University of Vermont

The Honors College

Sophomore Seminars: Fall 2013

All classes have not been evaluated for individual college/school credit. The list will be updated as we receive the information.

HCOL 185 A
Islam and Human Rights
Professor Bogac Ergene, Department of History
TR 10:00 - 11:15
402 Williams

Course Syllabus (pdf)

Are Islam and human rights compatible? Both human rights and Islam raise universal claims that may conflict in some cases. In this course, we will consider various attempts by religious and legal theorists to reconcile these claims through reinterpreting Islam or deriving human rights from Islamic sources. We will explore the practical side of these issues by examining legal documents and legal practices in various Muslim countries, paying special attention to the status of women and non-Muslim minorities. We will also examine tensions arising from Muslims living in Europe and North America, such as recent debates over secularism and religion, and multiculturalism and the scope of tolerance.

Course grades will be based on students participation in and contribution to seminar discussions and written assignments. At least one of these written assignments will be a research paper.

This class fills the following distribution/college requirements: (If you don't see your college, please contact your advisor.)

  • CAS: Humanities
  • BSAD: General Education Core Global & Regional Studies
  • CALS: Humanities and Social Sciences
  • CEMS: Satisfies humanities/social science (HSS) requirements
  • CESS:
  • CNHS: Nursing: Religion/Philosophy/Ethics, Non-Nursing: Humanities
  • RSENR:

HCOL 185 B
Geospatial Technologies
Professor Beverley Wemple - Department of Geography
MWF 9:35 - 10:25
Lafayette L400

Course Syllabus (pdf)

Emerging earth imaging systems, geovisualization tools, online georeferenced data, and spatial analysis are revolutionizing research on the environment and in the social sciences and humanities. This seminar and practicum examines the application of digital mapping and visualization technologies to address research questions with inherent spatial or place-based dynamics. Class readings will draw on primary research by scholars in anthropology, economics, history, sociology, political science, geosciences and environmental studies and sciences, who are examining complex spatial patterns and relationships. Weekly practica will give students an opportunity to gain hands-on training in the use of geographic information systems (GIS) and spatial visualization tools. We will also explore key problems in the application of this technology, including uncertainty, representation and participation. Students will be paired with a community or faculty partner to develop a project using spatial visualization or spatial analysis.

This class fills the following distribution/college requirements: (If you don't see your college, please contact your advisor.)

  • CAS: CAS credit only
  • BSAD: General Education Core Social Studies
  • CALS: Humanities and Social Sciences
  • CEMS: Satisfies humanities/social science (HSS) requirements
  • CESS:
  • CNHS: Elective Only
  • RSENR:

HCOL 185 C
Humanities and Neuroscience
Professor Catherine Connor - Romance Language Department
TR 2:30 - 3:45
U Hgts North 016

Course Syllabus (pdf)

Why do we humans find pleasure and utility in our relations with others? Where do our music, language, literature, other arts and religion originate and why do humans develop them? How are we all creative in our everyday lives? In short, how do your bodys experiences shape your particular mind-brain? Such questions of common interest bring together scholars from the neurosciences, the humanities, the arts and the social sciences who probe for answers in complementary ways. Their new cooperative studies are helping us understand how and why we humans are enticed by fiction and non-fiction, spirituality, philosophy, music, dance, theater, film and all the arts - including digital technologies. Students will explore these areas with interdisciplinary readings, varied media and guided class dialogue. For example, our study of a literary text will include seeing it embodied on stage or in film and then comparing our experiences with each. Class activities will encourage student engagement with individual projects, group discussion, writing short essays and giving presentations. Similarly, each student will identify an area of particular interest among those introduced and will pursue its culmination in his/her final project.

This class fills the following distribution/college requirements: (If you don't see your college, please contact your advisor.)

  • CAS: CAS credit only
  • BSAD: General Education Core Social Sciences or Language & Literature
  • CALS: Humanities
  • CEMS: Satisfies humanities/social science (HSS) requirements
  • CESS:
  • CNHS: Humanities/Elective
  • RSENR:

HCOL 185 D
Crafting Democratic Institutions
Professor Ned McMahon - Department of CDAE
TR 1:00 - 2:15
U Hgts North 016

Course Syllabus (pdf)

This course will address the basic question of what constitutes a democracy at the level of the nation-state.This apparently simple question is, of course, hardly that.It will pull students from a variety of disciplines into a host of fundamentally important issues surrounding definition of the democracy concept.This course will focus particularly on the issue of institutional design, i.e. what types of democratic institutions are most appropriate in different socio-politico-ethno-historical-contexts?

