Rank your DSEM choices!


Drew Seminar Course Descriptions

All first year students are invited to rank your top five Drew Seminar (DSEM) choices. The following is a list of DSEM courses for the Fall 2020 term.

Name DSEM Course Title  Course Description
Abramowitz, Sarah Four Out of Five Drew Students Recommend this Seminar: Evaluating Survey Research Newspapers, news reports, journals, and other sources of information contain many conclusions based on “quantitative data” obtained from surveys. In this seminar, we look critically at the basis for some of these conclusions and discuss their validity. We compare and contrast original survey research to the mainstream news articles that summarize their results. We look at the design, implementation, and analysis of surveys including the sampling, the questions asked, other sources of bias, the data analysis and interpretation, the description and presentation of data, and the conclusions drawn. We design, implement, and interpret our own survey during the semester. This course allows you to explore a wide variety of related topics including whether the results of internet surveys are meaningful, what happened with the polling in the 2016 presidential election, how the S&P 500 may be thought of as a survey of the stock market, whether the methods used by US News and World Report to evaluate colleges are appropriate, and why you have not heard of President Landon.
Anderson, Erik Personal Identity and Immortality If I traded bodies with someone else, would I still be the same person? Would I continue to be the same person if my brain were transplanted into another human body or into the body of an android? Would a human being or an android with copies of my thoughts be me? These are vexing philosophical questions that are apt to give rise to widespread disagreement. However, there are at least two facts about which everyone is in agreement: 1) for every person there is some time at which that person is born and 2) there is some later time at which that person dies. This seminar is concerned with the question of what it is for some person who is born at one time to be the same person who dies at some later time. This investigation places us in a position to address the question of what it would be for a person to survive one’s death, or to be immortal. Readings include classical works by John Locke and David Hume, as well as works by contemporary philosophers Bernard Williams, Sydney Shoemaker, and Derek Parfit.
Andrews, Chris The Culture of Fear:  Why Americans are Afraid of the Wrong Things Our society is defined by fear; three out of four Americans say they feel more fearful today than they did only a couple decades ago. But are we really living in exceptionally perilous times? In this course, we will explore our perception of danger as well as the actual threats posed by air travel, deadly diseases, illegal drugs, road rage, terrorism, violent crime, and more as we examine the people and organizations that manipulate our perceptions and profit from our fears, as well as the prices were pay for moral panics that distract us from the actual problems that threaten us most.
Baring, Ed Freedom: The History of an Idea The discussion of freedom pervades modern society: Political movements demand it, companies claim their products will give it to us, while we all try to make space for it in our lives. But what is freedom and why do we value it so highly? In this course we will examine what it means to be free. We will study the drives to liberty instantiated in very different ways and with very different results in the great world revolutions, including the American, the French and the Russian. We will also discuss how different thinkers over the last two and a half thousand years have tried to figure out its meaning. Is freedom merely the absence of constraints? Are we free when we follow our hearts? Or is there freedom only in reason and reflection? What are the limits of freedom? What is the relationship between freedom and our responsibility to others?
Boglioli, Marc Environmental Justice : The Struggle for Health Equity World history has been characterized by the exposure of racial/ethnic minorities, people with limited economic resources, and women to to disproportionate levels of environmental contamination compared to economically privileged white males. Over the last forty years, in response to this history of public health inequity, an international grassroots movement has emerged that seeks to identify, resist and prevent “environmental injustice”. In this class, we will take an interdisciplinary approach to grappling with questions such as: How and why are certain people in America disproportionately exposed to environmental contaminants? Should corporations be forced to pay stiff penalties for environmental contamination that they cause? What is the relationship between the “environmental movement” and environmental justice? Why did traditional American environmental groups (Wilderness Society, Sierra Club, etc.) come under fire in the late 20th century for being blind to issues of race and economic class? By the conclusion of this class, students will be equipped with the necessary historical knowledge and theoretical perspectives to engage in complex discussions about environmental and public health policy.
Ceraso, Chris Acting Through the Ages What has been the actor’s place in theatrical art from ancient to modern times, and what has constituted artistic success? We will study methods by which actors of various eras, in various parts of the globe, were trained to “hold the mirror up to nature,” and by what standards they have been judged. Using historical documents, manifestoes, critical responses, photographs and films (and by trying out various techniques ourselves) we will chart the principal artistic, cultural and philosophical movements that have guided these human chameleons from the masked thespians of ancient Greece and Rome to the thoroughly unmasked performers of our own moment in theatrical time.
