Spring 2017 Course Descriptions

HONR 054: Apocalyptic America, 3 credit hrs.

The dramatic end of the current world order remains a fascination in American culture. From the Puritan desire to establish a Christian utopia prompting the return of Jesus and the expansionist mandates of Manifest Destiny to the Left Behind series and 2012, many Americans continue to anticipate an imminent end of the world. Apocalyptic America will examine this trend in popular culture by exploring the ancient religious documents (the biblical books of Daniel and Revelation, along with portions of the Gospels and the Letters of Saint Paul) on which this vision is based. The role of the "Millennial Kingdom" in American history and culture will then enable students to analyze contemporary incarnations of the theme. The course will conclude with student projects and group presentations that examine current cultural productions including apocalyptic religious movements, cultural productions ("The Road" and "2012"), and apocalyptic language in political discourse. 


HONR 066: Beatles Popular Music/Society, 3 credit hrs.

Often referred to as the greatest rock and roll band of all times, The Beatles' influence on popular music and contemporary culture is unquestionable. The societal context of the growth of Rock and Roll will serve as the framework for this course, which will chart the Beatles rapid rise to fame, their careers as a band and solo artists, and their continued impact on popular music and culture in the 21st century. This course will provide an in-depth, record-by-record, look at the music of this extraordinary group and the unique songwriting partnership of John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Additionally, the course will explore the development of global cross-promotional marketing, as applied by the Beatles and their corporation, Apple. Designed for non- music majors, this course will help to develop critical listening skills, and demonstrate the progression of musical concepts and themes still being applied in popular music today.


HONR 086: Borders and Boundaries, 3 credit hrs.

Borders and Borderlands: Comparing the U.S.- Mexico Boundary and Beyond-- This course examines the topic of borders and borderlands from an anthropological perspective that will allow students to become familiar with various dynamics and problems as well as with key concepts, debates, and approaches within the disciplines of anthropology and border studies. We will examine numerous topics including migration, policing, in/security, violence, environmental vulnerability, cultural production, etc. through particular case studies of the U.S.-Mexico border and beyond. By looking at these issues, we will consider the social and political relations that shape popular understandings, expectations, and attitudes towards this boundary and trace, in turn, how the boundary and its dynamics affect the North American social and political landscape. 


HONR 088: Reading and Writing About Class, 3 credit hrs.

 This writing-intensive course will focus on American literary representations of class in order to work toward defining and analyzing its role in contemporary U.S. society. We will also examine the intersections of class, race, and gender. Readings include fiction, nonfiction, and theory. 


HONR 093: The Press, Program and the Pill, 3 credit hrs.

This course explores the interface of culture, technology, and biology through a close examination of three significant innovations: the printing press, the computer, and the birth control pill. Drawing on the work of historians, anthropologists, biologists, political scientists, cognitive scientists, and philosophers, students will consider the ways in which these innovations have transformed our conceptions of human freedom, authority, intelligence, and agency. The course will also examine the broader implications of these innovations for our conception of nature and the natural, as well the contrasts often thought to be implied by 'nature' and 'natural' (e.g., nature vs. culture; nature vs. nurture; natural vs. artificial). 


HONR 094: Dogs: Ethics and Politics of K9S, 3 credit hrs.

This course is an examination of dogs and human relationships with dogs as seen through the lenses of philosophy, art, religion, literature, economics, history, science and a wide variety of other disciplines. We will work to develop ethical and political insights from our relationships with dogs -- insights related not only to our relationships with dogs but also to our relationships with humans we view to be significantly different from ourselves. 


HONR 100: Paths to Knowledge, 4 credit hrs.

The topic chosen as the focus of interdisciplinary study this semester is that of 'friendship.' Just about every discipline has something to say about friendship and when anyone writes about friendship they inevitably draw on work from other disciplines. This makes it a particularly good topic for our study. We will begin the course with an overview but as time progresses we will, as a class, decide what focused question we want to answer. Then, as the semester progresses, each student will also decide what particular question regarding friendship, as an individual, to answer. 


