Fall 2020 Core Courses

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

Successful political campaigns rely on the creative ability, scientific knowledge, and business acumen of experts. Students will review groundbreaking studies of campaigns and elections. They also will participate in simulations involving activities carried out in contemporary elections. Each student will become an expert on a single congressional election and analyze how the 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. Students will demonstrate their expertise through presentations and written assignments. Weekly seminars will include discussions of various aspects of elections and the impact of current events on congressional and presidential campaigns.

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 course number and section (POLS 3608-001); (4) the class number in Student Admin; (5) confirmation that there are seats available in the course; and (6) a brief description of your knowledge of American government.

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 defined in the catalog as open to freshmen and sophomores in the Honors Program. If you are an Honors student who will have 54 or more credits when this course is offered, you may register by emailing honors@uconn.edu and including (1) your name; (2) your 7-digit Student Admin number; (3) your registration “pick time”; (4) the course number and section (AMST 1700-001); (5) the class number from Student Admin; and (6) confirmation that there are seats available in the course.

WGSS 2105W: Gender and Science

Requires ENGL 1010, 1011, or 2011.

This class will critically examine how social constructions of gender, race, class, sexuality, and disability shape science, medicine, and technology. We will consider the complex relationships between constructions of nature, science, objectivity, and the body to highlight how culture influences the theory and practice of different sciences, medical research, and technologies.

Some of the questions we will explore include:
How does science and technology influence everyday life? How are gender, race, sexuality and nation woven through the historical development of Western sciences? How has feminist science studies intervened or critiqued the construction of science, medicine and technology?

We will look specifically at how science is used to make claims about social differences, as well as examine some social implications of medical technologies. We will examine the culture of science, the power of scientific discourse, debates on the role of science in shaping government policy, and challenges scientists have faced historically and in this contemporary political context. No scientific background or experience is required; only a willingness to critically examine both science and ourselves.

Note WGSS 2105W is coded at the catalog level as open to sophomores or higher. If you are an Honors student who will have fewer than 24 credits when this course is offered, you may register by emailing honors@uconn.edu and including (1) your name; (2) your 7-digit Student Admin number; (3) your registration “pick time”; (4) the course number and section; (5) the class number from Student Admin; and (6) confirmation that there are seats available in the course.

SOCI 1701: Society in Global Perspective

This course will introduce students to the sociological perspective of society in global perspective. The course will focus on the economic, social and cultural processes that shape contemporary society and will help students understand the links between their personal experiences and larger social forces by focusing on the transnational social relationships in which they are embedded. The course also provides an international perspective on society by elevating the contributions of classical and contemporary sociologists from outside of the traditional western canon. Students will learn to think critically about the causes and consequences of social inequalities and the social construction of human life across the globe.

This class will include active learning, peer mentoring, debates on controversial topics, and engagement (via Skype and blogs) with scholars and students in other parts of the world to help students develop global sociological imaginations.

Sources for course materials and topical coverage include sociology; environmental studies; women’s, gender, and sexuality studies; migration studies; and human rights.

AMST 1700: Honors Core: American Landscapes – The Connecticut River Valley

[UConn Hartford]

The Connecticut River is the main artery and psychological lifeblood of New England. Four hundred ten miles from its source on the United States/Canadian border to its merger with the Atlantic Ocean in the Long Island Sound, the Connecticut River Watershed Council has characterized it as a great Main Street, that “runs through the lives and livelihoods of the people and communities of the Connecticut River Valley. New England’s mightiest river, the Connecticut stands at the heart of this region’s human settlement and commerce; it is at the core of its history and culture; and it represents the essence of its environmental quality and economic vitality.” In this course, we examine different ways of thinking about this foundational natural landmark: geologically; historically; environmentally; as an economic resource; a transportation network; a focus of literature and artistic expression; as a recreational and tourism resource; and as a source of water and power.  We seek, ultimately, to fully answer just one question: WHAT IS THE CONNECTICUT RIVER?

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

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.

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 defined in the catalog as open to freshmen and sophomores in the Honors Program. If you are an Honors student who will have 54 or more credits when this course is offered, you may register by emailing honors@uconn.edu and including (1) your name; (2) your 7-digit Student Admin number; (3) your registration “pick time”; (4) the course number and section (MCB 1405-001D or MCB 1405-002D); (5) the class number from Student Admin; and (6) confirmation that there are seats available in the course.

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 Immigration Advocacy and Support Center (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”; (4) the course number and section; (5) the class number from Student Admin; (6) confirmation that there are seats available in the class you selected; (7) why you are interested in taking the class and (8) your commitment to approximately 3 hours of service work, plus travel time, per week.