The following criteria will be considered for registration for all Honors Seminars:
  1. Seniors will be given priority to register for Honors seminars.
  2. We will consider the student’s progress towards the completion of their Honors Baccalaureate (i.e. number of Honors credits taken, second language fulfillment status, and a cumulative GPA of 3.5 and above).
  3. The seminar is advantageous towards the student’s field/s of study and/or future career plans.

SPECIAL NOTE: It is highly recommended that you put your name on multiple seminar lists that work in your schedule or peek your interest to ensure that you are placed in at least one of them.

Fall 2018 Honors Seminars

 

Death Becomes Us: The Mystery of Mortality and the Need for Meaning 

HONR 494-002 (4 credits)
Prerequisites: 
HONR 201 & HONR 202, or HONR 301
Time:    M/W 10:00 – 11:50 am
Place:     
Quad F, 1
Instructor:  Dr. Thomas P. Donovan, Honors College 

Course Description: 

This seminar seeks to critically explore the role of mortality awareness in the creation of cultural meaning systems. We will explore how our beliefs and values provide a crucial antidote in the face of mortality and against feelings of insignificance and meaninglessness, while also contributing to creating "made-up minds" in the face of uncertainty. We will also explore how challenges to our systems of belief often inspire defensive and aggressive responses to this perceived mortal threat and the implications for our present global reality. This course will examine how humans across cultures manage the enormity of our awareness of finitude and the efforts to give meaning to our temporary existence. 

Thomas Patrick Donovan has been teaching graduate and undergraduate students since 2004, and has served as a Faculty Fellow in the Honors College at Montana State University since 2011. He holds a doctorate in Psychology and is particularly interested in the existential questions regarding living a meaningful life that inform the human condition the world over.   

 

Design Thinking for Our Community

HONR 494-004 (4 credits)  
Prerequisites:  
HONR 201 & HONR 202, or HONR 301 
Time:  M/W 11:00-12:50 pm
Place:  
 Cheever 102
Instructors:  
Professors Amanda Rutherford, Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering and Brad Stanton, Department of Industrial and Management Systems Engineering

Course Description:

In this upper division seminar course, we explore the process of design thinking in our multidisciplinary class through solving real world problems in our community.  In Fall 2018, we will be applying the design thinking process to complex problems facing our MSU community and beyond.  Examples of past projects are widely varied ranging from re-designing Move-In day on campus (see http://www.montana.edu/news/16319/honors-college-students-design-plan-to-improve-move-in-day) to assisting community non-profits like GVLT, CHP and the Community Cafe to solve tough problems facing their organizations.  While the course is open to all honors students, we are especially seeking those students in humanities, basic science, arts and architecture and business majors. The seminar is capped at 16 and no more than 50% of its students will be from any given college. 

Mandy is a full time instructor and a graduate of the MSU Honors program (2001).  Currently, she teaches Multidisciplinary Engineering Design in the College of Engineering and is the faculty point of contact for the newly launched MSU Makerspace.  Prior to MSU, she was a Technical Staff Member at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

 

Shakespeare in Performance

HONR 494IA-001 (4 credits)
Prerequisites:  HONR 201 &  HONR 202, or HONR 301
Time:  M/W, 3:10 – 5:00 pm
Place: Quad F, Room 1
Instructor: Professor Kent Davis

Course Description:

"Discovering Shakespeare". This seminar will focus on the great works of William Shakespeare. Not only will these pieces be dissected from an academic and literary standpoint, but they will be analyzed in the way the Bard intended them to be, through performance. Led by Joel Jahnke, former artistic director of Montana's Shakespeare in the Parks for over thirty years, this seminar will analyze the works of Shakespeare from all facets including dramaturgical analysis, analysis from the actor’s perspective, including verse work and choices of interpretation, and directorial interpretation of the plays. Shakespeare's intent was never to have his plays read, but to rather be shared through performance. This course will therefore culminate in an end of the semester performance. 

