University Honors Program



Following are Honors courses and Honors seminars offered in Fall 2018.

All registration will be done through RAMWeb. Fall 2018 priority registration for eligible Honors students begins April 2, 2018. Check your RAMWeb account for your earliest registration time.

Make an appointment to meet with your departmental adviser early so you'll be ready to take advantage of your priority registration time. Your major department assigns your adviser, so check with that office. The Honors Office is available, too, for advising. Call, email, or stop in for an appointment.

The following courses are a sampling of Honors sections being offered for Fall Semester 2018. An updated schedule of Honors courses will be available after March 5, 2018.  The latest description and other details for each class can be found by clicking on the CRN link from the table below or from Class Schedule on RAMWeb.

HONORS seminars are listed below the table of Honors courses.

**For the most up to date schedule, check the schedule on RAMWeb often. Using advanced search, select one or all Subjects (click on the first subject on the list, scroll to the bottom and Shift+left click on the last subject in the list) and choose Honors Program under Attribute Type – OR - select one or all Subjects and type Honors in the Course Title field.

The Honors courses listed below are described in the RamWeb Class Schedule by clicking on the CRN for each section. To determine if the course listed meets Honors curriculum requirements in your major, check the curriculum page.  Choose the correct curriculum based on what year you entered the program, and then click on either Track 1 or Track 2, then on the link for your college.

Honors Courses

The following is a list of offered Honors Courses:
Honors Courses PDF

Honors Seminars

The following is a list of offered Honors Seminars:
Honors Seminars PDF

Seminar Descriptions

HONR 192

Sections 1 and 3: Wild Thinking: Creativity in Art, Science, and Business- F. Glycenfer
Is creativity the exclusive domain of artists? Or does the creative process occur in other fields such as science and business? This course will demonstrate the value of creativity in our lives, in our work and within the broader context of culture. Each individual will be given the opportunity to access their own creative potential as well as enhancing creativity in others. A creative interdisciplinary approach will emphasize discovering the relationships that can be built in both the classroom and culture. Creative explorations in art, science and business will enhance the understanding and experience for students.

Section 2: North American Empires - D. Sheflin
In some circles, “empire” is a dirty word.  It connotes tyranny and authoritarianism, the use of military power to exert control, and the abuse and subjugation of defeated peoples.  Others argue that “empire” is something for which nations should strive to become.  It suggests a level of power and influence often unparalleled and it ensures that the empire enjoys autonomy and independence on a regional, and sometimes global, scale.  What if the truth about empire is somewhere between the good and the bad?  In this course, we will utilize the history of empires in North America to better understand the development of the United States and its role in the hemisphere and the world.  The study of empires presents a unique venue to view the interaction, and often the clash, of different cultures and disparate world views.  In tracing the development of empires on the continent from 1776 to the present, we will utilize environmental, military, political, social, and economic history to explore how the history of empires can inform our understanding of empires today, affording us the chance to better appreciate the sometimes inspirational and sometimes ugly – but always complex – history of the United States.

Section 3: See Section 1

Section 4: International Graphic Novels - A. Davies
By reading a variety of international graphic novels we'll begin to understand different cultures: their values, their relationships, and their narrative and artistic styles. Through our exploration, we’ll challenge the simplistic thinking that often reduces a nation to a caricature or a stop at Disney’s Epcot. In the Brazilian Daytripper, we'll consider how celebration of a sea goddess influences the work and demonstrates the complex history of a country. Moving to African Comics, we'll see modern superheroes and re-imagined history. In Israel, Modan's Exit Wounds will help us think through family relationships marked by ongoing political turmoil. Ranma 1/2 from Japan is a delightful tale of high schoolers dealing with gender expectations. Finally, we'll move to Europe with the French graphic novel Blue is the Warmest Color to think about more about romantic relationships. In each geographic area, we'll look at samples of work from these locations to get a better sense of patterns. Using the interdisciplinary approach of cultural studies, we’ll consider the connections between the personal, the familial, and the national identity. By bringing graphic novels and scholarly work together, we will develop a better understanding of our increasingly global world and work towards more complex multicultural perspectives.

Sections 5 and 9: Sexuality Across the Lifespan- J. Krafchick
We are sexual beings from the moment we are born until we die. Cultures around the world have different perspectives and ideas about sexuality. We will use a developmental lens to examine changing attitudes about sexuality. This seminar will be discussion oriented and guide students towards an understanding of the diversity and breadth of sexuality. Students will explore how sexuality is influenced by society, the media, religion, and other institutions. We will consider cultural influences on sexual expression, sex as depicted in popular culture, sexual violence, sexual stereotypes, and double standards.

Section 6:  Twentieth Century American Gangsters - P. Vaughan Knaus

American gangsters in the twentieth century: this class hopes to suggest larger interpretive guidelines for better understanding the epoch. America’s gangsters are best understood not as an aberration, but as an integral part of American history. The twentieth century was a time of intense conflict and millennial expectations, and Italians were at the very heart of mobsters, rum-runners and ‘tough guys.’ Gangsters were not as powerful in the 1920s as is often assumed, nor was law enforcement as much on the defensive. The insurgent political and social movements of the last century--including immigrant unrest and governmental power, Prohibition, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and gambling--drew from even as they sought to transform values and beliefs deeply rooted in American political culture. Students will take from this course some sense of how gangsters served for many Americans as fact and fiction, regarding United States history in the last century.

