HUHC 020 A-Z - Liberal Arts Seminar
Semester Hours: 1-3
Liberal Arts Seminars are specialized courses offered to students of Hofstra University Honors College . Each seminar is proposed, designed, and led by a member of the Hofstra faculty. Multiple seminars are offered each semester on a wide variety of topics. The purpose of the seminars is to provide an opportunity for HUHC students and faculty to explore subject matters and topics that do not typically present themselves in regular departmental offerings.
Current Special Topics
HUHC 20A: What is the Constitution?
The United States is the longest running democracy in history. While over a hundred countries around the world have used our Constitution as their model, Americans are growing frustrated with gridlock, partisan politics, and special interests. In our impatience for results, we have lost sight of what the framers forged – a pragmatic document that channels self-interest into productive consensus. This course will consider the very idea of a constitution, and how it has been embodied in the U.S.
HUHC 20B: Sufism: Islamc Mysticism or Social Network
Sufism is best known as Islamic Mysticism. This, however, is only a part of the story. In fact, Sufism emerged as a social phenomenon parallel to mainstream Islam by the 11th century CE, and by the 14th century started assuming the role of a state ideology in all major non-Arab regions of the Islamic world. As social networks, Sufi brotherhoods (orders) have been responsible for Islamic missionary activity from Asia (China and India) to Africa and to Europe’s Balkan Peninsula. In the last several centuries Sufism served as the middle-class ideology and the source of inspiration for Persian, Turkic and Indian literature. Poetry brought Sufi philosophical and spiritual ideas beyond the Muslim world, deeply affecting European and American culture. For centuries Sufism provided social and political stability. Unfortunately, beginning with the 20th century Salafi ideologies started seeing local Sufi Islam as its principle foe and now are waging a major war on Sufism. Yet, in many places Sufi tolerance still serves as an alternative to Islamic fundamentalism. This course will examine both the history of Sufism and its place in contemporary religious and political discourses.
HUHC 20C: Fashion and Gender Identity from the Renaissance to Today
The story of fashion begins in Europe in the late 14th century with the division of genders. This seminar would allow students to explore the meaning of fashion and its connections with the formation of gender identity in a broad context: social history, politics, and consumer culture. While students have access to the fundamental history of styles, the emphasis of the course would be interdisciplinary and critical, with readings in fashion history and theory, gender studies, and material culture. The assignments would include analyses of specific articles of clothing and accessories, along with media such as prints, magazines, film and television. I’m planning for a field trip of some kind to the Met Costume Institute or the FIT museum.
HUHC 20D: The Desire for Growth: Is More Always Better?
Economic growth has been the religion of the modern world. One may even talk about a “cult of indefinite progress”. It seems that in our modern capitalist society, what makes people happy is not pure wealth but the ability to obtain more. Interestingly, we live in a society where the average income is rising while, due to sizable and growing inequality, large segments of the society do not benefit from rising economic capacity. Furthermore, growth is not cost free. We may have to sacrifice leisure and communal participation in order to achieve a higher rate of growth. And we may also now be reaching the catastrophic environmental limits in our search to obtain more goods and services. Last, is it possible to imagine a world in which life satisfaction and social well-being are not entirely or even primarily dependent on the expectation of rising income and consumption opportunities?
(The chair of the Economics department has indicated this course may be counted as an economics elective toward the completion of the requirements for majors or minors.)
HUHC 20E: Reality, Fiction and Numbers
Imagine trying to explain the American Electoral College system without using numbers. Imagine telling scientists they couldn’t use mathematics in their research, or telling mathematicians that they weren’t studying anything real.
Everyday language, scientific language and mathematical language all talk about numbers as if they are real things. Well then, what kinds of things are numbers? Are they physical objects? If so, exactly where is the number 12? How much does it weigh? If they’re not physical objects, are they non-physical objects? Whatever could that mean? Are numbers just something we made up? If so, just what are mathematicians doing? And why would something we just made up be so useful in describing and explaining the physical world?
