New Course Explores Link Between Drugs and the Human Experience

RXRS 202 Comparative Neuropharmacology: A Kaleidoscope of Experiences is open to all USC undergraduates starting fall 2023.

How is the human mind influenced by legal and illegal drugs? An innovative new multidisciplinary course from the USC Mann School will decode the effects of drugs—legal and illegal—on the human mind and society.

RXRS 202: Comparative Neuropharmacology—A Kaleidoscope of Experiences, offered starting fall 2023, is a four-unit elective open to all USC undergraduates. Taught by Michael Jakowec, associate professor of research neurology at Keck School of Medicine, the course explores the role of drugs by bridging two potentially underrepresented and underexposed novel perspectives: creativity and neuropharmacology. Also teaching a portion of the course will be Daryl Davies, associate dean for undergraduate education at the Mann School.

The course will:

  • Investigate the historical and cultural significance of drugs by providing students with an in-depth understanding of how drugs have influenced diverse societies
  • Bring a global perspective to natural and synthetic psychoactive compounds by exploring how these ancient substances were discovered and the initial implications for their hedonic or hallucinogenic properties
  • Analyze how drugs have and continue to shape creativity, art and literature

RXRS 202 joins a long line of class offerings at the Mann School that connect pharmacology and drugs’ societal impacts. These include Breaking Brains: Pharmacology of the Addicted Brain, Buzzed: Modern Substance of Abuse and Addiction, and Mysterious Deaths: From Poisons in Literature and History to Forensic Toxicology.

“I think this class is an excellent opportunity to bridge social science, pharmacology, neuroscience and the arts to come up with what may be a new way of thinking about humans and their brains and their chemical consequences,” Jackowec says.

More information about RXRS 202 can be found in the USC Schedule of Classes.