Fall Numbers Sections

Fall 2022 Numbers Descriptions are below, listed in order of class time and then by professor last name. 

The FYS: Words & Numbers preference form is CLOSED. The deadline to submit preferences was June 27th.

If you didn’t submit preferences by the deadline, or want to change your section, please email our office with your request. GenEd@lclark.edu



Bad Data, Misinterpretation, and Bullshit

Joe Gantt, Director of Forensics and Instr of Rhetoric and Media Studies

Zachary Hanks, Coach for Forensics team

  • Core 121-16 – MWF 9:10-10:10am (Joe Gantt)
  • Core 121-03 - MWF 11:30am-12:30pm (Joe Gantt)
  • Core 121-15 - MWF 11:30-12:30pm (Zachary Hanks)

The average person is subjected to a staggering number of arguments on a daily basis. Marketing firms estimate that those claims number in the thousands or even tens of thousands. Yet, many of those claims are built upon unstable or deceitful foundations. In some cases, data are unreliable or invalid. In other cases, valid data are unintentionally misinterpreted or misunderstood. And finally, some arguments are intentionally designed to misrepresent data in order to deceive; colloquially, we can call those arguments bullshit.

This course will present an argumentative model to the claims we encounter. Students in the course will examine arguments from sports, politics, health, and economics among other subjects in learning both how to construct better quantitative arguments and to identify bullshit when they come across it.

Was the second sentence of this course description bullshit? That’s the type of claim we’ll examine in this course

Dealing with Data in the Wild

Greta Binford, Prof of Biology

  • Core 121-01 – MWF 11:30am-12:30pm

Also taught MWF 1:50-2:50pm.  Please see description there.

Networks and Trees

Duncan Parks, Visiting Assit Prof of Biology

  • Core 121-02 – MWF 11:30am-12:30pm

Also taught MWF 1:50-2:50pm. Please see description there.

MWF - 1:50-2:50pm

Get the Lead Out: Chemistry, Public Health, and Environmental Justice

Barb Balko, Assoc Prof of Chemistry

  • Core 121-12 – MWF 1:50-2:50pm

Lead has unique properties that have resulted in its widespread use as a colorant and in water pipes, solder, gasoline, and batteries. Unfortunately, lead has proven to be at least as dangerous as it is useful. Lead damages multiple organs and the nervous, digestive, reproductive, and cardiovascular systems. While the use of lead is gradually being phased out, because lead does not biodegrade or dissipate over time, lead pollution continues to impact communities. The affected populations tend to live near industrial areas, airports, highways, and communities with older homes containing leaded paint and pipes. There are many studies that show that the areas most affected by lead pollution are associated with certain demographic factors such as socioeconomic status and race.

In this class, we will examine the chemistry of lead through lectures, problem-solving, and discussion. We will also discuss the presentation of data in primary literature to understand how communities with high lead levels are identified. Workshops throughout the semester will introduce students to statistical and data visualization techniques to allow them to use datasets to ask and answer questions about lead pollution. In particular, students will learn to use geospatial analysis to address the issue of environmental justice.

Dealing with Data in the Wild

Greta Binford, Prof of Biology

  • Core 121-01 – MWF 11:30am-12:30pm
  • Core 121-04 – MWF 1:50-2:50pm

Do you want to live permanently in Antarctica? Now is your chance, apply for Mission Antarctica! The ice is melting, the penguins are marching; it seems like a perfect time to settle, but many challenges await. Data can help you live and thrive in this changing environment and not be eaten by a leopard seal. However, most of us do not know how to organize, analyze, and translate real-life data into decisions. In this class, we undergo a series of scenarios to teach you how to use data to design and evaluate if we are making a difference in our new society. These scenarios include case studies related to disease, food security, conservation, sustainability, and nutrition. Through a combination of lectures, hands-on problem solving, and collaboration, this course teaches introductory data literacy skills such as data management, analytics, and visualization useful for decision making and your careers. Most importantly, no penguins will be harmed in this adventure, we promise.

Order, Chaos & Randomness

Yung-Pin Chen, Prof of Statistics

  • Core 121-06 – MWF 1:50-2:50pm

Chances are all around us every day of our lives. Chaotic and unpredictable phenomena appear in nature. Despite the disorderly occurrences, we can find observable patterns or visible regularities of form in very diverse contexts in the natural world. In this course we will explore both chaotic and random phenomena in nature and in our daily lives. The course is centered around a collection of class discussions and activities that develop effective thinking and build analytic reasoning skills as habits of mind. The exploring topics include: numbers as a language, number system (including complex numbers), numerical patterns in nature, infinity, fractals, randomness, random walks, sampling, data, and distribution models.

