Seminars & Electives
|PSYCH 2601-01||Psychology of Music|
|UNIV 2196-01||Moral Education in Film and Literature|
|UNIV 4198-01||Honors Independent Study|
Liberal Arts Core
*Fulfills Liberal Arts Core requirement for Category VA – (class in the Honors Cottage)
Course Description: Culture, Nature and Society is an introductory class in socio-cultural anthropology that will be taught in a discussion seminar format. I look forward to this class as a learning experience not only for the students, but also for myself. I am always reevaluating the texts I use, the information I present, and class discussions in order to improve the course content, and to make relevant connections to the world we live in. The course is divided roughly into three sections. Section One examines the academic discipline of socio-cultural anthropology and focuses on the concept of culture. We will discuss topics like: Who are anthropologists? How do they collect data? How is this information analyzed? What is culture?
Section Two explores the diversity among human groups throughout the world. Our primary framework will be comparative. We will study societies from all parts of the world. Section Three is about globalization and how global forces related to capitalistic economies affect societies all over the world, including our hometowns in the Midwest. We will evaluate the consequences of these global forces for our hometowns and for our research communities. Grading criteria are based on class attendance and discussion, writing assignments, and class presentations. Writing assignments include in-class essay exams (open book), two outside of class cultural experiences, and two mini "ethnographic" projects. A class presentation on the interpration of folklore or a ritual is required.
Professor Biography: Dr. Anne Woodrick is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Northern Iowa. She received her BA in Anthropology from the University of Michigan and her doctorate from the University of California, San Diego. She has been a member of the UNI faculty since 1988. Her research interests include the role of religion in community development and mobilization among Latino immigrants in the US Midwest and the religiosity of rural Mexican women. Dr. Woodrick participated in ethnographic studies in Temax, Yucatán, Mexico, rural Central Mexico and among Latino immigrants in Marshalltown, Sioux City and Hampton, Iowa.
*Fulfills Liberal Arts Core requirement for Category VI - Capstone (Junior standing)
Course Description: While the manner and attitudes by which we die have changed through history, at no time in human history have they changed so radically as in the last century. Death, once so well accepted that people held dances on graveyards and made furniture out of human bones, now borders on the invisible. Yet there are those who argue that, far from making us “happier”, the invisibility of death has instead alienated us from essential aspects of our own humanity. Instead of dying at home surrounded by family and friends, we often die as the result of a technological process in a hospital, hooked up to machines in a state of unconsciousness. Death is again becoming visible–as people come to realize the cost–but finding healthy ways of coping with death involve understanding death as a part of life.
The experience of one’s own death (or rather, the experience of the possibility of one’s own death), is thought by many to be the most profound philosophical and human experience possible. Other’s hold that this experience, while powerful and constitutive of our personhood, is secondary to the seminal experience of the call to care by the suffering of another. Without a doubt, these experiences are closely linked. And like both medicine and ethics, how we deal with death is more than just academic.
This course is thus a blend of the academic and the personal dimensions of our lives. We deal with issues ranging from what happens to bodies after death, to the major means by which people die in our culture, to how different religions and cultures approach death and the afterlife, to talking with people around dying, to ethical and legal issues surrounding when to “pull” the plug, to the relation between pain and suffering, to questions around what dying has to teach us. The course is reading intensive–students will be expected to read carefully, thoughtfully, and report reflectively upon the assigned readings. Students will also be expected to do a short (8-10 hours) observation/service relating to the class in the community. In the end, students should be able to explain the (strange) claims that: “Only when you know how to die, will you know how to live” and that in the end, “Love is the only rational act.”
Professors Biography: Dr. Francis Degnin brings to the classroom over two years of clinical experience, having consulted on more than 200 actual cases. Dr. Degnin received his Ph.D. in Philosophy from Vanderbilt specializing in medical ethics and continental thought. He also earned degrees in Pastoral Ministry, Religion, Psychology, and Mathematics. Prior to his arrival at UNI, he taught philosophy at Vanderbilt University, ethics for the Vanderbilt Nursing Program, Humanities & Medical Ethics at Rhodes College, Medical Ethics at Meharry Medical School, and has worked with patients, families, nurses, residents, and physicians. He has also worked with people with addictions and is currently assisting in a nationwide college alcohol awareness program. Dr. Degnin has also worked on community-based initiatives and is consulting with hospitals in the local area.
