Honors Seminars

Honors Seminars are sorted first by most recent semester (or furthest in the future when courses are first announced), and then in ascending order of course number. Use the filtering system to narrow your results.
Photograph of the artist Aie Weiwei

HSem 2009H, Contemporary Art and Politics: From Marcel Duchamp to Ai Weiwei

Art has a social role to serve, and the artist has a moral obligation to society. It can engage the social issues and environment of its day, either directly or indirectly. Not every artwork needs to address poverty, famine, war, corruption, and injustice, but an artist should not ignore the pain and suffering of her/his fellow human beings. This course will discuss the subject matters and practices of major contemporary artists all over the world whose creative work frequently intertwines with commentaries on contemporary politics.

Instructor(s): Meng Tang
Semester: Fall 2019
Level: 2xxx
Credits: 3 credits
Abroad Component: No
Writing Intensive: No
Liberal Education Core: N/A
Liberal Education Theme: Global Perspectives
Photo of business men and women interacting in a corporate environment

HSem 2043H, Finding the "Corporate Soul:" Corporate Advocacy, Social Responsibility, and Community Engagement

This seminar seeks to answer questions such as: What contribution does organizational advocacy make to public dialogue? How does corporate advocacy represent the goals and needs of the organization and society? What are the social implications of organizational advocacy? Our goal is to understand organizational advocacy beyond a single issue, campaign, or corporation. To achieve our goal, we will examine a variety of communication theories and international, national, and Minnesota-based campaigns.

This Honors Seminar counts as a Journalism "Context Course."

Instructor(s): Amy O'Connor
Semester: Fall 2019
Level: 2xxx
Credits: 3 credits
Abroad Component: No
Writing Intensive: No
Liberal Education Core: N/A
Liberal Education Theme: N/A

HSem 2053H, The Psychology of Paranormal Phenomena

This seminar will introduce students to critical thinking and behavioral research methods, encouraging them to critically evaluate the evidence for a variety of supernatural, paranormal, and pseudoscientific claims. Students will design and carry out their own experimental tests of these claims. The course includes a guest lecture and demonstration by a local psychic.

Instructor(s): Charles Randy Fletcher
Semester: Fall 2019
Level: 2xxx
Credits: 3 credits
Abroad Component: No
Writing Intensive: No
Liberal Education Core: N/A
Liberal Education Theme: N/A

HSem 2065H, Making Museums

Museums are a significant, international growth industry. Where museums of the past sought simply to educate their visitors, today’s museums also promise to entertain, move, and provoke them, to express identities, unsettle certainties, question histories, and consolidate communities. How do museums follow through on that promise? What techniques do curators use to shape visitor experience? And when do museums’ ambitions to create culture also court controversy?

Instructor(s): Margaret Werry
Semester: Fall 2019
Level: 2xxx
Credits: 3 credits
Abroad Component: No
Writing Intensive: No
Liberal Education Core: N/A
Liberal Education Theme: N/A

HSem 2242H, Einstein's Universe

In this seminar we examine the life and work of Albert Einstein (1879–1955). The use of mathematics will be kept to a minimum. You will need no more than some basic high-school algebra and geometry. By the end of the course you should have a good understanding of some of Einstein’s most revolutionary ideas, of how he arrived at them, at what personal price, and in what broader socio-political and cultural context.

Instructor(s): Michel Janssen
Semester: Fall 2019
Level: 2xxx
Credits: 3 credits
Abroad Component: No
Writing Intensive: No
Liberal Education Core: N/A
Liberal Education Theme: N/A

HSem 2413H, Ideas, Insights, and Innovation

This course is designed to introduce students to techniques for discovering everyday problems and fashioning potential solutions to those problems.  Because the course material deals with ideas and idea generation, it is designed to be helpful to many future careers and callings by unlocking individual creative thinking skills.  During the semester we will explore the genesis of ideas and the relationship between deep insight, empathy, consumer problems, ideas, and innovation.  Specific topics to be covered during the semester include the role of insights, ethnography, and discovery techniques; individual and group creativity; the creative process and where ideas come from; innovation and the value thereof; and effective communication of ideas.

