Engagements Course List

Engagements Course List

EGMT 1510: Engaging Aesthetics

EGMT 1510: Aesthetics of Hunger

EGMT 1510: Aesthetics of Hunger

Instructed by Eli Carter

Nearly one billion people suffer from hunger. Not surprisingly, depictions of hunger are everywhere: from advertising, fashion, and film to literature, music, and painting. In this course, we will focus on symbolic constructions of “hunger” in a diverse selection of aesthetic objects from the Global South. We will learn to “look” closely, carefully, and critically. We will also consider some of the ways aesthetic objects might challenge or reproduce structures that shape our society and our understanding of hunger. To this end, we will explore such questions as: What constitutes an aesthetic object? How might we look at, contemplate, analyze, and interpret such an object? What and how do the aesthetic objects under consideration contribute to our understanding of the world we live in?

EGMT 1510: Being at Home

EGMT 1510: Being at Home

Instructed by

What does it mean to be at home? This simple question will be our starting point. We’ll examine various aspects of the home, including different models of domestic life, building practices, homemaking, domestic labor, and housing insecurity. Throughout we’ll consider how gender, class, race, sexuality, and disability have shaped and continue to shape widespread norms about what it means to be home, and explore how individuals and communities have challenged those norms and imagined alternative forms of daily life. As we engage with these questions and issues, you will also reflect on your own experiences of making a home for yourself at UVA.

EGMT 1510: Crafting Economics

EGMT 1510: Crafting Economics

Instructed by Marc Santugini

In Crafting Economics, students will explore the beauty and complexity of economic ideas through the creation of tangible 3D models and immersive virtual reality experiences. By constructing physical graphs using materials such as paper, ribbons, glue, and tape, students will investigate the aesthetic principles that make economic ideas accessible, compelling, and meaningful. Then, in a virtual environment, students will apply these principles to redesign existing visualizations and reflect on how aesthetic decisions shape the interpretation of economic models. The course will also delve into the role of aesthetics in storytelling with data, exploring techniques such as metaphor, symbolism, and even visual narrative structures. The course will delve into optimization problems in economics, such as determining prices, quantities, and locations. Through step-by-step exploration and pattern recognition, students will engage in solving economic problems while fully immersed in 3D simulations and VR technology.

EGMT 1510: Death, Hell, Judgement

EGMT 1510: Death, Hell, Judgement

Instructed by Deborah Parker

This Engagement course will offer a close reading of Dante’s Inferno, the most intricate portrayal of the afterlife ever written. We will explore Dante’s presentation of Hell, its inhabitants, his self-presentation, the relationship between sin and punishment, political division in Dante’s Italy, and the visual material the poem has inspired. Students will learn strategies for analyzing poetic texts, artistic images, and how to compare texts and images. You will learn how Dante imagines hell, characterizes its inhabitants, and portrays the relationship between sin and punishment. The course will help you develop strategies for analyzing literary and artistic works, offer guidelines on how do a close reading of an article, refine writing of papers, and familiarize you with the dynamics of artistic adaptation.

EGMT 1510: Exploring Taste

EGMT 1510: Exploring Taste

Instructed by Rita Felski

Why do we like certain movies or novels or kinds of music and dislike others? In this course, we will delve into the fascinating topic of taste from many different angles. The language of highbrow and lowbrow taste now seems snobbish and hopelessly old-fashioned; what has taken its place? Has taste become more democratic or does it always involve judgement? Can we avoid thinking (even if only secretly) that other people’s taste is good or bad? Do we want others to like what we like, or do we hate it if they do? We will explore the questions of taste as it is affected by three factors: the qualities of what we are appreciating, whether a pizza or a Picasso, the specifics of individual and social identity, and the desire for status. We will also ponder the category of things “that are so bad they are good” and the phenomenon of hate watching. Examples will be taken from food, music, literature, movies, fashion, and social media and students will be asked to craft their own taste biographies.

EGMT 1510: Feasting! The Culinary Side of Religion

EGMT 1510: Feasting! The Culinary Side of Religion

Instructed by Philip Tite

Everyone eats – even the gods! When people eat together, they create commensal moments (“eating at the same table”) of shared experiences and values. Food is a multi-sensory experience – it evokes all of our senses! We see, smell, taste, hear, and touch food. Our aesthetic experiences marinate religion and culture with all our senses; by “consuming religion” people ingest their religious and cultural heritages. This course will nourish us with experiences of creating food, analyzing food and foodways, appreciating the artistic performance of religion through food as both symbolic and literal object as we savor a comparative study of religious traditions. Our focus is global, yet local, with diverse flavor notes allowing us to taste the lived, experiential role that food and foodways play in religious communities. Cooking, presentation, and ritual are all artistic expressions of values, ideologies, and identities.

EGMT 1510: Food as Art? Engaging All Five Senses

EGMT 1510: Food as Art? Engaging All Five Senses

Instructed by Justin Stec

We watch, read, ponder, listen to, feel, and appreciate art forms daily. Often, sight, sound, and touch serve as our sensory modes of engagement, reflected in the visual, auditory, and tactile figures we use to discuss the art we love and hate. "The image is stunning." "The production shows a light hand." "The poem's rhythm demands a fine ear." "The song makes you tap your feet." "The film is insightful, searing." "The prose is as smooth as marble." We experience art through our eyes, ears, and hands, but what about our noses and tongues?

EGMT 1510: How Plays, Films, and Games Captivate Us

EGMT 1510: How Plays, Films, and Games Captivate Us

Instructed by Dave Dalton

Why do we care so deeply about what happens to our favorite characters in plays, films, and role-playing games? This course explores the techniques that writers, directors, and designers use to encourage compelling narratives in these forms. Over seven weeks you’ll reflect on why you might immerse yourself in these works, and you’ll explore how creative artists use this immersion to challenge your expectations. We’ll watch plays and films, and we’ll explore role-playing games together to examine why we invest in characters in spite of, and sometimes because of, the limitations that surround the productions and games. This course will ask you to think critically about your experiences and to reflect on opportunities to apply what you learn outside of class.

EGMT 1510: How to be Creative

EGMT 1510: How to be Creative

Instructed by

What is creativity, and how does it relate to innovation and originality? What does it take to be creative? Is creativity a quality someone is simply born with? Could it be cultivated by anyone by actively engineering certain conditions? This course explores the concept of creativity through multiple disciplinary lenses, including art, psychology, engineering, anthropology, and philosophy. By understanding what happens in our embodied minds when we engage in creative thinking or action, we will be able to identify some ways in which we can consciously prod ourselves towards innovation and originality. We will try our hands at all sorts of challenges, physical or conceptual, to experiment with. Note that while this course is part of the Aesthetics engagement, it is not an art class and applies generally to all disciplines and life.

EGMT 1510: Living with Images

EGMT 1510: Living with Images

Instructed by Caleb Hendrickson

It is commonplace, even cliché, to observe that the modern world is awash with images. “There are too many images. Too many cameras,” laments the photographer Robert Frank. “If all moments of life are recorded, then nothing is beautiful.” Is Frank right? Are we smartphone-carrying bipeds so flooded by visual images that we cannot recognize the beauty of life as we live it? Has our immersion in images dulled our moral conscience? Has it distorted our perception of reality? Or, are these worries just another instance of “moral panic” or “technophobia”? After all, images are not new. We have been living with images for millennia, and worrying about them for just as long. In this class, we attempt to gain a critical perspective on our relationship with images. Why do images enthrall us? Why do we occasionally want to reach out and touch them—even kiss them? Why do we sometimes want to smash them? Do we trust images? Should we?

EGMT 1510: Mythmaking - What do myths do for us and how do they do it?

EGMT 1510: Mythmaking - What do myths do for us and how do they do it?

Instructed by Martien Halvorson-Taylor

Myths and stories have the power to shape our sense of ourselves, our world, and the meaning of life; we tell, retell, and reshape them in order to discover who we are, explore the choices we face, and imagine how we should live. This course explores some enduring myths, the artistry of their ancient forms and the creativity of their modern appearances in films, art, and even on our Grounds—and asks, what do myths do for us and how do they do it?

EGMT 1510: Seeing the Light

EGMT 1510: Seeing the Light

Instructed by Lee Kennedy

This Engagements course explores the profound influence of light on our perception of art, performance, and the environments that we inhabit. You will be challenged to bring the mostly unconscious process of seeing light and its effects into consciousness through detailed observations, interactive discussions, and creative projects. By directly engaging with our natural and built worlds; live performance such as music, theatre, and dance; and a variety of media and art-forms, you will unlock the secrets of light as a foundational element of aesthetic experience and consider how light and the act of seeing changes us as seers, inspires us as creators, and alters that which is seen.

EGMT 1510: Signs of the Self

EGMT 1510: Signs of the Self

Instructed by

This course investigates the aesthetics of self-presentation—the processes by which human beings design and display particular conceptions of themselves. It approaches the subject from a multi-medial and transhistorical perspective, centering on self-oriented artworks (and other expressive artifacts) that range from lyric poems to portrait paintings, fashion designs to Hollywood biopics, Twitter threads to Instagram selfies. Students will be expected both to analyze how and to what end these primary sources manipulate the resources of self-presentation and to try their hands at using those resources for artful self-presentations of their own.

EGMT 1510: Sounds of Resistance

EGMT 1510: Sounds of Resistance

Instructed by Liza Sapir Flood

This class explores the aesthetics of resistance in social and political life, emphasizing sound. We will rely on a broad understanding of “resistance,” from street protests to campaign theme songs to Super Bowl performances. Likewise, “sound” will refer primarily to music, but will also include other audible outputs of voices, bodies, and environments. Students will consider how sounds can straddle and influence the intimately connected domains of the aesthetic and the sociopolitical. We will ponder questions such as: how does sound mean? Is sound capable of provoking social change? How do people draw on their own experiences to interpret what they hear? How can the same song or sound inspire some to love and others to hate? Can sound be used as a weapon? How can sound foster inclusivity or exclusivity, or allow individuals to heal, motivate, resist, or change? We will attend public events in the area to enhance our studies. Importantly, students will examine their own engagements with sonic and musical resistance and will complete self-designed projects that allow them to experiment with sound’s capacities to engage in social action.

