Spring 2019

Honors Seminars

An Honors Seminar is a small, co-created, multidisciplinary, rigorous, enriched course that leverages a captivating topic to cultivate in talented students the critical reflection proficiency, intellectual and creative courage, and ethical awareness they will require in order to become impactful and responsible leaders in their fields.

HONR 208D – Insect Biodiversity: The Good, The Bad and The Weird
William Lamp

The rich diversity of insect life continually captures the imaginative mind, from Charles Darwin to modern naturalists and scientists alike. Think of colorful, charismatic butterflies pollinating native plants. Now consider how these graceful creatures are closely related to mosquitoes, insects that serve as a nuisance at best and transmitters of devastating disease at worst. Insects profoundly shape our world, for the good, bad, and downright weird. This seminar, designed for students of any major, will celebrate the dominance and incredible variety of insects on our planet, as well as their value to society as providers of ecosystem services. In addition to discussions, we will use the Entomology Teaching Lab to illustrate and explore the diversity of insects and their ecological functions. Also in the lab, we will examine samples collected from streams and wetlands, and observe the behaviors and interactions among insects. Collecting insects around campus will also allow us to assess the diversity of life in local habitats. Discussions will focus on sustainability, and the role of conservation and restoration to ensure the future of insects (and us) on our planet.

HONR 208L– Justice Matters: Law, Literature, and Film
Sara Schotland

Justice Matters is "a law and literature course" in which we discuss questions that matter: when is there a duty to disobey an unjust law? Is it ever justified to take the law into one's own hands to revenge a serious wrong? How does our criminal justice system impact minorities, the poor, and immigrants? How should we punish those guilty of infanticide? Is capital punishment ethical and viable: should we kill the death penalty or reform death penalty statutes? How should we treat the mentally ill when they are convicted and crimes? There is nothing more dramatic than a criminal trial. We will view high-quality film depictions of trial scenes in connection with our readings.

HONR 209G- Elements of Drawing for Non-Majors
Patrick Craig


Note: Students must pay a $40.00 studio lab fee for this course.

This is a foundation level course on the theory and practice of drawing. Various traditional and non-traditional media techniques include line, painterly materials, color, digital photography, and collage. Theories and principles of composition, form, and space preside over the course. Subject matter and content vary, embracing still life, human form, complex interiors, and personal photography. The course also aims to improve discourse and critical thinking in drawing and art. While intended for non-majors, the curriculum prepares the student for further study in studio art if desired.  

HONR 209W- War Stories: Personal Narratives, Fiction, and Film
Sara Schotland

What is it like to go to war? What it is like to stay at home while someone you love goes to war? Is there such a thing as a good war? What was it like to serve in the Vietnam War? Women are serving in combat zones in Iraq and Afghanistan: what are their stories and how do they differ from the experience of the male soldier? Is torture ever justified? Is it ethical or legal for a soldier to refuse to fight if he or she thinks that a war is unjust? What is it like to have PTSD and how effective are the treatments? This course examines the experience of war by from the perspective of the soldier, his or her family, veterans, and prisoners of war—both from the US perspective and war stories of our nation’s enemies. We will read true first person accounts, fiction, and film. This is your chance to debate whether it was worthwhile to save Private Ryan and to consider how Hollywood’s treatment of war has changed over the past decades to critique and condemn US military involvement.  

HONR 218J- Sustainability and Development: From the Individual to the Global
Dorith Grant-Wisdom

In the battle to save the environment and fight climate change, sustainability has become a major issue. However, it is hard for diverse populations worldwide to come to consensus how to best achieve sustainability. But, can we really talk about sustainability without exploring the contested nature of development? After all, the idea of development ranges from the dominant worldview of economic growth and industrialization to broader perspectives that examines human well-being, equity and justice that are situation-dependent and tied to national & global power relations. To identify all the ramifications of sustainability and development may seem like an endless task. But, this course will help students better recognize the interconnections of sustainability and development, including how they relate to the personal and the political, the individual and collective, humanity and all species, effluence and affluence, progress and destruction, indifference and responsibility. The more we understand our world and our relationship with it, the better equipped we are to know how to engage respectfully, and to respond to—“why you matter to the globe’s future and how can you make a difference?”

HONR 218M- Elements of Music Composition for Non-Majors
William C. Evans

Have you always wanted to write and record a hit song? Want to write an arrangement for your acapella group or instrumental group of your favorite song? Are you curious how composers and songwriters put it all together! Work with the latest computer music software to compose your own masterpiece in HONR218M. Each class is a musical laboratory featuring state of the art computer music hardware and software. Study the form and analysis of famous composers to build your own palate of musical colors.  

HONR 218P- Immigration: Personal Stories and Policy Changes
Sara Schotland

Despite the symbolism of the statue of liberty, prejudice against foreigners is embedded in our nation's history. President's Trump's initiatives curtailing immigration are nothing new. Ben Franklin labeled immigrants as "generally of the most ignorant Stupid Sort of their own Nation…Why should Pennsylvania, founded by the English, become a Colony of Aliens who will...never adopt our Language or Customs, any more than they can acquire our Complexion?" This course considers the personal stories of immigrants and the public policy debate around key issues by looking at first person accounts, fiction, and film. Are you an immigrant or do you belong to an immigrant family? What is your family's immigration story and how does it shed light on current policy debates? How is the experience of immigrants today affected by colorism or racism? What factors help refugees and other immigrants succeed in the US socially and financially? Does broad immigration help our country's economy or take jobs away from American citizens? How should immigration policy be reformed? This course will provide you an opportunity to consider and debate these questions and to share your own family's immigration story.  

HONR 218T- Political Theater: On Stage and in Washington
Nelson Pressley


Note: Students must contribute $20.00 toward theater ticket purchases.

