Say It with Statistics
Statistics is hot. Everyone uses it. You read about it in the newspaper everyday and, much of the time, it's just not right: A recent 538 blog discussed women in the STEM disciplines, but chose the wrong definition of STEM for the argument. Faulty statistical arguments were used to convict Sally Clark of murder of her two sons. Sometimes it appears that everything is correct, but there is still reason to question what's happening:
The goal of this course is not really to teach you how to do statistics; that's the goal of MATH 216. Rather, the goal is to teach you how not to do statistics. You’ll learn to use statistics effectively, how to criticize someone else’s argument, and to write logical, convincing arguments. This course is ideal for students majoring in mathematics, physics, chemistry, geography or engineering because it will teach you how to read and produce statistical arguments. But, as more and more fields rely on data and statistical studies, a course like this is equally important for students who plan on writing blogs or working for the media, majoring in political science, economics, psychology or sociology.
The Grand Challenges
Are you looking to prepare yourself to tackle really big and important issues? The National Academy of Engineering (NAE) has identified 14 Grand Challenges facing all people that require both technical solutions and non-technical perspectives. Examples include making solar energy economical, providing access to clean water, reverse engineering the brain, and securing cyberspace.
In this foundation seminar we will examine some of the 14 Grand Challenges, including the knowledge and research methods from the natural sciences, social sciences and all fields of engineering required to make progress to solving them. This seminar is NOT an engineering course, although we will occasionally discuss scientific or engineering principles. We will come to understand the central roles that microeconomics, organizational management, the diffusion of innovations and public policy play in solving many of humanity's greatest challenges. We will learn through reading both academic-oriented and popular press literature, classroom discussion, an occasional video, short writing exercises and a longer report on a relevant topic of the student's choice.
The Future is Now
Humans have always been curious about the future. We are constantly asking ourselves, "what will happen tomorrow, next week, or a century from now?"
In this foundation seminar, we will ask ourselves: What can we know about the future? Should we genetically engineer the perfect baby? Is genetically modified food really food? Is the internet robbing us of our privacy? Are our digital devices helping or hindering our social connections to one another? What is the future of the mind? This course is NOT an engineering course: we will be concerned with the ways in which society is impacted by technology and how society directs technological change. In "The Future is Now," we will ask and answer ethical questions relating to technologies from genetic engineering to surveillance technologies to food production to social networking, among others.