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Presidential Dream Courses - Spring 2023

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Engineering the Nature of Change

CEES 4970/5970

Robert Nairn - School of Civil Engineering and Environmental Science

Robert Knox - School of Civil

Solving the many environmental challenges facing the Earth requires a revolution in our thinking of the relationship between humanity and the planet. Twentieth-century solutions – based on “gray” infrastructure driven by fossil fuels – cannot sustainably address the complexity and interrelatedness of the 21st century problems we face. Nature-based solutions, based on renewable energies and recognizing the inherent, yet oft-neglected, interdependencies of humanity and nature, hold promise for building a sustainable future. In this class, we will ask the question –How can we work with Mother Nature and not against her to effectively address these challenges?

This slash-listed class will explore Ecological Engineering, the design of sustainable ecosystems that integrate human society with its natural environment for the benefit of both, along with related areas of inquiry including Engineering With Nature (the intentional alignment of natural and engineering processes to efficiently and sustainably deliver economic, environmental, and social benefits through collaboration), natural infrastructure, green infrastructure, natural and nature-based features, and nature-based solutions. Ecological engineering is distinct from both environmental engineering and ecology and uses a systems perspective based on the premise that sustainable solutions require working with natural ecological, hydrological, and biogeochemical processes and not against them. Ecologically engineered systems are designed to require less fossil fuel input, produce less pollution, and represent cost-effective alternatives to traditional energy- and resource-intensive technologies.

“Engineering the Nature of Change” will incorporate an in-depth examination of these promising ideas through critical analyses of current literature and access to extraordinary experts who expand and transform traditional academic boundaries, bridging the gap from academia to Engineering With Nature by examining grand environmental challenges (e.g., climate change, water availability, ecosystem restoration, hybrid gray/green infrastructure) and incorporating economic, social and behavioral drivers of acceptability and adaptability.

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Artists Bible - Mosaic to Comic

HIST 1573

Alan Levenson - Department of History/Schusterman Center for Judaic and Israel Studies

Yael Lavender-Smith - Business Communications Center

This course will guide students in exploring major events, characters, and themes presented in the Bible as expressed in the visual arts. Examples will be taken from across a variety of mediums, both ancient and modern, such as: mosaics, paintings, architecture, sculpture, and graphic novels. The course will move through the books of the Bible on a canonical basis, beginning with Genesis and ending with the Passion, and discuss the art which these books inspired. Artistic responses to biblical scenes will be analyzed, paying careful attention to the artist and era, the mediums employed, the artistic techniques and technologies, and the interpretation offered by the particular works.

Starting with an overview of the Bible and an overview of the artistic tradition, the course will primarily focus on western visual art, with comparative examples drawn from the Middle East. This will be facilitated through collaboration with OU’s Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, where students will encounter pieces of visual art in-person and become familiar with the processes of artistic expression through creating their own piece of visual art.

As a designated Understanding Artistic Forms course (Core IV), students do not need a background in art or art history for this course. We encourage enrollment by students still needing to fulfill their Understanding Artistic Forms requirement, especially those interested in the opportunity to approach the topic in an interactive way.

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