Fall 2016 Honors Scholar Seminars


(The application deadline for this seminar has passed.)

The Roman Empire: Science, Technology, and Infrastructure

HON 341-04 / HON 351-04
TTh 2:30-3:45
Prof. John R. Hale

The Roman Empire covered the territory of 27 modern countries, and completely enclosed the Mediterranean Sea.  The Romans built their empire on military conquests, but then sustained it for five centuries through a highly-developed infrastructure of urban planning, resource extraction, long-range communication systems, and the imperial guild of engineers.  A key element of Roman infrastructure was provided by the peace-time army, which constructed the thousands of miles of stone-paved highways as well as the extraordinary aqueducts which brought water from distant sources to most Roman cities.  From Hadrian’s Wall in northern England to the fortress city of Dura Europos on the Euphrates River, the Roman world was integrated by this unique infrastructural framework.  In this participatory seminar on the Roman Empire, students will research and present reports on special topics related to this human-built physical environment.
This course will fulfill requirements in the Social Sciences or Natural Sciences and concludes with travel to Italy.

To read the application criteria and apply please click here.


"Reel" Faith and Fantasy Religion: Exploring Religion in Game of Thrones

HON 331-01 / HON 341-01
TTh 11:00-12:15
Prof. Roy Fuller

Though set in the fantasy world created by George R.R. Martin, the portrayal of religion in Game of Thrones captures the real-world complexity of religious faith and practice and explores contemporary questions regarding religious diversity and the interplay of religion and culture. Religious faith can comfort, inspire, confound, and become a tool in the hands of those who would use it to further their own political and social agendas.  Though many gods and religious traditions are found within Game of Thrones, no single faith dominates, though some adherents believe otherwise, as stated by Melisandre, priestess to R’hllor: "Lord of Light! Come to us in our darkness. We offer you these false gods. Take them and cast your light upon us. For the night is dark and full of terrors."  Students will explore the various religions of Game of Thrones, how religions function in this fantasy world, and their real-world significance for contemporary theological challenges such as religious exclusivism and intolerance.  The course will include viewing of select episodes of Game of Thrones, readings from A Song of Fire and Ice series and social and cultural analysis of Martin’s work. Students will participate and lead discussions on select topics and produce creative written and/or digital assignments based upon course materials.  
This course will fulfill requirements in the Humanities or Social Sciences.


From the Ashes: Beowulf in Context(s)

HON 331-02 / HON 341-02
MWF 10:00-10:50
Prof. Andrew Grubb

So. Long before you could buy it in a slick, black-and-silver paperback or have it shoved in front of you in your high-school English class, Beowulf existed without notoriety, crammed in a manuscript with four other texts that no one reads nowadays.  To our knowledge, there was only one copy of the poem, and it was almost destroyed in a fire in 1731. Since the end of the 18th century, scholars have been engaged in the nearly constant, no-end-in-sight project of transcribing, editing, translating, analyzing, interpreting, and teaching the poem. More recently, artists, authors, and other non-academic actors have joined in with adaptations and recreations as we still grapple with generally trying to understand the poem. These recent efforts culminated between 1999 and 2007, when four feature-length motion pictures based on Beowulf appeared.  How did we get from some damaged medieval manuscript pages to a sci-fi Beowulf? Or a computer-generated Beowulf? Or to Antonio Banderas wielding a scimitar in a Beowulf story? This course explores why Beowulf persists in our culture, how it has done so, who has been responsible for it, and how the poem has been used and interpreted by different people at different times. As we trace the poem’s journey, we will also discuss how the academic endeavor that has examined Beowulf relates to the poem’s (re)presentation in popular culture through literature (particularly Grendel and Eaters of the Dead), film, television, graphic representations, and internet media.
This course will fulfill requirements in the Humanities or Social Sciences.


TV Criticism of the Paranormal

HON 331-03 / HON 341-03
MW 2:00-3:15
Prof. Siobhan Smith


This course will provide you with the necessary critical tools to reflect upon and understand the gratifications scary television texts provide viewers. In addition, you will critique the assumptions that these texts put forth about you, others, and the world around you. During the semester, we will develop a more thorough and critical understanding of the ways in which paranormal/horror television programs make meanings by studying the theories and methods for examining these programs, the audiences who watch them, and the culture in which television programs are produced and viewed. We can’t do this without also taking into account who produces these horror(fying) texts, who their (assumed) target audiences are, who the texts represent, and the authenticity of these representations. My hope is that you will become more thoughtful, engaged, critical television viewers.  
This course will fulfill requirements in the Humanities or Social Sciences.


