Course Descriptions

Courses listed are expected to be available during academic year 2014-2015 but are subject to change. Refer to Core Program and GLS course numbers and requirements here.

Writing I and II

WRI-UF 0101 and WRII-UF 0102 4 credits each

The Writing sequence advances the global emphasis of Liberal Studies by engaging students in reading, analyzing, and interpreting works throughout the English-speaking world and, in translation, beyond it; in the classroom, instructors deal with the attendant issues of geography, political and social difference, and translation. Students also produce original work based on research and the incorporation of dialogue with other writers and thinkers. The Writing sequence forms the foundation of a student’s writing career and shares important writing-intensive values with all other areas of the program.


Global Writing Seminar

GWS-UF 0101  4 credits

Introduces students to the kinds of observational, reading, research, analytic, and writing practices upon which they will depend throughout their undergraduate careers and beyond. Students work in modes from self-examination to cultural analysis that lead into the research process, helping them recognize the role of writing as a tool for exposition, exploration, synthesis, and argumentation. The course includes a variety of forms of writing to help students recognize the habits, practices, and intellectual assumptions that may limit their writing and scholarship. Emphasis on independent work of increasing sophistication in research methodologies yields a fuller understanding of the role of the essay in contemporary writing. Course materials and activities engage global issues and perspectives, with an emphasis on the potential junior year global site as one of the objects of investigation.


Advanced Writing Studio

AWS-UF 0201  4 credits

Involves advanced study and practice of writing and is intended for those who wish to develop their writing and who seek to explore and utilize writing as an important aspect of inquiry. Typically, the course will involve the study and practice of one mode or genre of writing (e.g., the screenplay, the poem, the personal essay, literary journalism, the scholarly essay, short fiction, the book or movie review, etc.-- the number of genres or modes that students may practice in a single course will be at the instructor’s discretion), and the study and practice of interpretive or reflexive prose that analyzes, synthesizes and reflectively engages with the mode or genre under consideration. The class will incorporate the study of global traditions (that is, across several large geographic regions) in which the particular mode or genre is practiced and studied. All classes will involve the student in some form of collaboration (group presentations, team-teaching a text, interviewing same subject, co-authoring, etc.), and will also include some treatment of how writing in the mode under consideration and its analysis is transferable to other kinds of writing practices.


Creative Writing: Global Voices and Forms

CWGV-UF 0101  4 credits

The conversations and work in Creative Writing: Global Voices and Forms are guided by a reading list that has been constructed with an emphasis on the global writing community. Readings are drawn from the diverse international tradition of modern and contemporary writing in order to facilitate a discussion of the role national or geographic identity plays in the construction of creative works. The course considers, when appropriate, the national or geographic origin of particular forms—in fiction, for example, magical realism and its ties to Latin America, and the nouveau roman and its ties to France—and the ways those forms have migrated and influenced creative works around the globe. Students complete creative writing exercises inspired by and related to the readings and discussions of form, some of which might turn into longer works.


Creative Writing: Places

CWP-UF 0101  4 credits

This course considers place, setting, or location as central concerns of the creative writing craft. Students examine contemporary theories and poetics around issues of place, as well as consider how writers use place, geography, landscape, and nationality to shape their creative work. Students consider how one makes places with language, how one conveys what it feels like to be in a place, and how place influences narrative.


Cultural Foundations I

CFI-UF 0101   4 credits

Introduces the arts from their origins to the end of antiquity, as defined for these purposes by the roughly coincident dissolutions of the Gupta, Han, and Western Roman empires, focusing on how individuals and social relations are shaped in literature and the visual, plastic, and performing arts, as well as through music. Conceptions of the divine, the heroic, power and disenfranchisement, beauty, and love are examined within the context of the art and literature of East and South Asia, the Mediterranean world, and contiguous regions (such as Germania, Nubia, and Mesopotamia). Concepts of Cultural Foundations II are introduced through the discussion of models by which cultural transmission occurred across these regions prior to the rise of Islam.


