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Spring 2020 Honors Courses


Honors Experience Seminars

HONR 1320: The Age of Revolution in the Atlantic World (BHU)
Section 002, CRN 14832, 3 credits
Dr. James Sanders (TR 1:30-2:45 in LLC A 110)

What does democracy mean to you? What rights do you have? In this course, we will explore the international origins and contested meanings of the democracy in which we live. Working together, we will try to answer these big questions: Who invented democracy? Why? Is democracy inherently inclusive or exclusive? How did people in the past create and claim citizenship and rights? What is the nature of individual and group identity and democracy? Our course will focus on how Europeans, Americans (North and South), and Africans created notions of citizenship and rights, beginning in 1776 and ending in 1898, covering the American Revolution, the French Revolution, the Haitian Revolution, Latin American Wars for Independence, the industrial revolution, the abolition of slavery, women’s suffrage, and anti-imperialism.

We will explore these questions with an interdisciplinary approach by reading some of the great works of politics and literature (such as the Declaration of Independence, Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, and Frederick Douglass’s autobiography) from the time period, what we call the humanistic method. By reading these classic sources (we will not use a textbook), and by working through problems together in class discussions, the course will develop your critical thinking faculties, as well as your written and oral communication abilities and research skills. Thus, the course hopes to prepare you for both academic success and your role as citizens in our republic and the world. 

HONR 1320: Why Poetry Matters: The Ethics and Aesthetics of Modern World Poetry (BHU)
Section 001, CRN 12907, 3 credits
Dr. David Richter (TR 12:00-1:15 in HH 122)

Students will learn that poetry matters because it shows us how language shapes and defines human experience within our own and other cultures. Whether or not you already appreciate poetry, this course will teach you how to read and appreciate the work of writers from places, cultures, and traditions around the world. We will discuss many “big questions” about the human condition: How do language and identity shape one another? What does it mean to be an insider or outsider in a particular community? How does poetry express a sense of the past, an appreciation for nature, an engagement with politics, or feelings of love or loss? You will consider these issues in the 19th- and 20th-century poetry that we study, but you will also make connections between the poetry and your own personal experiences. Each class session will feature lively discussions of course readings as we learn how to analyze and talk about poetry. You will not only become a skilled reader of poetry, but you will also develop invaluable writing and speaking skills that will help you in any field of study or future vocation. The class is designed to let students put the lessons they learn from the poetry into practice in a variety of unique and non-traditional learning activities, including composing their own creative writing, participating in a community service-learning project, and leaving the classroom to engage meaningfully with nature.

HONR 1330: Creativity and Compassion: Social Engagement in the Arts (BCA)
Section 001, CRN 11257, 3 credits
Professor Dennise Gackstetter (MW 1:30-2:45 in LLC A 110)

In this class, we will explore how inspired and motivated individuals can do incredible and creative things to help transform the lives of others. You will learn about people who have changed the world through a variety of socially engaged art forms and events. As we study their motivations and inspirations, we will discover how these artists harnessed their strengths for the common good. You will also develop your own abilities to envision and propose creative ways of shaping the world. During each class, we will learn a mindful meditation or creative thinking technique that each of us will then practice throughout the week. These techniques will strengthen your ability to encounter and address challenges in life. Each student will have the opportunity to research and present findings on an artist or group of artists. These presentations will be shaped by your own interests, depending on how the artist and research inspires you. You will also work collaboratively with small groups of peers to envision and propose a resolution that creatively addresses an issue of social importance to the group. This resolution may take any form, including an artwork, performance, or event. There are few limits or restrictions on what this proposal could be; your collective inspiration will lead the way! 

HONR 1350: Media Messages in Health and Nutrition (BLS)
Section 001, CRN 12186, 3 credits
Professor Rebecca Charlton (TR 10:30-11:45 in NFS 248A)

Science is used and abused in the media to promote foods and nutrition. Social media posts promise miracle foods, websites promise miracle diets, and science seems to back every claim—or does it? How do you find the right messages among all of the wrong ones? What makes some posts so popular and others so forgettable? In this student-led, flipped classroom, you will get to scour campus and the Internet for nutrition “selling points” and then use deduction and scientific reasoning to determine the truth behind those messages. Students will act as scientists themselves, researching, developing, and testing their own science-based nutrition messages. The course culminates in a class symposium where students present their posters to interested faculty and thought leaders. As you collect and evaluate data, you will not only learn the skills required of all undergraduate science scholars, but also prepare yourselves for the undergraduate research that all Honors students will perform as they move into their majors.

