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Bard College Catalogue 2021-22
Interdisciplinary Curricular Initiatives
Calderwood Seminars are designed to help students translate their discipline (e.g., art history, biology, literature) to nonspecialists through different forms of public writing. Depending on the major, public writing might include policy papers, book reviews, blog posts, exhibition catalogue entries, grant reports, or editorials. Look for “Designated: Calderwood Seminar” throughout program course descriptions.
Common CoursesThis suite of team-taught multidisciplinary courses was created in response to the existential challenges of the COVID-19 crisis. Designed primarily for first-year students, the courses engage with themes and questions of the contemporary moment. The courses give students the opportunity to fulfill two distribution requirements with one 4-credit class. Common Course clusters include the following.
CC 101 A-F
In his essay “On Fairy-Stories,” J. R. R. Tolkien responds to accusations that fantasy constitutes an irresponsible “escapist” flight from reality. Comparing the dreary bridge at Bletchley Railway Station in England to the rainbow bridge Bifröst in Old Norse myth, he asks “whether railway engineers, if they had been brought up on more fantasy, might not have done better with all their abundant means than they commonly do.” This course explores the relation between imagination and reality by considering counterfactual histories, fantastical literary works, and utopias or dystopias. To what extent is our experience of the “real world” (including real crises, like the current coronavirus epidemic) mediated by imagined ones? How do alternate worlds help us to reimagine ourselves as we are? Sections of the course include: H. G. Wells and the Discovery of the Future, The Disaster Has Already Happened, Utopia and Dystopia in Modern Russia, The Language of Alternate Worlds, Visitors from the Otherworld, and What If?
The Making of Citizens: Local, National, Global
CC 102 A-F
This course draws on different disciplinary approaches to interrogate and analyze the concept of citizenship. Students are encouraged to think about how citizenship emerges, exists, and differs at the local, national, and global levels, and what forms of participation are necessary to sustain meaningful citizenship for themselves and others.
Designing for Immediate Futures
CC 103 A-D
This course invites students to approach design as a tool for reflecting on the existing worlds in which we find ourselves and as a means to rethink them and invent new ones. How might we live together in the future and why? In the spirit of critique and experimentation, students engage in visual projects and design practices, and study the history of the ways the spaces around us have been constructed and understood.
Epidemics and Society
What do epidemics tell us about microbes, markets, and ourselves? This course covers the science and art of protecting the health of populations and the social, political, philosophical, and cultural implications of public health catastrophes. Discussion and lab sections include The Politics and Human Rights Aspects of Epidemics; Philosophy, Literature, and Art Concerning Epidemics; The Economic Aspects of Epidemics; Art and Epidemics; and The Biology of Epidemics.
Resilience, Survival, and Extinction
How do individuals, species, languages, and cultures survive, show resilience, and become extinct? The course introduces methods of biological analysis and cultural interpretation that explore the many ways we understand resilience, survival, and extinction. It focuses on the practical, creative forms of resilience developed by humans and animals. Also addressed is the idea of evolution and the nature of change in human and natural history, including widespread biodiversity loss, from the perspective of the sciences and humanities. Discussion and lab sections include Literary Analysis Discussion, Practicing Art Studio, Laboratory Science, and Social Analysis Discussion.
Courage to Be Seminars
While we tend to value courage—Hannah Arendt even called it the highest political virtue—historically the concept has veered from the noble to the dangerous. From Antigone to suicide bombers, courage has been construed as heroic and/or dangerously solipsistic. This series of seminars asks the question: What is the practice of courageous action in the 21st century? Look for “Designated: Courage to Be Seminar” throughout program course descriptions.
Disability and Accessibility Studies Initiative (DASI)
Look for “Designated: DASI Course” throughout program course description.
Engaged Liberal Arts and Sciences
Engaged Liberal Arts and Sciences (ELAS) courses are designed to link academic work and critical thinking skills from the classroom with civic and other forms of engagement activities. ELAS+ courses can include community-based research, fieldwork, internships, and other types of hands-on learning. Look for “Designated: ELAS Course” or “Designated: ELAS+ Course” throughout program course descriptions.
Hate Studies InitiativeHate Studies Initiative (HSI) courses examine the human capacity to define, and then dehumanize or demonize, an ‘other,’ and the processes which inform and give expression to, or can curtail, control, or combat, that capacity. Look for “Designated: HSI Course” throughout program course descriptions.
