Academics

Here are samples of the types of courses that are part of the Tahoe Semester. Courses will vary slightly each semester based on the availability of faculty and the opportunity to incorporate guests from the region, including representatives of culturally distinct ethnic groups who are native to the Tahoe Basin.

Introduction to Philosophy

This course will introduce students to fundamental questions and issues in, as well as the methodology of, philosophy. Topics may include: ethics, political theory, knowledge, personal identity, the mind, free will, race, gender, God, the meaning of life, and the significance of death.

Inventing the United States

A survey of the major trends, conflicts, and crises of a society characterized by growth and change from the Age of Discovery to the present. The internal and external aspects of the United States are examined in an effort to encourage a clearer perspective of our history in its global context.

Evolution, Biodiversity, Ecology

An introduction to biology through the integrating theme of evolution. The first third of the course introduces the unifying principles of evolution upon which all biological study is based. The second third is a phylogenetic survey of the biodiversity originating via those evolutionary processes. The course concludes with an exploration of the ecological processes that govern the organization of populations, communities and ecosystems. Laboratory work is required.

Ancient Philosophy

This course is an introduction to history of Ancient Greek Philosophy. We will cover key figures and movements from the 7th to the 4th century BCE. In the first part of the course we will study the early thinkers who moved from mythological to scientific explanations of the natural world. We will then focus on Plato and Aristotle, whose work gives us the distinctions in philosophy that we still see in contemporary thought.

American Environmental History

A study of the human impact on the North American environment over the last 500 years. Utilizing a variety of interdisciplinary techniques, the course pays particular attention to the reciprocal influences operating between human society and the natural world.

Introduction to Humanities

A study of literature, philosophy, drama and the fine arts of various ancient traditions. Special attention given to ethical and aesthetic values, and to historical and cultural contexts. Emphasis is placed on writing, analysis, and discussion.

Politics and Philosophy

In this course students will learn political theory and examine contemporary political documents and controversies. Topics may include: the justification for state power, fundamental principles of justice, civil disobedience, whether there are natural rights, the nature and extent of one’s liberty (of speech, religious), obligations to others (non-citizens, future generations), equality, and economic justice.

Introduction to Environmental Science

Consider the air quality impacts of cooking fires, the life cycle of electricity generation, or the challenges of water quality in Flint, Michigan. This course promotes the understanding of the value of and limitations of the natural sciences in solving environmental problems. Students examine how science is used to manage natural resources to promote a sustainable society. More specifically, students use the natural sciences to investigate multiple domains of environmental science including water and air quality; biodiversity; food and soils; climate; and energy. Laboratory work is required.

Philosophy of Science

Is science a good method for investigating the world, and if so, what makes it so good? Are there scientific laws? Are all sciences reducible to physics or is there value in sociology, psychology, biology, and the other special sciences? Is science objective? Value-free? What is or should be the relationship between science and society? How has feminist philosophy of science impacted both philosophy and science? These and other questions will be considered through an historical investigation of philosophy of science from logical positivism to contemporary approaches.