Unique Honors Courses

It's not extra. It's Honors.

About 30% of your overall coursework is completed through the Honors College. Our Honors curriculum is designed with the liberal arts in mind and is interdisciplinary in nature. This means that you'll enter into a learning environment that challenges you to think creatively outside of your chosen course of study. One of the crucial elements of success in Honors is a student's ability to remove his or herself from the one-track world of majors and minors and think from a more global perspective. For instance, a course called Religion and Ecology integrates elements of biology, sociology, anthropology and religous studies, and a course entitled Supremes examines the members of the United States Supreme Court through political science, history and sociology. In short: We want you to think critically about the problems the world faces today, and understand that the best solution will not come from an understanding of only one aspect of the world around you.

To get a sense of the courses currently available to our students, check out our course listings!

Some of our recent interdisciplinary courses include: 

Mathematical Biology

This interdisciplinary special topics course draws from two distinct disciplines, mathematics and biology, and seeks to introduce students to (a) how mathematical models for bio- logical phenomena are developed, (b) how to utilize mathematical and computational techniques to study these models, and (c) how to employ simulations of models in mathematical biology to gain further insight into biological processes and further refine the mathematical models. The course begins with an introduction to the mathematical modeling process and a discussion of how models of real- world biological and biochemical phenomena are developed within the framework of discrete-time, continuous-time, and probability models. Biological topics to be explored include population biology, predator-prey models, population genomics, enzyme reaction kinetics, and the spread of communicable diseases. Mathematical tools used in these explorations will include discrete dynamical systems, differential equations, equilibrium points and stability analysis, phase plane analysis, linearization of nonlinear systems, and Markov chains.

Why “Bad Hombres” Are the Least of our Worries  

Sociological study of Race, Immigration, and Globalization: Sociologists often study inequalities based on race/ethnicity, gender, and socioeconomic status. While this course will refer to these categories of analysis, it will focus in on the experiences of immigrants as well as how immigration status impacts peoples’ social mobility. Further, in historical and contemporary immigration debates in American society we’ve witnessed conflicting perspectives about the status of immigrants our society and educational systems. This course examines such debates and tensions with special attention to the available sociological theories for the study of immigration, and issues of race and racialization. We begin the course by examining the history of U.S. immigration, asking why people migrate across borders and tensions about their role in society upon arriving either voluntarily or involuntarily, and the fluid and contentious identities of various groups from Central/Latin America, Asia, and Africa. While we will examine immigration and migration from global and comparative perspectives, the course will pay strong attention to immigration in the U.S., and specifically the experiences of Latino immigrants. From here we will examine how institutions in society and education ascribe identities to these groups, and the impact on the lived experiences of young people in particular.

Disaster! Catastrophe! Tragedy!

This course takes a comprehensive look at major disasters faced by human society in the past, present, and future. Students will analyze cultural artifacts ranging from Egyptian stelae on famine to expressionist paintings of volcanic events, and place them in context with modern geologic and environmental studies. Why did these catastrophes happen, what was the response, and what kind of disasters might humans be facing in the near future?

Time Travel in Fiction, Film, Philosophy, and Physics

This course encourages students to appreciate how distinct disciplinary and artistic practices can inform each other’s evolution, a theme to which the topic of time travel is especially well suited. Although metaphysical speculation about the nature of time goes back at least as far as Augustine in the West, and related speculation about free will & determinism dates back to classical Greek philosophy, speculation specifically about time travel is much more historically constrained topic, first emerging at the end of the 19th century as a vehicle for other literary themes, and coming into its own as a literary and cinematic topic only in the mid-20th century, and as an {academic} philosophical & scientific one {with a few notable exceptions} only in the 1970s & 1980s.

In Search of the Holy Grail 

This course will focus on an examination of the historical and mythical King Arthur, using literary and historical sources to see where history ends and legend begins. While the lines between literature and  history are frequently blurred, the professors will use the methodologies of History, English, and Medieval Studies to guide the students through a reading of the history of medieval England and the medieval literary and historical accounts of King Arthur. During Spring Break, the students and professors will travel to England and Wales to visit sites associated with King Arthur and the times when the accounts of King Arthur and the Grail legend arose. After the trip, students will research, write, and present to the class on individual topics about King Arthur.

Memory, Politics, and the Holocaust

This course examines different controversies, tensions, and debates surrounding the Holocaust since the 1940s. It will examine ways that the Nazi persecution of the Jews has been interpreted and reinterpreted by survivors, by Jewish communities, by European, American, and Israeli societies, and by scholars across a range of disciplinary backgrounds. Beginning with controversies around Jewish resettlement in the aftermath of the Holocaust, this course will look at a range of issues that arose in the decades after the  Holocaust. We will examine the controversy surrounding restitution and reparations in the 1950s, debates around various forms of justice from the 1940s through the 1990s, historiographical debates about the origin and nature of Nazism and Nazi antisemitism, and controversies about different ways that the Holocaust has come to be remembered and represented.