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Spring 2015 Honors Courses

Honors Seminar Courses

HONR 1300 Media and Democracy (BAI)
Section 001, CRN 13656, 3 credits
Dr. Cathy Bullock, Tuesday/Thursday, 3:00-4:15, FAV 264

Access to political news and other information—commonly provided by mass media—has long been considered vital for a self-governing populace. This course will grapple with how our conceptions of mass communication and mass media have evolved over time to include new technologies (from newspapers to social media) and new approaches (from the muckraking of the early 1900s to the participatory journalism of today). We will focus on the American historical, political, and economic experience, acknowledging that it has been shaped and continues to be shaped by events and factors outside our country. This idea of outside forces making a difference, from the European political and economic influence of the colonial period through the globalization of today, will be an important part of our class conversations. Our approach will be collaborative, emphasizing discussion and small-group assignments involving research, writing, and class presentation components. Assignment topics will include the recurring idea of partisanship; the ties among government, economic institutions, and big media; and the use of new media by professional journalists or citizens acting as political or economic watchdogs.

HONR 1330 Honors Creative Arts (BCA)
Section 001, CRN 11898, 3 credits
Dr. Laura Gelfand, Wednesdays, 3:00-6:00 pm, LLCA 110

This class offers students a dynamic introduction to a wide variety of the creative arts including the visual and performing arts. Students will subscribe to the New Yorker magazine for the duration of the course, and selected articles from the magazine’s arts and culture sections will form the basis of our weekly discussions. Nationally and internationally known visiting artists will speak to the class from time to time and several class meetings will be held in the Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art and other galleries on and off campus. Students will learn to think critically about the creative arts and to communicate clearly their ideas about art and artists they encounter.

HONR 1340 Lowering Alzheimer’s Disease Risk Throughout American Society (BSS)
Section 001, CRN TBA, 3 credits
Dr. Maria Norton, Tuesday/Thursday, 12:00-1:15, ENGR 202

Alzheimer’s disease is a major public health crisis, which will certainly worsen with the aging of the Baby Boomers. With no cure available, how can we achieve a major shift in social and political attitudes, policies, and practices – since only such a shift will lead to the widespread lifestyle changes that can lower Alzheimer’s disease risk and thus reduce the impact of the coming “tsunami” of new AD cases?  This course will look at how social scientists approach this question, whether they are working on social and behavioral research, human services program development and delivery, public and private sector policy making, or economics. Students will learn tools for brainstorming solutions to this “Big Question” in contemporary American society.

HONR 1350 Science and Society: Bridging the Gap (BLS)
Section 001, CRN 14706, 3 credits
Dr. Abby Benninghoff, Monday/Wednesday/Friday, 8:30-9:20 am, LLCA 110

Students in this course will engage with two “Big Questions” about science and society: What are scientists’ responsibilities to society? and What is society’s role for engaging in the scientific endeavor? By participating in lectures and class discussions and preparing their own critiques of selected readings, students will learn to analyze the process of scientific inquiry, to evaluate the social importance of scientific discovery, and to identify the essential responsibilities of scientists to their peers and to society more generally.   As they learn to think critically about the role of science in society, students will also learn basic techniques of scientific communication, which they will have the chance to showcase in their final course project.

HONR 1350 Why Bad Things Happen to Good Animals (BLS)
Section 002, CRN 14707, 3 credits
Dr. Robert Schmidt, Tuesday/Thursday, 1:30-2:45 pm, LLCA 110

This course will use science-based case histories to explore how human beings relate to non-human vertebrates — as food, research subjects, companions, sources of recreation, pests, and essential components of biodiversity. Ethical considerations obviously will run rampant through these explorations, but a big part of the course will focus on how science can provide guidance in developing our laws, regulations, and policies regarding vertebrates and vertebrate use. Students will learn to think critically about these human/non-human relationships and to communicate clearly their ideas about this complicated scientific and social subject.

HONR 1360 Complexity and the Arts (BPS)
Section 001, CRN 14708, 3 credits
Dr. David Peak, Tuesday/Thursday 10:30-11:45 am, LLCA 102

This course explores the interplay between physical and biological systems and the realm of the arts. As with any human endeavor, art emerges from a social milieu that includes the creator’s and the observer’s education, belief system, cultural immersion, political perspective, and so on. What a work of art “means” to the artist and what it “means” to the observer clearly depend to a considerable extent on social factors. But aesthetic response is also very much a biophysical phenomenon—shaped by how sense organs detect energy and by how information is processed in the central nervous system and the brain. The biophysical mechanisms associated with aesthetic response result from eons of evolution occurring on an ordinary planet orbiting an ordinary star in an otherwise vast, cold, dark universe. This course will show students that a full appreciation of the role of art and music in human culture requires at least some recognition of the irreducible influence of the physical universe on the realm of aesthetics. In Complexity and the Arts we will explore the physics and physiology of sound and light. We will consider the relationship between observation and reality. And we will look at how the tools of complexity science can be applied to making new art(s) and, perhaps, to how they can help us understand why we “dig rock and roll music.”

