Courses

Fall 2022

Politics in Africa
This course introduces the study of African politics. The lectures briefly review the social and historical context of contemporary political life. They then profile some of the changes of the early post-Independence period, the authoritarian turn of the 1970s and 80s, and the second liberation of the 1990s and 2000s, before turning to some contemporary challenges (e.g., conflict resolution, land tenure, natural resource management, public goods provision, climate resilience, health, urbanization). Each session introduces a major analytical debate, theories, and African views. Broadly comparative; some special attention to selected countries.
Instructors: Jennifer Widner
Portuguese in the City
Luanda, Lisbon, Rio, São Paulo...Through readings of selected texts and audiovisual materials, this course will visit the diverse cultures of the Portuguese-speaking world through the lens of culture produced in, by and about major cities. We will compare and contrast both "official" and "unofficial" narratives of these spaces and investigate how cultural productions from and about the periphery contest hegemonic representations of urban spaces and culture(s).
Instructors: Nicola Cooney
Postblack - Contemporary African American Art
As articulated by Thelma Golden, postblack refers to the work of African American artists who emerged in the 1990s with ambitious, irreverent, and sassy work. Postblack suggests the emergence of a generation of artists removed from the long tradition of Black affirmation of the Harlem Renaissance, Black empowerment of the Black Arts movement, and identity politics of the 1980s and early 90s. This seminar involves critical and theoretical readings on multiculturalism, race, identity, and contemporary art, and will provide an opportunity for a deep engagement with the work of African American artists of the past decade.
Instructors: Chika Okeke-Agulu
Principles of Blockchains
Blockchains are decentralized digital trust engines that are the underlying technology behind Web3, a loosely defined denotation of the Internet architecture in the years to come, including decentralization of the platform economy of the modern Internet (Web2). In this course, we conduct a full-stack study of blockchains, viewing them as a whole integrated computer system involving networking, incentives, consensus, data structures, cryptography and memory management. The course uses the Bitcoin architecture as a basis to construct the foundational design and algorithmic principles of blockchains.
Instructors: Pramod Viswanath
Principles of Computer System Design
This course teaches students the design, implementation, and evaluation of computer systems, including operating systems, networking, and distributed systems.The course will teach students to evaluate the performance and study the design choices of existing systems. Students will also learn general systems concepts that support design goals of modularity, performance, and security. Students will apply materials learned in lectures and readings to design and build new systems components.
Instructors: Amit Levy, Ravi Netravali
Probabilistic Models of Cognition
This seminar explores parallels between human cognition and ideas in probability and statistics, with an emphasis on statistical machine learning. Minds and machines face similar computational problems, meaning that we can develop new hypotheses about human cognition by seeing how those problems are solved in computer science and statistics and find new challenges for AI and machine learning by studying human cognition.
Instructors: Tom Griffiths
Publishing Articles in Race, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
In this interdisciplinary class, students of race as well as gender, sexuality, disability, etc. read deeply and broadly in academic journals as a way of learning the debates in their fields and placing their scholarship in relationship to them. Students report each week on the trends in the last five years of any journal of their choice, writing up the articles' arguments and debates, while also revising a paper in relationship to those debates and preparing it for publication. This course enables students to leap forward in their scholarly writing through a better understanding of their fields and the significance of their work to them.
Instructors: Wendy Laura Belcher
Race and Public Policy
Analyzes the historical construction of race as a concept in American society, how and why this concept was institutionalized publicly and privately in various arenas of U.S. public life at different historical junctures, and the progress that has been made in dismantling racialized institutions since the civil rights era.
Instructors: Douglas Massey
Race, Gender, Sexuality, and Contemporary States of Unfreedom
This course explores the recent history of ideas about contemporary unfreedom, focusing on the influence of discourses about race, gender, and sexuality. We will study how scientific racism, structural violence, and climate change fuel contemporary slavery. Students will analyze how the silencing of the pervasiveness of contemporary slavery is tied to the narrative of "abolition" and the globalization of economic dynamics based on the exploitation of predominantly people of color. This course will also examine the racialization of child exploitation, survivor criminalization, and representation of unfreedom in the annual U.S. TIP Report.
Instructors: Dannelle Gutarra Cordero
Race, Racism, and Racial Justice
Racism is a blight wherever it exists and calls for racial justice are still essential.This course aims to show how philosophy is integral to thinking through some major issues to do with race, racism, and racial justice today.In this course we will consider broad questions vital to understanding current racial issues.What is race? What is racism? How does intersectionality complicate our understanding of these questions? We will also consider more specific questions and particular issues around racial justice. Is racial profiling wrong? What should we think about affirmative action? Should there be reparations for (past?) racial injustices?
Instructors: Lidal Dror

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