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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)


HONR 001: Honors First Year Practicum, 1 credit hr.

This course is an introduction to the Drake Honors Program. While only one credit, the practicum develops 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 2020 topic is banned books.

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 053: Life and Teaching of Jesus, 3 credit hrs.  

Jesus was the founder of the world's largest religion and one of the most controversial figures in religious history. "Life and Teaching of Jesus" is an analysis of the early Christian writings with the objective of studying the life and message of Jesus. This exploration will use the tools of historical, anthropological, sociological, and literary scholarship to investigate Jesus and the early Christian communities that produced the literature about him within their historical, cultural, and religious contexts.  


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 071: Global Social Change, 3 credit hrs.

Globalization and economic development are two concepts that are interconnected, constructed through similar historical and social contexts of unequal power relations. There are many definitions of development and globalization, which we will discuss over the course of the semester. Both words are typically understood as something positive, and something that "we" in the United States have that "they" do not. Development practices typically involve changing societies through technology, knowledge, and institutions created by the Global North (the U.S., Canada, Japan, and Europe) and envisioned as a kind of salvation for the Global South. Globalization also imagines the interconnection and rapid flow of ideas, people, commodities and capital as a largely positive, unidirectional, capitalist phenomenon in which "we" and "they" will integrate into a globalized order that will provide benefits for all. In this class, we will examine critiques of the dominant understandings of development and globalization. Our class will also spend considerable time studying current and imagined alternative development(s) and globalization(s).

The biggest requirement for this course is a commitment to understanding the perspectives of the theorists and critics who interrogate dominant definitions of development and globalization. Often, statements about the Global South when discussing development or globalization reflect more the speakers' relationship to power and knowledge than any actual conditions of actual people and places. Also, often omitted from discussions on the Global North and South are relational power issues, e.g., how policies and prosperity in one region affect others. We will examine developmentalism and corporate globalization as ideologies. In studying development, we will examine the key sociological paradigms to describe economic development in the Global South. We will also explore issues of development through fiction. To focus on globalization, we will study some of the emergent dilemmas and possibilities of globalization, as well as the shifting roles of global institutions, corporations, and the nation-state. Central to the entire course is an emphasis on those who imagine alternatives to the dominant ways of thinking and doing globalization and economic development. Prior knowledge about the Third World or sociology is not necessary, but both are welcome.

This class centralizes the case method, fiction, and activism as a way of examining issues surrounding development. We will participate in several case studies, read a novel, and explore activism around some of the key topics. The semester will culminate with an option to construct a case study, a short story, or a group activist project.


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 082: Reading Race and Ethnicity, 3 credit hrs.

This course discusses the broad concepts of race and ethnicity by concentrating on literary and filmic texts from South Africa and the United States. Studying several genres (novel, short story, poetry, non-fiction, and film), students will examine the concept of race (what is it?), its history in specific cultural contexts, how the notion of race relates to violence (physical, verbal, spiritual, mental), and how to form empowering habits of thinking in the face of such a problematic concept. Critical reading will strengthen each student's ability to think as well as to write clearly. Critical thinking can take many forms; in this course, it will mean that we practice asking incisive questions, identifying assumptions that affect the way we process information, looking past the obvious, and developing insightful claims.


HONR 085: Developing Democracy: Critical Issues in Creating Democratic Engagement, 3 credit hrs. 

Developing Democracy: Critical Issues in Creating Democratic Engagement will use highly interactive methods to engage you in debates about critical historical and contemporary issues related to the development of democracy. The course uses a role-playing pedagogy called "Reacting to the Past" where you will play roles in at two games, one set in France in 1791 and one set in South Africa in 1992 that call for research, writing, and oral presentations on political, social, or philosophical debates related to the development of democratic constitutions and key cultural, political, religious, social, or diplomatic issues faced by democracies.


HONR 086: Borders and Borderlands, 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 087 Haunted Futures  3 credit hrs. 

Haunted Futures: Theories of Horror and Science Fiction and Science Fiction as Cultural Genres. This course will explore analysis and theories of film, literature, podcasts, and other forms of cultural production in the genre of Horror and Science Fiction. Methods of analysis will include visual art, film theory, philosophy and post-colonial thought.

