Secondary Navigation

UHP Home

Telephone: 612-624-5522
Fax: 612-626-7314
Email:

MonFri, 8 am–4:30 pm
Northrop
84 Church Street SE, Suite 390
Minneapolis, MN 55455

Honors Seminars

2xxx-level courses are intended for freshman and sophomore students. 3xxx-level courses are typically taken by juniors and seniors. This list is subject to change.

How to Filter Honors Seminars

All current Honors Seminars are displayed when the page loads. Use the checkboxes in the right sidebar to filter the courses. Results are narrowed as additional boxes are checked. Results will only include courses that meet all the criteria of the selected boxes. To start over, clear all checkboxes or refresh your browser.

Contemporary Art and Politics: From Marcel Duchamp to Ai Weiwei

Fall 2018
Hsem 2009H
Instructor: Meng Tang
3 credits
Fulfills LE Theme: Global Perspectives

Art has a social role to serve, and the artist has a moral obligation to society. It can engage the social issues and environment of its day, either directly or indirectly. Not every artwork needs to address poverty, famine, war, corruption, and injustice, but an artist should not ignore the pain and suffering of her/his fellow human beings. This course will discuss the subject matters and practices of major contemporary artists all over the world—including Marcel Duchamp, Joseph Beuys, Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Jeff Koons, Andy Warhol, Yoko Ono, Ilya Kabakov, Jasper Johns, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Ai Weiwei, Shirin Neshat, Chéri Samba, Kara Walker, and more—whose creative work frequently intertwines with commentaries on contemporary politics. As a strategy of being, these contemporary artists seem to use art to engage their audiences in a dynamic dialogue concerning certain aspects of contemporary life. These and other artists want to interpret political reality in order to change it; that is, to bring about social and political transformation through aesthetic means. This course will provide an overview of the ideas, strategies, and work of the artists as a critical lens for viewing the changing cultural and political landscape of an increasingly technological and globalized world. This course will take a comparative studies approach to the development of contemporary art in its historical, its social and political contexts, the increasing influence of the Western art in Asia, Africa, and other parts of the world, and the cross-cultural communication customs and protocols of international art practice and art criticism. Methodologically, this course first aims at integrating four major disciplinary approaches in discussing art history from post-WWII to the present day: historical studies, sociological studies, psychoanalytic studies, and cultural studies. Such an integrated approach will provide a framework and a reference point for us to describe and understand contemporary art in certain historical and political contexts.

Born and raised in Tianjin, China, Meng Tang currently works as a media artist, curator, and art educator. Having served for more than ten years on the faculty of the Beijing Film Academy, Tang is now a lecturer in the University of Minnesota's Department of Art. She teaches media-art and art-history courses. Tang's life has given her extensive experience in dealing with the cultural differences that inspire much of her work. As an artist, she works in a wide variety of media, including film, video installation, photography, sculpture, and performance art.

Finding the "Corporate Soul:" Corporate Advocacy, Social Responsibility, and Community Engagement

Fall 2018
Hsem 2043V
Instructor: Amy O'Connor
3 credits
Fulfills Writing Intensive Requirement

As the corporation has replaced government and the church as the dominant social institution in the industrialized world, the use of organizational advocacy as a means of persuasion has predictably increased. One reason for this increase is that stakeholders expect and demand corporations act in accordance with social and cultural norms. Advocacy messages provide organizations with a tool for promoting change, forming attitudes, and furthering dialogue about substantive issues. By engaging in advocacy, organizations enter into a public dialogue about issues that it views as significant in the realization of its goals and objectives. This seminar seeks to answer questions such as: What contribution does organizational advocacy make to public dialogue? How does corporate advocacy represent the goals and needs of the organization and society? What are the social implications of organizational advocacy? Our goal is to understand organizational advocacy beyond a single issue, campaign, or corporation. To achieve our goal, we will examine a variety of communication theories and international, national, and Minnesota-based campaigns.

Dr. Amy O'Connor's work resides at the intersection of public relations and organizational communication. Her research is devoted to issues surrounding corporate social responsibility (CSR) including employee and community response to CSR messages; the ability of CSR communication to enhance corporate legitimacy and reputation; the types of social issues corporations chose to support; and the role of communication in shaping societies expectations of corporations. Dr. O'Connor’s research is supported by a National Science Foundation grant and is published in Business and Society, Communication Monographs, Journal of Communication, Journal of Applied Communication Research, Management Communication Quarterly, Public Relations Review, and in edited collections.

The Psychology of Paranormal Phenomena

Fall 2018
HSem 2053H
Instructor: Charles Randy Fletcher
3 credits

Research has shown that most Americans hold one or more supernatural, paranormal, or pseudoscientific beliefs. These include beliefs in mind reading, fortune telling, psychokinesis, remote viewing, therapeutic touch, out-of-body experiences, alien abduction, and cryptozoology (Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, etc.). This course has two goals. The first is to introduce students to critical thinking and behavioral research methods, and the second is to critically evaluate the evidence for a variety of supernatural, paranormal, and pseudoscientific claims. Students will design and carry out their own experimental tests of these claims. The course will also include a guest lecture and demonstration by a local psychic.

Charles Randy Fletcher conducts research on the psychological processes involved in reading and language comprehension. He teaches the Psychology Department’s Honors Research Practicum and a course on The psychology of language.