Fire: Energy and Civilization

Julio de Paula, Prof of Chemistry

  • Core 121-05 – MWF 1:50-2:50pm

The ancient Greeks described the composition of all matter and nature in terms of the “elements” earth, air, fire, and water. This course dives deep into “Fire,” more commonly referred to today as “Energy.” Early energy sources such as the burning of wood, followed by coal, and then oil, have led to the accumulation of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The prospect of climate change has motivated the development of a dizzying array of alternative energy technologies that use sources as diverse as tides, kelp, and the deep earth. This course will discuss fundamental concepts such as heat, work, the laws of thermodynamics, and the generation of electricity. Then we will center our inquiry on this guiding question: “What must be done to reach the goal of net-zero global carbon emissions?”

To address this question, we will investigate energy usage in agriculture, manufacturing, buildings, and transportation. We will explore the influence of energy on community health, poverty, and security. Our inquiry will be rooted in mining publicly available datasets that we will analyze with online tools, spreadsheets, and basic computer coding. We will interpret and construct graphical representations of data and work in teams to tackle the pressing challenge of an equitable transition to global net-zero carbon emissions.

Python for the People: Telling Stories with Data

Peter Drake, Assoc Prof of Computer Science

  • Core 121-07 – MWF 1:50-2:50pm

Each of us contains multitudes, entangled with notions of race and gender, history and geography, money and power. Quantitative data can provide valuable insights into this unfathomably rich human experience. Data visualization, along with simple descriptive statistics, can help separate real trends from noise and outliers. In this course, you will develop skills for analyzing and visualizing real-world data using the Python programming language.

This section is intended for students with no previous experience with coding or statistics.

Political Math

Ben Gaskins, Assoc Prof of Political Science

  • Core 121-10 – MWF 1:50-2:50pm

This section will engage quantitative reasoning via the use of American elections, public opinion, and survey data. When trying to understand problems of social choice and democratic outcomes, scholars employ a wide variety of quantitative approaches. We will examine common problems associated with figuring out what citizens want, how they express their preferences, and how elections ultimately turn those preferences into policies.

Networks and Trees

Duncan Parks, Visiting Assist Prof of Biology

  • Core 121-02 – MWF 11:30am-12:30pm
  • Core 121-11 – MWF 1:50-2:50pm

The branching network known as a tree is a fundamental geometry in both natural and human systems, from circulatory systems in animals and plants to transportation and utility networks. We will start by applying an understanding of graph models to a variety of real-world examples (such as routing and distribution problems). We will use mathematical tools to build optimal networks in utility or telecommunications contexts. We will then use those tools to build evolutionary trees and evaluate cross-species comparisons in a tree-based context. Finally, we will examine the branching patterns of human circulatory systems and actual plants, examining both the performance of those systems and the fractal geometries that govern their development. Students need not have advanced mathematical skills to use these tools, and students of all backgrounds will encounter new methods and approaches in this course.

Collecting Sound Data, Making Strong Inferences: An Introduction to Inductive Method and Logic

Colin Patrick, Visiting Assist Prof of Philosophy

  • Core 121-09 – MWF 1:50-2:50pm

This course introduces students to inductive logic, or reasoning seeking to establish the likelihood or probability of its conclusion on the basis of sound observational evidence and data. We will explore common forms of inductive reasoning such as enumerative and analogical induction, causal arguments, inference to the best explanation, scientific method, confirmation and falsification; common impediments to cogent inductive reasoning such as innumeracy, ignoring base rates, confirmation bias, flawed estimation of probability, flawed data, and projection; and the reliability of perception and memory in cogent inductive reasoning. We will also explore Indigenous epistemology (sometimes called Native Science) and its similarities and differences from western scientific method, and critically apply what we learn to common but inductively questionable and arguably harmful ideologies such as populationism (the idea that global problems such as world hunger and climate change are a function of population numbers), biological determinism, the fixity of gender and race, and IQ testing as a measure of “innate” intelligence.

Hidden Vistas of Mathematics

Sweta Suryanarayan, Assit Prof w/Term

  • Core 121-08 – MWF 1:50-2:50pm

There is a secret world of mathematics only known to mathematicians and some people who really go out of their way to explore. In this world one sees topics which are significant, beautiful and completely different from what one sees in high school. There is plenty in the world that is easily accessible to all but stays hidden from many due to a predetermined structure by which math is introduced in an academic setting. The goal of this course is to enhance students mathematical thinking through some special fields of mathematics that they may have never seen before and that are NOT dependent on speedy computations using some formula. During the semester we will focus on exploring three hidden vistas of mathematics namely:

  • Modular arithmetic and its application in cryptography
  • Types of infinites
  • Topology; Study of mathematical objects by treating them like play doh