Current Course Descriptions

Winter 2021

If you began in Honors before Fall 2020, please contact us at for information about how the courses below can satisfy your Honors requirements. If you began in Fall 2020, check your curriculum requirements here.

HNR 201 01 Live.Learn.Lead.

Coeli Fitzpatrick

TR 10:00-11:15 a.m., HON 148 [Online - Asynchronous and Synchronous]

This course investigates what it means to be a liberally educated human from ancient times to the present, and how we can use this knowledge to enhance our personal and professional lives in meaningful ways. We do this by examining ideas and values from the past and the present expressed through art, music, philosophy, literature, social and political theory, and religion. This course introduces the framework through which to encounter how those ideas are interpreted outside the classroom by attending and reflecting upon co-curricular events, including theatrical productions, lectures, music performances and art shows. We interpret and engage those ideas in a critical and interdisciplinary manner through class discussion and reflective essays based on the readings and co-curricular experiences.


HNR 250 03 Project-Based Learning: Rockin’ the Culture

Kurt Ellenberger


This course will study the history of rock and the American culture in which it developed and also the many ways in which this music influenced American and World Culture so profoundly from the mid-20C to the present day. We will learn about rock from its blues and gospel origins in the late 19C in the slave populations of the deep south until it emerges in the 1950s as a discernible genre. We will study the important styles that follow, including blues and gospel, early rock, doo-wop, hard rock, folk rock, soul, motown, classic rock, progressive rock, punk rock, 80s synth pop, heavy metal, alternative rock, EDM, rap, and other contemporary trends. Students will determine their defining characteristics of this music through deep listening and engagement with the music and the cultural contexts which influenced its development and whose development was, in turn, influenced by the music. This course does not require previous knowledge of music. There will be no discipline specific content in music theory, history, or performance; however, we will introduce a small amount of simple music terminology that will be explained and demonstrated.


HNR 251 01 Project-Based Learning/QL: The Healing Power of Plants

Karen Amisi

M 3:00-5:50 p.m., HON 148 [Traditional Face to Face]

From early time, man has recognized that plants have the power to heal and sustain life. Plants remain the first resort cure for 80% of the global population. This course will explore the various roles medicinal and poisonous plants hold in various cultures.  Medicinal and aromatic plants (herbs and spices) have gained consumer interest worldwide. Poisonous plants contain toxic chemical compounds which can adversely affect the health of humans and animals. However, some poisonous plants can be utilized in medicine and as natural insecticides. Dosage plays a key role in dictating the eventual harmful or helpful effect of the toxin. Natural products derived from plants play a dominant role in the discovery of leads for the development of drugs to treat human diseases. The future of medicinal plants rests on our ability to invest in researching and documenting the plants and their active ingredients.  


HNR 251 02 Project-Based Learning/QL: Zombie Physiology

Eric Ramsson

TR 4:00-5:15 p.m., HON 214 [Staggered Hybrid]

Zombies seem to be everywhere in our culture. What remains unclear, however, is the question: "Are zombies even possible?" Through this course, you will learn how the human body normally functions, and then use that information to argue the feasibility of zombies through Project-Based Learning. Who knows, you might even convince yourself that zombies already exist...


HNR 251 03 Project-Based Learning/QL: Physics of the Body Human

Bradley Ambrose

MW 1:00-2:50, HON 214 [Staggered Hybrid]

This interdisciplinary science course partially fulfills the general education requirements in science for Honors students. The structure and function of human movement are examined from a basic physical perspective, with applications in body composition, biomechanics, and other areas of movement science, in order to develop an appreciation for the human body.  The course also focuses on the nature of science as a human endeavor.  


