Byrne Courses

Semester: Spring 2021

Humanities

Argument Mapping
It's frequently useful to be able to make a compelling, well-constructed argument for something. (For the thesis of your term paper, on behalf of your favored candidate in the election, or for what you take to be the best decision about which movie to go to, or where to have dinner...) It's also frequently useful to be able to effectively process, understand, and critique other people's arguments, in order to decide whether to accept them and/or… Continue Reading – Argument Mapping
How Recording Technology Revolutionized Music
This course will explore the history of recorded music starting with piano rolls and music boxes, to the development of the phonautograph, phonograph, film, and magnetic tape, leading to complex multitracking practices and the digital audio workstation. We will explore how recording changed the way we experience and make music, impacting genres such as folk music, classical, and jazz, as well as musical styles that rely on recording practices,… Continue Reading – How Recording Technology Revolutionized Music
How to Learn a Chinese Dialect
Learn Cantonese, Taiwanese, Shanghainese, and maybe even others! This seminar will introduce the fundamentals of a single Chinese dialect over the 10 week course. The specific language we will study will be chosen by a poll of the registered students before the class starts. By the end of the course students will be able to carry out simple, basic conversational tasks in the language, write the dialect in Romanization, and be equipped with the… Continue Reading – How to Learn a Chinese Dialect
The Languages that Surround Us: Mapping the Linguistic Landscape of New Brunswick
Are you interested in learning more about the linguistic and cultural diversity of our community? Would you like to participate in a new research project that documents the rich linguistic diversity of Rutgers New Brunswick? In this course, you will conduct field work to collect and analyze various types of linguistic data (signs, advertisements, interviews with community members) to investigate all languages spoken in the New Brunswick… Continue Reading – The Languages that Surround Us: Mapping the Linguistic Landscape of New Brunswick
The Ludovisi Collection of Art in Rome: A 400th Anniversary Seminar
The year 2021 marks the 400th anniversary of the formation of the Villa Ludovisi, a sprawling art-filled garden property in north-central Rome, largely but not completely dismantled in 1885. To tell its story at this significant juncture, this seminar draws on a deep reservoir of Rutgers-funded research on this cultural landmark, and offers students hands-on work with recently recovered and comprehensively digitized documentary sources and… Continue Reading – The Ludovisi Collection of Art in Rome: A 400th Anniversary Seminar
The Problem of Evil in Philosophy and Popular Culture
The problem of evil, as Susan Neiman has described it, is the perniciously difficult to satisfy “need to find order within those appearances so unbearable that they threaten reason’s ability to go on,” as when (at times incomprehensibly) bad things happen to (at least relatively) good people, and (at least relatively) good things to (at times incomprehensibly) bad people. Central to her watershed perspective on the problem are two related… Continue Reading – The Problem of Evil in Philosophy and Popular Culture
The Secret Life of Art: A Forensic Exploration of Art and Cultural Objects
What is that sculpture made of? How does an artist choose which materials to use? How long will these materials last? How can you tell if something is a fake? We will answer these questions by looking at art and cultural objects from the point of view of an artist or craftsman, a scientist, an art conservator, and a historian. Using a series of case studies from museums and cultural institutions around the world, this seminar will show how… Continue Reading – The Secret Life of Art: A Forensic Exploration of Art and Cultural Objects
Yoga: Finding Calm in Chaos
This seminar will help you focus on finding calm in your life while joining the ranks of busy college students. Through the study and practice of yoga, we will explore how to build a stronger mind-body connection. This course will assist you in learning how the practice of yoga can support a happy and healthy life. Through centering and breathing techniques, strengthening and stretching yoga postures, and simple meditations, students will begin… Continue Reading – Yoga: Finding Calm in Chaos

Sciences

A Happy Child Makes a Healthy Adult
Traumatic psychosocial events in early life, aka Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs: neglect, maltreatment, caregiver stress/depression, domestic/community violence) have been associated in epidemiological studies with increased lifetime risk of adverse health outcomes, including chronic non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, heart diseases and cancer, as well as psychiatric disorders. ACEs can have devastating, long-lasting effects on… Continue Reading – A Happy Child Makes a Healthy Adult
Addiction
Do people become addicted to technology? Although some students have direct or indirect experience with substance abuse, all will have experienced the lure of the iPhone, TV, web surfing, texting or playing video games. This seminar will encourage students to describe the behaviors they observe in themselves or others. We will explore the cognitive processes involved in starting, repeating or perseverating in technology related behaviors. The… Continue Reading – Addiction
