Honors Core Courses: Fall 2017

The following Fall 2017 Honors courses will fulfill the Honors Core requirement for Sophomore HonorsAlways check to make sure you are registered for an Honors section.

Course Number Title Gen Ed
ECON 1107 Economics, Nature, and the Environment  CA 2
ECON 1108 Game Theory in the Natural and Social Sciences  CA 2
GSCI 1055 Geoscience and the American Landscape  CA 3
(CA 3-Lab option)
HIST/LLAS 1570 Migrant Workers in Connecticut  CA 1, CA 4
MCB 1405 Genetics Revolution in Contemporary Culture  CA 3
MCB 3895-001L, 002L (Special Topics) The Small Microbial World: Crowdsourcing Antibiotic Discovery
POLS 2062 Privacy in the Information Age
POLS 3622 American Political Leadership
POLS/WGSS 3247 Gender & War
SOCI 2509W Sociology of Anti-Semitism  CA 4-Int, W
SOCI 3823 Sociology of Law: Global and Comparative Perspectives  CA 2, CA 4-Int

ECON 1107: Honors Core: Economics, Nature, and the Environment

In this course students study the interactions between economies and their natural environment from global and historical perspectives. The course is multidisciplinary and synthesizes insights from various disciplines, including economics and the social sciences, geography, archaeology, history, and ecology, while emphasizing a scientific approach. Among the many topics discussed are the effects of geography and climate on economic development and income inequality, the impact of humans on their environment, the causes and consequences of environmental problems, the environmental collapses of societies, the valuation of ecosystem services.

Beyond offering a solid understanding of the subject, this course aims to:

  • Illustrate that a multidisciplinary approach is critical to the analysis of most real-world problems.
  • Emphasize the scientific method as that the basis for our understanding of such problems (and for possible subsequent actions).
  • Foster students’ long-term interest in current research and recent findings in various fields.

ECON 1108: Game Theory with Applications to the Natural and Social Sciences

Introduction to game theory examines applications in the natural and social sciences and technology, which may include electric power auctions, evolutionary biology, and elections. The course is an opportunity for students to begin to think strategically about many types of problems found in science, social settings, and even university life.

In this course, students will learn: To recognize strategic behavior—and the potential for strategic behavior—in a variety of situations, for example, in social and political situations and even in the natural sciences. To solve games, use solutions to predict and explain behavior, and recognize and learn from the successes and failures of their analyses. How to work through a sequence of short directed projects to learn that choosing a topic for the Honors thesis is not quite as daunting as they may believe.

GSCI 1055: Geoscience and the American Landscape

Not open to students who have passed GSCI 1050 or GSCI 1051. Equivalent to GSCI 1051 for the purposes of prerequisites.

This is the Honors version of introductory geology. The goal is for students to learn how the earth works, what its history has been, how life and planetary processes have co-evolved, and how the student can put this knowledge to use to solve practical environmental problems. Though geology is the main course, it will be heavily seasoned across time and space by American literature, environmental history, and our national parks.

The main pedagogy involves pre-class student preparation, followed by student-led discussions of each new topic, ranging from minerals as crystals, to climates as outcomes.  Field trips, seminars, a symposium and a final project round out the activities.

In this course, students will:

  • Become geoscience literate
  • Understand geology’s pervasive influence on human society
  • Realize that geoscience is a respected scientific career with excellent job prospects, especially with respect to water and energy resources
  • Realize that a geosciences major is a solid platform for graduate education in other non-scientific fields

General Education information GSCI 1055 alone is a CA 3 non-laboratory course. If you add the GSCI 1052 geology laboratory (either in the same semester or a future one), you may request the conversion of GSCI 1055 to fulfill your CA 3-Laboratory requirement.

HIST/LLAS 1570: Migrant Workers in Connecticut (Service learning)

This 4-credit interdisciplinary Honors course examines the life and work experiences of migrant workers. Weekly sessions will combine short lectures and discussions of assigned readings, and the course will offer several guest lectures by university faculty and by practitioners in the field. The emphasis is on migrant workers—mostly Spanish-speaking from the Caribbean and Latin America, but with some attention to non-Spanish-speaking migrants (e.g., from Haiti) —in the United States with a significant focus on migrant workers in Connecticut. This seminar is introductory. We assume that most, if not all, of you are generally unfamiliar with much of the basic literature pertaining to migrant life and labor. The course is thus intended to provide a very broad and eclectic perspective on the world of migrant labor and experiences.

