Fall 2014 Courses

Several schools/colleges offer honors sections of courses. Honors College students also may take honors sections of courses in order to fulfill honors diploma requirements.  Please click here for a listing of honors courses that are open to students of all majors.

Honors College students will have the opportunity to enroll in interdisciplinary seminars, HONR courses, which are taught by top-notch faculty members who have been recognized for teaching excellence. We are pleased to offer 12 HONR courses for Fall 2014. Please note the HONR 199 courses are for first and second-year students only; HONR 299 and 399 courses are open to all high ability students.

Below is a listing of the current semesters course offerings. Click on the course name to view a short description of the course. To download a print friendly PDF, click here. To view a pdf description of the first-year course click here.


“The Great War and Its Continuing Aftermath”
HONR 19900, Section 014, CRN 10550

Instructor: President Mitchell Daniels, Jr.
# of Credit Hours: 1
Days and Times: various, please see description
Room: various, please see description

Brief Course Description:

On the 100th anniversary of World War I, that event’s massive effect on modern history can now be seen in full perspective. A globalized, interdependent world, so abundant in the international trade and democracies that were thought to prevent wars, stumbled into the largest most ghastly war ever. Besides the millions of lives lost, there were innumerable other casualties: The world’s blossoming and pervasive confidence in the beneficence of science and human progress was shattered. Regimentation and depersonalization were invented and became routine parts of life, while the last monarchic regimes of Europe were toppled. All these sudden changes were quickly reflected in literature, and in the rise of totalitarianism that within a quarter century had killed even more millions than did the Great War. How did a “civilized” world blunder into this disaster? What were its effects, short and long term, on the societies that participated in the conflict? What were the consequences of the war, and the peace treaty that ended it? This course will examine these questions and more about “The War to End All Wars,” but didn’t.

Class Meeting dates 6:00 PM – 7:50 PM, UNIV 017: 3 classroom lectures will meet:
September 17 (W)
October 15 (W)
November 19 (W)

Informal Meeting dates 6:00 PM – 7:50 PM, Westwood:
4 additional informal gatherings at Westwood will meet:
August 27 (W)
October 1 (W)
October 29 (W)
December 4 (TH).

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“Sports and Politics”
HONR 19900, Section 015, CRN 11516

Instructor: Dr. Dwaine Jengelley
# of Credit Hours: 3
Days and Times: T/TH 9:00 – 10:15 AM
Room: HEAV 111

Brief Course Description:

Sport is much more than a pastime. It is also a force and a forum, which governments, interest groups, and individuals use to advance political causes or make statements for change. Take, for example, the 1994 Rugby World Cup in South Africa, when Nelson Mandela, the recently elected president of South Africa, used this sporting event as an opportunity for nation building. The raised fists of John Carlos and Tommie Smith at the 1968 summer Olympics were a statement against racist policies in the United States, and the international stage gave these athletes a global audience to see/hear their message. Many scholars describe China's hosting of the 2008 Olympics and Brazil's hosting of the World Cup in 2014 as debutant balls for these rising global powers. In this course, we will examine the relationship of politics and sports. Through a case study approach, students will analyze how sporting events and sports overall serve various actors' political agendas.

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“The Evolution of the Bible and its Revolutionary Effects”
HONR 19900, Section 010, CRN 63066

Instructor: Dr. Stuart Robertson
# of Credit Hours: 3
Days and Times: MWF 1:30 – 2:20 PM
Room: REC 117

Brief Course Description:

This course will: First trace the likely beginnings of the language of the Old Testament and the materials on which it was written and transmitted. Second, it will present the issues in the selection of books included in the Canon, first of Old and then of New Testament. Third, it will illustrate the manuscript-tradition until modern times. Fourth, it will present the effects on the Bible on various aspects of culture: religion, art, ethics, language, music, gender issues, politics, etc. The class will make field trips to the Newberry Library in Chicago, to the Purdue Archives, and to the Twin Rockers hand-paper-making company in Brookston. The students will write responses to what they read and hear in class, and make reports of their personal research to the class. Class discussion will be an essential part of their experience. .

