The Honors Reading Course (1 Credit)
HON 170 Honors Reading Course: Why Is Sex Fun?
Instructor: Homer White, Honors Program Director
No, this is not some sort of remedial class for Honors students who spend all their time studying and no time socializing, and, although the title may titillate, prurience will not be our purview. Rather, we intend an exploration into how evolutionary biologists devise explanations for animal (including human) sexual behavior. What sort of reasoning is involved here? How does one gather evidence for or against a proposed explanation?
Having kindled our curiosity concerning the carnal connivances of the Animal Kingdom, we will move on to contemplate some of the theological and philosophical ramifications of advances in evolutionary theory, taking a look at how participants in the Culture Wars of the last century or so have attempted to harness the prestige of Darwin‚Äôs theory to advance their own social and political causes, including: Social Darwinism and free-market capitalism, socialism and anarchism, feminism, anti-feminism, and gay rights. There will be ample material both to please and annoy anyone, whatever his or her political persuasion.
Class is scheduled to meet once per week, in seminar format. After a few weeks to go through the primary text, students will sign up to present on a series of discussion topics that will occupy us for the rest of the semester. Presentation involves the prior preparation and distribution of a short paper, together with questions to stimulate discussion. On weeks when you aren‚Äôt presenting, you are still required to do the prior readings, to participate thoughtfully in the discussion, and to put up cheerfully with short quizzes that test your comprehension of the material. There are no specific science prerequisites.
A number of books will be placed on reserve to support discussion topics, but our primary texts will be: Why Is Sex Fun? The Evolution of Human Sexuality by Jared Diamond, and Dr. Tatiana‚Äôs Sex Advice to All Creation. The latter is especially recommended as (quite challenging!) beach reading for those who would like a sneak preview over the summer. Dr. Tatiana, the alter-ego of biologist and journalist Olivia Judson, is an advice columnist whose avid readership includes animals of many different species. A typical query follows:
Dear Dr. Tatiana,
I‚Äôm a European praying mantis, and I‚Äôve noticed I enjoy sex more if I bite my lover‚Äôs heads off first. It‚Äôs because when I decapitate them they go into the most thrilling spasms. Somehow they seem less inhibited, more urgent ‚Äď it‚Äôs fabulous. Do you find this too?
— I Like ‚ÄėEm Headless in Lisbon
ART 216 Survey of World Art I
Instructor: Juilee Decker
All grading opportunities as designated on the syllabus remain, with the exception of the two essays. Each essay shall be replaced by an in-depth essay (5-7 pages each). Two additional components are required of the Honors Student: consultation and discussion. In preparation for these essays, the student will consult with the instructor at least once per essay. Twice throughout the semester, students enrolled with the Honors Increment, will participate in a discussion with peers in this course about their findings. This presentation will be open to all art faculty and faculty in the student‚Äôs major as well. The subject and scope of these essays is selected by the student and approved by me. The essays are intended to give the student experience with deeper research that might eventually be used for an honors thesis project, perhaps. Please ask me if you would like some suggestions or types of topics considered by previous students. If no major has been selected by the student, appropriate essay situations will be arranged in consultation with the instructor.
