Spring 2017 Interdisciplinary Course Offerings

Please use the UF Schedule of Courses to find times, places, and other course information.

These courses are interdisciplinary in nature and are often team taught. 

IDH 3931 Chemistry en la Cocina Latina 3 051F Kleiman, Valera
Lord-Ward, Gillian
Chem Cocina 
IDH 3931 Global Environmental Issues 3 0648 Nation, James Global Environment 
IDH3931 The Humanities and Social Change 2 0258 Acord, Sophia
Blanton, Tim
Humanities and Social Change 
IDH3931 Medical Ethics and Professionalism in The House of God. 3 03BF Solberg, Lauren  
IDH 3931 War in Literature and Film 3 03B0 Gallman, Matt War and Fiction 
IDH 3931 HNR Neurotheology 3 046H Ritz, Louis Neurotheology 
IDH 3931 The Poetics of Justice: Law, Literature, and Film 3 09DA Kiigerman, Eric Law and Literature 

Chemistry en la Cocina Latin

This is new course co-offered by the Chemistry department, and the Department of Spanish and Portuguese Studies. The goal is to begin to internationalize the curriculum in Chemistry, a department that, until now, has had very little international content in its undergraduate coursework; while also broadening the scope of the kinds of classes that SPS typically offers. It provides a multidisciplinary perspective combining a major component of Latin culture (food) within the global language of a science.
Chemistry in la Cocina Latina is a basic course that combines the science of Chemistry with the humanistic aspects of the Spanish language and Hispanic cultures and histories. We propose to explore Hispanic cultures and language through the foods and recipes that define them, and to explore the science of those foods by studying the chemical reactions inherent in all cooking. Each of six course modules will follow the same structure and last approximately two weeks:
1. Introduction to the region or country whose food we will be exploring.
2. Exploration of aspects of that country’s history, geography and culture that relate to the foods eaten and preferred there.
3. Teaching of basic vocabulary words in Spanish (foods, verbs, other culturally pertinent terms) that are relevant to the cuisine.
4. Discussion of (at least) one chemical reaction or a chemical process involved in the preparation of that country’s dish.
5. Hands on experimentation of the chemical reaction/process in a chemistry lab.
6. Preparation of recipe in kitchen location on campus.
For example, one such module could be based around the dessert flan. Flan is popular in Spain and throughout Latin America, so class discussion could focus on one or more regions where it is popular. The subsequent discussion could focus on the relationship between Spain and Latin America (imperialism, conquest, revolution, independence), as well as culinary trends that relate to what desserts are or aren’t popular (availability of ingredients, lack of refrigeration, etc.) Students would learn the relevant vocabulary for the foods that are used in the recipe (sugar, eggs, etc.), as well as any regional varieties and a discussion of why and how language varies from place to place. The chemical processes involved in the formation of caramel (breakdown of complex sugars, oxidation of sugars), heating of milk (denaturing of proteins, gel formation), whisking of eggs (film formation) would then be studied, first in the more abstract laboratory setting and then in preparing (and sampling!) a real flan.

Global Environmental Issues

In Global Environmental Issues we will explore major impacts of environmental science upon our society by looking at local, state, national, and international environmental issues. Students will be expected to present their own ideas about testable hypotheses, ways to organize the data from testing their ideas, and how to evaluate experimental data. Issues discussed will include availability of clean water, clean air, growth/decrease in human populations, biodiversity, conservation, environmental hazards, waste disposal, climate change, and energy issues. These concerns are common to every region of the world. This is a Gordon Rule course, and students will be expected to write 4 essays during the course about (1) a personal statement of concerns and feelings about the environment, (2) an environmental issue with specific concern to Florida, (3) a written report on an environmental book read during the semester, and (4) an issue that has world-wide impact with illustrative examples from different regions of the world. Papers 2 and 4 could be about the same general issue, but they must be entirely different papers without appreciable duplication of text (not more than 2-3 % duplication will be acceptable). Students will be graded on each paper and upon whether they complete the required total of 4000 words in writing. A current textbook (2011 edition or newer if one becomes available) will be used and students will be graded upon completion of assigned readings in the book and hand-outs from the instructor, class attendance, short quizzes, participation in class discussions, and the essays noted above. Frequent use of video presentations will be used, but the course will be structured around class discussion of topical environmental problems.

Students are expected to be in class on time and for the duration of each class session. If absence or tardiness is unavoidable, students are expected to e-mail the instructor. Students must bring a textbook, pens/pencils and a notebook to class.

A portion of the grade in the course will be based upon attendance. If the student is not in attendance, he/she certainly cannot contribute to the discussions and questions/answer sessions that will be a part of most classes.

Humanities and Social Change

Why do medical schools require their students to study art history? Why have veterans of the Iraq War starting performing Greek tragedies? What exactly is the “liberal arts attitude” that led, according to Steve Jobs, to such celebrated and creative innovation at Apple? How have people used philosophy, literary criticism, and religious studies to enact social and technological change?