Kent Davis has taught in the Honors College since 2009, and has spent most of his life making stories as a writer, actor, and game designer. His novel for kids, A RIDDLE IN RUBY is slated for release by HarperCollins’ Greenwillow Books in September, 2015. He holds a B.A. in English from the University of Pennsylvania and an MFA in Theater from UC, San Diego.

 

The Art and Science of Medicine

HONR 494RH-01 or 494RS-01 (4 credits)
Prerequisites:  
HONR 201 & HONR 202, or HONR 301
Time:   Tuesday/Thursday, 3:10 – 5:00 pm
Place: 
Quad F, Room 105
Instructor: 
Professor Don Demetriades, Department of History and Philosophy and University Honors

Course Description:

Designed for students from all academic disciplines, this seminar will focus on just how broadly and profoundly contemporary medicine touches all of our lives.  It will examine the underlying principles of medicine through the lens of literature, science, art and related fields.  The why of suffering and disease, the how of healing, and the role both patient and physician play in individual health will be explored.  Medical professionals will be invited to visit the seminar.

Professor Demetriades is the past coordinator of the humanities curriculum for the Inteflex Program (Integrated Pre-med/Med Program) at the University of Michigan.  He currently serves as an Assistant Teaching Professor for the MSU Honors College (nine years) and the History and Philosophy Dept. (fifteen years). He holds a BA in Philosophy and Classics (Michigan), an MA in Philosophy (Michigan), and was a Doctoral Candidate in Philosophy (Michigan).  He is also a veteran of thirty-six marathons and twenty ultra-marathons. 

 

Dystopia Now and Then

HONR 494RH-002 (4 credits)
Prerequisites:  HONR 201 & HONR 202, or HONR 301
Time:  Monday/Wednesday, 3:10 -5:00 pm
Place:  Jabs 307
Instructor:  Dr. Susanne Cowan, School of Architecture

Course Description:

Recently there has been a proliferation of dystopian literature and films like The Mirror, The Handmaid’s Tale, and The Hunger Games. What role can dystopias like these play in exploring the technological, environmental, and social issues of our time. Dystopia Now and Then is an interdisciplinary course combining literature, film, architecture, and history. Students will read science fiction books like 1984, Brave New World, Do Android Dream of Electric Sheep, and Snow Crash and watch films like Gattaca, The Giver and Blade Runner. The course will also examine related architectural movements such as totalitarian public space, space-age design, and “green” architecture.

The course will analyze the way creators of dark imaginaries have aimed not only to predict but also prevent the negative outcomes of social and technological change. Class discussions and student assignments will analyze the dystopias of the past to uncover the reoccurring political and technological themes of the twentieth century. The final project will explore dystopia now, asking students to produce short stories, drawings, short films, or other media that depict their own visions of the utopian/dystopian future.

Dr. Susanne Cowan is a professor in the School of Architecture, where she teaches the history of architecture and urbanism. Her research focuses on the relationship between urban design and the social conditions of cities, particularly examining participatory democracy as a method for neighborhood planning. Professor Cowan has been interested in science fiction since childhood and began her exploration of utopian ideals by watching Star Trek and riding the monorail at Disney Land. Academically she explored this topic as while working on the book Cinematic Urbanism. She previously taught a version of this course at University of California Berkeley, and is excited to teach it at MSU for the first time.

 

Wolves in Yellowstone:  A Social, Scientific and Photographic Journey

HONR 494IN-001 (4 credits)
Prerequisites:   HONR 201 & HONR 202, or HONR 301
Time:   Tuesday/Thursday, 3:10 – 5:00 pm
Place:   Quad F, Room 1
Instructor:  Dr. John Winnie, Department of Ecology

Course Description:

In this seminar, we will explore society's historic and current attitudes towards wolves framed in the context of wolf reintroduction in the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem. Further, we will evaluate wolves' role as ecosystem engineers by examining how they influence prey population dynamics and behavior, and in turn look at how changes in prey may be influencing plant communities. Students are expected to read, understand, synthesize and discuss content and concepts from the social and life sciences, and use this knowledge to inform opinions and positions they express verbally and in writing. In addition, over the course of the semester, students will develop natural history photography skills through a combination of in-class instruction, independent assignments, and 2-3 field trips to Yellowstone National Park and surrounding lands. Students will use their photos to illustrate the ecological effects of wolf reintroduction, and related conservation issues and controversies, in seminar presentations and their final papers. 