The Path to Resilient Organizations: Building Equivalence of Power

HON 331-07 / HON 341-07
MW 4:00-5:15
Prof. Sarah C. Nunez


Imagine the ideal organization.  What central features would it include?  In this seminar, we will explore participatory decision making and organizational structures that are rooted in engagement and fuel member empowerment and coalition building.  Toward understanding such processes, we will examine case studies, discuss current movements (such as Black Lives Matter, Immigrant Rights, and Environmental Justice as well as the intersection of these movements), and hear from local participants/leaders.  Our primary focus will be on the public sector and local, regional, and national movements.  Further, employing principles that we will study in the course, seminar participants will have opportunities to actively shape areas of focus and assignment selection.
This course will fulfill requirements in the Humanities or Social Sciences.


Sports, Culture, and the Anxieties of Empire: The Emergence of Modern Solo and Team Sports in Victorian and early Twentieth Century Britain from the 1830s to the 1920s - WR

HON 336-07 / HON 346-07
MW 2:00-3:15
Prof. Michael Johmann

Western culture’s modern fascination with sports emerged in the mid-19th century as a result of a variety of forces shaping urban, industrial life, including the changing nature of work, the emergence of the middle class and the expansion of elite private schools and universities.  Situated on the leading edge of the industrial revolution, Britain set the pattern for sports culture in other countries by becoming the first to organize team sports leagues, create regulations and codes of conduct, and define the “greatness” of its elite schools and universities by its athletic accomplishments.  Whereas in previous centuries, the word “sport” applied to the leisure activities of a landed gentry—including riding, hunting and falconry—or to betting and “blood” sports such as horseracing, boxing and bear-baiting, the mid-19th century witnessed the rise of a wide range of individual and team sports appealing to both lower and middle class audiences that continue to define athletics around the world.  This course will examine the social, cultural, economic and political forces influencing the rise of modern sports during the Victorian and Edwardian periods in Britain, with particular emphasis on the following issues:  the “effete” world of education vs. the masculine needs of empire, traditional vs. “muscular” Christianity, urbanization vs. loss of outdoor work, working class vs. gentleman athletes, amateur vs. professional status, the athlete’s body vs. cultural prudery, female athletes vs. male privilege, and appropriate costume vs. the assumptions of gender.  Focal points of the course will include the creation of the modern Olympics, the evolution of sports such as competitive swimming from betting to amateur status, and the dual triumphs of Capt. Matthew Webb as the first man to swim the English Channel in 1875 and Trudy Ederle as the first woman (and sixth person) in 1926.  We will also explore the expansion and exportation of league sports such as cricket and soccer throughout the British Empire and the simultaneous rise of similar sports such as baseball and football in the United States during the same period.
This course will fulfill requirements in the Humanities or Social Sciences.


Studies in Queer Speculative Fiction – WR

HON 336-08 / HON 346-08
TTh 5:30-6:45
Prof. Brit Mandelo

This course will explore the intersections between queer identities/politics and speculative fiction, considering the modes for representation and social commentary that these texts have offered over the past century. We will read several novels, as well as a selection of related short fiction and critical prose, to develop an understanding of (1) the cultural, aesthetic, and political functions of "genre" fiction and (2) the complex relationship between artistic production and social change, specifically in terms of gender/sexual identities. Students will be expected to write critically throughout the semester to demonstrate their grasp of the material and their ability to engage productively with the academic conversation on these topics.
This course will fulfill requirements in the Humanities or Social Sciences.

Citizen Science: Investigating and Solving Local Environmental Issues

HON 341-06 / HON 351-06
TTh 4:00-5:15
Prof. David Wicks & Prof. Russ Barnett

This seminar will take an interdisciplinary approach to examine the history, research on the benefits, and national, regional and local case studies of successful citizen science initiatives. After interacting with the people who sponsor local citizen science initiatives, the class will participate in local citizen science projects. These projects could be located on campus, in area communities/watershed, or in your hometown.


“What Is Citizen Science? In citizen science, the public participates voluntarily in the scientific process, addressing real-world problems in ways that include formulating research questions, conducting scientific experiments, collecting and analyzing data, interpreting results, making new discoveries, developing technologies and applications, and solving complex problems.” (Federal Crowdsourcing and Citizen Science Toolkit)

Projects will be drawn from: health (i.e., indoor air quality, asthma), natural sciences (i.e., land, air and water quality,  vegetation management), climate change (impacts), and education. The class will help organize a bio blitz on campus.



