Spring 2024 Edgar Fellows Course Offerings

HONR 202: Are We Better Off? The Impacts of Social Media

Professor Jonathan Auyer (Philosophy Department)

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.

HONR 202: From Tourist to Scholar in Tuscany

Professor Weston Kennison (English Department)

This course leverages a place-based approach to close reading by offering students an
experience of what it takes to be a traveling scholar. HONR 202: From Tourist to Scholar in
Tuscany engages students during the spring semester and supplements the course with a
Maymester option for students to travel in pursuit of an innovative study abroad experience
or connect in a Virtual Study Abroad model without travel. This seminar is an introduction to
place-based pedagogies in the humanistic tradition emphasizing the methods and skills
required to conduct research and learning on a global stage.

HONR 202 students can choose to travel with the instructor to Italy for ten days immediately
following the spring semester or collaborate in that traveling research through a Virtual Study
Abroad partnership with the students abroad. Our critical reading strategy will integrate techniques essential to the work of a global scholar. We will immerse ourselves in the
challenges of translating, overcoming obstacles through intercultural competence, conducting
interviews, collecting evidence in situ, understanding museums, reading archeology and
architecture, and engaging local populations beyond the fantasies created by tourism.
Each student will design a research project focused upon Tuscany. As these projects go
forward, we will identify the obstacles associated with pursuing that research abroad, articulate
strategies for overcoming those obstacles, and implement them. Students opting for travel will
participate in a ten-day travel program in Tuscany following the semester. Each student not
traveling will complete a Virtual Study Abroad module in collaboration with the traveling
cohort. See here for dates and costs of the study abroad component of the course.

We will be traveling to Siena, Italy in the heart of Tuscany. The students will take advantage of
relationships which have grown over the past forty years between SUNY Geneseo and a variety
of stakeholders in Siena and the surrounding Tuscan countryside. The purpose of this option is
to increase access to study abroad by lowering costs and integrating a travel experience into a
spring semester class. The lower costs result in folding tuition into the spring semester and
leveraging lower travel costs during shoulder season. (Students wishing to remain in Italy and
travel beyond the end of the program can do so.) All students in the class would follow the
same course through final exam week. Students who wish to engage the travel option will come
to Tuscany with me for ten days immediately following the semester. Those who opt against
travel would pursue a Virtual Study Abroad Project in collaboration with the travelers during
the same period. Students would interact through digital platforms. Students will participate
in planning day trips and excursions to Rome, Florence, rural Tuscany, and other locations.

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

Professor Steven Kirsh (Psychology Department)

The superhero genre is comprised of enhanced individuals living through similar and often traumatic circumstances but ultimately making different life choices. Students will use social science theory and research to assess 1) the psychological traits, social interactions, and environmental conditions that foster the creation of superheroes and supervillains and 2) the accuracy of social science concepts depicted in superhero films. This course will also focus on the reasons for, and importance of, Cosplay to fandom. For each class, students will evaluate a social science article and watch a thematically-paired superhero movie or television show.

S/HONR 203: Honors Seminar in the Social Sciences: Science and Pseudoscience in Archaelogy

Professor James Aimers (Anthropology Department)

The recent Netflix series Ancient Apocalypse (2022) is part of a long tradition of popular pseudoscientific media with a focus on archaeology (e.g. Ancient Aliens), but this series demonstrated an unusual level of hostility to professional archaeologists and the scientific basis of archaeology. A similar mistrust of science and expertise can also be seen in other areas of contemporary life (e.g., vaccines, skepticism about news reporting). In this course we explore psuedoarchaeological narratives and how they relate to scientific archaeology and science more generally.  We will pay particular attention to the racist origins and implications of psuedoarchaeological narratives which explicitly or implicitly deny indigenous peoples their own archeological heritage. 

H/W HONR 209: Honors Seminar in the Humanities/Western Civilization: What Makes a Community Good, Just, and Sustainable?

Professor Jonathan Auyer (Philosophy Department)

When we look at today’s headlines we see a country (and a world) often portrayed as fearful, violent, and divided along economic, social, and cultural fault lines. Other headlines, though, paint an optimistic world embracing the plurality of cultures, and discovering ways social, cultural structures are creating hope for a better future. How do these attitudes coexist? How do they interact? This class sets out to investigate collective identity and collective values. To do that, we will look at we will look at three major aspects of a society: the social and political structures, and the systems sustainability. Each of these aspects influences how groups of people shape their identities, and will offer insight into the sorts of arguments groups offer to convince themselves and others that their choices are good, just, and sustainable. Which will determine the shape of our communities in the future? What are the practices and institutions that bind us together? What structures should we institute to in order to create a lasting community? The hope is that by exploring such questions, you will develop an interdisciplinary perspective on community and draw closer to determining what makes a community good, just, and sustainable.