Spring 21 (un)common reads

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

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

Books listed by Topic Area:

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

(un)common reads courses - all

CourseSectionClass NumberTitleDay/PeriodInstructorSyllabus
IDH2930 2103 24906 The Education of an Idealist

Face-to-Face R/4

O'Malley, Michael  
IDH2930 OL03 27618 The Education of an Idealist

Online R/4

O'Malley, Michael  
IDH2930  2105  25262 Hamilton Face-to-Face T/10  Law, Mark  
IDH2930 OL05 31376 Hamilton Online T/10 Law, Mark  
IDH2930 2104  25261 Wicked, The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West Face-to-Face T/9  Law, Mark  
IDH2930 OL04 31375 Wicked, The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West Online T/9 Law, Mark  
IDH2930 2107 25489 Lord of the Rings Face-to-Face M/5 Alexander, Cory  
IDH2930 OL07 27337 Lord of the Rings Online M/5 Alexander, Cory  
IDH2930 OL08 26237 Literature, Illness, and the Outwardly Healthy Reader Online R/9 Cogle, Christopher  
IDH2930 2110  25576 Thank You Madagascar: The Conservation Diaries of Alison Jolly Face-to-Face W/8  Tennant, Michele  
IDH2930 OL10 27570 Thank You Madagascar: The Conservation Diaries of Alison Jolly Online W/8 Tennant, Michele  
IDH2930 2111 25591 The Power of Pause, an opportunity to be more effective in a demanding 24/7 world  Face-to-Face R/10 Velasques, Corina  
IDH2930 OL11 26254 The Power of Pause, an opportunity to be more effective in a demanding 24/7 world Online R/10 Velasques, Corina  
IDH2930 2112 25593 True/False: Media Literacy and Making Sense of What We See, Hear, and Read Face-to-Face R/9 Best, Todd  
IDH2930 OL12 26282 True/False: Media Literacy and Making Sense of What We See, Hear, and Read Online R/9 Best, Todd  
IDH2930 2113 25603 "Stiff - The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers" Face-to-Face W/7 Bryson, Emily R.  
IDH2930 OL13 27392 "Stiff - The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers" Online W/7 Bryson, Emily R.  
IDH2930 2114 25630 The Hot Zone: The Terrifying True Story of the Origins of the Ebola Virus Face-to-Face W/8 Beatty, Norman  
IDH2930 OL14 26296 The Hot Zone: The Terrifying True Story of the Origins of the Ebola Virus Online W/8 Beatty Norman  
IDH2930 2115 25637 Psychedelic Neuromedicine