*The HNR 251 prerequisite for HNR 350 will not be required for current students*

HNR 350 01 Honors Integrative Seminar: World’s Deadliest Border

David Alvarez


This seminar explores the causes, character, and consequences of undocumented migration across the Western Mediterranean, a region that for migrants and refugees has become "the world's deadliest border," in anthropologist Maurizio Albahari's phrase. In response to the Mediterranean's transformation into what has been described as a vast "cemetery" for undocumented migrants and refugees trying to reach Europe by sea, writers, visual artists, and filmmakers from around the region have produced a large body of work that explores the experience of clandestinely crossing the lethal maritime border. In this seminar we will examine several literary texts, artworks, and films from this corpus and will study them alongside readings from disciplines that have also shed light on this phenomenon, such as anthropology and sociology. Along the way we will grapple with such issues as the nature of borders, mobility as a human right, and the right of asylum. By the end of the semester, we will have delved deeply into the most dramatic chapter of one of the main stories of our times: the fact that all over the world millions of people are attempting to cross nation-state borders without authorization in a determined effort to find refuge and remake their lives.


HNR 350 02 Honors Integrative Seminar: Music, Culture & Aesthetics

Kurt Ellenberger


This course studies classical music, jazz, and popular music first from an aesthetic viewpoint in which styles and genres are identified and compared. Students learn to identify the major style periods in classical music and jazz through listening and class discussions about what we are hearing in the various different eras. We also engage with music as it intersects with and helps define culture in present-day America (where culturally-diverse genres coexist and cross-pollinate in a surprising manner), and contrast this with similar developments during pivotal historical events since the Enlightenment. We use aesthetics as a means of identifying embedded cultural values that transcend genre, thus illuminating our understanding of music in a broader societal context. This is a class for those who like listening to music and talking about music, and those who enjoy exploring music in its role as a cultural force.


HNR 350 03 Honors Integrative Seminar: Food, Culture, Conscience

John Uglietta

TR 10:00-11:15 a.m., HON 219 [Traditional Face to Face]

If we are lucky, most of us eat every day. However, the regularity of our encounters with food may cover up many of the ways that our food practices reflect our personal, religious, scientific, and philosophical beliefs and also our historical and environmental setting.  We will look at a variety of contemporary and historical sources to investigate the ways we eat, prepare, and talk about food.  We will begin by looking at recipes, cookbooks, and food reviews to investigate the methods and difficulties of talking about the taste and judgment we exercise in eating and preparing food. We will go on to explore the nature of American cuisine and some of the great variety of food traditions in the US.  Towards the end of the term, we will consider the ethical implications of what we eat – exploring arguments for and against eating animal products and attempts to influence people to eat healthier foods. 


HNR 350 04 Honors Integrative Seminar: Prophetic Critique

Jeremiah Cataldo


Do the biblical prophets have anything to offer us in the 21st century? This course will set the biblical prophets in conversation with today’s politics, social events, news media, movies, music, and more.  It will seek to understand the influence of the Bible in modern U.S. cultural expressions and seek to discern whether that influence has strengthened or weakened what some call the moral fabric of U.S. society. In what ways might the prophetic critique bear down on modern social and political issues, concerns, and problems?  How might the prophets have responded to immigration? To same-sex marriage? To unrequited feelings of nationalism? To trends in movies and music? Or, do they have anything to offer at all? This course will explore these questions. We'll watch movies. We'll listen to songs. We'll analyze social and political policies. We'll analyze cultural phenomena. What does Beyoncé or A Perfect Circle have to do with the Bible and prophecy? What about Star Wars? The Matrix? The Crying Game? The "subway prophets" of NYC? Come find out! 


HNR 350 06 Honors Integrative Seminar: Social Media and Belief

Jeremiah Cataldo

MW 3:00-4:15 p.m. [Synchronous Online]

How has the Internet and social media changed the ways we think and believe? How has it remapped the ways we express our deepest religious, political, emotional, and other beliefs? Are we becoming *transhuman*? This course pursues answers to those questions. By reviewing the formation of belief systems in the past across a range of cultures and by exploring current psychological and sociological research on belief formation, religious and other, it will show why our beliefs will never be the same in the dawning of an increasingly digitized world. Its benefit will be for anyone studying how humans behave and relate, such as those seeking careers in politics, business, religion, advertising, computer science, medicine, and more.