Cultural Foundations II

CFII-UF 0102  4 credits

Examines the arts produced within diverse cultural traditions across the globe from the rise of Islam at the beginning of the 7th century to the global empire building of the late 17th/early 18th centuries. The course explores the distinctive conventions and traditions of different media and the development of cultural traditions from their ancient foundations to the early modern period through successive influences and assimilations, both local and external. Diverse cultural traditions are also considered in relation to one another: by direct comparisons of works even in the absence of historical cultural contact; by consideration of mutual interactions, exchanges, and contestations; by the assertion of cultural dominance; and by resistance to such assertions.


Cultural Foundations III

CFIII-UF 0103  4 credits

Explores the arts from the late 17th/early 18th centuries to the post-World War II era, examining how they define and reflect both local cultural views and rapidly shifting global understandings of the world. The course considers how the diverse conceptions and conditions of modernity shaped and were shaped by the arts around the world. Many of the issues pertinent to the course—industrialization/urbanization; the outcomes of cross-cultural contact; colonialism, decolonization, conflicts of political ideology, and liberation struggles; fundamental redefinitions of mind, language, gender, and sexual identity—have had very different effects in various parts of the world. Instructors encourage students to explore what it means to study the arts from global perspectives and to examine what “globalization” itself has meant and means in the context of the arts.


Social Foundations I

SFI-UF 0101  4 credits

Introduces students to the ancient world and ends with the dissolution of the Western Roman Empire, the Gupta Empire in India, and the Han Dynasty in China. This course takes a global perspective and uses an interdisciplinary approach, and part of its aim is to explore enduring questions such as the relation between the individual and society, between justice and power, and between humanity and the divine. The ancient societies from which the texts emerged are as much objects of study as the ancient texts themselves. Students consider many ideas with which they might not agree, and they ask how these earlier conceptions speak to their own lives and connect to the world today. Students are encouraged to distinguish between understanding a text in its historical settings and engaging in broad historical criticism. Accordingly, writing assignments strive to strike a balance between close reading and comparative assessment. In addition to drawing on seminal texts from the Mediterranean world and the Middle East, instructors give extended attention to at least one Mediterranean/non-European culture.


Social Foundations II

SFII-UF 0102  4 credits

Spans a thousand years, from the rise of Islam and the reunification of China under the Tang Dynasty (in the 7th century CE) through the Scientific Revolution and the decline of the Mogul Empire in India. Students consider great ideas that have often helped earlier peoples organize their lives—but which have also set them in conflict either with other communities or among themselves. Such ideas have sparked movements for ethical and social reform, conquest, recovery of lost classics, and religious renewal. Vast new empires appear during this period, but so do challenges to their rule. Religious conflicts lead to civil war, and modern science emerges as a challenge to traditional beliefs. Throughout, different conceptions of human nature emerge and collide. Oppression gives rise to new movements for greater equality and individual rights, and bitter struggles for power lead to the creation of large new colonial empires, whose effects linger to the present day. In addition, the world’s different civilizations come into increasing contact through exploration and trade. Students consider these ideas and developments critically, with an eye to their philosophical, political, and historical significance; and they explore the ways in which texts that have often been read in exclusively Western contexts yield new meaning when placed in non-Western settings.


Social Foundations III

SFIII-UF 0103   4 credits

Examines major intellectual and historical events from the Enlightenment and the Qing Dynasty (around 1700) to the contemporary world, a period that features some of the most rapid and significant changes in human society and scientific understanding. At the same time, many of the enduring questions of humanity have become even more critical as disparate cultures interact in a new global arena. This course is a capstone to the Foundations sequence; accordingly, authors and themes come from a range of texts both interdisciplinary and international. Among the themes the course explores are the philosophical and political debates that followed the creation of global colonial empires, as societies from around the world confronted imperial polices and institutions. The course also considers the rise of vast, new international markets; the spread of revolutionary and national liberation movements in the 19th and 20th centuries; new challenges to established property; and the social effects of industrialization. In addition, instructors discuss postmodern attempts to question and undermine the institutions and practices that structure contemporary societies. Students consider criticisms of Western practices that form both within the West and from other regions of the world, giving special attention to the reception of Western texts by other traditions and, conversely, the influence of these other traditions on the West.