Biology and Society: How Evolution Shapes Our Lives

Fall 2018
HSem 2055H
Instructors: Alan Love and Michael Travisano
3 credits
Fulfills Writing Intensive Requirement

Evolution is a contested idea in our society. However, in a very real sense, evolution shapes our lives. In order to understand both the controversy surrounding evolution and its impact on individuals and society, this course explores a variety of themes at the intersection of biology and philosophy and is co-taught by a biologist and a philosopher of biology. We will investigate various dimensions of human evolution and applications of different evolutionary ideas to understanding ourselves with a special focus on health and disease. Then we turn to how humans alter or control the evolutionary process through domestication, conservation of species, and climate change. Finally, we look at the intersection of evolution and religion in the public sphere, the evolution of ideas about human races, and how both culture and language evolve. We close the course by reflecting on what the future of human evolution might look like.

Alan Love is a Professor in the Department of Philosophy and Director of the Minnesota Center for Philosophy of Science. His research focuses on conceptual issues in developmental and evolutionary biology, including causal reasoning, conceptual change, explanatory pluralism, the structure of evolutionary theory, reductionism, the nature of historical science, and interdisciplinary epistemology.

Michael Travisano is a Professor in the Department of Ecology, Evolution & Behavior and a member of the BioTechnology Institute. His long-term research goal is to understand the causes of biological diversity and complexity. By understanding simple systems, such as a single species of free-living bacteria, he works toward understanding the evolution of complexity through a series of studies that investigate increasingly more complicated biological systems, such as simple eukaryotes, predator-prey interactions, and microbial communities. His research team is internationally known for having evolved multicellularity from unicellularity in the laboratory context.

Visual and Critical Thinking

Fall 2018
Hsem 2207H
Instructor: Brad Hokanson
3 credits

This course will examine two forms of thought processes—Visual Thinking and Critical Thinking—and integrate their use and development. Visual Thinking strategies focus on the use of evidentiary reasoning. Based on structured series of exercises of observation and fine art, it develops the ability to examine art, objects, and environments. Critical thinking will focus on the organization of the mind for critical thinking and exam ines the s tructures and assumptions we make in our everyday lives. The class will focus on practice, not on lecture.

Brad Hokanson is a professor in Graphic Design at the University of Minnesota. He has a diverse academic record, including degrees in art, architecture, urban design, and he received his Ph.D. in Instructional Technology. He teaches in the area of creative problem solving has published research in the fields of creativity and educational technology. He is also currently the Buckman Professor of Design Education and won his college's awards for outstanding teaching in 2002 and 2008.

Reality 101, or "A Survey of the Human Predicament"

Fall 2018
Hsem 2624H
Instructor: Nate Hagens
4 credits

How is the economy like a hurricane? Where does money come from? Will economic growth last forever? What is wealth? How many hours would it take you to generate the same amount of energy in a gallon of gasoline? Why are you so confident in your own beliefs? Why do you spend so much time on social media? Why do we want "more" than our neighbors? What do all of these questions have to do with the environment? With your future? And what if our most popular societal beliefs about these issues turn out to be myths?

Reality 101 will delve into these questions and unify them as they apply to the major challenges humanity faces this century, among them: slow economic growth, poverty, inequality, addiction, pollution, ocean acidification, biodiversity loss, and war. The seminar will provide students with broad exposure to the foundational principles central to addressing these interrelated issues. The readings and lectures will cover literature in systems ecology, energy and natural resources, thermodynamics, history, anthropology, human behavior, neuroscience, environmental science, sociology, economics, globalization/trade, and finance/debt with an overarching goal to give students a general understanding of how our human ecosystem functions as a whole. Such a systems overview is necessary to view the opportunities and constraints relevant to our future from a realistic starting point. Though the hard science relating to sustainability will be surveyed, few answers will be presented and it is hoped that creativity and group dialogue will lead to emergent ideas on how these big themes fit together. While the class material is daunting and intense (reflecting our world situation), the course itself will be enlightening and deeply informative, with an open, engaging, and entertaining class atmosphere.

Dr. Nathan John Hagens worked on Wall Street at Lehman Brothers and Salomon Brothers and closed his own hedge fund in 2003 to pursue interdisciplinary knowledge about the bigger picture of modern society. Nate was the lead editor of the online web portal theoildrum.com, and is currently President of the Bottleneck Foundation and on the Boards of the Post Carbon Institute, Institute for Energy and Our Future, and IIER.

Battling the Bugs: Anthrax, Ebola, and Everyday Life

Fall 2018
Hsem 2707H
Instructors: Jill DeBoer and Michael Osterholm
3 credits

We share the planet with a myriad of living things. The smallest of those are the ones that may impact our lives the most. These creatures are in the news nearly every day: Ebola virus in Western Africa, measles outbreak among visitors to Disneyland, foodborne outbreaks on cruise ships. This course will focus on the importance of infectious disease prevention, control, and treatment to the health and well-being of the global community. Students will explore the many facets of public health response operations and decision-making which are often behind the scenes and not well understood by the general public.

Jill DeBoer is deputy director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) and director of the AHC Office of Emergency Response responsible for health emergency planning and response on campus. She is also founder of the U of M Medical Reserve Corps (MRC). She previously worked as a Section Chief at the Minnesota Department of Health with responsibility for AIDS and STD surveillance and response. Following 9/11, she assumed state-level oversight of public health emergency response planning, including bioterrorism response.

Dr. Michael Osterholm is Regents Professor, McKnight Presidential Endowed Chair in Public Health, the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP), Distinguished Teaching Professor in the Division of Environmental Health Sciences, School of Public Health, a professor in the Technological Leadership Institute, College of Science and Engineering, and an adjunct professor in the Medical School, all at the University of Minnesota. From 2001 through early 2005, Dr. Osterholm, in addition to his role at CIDRAP, served as a Special Advisor to then–HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson on issues related to bioterrorism and public health preparedness. He was also appointed to the Secretary's Advisory Council on Public Health Preparedness. On April 1, 2002, Dr. Osterholm was appointed by Thompson to be his representative on the interim management team to lead the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). He has received numerous honors for his work, including an honorary doctorate from Luther College; the Pump Handle Award, CSTE; the Charles C. Shepard Science Award, CDC; the Harvey W. Wiley Medal, FDA; the Squibb Award, IDSA; Distinguished University Teaching Professor, Environmental Health Sciences, School of Public Health, UMN; and the Wade Hampton Frost Leadership Award, American Public Health Association. He also has been the recipient of six major research awards from the NIH and the CDC.

