New Expos 20 Courses in Spring 2017

Spring 2017 Expos 20 course descriptions will be updated on this page throughout January.



(New Course Spring 2017)

Expos 239, 240

Donna Mumme

MW 10, MW 11


What’s for dinner? A seemingly simple question that raises even more. What should we eat? What do we eat? Why do we eat it? How we think about these questions in the context of dining at Harvard is the focus of this course. On the one hand, concerns about the environment or the welfare of animals or our own health might lead us to make deliberate choices about what we eat. On the other hand, less conscious forces – such as habits, how food is presented, culture, innate preferences – might also drive what we eat. In the first unit, we will consider the debate between “sustainable” and “industrialized” farming and ask what that debate can tell us about how we choose what to eat and perhaps how we should choose what to eat. In the second unit, we will take a look at a failed food-related policy aimed at addressing obesity: the ban on large-sized sodas in New York City undertaken a few years ago by then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Using psychology research on eating, decision-making, habits, and behavior change, we will evaluate the policy and think about what lessons we can take away from its failure. In the final unit, students will apply what they have learned about why we eat what we eat to evaluate eating in Harvard’s dining halls. Students will select an area of interest to research further and will propose evidence-based changes to the current system. Throughout the course, we will use scientific evidence to inform our thinking about food and eating.



(New Course Spring 2017)

Expos 210, 211

Willa Brown

TTh 11, TTh 12


Modern Americans typically view the idea of being “ladylike”—a notion of womanhood as bound up in respectability—as something restrictive, even demeaning. For a woman to be "ladylike," after all, often means she is relegated to a corner where she will not be assertive and empowered. But for centuries, women fought and died to be allowed that reputation. Being a “respectable” woman meant being fully human – and fully protected—and then over time that identity became a shackle to break free of. This course will examine the curious history of “respectable” womanhood to see what happened to those women who battled to be valued, sometimes for the most fundamental human status, and sometimes for the right to cross the bounds of propriety. What were the real risks of walking the line of respectable and unladylike and the dangers of stepping outside the lines? While modern feminism fights against restrictive stereotypes, why did some women fight to keep them? This course consists of three units, each focusing on a different moment in American history. We will begin with women who lost their lives when their neighbors began to question whether they really were “women” at all – the Salem witches. Using close reading skills we will sift through historical documents to understand just how the people of Salem were willing to decide some of their own daughters were not really human after all. Next we will move forward two centuries to read the fascinating memoir of anti-lynching crusader Ida B Wells, a woman who once travelled for two days to protect her reputation against slander. We will learn about race and womanhood in the late 19th century to understand why in order to be a reformer, Wells had to be a lady first. Finally, we will take on a research project on iconic 20th-century figures from Civil Rights lawyer Pauli Murray to Hillary Clinton, women who found themselves caught between being ladies and being leaders. Throughout we will examine how racial and sexual stereotypes posed not only challenges but also unexpected opportunities for rebels and reformers. What power does being a lady hold, and what boundaries does it create? What does it mean, both yesterday and today, to be not just female, but a woman?



(New Course Spring 2017)

Expos 231, 232

Ariane Liazos

TTh 1, TTh 2


Note – The “Engaged Scholarship” components of this course include three required meetings outside class time that have been tentatively scheduled in March and April: a panel discussion held on Harvard’s campus with teachers from Brighton High (March 7 from 7-8:30 p.m.); a visit to Brighton High (students have the option of visiting on either April 5 from 7:45-10:45 a.m. or April 7 from 11:15 a.m.-2:15 p.m.); and a “Civics Fair” Hosted by the Harvard Ed Portal (April 28 from 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.). 

Over sixty years after the Supreme Court ruled that “separate but equal” schools are unconstitutional, segregation is on the rise. Today, despite widespread evidence that integrated education increases student learning and reduces prejudice, American public schools are increasingly divided by class and race.  In this course, we investigate attempts to achieve educational equality in Boston, focusing on the decision to use busing to desegregate the public schools in the 1970s and the wave of violent opposition that followed.  Throughout the semester, we undertake “engaged scholarship,” combining academic learning and community engagement by collaborating with Bostonians directly affected by these historical events—we partner with history teachers and students at a neighborhood high school in the Boston Public Schools (BPS) system—and by focusing on communication with diverse audiences through writing, speaking, and visual presentation.  To ground our understanding of the complex issues we will wrestle with, we begin with a journalist’s Pulitzer Prize-winning account of school integration in the 1970s, contrasting the perspectives of black and white families. We next examine historical debates on the causes of the “antibusing” movement and pedagogical debates about how to teach controversial and contested historical topics.  For the final project, we have the opportunity to further investigate these topics and other current challenges around educational equity facing BPS. In thoughtful collaboration with our community partners and through research, we design lesson plans for a high school course on desegregation and prepare arguments for why the various plans might be effective. We not only delve into the remarkable written and visual materials in Harvard’s libraries but also conduct conversations with teachers and students at Brighton High. The class culminates in a “Civics Fair” (held at Harvard’s Education Portal serving residents of the Allston and Brighton neighborhoods) in which students present their lesson plans and engage with our partners at Brighton High and other community members.