BIO 111 Biological Principles
Instructor: Mary Anne Carletta
Students would have two options for this increment:
(1) Read an additional text related to biology or science in general, meet with me once a week for at least 45 minutes to discuss it, and make a short (10 minute) presentation to the class at the end of the semester, summarizing the readings. My initial thoughts on possible texts are:
- The Third Chimpanzee: the Evolution and Future of the Human Animal by Jared Diamond
- Our Stolen Future: How We Are Threatening Our Fertility, Intelligence, and Survival by Theo Colborn, Dianne Dumanoski, and John Peter Meyers
- Hope‚Äôs Edge: the Next Diet for a Small Planet by Frances Moore Lappe and Anna Lappe
- The Forgotten Pollinators by Stephen Buchmann, Gary Paul Nabhan, and Paul Mirocha
- Science on Trial: the Case for Evolution by Douglas J. Futuyma
- Living Downstream: an Ecologist Looks at Cancer and the Environment by Sandra Steingraber
- The Next 100 Years: Shaping the Fate of Our Living Earth by Jonathan Weiner
- A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson
- Having Faith: an Ecologist‚Äôs Journey to Motherhood by Sandra Steingraber
- Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared Diamond
- Gathering the Desert by Gary Paul Nabhan
- The Beak of the Finch: a Story of Evolution in our Time by Jonathan Weiner
- Beyond the Limits: Confronting Global Collapse, Envisioning a Sustainable Future by Donella Meadows, Dennis Meadows, and Jorgen Randers
- Why is Sex Fun? The Evolution of Human Sexuality by Jared Diamond
- Time, Love, Memory: a Great Biologist and His Quest for the Origins of Behavior by Jonathan Weiner
- Coming Home to Eat: the Pleasures and Politics of Local Foods by Gary Paul Nabhan
- His Brother‚Äôs Keeper: One Family‚Äôs Journey to the Edge of Medicine by Jonathan Weiner
- The Fluoride Deception by Christopher Bryson and Theo Colborn
- Guns, Germs, and Steel: the Fate of Human Societies by Jared Diamond
I expect that the text would change from semester to semester. If I have more than one student in an Honors increment in a semester, then the students would have to agree on a text.
(2) Pick a topic of interest related to biology, explore the scientific literature on it, write a research review paper of at least eight pages using a minimum of six peer-reviewed references, and make a short (10 minute) presentation on the topic to the class at the end of the semester. The student and I would meet every week or two to discuss the topic, how to search the scientific literature, the references, the ideas the student is finding in the literature, and the progress of the student‚Äôs paper.
CHE 100/102 Liberal Arts Chemistry
Instructor: Meghan Knapp
Students in Liberal Arts Chemistry are introduced to the concepts of the scientific method and the nature of science. They are asked to apply the science they learn in the classroom to the world outside the class room. These options are chosen to deepen the understanding of these concepts and strengthen the connections between science and humanities in the multi-disciplinary fashion of Liberal Arts. Honors students would choose from one of the following options. They would read the supplied readings and then meet weekly with the professor to discuss the topics of those readings. A summative presentation of the conclusions draw or ideas discussed would be presented as determined by the student and professor together, but could take the form of a paper, a class presentation, an informative webpage, etc.
- Chemistry related literature. ‚Äď An honors student would read from a mutually agreed upon work that addresses a chemical topic but not specifically the content. Two examples are given below.
- Students would read the play Oxygen by Carl Djerassi and Roald Hoffmann in which a fictional Nobel Prize committee decides to award a posthumous Nobel Prize to the discoverer of oxygen. The play centers on the debate of exactly who deserves that honor. Three scientists and their significant others are profiled. Students would explore in depth the scientific process and how that applies to this discovery, as well as the role of the women in the development of science.
- In Oliver Sack‚Äôs Uncle Tungsten he explores his discovery of the periodic table and the properties of chemicals. He also discusses in depth so very strong influences on his character during his boyhood, and he states that he was always meant to be a doctor. Honors students would explore the topic of predestination both in our lives (how much influence did the events of Sack‚Äôs life have on his career choice, does God have a plan for our lives?) and in chemistry (The periodic table is organized by recognized patterns, but some elements don‚Äôt fit those patterns. Are we imposing order on nature?)
- Presentation of Controversial topic– Students in my Liberal Arts Chemistry Class currently write a short (5 page) ‚ÄúPosition‚ÄĚ Paper, in which they present background information on a controversial topic and then use a scientific study to support and defend their own position. An honors student could expand this to either a presentation in front of the class, or if there were two students, a Lincoln-Douglas style debate.
