Fall 2014 Featured Courses

FINA 3995-001: Protecting the Creative Spirit: The Law and the Arts (Conversion opportunity)

Instructors: Kate McGovern and Peter McGovern, UConn Law School

The instructors for this new class will be happy to offer Honors conversions for interested students.

An essential course for all students interested in careers in the arts (including creative writing!), law, library science, journalism, or non-profit cultural institutions. This course introduces students to the Law involved in creative practice. Topics addressed include national and international copyright law, trademarks, licensing, contract negotiations, and more. No background necessary.

LLAS 5105-001/HDFS 5002-001: Latina/os: Race, Reproduction, and Immigration

Instructor: Marysol Asencio

Professor Asencio invites Honors students to enroll in her new graduate course. With your Honors advisor’s approval, graduate courses may be included in your Honors Final Plan of Study for graduation. They also count toward your Honors participation requirements.

Description: This interdisciplinary social science course centers on the racial framing of the Latina/o population in the United States in terms of reproduction and immigration. This course utilizes an intersectional lens to explore the connections of race, gender, class, national origin, religion, and sexuality within structures of power, nation-building, citizenship, and the attending social and health inequities. The course begins with the development of the concept of race and racial concerns and policies targeting reproduction and immigration across key periods in U.S. history. Thus, providing a background to current debates/concerns, policies, and the material conditions of Latina/os and other minority populations in terms of reproduction and immigration. The course will cover structural racism and privilege, racial-ethnic identification, citizenship, documented and undocumented immigration, fertility, families, motherhood, children, reproductive health access and care as well as the structural continuation of social and health inequities within the United States. The course will also address the connections of race, reproduction and immigration in the United States with the global south.

Fall 2014 Political Science Graduate Seminars

The political science department invites Honors students to consider taking one of the following graduate seminars. With your advisor’s approval, graduate courses may be included in your Honors Final Plan of Study for graduation. They also count toward your Honors participation requirements.

Lyle Scruggs

Social Policy is a large, interdisciplinary field drawing liberally from disciplines of political science, sociology, and economics. It encompasses everything from national public pension programs to neighborhood drug rehabilitation programs. In terms of resource commitment, it is the guts of modern government policy in wealthy countries, and is likely to become so (if it is not already) in emerging countries.

This course is a theoretical overview of comparative social policy, with an emphasis on contemporary research on the political economy of welfare states in Europe and North America. The field ranges from rather abstract theoretical and “macro” to the very practical “micro” aspects of individual case work. We will pay most attention to the theoretical and “macro” issues in this class. (Neighborhood and casework levels are usually emphasized in Schools of Social Work and Public Administration.)

Prakash Kashwan

Introduction to the data analysis techniques most often used by political scientists. Requires no previous background in statistics.

Over the past several years that Professor Kashwan has taught this class, he has developed a ‘non-mathematical’ approach to introductory statistics. The focus of the class, instead is on helping students become adept at understanding and applying the tools of statistics to political and economic questions of the day. This approach facilitates quality student engagement in the group projects that students work on for the semester. The style and the contents of teaching have resonated with students, which is evident in anonymous student evaluations, such as the following comments:

“Quantitative terms and concepts were presented in a way that was easily understood by liberal arts students.”

“Professor Kashwan – YOU ARE SO POSITIVE! You have a great attitude, you keep the humor and morale up in class and you clearly care about the happiness and success of your students. You are my favorite professor for that reason.”

PSYC 3885-001: Special Topics: Community-Based Participatory Research in Obesity Prevention, I

Instructor: Amy Gorin

5 credit course. This course is intended to be taken as part of a year-long sequence; part II will be offered in Spring 2015.

This course provides a unique opportunity to study a complex health problem – obesity – from a social ecological perspective and to work with community partners to assist in the development, implementation, and evaluation of a statewide obesity prevention campaign using community-based participatory research methodology. Lectures focus on current obesity trends, causal factors of excessive weight, and the consequences of obesity. Community-based participatory research skills include focus groups, interviews, and environmental audits to develop an obesity prevention program that meets the needs of a diverse population. The course is designed for honors students and other advanced undergraduates with an interest in applied research, nutrition, physical activity, and health behavior change.