Instructor(s): Tobin Nord
Semester: Fall 2019
Level: 2xxx
Credits: 3 credits
Abroad Component: No
Writing Intensive: No
Liberal Education Core: N/A
Liberal Education Theme: N/A

HSem 2515H, Experiencing Local Environmental Solutions

This is a topical, field-trip-based course.  This seminar will address some of the solutions to the environmental problems that affect our society by examining the science and by experiencing the solutions that are used on campus or in the neighboring community. Each week we will focus on a solution to a different environmental issue (stormwater, groundwater contamination, disposal or livestock waste, solid waste, public engagement on environmental concerns, and so forth).  We will visit the places on or near campus designed as environmental solutions, hear from the experts, and discuss the engineering and human aspects of these solutions. The field-trip destinations are accessible by campus bus, city bus, or train.  The class will involve weekly reading and writing assignments. There will also be a semester-long, hands-on project to devise a realistic, potential solution to an environmental issue.

Instructor(s): Paul Capel
Semester: Fall 2019
Level: 2xxx
Credits: 2 credits
Abroad Component: No
Writing Intensive: No
Liberal Education Core: N/A
Liberal Education Theme: N/A

HSem 2541H, Campus Obscura: A University of Minnesota Cabinet of Curiosities

Exploring museums and special collections on campus, this course will investigate the importance of material objects – maps, rare books, artifacts, instruments, specimens, manuscripts – as these are used to write history, produce public exhibits, and create identities.  The materials were collected as part of research agendas, often by faculty, and thus are repositories that relate closely to the history of various sciences. The University of Minnesota provides a rich resource for such exploration of things that, collectively, have been important and continue to shape its history.

Instructor(s): Sally Gregory Kohlstedt and Emily Beck
Semester: Fall 2019
Level: 2xxx
Credits: 3 credits
Abroad Component: No
Writing Intensive: No
Liberal Education Core: Historical Perspectives
Liberal Education Theme: N/A

HSem 2624H, Reality 101 -- or, "A Survey of the Human Predicament"

How is the economy like a hurricane? Where does money come from? Will economic growth last forever? What is wealth? How many hours would it take you to generate the same amount of energy in a gallon of gasoline? Why are you so confident in your own beliefs? Why do you spend so much time on social media? Why do we want "more" than our neighbors? What do all of these questions have to do with the environment? With your future? And what if our most popular societal beliefs about these issues turn out to be myths? Reality 101 will delve into these questions and unify them as they apply to the major challenges humanity faces this century, among them: slow economic growth, poverty, inequality, addiction, pollution, ocean acidification, biodiversity loss, and war.

Instructor(s): Nate Hagens
Semester: Fall 2019
Level: 2xxx
Credits: 4 credits
Abroad Component: No
Writing Intensive: No
Liberal Education Core: N/A
Liberal Education Theme: N/A

HSem 2707H, Battling the Bugs: Anthrax, Ebola, and Everyday Life

We share the planet with a myriad of living things. The smallest of those are the ones that may impact our lives the most. These creatures are in the news nearly every day: Ebola virus in Western Africa, measles outbreak among visitors to Disneyland, foodborne outbreaks on cruise ships. This course will focus on the importance of infectious disease prevention, control, and treatment to the health and well-being of the global community. Students will explore the many facets of public health response operations and decision-making which are often behind the scenes and not well understood by the general public.

Instructor(s): Jill DeBoer and Michael Osterholm
Semester: Fall 2019
Level: 2xxx
Credits: 3 credits
Abroad Component: No
Writing Intensive: No
Liberal Education Core: N/A
Liberal Education Theme: N/A

HSem 2801H, Think Like a Lawyer: The Art & Adventure of Torts

This seminar offers an introduction into legal thinking: not merely what the laws are, but why we have them and, more importantly, how we come up with them. As a focus, students will ground themselves in torts, a fundamental area of legal education that covers the civil wrongs. Students will have an opportunity to get a feeling for the law school experience as we use the case method, along with some Socratic method and ample discussion. We will focus on the basics of legal analysis, and learn how to apply that to critical thinking. Students successfully completing this seminar will be mentally armed and dangerous.

