Previous Course Offerings

AESTHINT RX-13: Arts for Global Health 

Doris Sommer, Ira and Jewell Williams Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures and of African and African American Studies; and Mercedes Becerra, Professor of Global Health and Social Medicine 

Fall 2017 

Technical remedies alone seldom address the complex challenges of global health. Fear or humiliation may interfere with diagnosis and available treatments. Stigma or ignorance of causes and cures can create escalating epidemics. So innovative health providers have learned to rely on creative interventions through the arts and, by extension, through creative education. Inspired by The Global Health Education and Learning Incubator at Harvard University, our course considers the dynamic between health conditions and conditions for health, as well as responses to those conditions, both medical and non-medical. Resources for significant non-medical responses often come from cultural interventions, including traditional and contemporary arts. The interconnectedness of conditions and the far-reaching effects of creative responses are explored through cases of arts intervention in health care and through theories of why art works. What is therapeutic about making art and about thinking through the process? Readings and discussion engage a tradition of aesthetic philosophy that begins in the European Enlightenment to promote broad-based art-making as a response to conflict (Schiller) and to stimulate freedom of thought by starting with beauty (Kant). Surprising expectations and inviting us to think about the effects, “Rx: Arts for Global Health” offers basic training in the enlightened tradition of aesthetic judgment while it tracks some cases of arts that support global health. In lectures by instructors and guest speakers, the course considers how change and growth in global health can benefit from an aesthetic approach to technical and social challenges. Theoretical readings (Plato, Aristotle, Kant, Arendt, Schiller, Dewey, Freire, Gramsci, Ranciere, Mockus, Boal, Nussbaum, inter alia) accompany concrete cases of treating malaria, tuberculosis, HIV, depression. The final project will be a “case study,” of a particular health challenge, including a proposal for a creative intervention. 


AFRAMER 20: Introduction to African Languages and Cultures 

John Mugane, Professor of the Practice of African Languages and Cultures and Director of the African Language Program 

Fall 2017 

This introduction to African languages and cultures explores how sub-Saharan Africans use language to understand, organize, and transmit (culture, history, etc.) indigenous knowledge to successive generations. Language serves as a road map to comprehending how social, political, and economic institutions and processes develop: from kinship structures and the evolution of political offices to trade relations and the transfer of environmental knowledge. As a Social Engagement course, AAAS 20 will wed scholarly inquiry and academic study to practical experience and personal involvement in the community. Students will be given the opportunity to study Africans, their languages, and their cultures from the ground up, not only through textbooks and data sets but through personal relationships, cultural participation, and inquisitive explorations of local African heritage communities. Throughout the semester you will be asked to employ video production, ethnographic research, creative writing, "social-portraiture," GIS mapping, and linguistic study as you engage with Africans, their languages, and their cultures. By examining linguistic debates and cultural traditions and interrogating their import in the daily lives of Boston-area Africans, we hope to bridge the divide between grand theories and everyday practices, between intellectual debates and the lived experiences of individuals, between the American academy and the African world. Ultimately, this course aims to place Africans themselves in the center of the academic study of Africa. 


EXPOS 231 & 232: Segregation and Boston Schools: The Fight for Equality   

Ariane Mary Liazos, Lecturer on Social Studies, Curriculum Fellow and Preceptor, Harvard College Writing Program 

Spring 2018 

Over sixty years after the Supreme Court ruled that “separate but equal” schools are unconstitutional, segregation is on the rise. Today, despite widespread evidence that integrated education increases student learning and reduces prejudice, American public schools are increasingly divided by class and race. In this course, we investigate attempts to achieve educational equality in Boston, focusing on the decision to use busing to desegregate the public schools in the 1970s and the wave of violent opposition that followed. Throughout the semester, we undertake “engaged scholarship,” combining academic learning and community engagement by collaborating with Bostonians directly affected by these historical events – we partner with history teachers and students at a high school in the Boston Public Schools (BPS) system – and by focusing on communication with diverse audiences through writing, speaking, and visual presentation.  

