Current & Upcoming Honors Courses

Fall 2019

COR 110: The Global Experience. Steve Braye. Core

Green Day’s words, “Don’t want to be an American Idiot,” reflected contemporary America in important ways.  Yet how do we avoid this fate, being an American Idiot?  In this interdisciplinary seminar, we will think beyond the media, for ourselves, examining and re-examining our beliefs and assumptions in significant ways.  We will use our time together to get outside the lines, to question our views of the world in new and challenging ways.  What are your views on contemporary slavery?  Are we implicated in the death of Sudanese in the Sudan?  What do we think about such global issues, and, more importantly, how do we decide what to think about these issues? So often, we concentrate on what we know, the accumulation of material, rather than the perspectives we bring to this material.  No matter how old we are, we tend to see things the same over and over, forgetting to recognize how different people, or just different perspectives, can lead us to enact different realities.  This course will challenge us to achieve something better.  We can gain new perspectives that enable us to change both the world around us and ourselves.  We can examine new ways of thinking and see what these ways can offer us.  Finally, we can decide what we want to accomplish in our world and use these ways of seeing to help us develop innovative ways of acting in the world.

Sophomore Seminar – Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Parenthood. Dr. Cindy Fair. Society

This course examines the topic of childbirth from biomedical, psychosocial, cultural, and historical perspectives. We will explore assumptions about pregnancy, childbirth, and parenthood by critically analyzing factors that influence the social construction of birth and, in turn, how these dynamics affect maternal and infant health. In particular, students will evaluate the factors that contribute to the high rates of maternal and infant mortality in the US compared to other high-resource countries and propose evidence-based strategies to ameliorate a childbirth-related problem.

Sophomore Seminar – Profiling Political Leaders. Dr. Baris Kesgin. Society

This course builds upon leadership studies in political science and psychology, exploring the psychological dimensions of political leaders’ decision-making in milestone events in the Middle East. First, it surveys historical and contemporary approaches to studying political leaders, and places an emphasis on the relationship between leaders’ personalities, leadership styles, beliefs, psychological disorders on the one hand and decision making (in particular, in foreign policy) on the other. Students will analyze case studies of political leaders from around the region, including Egyptian and Iranian presidents, Israeli and Turkish prime ministers.

Sophomore Seminar – Growing Up Outside: Risky Play and Rewarding Lessons. Drs. Caroline Ketcham and Eric Hall. Non-lab Science or Society

This course will explore how the psychosocial, cognitive, and motor development of children is influenced by varying interactions with the natural world. Student will critically analyze ecological and sociocultural theoretical frameworks to facilitate their understanding of how children’s interactions in complex environmental ecologies can influence development and learning. We will use evidence from recent theory and research to evaluate claims about why spending time in nature matters for child development across multiple domains and holistic well-being. In addition, we will consider how barriers to access (e.g., disability or economic resources) can impact childhood experiences. Specific topics include: forest schools; gender and play in outdoor environments; risky play; children’s environmental stewardship; children’s acceptance and inclusion of differences.


Winter 2020

HNR 140 – Inquiry in Italy. Drs. Mike Carignan and Lynn Huber. Civilization

For millennia the country we now call “Italy” has functioned as a sort of crossroads. This is the result of a number of factors, including its geographic location, the power wielded by the cities scattered across its land, and the grasp it has on historical imagination. Because Italy is a site of confluence and crossing, it serves as an ideal classroom for exploring how cultural categories and identities, political, cultural, and religious, are constructed and how they change over time. Among other questions, we will explore how the categories of “east” and “west” are drawn and employed, how communities use “others” to shape their own identities, and how the past and present are related. We will think together about how “Italian” identities (i.e. Sicilian, Roman, Venetian, etc.) are formed in relation to identities from around the Mediterranean. Drawing on our expertise in history and religious studies, the faculty will think with students about how these phenomena are made visible in cities, monuments, cuisines, and traditions. The course is deliberately pitched in the middle of a first-year Honors curriculum in which students have completed Global Studies equipped with conceptual tools for thinking about the world, and before they enter a discipline-based Spring-semester course.  The faculty will model professional curiosity and academic inquiry as we explore the rich historical and religious landscapes of Italy and the ways in which historical and contemporary residents express identities in a complex and often conflicted environment. First Year Honors Fellows Only.