Face-to-Face W/9

Ritz, Louis/Garner, Regan  
IDH2930 OL15 26345 Psychedelic Neuromedicine Online W/9 Ritz, Louis/Garner, Regan  
IDH2930 2116 25639 Colonies to Enemies: The Definitive History of Coexistence in the Middle East Face-to-Face R/8 Sahin, Emrah  
IDH2930 OL16 26322 Colonies to Enemies: The Definitive History of Coexistence in the Middle East Online R/8 Sahin, Emrah  
IDH2930  2117  25643  Alchemy of Air: A Jewish Genius, a Doomed Tycoon, and the Scientific Discovery that Fed the World but Fueled the Rise of Hitler Face-to-Face W/7 Angerhofer, Alexander  
IDH2930  2118 25646 Democracy and Dictatorship through European History Face-to-Face W/5 Svraka, Dragana Democracy and Dictatorship through European History 
IDH2930 OL18 31421 Democracy and Dictatorship through European History Online W/5 Svraka, Dragana Democracy and Dictatorship through European History 
IDH2930  2119 25647 Reading Karl Marx Today  Face-to-Face W/6 Svraka, Dragana Reading Karl Marx 
IDH2930 OL19 31428 Reading Karl Marx Today Online W/6 Svraka, Dragana Reading Karl Marx 
IDH2930  2120 25655 Ditch of Dreams: The Cross Florida Barge Canal and the Struggle for Florida's Future W/2 Donnelly, Anne E. Ditch of Dreams 
IDH2930 OL20 27444 Ditch of Dreams: The Cross Florida Barge Canal and the Struggle for Florida's Future Online W/2 Donnelly, Anne E. Ditch of Dreams 
IDH2930  2121 25656 The Art of Storytelling: True Stories Told Onstage T/3 Mandarano, Danica/Jordan, Mary C.  
IDH2930  2122 25668 Calculus Gems. Some of the nicest proofs in Calculus Face-to-Face M/8 Bona, Miklos  
IDH2930 OL22 27375 Calculus Gems. Some of the nicest proofs in Calculus Online M/8 Bona, Miklos  
IDH2930  2125 25687 Time Traveling with Chaucer: The Canterbury Tales Then and Now Face-to-Face T/8 Weijer, Neil  
IDH2930 OL25 27666  Time Traveling with Chaucer: The Canterbury Tales Then and Now Online T/8 Weijer, Neil  
IDH2930  2127 25692 Justice and Forgiveness: the Reality of Incarceration in America Face-to-Face T/9  De Simoni, Alberto  
IDH2930 OL27 27432 Justice and Forgiveness: the Reality of Incarceration in America Online T/9 De Simoni, Alberto  
IDH2930  2128 25693 Immigration and Identity Then & Now: Luis Alfaro's Mojada (A Mexican Medea) Face-to-Face M/9  Pantazopoulou, Anastasia   
IDH2930 OL28 27643 Immigration and Identity Then & Now: Luis Alfaro's Mojada (A Mexican Medea) Online M/9 Pantazopoulou, Anastasia  
IDH2930  2129 25694 Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts W/10  Vaught, Krista/Flynn, Heather  
IDH2930  2131 25741 Examining the unique bonds shared by identical and fraternal twins  Face-to-Face R/8  Kopsell, Dean  
IDH2930 OL31 27572 Examining the unique bonds shared by identical and fraternal twins Online R/8 Kopsell, Dean  
IDH2930  2132 25748 Voting, Violence, and Freedom in Florida: a background for our contemporary society and primer for what we do next… Face-to-Face T/5  Bird, Kevin  
IDH2930 OL32 27369 Voting, Violence, and Freedom in Florida: a background for our contemporary society and primer for what we do next Online T/5 Bird, Kevin  
IDH2930 2133 25755 The Master and His Emissary Face-to-Face W/6 Patrick, Erin  
IDH2930 OL33 27658 The Master and His Emissary Online W/6 Patrick, Erin  
IDH2930 2134 25826 Drug Addiction-the hell on earth and how to not lose hope W/4 Grundman, Oliver  
IDH2930 2136  27679  Emotional intelligence and the importance of empathy Face-to-Face M/8 Stoyan-Rosenzweig, Nina  
IDH2930 OL36 27682 Emotional intelligence and the importance of empathy Online M/8 Stoyan-Rosenzweig, Nina  
IDH2930 2211 26812 "Know My Name: Changing 
Conversations about Sexual Assault"
Face-to-Face M/5 Anantharam, Anita/Speakman, Skye  
IDH2930 2137 27813 Circular Health: Empowering the One Health Revolution Face-to-Face W/9 Agnelli, Sara  

The Education of an Idealist

Class #24906 Face-to-Face
Class #27618 Online

You want to change the world? Well, what does it look like to put values and ideals into action? Often this means pushing from the outside against a government or institution, advocating for changes in policy and behavior. But less often, an activist gains a voice inside the halls of government or has a seat at the decision-making table “in the room where it happens” with an opportunity to put theory to the test in the real world. This is the experience of Pulitzer Prize winning author, Samantha Power, as she describes it in her memoir, The Education of an Idealist, which we will read together in this course.

Power narrates her journey in a highly engaging style, telling stories about her childhood as an Irish immigrant, about how an internship led to an unconnected change in her college major, about her work as a war-correspondent journalist, award winning author, and eventually, cabinet member in the Obama administration, where she served as the US Ambassador to the UN.

We will follow along as she lays out the complex and often conflicting variables involved in making near impossible decisions, where millions of dollars, political careers, and human lives are at stake (Should the US use its military to help stop or prevent atrocities when the outcome is uncertain?). We will seek to learn from her missed opportunities and failed attempts, which she describes openly and honestly (a rarity for a political memoir), at one point observing that “even when we try to do right, we invariably end up making situations worse.” And, ultimately we will glean motivation and inspiration from the many humanitarian victories (lives spared, families rescued, war averted) she achieves by standing up and arguing for her beliefs, often as the lone voice.


If we have to explain why, leave it to those already obsessed.