Instructor(s): Bobak Ha'Eri
Semester: Fall 2019
Level: 2xxx
Credits: 3 credits
Abroad Component: No
Writing Intensive: No
Liberal Education Core: N/A
Liberal Education Theme: Civic Life & Ethics

HSem 3327H, Resilience in Children and Youth: Global Perspectives

How do children overcome hazardous experiences to succeed in life? What can be done to protect young people at risk from trauma, war, disasters, and other adversities? This course examines the global literature on resilience in children and youth, with a focus on its origins, goals, methods, findings, and controversies, and its implications for promoting resilience in children, families, communities and societies.

This Honors Seminar fulfills an elective requirement for the Child Psychology major.

Instructor(s): Ann Masten
Semester: Fall 2019
Level: 3xxx
Credits: 3 credits
Abroad Component: No
Writing Intensive: No
Liberal Education Core: N/A
Liberal Education Theme: N/A

HSem 3066H, The Tale of Genji and Aristocratic Culture in Early Japan

The early eleventh-century novel The Tale of Genji by the Japanese court lady Murasaki Shikibu is thought by many to be the first novel in world history and the first major work by a known woman author. In this class we will read the entire work in Royall Tyler’s English translation and explore its literary qualities, its ways of representing character, and its methods of plot construction. Can this book be treated as a “modern novel,” or can it only be understood as a product of its times? Does the existence of a large community of writing women at this point allow us to explore a distinctive “female perspective” on this period? How did women and men express themselves and communicate through literature, and how did gender difference express itself in what they wrote?

This Honors Seminar fulfills an elective requirement for the Asian Languages and Literatures major. 

Instructor(s): Paul Rouzer
Semester: Fall 2019
Level: 3xxx
Credits: 3 credits
Abroad Component: No
Writing Intensive: No
Liberal Education Core: N/A
Liberal Education Theme: N/A

HSem 3069H, Literature and Medicine

The sign carved above the door to the ancient Library at Thebes read: “Medicine for the Soul.” This course focuses on the intersection of literature and medicine, both from the point of view of the medical field and from a literary standpoint—medicine in literature, but also literature in medicine. Throughout the semester, we will examine works that connect the world of science with the long history of recorded human experiences in the literature of illness, the body, and death. Through analysis of novels, short stories, memoirs, poetry, drama, film and television, we will explore the intersection of literary works, narrative studies, and medical narratives to address the healing power of words. This course should interest students who care about how literature makes a difference in the world, and who are curious about how medicine is related to the arts. The course may include guest speakers as well as a visit to the Center for Humanities in Medicine at the Mayo Clinic.

Instructor(s): Katherine Scheil
Semester: Fall 2019
Level: 3xxx
Credits: 3 credits
Abroad Component: No
Writing Intensive: No
Liberal Education Core: N/A
Liberal Education Theme: N/A

HSem 3205H, A Resilient, Just, Water Future: Living with the Mississippi River

Working with communities of scholars and professionals on and off campus, this seminar creates knowledge-sharing programs that increase interdisciplinary and cross-sector capacity to address the related issues of water and justice, two of society's greatest challenges.

Instructor(s): Patrick Nunnally
Semester: Fall 2019
Level: 3xxx
Credits: 3 credits
Abroad Component: No
Writing Intensive: No
Liberal Education Core: N/A
Liberal Education Theme: N/A

HSem 3308V, Incarceration and the Family

In this seminar, we will use an interdisciplinary perspective to explore the issue of mass incarceration in the United States, with a specific focus on the impact of incarceration on children and families. Students will have opportunities to visit local correctional facilities and engage with community-based programs serving families impacted by incarceration. Topics will include parent-child contact during incarceration, intersections between incarceration and child welfare, systemic disparities by race and class, programs for children impacted by incarceration, public policies related to incarceration, and intergenerational cycles of incarceration.

