University of Vermont

The Honors College

Sophomore Seminars: Spring 2012

HCOL 186 A
Global Green Politics
Professor Robert Bartlett, Department of Political Science
TR 10:00 - 11:15
North Complex 034F

Course Syllabus (pdf)

Students will achieve a deepened insight into the importance of the global environmental movement in the twenty-first century by critically examining the significance of this movement to international politics and to the domestic politics of both advanced industrial democracies and developing nations. We will analyze the nature of global environmentalism, its history, its critics, its connections with other new social movements, and its impact on politics worldwide. Some student learning activities will be highly collaborative and interactive, others will be independent and self-directed. An objective will be for the class collectively to write a casebook on global green politics.

HCOL 186 B
Dante's Worlds
Professor Antonello Borra, Department of Romance Languages
TR 4:00 - 5:15
North Complex 34F

Course Syllabus (pdf)

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 186 C
Childhood Obesity: Developmental and Ecological Perspectives
Professor Chang
MW 4:05-5:20
North Complex 016

For the past 30 years, the prevalence of childhood obesity has tripled in the United States. In addition to being the major leading cause of many health issues, obesity also carries social and economic consequences for many individuals. The course will examine causes, consequences, and potential modes of prevention of childhood obesity using a developmental and ecological framework. Accordingly, the emphasis will be placed on the intrapersonal, interpersonal, and sociocultural determinants of childhood obesity. Additionally, the course materials will also emphasize developmental considerations, that specific information most relevant to toddlers, school-age children, and adolescents. The classroom learning formats include group discussions, and lectures. The grading modes include personal reflection papers, individual oral participations, and group research project and presentation.

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

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 186 E
Ecosystems & Human Health
Professor Charles Hulse - College of Medicine
MWF 12:50 - 1:40
North Complex 034E

Course Syllabus (pdf)

Numerous human-associated factors are straining the ecosystem functions upon which all life depends. Through systematic analysis of a series of contemporary case studies we will explore the causes, consequences, and possible solutions of real-world threats to ecosystem and human health. Events like Hurricane Katrina in the US and the earth quakes in Haiti will be examined to understand how factors such as social justice, communicable diseases, global warming, disaster relief planning, and environmental engineering all influenced the nature and scope of these disasters. Via discussion and written analysis students will examine environmental connections to endocrine diseases, cancer, respiratory disorders, and a host of other health threats.

HCOL 186 F
Ecological Approach to Living Well in Place
Professor Walter Poleman, RSENR
W 12:50 - 3:50
South Complex 27

Course Syllabus (pdf)

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 186 G
D1:Historical Studies: Race in the US
Professor Nicole Phelps, Department of History
MWF 9:35 - 10:25
Lafayette L300

Course Syllabus (pdf)

In this course, we will study the broad contours of race relations, national identity, and citizenship in the United States from the end of the Civil War in 1865 through the civil rights movements of the 1950s, 60s, and 70s. Americans often think about the history of race relations as a continuing struggle between whites and blacks with a basically linear trajectory of improvement from slavery to equality. This basic narrative is highly problematic, however, since it minimizes the post-Reconstruction retraction in African American rights and removes the experiences of Asians, Latinos, and American Indians - as well as numerous white populations - from the story of race and racism in the United States. This class aims to address these problems and paint a more accurate picture of the fundamentally exclusionary nature of the American nation in the century following the legal demise of slavery.

Through our study of American race relations, we will also work intensively to develop the reading, writing, research, and critical thinking skills Honors College students need to conduct successful independent research projects. We will practice writing in a number of academic genres, many of which will be new to you. Students should be prepared to undertake thorough revisions and write multiple drafts based on individual consultations with the instructor and peer reviews. A significant portion of your grade will be based on effort and engaged participation in the revision process, along with final results.

Students in all majors are welcome in this class, and prior coursework in History is not required. While we will focus on the skills specific to the discipline of History, the vast majority of those skills are transferrable to other disciplines as well, and we will spend some of our class time discussing and practicing how to transfer them. We will also compare how the study of race in a variety of disciplines compares to its study in History, and students will have an opportunity to pursue an individualized project in their own discipline.

This course fulfills the universitys D1 requirement and counts as a Humanities course. With the administrative assistance of the instructor, students who need a US history course to complete their graduation requirements can use this class for that purpose as well, including History minors, Secondary Education majors with History concentrations, ALANA minors, and BSAD students pursuing a field in Arts & Humanities or a discipline concentration in History; History majors may use the course in place of HST 101: Historical Methods.

HCOL 186 H
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 186 I
The Killer App: Computers in Society
Professor Christian Skalka, Department of Computer Science
TR 4:00 - 5:15
North Complex 016

A "killer app" is a hugely successful application of computers. Killer apps are both a technological and social phenomenon- they embody what computers are capable of doing best and what society most needs them for. In this course we will explore how historical events have influenced the development of computer technology, and how computers have impacted culture and history through their most successful applications. Our focus will be on the early 20th century to the present day.

More information can be seen on this video: The Killer App: Computers in Society

HCOL 186 J
The Problem of Experience
Professor Kevin Trainor, Department of Religion
TR 1:00 - 2:15
North Complex 34F

Course Syllabus (pdf)

This seminar will examine the role of experience in human knowledge, with special attention to the issue of religious experience. We will investigate experience from several angles, drawing upon accounts of extraordinary states of human consciousness (sometimes called "mystical" states), reflections on the challenges of intercultural understanding, and readings on the process of knowledge construction in the humanities and in the natural and social sciences.

The topic of religious experience is of particular interest because it highlights the tension between subjectivity and objectivity in human knowledge. Many accounts of religious experience grant a privileged status to the personal and subjective. Scholarly knowledge, in contrast, is commonly marked by its "public" character, whether this is defined by the rigorous standards of empirical testing or by the broader criteria of publication and adherence to standards of rationality. We will explore this tension through a variety of texts, including a modern novel, a highly influential classic Buddhist text, scholarly essays drawn from several academic disciplines, and through conversations with visiting faculty who will discuss their research. Class participants will complete a substantial research paper and present their research to the seminar.

HCOL 186 K
D1:Race, Health, and the Human Genome Project
Professor Dana Walrath, College of Medicine
TR 11:30 - 12:45
North Complex 016

Course Syllabus (pdf)

Because the notion of biological race persists as a folk concept in American society, racial differences in health are frequently attributed to biological difference rather than social inequalities. This course will explore the checkered history of the scientific discourse on biological difference, the impact of the geneticization of medicine in the wake of the Human Genome Project, and how the development of "race specific" medicine can mask the social and political roots of health disparities in local and global contexts. Class sessions will be highly interactive and dependent multidisciplinary course readings, creative thinking, and open debate.

HCOL 186 L
Ecology for Sustainability
Professor Deane Wang, Rubenstein School of Environmental and Natural Resources
TR 10:00 - 11:15
North Complex 016

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 186 M
Math and the Arts
Professor Sheila Weaver, Mathematics & Statistics Department
TR 1:00 - 2:15
North Complex 016

Course Syllabus (pdf)

We tend to think of mathematics and science as rational and useful disciplines, while the arts are those that speak to our senses and emotions. 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 we'll 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 compositions. 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.

HCOL 186 N
The Democratic Citizen
Professor Robert Taylor, Political Science Department
TR 8:30-9:45
North Complex 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.

Last modified January 25 2012 03:19 PM