Sections 7 and 11: The Power of Community: Understanding Human Sustainability - A. Merline
Using the book “Happy City” as a guide, we’ll explore together the secrets of living a happy and sustainable life.  As the human race migrates back to urban environments, we examine our social selves as a part of living environment. We’ll begin by trying to identify what makes a city great.  Successful cities are no accident - it requires a lifetime of good planning that takes people, planet, profit and, of course, purpose into consideration. We’ll discover that our public lives and/or civic well-being is positively linked to personal well-being.  We travel the world via E2-- a PBS series that shows how different cities around the world have become happy cities.  Is the secret ingredient public spaces for walking, biking, and recreating as in Bogotá Columbia?  Is it through a bike share program in Paris?  A garden in Cairo? So many cultures, and so many ways to build successful communities.

In light of allergy concerns, this is a perfume/cologne-free classroom.
NOTE: The instructor has a limited number of textbooks available to lend to students. To reserve one, send an email to

Section 8: Children’s Literature and Culture- A. Gollapudi
Talking rabbits that take you down a hole, wicked witches that melt away, rivers of chocolate, magic everywhere – this is the stuff of children’s literature. Works meant for young audiences are usually considered light-hearted entertainment that teaches children simple life lessons. Rarely are they considered worthy of serious scholarly attention. However, literature meant for children is as much a product of complex cultural forces and ideologies as the most revered canonical “classic” novels. Books meant for children are often very much engaged with contemporary social, political, and ethical issues, whether it be Lewis Carroll’s critique of aristocratic privilege in Alice in Wonderland or Roald Dahl’s subversion of capitalistic acquisition in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. In addition, some works meant for children have incredibly long-lasting lives in popular culture – including adult popular culture -- as they are re-read, reworked, adapted into films, referenced in songs, or turned into consumer merchandise over decades and even centuries. With each new version, children’s works absorb contemporary ideologies or perpetuate the cultural agendas of their specific historical moment. This course will explore the some very popular children’s works as cultural phenomena that take on different nuances as they are remade to suit new markets. Focusing on ‘classics’ of children’s literature such as Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Harry Potter (I), this course will use rigorous critical interpretation tools to analyze these children’s books and/or movies as powerful cultural phenomena offering important insights into the adult world, even as they reveal how the child is constructed in various historical contexts. 

Section 9: See Section 5

Section 10: How Wildlife Influences Human Society - N. Vieira

Our interactions with wildlife have shaped the course of human society and influence our wellbeing. In early human societies, wild animals served as food and shamanistic totems, and the domestication of wildlife led to major agricultural progress for hunter-gatherer societies. Skipping ahead to Darwin’s era, observations of variation in wildlife led to the theory of evolution via natural selection, one of the most important and controversial scientific discoveries of all time. Ultimately, the study of critters widened the rift between science and religion. In modern times, wildlife provides important ecosystem services to humans, like pollination, and they also provide educational opportunities for us to discover more about our moral and ecological standing. In this course, we will cover these fundamental human-wildlife relationships, and will also explore “unusual” influences animals have had on us as exotic pets, as inspiration for children’s tales and horror film, as threats through man eating and zoonotic disease transmission, and as psychological cultivators of healing and empathy. We will explore these weird ties with wildlife through popular literature and film, philosophical and spiritual reflection, creative group projects, and outdoor exploration of our campus environment!

Section 11: See Section 7

Section 12: What We Can Learn from the Ancient Greeks about Women, Men, and the Human Condition - L. Cooper
This multi-disciplinary seminar is for students with little or no background in ancient Greek history, literature, philosophy, and culture. Some of the questions that the discussions and readings will examine are:
  • What motivates individuals and societies: Honor? Security? Material wealth?
  • What role does sex, gender, and power play?
  • Are our choices free or determined?
  • What are the consequences when decisions are based more on illusion and emotion rather than reality and factual truth?
  • Which ethical standards prevent wrongdoing?
  • How important is leadership in determining military and political success or failure?
  • Why do men go to war? How do they justify their actions?
  • Does human happiness depend on substantial wealth or accomplishment?
Contemporary readings will explore which ancient perspectives on human life, mortality, relationships, power, and freedom are still relevant.

Section 13: Infectious Disease: An Exploration of Human Disease and the Pioneers behind Biomedical Research- M. Brown
In Part I, students will explore the history of human disease and breakthroughs in biomedical research. We will delve into the mysteries of ancient plagues and discuss their influence on past civilizations, using art and literature of various cultures to follow pestilence on its path to the modern world. Part II will allow students to research pioneers behind modern biomedical research as it applies to human disease. Emphasis will be given to the role of the U.S. government in supporting biomedical research. In Part III, students will work in teams in which they will play the roles of professionals in various disciplines that are involved in preventing and responding to infectious disease outbreaks. Each group will be asked to respond to a modern pandemic by researching their assigned disease and presenting a course of action plan. This course will require regular reading, extensive written assignments, participation in group discussions, and oral presentations.