Mass Incarceration and Public Health: An American Crisis

Fall 2018
Hsem 2719H
Instructor: Rebecca Shlafer
3 credits

Mass incarceration is one of the major public health challenges facing the United States. Each year, millions of people cycle through the criminal justice system. Justice-involved people experience far higher rates of chronic health problems, substance use, and mental illness than the general population. Further, our country's prisons and jails are often ill-equipped to handle these complex health conditions, perpetuating health inequities. Mass incarceration contributes to powerful health disparities in the United States, affecting the health of entire communities and across generations. This course will examine the intersections of mass incarceration and health. We will explore individual and community-level health impacts of incarceration, with a focus on the relationship between mass incarceration and health disparities, particularly in communities of color. This course will consider specific populations at particularly high risk, including detained youth, pregnant incarcerated women, and the elderly. Students will have an opportunity to tour local correctional facilities and hear directly from experts in the field, including formerly incarcerated people.

Dr. Rebecca Shlafer is an Assistant Professor in the Division of General Pediatrics and Adolescent Health. She holds a PhD in Developmental Child Psychology and an MPH in Maternal and Child Health. Dr. Shlafer’s research examines the intersections between mass incarceration and health.

Human Disease Influenced by Environmental Factors

Fall 2018
Hsem 2722H
Instructor: Richard Nho
3 credits

This seminar aims at understanding whole organisms and cellular functions in response to various macro-environmental events—i.e. global warming, pollution, radiation, food carcinogens, etc.—that promote the disease process. Human cells are programmed to effectively respond to diverse stimuli or insults under normal physiological conditions. However, when such conditions exceed the cell's inner capacity, cells can undergo programmed cell death, or in some cases, they can acquire pathological properties, which lead to the progression of various human diseases. In particular, environmental changes such as climate change caused by human activities can significantly affect human health and our ecosystems, and there are worldwide growing concerns about emerging new diseases that may threaten to human health. Therefore, in order to understand the concept of disease process under these conditions, we will examine the pathogenesis of several human diseases as study models and explore how cells have acquired "abnormal" from "normal" and how this "alteration" confers a pathological phenotype, eventually causing human diseases. Students will learn the pathological roles of 5 environmental factors that are closely associated with human diseases. After completion of this seminar, students will have better understanding of how various environmental conditions affect micro-organisms, cells, and our body's defense system and of the advanced knowledge of human disease caused by genes and environment.

Richard Nho is an Assistant professor in the Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine, Department of Medicine. His research has focused on the elucidation of the pathological mechanisms of a chronic and fatal fibrotic lung disease. Dr. Nho is currently utilizing novel approaches including drug carrying nanoparticles to selectively target pulmonary cells that are associated with the development of lung disease. His research has been supported by numerous internal and external research grants including National Institute of Health, American Heart Association and American Lung Association.

Think Like a Lawyer: The Art & Adventure of Torts

Fall 2018
Hsem 2801H
Instructor: Bobak Ha'Eri
3 credits
Fulfills LE Theme: Civic Life and Ethics

Law is the foundation of modern society. The ability to understand our legal system is invaluable in any profession, ranging from business and health to science or art. This seminar offers an introduction into legal thinking: not merely what the laws are, but why we have them and, more importantly, how we come up with them. As a focus, students will ground themselves in torts, a fundamental area of legal education that covers the civil wrongs. Students will have an opportunity to get a feeling for the law school experience as we use the case method, along with some Socratic method and ample discussion. We will focus on the basics of legal analysis, and learn how to apply that to critical thinking. Students successfully completing this seminar will be mentally armed and dangerous.

Bobak Ha'Eri is an attorney and graduate of the University of Minnesota Law School, where he is an instructor in the lawyering program. His work has covered FDA regulatory issues, torts, copyrights, trademarks and well as business start-ups. He strongly believes in helping students understand law, the legal process, and law school.

Cinematic Representations of American Law

Fall 2018
HSem 2802H
Instructor: Chang Wang
3 credits
Fulfills LE Theme: Diversity & Social Justice in the United States

The artistic representations of American law in 20th century American film offer unique perspectives to understand the greater context in which the legal order operates and a visual angle to supplement the case method and blackletter laws. This course will discuss how cinematic interpretations of American law were and are perceived and accepted in the United States and elsewhere, both inside and outside the legal community. The class will progress by teaching and discussing some fundamentals of American law using legal films to illustrate the doctrinal concepts and rationales in civil procedure, criminal law and criminal procedure, the jury trial, evidence, contracts, torts, constitutional law and the First Amendment, legal ethics, and professional responsibility. Legally sophisticated concepts can and will be visualized and discussed using illustrations drawn from filmic clips selected from masterpieces of cinematic productions. This interdisciplinary approach—teaching law through film—will engage students in a more visually literate way to understand and discuss legal concepts; it will also provide a broader context in humanities and arts in which legal discourse evolves, especially in a global era.