Batteries, Genes, and Beyond
Have you ever wondered how beer is made? Maybe how a battery works? Or for that matter, how anything in your life is made? This seminar series will take a look at some of the “behind the scenes” engineering that makes products you use in your everyday life ranging from plastics to batteries to beer. We’ll also delve into how some of these items affect the world. Other topics discussed are: gene editing/ gene silencing, the engineering behind an… Continue Reading – Batteries, Genes, and Beyond
Big Data and Data Science
The world is undergoing a data revolution as big data -- data collection and analytics at massive scale and increasing speed -- is transforming academic research and business alike. The newly evolving discipline of data science has emerged from a fusion of statistics, computer science, and methods forged and refined by big data. This seminar explores the changes big data is bringing, from personalized genomic data, smart devices, real-time data… Continue Reading – Big Data and Data Science
Biology of Women
The language describing human anatomy and physiology was largely written by men. Perhaps for this reason, much of the medical jargon describing women’s biology can be misleading or have negative connotations. This course will give a basic overview of women’s biology and will cover male and female reproductive anatomy, the menstrual cycle and menopause, birth control, pregnancy, labor and delivery, childbirth anesthesia, lactation, sex… Continue Reading – Biology of Women
Can Exercise Change Your Brain?
Almost everyone knows that exercise is good for them, yet most people are inactive. A more effective approach to get people off the couch and moving might be to inform them of the mental and cognitive health benefits of exercise. In this seminar, we will explore the underlying neurobiological mechanisms that help to explain the beneficial effects of exercise on brain health, covering topics from depression to ADD to Alzheimer’s. We will also… Continue Reading – Can Exercise Change Your Brain?
Climate Change and Water Resources
What are the global geopolitical and policy implications of climate change? This seminar will introduce students to global climate change that is occurring in response to increasing levels of atmospheric greenhouse gases. After an introduction to the science of climate change, we will focus on potential future changes in water resources, both globally and in New Jersey, including the potential for increased floods and droughts, sea-level rise… Continue Reading – Climate Change and Water Resources
Climate Change, Inequality, and Social Justice
Climate change is an environmental, equity, and social justice issue. The physical processes that result in rising temperatures, changes in precipitation, and rising sea levels have uneven spatial outcomes, while the intersection of discrimination and economic disadvantage contribute to disproportionate vulnerabilities among racially, ethnically, or other marginalized populations.  In this seminar, we will explore climate change and its equity… Continue Reading – Climate Change, Inequality, and Social Justice
Energy Flow in Nature
Natural phenomena, from lakes, rivers and animals to climate and environmental flows, are largely governed by the flow of energy. Most of the energy comes from the Sun and we lose energy to the ambient medium. The seminar discusses how this flow of energy is critical to our survival and how it affects the Earth, the environment, the climate and what we experience in nature. The basic aspects as well as the observed phenomena are discussed. Among… Continue Reading – Energy Flow in Nature
Exploring the Deep Sea
The seminar will focus on deep-sea exploration from the origins to present times, and discussions will be based on a mix of oral presentations and documentaries. The seminar will expose students to the deep-sea environment and its inhabitants, and it will include discussions on ongoing ecological and microbiological research conducted at Rutgers in the most extreme environments on the face of the planet (e.g., deep-sea hydrothermal vents with… Continue Reading – Exploring the Deep Sea
Feeding the Planet: Why We Need a One Nutrition Approach to Food Sustainability
All that most people want is appetizing food to eat that is convenient, affordable, and safe.  But, where does our food come from, and what are the consequences of our food choices and preferences, not only for our own health, but also the health of the planet?  Join us on an exploration of a new concept called "One Nutrition", developed here at Rutgers.  One Nutrition is based on the recognition that food and nutrition is not only essential to… Continue Reading – Feeding the Planet: Why We Need a One Nutrition Approach to Food Sustainability
Finding the Shape of the Universe: Perelman and the Poincaré Conjecture
In the year 2003, Grigory Perelman announced to the world a proof of the Poincaré conjecture, a hundred-year-old problem related to one of the most important objects in mathematics: the sphere. In fact, Perelman proved something stronger, the Geometrization Conjecture, which is central to understanding the possible shapes the universe can take. The goal of this seminar will be to put into historical perspective the Poincaré conjecture and… Continue Reading – Finding the Shape of the Universe: Perelman and the Poincaré Conjecture
Food: What do we eat? Where does it come from? How do we grow it?
