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AU CORE CURRICULUM

CORE-106 Complex Problems Seminar Course Level: Undergraduate

Complex Problems Seminar (3) Topics vary by section. This required seminar for all students during their first year at American University demonstrates the value of approaching important conceptual problems and social issues from a variety of perspectives, often from multiple disciplines and including multiple voices. Students are introduced to the importance of incorporating diverse perspectives, clear communication, critical reading, and working with feedback. The seminars feature discussions, lectures, collaboration, and integrative learning. AU Core Foundation: Complex Problems. Usually Offered: fall and spring. Grading: A-F only. Note: Students may not receive credit toward a degree for both CORE-105, and CORE-106 or CORE-107.

CORE-106-001
Term: Fall 2018 Regular Term
Course Level: Undergraduate
Section Title: What Does Education Mean?
Course Type: Community Based Learning. As a part of this course, students will actively serve with a nonprofit agency or school in the DC area to apply their course knowledge. What Does It Mean to be Educated? (3) There are economic, philosophical, sociological, cultural, and political perspectives surrounding the purpose of education and the pedagogical constructs that guide education. Yet, what it means to be an educated individual varies among cultures and is contextually dependent. Through various forms of storytelling, readings, guest speakers, blog posts, and debates, this course explores interdisciplinary and international perspectives on what it means to be an educated individual. Restriction: Community-Based Research Scholars.
CORE-106-002
Term: Fall 2018 Regular Term
Course Level: Undergraduate
Section Title: Problem of Poverty in America
Course Type: Community Based Learning. As a part of this course, students will actively serve with a nonprofit agency or school in the DC area to apply their course knowledge. Problem of Poverty in America (3) This course examines the history of poverty in America, perceptions of the problem over time, and efforts made by the poor to address it. Restriction: Community-Based Research Scholars.
CORE-106-003
Term: Fall 2018 Regular Term
Course Level: Undergraduate
Section Title: Global Hip-Hop & Resistance
Global Hip-Hop and Resistance (3) This course explores the enduring question of why and how hip-hop has become equally a tool for revolution and capitalist expansion across the world. As hip-hop has attained the interest of corporate America, it has gone from being vilified by many in the mainstream to a source of expansion for American ideals. As hip-hop began to emerge in other countries, it also began to develop its own country-specific narrative. Across the globe, the effects of hip-hop can be felt from politics and education to pop culture and religion, from the Arab Spring to the whitewashing of history books in Japan. The course explores how hip-hop has become a source of revolution and capitalist expansion for some of the world's most marginalized (and not-so-marginalized) populations. Restriction: AU Scholars.
CORE-106-004
Term: Fall 2018 Regular Term
Course Level: Undergraduate
Section Title: What Causes Homelessness?
What Causes Homelessness? (3) It does not take long traveling across Washington, DC to encounter people experiencing homelessness. This course explores the phenomenon of homelessness by drawing upon scholarly work done in history, sociology, anthropology, geography, and public policy. Students meet with advocates for the unhoused, as well as people experiencing homelessness themselves. Students read and critically evaluate texts addressing the issue from across these disciplines. They also draw upon existing government and agency reports as well as oral histories as they explore alternative ways that people have come to understand the issue outside of the university setting. Restriction: AU Scholars.
CORE-106-005
Term: Fall 2018 Regular Term
Course Level: Undergraduate
Section Title: How to Sustain an Ocean World
How to Sustain an Ocean World (3) The ocean gave rise to life on earth, holds much of its biological diversity, and to this day, sustains it. However, for much of human history, the ocean has been thought of as vast, unmanageable, and its resources inexhaustible. Thus, the ocean has been over-exploited and treated without regard. The consequence is that over the last century, the fundamental nature of the ocean - its physical, chemical, and biological characteristics - has changed, and along with it, its ability to provide humankind with sustenance, livelihoods, and inspiration. In this course, the students explore the natural history of the ocean, identify threats, and evaluate the range of possible solutions to ensure the long-term sustainability our ocean world. Restriction: AU Scholars.