Class #25262 Face-to-Face
Class #31376 Online

Hamilton by Ron Chernow
Hamilton: The Revolution  Lin-Manuel Miranda, Jeremy McCarter
Hamilfilm, of course

How does a bastard, orphan, son of a whore and a Scotsman, dropped in the middle of a Forgotten spot in the Caribbean by providence Impoverished, in squalor?  Grow up to be a hero and a scholar?

Find out and read the real history.  Be in the room where it happens!  Don't waste your shot!  Compare the real story to how it was brought to the stage in the groundbreaking Tony-winning Best Musical Hamilton: An Americal Musical.

Wicked, The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West

No one mourns the wicked!

Class #25261 Face-to-Face
Class #31375 Online

When Dorothy triumphed over the Wicked Witch of the West, we heard only her side of the story.  But what about her arch-nemesis the mysterious Witch?  Where did she come from?  How did she become so wicked?  And what is the true nature of evil?

So much happened in Oz before Dorothy dropped in...

Know My Name: Changing Conversations about Sexual Assault

Class #26812 Face-to-Face

TW: This course will discuss sensitive subjects such as rape, sexual abuse, and violence. 

Why were you going to this party? What’d you do when you got there? Are you sure you did that? But what time did you do that? Were you wearing your cardigan? What color was your cardigan? Do you remember any more from that night? No? Okay, well, we’ll let Brock fill it in. 

When Buzzfeed published “Emily Doe’s” victim impact statement on June 3, 2016, the world was called to hear her powerfully honest description of the interrogation that followed her brutal assault. Though her words inspired readers to take a critical look at rape culture in the United States, Brock Turner served a mere three months in jail and became a symbol of our broken justice system. In this class, we will read along as “Emily Doe” reclaims her name, Chanel Miller, and takes us through her harrowing experience as a survivor.  

This discussion-based course will serve as a safe space for students to deepen their understanding of the increasing pervasiveness of rape culture in our society, our courts, and our lives. In order to dismantle victim-blaming attitudes, we must learn to recognize them in both ourselves and others, and implement personal corrections and large-scale solutions. Guided by Chanel Miller’s memoir Know My Name, this interactive course aims to educate students on sexual assault and rape culture, and provide them with the tools necessary to become aware, proactive allies. In addition to attendance, students will be expected to complete discussion posts and submit a final reflective project of their choice.


Lord of the Rings

Class #25489 Face-to-Face
Class #27337 Online

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien is one of the most influential and widely-read authors of the Twentieth Century. Tolkien’s most significant work, The Lord of the Rings, undertaken as a sequel to his children’s book, The Hobbit (1937), is estimated to have sold over 150 million copies since its initial publication in 1954. Through a close reading of Tolkien’s trilogy, including the consideration of Tolkien’s style, themes, and characters, this course will explore the reasons for LOTR’s astounding success, despite the work’s tepid critical reception. 

Literature, Illness, and the Outwardly Healthy Reader

Class #25504 Face-to-Face
Class #26237 Online

This course introduces students to the literature of illness and health. Students will read short stories, poems, and essays written about illness and caring for the ill. We will discuss how writers use illness as metaphors, themes, and devices in conveying attitudes about health, technology, love, and self-worth. As with all works of art, the pieces discussed in this course will undoubtedly challenge students to appraise their own perspectives and values on illness and health.


Thank You Madagascar: The Conservation Diaries of Alison Jolly

Class #25576 Face-to-Face
Class #27570 Online

 Madagascar, the world of lemurs and chameleons, is home to some of the world’s most unique flora and fauna – approximately 90% of all species are found nowhere else. Madagascar contains one of the highest levels of biodiversity on the planet, but this biodiversity is highly threatened due to environmental degradation and loss, endangering wildlife, but also taking a toll on the culture and daily life of the Malagasy people. Primatologist Alison Jolly began her work on lemurs in Madagascar in the 1960s, and over parts of six decades, expanded our knowledge of the biological present and evolutionary history of these primates. She was the first to document female social dominance in a non-human primate; a controversial assertion at that time. While this work was ground-breaking, her efforts to conserve and sustain the natural wonders of Madagascar was perhaps of greater importance. Through her many years in Madagascar, she gained keen insights into the competing factors that arise when one discusses conservation and sustainability in a developing country. 

