Spring 2020 Honors Colloquia Courses

***Prerequisite(s) for ALL Honors Colloquia Courses: Honors College Student, HONS 100, HONS 110, and one additional HONS course of at least 3 credits (excluding HONS 115 and HONS 216).

HONS 227 Foundations of Western Civilization – Modern History (Professor Adam Domby and Professor H. Scott Poole)

This interdisciplinary colloquium examines the development of Western civilization from the scientific revolution to the contemporary world. It relates the arts, literature and philosophy of the Western world to their political, social and economic contexts.

Prerequisite(s): Honors College Student, HONS 100, HONS 110, and one additional HONS course of at least 3 credits (excluding HONS 115 and HONS 216).

HONS 380 Genetics and the Good Society (Professor 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. We’ll read primary literature in human genetics and biomedical ethics, personal narratives of disability, and disability theory to help us envision the place of genetic information and technology in a “good” society.

Students will also have the option to participate in 23andMe ancestry testing to personalize the consent and ethics discussions we’ll be having (A 23andMe Ancestry Kit will be provided to each student in the course, although there is no requirement to use the kit). At key places in the course we’ll use Iceland, Scotland, Estonia and Israel 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 the Generation Scotland genetics program, discuss the use of genetics in public health at the University of Edinburgh, and learn about the historical medical connections between the Edinburgh and the United States. Participating in the study abroad portion is run through the Center for International Education. Further information, including a sample itinerary and program cost, can be obtained by emailing Dr. Korey (koreyc@cofc.edu).  Signing up for the travel component is not required to enroll in this course.

HONS 380 Data Visualization and Storytelling (Professor Lancie Affonso)
How do we tell compelling stories with our data? For thousands of years, storytelling has been an integral part of our humanity. The human drive for understanding the universe underlies the knowledge-generating, transformational process that is constantly at work in our everyday lives. 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 and storytelling with data 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. A broad overview to the data visualization field will be provided, covering principles, methods, and techniques that are foundational to both information and scientific visualization. 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 380 Technology, Innovation, and Sustainability (Professor Lancie Affonso)

A new generation of profitable technology businesses are actively engaged in clean tech, renewable energy, and financially successful product system designs that attempt to meet our economic development aspirations while addressing our social and ecological challenges. Computational Sustainability is an emerging field that aims to apply techniques from computer science and related disciplines to help manage the balance of environmental, economic, and societal needs for sustainable development. The range of problems that fall under Computational Sustainability is rather wide, encompassing computational challenges in disciplines as diverse as environmental sciences, economics, sociology, and biological and environmental engineering. Students in this interdisciplinary course will analyze organizations whose strategies and technology products are designed to offer innovative solutions to some of the twenty-first century’s most difficult societal challenges.

HONS 380 Philosophy without Borders (Professors Sheridan Hough and Christian Coseru)

Cosmopolitanism, when interpreted literally, simply means ‘citizen of the world.’ This course will focus on the metaphysical, moral, and social questions of what it means to be a person in our globalized world. We will draw on sources from both Western and Eastern philosophy. Some of the questions we will pursue include: what is the nature of reality? Is there a persistent soul or self at the heart of human nature? How do we come to know ourselves, others, and the world around us? What is right or good, and what is the best way to live? What role does sex and gender play in the way that we see ourselves? We will explore these questions using a host of classical and contemporary readings, including, from the West, Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, Christine de Pizan, Descartes, Kant, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger, de Beauvoir, Foucault, and Bernard Williams; from the East, the Upaniṣads, the Buddha, Vasubandhu, Dharmakīrti, Śāntideva; Lao-tzu, Zhuangzi, Confucius, Mencius, Lady Murasaki, Dōgen, Sun Yat-sen, Gandhi, Keiji Nishitani, and the Dalai Lama. We will be particularly sensitive to the rewards and challenges of thinking across cultural boundaries. By examining how these philosophers have addressed these questions (as well as their methods of inquiry and proposed solutions), the course will provide students with a variety of perspectives on the human situation.

HONS 380 Cults and Conversation in Modern America (Professor Eugene Gallagher)

What is Scientology, really? And why does it attract so many celebrities? Who are those people who can be found at Marion Square nearly every day giving out literature about the end of the world and encouraging people to attend meetings? What are “cults” and why are so many people worried about them? Why would anyone want to get involved with a group that many people think is bad and even potentially dangerous? Those are some of the questions that a course on “Cults and Conversion” addresses. There are literally thousands of innovative or alternative religious groups in the U. S. today and many more throughout the world. Through looking at primary documents and secondary accounts, this course will look at a sample of them and investigate what they have to offer, who is attracted to them, and why there has been such a fuss about them.