A challenge that faces many countries moving away from authoritarian governance to democracy is what specific institutions to adopt.This course will draw on a rich body of academic and theoretical literature, analyses of specific issues, and the experience of individual and organizational practitioners. Students will be challenged to absorb and internalize key concepts relating to democratic institutional development of a particular country.

This class fills the following distribution/college requirements: (If you don't see your college, please contact your advisor.)

  • CAS: Social Science, CAS credit
  • BSAD: General Education Core Social Sciences
  • CALS: Humanities and Social Sciences
  • CEMS: Satisfies humanities/social science (HSS) requirements
  • CESS:
  • CNHS: Elective
  • RSENR:

HCOL 185 E
Political Economy for a Finite Planet
Professor Eric Zencey- RSENR
TR 11:30 - 12:45
U Hgts North 016

This course will examine the ways that contemporary economic and political theory, and institutions and practices grounded on them, encode the assumption that the planet is infinite. It will ask students to explore and evaluate ways of adapting those ideas, institutions and practices to a world that has ecological limits. Many people have come to the realization that our physical infrastructure needs to be adapted to finite-planet reality; we need solar and other renewable energy systems, we need a post-petroleum agriculture, we need mass transit, and we need compact village and urban centers in a working landscape. Less obvious are the changes that need to be made to our intellectual infrastructure; this course will examine those changes as well.

The primary objective of the course will be to empower students to become informed participants in our culture's transition to a sustainable relationship to its host ecosystems. This transition is inevitable: by definition an unsustainable system doesn't last. The key question is not "will we have a sustainable society?" but "what will our society look like when it becomes sustainable?" The choices we make now will determine the answer, and choosing wisely requires understanding where and how unsustainable premises are embedded in our systems.

This class fills the following distribution/college requirements: (If you don't see your college, please contact your advisor.)

  • CAS: CAS credit only
  • BSAD: General Education Core Social Sciences
  • CALS: Humanities and Social Sciences
  • CEMS: Satisfies humanities/social science (HSS) requirements
  • CESS:
  • CNHS: Environmental Science/Studies
  • RSENR:

HCOL 185 F
The Body and Embodiment
Professor Eleanor Miller - Department of Sociology
MWF 10:40 - 11:30
U Hgts North 016

Course Syllabus (pdf)

The body has a complicated status. One both is a body and has a body. Bodies are material objects with the ability to communicate in both mediated and unmediated ways with those who live in/via those bodies, and yet bodies may also be communicated with and disciplined by those who are so embodied and by others. Humans routinely attend to the physical needs of their own bodies and some attend to the needs of others. Bodies are also symbolically alive and their appearance and functioning has an impact on life chances. Finally, bodies have been, and are, bought and sold and used for selling things. In fact, the historically specific body may be seen to be constituted at the intersection of multiple discourses that reflect the values of competing interest groups whose very survival at times depends upon the promulgation of particular ways of thinking about, constructing, and controlling bodies including interest groups whose foci are variously professional, military, political, techno-scientific or aesthetic. This course is an opportunity to explore the various meanings and realities of embodiment through reading, analysis and discussion of a set of interdisciplinary readings that explore these and other aspects of bodies.

This class fills the following distribution/college requirements: (If you don't see your college, please contact your advisor.)

  • CAS: Social Science - CAS credit
  • BSAD: General Education Core Social Sciences
  • CALS: Humanities and Social Sciences
  • CEMS: Satisfies humanities/social science (HSS) requirements
  • CESS:
  • CNHS: Sociology/Social Sciences/Elective
  • RSENR:

HCOL 185 G
Women in Science
Professor Donna Toufexis - Department of Psychology
TR 4:00 - 5:15
U Hgts North 34F

Course Syllabus (pdf)

In 2005 Larry Summers, the President of Harvard University, gave a speech at a conference on diversity in which he stated there is a difference in the standard deviation and variability of the male and female population. A finding, he went on to say, that explains why there would be more men than women at the elite levels of mathematical ability, and thus, why there are so few women represented in science and engineering. These remarks engendered a great deal of anger and debate. But what exactly was he saying? And is there any truth behind his remarks? In this course we will examine sex-differences in the brain and behavior. We will also examine the paradigm of western science. What exactly is the scientific method? Does sex affect the way science is done? We will also discuss the work and lives of several prominent scientists who are women. Why are there so few examples of successful women scientists? What factors, including nature and nurture, led these particular women into science? Were they stymied by their sex? What obstacles hindered these women in their pursuit of science as a career? Do these barriers still exist?

This class fills the following distribution/college requirements: (If you don't see your college, please contact your advisor.)

