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University Honors Program

Course Directory

University Honors Program Spring 2017 Courses

Spring 2017 Advising Information

Liberal Arts Core

CAP 3194-01 (same as Phil 3110 & RELS 3110)

Capstone: Perspectives on Death and Dying

BIOL 1012-02

Life: The Natural World

COMM 1000-14

Oral Communication

FAM SERV 1010-05

Human Identity and Relationships

HUM 1021-05

Humanities I

HUM 1022-02

Humanities II

HUM 1023-08

Humanities III

HUM 3125-02


POL INTL 1024-03

International Relations

RELS 1020-04

Religions of the World

UNIV 1092-01

Rhinos, Tigers, Bears, Goodbye? (1st Year Presidential Scholars ONLY)

UNIV 1092-02

Sophomore Service Learning (2nd Year Presidential Scholars ONLY)

UNIV 2196-01

Seminar: Drawing: Seeing and Thinking

UNIV 2196-02

Seminar: Financial Crisis, Antifragility & Why Nations Fail

UNIV 4197-01

UNIV 4198-01

Honors Thesis

Honors Independent Study

Liberal Arts Core

CAP 3194-01  Capstone: Perspectives on Death and Dying with Dr. Francis Degnin, 2:00pm-3:15pm TTh (Class in Honors Cottage)

same as PHIL 3110 & RELS 3110

Prerequisites: Junior Standing

Fulfills LAC Category VI

Course Description: Facing death pushes us to ask the ultimate question:  What is it that makes life worthwhile?   This means, at least for a time, setting aside one’s belief in an afterlife (which, after all, is an issue of faith rather than certainty) and asking, instead, “what if this is all there is?”  When one deals with the discomfort of that question, both in the body and in the mind, one comes to live one’s life very differently.  The chaff falls away and we live for what is really important.  While other resources can help, it’s a journey each of us must take, ultimately, on our own.

This is not to say that there isn’t an afterlife.  But, as we will argue when we move on to Christian and other spiritual writers (i.e., C.S. Lewis), belief in an afterlife may be almost irrelevant to a mature spirituality.  (For Lewis, the afterlife is a sort of “bonus”.)  Holding too tightly onto such beliefs might, instead, reflect a spiritual emptiness.  We will argue that there is a profound difference between both psychology and spirituality, what that difference is, and why it’s important. 

Additionally, we explore the physicality of illness and death, along with their implications for theology and philosophy.  We look at what we do with bodies after death.  We explore notions of grief, coping, relieving suffering, and a variety of issues like advanced directives and how to get the death one wants.  But main focus of the course is on what death teaches us about ourselves, about what it means to be human.  We explore this using texts and ideas from contemporary psychology, philosophy, theology, film, and literature, including myths and stories from the dawn of human history.

Professor Biography: Educational Background: 

Ph.D. in Philosophy from Vanderbilt University, specializing in Continental Philosophy and Medical Ethics.

Fellow and Senior Ethics Fellow at St. Thomas Hospital in Nashville.

Masters of Pastoral Ministry from Seattle University.

Additional degrees in Religion, Psychology, Mathematics, Philosophy.

Positions:  Associate Professor of Philosophy

                Clinical Ethicist:  Wheaton Franciscan Health Care of Iowa

Started at UNI:  2003

Major Awards:     Veridian Community Engagement Award

                            Ross A. Nielsen Service Award

Hometowns:  Seattle, WA.  Nashville, TN.

Honors Students:  Highly motivated.  Great conversationalists.  Insightful.  Fun.

What I bring: I’m not just an academic, I work with patients and families in hospitals both as an ethicist and a chaplain.  The focus on real human suffering and loss grounds my philosophical work:  It’s really about helping others.  The stories and the insights one gains from real life challenge easy intellectual categories about the world and push us to grow; one can’t make up the sort of stuff I’ve seen (and share in the classroom.)  Many people get to the end of life and ask, “what was it all for?”  I want to help others to ask that question much earlier in life, when they have the time to live their lives differently, fully, richly. 

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BIOL 1012-02 Life: The Natural World with Dr. Maureen Clayton, 8:00-8:50 MWF

Fulfills LAC Category IVA

Course Descripton:

Professor Biography:

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COMM 1000-14 Oral Communication with Dr. Ryan McGeough, 2:00-3:15 TTh

Fulfills LAC Category IB

Course Description:  

Professor Biography:  

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FAM SERV 1010-05 Human Identity and Relationships with Dr. William Henninger, 10:00-10:50 MWF

Fulfills LAC Category VB

Course Description:  I love this course, because we deal with how people define themselves and how that helps them relate to others. Most importantly, we deal with dating, breaking up, marriage, divorce, falling in love, cheating, and anything else involved in finding a mate. What is the difference between this class and an episode of Dr. Phil? We attempt to decipher what social science research suggests is true and what may be lay beliefs. Finally, we apply what we learn about relationships from social science research to pop culture to see how they intersect.

