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Spring 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

On leave.

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Spencer Crew

HIST 499:002: Slavery, Abolition, and the Underground Railroad
Slavery and its abolition was one of the major issues in the United States leading up to the Civil War. Southerners saw slavery as a positive good for themselves and for the enslaved people they controlled. Abolitionists saw slavery as a blemish on the nation and were committed to bring it to an end. The participants of the Underground Railroad took direct action to undermine slavery by aiding enslaved people seeking freedom to escape and start new lives. Reading the ideas and stories of the individuals who were a part of this interracial activist movement, investigating how the underground railroad worked on a day-to-day basis, and examining how historians have assessed this movement will provide the foundation for research class participants will do on the underground railroad and abolition. The Underground Railroad was a complex operation which over the years has had many myths connected to it. Sorting the myth from reality will enable students to better understand how historians assess research material and craft a thesis for their work. They will then apply these insights to the writing of their own research paper for the class. (W 1:30-4:15 pm)

HIST 691:001: Museum Studies
This course is designed to introduce graduate students to the theory and practice of museums with an emphasis on history institutions.  We will examine the origins of museums and the leaders who helped shape the field.  History and memory, surviving controversy, the changing role of museums, museum learning, creating exhibitions, the future of museums, and museums and innovation are among the issues which will be covered.  In the process the class will gain an understanding of the numerous challenges facing museums as well as the process of proposing, researching, and executing an exhibition.
As a member of this class you are expected to attend class regularly, read assigned materials, actively participate in class discussions, prepare assignments on time, write a two to three page exhibition proposal, prepare a short research paper based on the proposal, prepare a poster presentation of your exhibition idea, and write a NEH planning grant proposal to seek funding to create your exhibition. (W 7:20-10:00 pm)

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Paul D'Andrea

THR 395:001 Theater as the Life of the Mind

This liberal arts course traces four themes from classic theater through the television, plays, and movies we are currently creating in the United States. We'll read Aeschylus, Aristophanes, Beckett, Emily Dickinson, Beth Henley, Lessing, Lincoln, Saint Paul, Shakespeare, Sam Shepard, and Soyinka, going from the Oresteia to The Godfather and Sex and the City. The themes are: women and men, the doctrine of last and final things, escaping from cyclical tragedy, and finding good gifts.

This course helps students become creative citizens of world culture through understanding the dramatic arts and their role in the creation and communication of value. (TR 12-1:15 pm)

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Robert Hazen

On leave.

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Hugh Heclo

GOVT 470:001: Faith/Reason Making Modern Mind
In this seminar we will investigate the interlocking claims of religious faith and human reason in Western culture, from Biblical times to the present. The first portion of the course covers tightly focused reading assignments in theology and philosophy and the second portion deals with particular case studies, from Galileo to the Intelligent Design debate. Also listed as HIST 386, PHIL 391, and RELI 376. (MW 12:00-1:15 pm)

GOVT 471:001 Millennialism & Philosophy of History
Is there purpose in human history? Are we really going anywhere as humanity moves through time? This seminar will study major patterns by which thinkers in the West have discerned meaning in humanity's temporal existence. The survey will extend from the Jewish roots of historical understanding, through Christian millennialism, to contemporary naturalism. Cross-listed as HIST 389/ SOCI 395. (MW 1:30-2:45 pm)

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Carma Hinton

ARTH 384:001 Arts of China

Explores the complex and dynamic history of China by examining ways in which social, religious, and political shifts have given rise to new and variant forms of material culture. Cross-listed as CHIN 470. (T 4:30-7:10 pm)

HNRS 230:004 Ways of Eating, Ways of Being: Chinese Culture and Society through the Lens of Food
“We are what we eat” is a well-known proverb.  But we are also “how we eat.”  This course uses food as a lens to explore topics relating to Chinese society, politics, literature, and art.  The course also includes a global perspective by examining the ways in which the migrations of certain food plants and food ways into or out of China have blended cultures and changed societies. (M 4:30-7:10 pm)

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Harold Morowitz

HNRS 122:003 Reading the Arts: Biological Themes In Literature
A surprising body of English and American Literature since 1800 has utilized the emerging science of biology to focus on who we are, where we have come from, and where we are going.  Poetry, novels, essays, and biographies have all used the then current understanding of the life sciences to assist in literature’s task of helping us to understand our humanity.  We will read a number of these works and analyze their relations to the science and literature of the time they were written.  The hidden agenda, now revealed, is to get the scientists to understand the humanities and the humanists to appreciate science.(MW 10:30-11:45 pm)


