FSEM 125, Analysis of Health Issues: Cancer
MWF 9:20-10:10 a.m., Olin Hall 205A
Engda Hagos, assistant professor of biology
Course description: This course focuses on understanding the cell and molecular changes that lead to human cancer. It addresses the causes, how the disease progresses, current treatments, and novel and future treatment strategies.
On the reading list: Cancer: Basic Science and Clinical Aspects, Craig Almeida and Sheila Barry; The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, Siddhartha Mukherjee; The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Rebecca Skloot
Key assignments/ activities: Discussion periods every other week, for which students will be asked to complete a written assignment on the topic. Group poster presentations. Small-group presentations on a subject that is related to cancer biology and has societal implications.
The professor says: “This is not a biology course but, instead, is a core Scientific Perspectives course. This course enables students to think about how scientists learn about cancer, analyze, and report findings; and how our understanding of cancer influences our view of societal issues.”
“Regardless of the dreary outlook many have on cancer, our class learned that not only is cancer preventable, but many types are highly treatable.”
“It was inspiring to read about the research process, which made me decide to do cancer research in my career.”
“This course helped prepare me for the rest of my college education. I learned how to plan ahead and balance my time. In addition, I believe I am on my way to becoming a better science writer.”
Live and learn
When the Capitol Steps came to perform at the Palace Theater in early November, Jim Andretta ’12, Dana Paolucci ’13, and I were lucky enough to interview them before the show. As someone who’s been involved in professional politics since high school, a history major and political science minor, and a member of Charred Goosebeak (Colgate’s improv group), I was excited to learn from the pros.
Capitol Steps is a premier political satire group from Washington, D.C., claiming to “put the Mock in Democracy.” Formed at a Congressional Christmas party in 1981, the group pokes fun at politics. Their performance at the Palace was a mixture of stand-up comedy, musical theater, and political parody.
From impersonating Barack Obama and Mitt Romney to poking fun at Justin Bieber, nothing in recent political or cultural memory was left untouched by the performers. For me, it was inspiring to see comedy and politics intermingling. Although separate disciplines, they can combine for a powerful effect.
The interview was much like their show, often about serious subjects or directed by serious questions but always lighthearted. Starting off by asking questions like “How constructive is political satire?” we quickly moved on to “Who is your favorite terrorist?” and “When will Ronald Reagan rise from the dead to lead the Republican Party again?” By the end, even the camera crew was laughing out loud. It was refreshing to learn that even those involved in professional politics can be down-to-earth and find the humor in the sometimes-depressing rut that is politics.
The cast of Capitol Steps views their job almost as therapy — distracting people from the apprehension caused by politics. I was reminded that, despite how grim and somber modern politics may seem, it’s still acceptable, and even necessary, to point out the humor in our own government. After all, as the Constitution proclaims, we are the People.
— Joseph Petracca ’13 (pictured above, left)