• You may sign up for only ONE honors seminar per semester.
  • You will not be charged additional tuition for HON 101 if it causes you to have more than 16 hours.

Spring 2022 - HON 101

40 — Post-feminist Princesses and Princes: An examination of popular Disney characters and stories through Critical Theory

  M 2:00-2:50 pm
  Prof. Shannon Sandoval, Communications Department

Love Disney? So do I! Arguably, Disney has had a tremendous influence on my life and likely on yours too. It is often said that “art imitates life” and in this seminar we’ll put that theory to the test as we re-examine stories and characters from Disney films through the various lenses of Critical Theory. We’ll focus on Disney animated feature-length films but will also interweave Walt Disney company history, culture and history, and literature review to give us a broader understanding of the impact they’ve had. The goal of our seminar isn’t to condemn or praise but rather to examine this form of media with a more critical eye and a more nuanced understanding of the messages and representations that influence us throughout our stages of life. Weekly meetings will be discussion-centered and you’ll need access to the Disney+ streaming service for assigned viewings. There will also be assigned short readings, which will be provided to you. The seminar will conclude with a research oral presentation on a topic of your choice.

41 — The Private Hero: Imagining Fortitude

  TH 3-4:15 (10 weeks)
  Dr. Thomas Palakeel, English Department

Honors students in this seminar will have a chance to contemplate honor as private heroism. Our readings will include short fiction by American and international authors including George Saunders, John L'Heureux, John Keeble, Alice Munro, Haruki Murakami, Rabindranath Tagore, and for clarity on our high ideals, we will also read brief philosophical excerpts on such abstract notions as virtue, altruism, and fortitude. All the reading materials will be posted on Canvas; no textbooks needed. We will discuss the stories in the spirit of discovery and sharing, and at the end of the semester, students will turn in a short essay of self-inquiry.

42 – Exploring Equity

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

A White, middle-aged, middle class college professor will attempt—through readings, videos, reflection, writing, and discussion—to learn—and to guide you to learn—something about what it means—and has meant—to be Black in America. The lives, work, and creativity of Black people are essential parts of the foundation, structure, and life of our country. At the same time, anti-Black racism is baked into the very origin, fabric, and ongoing construction of American society, culture, and economic life. How can we repair the damage caused by 400 years of White supremacy? To do something, we must first begin to know something.

43 – Cuneiform: Reading the Will of the Gods

  T 12-1:15 (10 weeks)
  Dr. John Nielsen, History Department

When the Gospel writers recorded that Magi from the east followed a star to Bethlehem, they were reflecting a contemporary respect for Babylonian astrology as a field of knowledge that revealed divine will. At that time, ancient temples in Mesopotamia were still functioning and observations of planetary movements were still being recorded on clay tablets in the ancient cuneiform script. Cuneiform script was developed in the 4th millennium BCE and the last dated cuneiform tablet is from the 2nd century CE. If we consider that the Phoenician antecedents of our own alphabetic Latin script can be traced back to c. 1000 BCE, we must recognize that cuneiform was older when it “died” then our own “living” alphabet is today! While cuneiform was probably developed to write Sumerian, it is not a language but rather a writing system, and it worked differently from an alphabet. Because Babylonian scholars believed that the gods “wrote” their will onto the physical world, the fluid nature of cuneiform signs shaped how scholars interpreted the will of the gods. Babylonian scholarship as a predictive science tried to understand the will of the gods through omens, medicine, and ultimately through the development of mathematic astronomy. These ancient traditions would have a profound impact on Greek scholars. We will not learn to read cuneiform in this class, but we will learn how cuneiform worked in order to understand how Babylonian scholars developed a system of knowledge that had features that resembled our own scientific system but was also very alien from our own. Participation will include in-class presentations and short papers.

44 – fakenews

  TH 3:00-4:15 (10 weeks)
  Dr. Sara Netzley, Communications Department

What is it? What isn’t it? Where does it come from? How can you guard against it? This seminar will explore concepts such as misinformation, propaganda, bias, and gaslighting using recent and historical examples, with an emphasis on the origin, spread, and implications of fake news for citizens, society, and democracy.

45 – Voyage to the East

  M 12-12:50
  Dr. Grace Wang, Communications Department

This seminar explores various forms of culture in East Asia (focusing on China, Korea, and Japan). Throughout this course, we will “travel” to a number of major cities in East Asia and explore the local historical sites, popular cuisines, and unique cultural heritage, etc. The presence and influence of Asian culture in the U.S. will also be considered.

46 – Antibiotics and the Advent of Antibiotic-Resistant Organisms

  W 12-12:50
  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.

47 – The Power of Song

  W 9-9:50
  Dr. Robert Prescott, English Department

All of us have our own music—not simply the songs on our playlists, but those songs that mean so much to us that they express at some level who we are. This seminar will examine a wide array of songs through the lenses of many disciplines: literature, music history and performance, history, cultural anthropology, world languages, and religious studies. We will analyze lyrics together, consider how songs have changed through the ages, and share with one another those songs that are most important to us personally. We will also study what goes into writing an original song.

48 – Games, Play, Theory, & History

  TH 3-4:15 (10 weeks)
  Dr. Brad Brown, History Department

Is it a happy talent to know how to play? Is winning too often as disastrous as losing too much? Is all the world a stage? This course explores the history of games, experiences of play, and the development of social theory about both. Expect short readings, brief videos, and group exercises each week. Guest lectures and other activities are planned. Students will have opportunities to present original research and reflection in a variety of formats.

