Skip to main content


Information on this website is posted for historical reference only. Please visit the Office of the Registrar for current requirements.

College Courses

College Courses, introduced in 1968-1969, are interdisciplinary in nature and are intended to appeal to students of widely differing backgrounds and interests. All of these courses serve in satisfaction of the Interdisciplinary requirement for members of the Classes of 1998 through 2004. Courses scheduled to be offered from 2004 Fall through 2005 Spring are listed below; courses for later terms will be announced during 2005 winter term.

1. Mind and Brain

05W: 10A

Modern neuroscience is challenging the view we have of ourselves. If psychiatric drugs can alter mood and perhaps even personality, what does that tell us about who we are? If the mind is really separate from the brain, then why does damage to particular areas of the brain alter thinking? If, as some studies suggest, the ability to think and act morally rests in the frontal lobe of the brain, are we truly responsible agents? And what do volitional disorders such as Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders indicate about free will? In the first section of this course, we survey the main philosophical positions concerning how mind and brain are related and evaluate these positions in light of modern neuroscience. One of the pivotal issues in the mind/brain debate is that of consciousness and we devote the second section of the course to that topic, looking at philosophical and scientific attempts to define and understand consciousness. In the final segment of the course, we turn to the topic of whether we have free will and the related question of when punishment is justified. Looking at research done on twins, reading first-hand accounts of those with volitional disorders, and drawing on literature concerning brain damage and ‘moral personality’, we consider the question of what it is to have free will. We then consider the broad question of what, if anything, justifies punishment, and take a look at the insanity defense. Class of 2007 and earlier: Dist: PHR; Satisfies the Interdisciplinary requirement (Class of 2004 and earlier). Bumpus, Clark.

4. Life on Mars? (Identical to Earth Sciences 8)

05W: 10A

This course will examine three major questions: Why explore Mars? Has there ever been life on Mars? Could humans survive the trip to Mars? We will study how Mars has appeared in literature and culture throughout history. We will review U.S. policy toward space flight, how our space policy was developed, and what lessons about space exploration can be learned from the Apollo missions to the Moon. We will explore the existing evidence for life on Mars and how to interpret these results. Finally, we will examine the human challenges of a long-duration mission to Mars. Satisfies the Interdisciplinary requirement (Class of 2004 and earlier). Buckey, Davies, Sharma.

5. Modern Metropolis

05S: 10A

This course will focus on transformations that have occurred since the late nineteenth century in the urban identity and urban cultures of three cities. London, Shanghai, and New York have been variously understood in terms of imperialism, of colonialism and postcolonialism, and of globalization. Each city has been formed and continues to be transformed by capitalism, by migrations and immigrations, by local, national, and international politics and economies, and by the cultural life in which all of these participate. We will be working towards an interdisciplinary knowledge of urban cultures as we consider how urban formations and transformations have been represented in literature and in history. We will be concerned with how literary and historical understandings of urban cultures differ; how both disciplines have contributed to the understanding of urban culture that has emerged in the twentieth century; and how urban cultures have transformed fiction and history. We will study the work of the following authors, among others: Walter Benjamin, David Harvey, Kazuo Ishiguro, Jane M. Jacobs, Hanif Kureishi, Leo Oufan Lee, Hanchau Lu, Toni Morrison, Lewis Mumford, Bram Stoker.

Satisfies the Interdisciplinary requirement (Class of 2004 and earlier). McKee, Rao.

