Global Studies and Service Department Course Offerings

BI533: Pox and Pestilence

Term: Semester 1

It is often said that the path of humankind hinges upon the behaviors of a few powerful individuals: presidents, monarchs, dictators, and the like. Some of these influential individuals are nasty and ruthless—and microscopic! Infectious diseases caused by tiny organisms have felled leaders, crippled societies, devastated cities, and transformed politics and economics. This course invites you on a multi-disciplinary journey to explore the impact of disease on human communities throughout history and to anticipate how disease may shape the future. Focusing on one disease at a time, Pox and Pestilence will follow multiple learning threads: the biology of the disease, the history of the disease outbreaks, the social context for the disease, and the metamorphoses of the diseases through different time periods. Smallpox, syphilis, HIV/AIDS, influenza, bubonic plague, cholera, and malaria are just some of the influential diseases that we will cover.

EC831: AP Macroeconomics

Term: Semester 1

This course introduces the principles of macroeconomics and prepares students for the Advanced Placement Examination. The dual goals of the course are for students to be able to use economic thinking appropriately in their own lives and to understand current economic topics. Key topics include unemployment, inflation, gross domestic product, economic growth, fiscal and monetary policy, the financial system, and international economic interactions. Students are required to take the AP Macroeconomics after completing this course. Open to Upper Middlers and Seniors with the approval of the Department. Completion of MA 320 or the equivalent is required, and MA 425 or Calculus is recommended.

EN458: World Cinema: An Introduction

Term: Semester 2

The goal of this course is twofold: to introduce students to the visual language of cinema through intensive readings in film theory and through frequent written analyses; and to introduce students to a range of cinematic styles and subjects from beyond the more familiar realms of Hollywood and American independent filmmakers. The latter two-thirds of the course will involve weekly film screenings followed by student-led seminars based on the film and on secondary readings in theory and in criticism that places the film in a broader social / cultural context. Assessments will include weekly critical essays, a substantial research essay, and contributions to the seminar discussions as leader and participant. Films for study may include City of God (Brazil), Raise the Red Lantern (China), Panis Labyrinth (Spain), Le Quattro Volte (Italy), Breathless (France), Run Lola Run (Germany), Water (India), Nikita (France), Cinema Paradiso (Italy). The final list of films will depend on student interest and input.

EN463: Literature of Civil Disobedience

Term: Semester 1

With Henry David Thoreau’s Walden and essay, “Civil Disobedience,” at its center, this course explores the social energies created by literature and the literature created out of historical acts of civil disobedience. Upon establishing a foundational understanding of Thoreau’s philosophy, students will study some of the literature and history of the Indian independence movement, the American Civil Rights Movement, the Tiananmen Square protests in China, and the women’s movement as it extends into the 21st century. Students will study fiction, non-fiction, memoir, poetry, drama, and film. Students’ work in the course will culminate in a final project: an act of civil disobedience of their own. Students enrolled in the course will also be eligible to participate in an optional five-day trip to the civil rights trail in Birmingham, Montgomery, and Selma, Alabama at the start of Thanksgiving break. Including its service components, the trip will provide students with an on-site exploration of some of the very acts of civil disobedience that fueled tremendous social change.

EN503: Race and Gender in Hollywood Film

Term: Semester 1

As the course title would suggest, Race and Gender in Hollywood Film is a class that investigates the ways in which contemporary Hollywood cinema shapes our understanding of race and gender. We will explore and define key terms -- for example, race, racism, ethnicity, sex, gender, sexual identity, masculinity, femininity -- and use these concepts to examine the explicit as well as implicit messages conveyed by recent, popular films. This course is both reading and writing intensive, with a goal of preparing students for the types of reading and writing they will be expected to do in college. Readings will be taken from a range of critical and theoretical sources, and in weekly writing assignments students will be expected to incorporate ideas from these secondary texts in analyzing films. Viewings will include documentaries as well as five or six feature films produced in the past five years. Ultimately, we will use readings and films to explore one essential question: How do Hollywood films construct the way we think, see, feel, and act with regards to race and gender?

