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Global Perspectives

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Global Perspectives courses in the spring quarters investigate several different global phenomena, enabling you to make comparative analyses and locate your own actions within a global context. Most courses are 4 units and structured with faculty-led lectures (2x/week, 50 minutes) and fellow-led sections (2x/week, 50 minutes), but some courses are taught as 3-unit seminars meeting twice a week for 80 minutes. Unlike autumn and winter, most spring courses have required lectures. 

Students placed in spring quarter in August will receive an email during winter quarter to submit course preferences before spring enrollment opens.

COLLEGE 103 (4 units--2 lectures, 2 sections each week)

Globally Queer

The progress of LGBTQ+ rights over the last half century has been remarkably swift and absolutely global. Pride parades and marriage rights have become emblems of a global movement that seems to transcend culture. This course asks what has allowed LGBTQ+ issues to become leading indicators of a certain kind of liberalization and modernization. What is the road LGBTQ+ rights took from the Stonewall Inn in 1969 to Pride Parades in Minsk, Kolkata and Nuuk, Greenland by 2015? This course will highlight the concepts by which historians, social scientists and political theorists have interrogated the problematic underbelly of this story of global triumph. What gets left out when we frame the course of LGBTQ+ history as somehow moving from Lower Manhattan to the rest of the world? Many academics studying LGBTQ+ history worry about the eurocentrism inherent in this way of telling the story this way, and about how it truncates our understanding of LGBTQ+ culture. After all, are LGBTQ+ identities and rights one size-fits-all?

Maxe Crandall, Feminist, Gender and Sexuality Studies

Adrian Daub, German Studies and Comparative Literature

COLLEGE 106 (4 units--2 lectures, 2 sections each week)

Environmental Sustainability: Global Predicaments and Possible Solutions

How do we balance the benefits of industrialization against environmental justice? Is technological innovation a reason for optimism about the future of the environment? What do we lose as the biodiversity of the planet declines? This course engages with the big questions around the future of environmental sustainability from a global perspective, touching on climate change, energy, natural resources, waste, and technology, as well as the human impacts. Students will not only consider how global citizenship is informed by a responsibility towards the environment, but will have the opportunity to develop a practical solution to one of the key sustainability challenges.

 William Barnett, Graduate School of Business 

 Chris Field, Earth System Science

COLLEGE 107 (4 units--2 lectures, 2 sections each week)

Preventing Human Extinction

Killer epidemics, climate change, nuclear war, hostile artificial intelligence: is human extinction inevitable? Is it necessarily bad for the planet? What might we do to prevent it? You will have the chance to explore several plausible scenarios by which human extinction could occur within the next 100 years. We’ll study the psychological, social, and epistemological barriers that frequently derail efforts to avert these catastrophes.

Paul Edwards, Science, Technology & Society

Stephen Luby, Medicine (Infectious Diseases)

COLLEGE 110 (4 units--2 lectures, 2 sections each week)

The Spirit of Democracy

What has led to the remarkable spread of democracy around the world? And why do freedom and democracy now appear to be receding in the world? How are the original debates on the design of constitutional democracy in the United States relevant to the current challenges it faces? The class is a unique opportunity to not only study democracy in the United and around the globe but also participate in a practical experiment in “deliberative polling.” You will help develop and organize a focus group and run through a simulation of the deliberative democracy process.

Larry Diamond, Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies

James Fishkin, Communications

COLLEGE 111 (4 units--2 lectures, 2 sections each week)

The Ethical Challenges of the Global Climate Crisis

Climate change is now a global crisis. The notion that countries can each individually deal with it and ignore the fact that it ignores borders has long been recognized as unrealistic and counterproductive. Yet the international community has time and again for more than three decades fallen far short of what the global scientific community warns is necessary to stave off catastrophe soon. Fortunately, governments and the fossil fuel industry that still holds undue influence over them are not the only entities that will determine whether humanity can survive on the only planet in the universe known so far to support life. Thanks to massive global activism, especially among youth and people on the frontlines of the climate crisis, and a revolution in ever more affordable and scalable clean energy, especially solar, wind, geothermal, electric vehicles, and battery storage, the global political climate surrounding what is “economically and technologically” possible is rapidly changing.

Mikael Wolfe, History

COLLEGE 112 (4 units--2 lectures, 2 sections each week)

Living with Viruses

What is a virus? How do viruses affect our lives? Does the virus make us distinctly human? This course challenges you to think beyond conventional disciplinary distinctions through questions about the impact of biology on human behavior as well as the potential of humans to shape biology through genetic engineering. Through creative projects, students will engage the study of individual viruses in their microbial as well as cultural context.

Julie Baker, Genetics

COLLEGE 113 (3 units--2 seminar meetings each week, plus two evening film screenings required during the quarter)

Utopia, Dystopia, and Technology in Science Fiction

Science fiction thinks about how science and technology transform human society, values, and everyday experiences in ways good or bad. By projecting both utopia and dystopia, sf reveals and critiques technology-induced social malaises and keeps hopes alive by projecting better futures, testifying to the ceaseless human potential for self-renewal in sustaining civilization on Earth. This course asks the two-fold question: How can humans of diverse cultures harness technoscientific innovations while preserving humanist values and maintain a sustainable economy and civilization? How do narratives of utopia and dystopia depict the anthropocentric domination of nature and the exploitation working classes through the misuse and abuse of technology?

Ban Wang, East Asian Languages and Cultures

COLLEGE 117 (4 units--2 lectures, 2 sections each week)

Equity & Justice in Biotechnologies: Who Benefits and Who is Left Behind

Advances in genomics, artificial intelligence and neurotechnologies are expected to transform biomedicine. Genomics has been applied to prenatal testing in order to screen for genetic disorders, improve cancer treatment, and diagnose rare disorders. Artificial intelligence has been applied to improving areas of healthcare such as diagnostic tests and developing potential medical treatments. Neurotechnologies have generated hopes of providing improved prosthetics or treatment for people with neurological and mental health disorders. However, as these biotechnologies are developed and implemented, they raise important questions regarding justice and equity. Who benefits from these advances in science and technology, and who is excluded? Is research and development in these areas proceeding in ways that are inclusive of diverse perspectives and populations?

Daphne Martschenko, Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethics

Nicole Martinez-Martin, Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethics

COLLEGE 118 (4 units--2 lectures, 2 sections each week)

Global Capitals: How Cities Shape Cultures, States, and People

This course takes students on a trip to major capital cities at different moments in time: Renaissance-Florence, Transnational-Accra, Imperial Beijing. While exploring each place in a particular historical moment, we will also consider the relations between culture, power, and social life. How does the cultural life of a country intersect with the political activity of a capital? How do large cities shape our everyday experience, our aesthetic preferences, and our sense of history? Why do some cities become cultural capitals? Primary materials for his course will consist of literary, visual, sociological, and historical documents (in translation).

Dan Edelstein, French and Italian

COLLEGE 119 (4 units--2 lectures, 2 sections each week)

Making of the Modern World

It is often stated that we live in a global age. What does this mean? How new is this phenomenon? What does it mean to think about the human experience from a global perspective? And, why does it matter? In this course, we will examine globalism and globalization in historical and contemporary contexts; engage with theoretical frameworks and a range of case studies from a variety of national/regional contexts; and use these to analyze global economic, political, environmental, and socio-cultural networks, trends, and issues, exploring the interconnectedness of the local and the global. We will consider how universal is the human experience and how the answer to this question might impact the future of humanity.

Grant Parker,Classics

Jovana Lazic, Global Studies