This five-week seminar will discuss what we eat and the origin of foods and how we grow and prepare them.  We will look at the two ends of the food supply, the one billion people who suffer from lack of calories and food insecurity and the one billion people who are now clinically obese and suffer from a series of non-communicable diseases.  We will talk about how food is grown, shipped, and marketed.  We will discuss personal choices and better… Continue Reading – Food: What do we eat? Where does it come from? How do we grow it?
Future Internet and Smart Cities
As urban populations increase, solutions to challenges in mobility, infrastructure, and housing are of utmost importance to society. Disruptive technologies have the potential to transform the way cities currently operate and the way that we communicate. Smart cities and smart homes are making our world more intelligent and more responsive as billions of physical devices around the world are now connected to the Internet. This seminar is… Continue Reading – Future Internet and Smart Cities
Global Environmental Health
There are almost eight billion people in the world today and the population will grow to close to ten billion by 2050.  Almost eighty five percent of the population live in developing countries.  One of the challenges for this ever-growing population is providing a secure food supply.  We will discuss the trends in global food production and the technology used to increase global food supply. We will also explore the ever-growing global obesity… Continue Reading – Global Environmental Health
Harry Potter and Potion-Making Science
Humans have been using nature-made ingredients (herbs, minerals, and extracts from plants and animals) to treat diseases since ancient times.  In modern day science, medicine-making is one of the largest industries and job markets for the college-educated.  In this Byrne seminar, we will use examples of potion-making from the Harry Potter 7-book series as a literary platform, and introduce the knowledge and scientific approaches for medicine-… Continue Reading – Harry Potter and Potion-Making Science
Health Career Cruising
Thinking of a career in healthcare? Then this is the Byrne Seminar for you. Follow a patient’s journey to health while learning about a variety of health professions. Experience what it is like to help someone learn to walk again, to detect diseases from a small speck of blood, and to look into the heart as it delivers oxygen to our vital organs. Join us for a ten-week tour around the body while learning about the exciting professions that… Continue Reading – Health Career Cruising
Hunger Frames
This class explores recent research showing that re-designing the dining environment can promote healthier eating. Each week we will discuss different dining/restaurant type venues and how the design of the operation may affect your food choices. Highlights of the class include new research on how principles from behavioral economics and social psychology can be harnessed to promote healthy eating behavior.  We will also discuss how COVID-19 has… Continue Reading – Hunger Frames
Is there life on Mars?
This seminar will examine the prospects of life on Mars, and elsewhere in the Universe. Not “little green men”, but microorganisms. We will explore how life is thought to have evolved on Earth and, with a focus on microbial life, identify the limitations and constraints to life as we know it. We will discuss how the NASA Exobiology program aims to understand the phylogeny and physiology of microorganisms whose characteristics reflect the nature… Continue Reading – Is there life on Mars?