- Multicultural History of Science- This offering will be further developed when I have a chance to do some reading on some of these topics, and may be offered after Spring 2008. Modern science is based primarily on Western Science. In Liberal Arts Chemistry we spend a day discussing ‚ÄúWhat is science‚ÄĚ and ‚ÄúWhat do scientists do‚ÄĚ. For an honors increment, a student could investigate the development of science in a culture outside the US and western Europe. How did/do these cultures come to understand nature, to accept proposed knowledge as fact, to make predictions about the behavior of matter that would enable them to either understand it more deeply or develop technology to improve their lives? Is science as developed around the world all the same, or can we gain some understanding from the methodology that other cultures use to understand the universe?
CHE 111 General Chemistry I
Instructor: Todd Hamilton
In the CHE111 honors increment you would explore one of the following topics:
- Major Figures in Chemistry ‚Äď read an original work by Boyle (The Sceptical Chymist) or Newton (copies of his original manuscripts are becoming available through a project at Indiana University) and think about how the scientist influenced the field of chemistry at that particular time in history.
- Women in Science ‚Äď read about Madame Curie, Rosiland Franklin, or Lise Meitner and consider the barriers that they faced in their respective disciplines.
- Study the introduction of a major new scientific theory (e.g., atomic theory, quantum mechanics, or relativity) and the resulting paradigm shift in the field of Chemistry by looking at original works that introduce the theories and textbooks that integrate the theory into existing Chemistry knowledge.
FRE 201 Intermediate French I
Instructor: Jana Brill
French 201 students spend 4 weeks reading the original French version of the tale Beauty and the Beast. Two labs are devoted to the showing of the classic postwar film by Jean Cocteau. As an intermediate language course, the emphasis is on basic understanding of the vocabulary and grammar. The beginnings of analysis emerge towards the end as they write an essay on the topic: ‚ÄúThe Beast ‚Äď A Monster or a Man?‚ÄĚ
For the Honors Increment the student would focus on Cocteau‚Äôs film in depth ‚Äď researching such elements as Cocteau‚Äôs relationship with surrealism, French new wave cinema, gender identity issues, and the relationship of the film to the original Beaumont text. This research would be presented orally (5 minutes in French) to the class, and in a two-page typed paper (also in French) due at the end of the semester. In addition, the student will discuss research findings (in English) with the professor, prior to and after completion of the paper.
HIS 111 History of Civilization to 1648
Instructor: Ellen Emerick
What intrigues you? That is our starting point. An Honors student is encouraged to pursue a personal interest in a culture, person, or phenomenon that particularly captivates him or her. This can be done in one of the following ways or in some other fashion suggested by the student and approved by the professor.
- We can explore the ‚Äústuff‚ÄĚ of history in weekly meetings: original documents, artifacts, art work, etc. The purpose here is not simply to acquire a fuller understanding of the chosen subject, but also to learn the skills that help us construct historical interpretations. Therefore, we will cover the caveats that should be applied to such material and the methods by which we can translate it into historical knowledge.
- The student may choose to do a research project that will become a class presentation during which he or she will ‚Äúbe‚ÄĚ the professor. This will involve meeting the needs of a variety of learning styles through written handouts, visual media, and possible group work or debate. The presentation will occupy the majority of a class period.
Some past examples of starting questions are:
- Were the lives of women in the classical era as constrained as we assume them to have been?
- How did Christianity survive for the first two to three centuries?
- Can we honestly say that the Reformation would not have occurred without Martin Luther?
JPN 201 Intermediate Japanese
Instructor: Michael Rich
Honors students will make two additional oral presentations (in class) of approximately 15 minutes each, in Japanese (in addition to the already assigned four 5 minute presentations). A rough draft of the script for each presentation will be shown to the instructor prior to the presentation date, and incorporate corrections made by the instructor in the final script, which will be handed in after the presentation is given.
Honors students will meet with the instructor once a week to work on a short item from The Asahi Shimbun (in Japanese).