CORE-106-006
Term: Fall 2018 Regular Term
Course Level: Undergraduate
Section Title: Living As a Digital Citizen
Living as a Digital Citizen (3) Digital citizenship broadly describes what it means to live in our networked world when every click leaves a trace of our digital footsteps. This course looks at what this means to us as individuals, as a community, and as a global society, as well as those less fortunate who do not experience the power of the Internet and how to engage these individuals. The course raises more questions than it answers, but heightens students' understanding of the evolving challenges and opportunities on our digital planet. Restriction: AU Scholars.
CORE-106-007
Term: Fall 2018 Regular Term
Course Level: Undergraduate
Section Title: Pollution Solutions
Pollution Solutions (3) In this course, students pursue issues surrounding pollution in the environment including how and why pollution occurs. The course investigates the sources of various air, water, and land pollutants and looks at environmental and health effects and potential solutions. Students participate in and benefit from diverse assignments including case studies, debates/ role-playing, peer-teaching, and facilitated discussions on assigned readings from written texts, documentaries, and topic-specific exhibits. Restriction: Community-Based Research Scholars.
CORE-106-008
Term: Fall 2018 Regular Term
Course Level: Undergraduate
Section Title: Contemporary World Cinema
Contemporary World Cinema (3) This seminar examines questions of contemporary world cinema from multiple perspectives by working back and forth between concepts of examining single, individual texts and broader, globally relevant contexts. As part of that project, each student studies in detail a single international film of their choice made between 2002 and 2017. In addition to traditional writing and research projects, all students craft a 5- to 7-minute short film that visually presents their argument concerning their film. No previous editing experience required. Restriction: AU Scholars.
CORE-106-009
Term: Fall 2018 Regular Term
Course Level: Undergraduate
Section Title: Dying, Death, & the Afterlife
Dying, Death, and the Afterlife (3) This course examines the agony of dying, questions about how we measure death, and accounts of a possible life after death, drawing upon philosophical arguments, biological measurements, literary imaginings, and religious visions to understand how the experience of death is a core component to our shared human experience. By evaluating the many differing accounts of death and the afterlife, this class assesses how our understanding of these experiences yields insights into our conceptions of justice and ethics, divine reward and righteous punishment. This exploration of dying and a possible second life thus reflects to us an idea of our common concerns and struggles in attempting to make a life of meaning. Restriction: AU Scholars.
CORE-106-010
Term: Fall 2018 Regular Term
Course Level: Undergraduate
Section Title: Cultures of Corruption
Cultures of Corruption (3) Political and social leaders accuse each other of it and are accused by a media that itself is then condemned for it - but what is "corruption"? This course considers how the mention of corruption has become pervasive, while there seems to be no set definition or even direction and when a "favor" become "corruption." There are governments accused of being kleptocracies - governments of organized thieves composed of individuals whose only goal is to legally take as much money and resources from others as possible. This kind of corruption seems easy to define. But what about a payment to a border guard to let you pass? This course examines values, systems, and institutions across the globe - and down the street. Restriction: AU Scholars.
CORE-106-011
Term: Fall 2018 Regular Term
Course Level: Undergraduate
Section Title: Tactical Urbanism
Tactical Urbanism (3) Home to two-thirds of the world's population, cities are contested, even violent, grounds, embodying social, political, and economic exclusion. This course employs an emerging "Right to the City" challenge to the status quo of urban power dynamics: tactical urbanism. Through the collaborative design of a tactical urbanistic intervention in Washington, DC, students seek to understand the possibilities and limits of this approach in moving the world towards more just and inclusive cities. The course draws on historical and contemporary sources and case studies, including urban film, music, philosophy, and literature, and theories/examples of urban planning and form. Permission: advisor.
CORE-106-012
Term: Fall 2018 Regular Term
Course Level: Undergraduate
Section Title: Jerusalem: Myth Hist Modernity
Jerusalem: Myth, History, Modernity (3) Central for the three Abrahamic traditions, Jerusalem has been a locus of worship and dispute for over two-thousand years. The course proceeds thematically, beginning with the role of Jerusalem in the mythic imagination of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Students then turn to writings reflecting the history of Jerusalem as a physical place and a source of contention for the Assyrians and Babylonians, the Persians, the Romans, the empires of medieval Europe and the Ottomans, the British, the Arabs and the modern State of Israel. Finally, the course turns to the modern era and examines Jerusalem as a modern city and a proxy for disputes over identity, culture, language, and religion. Students visit different places of worship in Washington, DC and invite guest speakers representing a diversity of cultures to class. Permission: advisor.
