Daytime Duke Courses

Where do college courses come from? At Duke each undergraduate course is sponsored by an academic department and approved by a committee of the faculty. Some courses are considered to be "general" offerings and typically are taught at least once a year, while other courses are "special topics" focusing upon a specific topic that may be offered only once.

Duke Gothic buildingWe have selected a broad range of courses, including both "general" courses and "special topics," to be featured in the 2018 offerings for Summer College participants. Although some of the courses have cross-listings - that is, the courses are multi-disciplinary in both content and approach and are sponsored by one or more academic departments - we list each course only once, according to its original sponsoring department. Each listing begins with the full name of the sponsoring academic department and is followed by the designation of the department in all capital letters as it will appear on your class schedule and your Duke transcript.

To see the full course descriptions as a PDF, follow this link.

Every course will meet five days a week for two hours and five minutes per class session. The last day of the term may be utilized by your instructor for a final exam, final project, or final paper. Class size is likely to range from 10 to 18 students.

Please rank your top four course choices on your application form. Be sure to read course descriptions carefully as some may contain mature content. Course content will not be modified for students under the age of 18. While we will make every effort to enroll you in your first choice, in the event a class is unavailable or full, we will enroll you in an alternate course of your choosing.

Enrollment in the Duke Summer College for High School Students program begins on December 4, 2017, with immediate placement into evening classes. Course placement for daytime Duke undergraduate classes begins February 19, 2018, when pre-registration for Duke Summer Session opens.

Arts of the Moving Image

(Arts of the Moving Image/AMI) Contemporary Documentary Film

For 20 years Duke University and the City of Durham have hosted the international Full Frame Documentary Film Festival. Over the course of four days and from early morning to evening, over 100 films are shown bringing together filmmakers and film lovers. This course utilizes films from the festival to explore the art form, style, and technology of contemporary documentary films while investigating issues such as autonomy and power, politics, and public policies. Focusing upon the analysis of outstanding films from around the world, this course also includes presentations and discussions by filmmakers.

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Biology

(Biology/BIOLOGY) The Hard Truth of Evolution

Through selected readings, short lectures, and class discussions, we will investigate some of the fundamental truths of biological evolution, the consequences of evolutionary biology for society, and the potential conflicts that emerge when evolutionary biology and (American) religion seek to co-exist. Building on Theodosius Dobzhansky’s famous statement that “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution,” we will explore why some areas of evolution are easy to accept as factually true and why some areas are much harder to grasp. The course also seeks to broaden the discussion of evolutionary biology to include how societies have historically used and abused evolutionary theory (ancient crop breeding, eugenics, GMOs, etc.). Finally, we will discuss the modes of interaction between modern Western science and traditional Western (Abrahamic) religions, focusing on the rise of Creationism and Intelligent Design in contemporary American culture. This course will present various aspects of evolutionary biology, including phylogenetics, adaptations, natural selection, and genetics, while also drawing on diverse elements of cultural anthropology and theology to address the complexity of societal issues relating to evolution. Students from a variety of backgrounds, scientific and not, religious and not, are invited to engage in a collaborative discourse of one the thorniest scientific topics in modern society. 

(Biology/BIOLOGY) Ecology in the News

Have you read headlines in the Washington Post or New York Times and thought about the ecology behind them? For example, recent hurricanes in the United States have led to increases in local mosquito populations. To explain this pattern to a general audience, journalists must communicate foundational ecological concepts like population growth, infectious disease, and species interactions. How can we make connections between popular press and the real, underlying science, and how can learning to make these connections help us make sure that scientists communicate effectively with the general public, policy makers, and others? Although science courses often emphasize the use of primary, peer-reviewed literature in scientific journals, the majority of people get their information from non-scientific sources, such as the news media. In this course, we will cover foundational ecological concepts, including aspects of population ecology, species interactions, community structure, and ecosystem processes, using peer-reviewed scientific literature, field trips, demonstrations, and lectures. We will then locate and read articles from the popular press that address these same concepts and discuss how mass media covers these topics, what they do and do not effectively communicate to the public, and what we can learn about science from media sources. An understanding of fundamental scientific concepts can be an essential tool in understanding headlines in today’s news. It is important to evaluate the evidence provided. In addition to gaining an understanding of foundational ecological topics through reading popular and scientific articles, students will have the opportunity to interview a science writer from Science Magazine about how to convey effectively scientific concepts to a lay audience and workshop their own article. At the end of the term, students will give final presentations about one mainstream media article and the relevant primary literature article that details the science underlying that issue. Students will ultimately learn how to read ecological scientific literature, critique media coverage of scientific articles, and practice communicating scientific information in both oral and written formats. In college and beyond, understanding scientific concepts and the ability to synthesize and evaluate evidence are useful skills. In this course, we will practice each of these skills while learning foundational ecological concepts. 

