Plan II Honors Logo
Plan II Honors

S S 302E • Hon Soc Sci: Anthropology

41220 • Keating, Elizabeth
Meets MW 11:30AM-1:00PM SAC 5.102
show description

SS 302E HONORS SOCIAL SCIENCE: ANTHROPOLOGY

 I. Rationale 

Anthropology is unique in the way it provides knowledge about the human experience from many points of view. Anthropologists learn about other ways of life by living among people with very different lifeways and lifeworlds, and being a participant observer in these worlds. The challenge of anthropology is to describe, in terms that can be understood cross-culturally, how different groups of people organize their lives and beliefs, for example, relationships, dress, conversation, ritual, stories, how they define what is sacred, and in general make sense of the human condition. This course will explore the anthropological approach, especially focusing on the role of language and everyday symbolic systems in creating and sharing unique cultures. We will read in depth about several different communities in different world areas. We will discuss social theories that have contributed to anthropological research, and explore how anthropology can be used to understand many issues about behavior, such as the persistence of social inequalities, the adoption and spread of new technologies, conflict and misunderstandings, rites of passage, and global flows of expressive forms. We will emphasize the diverse groups that make up the United States and other world communities, as their distinctive experiences are made manifest through such ideas as gender, the self, social status, age, identity, and power. 

II. Course Aims and Objectives 

Course Objectives: At the end of the semester, each student should be able to: 

· Understand and describe the basic ideas of social theory that have led to current understandings of culture. 

· Distinguish among and critique ideas about the role of human symbolic systems in creating and maintaining coherent belief systems and worldviews. 

· Discuss and critique methods that have been brought to bear on the study of issues such as cultural difference, social inequality, interpretation of behavior, and cultural change. 

· Discuss the impact of innovations such as technologies on individuals, families, and communities. 

· Define a number of key concepts in culture, language, and human expressive forms. 

· Gain an understanding of human diversity. 

This course may be used to fulfill the social and behavioral sciences component of the university core curriculum and addresses the following four core objectives established by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board: communication skills, critical thinking skills, empirical and quantitative skills, and social responsibility. 

III. Format and Procedures: The course is structured around lectures and class discussions based both on the readings and on other materials used for illustration and teaching purposes. Students are encouraged to participate in discussions. 

IV. Main Topics to be Covered: Worldview; Space; Time, History, Meaning, the Cross-Cultural Encounter; Identity; Socialization & Rites of Passage; Relatives and Relations, Reciprocity; The Body, Culture and Nature; Art and Aesthetics; Belief; Power; Translatability; Cultural Change 

Feedback: During the course I will be asking for your feedback on your learning both formally and informally. 

V. My Assumptions: In anthropological research the assumption is that all languages and cultures are equally rich and complex symbolic worlds and that there are no “primitive” cultures or languages. At the same time it is very common for people to view other people’s practices as primitive, peculiar or immoral, a situation that deserves our attention in a time of enhanced connection between cultures due to technology and globalization. 

VI. Course Requirements: 

Class attendance and participation policy: 

Class participation is encouraged. Since it’s difficult to generalize about culture, given the range of human diversity, examples shown and used in class are important for understanding the concepts discussed in the books and readings. 

Religious Holy Days 

By UT Austin policy, you must notify me of your pending absence at least fourteen days prior to the date of observance of a religious holy day. If you must miss a class, an examination, a work assignment, or a project in order to observe a religious holy day, I will give you an opportunity to complete the missed work within a reasonable time after the absence. 

Course Readings/Materials: 

(a) Required Books: 

Delaney, Carol. 2011. Investigating Culture, Wiley-Blackwell 

Abu-Lughod, Lila. 1986. Veiled Sentiments. University of California Press 

Keating and Jarvenpaa. 2016. Words Matter: Communicating Effectively in the New Global Office. University of California Press

(b) Also required reading: articles and chapters mentioned on the syllabus, most of which are journal articles available through UT Libraries online. If not available online, they are available on the class website. 

Assignments, Assessment, and Evaluation 

Class preparation and participation: 

Read course material for the week prior to Monday’s class in order to contribute to the week’s class discussions on the materials. 

