What are COLA Classes?
COLA 1500 courses are one-credit, graded seminars open to all new first-year students in the College of A&S; they are taught in the fall term only. Approximately 80% of the content will be as described below with 20% of the course devoted to group advising issues. The instructors of the following courses will be the advisor for the students in the class until such time that they declare a major. Click here to read some COLA testimonials.
UVA has been awarded a three-year, $5 million grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to build equity-minded, anti-racist, place-based educational and post-doctoral programs. One component includes eight COLA classes for incoming undergraduate students. The COLA classes marked as RPE below are part if this initiative and meet the goal of introducing places, their histories, and their legacies that have shaped Charlottesville and central Virginia while also teaching the fundamentals of place-based and community-based learning.
The Souder Family COLA Classes
With extreme gratitude to the Souder Family for funding the following COLA classes.
|2021||Are We Alone in the Universe?||Edward Murphy|
|2021||Edgar Allen Poe||Greg Hays|
|2020||Hidden Histories of UVA||Kirt von Daacke|
|2020||Edgar Allen Poe||Greg Hays|
|2019||Hidden Histories of UVA||Kirt von Daacke|
|2019||Early 19th Century & George Washington||William Ferraro|
|2018||Hidden Histories of UVA||Kirt von Daacke|
|2018||Early 19th Century & George Washington||William Ferraro|
|2017||Hidden Histories of UVA||Kirt von Daacke|
|2017||Early 19th Century & George Washington||
|2016||Awakening Creative Potential||Gweneth West|
|2016||The Culture of College and the Structure of UVA||Richard Handler|
|2015||Slavery, Jefferson and UVA||Kirt von Daacke and Maurie McInnis|
|2015||The 21st Century Labor Market||President Teresa Sullivan|
|2014||Discovering Jefferson's Academical Village||Kirt von Daacke and Maurie McInnis|
|2013||Hidden Histories of UVA||Phyllis Leffler|
Read about the COLA experience here.
Fall 2022 COLA Class Descriptions
How to Read a Play (Marianne Kubik)
Section 001 | 10958 | Monday | 12:30PM-01:45PM
If a play is an artistic work performed for a live audience, how do we read a playscript for the source material it is? Like an orchestral score, a script is only the recipe, waiting for a creative team to combine its ingredients into a living, sensory experience. While traditional scripts clearly outline guides for production, guides by innovative storytellers might be buried, even elusive, on the page. We’ll compare some of these recent award-winning scripts to identify the textural complexities in language, action, rhythm and musicality for clues to understanding the playwright’s intentions, and we’ll set up our own creative teams to bring parts of these scripts to life. This course isn’t just for theatre geeks; it's for anyone interested in discovering how a play can be appreciated as literature but is more deeply experienced collectively in performance.
God and Nature in America (Heather Warren)
Section 002 | 14390 | Monday | 02:00PM-03:15PM
This course examines how Americans have viewed the relation between God, nature, and themselves since the founding of the United States. We will examine what selected outdoorsmen and women considered to be "divine," "holy," or "sacred" and why they believed the way they did, among them John Muir and Annie Dillard. Our class will involve some outdoors time, a few short, two-page papers, discussion, and guests from such offices as Career Services, the Writing Center, and the Center for Undergraduate Research.
Great Speeches (James Ryan / Margaret Grundy Noland / Matthew Weber)
Section 003 | 10959 | Tuesday | 04:00PM-05:15PM [This class will meet in the Madison Hall Conference Room]
What's the finest speech you’ve ever heard? Why was it memorable and what made it essential or inspiring? This course will examine the impact and art of a well-constructed and delivered speech. Surveying the gamut of speeches throughout history, this class will seek to provide a deeper understanding into this time honored craft and the historical context in which they were delivered. Incorporating guest visits from former presidential speechwriters and politicians, to poets and communications professionals, Pres. Ryan will lead this exploration into the power of speeches, drawing from his own personal experiences as both UVA President and former dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Assignments will involve active learning, the development of the tools and skills to deliver a great speech, and include the presentation of a fully constructed speech and critiques of pre-existing works. (Note: Each instructor will serve as the advisor for 5 students in the class.)