(Biology/BIOLOGY) Life in the Deep Sea

The deep sea is the largest habitat on earth, representing 97% of the space where organisms can live on our planet. Once thought to be a lifeless abyss, it is home to an incredible diversity of animals with innovative adaptations to the deep-sea environment. This course explores the deep-sea habitat and the biological challenges of living there through a combination of lecture, discussion, and student presentations. Students will learn about the important environmental variables and habitats in the deep sea and how animals have adapted to survive, reproduce, and interact with each other in the deep-sea environment. Finally, they will learn the crucial services deep-sea ecosystems provide to humanity and the direct and indirect impacts we have on this seemingly far-off environment. Students will be asked to read scientific papers, contribute to discussions, and prepare a final presentation. This course will give non-majors an introduction to concepts in ecology, evolution, and conservation while using the deep sea as a fun and fascinating focal system. They will also receive a primer on the scientific method and be able to read and interpret scientific journal articles. Finally, students will be able to draw direct connections between basic research and human prosperity, which will be mirrored in the course structure and assessments.

(Biology/BIOLOGY) Phenomenal Physiology

While anatomy is the study of a body’s form, physiology is the study of its function. This course will examine the questions of how and why the body functions the way it does, looking beyond the functions of individual systems and also emphasizing the high level of functional integration between them. We will also touch on the consequences of dysfunction (pathophysiology). Students will learn how even minor changes in the normal physiology of one system can create dysfunction of that system, as well as have secondary effects on other systems.

The “processes” component of this course will cover the mechanisms by which the body receives input (stimuli), processes this information, and determines an appropriate output (reaction). For example, sweating occurs as a mechanism for modulating internal temperature, but what variables are involved in the process? And why does sweating often occur when we’re nervous, even if we’re also cold? And if an individual is unable to sweat, where is the dysfunction in the process likely occurring, and what consequences might we expect? These last two ponderings are examples of the “phenomena” and “pathology” components, respectively, which will be incorporated in our coverage of physiology.

(Biology/BIOLOGY) Coping: Evolution in the Anthropocene

For non-human organisms, living in the Anthropocene, or the Age of Humans, means adjusting to highly variable climates, rapidly dwindling habitat, and the emergence of new environments altogether. These human-induced environmental shifts are creating new pressures on organisms to accommodate and adapt to the human-influenced world. In this course, we will draw on emerging research to discuss the various ways that organisms evolve to accommodate anthropogenic change. We will look at some specific examples from coastal, island, and urban environments, and discuss how anthropogenic effects have impacted both phenotypes and genetic code to create evolutionary shifts with impacts on biodiversity and ecology. Finally, we’ll discuss what, if any, ethical obligations we might have to mitigate these ongoing shifts.

This course will be structured as a series of seven simplified case studies drawn from the current ecological genomics literature and examined for two days each. At the end of the course, there will be two days to discuss modern philosophical work on foundations of the concept of biodiversity and our ethical obligations to non-human organisms. Students will close the course with a presentation of a research proposal to study a system that they believe may be evolving in response non-human organisms.

(Biology/BIOLOGY) Genetics of Evolution & Adaptation in Humans

Out of the millions of species which inhabit Earth, only one species is found on every continent - humans! The diversity of environments in which humans live, and their often complex demographic histories, have led to a series of evolutionary changes through both time and space. Understanding the evolutionary mechanisms which underlie these changes is important, because it not only helps us to understand our own evolutionary past, but also to make important and informed decisions about how to apply evolution to our everyday lives. This includes basic tasks, such as using personal genome sequencing to determine our ancestry (from companies such as 23&Me), to sometimes life-altering decisions involving medical procedures. In this class, we will learn basics of evolutionary genetics by exploring the model system Homo sapiens. This will include unearthing how neutral and demographic processes shape population structure in modern day humans, discovering how natural and sexual selection have shaped phenotypic variation in modern human populations, and understanding how human medicine can be influenced by evolutionary theory. The class will be split into mini-lectures and seminar style discussion sections for each meeting. We will also work throughout the term on developing experiments to test the evolutionary mechanism(s) responsible for potential adaptations in human populations, with the overall goal of writing a miniature mock grant proposal. This process will include an oral presentation, as well as providing and obtaining peer-review comments on proposal drafts.