“Should the theater be political? Absolutely not.” That declaration from U.S. playwright David Mamet sums up much of the perplexing anti-political prejudice on the American stage – a stance that artists are now wrestling to change. How can theater effectively respond to social events? Can playwrights still attack through fiction, as Arthur Miller confronted McCarthyism via The Crucible? This seminar will examine the shifting patterns of political theater, and will study the latest practices by attending several live professional shows in Washington, where theaters are increasingly mindful of the platforms they have mere blocks from the White House and Capitol Hill. No previous experience with theater required.  

HONR 218W - The Idea of Crime
John Laub

What (if anything) motivates an individual to commit acts of crime? Why is crime concentrated in a small number of communities? What are the trends in crime, especially violence, over time? Why do some societies have high rates of crime and violence while others do not? What can the government do (if anything) to prevent and control crime? These questions have challenged and bedeviled social thinkers for centuries. Indeed, such big questions have no easy answers. This seminar seeks to engage students in a thoughtful, in-depth examination of the idea of crime. We will explore fundamental debates about the definition of crime, its nature, its explanation, and its control. In this era of “alternative facts” and “fake news,” emphasis will be placed on scientific facts, not ideology.

HONR 218Y- How to Think Like Leonardo, Montaigne, and Shakespeare
Gerald Passannante

Leonardo da Vinci, Michel de Montaigne, and Shakespeare are often understood as “geniuses” who somehow transcended their time and place, authors who have something to teach us about the human condition and about ourselves. But what makes their style of thought distinctive and how has this question of style been described historically? Exploring da Vinci, Montaigne, and Shakespeare within their historical moments and through the lens of their receptions, this course seeks to explore the formal choices through which these men invited us not only to think about them, but to think with them. 

HONR 219M- Why Do We Do What We Do? The Role of Motivation in People's Achievements and Choices
Allan Wigfield


“The starting point of all achievement is desire.” –Napoleon Hill

Motivation is what causes us to act. HONR 219M will help students understand the nature and development of individuals’ motivation for different activities, with a focus on achievement motivation, or motivation when standards of excellence are involved. In the first part of the course we will examine and critique major theories of motivation primarily from the developmental and educational psychology literatures. We then will discuss the development of motivation in the home and school. We finish with a discussion of gender, culture, and motivation. Learning to critique research articles will be an important part of the course. Overall, this course aims to explore three basic questions:
1. How do psychologists, sociologists, and educators define motivation currently and what are the major current theoretical models of motivation?
2. How does our motivation change from early childhood to early adulthood?
3. What factors (e.g., environmental, relational, cultural, gender) influence the development of motivation?  

HONR 219T- Surviving Natural Disasters: Learning from Hurricane Katrina, Big Earthquakes, and Other Natural Hazards
Ed Link

Natural disasters wreak havoc on communities, and they can lead to significant loss of life and property. Major historical events such as the San Francisco Earthquake in 1906 and Hurricane Katrina in 2005 have been major wake up calls for the U. S. with respect to the risk represented by these natural hazards. Ironically, significantly worse devastation has occurred globally, at times having consequences that exceed well over 100,000 lives and $100B of property lost. With each event we learn more about the hazards and what might be done to minimize their impacts. Yet, the events and subsequent devastation continue as demonstrated recently by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria and the earthquake near Mexico City, all occurring within the span of 31 days. Why do we remain so vulnerable to these events, and what can we do about them? We cannot prevent the hazard events, but we can prepare for them and mitigate their impacts. This course examines the different types of natural hazards and the forces that they impose on communities and society in general. It explores the issue of why losses occur and what approaches might be used to reduce losses through examining historical and recent natural hazard events. Have we applied what we learn to reduce this vulnerability and if not, why? What is necessary, politically, economically and scientifically to change these trends and prepare for the more uncertain future that is emerging with the nexus of continuing climatic, social and geopolitical change? You can be part of the problem, or with knowledge you'll gain in this class, an important part of the solution!

HONR 219Z- Apocalypse Then and Now: World Traditions of the End Times
John Carlson

Forthcoming.

HONR 228N- Alleviating Poverty in Developing Countries: The Economics and Challenges of Development Programs
Snaebjorn Gunnsteinsson

Globally, over a quarter of children under the age of five are undernourished. A child born in a developing country is over 13 times more likely to die within the first five years of life than a child born in an industrialized country. Food production per capita in Africa has declined over the past thirty years, making the region ever more reliant on imports and food aid. What, if anything, can rich countries do to assist poor people in the developing world? How can aid be targeted and managed to do the most good? Well-known and respected economists come to wildly different conclusions on these questions. The course will use readings, discussion, and writing assignments, to examine current debates about foreign aid specifically and about programs to help reduce poverty, more generally.

HONR 228T– Journalism and Peace
Colman McCarthy

We have no shortage of war correspondents. But where are the peace correspondents? Where are the journalists whether in print or broadcast, whether toiling for the wealthy corporate media or going it alone as independents, whether columnists or editorial writers, whether reporters and editors on high school or college newspapers or reporters and editors of large circulation dailies, who bring to the public the news about peace? This course is a modest effort to examine some of the issues involving journalism and peace.  

HONR 229C- Contemporary American Culture as Seen from Abroad: A Transatlantic Seminar
Nicole Hirschfelder

See your culture through the eyes of European peers! UMD students engage with students from the University of Tübingen in Germany via video conferences, social media, and email, exchanging ideas about contemporary American culture and issues of global relevance. We will focus on the currently urgent issues of immigration, asylum and global mobility. These have consequences on how individuals and groups form their identities and their relations of belonging. In one part of this course we will discuss the current refugee situation in Europe in relation to the US experience with immigration and 'multiculturalism.' In a second section of this course we will look at Western youth culture (film & music but also religion or sports) and explore differences and similarities in practices and attitudes between German and American students.  