LAT 101 Elementary Latin I
Instructor: Diane Arnson-Svarlien
The increment for Latin 101 will take you deeper into an already-challenging course. At the beginning of the semester, Honors students read sections of works by Steven Pinker and Anthony Burgess that explain Proto Indo-European, the ancestor of Latin, English, and other languages in the Indo-European family. Students are asked to write a brief summary demonstrating their understanding of the important concepts in this reading.
Throughout the semester, Honors Increment students will do English-to-Latin composition assignments beyond those done by the whole class. Each assignment will be corrected by the student until it is perfect. This is one of the most challenging tasks in language study, since it requires a more complete understanding of the grammar than does Latin-to-English translation. Students who complete this increment will thus gain a fuller comprehension of Latin; the additional assignments will give them a greater command of the regular course material.
LAT 201 Intermediate Latin I
Instructor: Diane Arnson-Svarlien
The Honors Increment for 201 continues with extra English-to-Latin composition assignments. In addition, students will memorize and recite selections from Roman poetry.
MAT 225 Calculus II
Instructor: William Harris
MAT 325 Calculus III Instructor: David DeSario
In both of the courses above, increment work typically has two components:
- A Few Tougher Homework Problems. Each week the instructor assigns the honors student a very few problems that are more difficult than what is given to the rest of the class. Students turn in these problems along with their regular HW, and meet outside of class with the instructor to discuss them.
- A Selected Special Topic. This is decided in advance in consultation with the student; generally we try to find something that falls within the special interests of both student and instructor. Past topics have included: a look at the foundations of calculus through rigorous treatment of epsilon-delta approaches to derivatives, sequences and infinite series; exploration of programming with symbolic computation software such as Mathematica; topics in the history of mathematics, such as the study of an original writing by a great mathematician of the past, in a language (French, German or Latin) that the student knows, or in translation.
PHY 111 General Physics I
Instructor: Jonathon Dickinson
The honors increments for General Physics I and II would take one of three forms. For all forms of the increment the student would be expected to meet with the instructor an average of ¬Ĺ hour a week during the course of the semester. The majority of these meetings would take place during regular office hours.
- Increased Complexity. In this form of the increment some of the student‚Äôs homework problems would be replaced with problems of greater complexity. Types of problems can include applying the material covered in the regular class to situations not covered in class, complex situations, and situations that span multiple chapters of material. The goal of this form of the increment is to improve analytical reasoning and problem-solving skills. This form of the increment would give likely majors and pre-engineering students an opportunity to be better prepared for the upper level courses.
- Additional Topic. In this form of the increment the student would study one particular physics topic mutually agreed upon by the instructor and the student. The topic could either be one covered in class (but at greater depth) or a topic typically omitted from the class. For example a non-major could explore an advanced topic such as relativity or quantum and a major could delve deeper into the physics of sound, a topic not covered in any upper level course. The topic would be covered in either a conceptual or mathematical manner depending on the nature of the student‚Äôs interest and abilities. Likewise the method of evaluation would be individually determined. If the topic lends itself to problems of a reasonable level for the student, then problem assignments and a test could be used for evaluation. If a final product is more appropriate for the topic, then a mathematically adept student might derive a collection of formulas, while another student might write a paper or do a presentation that conceptually explains the same formulas.
- Connections to Other Disciplines. In this form of the increment the student would consider the intersection of physics with other disciplines. Possible humanities connections includes political policies on energy, the epistemological basis of Einstein‚Äôs thought experiments, and the implications that the ordered nature of the universe has on the nature of a creator. Possible science connections include the field of medical physics and describing chemical reactions in electromagnetic terms. The evaluation of this form of the increment would be some type of final product such as a paper or presentation.
A typical final product paper that is conceptual rather than mathematical would be ~8-10 pages. A typical final product presentation would be 10-15 minutes in length and would be given in class, class time permitting. The exact nature of the increment and the evaluation would be established at the beginning of the semester.