HONR 100: Paths to Knowledge, 4 credit hrs.

Being a Global Knower in an Age of Global Problems As a response to the Drake mission to prepare "students for ...responsible global citizenship," this course will examine the use of humanities, social, physical, behavioral sciences as cognitive tools to understand and respond to the established and long-lived historical fact of globalization and contemporary global problems. The course will be organized around the multiple conceptions of what 'knowledge' is, what it means, how it is generated, and how it operates via the identification of issues of global significance such as global population, global environment and climate, economic globalization, and global security issues (variously defined). In particular, students will be challenged to examine their knowledge through understanding the nature of science, economics, politics, psychology, sociology, history, among other discipline-based ways of knowing. How do you know about a global problem? What do you know about a global problem? Who gets to decide it is a (global) problem? Whose problem is it? explained argument; effective critique of own arguments; articulating own positionality in relation to multiple perspectives, knowledge bases, and biases; using and evaluating multiple and diverse research resources. The guiding principle of the course is that a person cannot truly attempt to be a global citizen without these competencies. 


HONR 100: Paths to Knowledge, 4 credit hrs.

This course aims to use myths, folklore, and superstition as a point of analysis and critical thinking and writing. By investigating the historical and cultural context of myths like witches, zombies, and ghosts, students will be able to analyze and interpret text and images and think critically about the role that myths play in our society. 1893 Parliament of the World's Religions in Chicago, the very first time in which scholars and practitioners of the world's religions met together to share their religious beliefs, practices, and theories. With any luck, this "game" will bring out many of the tensions that still exist in the study of religion today (descriptive science vs. normative theology, insider vs. outsider perspectives, western vs. eastern understandings, interpretative vs. explanatory goals, etc.) 


HONR 102: Service Learning: Build Legacy DU, 3 credit hrs.

The Friday meeting class time will be only at the beginning and end of the semester. Otherwise, the Fridays will be onsite time with one of the service leader providers. This course will help students think critically about volunteerism, reflect on their own volunteer service, discuss social issues and problems that impact Drake's campus, the community or global populations, understand critical issues in service-learning research, and most importantly, develop a service learning project. Students will examine the definition of service-learning, volunteerism trends, project development issues, and possible project ideas that can impact the lives of others. They will also engage in readings and discussion to investigate social issues that influence a particular area of need. This will lead to the development of a final service project to be designed and implemented individually or collaboratively. After completion of the project, students will present it to an audience and complete final written reflections of their experiences. 


HONR 103: Science in the Art of Da Vinci, 3 credit hrs.

Leonardo da Vinci was one of the greatest geniuses of all times. A true Renaissance Man, he excelled in the arts, the sciences and technology creating new directions in anything he worked on. A self-taught thinker and artist, he managed to create works of unrepeatable beauty and complexity and ideas in multiple sciences that were often two hundred or more years ahead of his time. Even though his art masterpieces are widely admired and some of his technological innovations have fascinated the imagination of youths everywhere, his fundamental science work has not been known very well. In particular, it took the attentive investigation of scientists and engineers to reveal its width and depth. As an example, drawings that were previously thought to be random dwindling turned out to represent elaborate mathematical transformations. The most remarkable aspect of da Vinci's enormous body of work is that his art served his science and his science was educated by his artistic aesthetics. He did not consider them separate. In fact, they were two parts of the same relentless endeavor to discover truth and beauty in everything natural and human. Leonardo's diverse thought encompassed human and other animal anatomy and physiology, plant morphology, geology, mechanics, optics, waves, fluid dynamics, civil (town and canal) engineering, ballistics and mathematics. In all these fields his discoveries were depicted in specialized drawings but, remarkably, his "pure art" was often a tour-de-force of scientific information (for example, the "Virgin of the Rocks" is an impressive study in geology). This course intends to present Leonardo's work as a unified, trans-disciplinary, to use a modern term, fashion. It will be inquiry-based and student driven. Each class will begin with a 15-minute presentation by a student (or two students) that will be followed by an hour of discussion guided by the instructor so that it remains focused. Two meetings (one week) will be dedicated to a special topic with a reading assignment from a major book. Each presentation will cover a subtopic. The weekly topics will follow the structure of the major text in a chronological sequence based on Leonardo's biography with cross-chronological investigations in the end. The subtopics for each meeting will be determined dynamically by the discussion in the previous meetings. 


