University of Vermont

The Honors College

Sophomore Seminars: Spring 2014

HCOL 186 A
The Texture of Memory
Professor Helga Schreckenberger - German/Russian Dept.
T/R 1:00 - 2:15

North Complex 034
Course Syllabus (pdf)

Memory is essential to our understanding of ourselves, of our collective past and present and our existence as humans. But how does memory work? Which parts of our brain are responsible for our memories? What happens when these parts do not function? Can memory be manipulated? What role does memory play for the formation of identity? These are some of the questions we will address in this seminar. We will begin with learning about the general mechanisms of memory formation in the brain. We will take these findings to examine our own experiences and memories. From there we will proceed to study examples of individual, collective, and cultural memory from a variety of disciplines. We will learn how these memories are shaped and how they, in turn, shape us.

This transdisciplinary course will be taught by a professor of German studies and a professor of neuroscience. Our combined expertise will provide lively discussions of the world of human interactions and the underlying neuroscience making them possible.

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

  • CAS: Humanities
  • BSAD: Elective Credit Only
  • CALS: Social Sciences
  • CEMS: HSS credit

HCOL 186 B
Integrated Challenges of Biological Invasions
Professor Kimberly Wallin - RSENR
MW 4:05 - 5:20

North Complex 016
Course Syllabus (pdf)

Non-native biological invasions are second only to habitat destruction in causing declines in native species and are currently cited as one of the primary drivers of global environmental change. However, species invasions also provide unique opportunities for testing basic theories in ecology and evolution. In this course we will review the process and underlying mechanisms of invasions, effects of invasions on communities and ecosystems, management techniques, and examine the ethics of managing organisms. We will focus on conceptual frameworks in ecology, research approaches, and the overall process of "doing" science.

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: Biological Sciences
  • CEMS: No HSS credit

HCOL 186 C
Shakespeare and the Classical Tradition
Professor Angeline Chiu - Classics
MWF 10:40 - 11:30

North Complex 016
Course Syllabus (pdf)

This course examines in detail both selections of Shakespeare's work and the cultural context in which it first was written and performed, focusing on the classical tradition both as an influence on Elizabethan English culture in general and on Shakespeare in particular. Specific areas of interest include the intersection of history, literature, and theater; we focus on the classical tradition in terms of historical figures and events and also classical mythology as largely expressed by Ovid. This course is intensive in the areas of reading, writing, and participation as we consider how Shakespeare actively engages with the classical tradition. The semester concludes by considering how Shakespeare himself is part of the transmission of the classical tradition to the modern age. Four papers, a reading journal, several presentations/declamations, and a final exam are required.

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

  • CAS: Literature
  • BSAD: Language & Literature Core #6
  • CALS:Humanities
  • CEMS:HSS credit

HCOL 186 D
Controversies in Public Health
Professor Jan Carney - College of Medicine
TR 10:00 - 11:15

Health policy proposals are often controversial. Demographic trends and public health crises, such as childhood obesity, signal continued rise of health care costs, worsening health disparities, and shortened life expectancy for children currently born in the U.S. Compelling epidemiologic data and scientific evidence suggest strategies to prevent disease and illness. So why can't we, as a nation, translate science into practice to benefit our citizens? Progress in population health is driven by both scientific advances and societal norms, and proposed health policy measures may be controversial, sometimes creating momentum and other times becoming a barrier to progress. We will study access to health care, preventing childhood obesity, binge drinking on college campuses, pandemic preparedness, immunizations, and other issues, to understand what impedes our collective progress towards a healthier society. We will read, discuss, and debate selected scientific papers from well-known medical journals (no pre-requisites required), find information from "high quality" sources, and use written assignments to facilitate learning.

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

  • CAS: No CAS credit
  • BSAD: Social Science Core #3
  • CALS: Social Science
  • CEMS: HSS credit

HCOL 186 E
Theories of Modernism & Postmodernism in the Visual Arts
Professor Anthony Grudin - Art Department
T 4:00 - 6:45

Williams 409
Course Syllabus (pdf)

This course focuses on two of the most prominent and influential cultural paradigms of the 20th century - Modernism and Postmodernism - and their specific implications for the visual arts. We will investigate a variety of artistic and theoretical attempts to define, defend, critique, and evade these paradigms. Students should expect the artistic and theoretical material to be consistently challenging and provocative.

The course will be modeled on a graduate seminar, and will rely heavily on student participation, both verbal and written. All students will be expected to contribute to on-line reading journals, and each week small groups will introduce the readings to the class. The semester's work will culminate in term papers that will be developed during a workshop, and presented and defended in class.

