_Fall 2013 Courses

Reader Project Courses for Fall 2013

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BIOLOGY 554: Genomic Perspectives on Human Evolution

Course Information

Instructor: Prof. Greg Wray

Human evolutionary history as studied from the perspective of the genome. Nature of contemporary genomic data and how they are interpreted in the context of the fossil record, comparative anatomy, psychology, and cultural studies. Examination of both the origin of modern humans as a distinct species and subsequent migration across the world. Emphasis on language, behavior, and disease susceptibility as traits of particular evolutionary interest.

Student Writing Assignment

What are students writing? Working document for grant proposal to fund original research.
For whom? Experts working in anthropology, medicine, public health, human genetics/genomics.
Where would such writing typically be found? Grant proposal for research project.
Why would someone usually read it? Readers of grant proposals help federal and private agencies evaluate the merit and feasibility of research projects being considered for funding. Readers are selected based on their knowledge of the field, technical expertise, and expertise in project management.

Reader requirements: background in genetics and molecular biology, preferably with knowledge of anthropology or medicine.

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BIOLOGY 362LS: Aquatic Field Ecology

Course Information

Instructor: Prof. Emily Bernhardt

Explore the stream, wetland and reservoir ecosystems of NC. Through hands on inquiry and field experimentation students will gain experience in formulating hypotheses, designing field observations and experiments, analyzing field data and interpreting field results. In addition to weekly field labs, the course will include two weekend field trips, one to the Duke Marine Lab and the second to the NC mountains.

Student Writing Assignment

What are students writing? Journal article.
For whom? Experts working in biology, ecology, or environmental science.
Where would such writing typically be found? A journal such as Ecology or BioScience.
Why would someone usually read it? To learn the best current answer to a scientific question that has been clearly stated, critically evaluated and thoughtfully discussed.

Reader requirements: professional experience in Biology, Ecology, or environmental science research.

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COMPSCI 290 : Mobile Apps: From Concept to Client

Course Information

Instructors: Prof. Richard Lucic and Prof. Ajay Patel

In this course, students will gain experience with the entire program development project cycle, from initial conception through user acceptance by developing an software for invested clients. Students will be exposed to a realistic model for the effective design, construction, and delivery of software programs. Course participants will be exposed to a broad perspective of issues related to the management of technology including feasibility assessment, project planning, project implementation, performance testing, documentation, marketing, and roll-out. This course will include many guest lectures from industry partners to provide students contact with people actually involved in delivering software.

Student Writing Assignment

What are students writing? Project plan, user testing documentation, user documentation.
For whom? Software project managers and IT administrators
Where would such writing typically be found? Working documents submitted to clients and to software project managers who might oversee the project, as well as IT administrators tasked with installing and maintaining the project.
Why would someone usually read it? Clients would read the executive summary to make sure the team correctly understood the objectives; a manager would use the project plan to understand the project’s scope, priorities, and plan to complete it. IT administrators would use technical documentation to know how to install, run, and maintain the app.

Reader requirements: computer science training with recent programming experience; and/or any professional IT experience.

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EGR 121L: Engineering Innovation

Course Information

Instructor: Prof. Rebecca Simmons

Introduces freshmen to the process of team-based creative conceptualization, visualization prototyping, and product realization. Students use computer-aided design tools to create custom circuit boards and computer numerically controlled (CNC) machined components to produce prototype systems. Design concepts are introduced and supported through hands-on assignments.

Student Writing Assignment

What are students writing? (1) Project Proposal and (2) Design Report.
For whom? Professionally invested non-expert(s) such as Managers (Decision Makers) and Engineers (Technical Feasibility).
Where would such writing typically be found? Management or Hiring Firm.
Why would someone usually read it? Typical audience members would be evaluating a project for its potential impact, feasibility, and cost to implement. They are using the documents to perform cost/benefit analysis and determine if a particular project is worth pursuing.

Reader requirements: engineering background w/ experience in management; Ideal: Also have experience in entrepreneurship (venture capital, CEO, etc.)

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ENVIRON 201: Integrating Environmental Sciences and Policy

Course Information

Instructors: Prof. Emily Klein and Prof. Rebecca Vidra

Interaction between the natural and the social systems as they relate to the environment. Focus on ecological and earth system cycles, processes, and fundamental relationships. The environmental impact of human-induced change at the local, regional, and global levels. The role of technology and the policy process in determining how environmental problems evolve and are addressed. Use of ethical analysis to evaluate environmental tradeoffs. Use of case studies to integrate multiple disciplinary perspectives on environmental problems and to address issues of environmental justice.