EN510: Honors Mid English: Introduction to Comparative Literature

Term: Year

Introduction to Comparative Literature is an honors-level course that introduces students to issues and authors from around the world, across nationalities, languages and literary genres. The class asks students to look at familiar and unfamiliar works through a fresh lens and provides tools with which students can read their world(s). Central concerns will be honing and strengthening students’ analytical writing skills and developing creative criticism. Students will learn new methods of literary interpretation in order to read a broad range of fiction and poetry. Major texts include exile poetry and Julia Alvarez’s How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accent, Shakespeare, Goëthe, Edwidge Danticat, Maryse Condé, Jean-Paul Sartre, Jhumpa Lahiri and Tsitsi Dangarembga. Students will encounter multiple perspectives and questions of equity, justice, identities, and community. This course gives students skills that will prepare them for AP Literature and for further study in Honors Comparative Literature in their Upper Mid year. Admission to the course requires the consent of the department.

EN520: Honors Comparative Literature

Term: Year

This course will focus on the Middle Eastern, Asian, and European cultures of the Mediterranean region beginning with pre-Christian Greek, Asian and Arabian cultures and working up through the development and establishment of Christianity and Islam in the Mediterranean region. As its name suggests, this course is interdisciplinary in scope, studying the cultures of the Ancient and Medieval Mediterranean worlds through an exploration of the literature, religion, philosophy, art, and architecture produced within those cultures. Taught as an honors Harkness seminar, this course will entail a range of assessments, including oral presentations, analytical and creative writing projects, and collaborative performances – all of which will require students both to demonstrate an understanding of the texts and cultures in question and to apply ethical and philosophical concepts from those texts and cultures to their own lives. Cultures, topics, and texts covered will include some or all of the following: Ancient Greece (Hesiod’s Works & Days; Theogony; Sappho’s poetry); Athens in the 5th Century (Plato, Aeschylus, Euripides, Aristophanes); Mesopotamia (The Epic of Gilgamesh); Arabic (The Qur’an); Persian (One Thousand and One Nights); Islamic art; Roman civilization (Virgil, Aeneid; Lucretius, On the Nature of Things; Ovid, Metamorphoses; Plautus; Roman architecture); Early Christianity (St. Augustine, Confessions); Spain (The Song of the Cid; Don Quixote)

EN540: Honors Humanities

Term: Year

This interdisciplinary course is a chronological introduction to some major figures and ideas of western civilization. Students explore how a seamless integration of philosophy, literature, history, the arts, and science comprises a cultural experience. As students learn about various cultures and periods, they will discuss the application of their understanding to their own lives in making responsible, informed decisions concerning philosophical, spiritual, and moral issues. Readings from the Old and New Testament, and such authors as Homer, Plato, Sophocles, Dante, Chaucer, Machiavelli, Shakespeare, Galileo, Voltaire, Marx, Darwin, Nietzsche, Freud, Einstein, and Sartre reveal the thoughts and experiences that have shaped societies and individuals over the last 3500 years. Some recurring themes in the course are the nature and use of power; the relationships between men and women and between parents and children; the nature of spiritual experience and the divine; changing perceptions of the natural world and the position of human beings in the context of nature; and the causes and consequences of the development of science and technology. Discussions of art history illustrate the historical and social contexts of the readings. Various writing projects, period tests, oral presentations, and collaborative performances enable students to demonstrate their understanding of the moral and intellectual positions represented in the material and to exercise personal critical judgment regarding the value or validity of the ideas to which they have been exposed. And periodically students are asked to form and share their own opinions about the essential questions raised in the course. A student who completes the course may, with departmental permission, use it to satisfy one semester of the English requirement. A student enrolled in three, year-long Advanced Placement courses may, with permission of the English Department, use this course to fulfill the full-year English requirement. If there are spaces available in the course, a student who cannot otherwise fit this course into his or her program may, with permission of the English Department, use this course to fulfill the full-year English requirement. Open to Seniors with departmental permission.

GS502: Terror in the Name of God

Term: Semester 2

This course will address the contemporary global resurgence of terror in the name of God. In classroom talks and discussions we will seek to identify, describe, and explore the potential for extremism within the different religious traditions. We will also examine the ways in which we might grapple with this phenomenon in order to see how religion is not only part of the problem of terrorism but is a key ingredient to its solution. Finally, we will seek to find answers to the following complex questions: Which destructive patterns of religious training, thinking, and rhetoric contribute to this global problem? How can spirituality in different religious traditions create new venues for dialogue in today’s terrorized world?

