Freshman Seminars 2016 Fall

SOC Title








F 10:00-10:50

HH 236




W 10:00-10:50

MM 302




Tu 1:00-1:50

MSTB 114




Tu 12:00-12:50





Tu 1:00-1:50

SBSG 4323

INEQUALITY & SOC A is one of a three-part, integrated series. See description below.



DO, A.

F 10:00-10:50

DBH 1429




F 11:00-11:50

DBH 1420




M 5:00-5:50

CAC 3100B




W 11:00-11:50

Contact Instructor




Th 10:00-10:50

Contact Instructor




Tu 9:00-9:50

DBH 1425




Tu 12:00-12:50

MM 115




W 12:00-12:50

DBH 1431

SCIENCE OF CLI-FI will meet for five 2-hour meetings during the quarter.




Tu 5:00-5:50

STU4 209

Educating instead of Medicating in Public Health

The goal of the seminar is to learn how to think healthy and increase the level of health literacy. Students will enjoy reading and discussing health topics that address many issues in which they are interested in or are involved with. This seminar will transition students from passive, memorization-type learning, to an active, analytical and critical learning style with practical application for personal and public health.

Zuzana Bic is a Lecturer in the Department of Population Health & Disease Prevention.

Rock Comes of Age

In April 1967, CBS Television broadcast an hour-long program hosted by the noted composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein entitled “Inside Pop: The Rock Revolution.” Here, in effect, Bernstein, an establishment figure but one with an open mind, takes rock music seriously as a “legitimate” art form and aims to explain (to what was presumably an older “mainstream” audience) what it was coming to mean to America’s middle-class, suburban youth. Using this documentary as a springboard, this seminar explores several key texts and watershed recordings of the time.

David Brodbeck is a Professor in the Department of Music.

The Universe’s Hidden Dimensions

What is the true nature of spacetime? What are the fundamental building blocks of matter and what holds these constituents together? Revolutionary landmark developments in modern physics have changed the way we answer these questions. We will take a journey through some of these remarkable ideas, from Quantum Mechanics and Einstein’s General Relativity, developed in the early twentieth century, to the “Standard Model of Particle Physics,” which is currently being used by particle physicists. We will then go beyond the Standard Model and introduce more speculative ideas, such as string theories and extra dimensions. Through this journey, we will get a glimpse of how particle theorists and experimentalists work to identify and confirm the law of nature. No prerequisite for this seminar, except for a curious and inquiring mind.

Mu-Chun Chen is an Associate Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy.

Environmental Forensics

Like watching TV shows such as CSI or Bones, or animal documentaries? Ever wondered what is really in your taco, or what caused global warming? Learn how isotopes can answer many different questions! In this class, we explore how the heavier siblings of elements can tell us about the geographic origin of bodies, what animals eat, the purity and authenticity of food and drugs, and the fate of fossil fuel emissions. We’ll also show you how different types of isotopes are measured. You will take away a working knowledge of environmental forensics that you may use in your careers.

Claudia Czimczik is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Earth System Science.

Inequality & Soc A (Mind, Morality, and Inequality)

Policymakers, politicians, and citizens alike debate the causes, manifestations, and consequences of inequality in America. Along the way, the nature and workings of human perception and morality, communities, the American dream, and current economic, political and social systems are implicated. Designed to provide an empirical and theoretical basis for thinking about inequality, this course examines a range of manifestations of inequalities in the U.S., including, for example, a growing share of income and wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few; disparities in health, education, incarceration, and other dimensions of human welfare are organized around race and ethnicity; and a small number of people exert a huge political influence on American democracy while others remain figuratively and literally disenfranchised. These and other types of concerns are discussed in this integrated freshman seminar series.

This freshman seminar is the first of a three-part integrated series on inequality and society as seen from different disciplinary perspectives. Students are encouraged, but not required, to take all three seminars. While students are limited to two regular freshman seminars for credit, they may take all three courses in the integrated series for credit.

Peter Ditto is a Professor in the Department of Psychology & Social Behavior.