EGMT 1510: The Art & Politics of Dreaming

EGMT 1510: The Art & Politics of Dreaming

Instructed by Kevin Duong

Dreams have long offered a resource for art and radical politics. At times associated with the voice of the gods, ancestors, nature, or the Fates, dreams have helped critics question their society and its rules. In our modern world enthralled with empiricism or hard-nosed realism, however, dreams can seem trivial, even useless. Why dream when you can work? This class invites students to consider otherwise. We will revisit the art and politics of dreaming by returning to the twentieth century poets, painters, and photographers who took it most seriously: the Surrealists. These men and women did not consider dreams frivolous. They saw in dreams an opportunity to rethink the limits of science and to critique the routines of modern life, especially market exchange, sexual repression, and bureaucracy. Though we will study Surrealist words and images, we will also follow their examples and see where they take us. The class will put together a small multimedia exhibition for the wider public. By engaging in Surrealist activity together, we will try to answer its famous question: “Can’t the dream be used in solving the fundamental problems of life?”

EGMT 1510: The Art of Autobiography

EGMT 1510: The Art of Autobiography

Instructed by Meghan O'Donoghue

What do a possessed nun, a Caribbean novelist, and a famous French filmmaker have in common? They each, at a point in their lives, decided to create an autobiography. While these autobiographies are as different from one another as the people who wrote them, each express a universal human desire to understand one’s place in an ever-changing world, and to say, “I was here.” In The Art of the Autobiography, we will read autobiographical works spanning nearly four centuries, multiple continents, and forms as different as books, social media, film, reality tv, and even quilting as we attempt to understand the many ways in which a person seeks to tell their story. Throughout the semester, we will explore the complicated divide between truth and fiction by redefining the boundaries of the autobiography as a genre and interacting with these texts on literary, historical, and personal levels. As we delve into the autobiographical accounts of others, we will also turn our gaze inwards: how do we see ourselves within our world, and how do we wish to convey our lived experiences with others? While we are seeking to understand the self-portraits of others, we can begin to create our own.

EGMT 1510: The Art of Illness

EGMT 1510: The Art of Illness

Instructed by Bridget Reilly

We often think of sickness as an embodied event that can be empirically measured and physically treated. But illness also lives in art, and disease is a cultural as well as a biological event. For example, in the nineteenth century, tuberculosis was a leading cause of death that manifested (and still does) in violent symptoms—lung hemorrhages, dramatic weight loss, etc. The disease impacted most communities living and laboring shoulder-to-shoulder in poorly ventilated spaces, like tenements and factories. Yet it was memorialized in novels and paintings as a fashionable illness that struck “saintly” bourgeois women without wrecking their bodies. Indeed, surveying tuberculosis’s appearance in Victorian art, one might conclude that the illness marked the “best” members of society, too good for earthly mire, for membership in the next world, just as its representational grammar reinforced class hierarchies and gendered norms. In this course, we will explore a variety of artistic representations of maladies, disorders, and plagues in order to become acquainted with the cultural lives of illness. We will consider how aesthetic forms mediate bodily experience, and how physical ailment might impact art. As a class we will ask: What aesthetic conventions undergird seemingly “natural” or “pathological” phenomena? How have literature, painting, and performance informed medicine and vice versa? How might artistic depictions of illness inflect our personal, social, and political worlds?

EGMT 1510: The Art of Looking

EGMT 1510: The Art of Looking

Instructed by Francesca Fiorani

In this class you will learn tools and strategies to look, understand, enjoy, and write about art--no matter how much or how little you know about art and its histories. You will focus on the first-hand experience of art through selected case studies from different periods and world regions, but you will also spend considerable time actively looking at art in person: in the UVA Art Museums, at Special Collections, around grounds and in Charlottesville. You will learn a handful of core strategies and skills that can help you enhance the experience of looking at art. With these skills, you can encounter any work of art—regardless of media, artist, or period—find some resonance with your own experiences, and discover and reflect on the fundamental pleasure of looking at art.

EGMT 1510: The Art of Vulnerability

EGMT 1510: The Art of Vulnerability

Instructed by Elizabeth Harper

What is the value of the arts in vulnerable worlds? Has this value changed over time? Can the arts of the past still speak to our present vulnerabilities? This course explores the aesthetics of vulnerability from a historical perspective, focusing on our present relationship to medieval worlds. Relying on a broad understanding of “art” and “vulnerability,” we will consider the history of art’s unique capacities to soothe or unsettle us in times of extreme crisis – whether by constructing alternative narratives of resiliency or escape, meditating on experiences of physical and emotional fragility, exposing hidden inequities that target the most vulnerable, or cultivating cultures of care. Class resources will strive to reflect the diversity and complexity of the medieval in a global context through multiple mediums and genres. Along the way, we’ll consider how engaging with the artistic vulnerabilities of another time and/or place can help expose desensitivities and thicken our cultural categories of the vulnerable. Students will be invited to share and reflect on their own aesthetic encounters with the precarious past and present through self-designed projects.

EGMT 1510: The Poetry of Love

EGMT 1510: The Poetry of Love

Instructed by Mehr Farooqi

Poetry of Love What is love? How is it articulated? Is love devotion? Is love passion? What are the different forms of love? The object of desire may be human, divine, abstract or ambiguous; its defining trait is its inaccessibility. We will answer some of these questions by turning to the ghazal, a poetic form that has been central to Arabic, Hebrew, Persian, Turkish and Urdu traditions since the twelfth century. This course builds on creative and cross-disciplinary knowledge from South Asia and beyond. Knowledge, musicality and performance will be the cornerstones of this aesthetic engagement. We will read some of the best classical Urdu and Persian ghazals in English translation and watch them in performance. We will experience the space between poetry and performance. We may discover ghazals in English. We will explore the different possibilities of interpretation, cultural biases, and worldview that impact ghazal poetry.

EGMT 1510: The Politics of Public Art

EGMT 1510: The Politics of Public Art

Instructed by Andreja Siliunas

W.E.B. Du Bois (1926) famously argued that “all art is propaganda and ever must be, despite the wailing of the purists.” This course will engage with art’s political potential as a propagandic tool for social change. For Du Bois, art was a vehicle through which everyday people could expose and challenge racial injustice in the 20th century. Today, debates over Confederate monuments, removals of Soviet-era memorials across Eastern Europe, and murals opposing authoritarian governments in Latin America suggest that art is still a powerful medium for expressing political narratives about the past, present, and future. We will explore the many ways in which artists, activists, community leaders, and political elites have historically created, commissioned, and manipulated art in public spaces to advance their political agendas. By engaging with various forms of politically engaged art – including murals, graffiti, monuments, and iconic photographs – we will ask: what messages do these images and objects communicate to us, and why? How does public art mobilize people into action, foster dialogue around contentious issues, and challenge or re-entrench social hierarchies and divides?

EGMT 1510: The Sound of Physics

EGMT 1510: The Sound of Physics

Instructed by Israel Klich

It is perhaps little known (certainly amongst physicists) that Vincenzo Galilei, father of Galileo Galilei, himself the father figure of physics and the scientific method, was an accomplished lute player and composer. Assisted by his son, Vincenzo Galilei, through elaborate experiments, developed one of the earliest physical theories of vibrations and acoustics, later much elaborated by 18th and 19th-century physicists. Vincenzo Galilei also authored "Della musica antica et della moderna", one of the first books on music theory. Thus, the lute, a 16th century ancestor of the modern guitar, has played a crucial role both in modern physics as well as in the development of music! In this class we will explore similarly fascinating connections between music and physics, both historical and conceptual. We will learn about the mathematics and physics of sound from its relation to planetary motion by the ancient Greeks to modern approaches, the production of sound and the psychoacoustic effects associated with it and about concepts of physics from synchronization to symmetry breaking and how they appear within music and explore how they can be creatively represented within music.

EGMT 1510: The Truth About True Crime

EGMT 1510: The Truth About True Crime

Instructed by Francesca Borrione

What is true crime, and why are we fascinated by tales of murder and detective stories? How might one crime case become a sensational story, a front-page article, a mainstream film, or the cover of a popular magazine, while another is ignored? How does true crime influence the public’s perception of crime and society? This course invites students to analyze true crime as a multiplatform genre and a form of infotainment and to consider the impacts of these sometimes inaccurate, biased, and sensationalized media narratives. Working across different media formats (e.g. movies, TV shows, documentaries, newspapers, artworks, songs, podcasts, and social media), students will study the construction of true crime stories and their influence on the popular imagination, with attention to how aesthetic strategies inform how we think about marginalized identities. We will examine the relationships between art and everyday life by exploring the entanglement of the true crime genre with real-life crime cases, challenging the meaning of “true” in “true crime”. As their final project, students will create a true crime media text, in order to make their own connections between art and social life.

EGMT 1510: Time and Memory in the Arts

EGMT 1510: Time and Memory in the Arts

Instructed by Wendy Smith

We have all experienced a long-forgotten memory suddenly triggered by something seemingly ordinary: a taste, a smell, a song that brings the past rushing back. How do artists, composers, and filmmakers utilize this phenomenon of sudden, involuntary memory to create art? In this course we will ask: How do artworks manipulate the depiction of the passing of time? How reliable are our memories, and does implementing timelines in storytelling make our narratives more or less reliable? In what different ways do both personal and public spaces facilitate the process of remembering? How have artists sought to capture the fleeting nature of time through painting, and how have they sought to freeze time in photography? How does repetition in music incite memory to help structure a four-hour opera? How are words and names used strategically as an efficient way to conjure up memories? Is there such a thing as present time, or is there only past and future?