Are We Alone in the Universe? (Edward Murphy)
Section 004 | 10960 | Tuesday | 09:30AM-10:45AM
Our galaxy contains hundreds of billions of stars. If only a tiny fraction of those stars have intelligent life, there could be millions of intelligent civilizations in the galaxy. Given that our galaxy is 13 billion years old, some of these civilizations should have been able to fully colonize the galaxy long ago. And yet, we have no evidence that they are visiting, or have ever visited, Earth. In fact, we have no evidence of any extraterrestrial life. All the evidence points to the fact that we are the first, and possibly the only, intelligent civilization in the galaxy. In this course, we will address the Fermi paradox, the belief that intelligent life is common, that they should have colonized our solar system long ago, and yet we see no evidence that they exist. This topic is multidisciplinary and will include topics from astronomy, biology (evolution of intelligence), chemistry (origin of life), engineering (spaceflight and the difficulty of traveling between the stars), and sociology (do technological civilizations destroy themselves).
Doing Nothing (Natasha Heller)
Section 005 | 10961 | Tuesday | 03:30PM-04:45PM
You are probably at UVA because you want to do something (or many things). But doing nothing has also been valued as an essential part of a good life, and as a way to protest the demands of everyday life. In this class we will consider dolce far niente, niksen, tangping , 躺平 and what "doing nothing" means in different times and places. We will look at fictional characters that exemplify doing nothing, and experiment with how to do nothing ourselves.
The Gods of TV (Kevin Rose)
Section 006 | 10962 | Tuesday | 2:00PM - 3:15PM
Is religion still relevant in today's pop culture? We’ll look at popular reality TV shows like Real Housewives of Salt Lake City, as well as music videos from famous artists like Kendrick Lamar, to think about ways that religion shows up in the media we consume. As you make your transition to college, this will also be a chance to reflect on the way that things we learn in the classroom can help us gain a deeper understanding and think more critically about the stuff we encounter in everyday life.
Conservatism (Matt Davis)
Section 007 | 12508 | Tuesday | 11:00AM-12:15PM
Conservatism is recognized as an important strand of modern political thought and a rival of liberalism and socialism. But what is conservatism? And what do we mean when we say that a particular person or idea is “conservative”? This course will begin with a brief historical unit that looks at the origins of modern conservatism in Edmund Burke’s response to the French Revolution. We will then consider five hypotheses about what conservatism is: 1. Conservatism is a stubborn (unthinking?) defense of existing arrangements; 2. Conservatism is, at bottom, a religious outlook. 3. Conservatism is a view of human nature as imperfect—and imperfectible. 4. Conservatism is a rejection of "rationalism in politics" and central planning as inadequate strategies for dealing with the complexity of human affairs. 5. Conservatism is less a matter of ideas and more a matter of psychological outlook or temperament. We will read conservatives like Edmund Burke and Russell Kirk but also critics of conservatism like Thomas Paine, and our readings will include not only nonfictional essays but also several short stories. The focus will be on conservatism as a general mindset or way of looking at the world rather than on Republican and Democratic positions on current political issues. Students from all sections of the political spectrum are welcome, as are students who have no definite political opinions. (Also offered as Section 018)
The Good Place [Karl Shuve)
Section 008 | 12509 | Tuesday | 09:30AM-10:45AM
We will work our way through The Good Place—a sitcom about a woman who, having just died, finds herself in “the good place,” only to discover that she is there due to a case of mistaken identity and that she really belongs in "the bad place." By watching episodes and reading supplemental texts, we will examine a number of concepts in both Religious Studies and Philosophy, such as the afterlife, moral agency, friendship, love, and justice.