(Biology/BIOLOGY) Genetics in the News

The ultimate goal of this course is to gain an appreciation for the relevance of genetics and biology to many aspects of daily life, while empowering students to be critical and informed consumers of popular media. This will be achieved through “just-in-time” learning of biology foundational concepts presented within the contexts of current society, recent history, and various professional applications, such as law and medicine. There will also be an emphasis on developing students as scholars and professionals, focusing both on oral presentation skills and on study methods for sciences, which can differ substantially from other disciplines. Proposed topics break down roughly into five main areas, which are interrelated and complementary. Some of these may ultimately be deemed outside the scope of the course; however all of them are important to keep in mind.

1) Foundations in Biology, including scientific approach: correlation vs. causation, proof vs. disproof, hypothesis vs. theory; evolution: non-directional, selective pressures, populations scale; inheritance: DNA, haplotype blocks, allele frequencies; central dogma, cellular players and mechanisms; genetic and phenotypic variation (SNPs, CNVs, haplotype blocks); and cell lineage: stem cells, differentiation, tissue types.

2) Research Technologies including induced pluripotent stem cells; high-through put sequencing; and CRISPR-Cas.

3) Applications of Genetics including medicine: genetics of the individual (genetic testing, forensics); medicine: reproductive technologies (IVF, non-invasive prenatal testing, preimplantation genetic diagnosis); medicine: gene editing and gene therapies; law: wrongful birth suits, gene patents, military ethics, genetic discrimination, etc.; and other, including genetic intersections with disparate disciplines and professions.

 4) Genetics in Society including genealogical research and personal identity; genetics in the media – cultural perceptions/fears/hopes for genetic technologies; and current and historical controversies in genetic technologies.

5) Students as Professionals including how to learn and study basic sciences; and presentation skills.

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Cultural Anthropology

(Cultural Anthropology/CULANTH) Advertising and Society: A Global Perspective

In this course we will examine the history and development of commercial advertising. Specific topics to be addressed include the following: advertising as a reflector and/or creator of social and cultural values; advertisements as cultural myths; effects on children, women, and ethnic minorities; advertising and language; relation to political and economic structure; and advertising and world culture. Although the primary emphasis will be upon American society, this emphasis will be complemented by case studies of advertising in Canada, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Western Europe, and selected other countries.

 

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Economics

(Economics/ECON) Game Theory

The interactions of human beings with other individuals, within groups, and with the earth lead us to ponder many questions concerning the ways in which people coordinate and structure their actions. It is to these questions that we turn, in trying to understand the strategic decisions that people make on a daily basis. Will it make a difference if I throw my candy wrapper in the street instead of waiting to find a trash can? How much should I pay for a used car? How will our family decide who cooks dinner? Is it feasible for a firm to enter the market for a new product? Under what conditions would a union go on strike during labor contract negotiations? In this course students learn the basic tools of game theory in order to analyze these various economic and social situations. We start by providing a background and introduction to both game theory and economics. We then proceed to define the terminology used in both fields. Our section on games begins with an analysis of normal form (strategic form) games in which we have a static setting and players move simultaneously. Concepts such as a player’s best response, dominant strategies, and the Nash equilibrium are presented, along with various examples of applications. The three classic games of chicken (hawk-dove), coordination (battle of preferences), and the prisoners’ dilemma are introduced, with an extension to the mixed strategy Nash equilibrium. Next we turn to extensive form games in order to analyze dynamic games in which players move sequentially. The notion of a sub-game perfect Nash equilibrium is discussed, and the technique of backward induction is taught. Repeated interactions between players are then considered as we discuss both infinitely repeated games and finitely repeated games. Topics in public and environmental economics are introduced in order to apply these game theory concepts to situations pervaded by free-riding and collective action problems. Evolutionarily stable strategies are also discussed, allowing us to understand how repeated games can lead to the stability of social inequalities by class, gender, race, and ethnicity. The role of institutions (such as norms, customs, traditions, beliefs, and property rights) in maintaining these inequalities is discussed from a game theoretic standpoint. Lastly, we study situations of asymmetric information between players. We give specific references to issues of principal-agent problems, moral hazard, and adverse selection as applied to monitoring, signaling, and “lemons” markets. We will also discuss bargaining models. The course concludes with a critical analysis of the theories and assumptions used in game theory. In particular, students debate the usefulness of concepts of “rationality.”

