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Honors Program Courses

The Drake University Honors Program is open to students from all academic departments and undergraduate programs.

The Honors Program interdisciplinary courses are designed with the following class enrollment:

Numbering Recommended Audience
HONR 001-049: first-year students 
HONR 050-099: first-year students, sophomores, juniors and seniors
HONR 100: second semester first-year students & sophomores preferred (required course)
HONR 101-149: sophomores, junior and seniors (first-year students when seats are available)
HONR 150-197: juniors and seniors (sophomores by permission of instructor)
HONR 198: Honors Program Independent Study
HONR 199: Honors Program Senior Thesis/Project (required for "University Honors" designation)


The following are sample catalog listings of Honors Program courses.  Please refer to MyDusis listings for semester/term specific course information. 

HONR 001: Honors Foundations, 2 credit hrs.

This course is an introduction to the Drake Honors Program. While only two credits, the meetings develop skills needed to be successful in the Honors Program, and skills that will hopefully translate to meaningful skills outside of the classroom. The course structure is almost exclusively discussion based. The Fall 2023 topic was technology and student happiness.


HONR 051: Physical Science: Modern Technology, 3 credit hrs.

Physical Science: Modern Technology is an introduction to the basic concepts of physical science and the scientific method, with discussions of their applications to modern technology. There are two hours of lecture and two hours of lab per week. The course will also explore the history of science as well as the philosophy/nature of the physical sciences. That is, the course will explore physical phenomena, explore the historical development of human understanding of these phenomena, and work to make explicit the underlying assumptions, social forces, and epistemic commitments of the physical sciences. 


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 076: Conflict, Forgiveness & Apology, 3 credit hrs.

Scholarship continues to grow regarding the intersections of conflict, forgiveness and apology, including research from philosophy, sociology, biology, psychology, and theology. Forgiveness is not limited to a religious discourse but has become common in policy discussions ranging from responses to individual crimes to national programs after genocide. Forgiveness is also a popular strategy in some therapy models. Apologizing is a common response from high profile people, but are the apologies genuine or merely political? In this class, students will explore questions including: How can one study forgiveness and apology? Does forgiveness resolve conflict and provide healing for those involved? Does an apology need to happen before forgiveness? Is forgiveness always possible? Is it ever unethical to forgive? Can a nation apologize? Can an individual forgive a nation? What are the politics of forgiveness and apology? Students will explore these issues through readings, discussion, and writing. 

HONR 078: Grief and Loss, 3 credit hrs.

In this course, students will learn how narratives of grief are constructed, experienced, debated, politicized, and pathologized. We will examine various aspects of grief including cultural difference, social policing, media portrayals, and theoretical debates. Students will learn how tragedy and grief are used to sell politics and products and what implications this has on individual and cultural understandings of loss. 


HONR 079: Home: Dwelling and Belonging, 3 credit hrs.

 This course explores the idea, experience, representation, and feeling of home as a site of intimate belonging and of social status. As a place or places where we locate personal identity as well as public values, home may serve as a complex origin of memory, joy, pain, loss, and longing. For some, home is a real or imagined sanctuary of privacy, intimacy, or luxury, while others fine it a source of deprivation, repression, or abuse. Drawing on theories, philosophies, and critiques of diverse versions of home from different times and spaces—from 14th century palaces in Venice to 21st century shacks in South Africa —we will examine the cultural, historical, material, and political dimensions of this key place of everyday life. Drawing on a wide variety of beautifully evocative and painfully divisive writings about, and images of, dwellings from architecture, art, literature, and law, we will personally and critically reflect on the ideals and structures that place and displace residents in the individual, familial, and communal homes that anchor our relations to our selves and to each other.


HONR 080: Medical Sociology, 3 credit hrs.

This course applies sociological principles to health, illness, and health care. In order for students to fully develop an understanding in this context, a variety of perspectives will be explored and critiqued including that of patients, providers and society. This draws on foundational disciplines at the broader level and frames them into the biomedical experience. For example, sociological constructs of age, gender, ethnicity, and social class; psychosocial aspects of personal illness experience, historical and political perspectives of dominance, regulation and governance of providers and health care organizations will be the multidisciplinary topics covered. Other topics may include but are not limited to: history of 'western' medicine, models of illness, stress and well-being, social stratification of illness, health demography, medicalization and de-medicalization of illness, disability, and patient-provider relationships. A combination of reading, discussion, reflective activities, and paper/project composition will be used to facilitate comprehension of the course material. 


