PEX Courses

Below is a list of GenEd courses which have incorporated a Philadelphia Experience (PEX) component.  They are separated by area.


Digital Maps: From Mercator to Mashups

From web-based applications like Google Maps, to automobile navigation systems, to satellite pictures of hurricanes, digital maps are widely used to display information about the Earth. This course unmasks the underlying technologies used for computer-based mapping, including Global Positioning Systems (GPS), satellite remote sensing, and Geographic Information Systems (GIS). We will investigate how computers store and analyze digital maps, and see how mapping technologies can be used to address a variety of societal problems, such as analyzing the environmental impacts of urban growth, tracking the spread of a deadly disease, and planning for earthquakes and other natural disasters.


Art in Cultural Context

ARABIC 0871, HEBREW 0871, KOREAN 0871, RUSSIAN 0871
View the arts as an expression of cultural identity as it occurs across the globe. Each semester, we will focus on a particular world region or country, including but not limited to Russia, Japan, and Latin America. The exploration of cultural identity begins with an overview of the region or country’s historical and religious influences and then studies the culture’s arts, including the visual arts (painting, sculpture), musical traditions, literature (folktales, national mythology), the vernacular arts (crafts, storytelling), film and theater. You will take field trips or have experiences that will allow you to encounter the region’s arts firsthand, and to develop a blended understanding of a people’s cultural identity and the larger world.

The Art of Listening

MUSIC STUDIES 0802, 0902
Are you an active or passive listener? What kind of music do you enjoy? How do you compare different musical styles, and what qualities make one performance different from another? Be challenged to rethink your entire conception of music by focusing on how to listen to music to deepen your appreciation of what you are hearing, and to ponder the importance of music in your life and to society. You will not be required to become a performer yourself, but you will become a more discriminating consumer of music through attendance at live concerts in the local area, by observation of in-class performances, rehearsals, and music lessons, and through guided listening exercises in and outside of class. Repertoire selected from Classical, Jazz, Broadway, and World Music will engage your intellectual and emotional response as a concert-goer, listener, researcher, critic, and communicator.

Arts of the Western World: The Visual Experience

Philadelphia has extraordinary resources in the arts. This course will give you direct exposure to the visual arts, and help you understand their relationship with music, dance, theater, and the other artistic expressions that also form our heritage. Through visits to museums and performances, guest speakers, lectures, films and discussions, you will be introduced to the great monuments and the major movements that place the visual arts of the western world in a broad cultural framework. You will learn about the concepts that connect the progression of ideas in artistic communication and expression from the ancient world to modern times.

The Creative Spirit: A Multidisciplinary View

THEATER 0807, 0907
Human is the animal who creates, but why and how? Whether we are making art or making dinner, creativity ultimately makes a difference in our lives and the lives of others. In this course we will view creativity through the lens of the arts and explore the broader manifestations of the creative spirit in a variety of related fields and disciplines. Students will learn the fundamental concepts of creativity and engage with artists, performers and working professionals exploring the central role creativity plays in their work. Explore your creativity in weekly hands-on group sessions augmented by periodic field visits to see performances, concerts, galleries, etc. Be creative, follow your bliss and develop a passion for life-long learning!

The Dramatic Imagination: The Performing Arts in Society

Theatre, dance, and opera–our imaginations give us the natural ability to accept the make-believe worlds they create on stage. While it is the imagination that ultimately allows us to enjoy the performing arts, imagination also plays a role in creating these worlds. Take advantage of our rich local arts community as you experience live performances in Philadelphia! We will use our imaginative capacities to deepen our own experience, while learning about the value of the arts, the controversies surrounding them, and differences in people’s perceptions of the performing arts as compared to other forms of entertainment.

Jazz Century in America

DANCE 0806
What is jazz? Students will explore its roots and reinventions in Ragtime, Hot Jazz, Blues, Swing, Bebop, Free Jazz, Rhythm & Blues, and Hip Hop throughout the 20th century in America. We’ll experience its manifestations across media, screening dance films, listening to music, viewing visual art works, and reading poetry. Then we’ll move into the studio to experience first-hand its rhythms, moods, dynamics, creative expression and improvisation. A key theme will be how the individual and the collective nurture each other in jazz. Intellectually, we’ll examine the historical and social backdrop and analyze the essential components of jazz.


