Academic Courses

Ever since the ancients first looked up at the sky, people have asked themselves questions: What are stars made of? Is the universe infinite? Does the evolution of the universe have a beginning or end, or is it eternal? The nature of the universe has been subject to human theorizing throughout history, and these theories have held a central place in the physical sciences. This course is an introduction to the history of cosmology in the West from antiquity to the present day. We will investigate how models of the universe evolved from ancient Greece, through the Scientific Revolution of the 17th Century and the introduction of general relativity in the early 20th century, and into today. This historical survey will inform philosophical reflections, for example on the nature of space and time, and how these view informed thinking about the universe throughout history. This course is suitable for science and non-science majors. HPS 0545 Space, Time, and Matter is an introductory course in History and Philosophy of Science. It requires no prior scientific, historical, or philosophical knowledge.
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In 2012, two Bombay High Court judges scolded a woman for refusing to live with her husband while he was stationed in the Andaman Islands; Ajay Singh had filed for divorce on the grounds of desertion. Although Anjali Singh’s lawyer argued that her refusal to live with her husband lay in his mistreatment of her, Justices Mohta and Majumdar referenced the Ramayana, saying “A wife should be like [the] goddess Sita, who left everything and followed her husband Lord Ram [sic] to a forest and stayed there for 14 years.” This reference highlights the blurry lines that exist between the modern legal system and time-honoured customs.

The importance of the Ramayana, an Indian epic first told over two millennia ago, is twofold: for one, it is a living epic, having endured across time to address social, political and religious issues, manifesting in myriad regional, folk and oral Ramayanas. Secondly, the Ramayana has played a central role in the rising tide of Indian ultra-nationalism, with a call for a return to Ram-Rajya's fabled rule. This course will take an interdisciplinary approach to exploring the richness of what scholars have come to call the “Ramayana tradition” and its role in India today.
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