Section 14 and 20: The 1960s in America- Moving Foward or Falling Apart?- P. Vaughan Knaus
While making no claim to be offering a total interpretation of the 1960s in America, this class will suggest interpretive guidelines for understanding the decade. The 1960s are best examined not as an aberration, but as an integral part of American history. It was a time of intense conflict and millennial expectations, similar in many respects to the one Americans endured a century earlier--with results as mixed, ambiguous and frustrated as those produced by the Civil War. Liberalism was not as powerful in the 1960s as is often assumed, nor, equally was conservatism as much on the defensive. The insurgent political and social movements of the decade--including student unrest and Black Power, the New Left, environmentalism, and feminism--drew from, even as they sought to transform, values and beliefs deeply rooted in American political culture. Ideally, students will take from this course how the 1960s served for a generation of Americans as the dramatization of our humanity. In the process, students will be exposed to a number of historical mediums including film, music, and a tremendous amount of lively class discussion.

Section 15 and 22: Leisure in Your Life-A Look at Leisure, Recreation, and Work in Contemporary Society - J. Raadik Cottrell

To paraphrase Socrates, there is no greater question than “how we should live”. Thus, the issues of value related to time, leisure and work directly address this question. Your course is about leisure in your life, what it means, and what it could mean. You will be asked to think about your own values and behavior. What makes you happy? What kind of experiences do you seek to enhance your life? What do you do when you are relatively free to choose? How do your choices affect your happiness, your health, your family, your friends, and society?

Compared to a few decades ago, distinctive boundaries between leisure and work time have blurred; thus, meaningful experiences acquired through leisure, recreation and travel are even more important for a quality of life. Designed to introduce recreation and travel studies, this seminar encourages you to start by examining leisure as it relates to your life and then broaden your understanding to include the rest of the world in the context of healthy lifestyles and livelihoods.

Section 16: Peacemaking: Skills for Negotiating Life - B. Timpson
HONR 192 Peacemaking: Skills for Negotiating Life will prepare students to understand both historical and applied aspects of peacemaking and conflict management, and how these can impact their own lives. Case study analyses will permit thoughtful discussions about real events that are complex as well as what alternative resolutions might be possible. Role playing will allow students to explore different perspectives while developing their negotiation skills, how critical and creative thinking can provide insights into the complex and interrelated issues of violence, social justice, economic inequities, environmental degradation—on personal, community and societal levels—and how that can impact our shared responsibilities for creating a better and more sustainable future. Students will explore cases when a commitment to peace has permitted creative, nonviolent responses to conflicts, whether these are personal, professional, regional or global. Students will study how people can learn to work more cooperatively on negotiated solutions to complex problems and why deep listening can engender empathy and understanding for others and yourself. Students will explore understand how effective communication generally can help overcome differences and facilitate consensus, how anger and emotion can be best understood and managed; and what it takes to stay centered in times of crisis.

Section 17: The Evolution of Biotechnology and Pharmaceutical Science - M. Brown

In Part I, we will lay the groundwork for public speaking in preparation for end-of-semester pharmaceutical industry presentations. Part I will also include an introduction to drug development, pharmacology and the FDA.

In Part II, students will work in groups and research a current drug on the market for either human or veterinary applications. The drug must be produced by a company that is publicly traded. The findings of this research will be used to present an evaluation of the drug, its home company, and the extended portfolio of that company. Evaluations will be presented to a mock audience of potential investors and FDA inspectors. This course will also include discussions on biomedical ethics and health disparities. It will require regular reading, written assignments, participation in a broad range of group discussions, and oral presentations.

Section 18: "You Are What You Eat" - Food in Our Everyday Life - J. Raadik Cottrell
Anthelme Brillat-Savarin wrote in, Physiologie du Gout, ou Meditations de Gastronomie Transcendante, 1826: "Dis-moi ce que tu manges, je te dirai ce que tu es." [Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are]. The phrase, rooted in the French culture of food appreciation entered the public consciousness in America most likely in 1940’s, but truly got a new lease of life in the 1960’s hippy era and stayed with us since then. From the individual belief in a healthy diet to the organic/slow food movement as a social phenomenon, issues of food in our life today are related to critical issues of consumerism, sustainable development, social justice, and even political stability.
This course adopts an experiential education approach to critically address issues related to food in our everyday life from the aspects of personal choice and consumerism, overproduction, waste and food shortage, and many other. Relationships between food and identity as cultural phenomenon are discussed to address the role of food as a cultural ambassador. Food as state of art today is more than haute cuisine of yesterday; it is the creative exploration of opportunities for a positive change. Food as a social phenomenon today invites us to explore the ways to simplify our lives, cultivate community and spend more time with friends and family. Community gardens, farmers markets, slow food movement are few examples of re-evaluation the role of food in our lives.
Through discussions, literary and media explorations, observations, and practical hands-on experiences, you together with your instructor will try to answer the questions of concern: How to make more healthy, tasty and sustainable choices in your everyday food palette as a student?  Why does it matter where our food comes from? What does it mean “you are what you eat’?

Section 19: Food Controversies: Growing Good in a Changing World - D. Hoag
Through the early 20th century the United States fed a growing population by expanding land use. When the land ran out, growth was fueled by amazing gains in technology, including hybrid corn, improved fertilizers and pesticides, and most recently genetically modified organisms (GMO’s). By mid-century, people started to question agricultural intensification, which put the actions of farmers and ranchers under increasing public scrutiny. The way food is grown and sold can have profound impacts on humans, animals and the environment.  Consequently, people not living on farms want a say on how farmers use nutrients and pesticides, their land, their water and their livestock.  Have you ever wondered if you should eat meat, or food with GMO’s?  Is it good to buy locally?  Does the good from pesticides and GMOs outweigh the bad?  Which farming practices are sustainable and which are not?  This class will focus on how farmers can serve a market where consumers have such different views about these important questions.  To make the class more meaningful and fun, students will present their views and help lead discussions on these topics.  Each student will also propose a solution to improve sustainability.

