University of Vermont

The Honors College

Sophomore Seminars: Spring 2010

HCOL 196 A
The Worlds of Dante
Professor Antonello Borra, Department of Romance Languages
TIME CHANGED TO: MWF 11:45 - 12:35
North Complex 016

Only a few authors have managed to condense in their work all that their age knew and establish themselves as models for generations of writers to come, inventing the very language in which their followers were to express their own work. This is certainly the case with Dante, whose Commedia after seven centuries still challenges and fascinates readers and writers regardless of their cultural backgrounds and systems of belief. Before delving into the Commedia, we will also analyze Dante's intellectual autobiography (Vita nuova) and read from his treatise on language (De vulgari eloquentia) and his philosophical compendium (Convivio), works that are essential for a fuller understanding of the poet's masterpiece

HCOL 196 B
Strengthening Health Policy & Health: Translating Science into Policy and Practice to Improve Health
Professor Jan Carney, College of Medicine
TR 8:30 - 9:45
North Complex 016

Course Syllabus (pdf)

In the United States, we spend oodles of dollars on health care and have unprecedented technological advances. So, why aren't we all healthier? Why don't we prevent health problems before a crisis occurs? In this seminar, we will identify and understand tensions among science, economics, education, government, and politics, and their impact on translating science into practice to improve health. We will identify credible sources of health information on research issues such as obesity and diabetes, vaccine safety, access to health care, global tobacco use, among others, to first understand, and then propose creative and multidisciplinary solutions to improve health.

HCOL 196 C
Ethnobotany: Linking Ecology, Economics and Culture
Professor Marta Ceroni, Department of Plant Biology
TR 2:30-3:45
North Complex 016

Course Syllabus (pdf)

Ethnobotany is the study of the relationship between plants and people. The course will address this relationship in an innovative and integrated context by using concepts from ecological economics. The course stresses the potential of ethnobotany to address contemporary problems such as the preservation of useful plant species, local knowledge and rural economies. How do market forces drive the use of plant resources? Who are modern bio-pirates? Who owns native culture? What is shamanism? These are some of the questions addressed in this course through lectures from the main instructor and guest speakers, field trips, and problem-based projects.

HCOL 196 D
Sustainable Water Management
Professor Aleksandra Drizo, Department of Plant and Soil Science
TR 2:30-3:45
North Complex 34F

Course Syllabus (pdf)

This course will provide an overview of current and novel technologies for water pollution treatment and control. Due to nutrient pollution of freshwaters arising from point and non-point sources and subsequent eutrophication, finding a viable option for nutrient reduction has become one of the most pressing water quality concerns throughout the world. In Vermont, phosphorus pollution entering the Lake Champlain basin leads to frequent algal blooms and deterioration of the lake water quality, posing a serious threat to the environmental and economic vitality of the basin, and as a result, phosphorus reduction has been identified as one of the highest environmental priority issues of Lake Champlain.

The course will discuss global problem of nutrient and pathogen pollution of water courses; phosphorus and sediment enrichment of Lake Champlain; governmental water regulations; the applications of current best management practices (BMPs), accepted agricultural practices (AAPs) , constructed wetlands and innovative filter technologies for sustainable water management. In addition, students will have opportunity to learn basic procedures for laboratory water analyses.

HCOL 196 E
Constitutional Law: Civil Rights
Professor Alec Ewald, Department of Political Science
TR 11:30 - 12:45
North Complex 016

Course Syllabus (pdf)

This course examines the American constitutional law of equality, an important entry point into the problem of difference in American law and politics. Though we devote considerable time to how non-judicial actors have interpreted and constructed social and political (in)equality, cases decided by the U.S. Supreme Court form the backbone of the course. Among other themes, we'll focus on how U.S. courts have made sense of the noble generalities of the Fourteenth Amendment; the particular kinds of power exerted by the Supreme Court, which finds itself both independent of and dependent upon the legislative and executive branches; and how advocates wield precedent and analogy, forcing courts to draw philosophical and empirical comparisons between forms of subordination based on race, class, gender, and sexual orientation.