*Fulfills Liberal Arts Core requirement for Category IB
*Fulfills Liberal Arts Core requirement for Category IVB
Course Description: Astronomy is the most ancient of sciences, and is used to help answer questions that range from the simple (why does the Moon change from night to night) to the abstract (if our Universe is expanding, what is it expanding into?). Students will be exposed to the basic physical principles of astronomy, learn how to use the tools of astronomers, and gain a greater familiarity with the night sky.
Students will have the opportunity to discuss the latest discoveries in the field, and examine how astronomy and science in general is presented in a variety of formats including television, film and fiction. The content of the course will be presented asynchronously, with lectures, quizzes and tests provided in an on-line format, while class time will be spent discussing the latest news in astronomy, working through problems, clarifying complex concepts, or critiquing various media presentations of astronomy. Lab time will be spent learning about the objects in the night sky and making observations of a variety of objects.
Professor Biography: Dr. Morgan hails from Minnesota, and after getting her BS in Astrophysics, and MS and PhD in Astronomy, she finally got around to getting her first drivers license. She has been at UNI since 1991, and has taught all courses in astronomy that are available. When she isn’t teaching astronomy, Dr Morgan is working on various projects, such as computer models of stellar pulsation, and evolution, as well as creating new web-based learning modules. She is also an avid fan of “Doctor Who”, has a vast comic book collection, watches more television than she should, and rides her bike, but not as much as she should.
*Fulfills Liberal Arts Core requirement for Category IIIB and IA
Note: Students who complete this writing-enhanced course will be able to satisfy Liberal Arts Core requirements in two categories: IIIB (Literature, Philosophy, or Religion) and IA (Reading and Writing).
Course Description: This Honors section of Introduction to Literature - Writing Enhanced will engage students in the study of literary texts with expression of research supported critical analysis, opinions and interpretations of the selected texts through writing, speaking, performance and discussion. The texts are loosely related by topics and themes that are related to danger, temptation, and, violence. The texts feature a range of both traditional texts and contemporary texts including Cormac McCarthy’s THE ROAD, Truman Capote’s IN COLD BLOOD, Charles Dickens’ A CHRISTMAS CAROL, William Shakespeare’s MACBETH, and Marlowe’s TRAGICAL HISTORY OF DOCTOR FAUSTUS. Griffith’s WRITING ESSAYS ABOUT LITERATURE will provide a guiding resource as we work through the texts.
Professor Biography: Professor Rick Vanderwall is a long time educator having taught all levels of students starting with sixth grade. He is a curriculum writer specializing in English education, Shakespeare, Film and Theater. He has directed over 60 theatrical productions at the high school level. Currently he is a faculty member in the Department of Languages and Literatures. He is affiliated with the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington D.C. consulting and doing workshops in Shakespeare pedagogy for teachers.
*Fulfills Liberal Arts Core requirement for Category VA - (class in Honors Cottage)
Course Description: This course is designed to introduce students to the history and culture of the American people. It is organized about various themes discussed within particular chronological frameworks. We will concentrate on the themes of war and politics, gender and reform, the natural environment and economics in each of four periods of American History:
Colonial Period: 1600s-1780s
Early National Period à Civil War and Reconstruction: 1780s-1870s
The US in an International Arena: 1880s-1940s
Post World War II: 1950s-Present
Lectures and discussions will draw connections that will provide a rich context for understanding why we are, where we are, and how we got there. In addition to the required textbook assignments, there will be four supplemental readings that will be discussed in class. Students will be required to research a subject and make a presentation in class in the form of panel discussions and debates. Additionally, students will work with primary documents. There will be four exams.
Professor Biography: Joanne Abel Goldman came to UNI in 1990. She earned her Ph.D. in 1988 from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. Her dissertation examines the process of policy formation with regard to the decision to build an integrated sewer system in New York City in the nineteenth century. This project developed Dr. Goldman’s expertise in the history of technology, history of the city, and the Early National Period, 1780s-1860s, of American History, areas in which she teaches upper level classes. More recent research interests have considered post World War II national science policy with regard to the Manhattan Project, the Ames Laboratory, and atomic energy education. Dr. Goldman considers herself an animated teacher who enjoys getting to know students and looks forward to interacting with this particularly motivated group.