[RPE COLA ] Multilingual UVA (Kate Kostelnik)
Section 009 | 12510 | Monday | 05:00PM-06:15PM
In this COLA we will learn about contrastive rhetorics, code meshing, and anti-racist pedagogies; specifically, we’ll look at how the UVA Writing Center supports multilingual and second-dialect writers on Grounds. In addition to discussing the purposes and pedagogies of writing centers, students will observe writing center sessions, use the center to work on their own writing, and learn from scholars who will speak on African American English, World Englishes, Students’ Rights to Their own Language, and the writing center’s role in “promoting a more multicultural and multilingual worldview.” In doing so, writing centers prepare the academy for the "complex cultural, linguistic, and national negotiations with difference that characterize our increasingly globalized world." Additionally, students will explore and write about spaces and organizations that support multilingual and multicultural students, faculty, and staff on Grounds (MCS, OAAA, and VISAS). We’ll also visit community spaces and learn about local organizations (Sin Barreras, International Neighbors, and Computers 4 Kids) and volunteer opportunities in Charlottesville. First-years will learn about collaborating with multilingual members of the community and tutors in the writing center, a service that will support them throughout their UVA careers. Although appealing to all students wishing to understand our diverse university and city, This COLA will specifically avail multilingual and international students to campus resources and opportunities to connect with Charlottesville’s significant international and refugee community.
Why Haven't We Cured Cancer? (David Kittlesen)
Section 010 | 11574 | Tuesday | 12:30PM-01:45PM
Nearly half a century ago President Nixon signed the National Cancer Act of 1971 into law, an event generally considered a “declaration of war” on cancer. Yet, as every one of us knows, this war is far from over. Is it "winnable"? What, if any, battles have we won? Which are we still fighting? What have we learned over the past decades about the enemy? One objective of this course is for students to acquire a deeper understanding of the characteristics, the biology (cellular/molecular defects), the causes, the treatments, and the prevention of cancer. Crucially related are the human aspects of this disease, including ethical issues associated with clinical trials. Another objective of this course is to promote the development of critical thinking skills. Being a COLA seminar, a significant emphasis will also be placed on advising issues related to all four years of the college experience. Neither an advanced background in biology, nor an intent to major in biology, is required. An interest in the topic and the desire to learn more are the only prerequisites.
[RPE COLA] Supporting Our Community around 10th and Page: Social Equity and Early Childhood Education (Angeline Lillard)
Section 011 | 11853 | Tuesday | 11:00AM - 12:15PM
This COLA centers around a partnership between the Psychology Department, the Equity Center, and two community organizations to provide Montessori childcare in an area called 10th and Page. We will explore Charlottesville, the University, how culture shapes us, the processes of Science, and alternatives to our standard Education. The course will journey through Charlottesville places towards a reconceptualization of how we educate children in a way that corresponds to natural human learning. The Black and White experience will be woven throughout, with an eye to how these invented “races” may one day return to the fact that we are really one humanity, temporarily and historically separated by myths and policies made to support them. You will be introduced to basic Child Psychology in the context of place and community-engaged research.
Silk Road Travelers: Merchants, Monks and Covert Operatives (Shawn Lyons)
Section 013 | 11694 | Monday | 11:00AM-12:15PM
While a general introduction to the history of the silk road, our seminar is mainly concerned with today’s travelers who are following in the foot-steps of Marco Polo. Why would a modern biking enthusiast or a food writer travel nearly 3,000 miles through China, Central Asia, Afghanistan and Iran? Who are the new international merchants eager to wheel-and-deal in the ancient bazaars of Bukhara, Samarkand and Kashgar? Is the silk road, upon which Buddhist and Christian monks once conducted their pilgrimages, still important to the contemporary world’s religions? Does the silk road remain a land of intrigue, in which imperial powers compete for influence and domination, not unlike Britain and Russia who throughout the nineteenth century each deployed numerous spies to Afghanistan in what Rudyard Kipling called the “Great Game.” We will discuss excerpts from a variety of these modern travel narratives.
