Category IV: Investigations in Science and Technology
These courses focus on a particular area of research using perspectives from several scientific disciplines and demonstrating connections among scientific principles, their technological applications, and social consequences. A lab or field experience is required.
The Origins of Humanity
This class explores the evolutionary roots of humanity. It is intended to provide a foundation in how the scientific method can reveal aspects of our ancestry, using the fossil record of early humans, the behavior of living primates, and the behavior of living hunter-gatherer people. The course is a lecture format with a weekly lab and a field project.
The core of this course is Darwinian theory, and all components of it. These principles explain how an ape ancestor evolved and diversified over 5 million years, leading to modern homosapiens.
Readings and Assignments:
Texts: Boyd and Silk: How Humans Evolved
Physical Anthropology Reader
Goodall: Through a Window
Plus other supplemental readings and much hands-on work in TA-run labs.
BIOLOGICAL SCIENCE 102
Humans and their Environment
The goals of this course are to teach ecological and evolutionary principles that control the size and species composition of populations living on our planet. These populations include not only diverse animal and plant species buy also the human population. We will see how the activities of humans have modified and destroyed natural communities, and how the human population is itself ultimately constrained by these principles. Each week the course material is presented in two 80-minute lectures and is discussed in one 120 minute discussion group. The discussion group also includes local field trips, a computer lab devoted to population dynamics, and several laboratory studies. Grades are based upon examinations, papers, and participation during the discussion group.
This course explores principle of energy and material transformations, genetics, evolution, and ecology.
Readings and Assignments:
Reading assignments are in Audesirk and Audesirk, "Life on Earth," and in Goldfarb, "Taking Sides." The field trips are made to the Los Angeles Natural History Museum and the Page Museum. The laboratory studies explore natural selection and predator prey interactions. Students are required to write short papers on the articles from Goldfarb, their field trips, and their laboratory studies.
BIOLOGICAL SCIENCE 150g
Human Health and Disease
M. M. Appleman
BISC 150L is designed to bring students to a level of understanding of modern Biomedical Science that will enable them to make rational decisions on personal, ethical, and political issues in health and disease. This level will be reached through lectures, reading of texts and news media, discussions, and laboratory experiments.
Topics include: The molecular and cellular nature of man
Nutrition, atherosclerosis, and osteoporosis
Human genetics and genetic diseases
Cancer, its treatment and its prevention
Infection and the immune response
HIV, HIV therapy, and AIDS
Neurology and mental disease
BISC 150Lg is a participatory course. Frequent lecture exercises will encourage students to take ethical and social positions on health issues; critical assignments will allow students to evaluate public and media views on controversial subjects; a research project will lead students to become true experts on a subject of their choice; and laboratory experiments will give an appreciation of modern biotechnology. Examinations, which count for about one third of the course grade, will be open-book.
BIOLOGICAL SCIENCE 230g
Brain, Mind and Machine
W. O. McClure
The goal of BISC 230g is to bring the excitement of the neural sciences to a general education audience. The 1990's have been designated the Decade of the Brain by the US Congress; the next century might well become the Century of the Brain. The function of the brain is simple: it generates behavior. All behavior; any behavior. How this happens is not simple. Neuroscience is expanding our understanding of the brain and its functions in remarkable ways. We can visualize the human brain as people think and create. We can see parts of the brain become active as we feel emotions of love; of hate; of rage. The secrets of errors in the way the brain works are becoming known. We can learn about mental illness, and may be able more effectively to help those terrorized by it. Autism, depression, and ADD are all diseases which we can now study. BISC 230g has a laboratory / discussion which meets for three hours each week, and is supplemented weekly by three hours of lecture. Laboratory sections are about 20 students in size. The course uses three examinations, several quizzes and lab reports, a verbal presentation, and a term paper as the basis for assigning grades.
BISC 230g examines thinking, perception, movement, sleep memory, emotion and other aspects of behavior in both healthy and diseased individuals. Examples come from many kinds of animals, from planarians and squid to monkeys and man. The fields of biology, chemistry and physiology are central to our study, but concepts from physics and medicine are also used. The fundamental principles include evolution, development, and psychological concepts of learning and behavior.
BISC 230g uses a textbook from the area of biological psychology supplemented with readings from Influence, a text of social psychology by Robert Caildini., A laboratory manual written by the instructors will be used. For the verbal presentation and term paper (which are expected to be on the same topic), use of the library and standard reference sources will be required. The laboratory and other aspects of the course will requires use of the World Wide Web, with which the student must become familiar. In addition to quizzes and examinations, assignments include lab reports, which average one every two weeks; occasional homework problems, which will be given in class to familiarize the student with simple calculations; the verbal presentation, and the term paper.
Chemistry in Life: AIDS Drug Discovery & Development
"Chemistry in Life" is a friendly new category IV GE course designed for "non"-science majors. However, students interested in health sciences (medicine, pharm., dentistry will find it interesting as well as business (entrepreneurism and biotechnology companies), law, social sciences and humanities students; undeclared majors are also welcomed (the first class, given F / 97 included cinema and exercise science majors, among others). The focus of the course is the science underlying new AIDS drugs. 'Real world' aspects are also covered: how a drug is synthesized and tested, patent issues, economics of bringing a drug to the marketplace, how drugs are approved for human use.
The course itself provides the necessary chemistry and other scientific background which is introduced on an as-needed, "just-in-time" basis. A multimedia snapshot of the course is currently available at the Chem. 203Lg Website: www-scf.usc.edu/~chem203/ . Prospective students are encouraged to explore this site (for a quick overview, try the FAQ at: www-scf.usc.edu/~chem203/admin/C203Lg-FAQ.html).
