"Truth and Consequences: Studies in Disciplinary Evidence"
This course will provide a multi-disciplinary look at evidence; what it is and how it needs to be properly collected, sifted, evaluated and preserved for verification of authenticity. We will look at what constitutes “evidence” in legal, criminal, historical, scientific, journalistic, medical, geographic, artistic and aesthetic realms. To do this we will address and compare the methods and standards employed for gathering and evaluating evidence in different disciplines, and the ways evidence is preserved and passed on. How do the definitions of evidence vary with disciplines, and have they changed historically? What is the impact of the internet, electronic communication and facile methods of falsifying evidence on our ability to validate evidence?
We plan to include outside speakers, films (e.g.,"The Viking Deception") and Roundtable discussions of such topics as "Ethical Issues and Evidence," and "Uses and Abuses of the Internet.
Contributing faculty from across the Institute and the community include:
The Cognitive Revolution: Interdisciplinary Studies in Evolutionary Science
Academic quarters: three (2006-07)
The course will encompass the work of six high-profile scholars/researchers who constitute the Caroline Werner Gannett speaker series for 2006-07. The series begins with Eugenie Scott (NCSE) on September 20, 2006 and ends with keynote speaker, Daniel C. Dennett, on April 10, 2007. Aspects of evolutionary science have had a profound impact on social behavior in a variety of disciplines, from biology to psychology to postmodern theory and medicine. Course opens with the challenge of the evolution vs. creationism debate set forth by Eugenie Scott of the National Center for Science Education in her book, Evolution vs. Creationism: An Introduction: "there is scientific controversy concerning the details of mechanisms and patterns of evolution, but not over whether the universe has had a history measure in billions of years, nor over whether living things share a common ancestry." Students are expected to acquire a detailed knowledge of the evolution vs. creationism controversy and its history through select readings and discussion. Through the techniques of interview and group discussion, students will have the opportunity to explore specific arguments and scientific evidence for evolution and natural selection by debating the points of view expressed by six noted lecturers from various disciplines.
Based on selected readings related to the topic of each speaker, students will be expected to develop questions and conduct interviews with each of the six lecturers. Interviews will be videotaped. Prior to attending the lecture, and under faculty guidance, students will meet before each talk to discuss plans for each interview, keep a journal on the exchanges with each speaker, and take part in a follow-up/assessment session after each event. As a result there will be a minimum of 12 planned meetings of the class in addition to attendance at the six lectures. Student assessment will include: participation in the interviews and the group exchange and a final project. Examples of a final project include, but are not limited to: editing a videotape of all speakers for the Gannett website; publishing a chapbook; co-authoring a significant article for a campus magazine.
The Gannett website offers a list of Suggested Readings from which students will choose general selections as well as specific works by lecturer/authors.
"Museums, Collections, Technology, Community (MCTC)"
MCTC addresses the global issues surrounding cultural objects, contested ownerships, repatriation, reparations, legal compliance, museum technologies and the ever-changing role of repositories. This course facilitates experiential learning including work with the Rochester Museum and Science Center. Lectures, round-table discussions, and instruction are provided by museum professionals, nationally renowned speakers, such as Dr. Rennard Strickland and Dr. Jon Erlandson, and Native American representatives. Some students will have an opportunity to develop collection database and museum display technologies while others will participate in projects that may include collection cataloguing, museum policy review, and community project development. At the conclusion of this course students will comprehend the breadth of federal legislation regulating human remains and objects of cultural patrimony, the complex legal and social issues facing museums and communities, and the opportunities that exist as NAGPRA enters into its third decade since ratification in 1990.
"Plagues, Politics, Poetics and Pictures: Representing the Other"
This course will focus on the ways in which the rich resources of political and cultural institutions determine, disenfranchise, and marginalize the "other." In its broad design, it will work towards an analysis and understanding of how different methods of inquiry have contributed to what Elizabeth McCalister calls the "mythological blueprint" for the "demonization" and eradication of particular groups of people.
Using the scapegoating of the Jews in Europe as a starting point, this course will progress to other groups such as Native Americans and Australian Aboriginals. Sources of study might include government documents, popular "sciences" like phrenology, legal interpretations of public policy, and visual texts such as political cartoons. It will proceed to a study of global plagues and the "other." Considering texts like Paul Farmer's AIDS and Accusation: Haiti and the Geography of Blame, and Alan Kraut's Silent Travelers: Germs, Genes, and the Immigrant Menace, students would consider the ways in which non-dominant groups become scapegoated in the face of epidemics. Texts from diverse disciplines would again be used as sources of inquiry: Susan Sontag's Illness as Metaphor, Julia Alvarez's Saving the World, and Browning's Stories in theTime of Cholera: Racial profiling During a Medical Nightmare. The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down and the artistry of Native American masks would provide sociological and artistic demonstrations of the tension between tribal healing and western medicine, representing the perspectives of the marginalized groups.
During their academic careers, regardless of their program, students need exposure to the critical thinking skills that will make them successful not only in their chosen field of study but also successful as citizens. Courses that offer an inter-disciplinary approach to important issues require synthesis-a way of understanding the world that rests on a variety of interpretations and perspectives rather than on a binary system of analysis. Such a course also helps students understand the complexity of causal relationships and enhances their ability to look in unfamiliar and, we hope, uncomfortable places at the ideas of others. We would also expect that students would discover the place of their own chosen course of study as it contributes to the issues under discussion. Perhaps a less lofty, but no less important objective, is providing students another site in which to practice their writing, public presentation skills, and collaborative projects.