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Honors College Spring 2014 Seminars

An Assault on Humanity: The Holocaust

Faculty: Dr. Michael Bassman (Honors College)
Seminar Description: In this course we will investigate and attempt to understand the origins/causes, progression/development, of the onslaught against the Jews and against the non-Jewish “Others,” the “Undesirables.”  This course uses an interdisciplinary approach to explore the groups of individuals associated with the Holocaust (perpetrators, victims, bystanders, resistance fighters, and rescuers). The meaning, impact, and aftermath of the Holocaust will be studied through various texts, including original documents.  Through our readings, as well as videos, discussions, and guest speakers, we will explore and discuss the behavior and perspectives of perpetrators, victims, bystanders, and ourselves as students, while seeking to understand the nature of this twentieth century event and its significance.  It was only 75 years ago that this attempted genocide began and what shocks us is that it occurred in a so-called “civilized” European country, the birthplace of some of the most celebrated writers, musicians, and scientists. During the semester, we will travel to Washington, DC, over a weekend in order to visit The United States Holocaust Museum. The dates have not as yet been determined. This class will offer Humanities credit and, in addition, count towards satisfying the Writing Intensive requirement.

Behavioral Addictions

Faculty: Dr. Mary Crozier (Department of Addictions and Rehabilitation Counseling)
Seminar Description:
This innovative course offers emerging research on substance (alcohol, cocaine) and behavioral (compulsive sex, gambling, eating, exercise) addictions. Exposure to current research on the neurophysiology, psychology, sociology, and politics of addictive behaviors such as online gaming, compulsive sex, pathological gambling, and binge eating disorder will expand student’s knowledge of behavioral addictions. Experiential learning, article review, independent research and writing, and class presentations will enable students to bridge theory to service provision, decision-making, and leadership while increasing sensitivity toward those with behavioral addictions. Students will be challenged to stop one personal behavior during this course and reflect on this experience in light of the readings. This class will count towards satisfying the Writing Intensive requirement.

Extreme Physics

Faculty: Dr. John Kenney (Department of Physics)
Seminar Description:
The course is designed for students to discover for themselves the nature of scientific enquiry by examining the early development of science and through case studies of the extreme physical nature of our universe. Topics for investigation change weekly and include theoretical science, atoms, extreme points of view, questions of absolute zero, the speed of light, and dark energy.  Critical thinking rather than rote learning will be emphasized. Assessment is based on a term paper, experiment reports, peer-review processes and participation. In-class activities will be supplemented with assigned readings, literature research, writing assignments and take-home projects.  Students will learn to construct and test scientific hypotheses by logical reasoning, experimentation and measurement (including quantities, units and error). You will be introduced to literature research and scientific methodology, as well as critical reading, reviewing and writing in science. You will be asked to consider the broader impact of science on society. There is no science prerequisite, but knowledge of basic algebra is assumed.  After enrolling in the seminar students will have the option of enrolling in a 1-credit lab section (times to be arranged individually). This class will offer Natural Science credit.

Global Heavy Metal Music

Faculty: Dr. Dan Guberman (School of Music)
Seminar Description: Heavy metal music and its fans have frequently been maligned both in the United States and abroad.  Despite this political and social opposition, heavy metal has thrived in countries as diverse as Norway, Brazil, Iraq, India, Japan, Botswana, and Indonesia.  In these diverse locations, heavy metal musicians have found equally varied approaches to creating music under the large umbrella of heavy metal as a genre.  Similarly, both musicians and fans have found a variety of uses for the music, ranging from personal means of dealing with the struggles of everyday life to grand statements about war and peace. In this course, we will examine heavy metal music and the culture that surrounds it from a range of perspectives.  In the first unit of the course, we will examine the origins of heavy metal music in the United Kingdom and United States. We will study its musical and lyrical structures and codes, the associated lifestyles and cultures of its fans, and the reactions of opponents to heavy metal.  In the second unit, we will examine a series of case studies, exploring the heavy metal scene in a different region each week. We will divide our time between discussing the distinct musical characteristics, and the cultural and political aspects of being a heavy metal fan or performer in that scene.  The course will conclude with student presentations based on research papers.  These projects will fall into one of three broad categories: an examination of a scene that we have not studied in class (either a new location, or a different time frame); an examination of another genre based on methods used in class (e.g. hip-hop in South Korea); or an examination of some aspect of heavy metal music in the United States based on the methods used in class. This class will offer Fine Arts credit and, in addition, count towards satisfying the Writing Intensive requirement.

