2011-12 Catalog

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2011-12 Undergraduate Index A-Z

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Philosophy Of Science [clear]

Title   Offering Standing Credits Credits When F W S Su Description Preparatory Faculty Days Multiple Standings Start Quarters Open Quarters
Bret Weinstein
  Program JR–SRJunior - Senior 16 16 Day F 11 Fall W 12Winter Nearly all of the complexity in the observable universe is due to one process: Selection-natural, sexual and otherwise. And though the basics of evolutionary selection can be summarized in a single phrase ("survival of the fittest"), the details are surprising in the extreme, raising profound questions at every juncture. Why, for example, has a simple, shared drive to increase 'reproductive success' taken aardvarks and spruce trees in such different directions? And why would a peahen choose to burden her sons with a giant handicap to their movement by mating with a male carrying genes for massive tail? We will take a broad approach to selection, studying what is known, but focusing on that which remains mysterious. The adaptive interplay between genetic, epigenetic (regulatory) and cultural traits will be of particular interest. We will also place special emphasis on understanding the tension between selection exerted by mates, and that exerted by environmental factors. Fall quarter will be spent constructing a basic toolkit for evolutionary analysis: What is an adaptation and how can it be recognized? How can we infer function? What is the relationship between a trait's short and long-term adaptive value? We will scrutinize structures; behaviors and patterns found in the wild, and refine our ability to understand them through the language of game theory. During the winter quarter, we will focus on pushing our model of selection to its limits, and beyond, by applying it to the most complex and surprising adaptive patterns in nature, with a special emphasis on adaptive patterns manifest in We will read, have lecture, and detailed discussions. Discussions will be central to our work. Students will be expected to generate and defend hypotheses and predictions in a supportive and rigorous environment. We will go out and look at nature directly when conditions are right. Each quarter, we will take a multi-day field trip to observe thought-provoking patterns in unfamiliar environments. There will be assignments, but the program will be primarily about generating deep predictive insight, not about producing a large volume of work. It is best suited to self-motivated students with a deep commitment to comprehending that which is knowable, but unknown. biology, medicine, psychology, and public policy. This program will focus on how to think, not what to think. As such, it will be useful to in any career in which critical thinking is important. Bret Weinstein Junior JR Senior SR Fall Fall Winter
Rebecca Chamberlain
  Program FR–SRFreshmen - Senior 8 08 Day and Evening Su 12Summer Session II This intensive course will explore a variety of cosmological concepts from mythology, literature, philosophy, and history, to an introduction to astronomy, archeo-astronomy, and theories about the origins of the universe. We will employ scientific methods of observation, investigation, hands-on activities, and strategies that foster inquiry based learning and engage the imagination. This class is focused on field work, and activities are designed for amateur astronomers and those interested in inquiry based science education as well as those interested in doing observation-based research or in exploring literary, philosophical, cultural, and historical Cosmological traditions.Students will participate in a variety of activities from telling star-stories under the night sky to working in a computer lab to create educational planetarium programs.  Through readings, lectures, films, workshops, and discussions, participants will deepen their understanding of the principles of astronomy and refine their understanding of the role that cosmology plays in our lives through the stories we tell, the observations we make, and the questions we ask. Students will develop skills and appreciation for the ways we uncover our place in the universe through scientific theories and cultural stories, imagination and intellect, qualitative and quantitative processes, and "hands on" observation.We will visit Pine Mountain Observatory, and participate in field studies at the 25th Anniversary of the Oregon Star Party.  This year’s celebratory events include a presentation by a Space Shuttle Astronaut and workshops with mentors, scientists, storytellers, and astronomers. We will develop a variety of techniques to enhance our observation skills including use of star-maps and navigation guides to identify objects in the night sky, how to operate 8” and 10” Dobsonian telescopes to find deep space objects, and how to use binoculars and other tools.  We will be camping and doing field work in the high desert for a week. (first session): A few students will have the opportunity to attend an invitational research conference at Pine Mountain Observatory, July. 15-20 (first session).  They must 1) be enrolled in the class or have prior experience and 2) work with the instructor to complete an independent study contract prior to the first session of summer quarter.  Since a limited number of students will be able to participate this year, students will be selected based on their background, qualifications, and interests.  Research sessions are still to be determined but may include photometry, astrometry, spectroscopy, or Binary Star Research.  Students must have the ability and interest to camp and do fieldwork in the high dessert for a week.  A planning meeting will be held on campus July 11, 6-10 pm.  Contact the instructor ASAP if you are interested. Rebecca Chamberlain Wed Freshmen FR Sophomore SO Junior JR Senior SR Summer Summer
Donald Middendorf and Terry Setter