"Thank You, Madagascar" contains excerpts from Jolly’s diaries as well as contemporary commentary from her on these issues. Fundamentally, she asks to whom do the natural riches of Madagascar truly belong? Given their uniqueness, biodiversity, and importance to the scientific community, do they belong to the world? Or are the true owners the local people, with these natural gifts handed down from their ancestors to use as they see fit to sustain daily life (for example, clearing forests for subsistence farming)? Or should Madagascar be considered only for its potential economic impacts, such as titanium mining? Is there a way for all three world views to co-exist? Jolly understood that no conservation or sustainability effort would be successful in the long-term if local culture, politics, and economics, as well as personal relationships were not considered from the outset. 

We will read the book "Thank You, Madagascar" in its entirety. To provide context, we will also read associated papers from the primary literature. Prior to each reading, we will explore localities, customs, and the biological diversity described in the readings, augmented by photographs (environment, environmental degradation, habitat loss; the local people and cultural activities; unique species) taken on the instructor’s trips to Madagascar. Sites to be reviewed include rain, spiny and gallery forest ecosystems, and the capital, Antananarivo. One of the unique strengths of the class will be these first hand experiences from the instructor's 6 stays in country, providing valuable context to the readings.​

This course is an excellent introduction for students interested in our study abroad course in Madagascar, as well as for the International Scholars Program course "Global Biodiversity and Culture: Integrating Conservation and Human Well-being".


The Power of Pause, an opportunity to be more effective in a demanding 24/7 world

Class #25591 Face-to-Face
Class #26254 Online

A clear, actionable plan to fight frustration at work, make savvier decisions, and avoid costly mistakes when we're short on time, attention, and choices

One of the most frustrating dilemmas for working people today is how to be effective when we feel we don't have time or we're facing non-stop demands. The Power of Pause process is a dynamic practice that Nance Guilmartin has taught thousands of people worldwide, equipping them to regain control of thoughts and avoid miscommunications. This tested method helps readers to take a moment to wonder what's called for when we feel we're short on time, attention, temper, or choices. In that instant, we can use a simple method to rewire our overloaded circuits, tap into our "missing-in-action" common sense, and raise our communication intelligence. This process is not about slowing down the pace of workday life. It is about enabling anyone who is time-pressed to make savvier choices and avoid costly mistakes.

  • Shows how to exercise leadership skills that save time and strengthen relationships
  • Offers a process for learning to engage in productive exchanges rather than attacking or being resigned
  • Enables managers and teams to save time and money
  • Reveals how to fix problems and achieve goals with less stress

The Power of Pause methods enable managers and teams across varying industries/any industry to save time and money, fix problems and achieve goals with less stress–even in the face of competition, cultural and language differences, or tight budgets.

True/False: Media Literacy and Making Sense of What We See, Hear, and Read

Class #25593 Face-to-Face
Class #26282 Online

 Rarely has reality needed so much to be re-imagined. - True/False Film Festival

True/False is a class about media literacy. We live in strange times, indeed. Our all-access media streams flow to us in a full range of devices from smartphones to laptops to flat screen tvs to billboards. They are a constant flow of information, opinions, emotions, stories, images, and sounds that often feel like an overflow. Infuse these inputs with various ideological perspectives and marketing-savvy nuances, and it becomes too much to take in and make sense of. What we are often left with is a wholesale inability to decipher and process all the information, leaving us “media illiterate”. This seminar style course will involve a “slow read” of Neil Postman’s acclaimed book Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business. Although it was originally published in 1985 when television was our primary form of media intake, Postman’s work has served as a cultural pause button to stop and think about our engagement with all media. With recent technological, cultural, and political developments, Postman’s ideas continue to offer much for consideration of our ongoing situation. Alongside Postman’s text, we will consider how the arts come to bear on the topic. Specific focus will be given to creative nonfiction film (a kind of documentary), and in particular the resources of the True/False Film Festival


"Stiff - The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers"

Class #25630 Face-to-Face
Class #27392 Online

This course is centered around the book: “Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers” by Mary Roach. It's an in-depth scientific exploration of what happens to the human body after death. From grave robbing to plastic surgery, students will learn about the history of cadaver use in medical schools and beyond, as well as countless facts about the biological journey human remains take after life. The author is an academic investigative journalist whose well-researched books illuminate the most taboo part of life: death. 

