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Fall college classes showcase Emory strengths

Students taking Gregory Berns' neuroeconomics class this fall will study a growing field with one of its founders. Emory Photo/Video.

Reading and writing poetry with the U.S. Poet Laureate, exploring ecology on campus field trips, and studying His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama's approach to secular ethics during his latest campus visit: these are just some of the course offerings for undergraduates this fall.

Browse this sampling of classes drawn from the course listings for Emory College of Arts and Sciences, Oxford College and Goizueta Business School to discover how faculty integrate Emory's specialties into the curriculum and emphasize teaching, primary research and cross-disciplinary collaboration.

Appcology: New Commerce Infrastructure Systems

Instructor: Benn Konsynski, George S. Craft Distinguished University Professor of Information Systems & Operations Management, Goizueta Business School

Cool factor: Study of emerging technologies through development projects invited from campus departments, with particular attention to health care and education in the fall course.

Enables students to develop a portfolio in a workshop/project-oriented course. Focuses on design and development of real apps and concepts of themed projects in app development as part of an analysis of evolving platforms for new business practice. Examines issues related to network sensors, ePublication in commerce, 3D printing and the so-called "Internet of things" that involves communication among objects.

Core Issues in Global Health: Cross-Cultural Issues in Mental Health

Instructors: Lesley Jo Weaver, anthropology doctoral candidate; Peter Brown, professor of anthropology

Cool factor: Interdisciplinary approach to mental health as a global public health issue.

Uses disease-specific case studies to demonstrate how global health problems are best understood from multiple perspectives in a capstone seminar format. Examines psychiatric conditions across three levels of analysis: individual, community and global. Critically engages concepts of mental health and illness through an interdisciplinary perspective that draws from psychological and medical anthropology, history, psychology, public health, disability studies and biology.

The Dividing Lines: Pit Bulls, Identity, and Community

Instructor: Donna Troka, adjunct assistant professor with the Graduate Institute of Liberal Arts and associate director of the Center for Faculty Development and Excellence

Cool factor: The study of pit bulls as a metaphor for American cultural characteristics, ranging from suburban "nanny" dogs to hip hop symbols of urban masculinity to backyard money-makers.

Explores how our society might think differently about pit bulls and the communities from which they come by adding a critical consciousness about race, class, gender and community development to the conversation. Connects classroom theory to practical application with a local no-kill shelter working to reduce the number of neglected, abused and stray pit bulls.

Ecology of Emory University

Instructor: John Wegner, senior lecturer in environmental studies

Cool factor: Studying ecology on campus field trips.

Uses ecological concepts to investigate questions and challenges of the natural and built environment on the Emory campus, including sustainability issues. Combines lectures with laboratory exercises, giving students a hands-on experience in the application of concepts to the field setting.

Freshman Seminar: Poetry and the Muse of History

Instructor: Natasha Trethewey, Robert W. Woodruff Professor of English and Creative Writing and the 19th U.S. Poet Laureate

Cool factor: Freshman-only workshop with the U.S. Poet Laureate.

Examines ways that poets have used personal and public history in their work and defines strategies for using information gathered from research. Pursues the writing of poems based on those histories, with particular emphasis on what makes a poem work. Develops the critical language necessary for students to discuss each other's work and to approach their own poems during the important process of revision.

Great Books

Instructor: Christine Perkell, Professor of Classics

Cool factor: Reading Homer, Plato, Augustine, etc.

Introduces freshmen and sophomores to some of the masterworks of the Classical Greek and Roman world, with emphasis on major genres, themes and moral questions that have significantly shaped the literary and cultural tradition of the Western world. This course is one of the "Great Works" offerings of the Voluntary Core Curriculum, a coherent and linked group of courses that address questions traditionally at the center of a liberal arts education.

Happiness Economics

Instructor: Boris Nikolaev, assistant professor of economics, Oxford College

Cool factor: Rational analysis of what makes people happy.

Examines research in psychology, behavioral economics, sociology and political science related to the nature of happiness and its socio-economic determinants. Explores variables such as work, leisure, reciprocity, gratitude, love, social relationships, income inequality, unemployment and economic freedom. Studies decision-making anomalies and their implication for economic theory and policy analysis. Provides tools of positive psychology for living a happier life.


Instructor: Gregory S. Berns, Distinguished Professor of Neuroeconomics and director of the Center for Neuropolicy

Cool factor: Studying a growing field of expertise with one of its founders.

Provides an introduction to neuroeconomics, which uses the tools of neurobiology to study human decision-making, with an expert whose current projects include the neurobiological effects of peer pressure on risk attitudes, the use of neuroimaging to understand moral decision-making, and to understand how the canine brain works. 

Opium to Obamacare: The Pursuit of Health in the United States

Instructor: Elena Conis, assistant professor of history

Cool factor: What graham crackers have to do with the nation's health care debate, how this debate is uniquely American, and why the issues are so hard to solve.

Explores Americans' pursuit of health from colonial times to the present. Readings include individual philosophies of health from Thomas Jefferson to “Dr. Oz,” and from Sylvester Graham (of graham cracker fame) to John Harvey Kellogg (of cereal fame). Examines the emergence of the nation's major health institutions, the long struggle to provide universal health care, and how today's health care priorities are linked to long-running debates about the size of government and the definition of liberty.

Secular Ethics: The Dalai Lama's Approach

Instructor: Geshe Lobsang Tenzin Negi, senior lecturer in religion and director of the Emory-Tibet Partnership

Cool factor: Seminar about the works of His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama that shares the theme of his planned October visit to the Emory campus.

Studies principles of the "secular ethics" articulated by the Dalai Lama in the books "Ethics for the New Millennium" and "Beyond Religion: Ethics for a Whole World" and identified as an idea of a universal and inclusive set of ethics independent of a particular belief system or religious framework. Engages in thoughtful discussion about how to infuse these ideals into social structures such as education and family life.

iReligion: Technology & Faith

Instructor: Jonathan Crane, Raymond F. Schinazi Junior Scholar in Bioethics and Jewish Thought

Cool factor: Fresh perspective on how technology affects individuals and society.

Critically and creatively investigates the concept of technology, explores how religions have been both wary and welcoming of various technologies, and studies the ways in which technologies challenge theologies and religious communities. Develops students' abilities to use religious, philosophical, anthropological and other intellectual tools to examine these complex relationships.

Shakespeare, Text and Performance

Instructor: Sheila Cavanagh, professor of English; Kevin Quarmby, assistant professor of English at Oxford College

Cool factor: Studying Shakespeare interactively via Skype.

Brings together students on Emory's Atlanta and Oxford campuses with actors, faculty and students in the U.S. and abroad via video technology to study selected major plays by the 16th century Bard. Involves expertise of the instructors' World Shakespeare Project and Emory's Center for Interactive Teaching and the Halle Institute for Global Learning.

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