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Course Descriptions Spring 2014

First Year Seminar

Honors 100: Food and Culture (Miller)

Food nourishes us and keeps us alive on a biological level. However, what we eat, how we eat, with whom we eat, how we think about food, are also critical components of individual and collective identity in societies. Food helps define who we’ve been in the past, how we live, who we want to be, and how we’re different from others. We will examine the significance of food on experiences and ideas about class, race, gender, ethnicity, family, religion, region, and nationalism throughout American society. The class will use interdisciplinary perspectives such as history, literature, anthropology, feminism, and psychology to examine the role of food in American society in the past and present. Throughout the semester, we will also pay close attention to the development of research skills—through analysis of scholarship, in skill-based workshops, and original research projects on food and identity.

Core 4: Critical Inquiry into Cultural Issues

Honors 264: Freedom and Responsibility (Smuts)

Could pre-cogs predict your holiday plans next year? Could a super-intelligent demon with knowledge of the position and projection of every atom in the universe determine what you will have for breakfast next Tuesday?

Just what is free will? Can we make sense of the notion? We will begin the semester by looking at the significance of determinism for free will and moral responsibility. Is determinism true? And if so, is free will compatible with determinism?

Some think that determinism is false and point to putative sources of indeterminacy as the locus of free will. But it is just as difficult to see how indeterminate events could help make anyone responsible for their actions. Wouldn't they be an impediment to our control? We will evaluate ancient, medieval, and contemporary answers to these questions.

In the next part of the course, we will explore the implications of hard determinism. Would praise and blame make sense if we lack freedom? Without freedom, it seems that we would have to radically reform our views of virtue, vice, love, and friendship. If no one is responsible for their actions, what justifies punishment? If we don't have free will, should we, as some philosophers suggest, actively promote the illusion that we do?

We will critically examine some psychological research that appears to undermine the prospects for free will. We’ll be talking about Ouija boards, diving rods, split brains, hypnosis, subliminal suggestion, drug addicts, psychopaths, and love potions.

Honors 264: "The New Global Village: The Future of the World's Great Cities" (Motte)

Global population continues to swell. Human migration patterns around the world grow ever more complex. War, famine, political persecution and economic collapse drive people to seek safer and more productive places to live, often thousands of miles away from their place of birth. The result: a rapid increase in the number and size of the world’s great cities. This course addresses the scale and causes of widespread urbanization and whether, given prevailing economic, cultural and environmental trends, lifestyles in cities of 10, 15 and even 20 million inhabitants are sustainable. (This is a hybrid course.)

Honors 264: Hip-Hop (Saucier)

This course explores hip-hop's international reach and social significance. Through case studies, the course examines how hip-hop animates local cultural politics in an age of globalized media, migration, and transnationalism.

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Junior Year Honors

Honors 351-01: Research Colloquium (Shonkwiler)

One of the most rewarding aspects of collegiate study is the opportunity to conduct advanced research in your field. In preparation for conducting research and writing a senior honors thesis in their respective departments, students from a variety of disciplines explore strategies for the research and writing of advanced scholarly work. In the class, participants join together on a collaborative interdisciplinary research project of their own design. Students work sequentially on identifying a topic and key research question(s), finding relevant literature and preparing a scholarly review, locating key sources and/or materials, selecting appropriate methods/approaches, and participating in the final presentation of their findings at a class conference.

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Area Distribution Courses

History 105H: Latin America and the World: 1492-Present (Espinosa)

Students critically examine the political, cultural, economic, and social interaction between Latin America and the World. Topics analyzed include slavery, population flows, the Cold War, and the international narcotics trade.

Biology 109H: Fundamentals of Biology (Govenar)

Fundamental concepts from various levels of biological organization are presented and discussed. This course is for students pursuing studies other than the natural sciences. Lecture and laboratory. Not open to biology and clinical laboratory science majors. Students cannot receive credit for both BIOL 100 and BIOL 109.

Mathematics 139H: Contemporary Topics (Sparks)

This course introduces assorted topics in contemporary real world mathematics, with the idea of improving mathematical literacy and appreciation along with teaching certain specific areas of mathematical knowledge. Topics to be covered include election theory, distribution of power in the house of representatives, the traveling salesman problem, networks, and some home finance (which includes a way to show how we should all quite easily be able to retire as millionaires).

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Page last updated: October 4, 2013