather Anderson,, by April 4th at 5pm.

Your application needs to include:

  • Name

  • G-number

  • Major

  • GPA

  • How will the unique skills and knowledge you bring to Prof. Morowitz’s course in Cultural Literacy of the 20th Century make the learning environment an engaging and educational experience for everyone involved, including yourself? (400-500 words)

(MW 1:30-2:45 pm)

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John Paden

GOVT 430:001: Comparative Political Leadership
Comparative political leadership, relationships between political culture and types of leadership, patterns of leadership recruitment, and linkages between political elites and citizenry. (TR 10:30-11:45 am)

GOVT 490:004 Globalization Debates
Seminar focuses on the multiple actors and actions in today's international system, to develop an understanding of the relationships and themes that characterize and condition the existing field of international transactions, exploring its parameters and conceptual approaches from different disciplines. (TR 1:30-2:45 pm)

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Steven Pearlstein

GOVT 467:001  Current Issues in Economic Policy
In this interdisciplinary seminar, students are required to apply basic concepts of economics, political science and ethics to some of the most pressing issues facing the U.S. and global economies. Topics include productivity and economic growth, taxes, soaring costs for health care and higher education, globalization, income inequality, financial crises, the size of government and the proper role of regulation. The emphasis will be on market structures, the role of economic and political institutions, and the not-always rational behavior of investors, consumers and voters.   
     The course is offered as part of the concentration in Politics, Philosophy and Economics but is open to other students. The aspiration of the course is to use theoretical concepts from economics, political science and philosophy to analyze real-world problems and evaluate a range of policy options to deal with them. Our fundamental questions will be: Why are things the way they are?  What would make them better? What are the institutional impediments to change? How should we balance the tradeoff between fairness and efficiency?   (MW 1:30-2:45 pm)

HNRS 131:006 Contemporary Society in Multiple Perspectives: Wealth and Poverty

In this seminar, we will explore wealth and poverty through different disciplines (literature, economics, politics, sociology, philosophy), different media (biography, non-fiction essays, journalism, novels, plays, movies) and the experience of different countries (England, Russia, the United States).  How are the wealthy different from the rest of us? Why are the poor poor, and how do we explain the persistence of poverty even in wealthy societies? Through history, how have the poor viewed the rich and the rich view the poor? What is the moral justification for great differences in wealth? How have views of social class changed?  Students will be required to write an essay answering one such question, drawing on the course readings as well as their own research and experiences.  Readings include Brideshead Revisited (Waugh), Behind the Beautiful Forevers (Boo), The Other America (Harrington), Grapes of Wrath (Steinbeck) and Bonfire of the Vanities (Wolfe).  Movies include “Remains of the Day, “The Cherry Orchard,” “There Will Be Blood,” “Slumdog Millionaire,” and “Wall Street.” (TR 10:30-11:45)


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James Trefil

PHYS 122:002 Inside Relativity
Introductory course describing Einstein's theories of special and general relativity intended for majors and nonmajors. (Aug 25-Oct 13 TR 9:00am-10:15am)

PHYS 123:002 Inside the Quantum World
Introductory course describing quantum theory intended for majors and nonmajors. (Oct 14-Dec 17 TR 9:00am-10:15am)

HNRS 240:001 The History of Science
This course will trace the development of science from the construction of monuments like Stonehenge to the latest ideas about the Large Hadron Collider and the Multiverse. No previous scientific knowledge will be presumed, and the major ideas of science will be developed in their historical context. The course will include readings from important historical texts, and students will be asked to dvelop and present biographies of major scientific figures. (M 4:30-7:10 pm)

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Laurie Robinson

HNRS 131:007: Contemporary Society in Multiple Perspectives: Problem Solving in Government
A Case Study Using the Promise Neighborhoods Program
How do government agencies tackle problems and work to find solutions?  How does the federal government interact with local governments?  And can an individual government employee — you, if you take a job in public service — make a difference as an effective “change agent”?  This course will focus on the nuts and bolts of creative problem-solving in government.  To do that, we’ll focus on one program — the U.S. Department of Education’s Promise Neighborhoods initiative, which is based on the model of Geoffrey Canada’s Harlem Children’s Zone.  We will see how it is being implemented in a low-income community in Northeast Washington, D.C.  For their semester-long research project, students will select a public policy issue, define the problem being addressed, research and track down pertinent data, identify key public and private sector players (e.g., associations, the media, interest groups) and analyze the barriers to reaching a resolution.  Students will offer their own assessment of issues and propose solutions.  As part of the seminar, students will take a Friday field trip to meet and talk with community representatives at the Northeast Washington Promise Neighborhood site. (TR 1:30-2:45 pm)
CRIM 425:001  Criminal Justice Management

Students in this seminar will explore both conceptual and practical aspects of criminal justice administration and management through a broad examination of current challenges facing criminal justice leaders and those working at multiple levels (from front line supervisor to higher levels of management) in justice agencies.  (R 4:30-7:10)


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