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Seminars

  • You may sign up for only ONE honors seminar per semester.
  • Students will not be charged additional tuition for HON 100 if it leads to more than 16 credit hours.

Spring 2020 - HON 101

41 — World Film since 2010

  TH 7-10 pm (Full semester)
  Dr. John Williams, History Department

Many of the world’s greatest filmmakers are using their art to grapple with present-day uncertainties and the ways in which people are trying to find security and hope. Participants in this seminar will read about, watch, and discuss some of the most challenging and innovative films of the past decade. We will watch movies from Iran, Great Britain, France, Japan, Australia, Canada, Germany, Italy, and the United States, including Mad Max: Fury Road, A Separation, Selma, The Great Beauty, Weekend, Moonlight, Phantom Thread, Girlhood, Get Out, Mommy, Shoplifters, and Black Panther. Please note: Most of these films are by progressive artists on the left wing of the ideological spectrum. Because they tend to focus on the struggles of underprivileged groups (women, people of color, LGBT people, poor people, young people, and refugees), these films contain provocative political, emotional, sexual, and sometimes violent content.

42 — Exploring the Fourth Dimension

  TH 4-5:15 (10 weeks)
  Dr. Anthony Bedenikovic, Mathematics Department

The idea of a fourth dimension--of reality beyond what can be seen--has attracted thinkers from various fields throughout history. In this seminar, we will study references to the fourth dimension in the work of artists, mathematicians, philosophers, scientists, and others. In general, a different aspect of the fourth dimension will be explored at each meeting. While most studies will include a mathematical perspective, the goal of this seminar is to investigate diverse perspectives. All majors are welcome. To help further convey the nature of this seminar, a list of sample questions follows: Can we learn to visualize the fourth dimension? How is a 4-dimensional universe different from a 3-dimensional universe? Is the fourth dimension just time? How has the idea of higher dimensions influenced the work of visual artists and writers? How has it influenced current scientific theories?

43 – The Seminar at Pooh Corner

  TH 3-3:50
  Dr. Seth Katz, English Department

Though we are told explicitly that his head is “stuffed with fluff,” Edward Bear, Christopher Robin, and their cohort of friends have proven to be a flexible and durable ensemble-cast of characters and archetypes, whom various authors have found fit for various purposes. In this seminar, we will take a quick tour through many of the incarnations of Pooh, ranging from their establishment as cultural and commercial icons, stars of animated and live-action film, memes, exemplars of Western and Eastern philosophy, and objects of serious and satiric academic study. Starting with a brisk reading of the original texts (Winnie the Pooh, The House at Pooh Corner, When We Were Very Young, and Now We Are Six), this seminar will move on to the Disney-fication of Pooh (including the recent live-action Christopher Robin), The Tao of Pooh, Williams’s Pooh and the Philosophers / the Psychologists / the Millenium, and Crews’s The Pooh Perplex and Postmodern Pooh. Through it all, Pooh and friends have somehow managed to stay winning and adorable images of the simplicity and complexity of childhood for both children and adults. But how? And why?

44 – Disney and Multiculturalism

  W 4:30-5:45 (10 weeks)
  Dr. Dunja Antunovic, Communications Department

In 2016, Disney released Moana, an animated movie about a Polynesian girl who is an adventurer with magical powers. Because of its focus on indigenous culture with a protagonist who is “not a princess” (as her character proclaims), Moana (2016) sparked debates about Disney’s attempts toward cultural diversity and cultural authenticity. Disney’s approach to diversity is important because its films construct narratives about love, friendship, good, evil, and power that reach global audiences. This seminar examines Disney’s vision of multiculturalism through its feature films, including but not limited to Dumbo (1941), Sleeping Beauty (1959), The Lion King (1994), The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996), Mulan (1998), and Frozen (2013). Students will analyze issues of race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and disability in Disney’s casting choices, plotlines, and visual representations. Drawing upon media studies and cultural studies, this course examines larger questions about multiculturalism in the global communication environment.

45 – Freud, Fiction, Film

  F 12:00-12:50
  Dr. Timothy Conley, English Department

We’ll begin by reading Freud’s Civilization and Its Discontents to identify Freud’s understanding of cultural forces which shape the individual. We’ll then consider how Freud has been represented in two modern films (including David Cronenberg’s A Dangerous Method) and in one modern novel (D. M. Thomas’ Eating Pavlova). Written assignments will include short responses to the films and novel, an essay on Freud’s psychoanalytic analysis of culture, and a final short response to the problem of representation in fiction and film.