Instructor(s): Rebecca Shlafer
Semester: Fall 2019
Level: 3xxx
Credits: 3 credits
Abroad Component: No
Writing Intensive: Yes
Liberal Education Core: N/A
Liberal Education Theme: N/A

HSem 3413H, The Corporation in Question

In the wake of the financial crisis of 2008, anti-corporate rhetoric in the U.S. reached a crescendo. Corporations – especially financial corporations – were blamed for the crisis and the misery it left in its trail. But this anger was just a spike in a long tradition of distrust and suspicion of corporations. Their legitimacy has always been in question. By studying various corporate controversies, students in this seminar will gain a far deeper and more multilayered understanding of the nature of the corporation and its place in our economy and society. But the debate(s) over the corporation will also shine a light on ourselves – and our fears and hopes -- by means of our reactions to corporations.

Instructor(s): Ian Maitland
Semester: Fall 2019
Level: 3xxx
Credits: 3 credits
Abroad Component: No
Writing Intensive: No
Liberal Education Core: N/A
Liberal Education Theme: N/A

HSem 3511H, Science Court: Strengthening Democracy Through Rational Discourse

Science Court is a mock trial system designed to promote democratic norms by investigating controversial societal issues, based on facts and sound scientific research, in front of a judge and jury of citizens. Students work together in three teams (Science, Legal and Media) to plan, research, execute, and report a SciCourt case. More information is available at scicourt.umn.edu!

Instructor(s): Ellad Tadmor
Semester: Fall 2019
Level: 3xxx
Credits: 3 credits
Abroad Component: No
Writing Intensive: No
Liberal Education Core: N/A
Liberal Education Theme: Civic Life & Ethics

HSem 3801H, Modern China: Law, History, and Culture

This course will provide a comprehensive overview of law and politics of 20th and 21st-century China, in their historical and cultural contexts. It will introduce undergraduate students to distinctive paradigms and discursive patterns of law and politics in China, with the intention of fostering comparative analysis and critical thinking. Initially, the course will focus upon modern Chinese history since 1840, paying particular attention to traditional Chinese views of the role of law in society, as well as to the legal and political aspects of early Sino-Western interaction. The second part of the course will focus on substantive laws, high profile legal cases, and major political events in the People's Republic of China today. The course will conclude by examining current issues in Chinese law from both sides, and by looking into China's argument for the "Beijing Consensus" -- essentially a new type of capitalism, without Western-style rule of law.

Instructor(s): Chang Wang
Semester: Fall 2019
Level: 3xxx
Credits: 3 credits
Abroad Component: No
Writing Intensive: No
Liberal Education Core: N/A
Liberal Education Theme: Global Perspectives

HSem 3803H, The Politics of Legal Policy

This seminar will focus on several controversial issues involving courts and/or the types of issues they deal with. The goal of the course is to understand the factual reality behind some major issues confronting the courts, and the challenges of making policy changes to address these issues. Most topics will be dealt with over two sessions of the seminar with the first session examining the issue from a policy perspective and the second session examining the issue from the perspective of differing political interests. Some of the sessions on policy change will involve students in the seminar debating the issue drawing upon the policy discussions from the previous week as well as their own research into the issue; other sessions may involve a guest speaker.

Instructor(s): Herbert Kritzer
Semester: Fall 2019
Level: 3xxx
Credits: 3 credits
Abroad Component: No
Writing Intensive: No
Liberal Education Core: N/A
Liberal Education Theme: N/A

HSem 2064H, Sex, Gender, and the Digital Body

Our online lives are marked by different kinds of gender performance: social media selfies, texting, gaming, and YouTube vlogging, are among the digital genres in which we embody personas that have a gendered component. This course examines the relationship between digital technology and gender embodiment, to trace how concepts of gender evolve across platforms. Drawing examples from Egypt, Iran, the United States, India, and Europe, we see how digital platforms and networks build provide spaces for performance in different cultural contexts.

