The University of Massachusetts Amherst

"Education and Film": Education 167 (GenEd SB) Fall 2020

Students will live together in Thoreau Hall in the Southwest residential area.

Read what Fall 2020 instructor Jamie Garner has to say about the course 

What do movies like Mean Girls, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, The Breakfast Club, and Freedom Writers teach us about education? Do the way films represent school, students, and teaching reflect or reproduce our views about particular students and schools? What and how do movies teach us and why does it matter?

In this course we will:

  • Examine Hollywood representations of teaching and schooling- in other words, watch movies
  • Analyze film as both a product and producer of American society and culture
  • Learn to identify and understand dominant educational ideologies and the real world impact these ideologies have
  • Conduct media analysis based on race, class, gender, and sexuality
  • Reflect on our own identities and educational experiences
  • Have Fun!

Problems in Social Thought - Philosophy 170 (Gen Ed SB) Fall 2020

Students will live together in Van Meter Hall in Central residential area. 

Read What Fall 2020 instructor Brian Wermcrantz has to say about the course: 

This course will introduce students to philosophy by focusing on the topic of peer disagreement. 

What is peer disagreement? Suppose you find yourself in the following situation: you are confident in your belief about some topic, but then you learn that a peer of yours (perhaps an intelligent, well-informed classmate) disagrees with you. When this happens, what should you do? Any responsible thinker would first make sure to carefully review all the evidence available to them and their peer (seeking out additional information about the topic if necessary). But suppose you and your peer have done that and the disagreement persists. How should the fact that you disagree with an intelligent, well-informed peer of yours affect your belief?  

  • Should it make you reduce your confidence in your belief?  
  • Is the most rational response to abandon your belief until you've done additional research on the topic at hand? 
  • Or, when faced with peer disagreement, is it ever rational to remain steadfast in your conviction?  

All too often we find ourselves faced with peer disagreement, even with respect to our most deeply held beliefs about religion, politics, and morality. 

In this course, we will tackle the problem of peer disagreement by working through important, recent research on this topic within the branch of philosophy known as epistemology. For many of our “case studies," we will draw from the 2020 congressional and presidential elections. Students will be introduced to the fundamentals of academic philosophy (especially epistemology) and they will leave equipped with a “philosopher’s toolkit” which will aid in any future work involving analytic reasoning (academic or otherwise). 

Exploring Society