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“Reading and Seeing the Middle Ages”
HONR 19900, Section 012, CRN 63368

Instructor: Dr. John Contreni
# of Credit Hours: 3
Days and Times: T/TH 1:30 – 2:45 PM
Room: REC 315

Brief Course Description:

What do a fourth-century Greek bishop and a fifteenth-century German pig-sticker have in common? Not much except both offer fascinating perspectives into their societies and the human condition. Their stories and the stories of 95 other medieval men, women, and children provide insight from many different points of view into a lively, contentious age that is often dismissed as dark and stagnant. Reading and discussing their stories will enable us also to learn how to analyze texts, to decode their not-so-obvious meanings, and even to detect what they do not say. Dissecting texts is the forensic science of historians and good preparation for sharpening analytical and critical reasoning skills. Reading, seeing, thinking, discussing, lead to writing. Students will have an opportunity to practice their analytical, reasoning, and writing skills in a short essay (8-10) pages based on the documents and images in The Medieval Record and A Short History of the Middle Ages. The focus of the writing project will be on the documents and images and will require no outside research.

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“Lincoln and the Civil War Era”
HONR 19900, Section 013, CRN 63482

Instructor: Dr. Robert May
# of Credit Hours: 3
Days and Times: T/TH 3:00 – 4:15 PM
Room: REC 117

Brief Course Description:

What did Lincoln stand for, and what made him great? Have historians and the mass media glossed over flaws that he surely must have had? Do we romanticize Lincoln simply because of his emancipation proclamation and way with words? How do we reconcile our image of Lincoln as the great proponent of freedom with his own racialism and the very real constriction of civil liberties that occurred in the North during the Civil War? What precisely did he do to manage the North’s war effort that justifies how history exalts him? How can we better understand our national character and past by coming to terms with Lincoln?

These are just some of the issues that this course will address, though we should always remain conscious that definitive answers will be elusive, given the thousands of books and essays that have been published about Lincoln. According to Civil War historian James McPherson, Lincoln has had more books written about him than any figure in human history other than Shakespeare and Jesus. Still, we will try to reach conclusions about these questions by delving into some of the most provocative, sometimes contradictory, and often most recent works on Lincoln and dissecting them in class. In addition, we will seek to better comprehend American history by using Lincoln as our point of engagement. What can we learn, for instance, about the American political party system, the sectional crisis that caused the Civil War, and the place of America in the world community by assessing Lincoln¹s story?

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“Interdisciplinary Approaches to Writing”
HONR 19903, Section 003, CRN 68555

Instructor: Dr. Adam E. Watkins
# of Credit Hours: 3
Days and Times: MWF 9:30 – 10:20 AM
Room: REC 315

Brief Course Description:

In this course, students will acquire the skills needed for successful writing throughout their academic and professional careers: a firm grasp on rhetoric and style, effective critical thinking, and strong research habits. We will foster these skills by demystifying and deciphering one of the most fascinating subjects in American culture: the college campus.

Like any inhabited place, Purdue’s campus has a complex ecology, and we will focus on this particular niche through a variety of lenses. By exploring various disciplines – including nature writing, urban studies, retail analysis, campus and civic planning, as well as anthropology – students will not only learn how to interrogate an object of inquiry from multiple perspectives but they will also have the opportunity to master a number of writing styles and research methods.

Much of the class time will be spent in lively discussions in which students utilize the concepts they have learned to draw their own conclusions about the college habitat and the unique culture it affords. In this way, students will work together to examine the various roles that the college campus plays in their development and to realize the agency we all have in shaping the environment that shapes ourselves.

This course *may* be used as a substitute for English 106 or 108. Consult your college advisor.

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“Paradigm Shifts in Biology and Medicine”
HONR 29900, Section 010, CRN 51860

Instructor: Dr. Joseph Vanable
# of Credit Hours: 3
Days and Times: T/TH 10:30 – 11:45 AM
Room: REC 315

Brief Course Description:

It has been said that scientists rarely change their minds, but fortunately, they don’t live forever. This is certainly hyperbole, but nonetheless, there are noteworthy examples in both biology and medicine (as well as other fields) in which it has been very difficult to change accepted “truth”. Sometimes this has been despite overwhelming evidence in favor of the need for a major paradigm shift in what was considered to be an acceptable explanation for a biological or medical issue. One of the most noteworthy examples of this is the hard fight in the 1940s and 1950s to change the accepted view of the chemical basis of heredity from being proteins to being deoxyribonucleic acid. A more ancient example would be the battle waged to disprove the then well-accepted notion of spontaneous generation.