HONR 090: Microcosm, Macrocosm, 3 credit hrs. 

This is an unusual course that looks at the intersection of visual language and the study of natural history. Students will explore the fundamentals of art making through the lens of organic form and function. We will take a critical look at artists as scientists and naturalists throughout history -- those who used drawing to hypothesize about living systems. We will gain a better understanding of our own relationship with the natural world as we explore their processes of visualization in studio. The course will consist of seminar, art studio, and experimental field trips to important resource sites locally and statewide.


HONR 091: Critters 101, 3 credit hrs. 

This non-traditional course will take a critical and creative look at the lives of animals through the lenses of natural history, the biological sciences, mythology, the fine arts, poetry, fiction, non-fiction, and film. It will provide the environment for expression of ‘lives’ yet to be examined. Sparked by research, ‘lives’ become evidence through the arts of 2-D, 3-D, video, fiction, poetry, and music. As we entangle our lives with the lives of animals, students are encouraged to explore expressive methods of understanding both inside and outside familiarity.


HONR 094: Dogs: Interdisciplinary Study,  3 credit hrs.

This course is an examination of dogs and human relationships with dogs as seen through the lens of art, religion, literature, economics, history, science and a wide variety of other disciplines. We are the only species that keeps other species as companions -- what is the significance of this? We will be looking, specifically, at a handful of questions throughout the semester: Are dogs the species most similar to us? What can we learn about ourselves by looking at our relationship to dogs and their relationship to us? And how can our understanding of dogs and their lives as well as our relationship to them make us better humans? Might our humanity be a gift from dogs?

HONR 096: Adventure Journalists, 3 credit hrs.

From Marco Polo to Nellie Bly to Bear Grylls, adventure journalists have roamed the globe, sending back reports, photos, and films from far-away places. You’ll read works from and about these adventure journalists and examine their attitudes toward non-Euro-American cultures, as well as the strands of imperialism, US expansionism, and treatment of difference as "other" that often permeated their reports in past eras. You'll meet via Zoom with current-day adventure journalist You'll analyze what makes adventure reporting grip readers' imaginations. And you’ll write, photograph, or video your own adventures with a team of friends from class. Student work may be published in an issue of the web issue of the web magazine "Adventure Journalism." 


HONR 100: Paths to Knowledge, 4 credit hrs.  

This course is a required course for anyone who is fulfilling their General Education requirements using Honors courses instead of AOI courses. The course is designed to help you reflect upon your interdisciplinary courses of the past and prepare you to make the most out of your interdisciplinary studies in the future.

We look at a special topic of study from the perspective of history, biology, politics, business, psychology, education, philosophy and other disciplines.


HONR 101: HONORS Foundations, First Year Group Leaders, 3 credit hrs.  

This course gives upper-level Honors students the opportunity to craft effective leadership skills to mentor small groups of 10-15 first year students enrolled Honors 001 First Year Honors Foundations. Students collaborate in pairs as co-guides on development and implementation of curriculum, service and social activities for assigned first year groups. Guides will work closely with the Director of Honors to develop the skills and materials necessary to lead the assigned groups. The Goals of Honors Foundations (subject to mild modification): communicate information about making the most of the Honors Program; foster community within the group; foster connections of the group with the larger Honors community; enhance students understanding of their own learning processes; develop skills necessary for success in Honors courses; nurture intellectual curiosity. Guides must be independent thinkers, thoughtful leaders and effective communicators who are committed to growing in all of these areas. 


HONR 106: Atheism, 3 credit hrs.   

This class will survey the genealogies, forms, contexts, practices, and goals of “atheistic” ideas and arguments over the course of “Western” history as well as across the globe. The class is philosophical in the sense that it will examine arguments for atheism and against theism (or other institutionalized positions that defend the existence of non-human, trans-empirical beings and/or post-mortem, salvific ends). But the class also takes a sociological, historical, and phenomenological approach in attempting to understand the socio-historical contexts, rhetorical-political objectives, and lived-communal practices of “atheism.”


HONR 107: Urban Education and Immigration 3 credit hrs.   

This course explores the complexities of how immigration impacts urban education. For many immigrant children and families, schools are the first American institution they must negotiate.  In this course, we will review research that centers on immigrant children—in hopes of learning from them how they experience schools. We will discuss challenges that students face including dislocation, cultural disorientation, language learning, and racism.  In addition, we will analyze the issue of immigration in the larger context of globalization.  Finally, we will explore opportunities for educating immigrant children in urban contexts—with the possibility of schools as sites for humanization and social transformation.


