Honors Core Courses: Fall 2016

The following fall 2016 Honors courses will fulfill the Honors Core requirement for Sophomore Honors. Always check and make sure you are registered for an Honors section.

Course Number Title Gen Ed
AMST 1700-001 American Landscapes – Walden and the American Landscape CA 1
ECON 1108-001 Game Theory with Applications to the Natural and Social Sciences CA 2
HIST/LLAS 1570-001 Migrant Workers in Connecticut (Service learning) CA 1, CA 4
MCB 3895-001 Special Topics: The Small Microbial World: Crowdsourcing Antibiotic Discovery
PHIL 3298-001 Variable Topics: Know Thyself
POLS 2062-001 Privacy in the Information Age
POLS 3208W Politics of Oil CA 2, W
POLS/WGSS 3247-001 Gender and War
SOCI 2509W-001 Sociology of Anti-Semitism CA 4-Int, W
SOCI 3823-001 Sociology of Law: Global and Comparative Perspectives – cancelled CA 2, CA 4-Int

AMST 1700: Honors Core: American Landscapes
Walden and the American Landscape

Do you like lively discussions about things that really matter? Would you like to visit the fountainhead of America’s environmental movement? Ever feel like digging deeply into a classic of American literature to see how it originated, and how it shapes the present?

If so, then AMST 1700, “Walden and the American Landscape,” is the course for you. Using class lectures, small-group discussions, and field trips, you will learn that Walden, by Henry David Thoreau was a voice of protest against trashing the earth and its human communities in the name of progress, a theme that resonates strongly in our modern era of global change.

During this course, we will visit Walden Pond and other historic sites in Concord, MA. Locally, we will explore a natural history museum, an archive of rare books, and a local nature sanctuary. These trips will help you will discover your own authentic “sense of place” through subjects normally taught separately: history, geology, literature, and art. Drawing on a host of intellectual influences, from Puritanism to Hinduism, Enlightenment to Romanticism, and Science to Society, Walden is the story of how one guy from mid-19th America defied conformity, challenged his neighbors, and created an authentic life for himself based on sincerity, simplicity, and independence.

Did he succeed? He thought so. Cultural critics disagree. Students of this course disagree. Debating these ideas about “deliberate living” with each other will help you learn how to live your own life as deliberately as possible.

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 2016 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) the class number (7789); (4) the course number and section (AMST 1700-001); (5) the semester you entered UConn as a freshman (e.g., Fall 2015); and (6) confirmation that there are seats available in the course.

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.

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). Transportation will be arranged.

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) the class number (10341 or 10256); (4) the course number and section (HIST 1570-001 or LLAS 1570-001); (5) the semester you entered UConn as a freshman (e.g., Fall 2015); (6) confirmation that there are seats available in the class you selected; and (7) your commitment to approximately 3 hours of service work, plus travel time, per week.

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

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.

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) the class number (10186); (4) the course number and section (MCB 3895-001); (5) the semester you entered UConn as a freshman (e.g., Fall 2015); and (6) confirmation that there are seats available in the course.

PHIL 3298-001: Variable Topics: Know Thyself

The Delphic Oracle is said to have had two premier injunctions: Nothing in excess, and Know thyself. This course will be an examination of the latter injunction. Our central questions fall into two categories. First, What is it? We shall inquire into just what self-knowledge is: Is it a form of inner perception, somewhat like proprioception, by virtue of which our minds (and hearts) have internal scanners of their own states? Or should we construe self-knowledge in a way not crucially relying on a perceptual model? In that case, what other model might we use? Second, Why is it such a big deal? We shall inquire into the question why self-knowledge should be thought so important. Just what, if anything, is missing from a person lacking in self-knowledge that makes her significantly less wise, virtuous, or able than others who have this capacity? Our exploration will take us into research in Western philosophy, psychoanalysis, current personality and social psychology, neuroscience, aesthetics, and Eastern, particularly Buddhist philosophy as well. In aid of these investigations we will become students of our own dreams, and cultivate some meditative practices. Course requirements are two papers, a midterm and final examination, and active participation in class discussion.

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 3208W: Politics of Oil

Requires ENGL 1010, 1011, 2011, or 3800.

This is a course on the complex relationship between oil and politics. It seeks to develop students’ research, thinking, and writing skills about the role of oil in the international political system as well as in domestic politics.

Today, oil undeniably affects all aspects of our lives, but who really controls oil resources and what does that mean for national and international distribution of political power? How has the contest over oil resources affected the relations among nations as well as the economic, political, social, and environmental development of oil-rich countries? What are the alternatives to oil and what needs to be done to reduce dependency on it? We address these questions as well as analyze and compare individual cases of how oil shapes the way we think about the world.

The course is conducted in a discussion format, although occasionally there are lectures. We also rely on several documentaries to generate discussion. Finally, at the end of the semester, we have formal debates on some of the most controversial topics that we cover in class, such as the necessity of more oil drilling in the U.S.; the oil motives behind diplomacy and foreign policy; the responsibility of oil companies versus governments; and the effectiveness and feasibility of oil alternatives. We invite the university community to watch and participate in our debates.

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.”  If you are an Honors student, will have fewer than 54 credits in Fall 2016, and want to register for this course, please email honors@uconn.edu and include (1) your name; (2) your 7-digit Student Admin number; (3) the class number (10384 or 10385); (4) the course number and section (POLS 3247-001 or WGSS 3247-001); (5) the semester you entered UConn as a freshman (e.g., Fall 2015); and (6) confirmation that there are seats available in 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 – Cancelled for Fall 2016

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.