Spring Breakthrough 2019 Courses and Videos

A Printed Monument – Art of the Screen Printed Mural

This is an invitation to immerse yourself in making a large-scale mural. Screen printing is usually associated with posters and t-shirts, but it can also be a very effective medium for making large-scale murals. In this applied art Spring Breakthrough, students will learn the basics of screen printing and work collaboratively to generate a monumental design that will be printed on pieces of adhesive-backed fabric that will be attached to a large wall in the Rubenstein Arts center. The design will be created by the students after researching monuments, murals, and 2D public art. Research will include visits to see outstanding screen prints in the Nasher Museum collection, posters in the Rubenstein Rare Books Library and art historical conversations about the topic. The mural will be on view for a minimum of 6 months and will be seen by many visitors to the Rubenstein Arts Center.

  • Mark Olson, The Cordelia and William Laverack Family Assistant Professor of Art, Art History & Visual Studies
  • Bill Fick, Lecturing Fellow, Department of Art, Art History and Visual Studies; Assistant Director of Visual and Studio Arts in the Rubenstein Arts Center

Hack Your Education: Design Sprint

Why is classroom learning so similar to what it was hundreds of years ago while the world outside is so different? In an age so focused on users and their needs, why are students frequently left out of decisions about how to innovate in their own learning? In this interactive Spring Breakthrough we will apply design thinking to hack your Duke education. We will collaboratively develop prototypes of what the undergraduate experience could be, and how it could change. We’ll close by pitching our projects to Duke leadership!

  • Aria F. Chernik, Founder and Director, Open Source Pedagogy, Research + Innovation (OSPRI); Lecturing Fellow, Social Science Research Institute
  • Matthew Rascoff, Associate Vice Provost for Digital Education and Innovation

How to Fix Anything

In a world with seemingly endless problems, how might you hit the pause button on all the demands for quick fixes? When faced with a design problem, what do you need to know before conceiving a solution? These questions will guide our immersion into the ways people express challenges that connect the built environment to their everyday lives. This is a course in thinking about problems that drive research and design, with a focus on the material world. The course is meant for all students to slow down and scope open-ended design problems in conversation with community partners. Students will learn skills of ethnography, including observation and interview, and will apply these skills by working with partners such as the Lemur Center, the Nasher Museum of Art, the Duke Medical Center, and Duke Forest who will present challenges specific to their site. We will discuss how different sorts of research methods are appropriate to different sorts of problems, and how problems derive from specific contexts. Students of all backgrounds are welcome, especially students with interests in health, the arts, the environment, and engineering.

  • Ann Saterbak, Professor of the Practice, Department of Biomedical Engineering
  • Harris Solomon, Associate Professsor, Department of Cultural Anthropology

How to Overcome Political Polarization

Political polarization is tearing our country apart, but what can we personally do about it? Three promising answers come from the Right Questions Institute, Jigsaw Classrooms (Google them!), and Perspective Taking. This Spring Breakthrough course will begin by studying documentary videos of inspiring people who have successfully overcome extreme polarization. Students will then actively participate in three exercises aimed at reducing polarization. First, we will construct long lists of open questions about a controversial political issue and then choose the top questions to explore. Second, teams of students will be formed each day so as to include students with diverse political viewpoints. Each team member will research and teach the rest of the team about answers to one of the chosen questions. Teams will then jointly present their results to the rest of the class, and prizes will be awarded to the best team presentation. Lastly, students with opposing viewpoints will be paired and asked to answer a prompt from their partner’s perspective. Students will then engage in an open dialogue about their partner's answers and their own. We will study whether these exercises really do reduce polarization and discuss how these techniques might be used in high school and college classrooms as well as online. We seek participants with a wide variety of political views.

  • Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, Chauncey Stillman Professor of Practical Ethics, Department of Philosophy and Kenan Institute for Ethics
  • Aaron Ancell, Edmund J. Safra Postdoctoral Fellow-in-Residence at Harvard University; Graduate Student, Department of Philosophy
  • Joshua August Skorburg, Postdoctoral Associate, Department of Philosophy, Social Science Research Institute
  • Hannah Read, Graduate Student, Department of Philosophy
  • Zachary Banov, Graduate Student, Science and Society

Presidential March Madness

Who were the United States’ best and worst presidents? What does it even mean to be the “best” or “worst” when factoring all of the opportunities and crises that have benefited and befallen each presidency? Utilizing brackets and rankings based on the NCAA’s famed “March Madness” college basketball tournament, students will examine the successes and failures of each presidency and draw conclusions on which ones were more successful than others. By the end of the class, each student will possess the skills to more thoroughly scrutinize elected officials—a vital step in one’s development as an engaged citizen.