Instructor(s): Sonali Pahwa
Semester: Spring 2019
Level: 2xxx
Credits: 3 credits
Abroad Component: No
Writing Intensive: No
Liberal Education Core: N/A
Liberal Education Theme: N/A

HSem 2069H, Film as Art: Global Practices

This seminar offers a selective overview of the most influential Non-Anglo-American “film authors” in post WWII art film history. Throughout the course we will learn the definitions of "art film" and "film author," filmmaking as high art practice, major art film movements in the world: Italian New-Realism, French New Wave, New German Cinema, New Taiwanese Cinema, etc. and their influence on the American filmmaking. We will develop a historical appreciation of art film based on cinematic traditions contained within narrative, documentary, and experimental forms, and acquire a critical, technical, and aesthetic vocabulary relating to particular filmmakers. In particular, we will examine and evaluate the importance of genre and the legacy of individual “auteurs” throughout the history of post-war cinema. We will study the individuality of the filmmakers and their contribution to our understandings of politics, society, and human relationship.

This Honors Seminar fulfills an upper-division elective requirement for the Studies in Cinema & Media Culture major.  

This Honors Seminar fulfills a 3xxx-level elective requirement for the Art History major/minor. It satisfies the Era III historical distribution requirement (1800-present), and can be applied to one of two geographic distribution requirements: North America/Europe, or South and/or East Asia.   

Instructor(s): Meng Tang
Semester: Spring 2019
Level: 2xxx
Credits: 3 credits
Abroad Component: No
Writing Intensive: No
Liberal Education Core: N/A
Liberal Education Theme: N/A

HSem 2325H, Fantasy: A Ghastly Wicked Introduction

This seminar is a ghastly wicked ride through key genres and formats of fantasy literature for adolescents and young adults. Fantasy is explored as a literature of possibilities and empowerment, and in particular as furthering the ongoing transformation of consciousness from local to global humanity. The focus is on eight principal genres and on the role of fantasy in nurturing moral imagination, creative thinking, and the human potential.

Instructor(s): Marek Oziewicz
Semester: Spring 2019
Level: 2xxx
Credits: 3 credits
Abroad Component: No
Writing Intensive: No
Liberal Education Core: N/A
Liberal Education Theme: Global Perspectives

HSem 2540, Understanding the Russian Land

Encompassing more than 6.5 million square miles, Russia is an immense and ecologically diverse country. The environment of the frigid and heavily forested heartland of early Russian civilization, as well as that of the “wild field” (the Eurasian steppe) on its border, have posed a series of challenges to Russians and have left an indelible mark on modern Russian culture. In this interdisciplinary seminar, we will study how Russians have conceived of and used nature from the medieval period to the dissolution of the Soviet Union.  Articulating a particular approach to nature has been integral to several ideological and cultural projects in Russian history, including the formation of a literary tradition, the establishment of a multi-ethnic empire encompassing several biomes, and the development of a vision of Soviet science conquering and reshaping nature—and the world.

Instructor(s): Anna Graber
Semester: Spring 2019
Level: 2xxx
Credits: 3 credits
Abroad Component: No
Writing Intensive: No
Liberal Education Core: Historical Perspectives
Liberal Education Theme: N/A

HSem 2623H, Biopiracy and Seed for the Post-Apocalypse: Genebanks, Genetic Diversity, and Identity

Our world food supply faces a variety of threats: changing climates, precipitation, and disease pressures; evolving pathogens; depleted soils; even nuclear war. Our best methods for responding to these threats involve making use of crop biodiversity. To that end, genebanks collect and preserve diverse crop accessions. In order to be effective, genebank curators have to make decisions about what to preserve. Those decisions are both scientific and cultural and like any such decisions have their critics and detractors. We will discuss genetic markers and measures for population diversity and how such tools can be leveraged to gain knowledge about crop diversity, make management decisions, and create improved varieties. However, food is cultural, and for many our relationship to crops is central to identity. Therefore, we will also examine who is privileged and left out of dominant narratives, and explore alternate ways of understanding crop diversity and preservation.