Section 20: See section 14

Section 21 and 24: Science, Ethics, and Policy - M. Edwards
Scientific technologies and advancements are commonplace in our daily lives. Whether we know much about them ourselves or not, we regularly see news articles about them or even engage in biased discourse on such topics as gene editing, vaccinations, GMO’s, stem cell research, etc. But how do we better understand how these technologies impact our world without further context? In this interdisciplinary course, we will examine key issues of how culture and ethics define the constraints of scientific research and how our public perception and politics influence its advancement. First, we’ll explore global ethical differences in scientific research between the US, Europe, and Asian countries. Next, we will examine the “who” and “how” of laws and regulations for these technologies. Lastly, we’ll discuss how the opinion of the public and generalized perceptions impact the process of policy and research. Throughout these topics we will address prior technologies; their regulations and public opinion as well as critique those in the present and then extrapolate to future scenarios. Readings and daily discussions will be key to enhancing your understanding. No prior knowledge of various scientific technologies is required.

Section 22: See Section 15

Section 23: Empowered by Education: An Exploration of Teaching and Learning Practices - S. Hollingsworth
What happens in classrooms is not accidental; learning activities, grading practices, curriculum and classroom climate are all reflective of choices teachers make informed by their own educational philosophies.  The study of this phenomena is known as “pedagogy.”  This course empowers students to evaluate their educational experiences by acknowledging all of the philosophical and human dimensions of teaching and learning.  Learners investigate the “art and science” of teaching and learning by surveying some of the most influential political, economic, social, and cultural conditions that have impacted education.  Through this work, learners will leave empowered and better able to understand the schooling processes of which they are a part.
Section 24: See Section 21
Section 25: World Music Explorations - D. Apodaca
Travel to places like India, Africa and China to explore the music, the people and culture. One of the primary goals of this class is to offer the tools with which to explore music that may be new, and to create a framework of evaluation of music from a broad spectrum of cultures that should serve a lifetime. The study of world music provides a framework for thinking about how we encounter musical and cultural differences. This course provides a global sense of music and its meaning; different aspects of the environment, sound, and the significance of music. World Music Explorations will demonstrate how elements such as melody, rhythm, and texture create an infinite variety of sounds and serve as expressions of culture. We will explore the structure, purposes, and interconnectivity of music from a global perspective while providing a balanced coverage of traditional, classical, and popular styles of music from every region around the world. Come travel the world through music!

HONR 292A (satisfies category 3A) (old 294)

Section 1: Science as a Way of Knowing: Human Origins - M. Pante

This seminar will engage students in the exploration of science as a way of knowing, specifically as it relates to human evolution. The seminar considers what counts as scientific knowledge, and what one gains and does with the acquisition of knowledge. Students will synthesize the history and philosophy of science with human origins research.  We will begin by developing a foundation for evaluating scientific theory and practice that we will apply in defining evolutionary theory.  We will adapt knowledge of science and evolutionary theory to case studies in human origins research, such as the Piltdown hoax and the “Man the Hunter” hypothesis.  Lastly, we will debate controversial topics, such as creationism vs evolution and the basis for science denial in America.  Ultimately, students will emerge equipped with the tools to assess a broad range of scientific research.

Section 2: Science as a Way of Knowing: Water Science- C. Olivo-Delgado

Water is a fascinating substance that intrigues scientists from all historical ages and disciplines. It is essential for sustaining life on earth and represents ¾ of the human body. What are the intrinsic qualities that it has, and particular transformations it undergoes that make water a unique compound controlling many processes in engineering, chemistry, biology, ecology, nutrition, and even human behavior?  This seminar will engage students in the exploration of science from an interdisciplinary standpoint.  The discussions will focus on relevant topics that will make students question scientific knowledge, theoretical frameworks and ethical considerations while applying concepts to the study of water.


HONR 292B (satisfies category 3B) (old 292)

Section 1: Knowing in Arts and Humanities - K. Foskin
This course will investigate the dynamic and complex ways in which we know via the principal vehicle of our being human and how ‘contests’ with both within the human and non-human realms utilize many aspects or elements of knowing (e.g., narrative, myth, science, morality and technology). This course takes as its premise the following starting point: that knowing (and knowledge) is a diverse human construct involving three planes of human activity, 1) the emotional/psychological, 2) the somatic, and 3) conceptual/analytical. Our ‘playing fields of enquiry’ will be a series of seminal sci-fi novels (and their equivalent films) that challenges and ‘contests’ how we know ourselves to be human. 

Section 2: Knowing in Arts and Humanities - C. Becker
The seminar will engage students in the exploration of different ways of knowing - and their purposes, values, and limitations - in the arts and humanities. The seminar considers what counts as knowledge, and by whom; the methods employed to gain or affirm knowledge; the values attributed to knowledge; and the ethical and aesthetic implications of what one gains and does with the acquisition of knowledge. Students will integrate literature, film, theater, art, and philosophy in discussions and assignments. The thematic focus of the seminar is on “knowing nature”. The seminar explores and critically reflects on different ways of knowing about nature in the context of arts and humanities. The seminar particularly discusses the relevance of a broader understanding of nature for analyzing and addressing current environmental issues and sustainability challenges, how different types of knowing can be integrated in interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary collaborations and approaches, and why arts and humanities are crucial for understanding and achieving sustainability. Students will practice the critical analysis and integration of different ways of knowing to address sustainability issues with case studies.

