University of Vermont

The Honors College

Sophomore Seminars: Spring 2015 - Not all classes have been evaluated for College/Major requirements. Check back later for updates.

HCOL 186 A
Alt-Econ: Rethinking Homo Economicus
Professor John Summa - Department of Economics

T/R 1:00 - 2:15
OMANEX A303

Alt-Econ attempts to bring the teaching of principles of economics up to date with new understanding in the field resulting from work done by leading economists. Textbooks have failed to keep up with empirical, analytical and experimental developments, and thus have lagged behind important areas of new thinking about homo economicus ('economic man') and khrematistikos (Greek for the study of wealth accumulation, also known as political economy, the original and classical impetus behind the study of economics). The aim of this course is to provide students with insights for rethinking homo economicus and to help develop a better understanding of khrematistikos, one that incorporates alternative principles of economics (new and older, marginalized insights typically absent in textbooks). No prior economics background is necessary (and may even be helpful), but a principles of economics course (either macro or micro) would provide a good base for students to revisit elementary concepts and rethink them.

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

  • CAS: Social Science
  • BSAD: Social Science Core
  • CALS: Social Sciences
  • CEMS:
  • CESS: Consult your CESS advisor for General Education Requirements
  • CNHS: Elective - check with your academic advisor for further clarification.

HCOL 186 B
Ecological Gaming
Professor Scott Merrill - Department of Plant and Soil Science

TR 2:30 - 3:45
North Complex 016

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.

  • CAS: Non-lab Science
  • BSAD: Elective Credit only
  • CALS: Natural Science
  • CEMS: No HSS credit
  • CESS: Consult your CESS advisor for General Education Requirements
  • CNHS: Elective - check with your academic advisor for further clarification.

HCOL 186 C
History of Utopias
Professor Ian Grimmer - Department of History

TR 8:30 - 9:45
North Complex 016

The concept of utopia, derived in the sixteenth century from the ancient Greek words for -no- and -place,- has persisted throughout the Western intellectual tradition, expressing hopes for a better world with the example of a society that does not yet exist. This course will explore the social, cultural, and intellectual history of these aspirations, critically examining not only works of literature and political philosophy but also some of the nineteenth-century communities that attempted to prefigure these ideals. Spanning the visions of classical antiquity to the waning of the utopian motif in twentieth century, and the concomitant emergence of dystopia as a literary genre, we will discuss the historical significance of these critical social imaginaries. Authors to be discussed include: Plato, Thomas More, Charles Fourier, William Morris, Etienne Cabet, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and Yvgeni Zamyatin.

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

  • CAS: Humanities
  • BSAD: History Core, Global & Regional Studies Core or Language & Literature Core
  • CALS:Humanities
  • CEMS:HSS credit
  • CESS: Consult your CESS advisor for General Education Requirements
  • CNHS: Humanities

HCOL 186 D
Controversies in Public Health
Professor Jan Carney - College of Medicine

TR 10:00 - 11:15
North Complex 016

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 distribution credit - elective credit only
  • BSAD: Social Science Core
  • CALS: Social Science
  • CEMS: HSS credit
  • CESS: Consult your CESS advisor for General Education Requirements
  • CNHS: Elective - check with your academic advisor for further clarification.

HCOL 186 E
TThe Problem of Experience
Professor Kevin Trainor - Department of Religion

TR 11:30 - 12:45
481 MN 104

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.

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
  • CEMS: HSS credit
  • CESS: Consult your CESS advisor for General Education Requirements
  • CNHS: Elective - check with your academic advisor for further clarification.

HCOL 186 F
Animal Products in Human Nutrition
Professor Jana Kraft - Department of Animal Science

MW 4:05 - 5:20
U Hgts North - 034

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: Electrive credit only
  • CALS: Natural Science
  • CEMS: No HSS credit
  • CESS: Consult your CESS advisor for General Education Requirements
  • CNHS: Elective - check with your academic advisor for further clarification.

HCOL 186 G
Who Own's the Past?
Professor Scott VanKeuren - Department of Anthropology

TR 4:00 - 5:15
U Heights North - 034

The course examines the ownership of an array of cultural resources and heritage in contemporary society, including artifacts, artwork, architectural monuments and landscapes, human remains, and bodies of knowledge. Do museums own the objects they display and curate? Do countries own the artifacts, monuments, or artworks that exist within their political boundaries? Should indigenous groups control what is said about their past, and do their perspectives trump academic voices? And does ownership convey the authority to display, interpret, or even destroy cultural resources? These questions are hotly debated in contemporary archaeology, art history, museology, and related fields. Our primary focus is on archaeological resources in the ancient past, but we will also explore wider themes through a broad array of scholarly publications (peer-reviewed essays, law reviews) and non-academic sources (editorial opinion pieces, blogs).

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

  • CAS: Social Science
  • BSAD:Social Science Core
  • CALS: Humanities
  • CEMS:
  • CESS: Consult your CESS advisor for General Education Requirements
  • CNHS: Humanities

HCOL 186 H
The Texture of Memory
Professor Helga Schreckenberger - Department of German and Russian

TR 1:00 - 2:15
HSRF 200

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
  • CESS: Consult your CESS advisor for General Education Requirements
  • CNHS: Elective - check with your academic advisor for further clarification.

