Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Benefits of a Long Drive Home: Ask the Reader for Syllabus Ideas

Well, one of them is new blog ideas. So, hopefully, I can return to my pre-vacation pace. First post is inspired by a book I was reading over the vacation (or holiday as they call it up here): Traffic: Why do We Drive the Way We Do by Tom Vanderbilt [hat tip to Steve Greene for referring it to me].

I am far from done, but the book is great and has already changed one driving habit--I am now a late merger--and we experienced the signs and merging experience discussed in the book driving through Pennsylvania.

Anyhow, the book and the drive made me realize that it would be fun to teach an undergraduate seminar on "pop social science." I have belatedly become a fan of this genre or this genre has recently bloomed--I have not done the research to figure out how new this literature is. Anyway, there are courses on political science in film, but I don't know if there is anything like pop social science.

The three books thus far for such a course would be: Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell; Freakonomics by Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt; and Traffic. Since I am too tired to do research now from the long drive, I am asking my readers for ideas--any good books that present some sort of social science (preferably but not exclusively political science) to wider audiences to popularize some set of ideas?

And what would you do with such a course?

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