The Herbst Program is designed to help engineering students get the most out of their limited opportunity for courses in the humanities and social sciences. Through seminars averaging only 12 students and an interdisciplinary curriculum based on literature, philosophy and the arts, the program encourages mental flexibility, open-mindedness and critical thinking skills that are essential for success in engineering careers in rapidly changing technological and social environments.
The Herbst Program offers courses at all levels of undergraduate study, and one may take a single course or all of the courses we offer. Readings and assignments are selected with the goal of helping students learn to examine their own convictions, to seriously consider the perspectives of others and to engage in a meaningful dialogue. Small group settings create effective communities of learning among students and faculty.
By the end of a Herbst seminar, students will be able to:
Wrestle confidently with questions that have no absolute and unequivocal answers, and appreciate that the process of asking and answering such questions can and should be rigorous
Read sustained, intellectually challenging texts rhetorically to assess how writers make and support claims, sustain arguments and analyses, position themselves in relation to audiences and write their way into complex issues
Weigh alternate evidence and points of view and come to a satisfactory determination of the validity of an argument
Express their own most deeply-held values and explain the origins and importance of these values; question these values in comparison to those embodied in the texts we examine
Present a point of view convincingly—with carefully-chosen supporting evidence—in the process of interacting live with peers
Engage productively and diplomatically in the positive give-and-take of academic debate
Demonstrate clarity of argument and expression in a written essay and a position paper
Demonstrate confidence and facility with the processes of revision of written work Interrogate their world consciously and intentionally
The Herbst seminars are small, lively discussion classes that combine rigor and relevance. These interactive seminars cultivate ethical awareness and impart the communication skills that employers seek. Take either or both in fall, spring or summer terms to fulfill the CEAS writing requirement.ENES 1010: Engineering, Ethics & Society
- In this course, students study literature, philosophy, history and the arts, and link them to their own lives, both as human beings and as engineering students. No two sections of 1010 are exactly alike, but all challenge students to think for themselves about their goals and the world around them. For first year students.
ENES 3100: Engineering, Ethics & Society Seminar
- Through fiction and philosophy, students explore the meaning of life, the limits of knowledge, and the nature of love, justice and happiness. All of these discussions circle back to the ethical practice of engineering, as these students tend to be both more experienced and also closer to graduation. Various cultural activities add diversity and challenge to this course.
Other Herbst Courses
We link STEM and H&SS in a variety of interactive lecture courses. Additional special topics courses often consider one author or one topic, with subjects as rich and varied as the Greek tradition, fantasy novels or the history of medicine. These courses are taught on a rotating basis.
ENES 2210: Modern Science and the Technological Society
- How and when did science and engineering start steering public policy and shaping culture? Are they doing it well?
ENES 2360 and 3360: A Global State of Mind for Effective Engineering Practice
- Engineering students will be entering a global profession; this course helps to prepare them for that future.
ENES 3350: Gods, Heroes & Engineers
- Ancient Greece shaped our concepts of philosophy and mathematics; it has inspired us with literary characters and engineering projects alike.
ENES 3430: Ethics of Genetic Engineering
- We can do it, but should we? This course sifts through popular and scientific accounts to understand contemporary issues in this amazing field.
ENES 2843 and 3843: Special Topics
Check the class search for current offerings.
All Herbst classes count toward the Humanities and Social Sciences requirements in the College of Engineering and Applied Science. Note that all courses, with the exception of Global Seminars, are open only to students in the College of Engineering & Applied Science.
