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2018 TeachWeek Open Classes

Caltech faculty invite fellow faculty, staff, students, and alumni to sit in on a variety of TeachWeek Open Classes spanning Caltech's divisions and levels. Each class features a distinct philosophy of learning and approach to teaching. 

Open Class Reservation Form

Space may be limited due to capacity and activities.

Mon., Apr. 23  |  Wed., Apr. 25 |  Fri., Apr. 26 

Monday, April 23, 2018:

  • 11:00 - 11:55 AM, Broad 100, Rock Auditorium
    Design Principles of Genetic Circuits, Bioengineering 150
    Justin Bois, Lecturer in Biology and Biological Engineering:
    “A genetic circuit consists of a set of genes and gene products that mutually influence each other’s expression levels. Unlike those of their electronic counterparts, the design principles for these circuits are just starting to reveal themselves. This class explores these design principles. It is unique in that the course examines current, and sometimes murky, results from research and attempts to bring them together in a coherent framework. As instructors, we are tasked with training students in the details of circuits and the mathematical and computational tools to analyze them. In this particular lecture, we will discuss stochastic variability--or noise--in genetic circuits as fact of life, a nuisance, and a feature.” 

  • 1:00 - 1:55 PM, Baxter 125
    The High Middle Ages,
    Humanities 108 B
    Warren Brown, Professor of History:
    “This course introduces students to the history of Europe between ca. 1000 and ca. 1400. In it I explore with them a civilization that, while part of the Western story, was animated by people who thought and acted very differently than we do. This allows me to expose my students to a range of different ways that human beings can experience, process, and act on the world. This is particularly important, I think, for Caltech students. As they become scientists, engineers and mathematicians, and move out into a world that often doesn’t understand what they do or tries to manipulate what they do for financial or political reasons, they need to understand how human societies work and the variety of worldviews and motives than can underly human behavior. History, particularly more distant history, offers a rich array of resources for doing this. It moreover allows me to teach them important skills that they will need to navigate their lives both professionally and as citizens: reading, analysis of primary sources, evidence-based argument, and writing. I emphasize in-class discussion of our sources so that students practice thinking and engaging with others’ ideas, not just their own or mine. I alternate discussion classes with lectures to give students the background information they will need to make sense of the sources. This particular class meeting will be a lecture, that will set up a week devoted to economic changes in the eleventh and twelfth centuries that transformed the social and political culture of Europe.”

Wednesday, April 25, 2018:

  • 1:00 - 1:55 PM, South Mudd 162
    Formation and Evolution of Planetary Systems, Geology/Astronomy 133
    Konstantin Batygin, Assistant Professor of Planetary Science:

    “Our goal in this course on planet formation is to build a deep understanding of the current state of the art, both theoretical and observational, of what we know about the solar system, extrasolar planets, and how our cosmic home fits into its larger, galactic planetary census. What I enjoy the most is seeing how our students’ creativity and imaginations allow them to take what we do during the quarter and build upon it. By the end, they propose their own research projects, and it is remarkable to see the lengths to which they go to formulate something really interesting. I love teaching this class, but every year I look forward to the end of the term when they are doing the teaching, based on their projects and unique approaches to the subject matter.”

Friday, April 27, 2018:

  • 9:00 - 9:55 AM, South Mudd 176
    Chemistry Throughout the Universe, Chemistry 101
    Olivia Wilkins and Cam Buzard, Graduate Students in Chemistry:
    “Astrochemistry is something you don’t usually get to explore as an undergraduate, but it provides a completely different and fascinating lens on chemical processes throughout the universe. In fact, it’s a great way to show the interconnections among aspects of astronomy, planetary science, chemistry, and physics that aren’t always apparent. Throughout the class, students are answering questions about how chemical processes in one environment, like a comet, apply to other settings, like star-forming regions or earth’s early history. We use a combination of pre-class exploration, didactic segments, guided calculations, and reflection to help students make these connections.”
    Chemistry 101 started in Spring 2017 as a new initiative to encourage graduate students and postdocs to develop and teach their own original courses and to allow undergraduates to explore topics beyond the main chemistry curriculum. Read more about the origins of Ch101.

PART OF TeachWeek Caltech,
a campus-wide celebration of teacing and learning, featuring events and discussions with Caltech faculty and students, as well as distinguished guest presenters. All events are open to the entire Caltech community.

For more information, please email

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CTLO LogoTeachweek is organized by the Center for Teaching, Learning, & Outreach. Thanks to the Twenty-Seven Foundation for supporting TeachWeek, as well as for sponsorship of other events engaging the Caltech community in new perspectives on teaching and learning throughout the year.