Spring 2021 Core Courses

ECON 1108: Game Theory with Applications to the Natural and Social Sciences

This course offers an introduction to game theory. Game theory develops analytical tools to study strategic interactions between individuals, to better understand and predict behavior, conflicts and cooperation. Game theory is widely used in many disciplines (e.g., economics, political science, law, computer science, biology). The course introduces basic concepts and tools for solving games (e.g., simultaneous games and a Nash equilibrium, sequential games, repeated games, asymmetric information models) as well as a variety of applications (e.g., auctions, evolutionary biology and voting).  Through simple examples, students can develop their ability to think strategically.

POLS 3023W: Politics and Literature

Requires ENGL 1007, 1010, 1011, or 2011.

There has long been a close relationship between politics in the United States and popular literature. Some books, like Uncle Tom’s Cabin and The Jungle, have shaped public policy; others, like All the King’s Men and The Last Hurrah, have used fiction to describe the political game; still others, like Philip Roth’s American Pastoral and Henry Adams’ Democracy, have examined the relationship between the individual and the political community.

This course explores American politics through the lens of political fiction. Generally reading one novel per week, we will discuss the historical, economic and social context within which the work was written, define its audience, examine its impact, and discuss parallels between the time the work appeared and our own era. Students will write several short papers dealing with these themes, but the primary emphasis in class will be on discussion and dialogue on the topics at hand.

Note POLS 3023W is coded at the catalog level as “open to juniors or higher,” but first- and second-year Honors students without junior standing are invited to take this course. If you will have fewer than 54 earned credits when this course is offered, you may register by emailing honors@uconn.edu and including (1) your name; (2) your 7-digit Student Admin number; (3) your registration “pick time”; (4) the course number and section; (5) the class number from Student Admin; (6) confirmation that there are seats available in the course; and (7) confirmation that you do have credit for ENGL 1007, 1010, 1011, or 2011.

GSCI 1000E: The Human Epoch: Living in the Anthropocene

Climate change. Ecosystem collapse. Urbanization. Acidic, anoxic oceans. Altered landscapes. Novel chemicals. Resource shortfalls. What’s the “thing” that holds all these? In physical space, it’s the whole of planet Earth, an oblate spheroid of interacting solid, liquid, and gaseous components. In chronologic time, it’s the Anthropocene Epoch, the newest page on the geological calendar, named for our seemingly limitless power. Comprehending this epoch is causing a paradigm shift in our environmental consciousness, forcing us to re-think our implicit biases about nature and wildness, and offering an optimistic prospect for the human world as part of a very rugged planet.

Limited to 19 students, this discussion-based, seminar-style course will be facilitated by student leaders under the guidance of the instructor.  As a result of this course, students will:

  • Become more effective planetary citizens by putting so-called environmental issues in their proper planetary context. Earth is not fragile. That’s reserved for species, including ours.
  • Discover how intelligence, leading to science, leading to technology, gave humans the power to transform the surface of of a polychrome Earth for good and bad. Green is not the main color of the environment.
  • Understand that the likely launching pad for human intelligence was environmental stress and rapid climate change in Africa’s rift valley. This intelligence will allow us to adapt to an uncertain future.
  • Realize that the future of humanity is being driven by geothermal, climatic, cosmic, and evolutionary processes.

SOCI 1701: Society in Global Perspective

This course will introduce students to the sociological perspective of society in global perspective. The course will focus on the economic, social and cultural processes that shape contemporary society and will help students understand the links between their personal experiences and larger social forces by focusing on the transnational social relationships in which they are embedded. Students will learn to think critically about the causes and consequences of social inequalities and the social construction of human life across the globe.

This class will include active learning, peer mentoring, debates on controversial topics, and engagement (via Skype and blogs) with scholars and students in other parts of the world to help students develop global sociological imaginations.

Sources for course materials and topical coverage include sociology; environmental studies; women’s, gender, and sexuality studies; and human rights.