Honors Think Tanks

HONR 3020 and HONR 3030: Health, Society, and Culture: Past and Present (CI, SL, DHA or DSS)
Section 001, CRN 14833/14834, 3 credits
Dr. Seth Archer and Dr. Guadalupe Marquez-Velarde (TR 9:00-10:15 in LLC A 110)

This course will introduce you to the historical and sociological study of health through intensive reading, writing, discussion, research, and civic engagement. We will focus in particular on the socio-historical factors that shape health patterns and create disparities in illness and health care. Our seminar-style approach will engage you in active conversation with peers and professors on topics including epidemiology and public health, race and class, disability, pain, mental health, and health care systems (including the current health-care crisis in the United States). Because this field is broad and expanding, our syllabus is designed to be more suggestive than comprehensive, teaching you to think critically and independently across disciplines about current public health issues, even as it meets USU General Education Breadth and Honors learning outcomes.


Honors Biology Courses

BIOL 1625 (H): Biology I Laboratory
Section ###, CRN #####, 1 credit
Professor Lauren Lucas (DAY TIME LOC)

The BIOL 1615 and 1625 honors lab sections create an intellectual environment by pairing a peer group of academically engaged and curious students with the lab coordinator. Students will conduct most or all of the same projects as standard laboratory sections, but students will occasionally use advanced equipment and perform authentic pilot studies that may be suitable for publication.

BIOL 4750: Teaching Elementary Science I (H)
Section: TBD, CRN: #####, 1 credit
Dr. Jessica Habashi (R 5:15-7:15 p.m. from Feb. 27-April 16)

Science camp is a great way for college students to demonstrate leadership, gain teaching experience, and earn volunteer hours. Be a part of a small cohort of students who will create and run a summer science camp for 4th-6th graders at USU-Brigham City. Enroll in this 7-week course to develop themes and lesson plans and prepare and organize the camp. Then, submit an Honors in Practice contract for your participation in the three-week camp during June and earn 3 Honors points!

Honors Writing Courses

ENGL 2010 (H): Intermediate Writing (CL2)
Section 068, CRN 11942, 3 credits
Instructor John Engler (MWF 10:30-11:20 in FL 115)

Section 069, CRN 10972, 3 credits
Instructor Dustin Crawford  (TR 9:00-10:15 in FL 307)

This course teaches students to develop their own writing styles and voices, to integrate those voices with what others (often authorities) have to say about subjects, and to become stronger readers, writers, and thinkers. The class focuses on library and Internet research, appropriate documentation of such research, and persuasive writing. Students will evaluate sources, collaborate with classmates, and participate in peer-review of each other’s writing. Writing assignments emerge from a syllabus of topical and provocative readings, and students 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 English Composition score of 3 or ACT score of 29.

Honors Math Courses

MATH 2210 (H): Multivariable Calculus (QI)
Section 005, CRN 10156, 3 credits
Dr. Brent Thomas (MTWF 10:30-11:20 in ENGR 205)

This course gives students the opportunity to work together to build an understanding of calculus.  Students will work in teams to present the textbook material over two class periods.  On the first day, teams will introduce new concepts, deciding which examples and exercises might best prepare the rest of the class to complete the required homework.  On the second day, the team answers questions from their classmates and works through any problems with the homework.  After each team has taken a two-day presentation turn, we will create new team assignments, giving everyone a chance to work with everyone else.  This format allows students to think independently and critically about mathematical concepts, using their own interests to create real-world applications for calculus.  Honors calculus students don’t just do textbook assignments; they bring them to life.

Honors Engineering Courses

ENGR 3080 (H): Technical Communication for Engineers (CI)
Section 004, CRN 12417, 3 credits
Prof. Melissa Scheaffer (TR 9:00-10:15 in ENGR 401)

Through an in-depth analysis of the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster, students will develop individual and collaborative writing, presentation, and research skills to be effective writers of technical information. Students will research the technical, communication, and ethical issues that led to the failure, examine actual Challenger-related technical documents and findings, and write technical documents. Guest speakers include a former astronaut who flew in missions before and after Challenger, as well as an engineer on the Challenger disaster recovery team.

