HNR 1204: [Social Science Inquiry] Learning to be a Mind Reader
Dr. S. Lipowski, Associate Professor of Psychology
The main topic of this course is theory of mind, which is the ability to attribute mental states (e.g., beliefs, desires) to oneself and to others. It also involves understanding that others act based on their beliefs, wishes, and goals, which may be different from ours. Students will learn how theory of mind develops throughout childhood, how it is measured, and how understanding varies by culture. Students will also learn how theory of mind is related to a variety of other topics, including autism, empathy, altruism, and religious beliefs.
HNR 1207: [Social Science Inquiry] Health and Wealth of Nations
Dr. P. Summers, Assistant Professor of Political Science
This course will focus on the evolution of standards of living and rates of economic growth in the long run (decades, generations, or centuries). Why are some nations (such as the U.S., Germany, and Australia) so wealthy and others (like Somalia and Haiti) so poor? Some nations that were among the poorest in the world fifty years ago (like South Korea and Malaysia) are now some of the wealthiest. What did they do to make that happen, and can their experience be replicated elsewhere? Why do wealthier countries also tend to be healthier? Students will approach these and similar questions using economic growth theory as an organizing framework. Related perspectives from other social science fields such as political science, sociology and anthropology will also be incorporated. Students will also analyze the evidence for these theories using appropriate analytical tools such as data visualization and basic statistics.
HNR-1206 [Social Science Inquiry] Social Collapse & Human Resilience
Dr. S. Rosenfeld, Assistant Professor of Anthropology
Can Societies collapse? How do human beings adapt to a changing climate and how can societies determine their own futures are issues of tremendous importance. As we consider these issues in present times it is useful to look to the past to see if there is evidence of societies that have succeeded or collapsed in the face of a changing world.We will analyze historical, archaeological, and environmental data to contextualize these case studies. These issues are discussed from a deep historical as well as a present perspective in order to come to some conclusions about where we think human societies are headed.
HNR-1209 [Social Science Inquiry] Human Migration *New!*
Dr. J. Graeber, Assistant Professor of Political Science
Students develop strategies for observing and analyzing individual and collective human behavior. In light of comparative discussions regarding the intellectual traditions that define the social sciences, students identify real-world problems related to human thought and behavior and employ social scientific methods to evaluate research, generate options, and propose solutions. Readings and assignments prompt students to analyze cultural perspectives and to develop self-awareness about their own sociocultural conditions. Students complete one semester-long project.
HNR-1210 [Social Science Inquiry] Learning Around the World *New!*
Dr. A. Leak, Assistant Professor of Education
The main topic for this course is learning around the world. How do we learn? Why do we go to school? What does school look like in different countries? Who has access to education? Who decides what is important to learn? Students will explore learning through the lens of developmental psychology, sociology, anthropology, education, and political science to examine fundamental questions about themselves and their own learning, compare education systems in different countries, and propose solutions to complex education-related problems in our world. This course will also introduce students to the methods social scientists use to collect, analyze, and critically evaluate data. Students will gain hands-on experience and develop academic writing skills by participating in a semester-long book project focusing on learning in a selected country or marginalized community.
HNR 1301: [Quantitative Reasoning] Graph Theory & the Science of Networks
Dr. J. Fuselier, Associate Professor of Mathematics
This course is a project-based introduction to the field of network science. Network science allows students to craft solutions to real-world problems arising in a variety of fields using the mathematical language of graph theory. Graph theory is the study of graphs formed by collections of vertices (or points) and edges between them. Graphs can be used to represent data in many realms, including biology, political science, travel, and social connections between people groups. In conjunction with an introduction to graph theory, students will learn methods for collecting network data, representing it in graphs and matrices, and analyzing network models.
HNR-1305 [Quantitative Reasoning] Mathbusters
Dr. R. Harger, Associate Professor of Mathematics
Innumeracy is to quantitative skills what illiteracy is to literacy. While illiteracy is not acceptable in most circles, many people will revel in their lack of quantitative skills. “I’m just not good with numbers” is seemingly acceptable in contemporary culture, even a badge of honor, but never “I can’t read.” Early In the course we will cover the necessary mathematics, probability, and statistics where innumeracy most commonly reveals itself. For example, we’ll analyze pseudosciences such as astrology, numerology, and parapsychology, probability vs. coincidence, and fraudulent business and medical schemes. We will transition to applications of that knowledge to contemporary popular culture, discovering how basic number sense is a key element in understanding our daily diet of information. From the Senate, to SAT’s, crime, celebrities and cults, we will consider stories that may not seem to involve mathematics, but demonstrate how a lack of mathematical knowledge can seriously hinder our understanding. Finally, in the last few weeks, teams of students will work toward presenting a case study of their own where innumeracy meets popular culture, with serious consequences for public understanding.