Spring 2023 courses can be found on the course catalog.
|ENES 1010||001||Engineering, Ethics & Society||MWF||11:15-12:05||Turner||
|ENES 1010||002||Engineering, Ethics & Society||MWF||12:20-1:10||Turner||LESS 1B01|
|ENES 1010||003||Engineering, Ethics & Society||TTh||11:00-12:15||Szentkiralyi||ITLL 1B50|
|ENES 1010||005||Engineering, Ethics & Society||TTh||9:30-10:45||de Alwis||LESS 1B01|
|ENES 1010||006||Engineering, Ethics & Society||TTh||9:30-10:45||Kowalchuk||HLMS 220|
|ENES 1010||007||Engineering, Ethics & Society||TTh||12:30-1:45||Sylvester||LESS 1B01|
|ENES 1010||008||Engineering, Ethics & Society||TTh||2:00-3:15||de Alwis||LESS 1B01|
|ENES 1010||009||Engineering, Ethics & Society||MWF||10:10-11:00||Fredricksmeyer||ECCR 1B06|
|ENES 1010||010||Engineering, Ethics & Society||MWF||11:15-12:05||Fredricksmeyer||ECCR 1B06|
|ENES 1010||800||Engineering, Ethics & Society for International Students||TTh||11:00-12:15||de Alwis||LESS 1B01|
ENES 2360 / ENES 3360
|001||A Global State of Mind||TTh||2:00-3:15||Lange||KCEN S161|
|ENES 3100||002||EES Seminar||TTh||9:30-10:45||Lange||ECCR 1B06|
|ENES 3100||003||EES Seminar||TTh||11:00-12:15||Lange||ECCR 1B06|
|ENES 3100||004||EES Seminar||TTh||12:30-1:45||Kowalchuk||
|ENES 3100||005||EES Seminar||TTh||2:00-3:15||Kowalchuk||
|ENES 3100||006||EES Seminar||MWF||1:25-2:15||Fredricksmeyer||
|ENES 3430||001||Ethics of Genetic Engineering||TTh||12:30-1:45||Wilkerson||KCEN S161|
|ENES 3843||001||Special Topics: Advanced Graphic Novels||TTh||9:30-10:45||Kuskin||KCEN S161|
|ENES 3843||002||Special Topics: Leading Communities that Design Themselves||TTh||2:00-3:15||Sieber||ECCS 1B12|
Fall 2023 courses can be found on the course catalog at http://classes.colorado.edu/?camp=BLDR&srcdb=2237&subject=ENES
|ENES 1010||001||Engineering, Ethics & Society||MWF||11:15-12:05||Priou||ECCR 1B06|
|ENES 1010||002||Engineering, Ethics & Society||MWF||1:25-2:15||Priou||ECCR 1B06|
|ENES 1010||003||Engineering, Ethics & Society||MWF||2:30-3:20||Priou||ECCR 1B06|
|ENES 1010||004||Engineering, Ethics & Society||MWF||2:30-3:20||TBA||LESS 1B01|
|ENES 1010||005||Engineering, Ethics & Society||TTh||9:30-10:45||Turner||ECCR 1B06|
|ENES 1010||006||Engineering, Ethics & Society||TTh||9:30-10:45||de Alwis||LESS 1B01|
|ENES 1010||007||Engineering, Ethics & Society||TTh||9:30-10:45||Szentkiralyi|
|ENES 1010||008||Engineering, Ethics & Society||TTh||11:00-12:15||Turner||ECCR 1B06|
|ENES 1010||009||Engineering, Ethics & Society||TTh||12:30-1:45||Sylvester||LESS 1B01|
|ENES 1010||010||Engineering, Ethics & Society||TTh||2:00-3:15||Stanford-McIntyre||LESS 1B01|
|ENES 1010||800||Engineering, Ethics & Society - For International Students||TTh||11:00-12:15||de Alwis||LESS 1B01|
|ENES 3100||001||EES Seminar||MWF||9:05-9:55||TBA||LESS 1B01|
|ENES 3100||002||EES Seminar||MWF||10:10-11:00||TBA||LESS 1B01|
|ENES 3100||003||EES Seminar||MWF||1:25-2:15||TBA||LESS 1B01|
|ENES 3100||004||EES Seminar||TTh||12:30-1:45||Lange||ECCR 1B06|
|ENES 3100||005||EES Seminar||TTh||2:00-3:15||Lange||ECCR 1B06|
For full course descriptions, see the current University Catalog.