HONS 380 Sustainability and Climate Change Through Women’s Writing: How Does Women’s Writing Reflect and Document Ecological Change and Reveal Interconnections between Human Activity and Nature? (Professors Courtney Murren and Lisa Hase-Jackson)

This course explores women’s voices in eco-lit – and as such will draw from such ecology centered literature as Silent Spring by Rachel Carson, Black Faces, White Spaces: Reimagining the Relationship of African Americans to the Great Outdoors by Carolyn Finney, as well as scientific communications from the fields of Ecology, Biology, Geography, Environmental Studies. We will discuss writings from distinct landscapes and cultures and examine the question of how women communicate observations of climate, sustainability and natural systems. Genres examined will include essays, narratives, poetry, memoir, graphic novel, ecological journal articles, and popular science communication (e.g. blogs). We will explore the narratives for the importance of nature and ecosystem services and through the modern lens of sustainability.

HONS 380 Zip Code or Genetic Code: What decides our health? (Morgan Hughey) 

This course will critically examine how individuals living in neighboring cities, towns, zip codes, and neighborhoods can have disparities in life expectancy and various health conditions. We will explore the intersection of genetic, social, and environmental determinants of health and discuss current and future solutions to these ongoing issues.

HONS 380 Applied Women’s Health Research and Advocacy (Professor Beth Sundstrom)

The purpose of this course is to investigate health issues specific to women and girls through interdisciplinary research collaborations, and communicate research findings and health-related information to empower women and girls in our community, South Carolina, and beyond. This course will incorporate multiple methodologies to better understand women’s health, including reproductive health. Students will conduct praxis-oriented research that bridges the gap between theory and practice, informing the development of community-based public health interventions. This course draws on the robust research and advocacy of the Women’s Health Research Team (WHRT) and its mission to Collaborate. Innovate. Advocate.

HONS 380 The Writer in Community (Professor Marj Wentworth)

The Writer in Community focuses on creative writing and service learning. Texts and writing prompts are focused on the ways in which writing and literature can restore our humanity, create empathy, and create a more just and equitable society. Students develop service learning sensitivity, creative writing competency and craft, as well as develop original pieces and age-appropriate interdisciplinary creative projects for partners in the schools.

More specifically, however, this class is an introductory creative writing and upper level service learning class in which we examine how our experiences and those of our students influence our creative writings. Together we look at how writers have broken the silences that render many of our experiences, and those of our students, invisible or marginalized. Through class discussions, self-reflective journal work, creative writings, and public presentations we join a global community of writers who speak out against social injustice. We will tackle what it means to be a writer in the community, and what the writer’s role is when tied to community engagement. Our service-learning partners for this class will be Reading Partners. 

All HONS 381 courses will also count towards the general education humanities requirement. 

HONS 381: The Art of Translation (Professor Ghassan Nasr)

This course is an introduction to translation studies and art/practice. The course begins with a brief survey of translation history in the English tradition through a reading of foundational statements on translation. The historical background will serve as a foundation for examining modern developments in translation studies. Core notions such as fidelity (to the source), translatability, literalism, equivalence, naturalization, and reception will be introduced through assigned readings and discussed in a group workshop setting. The course will also explore translation paradigms that engage recent and contemporary criticism, such as modernism, post-structuralism, post-modernism, gender studies, cultural studies, and post-colonialism. In the latter part of the course, participants will engage the historical and theoretical material in a workshop format in which they discuss outside translations or their own translations of source texts (mostly poetry or short prose pieces).

HONS 381 The Ecology of War (Professors Christopher Freeman and Bryan Ganaway)

How have human conflicts and wars impacted ecosystems and biodiversity across the globe? This is an enduring question in modern times, especially as increasing human population size drives our species into new regions of the world. Human history has been intimately tied to climate and the environment, but the expansion of humans has also resulted in conflicts and major wars that have had lasting environmental impacts. This interdisciplinary course introduces major events in human history from both a historical and ecological perspective, with the goal of highlighting the complex interplay between human conflict and the environment

HONS 381 Disaster! Catastrophe! Tragedy! (Professor Brooke Permenter)

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?

HONS 381 Lives of Ancient Women (Professor Allison Sterrett-Krause)

This course explores the lived experiences of women in the ancient Mediterranean, especially Greece and Rome. To do this, we will investigate the mythical and legendary role models for ancient women and examine how women responded to these role models in their everyday lives. By exploring women’s agency, we will develop nuanced understanding of the complex workings of gender and other social markers in complex human societies.

