LARTS 355 – Evolution of Life on the Planet
This course is a focused exploration of the co-evolution of life and Earth surface environments through time. Through in-class labs, lectures, and readings, students will investigate mass extinctions, rare and short-term events that collectively shaped the biological world we experience today. Can we reconstruct mass extinctions as evolutionary events, using the fossil record, aided by phylogenies based on comparative biology? Can we, in turn, use information in sedimentary rocks to understand the environmental perturbations that killed so many organisms? And, using physiology, can we understand causal relationships between environmental events and patterns of selective extinction (and survival) recorded by fossils? Can knowledge of this past provide useful perspective on current threats to biodiversity? (2 credits, GE) Cole

LARTS 369 – Topics in Environmental Science
Environmental studies deals with relationships between humans and environments. How do these relationships mediate or exacerbate human/ environmental problems? What are the problems with, and solutions to, overpopulation, pollution, and resource use? Answers to these questions are lifelong queries, and in this course students will learn what they need to know to continue the search. Students will not concern themselves with how they feel about environmental issues, but rather will focus on what they know and how they can use this knowledge to understand problems and to act in ways that improve the human condition. (2 credits, GE) Cole 

LARTS 377 – Cognitive Science
Cognitive Science is an exploration of the nature of intelligence and the brain, in different forms, from machines to animals/humans. This course explores the modern history of our efforts to understand the nature of mind, asking such questions as how a purely physical entity could have a mind, whether a computer or robot could have genuine mental states, and what it really means to be intelligent or to have a mind. In the process of seeking answers to these questions, we will explore such phenomena as perception, memory, prediction, decisionmaking, action, language, and consciousness by integrating methods and concepts from a number of disciplines, including philosophy, psychology, computer science, neuroscience, biology, linguistics, and anthropology. Material from economics, education, mathematics, engineering, and the arts is increasingly integrated into the field as well, and these will serve as the basis for our quantitative inquiries. The class is intended to serve as an introduction to the unique multidisciplinary approach to studying problems of mind that Cognitive Science represents. (2 credits, GE) Cole

LARTS 378 – Acoustics: Theory and Practice
This course traces an established arc from theory to practice in architectural acoustics. The course begins with the study of fundamental physical concepts such as acceleration and pressure, as well as the mechanisms underlying human hearing. Supported by these physical principles, the course studies vibrating systems and sound sources, sound propagation in the free field, and wave phenomena associated with boundaries and objects. We then bring sound indoors to explore concepts in room acoustics such as absorption and reverberation. We will also look at the basics of sound reinforcement and recording systems, focusing on those features most relevant to performing musicians. Familiarity with algebra, trigonometry and classical physics is helpful but not necessary; all required math will be presented and reviewed in class. (2 credits, GE) Faculty

LARTS 451 – Sustainable Societies
This course introduces students to the science and mathematics behind a wide variety of sustainability topics, such as geographical layout, water, food, transportation, infrastructure, energy, politics and law, society, economy, trade, and technology. Guest speakers and field trips will introduce students to several current local sustainable initiatives. Through group projects, students will explore the rational and practical treatment of sustainable development issues, using quantitative analyses to puzzle through the human burden on Earth. (2 credits, GE) Cole 

LARTS 464 – Natural Disasters and Catastrophes
In this course students will have the opportunity to integrate the basics of earth science and the natural world through the study of what we know about the causes, locations, and effects of natural disasters such as earthquakes, tsunami, volcanoes, floods, meteorite strikes, landslides, and hurricanes. Natural disasters can seriously disrupt the basic function of societies, posing significant and widespread threats to life, property, and the environment. Though we have improved our disaster warning, response, and recovery systems, our engineered structures, political and cultural trends, and emergency management and responses may have lulled us into a false sense of security. This course will investigate how loss of life and property damage can be minimized by using geologic knowledge to improve upon disaster response and relief. (2 credits, GE) Cole

LARTS 465 – Energy in the 21st Century
Some people are confused about why not much progress appears to have been made in phasing out polluting, nonrenewable resources like oil, gas, and coal and transitioning to alternative nonpolluting, renewable energies. This course takes a non-traditional approach to this issue in that it explores the benefits of fossil fuels as well as the stumbling blocks to implementing alternative energy technologies such as hydropower, wave power, biomass, solar, geothermal, wind, hydrogen and nuclear energies. Science, technology, policy, and societal concerns will be discussed in a seminar style in which students research and make presentations on each type of energy. We will also discuss the “smart” use of energy, as well as the storage, transportation, housing, and consumption of energy. We will conclude by discussing and creating potential policies for the expedited phasing in of alternative technologies, addressing regional, strategic, health, safety, and environmental concerns. (2 credits, GE) Cole