Upper Level Honors Courses


Honors College upper-level classes are intimate and innovative. As an Honors student, you’ll take at least two colloquia courses (interdisciplinary classes focused on a thought-provoking question) and at least one advanced studies course (reminiscent of a graduate-level seminar).

All of these upper-level classes are discussion-based with fewer than 18 students, creating a dynamic learning environment where you can explore creative real-world solutions and hone your problem-solving skills.

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

Check out recent upper-level Honors courses that prepare you to tackle real world problems: 

HONS 250: The Climate is Changing, Why Aren’t We?
Professor Katherine Mullaugh, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry

Our climate is changing—why aren’t we? Students in this course will investigate the technical, societal, economic and ethical obstacles to tackling climate change. We will discuss how capitalism, racism, energy infrastructure, politics, and the media can hinder the broad systematic changes climate change demands. Students will critically evaluate policies for their effectiveness in terms of not only the mitigation of climate change, but also increasing economic and social equity. The challenges presented by climate change are daunting, but students will be encouraged to find hope in the opportunities to reshape a more just and sustainable world.

HONS 260: Data Visualization and Storytelling
Professor Lancie Affonso, Department of Computer Science

How do we tell compelling stories with our data? For thousands of years, storytelling has been an integral part of our humanity. Even in our “big data” digital age, stories continue to appeal to us just as much as they did to our ancient ancestors. Data visualization changes the way we interact with data, transforming it from a dry collection of statistics to something that can be entertaining, engaging, thought-provoking, and even inspirational. In this interdisciplinary course, students will be introduced to the theory and practice of designing effective visualizations of data from multiple sources. Students will learn how to detect and articulate the stories behind data sets and communicate data findings in visual, oral, and written contexts for various audiences.

HONS 250: Future of Humanity in a Technological Tomorrow
Professor Brian Bossak, Department of Health and Human Performance

For the first time in history, the coming decades will lead to nothing short of divine power in the hands of human beings. For centuries, people have spent their time and energy focusing on control of the ambient environment and other people. Soon, humans will be able to control and manipulate the world inside of us as well as gain additional control over the world outside. The power to extend life or selectively engineer humans (through biotechnology), create non-biological life (through AI), and perhaps even the ability to banish the traditional concept of death entirely (through the fusion of AI and biotechnology) will emerge, whether the human race is ready for it or not. This class explores the biological, economic, social, and technological questions which humanity must prepare to face in the fast-approaching future.

HONS 230: Banned Books that Shape(d) the World
Professor Marjory Wentworth, Department of English

Why is a text considered incendiary, offensive or dangerous? How does it reflect the culture in which it was produced? What is the political, religious, social context in which these writers/artists worked? This course examines a variety of texts that have been banned across several centuries and continents. Books have been seized or outlawed, classified as taboo, their author’s fined, jailed, tortured, exiled and killed throughout history under many different political, religious or moral regimes. We will also incorporate contemporary First Amendment issues – especially in terms of the internet (social media) and hate speech. We will begin the course by examining the origins of book banning in western culture, and we will end the course discussing contemporary issues around internet regulations.

HONS 390: Digital Media, Dystopia, and Democracy
Professor David Parisi, Department of Communications

This course uses science fiction film and television to examine social and cultural attitudes toward technology, with an emphasis on dystopian portrayals of digital media. Embracing the perspective that science fiction does not make predications about the future so much as it provides a running commentary on the present, we will use sci fi to engage with issues such as media surveillance, virtual and augmented reality, algorithmic recommendation systems in social media and streaming platforms, the technological enhancement of humans through implantable and wearable technologies, and technology’s role in constructing ideas of race, class, gender, and sexuality. We will analyze a range of films and shows that includes Black Mirror, Network, Blade Runner, The Matrix, Black Panther, Ex Machina, and Her.