46 – Pandemic Virus Infections

  W 12:00-12:50
  Dr. Ted Fleming, Biology Department

Virus infections that spread worldwide (pandemics) are of major significance to humanity. This course will present the biology of two important, well-studied viruses, the influenza virus and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and will consider their impact with regard to human health, economic prosperity, and politics. The seminar will consist of a lecture-discussion format. Each student will be required to present two oral reports and write a topic paper on an aspect of the topic.

47 – Science and Faith

  T 3-4:15 (10 weeks)
  Dr. Wayne Bosma, Chemistry and Biochemistry Department

This seminar will explore the interrelationship between the rational methods of science and the beliefs of Judeo-Christian religious faith. When a scientist has religious beliefs, are these a help or a hindrance to his/her profession? What attitudes should a theistic nonscientist have toward science? These questions and others will be critically analyzed.

48 – Art and Iconoclasm

  T 12:00-12:50
  Dr. Sarah Glover, Art Department

Why do people destroy art? In this seminar we will look at art that has come under physical assault. These are artworks that have been spontaneously vandalized by angry viewers, systematically destroyed by governments, or smashed as part of public protest. We will consider what motivates these kinds of attacks, while exploring how they continue to play an important role in contemporary conversations about art and the culture(s) we live in. The class will rely heavily on facilitated discussions focused on specific artwork and iconoclastic events, with an emphasis on contemporary controversies.

49 – The Surveillance State and Dystopian Science Fiction

  T 1:30-2:20 (all semester)
  Dr. Craig Curtis, Political Science Department

The growth of the surveillance capacity, and the ability of governments to use that capacity to exert control over their citizens, is a real phenomenon. This course will explore that phenomenon via three sets of activities. First, students will examine case studies from current events, reading news stories, and other online documents, concerning the ability of modern nations to exert control over those it finds potentially dangerous. These case studies will include the United States and other nations. Second, students will read two recently published novels in which a near future planet earth is governed in ways that are different because of the use of pervasive surveillance technology. Third, students will engage in a creative activity. Students may choose to write a short story (or short graphic novella) or a scholarly essay concerning the issues surrounding the growth of surveillance technology.

50 – The Great Romantics

  T 3-4:15 (10 weeks)
  Dr. Kyle Dzapo, Music Department

This course will introduce students to the most engaging and brilliant music of the Romantic era, music of Brahms, Wagner, Verdi, Tchaikovsky, Dvorak, Strauss, Paganini, and Rachmaninoff. In each class session, we will delve into masterpieces by one or two composers, relate the musicians’ compositions to the time and place in which they were written, and create aural guides to help us appreciate and enjoy the content and genius of the compositions. Students will be asked to read chapters from Harold Schonberg’s The Lives of the Great Composers, to write two short papers about Romantic works they have gotten to know, and to complete two related assignments. All students are welcome; no prior musical training is necessary.

Fall 2020 - HON 100

41 – Oral Communications for Real-Life Situations

  W 3:00-3:50

  Prof. Dakota Horn, Communications Department

This course is designed as an opportunity to research, organize, practice and present your ideas for several different types of speech situations in which you may find yourself throughout your professional and personal life. It is not designed to teach you the skills gained in COM 103 but rather a chance to use those basic skills to further create, practice, hone, personalize, and professionalize your own way as a speaker. Ideally, this course provides an advanced understanding of the public-speaking experience as an orator in real-life contexts. One of the primary goals of this course is to connect public speaking to the workplace, where excellent public speaking skills are sought in a competitive job market. As a result, the course emphasizes the interplay between compelling storytelling, audience analysis, skilled outlining and composing speeches, effective delivery and awareness of nonverbal components of a presentation in order to develop a personal speaking style. Learning how to make effective presentations outside of the classroom is the primary focus in this course.

42Antibiotics and the Advent of Antibiotic-Resistant Organisms

  T 9:30-10:20
  Dr. Ted Fleming, Biology Department

Antibiotic-resistant micro-organisms are occurring worldwide, endangering the usefulness of antibiotics that have transformed medicine and saved millions of lives. During this course students will discuss the use of antibiotics, the origin and history of antibiotic resistance, efforts to address the problem, and possible alternatives to current antibiotic therapy. This course will include time in the microbiology lab during which students will work with bacteria, and potentially isolate antibiotic-resistant organisms. Students’ general knowledge and understanding of the topic will be demonstrated and evaluated by active participation and oral and written presentations.

43 Mozart: Portrait of Genius

  T 3:00-4:15 (10 weeks)
  Dr. Kyle Dzapo, Music Department

This seminar will introduce the extraordinary achievements of one of Western music’s greatest artists. Each of the class sessions will include discussion of significant events in a particular period of Mozart’s life and an introduction to one of the major compositions written during that time. Peter Gay’s Mozart will serve as our text. Students of all majors are encouraged to participate; no prior musical training is necessary.

