Spring 2021 Seminars

Democracy and Expertise
in Literature, History and Science

Karen Detlefsen, Philosophy & Education
Wednesdays, 4:30-6:30pm, University of Pennsylvania

Both democracy and expertise are valuable to thought and to human life—democracy for its capacity to take account of a wide range of perspectives and interests, and expertise for its capacity to provide effective solutions to problems we face. But democracy and expertise can collide. In science, for example, democracy can lead to individuals weighing in on the dangers of vaccinations, against the expert judgment that vaccinations are a common health good. Conversely, claims of expertise can lead to the exclusion (purposeful or inadvertent) of typically marginalized perspectives. The broadly democratic “history from below” movement of 20th century attempted to eliminate such exclusion by approaching historical events from the viewpoint of ordinary people. In this seminar, we will explore how democracy and expertise interact—productively and otherwise—in history and science. As democracy and expertise connect with the philosophical understandings of truth and objectivity, they are also intriguing to our understanding of literature, both fiction and non-fiction.


Listening to the Music of Contemporary Africa:
History, Politics, and Human Origins

Carol Muller, Music
Wednesdays, 4:30-6:30pm, University of Pennsylvania

This class will introduce you to the contemporary music of the African continent as a means to coming to know the history and politics of Africa and her peoples, and to consider questions raised about the origins of humankind as they pertain to particular sites in Africa. The course will cover music that is indigenous to a region or borrowed and remade; popular, traditional, religious or art music; music with a particular social purpose; music generated electronically or performed face to face. While the music of the old African diaspora (e.g. jazz, gospel, soul) has become a critical part of the popular mainstream, the music of newly arrived Africans, some of whom may be in your classrooms, remains largely unknown outside of it place of origin. This class will open up the possibility of putting the music of contemporary Africa and her peoples into the school curriculum.


Cancer Biology and Technology

 

Sandra Ryeom, Cancer Biology
Wednesdays, 4:30-6:30pm, University of Pennsylvania

Beginning with the basic science and classification of cancers by cell type, tissue, and organ of origin, this seminar will expose teachers to current knowledge of how cancer starts and what technologies are used to diagnose and treat it. How does a normal cell become a cancer cell, and how do cancers progress, metastasize, recur, and become resistant to treatment? How do diet and exercise affect cancer? Topics will include the new “precision oncology” approaches to treatment and diagnosis, including the harnessing of a patient’s immune system, personalized cancer therapy and the sequencing of tumors; the role of other cells in promoting or preventing tumor progression; and tumor dormancy, or how a cancer cell can hide for many years after treatment. In addition to attending presentations and discussing recent literature, teachers will have the chance to perform hands-on experiments inclusive of isolating DNA from a tumor, examining cancer cells under a microscope, and interacting with novel cancer-related technology.


Race, Class, and Gender in the City

Rickie Sanders, Geography/Urban Studies
Wednesdays, 4:30-6:30pm, Temple University

The city emerged as a radical, new way of living.  It provided a place for entertainment, production, creativity, a testing ground for democracy, a space to explore the greatness of the human spirit-a place for risk takers and those seeking excitement. But the city is also seen as an overload to our brain, placing us in fight or flight mode; with its lights, signs, noise, traffic, pollution and crowds, it is too demanding and fast paced. These are bold assertions to be sure—and both truthful.  In this class we will examine how race, class, and gender shape how we experience the city and enable us to see it through both of these perspectives. Specific topics include urban economics, division/difference, public space, freedom/control, gentrification, surveillance, fear, the city in our imagination, and the city of the future.


Renewable Energy Schemes

Jorge Santiago-Aviles, Engineering
Wednesdays, 4:30-6:30 pm, University of Pennsylvania

In this seminar we will study the sun as the source of energy on earth; fossil fuels and their liabilities; and renewable energy sources such as photo voltaic (solar cells), eólic (wind) and low head hydroelectric (moving water). We will study the particular application of renewable energy to the tropics (e.g. Puerto Rico), and the importance of energy storage in batteries and super capacitors in the implementation of renewable energy systems. We will discuss the technology involved in theses renewable sources, conduct demonstrations, and experiment.