HONR 108: US-Japan Relations Through Film, 3 credit hrs.   

In this course, students will learn to interpret both U.S. and Japanese films in the context of contemporary social, cultural, and political environments. They will come to recognize how art is part of the dialogue among a people in the creation of collective identity and relationships (both internal and external to the nation). Students will be required to watch six films over the course of the semester, outside of the regular class time. This is indicated as a film lab on the schedule.


HONR 109: Gender and War,  3 credit hrs.   

Most mainstream international relations scholarship shares a basic assumption that war is "gender neutral." However, feminist scholarship has shown that war is a highly gendered phenomenon. Socially constructed norms of masculinity and femininity have been used by nation states to mobilize their populations for war and to create soldiers, typically out of young men. Nation-states must go to great lengths to train their soldiers to kill, and the construction of a militarized masculinity is a key component in state efforts to achieve this objective. Nation-states also use femininity to mobilize support for war. States have relied on social and cultural depictions of supportive mothers and faithful wives of soldiers to mobilize support for war. Similarly, state depictions of innocent women as a class of people especially vulnerable to external military threats also have been used in wartime rhetoric to mobilize public support for military operations. In addition to serving as a tool for mobilizing war support and creating soldiers, gender contributes to war's divergent effects on men and women. While men are more likely to serve as combatants, women are more likely to serve in support roles (nurses, aid workers, etc.) Women and children make up a higher proportion of civilian casualties and war refugees and also are more likely to be victims of rape whereas men are more likely to suffer as combatants. The effects of war on men vary from country to country. They may be forced to fight in political systems that do not have volunteer armies, and as combatants or potential soldiers it is harder for them to get refugee status. As As soldiers, they may be treated as heroes in popular wars but reviled if wars are unpopular. For men serving in the upper echelon of the military (and high-ranking military officials are primarily men), military service can be a path to political power, a path generally denied to women. These differential effects of war on men and women can be explained largely by socially constructed gender identities that define men's and women's wartime roles in different ways. With this background in mind, this course will examine the ways in which gender norms contribute to our understanding of the causes, tactics, and consequences of war.


HONR 114: Religions of Des Moines, 3 credit hrs.  

This course serves as an introduction to a particular religious tradition with an emphasis on how that tradition is practiced in the greater Des Moines area. Among the course requirements are frequent site visits to a local religious community and the facilitation of digital stories by and about that religious community.

HONR 115 - Religion and Science, 3 credit hrs.

What is science? What is Christian theology? Why have science and Christian theology been widely thought to be in conflict with each other? Are they in conflict? Do Christian theologians who speak about science or scientists who speak about Christian theology overstep the legitimate boundaries of their respective disciplines? This course offers an examination of these and other questions. We will begin with an introduction to several perspectives and terms that will shape our discussion, and then we will proceed with a historical survey of the interaction of science and Christian theology in western culture. Students who successfully complete this course will achieve a greater knowledge of the history of science and Christian theology, sharpened skills for analyzing the methods and practices of both science and Christian theology, and a cultivated awareness of how science and Christian theology continue to interact in contemporary American society to shape public policy and perceptions.

HONR 116: Community Writing
, 3 credit hrs. 

Community writing, or community-engaged writing, is the interdisciplinary study of writing based in genres such as service-learning, community-based research, ethnography, activist/advocacy writing, and creative writing produced across a variety of print and digital platforms on behalf of a community beneficiary. 


HONR 118: Youth, Culture, and Society,  3 credit hrs.  

This course provides students with an introduction to the study of youth, culture, and society, focusing on urban contexts and schools. This course will examine youth (and adolescence) as historically and culturally specific social formation. We will engage and discuss the construction of youth and its relationship to larger structural forces (e.g., racial, cultural, social, economic, and political contexts) that impact and shape their lives. Using multiple texts, writing assignments, and reflective practices, students will critically examine ideological and representational understandings of youth and youth cultural practices. Specific topics include representations, popular culture, incarceration, subculture, social movements, immigration, sexuality, the politics of urban schooling; and the multiple ways in which youth negotiate, resist, and disrupt their identities.


HONR 119: Material World of Art, 3 credit hrs.  