Chang Wang is currently an adjunct professor in the Law School. He is also Associate Professor of Law in the College of Comparative Law at the China University of Political Science and Law and Chief Research and Academic Officer at Thomson Reuters. He is an elected member of the prestigious American Law Institute, a member of the Central Civil and Judiciary Committee of the China Association for Promoting Democracy, and serves on several steering groups for the American Bar Association. Professor Wang received his JD from the University of Minnesota Law School and also holds advanced degrees in American Art History and Comparative Literature and Comparative Cultural Studies, not to mention a BFA in Filmmaking. He is licensed to practice law practice in Minnesota, the District of Columbia, and in the United States Federal Courts, and has published widely on law, critical theory, and history.

Malignant Political Aggression and Heroic Resistance

Fall 2018
HSem 3056H
Instructor: John Sullivan
3 credits

This seminar begins with a general examination of the role of conformity, denial and obedience in perpetrating malignant political aggression. We will examine the personal and situational forces, the social dynamics of small group norms and behaviors, and broader social and institutional arrangements, all of which interact to induce individuals and groups to participate in various forms of malignant political aggression. We will examine in some detail the role of dehumanization, compartmentalized thinking and perception, personality predispositions, etc. To counterbalance the pessimism inherent in this focus, we will also examine the opposite end of the spectrum—political heroism and altruism, which often arise in response to malignant political aggression. Are these heroes ordinary or extraordinary people, and how do they differ from perpetrators? How many ethical "kudos" do they deserve and why? What is their role in instantiating the larger norms of ethical conduct in our political system? In examining these more general forces, we will rely on specific examples such as the holocaust, the massacre at My Lai, the rescuers of Le Chambon and several others. There are, sadly, many 20th and 21st Century examples upon which to draw in explicating the forces underlying larger-scale malignant political aggression.

Regents Professor Emeritus John Sullivan has specialized in political psychology since the 1960s, co-founding the Center for the Study of Political Psychology and the PhD Minor in Political Psychology at the University of Minnesota. He has published several books and numerous articles on political tolerance, public opinion and political behavior. He received the Morse-Alumni Awards for both undergraduate and graduate teaching and has taught seminars in the University Honors Program several times in recent years.

Humans and Rights in Historical Perspective

Fall 2018
Hsem 3075H
Instructor: Sarah Chambers
3 credits
Fulfills LE Theme: Civic Life and Ethics

In the second half of the twentieth century, in the wake of World War II and decolonization, a language of human rights developed that emphasized rights as individual and universal. Many of us now take this particular notion of human rights as a given. In this seminar we will explore the complicated and multi‐faceted history of how societies in different parts of the world have defined what it is to be human, the treatment owed to humans, and various kinds of rights. Some of these philosophies are grounded in religion and others in secularism. Some identify the nation‐state as the adjudicator of rights, while others would empower international organizations or grassroots movements. For some the individual is sacrosanct, while for others persons are inextricably embedded in social webs. We will study how these concepts have changed over time as the globe has become increasingly interconnected, and consider their relevance and application in our contemporary society. The semester will be divided into five mini units. In the first, we will explore concepts of the human and of rights in major faith traditions. In the second, we will examine the debates that emerged from European colonialism in the Atlantic world. In the third, we will study the emergences of an explicit language of human rights after World War II. In the fourth, we will look at human rights issues in the United States. And in the final unit, you will pursue your own research and collaborate in small groups to make presentations and facilitate discussion around common themes.

Sarah Chambers is Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of History. She teaches on Latin American history—as well as colonialism, law, gender, and film more broadly. Dr. Chambers's research (which has taken her to Peru, Chile, Spain, Puerto Rico and Colombia) explores political culture, citizenship, law, and gender during Spanish America’s transition from colonialism to independence (late 18th to mid 19th centuries). She is currently working on migrations spurred by the Wars of Independence in South America, tracing the paths of internal refugees, political exiles, and royalist émigrés, and analyzing how these movements influenced the formation of shifting imperial and new national identities. Both her research and teaching on Latin American history has made Dr. Chambers interested in thinking about the deep history of human rights.

Children and Cinema: The Child's Mind, the Child's Eye, and the Moving Image

Fall 2018
Hsem 3076V
Instructor: Alice Lovejoy
3 credits

We often think that children perceive the world differently from adults. In cinema, this perceived difference has led, on the one hand, to anxiety about film's effects on youth. On the other hand, it has led to a search for cinematic forms that respond to children's visual and cognitive "uniqueness." Indeed, throughout the world, childhood vision has long served as impetus and metaphor for re-envisioning cinema: for honing what it looks like, how it is produced, and how it is circulated and exhibited. This seminar examines these provocative and fruitful intersections between childhood and cinema. We will ask how the child viewer has been understood cognitively, politically, and socially, and analyze films made for children or inspired by understandings of children's minds and eyes. We will also explore how childhood and youth have sparked institutional developments in cinema, and influenced film and media studies as a discipline. Our subjects include, among others, research on children and the movies (e.g., the interwar Payne Fund Studies); the intersections between developmental psychology and children's films; childhood perception, the avant-garde, and animation; youth and postwar "new waves;" and children's film studios as pedagogical spaces for filmmakers. Films and readings are drawn from the United States, United Kingdom, Eastern and Western Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia.

Alice Lovejoy is a film, media, and cultural historian, and Associate Professor in the Department of Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature. She is the author of the award-winning book Army Film and the Avant Garde: Cinema and Experiment in the Czechoslovak Military (Indiana University Press, 2015), which traces the emergence of an experimental film culture in the Czechoslovak Army's film studio. Her current research examines cinema and war economy in World War II, and the intertwined histories of a series of postwar children's film and media institutions. She is also a filmmaker and film critic, and has served as Managing Editor of Film Comment magazine.

