About 4,000 students attend UVA’s Summer Session. Many students are there to focus on some of their most demanding courses—the rigorous Organic Chemistry class, a pre-med requirement, is the most popular Summer Session course by a wide margin. Other students are drawn to the slower pace of Charlottesville summers and the chance to take a class that’s a departure from their typical course of study.

Here, a few professors who are teaching classes this summer offer up some “Top-Three” lists.

Class: Media Studies 3502, American Gangster Films

Professor: William Little

Three overlooked American gangster films:

  1. Stanley Kubrick, The Killing (1956)
    A work of formal brilliance. Quentin Tarantino drew inspiration from it in making Reservoir Dogs.
  2. John Boorman, Point Blank (1967)
    A stylish, neo-noir film influenced by French New Wave cinema, with Lee Marvin in the lead role. Check out also the novel on which it is based, Richard Stark’s The Hunter
  3. The Wachowskis, Bound (1996)
    The first film by the siblings who made the Matrix trilogy. A feminist revision of the gangster film.

Class: Astronomy 3420, Life Beyond Earth

Instructor: Jake Borish

Three reasons that life exists on other planets:

  1. Physics is the same no matter where you are in the Universe.
    Any phenomena observed in our Solar System represent possible phenomena in other star systems.
  2. There are about 10 billion other stars just like the Sun throughout the Milky Way Galaxy.
    There are about 500 billion galaxies in the observable Universe, most of which have Sun-like stars. Given reason 1, it is unlikely that none of these Sun-like stars have Earth-like planets.
  3. Life arises quickly.
    During the Earth's 4.6 billion year history, it has been inhabited by life for the past 4 billion years.

Class: Biology 2010, Introduction to Biology: Cell Biology and Genetics

Professor: David Kittlesen

Three recent discoveries and initiatives in biology likely to have significant impact on human health within our lifetimes:

  1. Human microbiome
    The human microbiome consists of the microbes that live on or in the human body—on the skin, eyes, mouth and gastrointestinal tract. These microorganisms, which are necessary for health but can also cause illness, outnumber the trillions of cells in the human by a 10:1 ratio. The particular species of microorganisms living within a person may have profound effects on metabolism and the immune system. Obesity, inflammatory bowel diseases and other prevalent conditions are linked to these microorganisms. Recent technological advances have led to the Human Microbiome Project, which will provide a better understanding of the role these microbial cells play in health and illness.
    More information: Human Microbiome Project, Diversity of Human Microbes Greater Than Previously Predicted, Taking Stock of All the Bugs That Call Humans Home, “10” Predictions for the Future of Your (Microbial) Health
  2. Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells)
    In 2006, researchers were able to reprogram adult cells to act like embryonic stem cells—meaning the adult cells could potentially take the form of any cell in the body. These induced pluripotent stem cells are likely to be useful in the development of drugs and disease modeling. Researchers are also hopeful they will find applications in transplant medicine and treatment of heart disease and diabetes, among others. In early studies, human skin cells were re-programmed into heart muscle cells that beat in a Petri dish. John Gurdon and Shinya Yamanaka received 2012 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their discovery of how to reprogram mature cells into pluripotent cells.
    More Information: Podcast interview with the winners of the 2012 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine, information on the winners
  3. RNA interference (RNAi, siRNA, miRNA)
    Discovered just 15 years ago, this process is now known to be a major mechanism for regulating gene expression in many organisms, including humans. Artificially exploiting these mechanisms has the potential to treat diseases like cancer and HIV/AIDS, because the genes that contribute to these diseases may be identified and switched off. In 2006, Andrew Fire and Craig Mellow won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their work on RNA interference in the nematode worm C. elegans.
    More Information: Turning off RNA could thwart cancer and AIDS, Information on the 2006 Nobel Prize winners

Class: Commerce 7872, Doing Business in East Asia

Professor: Michael Morris

Three important factors to understand when conducting business in East Asia:

  1. Demographics, such as the aging population in Japan
    The demographic landscape of the region is changing and will influence the economic outlook countries in the region. For example, the aging population in Japan will have a profound impact on social support systems, the available labor pool and the potential for economic growth.
  2. The role of the state in business, particularly in China
    The role and influence of the state is an important element of understanding the nature of competition within countries in the region. For example, because the state runs many of the largest companies in key strategic industries (e.g., telecommunications), the business model for very successful companies from the West may not translate to success in the same industries in China.
  3. The influence of large, family-run businesses (Chaebols) in the growth and development of Korea
    Although politically controversial at times, the growth of the Korean economy is due in part to the influence of large, massively diversified family-controlled businesses. These businesses, called Chaebols, include many of Korea’s most successful firms (e.g., Samsung, Hyundai, LG Electronics) and helped spur development and innovation in the Korean economy.

Class: Education and Instruction 3451, Teaching with Technology for Practicing Teachers

Professor: Cheryl Temple

Three ways technology has changed teaching for the better:

  1. Technology allows for the use of digital collaborative tools to develop cultural understanding and global awareness in an interactive way.
    Blogs, wikis, Twitter, Skype, virtual meetings, discussion boards, chat rooms and many other digital formats allow students to collaborate with each other in their building, around the country, and around the world.
  2. Technology builds 21st-century skills while increasing student engagement and interactivity.
    In addition to the standard core subjects, students need to develop critical thinking, problem-solving and life skills. Technology is a tool that students can utilize as they prepare to think, solve problems, communicate and collaborate with others.
  3. Technology allows for connected teaching by linking educators, students and resources to help students manage their own learning.
    Through online learning communities, students have 24/7 access to information and resources and can self-direct their learning. Educators can connect with their students and teaching becomes a team activity.