HONR 109: Religion of the Middle East, 3 credit hrs.

Three of the largest and oldest religions developed from the cultures of the Middle East. Although the religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam share similar foundations and many similar beliefs, their histories and innovations led to distinct religions that are often entangled in deep religious and political conflict. Religions of the Middle East will begin by exploring the histories and beliefs of these religions. The class will then examine two major issues that effect and are influenced by the religions of the Middle East (these topics are open and will rotate each semester).


HONR 112: Chinese Philosophy to Contemporary Art, 3 credit hrs.

This class reads major developments in 20th- and 21st-century art and aesthetics through the lens of Chinese philosophy and Chinese writings on the arts. In the process, we find that contemporary art is not only a phenomenon of "post-modernity," as it is often framed; rather, the contemporary scene has also been shaped by traditions and practices that are neither produced by nor responding to European modernity. We begin with a solid grounding in the Chinese philosophical tradition, before considering the questions and debates of art theory in the West. Throughout the course, we engage with a range of contemporary artists and art movements to appreciate the multi-cultural influences that together shape the art world today. 


HONR 125: Philosophy of Religion, 3 credit hrs.

The philosophy of religion, broadly defined, is the philosophical examination of religious reasoning. As practiced, however, the philosophy of religion usually gets narrowly focused on either the rationality of modern-western religion or the religiosity of modern-western philosophy. This course ventures a new approach in the philosophy of religion, one that is religiously diverse and historically grounded. As such, it seeks first to survey several different instances of reason-giving in several different religions of the world. It will then formally compare these instances of reason-giving in an effort to detect important and interesting similarities and differences between them. Finally, it will ask whether and how these instances and patterns can be critically evaluated with respect to their truth and value. Since this is a philosophy of religion course, particular emphasis will be placed on this third and final step: can one inquire into the truth and value of religious reasons and ideas? If so, how? If not, why not? Note that this class is designed to accompany Drake University’s public program in comparative religion, The Comparison Project (http://comparisonproject.wordpress.drake.edu). As such, its topic of comparison is The Comparison Project's 15-17 theme: theologies of death and rituals of dying. And its objects of comparison are The Comparison Project’s S16 traditions and speakers—Jainism, secularism, and Judaism. 


HONR 128: Minds, Brains, and Computers, 3 credit hrs.

What is it to "have" a mind? Are minds, "things"? If so, are they physical things? What is the relationship between your mind and your brain/body? Can computers think, feel, and be conscious? Might you be a computer? In this class we will critically evaluate a variety of answers to these questions and the arguments given for those questions. We will start by examining some traditional approaches to the relationship between mental and physical phenomena, including dualism, logical behaviorism, mind/brain identity theory, and functionalism. Next, we will consider the nature and locus of intentionality and consciousness and how the phenomena of intentionality and consciousness may bear on theories about the mind/body relationship. We will also examine the "common-sense" appeal to beliefs, desires, and intentions in explaining human behavior and explore whether and/or to what extent those explanations can be illuminated, supplemented, revised, or undermined by empirical science. Finally, we will look at some recent work on mind, embodiment and action, and consider the extent to which this work provides an alternative to the traditional accounts of the mind/body relationship. Our discussion of these issues will be informed by the arguments of prominent philosophers, as well as theoretical and empirical developments in psychology, computer science and neuroscience. 


HONR 129: Inventing "Religions", 3 credit hrs.

This is a course about the invention of religion as a category of scholarly inquiry. It tracks the genealogy of "religion" and religions from ancient Rome to the present; it explores the various ways in which religion is constructed and studied by scholars of religion; and it reenacts the 1893 World Parliament of Religions, the first ever dialogue of practitioners and scholars of the world's diverse religions. 