Professor Biography:  I have been at UNI as a tenure track faculty for 4 years. I received my PhD from ISU in Human Development and Family Studies, with a specialization in Early Childhood Special Education. My areas of research include social emotional development in children, ways to include children with social emotional disorders in preschool classrooms, emerging adults and college life adjustment. As a result of my background in early childhood and special education, I tend towards classes that are hands on. I believe people learn best when they are experience subjects.

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HUM 1021-05 Humanities I with Dr. Wendy Hoofnagle, 9:30-10:45 TTh (Class in Honors Cottage)

Fulfills LAC Category IIA

Course Description:  

Professor Biography:  

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HUM 1022-02 Humanities II with Dr. Jay Lees, 9:00-9:50 MWF (Class in Honors Cottage)

Fulfills LAC Category IIA

Course Description:  This course surveys the development of Western Civilization from the beginning of the Renaissance in 1300 to the beginning of the French Revolution in 1789.  We will survey the history and sample the literature of the Renaissance, the Age of Absolutism, and the Enlightenment.  The honors section will be conducted on the basis of active class participation.  Student presentations on a variety of subjects and discussions of issues and texts will augment formal lectures by the professor.  Also, each student will have at least one individual tutorial with the professor.

Professor Biography:  The course is taught by Jay T. Lees of the history department.  His specialty is medieval Germany.  Lees teaches classes on English, German, and medieval history, as well as specialized courses on women in the Middle Ages, the Crusades, and Shakespeare as a historian.  He is also director of the University of Northern Iowa Summer Study Abroad Program in Italy, where he teaches a course on Sacred Space.  Lees is the recipient of the Class of 1949 Award for Excellence in Teaching for 2004, and the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences Award for Outstanding Teaching for 1996 and 2004 as well as the Above and Beyond Award.

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HUM 1023-08 Humanities III with Dr. Jolene Zigarovich, 3:30-4:45 TTh (Class in Honors Cottage)

Fulfills LAC Category IIA

Course DescriptionHumanities III will cover The Age of Revolution to the Present. We will discuss literature, philosophy, religion, and the fine arts integrated with the history of Western Civilization since the French Revolution. By comparing various works in different disciplines, we will discover significant trends and developments in cultural expression. While our primary focus will be on Western culture, we will at times put these expressions into a global context. The honors section will require seminar discussions, student presentations, and critically engaged writing assignments.

Professor Biography: Jolene Zigarovich is an assistant professor of Global Nineteenth-Century Literature in the Department of Languages & Literatures at the University of Northern Iowa. She has previously taught at Cornell University and Claremont Graduate University. Her recent book publications include Writing Death and Absence in the Victorian Novel:  Engraved Narratives (2012), and she is editor of Sex and Death in Eighteenth-Century Literature (2013) as well as the forthcoming TransGothic in Literature and Culture (Routledge 2017). Her current research interests lie in the intersections of death, the Victorian novel, and the law. Her courses focus on Gothic literature, the work of Charles Dickens, and gender and sexuality. She is a recent recipient of the UNI Apple Polishers Award for teaching and mentoring.

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HUM 3125-02 India with Dr. Louis Fenech, 10:00-10:50 MWF (Class in Honors Cottage)

Fulfills LAC Category IIB 

Course Description:  

Professor Biography: 

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POL INTL 1024-03 International Relations with Dr. Brian Warby, 11:00-12:15 TTh

Fulfills LAC Category VC

Course Description: 

Professor Biography:  

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RELS 1020-04 Religions of the World with Dr. Cara Burnidge, 2:00-2:50 MWF

Fulfills LAC Category IIIB

Course Description:  

Professor Biography:  

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UNIV 1092-01  Presidential Scholars Seminar: Rhinos, Tigers, Bears, Goodbye? with Dr. Mark Myers, 1:00-2:50 W (class in Honors Cottage)

**2 credit hour seminar - 1st year Presidential Scholars ONLY 

Course Description:  Many of the world’s most recognizable and charismatic wildlife species currently face grave threats to their continued existence due to human activities.  Not only rhinos and tigers and bears, but also elephants, gorillas, sharks, turtles, orangutans, giant salamanders, sea horses, and pangolins, to name just a few. While human population growth and the resultant destruction and degradation of natural habitats has been the primary factor contributing to species declines over the last century, there is considerable risk that overexploitation due to unsustainable trade in wildlife products may be the final dagger that drives some of the animals listed above to extinction, possibly in the course of your lifetimes. Drawing on sources from the fields of evolutionary biology, conservation biology, ecology, biogeography, economics, public policy, law enforcement, and environmental ethics, in this seminar we will explore the international trade in wildlife products and its role in the current mass extinction event.  We will examine societal responses to curb illegal trafficking of wildlife products and discuss the ethics of biodiversity conservation in the newly minted Athropocene epoch.