For more information about the course or the Obesity Prevention Learning Consortium, please contact Dr. Amy Gorin.

POLS 2998-011: Political Issues: Congressional Elections

Instructor: Paul S. Herrnson

The outcome of the 2014 congressional elections will not only determine who controls Congress; it also will have an impact on healthcare policy, taxes, immigration reform, international relations, and who sits on the federal courts. This seminar focuses on congressional elections, drawing on examples from the upcoming election cycle.

Congressional elections will be examined from several perspectives, including those of candidates, party officials, interest group leaders, journalists, and scholars. The class will cover the backgrounds of congressional candidates; the decision to run for office; campaign finance, strategy, and communications; and the activities of political parties, interest groups, and the mass media. We also will examine the factors that separate winners from losers, the impact of elections on policymaking, and election reform.

Students who enroll in the course will receive insider perspectives from internationally-recognized political consultants from firms that have been involved in presidential, congressional, and statewide campaigns. These and briefings from other on- and off-campus experts will provide networking opportunities. Students who excel in the class may be offered an opportunity to work on campus at the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research.

Requirements: Each student will become an expert on one congressional election and write a few short reports and a longer paper that draws from the reports to provide an overview of their election. Other assignments include a 2-page paper predicting the net change in the number of congressional seats held nationally by each party.  Class participation is required.

POLS 2998-009: Political Issues: The Politics of Judicial Selection

Instructor: Virginia Hettinger

Judges in the United States are selected through a variety of mechanisms. (Some are elected. Some are appointed.)
Judges in the United States serve for different periods of time. (Some enjoy life tenure. Some have fixed terms.)
Does any of this matter? Do judges behave differently if they are elected to fixed terms? Is that a good thing or a bad thing? Does the public care if judges campaign like other politicians?

This class explores how political scientists are trying to answer these questions, and you will have a part in trying to discover some of those answers! You will read the most current research in this area of political science. You will examine new evidence and new data.

This is a great opportunity to find out what goes into creating a research project. How do political scientists form research questions? What are different ways of answering those questions? How can I begin thinking about questions for my own research?

BADM/MGMT 4895-001: Special Topics: Managing Creativity & Innovation in the Context of Nano-Enabled Technologies

Instructor: Nora Madjar

This is a course about developing creativity-relevant skills and applying them directly in the context of nano-enabled technologies. The purpose of this course is to increase students’ ability to understand and implement creativity and innovation, and to help them come up with new ideas about products, processes or solutions using nano-enabled technologies. Specific applications will emphasize bio/medicine and energy.

Students will be given complex and/or loosely defined open-ended problems. Students will be challenged to think critically about possible new applications of the given nano-enabled technology or new solutions to global challenges that use the same technology in different ways. Students will have a first-hand encounter with all stages of the creative process, through thinking about big societal problems that require solutions, generating alternative ideas related to nano-enabled technologies, evaluating their potential impact and developing an actionable plan for managing the development and implementation of the idea into an innovative solution.

The objectives of the course are:

  1. to help students develop frameworks and tools to improve individual, team, and organizational creativity
  2. to help students apply creative thinking methods and concepts to diagnose and solve problems or pursue opportunities for improvement and innovation
  3. to teach students how to evaluate the potential and impact of ideas and solutions and compare alternatives in a socially and environmentally responsible way
  4.  to develop students’ team management skills  as well as ability to lead for creativity and innovation.

Business students: Register for MGMT 4895-001. This course will count as an approved elective for MGMT students with a concentration in Entrepreneurship and as a business elective for all other Business majors.
Engineering students: Register for BADM 4895-001. You may be able to count this course toward engineering program requirements. Contact Professor Leslie Shor for details.
All other students: Register for BADM 4895-001 and speak to your advisor about whether this course can apply toward degree requirements and/or your Honors plan of study. It will automatically apply toward your Honors participation requirement.

