Courses

  • KHC AS 101: The Pluto Saga: How Do You Become a Planet and Stay a Planet?
    This course will use the controversy over Pluto's status as a planet to explore the astronomical, cultural, political and religious aspects that become linked to science and societal issues. The central theme of the seminar is how to gather and evaluate evidence through writing and quantitative methods. We will examine the broad scope of how science proceeds in quantitative ways using methods of sampling and observations. Both telescopes and museum visits will help us better understand the role that visualization plays in describing how Nature works.
  • KHC BI 101: Climate Change in Massachusetts
    Henry David Thoreau spent decades observing and recording the natural history of Concord and other sites in Massachusetts. This course will place his work within the context of modern climate change research. Readings will include both Thoreau's works as well as research papers comparing the observations of Thoreau and other historical data sets with modern observations. In order to gain an appreciation of the process whereby science is communicated to the public, attention will also be given to the way in which these scientific papers have been presented in the magazines and newspapers. During weekend field trips, we will visit sites where Thoreau's research was carried out; including Walden Pond, the Minute Man National Historical Site, the Great Meadow Wildlife Sanctuary, and the Estabrook Woods. Other possible field sites include the Blue Hills Observatory (origin of the oldest continuous weather records in the U.S.), the Concord Free Library and the Thoreau Institute (where Thoreau documents are held), the Arnold Arboretum in Jamaica Plain (where old photographs and plant specimens are housed), Manomet Bird Observatory (on a day when birds are being banded), Mt. Auburn Cemetery (where large numbers of bird watchers track bird movements), and the Massachusetts State Laboratory (where mosquito numbers are tracked).
  • KHC CM 103: Constant Flux: Media and Communication from Telegraph to Twitter
    Students will explore the media environment and analyze the impact of technology and information on their lives. Studies will highlight the development of technology over time, assessing how governments, economies and social beliefs were changed in unexpected ways. Students will perform research that uses information from their academic majors as a foundation for examining the role media play in their lives and society. Assessing how the liberal arts, sciences, business and communication have changed with inventions such as the printing press, telegraph, television and computers will encourage students to consider the widespread impact of technology on the historical development of civilization.
  • KHC EC 102: Blood and Money
    This interdisciplinary seminar will introduce students to the interaction among the promise of science, ethics, and economic reality by focusing on the very specific topic of blood. We will examine an outcome that in one respect was obviously catastrophic. We will seek to understand it from a scientific, historical, and economic perspective. We will study the basic science of two specific blood diseases, sickle cell anemia and hemophilia. We will discuss the history of the development or treatments from those diseases. With respect to the economic perspective, we will analyze the economic forces that caused key players in the historical drama to behave as they did and assess what lessons the episode teaches about the reliance on market outcomes and ways to try to seek to improve upon them.
  • KHC EK 101: Engineering Light
    Students in this course will gain an appreciation for light and its use in three optical instruments: the eye, the microscope, and the telescope. They will study landmark discoveries concerning light, the development of various light sources, the scientific advances that led to our current understanding about the properties and characteristics of light waves and photons. The course includes weekly lectures and in-class laboratory exercises, several field trips, and a semester-long project. Students will engage in more than twenty hands-on experiments throughout the semester, to untwinkle the stars with adaptive telescopes, to measure the speed of light using parts hacked from a laser pointer, to make a light bulb like Thomas Edison's, to discover how engineers ruined -- and then fixed -- the world's first astronomical space telescope, and to use a high-resolution ophthalmoscope to see image photoreceptors and capillary blood flow in their own retinas.
  • KHC HC 301: The Nature of Inquiry
    This course explores how we investigate nature, art, society and their interconnections. It does so by examining and juxtaposing the practices of three disciplines: history, natural science, and classics. Each section focuses on a specific problem in one of these fields while also considering the general questions of what we know, how we know it, and what knowledge means. Throughout the semester, we consider fundamental ethical, social, and aesthetic issues posed by the relationship of human beings to each other, nature, and works of art. The central concern in this class is to understand how and why people make decisions in complex circumstances; how they take or fail to take responsibility for their outcomes, and how they respond when gross mistakes are made by others or indeed by themselves.
  • KHC HC 302: The Nature of Inquiry: Insight & Invention
    How do different disciplines help us understand society, art, and nature? This course attempts to bridge the gap between the arts, sciences, and professions, and between "pure" and "applied" knowledge by examining the differences and commonalities of different forms of knowledge. Consisting of six major units drawn from diverse fields, we focus on how practitioners approach specific problems in their areas of study. This exploration provides a basis for confronting the general questions: What do we know? How do we know it? What does knowledge mean? -- Thereby deepening our grasp of various forms of inquiry.
  • KHC HC 401: The Process of Discovery
    This one-semester course explores the structure of the discovery process, focusing on how researchers embed imaginative questions in viable research projects and balance creative ambition with intellectual modesty. The course is designed to guide students through the challenge of designing their senior research projects through common readings of field-changing research across disciplines, individual and group project analysis, and intensive writing exercises. Together with KHC faculty and a faculty adviser of their own choosing, students will learn how to capture the explanatory power of an imaginative leap in clear language accessible to anyone outside their chosen discipline.
  • KHC HC 501: Innovation, Culture and Society
    In this class we will discuss some of the landmark essays that anticipate and critique the modern technological and media revolution (McLuhan, Foucault), as well as identify key historical moments of tension when innovation sparked important paradigmatic shifts or cataclysmic cultural repercussions (Gutenberg, Galileo, Oppenheimer). We will extend the discussion to identify key disruptive moments in business (in automobile manufacturing, regulation of safety standards, and technology), and relevant global issues by looking at the accelerated pace of technological change in Asia--using India as an informant-- and its effect on culture. Finally, we will consider two celebrated urban examples--fin-de-siècle Vienna and post-World War II New York--where many lines of innovation converged, fundamentally changing the culture and society of the metropolis. As they did in the Junior year KHC HC 401 (The Process of Discovery), students will work together in small groups to identify and discuss the ongoing relationship between innovation and culture. They will present their findings through classroom discussion and written work.
