Honors Seminars

Honors Seminars are sorted first by most recent semester, and then in ascending order of course number. Use the filtering system to narrow your results.

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 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 3092H, 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: No
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, Modern Paris from the French Revolution to the Present

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
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 2018
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 2018
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 2018
Level: 2xxx
Credits: 3 credits
Abroad Component: No
Writing Intensive: No
Liberal Education Core: N/A
Liberal Education Theme: N/A

HSem 2055H, Biology and Society: How Evolution Shapes Our Lives

Evolution is a contested idea in our society. However, in a very real sense, evolution shapes our lives. In order to understand both the controversy surrounding evolution and its impact on individuals and society, this course explores a variety of themes at the intersection of biology and philosophy and is co-taught by a biologist and a philosopher of biology. 

Instructor(s): Alan Love and Michael Travisano
Semester: Fall 2018
Level: 2xxx
Credits: 3 credits
Abroad Component: No
Writing Intensive: No
Liberal Education Core: N/A
Liberal Education Theme: N/A

HSem 2207H, Visual and Critical Thinking

This course will examine two forms of thought processes—Visual Thinking and Critical Thinking—and integrate their use and development. Visual Thinking strategies focus on the use of evidentiary reasoning. Based on structured series of exercises of observation and fine art, it develops the ability to examine art, objects, and environments. Critical thinking will focus on the organization of the mind for critical thinking and exam ines the s tructures and assumptions we make in our everyday lives. The class will focus on practice, not on lecture.

Instructor(s): Brad Hokanson
Semester: Fall 2018
Level: 2xxx
Credits: 3 credits
Abroad Component: No
Writing Intensive: No
Liberal Education Core: N/A
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 2018
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 2018
Level: 2xxx
Credits: 3 credits
Abroad Component: No
Writing Intensive: No
Liberal Education Core: N/A
Liberal Education Theme: N/A

HSem 2719V, Mass Incarceration and Public Health: An American Crisis

This course will examine the intersections of mass incarceration and health. We will explore individual and community-level health impacts of incarceration, with a focus on the relationship between mass incarceration and health disparities, particularly in communities of color. This course will consider specific populations at particularly high risk, including detained youth, pregnant incarcerated women, and the elderly. Students will have an opportunity to tour local correctional facilities and hear directly from experts in the field, including formerly incarcerated people.

Instructor(s): Rebecca Shlafer
Semester: Fall 2018
Level: 2xxx
Credits: 3 credits
Abroad Component: No
Writing Intensive: Yes
Liberal Education Core: N/A
Liberal Education Theme: N/A

HSem 2722H, Human Disease Influenced by Environmental Factors

This seminar aims at understanding whole organisms and cellular functions in response to various macro-environmental events—i.e. global warming, pollution, radiation, food carcinogens, etc.—that promote the disease process. Students will learn the pathological roles of 5 environmental factors that are closely associated with human diseases. After completion of this seminar, students will have better understanding of how various environmental conditions affect micro-organisms, cells, and our body's defense system and of the advanced knowledge of human disease caused by genes and environment.

Instructor(s): Richard Nho
Semester: Fall 2018
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 2018
Level: 2xxx
Credits: 3 credits
Abroad Component: No
Writing Intensive: No
Liberal Education Core: N/A
Liberal Education Theme: Civic Life & Ethics

HSem 2802H, Cinematic Representations of American Law

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.

Instructor(s): Chang Wang
Semester: Fall 2018
Level: 2xxx
Credits: 3 credits
Abroad Component: No
Writing Intensive: No
Liberal Education Core: N/A
Liberal Education Theme: Diversity and Social Justice in the United States

HSem 3056H, Malignant Political Aggression and Heroic Resistance

This seminar begins with a general examination of the role of conformity, denial and obedience in perpetrating malignant political aggression. We will examine the personal and situational forces, the social dynamics of small group norms and behaviors, and broader social and institutional arrangements, all of which interact to induce individuals and groups to participate in various forms of malignant political aggression. We will examine in some detail the role of dehumanization, compartmentalized thinking and perception, personality predispositions, etc. To counterbalance the pessimism inherent in this focus, we will also examine the opposite end of the spectrum—political heroism and altruism, which often arise in response to malignant political aggression. 

This Honors Seminar fulfills an elective requirement for the Political Science major.