"Poets and musicians are members of one church related in the most intimate way: 
for the secret of word and tone is one and the same." -E.T.A. Hoffman.  Music and Literature have traditionally been viewed as closely related art forms because both are temporal, auditory, and dynamic. This course explores the nature of this relationship through an interdisciplinary lens. By studying musical and literary art works that attempt to blur disciplinary boundaries, the course seeks to develop a comparative methodology for examining musico-literary intersections. The course is divided into three sections. The first, literature in music, considers music that takes a literary work as a referent. We shall examine to what degree music, an apparently non-denotative art form, can convey, evoke or express anything beyond itself. The second section, music in literature, is an examination of explicit attempts to "musicalize" literature or "verbalize" music. We shall read Stevens, T.S. Eliot, and Thomas Mann (with a particular focus on Doctor Faustus). The third section, Music and Literature, examines the symbiotic relationship that arises when music and text are bound together in song and opera.


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 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 092: Journalists Screen/1955 Presents, 3 credit hrs. 

Why is reporting such a compelling subject in film and, later, on television? What are key elements in the public's ongoing images and expectations of journalism? From the mid-1950s forward, films about reporters offer plots that are more international, more danger-filled, and more entangled in power politics and media conglomerates. This course will examine particular films and television programs keeping in mind basic issues of production values, film theories, and the structures of American film and television. American history will also provide a backdrop for the course material, as directors attempt to recount realistic and even real-life cases, from Watergate to wars in El Salvador, Nicaragua, and the Persian Gulf. Expect to see "Black Like Me," "Heat Wave," "The Year of Living Dangerously," "Under Fire," and even "Kolchak: the Night Stalker," among others.


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: 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 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: Practicum First Year GRP Co-Requisite with Honors Practicum Guide Experience, 3 credit hrs.  

This course gives upper-level Honors students the opportunity to craft effective leadership skills to mentor small groups of 10-12 first year students enrolled Honors 001 First Year Practicum. 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 the Practicum (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 110: Televisual Rhetorics, 3 credit hrs.


HONR 111: International Environment Seminar, 3 credit hrs.   


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 113: Philosophy of Art, 3 credit hrs. 

Students will learn about aesthetics and the philosophy of art from both historical and contemporary perspectives, and through readings in both analytic and continental philosophy. Our overarching question will be "What is art?" and we will read, discuss, and evaluate four proposed definitions: art as representation, art as expression, art at form, and art as aesthetic experience. Students will engage these definitions at a theoretical as well as a practical level, in application to actual works of art. Finally, students will end the semester by putting forward their own "manifesto" on the nature of art.  


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 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 117: Transatlantic Landscapes, 3 credit hrs.

This course focuses on an interdisciplinary understanding of “landscape” conventions within a transatlantic context. We will read theories about art history and aesthetics (particularly in history and landscape painting) by Sir Joshua Reynolds, John Ruskin, Thomas Cole, Asher Durand and others. We will examine paintings, prints and drawings by John Constable, J.M.W. Turner, Frederic Church, 19th century American women painters and amateur travelers. Our focus will be on how different aesthetic modes reflect and produce different understandings of "nature" and the human presence in the landscape. We will look at art/writing in the context of colonialism, economic change, the rise of the middle class, travel/tourism and other contexts that shape 19th century identity (both national and individual) in Anglo-American contexts. We will also consider ways that writing and the visual arts share certain concerns--but also represent nature, humanity, history and divinity in different ways.


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 120: The Americanization of Mexico (Travel Seminar), 3 credit hrs.


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: Framing Race, 3 credit hrs.

What are the necessary individual and institutional ethical responses to long legacies of systemic racial injustice and hierarchy? This course will explore what it would mean and what it would take to move the framework for discussing race away from diversity and inclusion and towards a focus on structural change and repair of harm done. The class will explore political, educational, corporate and ecclesial approaches to reparations, while paying careful attention to the current national racial climate out of which such calls emerge, especially arguments being made by activists such as those affiliated with Black Lives Matter. This course is affiliated with the 2016-2019 Baum Chair for Ethics in the Professions.