Post short reading responses on Canvas before class

Project work: 

A final project which will be detailed in class and which will be turned in in outline form first 

Final comments shared with the class about your project 

Exams: There will be two exams. They will each count for 25% of the class grade, a total of 50% for the exams. Exams are designed to check your understanding of vocabulary, theories and concepts we are working with. Make up exams are only allowed with a note from the doctor (after the exam), or a formal written appeal to the professor (before the exam). Makeup exams are different exams. There is no final exam, rather there is a class project. 

Grading: The two exams will count for 50% of the grade, assignment 1 for 20%, the final project 20%, and the reading responses posted each week for 10% of the grade. Plus and minus grades will be given. Projects and exams are graded primarily on content and not on style of writing. Grade is based on details included (rather than overgeneralizations) and depth of analysis (not just a cursory job). 

 

About the Professor: 

Elizabeth Keating

I am a linguistic anthropologist who studies culture and communication. I am especially interested in investigating the impacts of technology on language and the role of language in maintaining social inequality. I completed my Ph.D. in Anthropology at the University of California, Los Angeles in 1994. I am currently a Professor in the Department of Anthropology and in the past have been Director of the Science, Technology and Society Program in Liberal Arts.

I just published a new book: Words Matter: Communicating Effectively in the New Global Office

University of California Press (co-authored with Sirkka Jarvenpaa)

http://www.ucpress.edu/go/words

See more about the book at elizabeth-keating.com

I have a wide range of research interests in linguistic anthropology, including language and social hierarchy, virtual environments, societal impacts of technologies, visual language, multimodality, and language practices in the cross-cultural work place. I am currently conducting research on (1) cross- cultural misunderstandings among engineers collaborating virtually from four continents, (2) computer gamers’ emerging skills and use of language as they participate in multiple environments, and (3) language, culture and identity.


S S 302F • Hon Social Sci: Economics

41225 • Boyarchenko, Svetlana
Meets MW 10:00AM-11:30AM SAC 5.102
show description

S S 302F • Hon Social Sci: Economics

Boyarchenko, Svetlana

 

ECONOMIC DECISIONS/UNCERTAINTY

Prerequisites:  Calculus (required) and Probability/Statistics (strongly recommended) 

Description:

Leadership and decision making go hand in hand. At different moments in our life we face more or less complicated decisions, starting with something as simple as, “what to cook for a dinner” and ending with career defining or retirement planning decisions on the individual level. Corporations have to make important decisions such as launching new products, expansion or contraction of business. Governments make policy decisions that affect well-being of current and future generations of people, such as, for example, climate change or immigration policies.

The goal of this course is to to present a “survival guide” for making rational decisions in an uncertain future environment. The course will offer tools for improving individual decision making, avoiding mistakes when taking calculated risks, and better understanding the decisions of others. Situations considered in class will include such decisions, as, for example, when to refinance a mortgage; whether it is safe  to launch a new problematic model of Boeing given competitive pressure from Airbus; for how long to test a new drug of unknown quality;  when to give up on drilling an oil field with unknown oil supply; or how a politician might take into account opinions of different groups of experts given political and environmental risks.

 

Possible Readings:

The required text book is I. Gilboa, “Making Better Decisions: Decision Theory in Practice,” Wiley-Blackwell, 2011 

 

Also, required readings are Lecture notes posted in due time on Canvas Additional text books: 

• A useful complementary text for those who have more philosophical state of mind is M. Peterson, “An Introduction to Decision Theory,” Cambridge University Press, 2009 1 2 

• A useful complementary text for those who have more analytical state of mind is K. Binmore, “Rational Decisions,” Princeton University Press, 2009

Course Requirements:

Course Expectations: By the end of the course, students should be able to 

• understand the difference between objective and subjective uncertainty 

• solve basic decision problems that involve maximization of expected utility 

• solve basic problems of optimal timing of decisions 

• understand various behavioral biases in decision making process 

 

Assessment: 

• regular problem sets that allow students to sharpen their analytical and quantitative skills; 

• in-class group and individual assignments; 

• one midterm exam (8th week of the semester) to test problem solving skills; 

• two writing assignments; 

• the final writing project. 