PSY 260 Social Psychology
Instructor: Karyn MacKenzie
Social psychologists attempt to understand and explain how the thought, feeling, and behavior of individuals are influenced by the actual, imagined, or implied presence of others (Allport, 1985). Relevant topics covered during the semester include the self, conformity, obedience, gender, attitudes, prejudice, liking & love, aggression, helping, and group behavior.
Interested honors students will complete all requirements for the course (see http://spider.georgetowncollege.edu/psychology/McKenzie/social_psychology-syl2.htm for the Spring 2007 course syllabus) and in addition, will create an experimental or correlational study investigating an area of interest within social psychology. Such students will be responsible for collecting the data and analyzing it using a statistics program; students will closely work with the professor because it is assumed that students are not already familiar with conducting psychology studies. At the end of the semester, a paper will be submitted, which will include a literature review that summarizes the variables studied and their relationships with each other, a methodology section describing the experimental procedure used to collect the data, a statistical analyses section that addresses the correlational results, and a discussion section that involves interpretation of the findings. The ethical guidelines established for the field of psychology will be followed. The final product should be between 3-5 pages. For example, one semester a student surveyed 30 students in her social psychology class, who completed an informed consent form, followed by 3 reliable, valid scales: The Altruism Scale, The Interpersonal Betrayal Scale, and a Self-Esteem Scale. She hypothesized about their relationships before surveying her classmates, looked at current research related to the variables, analyzed her data using SPSS, and interpreted the results.
ENG 112H English Composition II Instructor: Barbara Burch, 2006 Cawthorne Fellow
English 112 is an introduction to academic writing. During the semester, we‚Äôll learn about and practice: strategies for library research, the methods of scholarly writing and the ethics of scholarship. I know what you are thinking: ‚ÄúI know how to write research papers. Can I bypass this class?‚ÄĚ This course, however, will not be a dry and tedious study of library databases and footnote form. Instead, we will develop your ability to think critically, argue forcefully and succeed in the Honors Program. Your first paper will evolve from our exploration of a series of texts and films that examine the essential questions about the relationship between personal identity and choice such as: Is a person the same person after she compromises her belief? Is redemption the salvation of an old self or the birth of a one? Is heroism the ability to make moral choices? How does a person decide what is right then when caught between respect for the authority of church or government and his intuitive sense of what is right? We will approach these questions by reading ‚ÄúA Man for All Seasons‚ÄĚ by Robert Bolt and ‚ÄúA Good Man is Hard to Find‚ÄĚ by Flannery O‚ÄôConnor. We will view and discuss two recent movies: ‚ÄúThe Lives of Others‚ÄĚ and ‚ÄúChildren of Men.‚ÄĚ Our work in the second half of the semester will help you to discover and develop your identity as a scholar. With guidance from the honors faculty, you will plan and carry out a research project that addresses a pressing contemporary issue in the academic field of your choice.
MAT 170H History of Mathematics in Asia and the Middle East
Instructor: Homer White, Honors Program Director
The arms, the elephants, the mansions of the moon;
The Vedas, the fire-god, the qualities and Three;
Serpents, elephants, a pair of eyes, the gods —
This is the perimeter, according to the wise,
Provided the diameter is nine nikharvas.
This mysterious little poem, composed by the South Indian mathematician Madhava some six hundred years ago, encodes the fact that Pi, the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter, is approximately
Compare this to what your calculator gives for Pi: it‚Äôs accurate to eleven decimal places! How did the Indian mathematicians come up with such terrific approximations, several hundred years before Isaac Newton and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz invented calculus? And why did they write their mathematics in verse?
