HON-H399 Colloquium Courses


An Honors Colloquium is an HON H399 seminar course. Typically, it is led by different instructors in different semesters and the topic changes from semester to semester.

To complete the Honors Program each student must complete 2 HON H399 Colloquium courses.


Recently Taught Colloquia Topics

Fall 2014 - A Healthy Does:  Healthcare meets the Humanities
Karla Stouse, English

A Healthy Dose: What If Health Care Met the Humanities? will put medicine under a microscope to examine some of its historical, economic, sociological, political, psychological, scientific, and legal issues through the lens of a humanities perspective. As they study the efforts of ancient physicians/scientists, modern caregivers/ advocates, and many others invested in the enterprise, students will explore and develop innovative approaches to the giving and receiving of health care in America and around the world.

Spring 2014 - Digital Culture
Dr. Paul Cook, English

The contemporary adage that we exist in a fast-moving, increasingly connected (and
“connectable”) world is a commonplace of mainstream media. But what precisely are we referring to when we discuss the massive changes wrought by the internet, mobile devices, networks, and by digital culture generally?

This honors seminar attempts to probe beneath the shiny veneer of digital culture—TED talks, Wired-esque paeans to unrestrained commerce, the breathless celebrations of networked “togetherness”—to critically engage and interrogate our status in a world forever changed by digital technologies. A major portion of this course will be devoted to exploring how the rise of the digital represents a shift in human consciousness and evolution on a scale not witnessed since the invention of that other world-shattering technology: writing.

Taking a broad, multidisciplinary tour through some of the most significant texts in recent intellectual history, together we will study concepts and themes like “digital citizenship,” the changing nature of the self and relationships in digital environments, the epistemology (and ontology) of networks, the harsh new realities of global capitalism and its effects on humanity and the planet, and digital technology’s overall impact on how we engage politics, labor, leisure, education, and life.

Fall 2013 - Prosocial Behavior:  Why We Help Others
Dr. Kathy Holcomb, phsychology

We will be examining why it is that people help others, in some cases even when doing so is not in their own best interest. To that end, we will read and discuss perspectives from psychology, politics, philosophy, history, and biology that seek to explain prosocial behavior. Additionally, we will explore how these perspectives apply to real world situations where people did or did not help others.

Spring 2013 – Wit and Humor
Dr. Joe Keener, English

The purpose of this colloquium is to consider the ideas of wit and humor. The course will have a theoretical basis with A Comprehensive Philosophy of Humor, Freud, and other thinkers, as we try to figure out just what wit, humor, and laughter are, how they work, and what their purpose may be. The initial focus will be on the comic in literature, but the class will eventually move toward other forms of media such as films and television.

Fall 2012 – Philosophy & Ethics of Technology
Netty Provost, Philosophy

Throughout human history technology has played a transformative role in human life. This course will explore philosophical theories about technology the impact that it has on individuals and societies. Readings will be drawn from a globally diverse range of historical and contemporary sources. Students in the course will also have the opportunity to help shape the reading schedule based on specific topics in philosophy, ethics and technology that that they are interested in.

Spring 2012 - What is INtelligence?  A Critical Examniatio of the Varied Perspectives on Brilliance, Genius and Aptitude
Dr. Melissa Grabner-Hagen, Education

In this course we will cover historical, social, educational, and cognitive aspects of intelligence. Topics such as the ethics of intelligence testing, the validity of Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences, and the potential of artificial intelligence will be discussed. We will examine and debate research related to the relationship between intelligence and humor as well as intelligence and genetics.

Fall 2011 - Rhetoric and Ideology
Dr. Christopher R. Darr, Communication Arts

Rhetoric is a powerful force. It is not just “the art of persuasion,” as Aristotle suggested: it has come to be understood as a power that structures society, reinforces dominant values, and normalizes certain ways of thinking. Rhetoric creates ideologies, reinforces them, and is sometimes used to critique and change them. This applies to political ideologies (conservatism), economic ideologies (capitalism), religious ideologies (Christianity), and many more. This class will explore the central role played by rhetoric in the creation, sustenance, and challenging of the ideologies that structure society and guide people’s behavior.

This class is open exclusively to Honors Students. As with other H399 courses, the class will be taught as a reading seminar. We will read the works of many modern and postmodern theorists (Marx, Foucault, Gramsci, Nietzsche, etc.) who have written on ideology, rhetoric, and the connection between the two. We will also read scholarly applications of these theories by contemporary authors.

Fall 2010 – Evolution:  An Interdisciplinary Approach
Dr. Joe Keener, English

The title of this course is actually backwards—Interdisciplinary: An Evolutionary approach would be more accurate. The main thrust of the course will be to apply evolutionary thinking to your chosen fields of study and, hopefully, to see them in a different light. A secondary, but no less important, purpose of the class will be to consider the road from taking in ideas, to synthetic thinking, to producing your own work. You will have access to my notes and work as a model—not that you will be expected to produce the exact same amount of work in one semester, but it is my hope that this class will be a different scholarly experience from the usual course.