This seminar combines classroom and service learning as fundamental and equally valued elements of each student’s experience. Service learning involves the student in on-site study and work with a variety of organizations in Connecticut that assist the state’s migrant community. Students will travel on a weekly basis to organizations in Hartford and to farms throughout the area; consequently, you will need to arrange your schedule to accommodate approximately 3 hours of work per week, plus travel time. The organizations may include: Hispanic Health Council (migrant health research); Hartford Public Library (ESOL and citizenship instruction); CT Council Against Domestic Violence (transcription work); Collegiate Health Service Corps or Connecticut Council on Occupational Safety and Health (COSH) in Newington, CT (farm worker health and labor education); and Greater Hartford Legal Aid (legal advocacy).

Permission number A permission number is required. Please email honors@uconn.edu and include (1) your name; (2) your 7-digit Student Admin number; (3) your registration “pick time” for Fall 2017; (4) the class number (9377 or 9329); (5) the course number and section (HIST 1570-001 or LLAS 1570-001); (6) the semester you entered UConn as a freshman (e.g., Fall 2016); (7) confirmation that there are seats available in the class you selected; and (8) your commitment to approximately 3 hours of service work, plus travel time, per week.

MCB 1405: Honors Core: The Genetics Revolution in Contemporary Culture

This course introduces students to genetics and genetic technologies. Various forms of popular culture—news clips, movies, books, and art—are used to provide a framework for the syllabus and to introduce students to different genetics and technology topics. A textbook introduces the scientific material, which is discussed in the context of the interpretation of science in modern society. Students study the scientific principles of genetics and genetic technology as well as the impact these topics have had on our culture, attitudes towards science, domestic and foreign policy, medical practice, and law.

Trouble registering? This class is open to freshmen and sophomores in the Honors Program. If you will be a first- or second-year Honors student with 54 or more credits in Fall 2017 and you want to register for this course, please email honors@uconn.edu and include (1) your name; (2) your 7-digit Student Admin number; (3) your registration “pick time” for Fall 2017; (4) the class number (e.g., 14440); (5) the course number and section (e.g., MCB 1405-001D); (6) the semester you entered UConn as a freshman (e.g., Fall 2016); and (7) confirmation that there are seats available in the course.

MCB 3895-001L, 002L: Special Topics: The Small Microbial World: Crowdsourcing Antibiotic Discovery

A $75 lab fee will be charged for this course.

The purpose of this course is to provide underclassmen and non-science majors with an opportunity to undertake real-world scientific research in a fun, supportive, and immersive environment. As part of the Small World Initiative, you will join with college students around the globe to crowdsource antibiotic drug discovery. Your guided independent research projects will involve taking soil samples, isolating bacteria within them, and testing them for antibiotic activity, and there is the opportunity for further pursuit of any promising findings. We have access to the database generated by students at other Small World sites, allowing us to explore issues of biodiversity, effective use of large data sets in the sciences, and the effectiveness of crowdsourcing for scientific research. At the end of the semester, your results will join that database.

As part of the Honors Core, UConn’s Small World course adds an interdisciplinary emphasis on the social aspects of disease: its definition, what it means to be “diseased,” how those definitions have changed over time, and the pivotal role of antibiotics in the evolution of those definitions. We will use both fiction and non-fiction in this exploration, and we will end up in the modern era to consider antibiotic-resistant microorganisms and the ethical, philosophical, and policy issues we may face if antibiotics cease to be effective in treating many common diseases.

POLS 2062: Privacy in the Information Age

Privacy is one of the most important concepts of our time, yet it is also one of the most puzzling. As technology makes information more accessible; academics, activists, policymakers, and citizens struggle to define (and redefine) the meaning of privacy. By providing a thematic overview of the topic of privacy from a variety of disciplinary perspectives, this course prepares Honors students for critical engagement with the many and diverse public policy, legal, and ethical debates that surround privacy.

The course focus will provide students with the opportunity to participate in weekly seminar discussions regarding the impact of technology on the ways in which privacy is conceptualized, valued, enacted, and protected.

Topics of analysis include, but are not limited to:

  • The history of privacy
  • Cultural variations of privacy
  • Philosophical definitions of privacy and debates about the moral/ethical status of privacy
  • Legal/constitutional interpretations of the right to privacy
  • The impact of technology on the meaning of privacy

POLS 3622: American Political Leadership

This course will approach the subject of American Political Leadership from a number of different perspectives.   Students will review  groundbreaking studies on leadership that hail from a variety of disciplines, as well as extensive case studies of U.S. political leaders.   Students will be asked to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of existing approaches to the study of political leadership.   We will also conduct simulations in which students assume different roles in political conflicts; through these simulations, students may effectively test some of the findings on leadership that have already been discussed. At least two themes will receive special emphasis over the course of the semester:  (1) how do the structure of American political institutions, American political culture, and American democratic principles define both opportunities and constraints for political leaders? and (2) Do great leaders make history or does history make great leaders, and how can we even know the difference?