Join us in an exploration of the mathematics non-Western cultures from ancient and medieval times. We will read, in newly-made translations, the original works of mathematicians from Mesopotamia, India, China and the Islamic Middle East. You will learn how our number system developed, how to use simple geometry to solve algebra problems, how the Chinese used simple manipulatives to solve complex equations, the role of mathematics in ancient cultures, and more. You will use modern computer technology (Geometer‚Äôs Sketchpad) to explore and extend the geometrical discoveries of the ancients.
This is a real mathematics course ‚Äď you should have taken (and hopefully enjoyed) geometry and algebra in high school ‚Äď that fulfills the general education math requirement. It has a humanistic and historical twist, though. In addition to regular homework problems (to be solved in the manner of the ancient mathematicians), a substantial final paper on a selected topic in the history of mathematics is a major course requirement. This course meets along with MAT 470A, an elective for mathematics majors, and covers the same material. If you have a more advanced math background (the first two semesters of college calculus) then you will have the option to substitute some of the 470 course requirements for the final paper.
PHI 152H Ethics Instructor: Bradford Hadaway, Oxford Program Director
In our times we suffer no shortage of opinions about all sorts of moral issues. War, stem cell research, physician assisted suicide, abortion, homosexuality, and radical hunger and poverty all call for some moral response, and as the newspaper headlines and pundit-driven talk shows illustrate, many people claim to have the answers. But the confidence and certainty on display on both sides of these debates inspires the central question of this course: How does one go about thinking systematically, clearly, coherently, creatively, and cogently about right and wrong? To advance in our quest for answers to this question, we will first consult some of the great masters of the western intellectual tradition who have offered answers themselves: e.g., Aristotle, Augustine, Aquinas, Immanuel Kant, and John Stuart Mill. But the best exploration of ethics is not done in theory alone. We will also examine our most common moral conflicts and questions as exemplified in a variety of short stories. These stories will bring to life in rich detail the prospects and problems of the theories we have considered and allow us to feel the full weight of the moral life as seen through the eyes of the characters and in the midst of the plotlines.
General Advice About Honors Courses
If you sign up for one of these and you want to get Honors credit, you must let the instructor know. You do not need to fill out any forms, or apply for anything: just notify the instructor and participate in the Increment activities! If instructor deems your performance to be good enough, then you get Honors credit for the class.
If you want to know more about Increments topics, contact the instructor of the course. Some Increments are flexible and can be modified to meet the interests of individual students.
In order to enroll in the following sections, you must be in the Honors Program. Honors credit is automatic — assuming, of course, that you make a good enough grade.
The Interdisciplinary Honors Seminar
In order to complete the Honors Program, you must take the Seminar at least once. Like an Honors section, it is open only to Honors students. You can take the seminar more than once, earning additional Honors credit, so long as the topic is different each time you sign up. The Seminar requires a certain amount of academic maturity: sophomores (in Greek the term means ‚Äúwise idiots‚ÄĚ) should consult with one of the instructors before signing up. The next Seminar will, with topic to be determined, will be in Spring 2008.
Don‚Äôt forget about Contracts. They are like Increments, except that they are not set in advance; instead you and the instructor for any course can design a proposal for Honors work in that course. The proposal has to written up formally (find and download the Honors Contract application on the Website). Remember that you must have nine hours of Honors credit before you can do your first contract. It is good to speak in advance ‚Äď this semester, that is ‚Äď with the instructor about a prospective contract for Fall 2007. The contract application will be due next semester by the end of the third week of classes, and it should be quite specific as to what work is to be accomplished, so advance planning won‚Äôt hurt.
Also, keep in mind that Honors Contracts are a useful means of getting warmed up for your Honors Thesis, since you can pick a course that is related to a possible thesis topic. The junior year is a great time to do a Contract.
Honors Senior Thesis
Students intending to graduate in Spring 2007 MUST complete an Honors Senior Thesis in either Fall 2006 or Spring 2007. This thesis can be taken as a contract version of a departmental thesis requirement, or it can be done as an Honors Independent Study or in other ways by arrangement with the instructor. See Guidelines for the Honors Senior Thesis.