Let’s Clean Up New Jersey! Environmental Contamination and Clean Up in the Garden State
New Jersey was the first industrialized state in the union. We have a rich history of industrial production that led to development of many new products. Unfortunately, our state also suffered from environmental contamination as a result of heavy usage and manufacturing of chemicals.  New Jersey is at the epicenter of the earliest applications of water and waste treatment, and environmental cleanup technologies. In this seminar, we will explore… Continue Reading – Let’s Clean Up New Jersey! Environmental Contamination and Clean Up in the Garden State
Metabolism
How often have you heard the statement “I am fat because I have a slow metabolism”? In this course we will study all aspects of metabolism, and how it is studied, from the first studies of Lavoisier in 1776 when he placed a guinea pig, named Gina, in a calorimeter to the present day field of Metabolomics. We will consider how metabolism changes in conditions such as obesity, diabetes and cancer and how understanding such changes may lead to… Continue Reading – Metabolism
Mosquitoes, Ticks, and Vector-borne Disease
Diseases transmitted by mosquitoes, ticks and other vectors (i.e., vector-borne diseases) such as Malaria, Zika and Lyme disease are responsible for over 700,000 human deaths annually and account for over 17% of all infectious disease globally.  In the last 20 years, at least nine new pathogens spread to humans by these arthropod vectors were discovered in, or introduced to, the United States.  This seminar will give a brief synopsis of the “… Continue Reading – Mosquitoes, Ticks, and Vector-borne Disease
Paperbotics and Art
Pulp-based paper has conveyed information with printed lettering, diagrams, and illustrations for hundreds of years. In these conventional formats, the flipping or turning of pages has required human manipulation. Recent research efforts are beginning to add life and active functionality to paper-based structures in the form of mechanical grippers, manipulators, and locomotors. In this hands-on seminar, students will review state-of-the-art… Continue Reading – Paperbotics and Art
Perspectives on Autism in Adulthood
There are currently more than 5,000,000 adults with autism living in the United States, with 50,000 more that “age-out” of their school-based educational entitlement every year. Many adults with autism are without access to high-quality services and supports. As a result, these individuals are often relegated to long adult lives characterized by social isolation, unemployment, untreated psychological and physical health conditions, and… Continue Reading – Perspectives on Autism in Adulthood
Quantum Computing: Qubits, Entanglement, Cryptography, Black Holes and Firewalls
This seminar will introduce students to the ideas behind the coming quantum computing revolution. We will discuss foundations of quantum information including qubits, entanglement and modern interpretations of quantum mechanics; applications of quantum computing in cryptography and other areas; the technologies being explored for realizing quantum computing; and the quantum information aspects of black holes and gravity. In the seminar, we will… Continue Reading – Quantum Computing: Qubits, Entanglement, Cryptography, Black Holes and Firewalls
Road to COVID-19 Vaccination: Exploration of Innovation, Design Thinking, and Healthcare
2020 is an unprecedented year.  As the world unites to respond to COVID-19, this seminar will expose students to research and innovation occurring right in New Brunswick, NJ.  In partnership with the Rutgers health institutes and a broadly-based global healthcare company in New Brunswick, students will engage with researchers and leaders on understanding the road to a COVID-19 vaccination.  The seminar will start with an engaging talk with… Continue Reading – Road to COVID-19 Vaccination: Exploration of Innovation, Design Thinking, and Healthcare
Smart Eating and Living for a Healthy and Happy Life
This course will be taught by Professors with expertise in food, nutrition, psychology and kinesiology to discuss how dietary habits, physical activity and a positive attitude can increase wellness and prevent diseases. Each session of the seminar will include lectures and discussions. The students are expected to be fully engaged by thinking about whether a certain idea can be applied to their daily lives, raising questions and participating in… Continue Reading – Smart Eating and Living for a Healthy and Happy Life
Spinal Cord Injury and Stem Cells: Pushing the Frontiers, Raising the Ethical Questions
Using present day examples from stem cell and spinal cord injury research and clinical trials, this course will enable students to look beyond the headlines to the underlying facts and issues in scientific research, to critically raise and examine ethical questions, and to understand that the purpose of science is to improve the lives of people. Students are encouraged to find and report on examples in movies, television, newspapers, magazines,… Continue Reading – Spinal Cord Injury and Stem Cells: Pushing the Frontiers, Raising the Ethical Questions
Success in Schools: Why Being Smart isn’t Always Enough!
