Fall 2020 Seminars

All of Physics in 13 Days

Semester: 

Fall

Offered: 

2020

John M. Doyle (Department of Physics)
Freshman Seminar 23Y 4 credits (fall term) Enrollment: Limited to 8

Some claim that there are 13 ideas or principles that can form the bedrock for a pretty good understanding of our physical and technological world. These are: 1) Boltzmann factor and thermal equilibrium, 2) Turbulence, 3) Reaction rates, 4) Indistinguishable particles, 5) Quantum waves, 6) Linearity, 7) Entropy and information, 8) Discharges, ionization, 9)...

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Asian America

Semester: 

Fall

Offered: 

2020

Diana L. Eck (Department of South Asian Studies & Committee on the Study of Religion)
Freshman Seminar 70Y     4 credits (fall term)     Enrollment:  Limited to 12

How "Asian" is America today? This seminar explores the Asian dimensions of American history, immigration, religion, and culture from the first encounters of Thoreau and Emerson with texts and ideas of the "Orient" to the saturation of modern America with the holistic cultures of...

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Biology of Symbiosis: From the Deep-Sea to the Human Microbiome

Semester: 

Fall

Offered: 

2020

Colleen Cavanaugh (Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology)

Freshman Seminar 24Q       4 credits (fall term)      Enrollment:  Limited to 11

Symbiosis between microbes and eukaryotes is a globally important phenomenon that has powerful effects on the physiology, ecology, and evolution of all living organisms and is a source of biological innovation.  This course examines the remarkable diversity of symbioses on Earth, and their roles in human health and disease, agriculture, and biotechnology...

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Black Holes, String Theory and the Fundamental Laws of Nature

Semester: 

Fall

Offered: 

2020

Andrew E. Strominger (Department of Physics)
Freshman Seminar 21V     4 credits (fall term)     Enrollment:  Limited to 12

The quest to understand the fundamental laws of nature has been ongoing for centuries. This seminar will assess the current status of this quest. In the first five weeks we will cover the basic pillars of our understanding: Einstein’s theory of general relativity, quantum mechanics and the Standard Model of particle...

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Build a Modern Art Exhibition—Dig up Harvard’s Archives

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2020

Felipe Pereda (Department of History of Art and Architecture)
Freshman Seminar 63U    4 credits (fall term)     Enrollment:  Limited to 12

The making of an exhibition entails a thorough process of investigation. We will need to find the works of art, document them and construct an argument that will be brought to life at a museum gallery. The goal of this seminar is to give you the chance to participate in the research and design of this...

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California in the 60's

Semester: 

Fall

Offered: 

2020

Kate van Orden (Department of Music)
Freshman Seminar 30M    4 credits (fall term)  Enrollment:  Limited to 15

 

This seminar examines American youth culture in the "long" 1960s through the lens of music in California. A range of popular and art music will be considered, from San Francisco psychedelia, L.A. rock-n-roll, surf rock, outlaw country, funk, and the ballads of singer-songwriters to the early minimalism of Steve Reich, Terry Riley, and...

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Challenges to International Monetary and Financial Stability in Historical Perspective

Semester: 

Fall

Offered: 

2020

Kenneth S. Rogoff (Department of Economics)
Freshman Seminar 40X     4 credits (fall term)     Enrollment:  Limited to 12

This seminar explores contemporary debates on the future of the international monetary and financial system drawing on both historical and recent experiences. Topics will include understanding the underpinning and aftermath of sovereign defaults, financial crises and high inflation over history, with particular emphasis on the...

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Spring 2021

"Copycat" China?

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2021

Thomas P. Kelly (Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations)
­­Freshman Seminar 63K 4 credits (spring term) Enrollment:  Limited to 12

In our age of deception, China is widely blamed for a failure to respect intellectual property. These attacks are not new: Chinese makers have long been condemned for flooding the market with cheap knockoffs, forgeries, and counterfeit brands. Challenging such stereotypes, this seminar explores ideas of copying in Chinese art...

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"Science" and Technology Primer for Future Leaders

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2021

Hongkun Park (Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology and of Physics)
Freshman Seminar 52E 4 credits (fall term) Enrollment:  Limited to 15

We live in a world that is shaped by science and technology. As a modern citizen who will lead the U.S. and the world in the coming generation, we should be cognizant of the rapidly changing landscape of science and technology and be ready to be active participants in the decision-making processes for deploying these life-changing developments to...

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America's $4 Trillion Challenge: Boosting Health Care Productivity and Broadening Access

Semester: 

N/A

Offered: 

2021

Alan M. Garber (Department of Economics, Harvard Medical School, Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health)
Freshman Seminar 40K  4 credits (spring term)  Enrollment:  Limited to 15

"Why does health care cost so much?" Policymakers, employers, and the public share deep frustration at high health expenditures, which are blamed for rising federal deficits, the declining competitiveness of US businesses, and the risk of financial ruin for individuals unfortunate...

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Animation—Getting Your Hands on Time

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2021

Ruth S. Lingford (Department of Art, Film and Visual Studies)
Freshman Seminar 33O    4 credits (spring term)    Enrollment:  Limited to 12

Students in this practice-based seminar will experiment with a variety of animation techniques to gain new perspectives on time. Using drawing, we will break down time into frames, understanding movement as both a liquid flow and a sequence of distinct infinitesimals. Using pixilation, a technique from the beginning of cinema, we...

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Asteroids and Comets

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2021

Charles R. Alcock (Department of Astronomy)
Freshman Seminar 23R     4 credits (spring term)    Enrollment:  Limited to 12 

Comets have been seen regularly since before the beginning of recorded history. They have often been regarded as disturbing portents. Asteroids, on the other hand, were not discovered until the nineteenth century, with the advent of astronomy with telescopes. Today we know of many more asteroids than comets, but we believe that there are vastly...

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Death: Its Nature and Significance

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2021

Jeffrey Behrends (Department of Philosophy)
Freshman Seminar 60S     4 credits (spring term)     Enrollment:  Limited to 12

Here's a hard truth: You are going to die. That's nothing against you, of course. I'm going to die, too, and so is everyone else ‐ it's just the way of things for creatures like us. Yet, despite the central role that death plays in our existence, it seems to remain deeply mysterious in a number of ways. It is difficult even to say precisely what...

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Insurrection in a Little Kingdom—The Real Story of the Standard Model of Particle Physics

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2021

Howard M. Georgi (Department of Physics)
Freshman Seminar 51U 4 credits (spring term) Enrollment: Limited to 12

At the end of the 1960s, particle physics was in a very chaotic state. There were experiments producing apparently conflicting data that were as confusing to the theorists as they were to the experimenters themselves. There were dramatically different theoretical approaches, none of which were convincing or even thoroughly understood. Less than 10 years later, we could put the standard...

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