EGMT 1510: What Does Democracy Look Like?

EGMT 1510: What Does Democracy Look Like?

Instructed by Laura Goldblatt

When protesters gather in democratic nations, as part of their calls they often chant “this is what democracy looks like!” But what, exactly, do they mean? Does democracy have a “look”? In this Aesthetics Engagement, we will consider art, campaign materials, music, and credos from the founding of the United States to the present day to determine if, and how, democracy represents itself differently from other political systems and why such differences matter. For instance, we will consider the United States’ first postage stamps, which featured a dead president and Founding Father, and compare them to the Penny Black issued by the United Kingdom, the first postage stamp ever created, which featured the living Queen Victoria, to ask crucial questions about the role of history in democracies and how visual iconography reflects it. We will also turn to Cold War propaganda in the US and USSR to ask if abstract art is more “democratic” than figurative representations and, if so, how? In doing so, we will work together to understand political systems as a collective ethos that structure, guide, and delimit our everyday affective experiences

EGMT 1520: Empirical & Scientific Engagement

EGMT 1520: "Big Data" is coming for you

EGMT 1520: "Big Data" is coming for you

Instructed by Ken Ono

We have entered the era of “Big Data”, where enormous data sets are collected and mined for information. Algorithms identify patterns to make predictions and design “smart” solutions in areas as diverse as banking and finance, law enforcement, marketing, and medicine. Big Data is behind the advertisements that populate social media feeds. Uber uses algorithms to determine and keep up with predicted demand. Despite the best of intentions, the explosion of Big Data in modern life has had insidious consequences (e.g. predictive policing, loan applications, to name a few). Data doesn’t die, and you can’t hide. In this engagements course we will discuss the consequences of allowing algorithms and models to run unchecked, as they can increase social inequity and also be outright wrong. How can we avoid misusing mathematical concepts? How can we avoid being wrong?

EGMT 1520: Baby Einsteins

EGMT 1520: Baby Einsteins

Instructed by Johanna Chajes

From the moment they enter the world, a baby’s primary job is to learn and grow. They spend each moment observing their surroundings, gathering data, and piecing that information together to conceptualize their new world. These tiny humans are basically scientists in their purest form! In this course, we will look to babies for inspiration on how to collect, analyze, and interpret new information like a scientist and become curious observers of the world around us. We will discuss how babies learn from their experiences and come to understand their physical, mental, and social environments. We’ll not only ask how babies learn about us but also how we learn about babies, such as how scientists have been able to study infants even though they’re too young to tell us what they’re thinking. By looking at the world through the eyes of an infant, we’ll explore what it truly means to be a scientist and ponder deep questions about human development and the critical experiences and evolutionary processes that have shaped our world and who we are.

EGMT 1520: Big Data and History

EGMT 1520: Big Data and History

Instructed by Jennie Williams

This course will introduce you to the concept of "big data as it relates to history and historical memory, specifically using the history of slavery as a lens through which to evaluate data both as a methodology and a product in and of itself. Each week will present a particular question that will encourage us to consider the promises and peris of historical data.

EGMT 1520: Birds Aren't Real

EGMT 1520: Birds Aren't Real

Instructed by Ali Guler

Conspiracy theories are everywhere. In this Empirical Engagement course we'll examine how scientific evidence is gathered, evaluated, and communicated using conspiracy theories as a lens. From the outlandish to the plausible, we'll scrutinize a range of theories and discuss factors that contribute to their spread and acceptance in society. We'll begin by investigating why "Birds Aren't Real".

EGMT 1520: Bones and Burials

EGMT 1520: Bones and Burials

Instructed by

Can the dead speak? What can we learn about the past from bones and burials? In this course, we will examine how (bio)archaeologists gather empirical evidence and make inferences about the past through the analysis of human remains found in archaeological contexts. Bones can reveal many biographical details of an individual’s life including age, sex, diet, migration, health, stature, injuries, or disease. Artifacts and other archaeological data from burial contexts can reveal status, occupation, gender, religion affiliations, or other cultural insights. At a broader scale, mortuary practices and forms of individual or collective commemoration can also allow archaeologists to interpret the values and beliefs of a society. Yet, ethical issues related to the study of human remains are complex and have a deeply troubled history. How can human remains be respectfully analyzed and interpreted in the pursuit of scientific investigation about the past?

EGMT 1520: Discovering Nature

EGMT 1520: Discovering Nature

Instructed by Max Castorani

This course teaches students how scientists learn about nature empirically: by observing and studying it directly, and manipulating it to see how it responds. Students will learn how experiments, comparative studies, and long-term data help us understand ecosystems and inform decision-making related to the environment. By the end, students will know how ecologists produce empirical evidence and appreciate its importance to informing decision-making on how to manage and conserve nature and its resources.

EGMT 1520: His-stery of Science

EGMT 1520: His-stery of Science

Instructed by Adema Ribic

If science is empirical, why does it matter who does it? When we picture a scientist, why are they almost always men? History is packed with accounts of female scientists from ancient Egypt and Greece, and yet… someone says “genius”, and we think Einstein and not Curie (Marie). Through debate teams, this course will examine empirical evidence and historical accounts about how major scientific discoveries were made and who, in fact, made them. Through group discussions, this course will identify historical constraints and barriers to equal access and representation in science. Finally, through creation of new Wikipedia entries about female scientists, this course will actively contribute to reducing the gender gap in Wikipedia’s science biographies.

EGMT 1520: Humanizing Mathematics

EGMT 1520: Humanizing Mathematics

Instructed by Sara Maloni

What is Mathematics? What do you think is the purpose of learning Mathematics? What connections do you see between doing Mathematics and being human? Which virtues do you acquire by doing Mathematics? We’ve all heard the phrase “I am not a math person”. Maybe we even used it ourselves. In this class, we will argue that there’s no such thing as “not a math person”: if your brain can process language, it can handle math. We will try to overcome the narrow, but widespread idea of Mathematics as an isolated discipline built on repetitive, dry formulas, and only intended for a small elite group. In other words, we will understand Mathematics differently. To develop our answers to the motivating questions, we will discuss facets of Mathematics that are not always emphasized: the search for beauty, symmetries, and hidden patterns; the aspiration to truth and logic soundness; pure curiosity, exploration, and play. This broader idea of what can constitute Mathematics is much closer to the way that Mathematicians think and shows how Mathematics cultivates virtues essential for human flourishing. We will explore all the human virtues that Mathematics builds and its connections to other fields, such as visual arts, music, literature, architecture, politics, social justice, history, among others. We will have the opportunity to connect to Mathematicians whose work touches other fields, and we will document these newly discovered aspects of Mathematics in a final project and in a diary of our journey together.

EGMT 1520: In-Consciousness- How We Know Who We Are

EGMT 1520: In-Consciousness- How We Know Who We Are

Instructed by Erin Clabough

This course offers a neuroscience perspective about altered states of consciousness and methods or portals to access them, including meditation, sound and vibration, breathwork, lucid dreaming during sleep states, and the power of intention. This engagements course will challenge assumptions about who you are and provide concrete tools for exploration and movement toward a more conscious awareness of self. What is consciousness? How have humans historically interacted with consciousness states? Why does our current scientific paradigm have a hard time supporting and explaining these phenomena? The experiential nature of this course will explore traditional and new portals to access various states of consciousness and discuss the limits of science in exploring consciousness activities, pulling from ideas in quantum physics, medicine, culture, and religion.

EGMT 1520: Information and Democracy

EGMT 1520: Information and Democracy

Instructed by David Singerman

One nice thing about democracy, in theory, is that it's a form of government that responds to its own citizens. That means a democratic government has many questions about itself. Who are all these people? Where do they live? What do they do? What do they care about? (And, of course: who voted for whom?) Meanwhile, the people of a democracy have questions too. What is my government doing in my name? How does it make decisions? What does it know and what is it hiding? What do my fellow citizens and noncitizens think about all this? And ultimately, what’s working and what’s broken in our system itself? In this course, we’ll ask how American democracy has tried to organize, share, and process different kinds of information. We’ll see how the state tries to learn about the world, through elections, censuses, bureaucrats, and spies. We’ll explore how people try to learn things about their own democratic government, and ask what happens when they tell their government things it may not want to hear.

EGMT 1520: Mapping Modernity

EGMT 1520: Mapping Modernity

Instructed by

How did you find your way to your first college class ever? Maybe you looked at a campus map; maybe a disembodied voice from Google Maps directed you. Either way, what you saw on the map was a representation of the world around you. For centuries, maps have been powerful statements not of how the world is, but how it should be, of who counts, and who does not. This course explores how maps have shaped the world we live in today, from the nation states we live in to the languages we speak, and the jobs we hold. Looking at a different map, or series of maps each week, we will interrogate ways that maps have made meaning by representing the world, and how different scholars have used them to make arguments. By the end of this course you will have used maps to ask questions about money, power, religion,freedom,and fairness. You will practice your analytical and critical skills, asking not only how space is represented in the maps we look at, but why.

EGMT 1520: Memes on Earth

EGMT 1520: Memes on Earth

Instructed by Lauren Miller

The story of Earth is written in stone. The landscapes on which we walk, those beneath the ocean, and all the rocks and minerals, record Earth’s vast history that can be decoded with geoscience knowledge, analyses, and tools. You will make memes to share with your friends the richness of Earth’s history as will delve into bizarre events of the past 4.56 billion years, such as a times when the planet froze over, bacteria created an oxygen-rich atmosphere that we enjoy, and (non-bird) dinosaurs went extinct. We will explore how to read the archives of Earth’s history and place modern landscapes and Earth changes into a longer-term context beyond what we can glean from anthropological records and modern Earth-observing scientific instruments.