44 – How to Thrive in an increasingly Global World

  M W 12-12:50 (8 weeks)
  Prof. William Toel, Business Administration

Open to all students who want to explore opportunities across the world (and define themselves, their potentials in the process). Especially relevant to Business and International Studies students. This seminar explores the complexities of doing business across many cultures. The seminar will begin with an historical perspective, bringing it into clear understanding of the current international financial/credit crisis, and anticipate the future changes necessary that will be relevant for students today. One aspect will be the freedom demanded by rapid globalization coming into increasing conflict with both nationalism and a wide variety of regulations and standards. The seminar uses a variety of examples to demonstrate the contradictions that business people will increasingly face over the next twenty years. This seminar is applicable to all Honors students with an insatiable curiosity about how the world works: No finance prerequisites.

45 – Marketing (yo)U

  M 1:00-1:50
  Prof. Brad Eskridge, Marketing Department

Welcome to Marketing University! A sort of play on this being a Marketing University for students to learn how to effectively market themselves (personal values, core competencies, personal branding, interviewing skills, professionalism, etc.) in the professional world. In this seminar, we will read a diverse collection of literary pieces, work through several hands-on exercises, and have rich class discussions all built around you effectively marketing yourself to the professional world. From defining your values, core competencies, and personal brand to building professionalism skills, interviewing techniques, and thought frameworks, the goal is to help you Market yo(U)!

46 – Failures and Disasters

  T 1:30-2:45 (10 weeks)
  Dr. Martin Morris, Mechanical Engineering Department

Look around anywhere, anytime. Anything you see that wasn’t provided by nature (and some that were), has been designed, developed, and marketed by engineers, scientists, inventors, and entrepreneurs. Since Paleolithic people started building and using tools and developing communities, we have continued to evolve how we eat, sleep, travel, recreate, and fight (probably not in that order). Today we live in a world that has evolved to include incredibly sophisticated mechanisms: magnificent buildings that touch the sky, airplanes faster than the speed of sound, rocket ships that have flown out of our solar system, automobiles that can drive themselves, mechanisms that are too small to be seen with the naked eye, your very own smartphone or laptop. This evolution of our things has been driven by a Darwinian process that is just as unforgiving and ruthless as the biological one. We live in a world full of marvelous structures and devices, built by us, that have evolved through millennia. And as throughout humankind, we rely on our many things to get us through our day. Everyday. And then, ... all hell breaks loose!

48 – SPAIN IN OUR HEARTS: Americans and Britons in the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939)

  TH 1:30-2:20

  Dr. Kevin Swafford, English Department

In February 1936, the Spanish people democratically elected a Republican form of government; but the security of democracy in Spain was short lived. Within months “Generalissimo” Francisco Franco, with his fellow generals, plotted a coup d’etat against the legitimate Spanish Government and the supporters of the Republic. What ensued from Franco’s illegal attempt to seize power was a shockingly brutal civil war (1936-1939) between Franco’s fascist Nationalists (aided by Hitler, Mussolini, and their sympathizers) and the Republicans (supported by a hodge-podge of International pro-democracy/ leftist groups and the USSR). In many ways, the Spanish Civil War was the decisive preamble to World War II. In this seminar we will read two books—Adam Hochschild’s Spain in Our Hearts and George Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia. Unlike other books about the Spanish Civil War, these two books focus primarily on the personal experiences of Americans and Britons who were involved in the conflict. From the interweaving of personal stories, the full tragedy of the Spanish Civil War emerges in Hochschild’s and Orwell’s writings. For the course you will be expected to read the entirety of both books, keep a reader response journal (minimum 300 words a week), and to write an essay (5-8 pages in length) that analyzes and discusses a central issue of the two primary works. Welcome!

49 – Media and Political Campaigns

  TH 3:00-4:15 (10 weeks)

  Dr. Sara Netzley, Communications Department

Candidates and voters alike rely on the media during an election season–and vice versa. Using the 2020 presidential election as a backdrop, this seminar will examine the ways in which all forms of media, from mainstream news outlets to social media platforms to political ads, influence and inform the political process. Likewise, it will discuss how politicians use various media outlets to reach the public and how voters process these messages to make their decisions on election day. We’ll also discuss money, bias, polling, debates, history, honesty, ethics, and all the things that make election season such an exciting time. The seminar will focus on selected readings, class discussion and media critiques in a civil, scholarly environment.