“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” –Margaret Mead


The future of citizen science appears bright. The number of inquisitive individuals concerned about the environment and wanting to do more than donate money to environmental groups or talk about protecting the environment guarantees that citizen science will play an increasing role in our understanding of our environment.
This course will fulfill requirements in the Social Sciences or Natural Sciences.



The Suffragettes: Literature and Culture – WR

HON 436-01 / HON 446-01 / ENGL 401-01
MWF 11:00-11:50
Prof. Amy Clukey



2016 is not just an election year: it’s an election year in which a female candidate is a serious contender for the office of President of the United States. Nearly a century after the ratification of the nineteenth amendment that gave women the constitutional right to vote, it’s time to take a look back at how American and British women went from being the legal property of their husbands and fathers to fully-fledged citizens and political agents. This course will take an interdisciplinary approach to examine first wave feminism in general and the fight for the vote in particular. We will discuss nineteenth-century gender roles for white and black women, class hierarchies in the feminist movement, anti-feminist activism against women’s suffrage, the connection between women’s rights and imperialism, racism within the women’s movement, and the militant turn of the 1910s. Although many people today associate suffragettes with black-and-white photos of women in big hats, I think you’ll find that first wave feminist activists were far more interested in dismantling strident gender roles, heckling the president, revolutionary suicide, and bomb making than in Victorian femininity.
This course will fulfill requirements in the Humanities or Social Sciences or in the English Department.


What It Means To Be Avant-Garde: Literature, The Arts, and Experimental Education at Black Mountain College - WR

HON 436-03 / HON 446-03 / ENGL 401-02
TTh 4:00-5:15
Prof. Alan Golding

This seminar explores the relationship between the arts and education at Black Mountain College (1933-1957), the tiny experimental college in North Carolina that centered its curriculum in the arts and that—in terms both of the figures who taught there in multiple disciplines and the students it produced—became one of the most influential arts institutions of the twentieth century. The literary component of the class focuses on the poetry, short fiction, and cultural theory of the Black Mountain School, those poets who attended or taught at Black Mountain between about 1948 and 1956 and the associated poets who shared the same networks of correspondence and publication into the 1960s. Equally important to the course, however, will be the interaction of literature with major figures in the other arts: Merce Cunningham in dance, John Cage and David Tudor in music, Franz Kline, Willem and Elaine de Kooning, Cy Twombly and Robert Rauschenberg in painting, Mary Caroline Richards in ceramics. A central goal is to pursue the implications of a question posed in the poet Lyn Hejinian's My Life: "Isn't the avant-garde always pedagogical [?]” For the community of artists and students at Black Mountain, what were the connections between experimental art making and cutting-edge thinking about teaching? If all goes according to plan, the seminar will include a field trip to the major retrospective exhibit “Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College 1933-1957” (http://www.icaboston.org/exhibitions/leap-you-look-black-mountain-college-1933%E2%80%931957), now at the ICA in Boston but coming to Ohio State.
This course will fulfill requirements in the Humanities or Social Sciences or English Department.


International Law - WR

HON 436-04 / HON 446-04
TTh 1:00-2:15
Prof. Julie Bunck

In focusing upon the role that international law plays within the larger realm of international relations, this course will ask where is law important, where is it less important, and why?  We will consider where international law comes from, how it differs from and resembles domestic law of various sorts, how international tribunals function, and what is meant by such terms as sovereignty, piracy, terrorism, refugees, international organized crime, slavery, genocide, extradition, and arbitration.  Throughout the course we will adopt an interdisciplinary approach to the study of international law, making a special effort to discuss political, historical, and other relevant social contexts.  In pursuing these broad themes, the class will consider a multitude of cases involving different aspects of international law, including the Iran hostage crisis of 1980, air pollution and ozone depletion, trials involving alleged Nazi and Japanese war criminals, the shooting down of KAL 007 by the Soviet Union, and the assassination in the U.S. of a former Chilean politician by Chile’s secret police.
This course will fulfill requirements in the Humanities or Social Sciences.

Current Global Economic Issues

HON 441-XX / ECON 490-XX
MW 11:00-12:15
Prof. TBA


A survey course of current microeconomic and macroeconomic issues. The class will study important economic issues in 2016 and will include both written and oral assignments.
This course will fulfill requirements in the Social Sciences or the College of Business.


How Do We Communicate Health? - WR

HON 446-05 / HON 456-05
TTh 1:00-2:15
Prof. Kandi L. Walker

Using the question in the course title, how do we communicate health?, this seminar will discuss how we communicate health in personal, interpersonal, cultural, and mediated ways.

