Fall Term 2013 Courses
Worried about climate change and how we will live sustainably in the future? Join us to brainstorm and assess solutions together. This will be a course for first year students interested in learning how to evaluate potential solutions to current local and global environmental and social problems. The course will be co-taught by faculty across the curriculum at Hampshire and will include both large lectures and breakout working groups. The course will be divided into modules focused on specific problems and potential solutions, such as how the arts can help educate and engage the public in making positive changes for sustainable living; whether a cap-and-trade system can reduce carbon emissions efficiently and equitably; why humans are so resistant to changing our habits; or how we might ameliorate losses to biodiversity due to climate change. In addition to engagement in readings, lectures, discussion and activities, small teams of students will be expected to explore a problem in greater depth.
This course is an introduction to fundamental principles of optics as applied to image formation and holography. Each student will have a chance to produce two white-light visible holograms in our lab, as well as to undertake an individual project dealing with three dimensional image reproduction, holography, or more broadly defined optical phenomena. Topics will include geometric and physical optics, the nature and propagation of light, vision and color, photography, digital imaging, the Fourier transform and holography. Aesthetic considerations will be part of the course as well. Class will meet for one hour and twenty minutes twice a week, plus a lab of at least three hours for experimental investigations and holographic imaging. Projects will likely require more laboratory time. Advanced students wishing to help in the labs and pursue independent work should see the instructor.
Students in this course will learn about the biological function of selected human organs and systems through the study of actual medical cases. Not all human systems will be covered, but students will gain a good understanding of how diseases affect the body and how they are diagnosed. Working in small teams, students will develop diagnoses for medical cases through reviewing descriptions of patient histories, physical exams, and laboratory findings. A human biology text, medical texts on reserve, and Internet resources will help students track down information they need to solve these medical mysteries. Students will also learn to find and read scientific research articles on topics of their choosing and will learn to write analytical reviews of these articles. These reviews will form the basis of final papers in which students choose particular diseases or treatments to investigate in detail and present their findings to the class.
ATTENTION: CLASSROOM CHANGED TO CSC 333 (Third floor south)!
This course focuses on the science of human genetic and biological variation. How does variation come about in evolution? Which variations have adaptive and functional significance and which are "just differences"? What is the evolutionary explanation, distribution, and significance of human variation in, for example, sickle cell anemia, skin color and sports performance? How are individuals grouped, how are differences studied, and to what purpose? How did the idea of "natural" races arise and how and why, despite key scientific flaws, does it persist?
This semester we will focus on the idea of race as a genetic construct versus a variously lived, social reality (how we are raced and racism) and, in particular, how race is used historically and today in biomedical research to explain health differences among races. The main paper for this course will explore a health condition (or other pertinent variation) that differs by race and compare genetic and socio-political explanations.
Did you ever wonder why Jewish grandmothers who make gefilte fish from Norwegian sturgeon so frequently are parasitized by tapeworms? Maybe not, but who gets parasitized, when, and by what is highly significant to understanding the history of humankind. In this seminar we will read and think about the failure of modern (Western) medicine to eliminate most of the tropical diseases of Homo sapiens. We will also introduce the workings of Hampshire College. We will read R.S. Desowitz's Federal Bodysnatchers and the New Guinea Virus (2002) and P.J. Hotez's Forgotten People, Forgotten Diseases, and other articles from the medical and scientific literature. Each student, for an evaluation, must write three essays and give one seminar on the public health, medical, social aspects of one of these parasitic diseases (malaria, schistosomiasis, trypanosomiasis, kala-azar, Guinea worm, etc.) focusing on the disease in one particular tropical or subtropical country. You are encouraged to work in small groups on one parasite. All students are expected to participate in the seminar, to write three essays from the original literature, and to lead one seminar. During the seminar, we will spend time thinking and working on the skills needed for successful college-level work: reading, study habits, seminar skills, and writing. Collaborative work is expected throughout. Notes: Instructor permission is required for NS 353, not for NS 153.