HONR 229K– Achieving Justice and Equality in the 21st Century: Problems, Policies and Practice
Cecily Hardaway

Despite advancements brought on through the Civil Rights Movement, landmark court decisions, and major legislation, African Americans continue to experience disadvantage in many realms as a result of discrimination and institutionalized racism. Even as more African Americans are moving into the middle class, entrenched inequality circumscribes upward mobility and threatens to reverse hard-won gains. This course examines sociostructural factors that shape life chances for African Americans and contribute to their status and experiences in contemporary American society. It also considers policy and practice solutions that address inequality. We focus on the role of racial attitudes, poverty, social mobility, employment, education, family functioning, and the criminal justice system in the attainment of justice and equality for African Americans.

HONR 229R- Short Texts, Great Ideas
Gregory Bucher

The essay, a brief exploration of an idea, phenomenon, or topic, has become more important than ever as online content from blog posts to magazine articles has predisposed us toward shorter pieces that get to the point quickly and effectively. In this course we will consider forerunners by an ancient Greek skeptic, a tenth-century Japanese lady in waiting, and a fifteenth-century French nobleman before turning to a series of monumental modern examples. Besides polishing our reading skills, we will also practice writing, and learn the basics of pitching an idea to an editor so that students can become active participants in public discourse.

HONR 229W- Revenge of the Funny Women
Heidi Scott

In 2007 provocateur Christopher Hitchens wrote the opinion column “Why Women Aren’t Funny” based on normative biological distinctions between the sexes: Hitchens claimed that males must “perform” for females to impress them; females have no biological drive to entertain, and therefore no aptitude. Patriarchy has an allergy to funny women for good reason: humor undercuts power structures and refuses to stay in the box. Elizabeth Bennet knew the power of wit when she poked fun at Mr. Darcy’s pride, and women like Lucille Ball and Carol Burnett opened up new avenues for women in their shows. In today’s culture, women of different races, religions, social classes, and sexual preferences gain viewers not only through traditional media platforms, but in the fan cultures of social media where they can use their humor to argue for social change. Contrary to Hitchens, humor is not just a biological instinct, but a social act that serves an important role in human social evolution. In this seminar, we will learn the theory and conceptual tools we need to analyze the various feminist revolutions on stage and screen from the early 20th century to today; we will expand the range of contemporary figures profiled in scholarly discourse; and we will write and perform our own group comedy routines.  

HONR 238C– The Future of Energy and Climate Policy
Tyson Slocum

This course brings the Washington, DC policy debate of the future of U.S. energy and climate policy into the College Park classroom. The course reveals far more than what you read in the news, offering students an up-close-and-personal tour of the people and strategies that shape how and why Congress and the President promote their energy and climate initiatives. Students will learn first-hand the behind-the-scenes fights between different competing special interests that shape our legislative and regulatory energy and climate policy outcomes, as the semester will feature numerous DC policy experts who work on the front lines of these high-profile fights. The class explores different grassroots, media and lobbying strategies that organizations utilize to influence the positions that Congress and the Executive Branch take on energy and climate policy. The course also introduces students to the difference between the academic analysis of various energy policy reforms—such as U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulations to address climate change—and the ways in which well-funded advocacy groups shape the public’s (and lawmakers’) perception of these programs.  

HONR 238G- The Manhattan Project: A Century of Radioactivity, Nuclear Weapons, and Nuclear Power
William Walters

The United States successfully undertook some of the greatest science and engineering projects in the twentieth-century, and among them was the development, production and delivery of an Atomic Bomb. This seminar will deal with the science, politics and history that surrounded the bomb’s development. From the discovery of nuclear fission to the unleashing of one of the most dangerous – and controversial – weapons man has ever seen, this seminar will take a multi-disciplinary look at this important moment in history. Based on the Pulitzer-Prize winning book written by historian and journalist Richard Rhodes, the science discussed will be accessible for students of all majors.  

HONR 238V- Professionally Essential: Analysis and Visualization Skills in the Era of Big Data
Patrick Killion

The big data paradigm describes a world in which nearly every facet of our lives: commerce, entertainment, education, transportation, social interaction, health care, and primary research generates large datasets that are fruitful but challenging to mine. Powerful insights, however, are possible if individuals have the skills and training to work with large and complex datasets. All industries are seeking professionals capable of both working with emerging technologies and interpreting data to infer meaningful insights. In this Scholarship in Practice seminar, students will investigate a research, business or policy interest of their choosing. The semester-long investigation will include the search for, location, acquisition, analysis and visualization of both primary literature and large datasets. The course assumes that students have no prior experience working with large-scale data, programming or producing advanced visualizations of data. In this manner, students of all backgrounds and majors should consider this course an opportunity to become a future professional ready, capable and hirable to tackle big-data challenges.  

HONR 238Z- Gladiators and Caesars: The Archaeology of Roman Spectacle
Maryl B. Gensheimer

Roman buildings intended for mass entertainment – the amphitheater, bath, circus, theater, and so forth – were found across the ancient Mediterranean, from modern Spain to Syria. How and why were such spectacle entertainments fundamental to Roman daily life? We will consider the art, architectural, and archaeological evidence, and then reconstruct the manner in which these buildings were used in antiquity with the help of various literary sources in English translation. Wherever possible, we will also examine the modern perception of ancient spectacle. Films, popular literature, and news stories will illuminate the similarities and differences between Roman spectacle and its legacy today, and will enable fruitful discussion of the ways in which cultural norms and values have both changed and remained constant in the two thousand years separating a gladiatorial game in Rome and a Superbowl Sunday in America.  