The Hot Zone: The Terrifying True Story of the Origins of the Ebola Virus

Class #25630 Face-to-Face
Class #26296 Online

The Hot Zone: The Terrifying True Story of the Origins of the Ebola Virus written by Richard Preston is an amazing, nonfiction, book detailing the discovery of the Ebola virus, and the scientists who worked so diligently to understand its origins. Based off the true accounts the book also details an actual outbreak that took place right here in the United States, which suddenly emerged in the suburbs of our nation's capital.

Reading this book will allow the student to understand the complexities of actual infectious disease outbreak with a lethal virus. The hope after completing the course is that the student will gain insight and curiosity to pursue a career in the fields of biology, medicine, and public health.

Each week we will discuss our reading assignment in an open forum in the class. The book has four parts describing different events as it pertains to the discovery of Ebola virus and the outbreak here in the United States. After completing each part the students will be asked to write a short perspective essay based off 3-5 questions given. At the end of the semester each student will have completed the four parts. A final assignment will be given in the form of completing a project with a partner to conduct a hypothetical infectious disease outbreak.

Psychedelic Neuromedicine

Class #25637 - Face to Face
Class #26345 - Online

This course is based on the book How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence by Michael Pollan, which presents a review of the use of psychedelic drugs throughout human history, including in religious practices in various cultures and the US countercultural movement of the 1960s. The course will require a mature perspective on drug use. Students can expect to participate in frank discussions around the effects of psychedelic drugs under a variety of conditions. The course does not in any way advocate the casual use of psychedelic or other drugs.

Honors students interested in subjects as far-ranging as spirituality, therapeutic treatments, the history of medicine, brain neurotransmitters, psychiatric illnesses, and consciousness should find something of interest in this course.

The class will be structured around weekly discussion of the book and students will be evaluated based on class participation and two 1200-word papers.

Colonies to Enemies: The Definitive History of Coexistence in the Middle East

Class #25639 Face-to-Face
Class #26322 Online

This honors course is about the possibility and necessity of ethnic, racial, and religious diversity by focusing on the cases of the Middle East. Following and enriching the concept of Orientalism, Ussama Makdisi's Age of Coexistence provides us an opportunity to read, analyze, and discuss the region's prospects and challenges since European colonialism, hoping to understand the Wilsonian moment that the Muslim world largely missed. Topics include religious differences, sectarian violence, genocide, colonial pluralism, anti-sectarianism, ecumenical frames, and the unifying and conflicting roots of Arab, Turkish, Jewish, Muslim, and Christian identities. Coupled with the professor’s research focus on civilizational contacts and conflicts, the book under study will facilitate further discussions in the broad strokes of world history from presence to the present. The course has no prerequisites. The assignments are a closed reading and engaged discussion of chapters drawn from Makdisi’s book, a critical review of another work on the subject, and regular contributions to weekly discussions on the canvas board. By the end of the course, students will have an informed and nuanced perspective on the possibility and necessity of ethnic, racial, and religious diversity in the national borders of the Middle East and beyond. 

The Alchemy of Air: A Jewish Genius, a Doomed Tycoon, and the Scientific Discovery that Fed the World but Fueled the Rise of Hitler

Class #25643 Face-to-Face

'The Alchemy of Air: A Jewish Genius, a Doomed Tycoon, and the Scientific Discovery That Fed the World but Fueled the Rise of Hitler' by Thomas Hager.

From the back cover of this book: “A sweeping history of tragic genius, cutting-edge science, and the Haber-Bosch discovery that changed billions of lives—including your own.
At the dawn of the twentieth century, humanity was facing global disaster: Mass starvation was about to become a reality. A call went out to the world’s scientists to find a solution.
This is the story of the two men who found it: brilliant, self-important Fritz Haber and reclusive, alcoholic Carl Bosch. Together they discovered a way to make bread out of air, built city-sized factories, and saved millions of lives.
But their epochal triumph came at a price we are still paying. The Haber-Bosch process was also used to make the gunpowder and explosives that killed millions during the two world wars. Both men were vilified during their lives; both, disillusioned and disgraced, died tragically.
The Alchemy of Air is the extraordinary, previously untold story of a discovery that changed the way we grow food and the way we make war–and that promises to continue shaping our lives in fundamental and dramatic ways.”