GS513: The Power of Myth in the World's Cultures and Religions

Term: Semester 1

We live in a world that is comprised of many diverse worldviews. The mystery of life transcends appearances and cannot be expressed adequately in language. It is the stories that different cultures, societies and religious traditions have told through the millennia that have inspired their cosmologies, philosophies, arts and spiritual understanding of the fundamental nature of reality called by various names, i.e., God, the Tao, Brahman, The Great Spirit, Yahweh, the Ultimate Truth and so on. These myths still provide meaning, purpose and guidance in our lives when we re-discover their transcendent and timeless value.

There are two primary texts for this course: The Power of Myth by the 20th century’s foremost expert on myth, Joseph Campbell and The Illustrated World’s Religions: A Guide to Our Wisdom Traditions, by one of the greatest teachers on world religions in our time, Huston Smith. 

GS517: Service Learning: Not to Be Served (not offered in 2018-19)

Term: Semester 1

"First with the head, then with the heart." This Service Learning course combines rigorous academic classes with challenging community service on the basis that it is not until we are informed that we can be really useful. Classroom work will focus on issues such as poverty, public health, immigration, environment and education. Students will spend at least one session per week in the local community working with local partners, for example Children's Community School and the St John's Soup Kitchen. All students will complete regular written assignments as well as one major individual research paper.

GS523: Philosophy: Searching for Truth

Term: Semester 1

This course introduces students to the components of philosophy through readings from the history of philosophy (ancient, modern, and contemporary) combined with the examination of topics such as metaphysics, logic, ethics, existence of God, immortality, knowledge, the mind-body question, personal identity, free will and determinism, political philosophy, the meaning of life, abortion, capital punishment, animal rights, and affirmative action. The course exposes students to a range of ideas and readings representing a variety of cultural and ethnic backgrounds.

GS532: The Influence of Buddhism in the West

Term: Semester 2

In this course students will explore why Buddhism has become so popular in the contemporary West. We will study Buddhism through the lives and teachings of the two most popular Buddhist teachers in the world today: the Dalai Lama (Tibet) and Thich Nhat Hanh (Vietnam). Together we will seek to understand what Buddhists mean when they speak about enlightenment, nirvana, meditation, human suffering, compassion and wisdom. We will examine the practical value of Buddhism and how it has enriched the lives of Jews, Christians, agnostics and others in the modern West.

GS551: Understanding Islamic Faith and Practice (not offered in 2018-19)

Term: Semester 1

This course will examine the life of the prophet Muhammad, the fundamentals of the message of the Qur’an, and its relationship to Judaism and Christianity. We will learn about the differences between Sunni and Shi’ite Muslims and study Sufism (Islamic mysticism) through the poetry of Rumi, Al-Ghazali and others. We will also explore Sharia Law, Jihad, Islamic fundamentalism, the role of women in Islam, and the future of Islam in the era of globalization and secularism.

GS570: Honors Model UN for Upper Schoolers

Term: Year

This year-long Model United Nations (MUN) course is designed to examine the primary functions of the United Nations and its diplomatic role with respect to political, economic and cultural concerns of the global community. Through research, discussion, negotiation and debate, students will develop plausible solutions to contemporary global problems. These issues include, but are not limited to, human rights, protection of the environment, economic development, disarmament, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the complexities surrounding war and peace.

Most of the work that will be carried out in this course is in preparation for participation in the Harvard Model United Nations Conference, held in February; and the Cornell Model UN Conference, held in April. Students enrolled in the course are required to attend these conferences.

GS591: Independent Tutorial in Global Service and Scholarship

Term: Semester 1

This is an opportunity for a student to work with a member of the Department on a project in which they share a common interest. Open to Seniors by permission of the Department Head and the Dean of Academic Affairs.

GS592: Independent Tutorial in Global Service and Scholarship

Term: Semester 2

This is an opportunity for a student to work with a member of the Department on a project in which they share a common interest. Open to Seniors by permission of the Department Head and the Dean of Academic Affairs.

