Honors Explorations Courses
Honors Explorations Courses
Honors explorations courses are topic-based general education courses taught by faculty in their particular areas of interest and expertise. Honors students are required to complete three honors explorations courses in different areas. Below is a list of upcoming course offerings.
Minds, Fiction, & the Human Identity (HONR 230: Humanities)
Dr. Steven Mills
Asst. Professor of Spanish
What makes us human? How are we unique among species, and within the human race? How does our mind work? The human mind has been an enigma since the dawn of philosophy, while products of the human mind (e.g. art, tools, literature, culture, etc.) have existed long before. Why do we have cultural or artistic artifacts? We will address these questions while engaging literature as both a product and evidence of our uniquely human mind, looking at how we interact with characters, or how characters interact among themselves, and on occasion how they interact with us as readers. Literature is a product of the human mind that provides a unique forum to study our inner workings as humans, and in this class we will delve into the discussions, their implications, and the works in order to learn about our basic yet unique and incredibly complex human capabilities.
The Kinsey Reports Now and Then: Biology and Social Science Examine Sex in America (HONR 220: Honors Science)
Dr. Thom Bonagura
Asst. Professor of Biology
The course will begin as an examination of the large scale surveys on American sexual behaviors conducted by Alfred Kinsey in 1948 and 1953 and the follow-up study from the Kinsey Institute at the University of Indiana in 2010. The class will build upon that initial look at behaviors to introduce and explore many specific issues broadly related modern day American sexual culture. For example, two issues to be explored will be modern day relationships and sexual behavior and the second, the increased awareness or prevalence of transgender issues in society. From here, the class will reflect on the changes, or not, of the Kinsey reports that may be apparent to illuminate changes in the attitudes over sixty years. This will then be explored in depth in small research groups trying to find research evidence that can further help explain or understand the issue. Students will be learning to look for primary academic research, in this case both biology based and social science based, as well as other academic areas where appropriate and input from the lay press. For example, in looking at relationships information and research will focus on the change in the social power and standing of women from 1948 to 2010. One of the goals is to illustrate the differences between research in the academic disciplines, examine strength and weaknesses of the research and finally to see what gets distilled from the research to the popular press where often cultural norms are dictated. The research will be done in class, specifically for the purposes of class discussion. The class will operate with a simple introduction of the topic, followed by a set time for small group research, and concluded by a minimum of an hour of open discussion of the research and information regarding the topic. In addition, every student will be researching a topic on their own in further depth to culminate in a class presentation in the last two days. Grading will based on (in ascending order of importance) use of class research time to generate sources, participation in discussion and the final oral presentation.
Textiles, Economies, & Cultures (HONR 210: Social Science)
Dr. Inez Schaechterle
Assoc. Professor of English
It might not seem so when we throw on some sweats before an early morning class, but clothing and textiles reflect our culture in ways few other consumer items can approach. From the first sewing needles (63,000 years ago) to industrial looms, from $20 jeans to $15,000 Oscar gowns to fabrics used to stabilize roadbeds, textiles express and often drive individual, cultural, technical, political, and economic development. In this course, we will explore these five factors by learning the history of dress, tracing the science and politics of the textile industry, and examining the role clothing production plays in developing economies.
Religions of Iowa (HONR 230: Humanities)
Dr. Swasti Bhattacharyya
Assoc. Professor of Religion
Most people the world over know that Iowa is part of the heartland of the USA and home to agriculture and agribusiness. However, few, even within Iowa itself, are aware of the rich diversity of religious traditions growing throughout the state. Cedar Rapids is home of the “mother Mosque:” the first mosque in the country. Rocks and people have traveled from all over the world to be a part of, and see, the Grotto of the Redemption in West Bend. For the past 25 years, Postville has been home to a group of Hasidic Jews and Maharishi Vedic City (incorporated in 2001) is an Iowan town whose name is grounded in ancient religious traditions from India. These are but a few examples of the diverse religious traditions that have taken root in Iowa. In this course, beginning with the Buddhist temple in our own back yard, through reading primary and secondary texts, films, and actual visits to a number of religious centers in Iowa, we will engage the diverse voices of the men and women who practice their religious beliefs within our state.
Microorganisms: Shaping Our World in Unseen Powerful Ways (HONR 220: Honors Science)
Dr. Brian Lenzmeier
Professor of Biology
Unbeknownst to humans, microorganisms were influencing our health, our culture, our economies, our history and our humanity for millennia. The significant role microorganisms play in our everyday lives began to be uncovered in the 17th century by an uneducated but highly curious janitor from Holland who invented the microscope. Since that seminal moment, we’ve learned microorganisms naturally make us healthier but also kill us. They can improve agricultural yields as well as decimate our livestock. They can be manipulated to produce medicines or refined into biological weapons. The overarching goal of this honors course is to explore the ever-evolving and complex relationships between microorganisms and humans. We will begin with an examination of the science and the scientists behind influential microbiological discoveries and will progress through the semester by discussing the modern intersection between science and humanity through topics like vaccines, genetic engineering, germ warfare, and the microbiome project.
Topic TBD (HONR 210: Social Science)
Dr. Ashok Subramanian
Dean of the Harold Walter School of Business
Topic TBD (HONR 200: Honors Fine Arts)
Prof. David Boelter
Assoc. Professor of Art
HONR 200: Honors Fine Arts
Dr. Merrin Guice
Asst. Professor of Vocal Music
HONR 230: Honors Humanities
Dr. Bryan Kampbell
Assoc. Professor of Communication
HONR 210: Honors Social Science
Prof. Lisa Best
Assoc. Professor of Political Science
HONR 221/222/223: Honors Science
Dr. Kristy McClellan
Assoc. Professor of Biology