I added an aesthetics component to the course this time around. One class session, after reading an argument for the aesthetic value of ugliness and imperfection, groups of students competed in writing odes to ugly nature. Here's the winning one, about the Great Salt Lake.
Food and the Environment
A grad seminar for philosophy grads, environmental humanities masters students, and a brave MPA student. There was lots of food, but the star was definitely the blind tastings of tea and chocolate. What we learned: pricier chocolate isn't necessarily better, but tea, surprisingly, doesn't all just taste like contaminated hot water.Bub
Here's a link to some NetLogo code where my students tried to program a strategy that can beat Tit-for-Tat in the repeated prisoner's dilemma. In the code their strategy is called Unknown, (though they preferred calling it Sherlocke, after the detective and the philosopher) and while it can't beat Tit-for-Tat in an evenly mixed field, it does outperform it if there are no players playing the Grim Strategy. It works by identifying each individual's type based on their history of interaction, then playing optimally against those types. To run the code, you'll need NetLogo.r
Women in Philosophy 1600-1800
Here's a link to a .pdf of a collaborative encyclopedia my students built about early Modern philosophy, with an emphasis on unjustly neglected figures. It's obviously an incomplete work in progress, but history always is.
On the first day of class students were tasked with determining a method (prioritization algorithm) for determining which hexes on this fictional map to set aside as nature reserves. Details on each hex were in these dossiers. The students spent 3 hours fighting over how to spend their limited resources making a system of nature reserves, and still weren't happy with the outcome, which was the point of the activity.
These are some of the laws passed when the class formed a mock Utah State Legislature and proposed and debated environmental bills:
Literature and Philosophy
Philosophy of Science