Core Courses

1/3 of the course load in the SAS BA program is comprised by the Core —
a series of mandatory courses that provide you with a multidisciplinary outlook and a set of universal soft skills.
(1 quarter, 8 credits)

This course is part of an intensive and mandatory introductory seminar for first-year students. The methodological framework of the seminar is broad. It is aimed at introducing you to writing various types of texts you will need to write during your undergraduate studies as well as teaching you how to engage through analysis and interpretation texts written by others. Throughout the course, you will learn both the principles of traditional rhetoric, the structure of academic argument, and new writing models designed to develop one’s creativity. The goal is to help you acquire and begin to develop the writing and thinking skills essential in both professional and everyday life. We will do this using extensive in-class written assignments as a way of “fixing” and developing our thinking on particular topics.

Classes will take the form of both independent work, work in small groups (2-4 people) under the instructor’s guidance, and classroom discussion (seminars), lectures, workshops introducing you to the skills of academic production, and inter-seminar debates intended to hone and develop your argumentative and critical thinking skills in a fun, safe environment. Each lesson offers a wide range of written assignments that will be performed in the classroom. This means that your active participation is essential to the course. In addition, you will receive and we will discuss information on: how to prepare writing an essay, the basics of argumentation, and working with sources, as well as one-day workshops on creating PowerPoint presentations (what is essential information to include, what is less relevant), how to conduct online research and use citation tools, and making a successful oral presentation. In the classroom, oral and written work are based on texts selected from the course reader by the instructor. These texts belong to different genres and types (philosophical essays, scientific articles, prose, poetry, criticism, images, etc.). You must come to class having carefully read the text listed for that day. Most of the texts are devoted to the central theme of this year’s first-year seminar: Freedom. Classes are held twice daily, Monday-Friday.

The aim of this course: to teach and develop academic writing, thinking, and interpretation skills necessary for successful university studies.

Student Character Development:

  • Every student talks
  • Writing freely with less fear – “thinking on the page”
  • Articulate ideas
  • Respect for co-learners
  • Respect and mutual production rather than power motivating both students and teachers
  • Reading and discussion beginning competency
  • Beginning to learn to question assumptions
  • Understanding academic integrity

Student Technical Development:

  • Note taking for reading and in class
  • Introduction to close reading
  • Analytical tools and habits
  • Beginning to identify theoretical positions in assumptions
  • Proper citation habits – quotations, summaries, and paraphrasing
  • Compose and write an argument
  • Essay form and structure
  • Oral and PowerPoint presentations

Professors and fellows teaching this course will be working with techniques from the Bard College Writing and Thinking course and Johns Hopkins Expository Writing Program modulated by additional material particular to the need to develop our students’ basic academic skills.

(1 quarter, 5 credits)

“The City As a Text” is a special educational course wrapping up the first quarter at SAS. The aim of the course is to learn how to apply skills acquired during the course “Writing, Thinking, Analysis, Interpretation” to a multidisciplinary object – a Russian city with its unique culture, history, economy and social structure, to enrich students’ knowledge with practical experience gained through field studies and teamwork practices.

The daily educational program during this internship consists of three parts. In the morning, there are lectures given by professors, researchers and experts in urban development. Then, based on lecture materials and tasks students conduct field studies in various city locations working in small teams. Afterwards, there is work in groups and a plenary session where they present results of their studies. The curators of the group work are SAS second-year students who completed this course in previous years.

(3 quarters, 4 credits)

This is a survey history course designed to familiarize students with the evolution of the human civilization from Antiquity to the twentieth century. The course introduces students to the academic discipline of history as well as to the major developments in cultural, religious, political, social, economic, and intellectual history across the centuries. From pre-socratic philosophers and the Roman expansion to feudalism and the Crusades, from the Reformation(s) and the birth of a scientific mindset to the American and French revolutions, from the era of Napoleon to the Cold War and “the end of history,” the lecturers apply wide strokes to discuss the striking continuities, breaks, reversals and revivals of the past. At the same time, the lecturers reinforce the Great Books core course by situating the texts discussed in the classroom within the historical context.