HNR 350 07 Honors Integrative Seminar: Sociology of Consumption

Joel Stillerman

TR 4:00-5:15 p.m. [Synchronous Online]

Consumption – the desire for, purchase, use, exchange, and disposal of products and services – is an essential feature of our everyday lives, yet we seldom examine its meaning and importance.  Why do we desire certain products?  How are our desires shaped by advertising, marketing, and market research? How do our tastes reflect our class, gender, racial, and age groups to which we belong?  In this course students will have the opportunity to explore these questions by reading key theoretical perspectives on the nature and meaning of consumption as well as recent research on consumer culture in the U.S. Readings have a specific focus on how consumer behavior and consumer culture both reflect and help reinforce social inequalities based on class, race, gender and age.  Significant themes include the role of advertising and promotion in consumption and culture, how historical legacies of racial inequality affect the patterns of consumption across ethnic/racial groups, the symbolic and ritual aspects of consumption, the ethics of consumption, the relationship between consumption and social roles/identities (gender, age, race), and the intersection of consumption/ sales practices with personal relationships.  Classes combine lectures, discussions, group activities, and audiovisual materials.  Assignments include research exercises on consumer behavior, reading summaries and reflective journals on students’ consumption practices.   


HNR 350 08 Honors Integrative Seminar: Leadership & Problem Solving

Rosalynn Bliss

M 6:00-8:50 p.m., DEV 303E [Traditional Face to Face]

A study of various historic and current leadership theories and concepts as well as innovative leaders past and present.  An examination of effective leadership skills, innovative approaches to leading change, creative problem solving and how to bring ideas to action.   


HNR 350 09 Honors Integrative Seminar: The Bloodiest, Darkest Hour: Envisioning the 1930s

Ellen Adams

MW 3:00-4:15, HON 220 [Staggered Hybrid]

This course traces the culture, politics, and economics of the 1930s, the era bookended by the 1929 Wall Street crash and the outbreak of the second world war. This decade brought the abject poverty of Great Depression and the advent of Walt Disney films; Adolf Hitler, and the man who disproved his virulent myth of Aryan superiority, track star Jesse Owens; the Empire State Building, Social Security, and King Kong. We will focus primarily on how issues and ideas were portrayed in the visual culture of the era, including films, works of art, photography, media, and even spectacles of sports and technology. Topics such as the growth of ultra-nationalism, the rise and consolidation of the New Deal, and a mounting hostility to outsiders will raise questions about how the trauma of the 1930s shaped the world of the 2020s.  The course integrates academic readings with a variety of media materials.


HNR 350 10 Honors Integrative Seminar: Women and Food

Jody Vogelzang


This class would take an historical look at women’s roles in the food system including gendered roles of gate-keeper, procurement officer, chef, nourisher, entertainer of family and friends, gardener, farmer, entrepreneur, et al. This would also include social movements which pushed women into other directions, industrialization, war, glass ceilings and “having it all”. Lectures and learning activities would take a holistic view of social and psychological impact of changing times on women and the greater impact on society as a whole.


HNR 401 01 Senior Project Proposal

Roger Gilles


In this class students will review project possibilities, methodological options, and the proposal process, connecting their proposed project with their overall college experience and articulating ways in which the project can create opportunities beyond graduation. By the end of the course, students will identify a mentor and develop an approved project proposal.