Instructor(s): John Sullivan
Semester: Fall 2018
Level: 3xxx
Credits: 3 credits
Abroad Component: No
Writing Intensive: No
Liberal Education Core: N/A
Liberal Education Theme: N/A

HSem 3075H, Humans and Rights in Historical Perspective

In this seminar we will explore the complicated and multi‐faceted history of how societies in different parts of the world have defined what it is to be human, the treatment owed to humans, and various kinds of rights. Some of these philosophies are grounded in religion and others in secularism. Some identify the nation‐state as the adjudicator of rights, while others would empower international organizations or grassroots movements. For some the individual is sacrosanct, while for others persons are inextricably embedded in social webs. We will study how these concepts have changed over time as the globe has become increasingly interconnected, and consider their relevance and application in our contemporary society.

This Honors Seminar fulfills an elective requirement for the History major.

Instructor(s): Sarah Chambers
Semester: Fall 2018
Level: 3xxx
Credits: 3 credits
Abroad Component:
Writing Intensive: No
Liberal Education Core: N/A
Liberal Education Theme: Civic Life & Ethics

HSem 3076V, Children and Cinema: The Child's Mind, the Child's Eye, and the Moving Image

We often think that children perceive the world differently from adults. In cinema, this perceived difference has led, on the one hand, to anxiety about film's effects on youth. On the other hand, it has led to a search for cinematic forms that respond to children's visual and cognitive "uniqueness." Indeed, throughout the world, childhood vision has long served as impetus and metaphor for re-envisioning cinema: for honing what it looks like, how it is produced, and how it is circulated and exhibited. This seminar examines these provocative and fruitful intersections between childhood and cinema.

Instructor(s): Alice Lovejoy
Semester: Fall 2018
Level: 3xxx
Credits: 3 credits
Abroad Component: No
Writing Intensive: Yes
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 2018
Level: 3xxx
Credits: 3 credits
Abroad Component: No
Writing Intensive: No
Liberal Education Core: N/A
Liberal Education Theme: N/A

HSem 3415H, Business in the Supreme Court

This seminar will use the courts as a lens or prism through which to examine the relationship between business and society. The pedagogical uses of the case method are well-established in both business and law schools. I expect to make use of Court opinions supplemented, where helpful, by transcripts of oral arguments, commentary in law reviews and legal blogs. The seminar should be of interest to pre-law students and all students who wish to gain a better understanding of the place of business in our society.

Instructor(s): Ian Maitland
Semester: Fall 2018
Level: 3xxx
Credits: 3 credits
Abroad Component: No
Writing Intensive: No
Liberal Education Core: N/A
Liberal Education Theme: Civic Life & Ethics

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.

Instructor(s): Ellad Tadmor
Semester: Fall 2018
Level: 3xxx
Credits: 3 credits
Abroad Component: No
Writing Intensive: No
Liberal Education Core: N/A
Liberal Education Theme: Civic Life & Ethics

HSem 3715H, Doctors Behaving Badly: The Causes and Consequences of Medical Research Scandals

This course will take students on a tour of the deadliest and most controversial research scandals in recent medical history. We will explore questions such as: What cultural and institutional forces allowed the scandals to occur? What were the best ethical arguments in favor of allowing the research to proceed? How were the scandals exposed? What was the role of investigative reporters, regulatory authorities, and whistleblowers? Should we have confidence that research abuse is not occurring today?

Instructor(s): Carl Elliott
Semester: Fall 2018
Level: 3xxx
Credits: 3 credits
Abroad Component: No
Writing Intensive: No
Liberal Education Core: N/A
Liberal Education Theme: N/A

HSem 3953H, History and Science of Eating

Eating is both an everyday, mundane activity and a complex act that is linked to internal and external factors. Using the lenses of the humanities and sciences, this seminar will explore topics from the full continuum of human eating. We move from hunger, starvation, and dieting to food choice and obesity, to eating's relationship to contemporary politics, culture, and racial diversity. Overarching these topics are common themes of gender roles and changing cultural norms. We will investigate how and why diets vary as well as how food has emerged as a central political problem. Students will leave this class better able to judge evidence used in diet advice and with more understanding of their own beliefs about what they should eat. Readings will draw from history, qualitative social studies, political science, psychology, public health, and popular food writers.

Instructor(s): Traci Mann and Tracey Deutsch
Semester: Fall 2018
Level: 3xxx
Credits: 3 credits
Abroad Component: No
Writing Intensive: No
Liberal Education Core: N/A
Liberal Education Theme: N/A