Course Description: This course is an introduction to the humanities. Central to this area of study is the question of what it is to be civilized, to be “human” at its best. In this course we study this question as we also develop a critical understanding of some of the more important social, economic, political and cultural elements which constitute the human story of the West from the Enlightenment on, and which have enduring significance in and for the present. Our honors section will draw upon the imagination and creative talents of honors students by offering the opportunity for them to think about, discuss and write upon these matters in concentrated and creative ways. About half of our time together will be devoted to lectures and art films in order to tell the historical story of the West, but the other half of our time together will be devoted to class discussion of major literary, philosophical, religious and artistic works that have been produced within that story. Students will have abundant opportunity to work more fully with the material we cover in written exams and longer essays.
Professor Biography: Dr. Jerry Soneson, who came to UNI in 1991, is the Head of the Department of Philosophy and World Religions. He has also been part of the Honors Program since it began, often teaching honors sections of Humanities III, twice teaching the Presidential Scholars Seminar, The Holocaust and Religion, The Holocaust in Literature and Film, and co-teaching the Honors Seminar, The Idea of the University. Specializing in philosophy, religion and ethics during the Modern Period, he likes to ask, to think, to write about, and to discuss with students matters which have to do with the great questions of life, such as good and evil, freedom and bondage, war and peace, tragedy and hope, ideals that make life worth living, and why humans all too often seem to blow it. He loves to teach Humanities I and Humanities III because it gives him the chance to explore all of these topics with students within the historical setting of past – Ancient, Classical and Medieval, in the case of Humanities I, and Modern, in the case of Humanities III.
*Fulfills Liberal Arts Core requirement for Category IIA - (class in Honors Cottage)
*Fulfills Liberal Arts Core requirement for Category IIA - (class in Honors Cottage)
Course Description: This class will introduce students to the major themes in the history of Western Europe from the French Revolution to the present. We will study history’s “big” events, including wars and revolutions. However, rather than exploring World War I or the Cold War from a purely political or military point of view, we will investigate how these events impact human society. Students will determine how war, revolution, and social upheaval shape people’s lives depending on where they live, their social class, and their race and gender. Men and women often experiences events differently. The same is true for minorities. The experiences of a Senegalese soldier or a woman ambulance driver during World War I differ from the experiences of European men on the front lines or politicians on the home front. Students will build an understanding of how Western society develops by delving into a variety of sources produced during the eras we study. Reading materials will be supplemented by images and film clips that add an important visual component to the course. The class will incorporate a combination of lecture and discussion of primary documents.
This class will also include a current events element. History is not simply about what happened in the past. It should also help students understand contemporary society and current problems. As a result, throughout the semester, we will be discussing important stories showing up in the news. We will situate these stories into their historical context so that students know why Europe is experiencing a growth in far right political parties or what is motivating Ukrainians to protest against their government. By the end of the course, students will understand how Western societies have developed and how that development shapes our contemporary world.
Professor Biography: Emily Machen is an associate professor of history. She is a specialist in modern Europe with an emphasis in French women’s history. She received an undergraduate degree from Southeast Missouri State University, where she studied history and French, and a Ph.D. from the University of Mississippi. Professor Machen lived in France for two years while completing her dissertation. She teaches a variety of classes, including Modern France, European Society and the Great War, European Women’s History, and Humanities III. She enjoys all of her classes and tries to engage students by incorporating news and documentary video clips, images, and artifacts related to various historical periods.
*Fulfills Liberal Arts Core requirement for Category IIB
Course Description: This course is an introduction to Japanese culture from an anthropological perspective. Its purpose is to enable you to gain a basic familiarity with Japanese culture and society while also gaining a new perspective on your own culture and the diversity of human experience. Throughout the course we will explore how cultural patterns such as group-belonging, social hierarchy, role-reciprocity and social relativism account or fail to account for a variety of Japanese social institutions and life experiences. We begin with a basic orientation to Japanese geography and history. From there our exploration moves to the small-scale units of the family and local community, gradually broadening to encompass larger social institutions related to religion, education, arts and entertainment, the workplace, and government.