6. Hindu Epics in Text and Performance

05W: 10A

The ancient Indian epics of the Ramayana and Mahabharata are stirring, martial tales of battling kings and demons, family loyalty and betrayal, romance, religion, and politics. These stories create, store, and transmit cultural and religious values and icons for millions of people in India and other Asian and Southeast Asian nations. In this course, we will use an in-depth examination of the Ramayana—by far the shorter of the two—as a framework for understanding not only these traditions but also the nature of orally transmitted epic literature. This course will be interdisciplinary in nature: using history, religious studies, literary criticism, anthropology, art history, ethnomusicology, and music and performance studies to examine some of the many written, oral, and performative versions of the Ramayana and Mahabharata throughout both India and Southeast Asia. The contemporizing of these powerful stories and their transmission through performance will define the interdisciplinary nature of the class. Performance training will be available in Indonesian music and Javanese shadow puppet theater, as well as supervision in other performative contexts. Students will create text and performance, both as a way of integrating the disciplines presented by the faculty, and to gain a personal experience of the meaning of epic and performance. Dist: ART; WCult: NW. Satisfies the Interdisciplinary requirement (Class of 2004 and earlier). For music students, it may count toward the ensemble requirement. Diamond, Ohnuma.

8. Sound and Animation

04F: 10A

In late nineteenth century Russia, Alexandre Scriabin created symphonic tone poems scored against rapidly changing colors. In the 20s and 30s, artists like Fischinger, Richter and Ruttmann in Germany were creating abstract animated films as ‘visualized sound’. In the last thirty years, encouraged in large part by MTV, sound and image have become fully collaborative (as video and film). Quickly evolving technologies and aesthetics in the sound and image arts have made it important for artists working in either or both fields to have an understanding of the multi-disciplinary and multi-sensorial aspects of both. By both animating to music, and composing for animation (whether using computer music techniques, sound-art, or more conventional musical ideas), students will learn a great deal about not only the practical aspects of this kind of collaboration, but about “time-base” art in general and its aesthetic and philosophical implications. Co-taught by members of the music and film departments, the course will integrate both a musical and filmic approach. No prior practical experience in either music or animation is required. Final projects will be shown at the annual Dartmouth Animation Festival in June. Supplemental course fee required. Dist: TAS; Satisfies the Interdisciplinary requirement (Class of 2004 and earlier). Polansky, Ehrlich.

9. The Biology and Politics of Starvation (Identical to Environmental Studies 9)

05W: 2A

Despite the rapid advancements of science, and the best intentions of humanitarian agencies, chronic malnutrition, hunger and starvation continue to afflict more than one out of every six of the world’s people. We will examine the science and the politics of malnutrition, hunger and starvation intertwining the biology of human nutrition and starvation with social, economic, environmental and political consequences of food deprivation. Student presentations will focus on the description of and lessons learned from important historical famines, the issues of world food supply and the societal responses to starvation and famine. The course will conclude with a Student World Food Congress, where we will examine and debate the reasons underlying the failure of nations to guarantee the access to food as a fundamental human right Open to all students without prerequisite. Dist: SOC or INT; Satisfies the Interdisciplinary requirement (Class of 2004 and earlier). Butterly, Shepherd, Witters.

10. Morality and the Brain

05W: 10A

Where and how do our moral beliefs and attitudes fit into our brains? In what ways, if any, do recent discoveries in brain science affect our everyday moral beliefs or theories in moral philosophy? Are free will and moral responsibility compatible with what we have learned about how our brains function? These questions will be explored through intensive class discussions of recent case studies, experiments, and philosophical works. Our goal is to bring psychology and philosophy together in new and fruitful ways.

Class of 2007 and earlier: Dist: PHR. Class of 2008 and later: Dist: TMV. Satisfies the Interdisciplinary requirement (Class of 2004 and earlier). Grafton, Sinnott-Armstrong.

12. Water and the Environment

04F: 2A

The purpose of this course is to explore both the physical and human dimensions of water and water management and to demonstrate that the environmental aspects of water management are both physically based and socially constructed. Topics include urban water supply, dams and dam removal, habitat degradation, floods, droughts, groundwater mining, hazardous waste management, snowmaking, and climate change. For each topic, water supply problems are discussed both in terms of their physical and social characteristics and in terms of how their definitions may serve to selectively benefit individual stakeholders. Relevant case studies with problem sets and discussions are used to demonstrate the social and physical dialectic associated with mitigating the environmental consequences of water related problems. Dist: TAS. Satisfies the Interdisciplinary Requirement (Class of 2004 and earlier). Magilligan, Renshaw.