First-Year Interdisciplinary Sequences

These videos showcase just three of our many sequences. Watch them to learn more about what a sequence is like from the perspectives of both students and faculty! See course descriptions below videos for Fall 2020 and Winter 2021. To better understand the format listed for each class please watch this video

Big History

Middle East Beyond the Headlines

Design Thinking for Social Product Innovation

The Middle East Beyond the Headlines

Coeli Fitzpatrick and Majd Al-Mallah

Fall: HNR 151 01 MW 12:00-1:15 p.m. and HNR 152 01 MW 1:30-2:45 p.m. [Format: Staggered Hybrid]

Winter: HNR 153 01 MW 12:00-1:15 p.m. and HNR 154 01 MW 1:30-2:45 p.m. [Format: Staggered Hybrid]

We’ve all watched the news. We’ve read the headlines. We’ve seen movies where there are Arab and Muslim characters. Therefore, we know about the region and its peoples, right? What more is there to learn? In truth, most people would say that they know enough about the Middle East. That they know enough about Arabs. About Muslims. The premise behind this class is that the Middle East is a vast region with complexity that we ought to explore beyond what’s readily available through media and popular film. Because the region is generally covered through a limited lens, this class tries to get behind the headlines to uncover the layers of complexity that make up both this region we call “The Middle East” and its multiple peoples, religions, languages, and cultures. The ultimate goal is to reach a nuanced and educated way of “knowing”. We also think about what goes into the construction of headlines. How have we come to think about the region in such simplistic ways? Why do we know so little about the cultures and the important contributions to humanity? Can we name a single Arab author? Our class is a discussion-based class, meaning that we don’t like to just lecture—we want to talk about what we are reading, seeing, and hearing. We value working in communities/teams, and strive to prepare students to be informed global citizens with sensitivity and cultural competency. We use a variety of ways to assess work, never limited to one method. We use different types of writing: blog posts, short essays, reading briefs, and some formal essays.

The Worlds of Greece and Rome

Charles Pazdernik, David Crane (Fall) and Charles Ham (Winter)

Fall: HNR 151 02 MWF 1:00-1:50 p.m. and HNR 152 02 MWF 2:00-2:50 p.m. [Format: Staggered Hybrid]

Winter: HNR 153 02 MWF 1:00-1:50 p.m. and HNR 154 02 MWF 2:00-2:50 p.m. [Format: Staggered Hybrid]

Ancient Greece and Rome are among the world's most exciting, important, and influential civilizations. Taught by researchers into various aspects of classical antiquity from Homer to the fall of the Roman Empire and beyond, the course asks participants to cooperate actively and enthusiastically in exploring mythology, history, art and archaeology, literature, and philosophy. Interactive learning experiences, which might include pottery projects, immersive role-playing games, and field trips, complement spirited class discussions and careful attention to close reading, effective writing, and critical thinking. No prior knowledge is necessary (all texts are in translation).

American Modern

Steve Tripp and Michael Webster

Fall: HNR 151 03 MW 3:00-4:15 p.m. and HNR 152 03 MW 4:30-5:45 p.m. [Format: Synchronous Online]

Winter: HNR 153 03 MW 3:00-4:15 p.m. and HNR 154 03 MW 4:30-5:45 p.m. [Format: Synchronous Online]

This four-course interdisciplinary Honors sequence focuses on the United States during the twentieth century, what publisher Henry Luce boldly identified as the “American Century.” Through literature, poetry, film, autobiography, oral histories, art, photography, and music, we will examine the lives of people who lived through the Jazz Age, the Great Depression, two world wars, de-industrialization, and the advent of mass society.  During the Fall semester, we will pay particular attention to the concept of Modernity in all its fragmented, accelerated, technological glory. In the Winter, we will consider the fate of Modernity amidst the social, political, and cultural upheaval of post-World War II America. Course includes highly interactive learning experiences, including group work, probing class discussion, and two elaborate role-playing games (one each semester).  More traditional forms of assessment include reading quizzes, written exams, and interpretive and analytical essays. Engaging and enlightening.

