MKTYP Courses


Students in the Myra Kraft TYP take five courses per semester.  Four of those courses, referred to as "MKTYP Courses" are exclusive to students in the Myra Kraft TYP.  The fifth class is a Brandeis undergraduate course, which students choose in consultation with the MKTYP Director.  To help you anticipate the types of material presented in the MKTYP, and the workload, we have provided the following examples of descriptions for MKTYP courses.

Fall 2014 Courses

Science: Genetic Engineering - Anand

Genes – the hereditary material of organisms – are made up of DNA.  Thanks to break-through DNA editing technologies, we can not only read and write, but also modify the genes of living organisms. It Editing individual genes has become easier, cheaper and faster to the extent that whole genome engineering has become possible. Genetically modified organisms (GMO) have become a norm in our culture, the benefits and controversies of which will be discussed. This course will focus on the current technologies in the field and expose students to the basic approaches in manipulating genes. The science behind the DNA editing technologies will be investigated through a research oriented, hands-on setting using bacteria and yeast as model organisms. This course is designed to prepare students for opportunities in experimental biology and to encourage them to explore the possibilities for the future.

Social Science: American Military History - Smith

Every American generation has gone to war, and all of them have struggled with the questions of ethics, reason, tactics, and justification. This class is centered on the choices these generations made and their consequences on society. Why and how does America go to war? The old adage declares, “All’s fair in love and war,” but throughout American history, there has been debate over how wars are fought and the behavior of officers and soldiers. Are all wartime actions justified? Is victory the ultimate goal, or is the manner in which the war was fought equally as important?

This course will frame an inquiry into the evolving nature of American military history. It will examine the how the individual thought process of leaders, such as Abraham Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt, and commanders, from George Washington to Robert E. Lee to Dwight D. Eisenhower, shaped the manifestation of American war and society. In addition, by using an ethical lens to dissect case studies of the tactics, alliances, and policy from early American to modern day warfare, this course will seek out examples of continuity and change in the American perception of war and its ethical questions.

Writing: Alien Encounters: Examining the Other(ing) in Science Fiction - Erhart

Two aliens approach each other on a foreign world. What do they look like? What do they say? What do they want from each other? Our dreams about the interaction of new species on a distant planet speaks not only to the power of the human imagination, but also to the way that we, as humans, see our own lives, concerns, fears, and hopes, reflected in the universe around us. Science Fiction (SF) presents us with strange worlds filled with exotic creatures and landscapes, but in doing so it asks us to reevaluate our own lives and own worlds—to understand the way that we interact with the world around us, and what kinds of expectations we carry forth into the universe. In this class, students will be presented with a selection of SF short stories, TV shows and podcasts, and asked to examine not only what is presented within the text, but also how these texts speak back to the world we inhabit.

To this end students will use critical theory and cultural texts to develop their own readings of these texts while developing their analytical writing skills within the university. This course will help them cultivate the necessary faculties for writing successful academic essays, which will serve you throughout your career at Brandeis. They will develop a critical vocabulary for thinking about the process of composition and revision, and cultivate crucial research skills that will help them make the most of the information resources available at Brandeis.

Writing: Introduction to Ethnography: Writing about Culture, Language, and Race - Bafford

In this course we will develop academic writing skills through the medium of ethnography, a term that combines the Greek roots for “people” and “writing.” Thus, the kind of writing we will both read and produce will be that which describes the cultures, languages, and ideas of human communities. Within such a broad field, this introductory semester will focus particularly on (1) the idea of “culture” and cultural difference, (2) variation in speaking styles among different social groups, and (3) culturally constructed notions of “race” and “ethnicity.” Through readings, written work, and rigorous class discussion, we will explore various anthropological answers to some perennial questions about human societies: What is culture, and who has it? How can we approach radically different worldviews and ways of life? What kinds of complex social messages are conveyed through language beneath its surface content? How have racial categories affected people’s lived experiences cross-culturally? How do culture, language, and race intersect both to give meaning to yet sometimes restrict people’s lives?

In learning the foundations of ethnography, we will develop the ability to write concise, formal essays suitable to an academic environment. We will refine our writing processes and focus attention on the elements that constitute good writing, including clear organization, insightful theses, extensive editing, and grammatical correctness. By the end of the course we will be able to craft two of the three types of assignments characteristic of the Brandeis writing program: a close reading of a single (cultural) text and a lens essay juxtaposing two texts.

Quantitative Reasoning - Martin

Beginning with probability theory, this course introduces the basic ideas and tools of statistical analysis and presentation of data.  Students will also learn to use a spreadsheet program in the process of completing their assignments. The probability component covers event spaces, independent events, contingent events and Bayes Law.  Repeated trials of an event are modeled with the binomial distribution.  Examples for study are drawn from science, technology and social science as well as from the traditional dice and cards. The statistics component deals with the chi-square, normal and t distributions and their related tests.  The notions of hypotheses and critical regions are applied throughout.  Criteria for selecting a statistical test are discussed.  The normal approximation of the binomial distribution is presented as a computational tool.  The course finishes with an introduction to confidence intervals.

Quantitative Reasoning - Rutherford

A survey of some of the most popular tools and techniques in statistics. The emphasis is on understanding the importance of using data to make decisions and convincing arguments. Students will have hands-on experience in R statistical programming language and spreadsheet software for basic data analysis and manipulation. Through examples and practical exercises, students will learn how to summarize data in a visually appealing way, use graphs as a supporting argument, conduct a statistical test, and fit statistical models.