TYP Courses


Students in the Myra Kraft TYP take five courses per semester.  Four of those courses, referred to as "TYP 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 TYP Director.  To help you anticipate the types of material presented in the TYP, and the workload, we have provided the following examples of descriptions for TYP courses.

Spring 2013 Courses

Computer Science - Hickey

The goal of this course is to have students learn the fundamental concepts underlying Software Engineering and 3D Game Design.Students will create 3D games from first principles using the free and open source Blender.org system. We assume no previous experience in game design or computer programming. Game design is a highly interdisciplinary field and students in this course will learn to use 3D coordinate systems and transformations to create 3D scenes, to control game objects within a Physics-based simulator by applying forces, torques, linear and angular velocities, and displacements in position and orientation along specified 3D vectors, to specify the game mechanics using an Agent-based programming model with sensors and actuators in a visual programming language called Logic Bricks, to use Object Oriented Programming techniques to specify game properties and send messages between game objects and to use Python scripting to create 3D scenes and to control game characters. Students will create a portfolio of their own 3D games and will participate in a Game Design Festival at the end of the course where they present their work to the wider community.

Social Science - Smith

The President of the United States is the most powerful person in the world, with influence over international politics, economics, and society, and possessing direct control over history’s greatest military force. Despite his position, he still has 313 million bosses—and counting. For all its might and prestige, the American presidency is subservient to every American citizen. The president himself is first and foremost a citizen of the United States, and, as such, it his duty to represent the collective good of the nation.  

This class will examine the complex and constantly evolving nature of the American presidency and its relationship with the citizenry, from the eighteenth century to the twenty-first century. Through interdisciplinary studies we will inquire into the ideological and pragmatic role of the executive branch as an extension of and governing body of the people. Using the lens of the president and the people, students will investigate crucial themes in American society including: war, race, gender, class, law, politics, diplomacy, economics, etc. Students will be asked to consider the responsibility of the individual and their leaders in society. What are the founding principles of the presidency, and how do they relate to society as a whole? How have moments of tension and disagreement led to change? Where do rights and laws begin and end? What if the will of the people differs from the actions of the president? This course seeks to show that American government and its people are inherently linked, and that power is a partnership.

Writing: Morality and Embodiment in Comic Book Culture - Erhart

A man walks into a room wearing a spandex body suit and a cape. Is he a superhero? A supervillain? A particularly troubled fashion victim? In the world of the Superhero, everything depends on being able to successfully make the call, but how is this decision made? In this class, we will engage with a series of texts, from comic books to film, in order to interrogate the markers of good and evil, and what these markers tell us about how we conceptualize ourselves. We will interrogate how notions of good and evil form along the boundaries of race, class, gender and sexuality, and how notions of the ‘heroic’ and the ‘villain’ are often informed by larger social and cultural concerns. Questions we will address will include, what is a hero? How do notions of masculinity impact our perception of “goodness” and the heroic? What is the function of race and gender in a moral system? Ultimately, this class proposes to explore how we use these “Super” characters to define the limits and the possibilities of our own existence.

To this end, students will use a non-traditional genre of texts (graphic novels) alongside critical theory and cultural texts to develop their own readings of these characters while developing their analytical writing skills within the university. This course will help you cultivate the necessary faculties for writing successful academic essays, which will serve you throughout your career at Brandeis.

Writing: Telling Stories, Reading Stories - Hill

In this class, we will focus on twentieth-century American literature, exploring short stories, poems, and novels. The central concern of this class is why and how we tell stories; what is at stake when someone offers an account, fictional or nonfictional? Can we understand writing as a political process? What techniques and strategies do writers use? And how can we write meaningfully about other people’s writing? As we consider these questions, we will read stories from a wide range of important twentieth-century American authors. This course’s primary goal is to prepare students for college-level academic writing, including the University Writing Seminar. Students will develop a critical vocabulary for thinking about the process of close reading, composition and revision as well as cultivate research skills that will help them make the most of the resources available at Brandeis.

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.