Honors Core Courses: Fall 2018

The following Fall 2018 Honors courses will fulfill the Honors Core requirement for Sophomore Honors (for entering class of Fall 2017) or University Honors Laureate (for entering class of Fall 2018).  Always check to make sure you are registered for an Honors section.

Course Number Title Gen Ed Honors*
AMST 1700 American Landscapes – Walden and the American Landscape  CA 1 A&H
ANTH 2400 Honors Core: Analyzing Religion CA 2, CA 4-Int SS, D&M
ECON 1108 Game Theory in the Natural and Social Sciences  CA 2 SS
HIST/LLAS 1570 Migrant Workers in Connecticut  CA 1, CA 4 A&H, D&M
MCB 1405 Genetics Revolution in Contemporary Culture  CA 3 STEM
MCB 2612 Honors Core: Microbe Hunters – Crowdsourcing Antibiotic Discovery  CA 3-Lab STEM
PHIL 2410 Know Thyself  CA 1 A&H
POLS 2062W Privacy in the Information Age  W SS
POLS 3208W Politics of Oil  CA 2, W SS
POLS 3608 The Art, Science, and Business of Political Campaigns SS
SOCI 2509W Sociology of Anti-Semitism  CA 4-Int, W SS, D&M

Distribution categories for the University Honors Laureate award, entering class of Fall 2018 

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

Political change?  Sustainability? Literature?  Environment?  Immigration?  Social media?  Race? If these are your issues, then Henry David Thoreau’s prophetic Walden is a book for you.

Published in 1854, Walden; or Life in the Woods is a literary classic, arguably America’s greatest work of literary non-fiction. It’s a manifesto for living your life deliberately and a recipe for finding your place in Nature. Its namesake pond, Walden, quickly became an important icon for the environmental movement.

The first half of the course prepares us to read Walden. On our first field trip we’ll circle Walden Pond and visit other historic sites in Concord, MA. Our other local field trips will explore UConn’s natural history collections, an archive of rare books, and a nature sanctuary. Our lectures will integrate subjects normally taught separately –history, geology, literature, art, religion, science.  The second half of the course is devoted to reading Walden in bite-sized chunks, and then discussing how Thoreau’s intellectually radical ideas help ground and frame modern political and social issues.

Lectures and field trips are taught by both professors. For discussions you will be placed in a section, with the same professor all semester. There are no exams.

By the end of the course you will understand yourself more clearly, and within the context of Nature and society.

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 2018 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 (14130); (4) the course number and section (AMST 1700-001); (5) the semester you entered UConn as a freshman (e.g., Fall 2017); and (6) confirmation that there are seats available in the course.

ANTH 2400: Honors Core: Analyzing Religion

This course is an interdisciplinary introduction to the academic study of religion. The goal of the course is to acquaint students with frameworks for understanding religion as an institution embedded in culture and social life. Students will learn conceptual tools for understanding religious phenomena and religious conflicts in their social, historical, and political contexts, and will consider rationalist and atheist critiques of ‘religion’ and religious belief. Analysis of the common components of religion–theology, cosmology, myth, ritual–will be illustrated with examples drawn from both indigenous non-Western and Western religious systems. Other topics include comparative models of the divine in the three Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam), fundamentalism, mysticism, political uses of religion, and the “science versus religion” debate. Course activities will include student-led discussions of issues and texts, group exercises, and independent projects. Active engagement in the class is expected of all students.

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—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’ SL placement will depend on transportation: They may choose any placement if they have their own car; if not, they may choose a CO volunteer experience or a placement along the Hartford busline 913. Either way, students will travel on a weekly basis to organizations 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 Students for a Dream (undocumented student advocacy); Collegiate Health Service Corps; CO tutoring programs for migrant children; Windham Hospital; 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 2018; (4) the class number (XXX or 8266); (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 2017); (7) confirmation that there are seats available in the class you selected; (8) why you are interested in taking the class and (9) 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 2018 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 2018; (4) the class number (12553 or 12554); (5) the course number and section (MCB 1405-001D or MCB 1405-002D); (6) the semester you entered UConn as a freshman (e.g., Fall 2017); and (7) confirmation that there are seats available in the course.

MCB 2612: Honors Core: Microbe Hunters – 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.

PHIL 2410: 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.

Trouble registering? This class has a catalog-level pre-requisite of PHIL 1101/1102/1103/1104/1105/1106/1107. We can override this pre-requisite. If you will be a first- or second-year Honors student in Fall 2018 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 2018; (4) the class number (14507); (5) the course number and section (PHIL 2410-001); (6) the semester you entered UConn as a freshman (e.g., Fall 2017); and (7) confirmation that there are seats available in the course.

POLS 2062W: Privacy in the Information Age

Requires ENGL 1010, 1011, or 2011.

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, or 2011.

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 3608: The Art, Science, and Business of Political Campaigns

Requires POLS 1602 or an equivalent introductory American Politics course.

Successful political campaigns rely on the creative ability, scientific knowledge, and business acumen of experts. Students will review groundbreaking studies of campaigns and elections drawn from a variety of disciplines. They also will participate in simulations involving some of the activities carried out in contemporary elections. Each student will become an expert on a single congressional election and analyze how the general election candidates’ campaigns practice the art, science, and business of politics as demonstrated by their messaging and communications, voter targeting and mobilization drives, campaign organization and fundraising, and other activities. Weekly seminars will include discussions of various aspects of elections, the impact of current events on the political environment and on the campaigns each is studying.

Trouble registering? This class has a catalog-level pre-requisite of POLS 1602. Professor Herrnson has indicated that a high school American government course or similar experience would be sufficient, even if you did not earn AP credit. If you are an Honors student 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 (12423); (4) the course number and section (POLS 3608-001); (5) confirmation that there are seats available in the course; and (6) a brief description of your knowledge of American government.

SOCI 2509W: Sociology of Anti-Semitism

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

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.