HCOL 196 F
Introduction to Music Archaelogy
Professor John Franklin, Department of Classics
MWF 3:00 - 3:50
North Complex 34F

Course Syllabus (pdf)

This course is an introduction to the emerging field of music archaeology, at the intersection of ethnomusicology ("the anthropology of music", in A. Merriam's classic definition) and archaeology in the broadest sense ("Altertumswissenschaft, The science of antiquity"). Thus it deals both with the music of ancient cultures, and the historical dimension of living traditions. The course will provide an introduction to the various sources and methods for reimagining and sometimes reconstructing lost musical traditions (visual representations, instrument remains, theoretical writings, actual scores, etc.). These vary considerably from one case to the next. B. Nettl's standard "Theory and Method in Ethnomusicology" (1964), and selected 'archaeological' readings, will provide an initial theoretical grounding. A number of case studies from different cultures and periods will then be drawn from the publications of the International Study Group on Music Archaeology, which exemplify a wide range of current approaches.

In the second third of the semester the course will move on to a more in-depth study of ancient Greek music. Because we are best informed about this tradition, which is even represented by ancient musical scores, it illustrates most fully the field's problems and potentials. We will also read several Greek theoretical and music-historical texts. This section will gradually yield to presentations of student research on a topic of choice, leading towards a final paper. No previous musical experience is required, although some basics will need to be mastered.

HCOL 196 G
Psychology of Music
Professor Michael Hopkins, Department of Music
MWF 10:40 - 11:30
North Complex 016

Course Syllabus (pdf)

Music plays an important role in our lives. Its ubiquitous presence has a tremendous influence on how we think and feel about the world around us. But how much do we actually understand about this powerful phenomenon? The purpose of this course is to examine musical phenomena in terms of mental functions - to characterize the way that we perceive, remember, create and perform music. This course will explore topics such as the nature of musical sound; music and the auditory system; expectations and musical style; rhythm, timing, and movement in music; the development of music perception and cognition; and emotion and meaning in music. No formal musical training is required to take this course.

HCOL 196 H
License & Registration, Please! The Detection of Deception and (Post) Modern Angst
Professor Jinny Huh, Department of English
TR 1:00 - 2:15
North Complex 016

Course Syllabus (pdf)

What does it mean, as it does for Sherlock Holmes, to "know where to look" for clues and markers of identity? What is the method of detection Holmes is constantly referring to and, furthermore, why is it so necessary? This interdisciplinary course will examine how the trope of detection became prevalent during the past 150 years as an answer to cultural anxieties of an ever-changing world. We will begin by looking at how literary detective figures help assuage fears produced by a new (post)modern society through the scientific rationalism of Doyle, Poe, and Freud to the hard-boiled tradition of Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler to contemporary and multiethnic writers/respondents such as Walter Mosley, Toni Morrison, and David Henry Hwang. Some of the questions addressed will include: What are the deceptions that need to be detected and how are they discovered? Who is allowed the authority to detect? We will also analyze examples of failed detection through the eyes of the undetected. These novels will illustrate how the politics of race, gender, and sexuality complicate and continue to problematize our need for systematic order by revealing the consequences of undetection. For example, what are the ramifications when physical signifiers of identity can no longer be discerned as illustrated in passing novels such as M. Butterfly and Passing? Or, as illustrated in Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man, how and why can the visually obvious never be detected? Finally, this course will also examine how the anxiety of detection as illustrated in literary and film studies is also rampant within our current political and cultural climate (such as recent debates around immigration policy, Affirmative Action, and the Patriot Act).

In addition to the preceding texts and films, we will also examine historical writings in racial science, law, and anthropology as well as theoretical works by Michel Foucault, Dorinne Kondo, Judith Butler, bell hooks, Amy Robinson, Mike Davis, and others.

HCOL 196 I
Crime & Justice in America
Professor Nicole Phelps, Department of History
MW 4:05 - 5:20
North Complex 34F

Course Syllabus (pdf)

In this class, we will explore the history of the concept of justice in the United States as expressed through legislation, criminal proceedings, journalism and popular representations of crime and the law, and extralegal violence. We will study changing definitions of crime and justice in American history from the eighteenth century to the present; developments in legislation, agencies of enforcement, investigative techniques, standards of evidence, the trial process, the penal system, executions, and media coverage; and extralegal efforts to obtain justice.

How does a focus on criminality and the law alter our perspective of America? Is the United States a country of law and order? freedom? disrespect for authority? When have people taken the law into their own hands, and why? Grades will be based primarily on participation in class discussions of a variety of primary and secondary source texts and an individually selected research project.