This course offers students in any major an interdisciplinary look at the humanities, with a focus on what humanists do and who the humanities are for. We will grapple with the humanities’ shifting and often-controversial meanings, and we’ll consider what is distinctive about the disciplines they encompass. We’ll investigate literature, history, philosophy and art “in action,” drawing case studies not only from classrooms, but also from prison libraries, graffitied street corners, and presidential inaugurations. By connecting these case studies to their own experiences, students will explore how they can use the skills and substance of their humanities training – either as majors or simply participants in Gen Ed classes – to support their own interests and professional paths.

War in Literature and Film

I proposed to teach an Honors Seminar organized around great books and great movies about war and society, written (or filmed) from between the end of the 19th century. (The focus will really be on the 20th Century, but we will begin the seminar with the writings of Civil War veterans Ambrose Bierce.) I do not envision this course as an “antiwar” course, but most of the books and authors do question the role of war in society.

What follows is a preliminary list of books and movies.

WAR BOOKS: Ambrose Bierce, Tales of Soldiers and Civilians (1891); Dalton Trumbo, Johnny Got His Gun (1939); Ernest Hemingway, For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940); Norman Mailer, The Naked and the Dead (1948); Joseph Heller, Catch-22 (1961); Kurt Vonnegut, Slaugherhouse-Five (1969); Michael Herr, Dispatches (1977); Tim O’Brien, Going After Cacciato (1978); Or The Things They Carried

WAR MOVIES: Shenandoah; Bridge on the River Kwai; The Best Years of Our Lives; Gallipoli; M*A*S*H; Dr. Strangelove; Apocalypse Now; The Deerhunter

Medical Ethics and Professionalism in The House of God

Described by the New York Times as a “raunchy, troubling and hilarious novel that turned into a cult phenomenon,” The House of God was written in 1978 but represents a timeless and humorous, and sometimes exaggerated, inside look at medical training and patient care in a hospital setting.  Not to be confused with a book about religion, The House of God is satirical but realistic, a work of fiction rumored to be based on real experiences the author had during his own internship.  It is a quick read, and offers a look at medical ethics and professionalism at both its very best and its very worst.  Told from the point of view of a medical intern named Roy, the book introduces the reader to a cast of characters (notably, a resident who Roy calls the Fat Man) who interact with Roy in both his personal and professional realms during his first year of internship.  Roy shows the reader what day-to-day life is like for those who are training to be doctors and the interactions of these trainees with those who are teaching them, as well as with other medical staff.  

Using the novel The House of God and related materials, as well as presentations from guest speakers and other interactive assignments, students will learn about ethical issues that health care professionals face, the importance of professional conduct, and the impact on patients or clients, students and other trainees, and professional colleagues when ethics and professionalism are lacking.

This course will appeal to students who are interested in a career in the health professions, especially medicine, as The House of God is often cited as a must-read for medical students and residents.  Although the book focuses on the medical profession, this course will examine the broader issue of ethics and professionalism in patient care and will involve discussions of ethics and professionalism in fields other than medicine.

HNR Neurotheology

The Honors Neurotheology course is intended for all students, particularly those engaged in pre-medical, pre-counseling or health-related majors, who are interested in exploring the interface between spirituality and the brain. Are religious and spiritual experiences brain-based? If they are, what are the implications for understanding brain circuitry? If they are not, what are the implications for our understanding of who we are? The Neurotheology course will introduce the structure and function of the brain at a very basic level. The neural correlates of religious and spiritual experiences, and the role of neuroplasticity, will be evaluated. The possibility of non-materialistic, trans-brain mechanisms for spiritual experiences will be explored. Through our readings and student-centered discussions, we hope to develop a more complete understanding about our identity and our relationship to that which is sacred.

Dr. Lou Ritz (lritz@ufl.edu) is on the faculty of the Department of Neuroscience in the McKnight Brain Institute, course director of Clinical Neuroscience which is taken by second year medical students, and director of the UF Center for Spirituality and Health (www.spiritualityandhealth.ufl.edu).

The Poetics of Justice: Law, Literature and Film

In his brief yet complex parable “Before the Law” Kafka describes how a man from the country searches for the law but is stopped outside the gates by a menacing guard, never to gain entrance to the law. What is the significance of this failure to grasp the law? How does Kafka’s perplexing tale shed light on questions pertaining to the interplay between justice, law and violence, and how do we as individuals encounter these conflicts within the social and political spaces in which we live?

This interdisciplinary course sets out to explore these very questions and collisions by juxtaposing shifting modes of representations. By turning to the works of history (Thucydides), Religion (Book of Job), philosophy (Plato, Nietzsche and Arendt), literature (Sophocles, Dostoyevsky and Kafka) and film (Tarantino), our objective is to trace the narrative of justice through ancient Greece, the Enlightenment, the modern and postmodern periods. In particular, we will examine the realm of trials (both real and imaginary) to probe the relation between justice and ethics along with the various questions pertaining to law, guilt, responsibility, violence and punishment. How do writers critique the institutions of law and justice through works of literature and art? Our goal is to rethink these dynamic relationships by turning to the spaces of history, philosophy, political thought, literature and film.

Grading will be based on in-class participation (25%), take-home midterm (25%), take-home final (25%) and an 8-10 page final paper (topic of your choice, 25%).