Section 3: Knowing in Arts and Humanities: Construction of Knowledge – M. Brown
The overarching theme for this seminar is the “construction of knowledge.” Students will be engaged in discussions, readings, written communication, and oral communication to consider ideas of how knowledge is produced, by whom it is produced and for what purposes it is produced. The political construction of knowledge challenges students to consider the potential impacts of manipulating what is known and by whom it is known. Cultural identity, arts, philosophy, literature, film, and social media will be considered for their subjectivity and selectivity in the sharing of knowledge which can ultimately drive election outcomes, perpetuate social injustices, or be used as justification for wars. Students will also be challenged to reflect upon the sources of their own knowledge and to identify gaps that may ultimately impact their views and actions.

Section 4 and 5: Knowing in Arts and Humanities - J. Kitchens
The theme for this course is the “social construction of knowledge,” and it engages with the ideas of how knowledge gets produced, by whom and for what purposes. Other considerations include what counts as knowledge and how has it been produced and transmitted in the past (and present), e.g., public schooling? What other institutions are involved in the production of knowledge? And what is the relationship between knowledge and power? Course materials will range in disciplinary perspectives including philosophy, history, education, sociology, literature, and film. Students will also be guided in a self-reflective investigation into how knowledge has been produced in their personal lives, and specifically how such knowledge informs their worldview, i.e., how they interpret and act in the world.

Section 5: See Section 4 above

Section 6 and 7:  Knowing In Arts and Humanities: Do Non-Human Animals Make Art? - S. Zwick-Tapley
Do non-human animals engage in the arts and humanities? How do we know? How do we know what constitutes the arts and humanities among our own species? This class will look at the definitions, history and current research regarding language, creativity and expression. From the philosophies of Charles Darwin and Renee Descartes to the research by Jane Goodall and Sue Savage-Rumbaugh and others we will explore the human identity and the identity we attribute to other species. Be prepared for thinking both inside and outside of the box of what we know and what we imagine.

Section 7: See Section 6 above

Section 8: Knowing In Arts and Humanities: No Pain, No Gain?  A Cultural History of Pain in the West - P. Erickson
The experience of pain is not just a biological phenomenon, but it is also shaped by history and culture. In this seminar, we will examine the ways that pain has been justified and given meaning in Western culture, returning again and again to a core set of questions: What role does pain play in Western culture, philosophy, religion, and the arts? How is it represented?

We will conclude with a range of ethical questions: What responsibility do we have to acknowledge the pain of others? How is pain represented in the mass media? And, in the age of medical science, what might it mean (and would it be desirable) for pain someday to be eliminated altogether?


HONR 292C (satisfies category 3E) (old 293)

Section 1: Knowing Across Cultures: Wildlife Conservation Issues - N. Vieira
Fish and wildlife conservation requires more than just scientific studies to be successful. In reality, it requires a balance between science and advocacy -- a balance which is mediated, in part, by how different cultural groups perceive the role of fish and wildlife in their lives. We will define wildlife conservation in scientific terms, and will also learn how our forward-thinking “North American Wildlife Conservation Model” is unique in the world. Then, we will highlight global wildlife conservation issues and tackle controversial topics related to differences in cultural values, world philosophies (religion and ethics), poverty and subsistence living. For example, is wildlife conservation a luxury of an affluent society? Are fish and wildlife here for human use, or do they have inherent value and rights that we are obligated to preserve? Is recreational (vs. subsistence) hunting considered ethical and useful in conservation? Should we kill one species to save an endangered one, or let nature take its course? How do different cultures react to regulations on commercial fishing and whaling? We will explore these themes through readings, discussion, movies and videos, guest speakers, and some time outside to learn about wildlife in our very own “Colorado culture”!

Section 2: Knowing Across Cultures: Exploring the Foundations of Moral Reasoning Across Cultures - K. Jaggers
How do you know right from wrong? Is it right to let children die from preventable diseases in far off countries? Is it wrong to engage in acts of sodomy or homosexuality? Is it right to limit speech that denigrates one’s country or blasphemes one’s God(s)? Is it wrong to force people to pay taxes or buy health insurance? How would you answer these questions of moral judgment and ethical action? Would you appeal to the knowledge of your faith and seek theological guidance on these questions? Or, perhaps, would you eschew spiritual knowledge and, instead, simply rely on your gut instincts and emotions when making these moral decisions? Alternatively, would you ignore both of these sources of moral knowledge in favor of the reason and logic of the philosopher?  Whether guided by religious doctrine, primal instinct or philosophical wisdom, humans seem to be hardwired to form moral opinions and pass ethical judgments. As such, human nature is not just intrinsically moral, it’s also inherently moralistic, critical and judgmental. The human mind, in other words, is a righteous mind. In this seminar we will explore the theological, psychological and philosophical foundations that underlie our moral knowledge, animate our ethical debates and fuel our social conflicts. By identifying the diversity of ways of knowing “right” from “wrong” found in the human experience, we will be better equipped to identify the sources of our moral values, understand the ethical divisions that separate us into competing political and religious groups and, hopefully, develop bridges of understanding that can simultaneously acknowledge mankind’s moral diversity while limiting our propensity for moral indignation and self-righteousness.

