Enrollment will open Oct. 31 for three University Courses being offered this spring to tackle significant societal and technological issues from an interdisciplinary perspective. University Courses, which were launched this fall as part of the Action phase of the Academic Strategic Plan, promote new and creative trans-institutional teaching and learning.
[lquote]University Courses meet degree requirements across undergraduate majors and many professional and graduate programs[/lquote].
“The inclusion of talented Vanderbilt students and faculty mentors outside of computer science into our University Course has led to better solutions that address big questions in a range of application domains and yielded prototypes of innovations needed to effectively tackle key societal problems in these domains,” says Douglas Schmidt, professor of computer science and computer engineering, who is currently teaching a University Course on mobile cloud computing.2
The courses launching this spring are:
Justice, Mercy and Mass Incarceration, taught by Ed Rubin of the Law School and Graham Reside of the Divinity School. This course will explore the legal structures and justifications that underlie incarceration and the moral and theological arguments that mass incarceration provokes. It also will focus on the unambiguous racial disparities of modern mass incarceration and examine alternative approaches to crime and punishment. The course is a Multicultural University Course, designed to advance the university’s initiatives in equity, diversity and inclusion.
The Nation’s Health: From Policy to Practice, taught by Tara McKay from Medicine, Health and Society in the College of Arts and Science and Gilbert Gonzales of the Department of Health Policy in the School of Medicine, is also a Multicultural University Course. In this course, McKay and Gonzales will help prepare students to be more effective participants in health policy debates by immersing them in the health policy environment, connecting the classroom to students’ everyday lives, and promoting reflective and critical scholarship through historical, political and sociological lenses.
Tackling Big Questions with Mobile Cloud Computing, taught by Schmidt and Jules White of the School of Engineering and including faculty from the schools of Engineering, Medicine, Nursing and the College of Arts and Science. This course brings together undergraduate and graduate students from various schools and colleges across campus and teams them with computer science students. The student teams address complex questions, such as effectively engaging young people with chronic diseases and medical conditions, including diabetes, asthma and obesity; creating “smarter” cities and sustainable energy platforms via an app-based transportation hub for Nashville; remotely monitoring the safety and operations of novel sources of power, including solar, wind and natural gas; and helping economically disadvantaged individuals bridge the digital divide to obtain better guidance on medical and legal matters. (A fall installment of the course is underway now.)
Historic Black Nashville, led by Jane Landers, Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor of History in Arts and Science, and law professor Daniel Sharfstein, is underway now. The course is exploring a history largely erased from the city’s landscape and is giving students experience in research methods to recover hidden histories and explore various media and technologies that can be used to tell these stories.