GS720: AP Human Geography

Term: Year

Human Geography is an interdisciplinary field that combines geography with the subject matters of social science. It refers to the sub-fields of geography that deal with how human action changes or is influenced by the earth's surface. In AP Human Geography, we will study the world, its populace, various communities, cultures, and religions. This course combines the study of cultural and economic geography as it explores the multi-faceted relationship between people and their environment. For instance, we will study the earth’s physical features, such as topography, soil, and vegetation and examine in detail the ways in which they are affected by human activity. There are seven major fields of study in AP Human Geography that we will cover over the course of the year: geography, population, cultural patterns and processes, political organization of space, agricultural and rural land use, industrialization and economic development, and cities and urban land use. In this course we will learn the methods and tools that geographers use in their science and practice. Open to UMs, Seniors, and Mids (department approval required)

GO740: AP Comparative Government

Term: Year

The AP course in Comparative Government introduces students to the ways in which political scientists evaluate political life in all its variety. Beginning with a basic introduction to political theory, the course will then examine and compare the political history and governments of China, Great Britain, Mexico, Russia, Iran and Nigeria. After studying political theory, students can then see how these theories manifest themselves in practice. Whether it be elections, policy making, or power structures, students will take abstract ideas and see them in action. They will also see how increased global connectedness has affected the traditional nation-state and ideas of sovereignty. In addition to preparing for the AP exam, students will learn about political history and current events in the six nations they study and will be asked to perform deeper research into the countries we study. Open to students who have completed U.S. History or AP U.S. History, with department approval. Students are expected to take the AP Comparative Government exam.

GS993: Honors Independent Tutorial in Global Service

Term: Semester 1

GS994: Honors Independent Tutorial in Global Service

Term: Semester 2

HI509: The Politics of Race and Gender

Term: Semester 1

The political scientist Harold Lasswell defined politics as, “Who gets, what, when and how.”  This definition will guide us in our study of race and gender in modern American society. We will begin with looking at a brief history of race and gender politics in the US.  We will then turn to the modern modern political culture and climate and we will examine how race and gender have affected the lives of everyday Americans. We will begin with the premise that racism and sexism continue to permeate through American politics and culture but we will also examine ways to move towards a more equal, just and free society.

HI510: The Politics of Race and Gender

Term: Semester 2

The political scientist Harold Lasswell defined politics as, “Who gets, what, when and how.”  This definition will guide us in our study of race and gender in modern American society. We will begin with looking at a brief history of race and gender politics in the US.  We will then turn to the modern modern political culture and climate and we will examine how race and gender have affected the lives of everyday Americans. We will begin with the premise that racism and sexism continue to permeate through American politics and culture but we will also examine ways to move towards a more equal, just and free society.

SC730: AP Environmental Science

Term: Year

The challenge of understanding and maintaining a sustainable environment may be the single most pressing scientific issue that will confront students throughout their lives. Today, environmental science is not only relevant to students' personal experience, but it is also vital to the future of the entire biosphere and human civilization. As humans continue to alter the Earth's land, water, and atmosphere at local, regional and global levels, the resulting environmental dilemmas can seem overwhelming. Educated properly, students may confront these problems and contribute to their ultimate solution in the future. This course will equip students with a fundamental understanding of our environment from which the solutions to these problems may spring. An initial goal of this course is to instill an understanding and appreciation of the complexity and precise functioning of the natural ecosystems that form our biosphere. Therefore, this course will begin with a close examination of the basic ecological principles that govern the natural world followed by the many ways that humans affect that world through the investigation of the topics of human population growth, energy production and consumption, natural resource depletion, and agricultural and industrial pollution, among others. While exploring these issues, students will integrate knowledge from the fields of physics, chemistry, biology, history, political science, geology and demography. In addition to class discussion, lecture, reading, and field investigations of various ecosystems, the study of industrial and agricultural processes and methods of transportation will be accomplished. This course will prepare students for the AP Environmental Science examination in May. Open with permission of the department to Seniors and the occasional Upper Middler who have successfully (85 or above) completed one year of physics (PH120 or PH130) and one year of chemistry (CH220 or CH230) and also acquired the permission of the Taft science department.