Global Understanding in Health Sciences: Art as Social Commentary

Faculty: Dr. Annette Greer (Department of Bioethics and Interdisciplinary Studies) and Susan Martin Meggs, MFA (Department of Interior Design)
Seminar Description: This interdisciplinary seminar focuses on exploration of global healthcare issues through art. We will use local resources and media resources to connect students to diverse cultures.  This will allow students to explore art within a cultural context. The teaching strategies include: service-learning in the communities of art & healthcare; guest lecturers from experts in the fields of art & healthcare; workshops to build skills in drawing, photography, or other art media; workshops to gain skills for the care of those facing health crisis and visual critique of contemporary films. Use of media communications is applied to connect learners to global environments. From these approaches students will be able to achieve outcomes including the following: 1) Enhanced participatory problem-solving skills to develop global applications for healthcare solutions, 2) Understanding of  how the visual elements and principles of design function as they apply to individuals, families and the community in a global cross-cultural context, 3) Differentiation of human values as a foundation for meeting the needs and goals of clients representing a diverse community, 4) Augmented preparation of future health and complementary professionals in the expression of empathy and 5)  Exploration of the identity of oneself and others through written narrative reflections that are incorporated in a visual portfolio, and that demonstrates the creative lessons of art and global health.  This class will offer Fine Arts credit and, in addition, count towards satisfying the Writing Intensive requirement.

Honors Creative Writing Workshop: Poetry and Fiction

Faculty: Dr. Liza Wieland (Department of English)
Seminar Description: This course will allow you to explore how creative writing works. We’ll be looking at, discussing, writing about, commenting on, and researching the elements of fiction and poetry (and the murky, interesting ground in between), but mostly what we’ll be doing is writing. The goal is to expand your creative toolbox by examining works by established writers in an attempt to understand their techniques and how to apply them to our own writing. We’ll also spend time on class exercises designed to sharpen your talents and share your ideas. Then we’ll workshop your poems and stories in order to discover the ways strong work can become even stronger. In the long run, this class aims to help you open up your own, distinctive writing “voice.” This course does not require you to be an experienced and/or gifted creative writer; it does require you to be willing to read, analyze, and do your best on your own work and respond insightfully and generously to the work of your peers. This course is designed to be an introduction, for honors students, to creative writing, specifically the genres of poetry and fiction.  Students will read both poems and short stories, as well as essays on craft by well-known practitioners in each genre.  Students will write several (5-8) poems and two short stories. This class will offer Fine Arts credit and, in addition, count towards satisfying the Writing Intensive requirement.

How Do We Know Where We Are?  Exploring Geospatial History and Technology

Faculty: Dr. Viva Reynolds and Dr. Karen Mulcahy (Department of Geography)
Seminar Description: How does a GPS work? How does Google make such useful maps? Why do we trust either technology to tell us where we are? This class will bring us towards an understanding of our modern geospatial tools by studying historical, philosophical, and technological advances that allowed humans to create them. These topics will be presented through hands-on, explorative activities using professional online mapping tools and GPS devices, guest speakers, readings and active discussions to understand where we are in our geospatial world. Within this course, students have the benefit of two instructors providing an interdisciplinary component to the lectures, activities, and assessments. Dr. Mulcahy’s expertise is in the area of cartography, GPS, GIS, and geovisualization, and she will guide students as they explore the technological tools and participate in applied geospatial activities.  Dr. Reynolds has a great interest in the history of earth and geographic sciences, and she will challenge students to draw connections from the historical roots of this science to the modern incarnations of spatial theories. This class will offer Social Science credit.