John Winnie Jr., PhD, is an Associate Teaching Professor in the Ecology Department here at MSU. He started doing wolf and elk research in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem in 2000, publishing regularly on topics ranging from animal behavior to the influences predators have on prey population dynamics, to trophic cascades. Dr. Winnie is also an avid natural history photographer whose work has been widely published.

 

E.O. Wilson:  Bridging Science, Social Science and the Humanities
 
HONR 494IS-001 or HONR 494IH-002 (4 credits)
Prerequisites:   HONR 201 & HONR 202, or HONR 301
Time:   Monday/Wednesday, 4:10 – 6:00 pm
Place:   Wilson Hall, Room 1125
Instructor:  Dr. Michael Reidy, Department of History and Philosophy

Course Description:  

This honors seminar focuses on the fusion of disciplines – the sciences, social sciences, and humanities. It does so through the life and work of the greatest living naturalist in the world – Edward Osborne Wilson. Our goal is two-fold: to understand and appreciate the intellectual contributions of E. O. Wilson, and to critically engage the exceedingly controversial themes Wilson introduced into our world. We will begin by fitting Wilson’s work into the history of biology, delve into his many-faceted contributions, analyze the controversies his work has precipitated, and end by engaging these controversies with our own, original research. Thus, our methods are also two-fold: to read and discuss, through primary and secondary literature, the contributions of E. O Wilson, and to undertake original research at the intersection of science, social science, and the humanities.

Michael Reidy is the Michael P. Malone Professor of History in the Department of History and Philosophy at Montana State University.  His research has focused on the varied ways humans have used science and technology to reconceptualize the natural environment and, in turn, how that spatial reconceptualization changed scientific theory.  He is the author of Tides of History, published by the University of Chicago Press in 2008 and he is a co-author of both Exploration and Science, published by ABC-Clio in 2006 and Communicating Science:  The Scientific Article from the 17th Century to the Present, published by Oxford University Press in 2004. He is also the general editor of the 19-volume John Tyndall Correspondence Project, which is being published by the University of Pittsburgh Press. He has also co-edited The Age of Scientific Naturalism in 2014, a volume about Tyndall.  His current research focuses on how the advance of mountaineering changed the practice of science in the 19th century. He is interested in all things vertical.

 

Spring 2019 Honors Seminars

 

Design Thinking 

HONR 494-001 (4 credits) 
Prerequisites: 
HONR 201 & HONR 202, or HONR 301
Time: Monday/Wednesday, 10:00-11:50 am
Place:  
 Cheever 102
Instructors: 
Professors Amanda Rutherford, Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering and Brad Stanton, Department of Industrial and Management Systems Engineering

Course Description:

In this upper division seminar course, seminar students will learn to expand their abilities to solve real-world design problems by applying the methods of Design Thinking.  Students will collaborate in multi-disciplinary groups to design and implement human-centered solutions.  Students will utilize campus innovation resources such as the DSEL space in Cheever Hall and the MSU Makerspace.  While ALL majors are highly encouraged to register for this seminar, we especially seek arts, humanities, business and health sciences majors.  The seminar is capped at 18 and no more than 50% of its students will be from any given college. 