EGMT 1520: On These Grounds - UVA's Spatial History

EGMT 1520: On These Grounds - UVA's Spatial History

Instructed by Gillet Rosenblith

In this course, students will learn to use the empirical methodologies of historians in the context of UVA’s built environment. Each week will include a walking tour of Grounds based on a particular chronological moment and/or theme. We will consider what observations can we make as we move through space? How do these observations underscore or complicate evaluations of different kinds of evidence, including written documents, oral histories, archaeological finds, etc.? Students will leave this course with a better understanding of their home and place of work for the next four years as well as with the skills to engage the empirical tools historians use.

EGMT 1520: Pick Your Poison

EGMT 1520: Pick Your Poison

Instructed by Jelena Samonina

Pick your poison course will take you on a journey of exploring the fascinating world of poisons and toxins. You will gain insights into what makes substances poisonous or toxic. From understanding the functions of toxins and poisons to deciphering various delivery systems, you will uncover the distinctions between hemotoxins, phototoxins, necrotoxins, and neurotoxins. Throughout the course, you will refine your comprehension of poison delivery systems, and you will learn the basic principles of drug design. Finally, you will inquire into strategies for mitigating the harm caused by certain poisons and toxins.

EGMT 1520: Posessed - Objects & Empiricism

EGMT 1520: Posessed - Objects & Empiricism

Instructed by Amanda Phillips

Can things speak, and are we listening? If objects can be used as evidence, then how can we interpret them?  And why think about objects at all?  In this class, students will learn how to use material—from pot sherds to iPhones—to develop and test hypotheses about societies and individuals past and the present. Using things from our own daily lives (sweatshirts, toothbrushes, photos of grandma) as case studies, we’ll together investigate what things can tell us about the people who make and use them, and about ourselves and our own relationship with our possessions. Over the course of seven weeks, we’ll create portfolios based on our own objects, working toward a thick description of it and making a case for its worthiness as evidence.  Along the way, we’ll explore the potentials and pitfalls of different kinds of interpretation and reasoning, and also explore the biases and assumptions that impact on the very notion of empiricism itself.

EGMT 1520: Quantum and Minds

EGMT 1520: Quantum and Minds

Instructed by Lingyu Yang

Quantum mechanics has revolutionized our understanding of the world by introducing fundamentally new concepts that challenge classical physics. One remarkable concept is the wave-particle duality, which suggests that particles exhibit both wave-like and particle-like behavior, fundamentally altering our understanding of determinism in physics. An intriguing example is the double-slit experiment, where particles seem to change their behavior upon measurement, raising questions about the role of observation in determining outcomes. This has led to speculation about whether particles possess a form of consciousness, and whether human minds can influence their behavior, ultimately posing the question: Does consciousness create the world? In this course, we will explore the double-slit experiment in depth, examining the nature of wave-particle duality and considering various interpretations of the phenomenon. Through empirical evidence, we will seek to validate or refute interpretations proposed by non-physicists, offering insight into the underlying principles of quantum mechanics.

EGMT 1520: Secret Life of Maps

EGMT 1520: Secret Life of Maps

Instructed by Rebecca Bultman

How do you find a building on grounds that you’ve never been to? Or know which bus to take to Barracks? Or locate the stop that gets you closest to Shannon Library? We rely on maps to get us from point A to point B, but even digital maps are much more than seemingly objective tools of navigation. Maps represent features of the world around us, but they also tell intricate narratives of human experiences, environmental changes, and shifting social and political dynamics. In this course, students will explore the capabilities (and the limitations) of empirical methods to unlock the hidden stories embedded within maps, providing valuable insights into how the world was understood at discrete moments in our collective past. Considering that no map can perfectly capture its subject, we will interrogate how maps act as interpreters of observable data that either corroborate or complicate other kinds of evidence. From Babylonian stone tablets to Lewis & Clark, from imagined cosmographies to Google Earth, from the partition of Africa to mapping our own UVA grounds, we will discover how maps meld the scientific with the subjective—how maps not only reproduce the world but construct it.

EGMT 1520: Sounds from the Digital Jungle

EGMT 1520: Sounds from the Digital Jungle

Instructed by Michele Zaccagnini

What is the difference between computers and musical instruments? Can computers be performers or composers? These are pressing questions that cannot be answered in abstract but only with an inside look at music making in the digital age. This course is an exploration of sound, its physical principles, perceptual underpinnings and how it can be understood and manipulated by computers. We will build synthesizers, drum machines, generative musical algorithms, explore randomness and noise while getting a good understanding of the fundamental tools of digital audio.

EGMT 1520: The Marketplace of Ideas?

EGMT 1520: The Marketplace of Ideas?

Instructed by Bo Odom

Why does student tuition for four-year, US colleges keep rising (at rates above inflation)? And where do all those tuition dollars go? Why do some students have to work and take out loans to attend the University of Virginia, when others don’t? What does “need-blind” admissions mean and does the University of Virginia meet full financial need for all students? How do they even calculate that? Does UVA really refer to students as “revenue generating units” (RGUs) in its bond prospectuses? Is it true that UVA’s endowment is largely invested in guns and fossil fuels? Is the university, often idiomatically referred to as the marketplace of ideas, a literal marketplace? In this 7-week empirical engagement, we will tackle the topic of higher education financing and its relationship to the mission of the university. We will draw connections and uncover relationships between the goods universities profess to convey (learning, credentials, social capital, cultural and moral development), their revenue sources (student loans, tuition dollars, state bonds, federal grants, and return on investments), and key costs drivers for higher education, including technology, debt service on construction, maintenance, infrastructure, salaries, lobbying, and (paradoxically) competition. By considering various case studies around the University—athletics, financial aid, construction, and federal grants—we will calculate, together, the dollars and cents that make the university make sense. Last, we’ll consider what it means to study at a public university largely financed by private dollars and how to follow the money to evaluate different narratives about higher education’s purpose, challenges, and burdens.

EGMT 1520: The Numbers Are Not What They Seem!

EGMT 1520: The Numbers Are Not What They Seem!

Instructed by Dan Spitzner

This course guides students to engage with empiricism from a place of creativity, curiosity, and ethical priority. It exposes students to multiple dimensions of empiricism, covering both the benefits and harms of its associated perspectives and accompanying methodologies. In doing so, it brings to the fore a contextualized and worldly understanding of empiricism. The course looks critically at modes of inquiry that are anchored in the triad of scientific experimentation, numerical measurement, and statistical analysis, subsequently opening a path to exploring the intersections of statistical practice with ways of knowing that emphasize the social context of inquiry, and that define objectives from ethical rather than scientific criteria. Students are exposed to methods of empirical inquiry beyond the quantitative, including qualitative methodologies, transformative and emancipatory practices, arts-based inquiry, community-based practices, and to accompanying challenges that arise in multimethodological research teams. Numbers are not as simple as empiricism promises them to be. This course aims to bring out their inherent multidimensionality and complexity.

EGMT 1520: Uncommon Sense and Mathematical Intuition

EGMT 1520: Uncommon Sense and Mathematical Intuition

Instructed by

From rocket scientists to those who break into a cold sweat at the mention of geometry, everyone has a ceiling on their comfort level with math. But mathematical intuition permeates every facet of our lives -- personally, influencing our choice of activities or careers; daily, as we interpret news and medical advances; and globally, shaping governmental policies. In this course, we will investigate our limitations through a mix of grave and humorous examples of math gone wrong. We will challenge our perception of what seems like common sense. Have you ever thought, “That’s stupid!” when faced with course requirements or quirky roommates? We will transition from knee-jerk reactions to asking “Why?” By developing a healthy skepticism, we will create a buffer against our limitations, and bring forth gray lines in seemingly black-and-white pictures.

EGMT 1520: Updates Available!

EGMT 1520: Updates Available!

Instructed by Cynthia Tong

The world is rapidly changing with new information being pushed to us every day. Our society and the problems within it evolve over time. The outdated conclusion may not apply to today anymore and the current findings may not apply in the future. How do we take advantage of the prior knowledge we preserve? How do we understand the new data we observe especially if they are inconsistent with our prior knowledge? When updates are available, how do we combine the new information with our old data? In this course, we will develop our answers to the motivating questions by learning and understanding the idea of Bayesian methodology. We will explore the dynamic procedure of knowledge processing, how prior knowledge can contribute to our understanding, and how biased prior information may lead us to incorrect conclusions. We will use discussions to identify Bayesian data science issues that we are interested in at different stages of the course, use lectures to learn new concepts and tools, and use engaging activities and games in and outside of the classroom to strengthen our understandings.

EGMT 1520: What's the Matter?

EGMT 1520: What's the Matter?

Instructed by Jessica Niblo

Everything we can see with our naked eyes is the result of tiny particles that we cannot see doing something complex. The experiences of our daily lives; from the ice cooling your glass of water to the display on our phones, are due to tiny things in nature interacting to create the world around us. What happens when the microscopic traits don’t match the macroscopic behaviors? Are solids, liquids, and gases as simple as we think, or is there a regime in between? Why is light sometimes a wave and sometimes a particle? Does size and shape matter? Do these questions even matter for our daily lives? This class considers how the organization and collective behaviors of small particles gives rise to the world we live in, and wrestles with how we treat ideas when the microscopic and macroscopic worlds do not coincide.

EGMT 1520: Where Have All the Babies Gone?

EGMT 1520: Where Have All the Babies Gone?

Instructed by Len Schoppa

Why are people all over the world having fewer babies? In Japan, the population is projected to shrink by one-third by 2100. In the United States, the fertility rate is down to 1.7 (well below the replacement rate of 2.1). In Korea it’s down to 0.8. This empirical engagement class introduces students to empirical research from a wide range of disciplines (including economics, sociology, and biology) that provide partial answers to this question. Along the way, we will learn how all of these disciplines employ similar scientific methods to understand fertility trends while nevertheless highlighting distinct aspects of the problem. While science can tell us a lot about why there are fewer babies, figuring out what we should do about this trend requires us to bring our values into the equation.