To ground our understanding of the complex issues we wrestle with in the course, we begin with a journalist’s Pulitzer Prize winning account of school integration in the 1970s, contrasting the perspectives of black and white families. We next examine historical debates on the causes of the “antibusing” movement and pedagogical debates about how to teach controversial and contested historical topics. For the final project, we have the opportunity to further investigate these subjects and other current challenges around educational equity facing BPS. In thoughtful collaboration with our community partners and through research, we design lesson plans for a high school history course and prepare arguments for why the various plans might be effective. We not only delve into the remarkable written and visual materials in Harvard’s libraries but also conduct conversations with teachers and students at the Snowden International School and representatives from Facing History and Ourselves. The class culminates in a “Civics Fair” in which students present their lesson plans and engage with our partners at the Snowden School and other community members. 

GOV 1359: The Road to the White House 

Carlos Diaz Rosillo, Lecturer on Government 

Fall 2016 

This course examines the role of presidential campaigns and elections in American politics.  It studies the origins and evolution of the presidential selection process and explores how modern campaigns inform, influence, and mobilize voters.  Topics to be studied include the role of political parties and candidates, campaign strategies and tactics, political advertising and media coverage, campaign finance and voter mobilization, and the transition from campaigning to governing.  The 2016 campaign will be used as a laboratory in which to explore political science research on presidential campaigns and elections. 


HEB 1700: Human Evolutionary Biology in Society 

Bridget Alex, Associate Concerntration Advisor 

Spring 2018 

What are the key concepts in Human Evolutionary Biology? Why and how should we share these concepts with society and other disciplines? This course will explore the challenges, methods, and impacts of outreach in Human Evolutionary Biology. In the first unit, students will identify fundamental concepts of HEB and how the are (mis)understood in public discourse, policy, and other fields. Then, we will review methods of conducting and evaluating outreach by reading studies and critiquing real examples. We will discuss how scientists engage with different audiences, from K-12 students to policy makers, and through different outlets, such as public lectures, pop-science writing, consulting positions, citizen science programs, and online platforms. We will also investigate how HEB can inform other fields like medicine, global health, environmental policy, economics, and education. In the final unit, students will design, carry out, and evaluate an outreach project in small groups. Possible projects include teaching a lesson to K-12 students, leading an activity table at a museum, or creating a public blog. Students will produce final reports, which summarize their project, its predicted and observed outcomes, and recomendations for future iterations. For HEB Concentrators, HEB 1700 counts as Junior Research Seminar or upper-level HEB elective. 


MLD 377: Organizing: People, Power, Change* 

Marshall Ganz, Rita E. Hauser Senior Lecturer in Leadership, Organizing, and Civil Society, Harvard Kennedy School 

Spring 2017 

In democratic countries, knowledge of how to combine is the mother of all other forms of knowledge; on its progress depends that of all the others," de Tocqueville observed. Fulfilling the democratic promise of equity, accountability and inclusion requires the participation of an "organized" citizenry that can articulate and assert its shared interests effectively. We can use the practice of organizing to engage others in confronting major public challenges by enabling muted voices to be heard, values to be translated into action, and political will to mobilized. Leadership in organizing requires accepting responsibility to enable others to achieve shared purpose in the face of uncertainty. Organizers ask three questions: who are my people, what is their challenge, and how can they turn resources they have into the power they need to meet that challenge. In this course, students accept responsibility for organizing a "constituency" to achieve an outcome by the end of the semester. Students learn as reflective practitioners of leadership of their campaign: building relationships committed to common purpose; turning value into motivated action through narrative; strategizing to turn resources into the power to achieve outcomes; taking effective action; and structuring leadership collaboratively.  


Music 176R: Music and Disability 

Andrew Clark, Director of Choral Activities & Senior Lecturer in Music 

Spring 2017 

Through field work, readings, discussions, and presentations, this course will explore topics related to disability in music history, music theory, and performance studies, and examine recent developments in neuroscience, music therapy, and music education. Defining disability as a cultural construction rather than as a medical pathology, the course will also consider the practice of music as a vehicle of empowerment, reflecting on music’s generative role in shaping communities and advancing social justice and human rights. Students will design and implement inclusive and democratic community music projects, partnering with local service organizations and educational institutions. 


Portug 59: Portuguese and the Community 

Everton Vargas de Costa, Visiting Lecturer in Romance Languages and Literatures (Portuguese) 

Fall 2016 

This is an advanced language course examining the Luso-African-Brazilian experience in the United States. This course promotes community engagement as a vehicle for greater linguistic fluency and cultural understanding. Students are placed with community organizations within the Boston area and volunteer for four hours a week. Class work will focus on expanding students' oral and written proficiency through discussing and analyzing readings, arts, and films by and about Luso-African-Brazilians in the US. 