Dangerous Ideas

Ellen Adams and David Eick

Fall: HNR 151 04 TR 10:00-11:15 a.m. and HNR 152 04 TR 11:30-12:45 p.m. [Format: Staggered Hybrid and Online]

Winter: HNR 153 04 TR 10:00-11:15 a.m. and HNR 154 04 TR 11:30-12:45 [Format: Online and Staggered Hybrid]

We are culturally socialized to avoid difficult conversations—don’t talk about religion, sex, or politics at a dinner party! Not often do we substantively engage with one another about contentious, offensive, and potentially dangerous ideas. This course focuses on objects and texts originally deemed offensive or dangerous for their questioning of orthodoxy and experimentations with artistic and literary conventions but are now considered canonical works.  Art and literature offer opportunities to explore incendiary notions such as such as morality, evil, freedom, sex, racism, obscenity, tradition/progress, religion, and others. Many artists and writers make work that incites emotional responses that can be powerful, polarizing, impactful, and/or divisive. How can art and literature facilitate difficult conversations? For example, how do we distinguish between “free” speech that is legitimate and “hate” speech that incites violence?  How should art and literature represent the world to its audience? How can we account for viewers’ and readers’ wildly divergent reactions to the same work? And, finally, who determines the meaning and value of a work of art?  Throughout the year students will practice framing questions to allow space for meaningful discourse.

In this course, students will play Reacting to the Past (RTTP) role-playing games, The Enlightenment in Crisis: Diderot’s Encyclopédie in a Parisian Salon (1750-?) and Rousseau, Burke and Revolution in France (1791). In RTTP games, students are assigned roles with victory objectives. In order to prevail, they must read complex texts closely, deliver persuasive speeches, write effectively, conduct library research, collaborate, and take creative initiative to solve problems. We will also read novels, study art history through traditional means as well as through group projects, and take field trips to museums, the symphony, and other locations as opportunities arise.

Spain in Europe: Gender, Class, and Race

Grace Coolidge, Diane Wright (Fall), and Gabriela Pozzi (Winter)

Fall: HNR 151 05 TR 1:00-2:15 p.m. and HNR 152 05 TR 2:30-3:45 p.m. [Format: Staggered Hybrid]

Winter: HNR 153 05 TR 1:00-2:15 p.m. and HNR 154 05 TR 2:30-3:45 p.m. [Format: Synchronous Online]

While this course covers all of European history and culture, we put a special emphasis on Spain. Spain occupied a unique historical and geographical position as the cultural crossroad of East and West, where the three “peoples of the book” (Christians, Jews and Muslims) coexisted in complex patterns of harmony and tension.  The Spanish empire dominated the early modern world, and Spain was home to a rich cultural Renaissance.  By contrast, twentieth-century Spain survived a brutal civil war and the longest-running Fascist dictatorship in European history to become a thriving modern democracy.  We explore the twists and turns of Spanish history and compare and contrast Spain to the rest of Europe, learning about its uniqueness as well as about the common ties that bind it to the mainland.  The course covers Spanish and European history and culture from the medieval period to the present day European union.  We learn how to cure love-sickness, follow a gender non-conforming nun in her adventures across Spain and the new world, meet the famous witch Celestina, and wrestle with the Frankenstein monster.  In the 19th century the class uses a six-week simulation in which students play the parts of workers and factory owners caught up in the Industrial Revolution, making choices and living with the consequences in this fast-changing culture.   We explore the tragic, disillusioned poetry of World War One, the impact of the Holocaust, and the slow rebuilding of a traumatized Europe into today’s European Union.  The class puts special emphasis on learning to write historical and literary essays and to handle a college-level reading load, skills that will benefit students in any discipline they pursue.

East Asia and The World: Ideas, Inventions, and Power

Craig Benjamin and Yan Liang

Fall: HNR 151 06 MW 3:00-4:15 p.m. and HNR 152 06 MW 4:30-5:45 p.m. [Format: Synchronous Online to Start]

Winter: HNR 153 06 MW 3:00-4:15 p.m. and HNR 154 06 MW 4:30-5:45 p.m. [Format: Synchronous Online]

This two-semester sequence explores the rich history and culture of China, Japan, and Korea from ancient times to the present. China has the longest continuous history of any civilization on Earth and is a nation undergoing rapid economic growth and social and political transformation. Japan and Korea also have long histories and have developed their unique cultures and fascinating lifeways. These East Asian countries have interacted and influenced each other through a long history of cultural and material exchanges. Collectively they constitute one of the most dynamic regions of the planet, and they have made a tremendous intellectual and technological contribution to global culture.  It is these contributions that are the main focus of the course.

