Upcoming Honors Colloquia and Special Topics Courses

As a component of the CofC Honors curriculum – both old and new – all Honors students are required to take an Honors Colloquia or Special Topics course. These courses range in topic from the natural sciences, social sciences, humanities, and arts, so there is a wide variety of subject matters for students to explore in fulfilling these requirements. Described below are just a few of the HONS 380/381/382 classes being offered in Spring/Summer 2019. You can find full course descriptions here.

Questions about any of these courses? Email honors@cofc.edu or ask your Honors College advisor.

Genetics and the Good Society – Dr. Chris Korey
The continued development of gene sequencing technology has improved the ability of biomedical researchers to analyze whole human genomes for the genetic contributions to human health and disease. While the ability to store large amounts of genetic information in databases for large-scale analysis presents an opportunity for significant discoveries, it should also make us pause to consider the implications of this technology in the context of how the information is used to promote human health, how we use it to make reproductive decisions, how the privacy of this information is maintained, and how this information shapes our views of a healthy society. This course will take an interdisciplinary look at all these issues through the combined disciplinary lenses of Human Genetic Research and Disability Studies. Students will read primary literature in human genetics and biomedical ethics, personal narratives of disability, and disability theory to help to envision the place of genetic information and technology in a “good” society. At key places in the course, students will use Iceland, Scotland, Estonia, Denmark, and China as international case studies to gain a global perspective on these issues. Students enrolled in this course will be eligible to participate in an optional spring break abroad visit to Edinburgh, Scotland to examine first hand their Generation Scotland genetics program. Signing up for the travel component is not required to enroll in this course.

“The field of genetics is growing in visibility in people’s lives at it is getting easier and cheaper to sequence,” says Dr. Korey. “In fact, someone in your family has probably had a genetic genealogy test or used 23andMe’s genetic services. This explosion in genetic testing has implications for our understanding of ourselves, our risk for disease, our sense of identity.” Dr. Korey says that students will grapple with many questions related to large-scale genetic studies. Questions include: What responsibility do geneticists have to make sure their work is used and interpreted carefully? What are data from the studies used for, who has access, and how is consent given for this work? Since genetic tests and research on the genetic contributions to human health and behavior often raise the specter of the Eugenics movement, are we still a Eugenic society?

Imagining an Island Kingdom – Dr. Folds-Bennett and Dr. John Newell (Summer 2019) 
Led by the current dean and founding dean of the Honors College, this course will look at British culture from Roman Britain to the present day. The course will focus in particular on three elements of Britain’s past that are at the core of British identity: King Arthur, Royal Britain and Parliament, and World War II. The goal of the course is to enable students to see that myths are created and recreated to meet the needs of a particular time and that what people think happens is often at least as important as what actually happened. Students will also examine the creation of myth and look at how a myth once created can gain an importance far greater than any historical reality on which it is based.

“I look forward to the team teaching approach to our study abroad course in the UK. Not only will John Newell, founding dean of the Honors College, be there, but we will also be joined by Honors College entrepreneur-in-residence John Culhane, said Dean Trisha Folds-Bennett. “Faculty and students will explore the interaction between history, art and architecture, literature, and the creation of myth. Students will benefit from the various perspectives of the faculty members: mine as a psychologist, Dr. Newell’s as a historian, and John Culhane’s as someone who lives part-time in the UK and has developed an ‘insider’s perspective’.”

More information on this class, including the application to participate, is available here.

Engaging the Dance-Thinker – Dr. Scott-Copses

Initially, the art of dance and the practice of academic writing may appear at odds–the dancer thinks kinesthetically while the writer thinks verbally, often from a reflective distance. Yet this course privileges an “embodied” view of learning through a writing practice that joins body and mind in the physical and mental act of knowledge construction. Students will work with and through the body to choreograph and compose written and physical texts. This course requires neither specialized knowledge in composition theory nor dance practice and methodologies but will draw from both to encourage the active role of sensory experience in knowledge construction.

“We typically think of writing as a cerebral act and dance as a physical act, but both are communicative, both make use of imagery, and both are composed from phrases,” said “Dr. Meg” Scott-Copses. “It’s been fun to explore overlapping ideas of ‘choreographing’ in both writing and dance.”

We the People – Professor John Culhane
The first three words of the U.S. Constitution remind us that we, and we alone, the people of these United States, decide who we send to Washington and how our nation is to be governed. Despite a divided political tribalism tearing our nation apart, a bare majority of eligible voters bothered to vote in our last presidential election. More than ninety million eligible voters failed to vote. Our nation deserves better. Our democracy and our constitutional system of checks and balances are under siege – not only from outside aggressors but from partisan politics within.

Professor Culhane, a retired senior executive and chief legal counsel of a large multi-national corporation will endeavor to help his students better understand the difficult circumstances our country faces today by taking students through our 240 years of history, politics and the rule of law. He will provide an analysis of how we came to the issues we face in 2019 and will challenge his students to consider how we might return to those ideals we aspired to when we approved the U.S. Constitution and elected our first President and Congress.

“Our politics are front and center every day and our future as a great nation is in the hands of our students,” Culhane said. “My goal in teaching this course is simple: I love our country’s history, its combative politics and how our rule of law keeps our guardrails strong. When my students complete this course I am confident they will better understand the values and principles that formed how we came to be and how to contribute going forward to help make this a much better country and world.”

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