HNR-2402 [Scientific Reasoning] Uniquely Developing You
Dr. N. Coffield, Assistant Professor of Biology
Scientific Reasoning. Uniquely Developing You. This section will use Biological Concepts to explore characteristics that initiate within the womb and that ultimately define us as unique adult human beings. The biological fields of genetics, cell/molecular biology, and embryology will provide the backbone to understanding physical development. The impacts of these developmental cues on our daily adult lives will also be explored with ideas from the disciplines of psychology, sociology, anthropology, history, ethics, and global inquiry. This course will be divided into six main modules, and each will explore a distinct timeframe during the first 4 months of development: 1) Gross/Physical human development, 2) Intelligence, 3) Gender Identity, 4) Skin Color, 5) Face Shape, and 6) Handedness.
HNR 2401/L: [Scientific Reasoning] Story of Color and Light
Drs. K. Fogarty and J. Paul
What does it mean to see? In this class, we’ll use that question to probe the interplay between scientific reasoning, its discoveries, and the cultural context in which those discoveries are made. We’ll begin by exploring how the Classical world, despite a biology consistent with our own, couldn’t perceive blue, had no word for the color…until they developed the means to commercially dye fabric blue. From there, we’ll move to what it meant for the early Renaissance world to contend with the notion that we weren’t, after all, the center of our solar system, let alone the universe. We’ll return from the heavens to grapple with what it meant, upon the discovery of photographic emulsions and the invention of the photograph, for noncombatants to see the travails of modern battlefields. And, finally, we’ll end back in the sky, where our capacity to see blue (and red, too) have allowed us to begin to measure the size, speed, duration of the universe itself.
HNR-2508 [Aesthetic Inquiry] Realism: Aesthetics & Politics
Dr. V. Leclercq, Assistant Professor of English
An especially dynamic period for art and politics, the nineteenth century in Britain and France saw the rise of the middle class, the explosion of the periodical press, and the reign of a new paradigm for apprehending and understanding human experience: Realism. Through examinations of novels, short stories, paintings, photography, and music in nineteenth-century Britain and France, we will explore how Realism revolutionized aesthetics and the political implications of these new forms of representation. Our discussion will ask many of the questions that artists and the public at large were debating: what and who is worthy of representation (both aesthetic and political)? How best can one capture experience? What is the real and is it art?
HNR 2510: [Aesthetic Inquiry] Autobiographics
Professor M. Richard, Instructor in English
This course considers what feminist scholar Leigh Gilmore terms “autobiographics,” life narratives that highlight the construction of the self as a complex act, particularly for individuals belonging to historically / culturally marginalized groups. In other words, the texts we encounter purposely call attention to self-representation as a performance that troubles easy distinctions between “truth” and “fiction.” Along the way we also have to consider questions about the nature of autobiography as a generic category, how (and, more importantly, who) shaped and institutionalized the qualities of texts defined as autobiographical. We reflect on issues such as the working of memory and the tension between invention and disclosure, and we examine texts that blur and taunt generic boundaries. These texts include Oscar Wilde’s prison writings, particularly De Profundis; Nora Krug’s recent graphic novel of reckoning with Nazi connections in her family’s past, Belonging; Kiese Laymon’s powerful memoir Heavy, which contends with race, education, addiction, and abuse (written as a letter to his mother); and Maggie Nelson’s hybrid (auto)biography of her aunt’s murder, Jane. We’ll also look at autobiographics in photographs, art, and film by artists like Robert Mapplethorpe, Frieda Kahlo, and Natalia Almada. We’ll consider how music, especially popular music, performs a generational and cultural sense of self. Course assignments and projects include weekly class blogs and open group-led discussions centered on the texts and theories of interest to students, a presentation on music that has defined students / their generation, and a multi-modal autoethnography where students create and / or gather a set of artifacts and genres that tell a story from their family or community histories.
HNR-2509 [Aesthetic Inquiry] Country Music
Dr. J. Turner, Associate Professor of Music
Students confront questions about the nature, value, and purpose of Country music, with a consideration of its context, history, production, and aesthetics. Structured interactions with works of art and critical theory, as well as hands-on experiences in studios, hone students’ abilities to see from multiple perspectives, employ artistic reasoning, appreciate ambiguity, and craft interpretations. Over the course of the four units, students will create an original Country single (A and B sides) collaboratively.
HNR 3602: [Scholar Seminar] (Neuro)Science Fiction
Ms. A. Walker, Instructor in English
Have you ever wondered why the science fiction narrative remains so pervasive in our culture? Despite our technological advances, we never seem to tire of fantasies that speculate wildly beyond our own reality. We devour science fiction in literature, film, video games, and pseudoscience, our hearts pound when we watch a scary sci-fi movie, and we delight in the telling of a good speculative yarn, even as it unravels under our scientific scrutiny. Neuroscientists tell us that our brains light up with “mirror neuron” pathways when we read, see, or hear of another person’s narrative peril. Some of our earliest memories revolve around make believe, and while we may not view ourselves as “creative” individuals, millions of us create and consume elaborate fantasy and science fiction narratives our entire lives. So how might science fiction stories help us survive? How might an examination of the theories of popular cognitive psychology and popular neuroscience enhance our understanding of the science fiction literary genre? By exploring our shared evolutionary history and the multilayered complexity of that “big brain” that makes our species unique and enables us to tell such entertaining and prescient stories, students will develop intellectual STEAM, solidifying our place as the storytelling species and proving why, indeed, we can’t live without science fiction.