HONR 135: Rhetorics of American Family, 3 credit hrs.

Rhetorics of the American Family focuses on the politics of public discourse about, and popular representations of, marriage and the family in contemporary American culture. Specific topics covered in the course will include national debates over the status of same-sex relationships and/or marriage, usage of the political slogan "family values", struggles over historical representations of the American family, discourse on the impact of changing gender roles in domestic space, arguments about the role family plays in communal and national identity and changing representations of sex and love in marriage in popular film, television and magazines. 


HONR 136: Rhetorics of Space and Place, 4 credit hrs.

This course will consider the rhetorical aspects of space and place by studying how spaces become places: the process through which certain locations come to create a "sense of place" and the meaning and function of those places in public culture. Readings and assignments will address how communication about places plays a role in social identities (such as through references to a national, regional, or familial home as a descriptor of who/what we "are) as well as how communication by places (through architecture and other symbols) can work to invite or exclude particular people and/or practices. Students will learn how to apply rhetorical methods of analysis to places and also consider the function of distinctions such as those between public and private, (sub)urban and rural, and formal and informal in our interactions with our cultural environment. 


HONR 141: Digital Religion, 3 credit hrs.

This semester Digital Religion will analyze the Peoples Temple movement and their agricultural project in Jonestown, Guyana. This group, led by Jim Jones and an inner circle of devoted socialists, rose to prominence in the San Francisco Bay area in the 1970's, working on radical political issues, establishing communal living facilities, and emphasizing racial and economic equality. The group left the Bay Area for Guyana where it established a communal agricultural project. Ultimately, the group committed what they called "revolutionary suicide" in late 1978. In cooperation with the "Alternative Considerations of Jonestown and the Peoples Temple" project hosted by the San Diego State University, students will assist in the analysis and annotation of an online selection of documents originally produced by Jim Jones and members of the Peoples Temple. 


HONR 146: Restorative Justice, 3 credit hrs.

Restorative justice is a perspective that views crime as a harm against people and the community, which needs to be addressed through the involvement of offenders, victims, and the community. This course provides an introduction to the principles and practices behind restorative justice. A restorative justice movement has been growing dramatically globally in the past couple of decades. Along with this growth come many challenges, pitfalls, and critics. The course is designed to allow students to struggle along with the experts in trying to navigate the opportunities and challenges, the success stories and the pitfalls that accompany restorative justice programs. In the process, students will explore questions about justice, crime, imprisonment, punishment, rehabilitation, forgiveness, and the purpose of a legal system. The course relies heavily on international perspectives to learn about these issues.


HONR 151: Japanese Philosophy: Meiji to Present, 3 credit hrs.

The word for "philosophy" was translated into Japanese during the Meiji era. Around the same time, a cluster of other European/English terms were translated, including religion, science, and superstition. With these terms, Japanese scholars began to map the contours of Western thought. This class examines the philosophical and religious traditions of Western thought. This class examines the philosophical and religious traditions of Japan both before and after the importation of Western terminology. In the process, we not only learn about great Japanese texts and thinkers, but we also problematize the disciplinary and professional identity of fields such as philosophy and religion in academia today. 


HONR 155: Culture, Knowledge, Power, 3 credit hrs.

The last two decades of the 20th Century witnessed a variety of challenges to conventional disciplinary thought and practice in the humanities and the human and social sciences of western scholarship. Many of these involved a critical rethinking of usual understandings of culture, knowledge, and power, at the least. This course aims to introduce students to themes, questions, and ways of reading, writing, and speaking that may be loosely referred to as "post-" thought, analysis, and criticism that that has constituted a major part of this challenge. Influences from French post-structuralism, cultural Marxism, feminism, psychoanalytic criticism, postcolonial studies, queer theory, critical race theory, and science/knowledge/ complexity studies will be reviewed. Students will be asked to consider the emergence of these critical perspectives and practices relative to established and dominant ways of thinking and writing/speaking defined by existing disciplinary knowledges inside as well as outside the academy. The following themes/perspectives will be central in the course: *The Importance of Discursive Practice *Reality and Knowledge as Constructed *Reflexivity and Knowledge Practices *The Implosion of Ontology and Epistemology *Reconceptualizing Power *Difference *Theory as Resource for Activism *Ethics of Activism 


HONR 178: Music and Politics, 3 credit hrs.

