Fall 2014 University Honors Program Inquiry 444 Seminars

The following are course descriptions for Honors Inquiry Seminars. The Honors Program also offers a variety of non-seminar courses not included on this page. You can find them via the Honors Course Search.

Biotechnology and Society
BIOL 444A H01
Subhash Minocha
Inquiry, Environment, Technology & Society, GenEd 3T
TR 9:40-11am

A historical perspective on the science of biotechnology and the genetic engineering of bacteria, plants, and animals, including humans; applications of DNA-based technologies, cloning, and genetic engineering to agriculture, biomedicine, industrial products, and environmental problems; discussion of economic, social, environmental, legal, and ethical issues related to the applications of biotechnology and genetic engineering.

The intent of this course is to embark on a dialogue of the nature and the content of the science of biotechnology and its interface with the societal issues. This is as much a course in science as a course about science. We’ll discuss the science of biotechnology and its applications to agriculture, medicine, industrial products and environmental problems; and social and ethical issues raised by recent developments in the field. Historical and philosophical background for understanding these issues will be discussed. In addition to topics on the theory and the techniques that form the basis of biotechnology and genetic engineering, discussion will focus on ethical dilemmas arising from the applications of biotechnology to human health, and to the creation and preservation of life. The legal conflicts such as ownership and patenting of living cells and organisms, concerns about prenatal and job-related genetic diagnosis, the creation and release of genetically engineered organisms (Genetically Modified Organisms - GMOs), the use of biotechnology in warfare, and the creation of synthetic life will be discussed.

It matters not if you become a career scientist, an artist, a politician, or whatever else - what matters is that you feel that you are a scientifically literate person who can participate in decisions about the new technologies that will affect society in an unprecedented manner. In order to participate in decision-making about applications of scientific discoveries, one must understand the concepts and techniques behind these discoveries. It is envisioned that this course will provide you an opportunity to learn a wide range of concepts and techniques related to biotechnology.

The Meaning of Entrepreneurship
DS 444 H01
Jeffrey Sohl
Writing Intensive, Inquiry, Environment, Technology & Society, GenEd 7
MW 9:40-11am

This course explores the idea and ideals of entrepreneurship, the creating of value through individual initiative, creativity and innovation. This course is intended to expose students to what is meant by entrepreneurship, what it means to be an entrepreneur, and what it means to be part of an entrepreneurial culture and society. The course is intended to help students learn about and gain experience in entrepreneurship as well as critique entrepreneurship.

The course uses a broad, not just business, approach to the study of entrepreneurship. It requires that students actively engage in classroom discussion and in the subject matter. The course encourages the development of multiple views of entrepreneurship. It will have students consider and critique entrepreneurship from different perspectives and to consider the meaning and role of entrepreneurship in contemporary society. It will require students to formulate good questions about entrepreneurship and learn how to address their questions using different frameworks and ideas of entrepreneurship.

An important and unique aspect of the course is that it includes an outside network of entrepreneurs and encourages the development of long-term relationships between students and their entrepreneurship mentors. Each student will select their entrepreneur mentor from among a group of entrepreneurs that have agreed to work with the students on a number of projects in the class. For students, the relationships with entrepreneurs can help them gain exposure to and insight on entrepreneurial practice and also lead to projects, internships and opportunities for jobs after graduation. The course includes guest lecturers and develops an interactive learning environment. This course is intended for those students who want to learn about entrepreneurship and innovation, work for an innovative firm, become involved in a new venture creation within an established organization, start a company or work for a start-up. Open to all majors.

ECE 444 H01 and H02
Writing Intensive, Inquiry, Biological Science, DLAB, GenEd 3B
Section H01, T 3:40-5:30pm and TR 2:10-3:30pm
Section H02, R 3:40-5:30pm and TR 2:10-3:30pm

"Gentlemen, we can rebuild him. We have the technology," announced the narrator at the start of the 1970s television series, The Six Million Dollar Man. The program showed scientists reconstructing the shattered body of crash victim Steve Austin with bionic implants he could control with his mind. At the time, this was pure fantasy, but recent papers in the magazine Nature (Is this the bionic man? Vol. 442, No. 7099, July 13, 2006) suggest that the direct interfacing of the human brain with computers or robots is no longer confined to fiction.