Criminal Behavior

Although we like to think differently, committing crime is an extremely common human behavior. From the extremes of armed robbery or serial murder to the ordinary failure to declare Income on tax returns or the tendency to speed on the highway, nearly everyone has broken the law and committed a crime at some point. Considering physiological, psychological and pharmacological factors, we explore the influences of family, peers and the effects of alcohol and drugs on the incidence of criminal behavior. And we examine how the urban and social environment encourages (or inhibits) opportunities to commit crime.

Disability Identity

Odds are that each of us will encounter disability at some point in our lives, either directly or indirectly through family, friends, neighbors and colleagues. What is it like to live with a disability, and how does disability intersect with other aspects of personal identity, like gender, race and culture? Is disability socially and culturally defined? Join us as we examine historical perspectives of disability marked by fear and discrimination and fueled by media portrayals. We will then explore most recent indicators of personal, social, and environmental change that support disability identity and result in a more accommodating environment for us all.

Emotional Intelligence and Leadership

Using an interdisciplinary approach that looks at the theory of emotional intelligence and the leadership process in diverse personal, cultural, political, and business contexts, you will enhance your own leadership capacity. Develop conceptual thinking, self-awareness, self-management, personal motivation, social skills, and your capacity for empathy within a globalized and interconnected world. Engage in personal reflections, class discussions, small group experiential activities, and collaborate on a case study project as you observe and interview Philadelphia community leaders.

Guerrilla Altruism

According to the UN, more than one billion people do not have adequate shelter and more than 100 million people live in conditions classified as homeless. More than two billion people do not have access to safe drinking water or sanitation, including 400 million children. Almost four thousand of these children will die every day as a result. This course invites you to change these statistics. We will look to renowned thinkers and makers, strategists and guerrillas who have used grassroots strategies to help underrepresented populations affect change, including: Adbusters (Kalle Lasn), Architecture for Humanity (Cameron Sinclair), Pierre Bourdieu, Design Corp, Che Guevara, Michel Foucault, Heavy Trash, Jersey Devils, Kick Start International, Light (Jae Cha), Mad Housers, Carlos Marighella, and Rural Studios (Samuel Mockbee). You will use this research to realize a small-scale project, movement or intervention to aid a disadvantaged person or community group around Temple University, creatively offering your distinct talents to those who need them most.

Interpersonal Communication

In a reflective, supportive environment, enhance your ability to develop successful interpersonal communication with your family, friends and work colleagues. Assess your own communication skills, develop and set personal goals and an action plan to create the change you wish to see. Investigate how interpersonal communication needs and effectiveness change throughout life, from early childhood, to adolescence, through young adulthood, middle age, and old age. There will be frequent small group discussions, and opportunities to learn through direct observation of real-life situations.

Kids, Community and Controversy

Why does Philadelphia have a dropout rate of roughly 50%? Why have students brought weapons to school and plotted to kill their classmates? Why, despite decades of progress in race relations, do schools remain largely segregated institutions? These questions are derived from three pressing social problems in American society that play out in our schools; high school dropouts, school violence, and segregation. Using these questions and the larger issues to which they are related, explore the multiple and often competing explanations for these and other social problems in American society. Learn about the search for creative solutions at the individual level as well as within our social structure. Guest speakers, observations within the Philadelphia school system, and analysis of films depicting these issues will enrich the course experience.

Language in Society

How did language come about? How many languages are there in the world? How do people co-exist in countries where there are two or more languages? How do babies develop language? Should all immigrants take a language test when applying for citizenship? Should English become an official language of the United States? In this course we will address these and many other questions, taking linguistic facts as a point of departure and considering their implications for our society. Through discussions and hands-on projects, students will learn how to collect, analyze, and interpret language data and how to make informed decisions about language and education policies as voters and community members.