In Search of Sacred Space: Liminal Places in the Past and Present

Faculty: Dr. Jessica Christie and Dr. Punham Madhok (School of Art and Design)
Seminar Description: Since the beginnings of human history, people have attempted to understand themselves within a wider universe by conceptualizing their surrounding space and constructing spatial relations. In this seminar, students will study selected examples of sacred geography from the Old World and the New World. To do this we will analyze architecture and the spaces it encloses as well as three- and two-dimensional architectural decorations, archaeological material where applicable, and historical documents.  Students will learn academic methodologies in art history and anthropology.  You will discuss academic articles verbally and in writing. Case studies of sacred spaces will come from Asian cultures as well as from the Americas.  Fundamental questions to be discussed are how is the sacred spatialized?  Can we tease out recurring patterns in Old and New World constructions of the sacred?  What does “the sacred” mean today?  Which insights may we gain regarding Western contemporary spirituality? Students will then search for sacred spaces in the 21st century and may be motivated to take steps for historic preservation. This class will count towards satisfying the Writing Intensive requirement.

Ocean Exploration: Shipwrecks, Conservation, and Technology

Faculty: Dr. Tim Runyan (Honors College)
Seminar Description: This course is focused on the relationship of humans and the ocean, including the Great Lakes and inland waters. Much of what we know about the ocean is from scientific research, underwater archaeology, and the collective history of people from across the globe and their interaction with the ocean. This includes indigenous peoples, fishermen, explorers, sailors, and the many people that engage the ocean. The purpose of this course is to explore the relationship of humans and the sea, and to explore the importance of the ocean in our lives. Readings, guest lectures and even two field trips will be used to understand our blue planet and how the ocean is linked to contemporary human issues such as climate, food, energy, national security, and human health. As emerging leaders students will be acquainted with the role of the ocean in a global society. Through discussion and assignments focused on critical contemporary issues, class members will be encouraged to formulate solutions. Informed leaders are needed to address the many pressing issues concerning the ocean. These include: the creation and management of marine protected areas, an eco-friendly means of energy production, sustainability in harvesting ocean resources, and the framing of effective ocean policies.  This class will offer Social Science credit.

Polyhedra and Tessellations: Visions of Symmetry in Mathematics, Natural Sciences, Art and Design

Faculty: Dr. Sviatoslav Archava (Department of Mathematics)
Seminar Description: In this course, students will have a rare opportunity to learn mathematics by creating mathematical objects with their own hands. We will build paper models of various polyhedra and create our own tessellations.  Through this hands on experience students will learn the fundamentals of group theory, 2- and 3-dimensional geometry and topology and will become familiar with the applications of these areas of mathematics in Natural Sciences, Architecture, Art and Design. The underlying theme of this course is the notion of symmetry in its various forms that has fascinated people since ancient times. No prior knowledge of mathematics is required/will be assumed.

The Psychology of Human-Dog Interactions

Faculty: Dr. Lisa Maag (Department of Psychology)
Seminar Description: Dogs seem to have been the first domesticated species—before any other plant or animal--so humans and dogs have a long, shared history. You might wonder, Why are psychologists studying dogs? What can dogs tell us about human behavior? Certainly Pavlov’s dogs achieved fame, but dogs soon fell out of favor as research subjects. After decades of studying the great apes, psychologists have recently discovered that dogs outperform chimps on many tests of social cognition. We will examine the long and varied scope of human-canine interactions including the contemporary roles of service dogs, therapy dogs, family pets, and other canines. We will examine the research on canine cognition and evolution to better understand how close human-dog relationships are possible. By learning more about dogs’ understanding of humans, we will gain insight into the development of social skills in our own species. During the course, you will learn from experts in canine behavior, write about dogs, and apply your knowledge to improve the welfare of dogs or their owners through a service project.  This class will offer Social Science credit and, in addition, provide service learning opportunities.

