Fall 2020 Courses

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Pandemics and Society

Covid-19 and the pandemic in 2020 has placed us in unprecedented circumstances and has
forced us to adapt to new challenges on a daily basis. This gives us a unique opportunity to
study the previous pandemics that have occurred in the course of the past centuries and learn
about the unique circumstances of each one. During this Medical History course, We will study
major outbreaks and infections that have impacted the world in a case study format. In each
class, we will go over specific pandemics and public health crises to study the medicine, public
policy, historical implications, and the impact on art and literature. Through this course, students
will be able to critically analyze the impact and implication of historical events through a
multidisciplinary lens and engage in enriching discussions around the current pandemic.

Taught by Lana Bridi and Soroush Ershadifar

Image by Anthony Tori

Thinking in 2020

Imagine a world with no barriers and no anxiety. That is the philosophy behind my class this upcoming Fall called Thinking in 2020. The course will outline strategies for thinking, feeling, and maneuvering in today's digital world. We will be discussing and applying concepts such as the Growth Mindset, Creativity with Constraints, and the lean-startup model. Activities in class will always push you to think outside the box, whether it be warm-up activities such as crossword puzzles or jumbles, utilizing my mobile application called Journal360, or developing personal marketing presentations on company start-up ideas. Students lead the way in this class, and we will venture wherever our discussion takes us. Nothing is off-limits. 

Taught by Jack Rasmussen

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American Citizenship and Law

What does Citizenship mean to you? Although this legal privilege exists out of view for many in
the United States, this course examines how it came to be for a select group of the population.
By examining Supreme Court Decisions, local and federal laws, selected media pieces, and
contemporary texts related to racial hardship, we will discuss how citizenship has continuously
been influenced by race and politics. We will start with America beginning as its own nation,
then moving on to undecided relations with Native Americans, fluctuating statuses of African
Americans, and finally to the annexation of territories resulting in “American Nationals.” This
course highlights the tendency of law to come about as a result of social norms, but also how it
in turn creates them or solidifies mainstream politics. Most importantly, this subject shows the
story of America as inclusive of those who do not hold citizenship at all. Together we will
consider the very real legal and social ramifications of selective citizenship in the United States,
always holding the individual's humanity at the center of the conversation.

Taught by Emily Johnson

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The Intersectionality Between Food and Health

More than just breakfast, lunch and dinner, food plays a fundamental role in our lives and deserves a closer look. In this class, we will learn how the culture of a country can shape the food industry and ultimately our diets. It turns out that the food we choose to fuel our bodies not only affects our physical health but also shapes our mental health. This course aims to make us more knowledgeable consumers in the modern-day food landscape and help us navigate through making more health-conscious decisions in our diet to improve our well-being. The only requirement for this class is an appetite for knowledge!

Taught by Yinan Su and Jason Tsoi

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Sky’s The Limit: Uncovering the Complexities of the Hip-Hop Genre

In this course, we will critically analyze the works of popular hip-hop artists such as Kanye West, JAY-Z, and Kendrick Lamar, specifically looking for the political and social messages they include in their tracks as well as their own unique styles of rapping and production. Throughout history, one of music’s purposes is to act as a form of critique toward regional, national, and world events. On the same note, the hip-hop industry provides dialogue on many pervasive topics in today's world like racial inequality, poverty, etc. In light of recent events concerning the Black Lives Matter movement, the importance of the commentary in hip-hop music is more relevant than ever. The only requirements for this class are the love for music and an open mind!

Taught by Pratik Thakur

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Wildlife Issues & Human Impact

This course will explore current wildlife issues on the national and global level and the ethical dilemmas that arise amidst human involvement. While the course is open to talking about any animal population you want, it will overview climate change, captivity, exotic pets, the wildlife market (regular and black), and current and future conservation solutions. We also will examine wildlife issues with respect to the COVID-19 pandemic. Through this course, you will expand your perspectives on a multitude of wildlife issues and become more aware of your impact, as a human, on wildlife populations.

Taught by Stephanie Lee

Image by Simon Berger

The Monuments of Egypt from the Ancient Era to Modernity

The Great Pyramids. The Lighthouse of Alexandria. Zoroastrian death towers. Colossal minarets.
Egypt has been home to some of the world’s most awe-inspiring and beautiful monuments in
all of History. The banks of the Nile have been controlled by dozens and dozens of civilizations,
with unique religions, cultures, and outlooks towards the world. This course will take you on a
tour of Egypt’s monuments, which dominate some of the most dynamic and diverse skylines on
planet earth. You will explore how these incredible buildings were made. You will discover who
built Egypt’s monuments, and for what purpose. And finally, you will witness the impacts these
epic structures had on Egypt and what happened to them over the course of 5,000 years of
history. This course has something for everyone. You will encounter Ancient Egyptians, Greeks,
Romans, Arabs, Turks and many more different peoples. You will meet figures like Alexander
the Great, Julius Caesar, Ramses II, and Napoleon. If you are interested in Archaeology, History,
Religion, Science, Culture, Warfare, Engineering, Economics, or even International Relations,
you will enjoy this class. There is no previous experience required; just your eyes and ears as we
take a trip down the Nile—and back in time.

