As registration approaches, new courses have been introduced that span the academic divisions and offer something different for students. Here is just a small sampling of the options for Spring 2017:
The Middle East in Graphic Novels: History, Politics and the Tragic Comic | History
This class, taught by Visiting Assistant Professor of History Pheroze Unwalla, explores graphic novels with a focus on their representation of Middle Eastern history, people and politics. Among other texts, students read Craig Thompson's Habibi and Joe Sacco's Footnotes in Gaza. The goal is to facilitate discussion about the evolution of the graphic novel as a medium by balancing topics such as the fraught history of visually representing the Middle East, as well as the challenges and opportunities graphic novels present for understanding the region.
Music and Diplomacy | Music
Beth Szczepanski, visiting assistant professor of music, will teach this course with the aim of exploring the exchange of musical performances and ideas that reach across national borders with the hope of building political influence. Students will consider the theory and practice of cultural diplomacy in several historical and geographical contexts, focusing particularly on the rise of state-sponsored musical diplomacy between the United States and Soviet Union during the Cold War. The course will also examine the recent renewal of efforts to use musical diplomacy as a form of soft power to be leveraged in gaining political capital in an increasingly consumer-driven global cultural landscape.
Natural Language Processing | Computer Science
In spite of decades of work trying to change the fact, computers are poor conversationalists. In this course with Assistant Professor of Computer Science Andy Exley, students look at the computational techniques developed in an attempt to enable computers to interpret and respond appropriately to ideas expressed using natural languages (like English or French) as opposed to coded languages (like Python or C++). Students will discuss topics such as signal analysis, parsing, semantic analysis, machine translation, dialogue systems and statistical methods in speech recognition.
Thinking Digitally: Data and Culture | Interdisciplinary Studies
An interdisciplinary course led by Associate Professor of English and General Studies Sharon Alker, Assistant Professor of German Studies and Environmental Humanities Emily Jones and Director of Instructional and Learning Technology David Sprunger, Thinking Digitally interrogates the information, machines and systems that structure our lives, using the Whitman campus and Walla Walla Community as both a source of materials and as a laboratory. Students work collaboratively to design critical research questions that can be answered using digital tools. They also investigate practical, ethical, intellectual, creative and critical interactions between the digital and non-digital worlds through text manipulation, data visualization and storytelling.
Disorders of the Immune System | Biology
Taught by visiting assistant professor of biology Matt Craig, this course will cover the molecular and cellular origins, as well as the public health implications, of disorders associated with the immune system. The human immune system possesses a remarkable ability to distinguish between biological material. This evolutionary adaptation enables the recognition of and response to foreign pathogens while tolerating host-derived molecules, commensal organisms and innocuous environmental exposures. However, when this biological system of checks and balances fails, a variety of immune-mediated diseases can develop. Students will discuss primary and acquired immunodeficiency, autoimmunity, allergy/hypersensitivity and cancers of the immune system, among other topics.