Have you ever wondered why some students struggle in school, and what can be done to help these individuals? In this seminar, we provide examples of common barriers to successful learning in schools (learning disabilities, anxiety, lack of motivation, attention disorders), and describe approaches for identifying and solving these school-based problems. Through discussion and class activities, students will be introduced to the field of school… Continue Reading – Success in Schools: Why Being Smart isn’t Always Enough!
The History and Future of High Speed Passenger Trains
Over the past fifty years, high speed passenger trains have emerged as a critical transportation resource throughout the world.  The era began with the Japanese Bullet Train (Tōkaidō Shinkansen) first service on 1 October 1964.  The Japanese high speed train system now provides over 400 million passenger trips per year, and travels at a top speed exceeding 300 km/hr.  Similar high speed passenger trains have been developed in Europe, China and… Continue Reading – The History and Future of High Speed Passenger Trains
The Secret Life of Art: A Forensic Exploration of Art and Cultural Objects
What is that sculpture made of? How does an artist choose which materials to use? How long will these materials last? How can you tell if something is a fake? We will answer these questions by looking at art and cultural objects from the point of view of an artist or craftsman, a scientist, an art conservator, and a historian. Using a series of case studies from museums and cultural institutions around the world, this seminar will show how… Continue Reading – The Secret Life of Art: A Forensic Exploration of Art and Cultural Objects
The Universe: What We Know and What We Don’t
This seminar explores what we have learned about the fundamental physics of elementary particles and cosmology over the past fifty years along with the current mysteries and unknowns. Through discussions, students will gain an idea of what fundamental physics research is and the pressing questions that we are currently striving to answer. The seminar is based on an article by Steven Weinberg from the New York Review of Books entitled “Physics:… Continue Reading – The Universe: What We Know and What We Don’t

Social Sciences

9/11 and American Religion
This seminar will explore the events of September 11th, 2001, and their aftermath from the perspective of American religious history. That is, the ways in which America’s responses to 9/11 are in dialogue with religious themes and motifs. Some of the themes to be discussed include: A. The sanctification of urban space. Focusing on the ways in which Ground Zero is understood as a sacred pilgrimage site. B. Contested Space. The controversy over… Continue Reading – 9/11 and American Religion
American College Life for First Year International Students
Have you ever experienced any culture shock during the first year at Rutgers? In what ways is the college experience in the United States different from the experience if you studied in your home country? What do you expect from your college experience here and how do you look at the challenges that you will face? In this course, we will share our personal experiences, difficulties and our coping strategies. Topics to be discussed in this course… Continue Reading – American College Life for First Year International Students
Artists and Politics: The Intersections of Policy and Art in the 20th and 21st Centuries
This seminar will examine major American political controversies such as migration, war, urban transformations and gentrification, race, and globalization through the lens of photography, film, and other visual arts. The seminar explores Art (Gustafson) and Public Policy (Salzman) to examine how current policy issues have been and are represented in visual arts. We contrast contemporary policies and art with representations in the past. For… Continue Reading – Artists and Politics: The Intersections of Policy and Art in the 20th and 21st Centuries
COVID-19 and the Women's Global Health Crisis
Covid 19 has amplified what many public health professionals have known for years: women throughout the world are suffering from tremendous health disparities. Unequal power relations, poverty, violence, and decreased access to education disproportionately affect women and girls, creating barriers to attaining the best possible level of health. Without access to quality healthcare, plagued with generational diseases brought on by systemic racism… Continue Reading – COVID-19 and the Women's Global Health Crisis
Dystopian Fiction, Carceral Regimes, and State-Corporate Crime: Innovative Approaches to Critical Criminology
At a time when fundamental questions about democracy, citizenship, representation, and justice are being raised, the direct connections between criminal justice reforms and democratic systems are seldom emphasized. Empirical evidence continues to highlight the glaring contradiction of a country that projects a message of freedom and democracy while simultaneously being home to the most expansive system of incarceration and punitive control ever… Continue Reading – Dystopian Fiction, Carceral Regimes, and State-Corporate Crime: Innovative Approaches to Critical Criminology