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

  • CAS: Fine Arts
  • BSAD: Elective Credit only
  • CALS: Humanities
  • CEMS: HSS credit

HCOL 186 F
Ecology for Sustainability
Professor Deane Wang
M 12:50 - 3:50

U Hgts South - 027
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.

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

  • CAS: Non-lab Science
  • BSAD: Social Science Core #3
  • CALS: Social Science
  • CEMS: No HSS credit

HCOL 186 G
Animal Products in Human Nutrition
Professor Jana Kraft
TR 4:00 - 5:15

North Complex 016
Course Syllabus (pdf)

Animal agriculture is a significant portion of our national agricultural economy and foods of animal origin play a significant role in our global food system. A striking but lesser known fact is that animal-derived food products have been an important factor in human evolution (e.g., eating meat has led to increases in the size of both the human body and brain). Current dietary patterns derive from the changes in food production that started with the industrial revolution and from the more recent construction of a global food economy. With increasing prevalence of chronic diseases, obesity, and food-borne diseases, animal products are coming under increasing scrutiny. Broad areas of focus reflect global patterns of consumption of meat, dairy, eggs, fish, and their products. We will explore the connection between animal products, their nutritional attributes, and human and public perception. Particular emphasis will be placed on functional and value-added foods, biotechnology in animal agriculture, as well as animal product quality and safety issues. The course utilizes an interactive approach, involving a broad spectrum of methods including lectures to build fundamental knowledge, student forums to stimulate debate and understanding, individual and group assignments to develop key skills in writing and presenting, and the use of computer-aided learning.

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: Natural Science
  • CEMS: No HSS credit

HCOL 186 H
The Meaning of Freedom
Professor Randall Harp - Philosophy
MW 4:05 - 5:20

North Complex 034
Course Syllabus (pdf)

Do we have free will, or do we not? Before we can answer this question, we ought to answer two related questions: first, what do we mean by 'free will', and second, why do we care? This course seeks to analyze these and related questions by examining the nature of the will and what it means for the will to be free or unfree. We will also examine the broader question of the ways in which we value free will, and of how our understanding of free will affects our social practices and institutions. This course will look at a range of approaches to understanding free will: we will look at philosophical literature on the meaning of free will and of its metaphysical possibility; we will look at scientific literature on willpower and neurobiological determinism; and we will look at literary and humanistic approaches to understanding whether a constrained life can have any value or meaning. Students will be expected to complete short papers and contribute to discussions on the weekly material, and to complete a final project or paper in which they focus on one aspect of the broader question of free will (e.g. philosophical, scientific, humanistic).

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

  • CAS: Humanities
  • BSAD: Elective credit only
  • CALS: Humanities, Social Sciences
  • CEMS: HSS Credit

HCOL 186 I
Probability & Inference, Risk & Decision
Professor Sheila Weaver - Mathematics and Statistics
MWF 9:35 - 10:25

North Complex 016
Course Syllabus (pdf)

Life is full of situations where decisions must be made even though the information one has available to make those decisions is incomplete or uncertain, and the consequences of making the wrong decision may be significant. Questions such as: Should I invest in the stock market, and if so, what should I buy, and how much should I invest? If I make the investment, how much can I expect to gain or lose? If I am seriously sick, which of several treatments should I select if they have different side-effects and probability of cure? When sitting on a jury, should I vote that the defendant is guilty or not guilty? Even if the defendant confesses, can I be certain that he is telling the truth? As a scientist, should I publish a paper that reports an important new result, even though I cannot be absolutely certain that it is correct? If I purchase a painting at an auction house, how can I be certain that the claimed artist actually painted it? Probability theory can be an important tool in helping us to analyze questions of this sort and make informed decisions. It provides a systematic method for deciding how our opinions on various issues ought to change as we acquire new data. Although the basic principles are very simple, they can be applied in many diverse circumstances. In this course, we will investigate how probability theory can help us make important decisions in problems that arise in science, business, the law, the arts, medicine, and even daily life. The course will include readings, regular writing, problem-solving, and a group project.

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

  • CAS: Mathematical Science
  • BSAD: Elective Credit Only
  • CALS: Social Sciences
  • CEMS: No HSS credit

HCOL 186 J
Ecological Gaming
Professor Scott Merrill
TR 1:00 - 2:15

North Complex 016
Course Syllabus (pdf)

Ecological Gaming will examine ecology through the lens of a computer simulation game. The overarching goal of this course is to instill a foundation of ecological concepts by breaking down ecological complexity into simple, digestible pieces. We start by building a simple (virtual) environment (our gaming platform) and slowly add complexity by adding virtual species to the ecosystem and observing their population's development and behavior. As a class, we will build spatially-explicit abiotic environments. These simple environments will be used for the foundation of an ecosystem with the environment subdivided into habitat categories (e.g., good habitat versus poor habitat, or forests versus deserts), which will allow a discussion of some of the essential building blocks of life and life strategies. After our virtual environments have been built, we will examine single population dynamics (resource needs, fecundity strategies, growth rates, lifespan, phenology, reproduction type, dispersal, movement and behavior, within-species competition and density-dependence).

