Union Where You Are: Plans for 2020-21

Minervas Online (Fall 2020)

Our world has become more complex, and the big questions we face are increasingly difficult to answer. Union's world-class faculty from a variety of disciplines have created Minervas Online, a suite of interdisciplinary courses designed to help students understand the complexity of, and develop solutions to, large-scale societal challenges.

These courses are taught by a single faculty member, team-taught by faculty in different disciplines, or taught by multiple faculty across the College. Alumni, artists, activists, scientists and local and global community members will be included as speakers to provide their unique perspectives on the particular societal challenge.

Returning students will be able to register for Minervas Online courses via WebAdvising during the summer add-drop period.

Fall 2020 Minervas Online Include:

Critical Perspectives and Action on Inequality, Power and Privilege (MIN 201)
Profs. Butler and Esiaka

T/Th: 5-7 p.m.

Course description: This course engages students to develop action plans for social justice. Students will evaluate their own cultural and societal assumptions. Participants will learn more about being an anti-racist. Each student will curate an action plan as evidence of their learning process. Guest speakers include President of Union College, David Harris; local activist Jamaica Miles; social psychologist Dr. Kaidi Wu, Assistant Dean of Diversity and Inclusion Christa Grant, and Assistant Director of Office of Intercultural Affairs Andrew "Dru" Alvez and Economists Dr. Kerwin Charles and Dr. Darrick Hamilton. This course is open to students, faculty, and alums; and is a unique opportunity to engage with our wider Union community. This course carries LCC common curriculum credit. The course also counts toward sociology and psychology majors/minors, gender, sexuality and women’s studies, Africana studies and American studies, and will carry Gen Ed credit.

Race, Justice and Police Reform (MIN 202)
Prof. Samet

M/W/F: 10:30-11:35 a.m.

Course description: Few topics have thrust themselves into the spotlight of 21st century politics more urgently than police reform. Democratic movements across the globe are questioning police power and demanding greater police accountability. What is driving these demands? What aspects of policing are broken? How might we go about making repairs? This course introduces students to debates about policing and police reform. It draws on a wealth of interdisciplinary and comparative material – from anthropology, criminology, history, Latin American studies, legal studies, political science, critical race studies, and sociology – to provide students with a policy relevant background on police reform in the United States.

Students can expect to come away from the course with an empirically sound understanding of contemporary police practice and a nuanced appreciation for a range of proposed reforms. They should also be prepared to engage openly in difficult conversations about persistent patterns of racial and economic injustice. The course is divided into four parts that deal with the past, present and future of policing and police reform. Part one introduces students to theories of policing and examines the subtle yet sweeping change to the practice of policing in the U.S. since the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Part two adopts a social scientific perspective on unequal patterns of policing and a humanistic understanding of how this affects the lives of millions of Americans. Part three looks at U.S. movements for police reform and some of the solutions under consideration. Finally, part four uses the city of Schenectady as a case study through which we can approach the challenge of police reform from the ground up. The final section of the course will involve interviews and conversations with key stakeholders in our community. This course will count as an elective for anthropology majors and minors and will carry LCC credit.

Climate Change: Knowledge Empowers Action (MIN 203)
Profs. Frey, Wang and Klein

M/W/F 10:30-11:35 a.m.; additional mentoring meetings by appointment

Course Description: Climate change is arguably one of the most pressing issues in modern society, with potential for global disruption and destabilization. This course will provide foundational knowledge about climate change from multiple perspectives, including faculty, alumni, and climate entrepreneurs and activists, to empower students to educate and advocate for change. We need to understand the science of climate change - what causes it and how do we know? What are natural climate patterns and how have humans affected them? We need to understand how to measure and quantify climate change and climate-related risks. How do we interpret data and project various possible futures? How do we construct and assess climate models and address uncertainties? Finally, we need to understand the ramifications of climate change on our planet and humankind. What strategies can we adopt, as individuals and as a society, to mitigate the effects of climate change? What are the socio-political and economic implications of various policies? Over the course of the term with mentoring by faculty and digital scholarship experts, teams of students will create educational programs or advocacy campaigns for specific audiences (e.g. schools, government, voters) through a variety of media forms. This course carries SET or QMR credit for general education and counts as an ESPE elective.

Section 01: Frey, Wang, Klein
Section 02: Wang, Klein, Frey
Section 03: Klein, Frey, Wang

Human's Guide to Artificial Intelligence (MIN 204)
Profs. Cortez, Striegnitz, Stablein, Bergamshai Ganapini and Pease

T/Th: 5:15-7 p.m.

Course description: All of us are interacting with Artificial Intelligence (AI) on a daily basis (maybe without being aware of it). Many of you will be using AI in your careers to make decisions that will shape your own and other people’s lives. And some of you will be developing AI systems. This course invites you to join faculty from five different disciplines in an exploration of artificial intelligence and its human context. Together, we will build a general understanding of the underlying technologies, see a range of applications, grapple with the ethics and societal impacts of AI, observe how humans perceive and interact with AI, and use literature and film to help us envision where future developments might go. This course will provide SOCS common curriculum credit and is scheduled from 5:15 – 7 p.m. EST on Tuesdays and Thursdays.