An interesting aspect of health communication is that everyone is involved with it in some way—as a patient, a professional, a caregiver, a health advocate, etc. The information presented will cover a broad range of topics from ethical dilemmas surrounding health, the close relationship people have between their health and religious beliefs, and different types of images of health in the media.  Additionally, we will look at diversity issues across different health contexts by discussing cultural ideas about health and the role that race, age, ability, language, sexual orientation, economic status, and other factors play in health communication. The underlying theme in this course is that where health is concerned, ignoring or minimizing differences can have unhealthy and even deadly consequences.

Respect for diversity carries over into the classroom. Students will be encouraged to voice and consider a wide variety of viewpoints. The object is not to find the one right answer, but to gain experience discussing and reflecting on the immense responsibilities involved in communicating about health.
This course will fulfill requirements in the Social Sciences or Natural Sciences.


Aging: Science and Stories - WR

HON 446-06 / HON 456-06 / PSYC 414-03
TTh 9:30-10:45
Prof. Keith Lyle


What does it mean to be "old"? What does it feel like to grow old? What can older people teach others about living well?  This seminar examines aging by comparing and contrasting the scientific study of aging and the lived experiences of older people.  Topics covered will include biological, psychological and social aspects of the aging processes as described in empirical research and the individual stories of older people.  This course will describe the various trajectories of aging including normal aging, successful aging, and some of the problems often associated with aging including dementia, disability, and depression.
This course will fulfill requirements in the Social Sciences or Natural Sciences.


The Rediscovered Country: Star Trek at 50

HON 331-05 / HON 341-05
MW 4:00-5:15
Prof. Dwain C. Pruitt

September 8, 2016, marks the fiftieth anniversary of arguably the most influential failure in television history, “Star Trek.” Canceled after only three seasons and seemingly destined for obscurity, “Star Trek” survived to become a $4 billion franchise and a global phenomenon. This seminar considers the history and enduring popularity of the “Star Trek” universe, exploring its most popular themes and characters as well as the scholarship that the series has inspired. The seminar will offer participants the opportunity to engage in academic and creative writing exercises, including the creation of an original “Star Trek” episode.  This course will fulfill requirements in the Humanities or Social Sciences.

International Negotiation

HON 431-75 / HON 441-75 / POLS 530-XX
W 5:30-8:15
Prof.  M. Fowler

The attempted negotiation of problems and disputes that stretch across international borders is one of the most fascinating aspects of international politics these days. Some problems confront negotiators with the chance to do something to make the world a bit better, more prosperous, and more peaceful. Other issues, if unresolved, threaten grave consequences. Many thorny substantive disputes are further complicated by cross-cultural misunderstandings, historical grievances, the lack of a shared language, and an array of other difficulties. Professor Michael Fowler has taught negotiation in Australia, China, Costa Rica, Japan, Laos, Mexico, Panama, Venezuela, Vietnam, and the United States to diplomats, lawyers, business executives, and undergraduate and graduate students in law and political science. He will bring these experiences to bear in an International Negotiation seminar offered to Honors students in the Fall 2016 term.

This active-learning course will intensively explore the theory and practice of international negotiation. It will involve students negotiating and then analyzing realistic hypothetical cases, drawn up by Harvard University’s Program on Negotiation, that place them in diverse scenarios related to an array of international issues. Class time will be divided among simulations, debriefings in which the hypothetical problems as well as the ensuing student negotiations are analyzed, and discussions concerning the chief issues and strategies faced by international negotiators. The seminar is designed not only to enlighten students on negotiation as a vitally important aspect of modern international relations, but to equip students with fundamental negotiation skills that should help them to assess and handle the many disputes that will arise in their daily lives and careers more skillfully, effectively, and peacefully.
This course will fulfill requirements in the Humanities or Social Science or Political Science Department.

Problems in United States Legal History

HON 436-75 / HON 446-75 
M 5:00-7:45
Prof.  T. Mackey

This seminar provides students with  introduction to the Legal History of the United States by examining three key time-frames in the nation’s development: The Revolutionary/Constitutional Era, 1765-1803; the Era of Lincoln, 1848-1896; and the Era of the Rights Revolution, 1954-1991.  At issue will be the concept of “law” within these historical contexts.  Each era asked different historical questions about and of the law, and each era answered those questions in different fashions.  Students will gain an appreciation of the varying historical arguments of those eras and the historians who have interpreted them.  Students will develop an appreciation of how past Americans considered, applied, and have been shaped by these varying understandings of law.

This course will fulfill requirements in the Humanities or Social Science or Political Science Department.