- ENES 1010. Engineering, Ethics & Society (see topic descriptions below)
- ENES 1843. Special Topics
- ENES 1850. Engineering in History: The Social Impact of Technology
- ENES 2010. Tradition and Identity
- ENES 2020. The Meaning of Information Technology
- ENES 2100. History of Science and Technology to Newton
- ENES 2120. History of Modern Science from Newton to Einstein
- ENES 2130. History of Modern Technology from 1750 to the Atomic Bomb
- ENES 2210. Modern Science and Technological Society
- ENES 2360. A Global State of Mind
- ENES 2843. Special Topics (see current topic descriptions below)
- ENES 3100. Engineering, Ethics & Society Seminar
- ENES 3280. Science and Religion
- ENES 3350. Gods, Heroes, and Engineers
- ENES 3430. Ethics of Genetic Engineering
- ENES 3700. Global Seminar - Culture Wars in Rome
- ENES 3750. Global Seminar - Xi'an, China: Self-Awareness and Images of the Other
- ENES 3840. Independent Study
- ENES 3843. Special Topics (see current topic descriptions below)
- ENES 4830. Special Topics (see current topic description below)
ENES 1010 Topic Descriptions:
- Intro to Moral Psychology. More and more students of human behavior are looking to moral psychology for explanations of things like motivation, choice, happiness, and meaning. This course will introduce the tradition of moral psychology by surveying key thinkers, ancient and modern.
- The Human Quest. 70,000 years ago Homo sapiens had no more impact on the environment than did jellyfish. By 1945 we had become the most dominant species on earth, capable of destroying ourselves and all other life on the planet. In little more than the first half of the 20th century, we progressed from horse and buggy to landing on the moon. In the years that followed, we developed computing and information technologies whose exponential growth led to even faster change. By the end of the 21st century, according to the theory of transhumanism, a segment of humanity will bioengineer itself into a fundamentally different species. Now more than ever, it is imperative to ask: What does it mean to be human in an increasingly technological age? This course considers this question from multiple angles, as it juxtaposes ancient and modern thinking through such disciplines as anthropology, biology, mythology, psychology, religion, engineering, ethics, and society.
- Modern World, Modern Man. In this class we will examine the effects of modern science and technology on our world, and on the way we understand ourselves. Our investigation, widely interdisciplinary, will begin with the ancients, where we will find an alien alternative to the modern technological society. After rooting ourselves in an understanding of the modern project by examining the works of early defenders of science, such as Francis Bacon, we will proceed to trace out some of the cultural, political and psychological effects and consequences of this historical turn, all with an eye to figuring out where, and who, we are now.
- The Hero and the Philosopher. It was only recently in human history that the life of reason emerged as a human ideal, some 2500 years ago in Ancient Greece. Prior to that, it was not the philosopher or scientist to whom human beings turned in search of guidance, but the hero, the human being whose strength and courage in battle could make into reality a people's greatest ambitions. The shift in humankind's reverence from the hero to the philosopher was so extreme that it might be better described as a reversal. But perhaps the two are closer than they appear. In this course, we will examine the emergence of the life of reason as an ideal in Ancient Greek poetry and philosophy, to see to what extent, if at all, the hero and the philosopher overlap. Readings include Homer's Iliad, Hesiod's Theogony and Works and Days, Plato's Republic (selections) and Apology of Socrates, and selections from Aristotle.
- Designing the Renaissance. This course is an interdisciplinary approach to the study of the intellectual dynamics of the Northern European and Italian Renaissance, a time when intellectuals valued the power of reason, when mathematical perspective was invented, artistic techniques became more sophisticated, and immense cathedrals were dominating the skylines of cities. Learn about Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo, and other great artists, architects, and engineers. Study the artworks of Hieronymus Bosch, Botticelli, Caravaggio, and Gentileschi. Dive into the depth of the human soul by reading Dante and Machiavelli.