African Cultures

AFGC-UF 0101  4 credits

Offers a broad interdisciplinary introduction to the great diversity of peoples, places, and cultures on the African continent. Students use a variety of historical sources, literature, and film to explore the paradigms of traditional cultures of precolonial societies and the disruptions of those structures by the incursions of Islam and European colonialism. The course also explores the decolonialization of the continent, the attendant struggles for independence, and post-liberation problems. The impact of modernity on cultural roles and the transformation of African cultures in the diaspora also receive attention.


East Asian Cultures

EAGC-UF 0101  4 credits

Offers a broad interdisciplinary introduction to China, Japan, and Korea, generally concentrating on one of these regions. Students study aspects of the traditional and/or modern cultures of one or more of these countries, such as the foundational texts of major schools of thought, as well as literary, political, philosophical, religious, and artistic works. Topics may include the roots and growth of East Asian culture, national or cultural identity in relation to imperialism and colonialism, East-West tensions, modernism’s clash with tradition, the persistence of the traditional within the modern, the East Asian diaspora, and questions of East Asian “modernities.”


Latin American Cultures

LAGC-UF 0101  4 credits

Offers a broad, interdisciplinary introduction to the diversity in the Caribbean and the Americas beyond the United States and Canada. Given the European, American, African, Asian, and indigenous Indian influences on the region’s varied cultures and societies, the course focuses on one or more of such topics as the social, political, artistic, economic, and ethnological issues of the pre-Columbian, colonial, independence, and contemporary periods. It traces both cultural communities and differences within Latin America. The course also explores Latin American ideas about the place that the region occupies in the Americas and the world.


Middle Eastern Cultures

MEGC-UF 0101  4 credits

Offers a broad interdisciplinary introduction to the societies, cultures, politics, and history of the contemporary Near East and Islamic North Africa. Sociological, historical, and political texts, as well as achievements in the fine and performing arts, films, and literary works, are employed to examine the region’s rich historical legacy and current complexity. Topics include the historical-cultural relations between the Middle East and the West; the impact of historical, economic, and political change in the region’s cultures and societies; and the contemporary state of the region.


South Asian Cultures

SAGC-UF 0101  4 credits

Offers a broad interdisciplinary introduction to the society and culture of the Indian subcontinent, concentrating on one or more of the nations of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. Students study aspects of the traditional and/or modern cultures of one or more of these countries, such as the foundational texts of major schools of thought, as well as literary, political, philosophical, religious, and artistic works. The course explores the interactions of historical tradition and change and illuminates such issues as colonialism, sectarianism, and modernization.


History of the Universe

HOU-UF 0101  4 credits

Students examine the nature of science as a way of looking at the world and study that world as revealed through the work of scientists over the years. They learn about the nature of matter and energy and how the universe has evolved. Topics include the origin and development of the stars, galaxies, planetary systems, and the universe itself, as well as study of the Earth and the development of life on Earth and its potential to exist elsewhere in the universe. The course begins with the development of scientific thought at multiple locations around the pre-modern world by reference to Babylonian and Chinese astronomy, Indian numerical systems, and the work of such scientists as Aristotle, Ptolemy, Al-Sufi, Copernicus, Kepler, and Galileo. It continues with discoveries by the likes of Newton, Darwin, Curie, Einstein, and Hubble during the period of Western scientific hegemony and ends with the multinational world of present-day science. Students acquire an understanding not only of modern science but also of its development and of the methods, strengths, and limitations of the scientific method.