CORE-106-013
Term: Fall 2018 Regular Term
Course Level: Undergraduate
Section Title: Social Justice/Libertarianism?
Social Justice or Libertarianism? (3) Social justice activists and libertarians are two of the most familiar social types in our polarized political climate. This course asks students to think though their own political identities by working through some of the most important texts in this debate in constant conversation with the best arguments on all sides. Students read well-known contemporary proponents of both points of view such as John Rawls and Robert Nozick as well as authors who speak to this issue from unexpected angles such as Martin Luther King, Frederick Douglass, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, John Stuart Mill, and Kurt Vonnegut. Activities include trips to Brookings Institution, the Cato Institute, or other think tanks, and a discussion of college education in prison with a local prison reform nonprofit. Permission: advisor.
CORE-106-001
Term: Spring 2019 Semester
Course Level: Undergraduate
Section Title: Imagining the Other
Imagining the Other (3) Grounded in a thorough examination of the various theories of society, such as social Darwinism, and designed around a comparative and multidisciplinary set of scholarly works, literary writings, and primary sources, this course explores the colonial, postcolonial, and imperial interactions between the West and the rest of the world during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It looks at the ways the perception of differences informs reality and conditions the imagining and the construction of the racial, ethnic, and national other. On a more fundamental level, it questions the meaning of modernity and its civilizing processes steeped in the common myth of progress and betterment of itself through rationalization and institutionalization. Special attention is dedicated to examining the way the modern West comes to establish, locate, control, trust, and distrust knowledge and the way the "Other" responds to it, and to the West in general. The comparative and multidisciplinary design of the course helps students develop a more nuanced way of studying the subject, and by doing so, exposes them to new ways of critical thinking. Permission: advisor.
CORE-106-002
Term: Spring 2019 Semester
Course Level: Undergraduate
Section Title: Quest for Justice
Quest for Justice (3) This course introduces students to an on-going dialogue at the core of Western intellectual history about how to think about justice. The course examines how the attempt to achieve clarity about the fundamental problems of justice gives rise to new questions and problems that were not apparent at first. The central theme of the course is intellectual surprise, as new questions emerge from old solutions and new solutions reveal old questions. The course addresses and illustrates questions about law, political obligation, freedom, equality, justice, and human nature. Students examine different societies such as the ancient city, modern democracy, and totalitarianism, and discuss contemporary issues including race, culture, and inequality. Permission: advisor.
CORE-106-003
Term: Spring 2019 Semester
Course Level: Undergraduate
Section Title: Locating the International
Locating the International (3) This course explores how we understand "the international," which we tend to think of as the line between the "domestic" and the "foreign," but this line is often blurrier than we think. Students begin by engaging with a range of scholarly material--from Greek, modern European, Confucian, and other non-Western traditions--to develop a critical sense of how the international is constituted and defined. They then explore the ethical implications of those different definitions. Permission: advisor.
CORE-106-004
Term: Spring 2019 Semester
Course Level: Undergraduate
Section Title: Arab-Feminist-Muslim-Queer Res
Arab-Feminist-Muslim-Queer Resistance (3) This course asks and attempts to answer the question of how critical understanding of Arab/Muslim social experiences is changed when we put ideas about gender and sexuality at the forefront of the analysis. To illustrate structural forces that influence the lives of Arab and Arab American women, queer people, and trans people, the course centers analysis on experience-based knowledge they have produced. Using a mix of materials, the course problematizes both essentialism and exceptionalism regarding gender and sexuality and calls attention to the intersections of gender and sexuality with race, nationality, and religion when thinking about difference. Students explore how shared oppressions connect Arab and Arab American feminists to women of color and third world feminist movements working for social transformation. Rather than prioritizing one liberation struggle over another, the course emphasizes the simultaneity of struggles (against sexism, homophobia, racism, Islamophobia, nativism, and neocolonialism) by women, queer people, and trans people "over there" (in the Arab World) and "over here" (in American society). Permission: advisor.