2013-14 Catalog

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2013-14 Undergraduate Index A-Z

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Philosophy Of Science [clear]


Title   Offering Standing Credits Credits When F W S Su Description Preparatory Faculty Days Multiple Standings Start Quarters Open Quarters
Rik Smoody
  Program FR–SRFreshmen - Senior 16 16 Day S 14Spring Computers are a driving force of our modern world and increasingly influence our lives. Mathematics and mathematical models lay at the foundation of modern computers; furthermore, we increasingly rely on mathematics as a language for understanding the natural world, such as complex climate models that predict major changes in weather patterns world wide over the next 50 years. Mathematics and computational thinking enable people as citizens to make good decisions on a wide range of issues from interpreting the evidence for climate change to understanding the potential impacts of technology; as such, they are an integral part of a liberal arts education. In this program, we will explore connections between mathematics, computer science, the natural sciences and graphic arts.We will develop mathematical abstractions and the skills to express, analyze and solve simple problems in the sciences and the arts and explore how to program interesting visual shapes using simple geometry. Class sessions include seminars, lectures, problem-solving workshops, programming labs, problem sets and seminars with writing assignments. The emphasis will be on fluency in mathematical and statistical thinking and expression along with reflections on mathematics and society. Topics will include concepts of algebra, algorithms, programming and problem solving, with seminar readings about the role of mathematics in education, the sciences and society.This program is intended for students who want to gain a fundamental understanding of mathematics and computing before leaving college or before pursuing further work in the sciences or the arts. Rik Smoody Freshmen FR Sophomore SO Junior JR Senior SR Spring Spring
Heather Heying
Signature Required: Winter 
  Program JR–SRJunior - Senior 16 16 Day W 14Winter S 14Spring What do animals do, how do they do it and why? In this two-quarter-long investigation of animal behavior, a continuation of Genes and Evolution in fall quarter, students will answer these questions through extensive use of the scientific literature, in-depth discussions of the evolutionary and ecological theories fundamental to the study of behavior, independent research projects and several weeks in the field, including a multi-week trip to tropical ecosystems in Ecuador.Animals hibernate, forage, mate, form social groups, compete, communicate, care for their young and so much more. They do so with the tools of their physiology, anatomy, and, in some cases, culture, for reasons having to do with their particular ecology and evolutionary history. In this program, we will begin with a review of animal diversity, and continue our studies of behavior from both a theoretical and an empirical perspective. Students will be expected to engage some of the complex and often contradictory scientific predictions and results that have been generated in this field through lectures, workshops and take-home exams, as well as undertake their own, intensive field research. Some topics covered in this program will include mating systems, territoriality, female mate choice, competition, communication, parental care, game theory, plant/animal interactions and convergent evolution. Several readings will focus on one group of animals in particular: the primates, including  Continuing the focus on theory and statistics begun in Genes and Evolution, we will travel to Ecuador to study the differences and similarities between the neotropics and the Pacific Northwest, focusing on the animals and their behavior. Particular attention will be paid to the herpetofauna (amphibians and reptiles) that live in lowland rainforests. In spring quarter, having studied the methods, statistics and literature frequently used in behavioral research, students will generate their own hypotheses and go into the field to test them through extensive, independent field research. This work might be in Ecuador or the Pacific Northwest. Students will return to campus for the last two weeks of spring quarter to complete their data analysis and present their research.  Heather Heying Junior JR Senior SR Winter Winter
Michael Paros
Signature Required: Winter 
  Program FR–SRFreshmen - Senior 16 16 Day W 14Winter Why do humans keep pets and at the same time raise animals for food? What are the psychological and moral complexities that characterize our relationships with animals? What is the impact of human–animal interactions on the health and well-being of people and animals? How do we assess the relative welfare of animals under a variety of circumstances? Anthrozoology is the interdisciplinary study of human (anthro) and animal (zoo) interaction. This topic of inquiry will be used to study general biology, zoology, anthropology and philosophy. Through field trips, guest speakers, reading, writing and discussion, students will become familiar with the multiple and often paradoxical ways we relate to companion animals, animals for sport, zoo animals, wildlife, research animals and food animals. We will use our collective experiences, along with science-based and value-based approaches, to critically examine the ever-changing role of animals in society.We will begin the quarter by focusing on the process of animal domestication in different cultures from an evolutionary and historical perspective. Through the formal study of animal ethics, students will also become familiar with different philosophical positions on the use of animals. Physiology and neuroscience will be used to investigate the physical and mental lives of animals while simultaneously exploring domestic animal behavior. Students will explore the biological basis and psychological aspects of the human-animal bond. Students will then study the science of animal welfare and complete a final project in which they will apply their scientific and ethical knowledge to a controversial and contemporary animal welfare question.Students will be expected to read primary literature in such diverse fields as animal science, ethology, neurobiology, sociobiology, anthropology and philosophy. Student success in this program will depend on commitment to in-depth understanding of complex topics and an ability to combine empirical knowledge and philosophical reflection. Michael Paros Freshmen FR Sophomore SO Junior JR Senior SR Winter Winter
Rebecca Chamberlain
  Program FR–SRFreshmen - Senior 8 08 Day, Evening and Weekend Su 14Summer Session II This class is focused on fieldwork and activities designed for amateur astronomers and those interested in inquiry-based science education, as well as those interested in exploring mythology, archeo-astronomy, literature, philosophy, history, and cosmological traditions.   Students will participate in a variety of activities from telling star-stories under the night sky to working in a computer lab to create educational planetarium programs. We will employ qualitative and quantitative methods of observation, investigation, hands-on activities, and strategies that foster inquiry based learning and engage the imagination. Through readings, lectures, films, workshops, and discussions, participants will deepen their understanding of the principles of astronomy and refine their understanding of the role that cosmology plays in our lives through the stories we tell, the observations we make, and the questions we ask. We will participate in field studies at the Oregon Star Party as we develop our observation skills, learn to use binoculars, star-maps, and navigation guides to identify objects in the night sky, and operate 8” and 10” Dobsonian telescopes to find deep space objects. We will camp in the desert and do fieldwork for a week. Rebecca Chamberlain Freshmen FR Sophomore SO Junior JR Senior SR Summer Summer