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John Paden

HNRS 230:002 Cross-Cultural Perspectives
Issues of family values, gender and social relations, economic perspectives, and national culture are addressed in "Understanding the Giants of Asia and Africa: China and Nigeria." Wherever possible, primary texts in translation will be the basis for seminar discussion. (TR 10:30-11:45 pm)

PUBP 503:005 Culture, Org, and Technology
Course focuses on the influence of culture in societal, political, economic, and technological processes, national and internationally. Culture is seen as dynamic and interactional. Using case studies, students learn pertinent approaches to the study of culture, from the analysis of organization and social networks to that of belief systems and identities. Students also develop practical skills in observation, participation, and intervention. (W 4:30-7:10 pm Arlington)

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Steven Pearlstein

GOVT 367:001 Issues in Government and Politics:  Money, Markets and Economic Policy
No prerequisite. Applies basic economic concepts to an examination of fundamental issues facing the U.S. and global economies. Explores the way markets work, the reasons they sometimes fail and the role of government policy. Topics include productivity and economic growth, taxes, health care, globalization, income distribution and financial crises, with an emphasis on market structure, social institutions and the not-always rational behavior of investors and consumers.

Over the last decade, economics has moved from the periphery of the political conversation to its white hot center. This course will provide a familiarity with the fundamental issues facing the U.S. and global economies, along with an understanding of the economic principles that underlie them. The course is aimed at non-economics majors seeking the economic literacy necessary to do their jobs, manage their lives and participate intelligently as citizens in a democracy.  It is taught by a prize-winning journalist with a knack for demystifying complex economic ideas and policy choices and translating them into conversational English. There are no prerequisites and the course involves very little math. Critical thinkers with curious minds are strongly encouraged to enroll. (MW 1:30-2:45 pm)

HNRS 122:004 Reading the Arts
Story-telling has always been at the heart of great journalism. In this course we’ll explore the last 100 years of American history by reading and viewing some of the best examples of narrative—that is, story-telling--journalism, in books, newspapers, magazines and on film. Readings/viewings will include works by Lincoln Steffans, H. L. Mencken, John Hersey, Truman Capote, David Halberstam, John Updike, John McPhee, Malcolm Gladwell, Susan Orleans, Michael Lewis, Edward R. Murrow and past and Washington Post writers Leon Dash, Anne Hull, Henry Allen, Gene Weingarten and Walt Harrington. The class will analyze how narrative journalism is done, what makes it effective and what impact it has had on readers and society. We will also hear directly from some of the country’s best practitioners talking about their craft and their experiences. This is not a journalism course so much as it is a history and literature course. The aim is not to learn how to create great journalism but how to get the most out of reading or watching it. (TR 10:30-11:45 am)

Click here to view syllabus for this course.

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James Trefil

HNRS 240:004 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. (T 4:30-7:10 pm)

HNRS 353:010 Tech in Contemporary US
What will the Washington area look like in 50 years? This course will focus on the technology and development of cities, using the capitol area as an example. Students will look at present-day Washington from a historical standpoint and learn what we can predict for its future in light of robotics, nanotechnology, and genetic engineering. (M 4:30-7:10 pm)

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Laurie Robinson

CRIM 790:001 Capstone in Policy and Practice
Students in this course will work with a justice organization – whether a government agency or a non-profit – to plan, initiate and undertake a research project of usefulness to the organization.  Production of this report (e.g., a “white paper”) will be the focus of the course.  This Research Practicum is the capstone experience for students pursuing a new concentration on Criminology Policy and Practice within the Department of Criminology, Law and Society’s MA program. (R 4:30-7:10 pm)

HNRS 353:003 Effective Response to Crime: Policies and Strategies

While the violent crime rate in the U.S. today is more than 75% lower than 20 years ago -- and is far closer to rates in the 1960s -- the nation continues to face challenges in areas such as domestic violence, gang crime, gun violence, and high rates of incarceration, and there is continuing concern about how the criminal justice system handles racial and ethnic minorities and substance abuse. In the 1960s, a Presidential Commission appointed by Lyndon B. Johnson issued a landmark report that comprehensively looked at all facets of the criminal justice system and set out a blueprint for reform. No single document in criminal justice since that time has been so influential.

In this seminar, Honors College students will act as members of a criminal justice commission to look at key aspects of the crime problem in the United States and what solutions are -- or could be -- used to address them effectively. They will examine issues around policing, punishment, juvenile justice, substance abuse, courts and (more broadly) innovation and hold "hearings" at which they can question expert guest witnesses (for example, frontline criminal justice practitioners, such as police chiefs) and explore evidence-based approaches that are being, and should be, taken to address problems. Students will serve on subject area task forces and develop reports on their topics.

The work will culminate in the students presenting their policy-oriented research reports in class at the end of the semester. (TR 1:30-2:45 am)

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