Honors P.E.

PE 1700 (H): Introduction to World Dance
Section 002, CRN 15230, 1 credit
Professor Stephanie White (MW 1:30-2:20 in HPER 102)

This class offers a fun and interesting way to reach your daily fitness goals! Together, Honors students will learn basic dance concepts, explore period and social dance through time, and experience global and cultural traditions through the art of dance. There are no pre-requisites: you are human—you move your body—you can dance! Over the course of the semester, you will develop lifestyle habits of stretching and toning and learn dances ranging from European ballroom (minuet, waltz, contradance, quadrille) to Latin social dance (tango, samba conga), from Polynesian Hula and Haka to U. S. Western line dance and musical theatre jazz, from Asian Soran Bushi and Korean pop to Middle Eastern serpentine and circle dances. Just come prepared to dance on any given day, whether you find yourself learning Disco, dancing through the decades, or even playing with current trends (whip and nae-nae or Fortnite dance). Students will research one style of dance, present the style to the class, and help us perform that style. As we practice and play with global dance styles, our goal is to participate in the shared human history of dance.

 Click Here for an Archive of Previous Honors Courses

Honors 1300 Media and Democracy

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 1320 (BHU): Revolution! Reacting to the Atlantic Revolutions - Dr. Julia Gossard

Do you love the American Revolution? Are you interested in the overthrow of the French monarchy? Do you like to immerse yourself in learning? This class will allow students to live through the social, ideological, and political background of the American, French, and Haitian revolutions in three role-play simulations. Each time, you will play a particular revolutionary character as you conduct research, deliver oral arguments, write articles, and investigate the motivations of revolutionaries from the past. Between 1763 and 1815, a hopeful, exciting, and captivating revolutionary spirit swept through the Atlantic world as ideas about rights, representation, and the human condition became popular global topics. These ideals inspired people like Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, Abbé de Sièyes, LaFayette, Olympe de Gouges, and Toussiant L’Ouverture to revolt against their oppressors. American colonists, led by the charismatic George Washington, threw off British rule. The French monarchy crumbled. Black slaves emancipated themselves in the world’s wealthiest colony, Saint Domingue in Haiti. By 1815, the “Old Regime” of Europe, which had long dominated the political, economic, and social topography of the Western world, was a thing of the past, replaced by experiments with representative government emerged. This class will allow you to experience revolution firsthand and to bring this history to life. Join us for what is sure to be a revolutionary experience!

Honors 1330 Breadth Creative Arts - Nancy Hills

description tbd. 

HONR 1330 (BCA): Musical Rhythm in Our Minds and in Our Bodies - Dr. Tim Chenette 

This class will give you opportunities to explore music you love on a deeper level, to learn about music you have never thought about before, and maybe even fundamentally change how you understand learning and knowledge. We’ll explore what musical rhythm is, how our minds represent it, and how it affects our bodies, using examples from all kinds of music from 14th-century courtly love songs to electronic dance music and rap. Most of the course will be spent pursuing big questions that could be answered many different ways. For example, is it counterproductive to write down music from an oral tradition? Is it ok to use Western terminology to understand African music? What is “flow” in rap, and what makes it good or bad? Students will form research teams to investigate these questions, and there will be no single right answer. The last few weeks of the class will be dedicated to your own big questions, which you will answer in both presentations and performances. Throughout the class, our focus will be not on what other people have said, but on what you do and say based on what you learn: after all, you’re here not just to learn facts but to do, to listen, to move, and to contribute your own voice to the important human questions at the heart of this course.

HONR 1340 (BSS): Food Matters - Professor Denise Stewardson

This course will give you a broad overview of the economic, social, political, and environmental issues that shape how our food systems work. We will take a closer look at the complex challenges of feeding the world’s population by using popular “foodie” media and science-based research. We will learn about the environmental impact of food production, the challenges of feeding the world, the ethics of food production, and the representation of these issues in popular movies, documentaries, commercials. You will have the chance to engage in individual and collaborative research on many big questions: Where and how do individuals fit into the global food web? Is there enough food to feed the global population? What impacts is climate change having on food production? Does organic food production provide greater health benefits compared to conventionally grown or genetically modified foods? Is obesity a consequence of lack of education and/or poverty? In addition, you will have the chance to get your hands dirty (literally!) in the USU Permaculture Garden, where we will harvest, plant, and explore the community impacts of a university-based garden (e.g. Soup CSA—Community-Supported Agriculture).