What would cause someone to physically attack an artwork? What does science tell us about the unanticipated changes in artworks over time? How difficult is it to move an artwork from one location to another? In our digital age we have become distanced from the material dimensions of making, transporting, encountering, and conserving artworks. This interdisciplinary course regrounds visual art in the physical world, taking seriously the properties and interactions of art materials and the impacts of first-hand encounters with it. It also reveals specific aspects of art’s social significance that are not captured effectively in photography, such as the ways in which art’s materiality connects to spiritual, political, or technological practices. Looking at these issues in earlier periods of time sheds light on our own ideas about material, labor, time, and space.


HONR 121: Comparative Religion, 3 credit hrs.  

This course serves as both an introduction to the interdisciplinary field of comparative religion and an exercise in the interdisciplinary practice of comparative religion. (Note that comparative religion does not rate and rank religions but rather identifies and explains the similarities and differences between religions.) The introductory component of the class considers the strengths and weaknesses of several different models and methods of comparing religions, while the practical component takes up the actual comparison of a number of different religions with respect to to the theme of "ineffability," the class will also produce multidisciplinary notion that divine beings or mystical experiences transcend our ability to speak about them. (Optimally, the class will also produce multidisciplinary explanations of these comparisons.)


HONR 122: 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 123: Global Climate Change,  3 credit hrs. 

This course will be an interdisciplinary investigation of anthropogenic global change, using global warming as a semester-long case study. In this course students will learn to investigate a major environmental issue by first obtaining a strong scientific background in the issue, then applying methods of policy analysis, and finally advocating for effective governmental decision making. Students will also gain a strong appreciation for the complexity and gravity of climate change issues. 


HONR 125: Philosophy of Religion, 3 credit hrs.

While interest in the philosophy of religion remains quite strong outside of the formal disciplines of philosophy and religious studies, philosophers and religionists are increasingly skeptical about the long-term direction and viability of the field. This class begins in this dilemma, familiarizing itself with both a typical problems- based approach to philosophy of religion (arguments for and against the existence of God, issues of religious experience and religious language) and its recent criticisms (insufficient awareness of claims). This class then turns to three recent proposals for the future of philosophy of religion, seeking to evaluate their respective visions of the future of the field.


HONR 126: The Philosophy of Artificial Intelligence,  3 credit hrs. 

This course will explore the past, present, and future of Artificial Intelligence (AI). We will begin by looking at the initial aims of AI and the theoretical and technological developments that made AI look like a genuine possibility (and survey some of the early successes and failures of that research program). We will then consider the current state of AI and the way future developments may (or may not) have a significant impact on society and self. Our investigation of these topics will be informed by scholarly works (e.g. philosophy, computer science, and social science) and works of fiction (e.g., short stories and films).


HONR 128 - Native America, 3 credit hrs.

This course aims to understand the history of North American indigenous peoples and to better (perhaps differently!) understand American history. Using primary and secondary sources, we will complicate the "native" experience, explore the historical tensions between peoples and nations, and place Native Americans at the center of the American historical narrative.


HONR 129: Inventing “Religions”, 3 credit hrs. 

This class traces the construction of category of "religion" as a distinct object of inquiry in the modern West. Special attention will be devoted to the construction of the category of "world religion" at and through the 1893 World Parliament of Religions, and the consequent delineation of bounded and unified religious traditions such as "Hinduism," "Buddhism," and the "Judeo-Christian" tradition. Such constructions will be considered in and from a variety of disciplinary perspectives (e.g., history, sociology, anthropology, psychology, philosophy).


HONR 131: Major Figures: Charles Dickens,  3 credit hrs. 

This course focuses on Charles Dickens, arguably the most popular novelist of the Victorian Age and certainly one of the most enduring. Dickens was so prolific that one cannot read even half of his works in the space of one semester. We will examine approximately five of his novels (final reading list to be determined) as well as some of his journalism (including collaborative pieces) and his personal letters. Students will enjoy discovering (or rediscovering) the quirkyness, weirdness, hilarity, and sometimes inexplicable oddness of works such as "Great Expectations", "Little Dorrit", "Oliver Twist", and "Bleak House." Students will also read essays about Dickens' works and learn to place their critical voices in conversation with those of other scholars.


HONR 132: Philosophy of Science, 3 credit hrs. 

This honors seminar will examine the major problems and positions of philosophy of science, including (but not limited to) the demarcation criteria of science, the rationality of scientific theories, the verification and falsification of scientific theories, the ontological and epistemological status of natural laws, and scientific realism and empiricism. Questions to be considered therefore include (but are not limited to): Are there objective-rational criteria by which to distinguish science from pseudo-science (especially in the case of Intelligent Design)? Are there objective-rational criteria by which to determine the truth of scientific theories (especially in cases of competing theories)? Can scientific theories be objectively and conclusively verified or falsified? In what sense do natural laws exist? Are scientific theories true of mind-independent reality or just empirically adequate? 


