Casey Golomski: My home is in the Department of Anthropology. I am also Lecturer in Anthropology at UMASS Boston, and I formerly taught at Northeastern University. I matriculated to the Brandeis Anthropology PhD program in 2006 and successfully defended my dissertation this past March, so I will graduate this spring. Last spring I independently convened the course ANTH80a, “Anthropology of Religion.” I otherwise teach regularly “Introduction to Cultural Anthropology,” “Peoples and Cultures of Africa,” and “Watching Film, Seeing Culture.”
BUSS: What courses will you teach this summer? What can students expect?
CG: This summer I will teach ANTH127a, “Medicine, Body and Culture.” This course is a broad yet nuanced introduction to medical anthropology, engaging the social, economic and political dimensions of illness and healing across cultures. I’m very excited for the opportunity to convene this course. I consider myself a cultural anthropologist, but I am very involved in issues of bodies, aging and medicine. In the past, I’ve done work with traditional and Christian spiritual healers in southern Africa, as well as youth and shamanistic healing in the Hmong Diaspora in the US. My current research focuses effects of death and demographic shift from HIV/AIDS on life cycle rites in the the Kingdom of Swaziland. In the course, I’ll share some of these findings and works-in-progress.
To explain the syllabus a bit, we begin with historical precursors to the field, so how earlier scholars were writing about medicine, culture, society and power and consider how they laid certain intellectual foundations we still work with today. I designed a number of interesting case studies modules on: race and medicine the US; health, environment, and ecology, including how we are affected by wind; chronic illness; and even sleep and sleeplessness! This course attracts many students who are Biology, International Global Studies, or Health Science Society and Policy majors or are pre-med, and we are going to interrogate “biomedicine (our own system and understandings of health) and programs and initiatives of “global public health,” as well as learning how undergraduate students in Africa learn to become doctors in some resource deprived settings there. At the end of the course, we consider how to apply our culturally-nuanced findings in practice and public policy. We draw case studies from Anglo-, Hispanic- and Native North, Central and South America, Western Europe, Eastern and Southern Africa, East and South Asia and the Pacific.
BUSS: What is unique about summer courses – either for the students or faculty?
CG: I like the opportunities that summer school schedules provide. While the course is condensed to make up for a full semester’s content, I make sure to stagger the work expectations so students are able to better relish the material. While the readings are pretty equitable across the course schedule, some days will be more concentrated my own material and lectures. Other days use a “conversation circle” format where we each share individually- or group-assigned readings with each other. We will read scholarly and some popular writing which can be a much quicker read, like the best-seller “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.” I think summer is a good time to catch up on “leisure” reading, and this combination lets students see how books in the library and popular books can converse in interesting ways. We will watch a number of films as well. Students will have three different options for a final project, including doing their own short ethnographic investigation which a summer course permits more time and freedom to take on.
Registration for ANTH127a and all summer course is now open. Click here for more information, or to sign up!
Brandeis University Summer School: How are your lab classes different than most?
Jason Pontrello: My lab courses focus on hypothesis development and interpretation of data rather than reproduction of expected or anticipated results from prior work. Half the lab experiments in the Fall semester incorporate the synthesis of a small molecule designed to inhibit the Tat protein/TAR-RNA interaction necessary for HIV replication. The experiments in the Spring semester incorporate the synthesis of metalloprotease inhibitors as well as compounds designed to affect protein aggregation in Huntington’s Disease. Students find, follow, and adapt procedures recently published in scientific literature, rather than relying on standardized textbook experiments. To carry out the reactions, students must learn how to use equipment that is commonly used in synthetic chemistry research labs. In addition, the Huntington’s Disease project represents a collaboration between introductory organic and biology teaching labs. The compounds organic chemistry students synthesize are tested in both in vitro and in vivo assays in the biology lab.
BUSS: What courses will you be teaching this summer?
JP: Organic Chemistry Lectures (Chemistry 25a/b) and Organic Chemistry Laboratories (Chemistry 29a/b)
BUSS: What do you think are the benefits of Brandeis Summer School for students?
JP: While the pace of a summer course is challenging to adapt to and required commitment to the enrolled course, the structure of the program and small size of the class (about 40 students) compared with the Fall/Spring semesters carry substantial benefits. Students are immersed in the subject of organic chemistry during 2 hour lecture, 4 days a week. This makes it possible to begin talking about a topic, and to finish during the same lecture or the next day. During the Fall/Spring semesters, with 3 lectures a week, topics often become fragmented and relevance can be lost as students are focusing on many other course requirements as well. I also noticed a strong group dynamic created among students in the summer classes. This same dynamic is experienced during Fall/Spring semesters, but it is more focused around the smaller recitations rather than the larger lecture course as a whole.
We at Brandeis Summer School love both and we want to share the fun with our Facebook friends. Starting this month, photos will be posted of landmarks and other objects that relate to Brandeis University.
You just have to guess what the image is by commenting on the photo, or “liking” the correct answer. What can you get? Brandeis gear, of course! What could be better?
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