Professor Biography: Cyndi Dunn is an associate professor of anthropology with a specialization in Japanese language and culture. She spent two years teaching English in Japan before completing her Ph.D. in linguistic anthropology at the University of Texas at Austin. In addition to the Japan course, she teaches courses on Language and Culture and Gender in Cross-Cultural Perspective. Her research focuses on Japanese politeness and honorific use. In 2008, she returned to Japan for a six-month study of the business etiquette training given to new employees at Japanese companies.
POL AMER 1014-08 Introduction to American Politics with Dr. C Scott Peters, 1:00-1:50 MWF
*Fulfills Liberal Arts Core requirement for Category VB
Course Description: In the past decade or more, a number of remarkable events have tested our governing institutions: terrorist attacks, two lengthy wars, a deep recession, and controversy over government spending. Such events and others have sparked contentious debates about the nature of the American constitutional system, the purpose and role of government, the abilities and limitations of government in solving society’s problems, and the role of the U.S. in the world.
This course aims to better equip you to understand these and other political issues, by giving you a grounding in the principles, processes and institutions of American government. We will go beyond standard civics lessons to critically evaluate the rationale and implications of our governing principles found in the Constitution. We will also examine the institutions of government, paying special attention to how they make decisions and the factors that influence their decisions. In addition to rules and institutions, we will study how citizens behave in our democracy, how they interact with their government, and what role the media, interest groups and political parties play in that interaction.
Along the way we will discuss current events, tying our readings to the issues of the day. We will learn how to find trustworthy sources of information about American government, how to evaluate the quality of information, and how to weed out the facts from the spin. The course should help students be better informed about American politics and better consumers of information.
Professor Biography: I have been at UNI since 2003. I received his Ph.D. in Political Science in 1998 from the University of Kentucky, where my thesis investigated the ability of interest groups to influence the U.S. Supreme Court’s attention to issues. My current research focuses on issues related to judicial elections in the states, especially the influence on judicial campaigns of state canons of judicial ethics which restrict the messages of candidates during elections. I am also interested in investigating whether voters use different criteria to evaluate judicial candidates than they use to evaluate candidates for other offices. I teach the Political Science Department’s courses relating to the law, including this course, Law and Politics (which focuses on appellate courts as political decision-makers), Constitutional Law, and Civil Rights & Liberties. I also serve as a prelaw advisor, helping students navigate the law school application process. Finally, I am committed to mentoring student research. I regularly supervise honors theses and have recently begun to involve students in my own research.
*Fulfills Liberal Arts Core requirement for Category IIIB - (class in Honors Cottage)
Course Description: This course will provide a broad, chronologically organized survey of the development of the western, monotheistic religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) from the earliest written sources through the early Islamic conquests of the 7th century C.E., followed by a survey of two major religions originating in India: Hinduism and Buddhism. We will focus on reading (in translation) the primary texts of each tradition, describing their similarities and differences in worldview, beliefs about the nature of the divine, and ideas about the purpose of human existence. This section of the course will emphasize the acquisition and development of oral presentation and writing skills: small groups will collaborate to offer presentations to the class on specific areas within the various religious traditions, and students will select a topic for in-depth individual study and write a research paper.
N.B.: We will be less concerned with the historicity of the ‘supernatural’ events described in some of the traditions than with how the stories affected the beliefs of each religion: we are tracing the development of religious thought, not trying to determine, for example, whether or not Noah did in fact build a really big boat.
Professor Biography: John Burnight is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Philosophy and World Religions. He received his PhD from the University of Chicago’s Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations in 2011, with an emphasis on Hebrew language and literature. He has been a lecturer at a small private college in the Chicago suburbs and large public universities in Connecticut and North Carolina, teaching introductory and upper-level courses in Old Testament/Hebrew Bible, World Religions, and the History of Monotheism. In 2007-08 he was a Fulbright-Hays Visiting Research Fellow at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His research focuses on “subversive” or “protest” literature within the biblical texts: namely, works such as the Book of Job that speak “truth to power” and critique the dominant Israelite/Judahite theology of the biblical periods.
