Migration Narratives

Amanda Solomon

Welcome to UC San Diego. How was it—packing all of your things, moving into your dorm, discovering your new living situation, navigating an unfamiliar campus? Maybe you migrated from just a few miles by car or maybe you crossed the Pacific Ocean on a thirteen-hour flight or maybe you didn’t move at all. Maybe San Diego has always been home, but still you’ve definitely crossed the border from high school into college. Borders both physical (like the one between the U.S. and Mexico) and figurative (like the one between high school and college) are all around us. We cross these borders all the time but may not even realize it. In this CAT 1, we will learn the skills of critical reading that are so necessary to your success at UCSD by studying the history of San Diego as a border zone and by analyzing and producing our own narratives of migration.

At its heart, critical reading is learning to have a dialogue–a dialogue with a text, its author, and its context. Critical reading is to learn how to ask hard questions and be open to complex answers. In this class, we will read a variety of texts from academic articles to posters to podcasts to blogs, and we will ask many questions about borders and migration. What are the borders that are all around us? How did those borders get formed? Who controls those borders and why? Who gets to cross those borders and why? How are (im)migrants represented and treated and why? What are the stories that (im)migrants tell about their experiences crossing borders? For the final project of this class, students will interview someone who has crossed the border into San Diego from outside the continental United States and produce a podcast about that person’s migration narrative.


Guillermo Algaze

Algaze Origins

CAT 1 focuses on the key question: "How did human beings come to have culture, art and technology?" The course is centered on the human capacity for symbolic representation as it manifests itself in each of these domains. It presents a global historical overview of the general principles and patterns of past human development, and focuses particular attention on the causes and consequences of cultural variations spanning the last 50,000 years of human prehistory and history. The course explores the ways in which forces such as language, art, technology, sedentism, food production, cities, and writing helped shape the natural and created environments of human societies.

Communities of Knowledge

Jacobo Myerston-Santana

This class is an introduction to the study of communities and bodies of knowledge in the ancient world, specifically in Mesopotamia, Greece, India, China, and pre-Columbian America. Contrary to common beliefs, knowledge is to a large extent a social construction. Societies differ in the ways they conceive what is worth being known, how expertise is obtained, and who is allowed to be part a community of knowledge. In the ancient world, different groups developed a variety of technologies that had an impact on the way knowledge was acquired and managed, and on how the world was understood. Differences in the production of knowledge reinforced both cultural identities of groups of experts and societies more broadly.

To explore the social nature of knowledge, we will pay especial attention to systems of classification, cosmologies, ontologies, and methods of inquiry, as well as technologies such as writing and information management. To practically investigate such topics, students will work towards a final project in which they will create their own artificial societies. In this intellectual experiment, students will imagine communities of experts, their inventions and discoveries, and how the knowledge they produce impacts the conceptual organization of their worlds. This critical and creative exercise will help students begin to understand the processes that lead to the constitution of modern systems of knowledge and to reflect on the role we play in the modern university as a community of experts.

Historical Encounters of Science and Religion

Robert Westman

Students will participate in a historical examination of the encounter between religion and science. The class asks whether science and religion are inherently at odds or even “at war” with one another, as some nineteenth-century historians and twentieth-century journalists liked to say. Is there a single defining relationship between science and religion, such as Galileo’s dramatic engagement with the Catholic Church in the early seventeenth century or the 1925 “Monkey Trial” of John Scopes in Dayton, Tennessee? Focusing on these examples, among others, this class shows that these questions–as well as the answers given to them–have their own history.

Sacred Space Formation

Jennifer Metten Pantoja

Why do certain locations hold more significance than others? For instance, why does visiting your elementary school evoke more emotion than visiting the bank? How come people behave differently inside a synagogue, church, or mosque than at a sporting event? What is the difference between sacred and profane space? Are there specific criteria a place must meet in order to be considered sacred space?

This course will explore the construction of sacred space in one city, Jerusalem, over three millennia, primarily as the symbolic focus of three faiths: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. When was this location recognized as wholly different than the space around it? How did this city evolve into a place of pilgrimage for so many religious traditions? Emphasis will be placed on the intersection of religion and culture as well as religion and interpretation. 

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