  Program JR–SRJunior - Senior 16 16 Day F 11 Fall W 12Winter S 12Spring What is the relationship between our understanding of consciousness and our self understanding? This year-long, interdisciplinary program will provide an opportunity for students who are interested in doing intensive work in the nature of consciousness to cultivate self awareness through challenging readings, creative work in expressive arts, and self-reflection. We will examine our beliefs about the nature of reality as manifest in the expressive arts and physical reality from a variety of disciplinary viewpoints, including physics, music, psychology and philosophy. Prospective students should have a strong interest in the experiential study of the relationships between reality and consciousness as well as college-level skills in reading, writing and pursuing research topics. Effort and self-motivation will be essential for succeeding in this program.We will take an approach that welcomes the complexity of the many different views of consciousness that have been proposed by researchers, philosophers and spiritual leaders. We will use texts that cover many contemporary scientific models of consciousness and examine alternative areas of research, such as lucid dreaming and paranormal phenomena. Students will keep a structured journal of activities and practices that explores their developing understandings of the nature of consciousness. During winter and spring quarters, academic work and contemplative discipline will be integrated into our study as tools to help us understand our selves and the nature of consciousness through an in-depth study of dreams - including keeping a dream journal and a journal of experiences during contemplative practices. In spring, students will have the opportunity to pursue their interests in more individualized activities for a portion of their credits.This is an experiential and rigorous full-time program in which students will be expected to participate in all program activities, and to document 48 hours of work per week that are invested in program related activities. Students are strongly encouraged to commit to the year-long community learning process, to not work more than 15 hours per week outside of the program, and to take no more than 16 credits per quarter. Students are expected to take exams and to buy and bring the appropriate seminar books to each class. consciousness studies, philosophy of modern physics, and psychology. Donald Middendorf Terry Setter Tue Wed Thu Junior JR Senior SR Fall Fall Winter Spring
Carolyn Prouty
  Course FR–SRFreshmen - Senior 6 06 Day Su 12Summer Session I This course draws from public health, epidemiology, bioethics, and human rights philosophy to consider health and disease in a global context. What are the social, economic, and epidemiological forces that have led to vast inequalities in health outcomes globally? As we investigate how Western ideas apply in non-Western countries, we will explore ethical dilemmas that researchers, healthcare providers, and policy makers encounter in resource-poor environments. Finally, we will examine the epidemiology, physiology, and pathology of specific conditions including HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, maternal morbidity and mortality, nutritional deficiencies, and parasitic diseases, paying particular attention to connections between infections and inequalities, malnutrition, and human rights. Carolyn Prouty Tue Wed Thu Freshmen FR Sophomore SO Junior JR Senior SR Summer Summer
Kevin Francis
Signature Required: Winter 
  Contract SO–SRSophomore - Senior 16 16 Day W 12Winter Students may propose internships or individual learning contracts in history of science, history of medicine, ecology and evolutionary biology, or environmental studies. Note that successful 16-credit contracts involve significant reading (200-400 pages, depending on the type of material) and writing (5 pages minimum) each week; contracts for fewer credits will have proportionate expectations. Kevin Francis Sophomore SO Junior JR Senior SR Winter Winter
EJ Zita and Mark Harrison
  Program FR–SRFreshmen - Senior 16 16 Day S 12Spring What motivates and facilitates creativity, discovery, and invention, in arts and in sciences? To what extent do scientists and artists work within traditional practices or bodies of knowledge, and how do they move beyond and expand standard models or forms to achieve true innovation?What are the roles of community, genius, luck, plain hard work, and being in the right place in the right time in history? Are certain resources prerequisite, or is creativity truly democratic? Can any patterns be discerned in revolutions in science? In art? What qualifies as a revolution or innovation? We will explore questions such as these by reading (and sometimes staging) plays, fiction, philosophy, and nonfiction about arts and sciences. We will learn about the advent and development of the moving image. Students may, individually or in teams, explore and present special cases of particular interest to them, as research projects. Students will write short, thoughtful essays and responses to peers’ essays. We will learn some classical and modern physics (from dynamics to quantum mechanics and/or cosmology) using mostly conceptual methods. physics, performing and visual arts, teaching, sciences, and philosophy of science. EJ Zita Mark Harrison Mon Thu Freshmen FR Sophomore SO Junior JR Senior SR Spring Spring
Brian Walter and Rachel Hastings
Signature Required: Winter  Spring 
  Program JR–SRJunior - Senior 16 16 Day F 11 Fall W 12Winter S 12Spring This program is built around intensive study of several fundamental areas of pure mathematics. Covered topics are likely to include Abstract Algebra, Real Analysis, Set Theory, and Combinatorics.The work in this advanced-level mathematics program is likely to differ from students' previous work in mathematics, including calculus, in a number of ways. We will emphasize the careful understanding of the definitions of mathematical terms and the statements and proofs of the theorems that capture the main conceptual landmarks in the areas we study. Hence the largest portion of our work will involve the reading and writing of rigorous proofs in axiomatic systems. These skills are valuable not only for continued study of mathematics but also in many areas of thought in which arguments are set forth according to strict criteria of logical deduction. Students will gain experience in articulating their evidence for claims and in expressing their ideas with precise and transparent reasoning.In addition to work in core areas of advanced mathematics, we will devote seminar time to looking at our studies in a broader historical and philosophical context, working toward answers to critical questions such as: Are mathematical systems discovered or created? Do mathematical objects actually exist? How did the current mode of mathematical thinking come to be developed? What is current mathematical practice? What are the connections between mathematics and culture?This program is designed for students who intend to pursue graduate studies or teach in mathematics and the sciences, as well as for those who want to know more about mathematical thinking. mathematics, physics, mathematics education, philosophy of mathematics, and history of science. Brian Walter Rachel Hastings Mon Tue Wed Thu Junior JR Senior SR Fall Fall Winter Spring