Environmental Studies

ENSTU-UF 0101  4 credits

Students learn about modern environmental science in the context of contemporary global issues, exploring the impact that the decisions of nations and individuals have on local and world ecologies. The course emphasizes the science involved in environmental decisions while also examining the role of ethics, politics, and economics in environmental decisions at both personal and governmental levels. Students examine such topics as ecology and biodiversity, including the nature and effects of succession, evolution, and invasion species; the atmosphere, including air pollution, ozone depletion, and climate change; sources, use, and misuse of water resources; human population and feeding the world’s people, including developments in agriculture and genetic modifications of organisms; and the nature of Earth’s energy resources and their use by humankind.


Life Science

LISCI-UF 0101  4 credits

Examines fundamental principles and processes of biological science. The theme of evolution is woven throughout the course. Topics include genetics, cancer, cell biology, biochemistry, biotechnology, and bioethics, with special emphasis on the human species. Many of the topics are discussed within a social and historical context, demonstrating the global nature of scientific problems and scientific process. Selected readings from science journals, newspaper articles, and recent books expose students to the relevance and application of scientific work to their everyday lives, focusing particularly on genetic disease, the function and treatment of HIV infection, and other current important frontiers and ethical issues in the discipline. The course also acquaints students with the historical development of life science by reference to key figures from Galen to Averroës to Mendel and Darwin.


Science of Technology

SCTEC-UF 0101  4 credits

Follows the intertwined histories of science, technology, and society, focusing mainly on the technology of communication from the earliest means of communicating across space and time to present forms of communication. Students investigate the science behind the technology by engaging in inquiry-based group activities and group projects that illustrate the scientific method and the role of experimentation in producing scientific results. The course also looks at the impact technology has had on societies, and the way the structure and values of different societies have conditioned how technologies are actually used. Student research projects investigate the basic science, history, and impact of technologies in other fields such as energy, medicine, or transportation.


Sophomore Seminar: Approaches

APR-UF 0201  4 credits

Approaches seminars are concentration-specific courses that acquaint students with the most influential theories and methods that inform the study of global issues and questions in their concentration. Emphasis falls on current thinkers, practitioners, and methods, with some reference to their immediate antecedents. These theoretical models are examined both for the ways they illuminate the interpretation of specific texts and as important texts in their own rights. Theory is contextualized by application to a small number of particular cases in the field (such as a particular legal issue or literary text).


Sophomore Seminar: Global Topics

GT-UF 0201  4 credits

Global Topics seminars  put topics of contemporary or historical interest into a global framework. They normally draw examples from the regions in which the global academic centers are located, but their primary purpose is to study the global networks of influence and exchange that allow one to understand a specific topic across disparate places. Emphasis is placed on students encountering the global in the University’s urban setting, as well as in the classroom. The concentration designation provided for Global Topics courses is informational; students may freely choose Global Topics courses outside the concentration they plan to pursue.


Experiential Learning I

EXLI-UF 9301  4 credits

Comprises both classroom instruction and community experience to immerse students in the current and historical character of their junior year study abroad site. Whenever possible, students practice foreign language skills as part of this immersion. Classroom instruction provides an interdisciplinary perspective on the local, regional, national, and global forces that have shaped the character of life in the site city. The course uses excursions into the community to immerse the student in the contemporary life of the city, giving an advanced introduction to the city’s local character and its intersection with global forces along four dimensions: Arts and Media, Politics, Economics, and the social practices of everyday life. The historical development of the city is diffused through each of these units, but the instructor may also choose to begin with a preamble devoted explicitly to the geographical situation and historical development of the city.


Experiential Learning II

EXLII-UF 9302  2 credits

A two-credit, Pass/Fail course focused primarily on a community placement each student undertakes in close conjunction with the course’s classroom component. With the guidance of the instructor, students independently reflect on and formulate concepts relating directly to their community placement. The community placement, which the student actively participates in securing with guidance from the relevant site or professional personnel, falls within the area defined by the student’s concentration and, as much as possible, relates to his or her individual academic interests.


