University of Vermont

The Honors College

Sophomore Seminars: Spring 2011

HCOL 196 A
Survival Ecology - Ecological Science in Service of Planetary Sustainability
Professor Deane Wang, Rubenstein School of Environmental and Natural Resources
TR 8:30 - 9:45
North Complex 034F

Course Syllabus (pdf)

Ecology is a science that has made important conceptual and descriptive discoveries that can be of great use to humanity. However, knowing all this ecology is a daunting prospect for anyone (including ecologists). This seminar takes a non-traditional approach to ecology, by starting with some general concepts and then going into specific ecological details. With no hope of covering the broad spectrum of ecological knowledge, the emphasis is on foundations of science as they relate to a complex system science like ecology. The process of learning ecology is emphasized through short lectures, much discussion, and individual and group work, including a service-learning project. In addition to class room experiences, several field journeys to local ecological systems will be taken, including a weekend trip a bit farther afield. Application of ecology to pressing issues and integration of it with society will be considered in the latter part of the course.

HCOL 196 B
Ecological Approach to Living Well in Place
Professor Walter Poleman
W 12:50 - 3:50
South Complex 27

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 C
Agroecology in Food Systems
Professor Scott Costa, Department of Plant and Soil Science
TR 4:00 - 5:15
Jeffords 101

Course Syllabus (pdf)

The foundation of Food Systems, and ultimately, continued human existence, is the ability to grow the enormous amount of food and fiber needed to feed and clothe the world. Agricultural sustainability profoundly impacts global food security, which translates quickly to individual impacts in the form of hunger. By disassembling and piecing together agricultural ecosystem components, such as those related to soil, plants, and microbes we will explore practical and philosophical changes needed to enhance sustainability of food production. But, to better understand soil, it helps to get your hands dirty; to appreciate insect predators, you need to observe and quantify their feeding. To that end, a variety of in-class and take-home exercises will be used to illustrate key concepts and demonstrate tools for monitoring agroecosystems. We will also analyze cultural, economic, regulatory and environmental components of food systems, and various routes of food from the field to the table.

HCOL 196 D
Sustainable Water Management
Professor Alexsandra Drizo, Department of Plant and Soil Sciences
TR 1:00 - 2:15
North Complex 016

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
D2 - Disability as Deviance: From American Eugenics and German "Euthanasia" to the Present
Professor Lutz Kaelber, Department of Sociology
MWF 10:40 - 11:30
North Complex 016

Course Syllabus (pdf)

This course analyzes historical constructions of disability as deviance. Deviance refers to beliefs, behavior, or perceived bodily conditions that violate a cultural norm and bring about a social reaction to control them. Three historical contexts are emphasized: 1) American eugenics; 2) the German National-Socialist sterilization and "Euthanasia" programs as stepping stones toward the Holocaust; and 3) the transformation of American disability politics and policies from "good will" to "human/civil rights," including the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), challenges to this Act, and the recurrence of eugenic ideas and policies in the form of genetic discrimination and "newgenics."

HCOL 196 F
Introduction to Museum Studies: Identity & Expression
Professor Jennifer Dickinson, Department of Anthropology
T 4:00 - 6:45
Fleming 104

Course Syllabus (pdf)

This introduction to Museum Studies offers students the opportunity to become acquainted with the theory and practice of museum work. The course combines three key components: readings in museum theory and history; contact with museum professionals working in a range of museum settings; and hands-on experience curating a class exhibit for the Fleming museum. The theme for our seminar and exhibit will be "Identity and Expression," with an emphasis on museums as vehicles for public and private engagement with objects and ideas. The course is suitable for students from all disciplinary backgrounds and does not require any previous work in Anthropology or Museum Studies. The readings for the course are organized around the theme "Identity and Expression". We begin with a brief introduction to the concept of the museum, with an emphasis on an anthropological approach to museums as culturally-shaped institutions. The remainder of the course focuses on four different facets of identity and expression in museum collections, with a general trend from most intimate to most public, including: the individual collector and his/her collection; expression of identity in different media; the role of exhibits in creating the public, even shared side of museum experiences; and national identity as a motivating force in the formation and management of museums.

Guest speakers from area/state museums will discuss their work with students, introducing them to the various kinds of jobs available in the museum context. These may include: museum director, curator, collections manager, education coordinator, development coordinator, preparator, archivist, conservator, researcher and publicist. The course will include at least one field trip to a local museum, most likely the Shelburne museum, the Sheldon museum, the Maritime museum, or the Fairbanks museum. Utilizing insights from our readings, discussions, and guest speakers, students will take the lead in planning an exhibit based on the theme of the course.

HCOL 196 G
Islam and Human Rights
Professor Bogac Ergene, Department of History
TR 11:30 - 12:45
North Complex 016

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.