The course will continue by looking at species interactions (e.g., competition, mutualism, predation, trophic levels, trophic cascades, food webs). Finally, ecosystem level biocomplexity will be examined by looking at how ecosystem components could influence evolution, ecosystem stability and chaos.

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

HCOL 186 K
Returns from the Land
Professor Rocki DeWitt - School of Business
TR 5:30 - 6:45

Kalkin 300
Course Syllabus (pdf)

Agents of social and environmental change come from all quarters. Whether journalist, attorney, scientist, public policy maker, entrepreneur or corporate titan, each can benefit from understanding the competitive dynamics of industries. This course is designed to leverage the knowledge of students in all majors to develop your ability to describe and forecast business behavior and the evolution of industries that create and realize value from the earth. By the end of the course, through assignments that ask you to apply traditional economics and business analytic frameworks to your reading, listening, writing and speaking, you will become a better informed and potentially more influential steward of the Earth and its inhabitants. Each student will complete a written industry land-based industry forecast and will have an opportunity to present and defend that forecast to a panel of experienced business and public policy professionals.

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

  • CAS: No CAS credit
  • BSAD: Social Science Core #3
  • CALS: Social Science
  • CEMS: HSS credit

HCOL 186 L
Imitating Nature
Professor James Vigoreaux - Biology Department
TR 8:30 - 9:45

North Complex 016
Course Syllabus (pdf)

Since times immemorial, humans have been fascinated with the natural world, so much so that we have continuously sought ways to imitate Nature in search of solutions to our daily challenges and to expand the realm of human activities. Many ascribe the original notion that "technology imitates nature" to Aristotle, who defined mimesis as the perfection and imitation of nature. Nature's fascinating designs and elaborate strategies for problem solving are the product of 3.8 billion years of experimentation, the process of organic evolution, sensu stricto. While the concept of imitating Nature has been around for millennia, its pursuit as a scientific discipline dates back to the 1950'a when the term biomimetics was coined to describe the transfer of ideas from biology to technology. The 1990's witnessed the birth of Biomimicry, a new science that studies Nature's models and then imitates or takes inspiration from these designs and processes to solve human problems. But the goal of Biomimicry is not simply to rob Nature of its secrets for human's technological prowess. Biomimicry also aims to instill among its practitioners a sense of awe and respect for Nature; that Nature's best ideas are only there for the taking if we protect and preserve our natural surroundings. Truly innovative bio-inspired solutions should transform human lives while also creating a more sustainable world. In this course, students will become familiar with the discovery, scientific, and technological processes that turn a Nature-inspired idea into an invention, whether it is an intellectual concept, a process, a material, or a device.

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

HCOL 186 M
D2: The Arab Spring
Professor Gregory Gause - Political Science Department
TR 11:30 - 12:45

North Complex 016
Course Syllabus (pdf)

Before 2011, many wondered whether political change would ever come to the Arab world. Since the 1980's, democratic transitions occurred in many world areas, but the Arab regimes seemed strangely resistant to global democratic trends. And then regime change came to four Arab countries in 2011, a brutal civil war began in another and yet another experienced a popular democratic mobilization that was successfully suppressed by the authorities. Every Arab country, even those where the regimes stayed in power, was affected by the popular mobilizations of 2011. While democratic elections have occurred in a number of Arab countries since, not one would be considered a stable democracy today.

The events of the Arab Spring raise extremely interesting questions. Why is it that this area of the world, politically very stable for decades, erupted in 2011? Why did states across the whole region erupt at the same time? Why were there regime-threatening mobilizations in some states and not others? Why did some threatened regimes survive and others fall? Why have some transitions led to democratic elections and others to civil conflict, and some to both?

The course will focus on developing students' comparative analytical abilities, with a particular focus on most similar and most different case comparison. It will encourage investigation of change over time within the region and individual countries, to examine why regional stability gave way to regional mobilization in 2011. It will require cross-country comparison, as students compare cases that had different results across dependent variables (mobilization levels, regime-change). It will also develop students' critical reading skills, as we assess conflicting explanations for the Arab Spring and the transitions it began.

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

  • CAS: Social Science, Non-European
  • BSAD: Social Science Core #3, Global & Rregional Studies Core #5
  • CALS: Social Sciences
  • CEMS: HSS credit

Last modified January 17 2014 03:20 PM