HCOL 186 I
Introduction to Democratic Theory
Professor Jan Feldman - Department of Political Science

TR 1:00 - 2:15
North Complex 016

The democratic ideal is currently so pervasive that even the most authoritarian rulers and subnational groups worldwide rarely reject it outright. Tyrannical governments ranging from the former Soviet Union to the Islamic Republic of Iran have adopted (or coopted) the ideal of democracy. It is understood that democracy is the requirement for popular legitimacy, equality, prosperity, and stability-in short: justice. What is democracy? Does its justification rest on the outcomes it produces or is it a good in itself? Is it desirable even when it arguably does not produce good governance? Can we trust our fellow citizens to be rational voters or even to know their own best interests? Should leaders to do what is "best" or what their constituents want? When we demand that our elected officials show 'leadership', does that violate democratic principles? This course will examine five points of conflict in democratic theory: The first is normative (seeking to justify democracy in terms of social justice, fairness, human dignity and autonomy). The second is procedural (seeking to justify democracy in terms of performance (do democratic procedures that aggregate individual interests in order to carry out collective decisions produce superior policy outcomes?) The third is explanatory, historical, and empirical ( focusing on evolution and preconditions for democracy. How does contemporary democracy differ from the classical version? How does liberal democracy differ from non-liberal variants?) The fourth is genitive and ontological. (Does democracy have a recipe or a blueprint? Can it take root anywhere at any time? Is political culture important? Does democracy require democrats in order to get started?) The fifth is prescriptive. Should we (the US) push other countries to adopt democracy, or is this another form of 'imperialism' and Western conceit? The course will be structured around these five categories. Appropriately, we will operate as a democratic collective, which requires much from you. There will be opportunities for group projects, individual reflection essays and class discussion.

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

  • CAS: Humanities
  • BSAD: Social Science Core
  • CALS: Humanities and Social Sciences
  • CEMS:
  • CESS: Consult your CESS advisor for General Education Requirements
  • CNHS: Elective - check with your academic advisor for further clarification.

HCOL 186 J
Ecology for Sustainability
Professor Dean Wang - RSENR

W 12:50 - 3:50
North Complex 016

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
  • CALS: Social Science
  • CEMS: No HSS credit
  • CESS: Consult your CESS advisor for General Education Requirements
  • CNHS: Elective - check with your academic advisor for further clarification.

HCOL 186 K
Social Class and The Attack on Public Education
Professor Beth Mintz - Department of Sociology

TR 11:30 - 12:45
31 SPR 100

This course examines American schools and schooling with a particular focus on social inequality in public education. We ask how class, race, and gender intersect in the experiences of students and how schools and schooling are affected by broader social structures, institutions, and practices. To understand the current state of schooling in the United States, we would explore the ongoing attack on education, both K-12 and higher ed, considering the historical foundation of contemporary public policies and the class and race impact of the reform effort.

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

  • CAS: Social Science
  • BSAD: Social Science Core
  • CALS: Humanities and Social Sciences
  • CEMS:
  • CESS: Consult your CESS advisor for General Education Requirements
  • CNHS: Elective - check with your academic advisor for further clarification.

HCOL 186 L
Art and Its Destruction
Professor Kelley Di Dio - Department of Art History

TR 10:00 - 11:15
Williams 409

The 2014 blockbuster, The Monuments Men, the news stories about the Gurlitt horde and about investigations into the questionable provenances of objects in museums around the world have brought to a larger public some of the ethical, legal, religious, and political issues involved when art has been looted or destroyed during wartime. As we will examine in this course, throughout history, especially in times of political and/or religious strife, art objects have been the target of thievery and destruction as a means by which a foe wreaks damage to its rival. We will investigate important case studies over a wide expanse of time and place in order to understand what happened (why particular sorts of art objects were destroyed or stolen, for example) and what the outcomes were. How powerful is art as a tool of war and protest? Should efforts to guard artistic patrimony be valued when loss of human life is at stake? How do war survivors (countries and individuals) reclaim art that was stolen from them? Should museums return looted art in all cases?

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

  • CAS: Humanities or Fine Arts
  • BSAD: Elective Credit Only
  • CALS: Humanities or Fine Arts
  • CEMS:
  • CESS: Consult your CESS advisor for General Education Requirements
  • CNHS: Humanities

HCOL 186 M
Imitating Nature
Professor Jim Vigoreaux - Department of Biology

TR 8:30 - 9:45
U Heights North 034

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's 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
  • CESS: Consult your CESS advisor for General Education Requirements
  • CNHS: Elective - check with your academic advisor for further clarification.

HCOL 185 N
Mediated Realms: Imagined Worlds in Religion and Popular Culture
Professor Erica Andrus, Department of Religion
MWF 3:00 - 3:50
U Heights North 034

Experience and narrative are the nexus where our ideas of reality are created. This class looks at how we understand reality through stories of encounter with extraordinary realms, self-consciously invented or directly experienced, and why we as humans are fascinated by these encounters. We will read first hand narratives of transcendent experiences in different religious traditions, and then examine how outsiders - scholars, poets, and converts - react to these stories. We will also look at the questions raised by fictional speculation about other worlds and realities, through literature, film, television, and games, and explore how science and religion converge in the questions raised by artificial intelligence. Students will pursue individual research projects tailored to their interests in ritual, popular culture, and cross-cultural comparison, and bring their projects together in groups that engage common themes.

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

  • CAS: Humanities
  • BSAD: Global & Regional Studies Core
  • CALS: Humanities and Fine Arts
  • CEMS:
  • CESS: Consult your CESS advisor for General Education Requirements
  • CNHS: Elective - check with your academic advisor for further clarification.

Last modified December 12 2014 10:50 AM