Professor Biography:  I am an ecologist and conservation biologist with very broad interests in all aspects of biodiversity conservation.  My interest in ecology has led me to study a variety of animals in diverse ecosystems around the world, including fishes in Ohio headwater streams; macaws, tapirs, and jaguars in Costa Rican rain forests;  reef fish and sharks in the tropical Pacific; seals on Antarctic ice shelves; and grassland birds and butterflies in Iowa prairies. Through teaching, I aim to use these experiences to educate students about the ecology of native ecosystems while fostering an awareness of current elevated rates of biodiversity loss.  I encourage my students to think critically about the tensions between environmental conservation and the needs of human society.  There are trade-offs between policies that seek to sustain environmental quality and those with the objective of stimulating economic development.  I ask students to consider a fundamental question: what can we afford to compromise as a society, both in terms of environmental quality and economic growth?  While answers to this question are based on personal values, they should be informed by science.  I view posing such questions to my students and providing them with the scientific background necessary to formulate their own positions as one of my primary roles as a teacher.

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UNIV 1092-02 Presidential Scholars Seminar: Sophomore Service Learning with Dr. Jessica Moon, 5:00-5:50pm + arr T

**2 credit hour seminar – Sophomore Presidential Scholars ONLY - (class in Honors Cottage)

Course Description: The intent of Sophomore Service Learning is to provide a structured way for Presidential Scholars to grow intellectually while combining their strengths and talents for the benefit of our campus and community. The spring semester will be devoted to the execution of the implementation plan developed during the fall Think Tank. 

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UNIV 2196-01 Honors Seminar: Drawing: Seeing and Thinking with Dr. Mary Frisbee Johnson, 3:30-4:45 TTh 

**3 credit hour seminar - Sophomore standing

Course Description:  This course presents drawing as a practice to develop skills in visualization and description. Through a combination of hands-on work, presentations of images, discussion, and visits to the UNI Gallery, we will explore drawing as means of conceptualizing and communicating ideas. The most important aspect of this drawing course is to encounter the sheer pleasure of drawing, using a variety of materials and tools including graphite, conte’ crayon, and ink with pen and brush. Students will work within a problem-solving structure in which they can explore ideas and develop creative thinking skills while learning visual vocabulary basic to artmaking. Evaluation will be based on audacious participation rather than the quality of drawings produced; the exploration of the process of drawing and participating with enthusiasm in discussions will be stressed. At the end of the semester, students will have a sketchbook portfolio of work illustrating their learning progress.

Professor Biography:  Mary Frisbee Johnson (MFA, University of Cincinnati), a native of Montana, currently serves as Professor of Drawing at the University of Northern Iowa-Cedar Falls. She is the author of a foundations textbook, Visual Workouts: A Collection of Artmaking Problems, published by Prentice-Hall, Inc. She has specialized in teaching drawing at the university-level for forty years. Mary Frisbee Johnson's work in drawing, metals/jewelry, mixed-media sculpture, and installation sculpture has been exhibited extensively in over one hundred national and international group exhibitions, and twenty-two solo exhibitions; her work is in the collection of the British Museum, London, England, as well as many other American institutions. Websites: 

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UNIV 2196-02 Honors Seminar: Financial Crisis, Antifragility & Why Nations Fail with Dr. Kenneth McCormick, 10:00-10:50 MWF

**3 credit hour seminar - Sophomore standing

Course Description:  The financial crisis of 2007-2008 brought the U.S. economy close to collapse and damaged the economies of many other countries.  It is therefore worth investigating.  We will learn that financial crises are not new; they have occurred periodically for centuries.  We will examine the mechanics of the 2007-2008 crisis and its aftermath and discover that the fundamental cause was hubris.  Humans, especially well-educated humans, seem to have a limitless capacity to overestimate their own abilities, even in the face of incredible complexity.  After examining the financial crisis we will turn to the larger issue of how to deal with overwhelming complexity.  Nassim Taleb will guide us in this task.  Taleb is perhaps the most original living thinker.  Finally, we will consider the most important question in economics: why are some nations rich and other nations poor?

The course is a seminar.  That means that there will be no lectures.  Instead, there will be a reading assignment for each class period that everyone is expected to complete.  Students are expected to come to class prepared to discuss the reading assignment for the day.  The quality of any seminar depends on the dedication of its participants; every student is expected to participate actively in the discussions. 

Professor Biography: Dr. McCormick received his PhD in Economics from Iowa State University in 1982 and has been at UNI ever since.  His academic specialty is the history of economic theory, especially the work of the iconoclastic economist Thorstein Veblen.  McCormick’s book, “Veblen in Plain English,” led directly to his 15 minutes of fame via an appearance on The Bob Edwards show on SiriusXM radio. McCormick has been awarded three grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Regent’s Award for Faculty Excellence, and UNI’s university-wide teaching award.

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UNIV 4197-01 Honors Thesis with Dr. Jessica Moon, arr

Course Description: 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.

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UNIV 4198-01 Honors Independent Study with Dr. Jessica Moon, arr

Course Description: 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.

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