Philosophy of the Human

PHILOSOPHY 0839, 0939
What is a human being? How do we become fully human, and how might that humanity be diminished or compromised? This course examines a range of answers to these questions from ancient, romantic, modern, postmodern, and postcolonial sources. Including the thought of Plato on the meaning of love, Emerson on our genius, Freud on our neuroses, and Fanon on our liberation, discussion turns to some of the most influential literary, historical, and cinematic treatments of the human condition as it appears in our own time.

The Photographic Image

Is there more to photography than that single “decisive moment” in the hunt and capture of an image? How do photographers comment on issues that are important to them? How can photographs tell a story? Is there a way one can use the art of photography to elicit change? We will look at photography in its historical context–at the advent of documentary photography and photojournalism, and at narrative photography in its more contemporary form, as photographers use it to chronicle their own lives. Through looking at and making—with your digital camera–photographic images, you will learn several core concepts of social work and human behavior theory. You will learn about the place photography holds in our culture, and about our culture itself, and your place in that culture. We will critically analyze published photographs, as well as photographs you and other students have made. The semester will culminate in a class exhibition.


Dimensions of Diversity: What’s Brewing in the Melting Pot?

Are we really living in a melting pot? How important are the differences and similarities among individuals? The purpose of this course will be to focus on a variety of issues related to the nature of personal and cultural identify within a diverse American society. Specifically, this course will explore critical factors that shape one’s place or standing in society (e.g., race, disability, age, gender, and sexuality). The meaning and significance of these dimensions will be explored as they relate to the societal and technological complexities of the 21st Century. The best practice and research in racism, inequality, and social injustice in industries such as sport, leisure, tourism and healthcare will be explored.

Embodying Pluralism

DANCE 0828
Dance and the arts are vehicles of societal change. As you challenge and extend your perceptions of “self” and “other” in a pluralistic society, you will explore aspects of identity, difference, and diversity from aesthetic and ethical perspectives. Race, ethnicity, gender, class, and other social phenomena will be studied as elements that form the fabric of American society. Theory from lectures on historical and philosophical perspectives will be thoroughly integrated in immersive, active studio practices. The purpose of this course is to illuminate personal, social and cultural dynamics of race and diversity in the United States.

History & Significance of Race in America

Why were relations between Native Amer-icans and whites violent almost from the beginning of European settlement? How could slavery thrive in a society founded on the principle that “all men are created equal”? How comparable were the experiences of Irish, Jewish, and Italian immigrants, and why did people in the early 20th century think of them as separate “races”? What were the causes and consequences of Japanese Americans’ internment in military camps during World War II? Are today’s Mexican immigrants unique, or do they have something in common with earlier immigrants? Using a variety of written sources and outstanding documentaries, this course examines the racial diversity of America and its enduring consequences.

Immigration and the American Dream: Hearing the Immigrant Voice>

As a Temple student, you go to school and live in a city full of immigrants. Perhaps your own relatives were immigrants to the United States. But have you ever listened to their stories? With an historical and sociological framework as a basis, we will take an in-depth and more personal look at the immigrant experience as expressed through the immigrants’ own voices in literature and film. Topics explored include: assimilation, cultural identity and Americanization, exploitation and the American Dream, ethnic communities, gender, discrimination and stereotyping.

Race & Poverty in the Americas

The transatlantic slave trade was one of the most brutal and momentous experiences in human history. Attitudes toward Latino, Caribbean, African, and Asian immigrants in the United States today can only be fully understood in the contexts of slavery and the “structural racism,” “symbolic violence” (not to mention outright physical violence), and social inequalities that slavery has spawned throughout the region. Although focusing primarily on the United States, we will also study the present entanglements of poverty and race in Brazil, Haiti, and other selected nations of “The New World,” placing the US (and Philadelphia in particular) experience in this historical context.