HONR 239B – New York City and the American Dream
Ingrid Satelmajer

If you cross a street in New York City, who will you be when you get to the other side? Does the city change who you are––and how do the ambitions and fears that you bring to it alter what already is there? As the most populous U.S. city since the 1790 census, New York City long has held out something that distinguishes it from other places: jobs, refuge, skyscrapers, consumer fantasies, theater, and companionship. How have those promises changed? How often are they fulfilled? And what stories do people then tell about advancement––or disappointment––for immigrants, migrants, thrill seekers, and the city's "old guard"? From the belief that one can advance "from rags to riches" to warning cries about the city's false promises, New York City literature helps us consider how we live in the worlds that we build. We'll read fiction, nonfiction, poetry, plays, and graphic novels as we explore two central questions: what is a city? And: what is the American Dream?  

HONR 239C- The Creative Process in Dance
Alvin Mayes

Experience the creative process in dance by focusing on creating movement, manipulating movement and organizing it in forms similar to those in music composition. This course will create movement inspired by spoken word, music, poetry and visual art. This class will encourage students to examine how dance exists in an environment with other arts and humanities.  

HONR 239F- Plants and Empires: Historical Consequences and Contemporary Issues
Todd Cooke

Seldom are plants mentioned in the grand narratives of war, peace, and even everyday life, and yet plants have profoundly influenced the course of human history ever since the origins of agriculture at the dawn of human civilization. This perspective leads to a number of provocative questions: For example, what features of certain legumes and cereal grasses facilitated their successful co-domestication with a heretofore inauspicious hunting-and-gathering primate, namely us? How did the cultivation of sugar, tobacco, and cotton promote the colonization, settlement, and exploitation of the New World? What roles did tea, coffee, potato, opium, rubber, and quinine play in the spread, organization, and economics of the British Empire? How can we use our emerging appreciation of historical human-plant dynamics to arrive at a deeper understanding of contemporary issues, such as genetic engineering, biofuels, economic globalization, narcotics trafficking, economic bubbles, and global climate change? This course takes a multidisciplinary approach involving botany, history, economics, and anthropology in order to obtain an integrated perspective of the co-evolution of plants and humans throughout time.

HONR 239G- We, the Readers: American Literature for an American Democracy
Robert Chiles

According to legend, when Abraham Lincoln met Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, he remarked: “So you are the little woman who wrote the book that started this great war.” Four decades later, publication of Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle caused such a storm of public indignation and political posturing that it inspired several pieces of major legislation and spurred a new phase of the Progressive movement. Indeed, many of the great works of American literature were at heart political. Whether satires or parables, patriotic allegories or biting social critiques, many important and well-loved novels had a significant political message and impact. This course takes an interdisciplinary approach to the question of political literature within the context of the evolving American democracy, considering selected works of literature as primary documents to gain insight into major themes, trends, and ideas in American political history. Combing the contextualizing instincts and documentary inquiry of historical methodology with the literary analysis of English literature and American studies, this course, through a thorough scrutiny of these books and their historical settings, will assess how contemporary Americans understood and reacted to important controversies and how major political issues were interrogated and contested at the intersection of policy and culture.  

HONR 239J- “Enemy of the People”: When Journalism Investigates the Powerful
Mark Feldstein


Note: Credit will only be granted for HONR239J or JOUR289P.

President Trump has called the news media “the enemy of the American people.” But he is not the first president to attack reporters, who have been exposing wrongdoing in American ever since George Washington. How and why does the press uncover misconduct by individuals and institutions in the US? How do their targets react? Why does this matter? This seminar will trace the history of investigative journalism and its impact on society.  

HONR 239K- The Multicultural Metropolis
Willow Lung-Amam
Within the next half century, the U.S. will become a majority minority nation. Caught in the crosshairs of this shift, cities have become, more than ever, zones of interaction and encounters with cultural and political difference. The terrain of today's multicultural metropolis presents both challenges and opportunities. On the one hand, increasing interethnic and intercultural mixing has led to conflicts, contests, and clashes over urban space and residents' rights to and in the city. On the other, today's multicultural urban landscape also raises the possibility of more equitable and inclusive urban spaces that can foster a greater respect and tolerance for difference and new ways of living together and sharing space in the city. This course will address trends driving immigration and the increasing ethnic diversity in cities and draw on theories of equitable and inclusive cities, multicultural and intercultural planning and design, and the politics of difference to explore its attendant challenges and opportunities. It will examine strategies for dealing with conflicting uses and users and fostering spaces that meet the needs, preferences, values, and meanings of different ethnic and cultural groups through the design of the built environment and urban policy.  

HONR 239W- The Syrian Civil War
David Cunningham

The civil war in Syria has resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths, the creation of millions of refugees, pulled in neighboring states, strained relations among countries such as Russia, China, Turkey, and the United States, and exacerbated regional tensions. Efforts at conflict resolution have generally failed, and the prospects for any stable, comprehensive, political settlement are low. In this seminar, we will examine the Syrian civil war in depth—focusing on the background to the conflict, the outbreak of the conflict, factors that have influenced the dynamics of war to date, and the different efforts at resolution. We will also examine civil war as a phenomenon more broadly, with a focus on understanding when, where, and why civil wars start, what factors influence how long they last, and under what circumstances international conflict management efforts are successful. By the end of the seminar, students will have a deep understanding of the specifics of the Syrian conflict, general trends in civil war, and a survey of academic research on conflict and conflict resolution.

HONR 248G- The Origins and Ramifications of Sex and Sexes
Eric Haag
A glance at the news shows that awareness of sex pervades human society. We argue about what it means to be male or female, straight or gay, cis- or trans-gendered, etc. We debate whether apparent sex differences are real, or are largely societal constructs. We grapple with sexual violence and harassment. We might step back, however, and ask a simple question: Why do we have sexes (and sex) at all? This seminar course will explore this question, from the earliest days of sexual reproduction in microbes to human sex differences and sexual orientation. In doing so it would span roughly two billion years, and illustrate important connections between phenomena many people would assume are unrelated.  