Course objectives:

  • To provide students with the general understanding of the historical developments from Classical Greece to now
  • To familiarize students with the foundation of historical knowledge — primary sources
  • To teach students to distinguish historical evidence from interpretation
  • To provide the historical context to the texts discussed in the Great Books course
  • To develop critical thinking skills

Structure of the Course:

  • History and the Great Books
  • Classical Greece
  • Ancient Rome
  • The Late Antiquity
  • The Middle Ages
  • The Renaissance and Early Modernity
  • The Age of Enlightenment
  • The American Revolution
  • The French Revolution
  • The Long Nineteenth Century
  • The Industrial Revolution
  • Socialism and Democratization
  • Nations and Nationalism
  • Liberalism
  • The Scientific Revolution
  • Empire and Colonialism
  • World War I
  • Fascism and Communism
  • World War II
  • The Cold War
  • The Cultural Revolution
  • The Digital Age
(3 quarters, 3 credits per quarter)

Part 1, Course period: November—December

This course is a survey of the tradition of European political and philosophical thought from Plato to Descartes. It includes a variety of important works from Greek and Roman antiquity, the middle ages, and early modernity. It aims to give students a sense of the historical contingency of ideas, but also of the common concerns that have animated thinkers in different times and places. It deals with themes of justice, truth, beauty, time, memory, the origins of the cosmos, and the formation of the political order. Students will see how great writers are in conversation with each other across the centuries, and will themselves enter into this conversation through classroom discussion and essay writing.

The aim of this course: To acquaint you with some of the most prominent and frequently read thinkers of the European tradition of political and philosophical thought. The first module covers the Classical and Medieval eras.

Reading Schedule:

  • Weeks 1-2 - Plato, The Symposium
  • Weeks 3-4 - Aristotle, De Anima
  • Weeks 5-6 - Augustine, The Confessions
  • Weeks 7-8 - Machiavelli, The Prince

Major Themes:

  • Beauty
  • Civil rights
  • Equality
  • Formation of political order
  • Freedom
  • Justice
  • Memory
  • Moral and moral imperative
  • Origin of the cosmos
  • Revolution
  • The state
  • Time
  • Truth

Part 2, Course period: February—March

This course is a survey of the tradition of European political and philosophical thought from Jean-Jacques Rousseau to John Stuart Mill. It includes a variety of important works from the social contract tradition, Europen Enlightenment, social and poitical texts, and early feminist works. It aims to give students a sense of the historical contingency of ideas, but also of the common concerns that have animated thinkers in different times and places. The focus is on short, complete works. Students will see how great writers are in conversation with each other across the centuries, and will themselves enter into this conversation through classroom discussion and essay writing.

The aim of this course: To acquaint you with some of the most prominent and frequently read thinkers of the European tradition of political and philosophical thought. The first module covers the Classical and Medieval eras.

Reading Schedule:

  • Weeks 1-2 - Descartes, Meditations
  • Weeks 3-4 - Rousseau, The Social Contract
  • Weeks 5-6 - Kant, Perpetual Peace; What is Enlightenment?
  • Weeks 7-8 - Mill, On Liberty

Part 3, Course period: April – May

This course tells a story about the tradition of European political and philosophical thought from Nietzsche to Foucault. It includes a range of important works that respond to changing social and political conditions in the late 19th and the 20th centuries. It aims to give students a sense of the historical contingency of ideas, but also of the common concerns that have animated thinkers in different times and places. The focus is on short, complete works. Students will see how great writers are in conversation with each other in the modern period and across the centuries, and will themselves enter into this conversation through classroom discussion and essay writing.

The aim of this course: To acquaint you with some of the most prominent and frequently read thinkers of the European tradition of political and philosophical thought.

Reading Schedule:

  • Week 1 - Marx, The Communist Manifesto
  • Weeks 2-3 - Nietzsche, On the Genealogy of Morals
  • Weeks 4-5 - Freud, Civilization and its Discontents
  • Weeks 6-7 - Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism
  • Week 8 - Foucault, Discipline and Punish
(3 quarters, 3 credits per quarter)

The aim of this course is to help students develop the necessary knowledge and skills for mastering mathematical methods, for use both in further specialist study as well as within a wide range of professional fields in the future.

Course objectives:

  • to develop students’ understanding of mathematics as a developing science, which has its own subject, objectives and methods
  • to develop students’ general understanding of the basic ideas, concepts and methods of set theory, mathematical logic, graph theory, probability theory, and mathematical statistics
  • to cultivate students’ skills of working with mathematical apparatuses, solving routine problems of set theory, mathematical logic, graph theory, probability theory, and mathematical statistics
  • to develop students’ abilities with existing mathematical methods and models, as well as their applications
(2 quarters, 3 credits per quarter)

What is Global Issues?

The Global Issues course at SAS is designed to provide students with the challenge of tackling real world problems facing humanity in the XXI century regardless of their ultimate area of degree specialisation. All SAS students have to take this course in the 2nd and 3rd quarters of their first year.

Setting the stage

SAS invites acknowledged experts from business, government and academic sectors to present critical issues from their particular perspectives to our students. Guest speakers’ professional input acts as a catalyst and substantive foundation for the analytical work to come.