Race on the Stage: Social Construction of Identity through Drama and the Arts

A unique taste of artistic diversity, this course combines traditional and interdisciplinary content with the rich experience of “live art.” Learn how conventions of the past contribute to arts production and the dramatic presentation of race, gender, sexuality, class and disability today, and how those presentations continue to inform notions of identity. As you read classic and contemporary dramatic texts and critically analyze actual performances, you will be looking at diversity from multiple perspectives and acquiring the kind of understanding of “difference” and “tolerance” that will prepare you to live and work in a global world.


Education for Liberation

This course explores educational issues in urban America and indigenous educational traditions in the “Third World.” The course focuses on the connections between education and politics, cultural diversity and economics, and the existence and persistence of poverty in developing nations. Students will critically analyze international films, course readings, and presentations from guest speakers. Culturally responsive, post-modern, and comparative approaches are used to investigate the impact of culture, poverty and development, and the goals of education in each societal context.

Philadelphia Dance Experience

DANCE 0827
Open your eyes to the wealth of culture right at your doorstep. Deepen your appreciation of dance and become an educated audience member about the various styles and layers of meaning present in any one dance. We will attend several live performances, looking at dance from a cultural studies perspective, focusing specifically on European, African, Asian, and Latin influences in the city of Philadelphia. We will be interacting with guest artists and lecturers, observing performances on video, and engaging in guided viewing exercises. Dance concerts are selected from a variety of styles, including classical and contemporary forms from around the world.

Religion in the World

Learn about the major religious traditions found worldwide today: Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and several indigenous traditions. Examine the beliefs, practices, and values of these groups in order to understand the worldviews and ways of life of the people who practice them. Our interdisciplinary analysis and interpretation of specific examples of religious experience will help shed light on the overall meaning of religion and human existence. We will carefully consider examples while also focusing on particular thematic issues, like cosmology and ritual. Develop appreciation for the religious vibrancy and diversity that exist in human cultures while you actively engage in the learning process through class presentation, class participation, paper-writing, and a self-selected field trip.

War & Peace

Total war, weapons of mass destruction, genocide. These were not solely inventions of the twentieth century nor are they the natural consequences of a violent human nature. Leaders, armies, and the strategies they pursue are rooted in their social and political context. Weapons are the products of not merely technological but also historical and cultural development. Battles occur on a political and historical terrain. Learn how ancient ideology, medieval technology, modern propaganda, and more have changed how humans wage war and make peace.

War in Hazelton

The United States border with Mexico is 2,000 miles long, stretching from San Diego, CA to Brownsville, TX. Every year between 200,000 and 400,000 immigrants attempt to cross this border illegally. An estimated 12 million undocumented aliens live in the United States already. Does this influx of Mexicans, Central Americans and South Americans amount to a serious threat? Though close study of how one small, quiet Pennsylvania town reacted to a suddeninflux of 10,000 Spanish-speaking laborers, and with the aid of film, field-trips, guest speakers, fiction and poetry, we will explore global immigration issues.

World Performances

THEATER 0852, 0952
Dance, puppetry, theater, opera; these are performance forms that are part of the cultures of the world. From the earliest religious rituals to modern interpretations of ancient traditions, performances are as varied and diverse as the cultures from which they arise. You are probably familiar with performances arising from western cultures, but the Noh Drama of Japan, the Water Puppetry of Viet Nam, the Koothu Patari folk performances of India, the Bejing Opera in China, the Caoperia Martial Arts performances of Brazil–these might be new to you. Explore world performances through live class presentations, lectures, video and attendance at international performances in Philadelphia. You might also have the chance to perform yourself!


Evolution and Extinctions

Did an asteroid impact wipe out the dinosaurs? Can “natural” Earth-based processes also cause mass extinctions? Long before the dinosaurs, another mass extinction destroyed 90 percent of life on Earth, without an impact. Should we be less worried about rocks from space, and more about “down to Earth” phenomena such as climate change, volcanism, or disease? Basic geologic principles and the fundamentals of evolutionary thought combine to bring to life the 4.6 billion year story of our planet and its creatures. Through hands-on experience with fossils and rocks, students investigate changes in life through time, and discover how to decipher past environments from the geologic record.

