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  • Honors 120 classes are New Freshman Seminars (FRSM). Each freshman Honors Scholar should register for only ONE FRSM course. Honors 120 classes are a requirement for freshmen in the Honors Scholars Program and are restricted to Honors Scholars.
  • Honors 320 classes are generally taken during the junior year and are a requirement of the Honors Scholars Program. They are restricted to current Honors Scholars.

Honors Program Courses

Summer 2015

HONS 320-001:  "Leadership in the Technological Age"
MWF: 8-10:50am
1 June-4 July 2015
Dr. Thomas Foster
Professor of Physics

In this course, each student will examine their future life plans through the lens of how technology will change their intended job and lives. The course will require introspection as well as creativity and imagination, but no special knowledge of computers or specific technology. There will be two papers and related presentations. We will read two books specifically, but more readings will be added based on classroom discussion.

Fall 2015

HONS 120-FR1:  "Performance and Performance Art"
MW: 3-4:15pm
Dr. Johanna Schmitz
Associate Professor of Theater and Dance

Theater is about us; it is about human potential.  It is about what can happen.  In many ways you are already an expert on the material of this class:  You spend a lot of time recognizing effective performances and criticizing lazy ones.  You see professional actors at work almost everyday on television and on film (and you are probably very good at being able to recognize when you or your friends are "acting").  You know what you like to watch and probably appreciate that other people like things that you do not.  I hope that you will approach this course with an open mind to see if you might find new kinds of theater and performance that intrigues you.  While this course focuses on live theater in performance you will be able to use the skills developed during the semester to effectively define, describe, and develop critical scholarship about a wide rage of artistic and/or creative endeavor. The way we tell stories is changing.  This class will establish a broad understanding of conventional theatrical forms (ritual, sports, t.v., film, stage, video games, etc.) and then explore how new artists are challenging the mainstream through innovation.  Some performance art is almost hidden; some is shoved in our faces.   Theater sometimes looks like “real life” and “real life” is sometimes very theatrical. How do we analyze and define what we experience? We will read, discuss, and write about various works in performance and performance art that are attempting to create new kinds of theatrical events.  We will also invent new performances of our own in flash mobs, happenings and noncompetitive gaming.  Students will gain critical and theoretical grounding in performance studies and use university resources that will help make the transition from students to scholars.  As new Honors students, you have the unique authority to define your experience about your first months as freshmen at SIUE. To help tell your story, we will produce visible, and invisible, flash mobs, audio-guided walking tours, noncompetitive gaming, treasure hunts and other unconventional ways of telling stories. Students will gain critical and theoretical grounding in performance studies (critical theory) and use university resources at SIUE to develop their own scholarly authority.

HONS 120-FR2:  "'The World Is Too Much with Us:' Self, World, History"
TR: 2-3:15pm
Dr. Eric W. Ruckh
Associate Professor of History
Honors Program Director

Look around. What do you see? How far can you see? How deeply can you see? How aware are you of the world? Of others? Of yourself? Of history? Do you want to see farther? Deeper? More keenly? Do you want to be more attuned? More aware? Then join us on a journey into the everyday and the taken-for-granted. In this honors seminar, we will examine these questions and train our awareness by examining some everyday objects and some prominent objects on campus. What objects? Well, things like sugar, bicycles, iPhones, and a sculpture like Rodin’s L’Homme qui marche. Maybe a dog, maybe a box, maybe a soy sauce jar. You’ll see. By these examinations, we hope to come to see how we are embedded in structures and networks that link us to the most distant parts of the world and the deep architecture of time. We will also wonder at the cause/s of our distraction. Together, we will read widely: some poetry and philosophy; some science and some art criticism. And we will write and learn to attend to our writing. Most importantly, having begun to wonder at the richness of the immediate environment, you will conduct, in teams, your own examinations of an object that will lead us to ‘have glimpses [of wonder] that [will] make [us] less forlorn; have sight of Proteus rising from the sea’ (Wordsworth).

HONS 120-FR3:  "Health Policy, Health Reform, and the U.S. Health System"
TR: 3:30-4:45pm
Dr. Linda Omondi
Clinical Assistant Professor of Nursing

This course examines the U.S. health care system. Health care in the United States constitutes approximately 18% of the US economy. In this course, we will discuss: healthcare in America; health professionals and organizations in the U.S.; healthcare finance and reimbursement in the U.S.; access, quality and availability of healthcare in the U.S.; the future of healthcare in America. Course activities will include: interviewing legislators; writing letters to legislators; attending the School of Nursing’s Legislative Night; writing letters to editors of newspapers on health policy issues; attending local legislative sessions.

HONS 120-FR5:  "How Can I Be Happy?"
TR: 12:30-1:45pm
Dr. Matthew Schunke
Associate Professor of Philosophy

This course aims to answer the question, “How can I be happy?” To answer these questions requires us to examine questions such as: what do we mean by happiness—is it an emotion, a way of life, a sense of well-being? Also is it something that should be the focus of our lives, and, if so, how does it relate to other needs and obligations? Throughout the semester we will approach these questions from a variety of perspectives, historical and contemporary.