Mandy is a full time instructor and a graduate of the MSU Honors program (2001).  Currently, she teaches Multidisciplinary Engineering Design in the College of Engineering and is the faculty point of contact for the newly launched MSU Makerspace.  Prior to MSU, she was a Technical Staff Member at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Brad taught high school English for five years before going back to school for engineering where he studied the bidirectional reflectance distribution of various snow surface morphologies as part of a NASA funded research project.  He now teaches for MSU in both the engineering and honors colleges. He is interested in inspiring students to explore interdisciplinary design through collaborative efforts between educators across all colleges and see the MakerCAT space as an excellent focal point for this effort.

 

Critical Perspectives in Leadership

HONR 494-002 (4 credits) 
Prerequisites: 
HONR 201 & HONR 202, or HONR 301
Time: Tuesday/Thursday, 5:10 – 7:00 pm
Place:   
NAH, Room 331
Instructor: 
Professor Richard Broome, Jake Jabs College of Business & Entrepreneurship

Course Description:

From local news to world events, leadership issues permeate every aspect of our daily lives. The purpose of this course is to encourage students to develop and exercise critical thinking skills as they discuss and examine the many significant, and diverse issues and realities that impact leadership in the 21st century. Student will explore:

--Historical and contemporary theories of leadership
--Current technological advances and their impacts on leadership
--Recent societal changes that impact leaders
--New definitions of power within a cyber world
--The impact of evolving values and ethics on leadership decision-making
--Gender, race and the cultural intelligence aspects of leadership
--The looming leadership takeover by the Millennial Generation

During this course, students will be encouraged to embrace the belief that their generation does have the potential to transform the world via their understanding of the leadership issues they face.

Professor Broome teaches courses about leadership, management, entrepreneurship and professionalism and has almost 19 years of significant leadership experience with Fortune 500 companies, holding leadership positions at NASDAQ OMX, Computer Sciences Corporation and Booz Allen Hamilton.  He also served in the U.S. Army for 27 years retiring as a full Colonel. He was asked by 2 Presidents to be on their White House staff at the National Security Council where he served on each President’s crisis management team during major international crises. He has a B.S. degree in Psychology from Utah State University, an M.S. degree in Systems Management from the University of Southern California, and an additional M.S. degree in Information Systems from the Naval Postgraduate School. He is a prolific writer with two suspense novels and over 60 published articles and major industry conference presentations to his credit.

 

Honors Read

HONR 494-003 (4 credits)
Prerequisites: 
HONR 201 & HONR 202, or HONR 301
Time: Tuesday/Thursday 3:10 – 5:00 pm
Place:   
NAH, Room 331
Instructor:  Professor Kent Davis, Honors College

Course Description:

This seminar will offer students the opportunity to contribute to the selection of texts for "Hike and Read," as well as "Texts and Critics: Imagination and Knowledge", respectively. Seminar participants will each identify and champion a text for possible inclusion in the Honors curriculum for the upcoming academic year. Through vigorous research and debate, students will collaboratively create guidelines for selecting the texts. Seminar goals: the synthesis of new and unexpected texts, real-world exploration of the intersection between pedagogy and pragmatism, and engaging a community of enthusiastic, diverse, upper-division students who are excited about challenging and inspiring their fellow Honors students.

Professor Davis has taught in the Honors College since 2009, and has spent most of his life making stories as a writer, actor, and game designer. His novel for kids, A RIDDLE IN RUBY was released by HarperCollins’ Greenwillow Books in September, 2015. He holds a B.A. in English from the University of Pennsylvania and an MFA in Theater from UC, San Diego. 

  

Human Nature

HONR 494IH-001 (4 Credits)
Prerequisites:  HONR 201 & HONR 202, or HONR 301
Time: Wednesday, 3:10 - 6:20 pm
Place: Wilson Hall, Room 2274
Instructor(s): Professor Robert Rydell and Distinguished Guests

Course Description:

What exactly is human nature and why do answers to that question matter so much? This seminar examines the problem of human nature from multiple perspectives in the sciences, the humanities, the social sciences and the arts with a view towards encouraging students to “dive deeper” (the phrase is from Moby Dick) into issues that have been fundamental to thinking of ourselves—and our future—as human beings. To what extent do we have free will? How important is “nurture” to understanding our “nature” and vice versa? How do ideas about human nature inform thinking about government and society? Why do ideas about human nature change? Does human nature itself change?