Stress is a daily part of our lives that has become an intense subject of interest among scientists and the medical community. The body's responses to stress are linked to multiple health problems, but stress can also be overused as an explanation. In this course, we will examine the scientific evidence for the links between stress and human health issues such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and depression. This will include readings of primary scientific research papers and coverage of basic physiological mechanisms in humans and other animals. Students will learn techniques to measure stress, stress hormones and glucose regulation. In addition, as community service outreach, students will develop projects to explore the effectiveness of stress relief options in the college community.
In this course we will learn the fundamental chemical concepts of composition and stoichiometry, properties of matter, the gas laws, atomic structure, bonding and molecular structure, chemical reactions, and energy changes in chemical reactions. Considerable time will be devoted to learning the use of the periodic table as a way of predicting the chemical properties of elements. We will also emphasize application of those chemical principles to environmental, biological, industrial and day-to-day life situations. No previous background in chemistry is necessary but a working knowledge of algebra is essential, both because students will be expected to develop skill in solving a variety of numerical problems and because it is essential for understanding some of the subject matter. In the laboratory, basic skills, techniques of qualitative and quantitative analysis, and use of modern chemical instrumentation will be emphasized. We will also do two project-based labs, learn to understand the scientific methodology, and learn how to write scientific research reports. Chemistry I is the first term of a two-term course in general chemistry.
The beginning of a three-semester sequence in Physics, this course will concentrate mainly on mechanics with applications to astronomy. Topics will include, kinematics and dynamics in one and two dimensions, planetary motion, conservation of energy and momentum, rigid bodies and rotation, and relativity.
The course is calculus based and may use computer modeling --if you wish-- but its education experimenting emphasis is on "flipping" the classroom to develop real understanding as well as numerical facility. It is highly recommended that students take calculus BEFORE or in the same semester that they begin this course. Weekly laboratory/field work is required. The labs are grouped into major projects. Evaluations will be based on class participation, problem sets, and laboratory project reports.
"Flipping" means you will watch a world famous instructor give the lecture as homework; this allows you to go over and over those parts which need clarification. You then write leading questions for those parts you want to know more about-- those questions are your admission ticket, and in the class we play, work and have fun with the physics you have learned!
The science of Ecology investigates the distribution and abundance of organisms and their interactions with biotic and abiotic environments. This course will serve as an introduction to major areas of ecological study: population, community, and ecosystem ecology. Topics will include how populations are distributed in and limited by their environments, how organisms interact, how niches are determined, how ecosystems are structured, and how energy and nutrients flow through the biotic environment. A basic text in ecology as well as primary literature will guide lectures and discussions. We will include direct investigations of ecological phenomena in natural environments, and participants should be prepared for working in field conditions. Students will present their work in written and oral form.
Agricultural sustainability is rooted in the viability of each individual farm. Ecologically and socially responsible farming practices can only be successful within the structure of a farm business that relies on effective resource management, efficient food production, and sales. Thus anyone interested in achieving sustainability through small scale, organic, local farming must first understand how farms function and then consider how to integrate sustainable practices to maximize positive impact. This course will consider the kinds of farming we see in our local area, and the guiding principles that farmers use to set up and structure their farming operations for success. Along the way, we will cover the sciences that inform farm management decisions and principles. Focus areas in farm management will be crop planning, crop rotation, soil fertility, insect and disease control, direct marketing, business structure/money management, cover crops, local/organic/sustainable/IPM, greenhouse management, winter production, and farm ecosystems. Focus areas in the sciences will be insect life cycles/ecology, soil science, plant physiology, and crop pathogens. Coursework will include visits to nearby farms, discussions, readings, short assignments/papers on specific topics, and the option for independent work. Jarrett Man is a current owner/manager of The Kitchen Garden, former manager of Stone Soup Farm and Red Fire Farm, and an alum of Hampshire.
How and why did the foods we eat today get here? Who first thought of domesticating corn or wheat, and how did they do it? How have the ways food is grown changed over time and in different parts of the world? The central theme of this course is the relationship between human cultures and food systems over time. The course considers the ways in which the cultivation of food is both shaped by the ecosystems in which it is grown and changes that ecosystem, both positively and negatively. In addition the course asks how political and social forces affect how food is grown and distributed. Students will discover how an understanding of these dynamics influences our contemporary relationship to the foods we eat. Issues such as the conservation of biological and cultural diversity; the development and sustainability of local ecological knowledge; the loss of top soil and ways in which it can be rebuilt using both innovative and traditional farming methods; the effect of climate change on agriculture; and political policies concerning agriculture, trade and the environment will all be addressed in the course and in students' individual research projects.