One does not have to be an expert in history or in chemistry to read and appreciate this book. Its author, Thomas Hager, a veteran science and medical writer knows how to tell dramatic stories about world-changing discoveries. His books have earned national recognition, including in 2017 the American Chemical Association's top writing award, the Grady-Stack Medal for Interpreting Chemistry for the Public.

After reading the book students will be familiar with the Haber-Bosch process, what it is, how it was developed, and its effects on world history in the 20th century and beyond. They will also be familiar with the lives of the two main protagonists in the story, Fritz Haber and Carl Bosch. Moreover, students will understand the implications of ‘fixed nitrogen’ on modern agriculture, industrial chemistry, and our environment.

During the first half of the semester we will read and discuss the book in student-led discussions. The second half of the semester will be dedicated to students’ own research on a topic of their interest  related to the book. Each student will have the opportunity to share their insights with the rest of the class in a ~20-minute presentation.

Democracy and Dictatorship through European History

Class #25646 - The proposed course is organized around reading and discussion of the book Democracy and Dictatorship in Europe by Sheri Berman. This book examines European political history in order to understand what can threaten democracy, and why some states managed to preserve democracy while others, more commonly, failed. The European political history provides important cases that are analyzed in the book: British democratic survival over time, French repeated failures to sustain democracy after the French Revolution, German and Italian democratic collapse and resurgence after the WWII, Spanish troubled political development, and the rise and fall of communism in Central and Eastern Europe. The book’s historical perspective provides important insights into the problems facing democracies today.  

Reading Karl Marx Today

Class #25647 - More than a hundred years after his death, Karl Marx is still a controversial figure. His contributions to the fields of philosophy, economics, history, sociology, and political science, are widely recognized. At the same time, his work served as an inspiration for the creators of the communist regimes around the world and is thus associated with state repression and political violence committed and justified with the higher goals. Often, people form opinions about Karl Marx without reading and understanding his work. This course aims to remedy this. I propose the course where we will read the most emblematic works of Karl Marx and discuss them (using The Marx-Engels Reader), aiming to investigate his intellectual contributions and potential danger of his ideas. The texts will cover an array of Marx’s thoughts, from his early works inspired by Hegel, to his foundational texts discussing economic relations in the capitalist society, to his writings about the promises of a new communist society.  

Ditch of Dreams: The Cross Florida Barge Canal and the Struggle for Florida's Future

Class #25655 Face-toFace
Class #27444 Online

At one time, some people thought cutting Florida in half with a barge canal would be a good idea! The wildlife corridor just south of Ocala marks the location where this canal would have gone. This project ultimately involved politicians, business people, economists, and environmentalists and is a fascinating true story about how all of these competing constituents battled for over 50 years, and in fact some are still fighting the consequences of this today.  How different North Central Florida would be if this project had been completed! This book details the story of a fascinating part of Florida history, including an exceptional environmental activist (Marjorie Harris Carr) who helped put a stop to it.

This class uses a student group led discussion format. The Ocklawaha River, 1 hour south of Gainesville, is where the Ditch stopped. Covid permitting, we will take a kayaking trip here, led by local River Guide and Ocklawaha River Expert Lars Anderson, of Adventure Outpost, High Springs.  This Saturday daylong trip will bring the book alive and you will see what would have been destroyed had the canal been completed!  March 21.   

The Art of Storytelling: True Stories Told Onstage

Class #2121 - Students in “The Art of Storytelling: True Stories Told Onstage” will read, and in class watch, stories told onstage at Moth events. At the events, people put their names in a hat and a random theme is presented for the night. Names are randomly drawn and those selected go onstage to tell a true story, on the spot with no notes, related to the theme of the night. Moth storytelling nights are held at theaters in cities across the United States and even worldwide, and participants hail from a variety of backgrounds, races, ethnicities, socioeconomic statuses, and other identity groups. Using a social constructivist approach, as we unpack each story we will answer together the question, “what makes a good story?” while exploring the history of the Moth events and the value of creative outlets, storytelling, and community. The book we will be reading throughout the course is The Moth Presents All These Wonders: True Stories about Facing the Unknown.

Calculus Gems. Some of the nicest proofs in Calculus

Class #25668 Face-to-Face
Class #27375 Online

In this class, we will cover these facts and some of the most beautiful and surprising arguments from the history of Calculus. These are beyond the scope of regular Calculus classes, but are within the reach of anyone with a good understanding of Calculus II. Sometimes we will provide some historical context as well.

