Fall 2019


What is Legitimate?

The course explores how and why equilibria around questions of legitimate action in the areas of domestic governance, foreign policy, and international interventions form and why they often remain contentious. The course encourages students to understand ideas of legitimacy as […]


The Problem of Freedom

This course considers why freedom is an enduring human desire and why that desire is complicated and problematic. Over the course of the semester, students examine why freedom is a problem, at once eliciting strong attachments and deep controversies. Students […]


Plasticity: Shaping The Brain

The great discovery of neuroscience is that the brain is fundamentally characterized by “plasticity”—a radically open-ended potential for both creative and destructive difference. But now that plasticity has been discovered, why do we so often continue to ignore or diminish […]


Displaced Lives in the DMV

This course approaches cities and transnational migration in the context of the history and culture of the Washington DC region and its immigrant communities. The first weeks introduce DC; questions about race, gentrification and displacement in the DMV; key issues […]


Death Penalty Perspectives

Death Penalty Perspectives (3) The U.S. death penalty is primarily applied to murderers for heinous crimes, while at the same time there is evidence of the execution of innocents, as well as unequal punishments such as Life Without Parole (LWOP). […]


A Problem Like Maria

A Problem Like Maria (3) We trust our nannies with our dearest possession, our children, yet why do we view them with such ambivalence? And why has there been such little curiosity, in terms of biography, social history, and psychology, […]


Trump and the Constitution

This course will consider challenges the Trump administration poses to constitutional democracy and the rule of law.  Other presidents have pressed the limits of executive power, especially since 9/11 But the Trump presidency raises new questions that go to the […]