  • CAS: Social Science, CAS credit
  • BSAD: General Education Core Social Sciences
  • CALS: Humanities and Social Sciences
  • CEMS: Satisfies humanities/social science (HSS) requirements
  • CESS:
  • CNHS: Elective
  • RSENR:

HCOL 185 H
The Democratic Citizen
Professor Robert Taylor - Department of Political Science
MWF 12:50 - 1:40
U Hgts North 016

Course Syllabus (pdf)

In this course we will discuss the nature of citizenship in a democracy - its character, values and obligations. Focusing primarily on the American example, we will ask questions such as: Do citizens in a democracy differ from citizens in other regimes? Does democratic citizenship produce unique obligations toward the government (or toward the world at large)? Do democratic citizens require special democratic virtues, or a special set of shared beliefs, in order to fulfill their obligations? These and related questions will be explored by studying mainly (but not exclusively) American texts by classic authors such as James Madison, Henry Thoreau, Henry Adams, and John Dewey, and contemporary philosophers and social scientists such as Richard Rorty, Martha Nussbaum, Gertrude Himmelfarb and Robert Putnam.

This class fills the following distribution/college requirements: (If you don't see your college, please contact your advisor.)

  • CAS: Humanities
  • BSAD: General Education Core Social Sciences or Language & Literature
  • CALS: Humanities and Social Sciences
  • CEMS: Satisfies humanities/social science (HSS) requirements
  • CESS:
  • CNHS: Social Sciences
  • RSENR:

HCOL 185 I
Trees and Human Culture
Professor Katharine Anderson, RSENR
W 12:50 - 3:50
Allen House 104

Course Syllabus (pdf) Course Syllabus

Big trees have long fascinated humans. Beyond supplying food, fiber, medicines and construction materials, some trees become historic markers, cultural symbols and even sacred places. How and why do particular trees come to occupy such prominent places in the landscape and human imagination? What is their role today? Exploring these questions will take us into a range of disciplines including geography, botany, anthropology and art. Through readings, hands-on activities, discussions, field excursions and story-telling we will examine botanical and cultural dimensions of tree species from around the world. Well then apply our knowledge to a service-learning project: What if we could transform the UVM campus into an arboretum, that is, tree plantings with a mission? Well examine how the trees already here shape the campus environment, then combine ideas from the community with your insights to develop a proposal that could contribute to campus sustainability. Be prepared to venture outside (even in the cold!), conduct your own investigations (interviews, observations), contribute artistic talents you may have (drawing, photography)and do lots of writing.

This class fills the following distribution/college requirements: (If you don't see your college, please contact your advisor.)

  • CAS: CAS credit only
  • BSAD: Elective credit only
  • CALS: Humanities and Social Sciences
  • CEMS: Satisfies humanities/social science (HSS) requirements
  • CESS:
  • CNHS: Elective credit
  • RSENR:

HCOL 185 J
Global Gender Inequality
Professor Caroline Beer - Department of Political Science
MWF 11:45 - 12:35
U Hgts North 016

Course Syllabus (pdf)

Why does the status of women vary so dramatically across countries? The purpose of the course is to answer this question using social science methods. We will examine how different scholars have defined and measured gender equality. We will study the role of women in society, culture, politics, and the economy across various countries in the world. We will also compare gender equality policies (health, education, reproductive rights, maternity policies, violence against women, gay rights). The main assignment will be a workshop style, multi-stage research/writing assignment about the status of women across the world. Each student will choose an indicator of gender equality, collect data on that indicator, and use the data to test hypotheses about the causes of gender equality. While focusing on global gender inequality, the main purpose of this class is teach students how to design research projects and write research papers.

This class fills the following distribution/college requirements: (If you don't see your college, please contact your advisor.)

  • CAS: Social Science
  • BSAD: General Education Core Social Sciences
  • CALS: Humanities and Social Sciences
  • CEMS: Satisfies humanities/social science (HSS) requirements
  • CESS:
  • CNHS: Social Sciences
  • RSENR:

HCOL 185 K
Controversies in Modern Genomics
Professor Tamara Williams - College of Medicine
TR 4:00 - 5:15
U Hgts North 016

Course Syllabus (pdf)

Following completion of the Human Genome Project, Genomics has proven a rich source of controversy. As the applications and implications of rapid, inexpensive, and reliable whole-genome sequencing become clearer, complex ethical, moral, and practical questions emerge. Misuse and misunderstanding of the science behind Genomics has clouded conversations in the public forum and polarized topics that warrant many shades of gray.

