What is a photograph of HIV/AIDS? This Byrne Seminar explored the relationship between photography and HIV/AIDS. We began by considering how American photographers have constructed the “face of AIDS” since the 1980s. We asked questions: what enables such images to persuade, criticize, celebrate, educate, or produce a particular emotional response? As our conversations unfolded, the students came to a consensus that they wanted to raise awareness on campus about HIV/AIDS, not by disseminating facts but by sharing the questions they had with others.
What is Ecology of the Jersey Shore? In this Bryne Seminar, students who love the beach learn what makes these ecosystems tick. The students engage with the professor and a graduate student in exploring how the New Jersey shore was formed, and what critters call it home. The course requires students to collect data from salt marshes and barrier islands during two day-long field trips. With the help of the instructors, they then visualize their data using standard software. Through this exercise, the students gain a fuller appreciation of the unique beauty and character of the shore.
Adventure is often associated with escaping community, leaving civilization, and “entering nature,” in part because of the common view that human beings are separate from nature. In this course we’ll assume the contrary, that the environment humans have built—including cities, highways, and even sewers—is a part of nature and also a place of adventure and wonder. Reading select chapters from books that explore the human built environment (including Looking for America on the New Jersey Turnpike and The George Washington Bridge: Poetry in Steel), we will plan a field trip, perhaps walking the length of the island of Manhattan and crossing the George Washington Bridge on foot, or hiking along the Delaware and Raritan Canal. Beyond following the professor’s research agenda, the goal here is to have fun, to engage your imagination in relation to your immediate surroundings and environment, and to see the familiar world differently.
While this seminar will be fun—with lots of bone-chilling descriptions of the afterlife—it also seeks to help students better understand what faculty do at research institutions. Students will work in this professor’s discipline, in the field of American religion, examining different forms of religious cultural production, from the Puritan gravestone (we will spend some time in a churchyard reading 17th-Century gravestones), to a real Hell House, in which we will go on a tour led by a demon-guide to witness the consequences of sin.
The heart and brain are the two most vital organs in the human body; but how much do we know about them? Through lectures, discussions, and lab visits, the class focuses on how we can use “model” organisms to transform our understanding of both the healthy human body and human diseases, particularly those that affect the heart and the brain. Expanding on the effects of the newest biomedical trends in modern life, the class also explored topics in ethical issues of direct concern to scientists and health care professionals.