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. CAS Divisional Assignment: SS; KHC Assignment: SS
  • KHC AN 102: The Lives of Others: The Power, Politics, and Ethics of Storytelling
    This course digs deep into the power of stories and storytelling in four overlapping ways. First, we will consider how various disciplines across the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences use stories of particular people to advance their general explanations about the world. Engaging texts from classics, philosophy, anthropology, history, narrative journalism, psychoanalysis, biology, and neuroscience, students will consider the strengths and limitations of stories to gain insights into the concepts, methods, and theoretical contributions of these disciplines. Next, we move beyond an exploration of stories in the service of disciplinary knowledge and reflect on the broader ethical and political dimensions of storytelling. Inspired by Hannah Arendt's contention that stories mediate the space between private and public realms, and that by enlarging our horizons of understanding storytelling helps reconcile singular and plural worlds, we will discuss how stories not only transport us but also transform us. Third, we will take a brief look into the deployment of storytelling in applied contexts and professional practices, drawing from examples in narrative medicine and restorative justice. Finally, we will interrogate assertions that storytelling belongs to traditional societies, and that science has eclipsed storytelling in modern societies, by investigating the recent resurgence of public storytelling through programs like The Moth, StoryCorps, and This American Life in order to think through the role of storytelling in contemporary public culture. CAS Divisional Assignment: SS or HU; KHC Assignment: HU
  • KHC AR 101: Broken Bones, Buried Bodies: Forensic Anthropology and Human Rights
    Over the course of its historical development, forensic anthropology has moved from a peripheral application of biological anthropology to a full-fledged specialty in its own right. Contemporary forensic anthropologists work in contexts around the globe on cases which vary in scope and complexity. While some instances involve natural disasters, many forensic anthropologists work in contexts which are the direct result of political conflict, state-sponsored violence, and/or genocide. Often couched in a framework of human rights, forensic anthropologists have made significant contributions to multiple stakeholders including surviving kin of victimized individuals. (4 credits) CAS Divisional Assignment: SS; KHC Assignment: SS
  • 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. CAS Divisional Assignment: NS without lab; KHC Assignment: STEM
  • 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). CAS Divisional Assignment: NS without lab; KHC Assignment: STEM
  • KHC CM 104: Intervening Images
    This course provides an introduction to non-fiction film. We study a selection of documentaries--the list includes classics that have historical significance but also more recent examples about highly contemporary issues--and we try to understand what documentaries are and what they "do." The aim of the course is to teach students to develop an understanding of how non-fiction films function both as aesthetic works of art that have stories to tell and use certain rhetorical approaches to tell them and as documents of reality that ultimately seek to intervene in the very reality they depict. CAS Divisional Assignment: HU; KHC Assignment: HU
  • 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. CAS Divisional Assignment: SS; KHC Assignment: SS
  • KHC HC 301: The Nature of Inquiry I
    This course explores how we investigate nature, art, society and their interconnections. It does so by examining and juxtaposing the practices of three disciplines. 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 II
    This course explores how we investigate nature, art, society and their interconnections. It does so by examining and juxtaposing the practices of three disciplines. 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 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 I
    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. 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 II
    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
    Keystone independent study.
  • KHC HC 504: Keystone
    Keystone independent study.
  • 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. CAS Divisional Assignment: NS without lab; KHC Assignment: STEM
  • 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. CAS Divisional Assignment: NS without lab; KHC Assignment: STEM
  • 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. CAS Divisional Assignment: SS; KHC Assignment: SS
  • KHC PH 103: Seeing Poverty
    This course offers students the opportunity to explore the complex issues of American poverty through multiple disciplines and approaches. As a course in the Kilachand Honor's College, Seeing Poverty will utilize multiple sources of information for students to examine the historical, political, and public health "view" of poverty. This multi-disciplinary approach will allow students the opportunity to discover for themselves the "truth" or "truths" of what it means to be poor in America today. Students will think about stories that are told about the poor -- who is doing the telling? How are the poor depicted? Lastly, this course will expose students to my work in five of the poorest cities in Massachusetts (Chelsea, Holyoke, Springfield, Lawrence, and New Bedford) with young adult and teenage mothers. By developing a deep understanding of the causes and sustainers of poverty, it is my hope that students will become critical assessors of the depiction of the poor in popular media, and indeed become advocates for the poor. CAS Divisional Assignment: SS; KHC Assignment: SS
  • KHC RN 103: Islam in the Eyes of the West
    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. CAS Divisional Assignment: SS; KHC Assignment: SS
  • KHC RN 104: Moses and Muhammad as Prophets
    As prophets, lawgivers, and Abrahamic philosopher-kings, Moses and Muhammad inspired faith and practice, art and politics. This course examines classical and modern interpretations of their lives, which provided important and contested models for leaders, scholars, and reformers through the ages. (4 credits) CAS Divisional Assignment: HU; KHC Assignment: HU