East Asia and the World: Ideas, Inventions, and Power, is taught by Professor Yan Liang, a specialist in Chinese language and East Asian literature, and Professor Craig Benjamin, an historian who has published many books and articles on ancient Eurasian history.  Both sections of the course feature intensive full-class discussion, student presentations, and essay writing in a variety of styles. We also undertake many excursions, including outdoor activities, cultural and scientific experiences, and a full-day trip to Chicago, as we spend an exciting year together, inside and outside of the classroom, investigating the fascinating history and culture of this dynamic region of the world!

Alliance and Conflict: World Construction in Religion and Society

Jeremiah Cataldo and Dwayne Tunstall

Fall: HNR 151 07 MW 10:00-11:15 a.m. and HNR 152 07 MW 11:30-12:45 [Format: Staggered Hybrid]

Winter: HNR 153 07 MW 10:00-11:15 a.m. and HNR 153 08 MW 11:30-12:45 [Format: Staggered Hybrid]

At the heart of every social relationship, whether among human collectives or with the natural world, exists either alliance or conflict. In this sequence, we will investigate the nature of those relationships as they take place in religious, social, and political groups, with a particular focus on the alliances and the conflicts between them.

Through relational dialogue and debate, intercultural experiences, and community interviews, we will explore different religious and political conflicts. We will immerse ourselves in experiential learning as we spend time in the field with different religious communities. We will also analyze contemporary social problems and work towards proposals to solve those problems. Drawing upon texts spanning from the second millennium BCE to the present that deal with important elements of social, political, and religious identity, we will integrate different critical theories in various social-scientific studies, philosophy, religion, history, politics, theology, literature, and more. By the end of the sequence, we will have an understanding of how religion and society are mutually dependent, and how that interdependency shapes us even today. In addition, the theories and analytical procedures used throughout the sequence will provide helpful tools for critical analysis in other courses in the humanities and the social sciences.

Food for Thought

Amy McFarland, Jody Vogelzang (Fall), and Kelly Parker (Winter)

Fall: HNR 151 08 TR 11:30-12:45 p.m. and HNR 152 08 TR 1:00-2:15 p.m. [Format: Online and Synchronous Online]

Winter: HNR 153 08 TR 11:30-12:45 p.m. and HNR 154 08 TR 1:00-2:15 p.m. [Format: Synchronous Online]

This sequence examines food—from seed to waste and beyond—and its impact on ourselves, our communities, and our planet. We will explore the cultural, scientific, and economic “evolution” of our food systems, both within the United States and abroad. We will investigate the causes and consequences of producing food for the ever-growing modern world, including issues of excess, waste, and the hidden environmental, economic and social costs. The sequence will pay special attention to ethics and the social consequences of our food choices.

Across both semesters, we will utilize large and small group discussion, co-curricular activities, and hands-on and written exercises to explore issues, apply knowledge and skills, and critically evaluate our assumptions about and understanding of food.

Big History

Craig Benjamin and various guest instructors

Fall: HNR 151 11 TR 2:30-3:45 p.m. and HNR 152 11 TR 4:00-5:15 p.m. [Format: Synchronous Online to Start]

Winter: HNR 153 11 TR 2:30-3:45 and HNR 154 11 TR 4:00-5:15 p.m. [Format: Synchronous Online]

Big history is all about the BIG questions! How did the universe begin? How were the first stars formed?  What forces have shaped planet Earth over the past 4.56 billion years?  How did life appear on a lifeless planet; and how has life changed and evolved over billions of years?  How long have modern humans been around?  What makes us ‘different’ from all other species? What sort of lifeways have humans pursued since we appeared?  How many complex cultures and civilizations have risen and fallen? What is the modern revolution? What is the state of our planet right now? And where are we headed in the future?

