HONR 100. Pathways - 1 sem hr
This course provides an introduction to the Honors Program and to a portfolio of curricular and extra-curricular opportunities available to those enrolled in the program. An important part of Honors 100 will be to describe special opportunities Honors students may take in two potentially related areas: 1) research, travel, and study; and 2) service learning (public scholarship) and leadership. In this second area, the course will map pathways students may follow: through service learning experiences to limited expertise in a particular area of public scholarship, and finally, ideally, to senior leadership and mentoring roles on and off-campus.
The goal here is student enrichment, estimated by the senior Honor student’s completed application for a post-baccalaureate scholarship or graduate school program. One or two sections offered annually, often in the spring semester as a co-requisite with Honors 110.
HONR 110. Honors I: Wonder, Ideas, Trials - 3 sem hrs
A critical examination of texts and issues related to the acquisition of knowledge, the various means by which we know, and historical-cultural factors influencing what we know. The course is organized from a comparative and interdisciplinary perspective. Offered in the spring semester.
HONR 210. Selected Topics - 3 sem hrs each
A critical examination of a seminal figure, event, movement, or idea recognized as significant in shaping our collective history. Prerequisite: Sophomore standing. Three of the following current courses are required:
Global Climate Change
The Earth System includes the interactions between the atmosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere, cryosphere, and lithosphere. Additionally, these interactions occur across a spectrum of time scales, from days to millennia. As humans continue to alter the Earth, we will need an understanding of how the Earth’s physical, chemical, and biological systems interact. What were the driving factors responsible for past climate change, and what role will they play in our future? How do we predict the effects of human actions on the Earth System? In this course, we will take an interdisciplinary view of the changes to the Earth to understand past, present and future climate changes and their environmental consequences.
The Births and Deaths of Tragedy
The course first examines literary definitions and representative types of tragic drama, tracing the genre from Greek plays and Aristotle’s Poetics through Senecan, Elizabethan, and neoclassical French, then modern European and American works. Readings and discussion next focus attention upon philosophical theories of tragedy, particularly of the nineteenth century—theories which find in literary works ways of describing “tragedy in the world.” Consideration is subsequently given to Freud’s tragic consciousness and literary indebtedness to Greek tragedy; and to reports of intellectual and literary historians in the twentieth century which pronounce the “death of tragedy.”
The agricultural revolution that marked the transition of some humans from hunter-gatherer to agricultural lifestyles is one of the most profound in the history of our species. This course will explore relationships between humans and plants by using corn as a model system. Topics will include: the history of grasses; New World corn-based cultures; prairie ecology; conventional and organic farming; genetic engineering; bioethics; and ecological economics. Labs will include field trips to local museums, farms, and facilities involved in corn and meat production.
This course engages the theme of evil and our responses to evil. Course material will include: an introduction to what philosophers of religion call “the problem of evil” (how can we simultaneously believe in an all-powerful, benevolent deity, given the existence of evil in the world?); how different religious traditions have addressed the problem of suffering; the Western tradition of belief in an Anti-Christ as the source of evil; and contemporary discussions that encourage broadening our understanding of what counts as evil so as to include experiences of physical pain, helplessness, poverty, and torture. The course includes literature as well as scholarship from the fields of religious studies, history, philosophy, politics, and education.
One of the most significant trends of the second half of the twentieth century has been a dramatic increase in circulation of people, commodities, and cultural products in the world. This phenomenon, generally referred to as “globalization,” has posed a serious challenge to social scientists. This is so because the new social and political formations wrought by globalization break down familiar expectations that human societies can be understood in terms of specific geographic and cultural regions. In this context of complex flows and unexpected linkages of people, capital, resources, and political relationships, how are we to define meaningful analytical and interpretive boundaries? This course will examine globalization by first introducing students to the major issues discussed by recent scholarship on globalization. For the second half of the course, we will focus on a particular region—South Asia—in order to challenge the premise that globalization is a twentieth-century phenomenon. Globalization in South Asia began not with the introduction of McDonald’s and global capital investment, nor with the nineteenth-century dominance of the British raj. It began with the earlier encounters between India and the Arab and European world. The impact of this globalization process will be examined closely. In doing so, we will come to a general understanding of the impact of globalization on regions, peoples, and cultures.