HCOL 196 J
Ecological Approach to Living Well in Place
Professor Walter Poleman
W 12:50 - 3:50
South Complex 027

This course is designed for students from all backgrounds and majors to cultivate their and understanding of ecology and the local landscape. Using Chittenden County as a stage, we'll examine the ecology of place, and investigate the unfolding relationship between community and landscape. The main objectives of the course are to explore key ecological principles and their importance in understanding the places we live, cultivate an understanding of our individual and collective impacts on our environment, and encourage reflection on how one's academic discipline can inform our understanding of ecosystem function and contribute to environmental problem solving.

This course will meet once a week for 3 hours. Every third week we will travel to various field sites around Chittenden County with a goal of understanding why the surrounding landscape looks the way it does. We'll utilize an interdisciplinary approach to landscape analysis that stresses not only inventorying the biotic and physical components (pieces), but examining how these pieces are distributed in the landscape (patterns) and what forces drive these patterns (processes). Natural history writing, photography, and sketching are included the course as a tools for focusing observation skills in the field. Course readings and discussions will focus on how we might use emerging principles of ecological design and whole systems thinking as guides to living well in place.

HCOL 196 K
Computers of the Future
Professor Robert Snapp, Department of Computer Science
TR 10:00 - 11:15
North Complex 016

Course Syllabus (pdf)

For the last fifty years, the power of digital computers has been growing at an exponential rate, changing the way people work, recreate, and interact. Can this rapid rate of technological development continue? If so, what will the next generation of computers be able to do, and how will they change the way we live? In Computers of the Future we will address these questions and speculate how these new computers are likely to impact, science, society, and the human condition. We will begin with Alan Turing's prophetic article "Computing Machinery and Intelligence" (1950), which offers a procedure for answering the question "Can a machine think?" The heart of the course will involve careful readings of two futuristic perspectives. In Godel, Escher, Bach (1979), Douglas Hofstadter argues that human thought (i.e., consciousness) is reducible to formal rules, and consequently, it should be possible to create an intelligent and conscious machine. This challenging text (over 700 pages) artfully weaves music, visual art, Zen Buddhism, and formal logic into entertaining analogies of human thought. Finally, we shall read Ray Kurzweil's The Singularity is Near:When Humans Transcend Biology (2005), which predicts the eventual fusion between human and machine intelligence during the mid 21st century, and envisions how this event will irrevocably redefine the nature of humanity.

During the course of these readings we will discuss the nature of artificial intelligence, neural networks, and quantum computers. Students will be required to write three ten-page essays. Conceptual and quantitative exercises will also be occasionally assigned. There are no prerequisites.

HCOL 196 L
Humans & The Ecosystem
Professor Larry Forcier
MW 4:05 - 5:20
South Complex 27

Course Syllabus (pdf)

The seminar will examine a practical definition of the ecosystem concept and then determine the role of human society within the ecosystem. Following interactions with a number of senior faculty members representing a variety of disciplines, the seminar will select a scale of ecosystem that includes within its boundaries the place where members of the seminar live. The seminar will assess the wisdom of human institutions and past actions in promoting a sustainable ecosystem. Based on this analysis, the seminar will again select an appropriately sized ecosystem and propose a policy framework that will enhance the probability of that ecosystem being sustainable for the next 40 years and beyond. Students will be graded on participation, oral presentations, a term paper.

HCOL 196 M
Sports Nutrition
Professor Robert Tyzbir, Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences
W 4:05 - 7:05
North Complex 016

Course Syllabus (pdf)

This course presents the scientific basis for feeding recreational and competitive athletes. It emphasizes basic nutritional concepts, energy expenditure during resistance and endurance exercise, diet recommended during training, timing and composition of the pre- and post- competition meals, hydration, use of nutrient supplements, ergogenic/ergolytic aids, and special needs of various athletic groups, e.g. diabetic athletes, female athletes and older athlete. Students will learn the weekly material on their own via webct, use critical thinking skills to reflect on its meaning and application, and develop a comprehensive question about it. Students will come together once per week to discuss the material in small groups or teams and then as a class when each team will present to the class the one question their team deemed most important. The class will then debate/discuss each presentation and decide which team had the most pertinent question. Hence, each weekly 3 hour class is a seminar devoted to debating/discussing the weekly material in such a way that the students learn, think, apply, and teach the material to each other.

Last modified March 24 2010 03:05 PM