Sustainable Design

What’s the big deal about global warming and how should we respond to it? Explore the issues and underlying causes. See how contemporary designers from Germany, Netherlands, UK and Japan are responding to scientific knowledge with sustainable designs for buildings, cars, towns and parks. Develop your own creative project to reduce the greenhouse effect. Have you ever wondered about what happens to local abandoned factories and degraded streams and rivers? Philadelphia is a national hotbed for sustainable design. Visit local restoration sites, modern “green” buildings, parks that reclaim waste water and transformed industrial parks to see firsthand what is happening in our area. Learn how design is transforming to propel us toward a low waste, energy conserving society in the 21st century.

Sustainable Environments

Americans account for over a quarter of all fossil fuel consumption, own more cars than there are licensed drivers, and build new homes 40 percent larger than they did in 1975, despite shrinking household size. We feel for the pandas and polar bears, while contributing mightily to global climate change, resource inequity, and ecosystem destruction. How do we reckon with environmental crises at multiple scales, from the neighborhood to the atmosphere and oceans? “Think globally, act locally” environmentalists admonish us! Direct our vast human ingenuity and collective spirit toward technologies and behaviors that bring peace with the planet. Course mission: enhance your capability to make informed choices, based on a sound understanding of the ecological, technological, economic, political, and ethical dimensions of environmental sustainability.


Contemporary American Social Movements

Social movements range from identity-based movements (such as the civil rights movement and the gay and lesbian rights movement) to issue-based movements (such anti-globalization and animal rights) to ideological movements (such as the free software movement and the green movement). The course introduces students to contemporary American social movements and their counter-movements, dominant strategies and tactics movements use to communicate with a larger public, and individual campaigns within the larger framework of social movement from both theoretical and applied perspectives.

Dissent in America – Dissent in America (Honors)

ENGLISH 0849, 0949, HISTORY 0849, 0949, SOCIOLOGY 0849
Throughout American history individuals and groups of people, have marched to the beat of a different drummer, and raised their voices in strident protest. Study the story and development of dissent in America. How has dissent shaped American society? In addition to studying the historical antecedents of dissent students will have first-hand experience visiting and studying a present-day dissent organization in the Philadelphia area to investigate connections between the history of dissent and the process of making dissenting opinion heard today.

Doing Justice

Justice agencies – the juvenile justice system, police, judges and juries in courts, and prisons – are expected to create justice in response to lawbreakers. These agencies, however, often operate under enormous political, cultural, social, organizational and economic pressures. Further, what citizens or local leaders sometimes want from these agencies may create challenges and temptations. Thus, just outcomes are sometimes elusive. Focusing on the period 1925-2025 and largely on Philadelphia data, students will explore conceptual frameworks in the sociology of law, research articles, movies, maps, Census data, historical documents and newspaper archives to help understand these outcomes.

Education in the Global City

We are in the midst of vast global change. How does it impact cities like Philadelphia and the people who live here? In this course we focus mainly on education in the city, but this doesn’t mean we look only at schools. Globalization is creating new possibilities for learning: we have instant access to vast networks of information, migration is bringing rich cultural diversity to our doorsteps, and we learn in many different types of schools and communities. But globalization is also creating new problems that education must address: new kinds of poverty, increasingly separate lives, mounting intolerance, a digital divide. This course explores what education in all its form can do to support the American dream for people in the city, nation, and the world. Our exploration goes beyond the classroom, linking academic and community-based learning. The course has a common core of knowledge and each small section also features a different theme related to this core. Section themes may include (1) school choice, (2) immigrants and diversity, (3) technology and the digital divide, (4) advocacy for excluded groups, and (5) violence and conflict resolution.

First Person America

Examine the private and public lives of a diverse cast of Americans over a long sweep of the nation’s history. Along the way, look at how fundamental conflicts—between the local and the national, freedom and equality, inclusion and exclusion, community and the individual—have driven U.S. history from its very beginnings, how they have shaped these individual lives and how these individuals have molded the debates. Learn to use a range of sources–including autobiographies, biographies, memoirs, personal narratives, profiles, bio-pics, self-portraits, visual and performance pieces—as you investigate these American stories and American tensions.