Visualizing Sports Data (Jeff Holt)
Section 014 | 12511 | Wednesday | 02:00PM-03:15PM
The world has been revolutionized by recent improvements in collecting, storing, and analyzing data. One powerful way to extract information from data and convey information to others is through visualizations. In this course we will focus on visualizations applied to sports data (widely used in sports analytics), but the visualization methods we will use are applicable to numerous other fields. The course will be hand-on and built around a sequence of visualization assignments. Included will be an introduction to the statistical software R, which will be used to prepare data and generate visualizations. Blended into the course will be presentations on topics such as study abroad programs, career services, course selection, and other academic advising.
One Great Book (Cristina Griffin)
Section 015 | 12512 | Thursday | 09:30AM-10:45AM
What makes something or someone "great"? In this course, we will explore the concept of greatness together by reading one recent novel that has been hailed as "great" or "the best." We will read the novel slowly over the course of the semester, digesting the book in small manageable increments each week. As we read and discuss together, we will amass different conceptions of greatness and question what cultural values these definitions reveal. Who has the authority to declare something or someone great? How are these definitions useful and how are they harmful? How do these ideas of greatness create or resist social hierarchies? Along the way, we will also think self-reflectively about our own personal relationships to the idea of greatness. What does striving to be great look like in our own lives? President Ryan has said that he strives for the University of Virginia to be “both great and good”; as you begin your journey at UVA, how do you want to define being “both great and good” for yourself?
Mindfulness: Awareness and Habit (Sandra Seidel)
Section 016 | 12513 | Wednesday | 03:30PM-04:45PM
Mindfulness practices have been demonstrated to help increase attention, reduce stress and develop self-awareness. Through formal and informal practices that bring curiosity to thoughts, feelings and emotions, students will develop the ability to pay attention to the present moment. Mindful meditation, movement, walking and eating will be explored. Daily habits of mind and action will be cultivated that impact attitudes to foster academic success and personal happiness.
The Founding of the US as a Peace Project (Armin Mattes)
Section 017 | 12180 | Thursday | 03:30PM-04:45PM
This course offers an unusual view on the founding of the United States by looking at the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution of 1787/88 as experiments in international cooperation. The creation of the United States will thus be examined as both a theoretical contribution to the long tradition of European peace projects from Dante to Kant and an attempt to put such a plan into practice.
Conservatism (Matthew Davis)
Section 018 | 11695 | Tuesday | 12:30PM-01:45PM
Conservatism is recognized as an important strand of modern political thought and a rival of liberalism and socialism. But what is conservatism? And what do we mean when we say that a particular person or idea is “conservative”? This course will begin with a brief historical unit that looks at the origins of modern conservatism in Edmund Burke’s response to the French Revolution. We will then consider five hypotheses about what conservatism is: 1. Conservatism is a stubborn (unthinking?) defense of existing arrangements; 2. Conservatism is, at bottom, a religious outlook. 3. Conservatism is a view of human nature as imperfect -- and imperfectible. 4. Conservatism is a rejection of "rationalism in politics" and central planning as inadequate strategies for dealing with the complexity of human affairs. 5. Conservatism is less a matter of ideas and more a matter of psychological outlook or temperament. We will read conservatives like Edmund Burke and Russell Kirk but also critics of conservatism like Thomas Paine, and our readings will include not only nonfictional essays but also several short stories. The focus will be on conservatism as a general mindset or way of looking at the world rather than on Republican and Democratic positions on current political issues. Students from all sections of the political spectrum are welcome, as are students who have no definite political opinions. (Also offered as Section 007)
Olympia to Tokyo: The Olympic Games in History (Bonnie Hagerman)
Section 019 | 11610 | Tuesday | 02:00PM-03:15PM
This class will use the Olympic Games to examine issues important not only in the history of American sport but in society as a whole. We will discuss the role of women in the Olympic Games, the Olympics as the site of civil rights activism, and the fight to control performance enhancing drugs. We will also examine how religion, ability, and sexual orientation have figured into the Olympic experience and how the media frames our view of the Olympic experience.
