Click on the course title heading to see information about the course topic, instructors, and a sample syllabus (if available).
- Luc Bovens, Department of Philosophy
- Douglas MacKay, Department of Public Policy
- Brian McManus, Department of Economics
This interdisciplinary course provides an overview of some core conceptual tools used to analyze issues at the intersection of philosophy, politics, and economics (PPE). It introduces students to the tools of economic analysis, including markets, prices, economic efficiency, welfare measures, and market failures. It discusses the philosophical dimensions of economics and public policy, including discussion of the nature of utility or well-being, the ethics of the price system, the value of individual liberty, and the nature of socio-economic justice. It also introduces students to the tools of political or institutional analysis, including game theory and public choice. This collection of tools, which are often employed in isolation, gain considerable power when they are brought together. Students will read widely on PPE tools, and they will explore applications to contemporary social problems. Lectures and recitations will feature a mix of traditional lectures, group work and discussions, simulations, and strategy games.
- Jeannie Loeb, Department of Psychology and Neuroscience (Spring 2019, Fall 2019)
- Jocelyn Chua, Department of Anthropology
- Tim Marr, Department of American Studies (Spring 2019)
- Jennifer Larson, Department of English and Comparative Literature (Fall 2019, Spring 2023)
- Seth Kotch, Department of American Studies (Spring 2023)
Death and dying are universal human experiences. Yet there is immense cultural variation and historical fluidity to the ways we define, understand and treat death, dying and relations between the living and the dead. This course explores the concepts of death and dying from three different disciplines (examples may include, but are not limited to, Anthropology, English and Comparative Literature, and Psychology and Neuroscience). This course will consider similarities and differences between the three discipline research methodologies and will also introduce students to data literacy and principles of evidence.
- David Pier, Department of African, African American, and Diaspora Studies
- J. Michael Terr, Department of Linguistics
- Daniel Matute, Department of Biology
This course, taught by a biologist, a linguist, and an ethnomusicologist, focuses on the idea of “race.” Historically, the idea that humans can be divided into distinct races has been a singularly pernicious one, having been used to justify the persecution, enslavement, and extermination of groups based on their presumed biological inferiority. Today, scientists agree that race is a false and distorting concept for understanding biological diversity among humans: what we describe as races are in fact social constructs, not genetic realities. Nonetheless, the idea of biological race persists in the popular imagination. In this course, students learn why race is not a viable human biological concept, how the idea of race arose historically (and continues to be maintained), and what alternative concepts exist for understanding human diversity and change over time.
- Priscilla Layne, Department of Germanic and Slavic Languages and Literatures
- Courtney Wooods, Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering (Public Health)
- Michele Berger, Department of Women’s and Gender Studies
This course focuses on the question of how the genre of science fiction (film and literature) has been used to address the world’s environmental concerns and how these concerns affect characters differently depending on their gender, race, and class. Using this lens, the course investigates longstanding global environmental challenges including water resources, overpopulation, consumption, climate change, etc. This course provides students with a complex toolkit to understand environmental issues. We pay special attention to texts with characters or created by artists who are women and/or ethnic minorities. Our focus throughout the course is support comparative, global, intersectional and interdisciplinary thinking.
- Arne Kalleberg, Department of Sociology
- Barbara Fredrickson, Department of Psychology and Neuroscience
- Claudio Battaglini, Department of Exercise and Sport Science
This course will expose students to diverse approaches to studying topics related to happiness and subjective and physical well-being. The three professors will approach this topic from three disciplines: physiology; positive psychology; and sociology. An important aspect of the course is teaching students a variety of life skills, such as teamwork, developing social connections including “belongingness” at UNC, being physically active, and becoming confident that they can obtain the skills to increase their happiness and health.
- Anna Bardone-Cone, Department of Psychology and Neuroscience
- Cary Levine, Department of Art and Art History
- Maxine Eichner, School of Law
What is gender and where does it come from? Is gender something that people are born with? Or are they socialized into gender roles? Is gender in the eye of the beholder? To what extent do artists represent gender issues differently? How might one best critique or challenge gender norms? Are gender differences legal ground for treating men and women differently? Or should the law prohibit treating people differently based on gender? This course will consider these questions and more through the lenses of psychology, art, history, and law. The class will explore gender-related experiences across the lifespan, consider how gender has been represented and challenged in art throughout history, and discuss the differing ways that courts and lawyers have approached cases involving gender. This course will establish a foundation from which students can think critically about gender from multiple perspectives—personal, social, cultural, political, and juridical.