Student Writing Assignment

What are students writing? Policy memo.
For whom? Experts working in environmental science, environmental policy, or environmental health; or state, local or federal legislators and others working on environmental policy.
Where would such writing typically be found? In the workplace; for a decision-maker in an ENV not-for-profit, advocacy group, legislative body, etc.
Why would someone usually read it? In order to make an informed decision on an environmental policy issue.

Reader requirements: professional experience in environmental science and/or policy with regular experience reading or writing policy memos.

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ENVIRON 210D: Conserving the Variety of Life on Earth

Course Information

Instructor: Prof. Stuart Pimm

An overview of biological diversity, its patterns, and the current extinction crisis. Historical and theoretical foundations of conservation, from human values and law to criteria and frameworks for setting conservation priorities; island biogeography theory, landscape ecology, and socioeconomic considerations in reserve design; management of endangered species in the wild and in captivity; managing protected areas for long term viability of populations; the role of the landscape matrix around protected areas; and techniques for conserving biological diversity in semi-wild productive ecosystems such as forests.

Student Writing Assignment

What are students writing? Congressional Testimony
For whom? Members of Congress, Government officials, staffers, etc.
Where would such writing typically be found? Congressional Hearings
Why would someone usually read it? To get a scientifically informed perspective on a pending bill that may impact the survival of particular species or ecosystems.

Reader requirements: legislative experience, local, state, fed; congress, staffers, NGO presenting testimony, etc.

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ENVIRON 216S: Environment and Conflict: The Role of the Environment in Conflict and Peacebuilding

Course Information

Instructor: Prof. Erika Weinthal

Environmental and natural resources as a source of conflict and/or peacebuilding between and within nations and states. Analysis of the role of the environment in the conflict cycle and international security. Topics include refugees, climate change, water, and infectious disease. Particular focus on post-conflict and rebuilding in war-torn societies. Examination of the role of international organizations, non-governmental organizations, and emerging standards for environmental management. Examples drawn from conflicts such as Rwanda, Israel/Palestine, Nepal, Sierra Leone and others.

Student Writing Assignment

What are students writing? Policy Memo on Conflict Issue.
For whom? Government employees, Military, Intelligence, Environmental Consultants, Policymakers.
Where would such writing typically be found? Global Governance, Geopolitics.
Why would someone usually read it? To learn about the scientific and/or policy implications for particular conflict cases or situations of contemporary relevance for environmental policy decisions.

Reader requirements: professional experience in environmental policy and politics.

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ENVIRON 217: Restoration Ecology: Theory and Applications

Course Information

Instructor: Prof. Rebecca Vidra

Addresses fundamental principles of ecological restoration. Includes an overview of the discipline, scientific, ethical and philosophical underpinnings, and the legislative framework that guides much of the restoration work in the United States. Principles of ecosystem ecology introduced to provide an understanding of ecosystem processes across landscapes and within specific restoration sites. Students will conduct a comparative study of a restoration site with a reference site and work in small groups to create a monitoring report for this site.

Student Writing Assignment

What are students writing? A restoration and monitoring plan.
For whom? Professionals involved in various aspects of ecological site restoration.
Where would such writing typically be found? A workplace document for landowners or managers; consulting firms; city governments.
Why would someone usually read it? A Restoration Plan tells a story of a particular place in terms of its history, current challenges, and future potential. While it includes specific strategies for enhancing the ecological integrity of a site, the plan also provides a narrative for why restoration is needed and how a successful restoration will be determined. Therefore, readers may be interested in knowing what makes this place the focus for restoration, the motivation for a particular restoration strategy, and how this place fits into the larger landscape context.

Reader requirements: experience in some aspect of ecological site restoration–could include: ecologists; environmental consultants, env or civil engineers, or site managers with experience in mitigation or restoration; landscape architects; non profit program directors dealing with ecological management issues.

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GLHLTH 363S: Fundamentals of Global Mental Health

Course Information

Instructor: Prof. Eve Puffer

Examines global mental health from perspectives of culture, public health, epidemiology, human rights, policy, and intervention. Readings focus on
peer-reviewed research literature highlighting topics such as the prevalence of mental health disorders worldwide, the role of culture in mental health, and the interventions backed by strong evidence for prevention and treatment. Students will discuss and critique study methodologies and explore the needs for future research in this emerging field. Designed for students with prior research methods and psychology coursework.