Brooklyn's In the House – Rhetorical Criticism of Jay-Z and the Notorious B.I.G. (Connie Chic Smith)
Section 020 | 11723 | Thursday | 11:00AM-12:15PM
The course provides an examination of the rhetoric of two of the most celebrated Hip Hop artist who just happen to be from Brooklyn, NY. The musical work of Shawn Carter, aka, Jay-Z and the late Christopher Wallace, aka the Notorious B.I.G., will serve as the launching pad to discuss the messages in the music, the common themes in their music, and their perceptions of their beloved Brooklyn. Students participating in this course will learn (1) Hip Hop music’s connection to the oral tradition in African American rhetoric and culture, and (2) how to employ various qualitative research methods used in rhetorical criticism to unearth deep-seated and often subconscious meanings.
[RPE COLA] Back in the Picture: Enslaved Laborers and their Descendants at UVA (Lilian Feitosa)
Section 022 | 11854 | Monday | 03:30PM-04:45PM
In this course, we will collaborate with the Descendants of the Enslaved Communities and the Equity Center to learn about the role of slavery in the history of the University of Virginia, and recent efforts to document this history and bring its centrality into view. We will learn about enslavement in Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello and how it is represented in books for younger readers and history books. We will have a guided visit to UVA’s Memorial to Enslaved Laborers and do the UVA Walking Tour about Enslaved African Americans at the University. We will also read and discuss the report of the President’s Commission on Slavery and the University. There will be various field trip opportunities possibly to Monticello, Highlands, and Montpelier and we will have the chance to hear directly from various Descendants of the Enslaved Communities.
[RPE COLA] Home Away from Home: The narratives of African Refugees (Anne Rotich)
Section 023 | 12614 | Wednesday | 03:30PM-04:45PM
This course examines the experiences of African refugees through the lens of race, ethnicity, and migration. We discuss notions of displacement, genocide, ethnic and racial formation among other factors. Through an engagement with the International Rescue Committee in Charlottesville students will engage African refugees and immigrants in area as we address some key issues they face as they create new homes such as, cultural barriers, language barriers, racism, and other societal issues. Utilizing literary texts, we will examine the historical roots of ethnic and racial conflicts, causes of displacement, and what it means to be a ‘refugee’. It is expected that this experiential learning will help students understand notions of being an immigrant and a refugee away from home and develop mutually beneficial ways of engaging refugees.
This course is intended to engage the African refugees in Charlottesville area. Because of my previous experience with the teaching a Community Engagement Course(CCE), I plan to introduce a similar experience to COLA students. I will bring in speakers from the community to the classroom in case of virtual learning and I will work with International Rescue Committee in Charlottesville to discuss opportunities that can be available for the COLA students to interact and engage our African community members. Some opportunities that am thinking of can be; students meeting the community members in the community gardens or local markets around Charlottesville organized by IRC; or spending a day volunteering at the IRC. Such meetings are intended to be interactive for the students while supporting local activities.
[RPE COLA] Black Virginians in Blue (Brian Neumann)
Section 024 | 11720 | Wednesday | 03:30PM-04:45PM
For more than a century, the public memory of the Civil War in Albemarle County, Virginia, focused almost entirely on the area’s Confederate history. Local leaders unveiled towering Confederate monuments and claimed that the county had staunchly and overwhelmingly supported the Confederacy. This public memory, however, marginalized and excluded African Americans, who made up the majority of the county’s 19th-century population. This COLA course helps uncover their stories, shedding light on the 257 Black men from Albemarle County who served in the Union army. Building on the Nau Civil War Center’s Black Virginians in Blue digital project, this course uses these local stories to examine national themes. It underscores the tragedies of the domestic slave trade and the hardships of military service. It demonstrates African Americans’ determination to assert their freedom, serve their country, and demand justice and equality in the wake of war. And it highlights the fault lines within the Civil War South, and the centrality of Black Southern Unionists to the defeat of the Confederacy.
Exercises in Creativity (Keith Driver)
Section 026 | 11722 | Friday | 02:00PM-03:15PMDoes creativity result from freedom or constraint? From chance or design? From conscious choice or subconscious intuition? In this Cola section we will explore these questions by looking at the work and theories of 20th century artist groups like OuLiPo, the Surrealists, and Dada. We’ll test their theories with regular exercises as we attempt to use art to make meaning out of experience.
