OU Presidential Dream Course program to offer four new classes this spring | News

OU’s Presidential Dream Course program will continue in the 2018 spring semester with four new dream courses offering students the opportunity to study the book of Genesis, the anthropology of dogs, global advertising or infrastructure during natural disasters.

Since 2005, the dream course program has sponsored classes featuring guests speakers, experts in their individual fields, who will interact with students and give a public lecture. Professors of the presidential dream courses are allocated a one time payment of $20,000 to fund the guest speakers, according to the program’s website.

“(Presidential dream courses) are a great opportunity to be able to provide faculty with the opportunity to give their students an experience with experts outside of campus,” said Grey Allman, director of operations for the office of the senior vice president and provost. “They’re really able to expose students to different ideas and different perspectives.”

The following are the Presidential Dream Courses taking place in spring 2018:

Dogs: From Feral to Friend

Taught by anthropology professor Courtney Hofman, this class will focus on the history of dogs, including the domestication of dogs, human interactions with canines and their ancestors throughout history, Hofman said.

“The course has a number of world-renowned speakers coming…there’s a lot of application to conservation, ecology, evolution,” Hofman said. “The course will be valuable (to students) because it will be looking at this one thing that people are very excited about and studying it from a different perspective.”

The course’s guest lecturers are in the process of being confirmed. Updates will be posted to the course’s webpage.

Genesis: In the Beginning

This class will focus on the five key points in the first book of the Bible and their relation to creation, the Garden of Eden, Abraham and Sarah, matriarchs and patriarchs and Joseph. Students will also analyze how each of these topics have been studied throughout history, according to the course’s webpage.

The course, co-taught by religious studies professor Jill Hicks-Keeton and history professor Alan Levenson, will feature five guest lecturers, according to the webpage.

“Each of the speakers (has) written books on specific elements of Genesis that pretty much only they would have that kind of level of mastery of,” Levenson said.

In order to be literate in western traditions and cultures, one must study the stories of Genesis and how the book plays a role in modern society, Levenson said.

“Basic literacy in the western tradition…means knowing something about what Genesis actually says,” he said. “Sophisticated literacy is not only knowing what was said, but how it was understood by the readers who were in early Jewish and early Christian times.”

Guest speakers include:

  • Ronald Hendel (UC Berkeley): Hendel will be discussing Genesis and its interpretation by ancient civilizations.

  • Anathea Portier-Young (Duke Divinity School): Portier-Young will look at the rape of Dinah in Genesis 34 from a modern feminist perspective.

  • Jon Levenson (Harvard Divinity School): Levenson will study Abraham through the lens of the three western traditions.

  • Mark Nanos (University of Kansas): Nanos will walk students through an analysis of Paul’s reading of the Hebrew Scripture.

  • Christine Hayes (Yale University): Hayes will conclude the lecture series with “What is Divine about Divine Law?”

Analytics of Resilient Cyber-Physical-Social Networks

This course, co-taught by industrial engineering professors Kash Barker, Andres Gonzalez and Shima Mohebbi, will study three classes of cyber-physical-social networks — infrastructure, community and service — and their impact on various situations and society, according to the course’s webpage. Students will study the impact of natural disasters and how to properly build infrastructure to withstand these disasters, Barker said.

“Given the nature (and perhaps higher frequency) of natural disasters, disruptions to physical infrastructures and the communities that interact with them are an important area of study,” Barker said in an email. “How we design infrastructures, how we recover them and how we understand community needs are all areas that students could benefit from understanding.”

The guest lecturers will be distributed throughout the semester with one nearly every week, according to the course’s syllabus.

Featured guests will include:

International Advertising

This course will be taught by strategic communication faculty advisor Debbie Yount and will feature professionals in international advertising. Students will be instructed on successfully and efficiently reaching complex and large audiences, according to the course’s webpage.

Four guest speakers will explain their work in breaking down international communication barriers to profitably launch companies and advertisements for renowned brands, according to the webpage.

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