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  18238 Introduction to Cognitive Neuroscience  22CH Heilman, Kenneth   
IDH2930 18203  Physician Writers in the Postmodern Era  22B4 Cogle, Christopher   
IDH2930 18236  Evolving Perspectives in Modern Healthcare: House of God and Beyond  22CE Edwards, Mary E./Norton, Hannah   
IDH2930 18307  The Search for Fossil Evidence of the Origin of Humans  22E6 Nation, James  
IDH2930 18375  Rigor Mortis 22H6 Waddell, Frank   
IDH2930 18289  13 Reasons Why 1C16 DiCaprio, Brittany/ Pigg, Robert   
IDH2930 21333  The Graphic Medicine Manifesto 136G Pomputius, Ariel  

Introduction to Cognitive Neuroscience

The purpose of this course is twofold: 1) To introduce students to cognitive neuroscience (neuropsychology-behavioral neurology). The course will be directed to help the students understand how the brain mediates several of major cognitive activities, such as language, emotions, attention, self-awareness, memory, motor skills, sensory perception-recognition, and executive functions (the planning, initiation and completion of important activities); 2) To introduce student to neurobehavioral research.  

Evolving Perspectives in Modern Healthcare: The House of God and Beyond

How far have medicine and healthcare evolved over the last forty years? Over the last few decades, clinical medicine, and healthcare in general, have been moving towards a more human/patient-centered approach. The House of God by Samuel Shem (1978) tells the story of Roy Basch, an internal medicine intern at a fictional large, urban hospital, nicknamed The House of God. Additional supplementary readings will include seminal scholarly articles illustrating new directions in healthcare and medical education, including reforms to resident physician duty hours. Through a close examination of the HOG and supplementary readings, students in this course will discuss the change (or lack of change) in the health care system in the last 40 years.

The Search for Fossil Evidence of the Origin of Humans

The course is based on the book  Lucy’s Legacy: The Quest for Human Origins authored by Donald C. Johanson and Kate Wong. The book, published in 2009 by Harmony Books, an imprint of Crown Publishing Group, Random House, Inc. NewYork, is readily available as a paperback or hardback and as an e-book for certain electronic media. In 15 chapters and an Epilogue, Johanson and Wong chronicle the excitement, competition, and exhausting work of hunting fossils of early humans and their ancestors. Johanson was the discoverer of Lucy in 1974 as a young paleoanthropologist, and he and his team have unearthed a total of more than 300 specimens of her species, Australopithecus afarensis. Donald Johanson is an internationally recognized paleoanthropologist, and Kate Wong is a science writer for Scientific American.

The opening chapter describes the excitement of the initial find of Lucy, now dated to having been alive 2.3 million years ago.  Lucy, the most extensive skeletal remains found at that time, stimulated a revolution in thinking about the origins of today’s humans. In subsequent chapters Johanson and Wong describe fossil skulls, jaw bones, teeth, and sometimes fossilized parts of leg or arm bones of a parade of hominid forms, including numerous Homo species, culminating in modern humans, Homo sapiens. Johanson is careful to point out that there is not a linear progression from Lucy to modern humans. In reality, there were many branches in the human lineage, many extinctions, and competing hominids for survival. Good coverage in the book is given to the Neanderthal humans who lived in western Europe for hundreds of thousands of years, co-existing with Homo sapiens for a long time before the Neanderthals became extinct, leaving modern humans as the “last man standing”, so to speak. The book briefly mentions now well documented early humans who lived in Siberia, the Denisovans, and those who lived on the island of Flores in Indonesia, the Hobbits. I am providing updated information about these three groups of early humans who co-existed with us for thousands of years before they became extinct. There is now genetic data to show that modern humans who migrated out of Africa about 50,000 years ago interbred to some extent with the Neandertals, Denisovans, and Hobbits. I am using recent information from journal papers, some of which the students are expected to read, and some of which I summarize in notes that I give to the students to update the most recent understanding of human evolution.

Students will be expected to read Johanson and Wong’s book, and selected work in scientific journals. This will give a better sense of how science is done and reported, and will expose them to some of the controversial interpretations in the literature. I will supplement the assigned readings by information on evolutionary principles, archeological dating techniques, and climate change that likely played a major role in the long evolution of humans. However, I do not use a lecture format, but rely upon discussion of self-study question that I send to students ahead of the class.

Rigor Mortis

Do you ever wonder why we have so many studies on deadly diseases, but so few effective treatments? Is it possible that bad scientific practices are delaying important medical advances? This course will delve into this topic by reading Rigor Mortis: How Sloppy Science Creates Worthless Cures, Crushes Hope, and Wastes Billions.” Topics to be covered include publication bias and popular examples of research fraud, among other types of scientific misconduct.

13 Reasons Why

The book “Thirteen Reasons Why” by Jay Asher explores the tapes left behind by Hannah Baker after she tragically commits suicides and attempts to contact those who caused it. This book deals with topics such suicide, sexual assault, bullying, mental health, and social pressures in an honest depiction of the life and death of a young girl. This class will explore the shaming culture, emotional/social intelligence, and what we can do as young adults to change the way we treat others. With the help of the newly produced TV show based on the book, the novel, and discussions in class, students will discover just how important it is to face these topics head on and have the difficult conversations about how we can be better as humans and explore our empathy and humanity. This class will answer the questions, “Why was this book so controversial and how can we be the change we hope to see?” 

The Graphic Medicine Manifesto

Through examination of the book The Graphic Medicine Manifesto, this class explores the growth and development of the graphic novel genre as an important and valuable means of exploring health and healthcare experiences.  The authors of The Graphic Medicine Manifesto include healthcare professionals and educators who helped bring the use of graphic novels and comics in the medical field to the attention of academics and the health science community, coining the term “graphic medicine” to describe the intersection of the two.  Since the book is short, this class aims to use The Graphic Medicine Manifesto as a textbook or introduction to the genre; students will also read and discuss additional works by healthcare professionals and patients that they will select themselves.