This class examines different ways in which music and politics intersect and interact. This involves the study of many topics, including (but not limited to): reception history (i.e., ways in which music may be intentionally or unintentionally politicized by audiences), legal directives (particularly censorship laws and conventions), how patronage may determine how and what kind of music is written, ways in which music helps articulate facets of identity (including racial, religious, gender, or national identity), how music may act as a socio-political critique, and the role of music as propaganda. 


HONR 181: Death and Society, 3 credit hrs.

How do we respond to death and why? This course examines historical and contemporary perspectives on death and dying. Students will explore variations in attitudes and rituals concerning death, funerals, grief, memorialization, and dying. Though the experiences of death and dying are intensely personal, they are shaped by social, political, legal, and cultural forces. These experiences also vary by culture, social class, age, race, gender, and religion. This course is reading and writing intensive.


HONR 183: Social Context: Urban Schools, 3 credit hrs.

This course provides students with an introduction to urban education. We engage the philosophical, social, economic, and political contexts of urban schooling. We begin by examining the utility and demarcation of space (e.g., urban, suburban, rural, etc.). We then explore historical and contemporary understandings of the notion of "urban," focusing on how "urban" has been constructed and evolves over time. We focus on the impact on schools and communities, in particular, urban educational reform and pedagogical strategies. In addition, we engage the intersections of urban education with questions of political economy, immigration, militarization, and racism. Finally, we discuss how students experience urban schools -- the challenges they may face in urban contexts as well as practices of hope and humanization. 


HONR 191: Women and Hebrew Scriptures, 3 credit hrs.

The basics of the course include reading Biblical accounts involving women and various commentaries on those Biblical accounts with a critical eye. These accounts will include "Genesis", "The Red Tent", and "The Five Books of Miriam". The goal is to come to an understanding of how the Jewish Bible deals with issues involving women and how such an understanding can help us understand issues today.


HONR 198: Independent Study, 1-3 credit hrs.

To encourage independent scholarship, students may earn Honors credit in an approved independent study either within the Honors Program or another department. Examples include a scientific experiment, a painting, a work of literary criticism, a short film or a reserach paper based on community service learning. The product typically is a written work that is presented at a public forum near semester's end. The project is coordinated with the Honors Program and completed in conjunction with a faculty adviser. Interested students must consult with the Honors Program director. 


HONR 199: Honors Senior Thesis, 3 credit hrs. 

A preliminary agreement form is available at the Honors Program website, http://www.drake.edu/honors/forms. The form must be submitted to the Honors Program Director before enrollment in the course is allowed. Students are asked to prepare a 1-2 page proposal summary and submit it, with the appropriate form, to the faculty project mentor and to the Honors Program Director for their signatures of approval. The form is due within three weeks of the start of the semester. Students will present their findings at a student/faculty forum held prior to the student's graduation. The Senior Thesis/Project offers students a time to develop ideas suggested by coursework or that have grown out of other experiences. It is an opportunity to do reading and pursue interests outside the structure of the classroom. The directed research involves a project that results in a product, such as a research paper, scientific experiment or creative work. The interdisciplinary project, which can be within or outside the student's academic concentration, is coordinated with the Honors Program and completed in conjunction with a Drake faculty adviser. For criteria and restrictions, students must consult with the Honors Program director. Registration is limited to seniors in the Honors Program unless otherwise approved by the Honors Program director. 

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University News
November 21, 2017
A senior fellow for Korea studies at the nonpartisan Council on Foreign Relations will deliver a free public lecture on the North Korean threat.