*Fulfills Liberal Arts Core requirements for Category IC
Course Description: The Honors Introductory Statistics course covers traditional topics including descriptive statistics, probability, random variables, sampling distributions, inferential statistics, confidence intervals and hypothesis tests. Students will learn critical statistical thinking, along with the statistical software package, S-Plus. Emphasis will be on real world applications of pertinent statistical methods and ideas. Students will collect data on a topic of interest to them and analyze the data using the tools learned in the classroom.
Professor Biography: I am Professor of Statistics in the Department of Mathematics at UNI, where I specialize in the area of spatial prediction and modeling using Bayesian and Geostatistical techniques. My research involves developing methodology for spatial association often present in environmental and economic data. Recently, I have worked as part of a multidisciplinary team of chemists, biologists, and environmental scientists at the University of Northern Iowa analyzing water quality data in Iowa's lakes and wetlands. I currently work with Iowa Workforce Development and the Institute for Decision Making to forecast the potential available workers in laborsheds across Iowa. My most recent research project involves developing new statistical techniques to measure the negative or positive financial impact on housing prices from living close to a point source, such as a hoglot, nuclear power plant or a highly desirable school.
HONORS SEMINARS AND ELECTIVES
**3 credit hour psychology or university elective
Course Description: The purpose of this course is to provide an introduction to psychology of music, with special emphasis on those aspects of music that have an impact on our daily lives. Topics will include individual and cross-cultural differences in music perception and cognition; emotion and meaning in music; music in movies and advertising; music and social change; creativity in music; nature and nurture in musical development; teaching and learning music; music and the brain; and music therapy.
The class is conducted like a seminar, where students are responsible for reading, writing, listening, reflecting, and sharing their ideas with the class. Class sessions consist of mini lectures, videos, concerts, demonstrations, student presentations, guest lectures, and class discussions. Students who wish to collect their own research data have many opportunities to do so. The course is designed to be rigorous and intellectually stimulating for all students—you don’t have to be musician or a psychology major to enjoy this class!
Professor Biography: Dr. Carolyn Hildebrandt is a Professor of Psychology who has been teaching Psychology of Music at UNI since 1994. She has a B.A. in Music from U.C.L.A., an M.A. in Educational Psychology from U.C. Davis, a Ph.D. in Human Development and Education from U.C. Berkeley, and did a Postdoctoral Fellowship in Developmental Psychology at U.C. Berkeley. Her main areas of research in psychology of music are the development of musical intelligence in children and adults, emotion and meaning in music, and creativity in music. Dr. Hildebrandt is a professional pianist and an amateur cellist. She enjoys teaching Honors Psychology of Music because of the creativity and enthusiasm that the students bring to it. She encourages her students to pursue their own passions and interests and often invites former students to return as guest speakers to the class.
*3 credit hour seminar – Requires sophomore standing
Course Description: There are at least three fundamental aims of education. The first aim is the most obvious, namely, the transmission and development of knowledge. From the day children enter kindergarten, they begin to learn about the knowledge of the world that our culture has developed over the past centuries. As time goes on, they eventually learn to contribute to the development of new knowledge, adding to our cultural heritage. The second aim is the cultivation of fundamental intellectual skills necessary for living in a complex society, such as reading, writing, calculating, and thinking. But the third aim, which is not as obvious but is perhaps more important to both individuals and to society as a whole, is moral development and transformation necessary for living a good life, what the great Greek philosopher, Socrates, calls, “the life worth living.” This course will explore the nature of this aspect of education through an examination and discussion of literature and film that discusses and dramatizes key issues having to do with individuals and groups who are challenged with problems that call forth the need for further moral education.
Moral issues and problems are fundamentally dramatic, -- full of uncertainty about what ought to be done, how to do it, and what the expected outcomes might be. It is not surprising that much literature and film portray dramas that embody these problems. They constitute, in many ways, ideal case studies in moral education. And so this course will be using some of the better examples in the literature and film that present these dramas in order to explore fundamental questions about the meaning of moral growth and transformation as educational experience.
