Spring Courses

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Spring 2019

ISF Courses

ISF 50 Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Artificial Intelligence
  • TTH 2-3:30
  • Kelkar
  • Barrows 110
  • 3 Units
  • Class Number: 31941

It’s hard not to open a newspaper or magazine today and see claims being made for artificial
intelligence. Advocates argue that software programs will now be able to even perform creative
jobs (as opposed to just routine ones) and that this is both a matter of celebration and concern.
Critics argue that these claims are hyperbolic, while others argue that they are too close to reality
and an indication of how much autonomy we have ceded to machines. In this course, we will pick
apart all of these claims. We will ask: how have different human societies conceived of
“intelligence,” natural or artificial, and how has this varied with place and time? How have
different technical experts been influenced by the time, place, constraints, and patronage they
operated under? How does contemporary AI intersect with regimes of calculation, capitalism,
standardization, gender, and speech? The class will be interdisciplinary in method as well as
subject: we will study technical and popular material, philosophy and empirical work, engineering
and social science literature, as well as science fiction.

ISF 100 A Introduction to Social Theory and Cultural Analysis
  • TTH 12:30-2PM
  • Bhandari
  • Cory 277
  • 4 Units
  • Class Number: 22719

ISF 100A engages and analyzes the selected foundational texts of social theory from its classical roots to its contemporary branches. Social theory seeks to explain change in society—how it develops, what factors facilitate and inhibit it, and what results from it. Looking at foundational texts across disciplines, we will consider the principal ideas offered by leading theorists of the last two centuries and how those ideas relate to the social and intellectual contexts in which they were produced. More importantly, we will consider their relevance for ongoing issues we face today.

Through an examination of works of the “classical roots,” by Marx, Weber, Durkheim, and Simmel, and of the “contemporary branches,” by Bourdieu, Goffman, Edward Said, Herbert Marcus, Walter Benjamin, and David Harvey, we will explore central issues in contemporary debates concerning the nature of the socio-economic order, the modalities of power, and the process of cultural production. We will examine selected original sources in depth. In addition, we will explore some reflections, elaborations and criticisms of this work in the context of significant contemporary issues.

ISF 100 C Language and Identity
  • MWF 1-2
  • Fang
  • Cory 247
  • 4 Units
  • Class Number: 25137

This course examines the role of language in the construction of social identities, and how language is tied to various forms of symbolic power at the national and international levels. As the saying goes, “A language is a dialect with an army and navy” – but how so? Questions about language have been central to national culture and identity, and the languages we speak often prove, upon close examination, not to be the tongues of ancestors but invented traditions of political significance. People have also encoded resistance into non-official and ambiguous languages even as the state has attempted to devalue them as inferior forms of expression. Drawing on case studies from Southeast Asia, Europe, Canada, and the U.S., we will pay special attention to topics such as the legitimization of a national language, the political use of language in nation-building processes, the endangerment of indigenous languages, and processes of linguistic subordination and domination.  This course will be interdisciplinary in its attempt to understand language in terms of history, politics, anthropology and sociology. We will not only study how language has been envisioned in planning documents and official language policy, but also analyze how speakers enact, project, and contest their culturally specific subject positions according to their embodied linguistic capital. 

ISF 100 K Health and Development
  • TTH 9:30-11AM
  • Quamruzzaman
  • Davis 534
  • 4 Units
  • Class Number: 26519

Development is often defined as a process of economic growth. Only recently there has been a growing disagreement about this definition and scholars argue that development should be understood as a process of improving human conditions. Health is an important indicator of human development. It is still not conclusive whether economic growth automatically translates into better population health and whether healthy population is a precondition of economic growth because there are other factors that affect both health and development. This course will focus on this debate and examine social, political, demographic and epidemiologic determinants of health in relation to levels of economic development.

ISF 189 Introduction to Interdisciplinary Research Methods
  • TTH 12:30-2PM
  • Quamruzzaman
  • LeConte 385
  • 4 Units
  • Class Number: 19720

This class is an introduction to research methods, leading students through different units built around specific learning goals and practical exercises.  The course is designed to teach a range of research skills, including (but not limited to) the ability to formulate research questions and to engage in scholarly conversations and arguments; the identification, evaluation, mobilization, and interpretation of sources; methods and instruments of field research (interviews, questionnaires, and sampling) and statistical thinking; and the construction of viable arguments and explanation in the human sciences.   At the same time, the course is designed to help students identify their own thesis topic, bibliography, and methodological orientation in preparation for ISF 190.

ISF 189 Introduction to Interdisciplinary Research Methods
  • MWF 3-4PM
  • Fang
  • Latimer 121
  • 4 Units
  • Class Number: 31763

This class is an introduction to research methods, leading students through different units built around specific learning goals and practical exercises.  The course is designed to teach a range of research skills, including (but not limited to) the ability to formulate research questions and to engage in scholarly conversations and arguments; the identification, evaluation, mobilization, and interpretation of sources; methods and instruments of field research (interviews, questionnaires, and sampling) and statistical thinking; and the construction of viable arguments and explanation in the human sciences.   At the same time, the course is designed to help students identify their own thesis topic, bibliography, and methodological orientation in preparation for ISF 190.

ISF 190 Senior Thesis
  • MW 10-11AM
  • Fang
  • Evans 2
  • 4 Units
  • Class Number: 17491

The ISF Senior Thesis requirement is the capstone experience and final product of the ISF Major.   The thesis is a sustained, original, and critical examination of a central interdisciplinary research question, developed under the guidance of the ISF 190 instructor.  The thesis represents a mature synthesis of research skills, critical thinking, and competent writing. As the final product of a student's work in the major, the thesis is not the place to explore a new set of disciplines or research problems for the first time, but should develop methods of inquiry and bridge the several disciplines that students have developed in their Course of Study.

ISF 190 Senior Thesis
  • MW 2-3PM
  • Bhandari
  • Evans 2
  • 4 Units
  • Class Number: 17492

The ISF Senior Thesis requirement is the capstone experience and final product of the ISF Major.   The thesis is a sustained, original, and critical examination of a central interdisciplinary research question, developed under the guidance of the ISF 190 instructor.  The thesis represents a mature synthesis of research skills, critical thinking, and competent writing. As the final product of a student's work in the major, the thesis is not the place to explore a new set of disciplines or research problems for the first time, but should develop methods of inquiry and bridge the several disciplines that students have developed in their Course of Study.

ISF 190 Senior Thesis
  • TTH 8-9AM
  • Kelkar
  • Evans 2
  • 4 Units
  • Class Number: 17493

The ISF Senior Thesis requirement is the capstone experience and final product of the ISF Major.   The thesis is a sustained, original, and critical examination of a central interdisciplinary research question, developed under the guidance of the ISF 190 instructor.  The thesis represents a mature synthesis of research skills, critical thinking, and competent writing. As the final product of a student's work in the major, the thesis is not the place to explore a new set of disciplines or research problems for the first time, but should develop methods of inquiry and bridge the several disciplines that students have developed in their Course of Study.

ISF 190 Senior Thesis
  • TTH 2-3:30
  • Quamruzzaman
  • Evans 2
  • 4 Units
  • Class Number: 17494

The ISF Senior Thesis requirement is the capstone experience and final product of the ISF Major.   The thesis is a sustained, original, and critical examination of a central interdisciplinary research question, developed under the guidance of the ISF 190 instructor.  The thesis represents a mature synthesis of research skills, critical thinking, and competent writing. As the final product of a student's work in the major, the thesis is not the place to explore a new set of disciplines or research problems for the first time, but should develop methods of inquiry and bridge the several disciplines that students have developed in their Course of Study.