Root that Mountain Down: Appalachian Culture and Rural Imaginings in America

Faculty: Dr. Marc Faris (School of Music) and Leanne Smith, MFA (Department of English)
Seminar Description: The words “rural” and “country” can describe geographic locations, but for some people, they also conjure stereotypes of places and peoples ranging from “quaint” and “pastoral” to “out-of-touch” and even “ignorant.”  What are the origins of such stereotypes?  Is there any truth behind them?  If not, why do they persist—and crucially, how and why do they continue to impact popular culture?  In this course, we’ll grapple with these questions in an interdisciplinary exploration of Appalachia—a region of artistic and natural riches, marked economic hardship, and continued misunderstanding from “outsiders.”  Our goal is to employ an Appalachian sociocultural lens to develop an appreciation of America’s rural heritage, as well as a heightened awareness of challenges we face in negotiating paths between rural and urban spaces in today’s hyper-connected world.  We will examine and analyze work from many expressive mediums (music, dance, written/oral/visual forms) in conjunction with readings drawn from oral history and scholarship on many themes of Appalachian life.  Guest artists and speakers, field research, informal and formal writing, and hands-on experience with indigenous art forms and folkways will enrich class discussions and help launch projects on topics of students’ personal interests. This class will offer Humanities credit or Fine Arts credit and, in addition, count towards satisfying the Writing Intensive requirement.

Science and Society in the Age of Genomics

Faculty: Dr. John Stiller and Dr. Jean-Luc Scemama (Department of Biology)
Seminar Description: This course examines the unfolding impacts of the human genome project and related technology on science and medicine, as well as the broader fabric of society. In the first half of the course we explore core concepts and recent advances in genetics, molecular biology and comparative genomics, developing a strong foundation in basic genomic-related science. The second half of the course is devoted more to understanding and debating the increasing impact of human genomics on broader aspects of science and society, including the economic, social and ethical implications of the availability of personalized, genome-level information. Students will have the opportunity to carry out semester-long original research projects involving bioinformatic analyses of newly available genomic data. This class will offer Natural Science credit.

Social Entrepreneurship, Engagement, and Community Building

Faculty: Dr. Sharon Paynter (Department of Political Science)
Seminar Description: Social entrepreneurship is concerned with developing the most effective solutions for vexing public problems. Solutions draw upon appropriate thinking in the public, business and nonprofit worlds and operate in all kinds of organizations: large and small; new and old; religious and secular; public, nonprofit, for-profit, and hybrid. The approach blurs the lines between public and private entities as solutions arise through collaboration between private businesses, government, nonprofits, and the community.  This course will examine how you might employ social entrepreneurial practices to lead an effort to address a major public policy concern.  It will provide an opportunity to consider how you can make a difference in a concrete way while providing you with a set of tools that apply to a range of social issues. The course will use the case of the School of Dental Medicine at ECU as an example to explore complex social problems and innovative multi-sector solutions. Students will extend their understand of and engagement in using social entrepreneurship to address public problems by proposing solutions for vexing issues facing North Carolina. This class will offer Social Science credit.


Spring 2013 Honors Seminars

The Assault on Humanity: The Holocaust

Faculty:  Dr. Michael Bassman (Honors College)

Crime Scene Analysis 

Faculty:  Dr. Anthony Kennedy  (Department of Chemistry) & Dr. Dennis Honeycutt (Department of Criminal Justice)

Cuba:  So Near Yet So Foreign 

Faculty:  Dr. Luci Fernandes (Department of Anthropology)

Israel & the Arabs:  Co-existence & Conflict  

Faculty:  Dr. Mona Russell (Department of History)

Leadership Across the Professions: Foundations in Philosophy, Literature, and Law 

Faculty:  Dr. James LeRoy Smith, (Department of Philosophy) &  Dr. Gregory L. Hassler (Department of Bioethics & Interdisciplinary Studies)  