- Plato's Republic. This course examines the current decay of political life by reflecting on political psychology and how it informs the transition from political health to political sickness. For such an examination, contemporary social science proves inadequate in its indifference to questions of good and bad, that is, in its commitment to methods modeled on the natural sciences. Accordingly, to understand the contemporary world, we will need to consider whether a pre-modern approach to such phenomena is preferable. The greatest such works are Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War and Plato’s Republic. The first articulates the moral and political decay of ancient Athens, while the second considers the extent to which political philosophy can address that decay. We will therefore afford greater attention to the Republic. It should be noted that we do not read these texts simply because they are great works of the Western tradition, though they certainly are. Rather, we read them to see whether they have anything to teach us and what those lessons might be. For that reason, we will often return to contemporary problems, that is, the political disagreements and cultural tendencies that we wrestle with every day.
- Kids in the Early Space Race. This course covers the period from the launching of Sputnik through the first Apollo moon landing. It will focus on how children and teenagers in America understood and responded to the advent of human space flight, what influences shaped their attitudes towards space travel and exploration, and how the dawning of the space age impacted their own senses of self and life possibilities. Key identity factors (gender, social class, religion, race, ethnicity) will be considered, as will the broader political, social, economic, and cultural dynamics that marked the early space age as an era of change and possibility.
- The Human Condition. What does it mean to be a human being? What is justice? What is anger, and what do we learn from it? What are honor and nobility? What is happiness? Can we attain it? If so, how? In this section, you will pursue such questions through studying great works of the classical tradition in philosophy, literature, poetry, and the arts.
- Culture of Energy. Human energy use is at an all-time high, and many scientists give dire warnings about the future. How did we get to this point? This class answers that question by tracking human energy use around the world and across time. Major themes will include the links between the fossil fuel era and Euro-colonial empires, oil and war in the Middle East, renewable energy options, and the climate change dilemma.
- Final Frontiers. This course explores understanding of the frontier in film, thought, and culture. Topics include westward expansion, the western genre, the space race, and digital frontiers.
- Disaster Culture. In this class we will interrogate the role or risk and disaster in society. Risk assessment is an often unnoticed part of our daily lives; however, our collective imaginings of disaster are often apocalyptic in scale. Why is this? To answer this question we will examine different kinds of risks including environmental, economic, and public health, and we will assess how individuals and communities assess risks and anticipate disasters through policy, infrastructures, and in popular culture.
- Roots of Individualism. Do we come to college simply to learn or are we aiming for something higher? Do we actually need teachers, or must we necessarily find our paths alone? The idea of "Enlightenment" resonates with us, but why? We explore the origins of the term in ancient Greek philosophy and art, and its expression during the 18th century (also known as the Age of Reason), and we broaden our understanding by studying Eastern concepts of Enlightenment and their influence on Western authors. Working with art and music as well as philosophy and literature from various periods in history, we build a working knowledge of the fundamental principles of Enlightenment. These can manifest themselves in unusual ways, for example in the very structure of a musical work, or in the ways that artists and composers try to elevate their audiences. We seek to understand the influence of Enlightenment principles on us personally, on the foundation and history of our country, and on today's world.
- The Origins of Modern Science. Scientific inquiry is so much a feature of everyday life that it is difficult to envision what our world would be like without it. What's more, our understanding of science as producing mathematical certainty about the physical world around us is entirely taken for granted. But there was a time at which this was not the case; the first modern scientists had to justify the scientific enterprise before a different tribunal, one with concerns other than producing a mathematical physics. In that justification, these first moderns had to articulate the pre-scientific desires or concerns that science was to address. By looking carefully at the texts in which they justify their new science, we can better understand the underlying motivations driving the massive, vaguely unified enterprise we call "science." Toward this end, we will read selections from Machiavelli, Bacon, and Descartes.