Section 3: Knowing Across Cultures: Garbage, Waste, and Trash in Global Cultures and Societies - D. Johnson
Concepts of garbage, waste, and trash create a nearly ubiquitous theme around the world for a surprising number of cultures and peoples. And, quite literally, diverse, geographically-separated societies often share the same trash—from the large garbage island in the Pacific Ocean to the trails of garbage that mark migrations and connect the US-Mexico border. The concepts of garbage, waste, and trash operate as cultural metaphors that place value—lack of value—as well as prescribe action (throw it out!). Trash, for instance, has no value to the person throwing it away—and, it must be thrown away, removed from the realm of valuable things. By extending this metaphor of trash, we can see it applied not only to things (plastic bottles, medical refuse, toxic elements), but also to places and peoples. In this class, we will explore various cultural artifacts—nonfiction, fiction, including science fiction, film, digital media—that highlight the literal and metaphorical concepts of garbage, waste, and trash. We will use these concepts to explore and dialogue with issues such as global invasive species, environmental justice, refugee crises, race and ghettoization, class conflict, and, of course, global garbage.

Section 4: Knowing Across Cultures: Indigenous Peoples and Their Environments - C. Keyt
Every few decades, Americans begin to long for simpler times – making food from scratch, camping in the backcountry, and imagining ourselves living as the “Indians” might have. European colonizers long ago reduced Indigenous lifeways to superstition, witchcraft, and “lack of knowledge.” Recent events around the world prohibiting indigenous lifeways have propelled Americans and in particular, westerners (ever-mindful of our water use) in great debates over the role of traditional understandings of ecosystems. Only in recent decades has the Western worldview begun to tentatively accept – but never fully validate – ways of knowing that provide reciprocal relationships between humans and their environments. Come explore the ways in which Indigenous peoples around the world have maintained connections with their non-human relatives; that is, with natural elements that possess “personhood” in their environment.

This seminar provides experiences to analyze how indigenous peoples around the world determine(d) what knowledge was/is most important for their social groups and how they subsequently form(ed) unique relationships with plants, animals, water, and geological features. These relationships preserved traditional ecological knowledge (ways of knowing how to use one’s environment for survival) and guided religious practices, economic choices, education, tribal governments, and even entertainment. We will explore historic and current Indigenous efforts to protect homelands, water, diverse ecosystems, and other natural resources under colonization and the maintenance of Indigenous knowledge within contemporary legal and political relationships. We will grapple with how specific environments assist in knowledge construction, and the complexities of traditional ecological knowledge colliding with another way of knowing, western science.

The seminar will also address the relationships between native and other non-native groups, such as universities, the media and Hollywood, Hippies, New Age followers, and environmentalists and associated problems of appropriation of Indigenous knowledge. Students will gain a more nuanced view of how landscapes influence construction and maintenance of knowledge, the methods used to gain or affirm such knowledge, and its social and moral implications. Finally, we will investigate how Indigenous peoples around the globe have shaped and contributed to political agendas in 20th and 21st centuries and efforts toward self-determination. Major topics that we will explore include spiritual connections to subsistence, contemporary Native environmental issues, continued evolution of indigenous beliefs and lifeways, traditional ecological knowledge, and natural resource management policy.


HONR 392

Section 1 and 5: If You Are So Smart . . .? Economic and Social Class in Contemporary America - C. Elkins
The first line of the “Preamble” of the Declaration of Independence asserts that “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, . . .” Since its publication, few declarations have been more scrutinized and debated, in part because whether one believes in equality at birth, we all live our entire lives in difference and hierarchy. We are Homo hierarchicus. As the sociologist, Hugh Duncan, argues: “Social order is expressed through hierarchies which differentiate men into ranks, classes, and status groups, and, at the same time, resolve differentiation through appeals to principles of order which transcend those upon which differentiation is based.” We create our identities by classifying, labeling and differentiating ourselves from others. In this course, we explore the nature, functions and consequences of two categories: economic class and social class and status, particularly in contemporary America (without ignoring the question: “When Adam delved and Eve span/Who was then the gentleman?”).We will use some nonfiction sources, including The New York Times, Class Matters, Richard Sennett and Jonathan Cobb, The Hidden Injuries of Class, Thorstein Veblen, The Theory of the Leisure Class, Barbara  Ehrenreich, Nickel and Dimed,  Paul Fussell, Class and Class, ed. Patrick Joyce. In addition, we will read some fiction, including Curtis Sittenfeld, Prep, F.Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby, some poetry, some films, including Born Rich and Trading Place, some TV, including All in the Family and Downton Abbey  and even some music and painting. In short, we want to explore the consequences of differences that make a difference. What are the issues, the tensions and contradictions in American society, and how can they be resolved, if need they can be?

Section 2: You're Not the Boss of Me: Perspectives on Human Rights - A. Merline
This course examines the topic of human rights. We will read and discuss the philosophy, the articulation, and the legislation of human rights in the context of the United States and in the World Community. In order to make sense of a very broad topic we will break down this examination into economic, political, social, racial, and ethnic perspectives of human rights. Within these perspectives we will look at torture, unfair trials, exclusion from political participation, the subordination of women, and extreme poverty. We will also question the definition of human rights as a relative term. Other topics to explore are pornography, hate speech, censorship, sexual freedom, euthanasia, suicide, abortion, war, cloning, genetic enhancement, and the death penalty.