Fall 2021 - HON 100


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

41 – Oral Communications for Real-Life Situations

  W 3-3:50

  Prof. Dakota Horn, Communications Department

Prerequisite: COM 103 or its equivalent.

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 you should have gained in COM103 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 after 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.

42 – Practical Legal and Accounting Concepts

  TH 12-1:15 (10 weeks)
  Prof. Bill Bailey, Business Department

This seminar is open to all students interested in understanding key practical legal and accounting concepts including (1) the United States legal structure, (2) capital markets (e.g., stocks and bonds), (3) personal finance, and (3) the impact of taxation on individuals and businesses—including individual tax issues, the entrepreneur’s choice of business entity, and estate planning issues. Students of all majors are encouraged to participate and no prerequisites are required.

43 — Mozart: Portrait of Genius

  T 3-4:15 (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 wri en during that time. Peter Gay’s Mozart will serve as our text, and we will watch Miloš Forman’s Amadeus as well. Students of all majors are encouraged to participate; no prior musical training is necessary.

44 – Why are we here?

  M 3-3:50
  Prof. Seth Katz, English Department

This course is offered to incoming freshmen only.

Through reading, writing, and conversation, we will approach different answers to this question, and a number of others, including but not limited to

  • “Why have you come to college?”
  • “What should be the relationship of college to career?”
  • “What does it mean to learn?”
  • “What happens when we die?"
  • “How do we know what’s true?"
  • “What do non-scientists need to understand about science?”
  • “Why do the arts matter?” 
  • “What is happiness?”

Assigned readings will include classic and contemporary texts, all available online.

45 – The Psychology of Social Media

  W 10-10:50
  Prof. Heidi Rottier, Marketing Department

Why do we use social media? What about social media keeps us coming back again and again?Around the globe, nearly half the world’s population turns to social media for information, social interaction, shopping advice, and so much more. Although you may use social media every day (2+ hours/day!), you may not be aware of the psychology behind it. This seminar will explore the reasons why social media keeps us coming back for more. We will also discuss the impact social media has on our mental health, relationships, and perception of the world around us.

46 – World Film Since 2010

  T 7-10pm
  Prof. John Williams, History Department

Some of the most provocative filmmaking of the early twenty-first century has addressed the declining faith in the established order, fears of the future, and intensifying desires to find ways of navigating the precarious new millennium. This seminar focuses on recent films that grapple with the instabilities of the 21st century in artistically innovative and politically provocative ways. Students need to enter with an open mind, an awareness of the expansive possibilities of cinematic art, and a willingness to read about, watch, and discuss the movies. Please be aware that several of the films contain provocative ideological, emotional, sexual, and/or violent content. Possible films may include Moonlight, Nomadland, Parasite, Palm Springs, Black Mirror: Nosedive, A Separation, Get Out, Weekend, The Great Beauty, Leave No Trace, The Babadook, Timbuktu, Never Rarely Sometimes Always, Sorry to Bother You, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, and Two Days, One Night.

47 – Japanese Pop Culture

  W 2-3:15 (10 weeks)

  Prof. Rustin Gates, History Department

This course examines Japanese popular culture in an effort to understand contemporary Japanese society, economy, and culture. Topics include manga (comic books), JPop (music), anime (Japanese animated films) and feature films, and the impact of the globalization of Japanese culture at home in Japan and abroad. Extensive consumption of various media will occur both inside and outside of the class meetings. Students will write short response papers and produce a final presentation.

48 – Jose Saramago's Blindness

  T 3-3:50

  Prof. Kevin Swafford, English Department

In the “Presentation Speech” for the 1998 Nobel Prize in Literature (awarded to Portuguese author, José Saramago), Professor Kjell Espmark states that “there is one type of writer who, like a bird of prey, circles time and again over the same territory. Book succeeds book, in progress towards a coherent picture of the world. José Saramago belongs to the opposite category, writers who repeatedly seem to want to invent both a world and a style that is new.” The a empt to arrive at something new that opens perspective and expands the horizons of knowing and thinking are at core of Saramago’s writing. In this seminar we will read and analyze Saramago’s award winning book, Blindness (1995) -- a novel of existential crisis, global pandemic, social chaos, hope and possibilities. For the course you will be expected to read Saramago’s novel, keep and post a reader response journal (400 words a week), actively participate in all class activities and discussions, and write a final critical essay (6 to 8 pages).

49 – Choosing Leadership

  T 12:00-1:15 (10 weeks) Online synchronous

  Prof. Valerie Pape, Management and Leadership Department

Leadership is a choice. You make the choice to lead on any given day. How do you make that choice? Choosing to lead requires that you ask some tough questions of yourself and use your life experience as data. That data can help you develop leadership skills now and establish habits that will support lifelong learning. The seminar will use Dr. Linda Ginzel’s book Choosing Leadership to guide you through writing your own earliest leadership story; defining leadership; understanding your “gist”; learning from the experience of others; learning from your own experience; being wiser, younger; and developing leadership skills every day. Rather than viewing leadership as a set of traits or a being in a formal position, we’ll discuss a number of ways that you can build your own path to effective leadership. We will learn through various methods including: reading, self-reflection, sharing stories, writing and virtual discussion.