Fall 2018 (un)common reads

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

These courses are discussion oriented, one credit seminar courses centered on a book.

Books are listed in more than one category, but please peruse them all.

Full listing of all courses:

Course Class Number  Title Sect Instructor Syllabus
IDH2930 18212 Reset: My Fight for Inclusion and Lasting Change by Ellen Pao  2160 Phataralaoha, Anchalee  Reset by Ellen Pao 
IDH2930  18313 The Mystery of Twins 22BB Dean Kopsell The Mystery of TWINS 
IDH2930 18237 Oranges, yesterday and today  22CG Alferez, Fernando  Oranges
IDH2930 18305 Moneyball 22E0 McCrea, Brian Moneyball 

Oranges, yesterday and today

This book is 52 years old, and is a classic of reportage. Originally, it was conceived for The New Yorker as a short magazine article about oranges and orange juice, but the author, who moved to Florida for the reportage, was fascinated by what he saw and learned, and ended up writing a book. The book progresses as a whole narrative work. It has seven chapters that are interconnected (as everything in the orange world is) and includes vibrant descriptions of everything related to citrus production, from orange growers to orange pickers and packers, as well as orange botanists, pioneers of the industry of concentrate juice, and early settlers on Florida's Indian River. It introduces us the first orange barons, and provides a captivating profile of Ben Hill Griffin of Frostproof, Florida, probably the last of the individual orange barons. The book has intrinsic values for anyone interested in Florida, and shows how Citrus has shaped the history of our State and its crossing paths with agriculture, environment, nutrition, anthropology, and economy; but it also serves as a cornerstone to understand what Citrus means for our State today. When reading this book, we will benefit from the perspective of the last 50 years of Citrus Industry and we will analyze how Citriculture has changed in Florida since mid XX century, and why. By knowing Florida’s vibrant past in the last century, we will better understand how resilience of Citrus people warrants the survival of our State’s signature crop despite big threats such as huanglongbing, the yellow dragon disease, which was unknown here by that time. The author guides us through the relation of man with nature through illustrative examples of orange farmers struggling with devastating frosts and seminal efforts of citrus breeding at the UF for better adapting the groves to the environment.

The purpose of this Course is to confront students with what growing Citrus in Florida means today as compared to the past narrated by the book. This will open the door to understanding what the future may be not only in Florida citrus but also for other citrus growing regions around the world. The Course will follow a discussion format for the seven chapters of the book. Each chapter will have two sessions, and depending on the enrollment, each chapter will count with a leader and a co-leader, who ideally will have to work together: in the first session (class), leader will drive analysis of the chapter in depth (it will be a short presentation followed by interactive discussion). In the second session, co-leader will conduct a discussion on comparing the situation now and before, and possible future evolution; for this, it is expected research of information from different sources beyond the book and included but not limited to (internet resources, interviewing with people from the industry and researchers, searching in professional magazines, etc). In addition, we will have one or two guest speakers and a field trip.

IDH2930 The Mystery of Twins

The course will focus on the special bonds shared by TWINS. The course book, articles, and videos will be used to decipher the unique relationship shared between identical and fraternal twins. We will try to answer the questions of: 1) why twins are used to answer the “nature vs. nurture” debate in human development; 2) why twins are more likely to choose the same careers; and 3) how are twins impacted when separated at birth, or through death?  I have taught the course in a similar format at my former university four previous times.


As we read Michael Lewis's Moneyball--one chapter per week--we will think about how the communities we live in shape how we know and what we take to be knowledge.  Lewis portrays most baseball scouts and executives as fools in comparison to Billy Beane, the once extraordinarily successful General Manager of the Oakland A's.  Rather than dismissing those scouts and executives, we will ask how they came to their way of knowing.  We also will point out kinds of talent that Billy Beane cannot see.  The course is open to baseball fans and non-fans alike.  Anyone who can explain the workings of financial "derivatives" is particularly welcome.  Throughout the semester, we will ask this seemingly paradoxical question: What does my way of knowing discourage me from seeing.