- Gabriela Valdivia, Department of Geography
- Gosia Lee, Department of Romance Studies
- Susan Harbage Page, Department of Women’s and Gender Studies
This Triple-I course is taught by a visual artist, a Spanish teacher, and a geographer. It examines linguistic, geopolitical, and socio-environmental boundaries to foster an intersectional understanding of identity and belonging in the Americas. Course topics (e.g., migration, justice, and environmental wellbeing) are examined through Spanish language-based films and artwork. Critically engaging with a variety of films, students will expand their speaking, writing, vocabulary and grammar in Spanish language and study in context art and have an opportunity to discuss and learn about global issues, indigenous populations, transnational connections between different countries (immigration, cultural adaptations, labor and exploitation, ethnicity and religion) and diversity (gender issues, class, regional and religious differences). Students are asked to respond to films and art with individual and collaborative assignments that involve performance, creative design, and fabrication. The assignments seek to forge connections between the arts, humanities, and sciences. Students will create e-portfolios to feature their creations and the skills gained to a broader audience.
- Megan Plenge, Department of Geological Sciences
- Troy Sadler, School of Education
- Kate Sheppard, School of Media and Journalism
Students often come into science courses with preconceptions about how the world works. These preconceptions are often retained even if the course content illustrates that they are incorrect. The role of educators then is not only to teach students new content, but also to help them to dismantle pre-existing misconceptions so that they can create new foundational ideas for understanding science.
This course will explore how news media’s portrayals of controversies (or perceived controversies) in science affects how students learn in the classroom. Students will be taught science content using passive and active instructional techniques and will analyze the data to explore how each teaching technique addressed their own misconceptions. They will also explore best practices for conveying potentially controversial science information in the news media and analyze how objective science information can become biased prior to media dissemination.
- Melinda Beck, School of Public Health; Department of Nutrition
- Sarah Dempsey, Department of Communication
- Lindsey Smith Taillie, School of Public Health; Department of Nutrition
Have you ever really thought about the meal that you just consumed? If you ate a hamburger, fries and milkshake, or a kale salad, where did that meal come from, and what does it mean to you? If you were living in a different country, what might that meal look like? Who are the laborers who made the meal possible? What are the ethics surrounding the work that went into that meal? How does that meal interact with your body? Is your body designed for this food? How do we make policies about food in the US? Is it any different in other countries? What are the ethical concerns of food policy? All of these questions and more will be discussed in this course.
- Fabian Heitsch, Department of Physics and Astronomy
- James Rives, Department of Classics
- Marc Lange, Department of Philosophy
Astronomy is one of the oldest global enterprises of humanity. This course will focus on astronomy as it developed in the ancient Mediterranean and in early modern Europe, taking students on a voyage through time — from astronomy’s early beginnings as a means to keep calendars and as the underpinnings of mythology, to its central role during the early modern period in the development of natural sciences as we understand them today. The logical, epistemological, and conceptual foundations of early modern astronomy became the model for all future scientific research. Since astronomy lives at the intersection of mythology and language, philosophy, and natural sciences, students will encounter research methods specific to each of the three subjects. Students will acquire the logical, quantitative, and analytic skills necessary for understanding how different epochs interpreted the generation of knowledge; how their interpretations were influenced by their culture, mythology, and religion; and how science arrives at knowledge even when the empirical evidence is logically compatible with many rival theories.
- Florence Dore, Department of English and Comparative Literature
- Jocelyn Neal, Department of Music
- Fitz Brundage, Department of History
The Mason and Dixon line marks a physical boundary, but beyond geographic location, what is the US South? Did its swamps spontaneously produce the blues? Did bluegrass music arise magically from the hills? How did Mississippi produce two such distinct figures as William Faulkner and Elvis Presley, and how were their works related to their origin? What does the history of slavery in the US South have to do with the emergence of country music, R & B, Soul, or Flannery O’Connor’s fiction? Should we understand the New York born James Baldwin as a southern author, given his family’s lineage in the South? In this course, we will examine the South in its cultural and historical incarnations to examine how it both generated and was generated by economic, technological, and political factors. Through textual and data driven analysis, we will come to understand how the South can be simultaneously the birthplace of rock and roll and the origin of the “Southern Strategy”—at once the seat of American authenticity and origin of Coca Cola, America’s first global brand.
