Fall 2015 Featured Courses

HRTS 5899: Governance, Development & Human Rights in Sub-Saharan Africa

Instructor: Dr. Semahagn Gashu Abebe

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.

This seminar will examine governance and development in Sub-Saharan Africa, focusing on topics of institutional development, good governance, democratization, human rights, globalisation and regional integration efforts. Students will critically analyze the opportunities and challenges of sustainable development and governance issues in Sub-Saharan Africa and compare and contrast the African context with development and governance patterns in the global north.

Dr. Abebe earned is doctoral degree at the University of Göttingen (Germany) and is a visiting scholar in the Human Rights Institute in 2015-2016.

Advanced undergraduate students are welcome. Please contact Rachel Jackson at rachel.jackson@uconn.edu or Dr. Abebe at semahagn.abebe@uconn.edu for more information.

MCB 5014: Structure & Dynamics of Macromolecular Machines

Instructors: Victoria Robinson, Eric May

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.

Biological systems are filled with “machines” which perform specific functions and involve the movement of parts of the machine and the conversion of chemical energy in mechanical work. This course will introduce students to macromolecular cellular and viral machines and the experimental and computational techniques used to study these fascinating complexes. While having an understanding of basic biochemistry is important for this course, this course may be of interest to students with a background in the physical sciences or engineering. During the course we examine several types of machines including:

  • Self-assembling nanocontainer and packing machines (Viruses)
  • Protein manufacturing machines (Ribosomes)
  • Small molecule transport/pumping machines (Ion channel and multidrug transporters)

The course sessions will involve lectures, student led discussions and computational labs. The course will conclude by having the students develop a research plan to study a machine of their choosing.

POLS 5605: Seminar in Quantitative Methods of Political Science

Instructor: Prakash Kashwan

Prof. Kashwan invites interested Honors students of all majors to take his graduate seminar. 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.

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.”

LLAS 3998-005: Variable Topics: Legal Institutions and Social Change (Conversion opportunity)

Legal Institutions and Social Change: From Latin America to the United States by Way of Europe

Instructor: Ángel Oquendo

While this is not an Honors course, Prof. Oquendo welcomes Honors students of any major and would be happy to offer Honors conversions for interested students.

This course deals with constitutional law, as well as with specific areas of private law, such as civil law, civil procedure, and business law, and considers how legal institutions further social change. It first introduces the civil law tradition, as well as legal history, comparing Latin America to the United States and Europe. The discussion then shifts to constitutional law: to the notion of constitutionalism, to basic principles, to the vindication of rights, and to second and third generation entitlements. Thereafter the focus will be civil law–i.e., civil codes, interpretation, combating codified sexism, and civil remedies–and on civil procedure–specifically on the attainment of legitimacy through procedure, on procedural guaranties, and on collective actions. The class closes with an exploration of corporate law.

Professor Oquendo is a George J. and Helen M. England Professor of Law at UConn School of Law. He has lectured and published extensively in five languages and is an authority worldwide on comparative law and international litigation. He graduated from Yale Law School and clerked for Judge Stephen Reinhardt of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

For additional information contact: El Instituto, Anne Theriault, at 860-486-5508.

UNIV 1995: Special Topics: Next Generation STEM Skills

One credit, Honors.
Jaclyn Chancey and Kaitlin Heenehan

As the next generation of innovators, researchers, entrepreneurs, and problem-solvers, STEM students will need 21st Century Skills: collaboration & communication; critical thinking & problem solving; and creativity & innovation. While these skills may develop over time through courses in students’ majors and other enrichment opportunities, they are rarely taught directly. This course, associated with a new speaker series, will engage students in the development and application of 21st century skills within an interdisciplinary STEM context–one that is focused beyond the undergraduate curriculum.

Course structureThis class will meet for two hours each Friday. The first hour (2:30 – 3:20) will be devoted to the speaker series and will be open and advertised to all interested students. The second hour (3:35 – 4:25) will consist of additional discussions and small group activities limited to those enrolled in the course.