 

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English

(English/ENGLISH) American Classics: Tales and Poems from Poe to the Present

A close study of selected short stories and poems by American authors, some famous, others less well known.  Major authors will include Edgar Allen Poe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Mark Twain, Robert Frost, T.S. Eliot, Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, William Carlos Williams, Richard Wright, Flannery O'Connor, Robert Penn Warren, Sylvia Plath, Philip Roth, John Updike, Reynolds Price, and Joyce Carol Oates. These writers represent various and sometimes conflicting cultural, political, and literary schools and values relating to the subcultures (Jewish, black, gay, urban and rural, religious, etc.) that appear in their writings. Out of this ferment involving codes of behavior numerous ethical issues emerge that will be explored throughout this course.

(English/ENGLISH) Language and Social Identity

Whenever we hear someone speak, we inevitably make guesses about his or her gender, age, occupation, place or origin, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and religion. We also often refer explicitly to the language and identity connection. For example, we talk of expressing our identity through our choice of vocabulary, or ‘losing’ our identity along with our regional accent when we enter a new environment such as college. In this course, we will draw on examples from the media, literature, the internet, pop culture, and politics to explore how speakers portray themselves to others through the use of language. We will also consider how language is talked about, and what assumptions people make about others based on how they speak. Students will be encouraged to bring their own examples to class for discussion.

(English/ENGLISH) Intercultural Communication

This course introduces students to the theoretical and practical aspects of analyzing intercultural communication, which can be defined as any interaction between individuals or groups coming from different cultural backgrounds or contexts. Often, even when participants in an interaction are able to speak the same language fluently, culturally-specific cues and messages may be misread and misinterpreted by the speaker’s interlocutors. In this course, we will examine how such cultural misunderstandings come about and how people go about resolving and repairing them. We will do this by examining current approaches to the study of culture, communication, and identity, and by applying these to specific examples from existing research, media, and real-life situations. The course is intended to include student input, in that the students’ particular cultural backgrounds will be taken into account in the choice of contexts we will look at, and students will be invited to bring personal examples to the discussion table. In analyzing intercultural encounters, we will also study and apply sociolinguistic methods of discourse analysis, in particular conversation analysis (or CA), which has been developed to record, transcribe, and examine talk-in-interaction. 

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Evolutionary Anthropology

(Evolutionary Anthropology/EVANTH) Introduction to Evolutionary Anthropology

Have you ever wondered about human origins, anatomy, and behavior from an evolutionary perspective? This course traces the historical development of pre-Darwinian evolutionary thinking and Darwin's contribution to evolutionary theory and then moves to consider genetics, microevolution and macroevolution, and the modern synthesis framing the study of human origins and behavior in the context of modern evolutionary biology. Along the way we will consider primate behavioral ecology and evolution, primate and human paleontology, adaptation and variation, the origins of human social organization and culture, and the impact of modern humans on biodiversity.

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Linguistics

(Linguistics/LINGUIST) Language and the Media: The New York Times to Twitter

The focus of this course is upon the linguistic analysis of texts – from the past and the present, including social media – with a view to understanding how they create, sustain, or challenge "common-sense" understandings of society and politics. English first-language speakers will be equipped with the tools to understand how *their own* language works in the media; second-language (L2) speakers will learn invaluable skills in identifying and understanding idiom, nuance, and rhetoric in both academic and media texts, thus offering preparation for undergraduate classes in a range of disciplines. If possible, writers from the Duke News and Communication Office will visit class to engage students in a few intensive writing and analysis workshops. The instructor of this course has written for news outlets such as The Huffington Post, The London Guardian, The Seattle Times, The Taipei Times, and The News and Observer (of Raleigh, North Carolina).