HONR 122: Language and Reality, 3 credit hrs. 

An introduction to philosophy of language, linguistics, and semiotics focused on the issue of linguistic relativism, i.e., whether languages are significantly different, and if so, whether they shape significantly different views of reality. Examines evidence both in support of and against linguistic relativism, and then uses this evidence as a means of addressing the relationship between language and reality.


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 124: Salem Witch Trials, 3 credit hrs. 

What caused the infamous witch trials? Religious attitudes? A social crisis? Introduction of new ideas from the West Indies? Trauma from recent Indian attacks? Changes in the status of women? This course will read a variety of explanations of the Salem witch trials. However, rather than decide what "really" caused them or argue about what "really" happened, this course will focus more on the nature of evidence. When we read a description of "what happened" what constitutes the evidence? Who gets to decide what is valid and what is not? How do these ideas of evidence come into play with various strategies of writing from personal narrative to sermon to other forms? How does this increased awareness of the way evidence is "embedded" in social reality affect your views about your own reading, writing, and judging? In addition to thinking and writing about these questions, we will assess similarities and differences between the witch trials and the trail of Anne Hutchinson. We will do this through a "Reacting to the Past" curriculum which provides selected readings and role playing. 


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: 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 127: You Are Here: Place, Time and Identity,  3 credit hrs. 

You are Here: Place, Time, and Identity is an Honors course focusing on the study of place and time—specifically, how these concepts relate to personhood and identity. Using such disciplines as phenomenology, human geography, contemporary art, film, visual culture, philosophy, and religious studies, the course intends to approach and decipher the multifaceted nature of these ubiquitous terms. The course structure is broken up into three main topics: taxonomy of place, death and its relation to place and time, and personal identity theories. Each topic will cumulate in a visual, audible, or ephemeral presentation by each student in an attempt to integrate the information into a greater understanding of place and time.


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 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 129: Literary Genres: Politics and Nature Writing, 3 credit hrs. 

Within the larger field of nature writing, I believe there is a sub-genre that uses "nature" as a means of supporting political views. These political views are, in general, expressed either as a way to support the status quo (the "nature" of things, belief in a natural order that must be followed) or a form of dissert (nature used as a rallying call to return to an earlier past, a purer society, etc.). Therefore, they are broadly drawn rather than narrow political positions. Hence, the dissent really comes as a form of revolution or radical rethinking of the world and society rather than a call for a policy change or a change in law. In this course, we will read texts that let us see HOW nature is used to support status quo or to argue for dramatic changes. We will look at the use of science, activism, metaphor – the way the writing moves from literary moments to moments that seem more political. Instead of arguing "for" or "against" positions, we will learn to ask how/why "Nature" is being brought into the argument, and how nature is defined. We will also look at narratives of nature – how nature can be written about. Another set of larger questions we will ask is what this does to OTHER studies of nature – such as scientific studies, local studies – when we have a legacy of linking a broad sense of "nature" to political purposes. Does it make all nature seem culturally constructed? Does it allow for interest in "nature for nature's sake"?


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 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 148: Religions of Beijing, 3 credit hrs. 


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.


HONR 154: Captivity Narratives,  3 credit hrs. 


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 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 163: Environmental History  3 credit hrs. 


HONR 164: Existentialism and Film,  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 165: Science and Society, 3 credit hrs. 


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 175: South African Literature,  3 credit hrs. 

This course is an intensive study of twentieth-century literature from South Africa. Reading novels, short stories, non-fiction, and poetry, students will consider the ways in which writers use fiction to capture, represent, comment upon, and challenge the complexities of South African life and culture. We will, of course, spend a substantial amount of class time learning about apartheid, and students will view several films. In addition to learning about the not-so-distant historical events that occurred during the apartheid era, we will consider the state of South Africa during the dismantling of apartheid and its present-day struggles. 


HONR 177: Art and Perception, 3 credit hrs. 



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 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.

A preliminary agreement form is available at the Honors Program website. 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 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. 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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