 

Two weeks after we finish the topic on optimal timing of decisions, each student has to submit two copies a research proposal (two A4 pages single spaced), where one of the real life timing problems is to be analyzed. Proposals may include, but are not limited to, real investment opportunities or insurance contracts, entry into a new market, capital accumulation, product or project innovations, default on household or sovereign debt, exit from a declining industry, quitting an old job and accepting a new offer, natural resource extraction. Each student is supposed to clearly formulate the nature of the problem and argue its importance, discuss which model of risk is appropriate to solve the problem and sketch the method of solution. One copy will be revised by me and returned to the student with comments. Another copy should be a blind copy; it will be assigned by me to an “anonymous referee” (another student in class), and the “referee” is expected to write a detailed report on the proposal (one A4 page single spaced) with comments and suggestions a week after (s)he gets the assignment. “Referee reports” will be given to students as additional feedback and will be evaluated by me. 

 

During the last week of the class, students will submit their final projects (five-six A4 pages single spaced), where they will present solution to the model they proposed earlier taking into account suggestions by their “referee” and my comments; moreover, students are supposed to evaluate at least one of the following modifications: (i) how conclusions of their model may change if one replaces risk with a subjective uncertainty model, or (ii) what happens in case of a multiple priors model, or (iii) what happens if one of the behavioral biases is present. All writing assignments will be judged by me both by content and writing skills. In addition to writing skills, the final project should also demonstrate strong quantitative and analytical skills. 

 

There will be no make-up date for the midterm. In case a student misses the exam for a documented illness, emergency, a religious observance or other university-approved reason, (s)he will be given an additional “referee report” to write. The final score will be the weighted sum of the following: 

• problem sets 10% (total) 

• class assignments 10% (total) 

• midterm 20% 

• research proposal 20% 

• referee report 20% 

• final project 20% 

 

I will use Plus/Minus grading for the final grade. “A” range will cover scores 80-100, “B” range will cover scores 60-80, “C” range will cover scores 40-60, “D” range will cover scores 20-40. Students who get a score less than 20 will be assigned “F”s.

Autobiography:

I received an MSc in Mathematics (1978) and a PhD in Mathematics (1983) from the Rostov State University (now part of the South Federal University), Rostov-on-Don, Russia. I had a 10 year teaching experience, starting as an assistant professor and ending as an associate professor, at the Don State Technical University, Rostov-on-Don-Russia. I earned my MA degree in Economics (1997) from the Central European University, Budapest Hungary, and was admitted that year into a PhD program in Economics at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, U.S.A. Upon completion of my Ph.D. in Economics in 2001, I co-authored a novel approach to optimal stopping problems that works for wide classes of L´evy processes with regime shifts and random walks, and general payoff functions. This method is more efficient than the standard technique even in the case of Gaussian processes. It can be explained to different audiences, from undergraduate students to professionals, at an appropriate level of rigorousness. Furthermore, the method provides solutions to optimal stopping problems in a more meaningful form. To be more specific, in a paper published in the American Economic Review (2004), I formulated the record setting news principles that extend and generalize Bernanke’s bad news principle. 

 

I also co-authored the generalized Black-Scholes equation for a wide class of non-Gaussian processes and the KoBol model of asset prices, which is quite popular in finance, and subclass of which is known as the CGMY model. 

 

The results were published in two monographs and a number of papers in peer-reviewed journals, including American Economic Review, Games and Economic Behavior, Economic Theory, International Economic Review, and Journal of Mathematical Economics. My results were also presented at numerous international conferences . I have been recently asked to write a survey paper on the frontiers of Real Options by the Editor-in-Chief of The B.E. Journal of Theoretical Economics. 

 

While teaching at the Economics Department at UT Austin, I was awarded an NSF grant (2006, 24 months), College of Liberal Arts Research Fellowship Award 2016-17, Big XII Faculty Fellowship 2006-07, and Faculty Development Program Summer Research Assignment award, 2005 and 2002. 

 

My current research interests are efficient option pricing methods, optimal stopping problems under risk and uncertainty, stopping time games and experimentation and learning models. My non-academic interests include reading, classical music and traveling.



  •   Map
  • Plan II Honors Program

    University of Texas at Austin
    305 East 23rd St
    RLP 2.102
    Austin, Texas, 78712-1250
    512-471-1442