HCOL 196 H
Seminar in World Music
Professor Alex Stewart, Department of Music
TR 8:30 - 9:45
Southwick 301

Course Syllabus (pdf)

Is music a "universal language"? This course seeks to challenge students' thinking and attitudes about music through the study of selected world music cultures. Using classic readings from the ethnomusicological literature, extensive listening, and hands-on experience with percussion instruments, students explore how music communicates in culturally specific contexts, and discover new ways of hearing and understanding music. In individual capstone projects, students design and implement their own small-scale ethnomusicology projects.

HCOL 196 I
Individualism and Its Dangers
Professor Alex Zakaras, Department of Political Science
MW 4:05 - 5:20
North Complex 34F

Course Syllabus (pdf)

The politics and culture of the modern West are often described as individualistic in the sense that they celebrate the freedom and independence of the individual above all. In this interdisciplinary course, we study individualism through literature, philosophy, poetry, and film. We study some of the great defenders of modern individualism--such as Ralph Waldo Emerson and Friedrich Nietzsche--but also some of its fiercest critics. Texts include Dostoyevsky's Notes from Underground, John Stuart Mill's On Liberty, and the film "Into the Wild."

HCOL 196 J
The Social Construction of Disability
Professor Holly-Lynn Busier, College of Education & Social Services
M 4:05 - 6:45
North Complex 016

Course Syllabus (pdf)

The focus of this course will be on the theoretical questions of how different cultures understand the construct of disability. Students will examine the historical, biological, social, cultural, political, and economic determinants in the societal creation and/or construction of isability. This course will encourage students to critically reflect upon and deconstruct society's "construct" of those who are deemed disabled.

HCOL 196 K
Exercise: Science, Applications and Policy
Professor Brian Reed, Department of Rehab and Movement Science
TR 2:30 - 3:45
North Complex 016

Course Syllabus (pdf)

This course is about exercise - the physiology of exercise; the relationship of exercise to fitness and performance; and personal and public health applications of exercise. By the end of the course students will be able to 1) design, implement and maintain a sound personal fitness program; 2) critically analyze current issues in exercise, fitness and health; and 3) critique and propose policies to promote health through exercise and dietary practices.

The course will be framed around a series of scientific topics that will progress from molecular to macro to applied perspectives. At regular intervals we will analyze current issues and policy at state and national levels regarding exercise as an intervention to promote public health.

There will be a variety of learning experiences including small group and whole-class discussions; hands-on learning laboratories; written assignments; and occasional lectures. In addition, each student will design and implement a personal project to improve one aspect of their physical health or performance by means of exercise and/or diet. Students will keep a weekly blog of their project on the course Blackboard site where they will document insights, progress on goals and questions raised through critical thinking. Grading modes will include objective exams, assignments, the personal project, and several researched position papers.

HCOL 196 L
Mathematics and the Arts
Professor Sheila Weaver, Department of Mathematics and Statistics
TR 10:00 - 11:15
North Complex 016

Course Syllabus (pdf)

We tend to think of mathematics and science as rational disciplines, while the arts are those that speak to our senses and emotions. But the ancient Greeks considered math, science, and the arts together - all were reflections of the essential perfection of the universe. This course will explore some of the many connections between mathematics and the arts, and consider how these have changed from ancient times to the present. Some of the ideas well explore: the mathematical ideas of ratio and proportion - how they were fundamental to the creation of the intervals and scales of Western music, and how they have been incorporated in visual art and architecture; the symbolism of number and geometric shape in musical and visual compositions; the use of pattern and symmetry in music, art and design; mathematical perspective in drawing: how to achieve it, and how to recognize other approaches to perspective; the use of systematic and chance mechanisms in contemporary artistic and musical compositions.

A solid high school mathematics background is required for this course (we'll use lots of geometry). Musical and artistic background are desirable, but not required.

HCOL 196 M
Probability & Inference, Risk & Decision
Professor William Jefferys, Department of Mathematics and Statistics
MWF 1:55 - 2:40
North Complex 34F

Course Syllabus (pdf)

Life is full of situations where we must make decisions even though the available information is incomplete or uncertain, yet the consequences of making the wrong decision may be significant. Examples of such serious decisions include an investor deciding whether to buy a stock, a patient deciding between different treatments for a serious disease, and a juror deciding whether to convict or acquit a defendant.

Probability and decision theories are valuable tools to help us analyze and make informed decisions. They help us decide how our beliefs should depend on old and new information, and how to take into account the consequences of possible actions. The basic principles are very simple, but they can be applied in many different circumstances. In this course we will investigate how probability and decision theory can help us make important decisions in problems that arise in science, business, the law, medicine, and even daily life.

Last modified February 03 2011 03:14 PM