HONR 110. Honors I 1.0 course credit

A critical examination, organized from a comparative and interdisciplinary perspective, of texts and issues related to the various means by which we understand and appreciate life. HONR 110 also provides an introduction to the Honors Program and to a variety of curricular and co-curricular opportunities available at Monmouth College. As a seminar style course, the goal here is to provide student enrichment, and to strengthen the skills required for intellectual discourse. Written and oral means of communication will also further be developed. Offered in the Fall semester.

HONR 210. Selected Topics 1.0 course credit each 

A critical examination of a seminal figure, event, movement, or idea recognized as significant in shaping our collective history. Either two HONR 210 courses are required (Ideally, one science themed, the other art/humanities/social science themed) or one HONR 210 course and one HONR 211 course are required. Substitutions are allowed with prior approval. Offered in the Spring semester.

Examples of recent 210 course offerings:

HONR 210. Where Do We Go from Here: King, Racism, Poverty, and War 

The course begins with Martin Luther King Jr.’s last book and his analysis of three interwoven social problems; racism, poverty, and war. Modules on each social problem then follow using contemporary analyses as well as literary and film resources. Students will also study contemporary movements and organizations addressing these problems (Black Lives Matter, The New Poor Peoples’ Campaign, Fellowship of Reconciliation).

HONR 210. The Evolution of Human Behavior 

Explaining aspects of human behavior from an evolutionary perspective has had a significant impact in many disciplines outside of biology. Starting with a basic understanding of the theory of evolution by natural selection, we will examine how this understanding (and sometimes misunderstanding) has been applied to human behavior. The field originally described as “sociobiology” and now understood as “evolutionary psychology” has been controversial in many aspects. Does it contribute to biological determinism, sexism, racism, and classism? Or can it enhance our understanding of human motivations? In other words, is evolutionary psychology restrictive, liberating or both? We will examine arguments and evidence for various assertions regarding the nature of specific human behaviors and discover what we can gain—or lose—from an evolutionary perspective on our behavior.

HONR 210. Wanting: Greed, Desire and Happiness

This course explores desire from religious, philosophical, economic, and scientific viewpoints. What do the great religions and philosophies have to tell us about desire? How does desire vary across cultures? What are the psychological motives and effects of desire? How might biology, in particular evolutionary history, impact our desires? What effects does desire have on the desirer, on those around them, and on the environment itself? If we could imagine a less desirous life, what would it look like, and how would it change the world around us?

HONR 210. Waste and Garbage 

“Just toss it!” These words are said thousands of times every day all over the world. The result are millions of tons of garbage that end up in landfills, other designated garbage sites, in oceans, or various other locations like streets, abandoned urban lots, fields, or forests. The world’s population produces mountains of garbage, but most people waste little thought about where their garbage ends up and what it does in its post-consumer afterlife. This course explores questions of waste and garbage.

We examine the history of garbage, explore the meaning, use and removal of garbage in different countries, and analyze practices of garbage production in consumer societies. We look at practices of making a living from garbage as done by garbage picker communities in cities in the Global South. We ask questions about a cleaner future and examine possibilities of a zero waste society and ideas of refuse, reduce, re-use, recycle, repair, and rot. We look at garbage and recycling arts, crafts, and related activities. This course explores the hidden and fascinating world of waste and garbage using a variety of texts and documentaries/movies and engaging real life garbage in a variety of ways.

HONR 210. Around the World in a 110 Days: Globalization and the Transformation of Cities, Spaces, Cultures and Ordinary Lives 

Globalization, its conditions and consequences have been hotly debated in recent decades. Some observers hail their positive effects while others points to detrimental outcomes. In the midst of such controversial debates a number need to be asked: What is globalization? How do globalizing processes and transformations emerge, and very importantly how do they affect specific places and concrete people and communities in different locations around the globe? This class takes students on a trip around the world. We will examine the impact of globalizing processes in different cities, countries, and spaces and explore how concrete globalizing economic, political, social, cultural, and religious dynamics affect the lives of ordinary people in diverse locations. We will look at spaces, products, and processes and analyze how global processes are locally received, negotiated, and articulated and how they transform the everyday lives of people across the globe. Visiting different places (Pacific Ocean, Japan, Papua New Guinea, India, Saudi-Arabia, Egypt, Zambia, Senegal, Bolivia and the USA) and examining a variety of topics (garbage, food, movies/entertainment, water, religion/pilgrimage, housing/communities, used clothing, art, urban street markets, immigration, meatpacking industries), we analyze the interwoven complexities of globalization processes and how they affect and changes the lives of people in diverse contexts.

HONR 210. 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.

HONR 210. Evil

his 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.

HONR 210. 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.

HONR 210. 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.

HONR 210. The Mississippi River

Rivers are not merely moving bodies of water: They build, nurture, and destroy environments, and, by extension, cultures and civilizations. Metaphorical and literal journeys along and crossings of rivers figure prominently in stories of many cultures. Mythology, poetry, literature, art, religion, philosophy, and the sciences would all be much poorer without the inspiration provided by rivers. The course will begin with a description of the geophysical forces that formed the Mississippi River and how these in turn have affected its use by humans in the pre-Columbian, colonial, and modern eras. The River has also inspired many explorers, writers, artists, and musicians whose works we will examine. It connects the Midwest to other parts of the country and world via intentional commerce and transport of goods and ideas. It also connects through less intentional side effects of fertilizer, herbicide, and pesticide application. Flood control and navigational improvement efforts have led to many alterations of the river’s flow with consequences for species diversity and ecosystem stability. A broad array of readings and field trips to local museums and the river itself will be part of the curriculum. The course will culminate with a group or individual project.

HONR 211. Immersion Experience 0.5 or 1.0 course credit

This course provides an opportunity for Honors students to apply the concepts and ideas developed during study in their own major to a particular workplace or setting. Experiences that may be considered for HONR 211 include student teaching, internships, shadowing, semesters abroad, and research. Requires prior approval of the Honors Program Coordinator.

HONR 310. Honors: Scholarship, Service, and Leadership 0 course credit

Involves the student’s assessment of academic, service, and leadership experiences/achievements at Monmouth College, and completion of at least one postbaccalaureate scholarship application or graduate school application, including a personal essay and resumé. Offered in the fall and spring semesters.

HONR 410. Honors II: Capstone 1.0 course credit

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.