Yale Center for Teaching and Learning

Catalog

Introduction to Political Philosophy

This course is intended as an introduction to political philosophy as seen through an examination of some of the major texts and thinkers of the Western political tradition. Three broad themes that are central to understanding political life are focused upon: the polis experience (Plato, Aristotle), the sovereign state (Machiavelli, Hobbes), constitutional government (Locke), and democracy (Rousseau, Tocqueville). The way in which different political philosophies have given expression to various forms of political institutions and our ways of life are examined throughout the course.

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Epidemics in Western Society Since 1600

This course consists of an international analysis of the impact of epidemic diseases on western society and culture from the bubonic plague to HIV/AIDS and the recent experience of SARS and swine flu. Leading themes include: infectious disease and its impact on society; the development of public health measures; the role of medical ethics; the genre of plague literature; the social reactions of mass hysteria and violence; the rise of the germ theory of disease; the development of tropical medicine; a comparison of the social, cultural, and historical impact of major infectious diseases; and the issue of emerging and re-emerging diseases.

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Astronomy: Frontiers and Controversies

This course focuses on three particularly interesting areas of astronomy that are advancing very rapidly: Extra-Solar Planets, Black Holes, and Dark Energy. Particular attention is paid to current projects that promise to improve our understanding significantly over the next few years. The course explores not just what is known, but what is currently not known, and how astronomers are going about trying to find out.

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Human Emotion

What are our emotions? What purpose do they serve? How do emotions relate to our thoughts, memories, and behaviors towards others? What happens when our emotional responses go awry?

Although these questions date back to early philosophical texts, only recently have experimental psychologists begun to explore this vast and exciting domain of study. The course will begin by discussing the evolutionary origins of distinct emotions such as love, anger, fear, and disgust. We will ask how emotions might color our cognitive processes such as thinking and memory, the relationship between emotions and the brain, development of emotions in childhood, and how emotions shape our social relationships. We will also consider how these methods can be applied to studying mental illness in both children and adults. The course will conclude by studying the pursuit of happiness and well-being, trying to understand what makes us happy.

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Environmental Politics and Law

Can law change human behavior to be less environmentally damaging? Law will be examined through case histories including: environmental effects of national security, pesticides, air pollution, consumer products, plastics, parks and protected area management, land use, urban growth and sprawl, public/private transit, drinking water standards, food safety, and hazardous site restoration. In each case we will review the structure of law and evaluate its strengths and weaknesses.

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