Migration Initiative courses provide a conceptual framework for thinking about migration not as an isolated (or recent) phenomenon, but one that is deeply connected to historical, political, economic, legal, and environmental contexts and conditions that are best approached through interdisciplinary study. Equally important is the exploration of tensions and possibilities in scholarly, literary, artistic, and documentary representations of experiences of migration. Look for “Designated: Migration Initiative” throughout all program course descriptions.
Open Society University Network (OSUN) Courses
OSUN courses are available to Bard students on campus and virtually from partner universities throughout the world. Courses taught at Bard are open to students from multiple partner schools and include titles such as Why Music Matters, Social Entrepreneurship, and American Foreign Policy Traditions. Students, in consultation with their advisers, may also register for a course offered at a partner campus. Fall offerings include Colonialism and Human Rights from Al-Quds Bard in East Jerusalem; Challenges of the 21st Century from American University of Central Asia; Nuclear Energy and Public Policy from American University Bulgaria; and Cyber Law from Brac University in Bangladesh. Network courses are designed by OSUN faculty and offered simultaneously on multiple campuses. These courses include Human Rights Advocacy: Scholars at Risk, Visual Storytelling for Civic Engagement, and Global Citizenship.
Racial Justice Initiative
Racial Justice Initiative (RJI) courses represent an interdisciplinary collaboration between students and faculty aimed at further understanding racial inequality and injustice in the United States and beyond.
Thinking Animals Initiative
Participating faculty periodically offer a set of linked courses that introduce students to ways of thinking about animals that are both grounded in particular disciplines and encouraging of interdisciplinary connections. Look for “Designated: Thinking Animals Initiative” throughout program course descriptions.
What Is Religion?These 1-credit courses meet once a week for five weeks.
What Is the Bible?
The Bible is still the best-selling book in the world and its influence on cultures throughout the world is unprecedented. Why is this collection of ancient sacred texts so important even in this growing secular environment? Why and when was it written and by whom? How do the stories and narratives of the Bible continue to resonate with every generation?
What Is Freemasonry?
Perhaps the most well-known “secret society” in the world, Freemasonry is a fraternal organization that stresses moral development and public service (among other things) utilizing architectural symbolism and theatrical rituals. Although membership is confined to those who believe in a supreme Deity, many of its rites involve occult ideas. This course provides a general history of the organization, examines the architecture and décor of Masonic Lodges, and explores its symbolism via its visual artifacts.
What Is Fundamentalism?
Fundamentalism is frequently confused with literalism in general, or with traditional or militant forms of faith. Those intellectual mistakes frequently lead to bad social policy. Fundamentals came to be asserted in the United States during the 19th century as part of a philosophical response to two basic religious challenges: a historical reading of the New Testament, which was felt to undermine dogma; and a scientific reading of the universe, which was felt to undermine faith. Seeing how American intellectuals responded to those challenges opens fundamentalism up to our understanding.
What Is Religion: Denominations of the Christian Faith
Christianity is the largest religion in the world, and its growth can be attributed to the church’s capacity to mutate and adapt to a changing world. Over the past two millenniums, many sects and denominations have emerged, each with a divergent understanding of Jesus and of what it means to be a Christian. These differences have often resulted in war, political and economic upheaval, and colonization. The course offers a historical, theological, and liturgical exploration of the complex Christian church.
What Is the Apocalypse?
Human history will close with a thousand years (a millennium) of utopia. That promise, voiced in the last book of the New Testament (Apocalypse 20:3-4), has been incorporated within modern forms of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. In all three, however, millennialism today is more threat than promise, and has emerged with programs of violent action that the class seeks to understand.
Who Are the Women of the Bible?
Women played significant roles in the biblical narratives and stories of Israel and Jesus, yet not much attention has been paid to them. Who are they and what contributions did they make to these ancient texts? Why have their stories often been ignored, suppressed, or misinterpreted? How are they relevant to today’s culture and what can we learn from them in this age of feminism? This course addresses these and other questions.
What Is Mantra?
The recitation of mantras, or strings of sacred syllables, is a practice integral to all major Indigenous religions of South Asia. For practitioners of Hinduism and Buddhism, the power and potency of mantras are believed to invoke deities and achieve myriad desired results, from healing to protection from evil. This course considers the contextualized meanings and usages of mantra, and examines how mantras came to prominence in ancient India and continue to form the basis of ritual practices around the world today.