Bill Arney and Michael Paros
  Program FR–SRFreshmen - Senior 16 16 Day F 13 Fall Most of you are in school because you want to live a better life; many of you probably think about what it might mean to live a good life. Is a good life one full of pleasure and devoid of suffering? A moral life? A long and healthy life? Of course, it is possible that the good life cannot be defined at all and simply has to be lived and attended to. Let's start with the premise that most of our reliable, useful knowledge comes from science. Scientists work according to philosophically sound methodologies, which include commitments to impersonal inquiry and trying, always, to find the data most likely to defeat their favorite hypotheses; they work in open communities of other scientists, all of whom are obligated to be vigilantly critical of their colleagues' work; they generally qualify their claims to knowledge based on the limitations of their methodologies and their understandings of the probabilities of their claims being incorrect. But can science help us to be , to live a good life? Some think that science can help us recognize, even define, our values, and we will explore this possibility from the perspectives of neuroscience, brain evolution, psychology, social science and philosophy. Some say that science can never answer questions of morality or what it means to live a good life, or even a better life; something more is necessary, they say. Reading and written assignments, faculty presentations and deliberate discussions with vigilantly critical colleagues will assist students in an independent inquiry about how science can help a person live better with regard to some question of critical concern to the investigator(s). This program explores the power and limitations of scientific inquiry. Students should be able to imagine themselves discussing neurotransmitters and the moral life in the same sentence, but they should know that any education aims, finally, to help them know themselves. Bill Arney Michael Paros Mon Tue Wed Thu Freshmen FR Sophomore SO Junior JR Senior SR Fall Fall
Brian Walter
Signature Required: Winter  Spring 
  Program SO–SRSophomore - Senior 16 16 Day F 13 Fall W 14Winter S 14Spring This program is built around intensive study of several fundamental areas of pure mathematics. Covered topics are likely to include abstract algebra, real analysis, set theory, combinatorics and probability.The work in this advanced-level mathematics program is quite likely to differ from students' previous work in mathematics, including calculus, in a number of ways. We will emphasize the careful understanding of the definitions of mathematical terms and the statements and proofs of the theorems that capture the main conceptual landmarks in the areas we study. Hence, the largest portion of our work will involve the reading and writing of rigorous proofs in axiomatic systems. These skills are valuable not only for continued study of mathematics but also in many areas of thought in which arguments are set forth according to strict criteria for logical deduction. Students will gain experience in articulating their evidence for claims and in expressing their ideas with precise and transparent reasoning.In addition to work in core areas of advanced mathematics, we will devote seminar time to looking at our studies in a broader historical, philosophical, and cultural context, working toward answers to critical questions such as: Are mathematical systems discovered or created? Do mathematical objects actually exist? How did the current mode of mathematical thinking come to be developed? What is current mathematical practice? What are the connections between mathematics and culture? What are the connections between mathematics and art? What are the connections between mathematics and literature?This program is designed for students who intend to pursue graduate studies or teach in mathematics and the sciences, as well as for those who want to know more about mathematical thinking. Brian Walter Sophomore SO Junior JR Senior SR Fall Fall Winter Spring
Donald Morisato and Bob Haft
Signature Required: Spring 
  Program FR–SRFreshmen - Senior 16 16 Day W 14Winter S 14Spring Both science and art take things apart. In some instances—the evisceration of a frog or an overly analytical critique of a poem—the process can result in the loss of the vital force. In the best scenario, carefully isolating and understanding individual parts actually reconstitutes the original object of study, bringing appreciation for a whole greater than its parts. Sometimes taking things apart results in a paradigm shift: suddenly, the ordinary becomes extraordinary.In one program strand, we use a biologist's tool kit to explore how living organisms function. We learn how biology takes apart and studies life in different ways. In winter, we focus on visual perception, beginning with anatomy, proceeding onto the logic of visual processing, and concluding with an examination of the specialized neurons and molecules involved in phototransduction. In spring quarter, we play with the idea of mutation, exploring how genetics is used to dissect complex processes and provide an entry point for the molecular understanding of inheritance at the level of DNA.Another strand takes visual art as its point of departure. Here, we combine what we learn about the anatomy and physiology of the eye with a study of using sight to apprehend and appreciate the world around us. We will work with different tools—charcoal pencils and cameras—both to take apart and to construct new things. During winter quarter, we will learn the basics of drawing. In spring, we use black-and-white photography to study life at a more macroscopic level than in the biology lab. Ultimately, our goal here is the same as that of the scientist: to reconstitute and reanimate the world around us.There are ideas for which literature provides a more sophisticated and satisfying approach than either science or the visual arts. Thus, in a third strand, we examine how literature depicts and dissects the emotional and behavioral interactions that we call "love." Authors we read will include Shakespeare, Stendhal, Henry James, Virginia Woolf, James Baldwin, John Berger, Haruki Murakami and Louise Gluck.Our goal is to weave these strands together to produce an understanding about the world informed by both cognition and intuition. Throughout our inquiry, we will be investigating the philosophical issue of objectivity. This is a rigorous program involving lectures, workshops, seminars, studio art and laboratory science work. Student learning will be assessed by weekly seminar writing assignments, lab reports, art portfolios and exams. Donald Morisato Bob Haft Freshmen FR Sophomore SO Junior JR Senior SR Winter Winter Spring