HONR 248J- A Most Human Nation
Ingrid Satelmajer

Note: Students who have taken HHUM 205 should contact the instructor for permission.

What does it mean to be represented in the national capital? This course examines the history of Washington, D.C. through written and visual portraits of national leaders and ordinary Americans. What is lost and gained when your likeness is “taken”? How important is it for portraits to be “real”? Human and civil rights struggles; virtual reality in an era of globalization, balkanization, and digital technology; surveillance and privacy rights; and concerns about the human habitation of the city all will be covered.

HONR 258Z- Language, Identity, and Diversity in the U.S.
Alene Moyer


Note: Credit will only be granted for HONR258Z or SLLC305.

Have you ever found yourself accommodating to the speech of others in order to make a good impression or fit in? Are you curious about how cultural norms shape your own language behavior? In this course, we examine attitudes toward language as a marker of status and belonging, and language use as a politically, culturally and socially motivated behavior. Particular attention is paid to myths about language diversity, and how these contribute to cultural stereotypes. Several hotly debated issues will be treated, including the controversy over ‘Ebonics’, bilingual education, the English-only movement, ‘linguistic profiling’, and gender differences in language behavior. In all the work we do together, the emphasis is on the tension between notions of language purity and real-world linguistic identity at the local level.

HONR 259W- Musical Migrations: Performance, Politics, and the Kurt Weill Festival
Edward Maclary and Craig Kier

“Mack the Knife” has been covered by everyone from Louis Armstrong to Bobby Darin to Steve Martin on Saturday Night Live. But who is the man behind the famous tune? Renowned composer Kurt Weill, the subject of the UMD School of Music’s 2018 – 2019 Kurt Weill Festival, is at the center of this seminar, which traces the intersections of migration, immigration, politics, and the arts. Students will attend live performances from the festival throughout the semester, and creative teams (performers and designers) will join the class during the semester to provide ‘behind the scenes’ context before attending performances. Students will also study Weill’s life, both before he fled Nazi Germany and after immigrating to the United States, as well as many of his works for the concert stage and theatre. While focusing on the works of Weill provides important historical perspective of an immigrant composer who considered himself wholly American upon immigrating to the United States, students will be asked to identify, analyze, discuss, and write about modern day creators and performers that represent the diversity of our society and who use their creative voice to address immediate societal topics, such as migration, immigration, and inclusion that resonate with today’s audience.

HONR 268Z – Catastrophic Animal and Human Disease Outbreaks: What Else Can We Do To Prevent Them?
Nathaniel Tablante


Note: Credit may only be granted for HONR268Z or ANSC277.

Outbreaks of deadly diseases have devastated animal and human populations for centuries. The “Plague” of the Middle Ages, the 1918 “Spanish Flu”, smallpox, AIDS, Ebola, highly pathogenic avian influenza or “Bird Flu”, SARS, Zika virus, and “Swine Flu” are just a few examples of catastrophic and economically devastating diseases that have evolved over time. Some of these diseases have emerged or re-emerged and continue to challenge veterinary and public health experts. What makes these diseases so difficult to prevent and control even with today’s technological advances? What measures can we take to curb the spread of these diseases? Take this course to find out and help save animal and humankind!

HONR 269C - Digital Dialogues and the Dynamics of Intercultural Communication
Sahar Khamis

This course explores the role that new media, especially internet-enabled forms of communication, can play in fostering intercultural communication and international dialogue, especially between the Western world and the Middle East, through facilitating the spreading of awareness and knowledge, fighting misconceptions and stereotypes, and overcoming the obstacles that may hinder effective dialogue. It provides students with both a theoretical grounding, as well as a practical training, to better equip them to grasp the complexities of this topic and its numerous applications. The theoretical part will cover topics such as the foundations of effective intercultural dialogue; the new information revolution; the concept of public diplomacy and the challenges confronting it; the best ways to fight stereotyping and distorted (mis)representations of the “Other”; and the communication gap and digital divide between the developed and less developed countries, with special emphasis on the dynamics of intercultural dialogue between the Western world and the Middle East region. The practical part will require the students to enroll in the International Soliya Connect Program, which enables them to engage in internet-based communication with their peers worldwide, via weekly moderated sessions online. By the end of the course, students are expected to acquire a hands-on, practical approach that enables them to explore the potential applications of new media and to produce their own video projects on a topic related to cross-cultural dialogue, conflict resolution, and overcoming misrepresentations and stereotyping.

HONR 269E - Exploring Key Issues of Globalization and Resistance
Dorith Grant-Wisdom

What is Globalization? Is it a new phenomenon, or does it have a longer lineage? What factors should we consider when we think and act globally? Why does globalization mean different things to different people? Why are there winners and losers? Why do some support it while others engage in resistance? And what does resistance against globalization looks like? This course responds to these burning questions as students interrogate the view that globalization relates as much to a way of thinking as it does to a description of the dynamics of political, economic, social and cultural relations and changes. Students will decide what it all means for themselves as they examine the opportunities and challenges that globalization poses to individuals and collectives at the levels of the state, class, gender and race.

HONR 269G - Hungry, Hot and Crowded: Global Challenges in the 21st Century
Kathleen Mogelgaard

Devastating hurricanes. Lethal heat waves. Crippling famines. And a global population that continues to swell. What are the causes and consequences of these interlinked challenges? Are we doomed? This seminar will explore three global trends—food security, climate change, and population growth—that are key to shaping society, human welfare, and environmental sustainability in the 21st century. Through interactive exercises and engagement with experts who are shaping innovative solutions to these challenges, you will gain a nuanced understanding of sustainability, an appreciation of the urgency for action, and ideas for how you, yourself, can make a difference.