Our book will be the classic book of George F. Simmons, Calculus Gems.

Ideally, students registering for the class should have already completed Calculus II, though in some cases, it is acceptable if the student takes Calculus II in the same semester. 


Time Traveling with Chaucer: The Canterbury Tales Then and Now

Class #25687 Face-to-Face
Class #27666 Online

A knight, a tax collector, a foul-mouthed miller, and a bunch of nuns all walk into a bar, and so begins Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. This collection of lively, funny, and sometimes shocking stories told by Chaucer’s characters—a group of travelers from all walks of medieval life—has been praised as one of the foundational pieces of writing in the English language for nearly 600 years. However, as there was never an “official” copy of the Tales, its scribes and printers were unable to agree on how many stories there were and where they all fit. Furthermore, Chaucer's English may have been as incomprehensible to a medieval reader in the northern counties of England as it is to modern English speakers, and as a result always needed to be translated for its audience. So how did, and how do, readers come to understand Chaucer? Do authors make books, or do books make authors?

As a class, we will read Chaucer’s work as it evolved through time. Many of the class meetings will take place in Special Collections, where students will read (and hear) the Canterbury Tales out of dozens of editions, from the earliest medieval manuscripts to children’s books and modern translations. These books will form the basis for class discussions and group projects. Our unconventional readings will challenge students to read the “same” work in vastly different ways, and to examine how printers, artists, and readers made Chaucer into the author he is today.

Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts

Class #25694 Face-to-Face
Class #27660 Online

What does daring leadership look like? And what is armored leadership compared to daring leadership?

Guided by the work of Brené Brown’s Dare to Lead, students will dive into discussions centered around leadership, courage, vulnerability, connection, and more. Be prepared to get a bit uncomfortable - be prepared to be daring. As Brown said, “One of the most important findings of my career is that daring leadership is a collection of four skill sets that are 100 percent teachable, observable, and measurable. It’s learning and unlearning that requires brave work, tough conversations, and showing up with your whole heart. Easy? No. Because choosing courage over comfort is not always our default. Worth it? Always. We want to be brave with our lives and our work. It’s why we’re here.”

While this book focuses on leading from a place of vulnerability and courage, the research and learnings are applicable to all. Whether you realize it or not, each of us can have a profound impact on someone else’s life - the idea of everyday leadership. The world needs us.

Justice and Forgiveness: the Reality of Incarceration in America

Class #25692 Face-to-Face
Class #27432 Online

 “You can’t understand most of the important things from a distance, Bryan. You have to get close.” This book will bring us close to the complex issue of justice and punishment in contemporary America. Well-documented, yet extremely personal, Stevenson’s book unveis a reality often painful to face and raises questions which few in the public arena dare to ask. Recent events in America have brought racial tensions to the fore. This book will help us better frame our understanding of the present.

Examining the unique bonds shared by identical and fraternal twins

Class #25741 Face-to-Face
Class #27572 Online

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.

The Master and His Emissary

Class #25755 Face-to-Face
Class #27658 Online

The Master and his Emissary -by Iain McGilchrist “In a book of unprecedented scope, Iain McGilchrist presents a fascinating exploration of the differences between the brain’s left and right hemispheres, and how those differences have affected society, history, and culture. McGilchrist draws on a vast body of recent research in neuroscience and psychology to reveal that the difference is profound: the left hemisphere is detail oriented, while the right has greater breadth, flexibility, and generosity. McGilchrist then takes the reader on a journey through the history of Western culture, illustrating the tension between these two worlds as revealed in the thought and belief of thinkers and artists from Aeschylus to Magritte.”

This book argues that the division of the brain into two hemispheres is essential to human existence, making possible incompatible versions of the world, with quite different priorities and values. http://iainmcgilchrist.com/the-master-and-his-emissary/

In this course, we will have group discussions about the weekly reading assignments. No prior knowledge of neuroscience is needed. Presentations will be required by each student near the end of the semester on related topics of their choosing. Student grades will be based on their participation in class and the final presentation. 