Since then we have seen Spider Man, Iron Man, Rogue, Storm, Darth Vader and a host of other heroes who have bionic capabilities.

If you are interested in brain-computer interfaces, if you interested in cyborgs, if you are interested designing defense systems from studying flora and fauna, if you are interested in designing car bodies from watching fish swim, if you interested in learning and using the end-points of Nature’s design for the betterment of person-kind…..you must be interested in “bionics”.

The emerging field of “bionics” is the study of living systems with the intention of applying their principles to the design of useful technology for person-kind. Technological innovations from Nature have included Velcro (In 1948 George de Mestral was cleaning his dog of burrs picked up on a walk when he realized how the hooks of the burrs clung to the fur.), cat’s eye reflectors (In 1935 Percy Shaw after studying the mechanism of cat eyes found, that cats had a system of reflecting cells, known as tapetum licidum which was capable of reflecting the tiniest bit of light.), smart clothing (In 2004 Julien Vincent discovered that the pinecone responds to warmer temperatures by opening their scales to disperse seeds. The smart fabric does the same thing, opening up when it is warm, and shutting tight when cold.), and Leonardo da Vinci's flying machines and ships which are early examples of designing from nature. Obviously from the examples provided, the study of bionics requires a multidisciplinary approach to solve application-oriented questions.

World War Propaganda
HIST 444C H01
Marion Dorsey
Writing Intensive, Inquiry, Historical Perspectives, GenEd 4
MW 11:10-12:30pm

You know the slogan "Uncle Sam Wants You!" You have heard that Winston Churchill proclaimed "Never Has So Much Been Owed to So Many By So Few." You have seen pictures of Rosie the Riveter. You may have watched Mickey Mouse or Charlie Chaplin. All of these words, characters, and images are part of examples of wartime propaganda in Britain or the U.S. during the World Wars. World War I and World War II were known as total wars, with weapons that targeted minds and emotions as well as bodies. Propaganda was a bloodless weapon in an era of high-tech tools, but it was also a feared and ubiquitous one. Using an historical approach, some of the issues addressed in this course include: Who were some of the targets of propaganda? How were posters different from films or radio broadcasts? What were the messages of propaganda? What does propaganda say about these nations as cultures and societies as well as about their war efforts? Run as a seminar in which the focus is on discussion and writing, we will analyze multimedia primary sources as well as use secondary ones from posters, film, and music to monographs.

Global Public Health Issues
HMP 444A H01
Rosemary Caron
Inquiry, World Cultures, GenEd 5
TR 3:40-5pm

Using the perspective of public health, the course will cover factors associated with the development of health problems and efforts to prevent disease in impoverished areas. Students will explore the role of social communication, politics, religion, economics, education and culture in contributing to global public health issues and will integrate these factors and values in developing solutions to the widespread public health issues affecting communities worldwide. Students will learn about the magnitude of disease in the developing world (e.g., communicable and non-communicable disease, women and child health, nutrition, and unintentional injuries) and how health is assessed and how health systems effectively work together to improve global health.

Trans/Forming Gender
WS 444 H01
Joelle Ryan
Inquiry, Social Sciences, GenEd 7
T 5:10-8pm

An introduction to transgender identities, history, and politics in the United States. Through readings, films, guest speakers, discussions and small group activities, we will explore the diversity and complexity of the trans, genderqueer and drag communities’ lived experiences in our society. Specific topics we will examine include: transgender coming out narratives, trans activism, transgender and race, transgender images in the media, trans-feminism, transphobia, hate crimes, drag performance, trans parenting, trans allyship and trans youth. Authors we read will include: Leslie Feinberg, Kate Bornstein, Janet Mock, Susan Stryker and Julia Serano. Work for the course will consist of short papers, presentations, a longer research essay and a community action project.


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