Ordinary to Extraordinary: How the Arts Transform Life (Ari Blatt)
Section 027 | 11734 | Monday | 11:00AM-12:15PM
Students in this comparative, interdisciplinary advising seminar will explore the myriad ways in which artists manage to find, and represent, beauty in the banal. While critical readings on the aesthetics of the everyday will inform our discussions of work from the modern and contemporary periods that testifies to the transformative power of art, a series of short assignments will encourage students to become more sensitive observers—and practitioners—of the quotidien. Topics may include, but are not limited to, urban poetics (Baudelaire, Rimbaud, Whitman, Beastie Boys); extraordinary edibles (Manet, Proust, asparagus); shocking Surrealist objects; how to make a good metaphor; photographers of everyday life (from Atget to Gursky); making something from “nothing” (Flaubert, Toussaint, Seinfeld).
Chemistry of Life (Jelena Samonina)
Section 028 | 11743 | Friday | 12:30PM - 1:45PM
The Chemistry for Life course will take you on a fascinating journey through introductory general, organic, and biological chemistry to help you understand how molecules are created, why they react, how they interact, and their roles in living organisms. We will focus on the oxygen atom by investigating and tracing oxygen (including molecules containing oxygen) in processes that occur in nature and the human body. The journey will take you from small to giant molecules such as DNA, RNA, proteins (natural polymers) and plastics (synthetic polymers) and their role in everyday life. Throughout the course you will discover how chemistry principles enable homeostasis, and how disruption of the chemical balance gives rise to genetic mutations, metabolic disorders, and diseases. You will find out how we use chemical principles to develop diagnostic tests and design drugs for the targeted therapies. No previous knowledge of chemistry is required.
[RPE COLA] Performing Acts of Justice and Equity (Eric Ramirez-Weaver)
Section 030 | 11903 | Friday | 11:00AM-12:15PM
This COLA course will introduce students to the transformative possibilities of community-based theater and dance. Emphasizing the rich resources in central Virginia from Charlottesville to Richmond, we explore the local history of the Theater Owners Booking Association (TOBA), and the ways that vaudeville and tap dance have played a prominent role in defining social and cultural mores, or reflected the inequalities of the Jim Crow era. This course will explore twin dual trajectories. On the one hand, the life and legacy of Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, as cultivated through the enduring work of the Copasetics, supplies one personal connection to this material. The Copasetics through Charles "Honi" Coles and Brenda Bufalino trained my teachers at the American Tap Dance Foundation. On the other hand, students will learn through a series of public outreaches how to study performance historically, and how to use performance to tell the living history of great performers. The graded work for the course will result in a public performance of student composed, rehearsed and performed work, celebrating the legacy and contributions of African-American artists in our region of Virginia. Our community partners include: the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center, Paramount Theater, Live Arts, and Charlottesville Ballet.
One Great Book (Cristina Griffin)
Section 031 | 11986 | Tuesday | 02:00PM-03:15PM
What makes something or someone "great"? In this course, we will explore the concept of greatness together by reading one recent novel that has been hailed as "great" or "the best." We will read the novel slowly over the course of the semester, digesting the book in small manageable increments each week. As we read and discuss together, we will amass different conceptions of greatness and question what cultural values these definitions reveal. Who has the authority to declare something or someone great? How are these definitions useful and how are they harmful? How do these ideas of greatness create or resist social hierarchies? Along the way, we will also think self-reflectively about our own personal relationships to the idea of greatness. What does striving to be great look like in our own lives? President Ryan has said that he strives for the University of Virginia to be "both great and good," as you begin your journey at UVA, how do you want to define being "both great and good" for yourself?
[RPE COLA] What's in a Name? Negotiating Race and Local Spaces (Shilpa Davé)
Section 032 | 11987 | Wednesday | 02:00PM-03:15PM
In his article, A Rose by Any Other Name, Daniel Nakashima discusses how language and race, and the politics of naming are particularly loaded and complicated for people with multi-racial heritage. He says, “in a diverse society, we read names as signifiers not only of one’s individual identity and membership in a particular family, but of one’s membership in a particular racial/ethnic, and or cultural group” (page 114).