Students are guided through the amazing new molecular technology which is revolutionizing medicine, with focus on the science underlying new anti-viral agents or diagnostic reagents, from drug design to clinical use. The course adopts a multidisciplinary approach, integrating different scientific principles to explore how effective drugs have been developed against AIDS, a disease which was only clearly recognized 15 years ago.
Readings and Assignments:
A multimedia snapshot of this course is currently available at the Chem. 203Lg Website: http://www-scf.usc.edu/~chem203/ . The Website lists the text and includes outline notes for the entire course. The course makes extensive use of the World Wide Web to find information resources. A virtual lab (computer-based) is included which provides every student with a hands-on tutorial on 1) how to use a computer interface with the Web; 2) how to find medical and other scientific information on the Web; 3) how to locate specific drugs and drug makers on the Web; and much else. In addition, the course features several guest lectures by experts who provide current perspectives on course topics.
Mc Kenzie / Sherman
The environment has always posed risks to its human inhabitants. While we may pride ourselves on just how far civilization has progressed in protecting us from the varieties of the physical world, we cannot escape the nagging worry that natural disasters seem to be impacting greater numbers of people and greater amounts of property than ever before. This course will provide an introduction to extreme geophysical and atmospheric events inquiring into the scientific nature of these phenomena as well as their time/space distribution. Methodologies for analyzing these events will be discussed and students will have the opportunity to make their own measurements and analysis through laboratory exercises. As different disaster typologies are developed in class consideration of structural and non-structural modifications and mitigation will be developed and students will develop an appreciation of how and why some strategies seem to ameliorate effects of hazards while others seemingly exacerbate the situation.
This course is designed to explore the interrelationship between science and technology by focusing on a related set of natural hazard phenomena including geophysical events (earthquake, volcanism, mass movement, and coastal zone erosion) and atmospheric events (hurricanes, tornadoes and flooding) as well as fire. How society has, continues to and will attempt to cope with these events is clearly a major thrust of this course.
Readings and Assignments:
Students will be evaluated through three midterms (half the course credit), a research paper (20% of the course credit) and an interrelated series of 10 laboratory exercises (30% of the course credit.) A laboratory manual plus two textbooks are required.
Crises of a Planet
"Crises of a Planet" is a study of the interactions between humankind and our dynamic earth. On a planet where the human population is exploding, our activities are increasingly in conflict with the natural order of planetary processes, especially those active at or near the earth's surface. Such processes include faulting and earthquakes, volcanic activity, landsliding, the hydrologic cycle and flooding, and physical aspects of climate change including the "Greenhouse Effect" and ozone loss in the stratosphere. The course also surveys geologically-related health aspects, among them exposure to radon, asbestos, and environmental pollution. Laboratory sessions use a hands-on approach to illustrate methods that geologists use to develop an understanding of how the Earth works. Fieldtrips in the Los Angeles region provide "real world" examples of geologic processes and environmental problems.
We focus in this course on the interaction of natural earth processes and human activity. Mankind has become in many ways an aggressive agent of geological change, in almost all cases upsetting a pre-humankind natural equilibrium. The ramifications of such negative interactions and the sometimes unexpected chains of events such interactions lead to are explored in this course.
Readings and Assignments:
Text readings (the textbook may change from semester to semester)
Two one-day required field trips are held to investigate coastal, erosional, sedimentological, landslide, and tectonic processes (including a visit to the San Andreas plate boundary).
The Earth's climate influences all aspects of Earth's environment and plays an important role in determining the economic vitality development within a society. The Earth's climate also plays an important role in determining patterns of biological change. Earth's geological history teaches us that some climate changes that have occurred have been very abrupt and had dramatic effects on the Earth's biota. Future climate changes are inevitable and, to some extent, predictable. Yet predicting exactly how, why and when climate will change is very difficult, requiring sophisticated scientific data gathering techniques and advanced computer models in order to make even the most fundamental predictions, like what the climate will be tomorrow or the next day. Understanding the climate system and being able to make accurate statements about future climate change is of such importance to our social well being that climate research is a major focus in the United States scientific community.
This course is designed to provide the student with an introduction to the science of climate change. In this course we will examine how the climate system operates. We will investigate records of past climate on Earth ranging from the time of the dinosaurs to the dawn of man. We will examine the impact of climate change on biological, sociological and economic patterns on Earth. We will also examine some of the controversial aspects of potential future climate change, including global warming and greenhouse effect and El Niño.
The course consists of three lectures each week and one laboratory . In the laboratory the students will participate in the development of scientific hypothesis which will then be tested by conducting an experiment or making observations. The laboratory assignments will provide a hands-on experience with the science of climate change.
In a series of about more than 20 lectures, we will discuss: the causes of earthquakes. Where they occur? -- Earthquake belts (why in California?) and the Pacific ring of fire. Fault zone studies with a field trip to the world-famous San Andreas fault. Earthquake recording, location, and the Richter magnitude scale. Earthquake waves and the study of earth's interior and explore nature resources. Earthquake prediction, and earthquake resistant designs in structures.
Grading by a normal distribution curve: Approximate breakdowns: two midterms, 16% each; lab, 31%; final, 31%; one Saturday San Andreas fault field trip, 6%. Old Exams are on file in the Leavey Library Reserve Shelves.
What phenomena and their related scientific principles does this course explore? Earthquakes, volcanoes, seismic Sea Waves, and a thorough discussion on the physical principles and their impacts to the human society, as well as how we cope with these hazards.
Readings and Assignments:
A. Earthquakes (Newly Revised and Expanded) Author: Bruce A. Bolt
B. Piece of Mind in Earthquake Country - Author: Peter I. Yanev
C. This Dynamic Earth, by Kious and Tilling of the U. S. Geological Survey.
D. Weekly Laboratory exercises