  • Fritz Mayer, Professor of Public Policy; Associate Dean for Strategy and Innovation, Sanford School of Public Policy
  • BJ Rudell, Associate Director, The Center for Political Leadership, Innovation and Service (POLIS)

The Biology of Popular Science Fiction TV & Movies

How is the use of magic inherited among people in the Harry Potter universe? How and why are there so many humanoid species on Star Trek (or planets with plants, for that matter)? How could The Doctor look completely different after regeneration? Come explore the entertaining intersection of science with science fiction and research potential biological explanations to your favorite Science Fiction media. Course is aimed for students with an interest in sci-fi/fantasy, a healthy imagination and little to no biology background.

  • Mohamed Noor, Professor, Department of Biology
  • Eric Spana, Associate Professor of the Practice, Department of Biology

Finding My Voice: Writing True Stories (Course is full)

Our stories demand creativity, precision and humanity. We are going to spend four intense days figuring out what those stories are, how to tell them and ways to make our readers laugh and cry. This, however, will not be a standard writing course: there will be blindfolds, and talking buses, and possibly ice cream cones and an old bank vault.

  • Misha Angrist, Associate Professor of the Practice in the Social Science Research Institute; Senior Fellow, Initiative for Science & Society
  • Barry Yeoman, Instructor, Continuing Studies and Center for Documentary Studies

Forensic Psychology: A Story of Mitigation (Course is full)

Within the field of psychology, forensic psychology has become an important focus of the criminal justice system and the clinical practice of psychology as well as scientific research. Forensic Psychology is the endeavor that examines aspects of human behavior directly related to the legal process and the professional practice of psychology within a legal system that embraces both criminal and civil law and their interactions. An essential component of Forensic Psychology is the utilization of mitigation, which is a factor that might ensure the legal process is informed about details that have both direct and indirect implications for adjudication. This course will explore how psychology, through mitigation, has become an essential tool for helping juries and the courts understand and consider the complex psychosocial, behavioral, neurological and socioeconomical aspects of a person’s life when dispensing justice.

  • John H. Blackshear, Academic Dean, Trinity College of Arts and Sciences; Instructor, Psychology & Neuroscience
  • Kimberly Blackshear, Assistant Director, Center for Child and Family Policy

Introduction to Mobile App Development for iOS (Course is full)

Ever had an idea for a mobile app, but didn’t know how to build it? This course is for you. This is a hands-on class intended to give you the basic skills necessary to build your very own mobile app for iOS devices (iPhones & iPads). Attendees will be introduced to the theory and get straight into the practice of designing, developing and publishing their own mobile apps using Apple’s latest development tools.

  • Hugh Thomas, IT Consultant, Mobile Applications Group, Office of Information Technology

Mucking About in the Marsh – Salt Marsh Ecology (Course is full)

Students in this field course will spend 4 days at the Duke Marine Lab in Beaufort, NC, exploring the diversity of the coastal wetlands, their ecological functions and the critical services they provide humans. Students will design and carry out short-term field experiments in the marsh and will compare the biodiversity of the salt marsh to nearby oyster reefs, seagrass beds and sandy beach habits. Students should expect to get their feet wet and their hands muddy as we chase fish, crabs, snails and microbes around the NC coast.

  • Emily Bernhardt, Professor, Department of Biology; Professor, Environmental Sciences and Policy, Nicholas School of the Environment
  • Justin Wright, Associate Professor, Department of Biology
  • Joe Morton, Graduate Student, Nicholas School of the Environment

Puppies! (Course is full)

Puppies tell us so much about ourselves. They can help us answer important questions like, how should we bring up babies? What makes us attractive? Why do others make us feel good? Puppies also have some startling similarities with children and have a particular social intelligence that is part of the reason why dogs are now the most successful mammals on the planet besides humans. We will visit a shelter and play cognitive games that might help puppies get adopted. We will go to the zoo and meet other baby animals that help us think about what makes puppies so special. We will meet puppies in training to help people with mental and physical disabilities. Spending time with puppies will allow us to explore concepts in cognitive neuroscience, veterinary science, evolution, behavioral economics and more. Come play with some puppies with us.

  • Brian Hare, Associate Professor, Department of Evolutionary Anthropology
  • Vanessa Woods, Research Scientist, Department of Evolutionary Anthropology