Immigration and Identity Then & Now: Luis Alfaro's Mojada (A Mexican Medea)

Class #25693 Face-to-Face
Class #27643 Online

Luis Alfaro’s theatrical play Mojada narrates the story of Medea, an undocumented Mexican immigrant in contemporary Los Angeles, focusing on her relationships with her family and community members, and her traumatic clandestine journey not only to the land of the United States but also towards the dream that accompanies it. Mojada is a modern reimagining of the ancient Greek tragedy Medea written by Euripides. In Medea, the eponymous heroine is an outsider, an immigrant who struggles to find her place in the ancient society. Similarly, Alfaro's Medea, just like many immigrants across the world, finds it hard to adjust to her new life and community. Drawing on themes and plot lines from Euripides’ Athenian tragedy, Mojada revolves around the state and feeling of isolation immigrants experience, offering a critique of the status of the “foreigner” and the “other” within a society, and especially the reality of 21st-century United States. Euripides' Medea brought on the fifth-century Athenian stage a foreign woman who voiced the hardships of the social status of females, foreigners/non-citizens, and outsiders. Alfaro's Mojada is a 21st-century retelling of the similar hardships that Mexican immigrants face in the United States. The goal of the class is for students to develop critical awareness, namely a deep understanding of the conditions and positionalities of immigrants in the United States, and social awareness in terms of realizing and (re)evaluating the dynamics that shape our own approach of the self and the “other.” By the end of the course, students will be able to: 1. understand the social and psychological state of immigrants/foreigners both in contemporary United States and ancient Athens, 2. critically evaluate the impact of the immigrant status on the construction of one’s identity and place within a society, 3. analyze literary works in the context of one’s own experiences, and 4. use digital media to create powerful stories.  


Vote for your life!

Class #25748 Face-to-Face
Class #27369 Online

Emancipation Betrayed: The Hidden History of Black Organizing and White Violence in Florida offers a backstory to such developments as Black Lives Matter Movement, Florida’s role as a battleground in national politics, and the Civil Rights Movement. Dr. Paul Ortiz’s book is useful for understanding pressing current topics and larger historical developments like societal change and regression, i.e. progress and declension in American History. 

Ortiz’s book is a must-read for any student interested in how we, as a society, got here, and what might come next with regards to civil liberties, the extension or retreat of democracy, or the formation of the next movement of change. This seminar-style course will involve reading and responding to Emancipation Betrayed, limited reading and responding to some complimentary primary and historical sources like old newspapers, weekly blog posts and blog responses, and one 1,250 – 2000 word essay.

Drug Addiction-the hell on earth and how to not lose hope

Class #26317 - Drugs by themselves are neither good or bad – it is ultimately how they are used that will lead humans to label them as such. Oliver Grundmann, PhD, has researched both synthetic and natural drugs with mind-altering effects for over a decade. Those who have been used for hundreds of years as part of traditional medicine and rituals are often mis- or abused in modern society. Others are solely intended to either create a fantastic escape from reality or get the user hooked to cause a substance use disorder. Numerous personal accounts and the scientific literature are a testament to this growing problem of what is commonly called “addiction”. But there is more to it as seen through the eyes of a researcher. Accompany Dr. Grundmann as he discusses the landscape, effects, and impact of drugs on the individual and society.

Emotional intelligence and the importance of empathy

Class        This course explores a psychological theory, that of emotional intelligence. The course will explore the theory primarily that suggests an ability to perceive, understand, access, and generate emotions is a highly important component of success- the author claims more important than intellectual intelligence. This course will explore the theory as discussed in the book, and explore how it can be understood in a larger context, and see how it can be important in a variety of arenas. The course will look at the idea of emotional intelligence particularly in the realm of health and healthcare, exploring how emotional intelligence may map onto the continuing discussion of empathy and compassion in effective physician-patient relationships. 

Circular Health: Empowering the One Health Revolution

Class 27813 Face-to-Face

The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated our fragility as a species. Humanity was attacked by a previously unknown virus that spread very rapidly, thanks to a speed of population mobility never seen in human history. It succeeded in creating the complete upset of the global socio-economic system. Such an event gives us an important stimulus to re-evaluate health in the context of a circular system that encompasses humans and the environment in which we live. The key challenge we face is the discovery of novel paths to crisis resolution. Can we abandon the often cherished, but now obsolete, tendency to specialize in a restricted subject area? Can we re-discover the ability to become permeable to ideas that reach us from other disciplines and embrace a thinking-out-of-the-box approach? This book encourages the reader to consider this challenge via the telling of stories, both great and small.


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