What’s It Worth? How we determine value

How do we, as individuals and societies, determine the value of things, services, and experiences? Questions like the value of a national park, a child well-educated, or a life prematurely lost are central to both government policy and individual commitments. Through careful reading, critical discussion, short integrative essays, and interactions with local organizations involved in […]

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Coming to Terms with Past Violence

Embedded in the fabric of every national narrative is the attempt to understand past violence. Words like reconciliation, reckoning, justice, impunity, accountability, and forgiveness all have distinct connotations depending on their specific national context and the actors who employ them. In this course, we analyze localized forms of interpreting violence through regional case studies from […]

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Obesity & Dementia: A Vicious Cycle

Obesity and cognitive dementia are currently among the most pernicious threats to human health and quality of life.  Despite many years of research at enormous financial cost, understanding of the causes of both disorders is limited and preventative and treatment interventions have been largely unsuccessful. Integrating scientific, medical, and social perspectives, students will explore the […]

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Antisemitism: Enduring Hatred

Hatred of the Jewish people and Judaism appeared in antiquity and continues to this very day.  The phenomenon puzzles scholars, pundits, politicians, Jews, and people around the world.  We will study this complex problem, focusing on specific episodes of this hatred in the past and present, emphasizing its long history in the U.S.  We will read different genres of literature—history (secondary and primary sources), fiction, and nonfiction—as we grapple with the multifarious […]

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Doing Better at Doing Good

This course examines the conversation on poverty in Washington, DC through scholarship, research, and community-based service-learning with an afterschool program. Horton’s Kids is a local nonprofit that serves families in Ward 8’s Wellington Park neighborhood, where the average household income is below $10,000 a year. Students discover how Horton’s Kids has evolved since 1989 using […]

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Fight Club: US War & Peace

This course provides an overview of the history and modern issues of peace and war with an emphasis on the institutions in Washington, D.C. (ie. Pentagon, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Amnesty International, State Department, CIA). Through reading ethnographic and historical case studies, as well as theoretical, journalistic, and polemical works, the course explores why and how the […]

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