Are we alone in the universe? The essence of that question has likely been a source of inspiration since the dawn of humanity. The modern science of astrobiology is a transdisciplinary study of extraterrestrial life in the universe drawing from active research in astrophysics, biology, chemistry, and geology. A microbiologist, an astronomer, and a planetary scientist have teamed up to take you through this inter-disciplinary course, where we will look at the history of extraterrestrial debate and analyze the science behind astrobiology. We will investigate the properties of life as we know it and extrapolate these properties to consider the potential for simple life forms to exist on Mars and elsewhere in our solar system, to the possibility of intelligent life on habitable planets near distant stars, and finally the implications of extraterrestrial life to life on Earth.
Calculus provides the language and some powerful tools for the study of change. As such, it is an essential subject for those interested in growth and decay processes, motion, and the determination of functional relationships in general. Using student-selected models from primary literature, we will investigate dynamical systems from economics, ecology, epidemiology and physics. Computers are essential tools in the exploration of such processes and will be integral to the course. No previous programming experience is required. Topics will include: 1) dynamical systems, 2) basic concepts of calculus-- rate of change, differentiation, limits, 3) differential equations, 4) computer programming, simulation, and approximation, 5) exponential and circular functions. While the course is self-contained, students are strongly urged to follow it up by taking NS 316-Linear Algebra or NS 261-Calculus II to further develop their facility with the concepts. In addition to regular substantial problem sets, each student will apply the concepts to recently published models of their choosing.
You can find the textbook here.
Biochemistry is the study of the molecules and chemical reactions of life. Considering the vast diversity of living organisms, one might also expect them to be composed of significantly different biomolecules, and to use unique mechanisms for obtaining energy and communicating different biological information. To the contrary, the principles and language of biochemistry are common to all life: in general, the same chemical compounds and the same metabolic processes found in bacteria exist in organisms as distantly related as whales. To fully appreciate life, people should consider their biochemistry. Classroom topics will include the structure and function of proteins and carbohydrates, metabolism and bioenergetics, but will not include nucleic acids. Prerequisite: none, but Organic Chemistry is desirable.
This introductory course covers descriptive and inferential statistics, with examples drawn from the fields of ecology, agriculture, public health, and clinical medicine. The approach will be applied and hands-on; students will collect and analyze data as a class, design and carry out small individual projects, complete twice-weekly problem sets, and read and interpret data from the literature. We will use the statistical software program, Minitab, as well as Excel. Topics include description, estimation, and basic techniques for hypothesis testing: z-scores, t-tests, chi-square, correlation, regression, one-way and two-way analysis of variance, and odds ratios. More advanced techniques such as multi-way anovas and multiple regression will be briefly noted. We will also discuss the role of statistics in the scientific method and the philosophy of science, although the emphasis of the course will be on practical applications in design and analysis.
Chemistry and physics of solar energy and energy storage technology Harvesting energy from the sun has become an important element in implementing a sustainable energy future. The basic components of a solar electricity system, photovoltaic cells and batteries, are undergoing dramatic innovative development, and the 60-100% annual growth rate of solar electricity generation indicates that photovoltaic technology has become an affordable and practical sustainable energy source. This course will examine the chemistry and physics of photovoltaics and batteries, as well as recent research developments promising higher efficiency, lower cost, and new possibilities for implementation. We will consider these devices from a basic scientific point of view, perform simple experiments to elucidate their properties, read the current literature on the design, fabrication, and deployment of these devices, and explore how they work in energy systems . Students will propose and carry out a final project demonstrating their understanding of these ideas.