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Literature

(Literature/LIT) Race, Technology & Everyday Life: Surveillance in the Afterlife of Slavery

Technology is undoubtedly central to our everyday life. It has extended our ability to communicate, travel, and process information at unprecedented rates. Yet, technology has also further enabled social control. This course examines the genealogy of surveillance technologies and their place in everyday life in the context of race, as well as gender, sexuality, and class, from the antebellum era to the present. In the course, we will analyze race as technical, a mechanism of scrutiny that is both socially produced and productive of domination in its various forms. We see that both in the way that race acts as a marker of ‘otherness’ when Black and Latino men are regularly stopped and frisked by the police in New York City, and in the way that facial recognition software has been used to profile and track Black Lives Matter activists in Baltimore. To further understand these issues, we will engage critical works that theorize surveillance as a cultural practice, and we will examine how legal doctrines, visual culture, spatial regulation, and science function to uphold its pervasiveness. In doing so, we will study various modes of surveillance by examining histories of racial segregation, scientific racism, capital punishment, policing, and digital surveillance, to ask: how have surveillance technologies evolved over time? and, how have ideologies and practices of social control changed the logic of policing? Against this backdrop, we will consider how artistic expression, activism, and aesthetics have shaped politics of refusal in the last century. From antebellum identification papers to TSA (Transportation Security Administration) body scanners, the course will prompt us to consider what it means to think about race, and racialism, as a technology that has profoundly shaped our daily experiences, social norms, modalities of resistance, as well as possibilities for the future. The course emphasizes engagement with cultural production. Students will analyze primary texts in the African-American cultural discourse, including literary works (poetry and fiction) and products of visual culture (film and photography). Theoretical texts will be read alongside cultural texts: we will read authors such as James Baldwin, Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, etc. We will also watch three documentaries and engage contemporary art as case studies for our study. Where appropriate, the course will engage musical production, e.g, Billie Holliday’s “Strange Fruit” in the section on racial terror. In addition to cultural texts, the course relies on texts in literary and critical theory and popular commentary by public intellectuals.

(Literature/LIT) Art Markets in Contemporary China

This course aims to familiarize students with some salient themes in contemporary Chinese art, including the social political change after Deng Xiaoping’s economic reform, the impact of economic transformation on culture and art, and the Chinese contemporary art scene on the global stage. How do documentary films and blockbusters create “China” in the international cultural exchange? What is the role of censorship and state promotion of art? How does the international market trade of Chinese art works operate? Throughout the course, students will learn an array of theoretical approaches, although we will not read “theory” as such. Only English materials will be used in this course, although some materials are originally in Chinese.

(Literature/LIT) Monstrosity, Science, Culture

Deformity. Unnatural. Inhuman. These are the ideas that come to mind when we think of “monstrosity.” As creatures that elicit disgust, fear, and perhaps even a perverse fascination, monsters have always been intense zones of meaning. The etymological root of “monster” is twofold: it connotes an act that unveils and exposes as well as a sign of warning and admonishment. By straddling the line between the normal and the illicit, “monstrosity” is a sign of the cultural systems we use to make sense of the world. Our monsters also are rooted in the collective cultural anxieties of our time. This course provides a broad theoretical and cultural overview of the evolution of the concept of “monstrosity.” We first study how in ancient thought, “monstrosity” and “hybridity” are not cemented with “evil.” We then attend to how monstrosity becomes a site of transgression, taboo, and even danger with the rise of modern Judeo-Christian religions. Following this, we analyze how “monstrosity” once again evolves after the rise of modern science with the creation of manmade laboratory monsters in the late nineteenth century. We assess how the monsters of our past still deeply permeate our contemporary biotechnological imaginary in how we come to regard the “naturalness” of biological life. Some questions we will track in this course are: have “hybridity,” “abnormality,” and the crossing of boundaries always been sources of taboo and sites of transgression? what are the historical and cultural roots in society’s fear and fascination with monsters? how do “deformity” and “monstrosity” cross-pollinate our ideas about sex, gender, and the maternal? what is the relationship between “monstrosity” and “nature”? how do the concepts of “monstrosity” and “hybridity” further evolve following the rise of modern science? how do these ideas prefigure modern biotechnological endeavors?