Taught by Sean Silvia

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Storytelling and Screenwriting

As long as humanity has existed, so have stories. Carved onto the walls of caves,
recited from generation to generation, sung and spoken and recorded – the art of
story is one of the most ancient and primal things that makes humans, humans.
Today, one of the most prevalent forms of story is film and media, where we see
stories reenacted onscreen. In this class, we’ll study how the movies and television
we love come to be; how the stories are shaped. We’ll learn the format of story: how
they are created, from conception to completion. We’ll analyze our favorite movies
and TV shows and learn to mimic or even improve upon their styles. And, with the
feedback of the entire class, we’ll write our own stories – screenplays or not.
Whether you’ve written novels or grocery lists, the only thing you need for this class
is a clear voice and a passion for storytelling. We may not be carving on cave walls,
but our stories are just as important – and I can’t wait to see what they are!

Taught by Samantha Lee

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The Science Behind Peak Performance

"What do Elon Musk, Dwight Eisenhower, Serena Williams, and Bill Gates have in common?

According to research, these elite performers share similar abilities for creating systems for discipline, developing curiosity for new skills and expertise, and have non-negotiable commitments to short-term and long-term goals. In "The Science Behind Peak Performance", high school students will learn about the science and application of these abilities in order to apply our knowledge to build the academic and career discipline of performance science before graduating high school. In this class, we will explore the sciences and applied processes to instill a high-performance mindset through a multidisciplinary curriculum that covers entrepreneurship, psychology, neuroscience, philosophy, and athletics. By the end of the course, students will be able to understand the human brain and body function, neuropsychology, emotion and leadership, with the goals of optimizing individual mindsets, maximizing performance, and creating a culture of high performance in their futures."

Taught by Jessica Wong

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Forms of Folklore

Folklores are everywhere. They might be a myth that explains how the world was created, or a
legend that details a hero’s journey to greatness, but they can also be the jokes we throw around, the
games we played in middle school, or even memes circulating in our group chats. Little Red Riding Hood is folklore, but so are Call Me By Your Name fan fictions and TikTok videos. Folklores are unofficial, expressive, and sometimes “invisible”. Because we often take these “lores” for granted, they influence the way we act and think without us noticing. What do common expressions like “see you later” and “forget it” imply about our sense of time? Why do we love movies like Mulan, but are terrified by The Blair Witch Project? Did you know that the Paul Bunyan story was a “fakelore” made up by a lumber company to sell wood? Where there are “folks”, there will be “lores”. When the “folk” changes, the “lore” changes. As we move into the age of AIs and cyborgs, our folktales move with us. The Slender Man becomes the first urban legend figure that only had an online presence; stories like Ex Machina moved ghost stories from haunted homes to the Uncanny Valley; Amazon’s Alexa starts to raise your younger siblings. These changes are worth examining, as they influence how we approach ethical problems in our daily lives. Can androids be citizens? When an AI commits a hate crime, who is to blame? When you make a mashup of Jay-Z and Doja Cat, who does this mashup version belong to? Jay-Z, Doja Cat, or you? In this class, we will take a closer look at forms of folklores that are often “invisible” yet omnipresent. We will examine how the “folk” creates “lores”, and how “lores” reflect the “folk”. Our attention is less on academic terms or structures, but more about critically reflecting on the tangible and intangible impact folklores have in our daily lives. This is also a chance for us to think about our interactions with one another, because each of us belongs to different “folks”, and the “lores” we tell can make a difference in our communities. No previous knowledge necessary!

Taught by Chenyi Zhao

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The Hero in You and Me

“No matter what he does, every person on earth plays a central role in the history of the world. And normally he doesn't know it.” ― Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist.

As Coehlo implies, there is a hero in each and every one of us, waiting to be tapped into. By looking at different characters and analyzing what makes them all heroes, students will not only gain exposure to different types of literature, but also explore the traits that connect us through the ages, and as a result, define who we are as humans. More personally, I hope that you all will be able to reflect what we learn within these stories into your own lives, finding the hero that resides within all of us. Now more than ever, realizing who we are and who we can be can be a source of strength and inspiration that I hope this class can impart.

Taught by Advaita Chandramohan

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Say it Louder for the People in the Back: Amplifying Underrepresented Voices through an Interdisciplinary Study of Science, History, and Contemporary Politics

What do the Black Lives Matter Movement, a $9 billion-dollar “blood-testing” scam, and thewar in Afghanistan have in common? They all span different sides of the same coin: ethics (andalso this class).  In school, you learned that “in 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue” but did you learn about the thousands of Indigenous people who were manipulated and killed as a result? In this class,we will learn about things you don’t learn about in a typical high school class—immortal cells,the Chicano Movement, Indigenous peoples’ perspective on Manifest Destiny, and an unfilteredhistory of the Black Lives Matter Movement all come to mind. Even better, we’ll add anotherinteresting twist: we’ll learn about all of these issues from the perspective of those who were most affected by them: Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPoC).  If you feel like you know all there is to know about the American Revolution and you’re tired of reading Shakespeare in high school (again), this is the class for you! Through novels, short stories, films, and music, we will travel around the world and learn about interesting and overlooked issues stretching from science to history and politics. By putting together thesedifferent perspectives, we will be able to connect science and history to current ethical issues weface, in our daily lives, the U.S., and the world at large.

Taught by Neha Yadav