Using an interdisciplinary approach involving media, literature, art, and history, this class explores the heritage and background of our personal names and how we think about naming in our own local spaces at UVA and Charlottesville and other spaces. How does naming and the ability to name create, challenge, and modify the history of the place around us? How do names indicate cultural/ethnic/racial identity and how do names complicate multi-racial identity and immigrant stories? What are the local indigenous names that we know about and how have they changed? Students will visit special collections at UVA and engage with community groups to learn about the history of community group names and building names.
Performing UVA (Elizabeth Ozment)
Section 034 | 11989 | Monday | 03:30PM-04:45PM
What does it mean "to perform," "to present," "to stage"? This seminar will examine UVa from a performance perspective. When considering a wide range of practices and environments, we will discover that practically anything can be studied as performance.
The Good Friend (Cliff Maxwell)
Section 035 | 12005 | Tuesday | 09:30AM-10:45AM
In the context of college life and beyond, what does it mean to have and be a good friend? What is the nature of friendship, and how can it be integral to a successful and happy college experience? We will explore the qualities needed to be a good friend in Eastern and Western philosophical contexts, and how developing those qualities can lead to wisdom and compassion—skills that can assist us in our interactions with others, to all become “better” human beings.
[RPE COLA] Slavery and the Racial Legacies of the Founders (Tyson Reeder)
Section 100 | 12006 | Thursday | 09:30AM-10:45AM
How should public commemorations (monuments, art, ceremonies, exhibits) reflect the paradoxical histories of freedom and slavery in the United States? In this course, you will uncover and analyze the complicated legacies of freedom and slavery bequeathed by two founders who lived in the Charlottesville area—James Madison and Thomas Jefferson. During the first part of the course, you will learn the historical context of slavery and liberty in Madison and Jefferson’s Virginia. You will then possess the tools necessary to analyze the ways many Americans are using art, music, and museum exhibits to confront or reconcile their seemingly contradictory legacies. In addition to helping you appreciate America’s nuanced past, this course will help you develop essential skills of evidence evaluation, critical thinking, and persuasive writing and speaking. It will give you tools and skills you need to meet success at UVA and beyond. Field trips! This course includes two field trips, free to students, to Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello (September 10) and James Madison’s Montpelier (September 24).
Don’t Worry, Be Happy? (Christina Neuhaus)
Section 037 | 12073 | Thursday | 03:30PM-04:45PM
From Thomas Jefferson’s "Pursuit of Happiness" to Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop, narratives of well-being have long been at the very center of American culture. Open up your social media and chances are, you’ll be inundated with messages of self-improvement and the promise that this product, that ‘easy’ lifestyle change, or these affirmations will finally help you achieve your goals. And while society today (and Gen Z in particular) arguably has become more comfortable with discussing issues surrounding mental health or trauma, the line between genuine self-care and toxic positivity can often be quite blurry indeed.
In this class, we will analyze and discuss how our definitions of physical, emotional, and mental well-being have evolved and how they relate to broader notions of race, class, and equity. We will also connect and talk to various resources around Grounds and in the broader Charlottesville community to see how they are tackling these issues and to best equip you to thrive during your time at UVa.
Intelligence Analysis (Jeb Livingood)
Section 038 | 12080 | Wednesday | 11:00AM-12:15PM
This course briefly examines some of the U.S. intelligence community’s greatest failures—such as failing to adequately warn of the attacks on 9/11 and incorrectly assessing Saddam Hussein’s Weapons of Mass Destruction program—as well as some of its successes, like locating Osama bin Laden in Pakistan in 2011. Students will examine some of the common analytical biases and blind spots that have led to national intelligence failures, as well as learn some of the structured analytical techniques that help reduce bias. While this course cannot promise to train its students for the next “Mission Impossible,” it might help them understand how their thinking can become impaired—and be improved upon—no matter what major they eventually choose.
