IC Honors Seminar Spotlight: Humans & Alcohol: Biological Foundations and Societal Consequences

Assistant Professor of Biology Brooks Miner is offering a course next semester on how alcohol affects humans. Ever wondered why you feel good when you drink (or horrible the next morning)? How about what the historical origins of alcohol are? If you’re interested in learning more, read below:

Describe your seminar in one sentence. “Exploration of how alcohol affects our bodies and our brains, and the role that alcohol consumption, and reactions to it, have played in American society since the founding of the nation.”

Describe your classroom style in one sentence.Facilitate engaged discussions among students by prompting with compelling questions that do not have clear answers; my role is to get the discussion going and then stay out of the way.

What is one thing you hope students will take away from your seminar? Recognition that understanding the way alcohol affects our bodies and our society can lead to being a more informed, insightful, and compassionate citizen.”

 What is one piece of advice you would give to students? Like many of our nation’s most important public health issues, alcohol consumption defies dichotomous yes/no, good/bad, and conservative/liberal categorizations. Yet we rarely discuss alcohol in an informed manner. If you live in America, then alcohol has affected your life, whether you realize it or not. An awareness of this reality and its nuances will likely change you as a person.

Want to know more?I have no ideological or political agenda with this course; I am not pro-alcohol or anti-alcohol, nor do I approve or disapprove of underage drinking. I welcome all perspectives on this topic and am confident that students will come away from the course with different views than they came in with. Primary texts will be Amitava Dasgupta’s The Science of Drinking: How Alcohol Affects Your Body and Mind and Susan Cheever’s Drinking in America: Our Secret History. Write to me if you have questions about the course; I’d be delighted to hear from you: bminer@ithaca.edu.”

Check out the entire list of seminars here and all the seminar spotlights here.