Big History: Between Nothing and Everything explores these questions across two action-packed semesters.  The course is primarily taught by Craig Benjamin, one of the pioneers in the field and author of numerous big history publications.  He will be joined occasionally by professors from other academic disciplines who will share their expertise through guest lectures. 50% of class time is devoted to intensive, full-class discussion; and students also learn how to research and write a range of different types of essays.  We also undertake many excursions, including outdoor activities, cultural and scientific experiences, and a full-day trip to Chicago, as we spend an exciting year together, inside and outside of the classroom, exploring the BIG history of everything!

Design Thinking for Social Product Innovation

Paul Lane and Ryan Lafferty

Fall: HNR 151 10 W 3:00-5:50 p.m. and HNR 152 10 W 6:00-8:50 p.m. [Format: Traditional Face-to-Face]

Winter: HNR 153 10 W 3:00-5:50 p.m. and HNR 154 10 W 6:00-8:50 p.m. [Format: Hybrid and Synchronous Online]

Networking, ideating, creating. The focus of this course is to cultivate creative ideas surrounding global sustainability at the base of the economic pyramid using the design thinking process. With design thinking, we analyze a problem, look at the context and culture surrounding the problem, then ideate and conceptualize a product that may be a possible part of the solution. This course develops integral communication skills through public speaking, writing, and sketching. This class is a whirlwind of high-energy, collaborative activities with an environment that encourages creativity. It is a project-based course that stimulates a variety of interdisciplinary thinking styles while fostering empathy from a global perspective. Past students who have taken and succeeded in this course come from a variety of academic disciplines and continue to apply concepts from DTSPI in their lives post-sequence.

Culture, Power & Inequality

Joel Stillerman and Heather Van Wormer

Fall: HNR 151 12 TR 11:30-12:45 p.m. and HNR 152 12 TR 1:00-2:15 p.m. [Format: Online and Staggered Hybrid]

Winter: HNR 153 12 TR 11:30-12:45 p.m. and HNR 154 12 TR 1:00-2:15 p.m. [Format: Synchronous Online and Staggered Hybrid]

Why do the three richest people in the U.S. have as much wealth as the poorest half of the population? Why is sexual assault so widespread even though it is illegal? If race does not matter, why are black women more likely to die of breast cancer than white women?  In a time when gay marriage is legal in the U.S., why is the existence of transgender bathrooms deemed dangerous?  What are the sources of power and powerlessness in societies?  We explore these questions by addressing the social and cultural systems that shape our opportunities and behavior even when we are not aware of them.  We will investigate some pressing current topics, such as global income inequality, social injustice and oppression, environmental racism, unequal access to healthcare, the uncertain effects of digital technology on our world, and other issues of power and inequality.  We will also explore how people unite to resist the corrosive effects of systemic inequality and oppression through political participation, protest, online activism, creative expression, and other forms of collective action. We will examine these issues of inequality and protest in the U.S. and around the world.  Students will have the opportunity to explore some of these issues through small, independent research projects based on their specific interests both inside and outside the classroom.  Students will gain experience with writing-to-learn and writing-for-mastery assignments as well as guided revisions of their writing.  Classroom activities will include lecture, discussion, student presentations, multi-media activities, and field trips.

Civil Rights & Social Movements

Leifa Mayers and Naoki Kanaboshi

Fall: HNR 151 13 TR 10:00-11:15 a.m. and HNR 152 13 TR 11:30-12:45 p.m. [Format: Synchronous Online]

Winter: HNR 153 13 TR 10:00-11:15 a.m. and HNR 154 13 TR 11:30-12:45 p.m. [Format: Synchronous Online]

Is the law fair and just? How are different groups of people treated in the legal system? What happens when people confront perceived injustices in the system? This sequence will use frameworks of social justice and civil rights to explore the interactions of U.S. law and society. We will examine how the law incorporates notions of justice and how society makes demands for legal change. Specific topics include the experiences and treatment of people of color, women, LGBTQ folks, and immigrants in employment, education, housing, health care, and law enforcement. Students will get hands-on experience analyzing actual legal cases and strategies used in movements such as Black Lives Matter and #MeToo. 