Number theory is the branch of mathematics that deals with the properties of whole numbers. This is an area in which simplicity and complexity meet in an astonishing way. Therefore, in this course you will be presented with problems that, in most cases, are very easy to state, but whose degrees of difficulty range from very easy to incredibly difficult. We will focus on learning the tools and techniques that are used to attack problems in the field and beyond. By following an inquisitive approach in this exploration of the theory of numbers, we will help sharpen problem solving skills, the basic weapon of a professional mathematician. You will also learn and apply basic principles used in mathematical research. Topics include divisibility, primes and factorization, congruency, arithmetical functions, quadratic reciprocity, primitive roots, Dirichlet's series, and other topics at our discretion and as time permits.
The cutting edge of biology and technology is headed in the direction of microscopes. Microscopes provide beautiful data about complex systems in a variety of mechanisms. However, the results can often be difficult to interpret. In this course, we will study microscopy examples that have contributed greatly to our understanding of biology. We will use a few different types of microscopes and study the physics behind the image. Additionally, we will process and analyze new microscopy data from real research laboratories to contribute to the cutting edge of research.
This hands-on course examines food in the broadest sense, from its production in the field to its complex role in health promotion and disease prevention. Students learn basic principals of agriculture, plant science, nutrition and epidemiology, with an emphasis on the original research linking food and food production to human health. Readings for the class are drawn from the primary and secondary scientific literature and from agriculture and nutrition textbooks. Students also assist with the weekly vegetable harvest on Hampshire's organic farm. This is an ideal course for students who are serious about scientific inquiry, community service and a few hours of farm work each week.
When the HIV virus was first identified as the cause of AIDS, people never imagined there would still be no cure 30 years later. In this seminar, we will read about the milestones of HIV research and discuss why finding a cure or vaccine has proven to be very difficult. Students can expect to learn about the life cycle of the HIV virus, methods of transmission, current tools for research, and social and political issues associated with the epidemic. We will examine different approaches to studying HIV and assess what is still unknown about its biology. At the end of the course, students will use what they have learned to develop their own ideas for curing AIDS.
Please note: This is a science course. We will have discussions about the social and political aspects because they are important in understanding why biology is not enough in the fight against AIDS. However, the focus of assignments will mostly be on biology.
In this project-focused course we will research how teeth provide insights into health, nutrition, diet, and origins. Teeth develop in utero and during early life, and then are nearly inert. Because teeth grow somewhat like trees (teeth also have growth rings), one can use teeth as windows onto past lifetimes and geological times. We will learn how to read the record of nutrition and health from tooth size, shape and chemistry. Examples of hands-on projects include gender differences in prenatal nutrition among the Maya, lead pollution in contemporary Egypt and Mexico, and the geographic origin of enslaved Africans. This course is particularly recommended for students with interests in anthropology, archaeology, public health, and nutrition.
Natural organisms provide an unparalleled palette for almost every color and pattern imaginable. Why do organisms have stripes and spots? Why blue or red? This course will explore how and why various colors and patterns are produced in the biological world. We will investigate biochemical, genetic (and epigenetic), developmental, and environmental mechanisms as well as simple mathematical models to explain their production. Additionally, we will link patterns/colors to their functions, such as defense, warning, camouflage, communication, mate attraction, etc. We will use both applied and primary scientific research literature to explore topics in these areas. Students will research specific aspects or questions and present their findings in written and oral format.
This course will explore environmental pollution problems covering four major areas: the atmosphere, the hydrosphere, the biosphere, and energy issues. Several controversial topics, including acid rain, automobile emission, ozone layer depletion, mercury, lead and cadmium poisoning, pesticides, solid waste disposal, and problems of noise and thermal pollution will be addressed. We will emphasize some of the environmental issues affecting our immediate community, as well as those in developing nations. We will also do several project-based labs, gain understanding of scientific methodology, and learn how to write scientific research reports. Students are expected to engage in scientific inquiry and to view their investigations in broader context, to gain a clear sense of the scientific process, and to develop quantitative, oral and written communication skills. Class participation, satisfactory work on the required class projects, literature critiques, and laboratory/field reports are required for evaluation.
DISTRIBUTION: Physical and Biological Sciences (PBS)
CUMULATIVE SKILLSWriting and Research Quantitative Skills Independent Work
Withgott and Brennan, "Environment: The Science Behind The Stories" [W&B, ESBS] 4e, 2010