HONR 137 - Medical Anthropology, 3 credit hrs.

Medical anthropology examines affliction and healing in a cross-cultural perspective. It emphasizes the understanding of how health and healing are shaped by cultural and biological processes. It also analyzes the relations among health, illness, social institutions, power, and cultural representations. Medical anthropologists examine the ways in which global processes—health policies, epidemics, war and violence, inequalities—affect the life of individuals and communities. 

HONR 138: Constructing Normal, 3 credit hrs. 

This course will explore social, cultural, individual, and structural definitions of "normal" and "abnormal" in the United States. We will consider the issue through a range of interdisciplinary sources including media, literature, ethnography, history, science, and public policy. The course will address such issues as disability, sexuality, gender, race, and socioeconomic status in an attempt to understand how social definitions of normality shape our views of ourselves and others, as well as how they are implicated in the maintenance of power relations. We will consider the ways understandings of normal are contested and shifting in the contemporary United States at individual community, cultural and structural levels of society. 


HONR 141: Digital Religion: Jonestown, 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 144: Health and Development,  3 credit hrs. 

Certainly, a desire to "give back" and help make the world a better place is a noble ambition. Unfortunately, the road to perdition is paved with such good intentions. The data is clear that health development aid can do harm as well as good. In this seminar, we will explore why countries are poor, what can be done to alleviate their poverty, and some of the results of health and development aid schemes. This is a reading and discussion intensive seminar type course that will familiarize students with current theories, and controversies in health and development aid. Working in this area is not easy. Idealists and do-gooders burn out quickly. Having an awareness of the major issues in development will assist you in being as effective as possible in your volunteer work or career as an aid worker. It will also make you a better informed citizen and voter. If you finish the course more confused than when you started it, that simply means you now understand how complex health and development aid actually is.


HONR 145: Global Reproductive Politics,  3 credit hrs. 

This course will explore reproductive practice, policies, and politics throughout the world. We will consider local practices of human reproduction and production -- the bearing and raising of children -- in a transnational context, exploring the ways power relations shape social practices of family formation across the globe in varying ways. We will consider this issue through a range of interdisciplinary sources including media, literature, ethnography, history, and public policy. This course will address such issues as sexuality, birth control, pregnancy, abortion, adoption, and child rearing in the context of particular social and cultural traditions as they are affected by global power relations.


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 149: Africa's Colonial Moment, 3 credit hrs.

Africa's history in the 19th and 20th centuries is crucial not only to understanding Africa's role and relevance in world history but also to understanding current circumstances and challenges that face the continent today. This is the case because, during this period, Africa experienced on of the most disruptive times in the continent's history -- the period of European conquest and colonial rule. European powers endeavored to 'civilize' Africa -- a process intended to "transform" Africans not only economically and politically but also in terms of how Africans saw themselves and their place in the world. Thus, in many ways, the continent in 1970 looked quite different than it had a century earlier. However, despite the differences, European powers clearly failed in their attempts to transform Africa and to 'civilize' its people according to their late 19th century notions of civilization. This course endeavors to analyze why?

HONR 150 - Ritual and Myth, 3 credit hrs.

Myth and ritual are aspects of all human societies, ours included. What roles do myths and ritual play in human experience and everyday life? Why do we need them? Are myths and rituals ways of responding to existential questions? Or reflecting on the fact they can’t be responded to? Do they reproduce or subvert social orders? This course will address these questions by drawing on readings from history, religious studies, anthropology, sociology, and film studies. By way of case studies, we will examine theoretical approaches to ritual and myth (e.g., psychoanalytical, structural, feminist, symbolic). This course has prerequisite anthropology or sociology entry level coursework, or instructor consent. We begin with an overview of classical and postmodernist interpretations of ritual and myths, looking holistically at myth and ritual in relation to power, gender, religious authority, and history. We look then at some specific cases of societies experiencing turmoil and violence that cannot possibly be understood except in reference to local myths and rituals. We then conclude with a look at mythical and ritual phenomena in American society, focusing on urban myths, vampire legends, and UFO stories to reflect on what these stories tell about “us.”


HONR 161: Africa/Africans/Atlantic/Slavery, 3 credit hrs. 

