The GSAS Graduate Student Council offers a series of noncredit mini-courses, taught by GSAS students for GSAS students, that will engage topics of discipline-spanning appeal.
These short courses, stimulating and smart, are designed for a diverse audience of nonspecialists, giving you a chance to step back from your own line of scholarly inquiry and step into other perspectives.
GSC Mini Courses, January 2015
Insect Sex: What the Most Diverse Group of Animals Can Teach Us About the Evolution of Sex
We all got the “birds and bees” talk at some point in our youth, but it probably did not give enough attention to the love lives of actual bees. We will cover the incredibly diverse, usually fascinating and occasionally horrifying sex lives of insects, from locating a member of the opposite sex, courtship, coitus and fertilization, all the way to egg laying or live birth, and parental care for the offspring that result. Along the way, we will talk about why these many different behaviors are adaptive, and we will discuss theories about how they evolved in the first place. January 12-23, MWF 1pm-2pm in Museum of Comparative Zoology 101. This class is open to everyone. Enroll here.
Con Men, Neuroscience and Magic: How the World of Illusion Can Inform Our Understanding of Human Perception
In this course we will explore the limits of human cognition and attention, and see how magicians use these to fool us into thinking that they can bend spoons with the power of their minds or that a chosen card can travel through a deck to reveal itself. We will look at how magicians imitate nature by looking at how appearing silks and flashes of fire are based on the same principles that stick insects or antelope use to avoid predators. We will discuss how con artists and fortune tellers use our social adaptations and innate predispositions against us. And we will talk about how superstitions and preconceived notions work to make us more susceptible to being conned or deceived and discuss ways of avoiding becoming and easy mark. M/W/F January 12-23, 4:30-5:30pm in Sever Hall 206. This class is open to everyone. Enroll here.
Catching Nature in the Act: Cinematic Experiments in Multispecies Thinking
This course uses experimental cinema to interrogate relationships between humans and other animals. Some of films are documentary or ethnography, others reappropriate science footage, and yet others are explorations of science fiction. We use these works to grapple with questions of representation, exploitation, and narration across the species boundaries. This class is open to everyone. Enroll here.
Kathryn Heintzman & Wythe Marschall
Death is Beautiful: Treatments of the Dead in Global History
Across time and space, death is a near universal construct in human lives: human groups recognize death as a significant landmark in sociocultural conceptions of life. This course, grounded in anthropological theory and methods, provides an interdisciplinary approach to human interactions with death. This course will introduce participants to contemporary and historical interpretations of death, demonstrating themes surrounding these interactions, as well as key cultural differences. This course will investigate fundamental questions about human interactions with death, and demonstrate how historical, material, and anthropological records of death can explicate complicated perspectives, fears, and anxieties connected to human life? January 12-16, 19-23 from 1-4pm in the Putnam lab of the Peabody Museum. This course is open to anyone interested but pre-registration is highly encouraged. Enroll here.
Climate Data: How Do We Know What We Know About Climate Change?
The goal of the course is to provide an introduction into the data, facts, and tools used to assess global climatic change. We seek to answer the question "How do we know that the earth's climate has been changing?" We will discuss how climatic records from both recent and distant history are obtained and what they tell us human contribution to earth's constantly changing climate. Finally, we will briefly touch upon how future climate change predictions are made. January 12-16, 10am-12pm in Science Center E. This class is open to everyone. Enroll here.
Beating the System: Identity Dynamics in Academics and Equal Access to the Profession
This course intends to introduce those outside the field of Gender and Women's studies to the ways in which gender and society interact. We will limit our scope to only graduate student life. The course will include discussions about the topic of unconscious bias and tie its impact to teaching in the classroom, relationships with other graduate students and advisers, and going on the job market after graduation. January 12-26, MWF 4:30-7pm in CGIS South S040. Due to the sensitive nature of course material, this course is restricted to those who sign up. Enroll here.
Clarisse Wells & Ceci Mourkogiannas
A Pocket Guide to Mental Health
Mental health is a topic often considered to be too taboo for everyday discussion. As a result, mysteries and rumor abound about what goes on behind the closed doors of therapy. This course will provide an insider's perspective on the field of mental health with an emphasis on what is supported by science and research. Participants will learn how and why diagnoses are made, the differences between therapy providers, the differences between types of therapy interventions for specific diagnostic categories, and actual strategies for managing troublesome emotions. January 13, 15, 20, 21, 22 in William James Hall 501. This class is open to everyone. Enroll here.
Christopher Rutt & Dianne Hezel
What is the Social in "Social Media"?
Are computers social? Do algorithms care about the social? This course will introduce students to critical conversations and essential texts on social media. Addressing topics such as networking/friending, liking/unliking/sharing, data mining, and political mobilization, this course combines academic and popular approaches to social media. January 14, 15, 21 & 22. The class is open to everyone but pre-registration is highly recommended. Enroll here.
Writing and Publishing for a General Audience
You know those pop science articles that make every incremental advance sound like the splitting of the atom? Ever wonder how those get published? Or why yesterday’s Middle East expert is today’s infectious diseases guru? Think you can do better? This mini-course covers writing, selling, and publishing for popular outlets. We’ll devote sessions to pitches, commentaries and op-eds, query letters to agents, and book proposals for trade presses. If there is interest, we can carve out time to workshop pitches and send them out into the world. January 12, 14, 16, 21, 23 10-11:30am in Tozzer 416. This class is open to everyone. Enroll here.
Memory, Trauma and War: Depicting "Japan" in East Asian Cinema
We have all seen Hollywood movies about the Japanese in World War II. But how is the war and its traumas remembered in Japan, or China, or South Korea? How do each of these countries' film industries balance condemnation of war aggression with remembrance of suffering, all while juggling capitalist realities (such as not wanting to offend the potentially lucrative markets of film-goers in neighboring countries)? Come to this course to find out, as we screen and discuss four examples of East Asian films struggling to define 'Japan' and trying to remember the war! 1/13, 1/15, 1/20, and 1/22 9am-12pm in CGIS South, Room 250. This class is open to everyone. Enroll here.