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.
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."
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Throughout history, communities have grappled with the same questions: how do we govern the community? What stories do we tell about ourselves that give meaning to our lives? How do we persuade each other? How do we express our values and identity? Are there roles proper to men and women? Does life have meaning after life ends? Ancient Greek society was a particularly intense location for considering those questions. These are questions fundamental to the liberal arts and fundamental to being a contributing citizen of a democracy in a globalized world. This class examines and critiques the ancient Greek answers in order to gain perspective on how to answer those questions for our own lives and our community
This seminar explores the evolution of journalism's role in the democratic process – from the nation's founding through today’s contentious relationship between President Trump and the press. Students will examine critical questions confronting journalism and democracy in the digital age: the growth of partisan news and decline in original reporting; the role of social media in facilitating propaganda and “fake news”; and concerns about over-commercialization. At the same time, students will place these issues in historical context and consider a number of normative and critical theories concerning journalism’s proper role in our civic life. At a time when trust in both journalism and government are at an all-time low, this seminar explores how we arrived at this point and where we might be heading.
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.
Housing directly affects our physical and mental health, children's educational attainment, our economic opportunities, our transportation patterns and dependencies, and the environment. However, not all people are able to achieve the same levels of well-being because of disparities due to race, ethnicity, and class. This seminar explores issues of power and privilege that contribute to those disparities.
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.
Harvard biologist E. O. Wilson referred to insects and other invertebrates as the ‘little things that run the world’. Insects may be small but are diverse and abundant, and occupy almost all habitats on planet earth. This course will provide Honors students with an interest in the environment to learn about the positive influences of insects as pollinators, and ‘recyclers’, and negative impacts of invasive species that lead to environmental pollution. Students will explore the amazing adaptations in insects that enable them to thrive in or escape from harsh climatic conditions such as drought, high humidity or temperature extremes. They will gain an appreciation of how insects help us conduct environmental research by serving as effective indicators of toxicity or climate change. Through interactive lectures, discussions on select readings and videos, engagement in debates on GMOs, pesticide-pollinator conflicts and environmental impacts of raising livestock versus insects as food for humans, and group projects, students will acquire a new awareness of little creatures with great influences on the environment.
This course will discuss how cinematic interpretations of American law were and are perceived and accepted in the United States and elsewhere, both inside and outside the legal community. The class will progress by teaching and discussing some fundamentals of American law using legal films to illustrate the doctrinal concepts and rationales in civil procedure, criminal law and criminal procedure, the jury trial, evidence, contracts, torts, constitutional law and the First Amendment, legal ethics, and professional responsibility.
This Honors Seminar Abroad explores the life and art of Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598-1680), one of the most remarkable artists in the history of Western art. Our examination will range from issues of biography and patronage to a consideration of the style and iconography of his sculpture, architecture, and painting. We will view Simon Schama’s 2006 film, Bernini, and, during Spring break, have the extraordinary opportunity to study Bernini’s works first-hand in Rome!
This seminar will examine recent research findings from the cognitive, brain, and social sciences to arrive at a better understanding of the conditions that foster, or impede, flexible thinking. Representative topics will include: the effects of reinforcing variable rather than habitual behavior; the need for both highly specific and more abstract ways of accessing our knowledge and memory for experiences; the ways in which emotions may enhance or impair flexibility in thought; and the importance of mentally stimulating environments in adaptive cognition and behavior.
This seminar examines how race, gender, and sport intersect as sites of resistance and reform in twentieth century American life. With the intensification of Jim Crow coinciding with the professionalization and commercialization of sports, athletes of color became central to American debates about science, citizenship, class, ethnicity, sexuality, social mobility, belonging, culture, and entitlement. This seminar will be particularly interested in how athletes of color forced a place for themselves in sports like baseball, boxing, football, golf, and basketball by exercising different models of political protest, citing an urgent need for social justice reforms that spread beyond the realm of sport.
In this course, we will address several important questions that surround the relationship between language and food. What could be more central to our lives? We learn language (together with gesture) and the tastes (textures, smells, visual features, and sounds) that we associate with food early in our lives, and both form an important part of our identities. The class will be most rewarding for students who like to cook/eat, talk about food, and educate their palate.
This seminar will explore in depth the important role that exercise plays in medicine. Seminar participants will learn of the evidence basis for the use of exercise in a wide variety of conditions including cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity, mental health, and cognition. Related issues such as fitness assessments, nutrition, exercise complications, and sedentary physiology will also be presented.
Understanding women's reproductive health requires consideration of the intersections of gender, race, class, culture, geography, economic status and nation within a historical and sociopolitical context. This course will build upon our current understanding of major conditions affecting the reproductive health of women, e.g. pregnancy, parenting, reproductive control, and menopause by raising challenges from a feminist perspective and encouraging expanded models that address the complexity of women's reproductive health in today's society.
Lawyers, nuns, social workers, and school girls have won the Nobel Peace Prize. In achieving this distinction, they hone their leadership skills to a fine art. They face personal danger, inner conflicts, social challenges, and pointed criticism. Succeeding despite their flaws, their ability to inspire courageous, innovative action cuts across age-groups, decades, borders, and nationality. Students in this Honors Seminar will touch and experience that inspiration.