A preview of the speaker series:

  • Dr. Colleen Spurling, Molecular and Cell Biology, will speak on communicating STEM to non-STEM audiences
  • Dr. Mike Miller, Communication, will speak on the science behind relationship building
  • Dr. Lucy Gilson, Management, will speak on effective and innovative teams
  • Dr. Scott Brown, Educational Psychology, will speak on problem solving strategies in STEM
  • Dr. Allison MacKay, Civil and Environmental Engineering, will speak on human rights and STEM
  • Dean Kazem Kazerounian, Engineering, will speak on innovation and creativity in STEM professions

A permission number is required. Please email kaitlin.heenehan@uconn.edu and include your name and 7-digit Student Admin number.

FREN 1177-002: Witches & Wizards in France

Magicians, Witches, Wizards: Parallel Beliefs and Popular Culture in France
Instructor: Anne Berthelot

This course will focus on the search for traces of a counter culture which grew out of pagan beliefs and remained latent despite the domination of Christianity from the Middle Ages to modern times. It will entail the survey of tales of magic and witchcraft, as presented by texts and films. Texts will include both primary and secondary sources, and will vary in genre, providing students with a wide range of perspectives and insights into the evolution and diversification of this counter culture. Special attention will be given to well-known supernatural figures including the witch, the vampire, and the were-beast, as well as key themes including witch-hunts, witch trials, spiritism, and voodoo.

The honors discussion section, which meets in addition to the lecture class, provides students with an opportunity to more deeply explore and discuss particular topics covered in lecture. Through a combination of discussion in a smaller group setting and individual research projects, students will gain insight in breadth and depth on topics related to those covered in lecture.

(CA 1, CA 4-Int)

EEB 3205: Current Issues in Environmental Science

Instructor: Chris Simon

This interdisciplinary class designed specifically for honors students of all majors provides a broad overview of environmental issues and their impact on society. Topics address breaking news about the seven most serious problems facing our world today:  1) loss of biodiversity; 2) climate change/energy sources;  3) emerging diseases/drug resistance;  4) toxic and solid wastes; 5) food/agriculture/genetics/nutrition;  6) overpopulation/unequal distribution of wealth; and 7) resource depletion (water, soil, air, minerals). We explore environmental problems in depth through lectures, readings, weekly current events, video clips, class discussions, visiting speakers, a tour of an energy efficient house, and a final project in the form of a PowerPoint presentation.


HRTS 3295-001: Special Topics: International Human Rights Law (Conversion opportunity)

Instructor: Molly Land

The Human Rights Institute has reserved a few seats in this course for Honors students of any major, and Prof. Land would be happy to offer Honors conversions for interested students.

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.

GEOG 1700-004: World Regional Geography

Instructor: Dean Hanink

World Regional Geography concerns a variety of global geographical patterns: environmental, cultural, economic, and others, that are related to the way the world works.  This course provides a brief survey of the patterns in general and then takes up selected continental-scale regions in turn for more specific investigation. World Regional Geography meets both the multicultural diversity (international perspective) and social science requirements of general education at UConn.  In meeting both it emphasizes the interaction between diverse groups of people both across and within many regions of the world. The course has ten writing assignments, three tests, and a weekly meeting for student presentations and discussion.

(CA 2, CA 4-Int)

Public Opinion with Pres. Herbst

We are excited to announce Pres. Susan Herbst’s first course at UConn!

POLS 3625-001: Public Opinion

Instructors: Susan Herbst, Richard Orr

What is public opinion?  Why and how does it matter in a democracy?  And how can we connect the “vox populi” with American public policy?

Public opinion is the basis for democratic theory and practice.  Without the considered, thoughtful voice of the people, it is impossible to fulfill the goals of the Founders or to match preferences of voters to the public policy that dictates their lives. The goal of this course is to evaluate and conceptualize the role of public opinion, considering its power, authority, and limitations.

We will begin with some larger theoretical ideas and debates, to introduce the context for our policy cases and visitors close to home, here in Connecticut.

Grades will determined by a combination of a take-home midterm exam, a 10-15 page final paper, and class participation.

Note POLS 3625 is coded at the catalog level as “open to juniors or higher,” but this section is open to all Honors students. If you will not have junior or senior standing in fall 2015, email honors@uconn.edu and include (1) your name; (2) your 7-digit Student Admin number; (3) the class number (10996); (4) the course number and section (POLS 3625-001); and (5) confirmation that there are seats available in the course.