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Fall 2021 Honors Seminars

HONS 1810W-66
“Dante and the Foundations of Modern Western Civilization”
TR 1:10 – 2:25 pm
Professor William Franke
Department of French & Italian
AXLE: Humanities & the Creative Arts (HCA)

This course broaches major topics in the history of ideas from love and governance to the possibility and limits of knowing God and the world as they are articulated across disciplines from philosophy and literature to religion. It takes the theoretical and imaginative texts of Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) as seminal for the birth of the modern world. Dante’s universal vision takes on renewed relevance today in a world facing the twin challenges of globalization, on the one hand, and ethnic fragmentation and religious sectarianism, on the other.


HONS 1810W-74
“Struggles for Recognition and Social Change”
T: 12:45 – 3:45 pm
Professor Matthew Congdon
Department of Philosophy
AXLE: Humanities & the Creative Arts (HCA)

This course will explore a fundamental issue in ethics and politics: the struggle to demand care, respect, and esteem from others. Following a philosophical tradition that begins with the German philosopher, G. W. F. Hegel, we will refer to this phenomenon as the struggle for recognition. In this tradition, recognition refers to a special form of social relation wherein one conveys an acknowledgment of others’ moral standing, value, or worth. The course will be divided into two parts. “Part I: Historical Roots” will survey some foundational writings in ethics and political philosophy, and “Part II: Contemporary Recognition Theory,” will focus on efforts to revitalize the concept of recognition today.


HONS 1820W-35
“Climate Change and the Global Response: A Multi-Disciplinary Perspective”
TR 2:20 – 3:35 pm
Professor Leah Dundon
Department of Earth & Environmental Sciences
AXLE: Perspectives (P)

Addressing the many challenges posed by climate change requires informed responses and innovative thinking from every discipline. Accordingly, this class draws from the natural and social sciences, humanities, law, engineering, medicine and more to provide students with a deeper understanding of global connectedness and the need for diverse knowledge to inform solutions and identify opportunities. The course aims to include a trip to experience the international climate negotiations implemented through the United Nations, this year scheduled for Glasgow, Scotland Nov. 1-12, 2021.

Enrollment to this course was by application and instructor approval. Applications for this class are now closed.


HONS 1830W-63
“The Science of Misinformation: Why we believe false information”
TR 12:45 – 2:00 pm
Professor Lisa Fazio
Department of Psychology and Human Development
AXLE: Social and Behavioral Sciences (SBS)

This course will focus on the psychological processes that affect belief in misinformation. We will focus on questions such as, How do people come to believe false information? How can we best correct false beliefs? and What policies/interventions are more or less effective in stopping the spread of misinformation? During the semester, the class will collaboratively design, run, analyze and write-up a psychological study with the goal of submitting the resulting manuscript to a peer-reviewed journal.


HONS 1830W-64
“Playing to Learn”
TR: 3:55 – 5:10 pm

Professor Melissa Gresalfi
Department of Teaching and Learning
AXLE: Social and Behavioral Sciences (SBS)

In this seminar, we will explore the role of play in supporting learning of all types, and across the lifespan. Specifically, we will study theories that consider the ways that making, manipulating, exploring, discovering, and imagining become opportunities to learn, and may indeed offer insights that are denied in traditional models of instruction. We will explore curricular philosophies that are explicitly “play based” (such as Montessori, Waldorf, and Reggio Emilia), and analyze music, art, toys, and games to better understand whether or how these support learning. Students’ personal interests and backgrounds will be an essential component of this class that will allow us to explore a range of playful activities.


HONS 1840W-36
“Warfare State”
TR 12:45 – 2:00 pm

Professor Paul Kramer
Department of History
AXLE: US History and Culture (US)

This course explores one of the central dynamics of 20th century American political, social, cultural, and economic life: the transformative role of militarization and war-making. In the 20th century, during which the United States went from a second-tier world power to the world’s most powerful state, US military institutions, practices, and discourses remade nearly every aspect of “domestic” society, while US military forces and interventions disproportionately represented the United States to international observers. In recent years, commenters have critically explored what they see as the dangerous militarization of the interface between the US government and its citizens, especially when it comes to questions of militarized surveillance of US citizens, and militarized urban policing. The goal of this course is to put these present-day debates in historical perspective, by examining both the actual imprint of militarization and war on American society and foreign policy, and discussing the ways that Americans have understood and debated these complex relationships.


HONS 1850W-27
“Nanoscience and Nanotechnology”
TR 11:10 am – 12:25 pm
Professor Sokrates Pantelides
Department of Physics
AXLE: Math and Natural Sciences (MNS)

The words nanoscience and nanotechnology have become commonplace, but for the average layperson they are rather mysterious. This class is designed for students with no background in science and does not rely on any math. General conversational lectures and often with demos will take the class on a journey to demystify the connection between materials and technology; what semiconductors are and how they became the backbone of modern technology; how “nano” entered the picture about 20 years ago; and what is the new miracle of graphene (pictured: image of carbon atoms making up a monolayer of graphene, taken with an electron microscope). The journey will include field trips to labs where nano-stuff is made and “clean rooms” where you need to be “hooded” (photo), as well as virtual excursions from the Washington world of politics and research funding agencies, to social and economic issues, medicine, space exploration, and future frontiers.


HONS 1850W-30
“Cognitive Control”
TR 11:10 am – 12:25 pm
Professor Gordon Logan
Department of Psychology
AXLE: Math and Natural Sciences (MNS)

Cognitive control is the process by which the mind controls itself. It allows us to pursue goals in the face of distraction, to multitask, and to adapt to novel situations. It is implicated in skill and expertise and in disorders of control in psychopathology, neuropathology, and aging. How the mind controls itself is a central question in philosophy, psychology, and neuroscience, addressing questions of free will, the nature of mental processes, and their neural instantiation. This course will cover this range of topics in readings, class discussions, and experimental demonstrations in which students will perform a variety of cognitive control tasks.


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