The seminar will meet once a week for three hours and will be organized around three thematic clusters: 1) Human Nature: Our Bodies, Our Minds, Our Selves; 2) Being Human: Nature and Culture; 3) Human Nature and the Body Politic. Each cluster will be divided into four seminar meetings between students and visiting faculty with the final week of each cluster being devoted to synthesis. For each of the seminar meetings with visiting faculty, students will prepare a 1-2 pp. set of questions along with comments about why their questions are significant. At the end of each cluster, the seminar will meet to summarize and synthesize the arguments that have been presented. For a final project, students will work in groups of five and will prepare a creative project for presentation that elucidates the themes of the course.

Professor Rydell is an historian who specializes in the study of American thought and culture. He is especially interested in understanding the intersections between science, the arts, and the humanities and the questions these areas of inquiry raise about the human prospect. Foundational to understanding the human prospect is trying to understand human nature--that is, our complex biological and cultural identities and our capacities to change ourselves and our world for the better or otherwise.

 

Antigone and After:  Politics, Agency and Otherness in Tragic Drama

HONR 494RA/RH001 (4 Credits)
Prerequisites:  HONR 201 & HONR 202, or HONR 301
Time:  Monday/Wednesday, 10:00 – 11:50 am
Place:  NAH, Room 331
Instructor:  Dr. Tanner (J.J.) McFadden

Course Description:

Antigone is an inspiring but also tragic figure: Claiming a central role in politics as a sister and a woman, she presents an ancient example of the powerful agency of those whose voices are often marginalized; yet she triggers a set of shattering consequences that ultimately consume her and the state itself, depicting the tragic choices and unpredictable consequences inherent in political action. Taking inspiration from Sophocles’ play, this seminar will read tragedy as political theory. We’ll try, first, to understand tragedy as a genre—its history, its political functions, and its enduring appeal. We’ll also ask what tragedies can teach us about the nature of political action and the dynamics of performance and recognition that allow some to appear as political agents and tragic protagonists, while others (defined, at different times and places, in terms of gender and sexuality, race and ethnicity, origin, or political ideology) are silenced or marginalized as political actors. Readings for the seminar will include tragedies by Sophocles, Aeschylus, Shakespeare, Berthold Brecht, Lorraine Hansberry, August Wilson, Sarah Ruhl, and Tarell Alvin McCraney, along with interpretive work drawn from philosophy and political theory, literary criticism, feminist theory, critical race theory, and performance studies. Students will be asked to participate in and lead seminar discussions, to perform and critically respond to performances of live theater, and to complete an independent  related to the themes of the course.

J.J. has been a Faculty Fellow in the MSU Honors College since 2016. A political theorist by training, he teaches in the Honors College, the department of Political Science, and the College of Letters and Science. His research focuses on autonomy, agency, and meaning.

 

Conversations on Citizenship for Future Worlds


HONR 494CS
001 (4 Credits)
Prerequisites:  HONR 201 & HONR 202, or HONR 301
Time:  Tuesday/Thursday, 10:00 – 11:50 am
Place:  NAH, Room 331
Instructor(s):  Dr. Karen deVries, Honors College, Political Science and Women and Gender Studies and Dr. Sara Rushing, Political Science

Course Description:

This seminar asks what it means to live in relation with other humans, nations, and earthly critters in the 21st century. Working with a broad conception of citizenship, we will engage with questions such as: How might we understand the relationship between citizenship and belonging, or feeling at home, during this era of heightened political polarization? What might it mean to be a planetary citizen in a time of unprecedented climate change? What does it mean to be a “good citizen” (and in a pluralist democracy, who gets to say?)? Can one be a “citizen of the world”? What does it mean to be a digital citizen, a citizen-scientist, or a citizen-journalist? Does the construction of the “citizen” require the idea of the “foreigner?” And importantly, how might the answers to these questions shift over time, as the nature of our communities, nations, and planet changes?