PSY 1009: Psychology of Women  

Nicole Noll, Lecturer on Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality 

Spring 2017 and Spring 2018 

How does being a woman affect our behavior, our evaluations of ourselves, and our interactions with others? This course examines psychological science on women and girls in western industrialized societies, addressing such topics as gender stereotypes, girlhood, women and work, relationships, pregnancy and motherhood, mental health, violence against women, and women in later adulthood. We will consider these topics through an understanding of gender as a social construction, being mindful of the intersections of gender, sexuality, class, and race. Although focused on women’s lives and experiences, this course is highly relevant to people of all genders. 


SOCIOL 130: Higher Education Policy and Service: On Campus and Beyond 

Manja Klemencic, Lecturer on Sociology 

Spring 2018 

This Undergraduate Engaged Scholarship Course seeks to integrate the scholarship on sociology of higher education with (i) the service work that Harvard undergraduates conduct at Harvard for other students and for the University, and (ii) their political work in the area of higher education policy and regulation. Students’ grasp of basic theories and concepts in sociology of higher education will be reinforced through their experiential learning in two distinct yet related spheres of student engagement. One is the students’ engagement in University policy and service. The other is the students’ engagement with state and federal higher education policy and regulation; student groups at other colleges and universities; and educational foundations and think-tanks. Active involvement of community partners from within the University and beyond is one integral part of the course. The other is students’ participatory action research. 


SOCIOL 182: Law and Society 

Ya-Wen Lei, Assistant Professor of Sociology 

Spring 2018 

Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote: “The life of the law is not logic, but experience.” While law school curriculum focuses on legal doctrine, law-in-action often diverges from law-on-the-books. For instance, although civil rights laws make workplace discrimination illegal, such laws are not often enforced. This gap between law-on-the books and law-in-action has prompted social-legal scholars to examine the latter more closely. Adopting a law-in-action approach, this course examines the relationship between law and society. We will survey major theoretical perspectives and empirical studies that analyze the dynamics between law and legal institutions and their social, political, economic, and cultural contexts. Topics that will be discussed include but are not limited to: (1) concepts and theories of law and society; (2) the experiences of different actors in the legal system, particularly, lawyers, judges, jurors, law enforcement agents, litigants, and citizens; (3) legal consciousness and legal culture; and (4) the relationship between law and social change.  A major focus of the course will be civil rights.  We will explore, for example, the extent to which court decisions on civil rights have brought about social change in the United States. 


SLAVIC 189: The Other Russia: Twenty-First Century Films, Fictions, States of Mind  

Stephanie Sandler, Ernest E. Mondrad Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures 

Fall 2017 

Russia is in the news these days for its politics and espionage, but what about the daily lives of Russian people? Nothing gets at that reality in all its pettiness and grandeur better than Russian literature. The stories, poems, plays, movies, memoirs, and documentaries of the last twenty-five years are the subject of this course. We will trace the chaotic transitions of the 1990s, the disparities of wealth and polarized politics of the 2000s, the rise of religious thinking (Orthodox, Islam, Jewish), and the several conflicts at Russia’s borders. The impact of travel, diaspora, and the internet on breaking down old walls that once isolated the USSR will be as important as changes in the legal order. The different fates of former Soviet republics will be compared, with examples from Ukraine, the Caucasus, and the far North. Students will also interview and create portraits (visual, verbal, and video) of émigrés from the former Soviet Union living in the Boston area, using the interviews as a context for the cultural representations of life in and beyond Russia. 


SOC-STD 68 CT: The Chinese Immigrant Experience in America 

Nicole Newendorp, Lecturer in Social Studies 

Spring 2017 and Spring 2018 

Uses the history of Boston’s Chinatown as a case study to examine the experiences of Chinese immigrants in the U.S. from the 1880s until the present. Employs historical, anthropological, and sociological perspectives to examine major themes related to the social and economic development of U.S. Chinatowns and Chinese immigrant communities throughout the 20th and 21st centuries. This course is an activity-based learning course, limited to students who are concurrently participating in a Harvard-affiliated service program in or around Boston’s Chinatown. Class discussions and assignments will make active links with students’ service work. Open to students in all concentrations. 

Visit the course website to learn more about the course project. 