Section 3: The Passion Within: Adventures in Creativity - F. Glycenfer
Consider what life would be like if we truly discovered our passions and were able to share them in a meaningful way that captures people’s imagination.  There are ways to reinvent our passions to creatively serve others and impact the world around us. This class seeks to develop our individual passions through experiencing meaningful creative practices that can be incorporated into daily life, analyzing scientific research on creativity, and exploring creative responses in improvisational settings. Creative passions are not just for the talented few – it is an opportunity for adventure we all can share. 

Section 4 and 7: You’d Be Murdered for This: Art, Political Regimes and Morality - S. Zwick-Tapley
Imagine a painting so scandalous you’d be imprisoned.  Imagine a play so threatening you’d be tortured.  Imagine a book so controversial you’d be exiled for life.  Imagine a film so revolutionary you’d be killed.  Throughout history art has challenged dictators, religion and sexual norms and has been blamed for the destruction of morality and civilization.  What are these works of art and what made them so threatening?  And did these works of art succeed in bringing about the change so feared?  This class will explore controversial art from around the world (Europe, Asia, the Middle East and South America) and look at the political, sociological, and psychological frameworks specific to each culture.  Art forms covered will include theatre, dance, the visual arts, film and literature.  (Warning: The material in this class may be offensive to some students)

Section 5: See section 1

Section 6: Myth Busters: Science, Pseudoscience, and Just Plain Nonsense - D. Mykles
What is science? What isn’t? Modern western science is a product of the Age of Reason in the 18th century, but its origins are traced back to the ancient Greeks. Skepticism and the scientific method are critical to modern scientific practice. Throughout history there has always been an uneasy relationship between science and culture. Science as a human activity is influenced by culture and vice versa. The seminar weaves science philosophy, methodology, and history with social and cultural contexts. “Culture wars” centered around heliocentrism, evolution, relativity, genetically-modified organisms, and climate change are examined. A major part of the course is devoted to evaluating claims purporting to use “scientific” evidence. Topics include: vitamin C as a cold remedy, homeopathy, social Darwinism and eugenics, detoxification and cleansing methods, nutrient supplements and diets, drugs and the pharmaceutical industry, vaccinations and autism, cancer and electromagnetic fields, placentophagy, and hypnobirthing. Are there common strategies people use? The placebo effect and confirmation bias are discussed. Students will have an opportunity to investigate a claim and present it to the class. The goal is to equip students with practical tools for making science-informed decisions, and not simply accept a claim at face value; in other words, being a skeptic. The seminar concludes with a section on bioethics and social policy, using “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” as a resource.

Section 7: See section 4

HONR 492

Section 1: World War I and How It Set the Next 100 Years on its Violent Course - L. Cooper
Few events in history have so dramatically changed the world, taken so many lives, and had such far reaching consequences as World War I. Six-thousand men lost their lives every day over the four years of fighting. The war also created the conditions that led to the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the emergence of Soviet Communism.  The peace treaties that redrew the map of Europe and the Middle East also had far-reaching consequences. Instead of being “the war to end all wars” World War I sowed the seeds of future conflict, the most consequential being Hitler’s rise to power in 1933 and another tragic world war from 1939-1945. One historian has summed up World War I by concluding that “it was nothing less than the greatest error of modern history.”  Objectives for seminar will be to (1) examine the war from an interdisciplinary perspective-- political, military, diplomatic, economic, psychological, and cultural; (2) trace how the war laid the groundwork for subsequent and recent political, military, and ethnic conflicts; (3) study the effect of total war on women and the home fronts;  (4) explain America’s first major intervention in world affairs and its drift from neutrality to involvement to postwar isolationism; (5) provide an understanding of the role played, for good or ill, by leaders and statesmen such as Churchill, Lenin, Woodrow Wilson, Tsar Nicholas II, Kaiser Wilhelm II, Lawrence of Arabia; and (6)  learn about battlegrounds that have become synonymous with the conflict—Verdun, the Somme, Gallipoli, Ypres.

Section 2: Globalize This! Fear and Loathing in the Age of Progress - K. Jaggers
In "Globalize This!" we will explore both the perils and promise of globalization. For better or worse, the process of globalization is fundamentally transforming the economic, cultural and political foundations of the globe. While globalization holds out the promise of progress providing significant opportunities for the emancipation of the much of the world's population from the tyranny of poverty, ignorance and political repression it simultaneously evokes a sense of fear and loathing throughout the globe. Globalization has become a popular buzzword which serves to crystallize disagreements concerning the speed and direction of change in the world at large. Globalization is a contentious process; its meaning almost entirely dependent on who is talking about. Neo-liberal economic reformers, environmental and human rights activists, security experts and cultural nationalists, to name a few, all compete for the right to stake claim to the idea of globalization and shape public perceptions about its potential impact on the world in which we live. While both the meaning and merits of globalization have become highly politicized in recent years, with intellectual debate about this topic transforming itself into contentious political action with increasing regularity, in this class we will seek to evaluate the origins, nature and impact of this process in the modern world using insights and analytical tools from history and the social sciences.