Honors 1350 Why Bad Things Happen to Good Animals

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.

Honors 1360 Complexity and the Arts

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(DSC/QI) and 3020(DHA/CI): Science Communication in an Alt World - Dr. Jen Peeples and Dr. Katie Potter

In 1986, philosopher Harry G. Frankfurt had little idea that his essay’s opening remark—“One of the most salient features of our culture is that there is so much bullshit”—would be so prescient to 2018. Examples of the growing confusion of fact, opinion, and complete fabrication are rampant in public discourse. At the same time, the scientific journals where most research is published are becoming less accessible to the general public due to the high cost of subscriptions and their often jargon-heavy language. Through readings, interviews, experiments, and data analysis, we will examine historical and present-day examples of evidence being accepted or disputed in the face of corporate, political, or theological opposition. This course will give students the tools to think skeptically, to recognize fraudulent or fallacious information, and to generate, understand, and communicate factual information. As a final project, you’ll use these tools to reach diverse audiences in your community, teach scientific literacy, and (hopefully) effect positive change.

HONR 3020 and HONR 3030: Before Bears Ears: Public Lands, Utah, and You (DHA or DSS) - Dr. Kerin Holt and Dr. Judson Finley

We all live in the west—a region uniquely shaped by public lands. In Utah, over 70% of the state is public land, and over the past five years, there has been increasing debate over how best to define, manage, and use our public lands. You may find these debates complicated and combative, involving varied perspectives, experiences, and motives that can be tough to negotiate. This course offers students an opportunity to understand better and to engage more fully in the public land debates through a case study of Dinosaur National Monument. Dinosaur National Monument has a rich history, acting not only as a repository of a vast dinosaur fossil record, but also as home to diverse Native American cultures, subject of various explorations and adventurous river rafting expeditions, source of lucrative oil, gas, and mineral developments, and site for visual art, literature, and storytelling. Less well known is the role Dinosaur National Monument played in shaping the modern environmental movement during the 1950s. This interdisciplinary Think Tank course brings together varied approaches—anthropology, archeology, history, literature, environmental studies, political science, and cultural studies—to explore the ways that the monument has been used, developed, and protected throughout its history. As part of the course, we will take a four-day field trip to Dinosaur National Monument, where we will engage in fieldwork and service activities to apply directly to this national monument the ideas and skills we learn in class. Through a hands-on, multi-disciplinary approach, students will leave the course with a solid grasp of the important issues facing public lands in the west and confidence in their ability to contribute to these debates as we move into the future.

HONR 3020 and HONR 3030: The Politics and Aesthetics of Space (DHA or DSS) - Dr. Marissa Vigneault and Dr. Jessica Lucero 

Questions about space—geographical, political, cultural, and/or social—are central to our contemporary world. How we occupy and think about space shapes how we engage with local, regional, national, and global communities. Space can foster or hamper individual potential across a variety of identities (e.g., gender, sexual, racial, ethnic, ability, and class), and it can also advance or hinder social, economic, and environmental justice causes. In this course, we will explore how contemporary social concerns (from 1960 on) have both catalyzed collective, community-based action and inspired aesthetic visualization and intervention by artists. Students will study how space has been used to marginalize groups of people, and, conversely, how marginalized communities can take back space through collective efforts and political processes. You will learn to assess how artists build communities, create voices, and claim space through visual culture. Together, we will create a responsive learning environment that values diversity and difference and connects students’ own lived experiences to a larger understanding of structural and socio-political conditions that oppress and liberate communities. Students will engage in community-based, interactive projects, such as Inside Out and PhotoVoice, as well as ‘zine making and a capstone “pop-up exhibit,” in order to develop an understanding of the critical connections between the visual arts and community organizing. The aim of the class is to help you understand the role of art and visual culture in community growth and development so that you can engage with, develop, and organize your own community spaces now and in the future.



