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Rebuilding Puerto Rico

Spring 2019

In September 2017, Puerto Rico was devastated by an unusually powerful hurricane, which rendered the island’s physical and socioeconomic systems nearly powerless. Almost a year later, none of those systems has recovered. Why is it taking so long? The challenges posed in rebuilding Puerto Rico reflect the challenges of urban and human resilience in the context of climate change and the expected higher frequency of extreme weather phenomena. The Rebuilding Puerto Rico Humanities Lab will investigate the ethical and political questions, as well as the technological and strategic ones, entailed in this and other disaster recoveries.

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The Future of Cars

Spring 2019

No technology has had a bigger impact – for better and for worse – on our everyday lives, our imaginations, and our planet than the automobile. It (continues) to revolutionize how people and things move around. It shapes where we live.  It helped to create our dependence on fossil fuels, increasing pollution and hastening climate change.  As the negative aspects of the car become more apparent and new technologies, like autonomous or electric vehicles reshape the car, what is the future of the automobile? And, how will the car’s future affect us?

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Facing Immigration

Fall 2018 & Spring 2019

This course will seek ways to respond to these difficult, transdisciplinary questions on migration and movement.

Together, students and faculty will engage with current and historical immigration and refugee movement at the local, national, and global level. The course trains students with a variety of methodological tools that will be applied as teams of students and faculty explore resolutions or approaches to these complex situations. Through engaging in research exercises that probe, interrogate, explore, and design collaborative group projects, the course will share their outcomes and the course experience beyond the classroom. View more information about this course

Re-envisioning Food Systems

Fall 2018

This course will reflect on challenges in the current food system, both locally and globally, and seek solutions to them.

Challenges include nutritional deficits, unjust labor practices, the overuse of natural resources, and threats to the earth’s biodiversity. Faculty and students will work together in teams to research and analyze today’s food system from interdisciplinary perspectives, with an emphasis on the humanities, which encourage reflection about the history of food production, the meaning of food in people’s lives, the values embedded in food choices, and other relationships between food and the environment, human identities, traditions, and cultures. This Lab course will culminate in the development of new ideas and solutions to the food system’s problems. Those ideas and solutions will be shared with the public at the end of the semester. View more information about this course

Sexual Violence

Spring 2018

What is sexual violence? Why is sexual violence so controversial? How can art processes be transformative?

This course will take an interdisciplinary arts-and humanities-based perspective to explore these and other questions as we trace the history of sexual violence, as well as current attitudes and theories, social and personal narratives, research, and policies on sexual violence (both on and off college campuses). This team-taught Humanities Lab course entails interdisciplinary and intergenerational collaborative research teams and will result in a student-inspired public project designed and produced by the class. View more information about this course

Health & Wellbeing

Fall 2017 & Spring 2018

This course is for you if you are inspired by personal and communal health and well-being, regardless of your major field of study.

This is the Health Humanities—an interdisciplinary area of study that words at the intersections of the biological and medical sciences and the humanities. Those working in this field are committed to the idea that we cannot address the challenges of providing healthcare and promoting well-being without knowing things about the way health and disease have been constructed and represented in literature and other media, the ethical and philosophical horizons and histories of our current health practices, and the cultural contexts that constrain our very notions of health itself. Through readings in cultural studies of literature and other media, history of medicine, bioethics, disability studies, cross-cultural and global health, and related scholarly areas, the course will introduce students to some of the fundamental challenges and debates in this growing field. View more information about this course

Sustaining Humans

This course explores human sustainability in its broadest sense:

What does sustaining our species mean? How should we determine what must be sustained in our world(s)? What do the humanities–literature, art, history, and philosophy– have to teach us about how best to assess and preserve our cultures, our physical environs, and ourselves? As we explore these questions the class will be conducted like a laboratory, with a mixture of shared readings, class discussions, independent and group research, and coordinated research outcomes. View more information about this course