Providing the Tools of the Trade

Global Issues presents SAS students the instruments needed to wed individual intellectual interests with necessary cognitive skills. Hand in hand with course supervisors our students learn to survey the structural landscape, collect relevant data, and then organise their ideas into rigorous capstone case study project all from a critical analytical perspective.

Producing Added Value

Global Issues involves team work teaching students to work together and make public presentations of their projects. Subsequently, students leave the course with the undeniable sense that their personalities, knowledge and interests can substantively contribute to whatever professional endeavour they chose to undertake following graduation.

(1 quarter, 4 credits)

This course will give practical knowledge about computers and computer networks. It will start with a general description of computers, discussing both hardware and software general concepts. It will then give an introduction to programming, with some conceptual and theoretical notions for “sound programming”, and a working knowledge of the python programming language. It will also give some knowledge to effectively use the online resources, such as academic databases and advanced search engines techniques. The classes will be in part standard lectures, and in part “computer lab” sessions, done in the computer rooms. The aim of this course: This basic IT course has the goal to give to the students a set of basic tools, both conceptuals and practicals, to make them able to use Information Technology for applications in fields such as Social Sciences, Humanities, etc.

Objectives:

  • Basic computer hardware understanding and troubleshooting.
  • Basic understanding of concepts and technical definitions of Computer science and computer networks.
  • Working knowledge of programming techniques, with emphasis on applications on Social Sciences and Humanities.
  • Python language programming, theory and practice.

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This intermediate course is designed to give practical knowledge, and considers mostly “the computer as a tool”. The course is designed assuming that that the student has already some working knowledge of computers and the internet. It will still start with some brief theoretical general definitions about computers hardware and software. It will then focus on some advanced use of software tools for: Word processing, Spreadsheet, Presentation, Scientific Typesetting, Graphic editing. It will then give some theoretical notions for sound code design, illustrating the different coding approaches. Following, some extensive knowledge on programming, with focus on applications and concrete examples. The programming will be done mostly in Python language, with some examples of C language. The programming will be done in practical sessions in the computer room. The aim of this course: To give to the students a theoretical base of concepts to correctly understand what is a computer, how it works, and what are its potentials and its limits. To give the knowledge, the skills, and enough hands-on experience, to be able to write good computer code, for a large spectrum of applications, with a particular focus on Social Sciences and Humanities.

Objectives:

  • Basic computer hardware understanding and troubleshooting.
  • Basic understanding of concepts and technical definitions of Computer science and computer networks.
  • Discrete knowledge of programming techniques, with emphasis on applications on Social Sciences and Humanities.
  • Python language programming, theory and practice.

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This will be an advanced course, where some notions of Information Theory and Computer Science will also be studied, extending the study of Information Technology. The course will assume some working knowledge of computers and the internet. It will start with brief theoretical general definitions about computers hardware, software and networks. It will then give some theoretical notions for sound code design, illustrating the different coding approaches. It will give knowledge on programming, with both theory and applications. The programming will be done mostly in the Python language, with some examples of C language. The programming will be done in practical sessions in the computer room. There will be theoretical classes on Probability Theory and Statistics, Information Theory, Complexity Theory. The aim of this course: To give to the students a theoretical base of concepts to correctly understand what is a computer, how it works, and what are its potentials and its limits. To give the knowledge, the skills, and hands-on experience, to be able to write good computer code, for applications in Social Sciences and Humanities. To give some theoretical knowledge of Probability Theory and Statistics, Information Theory and Complexity Theory.

Objectives:

  • General concepts and definitions of computers hardware, software and networking, for understanding and troubleshooting.
  • Discrete knowledge of programming techniques, with emphasis on applications on Social Sciences and Humanities.
  • Python language programming, theory and practice.
  • Notions of Probability and Statistics.
  • Notions of Information Theory and Complexity Theory.

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(1 quarter, 4 credits)

Course description:

This core course, which all SAS BA students must take in the 4th quarter of their 1st year, aims to give them an opportunity to revisit themes they have studied in different courses over the academic year and connect them with each other, thereby developing individual cross-disciplinary agenda needed to make an informed choice of major after the 2nd year. To do so, students will pick up a topic among those addressed during the first year and work to connect it with themes, ideas and insights from other courses they have taken. The course work involves participating in Topics of the First Year seminars and giving a final 7-minute presentation (in English) towards the end of the quarter.

