Cogut Institute for the Humanities

These courses were taught by recipients of the Collaborative Humanities Course Award. The award program, which ran from 2019 to 2023, supported the development of new, team-taught, interdisciplinary courses at the undergraduate level. The courses paired one humanities faculty member and one faculty member from the social sciences, life sciences, physical sciences, biology and medicine, or public health, among other disciplines, and typically also included forms of group work or collaborative projects by student teams.

Fall 2025

Humanities and Social Sciences | 2023 Collaborative Humanities Course Award

ANTH XXXX (Anthropology), EAST XXXX (East Asian Studies), HMAN 1400G (Cogut Institute)

Lingzhen Wang, Professor of East Asian Studies
Nadje Al-Ali, Robert Family Professor of International Studies, Professor of Anthropology and Middle East Studies

This advanced interdisciplinary seminar aims to challenge U.S.- and Euro-centric historiographies as well as dominant and homogenizing framings of feminism, whether empirically driven or theoretical. Bringing together transnational critiques, regional expressions, and local historiographies, the seminar explores new feminist research spaces and worldviews, with a specific focus on East and West Asia (Middle East). What are the historical trajectories of feminism in these two regions generally associated with diverse cultural traditions and authoritarian politics? What are the political strategies, artistic imaginations, and alternative visions articulated by feminists in these two regions? The course will delve into these questions with particular reference to transnational feminist politics in both activist struggles and cultural practices. It will invite students to consider questions concerning transnational feminist solidarities, knowledge production, power dynamics, and tensions and conflicts within and between feminist groups and initiatives. 

Spring 2024

Humanities and Social Sciences | 2021 Collaborative Humanities Course Award

HIST 1954H (History), SOC 1954H (Sociology), HMAN 1400F (Cogut Institute)

Patrick Heller, Lyn Crost Professor of Social Sciences and Professor of International and Public Affairs and Sociology
Vazira Zamindar, Associate Professor of History

This course examines the city as not just a place of emancipation, but also a site of segregation, inequality, and resistance. Drawing on historical and sociological perspectives on the city, the course focuses primarily on post-colonial cities and uses a range of methodological approaches to examine historical patterns of city formation and how these have shaped segregation, inequality, and contestation. The course will combine academic writings with primary documents, datasets, policy reports, and literary works, and emphasize collaborative research projects centered on mapping of in-depth case studies.

Humanities and Physical Sciences | 2022 Collaborative Humanities Course Award

ENVS 1917 (Institute at Brown for Environment and Society) and HMAN 1400E (Cogut Institute)

Brian Lander, Stanley J. Bernstein Assistant Professor of History and Environment and Society
Daniel Enrique Ibarra, Manning Assistant Professor of Earth, Environmental, and Planetary Sciences and Environment and Society

This course combines the environmental humanities and climate sciences to explore how climates have changed historically, and how people have dealt with those changes. It will be co-taught by a paleoclimatologist and a historian, who aim to think through and integrate the different methods and questions in each discipline. Each week will explore a different type of data used to infer past climate, both to familiarize students with different paleoclimate archives and to ask historians what it means to use trees, ice and mud as historical sources, and what stories scholars tell about the past. The course assumes no prior knowledge of the topic, and students from all backgrounds are encouraged to apply.

Fall 2023

Humanities and Physical Sciences | 2022 Collaborative Humanities Course Award

APMA 1920 (Applied Mathematics), HIAA 1875 (History of Art and Architecture), and HMAN 1400D (Cogut Institute)

Govind Menon, Professor of Applied Mathematics
Lindsay Caplan, Assistant Professor of History of Art and Architecture

This seminar will examine formalisms across art and mathematics in order to chart an intellectual pre-history of the computer and our contemporary digital imaginary. We will investigate topics such as: conceptions of “form” in nineteenth-century theories of perception, collective psychology, and geometry; methods of abstraction in twentieth-century art history and mathematics; the emergence of cybernetics and artificial intelligence; and anxieties about historicity and agency that motivated thinkers across all fields. Central questions include: what is the relationship between computation and creativity? How are truth and beauty understood and valued in our respective fields? What in the history of formalisms made the computer—and computational imaginary—possible? Ultimately this course will inquire into an intellectual history in which the humanities have always been digital, and new ways of conceiving human experience and understanding were forged at the intersections of art history and math. 

Spring 2023

Humanities and Public Health | 2021 Collaborative Humanities Course Award

ANTH 1313 (Anthropology), HMAN 1400B (Cogut Institute)

Abigail Harrison, Associate Professor of Behavioral and Social Sciences (Research)
Daniel J. Smith, Charles C. Tilinghast, Jr. Professor of International Studies

COVID-19 revealed the shared vulnerability of humankind to a microscopic pathogen. It also reminded us that the global burden of disease and health-related social problems are unevenly distributed, often tracking inequalities tied to race, class, and nation. This course brings together perspectives from public health and cultural anthropology to investigate and explain the underlying causes and consequences of the disparities associated with health crises around the world. Students will interrogate and learn to utilize polysemic theoretical concepts such as culture and structure, developing humanities-influenced perspectives regarding human wellbeing that can enhance public health research, practice, and outcomes.