Anthropology of Place and Displacement

Fall 2018
Hsem 3081V
Instructor: David Lipset
3 credits
Fulfills Writing Intensive Requirement

This course asks questions about the meaning of place, the relationship of space to place, the relationship of identity to place, and the relationship of place to environmental change in the event of industrial pollution, development projects, natural disasters, and climate change. Theories of and ethnographic accounts of space and place in Cultural Anthropology and Geography will be discussed. In addition to foundational texts in the topic, we will also read contemporary accounts of nonwestern places.

David Lipset is a cultural anthropologist who has done research in the Pacific. He is interested in masculinity and social change, social media and society, and representations of nonwestern peoples and cultures in the mass media. He is currently working on a project on climate change and place among the Murik, a coastal people in Papua New Guinea.

A Resilient, Just, Water Future: Living with the Mississippi River

Fall 2018
Hsem 3205H
Instructor: Patrick Nunnally
3 credits

Located on the banks of one of the world'’'s great rivers, the University of Minnesota, through its teaching, research, and campus practices, is a model for developing future-oriented, resilient relationships between communities and water. Water is essential to humanity's well-being, and is also threatened in myriad ways. Working with communities of scholars and professionals on and off campus, this seminar creates knowledge-sharing programs that increase interdisciplinary and cross-sector capacity to address the related issues of water and justice, two of society's greatest challenges. Working collectively, biological and physical scientists, planners, designers, advocates, and people involved in public interpretation and education must develop a "21st century" approach to living with the urban Mississippi, one that uses the river as a community, environmental, and economic asset without diminishing the river's key ecological functions upon which we depend.

After earning his PhD in American Studies, Patrick Nunnally spent a decade working in historic preservation, serving at the state and federal levels, as well as in the private sector. Nunnally's specialty as a historian of broad scale, vernacular landscapes led him to an engagement with the Mississippi River, which has been central to his teaching, research, and practice for the past 20+ years. He has coordinated regional efforts in recreational corridor planning, communication network development, and educational programming. Since 2005, his work has been centered at the University of Minnesota, where he coordinates the River Life program and edits Open Rivers, a digital journal of new ideas on the relationships between water, place, and community.

Business in the Supreme Court

Fall 2018
Hsem 3415H
Instructor: Ian Maitland
3 credits

Alexis de Tocqueville noted that there is "[s]carcely any political question arises in the United States that is not resolved, sooner or later, into a judicial question." Our court system is a crucible in which we shape and articulate our values and conceptions of how our economy should be organized. This seminar will use the courts as a lens or prism through which to examine the relationship between business and society. The pedagogical uses of the case method are well-established in both business and law schools. I expect to make use of Court opinions supplemented, where helpful, by transcripts of oral arguments, commentary in law reviews and legal blogs. The seminar should be of interest to pre-law students and all students who wish to gain a better understanding of the place of business in our society.

Ian Maitland is a Professor in the Carlson School where he was Associate Dean of the Undergraduate Program. He has taught classes in business ethics, business law and international business. He is a member of the California Bar, a Chartered Accountant in England & Wales, a former columnist for the Star Tribune, a past candidate for US Congress, and the first senior Fellow at the Center for the American Experiment (a Minneapolis-based conservative think tank).

Science Court: Strengthening Democracy Through Rational Discourse

Fall 2018
Hsem 3511H
Instructor: Ellad Tadmor
3 credits

Science Court is a mock trial system designed to promote democratic norms by investigating controversial societal issues, based on facts and sound scientific research, in front of a judge and jury of citizens. Students work together in three teams (Science, Legal and Media) to plan, research, execute, and report a SciCourt case.

Ellad B. Tadmor is a Professor of Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics at the University of Minnesota. He uses computer simulations and theories that span multiple length and time scales to predict the behavior of materials and nano devices from their atomic structure. He has published 60 papers in this area and two graduate-level textbooks. Professor Tadmor is the Director of the Knowledgebase of Interatomic Models project, which is a web-based cyberinfrastructure tasked with developing standards and improving the reliability of atomistic simulations.

Doctors Behaving Badly: The Causes and Consequences of Medical Research Scandals

Fall 2018
Hsem 3715H
Instructor: Carl Elliott
3 credits

This course will take students on a tour of the deadliest and most controversial research scandals in recent medical history. Some of these episodes are well-known, such as the exploitation of poor African American men with syphilis in Tuskegee, Alabama, and the injection of the hepatitis A virus into mentally disabled children at the Willowbrook State School in New York. But such well-known cases represent only a small fraction of ethically contentious medical research. In the 1960s, for example, at the world-renowned Allen Memorial Institute at McGill University, the CIA paid psychiatric researchers to use mentally ill subjects in "mind control" experiments involving LSD, intensive electroconvulsive therapy, and drug-induced comas for up to three months at a time. In 1996, during a meningitis epidemic in Nigeria, researchers for the pharmaceutical company Pfizer conducted a study of an unapproved antibiotic on children without the informed consent of their parents, resulting in eleven deaths. In 2013, two neurosurgeons at the University of California–Davis were forced to resign after authorities discovered that they had intentionally implanted bacteria in the brains of cancer patients. Today, the University of Minnesota itself is under investigation after for the case of Dan Markingson, a mentally ill young man who nearly decapitated himself after allegedly being coerced into an AstraZeneca-funded psychiatric study. In this course, we will explore questions such as: What cultural and institutional forces allowed the scandals to occur? What were the best ethical arguments in favor of allowing the research to proceed? How were the scandals exposed? What was the role of investigative reporters, regulatory authorities, and whistleblowers? Should we have confidence that research abuse is not occurring today?