The immense growth of slavery and slave trade research in the last quarter century has made examinations of unfree labor a major issue for world research. Studies of Atlantic slavery have generated the bulk of that research, and as a result have challenged many traditional perceptions of that trade and its associated system of slavery. However, despite the unquestioned value of these recent analyses, most of these studies have looked at Atlantic slavery from the American side of the ocean. Consequently, the African nature of Atlantic slavery has often lacked close scrutiny. This course has two goals: 1) to root Atlantic slavery and its trade in its African context, and 2) to help incorporate recent research findings into popular understandings of the Atlantic trade. The major argument of this course is that one cannot know why the Atlantic trade happened as it did nor how Atlantic slavery developed as it did without understanding the context which produced the people who were sold into slavery. Therefore, the course looks at the influence political, social, economic, and cultural factors in Africa had on the making of slavery and the slave trade both in Africa and the Americas. In doing so, the course will challenge students to rethink their own notions of Atlantic slavery as they analyze and critique the ideas encountered in this course.


HONR 162: Urban Environmental History, 3 credit hrs. 

This course will address cities and environment. The specific investigations--places and times-- have evolved each semester. Most recently the course has covered four subjects: Historicizing post-Katrina New Orleans, Midwestern well as how humans have in turn shaped the environment. Themes include the interconnectedness of people and nature, health (ecological and social health are environmental issues), and the link between local and global. The course balances the physical (rocks, conservation and ecology) and the cultural (ideas, perceptions, and images) environment. Likely topics: historicizing post-Katrina New Orleans, Midwestern flooding, urban planning, and campus sustainability.


HONR 164: Existentialism,  3 credit hrs. 

Explore the meaning of life through films as well as readings in existential philosophy. This class will investigate questions about personal identity, fate and human freedom, moral relativism and universal truth, and finding fulfillment in life through readings by philosophers from a variety of world cultures. These readings will be paired with a selection of films all providing a different perspective on existential themes. All films will be available on reserve at the library, and students should plan on watching movies outside of class as part of weekly homework assignments. 


HONR 170: Women and Gender in Modern America,  3 credit hrs. 

This course pursues three related questions. How does our vision of U.S. history change when we place women at the center of analysis? How has gender shaped, and been shaped by, developments in U.S. history? And how can we explain the differences among women's experiences? In this seminar, we will examine historical experiences common to American women while paying close attention to differences and divisions among them. We will also explore how individuals and groups have contested and perpetrated the ways Americans think about and experience gender in family life, education, sexuality, work, marriage, and politics. The course is designed for upper-division students to deepen their knowledge of U.S. history, to learn about important themes in women's and gender history, and to provide a structured opportunity to conduct historical research and analysis in this field.


HONR 171: Neuroscience and the Law, 3 credit hrs. 

This course investigates assumptions about choice, responsibility, and punishment reflected in our legal system and considers the extent to which our growing knowledge of the brain may support or challenge those assumptions. The course also considers what kinds of changes to existing legal and public policy may be reasonably supported by this investigation. 


HONR 178: Music & Politics,  3 credit hrs. 

This class will examine different ways in which music and politics intersect and interact. This will involve 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. Since this is a seminar course, students should expect to participate extensively in discussion of the readings, assigned listenings, and topics under discussion each class period. Students will also be assigned a series of short papers over the course of the term that considers the readings or subjects for the week in greater depth. A final project/presentation will also be required, in which students will find examples of the issues discussed over the course of the term in contemporary society, and explain the issues surrounding their manifestation. We will be looking at works from both the western art tradition (particularly opera) and various popular streams including excerpts from the following texts, among others.


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.


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 195: Women and the Law, 3 credit hrs.

This seminar reviews how sex role understandings have affected various aspects of the law including criminal law; employment credit and insurance discrimination; abortion and fetal protection; family law; and lesbian and gay rights. Standards of review for laws that discriminate on the basis of sex as opposed to other kinds of discrimination also are discussed, as is the issue of how women are treated in courts 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 research 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.

The Qualtrics link to the agreement form is available on the Honors Program website "Forms" section. The Qualtrics Survey form asks students to prepare a 1-2 page proposal summary of a broadly interdisciplinary topic for faculty project mentor and Honors Program Director signatures of approval. The form is due within two weeks of the start of the semester. Students will present their findings at a student/faculty forum held approximately one month prior to the student's graduation. At this time, a presentation deck of slides will be due, and posted for a temporary time at a site to be determined so the wider Drake community can see the nature and depth of the interdisciplinary question(s) being studied. The Senior Thesis/Project offers students a time to develop ideas suggested by coursework or that have grown out of other learning 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 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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