Honors Seminars

Honors Seminars for Fall 2016

Physical and Life Sciences

BIOL 250-F: HS Genetically Modified Plants: Better Food or Franken-food? Trends and issues in genetically modified agriculture

1.0  credit – Physical and Life Sciences
Professor Doug Hamilton
Tuesday: 1:25-2:20 p.m.
Full Semester

How much do you know about what is in the fresh produce you eat? Could genetically altered fruits, vegetables, and grains increase nutrition, improve flavor, preserve freshness, or enhance production? Should we worry about new genes inserted into genetically modified (GM) plants becoming part of our genetic makeup? Could added genes trigger a life-threatening allergic reaction in an unsuspecting consumer or cause a genetically triggered blight that could spell doom for agriculture? Is science creating the answer to the world’s food shortage or “Franken-foods” that will ultimately put us and the environment at risk? This course will explore some of these hot debates and will attempt to balance political and scientific arguments in this hotly contested area.

GEO 250-GH: HS Popular Science and Nature Writing 

1.0 credit – Physical and Life Sciences
Professor Robert Titus
Tuesday: 2:30-4:30 p.m.
First half of the semester

Scientists are not always renowned for their abilities to communicate with the general public, but in an increasingly scientific and technical society that must change. Too often scientists confuse the use of “short words” with popular writing, but this is far too limited. Scientists must learn to appreciate the spirit and even the philosophy of their sciences in order to reach out.  This course will aim at getting different types of science majors to find themes that will “connect’ with the public and develop the writing skills necessary. The course may include a good deal of field work leading to the preparation of written reports aimed at a general reading audience. We will visit geologic, biologic and environmental sites and then develop short descriptions written to capture the attention of a wide-reading public.

This is a one credit seminar which will meet during the first half of the fall, 2016 semester.

Prerequisite – Honors program

Social and Behavioral Sciences

POSC 250-08: HS Courage, Community, and Nature

1.0 credit –  Social and Behavioral Sciences
Professor James D. Buthman
Mon./Wed.:  4-4:55 p.m.
First Half of the Semester

U.S. environmental politics have evolved with concepts of individualism, political engagement, civic activity, relationships with nature, and the benefits we gain both mentally and physically, by venturing into the natural world. U.S. politics and culture have been guided by individuals who traveled in nature, met with its human inhabitants, and relayed the knowledge they gained to the rest of society, highlighting the vitality and courage nature has to offer. Henry Thoreau strolled out of town to Walden Pond.  Mark Twain piloted the Mississippi. John Burroughs brought the Catskill Mountains to an inquiring world—influencing presidents and captains of industry in the process. This course examines U.S. environmental thought and considers how this thought shapes the modern world. 

HIST 250-Ab: HS Star Wars and History

1.0 credit  Social and Behavioral Sciences
Professor Cherilyn Lacy
Tues./Thurs.: 8:40-10:00 a.m.
First half of the semester

From the first trumpet burst that heralded the appearance of Star Wars on film screens in 1977, the Star Wars films and expanded universe have left a permanent mark on the cultural imaginary. Recurrent themes in the film – liberation movements vs. empires, slavery, political intrigue – echo and recreate episodes from human history in alien (but not unfamiliar) contexts. The technologies showcased in Star Wars are not just stupendous special effects – they reflect concerns about the human relationship with technology, and the impact of technology on the environment, that emerged in the 1970s. This honors mini-seminar will examine how Star Wars draws upon an enduring fascination with certain historical conflicts, and also challenges (or reinforces) historically constructed notions of gender and race with characters like Mon Mothma and Boss Nass. If you know who those two characters are, then this honors mini-seminar is for you! The assigned work will include two 5-page essays (50%), team leadership of a class session (25%), and class participation (25%).


RELS 250-9M: HS Religion in College Education

1.0 credit  – Arts and Humanities
Professor Gary Herion
Monday: 5:15-7:15 p.m.
First Half of the Semester

“Religion is an aspect of life that is simply too big and too important for educators to ignore.” 

Participants in this seminar will examine and respond to the claim that student learning will be enhanced and higher education as a whole will be improved if colleges and universities in the 21st century start paying more focused attention to religion. For our purposes, “religion” will be broadly defined to include (a) traditional religion (Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, etc.), (b) spirituality in its many different forms that help give individuals a sense of grounding and wholeness in life, and (c) life’s “big questions”—questions about meaning, purpose, character, hope, and ethics—regardless of whether or not these questions are framed in traditionally “religious” language.  Class discussions and weekly writing assignments will focus on the book No Longer Invisible: Religion in University Education, by Douglas Jacobsen and Rhonda Husted Jacobsen (Oxford University, 2012).

Art 350-EeZ: HS Sex, Violence, Babies, Puppies, Kitties – The Semiotics of Advertising and Propaganda 

1.0 Credit  – Arts and Humanities
Instructor: Joseph Von Stengel
Tues./Thurs.: 12:20-1:15 p.m.
Second half of the semester

Images are everywhere but who were they created by and why are you seeing them? From the large public display of billboards to the private screens of our cell phones, imagery dominates our everyday experience. This class takes a look at the role images plays within American society. We will consider how the body processes imagery both physically and psychologically. The class will deconstruct the various elements that go into creating an image and will review a brief history of advertising and propaganda in the United States. Students create a series of ‘message’ based posters as a final project for the class.

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