Professor's Biography: Dr. Jerome Soneson, who came to UNI in 1991, is the Head of the Department of Philosophy and World Religions. He has also been part of the Honors Program since it began, often teaching honors sections of Humanities III, twice teaching the Presidential Scholars Seminar, “The Holocaust and Religion, once teaching the capstone course, “The Holocaust in Literature and Film,” and three times teaching the honors seminar, “The Idea of the University.” Specializing in philosophy, religion and ethics during the Modern Period, he likes to ask, to think, to write about, and to discuss with students matters that have to do with the great questions of life, such as good and evil, freedom and bondage, war and peace, tragedy and hope, ideals that make life worth living, and why humans all too often seem to blow it. One reason he wants to teach this course is that he gets to think about and discuss with students the one feature of education least discussed, namely, the moral dimension of education. Another reason is that, having dedicating his adult life to participating in and promoting education, as a good philosophical pragmatist he wants to know what good, if any, education has for cultivating good, that is, something enduringly worthwhile, something genuinely significant, genuinely civilized. He hopes students will help to illuminate answers to this troubling question.
Dr. Scott Cawelti is a professor emeritus in the Department of English Language and Literature. He taught writing, film, and literature courses from 1968 to 2008. He is the author of two writing texts, the editor of The Complete Poetry of James Hearst, and a columnist and feature story writer for the Waterloo Courier. In addition, he has authored Brother’ Blood: A Midwestern Cain and Abel (Ice Cube Press: September 2011) and released a CD of James Hearst Poetry he set to music, Landscape Iowa: 16 James Hearst Poems, Sung. (December, 2010) He current serves as an adjunct instructor, teaching the films of the Coen Brothers.
*3 credit hour seminar – Requires sophomore standing
Course Description: Bioinformatics is a relatively new interdisciplinary field combining molecular biology, computer science, mathematics, chemistry and physics. This course will cover introductory bioinformatics topics, including biological sequence and structure analysis, mathematical and computational methods for measuring DNA and protein sequence similarity, finding patterns and motifs in DNA and protein sequences, genome rearrangements and evolutionary trees. We will also explore some widely used online bioinformatics tools and online databases of DNA and protein sequences and structures. Lectures will be complemented with many hands-on exercises. Students will be asked to apply the techniques learned in class to practical problems, using a mixture of realistic and toy examples.
Professors Biography: Aleksandar Poleksic is an associate professor of computer science. He received his Ph.D. in mathematics from the Florida State University, M.S. in mathematics from the University of Belgrade, and B.S. in mathematics from the University of Montenegro, Yugoslavia. His research spans the fields of computer science, computational biology and mathematics, with strong focus on protein sequence, structure and function analysis. Prior to coming to UNI, Prof. Poleksic was a senior scientist at Eidogen, Inc., where he was instrumental in the development of a novel informatics platform for rational drug discovery. At UNI, Prof. Poleksic teaches mostly theoretical computer science courses and computational biology. His teaching is interactive (rather than formal); he encourages frequent discussions, in-class exercises and small-group work.
*2 credit hour seminar – 1st year scholars only
The Honors Thesis is the final step towards earning a University Honors designation from the University of Northern Iowa. The thesis gives Honors students the opportunity to explore a scholarly area of interest with the guidance of a faculty member. It is intended to serve as the culmination of the Honors experience.
The thesis provides you with experience in research as well as an opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge and expertise. While the process may at times be challenging, it will also be rewarding. You will enhance your knowledge of the chosen topic and further develop your research or creative skills. The final product should leave you with a sense of pride and accomplishment for what you have attained.
Students wishing to register for Honors Thesis must meet with Jessica to discuss course requirements and have their registration holds removed. Call Brenda at 3-3175 to make an appointment.
The purpose of independent study is to provide students with an opportunity to participate in an educational experience beyond what is typically offered in the classroom. Students must be prepared to exercise a great deal of independent initiative in pursuing such studies. Honors students may receive independent study credit for research projects of their own or those shared with faculty members, certain internship opportunities, or some types of work or volunteer experiences.
Students wishing to register for Honors Independent Study must meet with Jessica to discuss course requirements and have their registration holds removed. Call Brenda at 3-3175 to make an appointment.