Neural interface technologies are systems which convert nervous system activity into the control of external devices. This essentially allows a person to directly mind control computers, robots, and other devices without the need to generate any movements. Such technology can potentially help people with severe paralysis to control assistive or prosthetic devices to interact with their environment again. They can even help people who have lost senses to regain them. This seminar will introduce the fundamental concepts in biology, neuroscience, and engineering underlying these neural technologies. There will also be live demonstrations and hands-on interaction with neural technology devices as part of the class. Finally, we will explore how neural interface technology can become a tool to restoring movement to people affected by paralysis.

An Do is an Assistant Professor in the School of Medicine.


Do you want to understand what the Internet of Things (IoT) is, and how to build your own IoT device? This seminar will introduce all of the basics that you need to start building IoT projects of your own. This will be a hands-on class so you will be required to spend about $80 on parts that you will use to build devices. We will cover very practical issues, like how to buy electrical parts, how to wire components together, and how to read a component data sheet. You do not need to know about electronics to take this seminar. We will introduce basic programming as well but you do not need to know how to program to take this seminar either.

Ian Harris is an Associate Professor in the Department of Computer Science.

Want To Be A Star?

Identify what success means to you and develop your critical thinking skills. Create strategies and action plans to achieve your goals and examine what stops you. Explore a research process on how to find a mentor. Learn the art of how to become unstoppable in going for what you really want in life. Develop greater self-esteem by getting in touch with your personal power and achieve a higher level of self-love and acceptance.

Donald Hill is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Drama.


We will be investigating the mind through the medium of meditation, discussion and dream.
Although we will look at the issues from an academic viewpoint, and I will discuss with you my own research and work within these areas, the focus of this particular seminar will be on learning simple meditation techniques in order to develop mental equilibrium and clarity, and to use these growing powers of clarity and calm to investigate our various mental states throughout the day and night—including dreams, flights of imagination, memories, and other activities of mind.

Anthony Kubiak is a Professor in the Department of Drama.

Exercise & the Brain

This seminar will cover what executive functions (such as attention and self-control) are, why they are important to success in life, how to measure them, and how exercise might help improve them.

We will spend time exploring interactive tests of executive function and discussing components of exercise programs that have been shown to improve executive functions. Students will be encouraged to think critically about the research we discuss and to apply it to their lives.

Kimberley Lakes is an Associate Professor in the School of Medicine.

Robot/Machine Ethics

Now that methods of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are experiencing widespread success and adoption, and even becoming part of everyday life, AI “agents” and robots are increasingly being authorized to act autonomously: to drive vehicles, to make investments, to select among sources of information for human beings (ubiquitously), and to recommend human actions when such recommendations are likely to be adopted. With action comes the possibility of unethical action, or at least unacceptable consequences of action from an ethical point of view. There are AI/ML methods such as reinforcement learning that seem to provide a way to develop “value” judgements or “rules for action”, pretty successfully at least in game settings. Is it possible, and is it time, to work on endowing such agents with some kind of ethical or moral reasoning capability? If so, how would the traditional philosophical study of ethics enter into the problem? Are there ethical risks in doing such research? “Machine ethics” names an emerging sub-field of AI aimed at developing such an ethics capability; we will have a look to see what is there and what could be.

Eric Mjolsness is a Professor in the Department of Computer Science.

Creative Listening

What do you hear when you listen? Do you hear sounds, instruments, and voices, or is there something deeper with which you connect? Together, we’ll explore how we listen and how what we hear tells us a story. NO MUSIC TRAINING REQUIRED – just a desire to better use your ears!

Vincent Olivieri is an Associate Professor in the Department of Drama.

2016 Election

This course uses the current election as a vehicle for understanding politics and political science.
We consider both institutional and behavioral dimensions of the current election. We will read and discuss scholarly and news articles in order to understand why the election occurs as it does.

Students will gain familiarity with the tools used by modern campaigns including big data, target marketing, and polling, as well as the institutional structure of the election including things like election law, the electoral college, and election litigation.

Charles Smith is an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science.

Improv for Success

What does The Second City, the legendary comedy theater where talents like Tina Fey and
Keegan-Michael Key started, and Fortune 500 companies have in common? Both use improvisational training and techniques as a tool to build keys for success. This course will explore improvisation to help the participants build skills and achieve their goals. Be prepared to actively participate in improvisational exercises and a fun time.

Joel Veenstra is a Lecturer in the Department of Drama.