Honors 3010 DSC Think Tank - Honors 3020 DHA Think Tank - Honors 3030 DSS Think Tank

This is a Depth-Science course in a three-part Honors “Think Tank” offering with the two other courses exploring the theme of agriculture, food, WATER and land through the humanities and social sciences.

By reading the scientific and engineering literature, reviewing case studies as well as carrying out water and energy balance calculations and evaluating development alternatives for feasibility and cost/benefits, students will enhance their understanding of the role that agriculture, food, WATER and land have played in American life, develop an understanding of the impact of individual food and diet decisions on our water/energy/environmental footprint, and the role these decision WILL PLAY in determining our culture’s future SUSTAINABILITY. Students will be involved as teams in the evaluation of the current state of a food system’s sustainability and will recommend ways to move toward long-term sustainability through a required term project.

Additionally, This is a Depth-Humanities course in a three-part Honors “Think Tank” offering with the two other courses exploring the theme of agriculture, food, and land through science and social sciences.

By reading fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and drama as well as viewing film and visual arts, students will enhance their understanding of the role that agriculture, food, and land have played in American life.  Reading selections will cover a wide time span from colonial times to the present. Students will write consistently in response to the readings, and they will also make oral presentations.

Additionally, This is a Depth-Social Science course in a three-part Honors “Think Tank” offering with the two other courses exploring the theme of agriculture, food, and land through science and humanities.

Drawing on research in the sociology of food and agriculture, we will explore the evolution of the US food system, and discuss implications for the well-being of farmers, rural communities, and food consumers.  Throughout the course, we will collaborate with students in the other two ‘think tank’ courses to study the complex dynamics of the Cache Valley food and agricultural system.  The emphasis will be to ground students in the theoretical and empirical debates in the social sciences about trends in food and agriculture, and enable them to approach the study of local food and agricultural systems from a critical but grounded perspective. 

Students will apply knowledge and skills learned in class to critical analysis of various aspects of local food and agricultural systems in Cache County.  These social science contributions will be part of larger team projects coordinated with students in the other two Think Tank honors courses.

Honors Integrated Research Experience for Undergraduates: Invasive Plants

Beginning in Fall 2019, Honors partners with Dr. Steve Young and the Invasive Plant Science Lab to offer a year-long Integrated Research Experience for Undergraduates (HIREU). This experience will allow honors students to earn eight points toward graduation with University Honors, as well as course credit.

The experience includes four parts:

PSC 4900 (H): Introduction to Invasive Plants Research, 1 credit, Fall 2019
PSC 4900 (H): Invasive Plants Research Seminar, 1 credit, Spring 2020
Honors Research Contract: 3 honors points, Spring 2020
PSC 4900: Invasive Plants Research Study Abroad, 4 credits AND 3 honors points, Summer 2020

Apply online for this integrated experience.

Honors Biology Lab

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 with the best Biology lab instructors.  Students will perform all the same experiments as standard laboratory sections, but will enjoy an experience enriched by activities designed specifically for the Honors lab. 

Prerequisite/Restriction: C- or better in MATH 1220 or AP Calculus score of at least 4 on Calculus AB exam 

BIOL 1615 (H): Biology I Laboratory - Professor Lauren Lucas

The BIOL 1615 and 1625 honors lab sections create an intellectual environment by pairing a peer group of academically engaged and curious students with the lab coordinator. Students will conduct most or all of the same projects as standard laboratory sections, but students will occasionally use advanced equipment and perform authentic pilot studies that may be suitable for publication.

MATH 1220 (H): Calculus II (QL) - Dr. Brent Thomas (previously taught by Dr. Larry Cannon)

This course gives students the opportunity to work together to build an understanding of calculus. Students will work in teams to present the textbook material over two class periods. On the first day, teams will introduce new concepts, deciding which examples and exercises might best prepare the rest of the class to complete the required homework. On the second day, the teams answer questions from their classmates and work through any problems with the homework. After each team has taken a two-day presentation turn, we will create new team assignments, giving everyone a chance to work with everyone else. This format allows students to think independently and critically about mathematical concepts, using their own interests to create real-world applications for calculus. Honors calculus students don’t just do textbook assignments; they bring them to life.

Economics 2010

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.