Objectives:

  • Developing analytical skills: situating the chosen topic in various disciplinary settings, analyzing their presuppositions and implications, formulating one’s own take on the topic through critical analysis of existing arguments
  • Developing argumentative skills: creating a thesis statement, offering argumentation, criticizing conflicting opinions
  • Developing presentation skills: preparing presentation slides, working the audience, answering questions
  • Refreshing one’s knowledge of the materials of 1st year courses and exercising soft skills acquired over the 1st year

Sample questions to be addressed in the presentation:

  • What is the intellectual structure of the topic you chose? Disciplinary composition, various approaches, current and historical disciplinary debates, presuppositions, implications, etc.
  • What is your own take on the topic? Why are you personally invested in studying it?
  • What is the place of this topic in the space of other courses you have taken in the first year?
  • What do the perspectives of these other courses add to the understanding of the topic?
  • Why this topic should be interesting and relevant for people who have a set of intellectual concerns very different from yours?
  • What important further questions remain to be addressed?

(1 quarter, 4 credits)

Interpreting Artworks is focused on the close analysis of individual artworks, buildings, and monuments from the first century to the present. The course consists of fourteen lectures with accompanying seminars, most of which are structured around the interpretation of one particular artwork. This is not a chronological survey of art. The emphasis is more on examining key concepts and issues of interpretation rather than a given style or period or individual creators.

The main instructor of this course is Erika Wolf, but other SAS instructors will be contributing lectures and seminars in order to introduce the wide range of methodologies, fields of study and approaches to interpreting art.

By the end of the course students will be equipped with the basic interpretive skills for understanding, decoding and evaluating art in its many forms and contexts. As we will see, this can only be gained through a sustained and detailed engagement with specific works of art.

Problems of the Modern Sciences
(2 quarters, 7 credits)

Цель дисциплины «Принципы естественнонаучного познания» — развивать опыт восприятия окружающей действительности и собственной деятельности с опорой на научно обоснованное знание.

Задачи курса:

  • формирование навыка критического отношения к информации
  • осознание ценности науки как источника достоверного знания и интересного вида общественно-значимой деятельности
  • формирование мировоззрения для более ясного осознания роли высококвалифицированных специалистов в решении современных проблем развития природы и общества

Изучив данную дисциплину, студент будет знать основные направления развития, факты, ключевые достижения и фундаментальные законы современной системы естественных наук. Курс научит воспринимать информацию критично, отличать научное знание от квазинаучного; правильно осуществлять самостоятельный поиск необходимых данных по научно-информационным системам. Занятия помогут разобраться в понятийно-категориальном аппарате естественных наук; овладеть навыками работы с научной информацией и совершенствовать навыки подготовки публичных выступлений.

«Принципы естественнонаучного познания» — необходимая основа общекультурных компетенций для дальнейшей исследовательской практики.

(2 quarters, 6 credits)

This course is devoted to the art of academic writing. Although academic writing varies across disciplines, there are some features that are shared by most types of academic writing: expressing ideas in a clear and coherent way, arguing logically and persuasively, and employing effective evidence. This class is designed around three major elements. The first concerns form. Students will become acquainted with different writing styles that are used across disciplines. This may include descriptive, expository, problem-solution, analysis, compare and contrast, and research essays. The second concerns technique. This class will familiarize students with approaches to the various stages of the writing process: pre-writing, drafting, and revision. The last component concerns mechanics. Students will learn to identify common mechanical errors that routinely appear in undergraduate writing: run-on sentences, passive voice, tense-shifting, among others.

(2 quarters, 6 credits)

Course description:

This is a collectively taught course which all SAS BA students must take during their 2nd year over two quarters. The course is comprised of 8 sections, each taught by a different professor and normally devoted to a single work of literature. The concrete literary works studied in the course will be chosen by participating professors based on their own professional expertise. It is the presupposition of the course that students will be best served if offered an array of individual approaches to literature rather than a coherent yet limited vision thereof.

Course objectives:

The aim of this core course is to familiarize students with various literary genres, develop their ability to understand and appreciate literary texts, and introduce them to some of the great works of world literary tradition. This is not a survey course which would attempt to cover dozens of classical literary works essential to world literary canon; instead, the aim of the course is to develop intellectual skills and predispositions which would prompt students to continue reading literature and derive inspiration, insights and enjoyment from it for the rest of their lives.

Course structure:

Each of the 8 sections of the course is 2 weeks long an is comprised of 2 lectures and 2 seminars taught by the same professor. Students will be doing close reading of literary texts at the seminars.

Fundamentals of Management
(2 quarters, 3 credits per quarter)
Research Seminar
(5 quarters, 2 credits per quarter)
Effective Communications
(4 quarters, 7 credits)