Cermele, Jill Hogwarts, Houses, and Horcruxes: The Psychology of Harry Potter J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series has become a cultural phenomenon, moving beyond the literary canon into other popular culture media, including film, theatre, music, and sport. However, the Harry Potter series has also engendered serious and important multidisciplinary scholarship, as scholars from a variety of fields have used Harry Potter as a way to talk about important issues: race, gender and class; typical and pathological human behavior; education and learning; nature and nurture; good and evil; reality and knowledge. In this class, we will use the Harry Potter canon as the basis for considering these and other psychological, social, and cultural issues. It is expected that students enrolled in the course will have good prior knowledge of the Harry Potter series.
Cole, Darrell Morals and Medicine Our seminar is an examination of the moral issues that arise from the practice of health care. We will analyze the issues from different ethical perspectives using a case-study method. Topics include, but will not be limited to, different kinds of physician-patient relationships, gauging patient competence and decision making, assisted suicide and euthanasia, abortion, reproductive technologies, genetic testing and engineering, human cloning, experiments on humans, and justice and healthcare.
Jamieson, Sandra Personal Responsibility, Civic Duty, Social Need: The Complexities of Civic Engagement Why do we volunteer our time or resources to help others? What do we hope to accomplish? How can we maximize our impact? When might our volunteer efforts have the potential to do harm? Does everyone agree that volunteering is always the best way to address social needs and inequalities? And when should individual choice take priority over responsibility to the larger community? Do we have a responsibility to be involved with civil society through local service or political organizations, or through engaging with elected government? Civic engagement confronts us with so many questions! In this seminar, we will explore these and other questions through the lens of current issues we face in our communities and as individuals. Topics may include immigration, use of and conduct on social media, the environment, education, violence prevention, income inequality, healthcare, and/or drug and alcohol abuse.
Kavaloski, Josh Adventures in the Pictorial Past: History in Graphic Literature Graphic literature is a unique medium that combines images with words. As such, it evokes comic books featuring superheroes, science fiction stories, and fantasy tales. In this course, however, we will specifically explore history, yet not history of graphic literature, but rather history in graphic literature. After all, the way that the past is imagined helps shape the present. Indeed, national and cultural identities in modernity are created in part by representations of history.
Keane, Rita Art and the Self, from the Artist Self-Portrait to the Selfie What face do you show to the world? In this seminar we will consider the history of images of the self by studying self-portraits and selfies. We will study a range of artist self-portraits, both historical and contemporary, that will establish a variety of motivations for an artist to depict himself or herself. We will also consider our most ubiquitous form of visual self-representation today, the selfie. Who takes selfies and why? What factors affect the production, dissemination, and reception of selfies? What is the relationship between the self-portrait and the selfie in the history of images?
Kouh, Minjoon How to Measure Depth with a Stopwatch: Physics and Mathematics of Everyday Life How can you measure depth with a stopwatch? When the traffic light has just turned yellow, should you go for it or stomp on the break? Why is the sky dark at night? Why does a communication satellite maintain a stationary orbit around the Earth? Physics and mathematics provide precise answers to these questions and more. In this seminar, we will combine physics principles and mathematical approaches to tackle questions from everyday life. We will also learn and practice how to communicate quantitative and technical ideas professionally in both verbal and written forms.
Lloyds, Jens More than a Game: Sports Stories and Why They Matter This is a class about sports. But not sports understood through wins and losses, stats and metrics, or highlights and box scores. Rather, it’s about sports understood through stories. From the resoundingly epic and unforgettable to the deeply personal and intimate, sports make for great human drama. Together as a class, we’ll explore this drama in all its cultural, political, and artistic glory in the hopes of better understanding how and why sports stories matter. In addition, students will have the opportunity to analyze stories that reflect their own interests. Bottom line: You’ll enjoy this class if you like sports, but you’ll enjoy it even more if you like books, articles, podcasts, and films about sports.
McKittrick, Tina Study says: Chocolate will make you smarter! Separating science from sensationalism in claims about food Carbs are bad for you. Intermittent fasting will help you lose weight. Coffee causes cancer. Raw cookie dough will make you sick. Health claims about foods and diets are everywhere and seem to change on a daily basis: eat this, don’t eat that, oh, never mind, that food’s okay after all. How do you know what to believe? In this class, you’ll learn how to evaluate claims about food and health, and where to look for information that is reliable and trustworthy. We will spend time exploring the studies that have led to confusing and contradictory claims about such foods as red meat, sugar, alcohol, and coffee. As we are faced with more and more choices about what to eat, we will discuss the basis of a healthy, nutritious diet, while evaluating the relative merits of low-carb, keto, vegetarian, and other diets.