- Molly Worthen, Department of History
- Gabriel Trop, Department of Germanic and Slavic Languages and Literatures
- Joaquin Drut, Department of Physics and Astronomy
This course is an interdisciplinary introduction to some of the most essential and exciting debates about humanity’s relationship to the universe. We explore such topics as the beginning of existence, the nature of time, contact with the supernatural world, and predictions about the end of all things–from the perspective of philosophy, physics, history, and related disciplines.
- Nadia Yaqub, Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies
- Jennifer Gates-Foster, Department of Classics
- Banu Gökarıksel, Department of Geography
What is a border? Have they always existed? How do they come into being and how have conceptualizations of borders changed throughout human history? What agency do people have when borders impinge on their lives? These are some of the questions we will address in Borders and
Boundaries, particularly through case studies anchored in the Middle East. We will consider ancient theories of borders and the body, the materiality of borders, and the role of borders in cultural formation and identity. We will juxtapose this study of the ancient world with a critical examination of the cultural and political meaning of borders today with particular attention to the role of borders and boundaries in producing difference. Throughout the course our study of specific historical and political cases will be supplemented with analysis of imaginative works (literature, films, and art) that arise directly out of bordering practices and their effects. As we study this material we will be addressing the question “What can imaginative and representative works do to process, mitigate or undermine bordering practices?” This interdisciplinary framework will encourage students to consider borders from different scalar perspectives: at the level of the theoretical construct as well as the lived experiences of specific communities and individuals.
- Michele Rivkin-Fish, Department of Anthropology
- Jane Thrailkill, Department of English and Comparative Literature
- Rebecca Walker, Department of Philosophy
For many people alive today, the COVID-19 pandemic created a new way of life different to anything they had previously experienced. Yet these new realities – social distancing, quarantine, protective masks, job loss, education disruption, anxiety, loneliness and death, among so many others, have been part of many peoples’ lives in pandemics – and epidemics – across time and global space. The Spanish flu of 1918 is a well-known example, as is the black death of 1346-1353. This course addresses the ties that bind, and ruptures between, experiences of pandemics. In so doing, we bring three specific lenses and sets of methods to bear – those of literature, anthropology, and philosophy. Approaches will hone skill sets including analysis, argumentation, close reading, and comparative thinking. Themes that will be weaved throughout the course are those of care, resources, and knowledge production. Care of patients, families, local and global values; Resources of medical interventions, social connection, political structures, and financial means; Knowledge produced through science, narrative, myth, metaphor, and argument.
- Erianne Weight, Department of Exercise and Sports Science
- Jeff Greene, School of Education
- Anson Dorrance, UNC Women’s Soccer Program
The purpose of this course is to provide students with a practical framework of expertise development and self-regulation to pursue mastery in their personal passions. Through collaborative discussions and interdisciplinary instructor perspectives and course material, students will gain an understanding of the things that are most important to them, what it takes to become extraordinary in these areas while maintaining their psychological well-being, and a personalized plan to maximize their potential. Topics covered include psychology of motivation and positive functioning, deliberate practice, accountability, competitiveness, leadership, resilience, happiness, flow, and performance measurement.
- Patrick Conway, Department of Economics
- Geoff Sayre-McCord, Department of Philosophy
- Kristin Wilson, School of Business
It is common today to use the price of a product or service as shorthand for its value. There is reason for this substitution, but it can be misleading as well, and too often leads people to ignore crucial questions about value in critical thinking and decision-making. In this course we will explore the distinction between:
What people happen to want, prefer, or value and
What people should want, prefer or value.
Observing peoples’ choices often puts us in a good position to understand why they do things they do and also helps us make sense of how markets work, how prices arise, and how various incentive structures influence our behavior. Thinking about what people should value, in contrast, is the necessary first step in evaluating what people do, making sense of how markets should work and what is involved in their failure, interpreting when a price reflects the true value of a product or service (or not) and designing incentive structures to encourage citizens to make the right choices.
Lord Darlington, in Oscar Wilde’s “Lady Windemere’s Fan” warned against being someone “who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.” In this course we will investigate the degree to which price and value are related. One theme we will be pursuing is that a society’s choices, as reflected through the pricing system of markets, often differ from what seems truly good, or just, or right. In light of this contrast, we will examine how and when economic, social and political systems can work to take advantage of, or even forge, a connection between what people choose and what they should value.