HONS 120-FR6:  "Faulkner and Southern History"
TR: 3:30-4:45pm
Dr. Rowena McClinton
Professor of History

The aim of this Freshman Honors Course is to examine the American South from before the Civil War to the early twentieth century through the literature of William Faulkner. William Faulkner conveyed this tumultuous era using careful observations of Mississippi and incorporating eye-witness accounts in his numerous novels and short stories. As a result of losing the Civil War, Faulkner thought that Southern society lost a sense of identity; therefore, ruling elites sanctioned extreme violence against African Americans. Turmoil led to racial and family disputes. Blindness to progress exacerbated living in the present. Faulkner succinctly explained: the "past has not passed." An intense observer of peoples who had undergone defeat, Faulkner elucidates the effects loss (of the Civil War) had on his fictional characters in Sound and Fury, Light in August, Intruder in the Dust, and short stories edited by Malcolm Cowley in The Portable Faulkner. Southern history intertwines with conflict, intensity, and irony and this course will address these themes, in particular, against the backdrop of historical facts. Texts to be read and discussed include the following: Malcolm Cowley, The Portable Faulkner (New York: Viking Press, 1945); Thadious M. Davis, Games of Property: Law, Race, Gender, and Faulkner's Go Down Moses (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2003); and Joel Williamson, William Faulkner and Southern History (New York and London: Oxford University Press, 1993).

HONS 120-FR7:  "Living and Succeeding in a Multicultural Society"
TR: 11am-12:15pm
Dr. Sonia Zamanou-Erickson
Associate Professor of Applied Communication Studies

The purpose of this course is to expose students to issues of diversity, to give them an understanding and empathy for others’ points of view and cultural experiences, and to move them to acceptance and appreciation of differences. Students will examine their own identities, appreciate their unique cultures, and will learn about other cultures (through guest speakers, readings, class activities, field trips, movies, participation in cultural events on campus and beyond). Finally, students will learn communication skills that will allow them to be more successful in their interactions with others, who may be different than themselves. Diversity will be discussed in a broad sense of the term, including dimensions beyond race and gender, such as ethnicity, religion, disabilities, sexual orientation, education, and age, etc. Finally, there will be a big writing component in this class since students will blog frequently documenting their thoughts/feedback/critique for every new experience to which they are exposed.

HONS 120-FR8:  "The Autobiographical Self"
TR: 9:30-10:45am
Dr. Catherine Seltzer
Associate Professor of English

In this Honors seminar, we will consider the autobiographical impulse, focusing on its role in contemporary American culture. What drives us to explain our lives to others? How does an autobiographer reconcile her or his own subjectivity with the ideal of “Truth”? And, more broadly, how has the project of autobiography become inherently suspicious? (The cultural critic Daniel Mendelsohn observed in the New Yorker that, “memoir, for much of its modern history, has been the black sheep of the literary family. Like a drunken guest at a wedding, it is constantly mortifying its soberer relatives (philosophy, history, literary fiction)—spilling family secrets, embarrassing old friends—motivated, it would seem, by an overpowering need to be the center of attention.”) In addition to these questions, we’ll think about the ways in which autobiographical texts continually challenge traditional expectations of multiple genres, creating porous boundaries between personal and collective histories, between fiction and factual account, and between conventional narratives and often subversive cultural critiques. We’ll consider a number of autobiographical works, including full-length memoirs, works of creative nonfiction, poetry, self-portraits, blogs and tweets, and each student will engage in an autobiographical project of their own.

HONS 320-001:  "Perspectives of Health through Literature and the Media"
TR: 3:30-4:45pm
Dr. Therese Poirie
Senior Research Professor of Pharmacy

This honors seminar explores interdisciplinary perspectives on health and illness through an exploration of literature and various media. It provides students the opportunity to reflect on the portrayal of health care professionals as seen in selected literature and films/TV. Further, it analyzes the human connection to providing health care. Students will apply critical thinking to ethical decision making for patient care. They will develop interdisciplinary perspectives on health and illness from literature, and media such as films, TV, social media. They will develop awareness of medical issues as represented in literature, and media. Overall, they will develop their presentation, reading, writing, critical thinking, and discussion skills.

HONS 320-002:  “A Theory of Everything as Nothing”
TR: 2:00-3:15pm, PH 2412
Dr. Robert Bruce Ware
Professor of Philosophy