Mishra, Sangay Strangers at the Shore: Immigrants and American Cities This seminar is focused on immigration. Cities such as New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco have become hubs for global capital, finance, commerce, arts and culture, and technological innovations. These cities are equally known for waves of immigration that have created layers of history shaped by the newcomers. The economy, culture, politics, and food of these cities are deeply shaped by immigrant populations who also get transformed in the process. This seminar is focused on the ways in which American cities have been shaped by immigration over many decades, and will look at both historical and contemporary examples to understand how global cities are deeply impacted by generations of immigrant populations. We will analyze the dynamic impact of immigrant population on politics, culture, and social lives of the cities through readings and films that underline the vibrant tapestry created by immigrants as well as anxieties triggered by religious, racial, and cultural differences brought by these communities, and examine the current controversies, such as the debates around the idea of ‘sanctuary city’, that many of the major urban centers have decided to follow.
Muccigrosso, John Heroes through history: the concept of the hero from the Greeks through modern America What’s a “hero”? How someone answers that depends a lot on where they’re living, and when. We’ll take a look at the changing notion of the hero over time and space, starting from its origins in the violent Homeric war story of the Greek attack on Troy and ending in our own world of 21st-century America. Along the way we’ll consider public heroes of popular legend who chop down family trees or chop up logs up for fences. And we won’t forget the muscled-up crime fighters of the Depression Era. For the contrarians, anti-heroes will not be forgotten!
Mulligan, Rory Oh, the Horror: Scary Movies and Cultural Unease Horror films were among the early successes of silent film. Throughout the history of the medium the genre has endured, proving time and again the cultural thirst for fright. What does this desire to be scared through on-screen representations say about us? How do horror films reflect larger cultural themes centering around anxiety, public mistrust of institutions and technology, fear of our own bodies and disease, racism, blind consumerism and the unknown? Horror is a genre that constantly straddles the line between provocation and exploitation. Many argue the genre provides a cathartic outlet for viewers, while others see representations of violence as exploitative and a ‘piling on’ to a culture already rife with trauma. How do we as viewers and citizens make this distinction? Furthermore, are we better off with or without these films? Students will be exposed to a wide range of films and readings from the early 20th century to present day by filmmakers such as David Cronenberg, George Romero, John Carpenter, Jordan Peele, Kathryn Bigelow, Ti West, and Bong Joon-ho among many others.
Occhipinti, Emanuele In Good Taste: Food, Culture and Sustainability in Italy The course will examine the role that food has played and plays in defining and shaping Italian identity and society. By reading literary texts of different genres and time periods, and by watching movies, students will learn how gastronomy and Italian arts are deeply interwoven, and how the rich Italian culinary tradition has had an impact on many different areas of study such as literature, folklore, history, anthropology and cinema. The course will also explore some areas of Food Studies like food choices, sustainability and environment, the importance and world impact of the Mediterranean Diet and of the Italian Slow Food movement.
Reader, Jonathan Who’s In Charge? The Social, Economic and Political Dynamics of Local Communities The purpose of this course is to give students an understanding of why and how different communities form, evolve, endure, achieve consensus, maintain order, resolve conflicts and dissolve. To answer these questions, we will examine the governing structures of four highly diverse communities: New Haven, three mining towns in Arizona, a grassroots community organization doing research on the potential link between a leukemia outbreak and a contaminated water supply and a successful teenage drug ring in Washington Heights, a neighborhood in New York City.
Rosales, Raul Latinos/as in Hollywood From West Side Story to Jennifer Lopez, from I Love Lucy to Jane the Virgin, from the Latin Lover to Sofia Vergara… This Drew seminar examines U.S. Latino/a images and representations in film and television from the silent era to the present day, along with their historical and sociopolitical frameworks. We explore the construction and perpetuation of Latino/a stereotypes in mainstream media productions, and also consider how film and television have been used as political tools to subvert some depictions and promote others. In examining the history of U.S. Latinos/as both behind and in front of the camera, the seminar analyzes the interconnections between Latino/a representations on the big and small screen and the shifting discourses on class, gender, ethnicity and multiculturalism in the United States.
Screen reader support enabled.
Smith, Bernie Madmen in Authority, Defunct Economists, and their Quarrels: An Exploration and Critique of Ideas about Capitalist Development The course explores the conflicting visions and material interests underlying competing economic ideas and policies. It examines how and why different economists offer different definitions and accounts of economic prosperity and poverty, income & wealth equality and inequality, financial stability and instability, and economic efficiency and inefficiency. It draws on both historical and contemporary debates on the role of markets, governments, and organized private interests in the development and functioning of capitalist economies, and the role that economists have played in explaining, justifying, or critiquing capitalist development.
Sprout, Leslie From Opera Divas to Gaga Feminism: Music, Gender, and Sexuality How does music contribute to the social construction of gender and ideals of masculinity/femininity? How have gender stereotypes and gendered discourse affected people’s participation in musical activities? And why is there so much cross-dressing in music? In this seminar we address these questions as we learn about music and its relationship to gender and sexuality in a wide range of genres (popular, classical, jazz, world) and sociocultural contexts.

Rank your DSEM Choices!

You can rank your top five choices on the 2020 Summer Advising and Registration Information - Scheduling Planning Guide found in your Student Portal.