This information will be presented as a series of lectures/discussions. I will require two papers of each student, the topics being either an elaboration of topics presented in lecture/discussion, or on other examples of paradigm shifts in biology and medicine. Each paper would evolve through a series of interactions between students and myself, rather than “sinking or swimming” on the basis of its initial submission.

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“Re-Visioning Terrorism: The Construction of Terrorism on Film”
HONR 29900, Section 012, CRN 67545

Instructor: Dr. Benjamin Lawton
# of Credit Hours: 3
Days and Times: T/TH 12:30 – 1:20 (Lecture)
T 6:00 – 8:50 PM (Lab)
Room: Lecture- SC 102, Lab- SC 239

Brief Course Description:

The expressions “war on terror” and “global war on terror” have become part of American vocabulary since September 11, 2001 and since that time the “war” has been the object of very different depictions in the audio-visual media (movies, films, TV) and theater. This is not, however, the first occasion on which societal groups (tribes, cities, and nation states of varied political hues and organizations-- kingdoms, republics, empires, etc.) have endeavored to eliminate threats by non-state actors of various sorts: pirates (from the Cilician pirates who captured Caesar as a youth and held him for ransom, to the Barbary coast pirates referenced in the Marine hymn [“from the Halls of Montezuma to the Shores of Tripoli”], to the pirates now operating off the coast of Somalia), rebelling slaves (from Spartacus to Nat Turner), bandits (from the Indian “thugs” to Quantrill’s raiders), political assassins (from the sicarii to Mumbai [2008], ethnic rebellions (from the Zealots to the PLO to Sinn Fein to the ETA to the Tamil Tigers), religious heretics (from the Waldensians to the Calvinists, the Huguenots, the Lutherans, and the Taliban).

Of course, seen from a different perspective, some might argue that most, if not all of these ‘outlaws’ were, presumably, fighting for their freedom from political, economic, and/or religious oppression. In other words, how much truth is there in the old aphorism: "One person’s terrorist is another person’s freedom fighter?” In short, what is a terrorist? What is terrorism? What are the objectives of terrorism? In this course we will analyze a variety of films in order to see if the protagonists/antagonists are depicted terrorists or freedom fighters; from whose perspective, and the inevitable divergences between film and “reality.” We will also consider how perspectives change over time and how filmic devices are used to affect our perceptions. We will analyze these depictions in feature films and documentaries, their frequently questionable historical accuracy, their “intent,” and reactions to them among target audiences.

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“Human Genetics: New Hopes & Dilemmas”
HONR 29900, Section 014, CRN 68524

Instructor: Professor Emerita Anna Berkovitz
# of Credit Hours: 3
Days and Times: T/TH 10:30 – 11:45
Room: SMTH 201

Brief Course Description:

The study of human genetics has recently undergone a dramatic metamorphosis. This field, which until recently was limited to the statistical study of pedigrees and to the cataloging of diseases, has turned into a science with a powerful technology that already has a great impact on scientific research, medicine, and society.

We are now almost continuously exposed to reports of new genetic discoveries, new therapy possibilities, and new reproduction options. Few of us are able to appreciate the scientific validity of the claims in the popular press, nor can we foresee the potential ethical and moral issues that may arise from the unwise applications of the new technologies.

This is a human genetics course. Course’s purpose is to enable students from all disciplines to critically evaluate what they read about genetics in the popular press, to be able to distinguish scientific validity from hype, and to bring attention to the ethical and moral dilemmas created by the application of these new technologies. There will be appreciable elementary science content in the course.

In addition to numerous class discussions on current topics in the news, each student is required to write a major research paper on such a topic of interest.