Humanities and Life Sciences | 2021 Collaborative Humanities Course Award

ANTH 1840 (Anthropology), HMAN 1400C (Cogut Institute)

Scott AnderBois, Associate Professor of Cognitive, Linguistic and Psychological Sciences
Paja Faudree, Associate Professor of Anthropology

This course introduces students to the past and present of Indigenous languages of the Americas. A collaboration between faculty from linguistics and linguistic anthropology, the course synthesizes both fields with Indigenous studies and other disciplines. We examine how the distinct grammatical properties of these languages intersect with various aspects of their social contexts — from the politics surrounding their use to their presence in popular culture — as we grapple with the complex current realities of these languages in the lives of the Indigenous people who speak them and others whose investments span diverse interests.

Spring 2021

Humanities and Life Sciences | 2018 Collaborative Humanities Course Award

CLPS 0710 (Cognitive, Linguistic and Psychological Sciences), PHIL 0650 (Philosophy), HMAN 0700B (Cogut Institute)

Joachim Krueger, Professor of Cognitive, Linguistic and Psychological Sciences
Bernard Reginster, Professor of Philosophy

This course promotes an encounter between distinct approaches to happiness in two disciplines. In philosophy, the question of happiness is essentially a normative question about how one should live. In psychology, it is an experiential question linked to a descriptive science. The course brings philosophical frameworks to bear on psychology and psychological findings to bear on philosophical assumptions. Students begin by writing short essays conforming to the demands of each discipline before collaborating on an interdisciplinary project.

Fall 2020

Humanities and Social Sciences | 2019 Collaborative Humanities Course Award 

HIST 1972I (History), POLS 1825J (Political Science), and HMAN 1400A (Cogut Institute)

Juliet Hooker, Professor of Political Science
Emily Owens, Assistant Professor of History

Why do political actors deploy quantitative approaches when dealing with catastrophe, while personal experiences of grief draw heavily on affective resources? Juxtaposing texts from public health, public policy, empirical political science, and law, alongside cultural and artistic responses that focus on public feelings of mourning, rage, and defiance, this co-taught course examines political action between fact and affect. Case studies will include the long afterlife of transatlantic slavery, anti-lynching campaigns, the enshrining of the Civil War and Civil Rights Movement in national memory, and political movements such as ACT UP and the Movement for Black Lives.

Spring 2020

Humanities and Life Sciences | 2018 Collaborative Humanities Course Award

CLPS 0540 (Cognitive, Linguistic & Psychological Sciences), ITAL 0701 (Italian Studies), HMAN 0700A (Cogut Institute)

Fulvio Domini, Professor of Cognitive, Linguistic and Psychological Sciences
Massimo Riva, Professor of Italian Studies, Director of the Virtual Humanities Lab, and Affiliated Professor of Modern Culture and Media

Can an experimental approach enhance our critical and historical understanding of immersive experiences? The seminar explores the long history of 3D vision, from such pre-digital optical devices as the camerae obscurae, magic lanterns, panoramas, and stereoscopes, to contemporary VR, AR, or XR experiences designed for education and entertainment. Through a series of collaborative activities and experiments, the seminar explores themes of virtual travel, social surveillance, and utopian imagination — and the intersecting desires to intensify the experience of reality and to escape reality altogether.

The course was offered again in spring 2021, when it was designated as a COEX (Collaborative Scholarly Experiences) course; in spring 2022, when it was additionally cross-listed as MCM 0902W and STS 0410; and spring 2023.

Spring 2020 Student Projects


With the COVID-19 pandemic, student presentations for "Simulating Reality" morphed into what could be defined as a simulation of a real seminar.

Fall 2019

Humanities and Social Sciences | 2018 Collaborative Humanities Course Award

POBS 0711 (Portuguese and Brazilian Studies), HIST 0980M (History), HMAN 0701A (Cogut Institute), LACA 0711 (Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies)

James Green, Carlos Manuel de Cespedes Professor of Modern Latin American History and Portuguese and Brazilian Studies and Director of the Brazil Initiative
Leila Lehnen, Associate Professor and Chair of Portuguese and Brazilian Studies

This course examines the concepts and practices of democracy through the history of its origins and transformations in Brazil from the twilight of slavery in the 1870s to the recent election of Jair Bolsonaro. The seminar, taking a cross-disciplinary approach to historical documents, historians’ narratives, literary texts, and cultural productions, explores how different intellectuals and political actors have understood the notions of democracy, both in theory and in practice. Students will engage with a variety of genres including film and collaborate on the production of short podcasts. Read the syllabus.