“Philosophy is dead.” With these words, the physicist Stephen Hawking begins his book The Grand Design. Hawking’s thesis is that philosophers have failed to keep pace with the developments that revolutionized science and mathematics in the last two centuries. Philosophers have failed to provide us with a way to conceive of the world that science now describes. Yet, like most contemporary scientists, Hawking presupposes the outlook of scientific materialism. In other words, Hawking assumes that the world can be reduced to elementary “matter.” This assumption has encountered three basic problems: First, physics has found that the world is composed not of matter, but of energy. Yet while scientists know how to measure energy, they have difficulty understanding what it is, and why it is the fundamental substance of existence. Second, when physicists examine matter at the smallest possible levels, they find that it is made of structures that inevitably include the scientist herself. Third, since matter is dead, the world described by scientific materialism is fundamentally dead. And if the world is truly made of dead matter, then it would seem that our lives must be accidental and meaningless. From this problem follow many of our contemporary struggles between science and religion. In the spirit of Stephen Hawking, this course accepts that philosophy has been no better than comatose for the past two hundred years. And, in the manner of Hawking, it strives to provide a complete explanation of existence in terms that are rational, clear, and precise. Yet it abandons Hawking in its attempt to derive logic, mathematics, and physics without axioms, assumptions, or presuppositions of any kind. Hence, no prior knowledge of logic, mathematics, or physics is required. All tools, toys, and weapons of world construction are cheerfully provided.

Spring 2015

HONS 120-FR1 (CRN 18084)
Monday, Wednesday: 3-4:15 p.m.
Location: Peck Hall 0309
Instructor: Jeffrey D. Skowblow

On Failure

If success is the goal, then it would seem failure is the enemy, and know thy enemy is an important precept. But maybe this is too narrow a way to think about failure. Maybe failure is more complicated and interesting than simply the opposite of success. Maybe it is even, often, difficult to recognize. In this Honors seminar we will be exploring the question of failure from multiple perspectives (academic, personal, political, moral, etc.), examining different usages and conceptions of the term, and different case studies, seeking fresh ways of analyzing and understanding the experience of failure. We will base our studies on an eclectic mixture of texts—fiction, poetry, non-fiction, film, song, painting—as well as on our own experiences, and we will engage in various exercises designed to help us understand the value and meaning failure in our own lives and in the world at large.

HONS 120-FR2 (CRN 18114)
Tuesday, Thursday: 9:30-10:45 a.m.
Location: Peck Hall 0302
Instructor: Bryan Lee Lueck


All of us, during the course of our lives, will inevitably both do and suffer wrongs. Because of this, we cannot avoid having to wrestle with questions about whether or not to forgive and about how to seek forgiveness. For a couple of different reasons, these questions turn out to be surprisingly difficult to answer. First, it is hard to say precisely what it means to forgive. Is it simply to put the wrong out of mind? Is it to treat the wrongdoer as if he or she had never done the wrong? Or is it merely to set aside our anger at having been wronged? Second, it is hard to formulate a criterion that could help us distinguish between cases in which forgiveness is appropriate and cases in which it is not. Must the wrongdoer acknowledge the wrong? Must he or she explicitly ask for forgiveness? Must the wrongdoer give evidence that his or her character has been reformed for the better? And if the wrongdoer has done these things, are we obligated to forgive? Or does forgiveness remain optional? Our course will be devoted to investigating questions like these from both a historical and a philosophical perspective. We will begin with an examination of the ways in which the meaning of forgiveness has developed from the ancient world to our own time. After that, we will focus on different theoretical articulations of forgiveness advanced by such prominent scholars as Charles Griswold, Vladimir Jankelevitch, and Jacques Derrida.

HONS 320-002 (CRN 18083)
Monday, Wednesday: 4:30-5:45 p.m.
Location: Peck Hall 0309
Instructor: Carl P. Springer

Pain (and Suffering)

What is pain? Is it entirely different from pleasure? How best to describe it? Treat it? In this junior-level seminar Honors students will be given the chance to study this complex and important problem from an interdisciplinary perspective. We will read the Greek tragedy, “Oedipus the King,” the biblical book of Job, and Susan Sontag’s “Illness as Metaphor,” as we consider the problems (e.g., theodicy) posed by the issue of human pain and, alternatively, its “redemptive” possibilities (suffering). At the same time, students will be asked to consider the palliative promise (and limitations) of ancient and modern pharmaceutical remedies. The rich intersection between these two disciplinary perspectives, complementary in many ways, not simply contradictory, should help students better to appreciate in its fullness the complex problem of pain and the variety of ways in which it can be addressed today. Research paper required.

HONS 320-003 (CRN 18132)
Tuesday, Thursday: 2-3:15 p.m.
Location: Peck Hall 2411
Instructor: Kiana Marie Cox

Understanding Contemporary Racism: Social Scientific Approaches

This course explores the roots of racism as a structural phenomenon. How is race part and parcel of U.S. social structure? Is it possible that racism is as much the product of "bad" systems as "bad" people? We will explore these questions from a variety of perspectives including sociology, social psychology, history, popular culture, and genetics. The course will feature significant amounts of group work and in-class discussion as well as introductory training in qualitative and quantitative research methods.

HONS 320-004 (CRN 18083)
Tuesday: 6-8:50 p.m.
Location: Alumni Hall 3401
Instructor: Melodie Ann Rowbotham

Cultural and Complementary Healthcare Practices

This course provides an overview of current complementary therapies and the influence cultures have on healthcare. Complementary therapies, also commonly referred to as alternative therapies, recognize the person as a physical, mental and spiritual being and that disease affects each of these areas of life. Students will also explore how culture impacts healthcare.

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