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“Diversity in Individual and Family Life”
HONR 29900, Section 017, CRN 68568

Instructor: Dr. Aryn Dotterer
# of Credit Hours: 3
Days and Times: T/TH 3:00 – 4:15 PM
Room: REC 315

Brief Course Description:

This course examines critical issues in diversity as they relate to human development and family studies and provides students with a variety of perspectives on the interconnectedness of race, class, and gender at the micro- and macro- levels of society. Students are introduced to aspects of family life in diverse cultures, particularly racially and/or ethnically diverse families in the United States. The nature of relationships between dominant and minority cultures is considered. Implications of diversity for practice with diverse populations are emphasized throughout the course.

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“Household Science”
HONR 29900, Section 018, CRN 68569

Instructor: Dr. Alan Friedman
# of Credit Hours: 3
Days and Times: MWF 11:30 – 12:20 PM
Room: DLR 143B

Brief Course Description:

What’s the difference between Clorox and “color safe” bleaches? How does Jello routinely defy gravity? How do Scrubbing Bubbles and Formula 409 and Super Iron Out work? How does a kid’s helium balloon help demonstrate the atomic theory? Why does mixing watercolors in kindergarten given a muddy brown (rather than the white promised as the “sum of all colors”)? This course reviews and extends knowledge of the fundamental principles of Biology, Physics and Chemistry and applies them in the context of common household activities: cleaning, cooking, home repairs and construction.

This course starts with a discussion of scientific measurement and units, including an appreciation of the relative sizes, times and energies of important structures and events. Then some topics in fundamental physics are considered, the nature of matter and energy and time and space (touching on special relativity as setting the stage for all scientific measurement) and the important elementary and subatomic particles and the fundamental forces. From there, the course generally proceeds from small to large, reviewing atoms and atomic structure, electronic structure and chemical reactivity of the elements, and the types of chemical bonding between atoms, and onto ions, molecules, metals and the states of matter, noncovalent interactions. The often tedious discussion of chemical nomenclature is enlivened by putting it in the context of commercial product labeling. From there, the course proceeds to a discussion of energy, work, heat, entropy, and free energy and the spontaneity of reactions. (Some extremely simple demonstrations of the universality of thermodynamics are presented.)

With the background of energetics and chemical bonding established, various important materials and their properties are taken up, starting with water and acids and bases and the different kinds of mixtures: solutions, suspensions and colloids. (Mixtures are found in nearly all household products and the formation of mixtures plays an important role in household cleaning.) Oxidation and reduction reactions are considered in the context of the interaction of molecules (stains) with light and the role of household bleaches.

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“Literature and Disability”
HONR 29900, Section 019, CRN 68571

Instructor: Dr. Maren Linett
# of Credit Hours: 3
Days and Times: T/TH 12:00 - 1:15
Room: REC 315

Brief Course Description:

This interdisciplinary course combines an introduction to disability studies with readings of literary texts that take disability as a theme. Theoretical texts in disability studies draw on the disciplines of sociology, anthropology, history, and literary studies, and are influenced by gender studies, queer studies, postcolonial studies, and ethnic studies. Questions that will drive the course include the following: how has the conception of the “normal” developed over time? What cultural meanings have become attached to various abilities and disabilities? How are people with disabilities understood in terms of their subjectivity, rationality, and sexuality? What remnants of eugenics still influence our society? And how do portrayals of disability help create the formal properties of literary works? A mixture of theoretical texts, memoirs, and literature will guide our discussions of these questions.

Fictional texts may include two or three films along with novels and short stories by authors such as Elizabeth Bowen, Tennessee Williams, H. G. Wells, Charles Dickens, G. K. Chesterton, Flannery O’Connor, Virginia Woolf, Eudora Welty, and D.H. Lawrence. Students will write several short response papers and a longer final research or creative project. Desired learning outcomes: the most important goal is for students to understand that normalcy is a social construct, and to come to understand how ideas of what is normal are used to police human beings and mask the fact of human diversity. Students will also become familiar with different models for understanding disability (the religious model, the medical model, the social model, an emerging cultural model), and learn how to analyze literary representations of disability from a critical perspective. Course materials will include The Disability Studies Reader, 4th edition; a coursepack containing a number of short stories, memoirs, and additional articles; and a few novels and/or plays.