Instructor(s): Laura Shannon
Semester: Spring 2019
Level: 2xxx
Credits: 3 credits
Abroad Component: No
Writing Intensive: No
Liberal Education Core: N/A
Liberal Education Theme: N/A

HSem 2724V, The Sex Talk You Should Have Had

Reproductive and sexual health is an increasingly important topic in community settings.  Pharmacists can play a vital role in promoting safe and healthy practices that will improve the health of their communities and are an important source of reproductive and sexual health information and advice. This course is designed to expand and enhance community-based reproductive and sexual health knowledge and skills while preparing students to be informed and active participants in ethics driven debates surrounding reproductive and sexual health.

Instructor(s): Amy Pittenger
Semester: Spring 2019
Level: 2xxx
Credits: 3 credits
Abroad Component: No
Writing Intensive: Yes
Liberal Education Core: N/A
Liberal Education Theme: Civic Life & Ethics

HSem 3092V, Music, Revolution, War

From Beethoven to Woodstock, from the French Revolution to the protests that brought down Communist regimes at the end of the 1980s, music has played a central role inspiring political and social change. In an even longer tradition, music has summoned soldiers to risk their lives, even as it likewise, whether in sacred ceremony or on the political stage, has inspired mass action in peace. This course will proceed historically, examining moments when revolution, ideological conflict, or war suggested vast changes were underway in society and culture, reflected in, but also instigated by music.

Instructor(s): Karen Painter
Semester: Spring 2019
Level: 3xxx
Credits: 3 credits
Abroad Component: No
Writing Intensive: Yes
Liberal Education Core: Arts & Humanities
Liberal Education Theme: Civic Life & Ethics

HSem 3203H, An Understanding of Place: Historic, Cultural, and Personal Investigations

Who we are as designers and planners is a culmination of personal experiences, historical and cultural influences.  Many times these influences interact in ways that guide our thoughts and designs without our reflection on the impact they can have on us and without an understanding of the implicit bias they can extend and impart to our work.  The goal of this class is to use personal reflection essays, combined with explorations of cultural influences on our understanding of place to help reveal the lenses through which we evaluate the world and that guide our efforts and expectations as place-makers.

Instructor(s): Anthony Siebenaler-Ransom
Semester: Spring 2019
Level: 3xxx
Credits: 3 credits
Abroad Component: No
Writing Intensive: No
Liberal Education Core: N/A
Liberal Education Theme: N/A

HSem 3801H, Modern China: Law, History, and Culture

This course will provide a comprehensive overview of law and politics of 20th and 21st-century China, in their historical and cultural contexts. It will introduce undergraduate students to distinctive paradigms and discursive patterns of law and politics in China, with the intention of fostering comparative analysis and critical thinking. Initially, the course will focus upon modern Chinese history since 1840, paying particular attention to traditional Chinese views of the role of law in society, as well as to the legal and political aspects of early Sino-Western interaction. The second part of the course will focus on substantive laws, high profile legal cases, and major political events in the People's Republic of China today. The course will conclude by examining current issues in Chinese law from both sides, and by looking into China's argument for the "Beijing Consensus" -- essentially a new type of capitalism, without Western-style rule of law.

Instructor(s): Chang Wang
Semester: Spring 2019
Level: 3xxx
Credits: 3 credits
Abroad Component: No
Writing Intensive: No
Liberal Education Core: N/A
Liberal Education Theme: Global Perspectives

HSem 3805H, Revolutionary Paris Since 1789

This seminar looks at issues of political and military conflicts in which France has been engaged. What constitutes the culture and society that may be seen in Paris; issues of French identity, including the diversity of the city of Paris, traditions of rebellion and resistance, the architectural monuments in the French capital, and spatial transformations that have come to Paris over the years since the French Revolution.

Instructor(s): John (Kim) Munholland
Semester: Spring 2019
Level: 3xxx
Credits: 3 credits
Abroad Component: No
Writing Intensive: No
Liberal Education Core: N/A
Liberal Education Theme: N/A