Life in Space: From Inquiry to Exploration and Back Again 

Faculty:  Dr. John Rummel (Institute for Coastal Science and Policy) & Dr. Matt Schrenk (Department of Biology)

Living Green: The World between Technology and Humanity 

Faculty:  Dr. Mike Behm (Technology Systems), Dr. Robert Chin (Technology Systems), Dr. Eric Connell (Department of Construction Management)

Ocean Exploration: Shipwrecks, Conservation, and Technology 

Faculty:  Dr. Tim Runyan (Honors College)

Pain, Its Paradoxes, and the Human Condition 

Faculty:  Dr. Daniel S. Goldberg, J.D (Department of Bioethics & Interdisciplinary Studies;  Brody School of Medicine)

Puppet Shows that Make a Difference! 

Faculty:  Dr. Deborah Thomson (School of Communication)

What’s on the Table? The Science and Culture of Plants as Food 

Faculty:  Dr. Claudia Jolls (Department of Biology) & Dr. Elizabeth Wall-Bassett (Department of Nutrition)

“Who or What is Controlling You?  A History and Science of Self-determination” 

Faculty:  Dr. Laura Edwards (Department of Psychology) 

Wilderness Writing

Faculty:  Dr. Ashley Egan (Department of Biology) & Ms. Stephanie West-Puckett (Department of English) 


Spring 2012 Honors Seminars

The Assault on Humanity: The Holocaust

Faculty:  Dr. Michael Bassman (Honors College)

Around the World in 15 Weeks: An Investigation of Cultural Similarities through Global Conversations with College Students in Africa, Asia, and Latin America

Faculty:  Dr. Heidi Luchsinger (Department of Anthropology)

Building an Innovation Economy Through Creative Problem Solving, Design and Entrepreneurship

Faculty: Mr. Wayne Godwin (School of Art and Design), Ms. Marti Van Scott (Office of Technology Transfer), and Ms. Marty Hackney (Entrepreneurial Initiative)

Ethics, Global Health, & the Fundamental Causes of Disease

Faculty:  Dr. Daniel Goldberg (Department of Bioethics & Interdisciplinary Studies)

Fantastic Archeology: Distinguishing Myth from Reality

Faculty:  Dr. Charles Ewen (Department of Anthropology)

Leadership in the Professions: Foundations of Philosophy and Law

Faculty:  Dr. James Leroy Smith (Department of Philosophy) and Dr. Gregory Hassler (Department of Bioethics & Interdisciplinary Studies)

Living Green: The World between Technology and Humanity

Faculty: Dr. Michael Behm, Dr. Robert Chin (Department of Technology Systems), and Dr. Eric Connell (Department of Construction Management)

Middle Eastern Women's Voices in Love, War, Fact, & Fiction

Faculty:  Dr. Mona Russell (Department of History) and Dr. Rick Taylor (Department of English)

The Nobel Prize: A History of Genius, Controversy, and Prestige

Faculty:  Dr. Michael Bassman (Distinguished Honors Professor, The Honors College)

Pilgrimage in Various Cultural and Temporal Settings

Faculty:  Dr. Jelena Bogdanović and Dr. Jessica Christie (Department of Art History)

Science and Society in the Age of Genomics

Faculty: Dr. Jean-Luc Scemama and Dr. John Stiller (Department of Biology)

Think Chronically: From McDonalds to Dialysis- Exploring Solutions to Eastern North Carolina's Healthcare Challenges

Faculty: Dr. Paul Bolin and Dr. Cynthia Christiano (Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Nephrology and Hypertension)

Under the Microscope of Art: Creative Problem-Solving in the Health Sciences

Faculty:  Ms. Susan Meggs (Department of Interior Design & Merchandising) and Dr. Annette Greer (Department of Bioethics & Interdisciplinary Studies)

Wilderness Writing

Faculty: Dr. Ashley Egan (Department of Biology) and Dr. Stephanie West-Puckett (Department of English)

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