Student Writing Assignment

What are students writing? Research grant proposals.
For whom? Government or NGO funders.
Where would such writing typically be found? Governmental or nonprofit global health organization.
Why would someone usually read it? Readers of grant proposals help federal and private agencies evaluate the merit and feasibility of research projects being considered for funding. Readers are selected based on their knowledge of the field, technical expertise, and expertise in project management.

Reader requirements: professional experience in global/international health research–whether in academia, NGO’s, governmental organizations, etc.; experience in monitoring, evaluation, implementation, intervention trials. Background in mental health especially desirable and experience in grant writing or review.

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HISTORY 495S: Senior Thesis Seminar

Course Information

Instructor: Prof. Janet Ewald

Designed to introduce qualified students to advanced methods of historical research and writing, and to the appraisal of critical historical issues. Open only to seniors, but not restricted to candidates for graduation with distinction.

Student Writing Assignment

What are students writing? An honors thesis.
For whom? Readers with graduate training in history but no prior knowledge of student’s topic or area.
Where would such writing typically be found? The writing is akin to academic journal writing.
Why would someone usually read it? Because they are interested in the topic.

Readers needed: Professionals with graduate training in history.

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PUBPOL 496S: Public Policy Honors Seminar

Course Information

Instructor: Prof. Judith Kelley

Honors students working on their honors thesis. In the spring (495S), students formulate their research question, conduct a literature review, write a research proposal, identify data and information sources, and learn the relevant research techniques. In the fall (496S), they complete the process of writing their thesis.

Student Writing Assignment

What are students writing? They are writing honors thesis, project papers about 12,000-20,000 words.
For whom? For themselves, their advisor and me, in the first instance, but also for whoever else might be interested in the topic. However, the thesis is not distributed, but it is stored permanently in the Duke library as a source that anyone can access.
Where would such writing typically be found? The writing is akin to academic journal writing.
Why would someone usually read it? Because they are interested in the topic.

Readers needed: Professionals in public policy in a variety of areas.

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PUBPOL 290 – 02 : Crime and Public Policy

Course Information

Instructor: Prof. Joel Rosch

This course is about the politics of crime and justice. The focus is on the policy choices society makes in order to reduce the damage done by crime. It will examine controversies about the nature of crime; how institutions such as the police, the courts, and corrections are organized; and how crime impacts various aspects of American life. The main focus on the class will be on what research tells us about how the criminal justice system works and how we might improve the public institutions we create to deal with the problem of crime. The instructor is especially interested in how crime is understood; how that understanding of crime influences the way crime emerges as a public issue; and how crime is used by different groups for different purposes. As seen by the number of television programs focusing on issues related to crime and the attention given to high visibility criminal cases, the issues surrounding crime are a useful way to engage issues such as equality, racism, the nature of public goods, symbolic politics, and why it matters how we organize public services.

***For this course, volunteers will be both readers and “informants” about their own communities. You will be asked to list your city when signing up, and the students will work in groups specifically investigating and evaluating the public policy and media around crime in that city. As a reader, you will be giving feedback on the students’ process of evaluating sources and crafting logical recommendations, rather than giving feedback on a nearly-finished draft.

Student Writing Assignment

What are students writing? Policy recommendations about crime for a particular city.
For whom? City government, councilors, law enforcement, other public policy makers.
Where would such writing typically be found? A workplace document intended for helping make policy decisions.
Why would someone usually read it? In order to make an informed decision.

Reader requirements: familiarity with the criminal justice system in a particular community. (The instructor will assign students to cities where we have readers.) We are especially interested in readers who have worked as prosecutors, defense attorneys, judges, law enforcement officials, or anyone else working with the criminal justice system, as well as reporters who cover the crime beat and other interested community members who closely follow issues relating to crime.

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WRITING 101 : Preventing Vector-borne Disease

Course Information

Instructor: Prof. Cary Moskovitz

This course will begin with an emphasis on research skills focusing on how to locate the most relevant and useful sources. Then, using select principles of health science research and statistical data analysis, students will practice careful, skeptical reading as they draft and revise reviews of experimental research reports on recent research on mosquito and tick repellents. Finally, building on their own work and that of their classmates from the first half of the term, students will write scholarly scientific essays discussing some aspect of this research and its implications. Audiences for student writing will include both classmates and health-science professionals. Note: this course involves a considerable amount of collaborative work.