EGMT 1530: Engaging Differences

EGMT 1530: Africa Is Not a Country

EGMT 1530: Africa Is Not a Country

Instructed by

What is “Africa,” and what do we think we know about the African past? The idea of “Africa” holds a powerful constellation of ideas and representations in the Western imaginary that have little to do with the actual history and people who inhabit this vast, diverse continent. In the words of Achille Mbembe: “more than any other region, Africa thus stands out as the supreme receptacle of the West’s obsession with, and circular discourse about, the facts of “absence,” “lack,” and “non-being,” of identity and difference, of negativeness—in short of nothingness.” Mbembe 2001:4). In this course, we will examine colonial and postcolonial approaches to how Africa has been imagined as a place of difference across time and space and critically examine how these ideas continue to circulate in popular culture, media, film, science, literature, and international development. Topics we will focus on include the intellectual legacies of colonialism, poverty and international aid, “ethnic” and “religious” conflict, portrayals of “Africa” in American and European film and media, the looting and marketing of African art, Pan-Africanism, and Afrocentricity.

EGMT 1530: Apocalypse!

EGMT 1530: Apocalypse!

Instructed by

In this course, we will study some of the many ways diverse Americans have envisioned the end (of the world; of their world; of America) and what those visions might teach us about them and the America they inhabited. We’ll consider disaster movies and settler colonialism, punk and the Bible, the Bomb, space travel, and slave revolts, asking along the way: What can the imagined futures of yesterday tell us about the hopes and fears of previous generations? In what ways are social, political, racial, or economic structures of difference reflected in various visions of apocalypse?

EGMT 1530: Childhood & Becoming

EGMT 1530: Childhood & Becoming

Instructed by Lisa Shutt

Toys, games, rules, education, discipline, childhood foods, clothing, friendships, celebrations, hierarchies… how do the experiences and expectations of children contribute to the production of the adults that they later become? This course considers how experiences and expectations of childhood can be dramatically different across cultural, geographical, ideological and temporal boundaries, but quite consistent within certain communities – largely as a result of common values present within particular cultural contexts. In some cultural spaces, children are expected to defer to their elders and are reined in by complex social rules while in others, children are encouraged to break rules and taboos that adults must adhere to strictly. When the expectations and demands of children vary across physical spaces and cultural boundaries, how do distinctive ways of acculturating children translate into structuring the very different norms of adulthood across cultural spaces and the world?

EGMT 1530: Encounter the World Through Collected Objects

EGMT 1530: Encounter the World Through Collected Objects

Instructed by Wendy Smith

This course will examine how objects can be used to shape (or distort) our understanding of other cultures, and how stories about societies, nations, and ethnic groups are formed around collections of objects and artworks. This way of encountering others can illuminate the differences and similarities between cultures and result in a deeper, more tangible connection across humanity that yields greater appreciation and understanding. However, there are also several challenges in this process. Museums are generally how we access objects from cultures and civilizations from around the world. How do museums handle objects that were stolen or looted? How do displays confront or enforce racial stereotypes? What aspects of a society are being highlighted or hidden and how does this change the story being told about them and our engagement with them? How do those in power represent those without power? How do those without power represent themselves? In this course we will learn to distinguish how objects have been used in museum collections, exhibitions, and displays to tell stories about various groups of people. We will learn to detect gaps in what is presented. We will recognize bias in the presentation of objects from other cultures. We will engage with the questions museums are struggling with today: Can we display objects from other cultures without our own cultural bias? How can voices from other cultures be represented in the display of their art/artifacts? What does it mean for these objects to speak for themselves? From paintings, textiles, tribal masks, Chinese vases, and ancient sculptures and sarcophagi to looted menorahs and slave shackles, we will see how objects can tell us about their creators, users, and collectors. We will reflect on how some of our own possessions can reveal aspects of our identity, as well as doing hands-on work to examine how historical objects have been used to tell the story of UVA.

EGMT 1530: Global "Development" - The Great, the Good & the Ugly

EGMT 1530: Global "Development" - The Great, the Good & the Ugly

Instructed by Muhammad Tayyab Safdar

This course explores the meaning of global ‘development’. What does it mean to be developed, and how did ‘development’ become a universally accepted idea? Are there different views on what it means to be developed, and how do mainstream actors engage with these differences? To answer these questions, we unpack the historical idea of development by comparing the developed to those considered ‘underdeveloped.’ We will explore the context in which this concept of development gained traction and legitimacy and became popular as a hegemonic idea. We will investigate and critique the different models to promote development in developing countries and discuss some of the actors involved. Lastly, we will look at alternate locally grounded conceptions of development and local views on what it means to be developed. We will understand the interaction between these more localised views on development and the mainstream hegemonic global development concept.

EGMT 1530: Making Enemies

EGMT 1530: Making Enemies

Instructed by Jo Adams

Legend has it that as the French atheist Voltaire lay on his deathbed, a priest urged him to denounce Satan. “Now, now, my good man,” Voltaire responded, “this is no time for making enemies.” But who would have been doing the “making”—Voltaire or Satan? This course explores how and why we create, define, and demonize our enemies on multiple scales: the personal, the political, the national—even the internal. How do we decide who or what deserves our distrust and disdain? What motivates or compels us to make this decision in the first place? Are we hardwired to have biases? What purpose do enemies serve? Do they help us forge identities or friendships? Can having enemies be beneficial to living a meaningful life, or does it just feel good? And what should we do with our enemies once we’ve made them? Love them? Persuade them? Ignore them? We’ll explore these questions through multiple disciplinary perspectives, tackling representations of “the enemy” in literature, fine art, and the media; social psychology research on prejudice, enmity, and popularity; the neuroscience of negative and positive emotions; and secular and religious attitudes toward empathy, communication, and love.

EGMT 1530: Masquerades: Performing My (Other) Self

EGMT 1530: Masquerades: Performing My (Other) Self

Instructed by David Walsh

From circus performances and Mardi Gras, to masked balls and RuPaul’s Drag Race, American culture is inundated with representations of masquerades. In this course, we will consider how the masquerade has been used in American visual culture to produce, recognize, and negotiate different identities, and what that can mean for understanding and appreciating cultural, national, and personal distinctions in our own lives. In a series of thematic classes, we will learn how identity, at its core, is multifaceted array of performances informed by one’s family, politics, faith, race, gender, sexual orientation, class, etc. We will explore how these performances allow us to fit in and feel like part of a community, express our personal identities, or portray a specific persona to the world––while also acknowledging that certain performances can exploit power imbalances, reinforce discrimination, and/or promote exclusion.

EGMT 1530: Other People's Music

EGMT 1530: Other People's Music

Instructed by Liza Sapir Flood

Musical sound is a way that people the world over imagine, imitate, and engage with people different from themselves. In the US, genres like hip-hop and country are ways we deal with and imagine the lived experience of race and class. ‘World Music’ and associated sounds—like Peruvian panpipes, Afro-Cuban rhythmic components, and Celtic melodies—tell us musical stories about people beyond our borders. But what do we really know about others when we listen to “their” music? And how do musical sounds come to represent certain bodies and identities in the first place, or even to “belong to” certain groups? What is the difference between cultural appropriation and creating or consuming music as a means of identifying with or advocating for others? How do technology and capitalism play a part in the power of music to cause both good and harm? This course explores the processes through which sounds come to index certain cultural categories (race, gender, class, nationality, age, religion, sexuality) or global locations, and how musical material can be repurposed for political means. Students will investigate terms such as hybridity, exoticization, cultural appropriation, revivalism, and embodiment. We will look at case studies including minstrelsy in the US, “non-Western” college music ensembles, racial identity among Asian-American jazz musicians, bluegrass in post-Communist Czech Republic, white rappers, the international hip hop scene, and corrido listenership in the transnational Mexican community. Students will also have the opportunity to examine their own listening practices and to create and share playlists with peers.

EGMT 1530: Our Rituals and How They Make Us

EGMT 1530: Our Rituals and How They Make Us

Instructed by Eben Yonnetti

Whether attending a wedding, a high school graduation, the Lighting of the Lawn, or even just standing in front of our bathroom mirrors in the morning, part of the way we define ourselves and the communities we inhabit is through the rituals we do. In addition to our own rituals, we live in a pluralistic global society surrounded by a wealth of other peoples’ rituals, both religious and secular, individual and collective, explicit and inconspicuous, that bear meaning and are important expressions of their identities. This course takes rituals as a lens into human difference, asking how can considering our rituals and the rituals of others provide opportunities for deeper knowledge and more meaningful human interactions? During this course, we will reflect upon how we use rituals to express our identities as members of our families, schools, communities, and even as citizens of our countries. We will also look at how rituals can serve as tools to create and maintain difference and hierarchy between individuals and among human groups. Grappling with these issues, we will consider how rituals contribute to our senses of self, give our lives meaning, and connect us with others.

EGMT 1530: Passages of Hope and Survival

EGMT 1530: Passages of Hope and Survival

Instructed by

This course places contemporary experiences of migration, refuge, and asylum at the heart of critical inquiry. In this light, and motivated by one's Hope for a better future as well as one's mere attempts of Survival, the Passages we'll encounter shall consist not only in geographical and physical journeys, but also in metaphoric and reflective materials. Encompassing both the intellectual and experiential, our own rite of passage will alternate between the seemingly familiar "local" and the remotely located "global" while engaging depictions from within -- as found in documentaries, music, vlogs, letters, and memoirs -- and responses from without -- as manifested in media reports, political platforms, and general discourse. In doing so, and while testing present encounters against our previous notions of identity, belonging, and otherness, we shall constantly strive to recognize, understand and articulate the Differences that asylum, migration, and refuge make in our own, immediate world.