Carl Elliott is Professor in the Center for Bioethics. Trained in both medicine and philosophy, he is the author or editor of seven books, including White Coat, Black Hat: Adventures on the Dark Side of Medicine (Beacon, 2010) and Better than Well: American Medicine Meets the American Dream (Norton, 2003.) His articles have appeared in popular publications such as The New Yorker and The Atlantic Monthly as well as academic journals such as The Lancet and The New England Journal of Medicine. He has been a Network Fellow at the Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University and a Member of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey.

History and Science of Eating

Fall 2018
Hsem 3953H
Instructors: Traci Mann and Tracey Deutsch
3 credits

Eating is both an everyday, mundane activity and a complex act that is linked to internal and external factors. Using the lenses of the humanities and sciences, this seminar will explore topics from the full continuum of human eating. We move from hunger, starvation, and dieting to food choice and obesity, to eating's relationship to contemporary politics, culture, and racial diversity. Overarching these topics are common themes of gender roles and changing cultural norms. We will investigate how and why diets vary as well as how food has emerged as a central political problem. Students will leave this class better able to judge evidence used in diet advice and with more understanding of their own beliefs about what they should eat. Readings will draw from history, qualitative social studies, political science, psychology, public health, and popular food writers.

Traci Mann is a Professor in the Department of Psychology. She started the Health and Eating Lab here in 2007 after ten years on the faculty at UCLA. She is interested in basic science questions about cognitive mechanisms of self-control, and in applying social psychology research to promoting healthy behavior—particularly eating—in individuals’ daily lives. Her research has been funded by NIH, NASA, and the USDA. Her book Secrets from the Eating Lab: The Science of Weight Loss, the Myth of Willpower, and Why You Should Never Diet Again was published by HarperCollins in 2015.

Tracey Deutsch is Associate Professor in the Department of History. She teaches, researches, and writes in the areas of critical food studies, gender and women's history, the history of capitalism, and modern US history. Deutsch is the author of Building a Housewife’s Paradise: Gender, Government, and American Grocery Stores, 1919–1968 (2010 University of North Carolina Press). She is currently researching a book project on the life of Julia Child and the politics of gourmet food in the the mid-century US and continuing her studies of the significance of historical narrative in contemporary food politics.

The American Quest for Security

Spring 2018
HSem 2018H
Instructor: Elaine Tyler May
3 credits
Fulfills LE Core: Historical Perspectives
Fulfils LE Theme: Civic Life & Ethics

For more than half a century, Americans have been concerned about security—national security as well as personal security. What do Americans mean when they talk about security? What are they worried about, and how do they try to keep themselves safe and secure? The quest for national security has taken shape at the level of foreign policy and military engagement. At the same time, Americans have endeavored to achieve their own safety and security through political and personal efforts. This seminar examines the various ways that citizens have addressed the issue of security in their own lives, whether their fears have been justified, and whether their efforts have kept them safe. The goal is for students to understand the issue of security in a historical context, and to enable them to be effective citizens in a world that often feels dangerous.

Elaine Tyler May is Regents Professor of American Studies and History. Her teaching and research center on the intersections of public and private life in America, with a particular focus on how the big issues of politics, war, security, social and cultural change, resonate at the level of personal life and experience.

The Psychology of Paranormal Phenomena

Spring 2018
HSem 2053H
Instructor: Charles Randy Fletcher
3 credits

Research has shown that most Americans hold one or more supernatural, paranormal, or pseudoscientific beliefs. These include beliefs in mind reading, fortune telling, psychokinesis, remote viewing, therapeutic touch, out-of-body experiences, alien abduction, and cryptozoology (Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, etc.). This course has two goals. The first is to introduce students to critical thinking and behavioral research methods, and the second is to critically evaluate the evidence for a variety of supernatural, paranormal, and pseudoscientific claims. Students will design and carry out their own experimental tests of these claims. The course will also include a guest lecture and demonstration by a local psychic.

Charles Randy Fletcher conducts research on the psychological processes involved in reading and language comprehension. He teaches the Psychology Department’s Honors Research Practicum and a course on The psychology of language.

Housing Matters

Spring 2018
HSem 2208H
Instructor: Becky Yust
3 credits
Fulfills LE Theme: Diversity & Social Justice

Housing directly affects our physical and mental health, children's educational attainment, our economic opportunities, our transportation patterns and dependencies, and the environment. However, not all people are able to achieve the same levels of well-being because of disparities due to race, ethnicity, and class as they seek to obtain stable, secure, and affordable housing in supportive neighborhoods and communities. We will explore issues of power and privilege that contribute to those disparities. Public policy at the local and national levels will be examined as it both creates and minimizes social inequities in housing.

Becky Yust is Professor in the Housing Studies Program. Professor Yust teaches courses on the socio-economic aspects of housing; multifamily housing development, finance, and management; and, interior structures, systems, and life safety. Her research has included investigations of housing adequacy and affordability, healthy housing initiatives, and design of affordable housing. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Sustainable Resources Center and as executive editor of Housing and Society, the research journal of the Housing Education and Research Association.

Slow Death by Rubber Duck: Chemicals in the Environment and Us

Spring 2018
HSem 2516H
Instructor: William Arnold
2 credits

We use chemicals every day–we bathe in chemicals, we apply chemicals to our lawns—and these chemicals wind up in the environment and in our bodies. This seminar will exam how our use of chemicals drives our exposures and where these chemicals ultimately wind up in the environment and what their impacts are. Each week will be devoted to the discussion of a different chemical. Readings will including popular books, news articles, and a few scientific papers. There will be weekly writing assignments and a semester project.

Bill Arnold is the Joseph T. and Rose S. Ling Professor of Environmental Engineering. His research is focused on the where water pollutants wind up in the environment and what products are formed when they react. He also seeks to develop remediation technologies. He has taught various environmental engineering and environmental chemistry classes.