The Human Dialogue
A course organized around the theme of dialogue as a principle for interpreting the human condition. The human sciences most commonly focus on either the individual self (e.g., psychology) or the social structures within which people live (e.g., sociology). By contrast, a dialogical approach centers attention on the interaction between individuals as a generative force which can account for outcomes of both self and social structure. Topics covered while examining the dialogical principle will include: dialogue as a pragmatic of communication and conversation, dialogue as a philosophical concept, dialogue as a basis for ethics, and dialogue as the progenitor of the self. Students will read and discuss critical texts, reflect on dialogical experience in journals, analyze communicative interactions, and pursue an individual project.
New York: Portrait of a City
The course is an exploration of New York City from multiple angles. From an inquiry into the archaeology of the city, her Native American and colonial roots; to her emergence as a North American trading, and later industrial metropolis; a port of entry for millions of immigrants; to her current position as an undisputed global financial, cultural and political center, this course will probe into the complex history and social and cultural dynamics of this unique city.
Nobel Laureates: Modern Literature
The course is an overview of modern world literature by way of the recipients of the Nobel Prize in Literature. Works will be selected from the following authors: Albert Camus, Yasunari Kawabata, Samuel Beckett, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Wole Soyinka, Heinrich Böll, Thomas Mann, Naguib Mahfouz, Luigi Pirandello, Ivo Andríc, Patrick White, Czeslaw Milosz, and Nadine Gordimer. The primary focus of the course is a critical appreciation of these writings as works of art. Secondarily, the breadth of the literature will invite comparative analysis both in literary and cultural terms.
Reading Through The Millennia
An examination of texts from three millenial transitions (1 B.C., 1000 A.D., and
2000 A.D.). With an emphasis on general cultural and historical characteristics as well as prophetic/predictive aspects of each period.
Signifying Voices: The Caribbean
An in-depth study of the Anglophone, Francophone, and Hispanophone Caribbean, including the Greater Antilles (Cuba, Haiti, The Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Jamaica), and the Lesser Antilles (Guadeloupe, Martinique, Trinidad) and touching on Mexico and the countries of Central and South America where their histories and cultures pertain to the Caribbean. The emphasis is on understanding the peoples of the region through their own eyes, and largely through their literary traditions, but also including other artistic traditions, notably music and dance. Course participants will also study the history and the politically and economically strategic significance of the region.
Our society tends to have a widespread negative attitude toward the elderly that is primarily based on negative myths and stereotypes perpetuated by the media. This course will assess biological, psychological, societal, and cultural influences on adult health and aging as well as evaluate current efforts to maximize both our physical and psychological health as we age. Furthermore, students in this course will assess the current devaluation of the elderly and evaluate those views with the help of older adults we meet during the semester.
Strange Worlds: The Quantum World, The Early Universe, and The World of Complexity
The ideas of modern physics have profoundly changed our view of the universe and our role in it. The application of those ideas has had and will continue to have tremendous technological, social, and ethical consequences. This course will focus on the conceptual understanding of quantum theory, cosmology, theories of chaos, and on the philosophical and practical consequences of those ideas. Particular attention will be paid to the historical development of these ideas and to the experimental data that support them. The consequences of a world view that includes quantum physics, modern cosmology, and new understandings of complexity will be discussed and analyzed in detail. This discussion may include topics dealing with ethical dilemmas and questions that arise because of both the world view and the practical and technological results of those ideas.
This course will explore views on what it means to be an optimal organism, a superior species, a perfect plant, an ideal individual. Together, we will examine the machinery of life and answer the question, “What makes us more than the sum of our parts?” The majority of the course will be dedicated to studying humans and our quest to become “the ideal.” Advances in science and medicine have created new paths to attain the “ideal” and satisfy our deepest human desires: perfect health, superior performance, younger bodies, happy souls, better children, and more. How we, with modern science and medicine, are engaged in fulfilling human desires will be discussed in class, studied at off-campus sites, and experienced through hands-on activities. Technical, moral, ethical, social, and legal challenges that accompany the quest for “the ideal” will be studied and debated throughout the course.
HONR 410. Honors II: Capstone - 3 sem hrs
The capstone course is an independent study whose outcome is a substantial, interdisciplinary paper or project undertaken with the guidance of the Honors coordinator and at least two faculty mentors in different academic fields. Prerequisite: Junior or senior standing. Offered in the fall and spring semesters.
HONR 420. Honors: Scholarship, Service, and Leadership - 1 sem hr
A final requirement of the program involves the student’s assessment of academic, service, and leadership experiences/achievements at Monmouth College, andcompletion of at least one post-baccalaureate scholarship application or graduate school application, including a personal essay and, resumé. Offered in the fall and spring semesters.