Spring 2023 Course Offerings

HONR 202: Critical Reading: Cultural and Intergenerational Trauma in Toni Morrison’s Beloved

Professor Kiara Masser

Course Description

Nineteenth-century slave narratives primarily served to educate a white audience and advocate for abolishing slavery. By contrast, the audience for neo-slave narratives includes black readers who must come to terms with their past and familial histories of slavery. Through neo-slave narratives, the responsibility of portraying the destruction that the institution of slavery caused on culture and a person’s identity is taken on by Toni Morrison in Beloved (1987). This class will explore how the burden of slavery still impacts and affects African Americans today and continues to weigh heavily on their future. Per this goal, this class explores Morrison’s texts based on critical questions: In what ways does the institution of slavery impact African Americans in contemporary society? Why is it important for authors to write neo-slave narratives? How does slavery have a long-lasting impact on African Americans’ identity today? Lastly, by examining Beloved, students will examine how slavery was a fundamental cause of cultural trauma and led to intergenerational trauma for blacks.

HONR 202: Critical Reading: Are We Better Off? A Critical Look at the Impact of Social Media

Professor Jonathan Auyer

Course Description

For this class students will be critically investigating the impact that social media has on their lives and on society. The primary text will be Max Fisher’s The Chaos Machine: The Inside Story of How Social Media Rewired Our Minds and Our World. Students will also read other secondary texts that focus on the intersection of social media, technology and ethics, which they can then use to frame and evaluate Fischer’s conclusions. The goal is for students to come away with a more critical and self-reflective perspective on social media’s roll in their lives and the life of the community.

S/HONR 203: Honors Seminar in the Social Sciences: Superheroes

Professor Steven Kirsh (Psychology Department)

Course Description

The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is replete with heroes and villains who lived through similar and often traumatic circumstances but ultimately made different choices. Students in this course will use social science theory and research to evaluate the psychological characteristics, social interactions, and environmental conditions that foster the creation of superheroes and supervillains. Moreover, students will assess the accuracy of social science concepts depicted in the MCU. Finally, this course will focus on the reasons for and importance of Cosplay to fandom. In support of these endeavors, students will read research/commentary from anthropological, psychological, and sociological disciplines. For each class period, students will evaluate a social science article and view a media offering from the MCU.

*Note: the course requires a Disney+ membership ($7.99/month). There will be no textbook.

N/ HONR 205/HONR 215: Honors Seminar in the Natural Sciences: Astrobiology*

Professors Anne Pellerin and Elizabeth Hutchison (Astronomy and Physics Department and Biology Department)

Course Description

The course will explore the conditions and possibilities of life in the Universe. It will describe what we understand of life on Earth, what makes an organism alive, how life may have started and the environmental conditions under which life is possible on Earth. Then we will explore astronomical locations where life could potentially exist inside our Solar System and beyond. Then we will discuss ways we could find out if/where life exists in the Universe. *This course must be taken with the lab component (HONR 215 or ASTR111 associated with ASTR110--TBD).

HONR 206: Honors Seminar: Sustainability Optimization

Prof. Ahmad Almomani (Math Department)

Course Description

This course will begin defining sustainability and then introduce best practices in real life applications. Optimization is how to minimize or maximize things to produce desirable responses. Working on sustainability projects on campus and studying the long-term impact on and applying optimization methods in many disciplines to get a high performance with lowest cost, this will be a powerful and effective tool no matter what the student major.  After building a background on how to deal with data we will collect and analyze data for making decisions. This course will focus on a considerable review on many optimization techniques used by scientists to sustainability development including sustainable environment, energy, buildings.