From Digital Typography to Blockchain and Cryptography: Transnational Aspects of Information (Zvi Gilboa)
Section 039 | 12181 | Tuesday | 05:00PM-06:15PM
Since the early days of the web and with the advent of search engines, social media, data mining and deep learning, as well as hardware affordability and increasingly faster network connections, the notion of a "global village" had not only dominated contemporary discourse, but had also been widely considered a done deal and a fact, and thus a reality which should no longer be questioned. To that effect, the idea that "we all live in a global village" had been coupled by a view of the nation-state as an anachronistic entity of the past, and similarly the belief that at its very core and by its very nature, technology is not only culturally blind and culturally neutral, but also possesses egalitarian powers.
Ethics and the Environment (Corin Fox)
Section 040 | 12596 | Thursday | 02:00PM-03:15PM
Do we have a duty to learn about and protect our natural environment? What is the role of environmental conservation in living a good life? Does protecting our environment require changes in our everyday practices and diets? In this class we will investigate ethical questions about the environment, including questions about the nature and scope of conservation efforts, our duties to other animals, and ethical demands on our lifestyles. Students will engage with philosophical readings on these topics, and create individualized environment narratives to document their reliance on and relationships with their environment.
COLLEGE! (Bo Odom)
Section 042 | 12599 | Thursday | 03:30PM-04:45PM
What is College? Is it a system? A people? A network? A tribe? It’s certainly an institution, but is it an effective one? An efficient one? What happens in College? What is it supposed to do? What are you supposed to do? Will it change you? Will it form you? Will you be different at all after College? How? Why? This class will consider the contemporary university through a number of lenses based primarily in the social sciences. We will study various “student impact models” to gauge the influence of an undergraduate degree on economic, psychological, and sociological outcomes ranging from the pecuniary benefits of a degree to the cognitive and non-cognitive benefits of four years at a residential research university like UVA. We will ask if higher education plays a meaningful role in our futures after controlling for sociocultural factors such as gender, race, and class (among others). We’ll learn both through quantitative (statistical) inquiry and qualitative experience. At the heart of our inquiry will lie a seemingly simple yet complex question: will your next four years be consequential?
[RPE COLA] Religion, Tradition, and Social Justice in Charlottesville (Nichole Flores)
Section 043 | 12601 | Thursday | 12:30PM-01:45PM
In August 2017, religious leaders were on the frontlines of the counterprotest against the white supremacist violence of the Unite the Right rally that rocked the very stability of democracy in the US. Long before those hot summer days, however, religious institutions had figured prominently in shaping Charlottesville's politics, culture, and even cityscape. Religious communities—theologically progressive, centrist, and conservative alike—have often been a force for social justice—including racial justice, immigration justice, and most recently public health justice—in Charlottesville. Even so, religious institutions have also been integral in advancing themes of tradition, heritage, and respectability that shape the city’s culture. While these themes have often been invoked in support of social justice advocacy, they have also been leveraged at times as a force in support of segregation, white supremacy, and acquiescence to pervasive systems of social injustice such as gentrification, violence, and poverty. A comprehensive view of Charlottesville’s past, present, and future requires attention to the role of religious communities—their beliefs, practices, communities, advocacy, and sacred spaces—in shaping democratic practices, culture, and even the cityscape in Charlottesville. Anchored by readings on religious and democracy and the history of religion in Charlottesville and at UVA, this seminar will curate conversations between students and various clergy, religious activists, and institutions in Charlottesville about their work for justice in the city with a particular eye toward racial justice and equity before, during, and after the events of August 11 and 12. From religious leaders who were on the frontlines of non-violent counterprotest to pastors who organized prayer services but discouraged their members from directly protesting the white supremacist rioters to Jewish leaders who had to revise their understanding of religious freedom and physical safety after their synagogue became a target of violence, these conversations will allow students to probe enduring questions about the role of race, place, and equity in a pluralistic democracy by examining them in the particular religious history and context of Charlottesville. The seminar will also allow students to develop a more nuanced accounts of religion, justice, and tradition and how these concepts operate in our local, national, and global common life.