Honors Courses in Linguistics

Two Honors courses will be offered in linguistics during Fall 2014. These descriptions are from previous Honors offerings of the courses, so some details may change.

LING 1010-025: Language and Mind

This course is an introduction to the scientific study of human language. Two fundamental questions will drive the discussion in the course – what exactly do we “know” when we know our native language, and how exactly did we come to know it? After an introduction to these questions, as they are relevant to both spoken and sign languages, we will explore linguistic theory, by introducing the tools that are required for linguistic analysis of sound patterns (phonology), word formation (morphology), sentence structure (syntax), sentence meaning (truth-conditional semantics), and meaning in context (pragmatics). The linguistic theory will also be applied in discussions of language acquisition. Throughout discussion of these various topics, students will be asked to examine and reflect upon the question of what language can tell us about the human mind. (CA 1)

LING 2010Q-004: The Science of Linguistics

An introduction to the methods and major findings of linguistic research as applied to the sound systems of languages and the structure and meaning of words and sentences. Topics may include morphology, phonetics, phonology, syntax, semantics, variation, pragmatics, and language acquisition. (CA3, Q)

HRTS 3295-002: Special Topics: International Human Rights Law

Instructor: Molly Land

This course will survey the theory and practice of international human rights law. We will examine the historical foundations of international human rights law; the primary international and regional human rights instruments; and the domestic, regional, and international forums that human rights advocates use to increase respect for international human rights. The course will also address the roles, activities, and obligations of corporations and non-governmental organizations; mechanisms and strategies of human rights enforcement; and selected current issues in the field, such as the right to health, international criminal law, trade, national security, self-determination, and women’s human rights.

PHIL 1101: Problems of Philosophy

Two Honors sections of PHIL 1101 will be offered in Fall 2014.

PHIL 1101-001 (Donald Baxter)

The purposes of Philosophy 1101 H are:

  1. to introduce students to some of the great thinkers and great issues of western philosophy.
  2. to train students in critical thinking, complex reasoning, and clear, persuasive speaking and writing.
  3. to promote reason and civil discourse in debates with others.

The course emphasizes that the sort of discussion taught in philosophy classes is an essential way of inquiring into matters of value, and so is important for coming to wise decisions on the personal, political, moral, religious, social, etc. issues faced by everyone in their lives. Topics include God and Religion, Mind, Self, Freedom, Morality, and Ethical Problems. The textbook will be John Cottingham, ed. Western Philosophy: An Anthology, 2nd Edition. Students are strongly encouraged to participate in class discussion, which will takes issues beyond the elementary exposition of non-honors sections.

PHIL 1101-002 (Mitchell Green)

Philosophy is the replacement of intellectual habit with intellectual discipline.  One who knows how to philosophize is in possession not so much of a body of knowledge as a skill, namely, the skill to think critically and circumspectly about issues that science alone is unable to settle but that nevertheless daily confront anyone who purports to live an examined life.  In that spirit, this course is intended as a general and non-technical introduction to the main traditional problems of metaphysics, ethics, and the theory of knowledge as they are to be found in the writings of historical figures (such as Plato, Descartes, Pascal, Leibniz, Hume, and John Stuart Mill) and contemporary authors.  Among our questions will be:  Can we be rationally justified in believing in the existence of a divine being?  How can the will be free in a world governed by physical law?  Is the rightness or wrongness of an act a matter of the conventions of the society in which that act is performed or can morality transcend social norms?  Is there a difference in principle between knowledge as it is conveyed by science and beliefs or opinions that we might form in other ways, for instance on the basis of intuition?  Is the mind so related to the body that it could survive the latter’s death or are “mind” and “brain” two ways of referring to the same thing?  This course is intended for those making a first approach to the subject, either to gain an idea of its scope or in order to lay a foundation for further study.

Prerequisites:  None.
Requirements: Two papers, a midterm examination, a final examination, and active participation in discussion.