HERstory of LGBTQI Through Film
The course interrogates the portrayal of sexually diverse communities and identities through films as a critical lens of personal and political power. The class will discuss cultural perceptions that herstorically forced LGBTQI persons to hide their authentic identities. Mainstream films such as: “Some Like it Hot,” “The Celluloid Closet,” “Brokeback Mountain,” “Bound,” “Transamerica,” “Bird Cage,” “The Wedding Banquet,” “Dallas Buyers Club” and… Continue Reading – HERstory of LGBTQI Through Film
Information Inequality
In this course, we will develop an understanding of information as a commodity, with a richly contested value for both individuals and societies. This course will engage with different types of information inequalities, such as those between economically rich/poor societies, as well as situations where information is restricted or censored. From the level of societies, information is politically and economically charged. The ubiquity of… Continue Reading – Information Inequality
Only in New Jersey! New Jersey’s History in Newspapers
Politics. Wars. Crimes. Scandals. Shark Attacks. Celebrations. New Jersey had it all. Before the advent of radio, television, and the Internet, newspapers were vital for the sharing and dissemination of information. New Jersey had hundreds of local newspapers, each providing a unique snapshot a community. These resources are still widely used by historians and genealogists and provide important insight into the daily life of another time. In… Continue Reading – Only in New Jersey! New Jersey’s History in Newspapers
Rockin' Roots, Global Reach: The Story of New Jersey's Popular Music
Frank Sinatra, Whitney Houston, and Bruce Springsteen are just a few of the artists who have called New Jersey home. But for centuries the state has been fertile ground for musical creativity. In this course we will work with Rutgers’ incredible, rare, and unique New Jersey sheet music collection, that makes the materials freely accessible and comprehensible around the globe. Students will learn about New Jersey politics and popular music… Continue Reading – Rockin' Roots, Global Reach: The Story of New Jersey's Popular Music
Social and Organizational Networks: Introduction to a Connected World
Interconnected social and natural systems are all around us. In our daily life, we participate in networks of friendship, social support, (mis)information sharing, and communication. In our work, we are part of organizational and industry networks. We are surrounded by technological, physical and biological networks. Their structure and characteristics shape our lives in ways that we may not always anticipate. This seminar will examine the… Continue Reading – Social and Organizational Networks: Introduction to a Connected World
Sound Mind, Sound Body: The Last 50 Years of Intercollegiate Athletics
The world of intercollegiate athletics has changed dramatically from the days of regional competitions without media coverage to the present national stage with constant television and internet coverage. What are those principal changes? What role have universities played; has the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) played; has television played? In 2020, what challenges face college athletics? Is the current system sustainable? The… Continue Reading – Sound Mind, Sound Body: The Last 50 Years of Intercollegiate Athletics
The Politics of Identity and the Common Good: To the Left, to the Right?
This Byrne seminar will focus on the politics of identity and different kinds of claims for social justice.  Some, for example, argue for redistribution of resources and others for recognition of cultural difference.  Many have argued that these kinds of claims lead to polarization (e.g., choosing between class politics and identity politics).   The seminar will consider how the problem of “identity” emerges with modernity.   We will explore the… Continue Reading – The Politics of Identity and the Common Good: To the Left, to the Right?
The Undiscovered Paul Robeson
The life and legacy of the esteemed Rutgers alumnus Paul Robeson embodies the idea of “global citizenship.” A towering figure in the African-American struggle for human dignity and democratic rights, he connected this struggle with those of other peoples around the world who were also fighting for political rights, cultural recognition, and economic justice. Among many other social justice movements that he embraced, Paul Robeson pioneered the… Continue Reading – The Undiscovered Paul Robeson
Truth or Fiction?
The information age has democratized the dissemination of and access to information. Social media provides a voice to all and can blur the lines of fact and fiction. Are all tweets worth the noise they generate? How can we filter through opinions and the news media to gain accurate knowledge? This course will explore the impact of the information age on our understanding of truth.  Through lectures, guest speakers, videos, role play, and… Continue Reading – Truth or Fiction?