HONR 3010 Plants and Humans in a Hungrier and Hotter World (DSC)
Section 001, CRN 14709, 3 credits
Dr. Richard Mueller, Tuesday/ Thursday, 9:00-10:15 am, LLCA 110

Modern science stands along with the arts and humanities as the greatest achievements of the human mind. This course will examine the methods and achievements of science by considering the unique biology of plants and human use of and dependence upon plants for food and nutrition. A broad goal of the course will be to improve and reinforce student’s knowledge of basic scientific facts and methods that are necessary for all citizens to make informed decisions on current issues.

The class will be organized around four major themes: 1) the methods, value and limits of science, 2) the unique biology of plants that makes them so successful and useful to humans, 3) the uses of plants, with an emphasis on the origins, history, and future of agriculture, including the current debate over GMOs (genetically modified organisms) as crop plants, and 4) the role of plants in past, current, and future environments, including discussion of how climate change may affect our ability to feed an ever-growing human population. Class sessions will be dynamic and interactive; assignments will include short topical homework assignments, a major in-class oral presentation, and essay exam questions. Students will learn basic biological concepts and terminology that allow them to engage with specific historical and current topics in an informed and intelligent way.

HONR 3900 Professionalizing, Applying, and Interviewing 
Section 001, CRN 14710, 3 credits
Susan Andersen, Wednesday, 4:00-5:15 pm, MAIN 006

In Honors 3900—Professionalizing, Applying, and Interviewing–you will learn about scholarship/fellowship/graduate school opportunities and application processes. You will prepare for opportunities consistent with personal, academic, and professional goals; define your personal ethic; assess your own strengths and weaknesses; and develop a strategy for preparing a compelling application, most notably through work on the personal statement. You will have the opportunity to strengthen interviewing skills and professional presentation through participation in a mocktail party and interview with faculty panels. Perhaps most importantly, you will learn, as Jane Morris notes, “the process of active self-reflection to develop intentional, mindful life plans has a value well beyond that of winning scholarships.”

Honors Labs

BIOL 1620(H) Biology Laboratory
Section 511, CRN 10510, 0 credits
Dr. James Pitts, Wedensday 11:30-2:20 BNR 124

This Honors lab section of Biology 1620 provides opportunities for motivated students to read and discuss current papers, propose studies based on these readings, and enjoy access to at least one lab during the semester. Honors lab creates a rich intellectual environment by pairing a peer group of bright, academically engaged students and the best Biology lab instructors. Labs done by standard laboratory sections serve as the platform for the course with the Honors lab-specific activities enriching the experience.

Honors Writing Courses

ENGL 2010(H), Intermediate Writing for Honors (CL2)*
Section 024, CRN 11433, 3 Credits
John Engler, Tuesday/Thursday, 9:00-10:15 am, FL301
Section 055, CRN 11480, 3 Credits
Russ Beck, Tuesday/Thursday, 1:30-2:45 pm, ENGR 104

This class teaches students to develop their own writing style and voice, to integrate that voice with what others (often authorities) have to say about the subject, and to become stronger readers, writers, and thinkers. The course focuses on library and internet research, appropriate documentation of research, and persuasive writing. Students will evaluate sources, collaborate with classmates, and participate in peer review of each other’s writing. Writing assignments will be emerge from a syllabus of topical and provocative readings, and students will participate actively in class discussions, think carefully about the reading and writing assignments, and write several papers related to their own research interests.

*Prerequisite: Completion of ENGL 1010 or AP score of 3 or ACT score of 29.

Honors Math Course

MATH 2210(H) Multivariable Calculus (QI)
Section 004, CRN 10231, 3 credits
Dr. Lawrence Cannon, Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday/Friday, 10:30-11:20 am, MAIN 006 & ENGR 104

Vector calculus, multiple integration, partial derivatives, line and surface integrals. The theorems of Green, Gauss, and Stokes.

Prerequisite/Restriction: C- or better in MATH 1220 or AP Calculus score of 5 on BC exam.

Honors Economics Course

ECN 2010(H) Introduction to Microeconomics
Section 004, CRN 15278, 3 credits
Dr. Christopher Fawson, Monday/Wednesday/Friday, 7:30-8:20 am, BUS 116

This course is designed to foster a broad-based understanding of the microeconomic principles that undergird purposeful human action. As an honors section, the course is structured to encourage discussion, discovery, critical thinking, and effective communication. Each student should come to appreciate the unique insight that comes from exploring the world of human interaction through an economist’s lens. Our path of discovery will challenge us to examine how value creation processes are frustrated by both intentional design and the unintended consequence of misinformed policy interventions. Finally, we explore the important role of innovation as a sustaining catalyst to the value creation processes embedded in organizational and market structures.