Junior Independent Research Seminar

JIRS-UF 0301  2 credits

A mandatory, concentration-specific class taken online during spring of junior year. Students begin to prepare for the rigorous independent research they will conduct and present as seniors. Students use library research (including online resources) and, when relevant, their own experiences at the sites to shape their topics and inform their work. In consultation with the instructor and in active communication with other students in the course, each student creates an annotated bibliography, an essay that might serve as a draft chapter of the thesis, and a prospectus outlining a potential thesis topic growing out of the essay. (Students do not actually begin the thesis in the seminar; ideally, their work will form the basis for the thesis, but it is not required that it do so.) The seminar focuses on the methodology of writing in the disciplinary areas of the student’s concentration; the precise readings that will inform the student’s research will be determined by each student in consultation with the instructor. Under the direction of the instructor, students provide online feedback to each other at least once a week.


Advanced Global Cultures

AGCI-UF 9301  4 credits

Concentrates on issues that place the particular international site where the course is taught into a global context. The course typically gives students the chance to study alongside their colleagues from other NYU schools. It includes components that take full advantage of the specific site—e.g., museum trips and architectural tours, explorations of neighborhoods, lectures by or conversations with members of the community, and the like. The course illuminates aspects of the culture and history of the host country in relation to regional and local issues.


Senior Seminars*

SCAI-UF 0401  4 credits each

Address a focused global topic from a broad interdisciplinary standpoint. Students independently analyze issues of global significance. The courses are interdisciplinary both in the range of primary material they address and in synthesizing and applying secondary or theoretical sources from multiple disciplines. The work students produce for the course is similarly global in scope and interdisciplinary in approach and methods. Students develop advanced understanding of a narrowly-defined aspect of global contact, encounter, or connection. The courses are taught seminar-style, and as such, students have primary responsibility for setting the agenda of class discussion.

*An upper-level College of Arts and Science (CAS) course, including those cross-listed with the Graduate School of Arts and Science, may (with permission) be substituted for one semester of the senior capstone seminar, providing the course is required for the student to complete a second major or minor, or meets a B.A./M.A. requirement.


Senior Colloquium and Thesis

SCOI-UF 0401  4 credits (Fall) & SRTH-UF 0402  6 credits (Spring)

Constitute a full-year course that acts as the final realization of the degree’s emphasis on independent inquiry from a global perspective. Students take a concentration-specific course associated with the senior thesis in each semester: Senior Colloquium in the fall and Senior Thesis in the spring, when the final draft of the thesis is submitted and reviewed by its first reader (the instructor of the Colloquium/Thesis course) and a second reader who provides additional expertise in the thesis topic. Each section of the course unites students in the same concentration who have spent their junior year at various locations; thus, students gain a global perspective on their topics by drawing on the experience of their peers. The course offers grounding in the theoretical texts relevant to advanced work in the concentration, close guidance in the actual composition of the thesis, and practice in the oral presentation of complex ideas.
The thesis normally runs approximately 40-50 pages (or the equivalent in a different medium) and concerns a topic related to the student’s junior year international study experience and a global issue of contemporary importance in the student’s concentration.


Introduction to Global Studies

INTGS-UF 0101  4 credits

Introduces some of the most influential thinkers and key concepts of Global Studies, the multi-disciplinary academic study of globalization. In its least contentious sense, “globalization” refers to the rapidly developing and ever-deepening network of interconnections and Interdependencies that characterize contemporary life. What is hotly debated in Global Studies is less the empirical reality of globalization than its drivers, outcomes, and historical origins. Is globalization essentially an economic process or set of processes that has political and cultural implications, or a multi-dimensional set of processes for which no single social domain holds causal priority? Is “globalization” simply another word for “Westernization,” “Americanization,” or capitalism and its attendant ideologies? Did globalization begin in the last quarter century or several centuries ago or even several millennia? This course will examine answers made to these questions by such thinkers as Immanuel Wallerstein, Anthony Giddens, Arjun Appaduria, Roland Roberston, Joseph Stiglitz, John Tomlinson, and Jan Nederveen Pieterse, and introduce such key concepts as World-Systems Analysis, Neoliberalism, Cosmopolitanism, Postnationalism, Deterriorialization, Glocalization, and Hybridity.


