Interdisciplinary Studies

First-Year Seminars

These courses are open to first-year students. The main purpose of the first-year seminars (no matter what the topic or reading list) is to give first-year students extensive practice in reading and writing analytically. Each seminar is normally limited to sixteen students and includes discussion, outside reading, frequent papers, and individual conferences on writing problems. For a full description of first-year seminars, see pages 159–172.

1010 {10} b. Health Care Disparities in the United States – A Public Challenge. Fall 2014. Stephen F. Loebs.

1020 c. How to Read a Million Books. Fall 2014. Crystal Hall.

Introductory, Intermediate, and Advanced Courses

2420 - MCSR. Data-Driven Societies. Spring 2015. Eric Gaze and Jen Jack Gieseking.

Tackles a number of cutting-edge issues and questions that confront society today: What sorts of questions can be answered using digital and computational methods to rethink our relationships to data, and what can data show us about the world? How do we construct models to help us better understand social phenomena and associated data? Covers topics such as data gathering, validation, analysis, and presentation, as well as statistics and software skills, such as contributing to a data-oriented web site, programming, and employing GIS and network analysis. Students leave the course with substantive experience in digital and computational methods, and a critical lens for understanding and evaluating what computers can (and cannot) bring to the study of economy, politics, and society.

2430 b - ESD. The Digital Image of the City. Fall 2014. Jen Jack Gieseking.

Access to large-scale data about cities has caused policymakers and activists alike to shift their focus toward a movement of smart urbanism, i.e., interventions in urban issues through better uses of technology and data, from gentrification to pollution to walkability. How can we use written argumentation, data, and data visualizations to represent the multiple experiences of the city to affect public policy and support the growth of equal and just cities? Through field research, intensive computer training, techniques of social and spatial analysis using geographic information systems (GIS), and close readings of classic and cutting-edge studies of cities, namely New York City, New York, and Portland, Maine, students will learn ways to create and critique urban public policy through data visualizations. This project-based course connects global urban issues to the intimate experiences of everyday life.

2610. c. The Rhetoric of Big Data: Copernicus to Climate Change. Spring 2015.
Crystal Hall.

How did early modern intellectuals amass enough data to feel confident that the earth rotated around the sun? How did they write about their data (texts, diagrams, measurements, and calculations) in order to eventually convince a larger audience that the Copernican hypothesis of heliocentrism was valid even though the sun appears to move in the sky? Examines the literary, artistic, religious, political, economic, and scientific context of these questions by introducing and using large-scale digital textual analysis, network visualization, mapping, and computation. Defines a set of parameters for analyzing other famous cases of big data reshaping worldviews.