  • KHC HC 502: Innovation, Culture and Society 2
    This course builds on the principles and skills developed in KHC HC 501. The course will center around the completion of the Senior Keystone project.
  • KHC HC 503: Keystone
    Innovation, Culture, and Society will be supplemented by a two-credit independent course that students take with their Keystone advisor. (2 credits, required both semesters)
  • KHC HC 504: Keystone
    Innovation, Culture, and Society will be supplemented by a two-credit independent course that students take with their Keystone advisor. (2 credits, required both semesters
  • KHC LW 102: Mar,Fam,Gen
  • KHC MU 102: Listening
    This seminar offers an exploration of listening and its mediating practices and technologies, from the stethoscope to the earbud. Through the lens of recent theories of listening we begin by considering the way in which our own auditory habits are socially and culturally determined. We then take a step back to explore the emergence of the modern listener in the second half of the nineteenth century and in particular the role of the telephone, phonograph, and wireless telegraph in shaping a range of new listening practices. We then turn our attention to the spaces of performance--from the concert hall to the jazz club--and their associated musical repertories. Here we focus not only on issues of acoustics, architecture, and social behavior but also on specific musical compositions and performance traditions that were conceived for these spaces. Finally, we consider how the advent of recorded sound has changed our relationship to the way we listen to so-called "live" music. In this context we engage with current debates on the ethics and aesthetics of sound reproduction, transmission, and ownership. By exploring the public and private spaces in which listening occurs, we consider the diversity of contemporary and historical listening practices including the effect of recording technology on recent performance practice, the relationship between sound and vision, and the way in which industrial noise has transformed the way in which we hear.
  • KHC NE 102: Rdg,Lang &Brain
    Although we often think of written and spoken language as interchangeable, how children acquire these two abilities couldn't be more different: Children effortlessly learn to speak and understand language just by listening to it being spoken around them. On the other hand, becoming an expert reader requires years of explicit instruction and effortful practice. Some individuals, with a condition known as developmental dyslexia, will even face a lifelong struggle with reading difficulties. This course explores the scientific study of reading and language development -- a richly multidisciplinary effort that bridges the fields of psychology, linguistics, neuroscience, and education. The emphasis of this course will be on the modern scientific effort to understand "the reading brain": how learning to read changes our brain in myriad ways, coordinating neural systems for vision, hearing, language, and memory. Specific topics will include the history of the alphabet and other writing systems, how different cultures' writing systems produce different reading brains, how brain injuries can result in specific impairments in language and reading, and how brain imaging is helping unravel the mystery of reading impairment.
  • KHC PH 101: American Bioethics
    Bioethics is the systematic study of the moral dimensions of the life sciences and health care. We will examine various approaches to moral dilemmas, including deontological, utilitarian, and pragmatic methods, as well as the human rights and social justice paradigms. American bioethics is often outcome-oriented, and reflects and magnifies four deeply-ingrained American characteristics: we are individualistic, technology-driven, death-denying, and wasteful. These characteristics make "reforming" American healthcare extremely contentious. This introductory course addresses a wide variety of bioethics challenges in the context of American life and politics, from assisted conception to assisted death, from day-to-day medical care to extreme medical research, from brain death to life-saving organ transplantation, emphasizing how decisions are actually made in the US medical care setting, and the central roles of informed consent and legal liability. The Affordable Care Act, especially opposition to some of its provisions that are grounded in religious freedom, philosophy, and conscious objection, will be explored. Trying to understand how American bioethics "works," and why our "best in the world" healthcare system is so resistant to change, will be constant challenges in this seminar.
  • KHC RN 103: Islam in Western Eyes
    The course begins with a discussion of how religion as a category was defined by Europeans and Christians primarily in the 19th century and applied to the study of non-Europeans cultures at the same time. This discussion of 19th century conceptions of religion is followed by an engagement with the diversity of devotional expressions of Islam, through studies of art, poetry, philosophy, and ethnography. Next, the course will engage the discursive phenomenon of Orientalism and the writings of Orientalists to see when and how these western categories of religion were applied to Muslim beliefs and practices. From there we will examine how Muslims in the modern period responded to modernity and wrote about Islam through similar Orientalist perspectives, which gave rise to political Islamic thought. Finally, we will consider how western political theorists have used these same Orientalist categories of religion to support the theory of an inevitable conflict between the West and Islam in the contemporary period. The course will conclude with criticisms of this "clash of the civilizations" theory and reflections on religion in the aftermath of September 11.
  • KHC RS 103: History and the Novel
    A series of close readings of major modern works of fiction. Focus will be on such topics as the novel's effort to speak the truth of history, its status as unintended historical symptom, its occasional conflictual relation with history, its rivalry with music in the effort to distill an essence of time, and the notion of literary history itself.
  • KHC ST 111: Studio I
    The studios foster writing, research, and quantitative skills by exploring fundamental ethical, aesthetic, and social issues. They focus on the themes and problems raised by provocative modernist texts drawn from literature, film, psychology, philosophy, and the arts.
  • KHC ST 112: Studio II
    The studios foster writing, research, and quantitative skills by exploring fundamental ethical, aesthetic, and social issues. They focus on the themes and problems raised by provocative modernist texts drawn from literature, film, psychology, philosophy, and the arts.