Topics in the Humanities

ELEC-UF 0101  4 credits

Elective courses that concern any one of a broad range of topics, with a special emphasis on connecting coursework with experiences in the city. Recent topics have included Studies in Peace and Conflict, and Self-Fashioning in Print and Visual Cultures. Some electives may provide training in uses of multimedia tools and take the form of a studio course. Electives, by definition, do not meet any degree requirement in LS, but do count as credits toward graduation.


Principles of Macroeconomics

ECI-UF 0101  4 credits

Introduces basic concepts of macroeconomic theory. Topics include unemployment, inflation, aggregate demand, income determination and stabilization policies, fiscal and monetary policies, and the Keynesian monetarist debate over stabilization policy. Not a prerequisite of Principles of Microeconomics. Equivalent to Introduction to Macroeconomics (ECON-UA 1) in CAS.


Principles of Microeconomics

ECII-UF 0102  4 credits

Introduces basic concepts of microeconomic theory by examining price theory and its applications. Topics include consumer demand and choice, indifference curve analysis, big business and public policy, and factor markets and the distribution of income. Not a prerequisite of Principles of Macroeconomics. Equivalent to Introduction to Microeconomics (ECON-UA 2) in CAS.



Students do not need permission from LS to take paid internships. Following are guidelines for internships for credit. Only LS students who have completed the first semester of freshman year may receive academic credit for internships by taking the Internship Seminar.

Internship Seminar

INT-UF 0201  1-4 credits

The goal of the Pass/Fail Internship Seminar, which meets weekly for variable credit, is to guide students in developing an academic project that relates to the experience they are having in an approved internship outside the classroom. Students read texts devoted to the intellectual analysis of the working world, share their internship experiences with their peers, and write regular reports on their experience. They complete a substantial final project whose precise nature is to be determined in consultation with the faculty director and submitted by the end of the term. The faculty director provides written comment on the work; students must pass all elements of the course in order to receive a passing grade.

Students must submit internship application forms through LS Advising; the internship must be approved by the course instructor for a student to be given permission to register for the seminar. Acceptable internships:

  • Must be located in New York City
  • May include governmental, corporate, or nonprofit organizations
  • Will be structured as an apprenticeship (that is, skills and responsibilities graduate over the course of the internship)
  • May incorporate a research component
  • Provide opportunities to use academic skills (e.g., writing, analysis, computer literacy, public speaking)
  • Require a variety of work assignments 
  • Include progressively challenging tasks/assignments
  • Engage the intern in a culture of teamwork and collaboration 
  • Encourage autonomous decision-making and production
  • Give opportunities for synthesizing knowledge and information

As part of the intensive LS liberal arts curriculum, it is important that internships situate the student in an interdisciplinary, challenging, and flexible environment. During the course of the internships, students should develop their communication abilities, knowledge of the field, and analytical and critical thinking. Ideally, internships will train students in a variety of methodologies and promote self-confidence as the student moves forward. Internships should also familiarize students with ethical procedures and restrictions within the organization.
Internships characterized by the following are not acceptable within LS criteria:

  • Take place at a location outside New York City
  • Involve an excessive amount of clerical or non-field-related work
  • Do not provide for frequent contact between intern and supervisors/colleagues
  • Limit intern’s work to a narrow and repetitive activity
  • Restrict the exercise of independent judgment
  • Do not articulate clear objectives and methods for internship training
  • Have unrealistic expectations for the student’s performance and outcomes