Social Justice and Health

Spring 2018
HSem 2716V
Instructor: Debra DeBruin
3 credits
Fulfills LE Theme: Diversity & Social Justice in the United States
Fulfills Writing Intensive Requirement

This seminar explores matters of social justice related to health. Class sessions predominantly focus on discussion of specific practical issues such as the promotion of race-specific therapies as an approach to ameliorating health disparities, the inclusion of homeless persons in research providing free access to healthcare, and the allocation of HIV medications in impoverished developing countries. Readings from multiple disciplinary perspectives ground the examination of these social justice issues. Discussions incorporate consideration of the institutional and broader social contexts of these issues.

Debra DeBruin is Associate Professor in the Center for Bioethics and has also served as a Health Policy Fellow in the United States Senate. She has worked as a consultant to the National Academy of Sciences' Institute of Medicine, the National Bioethics Advisory Commission, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. She has been a member of a number of working groups relevant to public health in Minnesota, and co-directed the Minnesota Pandemic Ethics Project. She teaches and conducts research on the ethics of research and public health policy; her scholarship focuses on social justice issues.

Zombies and their Souls: Philosophy, Bioethics and the Undead

Spring 2018
HSem 2725H
Instructor: Carl Elliott
3 credits

We want money, love and fame. They want brains. Who is to say that our values are superior? This seminar will use zombie movies as a way of exploring fundamental issues in bioethics, the philosophy of mind and the philosophy of psychology. Are zombies conscious? Do they have free will? Should they have rights? If zombies could be safely controlled, would it be unethical to make them slaves or pets? What about experimenting on them, or using their organs for transplantation? If I were to become a zombie, would I still be me, or would I be something else? Safely controlled, would it be unethical to make them slaves or pets? What about experimenting on them, or using their organs for transplantation? If I were to become a zombie, would I still be me, or would I be something else?

Carol Elliott is Professor in the Center for Bioethics at the University of Minnesota and an affiliate faculty member in the Department of Philosophy. He is the author or editor of seven books, including White Coat, Black Hat: Adventures on the Dark Side of Medicine (Beacon, 2010) and Better than Well: American Medicine Meets the American Dream (Norton, 2003.) His articles have appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, The London Review of Books and Mother Jones.

Cinematic Representations of American Law

Spring 2018
HSem 2802H
Instructor: Chang Wang
3 credits
Fulfills LE Theme: Diversity & Social Justice in the United States

The artistic representations of American law in 20th century American film offer unique perspectives to understand the greater context in which the legal order operates and a visual angle to supplement the case method and blackletter laws. This course will discuss how cinematic interpretations of American law were and are perceived and accepted in the United States and elsewhere, both inside and outside the legal community. The class will progress by teaching and discussing some fundamentals of American law using legal films to illustrate the doctrinal concepts and rationales in civil procedure, criminal law and criminal procedure, the jury trial, evidence, contracts, torts, constitutional law and the First Amendment, legal ethics, and professional responsibility. Legally sophisticated concepts can and will be visualized and discussed using illustrations drawn from filmic clips selected from masterpieces of cinematic productions. This interdisciplinary approach—teaching law through film—will engage students in a more visually literate way to understand and discuss legal concepts; it will also provide a broader context in humanities and arts in which legal discourse evolves, especially in a global era.

Chang Wang is currently an adjunct professor in the Law School. He is also Associate Professor of Law in the College of Comparative Law at the China University of Political Science and Law and Chief Research and Academic Officer at Thomson Reuters. He is an elected member of the prestigious American Law Institute, a member of the Central Civil and Judiciary Committee of the China Association for Promoting Democracy, and serves on several steering groups for the American Bar Association. Professor Wang received his JD from the University of Minnesota Law School and also holds advanced degrees in American Art History and Comparative Literature and Comparative Cultural Studies, not to mention a BFA in Filmmaking. He is licensed to practice law practice in Minnesota, the District of Columbia, and in the United States Federal Courts, and has published widely on law, critical theory, and history.

Caravaggio: Bad Boy of Baroque

Spring 2018
HSem 3013H
Instructor: Steven Ostrow
3 credits
Learning Abroad component: Spring break in Rome
Fulfills LE Core: Arts & Humanities
View a video on this course!

This seminar explores the life and art of Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571–1610), one of the most arresting and controversial painters in the history of art. Our examination will range from issues of style and self-portraiture to questions of biography, patronage, and iconography, and will include a viewing of Simon Schama’s 2006 film, Caravaggio. Special emphasis will be given to problems of methodology and to various ways of "reading" and viewing his complex and provocative works. During Spring Break the seminar will incorporate a study abroad component in Rome, where we will be able to see some of his most important paintings, in context, as well as works by many other Baroque masters.

Steven Ostrow is Professor of Art History. Professor Ostrow specializes in early-modern Italian (especially Roman) visual culture, with an emphasis on the post-Tridentine period and seventeenth-century sculpture. He has published on a diverse range of subjects, from late-sixteenth-century tomb sculpture to early-eighteenth-century illuminated manuscripts, engaging issues concerned with patronage, iconography, and historicism; art theory and artistic practices; the interplay among art, politics, science, and religion; and the literary construction of artist biographies. His current research focuses on sculpture in Rome between the death of Michelangelo and the emergence of Gianlorenzo Bernini.