HONR 269L – Cracking the Secrets of the Universe Using Computers: Re-discovering the Higgs & Searching for Invisible Matter-Part II
Shabnam Jabeen and Sarah Eno

Albert Einstein once said, “I would like to know that moon exists even when I am not looking at it.” This quote was in response to a well-known theory that describes, at the atomic level, almost everything that we observe in everyday life. Part of this theory describes the presence of a sub-atomic particle that exists in the whole universe and is considered to be responsible for giving mass to all the particles that it interacts with. This particle was just an idea until 2012, when we finally discovered it at one of the largest and most complex experiments ever built—the Large Hadron Collider. This course takes you on a journey to relive this discovery. Along the way, you learn fundamental physics and the basic tools needed to contribute to experimental or theoretical frontier research in any computationally intensive field. You will learn kinematics, relativity, the standard model of forces and particles, theories of new particles and forces, particle interactions with matter, Linux, C++ and computational tools useful for frontier physics research. For more information about this course, please visit the following webpage: http://www.physics.umd.edu/courses/Honr268N/

HONR 269T - Understanding U.S. Foreign Policy toward Afghanistan
Tim Nusraty

In this Global Classroom, Honors College students at UMD and students at the American University of Afghanistan in Kabul will examine the history of Afghanistan, its political figures, and the empires that attempted to rule the country. Students will also learn about Afghanistan’s turbulent modern history, including the Soviet occupation, the Afghan civil war, and the Taliban era. Students will then analyze the U.S. foreign policy decisions that followed the events of September 11, 2001. This includes key policy decisions such as how the country should be governed, the selection of Afghanistan’s leader, the role and mission of the international community, the adoption of a new Constitution, and the establishment of a new democratic system of government.

HONR 278D- National Security Dilemmas
Daniel Rosenthal

A young lawyer at the CIA wakes with a jolt to a call on her cell phone. It’s 2 a.m., and Langley is calling. Something about a newspaper. She rushes out of her apartment and speeds to headquarters. Once at CIA Headquarters, she discovers that a New York Times reporter has learned about an undercover CIA informant in Syria providing crucial intelligence about the leadership of an international terrorist organization. But the asset has a dirty past: Before choosing to cooperate with the CIA, he had killed dozens of Westerners–and four Americans. The Agency is working with a terrorist who has American blood on his hands, and the Times thinks that the public has a right to know. But the story also contains top secret details that could help identify the asset, which if exposed would surely lead to the murder of the asset, thus eliminating a valuable source of intelligence for the U.S. government about the international terrorist organization, and discouraging others in the future from cooperating. National security is on the line. The life of the CIA informant hangs in the balance. The young lawyer is tasked with talking the reporter down. What arguments should she make? What questions should she ask? And what can be done, if anything, to stop the New York Times from publishing. Take this class to find out.  

HONR 278G- Exploring How Foreign Policy is Developed
Tim Nusraty

Developing foreign policy is a delicate and complicated matter. How does one walk this tightrope and shape the policies that govern U.S. international relations? This seminar will offer students a window into this process, focusing on the role played by the National Security Council in formulating, coordinating and implementing foreign policy. The seminar will begin by exploring the history of the Council, including the events leading up to its creation and the underlying law that established the Council. As part of this historical review, students will also examine the evolution of the National Security Council and the varying degree of influence it wielded under different administrations. Against this backdrop, students will then conduct a case study of some of the key foreign policy issues over the past 20 years in order to gain a better understanding of the National Security Council’s decision-making process.  

HONR 279T- Google and Sudoku, Museums and Maps: Graph Theory for the Real World
Wiseley Wong

A security guard goes through a dinosaur museum to check every room before closing. He is lazy and wants to efficiently do the check without repeating rooms. Can it be done? With no one around, he watches Jurassic Park on his computer. After, the guard Googles “tyrannosaurus rex.” In his mind, he almost knows the first link will be the Wikipedia article on “Tyrannosaurus.” But why is this the first link in the search? After surfing the web, the guard does a Sudoku-like puzzle in the newspaper- he must fill in a 9 × 9 grid with 1-9 in each row/column so that each number occurs once. The newspapers fills in the first 4 rows for him. Can the puzzle be even solved? As the guard finishes his time block, he plans out his family vacation on a US map. He notices all bordering states have different colors to be aesthetically pleasing, and the map uses 6 colors. Could 5 colors be used instead? What about a map of countries? Surprisingly, all these questions can be answered in the branch of mathematics called graph theory. In this seminar, we’ll learn all about the fascinating ways that graph theory models shape your every day apps, from Google Maps to Facebook.

HONR 288E- Cyberwar: Technology and Strategy Challenges
B. David Mussington

Cyber warfare is often considered futuristic and exciting but vaguely intimidating. The phrase conjures images of war – battlefields, weaponry, armies – but in fact, the tools and targets of cyber conflict are mundane and include information and services used daily by the public. From email to Amazon, from data breaches at banks to the broken security of electronic health records, individuals can be victimized and harmed by vulnerabilities that scale, with potential widespread impact on economies and militaries. Vulnerabilities and risks are hidden – but ubiquitous. Protections and risk management may work today but fail with little to no warning, and the field is constantly evolving. This seminar will explore these issues – connecting old concepts of national and international security with new concerns with privacy, influence operations enabled by social media, and artificial intelligence.