Heather Heying
  Program FR ONLYFreshmen Only 16 16 Day S 12Spring The natural world exists with or without humanity’s interpretation of it. As observers and users of symbols, it is easy to mistake ourselves for the creators and masters of what we are trying to explain. In this program, we will learn through direct experience of nature: we will learn to trust our own senses. Knowledge and interpretation will also come through writing about nature, and measuring and analyzing aspects of it. We will spend two weeks of the ten on class field trips, and individuals will develop a sense of place by finding and revisiting the same natural site every week throughout the quarter. We will focus on observation as central to a careful, critical and creative understanding of our world. We will learn the disappearing art of unitasking, of clear undivided focus. Readings will come from science, literature, and the philosophy of science; evolutionary explanations for nature’s complexity will be prominent. Students will write every week, both scientific and creative prose. If you are already a skilled writer who loves to write, you will find an outlet here. If you do not enjoy writing, or would like to further develop some basic skills, you will also find this useful, and hopefully pleasant. Similarly, we will do some math in this program. If you find numbers and their manipulation exciting, you will have fun with this. If you are a math-phobe, we will try to reveal some of its beauty and wisdom to you. Words and numbers are symbolic representations of our world; if we do not understand them, they have undue power over us. As we learn to use them as tools that we can master, they allow us to further our own understanding, experience and representation of the world. biology, communications and field research. Heather Heying Freshmen FR Spring Spring
Brian Walter and Rachel Hastings
  Course SO–SRSophomore - Senior 4 04 Day F 11 Fall Mathematicians seek deep truths about a purely formal world, one that may or may not have much to do with the physical world we inhabit.  Through our readings, seminar discussions, and writing assignments, we’ll explore that connection, the existential status of mathematical objects (What is mathematics?  Do mathematical objects actually exist, and if so, where?  Are mathematical systems discovered or created?), and surrounding issues as we learn more about modern mathematical practice.This course coincides with the seminar portion of the Mathematical Systems program, so students in this course will share seminars with students in that program. mathematics, philosophy, philosophy of science Brian Walter Rachel Hastings Tue Sophomore SO Junior JR Senior SR Fall Fall
Bob Haft and Donald Morisato
Signature Required: Winter 
  Program FR–SRFreshmen - Senior 16 16 Day F 11 Fall W 12Winter Both science and art take things apart. In some instances--like the evisceration of a frog or an overly-analytical critique of a poem --the process can result in the loss of the vital force. In the best scenario, carefully isolating and understanding individual parts actually reconstitutes the original object of study, bringing appreciation for the whole that is greater than the parts. Sometimes taking things apart results in a paradigm shift: suddenly, the ordinary becomes extraordinary.In one strand of this program, we will use a biologist's tool kit to explore how living organisms function. We will learn how biology takes apart and studies life in different ways. In fall, we will focus on visual perception, beginning with anatomy, proceeding onto the logic of visual processing, and concluding with an examination of the specialized neurons and molecules involved in phototransduction. In winter quarter, we will play with the idea of mutation, exploring how genetics can be used to dissect complex processes, in addition to providing an entry point for the molecular understanding of inheritance at the level of DNA.Another strand takes visual art as its point of departure. Here, we will combine what we learn about the anatomy and physiology of the eye with a study of how to use sight to apprehend and appreciate the world around us. We will work with different tools--charcoal pencils and camera, for example--both to take things apart, and to construct new things. During fall quarter, we will learn the basics of drawing. In winter, we will switch to using black-and-white photography as a means of studying life at a more macroscopic level than in the biology lab. Ultimately, our goal here is the same as that of the scientist: to reconstitute and reanimate the world around us.There are ideas for which literature provides a more sophisticated and satisfying approach than either science or the visual arts. Thus, in a third strand, we will examine how literature depicts and takes apart the emotional and behavioral interactions that we call "love." Authors that we may read include Shakespeare, Stendhal, Henry James, Virginia Woolf, James Baldwin, John Berger, Haruki Murakami and Louise Gluck.Our goal is to weave these strands together, to produce an understanding about the world that is informed by both cognition and intuition. Throughout our inquiry, we will be investigating the philosophical issue of objectivity. This is a rigorous program that will involve lectures, workshops, seminars, studio art and laboratory science work. Student learning will be assessed by weekly seminar writing assignments, lab reports, art portfolios and exams. biology, visual arts, sciences and the humanities. Bob Haft Donald Morisato Freshmen FR Sophomore SO Junior JR Senior SR Fall Fall Winter