Student Writing Assignment

What are students writing? Review of journal article and commentary (scientific essay).
For whom? Health professionals.
Where would such writing typically be found? Health sciences periodical such as Nature, clinical journals.
Why would someone usually read it? To get a thoughtful, scientifically informed, and up-to-date perspective on health science topics.

Readers needed: Health care scientists or practitioners with professional interest in insect-borne disease prevention.

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WRITING 101 : Food Choice

Course Information

Instructor: Prof. Lee Anne Reilly

Choosing foods to eat may at first seem like a simple choice: Eat what you like. But the question “What’s for dinner?” can quickly become complicated – Eat healthy, but what does that mean? Eat organic, but is it worth the cost? Eat sustainably, eat locally, become vegetarian, become vegan. Eat for pleasure, for convenience, for comfort. Each of these choices can be made quickly, or can involve a series of decisions based on complex social, ethical, and scientific considerations. Several recent popular books, including Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, and Omnivores Dilemma and In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan, explore these questions. The focus of this course will be to understand, evaluate, and respond to the scientific basis of the arguments in these and other popular texts.

First, you will come to understand these authors’ arguments through a series of blog posts in which you ask and answer specific questions about the texts. Second, you will evaluate the scientific basis of the arguments in these popular texts by selecting one argument or issue that interests you and proposing a research question about it. To gather the information you will need to answer your question, you will locate scientific papers and other sources of evidence from disciplines relevant to your question to produce an annotated bibliography that will help you organize your research process. Finally, through a series of drafts, you will respond to your chosen topic with a critical review in which you build your own scholarly argument to highlight the strengths and counter the weaknesses of the arguments from your readings.

In addition to reading and producing scholarly writing (the tidy finished products), we will focus heavily on the process of prewriting to expose and experience the less tidy forms of writing that occur in scholarly practice. You will experience the cyclical nature of writing as you move back and forth between your research question and your literature search, refining each as the other develops. The ability to understand, evaluate, and respond to written argument will serve you in the many forms of writing you will encounter at Duke and beyond.

Student Writing Assignment

What are students writing? 1) Research proposal, 2) Critical review (academic argument based on current scientific literature).
For whom? 1) Research advisor, graduate committee, funding source, 2) any reader interested in understanding the complex aspects of food production, distribution, and consumption.
Where would such writing typically be found? 1) A research/dissertation proposal, or requests for research funding, 2) an opinion paper in a scientific journal such as Nature or Science.
Why would someone usually read it? 1) to assess the feasibility and scientific value of the project, 2) to gain an understanding of some aspect of food studies.

Reader requirements: experience reading, writing, and evaluating proposals, especially thesis or dissertation proposals, as well as opinion papers based on scientific evidence. Students are free to explore a range of topics related to food studies, so readers with expertise in any discipline related to food studies would be welcome (agriculture, ecology, economics, health and nutrition, ethics and animal welfare, community education, cultural/religious aspects of food choice, etc).

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WRITING 101 : How to Make Mistakes

Course Information

Instructor: Prof. Jesse Summers

Humans make mistakes. Rather than think of mistakes as simple failures, we’ll look at how we make mistakes and what they tell us. How do we explain the mistakes of self-delusion, rationalization, lack of self-control, or even compulsion? What about systematic mistakes, like delusions or chronic doubt? How do we in fact respond to mistakes, and how should we? Different disciplines–psychology, neuroscience, economics, philosophy–study and discuss these topics in different ways. In this course, we will read from various disciplines as we come to understand mistakes, and we will organize our thoughts using the argumentative tools of philosophy.

Student Writing Assignment

What are students writing? Editorial essay based on original research on some systematic mistake and/or remedy.
For whom? For general readers, particularly those with an interest in systematic mistakes or their policy implications.
Where would such writing typically be found? An Op-Ed page of a newspaper.
Why would someone usually read it? For policy implications, or for deeper understanding of systematic mistakes .

Reader requirements: professional experience in some aspect of error/mistake analysis or prevention; experience with structural factors of error from psychology or philosophy viewpoints particularly useful but not required.

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To volunteer to be a reader for one of these courses this fall, click here, or contact the Coordinator.

To see a list of courses from prior semesters, click here.