Higher Education and American Life: Mirror to a Nation

You have decided to go to college. But why? What role will college and in particular Temple University play in your life? Reflect on this important question by looking at the relationship between higher education and American society. What do colleges and universities contribute to our lives? They are, of course, places for teaching and learning. They are also research centers, sports and entertainment venues, sources of community pride and profit, major employers, settings for coming-of-age rituals (parties, wild times, courtship, etc.), and institutions that create lifetime identities and loyalties. Learn how higher education is shaped by the larger society and how, in turn, it has shaped that society. Become better prepared for the world in which you have chosen to live for the next few years.

Justice in America

Engage in an interdisciplinary examination of one of U.S. society’s most enduring conflicts – the struggle to achieve an acceptable balance between state power to prevent and control crime, and the rights of individuals to be free from undue government coercion. Focusing primarily upon the structures and processes of the criminal justice system investigate a variety of criminal justice problems, and ponder questions about the legitimacy of the criminal law method of social control. Key questions include: How well is society doing in its efforts to prevent/control crime? How do those efforts rate in terms of securing a just balance between the rights of individuals and the coercive powers of the government? Are we doing things right? Are we doing the right things? What improvements should be made? How can we know/decide?

Landscape of American Thought

PHILOSOPHY 0824, 0924
America once was envisioned by its colonizers as a new world, as a city upon a hill beckoning to humanity. After centuries of conquest, enslavement, immigration, and political struggle, conditions for sustaining this early vision continue to evolve. Explore the emergence of some of the most distinctive and influential American voices to inform our national debate about freedom, the individual, race, democracy, and oppression, as it has unfolded over the past two centuries. Through consideration of selected works of some of the most renowned figures to shape the landscape of American public discourse, we return to face the question of the promise of America, as it plays out today in the thought of some of the leading public intellectuals of our time.

Making of American Society: Melting Pot or Culture Wars?

Terrorism, illegal immigration, gay marriage, religious conflict, political in-fighting, corporate corruption, racial animosities, civil liberties assaults, media conglomeration, Wal-Mart goes to China and the rich get richer. America in the 21st Century is a contentious society. How did we get to this place in time? Examine what makes American society distinctive from other advanced industrial democracies as we study the philosophical origins of America, the development of social and economic relationships over time, and the political disputes dominating contemporary American life. The course relies heavily on perspectives from History, Sociology and Political Science to explain the challenges facing contemporary American society.

Religion in Philadelphia

HISTORY 0876, 0976, RELIGION 0876, 0976
The argument is sometimes made that religion in dense urban spaces is characteristically very different from religion as it appears elsewhere. A study of religion in Philadelphia provides numerous ways to explore that idea, especially since the city encompasses a variety of ethnic and immigrant groups, encouraging the generation of new and hybrid forms of religious life that are less possible in smaller populations. Learn how ideas of toleration and freedom, the urban environment, and immigration helped to define the role of religion in the life of this city. Study various religious traditions as they are manifested in the greater Philadelphia area and look at the influences religion has had on the fabric of Philadelphia’s history and cultural life including politics, art, education, journalism and popular culture. You will be visit and write about various religious sites and institutions.

Urban Dynamics: Global, Regional, and Local Connections

U.S. cities in the twenty-first century face enormous challenges as globalization shapes flows of people, capital, information, resources, and ideas/culture in an increasingly interconnected, yet geographically dispersed world. The course asks: What is globalization? How are different people’s lives in cities shaped by these flows? How do gender, age, race/ethnicity, class, and citizenship status affect people’s experiences in different urban contexts? How do urban interventions—from public policy to social movements—advance social justice across groups, places, and spaces? Topics include economic and political restructuring, the globalization of ethnic/racial relations, citizenship and public space, the spatial dynamics of uneven development, and urban inequalities.