HONS 381 The Art of Pilgrimage: Transformative Travel on the Way of St. James (Professor Lisa Signori)

 Pilgrimage is experiencing a modern resurgence, as travelers rediscover the art of slow travel, exploring the world on foot and bike. This course explores the transcultural and transformative act of pilgrimage, a practice that comprise both physical and internal journey. We will look closely at the phenomenon of pilgrimage from historical and cultural perspectives, exploring ancient and medieval pilgrimage destinations like Jerusalem, Mecca; post-modern sites of pilgrimage such as Jim Morrison’s grace and Graceland; labyrinths as pilgrimage in place. More specifically, we will examine the Way of St. James, a network of medieval heritage routes stretching across Europe. The Way of St. James is a museum stretching over thousands of kilometers throughout Europe. A millennium of pilgrimages has left a treasure of art, architecture, music, literature, and history along the way to Compostela. The course will focus on the central enduring question: Why is an ancient religious practice increasingly popular in a modern secular world? The Way has undergone a renaissance in the last 30 years and is once again walked by hundreds of thousands of pilgrims every year. We will examine the seminal importance of the pilgrimage roads to Santiago de Compostela and the relevance of this 1000-year-old phenomenon to Spain’s and Europe’s self-definition within the broader context of ancient and modern pilgrimage. Along with literary works, we will examine historical texts, art, and architecture. Additionally, articles and other secondary readings, web pages, videos, will bring alive the spirit of this pilgrimage route and others.

HONS 381 Black Religion and Black Nationalism from Slave Rebellions to #BlackLivesMatter (Professor Matthew Cressler)

This course introduces students to the religious ideas and practices from across the African diaspora that gave rise to the political tradition now known as “Black nationalism.” While the tradition is often imagined to be secular (even anti-religious), this course explores the deep religious roots of Black struggles to create a new nation—from slave rebellions to the Black Power revolution to #BlackLivesMatter. Students will survey Black religion and Black nationalism as well as examine the emergence of “religion” and “nationalism” as modern categories. They will also discuss and debate the ways the contemporary Movement for Black Lives both inherits the legacy of and departs from the Black (religious) nationalist tradition.

HONS 381 Self and Society in Chinese and Japanese Religious Traditions (Professor Elijah Siegler)

This course provides an overview of the history, worldviews, and practices of Chinese and Japanese religions. We begin with the earliest period of Chinese history, the Shang dynasty (ca. 1550 – ca. 1030 B.C.E.), and end with the present day. Although we will consider discrete traditions such as Confucianism, Daoism, Buddhism, Shinto, and various new religious movements, and contemporary issues in East Asian religions, the focus will be on the concept of “Self and Society” and the thematic issues revolving around that concept (church vs. state; individual vs. community, etc.). Students will read, write about, and present on excerpts from important primary sources as well as on current scholarly articles.

HONS 381 What is a Nation? (Professor Joshua Shanes)

Nations today seem to be a self-evident reality. Yet nations are in fact modern constructions, perhaps two centuries old (often much younger), that compete with other forms of community and identities for legitimacy and loyalty. Even the basic question, “what is a nation,” brings no uniform answer. Nation-states and nationalism can bond communities and stabilize states and regions, but they are also sources of violent conflict and have facilitated some of the most barbaric acts in human history. This course will explore the origins and development of nations and nationalism and consider what all it means for us today, as Americans at the start of the 21st century. We will raise basic questions about identity, community (membership and boundaries), ethnicity, and the human condition.

HONS 381 Nationalism, Cosmopolitanism, and Their Discontents (Professors Richard Bodek and Joseph Kelly) 

Nationalism and its presumed opposite, cosmopolitanism, have been staples of Western political and cultural discourse at least since the French Revolution. They became among the most salient points of contention, though, in the interwar era. This course will analyze cultural artifacts of each in the American, Irish, British, and German cases in the 1920s and 1930s, seeing how they both reflected and shaped both self-understanding and politics. As we will see, American nationalism in this era tended to reflect constitutional ideals and in many parts of the country avoided overt discussions of race. Irish nationalism emerged from a subaltern position, at least in part as a direct rejection of English norms. British nationalism tended to be woven into the question of empire and world power. German nationalism veered ever more toward racism and Antisemitism. Cosmopolitanism, though, as will emerge, although apparently uniform across the west, had its own national ticks, ticks that will be in conversation with local nationalisms. Students will practice a range of analytical skills—literary and historical interpretation especially, but also others such as new historicism and a more interdisciplinary cultural criticism. Students will also produce approximately 4000 words of informal and 4000 words of formal writing.

All HONS 382 courses will also count towards the general education social sciences requirement. 

HONS 382 Psychology of Social Change (Professor Jen Wright)

In a world struggling with a number of serious environmental and social justice issues, how do we affect social change? How do we create a healthier, cleaner, safer, more compassionate world? And how do we, as individuals, become better people? In this class, we will select and closely examine several environmental and social justice issues and then explore the theoretical and empirical perspectives on how our beliefs, reasoning, and emotions, as well as our goals, desires, and fears, influence our attitudes and actions with regards to these issues—in positive and negative ways. We will review the literature on habit formation and how/when people can effectively change their attitudes and behaviors, both as individuals and as societies. In the process, we will tackle the applied problem of actually enacting change in our own lives.

*course offerings subject to change

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