Courses

  • 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. 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.
  • 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 BI 103: Bigfoot: Nitrogen, the Ocean, and You
    Without nitrogen there would be no life - no me, no you, no blue whale, no Atlantic cod, no Antarctic krill. But like anything - too much nitrogen leads to a series of negative consequences. Since the beginning of the 20th century, human activities have doubled the amount of nitrogen cycling through the biosphere and in doing so we have introduced large amounts of nitrogen into coastal waters. This excess nitrogen has led to eutrophication, loss of submerged aquatic vegetation, harmful algal blooms, increased low oxygen conditions and dead zones, fish kills, and loss of biodiversity. But this nitrogen has also allowed human population to rise to 7 billion -- in fact, about 50% of us are alive because of human fixed nitrogen through the production of fertilizer. We are currently faced with a grand challenge: how do we feed an increasing population while protecting and even restoring our environment? The goal of this course is to take on this grand challenge. We will explore the history of the nitrogen cycle and the role of social contracts, religion, and politics in shaping its current status. We will examine where our nitrogen comes from, where it goes, and what happens when it gets there. We will discuss the ethics of what we eat and how we live. Ultimately we will design a campaign that communicates to a wider audience what our nitrogen footprint (or our Bigfoot) is and how it shapes the world around us.
  • 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 EN 101: Literature and Hunger
    The course will pursue the themes of hunger, the consumption of food, the formation of community, and relation to the sacred, through a sequence of readings in the Western Tradition. By reading classic works (The Odyssey the Book of Genesis, selections from the Divine Comedy, sonnets of Shakespeare, Paradise Lost) and modern works by Kafka, Mallarme, Louise Gluck, Frank Bidart, and M.F.K. Fisher, we will see how different philosophies (Greek pantheism, Judaism, Roman Catholicism, Protestantism, and modern atheism) have imagined the acceptance or rejection of love, life and the sacred in terms of the symbolism of food. Class work will include close analysis of literary works, even those in translation; intensive critical writing and revision; and secondary readings in literary criticism, anthropology, theology, and psychology.
  • KHC HC 301: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Global Challenges 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. 4 cr. 1st sem.
  • KHC HC 302: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Global Challenges 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. 4 cr. 2nd sem.
  • 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
    This course examines the impact of innovation through case studies drawn from a variety of spheres, such as aesthetic, scientific, technological, educational, political, commercial, and urban. Students turn their own Keystone Projects into case studies, an exercise that asks them to consider the broader societal implications of their research. Students register for one section of the seminar each semester of the senior year.
  • KHC HC 502: Innovation, Culture and Society II
    This course examines the impact of innovation through case studies drawn from a variety of spheres, such as aesthetic, scientific, technological, educational, political, commercial, and urban. Students turn their own Keystone Projects into case studies, an exercise that asks them to consider the broader societal implications of their research. Students register for one section of the seminar each semester of the senior year.
  • KHC HC 503: Keystone
    Keystone independent study.
  • KHC HC 504: Keystone
    Keystone independent study.
  • KHC LW 102: Marriage, Families,
    This seminar will critically examine the family, marriage, and gender by asking several basic questions: What is family? What is marriage? Why do family and marriage matter to individuals and to society? What role does or should law have in supporting and regulating families and marriage? In defining parenthood? How do ideas about gender and proper gender roles in intimate and public life feature in answering these questions? This seminar will focus on three contemporary problems: the ongoing public and legal debate over same-sex marriage and the rapidly evolving social, political, and legal landscape; the class-based divide in marriage and parenting, linked to growing economic inequality in the United States; and defining parenthood in an era in which changes in social and legal norms about family and gender along with the advent of assisted reproductive technology (ART) make new pathways to parenthood possible.
  • KHC LW 103: Freedom of Expression in the United States
    This seminar will take a multi-layered approach to the concept of freedom of expression embedded in the first amendment to the US constitution. The first amendment states that "Congress Shall Make No Law Abridging the Freedom of Speech or of the Press". What does it mean? We shall explore the theories underlying the principle that speech should be protected and the various Supreme Court cases that address this issue. We shall discuss whether the first amendment applies only to congress or also to the states, whether it addresses only political speech or may be extended to such subjects as artistic expression, obscenity, defamation or racist speech and whether it may be extended to certain activities such as flag burning. We shall also address the question of how much protection the amendment, as interpreted by the Court, extends to the press.
  • KHC LX 101: Language and Migration
    This course examines the role of language in immigration and the sociolinguistic consequences of global population movements. Considers bidirectional contact effects; historical developments such as language maintenance, death, and revitalization; and a diverse range of immigrants, including asylum seekers and international adoptees.
  • KHC MU 103: World Music in Global Culture
    This course will delve into the musical thought, cultural practices, and performance traditions of the shadow play music (gender wayang) from Bali, Indonesia, and Hindustani classical music of North India. Students will learn through a dynamic interface with performance, internalizing these interlocking musical patterns and rich, harmonic resonances. In addition, the course will introduce critical themes that have an impact on musical cultures including globalization, diaspora, transnational dissemination of culture, and appropriation in new contexts. Students will read widely in these areas of inquiry, discuss the readings together in class, and conduct original research, which they will present to the class.
  • KHC NE 102: Reading, Language, and the 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 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 PO 102: How to Change the World
    Under what conditions do groups of individuals come together to effect political and social change in domestic politics? Under what conditions do groups of individuals come together to bring about political or social change in world politics? How to digital technologies alter the strategies that people use to effect political change? What strategies remain the same, even in our digital age? Drawing on classic works of political anthropology, as well as more recent examples of transnational and digital activism, this course seeks to understand deployment of power by everyday people.