Spring 2020

First Year Seminar – Politics of Erasing History. Dr. Laura Roselle. Society

Political actors through the ages have attempted to erase people, groups, and events for political purposes. Whether we look back to damnatio memoriae in Rome when the senate erased the name of a targeted person from records and ordered their face chiseled from sculpture, or we study Soviet erasure of specific people from photographs, or we look to how politicians attempt to erase events from textbooks or records, our work in this course will help us identify how, when, and why political actors use erasure. In addition, we will focus attention on what role technology plays in these processes, taking us from the chiseling of stone to the 1’s and 0’s of the internet. Finally, embedded in the course will be the voices of those who attempt to resist erasure. This class will ask you to think about how power, communication, and memory are intertwined, and what that means for your understanding of politics and history.

First Year Seminar – Forging Culture: Books, Politics, and Children. Dr. Megan Isaac. Expression

This course will examine children’s and young adult literature as a pivot point for cultural, political, and historical identity in the United States. Children and the issues related to them are often the focus of cultural conflicts in the U.S. Members of the class will explore these overt and covert conflicts as they appear in children’s literature. We will investigate how books for children and young readers help shape the values that provide us with a cultural identity and a sense of community. Simultaneously, we will examine the complicated or contentious ideas embedded in books for children and young adults. Beginning with authors from the late 19th century and working our way forward, we will explore ideas of intellectual freedom and censorship, nostalgia and innovation, didacticism and entertainment, and the constant tension between conservative and subversive trends in books for young readers. Our study will center on books (both textual and visual elements) but include a consideration of production, distribution, and merchandizing methods as well. Ultimately, we will work to understand the ways ideas about childhood, story, books, and U.S. cultural identity are produced and contested.

Sophomore Seminar – The Culture of Food. Drs. Kevin Bourque and Nina Namaste. Expression (Literature) and Civilization

At first glance, the meaning of “food” seems self-apparent. “Food” is a monosyllable, something we’re familiar with from birth; even a baby knows what food is. Look more carefully, however, and the definition becomes more complex: what is the dividing line between a food and a medicine? Are genetically modified or highly-processed substances – say, “imitation cheese product” or Go-Gurt – still foods? How might one culture’s food be another’s taboo? This course spans human expression – including literature, the visual arts, the history of science and the history of ideas – to explore and evaluate the meaning of food. In turn, students will examine and articulate their own relationships with food, through both individual research projects and in-class tastings and activities. How might thoughtful engagement with food – and learning to taste critically – make us better eaters, thinkers and global citizens?

Sophomore Seminar – The Press and Politics: The Cold War. Drs. Harlen Makemson and Laura Roselle. Society

Fears of Communism and the nuclear bomb, questions about America’s role as the free world’s lone superpower, and concerns about changing social mores were shaped and filtered during the Cold War by an increasingly omnipresent mass media. The advent of television brought about unprecedented opportunities to inform an increasingly uneasy public, but also proved to be an effective vehicle for manipulation by savvy politicians and media consultants through news events and campaign advertising. At the same time, new media voices appeared in the alternative press that emboldened citizens to question the status quo. This course will explore the interrelationship among the press, the political system, and public opinion during the Cold War era and seek to understand how each influenced the others.

Sophomore Seminar – The Reincarnation of Yoga in America. Dr. Julie Lellis. Society

Now a multi-billion dollar industry in the U.S., the spiritual and physical practice of yoga was first recognized and celebrated in India more than 5,000 years ago. Students will critically examine how communication and media influence the public perception of yoga, encourage trends in the practice and meet the demands of popular consumer culture. Theoretical foundations of marketing, public relations and advertising will be introduced to support students in producing individual research projects. Students will simultaneously engage in significant study of the ancient traditions of yoga and the texts that contextualized the discipline and apply them to their modern-day lives. Students will participate in a physical yoga practice and/or reflection period each week.

Sophomore Seminar – Adapting to the Anthropocene. Dr. Amanda Chunco. Non-lab Science

Humans have radically altered nearly every aspect of life on Earth. From the composition of the atmosphere, to the extinction of thousands of species, it is impossible to escape the consequences of human society. Although we typically think of these environmental issues as modern phenomenon, people have altered the environment around them in ways that are vastly different from other species for 50,000 years. Today, many geologists consider the impact of humanity so great as to warrant the naming of a new geological Age – The Anthropocene. In this class, we will begin by looking at the profound ways that humans have impacted the Earth, drawing from geology, atmospheric science, biology, chemistry, and oceanography. We also consider the socio-economic aspects of human society that contribute to these widespread global changes. Although this may seem bleak, there are simultaneously some incredible adaptations that people are making to living and thriving in this new, modern world. In the second half of the semester, we will focus on the current adaptations that individuals and communities are making to adjust to our current environment and explore future visions in sustainability that may shape the future of humanity in the Anthropocene.