SLHS 3295-001: (Special Topics) Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Communication Disorders: From Brain to Behavior

This course will link the behavioral presentation of communication disorders to an understanding of the neural architecture supporting speech, language, and hearing abilities. This course will consider communication disorders from an interdisciplinary perspective, drawing together an understanding of speech and language processing from the domains of psychology, linguistics, neurobiology, and clinical fields. The course will cover numerous communication disorders including developmental disorders (i.e., autism, dyslexia) and acquired disorders (i.e., aphasia, hearing impairment). For each disorder, an interdisciplinary description of etiology, function, and rehabilitation will be addressed. In addition, the course will cover common imaging tools including EEG methods (e.g., ERP, ABR) and fMRI. Students will be instructed on the basic neuroanatomical methods of these tools as well as strengths and limitations of each one. The course will highlight multicultural aspects of speech, language, and hearing disorders including multicultural aspects of Deaf culture. The course will consider the broad implications of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Note SLHS 3295 is a “variable credits” course. Please ensure that you register for 3 credits.

Note SLHS 3295 is coded at the catalog level as open to juniors or higher. If you are an Honors student who will have fewer than 54 credits when this course is offered, you may register by emailing honors@uconn.edu and including (1) your name; (2) your 7-digit Student Admin number; (3) your registration “pick time”; (4) the course number and section; (5) the class number from Student Admin; and (6) confirmation that there are seats available in the course.

BADM/MGMT 2234-002: The Entrepreneurial Journey

Open to all Honors students. Register for MGMT 2234 if you have a major in the School of Business. Otherwise, register for BADM 2234.

Do you want to learn how to see things that others don’t see? Do you enjoy developing solutions that others cannot?

The Entrepreneurial Journey will be taught in a dynamic, multidisciplinary environment, where we can all learn from each other. Early on, we will discard pre-conceived notions of what it means to think and act entrepreneurially. You will learn how to think like an entrepreneur and generate value/benefits from that thinking — and how doing so can benefit you in all of life’s environments, not just in business! Through experiential learning, you will acquire useful knowledge and skills in problem-solving and opportunity exploration, and you will have the opportunity to meet with participating entrepreneurial thinkers and learn, first-hand, about their Journeys.

HEJS 1103: Who Are the Jews? Jewish Identity through the Ages

Who are the Jews? While this may seem like a straightforward question, in this course you will find out that Jewish identity can be a bit complicated. To clarify the issue, we will have a look at the history, religion, and culture of the Jewish people, with a special emphasis on the role played by each of these elements in defining “the Jews.” The major literatures of the Jews that have shaped their sense of peoplehood are discussed throughout. No prior knowledge of Hebrew or Jewish culture is required.

This course fulfills General Education requirements in Content Areas I (Arts and Humanities) and IV (Diversity and Multiculturalism). One of its main goals is to enable students to develop a keen understanding of who the Jews are and an appreciation of the diverse cultures and traditions that comprise Jewish civilization. The emergence of Judaic ideas and their influence on Christianity and western civilization will be especially emphasized. The so-called “Judeo-Christian” tradition is broken down so that students understand the values and ideas that both Judaism and Christianity share as well as their distinctiveness. Students get a taste of how the earliest, ancient rabbis thought and how they succeeded in transforming a biblical religion into Judaism as we know it. Along the way, you will be challenged to think “talmudicly/midrashicly,” a critical form of analysis that may very well enable you to appreciate literary traditions belonging to other peoples and cultures in an entirely different light.

ECON 2120: Honors Core: Rights and Harms

This course will expose students to a conceptual framework at the intersection of law, economics, and philosophy – what we can call the paradigm of rights and harms.  Working within this framework, you will analyze and debate a large set of controversial social issues.  The goal of the course is to encourage you to think critically and rigorously about such issues and to hone your skills in argument and persuasion.  Students from all majors and backgrounds welcome.