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“Mythical Reflections in Literature, Music, and Film”
HONR 29900, Section 020, CRN 68581

Instructor: Dr. Antonia Syson
# of Credit Hours: 3
Days and Times: T/TH 1:30 – 2:45
Room: REC 117

Brief Course Description:

What is a myth? Why are some stories told so often in new settings, in times and places very different from the cultures where these tales originated? Are stories still "myths" when they have been cast loose from the cultures that originally granted them special truth-telling authority? What are we to make of those divine and mortal characters (Dionysus, for instance, or Orpheus) that we meet again and again, each time with a fresh characterization?

We will read in its entirety a stunningly imaginative and profoundly influential Roman epic, Ovid's Metamorphoses. This poem lies at the heart of the course, providing a bridge between ancient Greece and much later echoes of classical myth. We will go back in time to read some of the Greek literature that inspired Ovid, and forward to 20th-century creations, like the Homer-tinted Caribbean of the poet Derek Walcott, Strauss and Hofmannsthal's opera Ariadne auf Naxos, the Dionysian intensity of Powell and Pressburger's landmark film The Red Shoes, and the Orpheus-themed dramas of Tennessee Williams, Jean Cocteau and Marcel Camus. You will also be introduced to anthropological, rhetorical, philosophical, and socio-political perspectives that can help us understand how these re-creations have destabilized or reinforced the authority of classical myths. All course materials are read in English or are presented with English subtitles.

You will develop your analytic skills as a reader and your communicative skills as a writer through several short papers, including your own creative reimagining of a story, theme, and/or character from classical myth.

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“Happiness”
HONR 39900, Section 001 CRN 68604

Instructor: Dr. Rhonda Phillips
# of Credit Hours: 1
Days and Times: MW 12:30 – 1:20 (first 8 weeks only)
Room: REC 117

Brief Course Description:

“…Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness…” – U.S. Declaration of Independence, 1776 "The goal of society is general happiness." - The French Constitution, 1793

Why all the attention on the "happiness factor" currently? This interdisciplinary eight-week long seminar takes us on a journey starting with ancient philosophers, Confucius to Aristotle and Plato, to Bentham and Mill in the Age of Enlightenment. We’ll connect ancient ideas to current research in positive psychology, neuroscience, and even business and economics. Happiness has major implications at all levels: individual, community, even for entire countries. From the recent World Happiness Report, to France's national study of happiness and to the tiny country of Bhutan's Gross National Happiness measure, there is much territory to traverse. This course will explore the facets and frontiers of happiness research and application for us as individuals as well as members of society from a variety of perspectives. We'll have lively discussion along with deep reflection on a range of topics from resiliency to ways of increasing happiness at the individual and community level.

About your instructor: Dr. Rhonda Phillips received the international 2012 Quality of Life Research Award and is author of numerous books on community well-being and quality of life. Her work in community development has spanned several decades; she has served twice as a Fulbright Scholar, most recently in the country of Panama, helping develop a social indicator system to support individual and community well-being.

A continuation of this course, “Happiness and Quality of Life” will happen in September. Find out more information here.

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“It’s a Complex World: Addressing Global Challenges”
HONR 39900, Section 003 CRN 68621

Instructors: Dr. Thomas Mustillo , Dr. Ananth Grama, Dr. Eric Nauman, Dr. Abhi Deskmukh
# of Credit Hours: 3
Days and Times: T/TH 9:00 - 10:15
Room: REC 117

Brief Course Description:

This course takes a trans-disciplinary approach to understanding global challenges and identifying solutions to those challenges. By presenting case studies from a variety of perspectives, the course will introduce students to several critical challenges, such as natural disasters, energy use and environmental sustainability, and healthcare delivery. Students will analyze what makes these problems complex and what disciplinary approaches (e.g., engineering, political science, anthropology, biology, psychology, economics, etc.) are needed to explain and find solutions to these problems. In order to make these connections, students will learn how to perform a systemic analysis of these phenomena. A systemic analysis will show the students the necessity of having well defined policies and expose them to tools that can help them make those policies. Students will actively participate in discussions regarding these global challenges, and they will work in interdisciplinary teams to produce a research project.

One of the main goals of this course is to prepare students to use Systems Thinking to solve real world problems. As a result, our students will be excellent candidates for the Global Policy Research Institute’s Policy Scholars (i.e., internship) program, and we intend for students in this class to feed into the Policy Scholars Program.

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