- Gabrielle Berlinger, Department of American Studies
- Victoria Rovine, Department of Art and Art History
- Meta DuEwa Jones, Department of English and Comparative Literature
What is art? And where is it found? Museums are devoted to it, scholars study it, collectors spend millions to own it. And yet, definitions of art reveal more about the people doing the defining than they do about the creative expressions themselves. By asking the question—rather than by answering it—this class will explore why art matters as a category, what roles artists play in their societies, and what changing conceptions of art tell us about people, cultures, and values around the world.
- Malinda Maynor Lowery, Department of History
- Christopher Clark, Department of Political Science
- Brandon Bayne, Department of Religious Studies
You may have been told by a loved one that there were two things you should never talk about in polite company: religion and politics. Nothing against those close to you, but we think that’s wrong. In fact, our collective inability to talk about religion and politics threatens to further polarize our public discourse and paralyze democratic institutions. This course offers an introduction to both subjects with the explicit goal of helping us all learn how to speak together and speak to the wider public about religion and politics. Along the way, we will consider how to discuss different ethical perspectives and distinctive approaches to current issues including, but not limited to memory, race, elections, public opinion, gender, sexuality, money, and social media. Students will engage the histories, politics, and religious traditions of communities that historically have been disempowered and interrogate structural processes of bias and inequality with the goal of both interrogating these systems and learning how to speak about resistance and transformation. From campus debates to family gatherings, our aim in this course is to equip you to better speak with others about those things you have been told to never bring up.
- Afroz Taj, Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies
- Marc Callahan, Department of Music
- Yaakov Ariel, Department of Religious Studies
Many of our social problems appear to stem from feelings of animosity people have towards others: racism, misogyny, antisemitism, Islamophobia, homophobia, white supremacy, etc. At the same time, many of our most profound cultural endeavors are aimed at overcoming the fears, suspicions, and misunderstandings that underpin that animosity. In this class, we examine the cognitive and psychological bases for animosity towards others, and how our political and social structures have fostered such feelings. We then examine cultural efforts to overcome them through performance, literature, visual representations (including film, photography, and other visual arts), and faith. The questions we will address include: How have performers, directors, writers, artists, and faith leaders addressed problems of hate and misrepresentation in their work? How do writers and other artists approach painful moments in history? How can our practices of reading, viewing, or listening counter hate? What role do faith communities play in generating and countering hate?
- Anna Krome-Lukens, Department of Public Policy
- John Bruno, Department of Biology
- Caela O’Connell, Department of Anthropology
The course will explore a range of topics around the food we eat before shifting focus to how we might grow food in the future. We will cover different disciplinary perspectives including science fiction, anthropology, public policy and marine ecology. The course begins with a history of food gathering: how has our love of and need for food influenced our social and political structures, trade and conflict among cultures, and the exploration of the planet? Students will learn about the impacts of feeding 8 billion humans on the natural world and strategies for reducing these impacts. A survey of recent innovations in food tech will be supported by historical background of how technology has shaped our relationship with food. We will use short fiction, one novel, films, and primary literature (journal articles) to compile, contrast and synthesize diverse perspectives on food systems of the past, present and future.
- Linda Green, Department of Mathematics
- Jason Roberts, Department of Political Science
- William Sturkey, Department of History
What properties should a fair election have and how can they be measured and achieved? Students will address this question as they compare different election systems, evaluate their strengths, weaknesses, and abuses, and design improvements to current structures. Topics will include gerrymandering, disenfranchisement and voter suppression, election fraud, representation, responsiveness, and ranked choice voting, The course will include some data analysis, but no prior experience is needed.
- Jeffrey Warren, Department of Public Policy
- Christian Lundberg, Department of Communication
- Molly Worthen, Department of History
Science for Hyperpartisan Times’ is a course about the place of science and scientific argument in public life. Specifically, it focusses on the ways that public discourse, debate, and discussion around how science and the presentation and interpretation of science influence our understandings of the world. Our goal is both to think carefully about how partisan public politics influence public debates around science policy, and to analyze how arguments about science shape contemporary public discourse and debate. We will pursue both goals with a careful eye for the ways that claims about the science and/or the authority of science can advance or detract from productive public debate.
- Colin Wallace, Department of Physics and Astronomy
- Steven Buzinski, Department of Psychology and Neuroscience
- Ram Neta, Department of Philosophy
How do you avoid being fooled by bogus claims? In this class, we examine climate change and the age of Earth and the universe – two topics where our underlying beliefs push us toward conclusions that conflict with the evidence. In addition to learning the science underlying these topics, we will learn the psychology of belief systems, why our brains reject some information, and how to deal with uncertainty, recognize logical fallacies, and examine claims.