EGMT 1530: Politics of Homegoing

EGMT 1530: Politics of Homegoing

Instructed by Tracey Wang

What does it mean to return home? How does the journey of return raise questions about your relationship to your racial, gender, or national identity? Can you go home again? This course argues that narratives of return attest to and reveal complex political, social, and psychological processes of identity formation and relations to institutions of power. We’ll examine how narratives of return, whether literal or metaphorical, challenge notions of a static homeland and the boundaries of national identity. Conditions of immigration and displacement vary widely, but we’ll read, watch, and listen to stories from writers and artists of color who reflect on their own experiences of uprootedness. We’ll question how the politics of bordering lay bare the persistent historical and political entanglements of race and displacement.

EGMT 1530: Reading UVA

EGMT 1530: Reading UVA

Instructed by

In this course, we’ll think about how literature works to create concepts of identity and belonging, by reading major U.S. authors connected to our own University. In short and excerpted works by Thomas Jefferson, Edgar Allan Poe, William Faulkner, and Rita Dove, we will chart the construction and contestation of categories such as “American,” “Virginian,” “southern,” and “The University of Virginia.” Students will get an introduction to the significance of UVA in U.S. literary history, as well as getting hands-on experience in Special Collections, which houses one of the most important collections of American literature in the world.

EGMT 1530: Selective Memory

EGMT 1530: Selective Memory

Instructed by Rebecca Bultman

From the Bible to the monuments in Charlottesville, selection determines what is enshrined and what is left behind. Be it through deliberation or by accident, a necessity or an artistic choice, processes of selection elevate certain stories in our collective memory while all but ensuring others are forgotten. In ancient societies, remembering is often considered a virtue, akin to life, connection, and even immortality; while forgetting is associated with demise, death, and decay. But is forgetting really such a bad thing? Is it possible for forgetting to be a positive, formative force? Are memory and forgetting really opposite processes? In this seminar, we will explore the selectivity inherit in memory and the productive potential of forgetting—the ways in which overwriting, erasure, loss, and, at times, recovery drive cultural creativity. By looking at what has been left out, we will observe how forgetting has shaped our past and how choosing what is remembered reveals our priorities and values. We will look at specific case-studies of selective memory and ask: Who gets to tell the story and who decides where it begins? Who determines which voices are included and which are omitted.

EGMT 1530: Sovereignty In a Time of Slavery

EGMT 1530: Sovereignty In a Time of Slavery

Instructed by Allison Bigelow

As Europeans invaded Africa, Asia, and the Americas between 1492 and the twentieth century – an extended period of colonialism that remains ongoing – they developed sophisticated legal theories, political philosophies, and religious frameworks to justify the unjustifiable taking of others’ lands and lifeways. Many of these theories were written by men whose investments in African and Indigenous slavery gave them the time and space to develop, ironically, universal definitions of human rights. How should we read these texts? What do we learn by studying them alongside Indigenous theories and practices from Turtle Island, Mēxihco Tenōchtitlan, and Michoacán? How can we use lessons from history to shed light on current debates like just warfare and Indigenous data sovereignty? These are the kinds of questions that we will explore together in the next seven weeks. By the end of the class, you will have a more nuanced understanding of Native American governance, European political theory, and the relationship between early modern globalization and our own time.

EGMT 1530: The Age of Antiaging

EGMT 1530: The Age of Antiaging

Instructed by

In "The Age of Antiaging," we dissect the complex biology of aging, from DNA repair to microbiome health. We unpack the 12 hallmarks that drive cellular aging and debate the potential of anti-aging interventions, from metformin's surprising benefits to young blood's rejuvenating factors. But our exploration will challenge you to think beyond the biomedical science. As we explore the avant-garde of anti-aging therapies inching towards clinical reality, ask yourself: Who gets to sip from this fountain of youth? Can everyone afford the elixirs of longevity? Or will these marvels widen the chasm between wealth and want? We'll brainstorm how a zip code can predict lifespan. In an age where health is wealth, and wealth is health, we will ponder who will benefit from the anti-aging revolution. How do we ensure healthy aging is accessible, not a privilege? This course is an invitation to critically engage with these questions, envisioning a future where antiaging breakthroughs are a collective gain, and considering your role in shaping this destiny. Join us to explore the frontier of biomedical science interlaced with the ethics of equality.

EGMT 1530: The Public University

EGMT 1530: The Public University

Instructed by

This course critically considers the institution of the public university, an educational ideal that dates back to the Enlightenment and continues through to the public and governmental debates of the present. Visions of the public may conjure up universality, yet they also define populations and interests. And there are different perspectives on the role of education, for a full life in the world, for national or other kinds of citizenship, and/or for professionalization. What becomes clear is that the university is both an actual place and an idea, mapped and conceived, and always open to revision. In the spirit of debate, we will engage questions of accessibility, inclusion, place, profit, and politics as we ponder the history of institutions in the United States and all over the world, and differences therein. In a neoliberal moment, can the divide between “the private” and “the public” be maintained, and what are the responsibilities of those who study and work at universities like UVA that self-present with the mission of serving the common good? No less importantly, how is the work inside the university, and its particular mix of humanistic and scientific inquiry, shaped by what lies outside of it? Readings for the course will span philosophy, history, literature and sociology, and students will be encouraged to engage in different forms of research.

EGMT 1530: What Makes a Drug?

EGMT 1530: What Makes a Drug?

Instructed by Lauren Mehfoud

Why are cocaine and LSD considered “drugs” but not alcohol and tobacco? How did marijuana go from being a feared “killer weed” to a safe and increasingly legal intoxicant? In this course, we will consider what it means for the category of “drugs” to be a social construct by exploring how ideas about psychoactive substances have varied over time and across cultures, focusing mainly on the Americas. Recognizing how drug prohibition and the “war on drugs” have disproportionately impacted marginalized communities, you will practice thinking critically about how popular portrayals of “traffickers” and “addicts” shape how you view people different from yourself. Together, we will also ask whether strategies like legalizing drugs or medicalizing psychedelics can effectively remedy the inequalities produced by criminalization. Ultimately, you will leave this course with a greater awareness of how cultural narratives about “drugs” produce, challenge, and complicate formations of difference in the world.

EGMT 1530: Who Dressed You?

EGMT 1530: Who Dressed You?

Instructed by Marcy Linton

Fashion has been utilized as a tool for common good, moving both culture and the individual toward empowerment, influence, self-identification, and community bonds, but also as a tool of power and privilege to segregate, distinguish, demoralize, and repress human subjects. This course will examine how societal imposed dress codes and self-expression have effects on human responses. In this class, you will... 1. Explore fashion in its richness and complexity, as a mechanism of self-expression. 2. Recognize how fashion has been used to create and challenge social inequities. 3. Consider how expressing our differences through fashion, we develop and experience bias, discrimination, exclusion, or acceptance. 4. Understand how dynamics of fashion can shape how difference works in the world.

EGMT 1530: Who Owns American History?

EGMT 1530: Who Owns American History?

Instructed by Alice King

This Engaging Differences course is driven by two big questions: What role does History play in American society today? And what role should it play? The purpose of History is currently a major flashpoint. Debates over the 1619 Project, the content of high school textbooks, interpretations of the “founding fathers,” and the idea of cancelling, erasing, or rewriting the past swirl in politics, the media, and the classroom. Who owns American History? will help students to reflect on their own experiences of American History and to understand why different groups learn and claim different versions of the past as their own. We will examine historical materials from the colonial period through to the twentieth century and consider the way those stories are told today. Ultimately, arguments about History offer a window into how Americans see themselves in relation to who and what came before them.

EGMT 1530: Why Neurodiversity Matters

EGMT 1530: Why Neurodiversity Matters

Instructed by Vikram Jaswal

Is there a “normal” way to perceive, to think, to relate, and to act? The neurodiversity movement challenges us to abandon the standard view of cognitive differences (including autism, ADHD, intellectual disability) as deficits in need of remediation and instead to see them as a valuable part of natural human variation. It encourages us to think about ways society can accommodate neurodivergent people rather than insisting that neurodivergent people change to fit into society. In this course, we will consider the origins and critiques of the neurodiversity movement, why it has taken root (or has it?), and what meaningful inclusion for neurodivergent people might look like.

EGMT 1530: Your City is Still Segregated

EGMT 1530: Your City is Still Segregated

Instructed by

We have reached a critical juncture in American infrastructure and city planning. The 2013 Black Lives Matter movement and 2020 George Floyd protests refocused the public’s attention on de facto segregation in American cities, and its continuity with pre-Civil Rights urban planning. New public resources like the 2016 Mapping Inequality project have created an accessible and interactive repository for twentieth-century redlining segregation maps, many of which still have an uncanny resemblance to today’s cities. In 2008, the Congress for New Urbanism began releasing its list of US “Freeways Without Futures.” The list compiles twentieth-century freeways that continue to segregate previously redlined ethnic, immigrant, and working-class communities. These events spurred the 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and its Reconnecting Communities and Neighborhoods Pilot Program. Currently, the pilot program funds research into replacing such freeways with new connective infrastructures in cities like Richmond, Atlanta, Oakland, and Buffalo. Charlottesville and Albemarle County are currently applying for a similar grant to increase the permeability of sections of the US 29. In this course, we will survey historical literature on American architecture and planningto understand how contemporary social and economic inequality was designed. We will examine how the architecture of slavery and Reconstruction, through twentieth-century redlining and urban renewal, laid the groundwork for current American infrastructural crises. For their term papers, students will research an American freeway and its effects on an adjacent neighborhood. They can either elaborate on a freeway chosen from the Congress for New Urbanism’s list or nominate a new one. The goal is to understand how contemporary crises like de facto segregation, homelessness, food deserts, and white flight have their roots in design decisions and transportation infrastructure policymaking. The course will introduce students to a series of digital historical resources with which they will construct a narrative of their chosen freeway-adjacent neighborhood from the early 1900s to the present.

EGMT 1540: Ethical Engagement

EGMT 1540: Can Love Really Transform The World?