- For International Students. Sections 800 and 801 are designed for students who are English Language Learners. To be eligible for these sections, you must be a non-native speaker of English who wants to devote extra attention to your English skills. Reading assignments will be discussed in each class meeting, and writing assignments are due every week. Students are required to meet with the instructor outside of class every week and to attend occasional workshops. If you are eligible for this course and wish to enroll, please email email@example.com for special permission.
HUEN 3843 Topic Descriptions:
- Humanities & Medicine. Co-taught by Herbst Professor Scot Douglass and Dr. Mark Kissler (CU Medical School faculty/University Hospital Physician), the course “Humanities & Medicine” explores the the stories we tell about disease and healing, the story that scientific clinical medicine tells about itself, and the practice of medicine. It brings together Mark’s clinical experience with compelling narratives and theoretical frameworks to engage the rich topic of the role story plays in health, medicine, life and death. For those considering a career in the health sciences, this course would provide a deeper and unique texture to your future school applications and professional experiences. This ENES 3843 course will be taught in Maymester 2021 as a live synchronous hybrid course—in-person (section 001) and simultaneously remote (section 002). It is worth 3 upper division H&SS credits and open to all students. If you want to take the course and have fewer than 57 credit hours, contact firstname.lastname@example.org to be enrolled manually. For more information, contact email@example.com.
- Harry Potter and the Conflict of Being. Addressing the idea of conflict from a wide variety of perspectives: personal identity, class, race, morality, education, age, ambition, leadership and friendship, this course will explore how these themes are worked out both within this extended coming of age narrative and against the classical background that J.K. Rowling so freely appropriates. Through a close reading of the texts, themselves, we will map out their philosophical/existential significance and how this is related to their popularity.
- Science & Religion. This course asks the difficult questions that most people are afraid to talk about. An open mind is your only requirement. We'll read great works in philosophy and theology to see how others have addressed these questions, and we'll use those as a springboard for our own discussions.
- History of Modern Science from Newton to Einstein. Surveys the great discoveries and theoretical disputes from Newtonian celestial mechanics to the theory of relativity. Includes physics, astronomy, chemistry, geology, and biology; closely examines scientific method, evolution, light, and quantum theory. Uses original sources by Newton, Faraday, Lavoisier, Darwin, etc., for immediate contact with the great minds in science.
- Modern Science & Technological Society. Explores challenges that engineering and science pose for society plus the ways that societies shape or impede science and engineering. Case studies range from contemporary issues (global warming, nuclear weapons, and genetic engineering) to classic cases (the execution of Socrates). Core texts in the Western Tradition supplement contemporary articles and films.
- Comics & Graphic Novels. This course investigates ten to twelve twenty-first century graphic novels. Its focus is exploring the intertwined nature of identity and creativity on the comics page. Assessments will include writing and comic book making. Please feel free to contact the instructor: Kuskin@Colorado.edu. No pre-requisite is required. A previous course in comic books and graphic novels such as ENGL 3856, ENGL 2006, WRTG 3020, MDST 3021 would be useful.
- Fueling History: Oil to Atoms. Human energy use is at an all-time high, and many scientists give dire warnings about the future. How did we get to this point? This class answers that question by tracking human energy use around the world and across time. Major themes will include the links between the fossil fuel era and Euro-colonial empires, oil and war in the Middle East, renewable energy options, and the climate change dilemma
- Kids in the Early Space Age. This course covers the period from the launching of Sputnik through the first Apollo moon landing. It will focus on how children and teenagers in America understood and responded to the advent of human space flight, what influences shaped their attitudes towards space travel and exploration, and how the dawning of the space age impacted their own senses of self and life possibilities. Key identity factors (gender, social class, religion, race, ethnicity) will be considered, as will the broader political, social, economic, and cultural dynamics that marked the early space age as an era of change and possibility.