Interdisciplinary Courses

Macaulay Honors College offers upper-level, cross-campus courses each semester. These courses encourage you to engage in interdisciplinary research in a closely knit collaborative and challenging setting. The Macaulay upper-level courses, held at our building on West 67th street, are open to all juniors and seniors (and some sophomores, with permission).

Offerings vary each semester (see the Main Macaulay website for listings). Some recent highlights have included:

Science Fiction: Visions and Universes

We’re going to be looking at the place of Science Fiction in literature, and the literature in Science Fiction…but we’ll also be talking and thinking about Science Fiction’s place and role in popular culture. We’ll also look at connections between science and science fiction, and how the two feed on (and challenge and distress) each other. We’ll want to see how and why science fiction has become, in the words of author Thomas Disch, “the dreams our stuff is made of.”

If the visions of science fiction are visions of our universe, we’ll want to see what shapes and informs those visions, and how the different universes science fiction explores fit into (or become) our own universe.

The themes we’ll explore may include:

  • Time Travel
  • Alien Invasion/Contact
  • Biological/Genetic Manipulation
  • Cyberpunk
  • Alternative History
  • Space Opera/Future War
  • Post-Apocalypse
  • Utopia/Dystopia

The Ethics of Reproductive Technologies

This interdisciplinary seminar will explore the medical, legal, ethical, and gendered implications of assisted reproductive technologies. Topics will include egg and sperm donation, traditional and gestational surrogacy, transgender pregnancy, “designer” babies, the ethics of sex selection, disability and pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, control and disposition of cryopreserved embryos, post-menopausal pregnancy, the ethics of reproductive globalization, and the use of reproductive technology in same-sex unions and non-traditional families.

Drawing on science and technology studies, feminist theory, and medical ethics, the class will focus on the dilemmas posed by various forms of conceptive technologies as they intersect with the personal and political meanings of creating human life.

Zombies and Vampires

Why zombies? Why vampires? Why zombies and vampires now? While audiences seem unable to resist the onslaught of the undead in fiction, film, television, video, graphic novels, etc., zombies and vampires don’t just live (or not live) in popular culture. There are also important connections to pressing issues in contemporary science. In this course, therefore, we’ll consider vampires and zombies in terms of folklore, history, politics, gender, race, and biology (to name just a few issues that will arise during the semester). Because of the wide range of materials and approaches, students will have opportunities to focus on the areas of their greatest interest.