HNR-3604 [Scholar Seminar] Spanish Civil War: Words & Images
Dr. A. Winkle, Assistant Professor of Spanish
This Honors Seminar introduces students to literature and the arts produced by participants and observers of the war in Spain. In conjunction with a historical and geographical appreciation of the conflict, students will study primary sources originally in English and in Spanish-to-English translation. Films, poems, photographs, novels, paintings, memoirs, and propaganda posters will lead students to question how a conflict is remembered through the various narratives that are told about it.
HNR 3608: [Scholar Seminar] Death
Dr. T. Kemerly, Associate Professor of Exercise Science
Death is a topic that is universal, but that invokes fear, dread, and mourning. As such, it is often avoided. In this course, we will look at death as clearly and objectively as possible. We will first address the scientific question: What is death? Then we will go on to explore death in its cultural contexts, examining the portrayal of death in art, literature, and music and ultimately identifying how these factors influence our own understanding of death and, in turn, life.
HNR-3616 [Scholar Seminar] Performing Cultures
Dr. N. Hedman, Director of the Honors Program
Humans rarely just act in the world, they typically perform those actions for others. Many of these performances become highly codified cultural traditions documenting the commitments of a people. We will examine several non-Western theatrical traditions so as to sharpen our intercultural competence with the unfamiliar and better understand our own performance traditions.
HNR-3611 [Scholar Seminar] The Art of Melancholy *New!*
Dr. L. Alexander, Associate Professor of English
This honors section investigates classical, early modern, and modern perspectives on melancholy by artists, philosophers, doctors, literary figures, and psychologists in conversation across time. We’ll research the art of melancholy across centuries and continents as writers, religious figures, artists, and doctors respond, refute, adjust, and engage the philosophical, medical, literary, theological, and cultural study of melancholy. We’ll discuss questions about the ambiguous relationship between the earliest artistic and medicinal conceptions and practices of melancholy and modern understandings and depictions of the psyche. As an honors scholar seminar, our process will largely be student-led. Together, we’ll read literary, philosophical, and historical contexts for understanding ancient melancholy and particularly ethical implications of gendered models of melancholy drawn from the earliest medical understandings of the ‘condition’ of melancholy that still persist today. Students will take the lead in formulating meaningful questions for class discussion based on their research and writing. Four credits.
HNR-3612 [Scholar Seminar] Graphic Memories *New!*
Dr. Denis Depinoy, Assistant Professor of Language
This course introduces students to some of these reflections. After an introduction to the specificities of graphic narratives, students will become familiar with the tools necessary to the analysis of bandes dessinées, taken from a variety of fields ranging from literary analysis to semiotics. Students will then use these tools to read, analyze and interpret key primary texts, supplemented with a selection of critical essays. More specifically, students will examine and compare two major approaches to the conceptualization of graphic memory: the construction of a shared collective memory in historical and biographical works and the development of individual and personal memories in autobiographical works.
HNR-3617 [Scholar Seminar] Marriage Divorce & Singlehood *New!*
Dr. A. Allen, Assistant Professor of History
This course will explore the complex developments with marriage and divorce in Medieval and Early Modern Europe, as this provides a foundational geographic and chronological framework for the modern Western tradition. The course will highlight primary documents ca 1200-1650AD, including, but not limited to letters, diaries, literature/poetry, religious writings, and legal documents. In analyzing these sources, this course will emphasize there was no singular standard perception on marriage, divorce, and singlehood in this timeframe. Rather, perceptions varied based on changing social structure, economic connections, religious affiliation, and gender constructs/roles across the timeframe, many of which still have grounding in modern viewpoints on these topics.
HNR-3800 Qualifying Signature Project
Various Honors Faculty
This course is the second part of a year-long cooperative project. Student teams, with guidance from a faculty mentor, will work independently to complete the research projects they proposed in the Methods, Proposals and Planning course (HNR 3700), keeping in mind the cultural, socio-economic, political, and ethical assumptions and implications. Once the research projects are complete, students will develop a research report, give a public poster presentation, and create an artifact (to be made available to the public) that appropriately represents their projects (i.e., a website, commercial, public service announcement, app, physical device). Prerequisite: HNR 3700. Two credits.
HNR 4900: Life, Work, and the Liberal Arts
Various Honors Faculty
The liberal arts were conceived as the education necessary for a free people, those who would be practiced in thinking through the kind of difficult questions that enrich our lives and sustain democratic institutions. In this capstone experience, you will explore how your liberal arts education has prepared you for life and work. Students will curate and design an ePortfolio to present a holistic and professional web presence, and a self that demonstrates–however particularly–the values of a liberally educated person. Two credits.