Water for a Changing World

Peter Wampler, Eric Snyder (Fall), and Tara Hefferan (Winter)

Fall: HNR 151 14 TR 8:30-9:45 a.m. and HNR 152 14 TR 10:00-11:15am [Format: Staggered Hybrid]

Winter: HNR 153 14 TR 8:30-9:45 and HNR 154 14 TR 10:00-11:15am [Format: Synchronous Online]

Water is life. It shapes where we live, how we live, and if we live. Water is fundamental to many of the activities and actions we engage in both as individuals and as communities. Is safe water a human right that all people on earth should enjoy? Why do 2.1 billion people on this planet lack access to safe water in their homes? What cultural context informs our decisions about water in the United States and globally? This interdisciplinary course will explore these questions through books, articles, class discussions, guest speakers, field trips, and hands-on activities. We will take a deep dive into the science and social implications of contemporary water challenges and issues using tools, data, and perspectives from biology, geology, and cultural anthropology. We will explore contemporary water-related challenges such as lead, mercury, and PFAs in drinking water supplies; water use and allocation in the Great Lakes Watershed; and balancing competing values in the restoration of the Grand River and other waterways. 

The course will provide many opportunities to engage with your peers in open-ended problem solving and discussion of a range of water issues within their social and cultural context. We will explore water issues in developing nations such as Haiti, Ghana, and Ecuador. As we explore global water issues we will provide diverse viewpoints, perspectives, and opportunities for exploring how our own cultural context may impact our views of complicated water-related issues within the United States and internationally. 

American Voices and Visions

Kurt Ellenberger, Roger Gilles (Fall), and Rob Franciosi (Winter)

Fall: HNR 151 15 TR 2:30-3:45 p.m. and HNR 152 15 TR 4:00-5:15 p.m. [Format: Traditional Face-to-Face]

Winter: HNR 153 15 TR 2:30-3:45 and HNR 154 15 TR 4:00-5:15 p.m. [Format: Traditional Face-to-Face]

American art, literature, and music shocked, challenged, and enthralled the world in the twentieth century. “Make It New!” the poet Ezra Pound declared, and this course will examine major artists, musicians, and authors whose work expressed this American passion for the new. Focusing on the societal conditions that surrounded these works, as well as their influence on the wider culture, we will study a range twentieth-century artistic movements, with a particular emphasis on how these voices and visions challenged, extended, enhanced, complicated, and even undercut what it means to be an American.

New World Odyssey

Gary Greer, John Weber (Fall), and Jim Penn (Winter)

Fall: HNR 151 16 MW 9:00-10:15 a.m. and HNR 152 16 MW 10:30-11:45am [Format: Staggered Hybrid]

Winter: HNR 153 16 MW 9:00-10:15 a.m. and HNR 154 16 MW 10:30-11:45am [Format: Staggered Hybrid]

This sequence explores the geology, biology, and human geography of the Americas, and the processes that produced this history and continue to drive it today.  Several hundred million years ago, the supercontinent Pangea was assembled.  Global climate and the evolution of life were drastically affected by Pangea’s assembly, breakup, and fragment collisions.  A million years ago, glaciers began ruling the planet.  Approximately 14,000 years ago the Americas were colonized by humans, first from Asia and then much later from Europe, Africa, and elsewhere. Finally, Pangea was virtually re-connected via post-Columbian New-to-Old World trade. The two Fall courses in this sequence explore the geological and biological odyssey of the Americas.  The two Winter courses include an exploration of the human geography and history of the Americas and a project-based course that utilizes student-team exploration of a topic synthesizing geology, biology, and human geography.