EGMT 1540: Can Love Really Transform The World?

Instructed by Jason Evans

Can Love really transform the world? Where did Martin Luther King Jr. get his ideas about beloved community? What are the boundaries of a community and who has the power to police those boundaries? What are our responsibilities to our communities and ourselves? What makes a community ideal or beloved and how might this ideal on ethical grounds be achieved, contested, revised, or completely discarded? This course introduces a widely-used but often misunderstood ethical concept of Beloved Community. Students will consider the concept’s roots in the work of late 19th-century thinker Josiah Royce and its development in the thought of 20th century civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. Finally, students will bring the concept to bear on their self-understanding as ethical agents in a University context and further explore it in relation to contemporary social, political, economic, and ecological challenges.

EGMT 1540: Do We Still Have Faith In Democracy?

EGMT 1540: Do We Still Have Faith In Democracy?

Instructed by Bruce Williams

*Note: Since this class satifies both EGMT 1530 (Differences) and EGMT 1540 (Ethics), students must enroll in both Fall Session 1 and Fall Session 2 quarters. Democracy is currently face daunting challenges in the U.S. and around the world.  Authoritarian leaders and populist parties have undermined democratic values across the globe, including Brazil, Hungary, Algeria, Poland, and the United States.  In the U.S., there are attempts to make it more difficult for citizens to vote. Practices of gerrymandering and unethical campaign finance undermine citizen’s interests in representative government. In Charlottesville, especially in the wake of events of August 2017, questions have been raised about the responsiveness of local government to the needs of its citizens and the city’s failure to protect the safety of those who protested against the actions of self-admitted racist and fascist groups. In the midst of these challenges, do we still have faith in democracy and, if so, why?  Must we have faith in democracy in order for it to succeed?   What do we mean by faith?  How might the resources of democracy itself (its ideas and its practices) help societies respond to these crises? This course examines the character of democracy: What is a democracy and what distinguishes it from other forms of governments? What are the practices of democracy and the role of education in preparation for democratic participation?  What does it mean to be a citizen of a democracy and who counts as a citizen? What are the challenges and opportunities of pluralism (religious, cultural, racial, political) to the life of democracy? A major goal of the class is to prepare students to connect questions about democracy to the different settings they will encounter in their years at UVA, from the classroom to the many social and political situations they negotiate. In addition to reading assignments and short papers, students will be required to move out of the classroom and select, observe and reflect upon a real-life instance of democratic politics in action (e.g., city council meetings, school board meetings, and so forth).     

EGMT 1540: Ethics of Outer Space

EGMT 1540: Ethics of Outer Space

Instructed by

Humanity is on the verge of becoming a spacefaring civilization. We have already sent robotic missions throughout the solar system, drilled into and left artifacts on other planets, sent human remains to space, collided with asteroids, broadcast messages toward the stars, and experimented on animals in space. Today both private companies and public agencies have aspirations to colonize other planets, extract resources from asteroids, put hundreds of thousands of satellites into Earth orbit, and build permanent infrastructure on the moon. What are the ethical implications of these choices, and who has the power to make them? Who (or what) is helped and who (or what) is harmed? This course will explore the ethical issues at play, examine the relation between these issues and different cultural understandings, ask who benefits (and how they benefit) and who is harmed (and how they are harmed), question who gets to make these ethical decisions on behalf of humanity, and ultimately consider what the “best” future of humanity might be.

EGMT 1540: Evil Tunes

EGMT 1540: Evil Tunes

Instructed by Emily Mellen

At Guantanamo, U.S. soldiers forced prisoners to listen to booming Eminem tracks as a kind of “no-touch torture.” Hitler claimed that his vision of an Aryan Germany was exemplified in the works of 19th century composer Richard Wagner. Mussolini used popular songs to create ideal compliant fascists. Music is a powerful medium for emotional, spiritual and intellectual connection, but is it universally good? What is good? Is good music always ethical? Can music do harm? Can we still love music when its used for evil? In this class, we will explore these questions through case studies including popular music as an instigator of genocide in Rwanda, neo-Fascist white supremacist musical movement in the U.S. today, and the debate on cancelling Ye. We will mix classical and established scholarly interpretations with contemporary evaluations. We will consider questions of context and content in evaluating if music can do harm and if it can do good. We will also look at when music does “good” and what good it does.

EGMT 1540: How Do We Remember?

EGMT 1540: How Do We Remember?

Instructed by

In this ethical engagement we examine and discuss how we use monuments to remember. That is, for what values do we inscribe words in stone and set aside places of veneration? Ours will be a journey that will take us from the ancient world to modernity, from the Capitoline Hill of Rome to the UVA Lawn. Students will have the opportunity to visit and offer their thoughts about locations on grounds, as well as to design a monument of their own.

EGMT 1540: Laziness

EGMT 1540: Laziness

Instructed by

What is laziness? Is it leisure? Protest? Sin? Can it be a virtue? Can it be beautiful? Do we have a right to be lazy? Are we obligated to be productive? Why? We’ll read some essays, stories, and poems, look at some pictures, watch some films, and otherwise stroll and loaf around in our efforts to explore these questions and possibly stumble into some others.

EGMT 1540: Mindful Decision-Making

EGMT 1540: Mindful Decision-Making

Instructed by Sandra Seidel

Are you interested in increasing your kindness, generosity, and resilience? Living an ethical life of service to others? Building your capacity for attention and focus? Drawing on contemporary mindfulness practices, this engagements class will ask you to think, carefully and mindfully, about how automatic reactions, specific situational circumstances, and bodily states affect your behavior in ways that are consistent or inconsistent with your personal values. Human beings live in relation to one another. Our human interconnectedness suggests that ethical engagement is inevitable and that ignoring conflict and controversy is itself an ethical decision. This course will teach you observe not only the world around you but also yourself in relation to it. And it will challenge you to leverage these new skills to make ethical decisions deliberately and thoughtfully instead of automatically and thoughtlessly. Ultimately, we'll reflect on the meaning of a "good life" informed by a desire to serve others.

EGMT 1540: Psychedelics -- Enlightenment in a Pill?

EGMT 1540: Psychedelics -- Enlightenment in a Pill?

Instructed by Tico Braun

Can you find spiritual enlightenment in a pill? This course will explore the use of psychedelic drugs in the United States as a purported means to psychological growth and spiritual awakening. MDMA, LSD, ayahuasca, marijuana, psilocybin, and other drugs will be considered, including their psychoactive properties, the history of their use, and their various receptions as spiritual agents in American culture. Our main focus will be on the arguments about the value or danger of such drugs, especially in terms of their potential to give the user access to spiritual realizations. Why do some claim that “entheogens” (i.e., psychoactive substances) are of great value to humanity’s spiritual growth? What proof is offered (scientific, religious, aesthetic, etc.)? And why do others say that they are pernicious and dangerous forms of delusion? On what basis do they make their claims? Overall, the course’s goal is to consider how approaches to psychedelics—as either good or bad—reflect and shape our senses of what it means to be human and to pursue spiritual truth.

EGMT 1540: Rebels With a Cause

EGMT 1540: Rebels With a Cause

Instructed by Christian Steinmetz

The Harvard Butter Rebellion, Free Speech Movement, and Black Lives Matter stand as pivotal moments in American history, where the fervor of student protests ignited national conversations and controversies. This course delves into the intricate ethical dilemmas and power dynamics inherent in student-led movements for societal transformation. By delving into historical contexts, examining pertinent case studies, and fostering individual introspection, we aim to dissect the ethical obligations and power dynamics at play. We will navigate the complexities of allyship, privilege, and solidarity, gaining a nuanced understanding of the multifaceted nature of collegiate social activism.

EGMT 1540: Sci-Fi Ethics

EGMT 1540: Sci-Fi Ethics

Instructed by Eric Hilker

How can entering the divergent worlds of science fiction help us better understand what it means to do the right thing or live a good life? Sci-Fi is a genre of literature that develops important ethical questions, imagines different possibilities for society, and challenges the boundaries of what is human. Doing so, science fiction can help us question what we have taken for granted in our own life and society: What values do we use to navigate moral dilemmas? What stories have shaped our own idea of a good life? How do we encounter others that are not like us? The course is divided into three units with distinct (though overlapping) themes. In the first unit, we consider works of science fiction that pose interesting moral dilemmas. These stories will raise issues of free will and determinism, power differentials and equality, and the ethical value of language. In the second unit, we see how science fiction often tells familiar stories in unfamiliar contexts. Seeing these common narratives (and resistance to them) can help us become responsible for the assumed narratives of our own lives (and perhaps imagine other possibilities). In the third unit we look at works that blur the line between human and non-human—stories of aliens, androids, biotech, and zombies. Here we ask questions about what it means to be human and how we should encounter those who are different.

EGMT 1540: Should People be Wealthy?

EGMT 1540: Should People be Wealthy?

Instructed by Ian Mullins

What does it mean to act ethically when you live in an unjust, and dare I say, immoral society? Is it even possible to live the “good life” that philosophers tout when being successful comes at the expense of others? When you dream about being wealthy, or wealthier than you are now, do you ever consider the harm that others will bear for you to have so much? These are difficult questions, and I don’t have easy answers, but I’d like to work through them together by seriously considering what it means to act ethically and live a good life in a capitalist society like the United States. This course may not be for the faint of heart as we will question a central tenet of American society, that wealth is good. We will consider how organizing society around wealth affects us, from those who possess the wealth to those from whom it is extracted. In the end, I’d like for us to grapple with another important question: what do we owe to each other?

EGMT 1540: Should You Chain Yourself to a Tree?

EGMT 1540: Should You Chain Yourself to a Tree?