Section 3: Freedom in Focus - K. Jaggers
This course is organized around the idea, and practice, of freedom. While freedom is said to be "on the march" in the world today, what, precisely, does this mean? What does it mean to have free will; to live in a free society; to express oneself freely? Moreover, is the march of freedom inevitable? Is it desirable? Should it be unbridled in both its promotion and construction? While there is a temptation in our society to uncritically accept the idea of freedom as an unalloyed "good," by viewing the concept of freedom through the analytical lenses of philosophy and the social sciences we are better able to understand the "bounded" role of freedom in human society. The objective of this course is to think critically about the idea of freedom and, in the process, to evaluate the political, social, theological and ethical arguments both for, and against, its promotion. In this course we will examine the idea of freedom by reading the works of classic social theorists and commentators (e.g., Plato, Mill, Kant, Freud, Sartre, etc) and by interpreting these works through the lens of modern cinema (e.g., The Seventh Seal, The Matrix, Crimes and Misdemeanors, Apocalypse Now, A Clockwork Orange, etc).

Section 4: Construction of Self in the Arts and Sciences - G. Callahan
Construction of Self will explore three views of this most essential of human traits the biological, the philosophical, and the literary. Literature and philosophy have for centuries probed at the surface and the cavities of self. Biology, our teachers have told us, couldn't care a whole lot less about the nature of the human self. But as we will see in this course, biological and medical sciences, though less overtly, are also steadily changing the way we view our selves. The consideration of these seemingly disparate subjects and their intersections will allow us to explore the process of self-construction and the ways in which our images of self are synthesized from the seemingly discontinuous fragments of our experience.

Section 5: America and the Civil War - M. Elkins
“Any understanding of this nation has to be based on an understanding of the Civil War….it defines us.” These are the words of the eminent Civil War historian, Shelby Foote, and they form the premise for this course. Who we are as a nation, how we see ourselves, what we value and how we conduct our national and international life all have their roots in this great 19th Century catastrophic upheaval. This is not a history course although we will be reading James McPherson’s Battle Cry of Freedom. Rather, it is a course on the ways in which the Civil War has seeped into our consciousness and been revised and reinterpreted over generations. In particular, we will look at its influences in art, both popular and elite. We will look at fiction dealing with the Civil War, such as The Killer Angels and The March, films ranging from Gone with the Wind through Glory and Gettysburg . We will read some poetry from the time, such as the work of Walt Whitman, from the 20th Century, such as Robert Lowell’s “For the Union Dead” and from the 21st Century, the poems of Kevin Young ( To the Confederate Dead). We will consider such issues as the image and reputation of Abraham Lincoln over the years, the relationship between slavery and contemporary racism. The consequences of the Civil War, both good and ill, are all around us. And the interest in the War and its iconic cast (Lincoln, Lee, Frederick Douglass, to name only three) is manifested in the amazing amount of research, of a very high quality, that appears on bookshelves on an almost daily basis. In the words of William Faulkner, “The past is not dead. In fact, it isn’t even past.”

Section 6: The Greatest Conversation Piece Ever Invented In America: Baseball - P. Vaughan Knaus
Ah, Baseball…Number 42; Chicago Black Sox; The Boys of October; America’s Second National Anthem; The Babe; Doping; Lock-outs; the stand-up triple, three-up-and-three-down, and, walk-off homer; Cracker Jacks and Cold Ones; Field of Dreams, Bull Durham, A League of Their Own, Pride of the Yankees, Major League, and Bad News Bears. America’s Baseball’s history provides a point of entry into American culture, American values, and, American dreams.

Section 7: Italian Cinema - C. Burgchardt
This course will analyze fifteen classic Italian films from the 1940s to the 1990s. We will appreciate a half century of Italian cinematic masterpieces, considered as individual works of art. At the same time, we will explore how these movies both reflected and affected the wider social and cultural environment of post-war Italy. In doing so, we will investigate the evolution of national aesthetics, politics, and genres. Viewing these movies provides a window into the recent history of a beautiful, diverse, and culturally significant nation. Finally, we will assess the similarities and differences of some of the great directors of world cinema, including Rossellini, De Sica, Fellini, Pasolini, Visconti, Olmi, Antonioni, and Bertolucci. All films will be in Italian, with English subtitles. Please note: We will view one complete movie per week on Tuesday evenings, so class will usually last until 9:15 p.m. For shorter films, we will adjourn earlier.

Section 8: The Process and Publication of Science - M. Simmons

The two themes for our course are the scientific process together with scientific writing and publication.  For the scientific-process portion of our course we will cover how science is effectively and efficiently done, how one trains to become a scientist, challenges that scientists face in their working environment, and how one contributes to humanity’s understanding of nature.  We will discuss readings from important contributors to our understanding of the scientific process, including Richard Feynman, Richard Hamming, John Platt, and Karl Popper.  But we will interleave these readings with brain teasers, scientific humor, reality checks, as well as Ted Talks and YouTube videos.  The scientific-writing-and-publication portion of our course is based on the adage that, “Until you publish you’re just playing in the lab.”  We will discuss each of the steps necessary to publish your novel insights and results in the scientific literature, from writing each section of your manuscript to working with editors and reviewers.  We will practice writing and critiquing structured abstracts. The seminar is not just for science and engineering majors. It is also for non-science majors interested in technical writing and publication.