Note POLS 3622 is coded at the catalog level as “open to juniors or higher” but other students may contact Prof. Yalof for a permission number. In your email, confirm that you are a member of the Honors Program, provide your PeopleSoft number, and very briefly explain your interest in taking the course.

POLS/WGSS 3247: Gender and War

War is studied in this course as a range of experiences with armed political violence in the international system. Men, women, and children experience war directly or indirectly through media representations of war, gender combat practices, the militarization of masculinity, terror wars and women suicide bombers, rape in war, use of child soldiers, refugee camps, and through the application of international laws governing gender relations in war and post-war situations. To illustrate these and other points we consider recent wars in Syria, Iraq, the Congo and Sudan using a variety of resources including testimonials, fiction, autobiography, and academic studies. Throughout the course, students work in groups on these wars and periodically present their research and updates to the class.

Note POLS/WGSS 3247 is coded at the catalog level as “open to juniors or higher” but other Honors students may contact Prof. Sylvester for a permission number. In your email, confirm that you are a member of the Honors Program, provide your PeopleSoft number, and very briefly explain your interest in taking the course.

SOCI 2509W: Sociology of Anti-Semitism

Open to sophomores or higher. Requires ENGL 1010, 1011, 2011, or 3800.

In 1898, Mark Twain wrote an article about “a remarkable scene in the Imperial Parliament in Vienna,” entitled “Stirring Times in Austria,” which revealed the openness of anti-Semitism.  He received a number of letters in response to his article and one came from a lawyer, which contained several questions:

Now will you kindly tell me why, in your judgment, the Jews have thus ever been and are even now, in these days of supposed intelligence, the butt of baseless, vicious animosities?  I dare say that for centuries there have been no more quiet, undisturbing, and well-behaving citizens, as a class, than that same Jew. It seems to me that ignorance and fanaticism cannot alone account for these horrible and unjust persecutions. Tell me, therefore, from your vantage point of cold view, what in your mind is the cause. Can American Jews do anything to correct it either in America or abroad? Will it ever come to an end? Will a Jew be permitted to live honestly, decently, and peaceably like the rest of mankind? What has become of the Golden Rule?

Twain, Mark. Concerning the Jews. Philadelphia: Running Press, 1985:12

More than a century later, after the destruction of the Holocaust, we are still confronting these questions. Thus, this course will apply several perspectives of sociological analysis to the understanding and explanation of anti-Semitism within diverse societies. Theoretical and empirical materials bearing on this topic will be examined and analyzed. In addition, a trip to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum or a similar institution may be arranged (contingent on funding). This course will be useful to students interested in such topics as religion, ethnicity, intergroup relations, prejudice, discrimination, and racism.

SOCI 3823: Sociology of Law: Global and Comparative Perspectives

The course will examine the relationship between law and social change. We will examine the impact of Western Law on Third World countries, the ways in which legal strategies can and have challenged inequality based on class, race, sex, religion and sexuality, and the impact of international human rights treaties. Students will become knowledgeable about different types of legal systems and will learn to analyze the ways in which the law contends with issues of difference and inequality. Students will also be able to analyze the interrelationships between the law, social structure, and the ways in which nations are linked globally.

In this course, students examine:

  • Theoretical perspectives and empirical studies relating the type of law found in a society to its social structure
  • How the law figures into fundamental social change
  • Anthropological studies of dispute processing in societies that are structured primarily on the basis of kinship
  • What impact the introduction of Western Law into Third World countries has had on economic growth, democratic political development, and human rights protections
  • Cross-national influences on law in the post-colonial world
  • The ways in which legal strategies can and have challenged inequality based on class, race, sex, religion, and sexuality
  • The critiques and limits of legal approaches to social change
  • What is the impact of international human rights treaties on the legal systems of different countries?
  • To what extent are international treaty obligations relevant in domestic court proceedings?
  • What is the relationship between social movements and the law?

Note SOCI 3823 is coded at the catalog level as “open to juniors or higher” but other students may contact Prof. Bernstein for a permission number. In your email, confirm that you are a member of the Honors Program, provide your PeopleSoft number, and very briefly explain your interest in taking the course.