The Agile Mind: Cognitive and Brain Bases

Spring 2018
HSem 3054H
Instructor: Wilma Koutstaal
3 credits

This seminar will examine recent research findings from the cognitive, brain, and social sciences to arrive at a better understanding of the conditions that foster, or impede, flexible thinking. A recurrent theme will be that creatively adaptive thinking centrally depends both on our ability to vary our level of cognitive control (from more automatic and intuitive to more controlled or deliberate processes) and our level of representational specificity (from more specific to more abstract). Representative topics will include: the effects of reinforcing variable rather than habitual behavior; the need for both highly specific and more abstract ways of accessing our knowledge and memory for experiences; the ways in which emotions may enhance or impair flexibility in thought; and the importance of mentally stimulating environments in adaptive cognition and behavior, and the brain changes that both accompany, and support, flexible thinking. We will read original research papers from several areas of psychology and cognitive neuroscience so as to arrive at a broad, integrated, and empirically informed view of flexible thinking.

Wilma Koutstaal is Associate Professor of Psychology. Dr. Koutstaal's research on human memory, thinking, and judgment focuses on factors that influence how and when we successfully "use what we know," particularly the levels of detail at which we encode and use information, and how this contributes to effective problem solving and creative thought. Research in her lab draws on many methodologies: cognitive-behavioral studies both with healthy young and older adults and neuropsychological populations (e.g., global amnesia, semantic dementia), clinical psychology (e.g., effects of depression on thinking and judgment), and brain imaging (functional magnetic resonance imaging). Dr. Koutstaal also teaches the Psychology of Human Learning and Memory (PSY 5014) and a Proseminar in Cognition, Brain, and Behavior (PSY 8960).

Incarceration and the Family

Spring 2018
HSem 3308V
Instructor: Rebecca Shlafer
3 credits
Fulfills Writing Intensive Requirement

It is now estimated that more than 2.7 million children have a parent currently behind bars. When parents are incarcerated, there are collateral consequences for children, families, communities, and society. Children of incarcerated parents are at risk for a number of adverse outcomes, including behavior problems, academic difficulties, substance abuse, and criminal activity. In this class, we will use an interdisciplinary perspective to explore the issue of mass incarceration in the United States, with a specific focus on the impact of incarceration on children and families. Students will have opportunities to visit local correctional facilities and engage with community-based programs serving families impacted by incarceration. Topics will include parent-child contact during incarceration, intersections between incarceration and child welfare, systemic disparities by race and class, programs for children impacted by incarceration, public policies related to incarceration, and intergenerational cycles of incarceration.

Rebecca Shlafer is Assistant Professor in the Division of General Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine and has regularly taught courses through the Institute of Child Development. Dr. Shlafer's research focuses on understanding the developmental outcomes of children and families with multiple risk factors. She is particularly interested in children with parents in prison, as well as the programs and policies that impact families affected by incarceration. Dr. Shlafer is currently the research director for a prison-based pregnancy and parenting support program and is leading an initiative for young children with incarcerated parents in partnership with Sesame Street.

Exercise Is Medicine: Its Central Role in Healthcare

Spring 2018
HSem 3701H
Instructor: Jim Langland
2 credits

This seminar will explore in depth the important role that exercise plays in medicine. The benefits of exercise and cardiorespiratory fitness are frequently overlooked and under-emphasized in American health care delivery. Seminar participants will learn of the evidence basis for the use of exercise in a wide variety of conditions including cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity, mental health, and cognition. Related issues such as fitness assessments, nutrition, exercise complications, and sedentary physiology will also be presented. Seminar format will include lectures, discussion, and participant presentations. All seminar participants will be required to research a different aspect of exercise as medicine and present their findings.

Jim Langland M.D. is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine, Division of General Internal Medicine. Dr. Langland practices and teaches general internal medicine at the University's Primary Care Center. He is board certified in Internal Medicine, Sports Medicine, and Geriatric Medicine. He is also a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist by the National Strength and Conditioning Association. His academic interest is in the therapeutic and prophylactic use of exercise in health care.

The Nature of the Cosmos

Spring 2018
HSem 3941H
Instructor: J.B. Shank
3 credits

One of the defining features of every human civilization is its collective understanding of how the natural phenomena present to all earth dwellers—stars, planets, the earth and its transformations, plant, animal, and human life, etc.—are conceptualized into systems of knowing. "Cosmology" is the term we use to describe these shared understandings, and this interdisciplinary course proposes a comparative study of different cosmologies in different civilizations and historical periods. We will explore the nature of the cosmos by first examining the category itself and what is involved in trying to study cosmology comparatively with sensitivity to cultural difference. We will then look at some different understandings of the nature of the cosmos (i.e. cosmologies) offered by different peoples in the past and around the world. We will start with two ancient, non-Western cosmologies: the Sanskrit Hindu and Buddhist traditions and the traditions of the native peoples of North America. We will then examine the history of Western cosmological thinking by looking at Greco-Roman Antiquity, Medieval Christian and Islamic cosmology, and the birth of modern, scientific cosmology in the Scientific Revolution (Galileo, Newton, etc.). Our overall goal will not be to establish a single, absolute, and universal understanding of the cosmos, but, rather, to develop an understanding of the value and power of each of the different cosmologies we will encounter and the consequences that follow from accepting one or the other of them as our point of view. Ultimately, this course should help you to think more deeply, reflectively, and humanistically about the cosmologies present in our own modern globalized society today.

J.B. Shank is an intellectual historian and historian of science who studies the ongoing development of our modern understanding of natural knowledge by thinking about it historically in relation to the knowledge traditions of other peoples, places, and times. He is an associate professor in the department of History but works across the modern disciplines in his scholarship—combining perspectives from anthropology, sociology, and philosophy, along with an interest in the relationship between science and architecture, literature, music, and the visual arts.

Filter Honors Seminars

Filter Specific LibEd Cores & Themes