This course is a non-technical introduction to the Philosophy of Mathematics. We will discuss the work of both contemporary and historical writers. No mathematical ability is assumed or required.
(The chair of the Philosophy department has indicated this course may be counted as a philosophy elective toward the completion of the requirements for majors or minors.)
HUHC 20F: Women and Politics in the Middle East
This class will address women’s involvement in and their exclusion from politics in the Middle East with attention to the relationship between gender and power. We will explore women’s social and political position through case studies of individual countries and through issues that affect women’s lives throughout the region. Topics will include (but are not limited to): history of women’s activism in the region, politics of the family, women and Islamist movements and women in formal politics.
(The chair of the Political Science department has indicated this course may be counted as a political science elective toward the completion of the requirements for majors or minors.)
HUHC 20G: History of Russian Cinema
In this course we will study Russian cinema in the context of larger trends of Russian political, social, cultural, and economic history, focusing both on Russian innovations in filmmaking critical for modern world film and on how Russian films have played a role not only in reflecting the experiences of Russian and Soviet audiences but also in teaching audiences how to interpret their own experiences. We will consider how the filmmakers used the aesthetic systems of film art to create meanings, elicit emotional responses, and engage audiences in a particular worldview, either in accordance with or, infrequently, in opposition to state-sanctioned political goals (propaganda). Students will hone their critical analysis skills in the evaluation of films as works of art and purposefully constructed cultural texts and will learn to identify and evaluate the contributions of film techniques (e.g., nature of shot, use of color, sound, light) to the meanings of one or another film.
Films on the viewing list for the class include works by Eisenstein, Tarkovsky, Shepitko, Mikhalkov, Sokurov, Todorovsky, Zvyagintsev, and Melikyan, among others.
No knowledge of Russian required. No previous course experience in film analysis required.
HUHC 20H: A Man of Enlarged Curiosity
While most people associate Charles Darwin with his theory of evolution by natural selection, fewer appreciate just how wide-ranging a scientist he was. In spite of having little intention of a career in the natural sciences as a youth, Darwin managed to transform himself into a geologist, a biogeographer, a botanist, and an experimental biologist. In this seminar we will follow Darwin through his observations and experiments as he works to solve “that mystery of mysteries, the appearance of new beings on this Earth,” in the process building a framework for our modern understanding of ecology and evolutionary biology.
HUHC 21B: How the Brain Affects Living, Learning, and Loving
This course explores what advances in neuroscience can tell us about ourselves. Brain imaging studies have given us new understanding of the brain’s neural systems and how they relate to memory, attention, emotion, psychological health, sexual identification and creativity. Through lecture, discussion and hands-on activities, students will discover strategies to apply to their lives both in and out of the university. Linking cognitive science with other subjects, this interdisciplinary course will examine ways to stimulate the brain’s natural approaches to learning for retention. In this dynamic, rapidly changing field, the course content will remain open to recent discoveries.
HUHC 21C: Everything You Need to Know about Business
This course is designed for non-business students (i.e. students in the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, health professions, communication, and engineering). It assumes that after graduation most will one day be working with or for businesses and corporations in the commercial world. The goal is to provide students with no prior experience in business a basic level of literacy when it comes to the business world. Toward that end it will focus principally on corporate finance, including the broader capital markets, the role that business and financial analyses play in global economies and, to a lesser extent, fundamental accounting principles.
Students will learn about various business structures, corporate governance, and the interplay between the business entity, board of directors, management, creditors and shareholders. Students also will obtain a basic understanding of financial statements, valuation and other tools necessary to understand the complexities surrounding the business environment.
Liberal Arts Seminars are open to Honors College students in good standing and, with the permission of the instructor and the HUHC Deans’ Office, to other students who meet HUHC entrance criteria. May be repeated for credit when topics vary.
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