SOC-STD 68 EC: Education and Community in America: Universities and Community Engagement, 1890-2017   

Ariane Mary Liazos, Lecturer on Social Studies, Curriculum Fellow and Preceptor, Harvard College Writing Program 

Fall 2016 and Fall 2017 

Explores efforts to realize the civic purpose of American universities, particularly in terms of attempts to engage local communities through educational outreach programs. Examines major periods of experimentation and innovation in the 20th and 21st centuries, from the settlement house movement of the early 1900s to recent efforts to revive the public mission of universities through service-learning and other forms of civic education. This course is an activity-based learning course, limited to students who are concurrently participating in education-related service programs affiliated with Harvard. Class discussions & assignments will make active links w/ students' service work. Enrollment capped at 10. 


SOC-STD 68 HJ: Justice in Housing 

P. MacKenzie Bok, Lecturer on Social Studies 

Spring 2018 

How do theories of justice deal with the problem of housing?  What use does American housing policy and politics make of ideas about “fairness” and “justice”?  This course will juxtapose contemporary philosophical debates about distributive justice with current concrete problems in housing policy, using the Boston/Cambridge area as a case study.  Seminars will feature guests from a number of local housing-focused organizations, and students’ final papers will assess real housing policy examples in light of a chosen framework of justice.  As this is an Engaged Scholarship course, preference will be given to students involved in direct service to housing-insecure populations (whether in shelters, the public schools, urban summer camps, etc.). 


SOC-STD 68 UH: Urban Health and Community Change: Action Planning With Local Stakeholders 

Flavia Pérea, Director Mindich Program for Engaged Scholarship, Lecturer on Social Studies 

Fall 2017 

This is a project-based course on urban community health. We will examine urban health topics from a macro level in the classroom, while exploring community health issues at the local level by engaging with community stakeholders on a health promotion project. We will explore the social conditions people need to be healthy, and strategies to advance health equity that put people in diverse communities on pathways to health as opposed to disparities. To understand how health promoting environments can be created and sustained, we will discuss how community engagement, participatory planning, and cross-sector collaboration can advance health improvement efforts at the local level. There are great possibilities as well as challenges to creating and sustaining healthy communities, particularly in rapidly evolving cities in major metropolitan areas. This course will provide a window into how pressing, highly visible and complex national issues are experienced and addressed in real time, and the real-world complexities involved in advancing meaningful community change. Open to students in all concentrations. Enrollment capped at 10. 


SPANSH 59: Spanish and the Community 

María Parra-Velasco, Senior Preceptor in Romance Languages and Literatures 

Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, and Spring 2018 

An advanced language course that examines the richness and complexity of the Latino experience in the US while promoting community engagement as a vehicle for greater linguistic fluency and cultural understanding. Students are placed with community organizations within the Boston area and volunteer for four hours a week. Class work focuses on expanding students' oral and written proficiency in Spanish through discussing and analyzing readings, arts, and films by and about Latinos in the US. 


SPANSH 59H: Spanish for Latino Students II: Connecting with Communities 

María Parra-Velasco, Senior Preceptor in Romance Languages and Literatures 

Spring 2017 and Spring 2018 

An advanced language course for Spanish heritage learners that aims to: strengthen students’ oral and written linguistic range, with emphasis on Spanish use for academic contexts; and to further develop students’ critical language and social awareness around important issues for Latinos in our globalized era: Spanish as global language, identity, language rights, global migration and labor, U.S.-Latino America relations, food and environment, the ’war on drugs’. Students explore these topics through various genres (newspapers and academic articles, debates, literary essays, short novels, poetry, visual art, film and music) and through 4 hours a week of community service. 


US World 24: Reinventing (and Reimagining) Boston: The Changing American City 

Robert Sampson, Henry Ford II Professor of the Social Sciences & David Luberoff, Deputy Director of the Joint Center for Housing Studies 

Fall 2016 

In the last half of the 20th century, there was gloom about urban life and many cities were projected to decay. Although some did, others became models of urban renaissance. Using Boston as a case study of urban change, this course examines key issues such as economic inequality, political governance, crime and criminal justice institutions (e.g, policing, incarceration), racial segregation, immigration, and gentrification. We draw on a wide range of reading and data sources, as well as presentations by notable local practitioners, student visits to different parts of Boston, and a variety of writing assignments designed to help students better appreciate, understand, and participate in contemporary urban life. 


*Offered at the Harvard Kennedy School