In this class, we invite students to critically engage with these questions in conversation with two faculty members with expertise in different disciplinary backgrounds. Together, we’ll participate in interdisciplinary conversations that draw from cultural studies, political theory, and environmental ethics. We’ll engage with a range of philosophical, literary, and cinematic texts to explore the history of “the citizen,” the distinctions between citizenship-as-status, citizenship-as-action, citizenship-as-ideal, and citizenship-as-belonging.” Throughout the course, we will examine some key issues of our time concerning freedom, belonging, power, democracy, the rule of law, social change, and the conditions of possibility for building better future worlds. Guest speakers from a variety of backgrounds will be invited to join us.

Karen deVries is an interdisciplinary scholar working at the intersections of Cultural Studies, Science Studies, Religious Studies, and Feminist Theory. She specializes in social justice movements and experimental storytelling practices. Karen holds a MA in Religion and the Human Sciences from the University of Chicago Divinity School and a PhD in the History of Consciousness from the University of California at Santa Cruz. She has been teaching for MSU's Political Science Department and WGSS minor since 2014 and has served as a Faculty Fellow in the Honors College since 2016.

Sara Rushing teaches in the Department of Political Science. She has a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley in Political Theory and specializes in the intermingling of feminist theory, democratic theory and virtue ethics. Sara has been teaching at MSU since 2008. She sees theorizing citizenship and engaging in acts of citizenship as a central part of her job.

 

The First Amendment:  Free Speech Past, Present and Future


HONR 494IS001 (4 Credits)
Prerequisites: HONR 201 & HONR 202, or HONR 301
Time:  Monday/Wednessday, 5:10 – 7:00 pm
Place:  NAH, Room 331
Instructor:  Professor Susan Dana, College of Business

Course Description:

Despite a century of Supreme Court decisions interpreting the First Amendment, free speech remains a controversial issue in the United States. This course is designed to give you an understanding of the evolution of the U.S. Supreme Court’s jurisprudence of the First Amendment and to help you develop your own philosophy of free speech. The course begins with an overview of the history and theories of the First Amendment, and then moves on to some of the key areas in which the Supreme Court has developed and grappled with these theories, including national security, defamation, obscenity and indecency, and commercial speech. We then consider some currently controversial areas, including hate speech, free speech on campus, campaign funding, and free speech on the Internet. Finally, the course explores free speech protection/regulation in other countries and alternative theories of the First Amendment.

The course is modeled after a law school seminar in which our primary sources will be U.S. Supreme Court opinions and law review articles, supplemented by other scholarly articles and books. Discussions will be conducted through a friendly Socratic method in which we ask each other questions to better understand both legal concepts and our own underlying assumptions and values. Assignments, which will strongly emphasize critical thinking and persuasive writing, will include law school-type case briefs, leading several class discussions, a moot court oral argument on a pending case before a federal court, and an in-depth research paper on a current free speech issue. The course should appeal to those interested in free speech issues as well as those interested in law.

Prof. Dana has an A.B. in Classics from Brown University and a J.D. from Stanford Law School where she was the Editor-in-Chief of the Stanford Journal of International Law. She has worked for a leading Washington D.C. law firm, clerked for a judge, and taught at the University of Montana School of Law. Since coming to MSU she has taught a variety of courses at the Jake Jabs College of Business & Entrepreneurship including Introduction to Business Law, served as Associate Dean for ten years and Interim Dean for one year, and served as the MSU Pre-Law Advisor. Her research interests include human resources management, free speech in the workplace and campaign finance law. She has won numerous teaching awards at MSU, including the President’s Excellence in Teaching Award.