HONR 288N - Understanding the Global Economic Environment
Curt Grimm

Is the U.S. economic system best? What about China’s state capitalism or Denmark’s democratic socialism as alternatives? Why is Washington DC in gridlock on economic and budget issues? Why has the Subprime Mortgage Crisis left us with a “hangover,” over ten years now after the fact? What are the drivers of income inequality in the U.S. and across the world, and what are the profound impacts on our economy and political system? What has prompted the backlash against globalization in both the U.S. and Britain, leading to the 2016 election of President Trump (and ensuing trade wars) and Brexit? This course will address these questions as we survey the Global Economic Environment, and it is intended to provide students with the tools necessary to intelligently interpret the national and international economic environment, including the impact of economic policies.

HONR 288O- Why Do Things Fail?
Tim Foecke


Note: This course is open only to non-engineering majors.

Engineering disasters are almost never caused by a single factor. There is usually a combination of incidents and errors that accumulate in a particular sequence, until the disaster suffers a triggering event. We will examine a number of historic engineering disasters, like Chernobyl, the Hindenburg, and the Challenger explosion. There will be extensive discussions on the scientific, engineering, management, sociological and human factors that come into play. In the end, you will have developed a better understanding of what causes engineering failures, and thus hopefully develop an appreciation for the important issues and develop a mindset that is aware of the scope of thought required to avoid catastrophes in engineering.  

HONR 289A - The Ecology and Evolutionary Biology of Infectious Disease
Benjamin Rosenthal

When and where did the HIV epidemic start, and where is it headed? Why is there a specific flu season, and why does each bring one (not thousands) of strains? How can we prolong the efficacy of antibiotics, and will drug resistance overwhelm our capacity to discover new life-saving medicines? How do we adapt to the pressures posed by infectious organisms, what evolutionary tricks do they have up their sleeves, and how do we keep up? This course takes a deep dive into the evolutionary biology of infectious disease, seeking answers and building competencies in reading original scientific papers. There's no textbook. Instead, we'll wrestle scientists as they communicate with one another, tracing the roots of their conclusions while seeking to build our own understanding and posing new questions. Come with an open and critical mind, ready to read, ready to seek out your own sources of evidence inspiration, and ready to hone your skills at writing.

HONR 289P- How Do Innovators Think?
Mark Wellman

This course is for students who want to perform better in their career, to innovate in their field, and to improve their career prospects. In today’s highly competitive world, success depends on the ability to innovate. A study by the Association of American Colleges and Universities, found that 95 percent of employers surveyed say they give hiring preference to graduates with skills that will enable them to contribute to innovation in the workplace. Your ability to be creative and innovative is critical in any field. In this class, we’ll ask big questions, such as: Why does innovation matter? What does it take to innovate?; How do innovators think? How can you increase the likelihood of seeing new opportunities and coming up with good ideas? What makes organizations innovative? In addition to exploring these questions, this course focuses on application and reflection. The personal creativity reflection is an applied project that focuses on improving your creative potential through practice, networking, and moving outside your comfort zone. This assignment will involve making innovation a way of life for the semester.

HONR 289V- Mars Exploration: Past, Present, Future
Douglas Hamilton

You are standing on a rock-strewn plane, dimly lit by the distant Sun. Rust-colored hills ring the horizon, and the home planet is visible low in the twilight sky. The entrance to the unexplored cave, the destination that you have trained for all these years, stands just meters away. You enter the cave carefully, ever mindful of the 1/3 Earth-normal gravity that hampers your movements. Around the corner lies uncharted ground and amazing new discoveries! This sketch lies in the future of our exploration of the planet Mars, but the bigger picture is unclear. When in the future will we reach this point? What technology will assist our exploration? Will adventurers come all the way from Earth or from a local Mars base or colony? And more broadly, what discoveries await humanity on the red planet? This course will trace the history of Mars exploration over the past 50 years, with the goal of projecting past discoveries and trends to help chart humanity’s future interactions with our nearest planetary neighbor.  

HONR 298F- Explaining Social Change: Fact and Fiction in Understanding Why our World Looks the Way it Does
Meyer Kestnbaum

Ever wonder why people spend so much of their lives working, and so much of our education is devoted to preparing us to find a job? Or ask yourself, why isn’t freedom more widespread, why do only some people stand together against oppression, and how are eruptions of violence tied to our sense of membership in a larger group? Once you ask yourself these kinds of ‘big questions’, where would you look for answers? The social sciences have grappled with these issues and produced powerful explanations based on systematic research. But these are questions addressed equally by some of the most farsighted or penetrating works of fantasy and science fiction, whose alternative worlds bring our own into sharper focus. Think: A Brave New World, the recent film versions of The Lord of the Rings, cyberpunk short fiction, the original Star Wars and several recent episodes of Game of Thrones. In this class, we look at how paired works of academic scholarship and speculative fiction provide insight into these ‘big questions’, build on one another, and contribute to a richer appreciation of the way our social world operates.

HONR 298J- A Century of Smashing Atoms: Particle Accelerators, the Engines of Discovery
Tim Koeth

In “A Century of Smashing Atoms: Particle Accelerators, the Engines of Discovery” we will explore the evolution of the largest machines humans have ever built. Present day particle accelerators measure tens of miles in length, require the cooperation of dozens of countries to build and span multiple generations to complete, all with the singular goal to manipulate the most infinitesimal bits of matter in order to answer the biggest questions we have. The creators of these machines have persistently sought answers to the question “what are we?” These are largest machines humans have made to know themselves and to heal themselves. We will cover the science and technological development of particle accelerators from their inception to present day, in parallel we will debate the required roles genius, intuition, tenacity, and even luck of the scientists who created them. The story of the “guild of accelerator builders” is as much of a lesson in technological achievement as it is of human exploration and how discovery is achieved.