This course will focus on thoughtful, engaging, and open-minded discussions of current controversies involving Genomics (the study of the structure, function, and evolution of an organism's entire genome) and Genetics (the study of specific gene function and inheritance) with the goal of distilling out legitimate issues from misinformation. Students are expected to actively participate and prepare for each class through critical review of assigned scientific literature, documentaries, news articles, and other media. There is no pre-requisite knowledge of Genetics or Genomics. Discussion topics will include Genetically Modified Food, Genomic Rights as Part of Human Rights, The Politics and Public Policy of Science, Human Evolution and the Pursuit of Human-ness Genes, Genetic Influence of Behavior, Pharmacogenomics and the Healthcare Industry, Direct-to-consumer Genomics, and Designer Babies and Cloning. Evaluation will include preparing for and actively engaging in class discussions and projects, composing thoughtful reflection papers, and crafting a well-sourced final research paper and presenting it to the class for discussion.

This class fills the following distribution/college requirements: (If you don't see your college, please contact your advisor.)

  • CAS: CAS credit only
  • BSAD: Elective credit only
  • CALS: Social Sciences and Humanities
  • CEMS: Satisfies humanities/social science (HSS) requirements
  • CESS:
  • CNHS: Science elective
  • RSENR:

HCOL 185 L
D1: Africian American Autobiography
Professor Emily Bernard - Department of English
TR 10:00 - 11:15
U Hgts North 016

Course Syllabus (pdf)

"The self is always, in a sense, a fiction," writes black British theorist Stuart Hall. Every personal narrative is framed by arbitrary closures and beginnings and endings that are consciously constructed. Race itself is a invention, a fiction, but the fact that it is a story does not rob it of meaning. The fact that it is an invention does not make it untrue. Race, specifically blackness, is very true for writers we are going to read for this course. We will read autobiographies and memories - life writing - whose authors are African American, and who define themselves as such, although not in the same way, and generational changes will be significant in the way we approach our reading. Changes are reflected in the genres themselves, and we will watch autobiography shift to memoir and consider what this transformation says about our culture as well as the way we understand African American identity itself.

This class fills the following distribution/college requirements: (If you don't see your college, please contact your advisor.)

  • CAS: Literature, CAS credit
  • BSAD: General Education Core English or Language & Literature
  • CALS: Humanities and Social Sciences
  • CEMS: Satisfies humanities/social science (HSS) requirements
  • CESS:
  • CNHS: Elective credit
  • RSENR:

HCOL 185 N
The Politics of Culture
Professor Patrick Hutton - Department of History
MWF 3:00 - 3:50
U Hgts North 034F

Course Syllabus (pdf)

This seminar considers the way leading historical trends in our present age have transformed lifestyles, cultural expectations, and conceptions of the pursuit of happiness in a globalizing civilization. The focus of our reading and discussion will be on critics, theorists, and forecasters who address contemporary realities that are changing the way we understand the human predicament: the rise and fall of the welfare state, the consumer economy and its worldwide influences, the cultural effects of the digital revolution in computer technology, the reconstruction of gender identity, the family and the privatization of the good life, the preoccupation with memory in both the humanities and the social sciences, the ethical issues raised by biotechnology, and the future of artificial intelligence. The principal assignment for the course will be a research project on a topic germane to our work as a seminar, including a formal presentation to the class and a documented research paper.

This class fills the following distribution/college requirements: (If you don't see your college, please contact your advisor.)

  • CAS: Humanities
  • BSAD: General Education Core History or Social Sciences
  • CALS: Humanities and Social Sciences
  • CEMS: Satisfies humanities/social science (HSS) requirements
  • CESS:
  • CNHS: Humanities/Social Sciences
  • RSENR:

HCOL 185 Q
Ecological Gaming
Professor Scott Merrill, Plant and Soil Sciences
TR 11:30 - 12:45
104 Allen House

Course Syllabus (pdf)

Ecological gaming will examine key ecological concepts through the lens of computer simulation games / challenges written in the R programming language (No experience in R programming is required and simulation code will be provided by the instructor). Many ecological concepts are intuitively obvious but when an ecosystem is observed as a whole entity, the vast complexity created by the numerous components creates confusion. The overarching goal of this course is to instill a foundation of ecological concepts by breaking down ecological complexity into simple, digestible pieces. Topics will include the concept of an ecosystem, niche dynamics, fitness (and other life history concepts), inter and intra-species competition, predator-prey interactions, trophic levels, food webs and evolution. To augment learning about these ecological concepts, there will be weekly discussions of many of the exciting ecological stories and foundational ecology papers. Students will get a glimpse of the R programming language, which will hopefully diminish the fear of tackling this computer language in future courses.

This class fills the following distribution/college requirements: (If you don't see your college, please contact your advisor.)

  • CAS: Non lab science
  • BSAD: Elective credit only
  • CALS: Natural Science
  • CEMS: No HSS credit
  • CESS:
  • CNHS:
  • RSENR:
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    Last modified September 17 2013 03:14 PM