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Mathematics

(Mathematics/MATH) Mathematics of the Universe

This course will survey, in precise mathematical terms, what is known and not known about the universe, from special relativity, the big bang, and black holes to dark matter and theoretical astrophysics. Einstein's idea that "matter curves spacetime," which is the fundamental principle behind general relativity, requires a field of mathematics called differential geometry, for example. Since this is a seminar, the pace and emphasis of the class will be highly influenced by the questions asked by the students. Nevertheless, mastery of single variable calculus is highly recommended.

(Mathematics/MATH) Game Theory and Democracy

What is democracy? Using preferential ballots in elections is a natural idea since it allows voters to express a first choice, a second choice, a third choice, etc., on each ballot, thereby collecting more information from each voter and creating the potential for an outcome which better represents the voters. However, there are many ways to determine the winner of a preferential ballot election, and each “preferential ballot vote counting method” has its own game theory, both for the candidates and the voters, some better and some worse, and often very different from the game theory of the single vote ballot. So which preferential ballot vote counting method is the best? Does there exist a vote counting method which incentivizes politicians to seek out centrist, consensus building positions and to focus on issues important to voters, more than game theoretic tactics meant to manipulate the electorate? Or is there another goal we should be pursuing? In this course, we will use game theory and mathematics to study these questions.

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Philosophy

(Philosophy/PHIL) Introduction to Philosophy (emphasis on ethics and value theory)

What exactly do philosophers do? This remains a mystery to most people who envision philosophers sitting around pondering the meaning of life. So we will begin this course by clarifying what philosophy is. Next, we will study the tools that philosophers use to assess arguments. After we practice distinguishing good reasoning from bad, we will use these skills to evaluate arguments in epistemology (theory of knowledge), metaphysics, and ethics. Discussion topics will be tailored to student interest, but potential topics to be addressed include the possibility and nature of scientific progress; the nature of mind; space and time; the ethics of environmentalism, genetic engineering, immigration, and the 2008 financial crisis; and, yes, the meaning of life.

(Philosophy/PHIL) Logic

Are you ever puzzled by reading a paragraph that seems to make no sense or a debate that seems to go in a circle? Would you like to improve your test-taking skills for standardized admission tests? Why do pre-law advisors recommend taking a course in Logic as the best preparation for admission to law school? This course will examine the conditions of effective thinking and clear communication. To this purpose, we will look at the most fundamental principles of deductive reasoning and cover the basics of sentence and predicate logic. Some of the topics we will investigate include truth-functional connectives, quantifiers, translation, derivations, and truth trees.

(Philosophy/PHIL) Applied and Environmental Ethics

The aim of this course is to understand and critically examine central issues in applied and environmental ethics. There are ethical issues that arise at different levels of our lives. In this course, after introducing what ethics is and how it works, we will examine and discuss those ethical issues in three parts: 1) ethics of birth, 2) personal and social ethics, and 3) global and environmental ethics. In the first part, we will discuss topics related to giving birth to a person (for example, abortion, genetic engineering, and disability). The second part will address ethical issues that arise as we live interacting with people around us (for example, family, sexual morality, and gender). The last part will be devoted to ethical issues related to the entities in an ‘expanded circle’ (for example, strangers, non-human animals, and the natural environment as a whole). The questions we will address include the following: is it wrong to abort a baby with potential disability? what do we owe to our parents? who can we have sex with, morally speaking? are we responsible for the poverty of people on the other side of the world? how should we treat chimpanzees? what about frogs? why should we protect our Mother Nature?

(Philosophy/PHIL) Existentialism

This course places literature and philosophy in conversation with one another, pointing to their close connections. Existentialism asks about the foundations of mind, morals, and the meaning of life. It asks about ways of living, ways of reading, and ways of writing. Key themes will be existence, ethics, meaning of life, freedom, death, and writing. Questions – such as is God dead and is there any reason to be moral – will be explored alongside nihilism, racism, and sexism – will be considered. Texts may include writings by Soren Kierkegaard, Fredrich Nietzsche, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Leo Tolstoy, Martin Heidegger, Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus, Simone de Beauvoir, Frantz Fanon, Iris Murdoch, and others. 