HONR 298P- The Science of Happiness
Alexa Bely

Happiness is a state of being that every one of us strives for. But what is happiness, why does it exist, and what is known about how to achieve it? In this seminar, students will learn about the multidisciplinary science of happiness, as well as the process and communication of science. The science of happiness will be explored from a broad range of perspectives by focusing on studies coming from a range of disciplines, including evolutionary biology, anthropology, neurobiology, psychology, and sociology. While learning about the science of happiness, students will also learn about the process of science by directly engaging in several key aspects of the scientific process (including identifying, reading, evaluating, and presenting primary scientific literature; delivering oral presentation of science; discussing science with both specialists and non-specialists; developing and writing a research proposal; writing about science to general audiences; revising written work; and engaging in peer review).

HONR 299K - Global Governance or World Government?
Kate Seaman

In today’s globalized world where “problems without passports” such as conflict, disease, financial crises, and climate change present challenges that cannot be solely addressed by single states alone, it is clear that cooperation and concerted efforts are necessary to bring about lasting and permanent solutions. Global Governance can be understood as “systems of rule at all levels of human activity – from the family to the international organization” (Rosenau, 1995). You will investigate important questions around global governance including, how leadership should be instituted? Is the United Nations still the best form of global governance? What type of global governance will help resolve the global crisis of today? Do we need a different form of international cooperation? Is it possible to resolve global problems, such as climate change, without international cooperation? How do the current structures of global governance help create peace? What and who should be responsible for intervening in ongoing conflicts such as Syria? Are there alternatives that would make global peace more likely, and what would these alternatives look like? By examining a wide range of scholarly research and relevant case studies the course will encourage students to look for alternative solutions to some of the big challenges facing the world today.

HONR 299Q- Quantum Mechanics: Entangled and Uncertain
Bill Dorland


Note: This course will not count for or substitute for any course prefixed by PHYS.

Informal prerequisites: Students should be comfortable with calculus and linear algebra. You will be asked to do the math! All math concepts required will be fully reviewed, but not in enough detail for a student to learn it all from scratch. Students should also be comfortable with basic ideas from probability and statistics.

Quantum mechanics is the most successful predictive model of reality ever devised. It is also probably the most counter-intuitive. As a result, there is a certain air of mystery about it. In this course, we will look behind the curtain and hopefully dispel some of the mystery. We will approach the subject from the point of view of randomness, lotteries, coin flips, and gambling. We will work through the basic ideas of measurement and observation, uncertainty, Schroedinger’s cat, wave-particle duality, entanglement, and non-locality. Class meetings will typically be interactive, and there will be mathematical problems assigned for homework. Students will be encouraged to work in teams, but each student will be responsible for mastering the homework problems, which may be the subject of short quizzes in class. The reason for this was laid out by no less than Richard Feynman — to understand physics, you have to do some calculations. There is just no substitute. Students pursuing any major (including physics) are welcome.

HONR 348J- Contemporary Social Issues
Howard Smead

A standoff between armed Americans and law enforcement in Oregon, mass marches about a war that ended in 1865. Senators and Congressmen who won’t speak to one another. Leaders who demonstrate little regard for truth or decent behavior. Media outlets that slant or alter the news. Enormous wealth, degrading poverty. Hatred of government, fear of foreigners, contempt for education. Censorship on college campuses, exhibitionism, mass murder, and over-stuffed jails, poor health care despite the most advanced medical science in the world. What’s going on here? Is this the price of freedom? The end of civil society? We are a nation deeply polarized on almost all pressing issues: from abortion to civil rights; from guns to privacy, from race to gender to ethnicity, from the way we worship (or choose not to) to where we live. Come join the discussion where we explore the hot-button issues plaguing our nation in an attempt to answer this question: Why have we become a nation at war with itself, at loggerheads over what the country stands for and where it is headed?

HONR 348M– Stock Market
Eric Wish

Most citizens never learn how stock markets operate or how to invest systematically so as to manage the risks involved. This class introduces students to the world of investing and to rules based trading. In the first five weeks, students read the seminal writings of successful traders and discuss them in the context of the class lectures. The class is "front loaded" because of the need to read and understand about 800 pages. Using the information acquired, each student then creates a set of rules to guide their trading in a competition in which each student manages a virtual $100,000 portfolio. The three students whose portfolios increase the most during the simulation are awarded a certificate and a prize. There is also a certificate given to the "Biggest Loser" who may learn the most by studying his losses. Each student also makes a presentation to the class, presenting a stock that s/he traded during the competition. The written final report for the course contains the student's analysis of his/her portfolio's performance and the creation of a revised set of trading rules to use in the future. No prior experience with investing or the stock market is required. One need only bring a passion for learning about the stock market to enhance his/her financial future.

HONR 359B- Alternatives to Violence
Colman McCarthy

Friedrich Nietzsche said, “It is one thing to have the courage of your convictions but quite another to challenge them.” All of us are called on to be peacemakers, whether in our personal or in our political lives. Yet, few have the skills or ideas to create the conditions in which peace can result. Courses in non-violence are rarely taught in schools, and non-violence is rarely used by governments as a means to settle conflicts. We seem helpless, to have no choice but reliance on fists, guns, armies, and bombs. But whatever the many types of violence—military violence, gun violence, sexual violence, domestic violence, corporate violence, verbal violence, to name a few—alternatives exist. The course, discussion-based with all opinions and all personal stories welcomed, examines where, when and how alternative succeeded, where peace increased and violence decreased.

HONR 378P - Elements of Music Composition for Non-Majors II
William C. Evans


Prerequisite: HONR 218M and permission of instructor.

Did you enjoy HONR 218M? Do you want to work on next album, EP, or symphony? Then HONR 378 is the seminar for you! Working with Logic, Reason, Sibelius and Finale you will explore advanced techniques used by composers. Explore recording studio techniques and collaborate with your fellow composers in a musical laboratory setting.