Instructed by Kevin Rose

Although recent polling data shows the majority of Americans agreeing that climate change is a “major threat,” there is less agreement on how to actually address the problem. Calls to reduce our individual carbon footprints are commonplace, but so are the responses from climate strikers that responsibility should fall on Big Oil and its allies in DC, making these calls for individuals to focus on their lifestyle choices a form of victim blaming. In this course, we’ll examine these and other competing visions of climate action. In the first half of the class, we’ll look at the history of environmental activism to understand why mainstream environmentalism since the 1980s has focused on individual consumer choice, as opposed to the collective civil disobedience that prevailed in the 1960s and early 1970s. In the second half, we turn to contemporary debates about what must be done—engaging with everyone from the oil execs calling on people to reduce their own carbon footprints to the writer and filmmakers behind a recent, provocative call for people to start learning How to Blow Up a Pipeline.

EGMT 1540: The Ethics of Horror

EGMT 1540: The Ethics of Horror

Instructed by Walter Ott

Is it wrong to watch depictions of sadism and violence? If the experience of reading and watching horror is unpleasant, why do we subject ourselves to it? What do works of horror have to teach us about the nature of the self, free will, and the scope of moral responsibility? This course will explore these questions through a discussion of literature and film, as well as the works of Aristotle, David Hume, and contemporary philosophers such as Noël Carroll.

EGMT 1540: The Ethics of Representation

EGMT 1540: The Ethics of Representation

Instructed by Laura Goldblatt

How do we represent the nation? What can the images on state-generated media tell us about diversity, equity, and justice? In this Ethical Engagement, we will turn to U.S. postage stamps released during the twentieth century to discuss the relationship between politics and their representation. In doing so, we will consider how figurative renderings of the nation can advance, or stymie, social aims.

EGMT 1540: The Ideology of Slavery: A Cautionary Tale

EGMT 1540: The Ideology of Slavery: A Cautionary Tale

Instructed by

White Virginians enslaved people of African descent from 1619 to 1865. During that time, they constructed social, legal, and economic structures that protected and strengthened enslavement. In the process they destroyed families and lives and damaged cultures and societies. Today we look back and wonder: how could they sleep at night? And how could people like Thomas Jefferson, who made ethically sound contributions to the nation’s founding, also freely choose to engage in a practice that was so deeply unethical? Finally, how did the ideology that justified slaveholding continue to affect American life even after slavery itself was abolished? This course will explore how ideology shapes the actions of people and communities in the past and today. As we examine the twists and turns of slaveholders’ ideological justifications for their actions, we will apply that understanding of the role of ideology to the political, economic, and social issues important to students today. Students will be required to select an issue that is resonant for them and use the course to dig into the ideological assumptions behind multiple sides of that issue. This course is applied history; a cautionary tale about the ways in which individuals and communities justify their oppression of others. It challenges students to critically examine the ideological arguments around them.

EGMT 1540: The Sky is Falling!

EGMT 1540: The Sky is Falling!

Instructed by

In the folktale, Chicken Little convinces others that the sky is falling, all because of a falling acorn. Narrating how a sense of imminent catastrophe or apocalypse precipitates social chaos, the story poses ethical questions like: If the world is ending, why and how should we care? This course examines ethical claims in representations of a doomed world, in texts, paintings, film, and music.

EGMT 1540: The Soul at Work

EGMT 1540: The Soul at Work

Instructed by Tal Brewer

What will you do with yourself when you are done with college? If you’re like most people, you’ll spend an enormous proportion of your waking hours at work. When we think of how we might spend these hours, we rarely neglect to consider how much we might hope to make. But we do not always stop to ask just what our work might make of us. This latter question is the guiding topic of this course. We will read and discuss some of the most influential writings that have been penned over the last two centuries about modern forms of work and the cumulative effects they can have on our character, our values, and our relationships with our fellow human beings. Among the questions we will ask are: How much of our time and effort should we devote to paid work? What are the benefits and drawbacks of the kinds of work that you might do, and the work that others have to do that you might live your life? What sorts of power relationships obtain in the workplace, and are these relationships consistent with our equal freedom and dignity, or otherwise conducive to our flourishing? Have we, as a society, arrived at a skewed balance between work and leisure – one that enriches us in material terms while impoverishing us in other important respects? What would it take for work to be just and meaningful, and how might we bring it about that we ourselves and others are able to engage in such work?

EGMT 1540: The Way We Play

EGMT 1540: The Way We Play

Instructed by Caleb Hendrickson

One of the first things we learn to do as children is play. We all come from play. Yet, we tend to think of play as trivial, frivolous, and sometimes bad. In this class, we take play seriously (though not too seriously, of course). The way we play, whether in serious or silly ways, shapes our worlds and ourselves. How has play formed you? How do you play now, as a student at UVA? Do we in modern society work too much and play too little (or vice versa)? Or, is play an element of everything we do – including work, religion, politics, education. If this is the case, then it would seem important that we learn how to play well, if we wish to lead good and fulfilling lives. How do we learn to play well? How can play go wrong? In this class, we will explore play by doing, by playing games, playing roles, and playacting. Throughout the class, we will reconsider the idea that play is inherently frivolous or without purpose. Students should come ready to play, reflect, and discover.

EGMT 1540: They Think WHAT? Visions of Politics

EGMT 1540: They Think WHAT? Visions of Politics

Instructed by Tom Donahue-Ochoa

Liberals scold populists. Greens slag capitalists. Conservatives chide social justice movements. And vice versa. But what does it all mean? In these disputes, each group cleaves to a set of ideas about politics. These ideas describe how society works; they set standards by which to judge those workings; they envision the good society; and they tell us how to get there from here. Thus these ideas aim to guide social change. And they do so by calling their holders to carry them out. So, for instance, when fascists strive against libertarians, they struggle over just these ideas: which ones should rule? In this course, we study these visions of politics, or what some call “political ideologies.” We therefore aim to plumb and sound the key ideas of many of the great visions of our time: those named above, and also socialism, anarchism, democracy, and more. What do their main ideas say? How do they compare with those of other political visions? What do they assume about freedom? Or human nature? We give students an insider’s view of each ideology. And also the tools to forge their own. (During class, we will not use Internet devices. Attending and taking part are mandatory.)

EGMT 1540: What do we owe Joan of Arc?

EGMT 1540: What do we owe Joan of Arc?

Instructed by Deborah McGrady

What are the ethical responsibilities of artists and historians who engage with the past? To be a good citizen must we be good stewards of cultural memory? What are our obligations to those who are forgotten or falsely remembered? Can we ethically mock the past? To address these questions, we will reach back nearly 600 years to recover the story of Joan of Arc, the 19-year-old who has been remembered as both a warrior-saint and as a witch. Organized in three units, this class will begin with how the court trial presented her story before then examining later witness testimonies intended to rehabilitate her memory. The final unit turns to modern artists, from sculptors and dancers to filmmakers, playwrights, and comic-book writers, who have reinvented Joan over the centuries. This exploration of Joan of Arc's legacy will give rise to ethical questions about our relationship to the past.

EGMT 1540: What is Engaged Citizenship?

EGMT 1540: What is Engaged Citizenship?

Instructed by Laura Goldblatt

If citizenship gives us rights, can it also make demands of us? What would it mean to acquiesce to these demands, if so, and what to refuse them? Such questions about the ethics and requirements of engaged citizenship were central to the founding of the University of Virginia and increasingly serve as a rallying cry for the importance of the liberal arts tradition. But what is engaged citizenship and what does it require of us? In this class, we will consider varying frameworks for the ethics of engaged citizenship—education, self-reflection, presence (or showing up)—to struggle with the relationship of the self to society within the University community and beyond. Why do we increasingly know more about certain aspects of our food supply and so little about others? What are the implications of this visibility and invisibility for our behavior towards each other? Does citizenship require us to confront those who we perceive as challenging our values, and, if so, can that ever be anything other than a coercive and oppressive act? Is citizenship a communal agreement or an individual one? Does it bind us together or separate us? When is violence justified, if ever? Under what circumstances should we bend or discard our citizenly duty? Through class excursions, readings, journaling activities, viewings, and course presentations we will experiment with the ethical implications of the various positions we take—including inaction—when we respond to the world around and inside of us.

EGMT 1540: Whose Land? Settler Histories, Indigenous Futures

EGMT 1540: Whose Land? Settler Histories, Indigenous Futures

Instructed by Cherrie Kwok

How well do you know the land that you are walking on? Who was here before you, and who is coming next? In this course, we will ask what our responsibilities are to the past—and the future—of the land where we live, study, and work. Given the centrality of land to almost every facet of the human experience, this course explores questions that are relevant across multiple disciplines ranging from the humanities to the law and business. We will grapple with the histories of settler colonialism that have shaped the world’s landscapes while also reimagining how we might work together to create a better future. In the process, you will begin building a working understanding of what an ethical engagement with Indigenous communities in Charlottesville and around the globe may look like—an understanding that you will adjust and refine for the rest of your life. The course will include various engagements with the Monacan Indian Nation, Monticello, or the Black and Indigenous Feminist Futures Institute, and conclude with a collaborative creative project.

EGMT 1540: You Are Who You Meet - The Ethics of Friendship

EGMT 1540: You Are Who You Meet - The Ethics of Friendship

Instructed by Benjamin Bernard

This class surveys the ethics of friendship in historical perspective to explore how we make friends and the role they ought to play in shaping who we are and how we live. Consider your own friends: how can a single word encapsulate so many different relationships? What is a friend? What are they for? And how do our friends shape us? The course will survey some interesting answers to those questions from people crafting many different modes of making and staying friends. Friendship is one of the oldest topics in ethics, yet we continue to remake that tradition in new ways as we live through the epochal transformations of the internet age, social media, and a global epidemic. We will consider how these ethical traditions align with your own experiences. Gen Z is often referred to as the most connected generation, but also the loneliest: our class will assess those claims. (Cover image: Eustache Le Sueur, Réunion d’amis, c. 1640, oil on canvas, 136 x 195 cm, Paris, courtesy of the musée du Louvre.)