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Physics

(Physics/PHYSICS) Introductory Seminar on Big Questions in Physics

This course will provide an introduction to six major questions representing frontiers of twenty-first century physics, such as what are the ultimate laws of nature, how does complex structure arise, and how can physics benefit society. Individual class sessions will involve presentations by researchers and by students, discussions of journal articles, and tours of physics labs involved with related research.

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Political Science

(Political Science/POLSCI) Introduction to Political Philosophy

In this course we will examine some of the most important and challenging texts and thinkers of the Western political tradition. Studying these works, we will gain a working understanding of concepts like authority, justice, the good life, rights, freedom, community, power, and sovereignty. We will also examine broad themes including: the polis experience (Plato, Aristotle), the state (Niccolo Machiavelli, Thomas Hobbes), constitutional government (John Locke), democracy (Jean-Jacques Rousseau), and liberty (John Stuart Mill). In the final days of the course we vwill focus on contemporary debates. Careful attention will be given to the ways argument and rhetoric operate in texts of political philosophy, as well as diverse modes of interpretation. 

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Psychology

(Psychology/PSY) Introductory Psychology

This course will provide a broad overview of the field of psychological science, covering the biological, evolutionary, cognitive, social, personality, and clinical perspectives of behavior, as well as the conceptual issues unifying these sub-disciplines. Not only will the course provide a solid grounding in the knowledge of the field, but it will address the historical roots of psychological inquiry and the methods and techniques through which our understanding is advanced. Students will come away with greater insight into human behavior and an enhanced appreciation of the psychological factors that influence their lives and the functioning of society as a whole.

(Psychology/PSY) Adolescence

This course will explore adolescent development across domains of physical, cognitive, and social development. Topics will include those related to normal/typical development as well as abnormal development, particularly with regard to issues of health and mental health in this age group. Additionally, students will learn about the broader world in which adolescents live and the contexts within which development occurs – families, peer groups, schools, neighborhoods, and cultures. This course features a service learning component that allows class members to interact with adolescents in our community by means of a variety of activities on the Duke campus.  This class is particularly appropriate for students interested in counseling or clinical psychology, teaching, educational policy, or medicine.

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Religion

(Religion/RELIGION) Hip Hop and Religion

For many people, hip-hop and religion are incompatible. Hip-hop seems to be defined only by materialism, arrogance, violence, misogyny, and a general rejection of sacred ideals and values. In this course, we will challenge these assumptions by exploring the intersections of hip-hop and religion, while questioning what these terms mean and signify. We will begin by examining some of the general topics and concerns that motivate hip hop studies: history, aesthetics, authenticity, struggle, black culture, race and gender hierarchies, visual representation, and the overall ambivalence of hip-hop (its possibilities and limitations). For most of the course, we will look at the intersection of hip-hop and religion. We will examine aspects of hip-hop (rap lyrics, video images, cultural rituals, films) that explicitly or implicitly express religious commitments and sensibilities. We will ask questions such as the following: what do we mean by terms like religion, religious, sacred, and profane? how does hip-hop straddle the boundary between the sacred and profane? why do some rappers invoke God while talking about violence and sex? what does it mean to say that rappers are “religious” even if they reject institutionalized religions? how do rap artists use religious ideas and tropes in ways that both reinforce and challenge power?  what role does prayer, hope, evil, suffering, redemption, or sacrifice play in hip hop? how might hip hop culture change and alter our understanding of religion and vice versa?  The central objectives of the course include: to understand hip-hop as a complex cultural phenomenon that is not reducible to “beats and hooks” (in other words, the course encourages us to examine the cultural, political, and artistic dimensions of hip-hop); to identify and explore the religious qualities and commitments of hip-hop culture; and to examine critically how hip-hop both adopts and challenges traditional categories, such as the sacred and the profane, the spiritual, redemption, etc.

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Sociology

(Sociology/SOCIOL) Gender, Work and Organization

This course will examine research and theories on gender issues in the work organization. Attention will be given to the socio-historical causes of gender segregation in the workplace and the contemporary consequences for wages and occupational status. Finally, the course will examine organizational and governmental work and family policies. Case studies of specific work organizations with gender-related problems will be utilized in group projects and presentations.

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