Courses

  • KHC AN 101: Humans Among Animals
    This course examines some of the ways humans understand (other) animals, and how we use animals to understand ourselves. Considering wild, herded, and domestic species, we ask what is known and unknown about animal thought, feeling, and communication; (2) what humans assume, believe, and imagine about these knowns and unknowns; and (3) what roles language and culture play in these understandings in contemporary societies variously engaged in hunting, herding, farming, and pet keeping. We will see how the lines people draw between humans and animals, or culture and nature, get redrawn - for psychological, political, and other reasons -- and explore where they blur in the light of new discoveries, and in the twists and turns of story and humor. Case material on selected species, human languages and societies will come from various settings in Africa, Europe, and North America. Our approach is interdisciplinary, drawing on anthropology, history, linguistics, philosophy, psychology, and zoology. Findings will have practical, legal, and ethical implications, bearing on some of the most pressing issues of our time.
  • 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 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 101: Financial Crises -- Past, Present, and Future
    The course will focus on six big problems -- the financial system, the healthcare system, the retirement system, the tax system, the environment, and inequality in a serial fashion. Each topic will feature several introductory lectures, group discussions, presentations by outside speakers, and the presentation of reform proposals by teams of students. There will be a heavy emphasis on international comparisons. The analysis of the specific topics will be proceeded with a general discussion of the status of the U.S. economy, its long-term fiscal policy, it's history of declining rates of saving and investment, its competitive position in the world, its environmental pressures, and its growing economic and social inequality.
  • 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 HF 101: Ethical Decision Making in the Real World
    The course examines both the theoretical and practical bases for decision making in actual situations. Decisions are generally justified by reliance on ethical theories, but they also reflect personal values internalized over many years. Simple issues can be dealt with rather easily. But entrance into the world of adulthood and, especially, the world of work introduces levels of complexity far more difficult to resolve. For in addition to responding to our personal sense of obligation, we must take into account the legitimate and at times conflicting obligations to family, friends, employers, clients, customers, - and today, even the environment. But decision making is not just a question of balancing competing interests. There are financial, economic, psychological and social pressures that may well be brought to bear on the decision making process. This course addresses these many issues recognizing full well that what a person 'says' they would do while sitting in the comfort of their easy chair is in reality quite different from what they might 'actually do' in real life. The course requires many readings. But it will also be very interactive and participative. That is, there will be significant use of case studies, hypotheticals, and guest speakers to highlight just how complex decision making becomes in the real world.
  • KHC HI 101: War for the Greater Middle East
    This seminar will explore an alternative to the conventional grand narrative of twentieth-century political history. Rather than focusing on Great Power competition for dominance in Eurasia, it will assess the interaction between the West and the peoples of the Islamic world. The course will recount events since 1914 and will focus on three specific zones of conflict: the Persian Gulf, Palestine, and Afghanistan.
  • KHC HI 102: The Culture of World War I
    The Culture of World War I approaches this watershed moment in European history through works of literature, music, and art. The course's three chronological divisions: the lead-up to war, the experience of war, and its aftermath will include representative works from prominent composers, artists, novelists, and poets. Principal historical themes of the course are: the widespread conviction that war would cleanse and regenerate Europe; the brutally inglorious reality of trench conditions, chemical weapons, and the destruction of cultural patrimony; the ideals combatants held and the effects of events upon them; and the cultural landscape after the war. A textbook will ground discussions in events. Additional readings will include excerpts from memoirs, essays, interviews, and analyses.
  • KHC HS 101: Cognition, Emotion and the Brain
    Cognition and emotion were classically thought to be represented separately in the brain but recent advances in brain research contradict this notion. Signals from brain pathways underlying emotion influence high-order brain association areas associated with cognition. In this seminar we will discuss evidence for the neural basis underlying the synthesis of cognition and emotion for decision and action, and dissociation of this process in several psychiatric diseases, including schizophrenia, autism and depression.
  • KHC HS 102: The Body Rewired: Reinventing Medicine through Human-Machine Interfaces
    Interfaces between humans and machines have matured beyond science fiction, and now offer a unique opportunity to restore lost sensory or motor function. This case-based course will explore the physiology of healthy and impaired sensorimotor systems, engineering approaches to rehabilitate or replace function, and the impact of these technologies on end-users and society at large. Students will complete a semester-long project including written reports and oral presentations. Discussions will focus on specific applications of human-machine-interfaces for health, concentrating on design specifications and long-term impact. Applications include: cochlear implants, retinal implants, upper and lower limb prostheses, brain-computer-interfaces for augmentative communication, rehabilitation robotics, and functional electric stimulation after spinal cord injury.
  • KHC MA 101: Investigations in Number Theory
    Prerequisites are a solid background in high school algebra, geometry, and trigonometry, a healthy sense of curiosity about mathematical ideas, and a willingness to ask questions and work hard to answer them. Mathematical topics include: the fundamental theorem of arithmetic; elementary ring theory; unique factorization into irreducible elements, examples and counterexamples; probabilistic methods in the theory of prime numbers; the Riemann Hypothesis and why it matters. Strategies of mathematical investigation, including experimentation and observation, and the use of language as tool for investigation, will be a central theme of this seminar.
  • KHC NE 101: The Neurobiology of Memory
    Students in this course will be immersed in the process of the scientific endeavor by conducting an experiment in the field of behavioral neuroscience -- from conception to publication. To this end, all students will have an opportunity to conduct behavioral testing, neurosurgery, and histological analysis of brains. Students are expected lead and participate in weekly journal discussions, and to prepare a scientific manuscript. Generally, the course will focus on a systems-level approach to the neurobiology of memory, and in particular on the role of the hippocampal memory system. Because of the emphasis on scientific process, the course will focus on topics most germane to our experiment. The course will include instructor-led lecture/discussions, laboratory preparation and discussion, and student-led discussions.
  • KHC PH 101: American Bioethics
    American healthcare reflects four deeply-ingrained American characteristics: it is individualistic, technology-driven, death-denying, and wasteful. These characteristics make "reforming" American healthcare extremely contentious. No medical technology is as emblematic of American healthcare and culture as the artificial heart. An exploration of its 40 year history (including its alternatives: death, organ transplantation, and tissue regeneration) as reflected in American medicine, public health, law, bioethics, human rights, bioengineering, and economics helps explain both how the American "NONsystem" of healthcare works and why it is so difficult to change.
  • KHC PO 101: America in an Age of Terrorism
    Today's undergraduate cohort came of age in the shadow of 9/11. This course explores the genesis of the attacks, the evolution of the American military response, and the consequences of American foreign policy both at home and abroad. Specific questions we will address include: can just war theory serve as a guide when responding to non-traditional threats from terrorists?; what alternatives were available to American policymakers in Afghanistan and Iraq, how were the key decisions made, and how might policy have unfolded differently?; how has the war on terror shaped our politics here at home and what are its lasting impact on our separation of powers system?; what will the future of the war on terror look like as the war in Afghanistan winds down even as drone strikes intensify? We will explore these and similar ethical, historical, and political questions from a variety of perspectives. The course will also introduce students to the use of survey experimental techniques and allow students to engage in original empirical research on the dynamics driving public opinion regarding different aspects of the war on terror.
  • 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.