Consider a famous legal case analyzed by the Nobel Laureate Ronald Coase.  A physician sets up an examination room with a wall that is shared by a candy factory.  Noise from the candy machinery makes it impossible for the doctor to examine patients with a stethoscope.  If the candy factory has the right to make noise, the doctor is harmed; if the doctor has a right to quiet, the factory is harmed.  Economists and philosophers have developed ways of thinking about who should get the right – and thus who should bear the harm – in cases like these.  Most if not all controversial social issues take exactly this form: who has the right?  Who is harmed, and in what way?  As we will see, in many of these cases, the harms are immaterial: there is no tangible emission like noise.  I may harm you (make you angry or unhappy) by giving a speech in favor of Marxism or by selling my kidney to the highest bidder – even if you are nowhere in the vicinity and learn of my behavior only through a third party.  Should I have the right to engage in these behaviors?  Or should you have the right to stop me?

Recent syllabus

Trouble registering? This class has a catalog-level pre- or co-requisite of any 1000-level economics course. We can override this requirement. If you are an Honors student, you may register by emailing honors@uconn.edu and including (1) your name; (2) your 7-digit Student Admin number; (3) your registration “pick time”; (4) the course number and section; (5) the class number from Student Admin; and (6) confirmation that there are seats available in the course.

ANTH 3340E: Culture and Conservation

Today, there is growing interest in conservation, and social and environmental scientists, alike, have an important role to play in helping conservation succeed for the sake of humanity, the environment and other species. Many researchers in these fields now argue that ecological data and an expansion of ethics that embrace more than one species, is essential to a well-rounded understanding of the connections between human behavior and environmental wellbeing. Inextricably linked to this, as well, is the fact that we, as the species that causes extinctions, have a moral responsibility to those whose evolutionary unfolding and very future we threaten.

Culture and Conservation is an rigorous course investigating the ways in which innovative and intensive new interdisciplinary approaches, questions, ethics and subject pools are closing the gap between the study of culture and the implementation of environmental conservation initiatives around the world. The course emphasizes the importance of increased collaboration between anthropologists, climate scientists, Connecticut communities and conservationists and represents an ongoing shift towards an environmentally focused perspective that embraces not only cultural values and social equity, but also the underlying urgency of local level sustainability initiatives.

The objective for this class is for students to gain a thorough understanding of the diverse social and environmental repercussions of climate change in a local context and be able to apply this knowledge to the design and execution a conservation-based service learning project. In this course you will be encouraged to bring in your own experiences and expertise, for no productive discussion of conservation should be one-sided. This class, as well as the study and implementation of conservation, in general, should be a multidisciplinary effort.

ANTH 2600: Microscopy in Applied Archaeobotany Research

Archaeobotany, the study of plant use in antiquity, is an inherently interdisciplinary sub-field of archaeology that integrates botany, ecology, archaeology, and social theory to explore a wide range of topics including: 1) the nature, timing, and cause of plant domestication events around the world; 2) the social and environmental dynamics and causes of the transition from hunting-and-gathering to early agriculture; 3) the role that plant-based agriculture, viticulture, or irrigation played in the emergence and collapse of early social complexity, social hierarchies, and the development of the first cities; 4) the ways in which farmers modified plant-based agriculture to suit prevailing environmental conditions and social and economic needs; and 5) the choices that people made in the past to select and procure fuel in order to sustain everyday household activities and emerging craft specializations and industries.

This course integrates lectures on current and emerging trends in archaeobotanical research with instruction in the use of a range of lab equipment, microscopy, and digital imaging tools commonly found in many labs to address the topics listed above. These tools include: 1) botanical reference material; 2) analytical balances; 3) a muffle furnace; 4) student binocular microscopes; 5) an upright materials microscope with transmitted, incident, and polarized light; and 6) a confocal microscope with NIS Elements imaging software. Throughout the course, students actively engage in the research process by using the tools learned in class to design and conduct an individualized research project (selected from a list provided in class).

Distance learning update: if conditions allow, we will include synchronous meeting dates so that students can obtain hands-on experience with the equipment presented in class. Details on meeting dates will be provided to enrolled students before the course begins. Please email alexia.smith@uconn.edu if you would like this information ahead of time.