Honors First Year Inquiry Series

Spring 2015

HONR 1205-01
Savage Psychopaths & Predatory States: Explorations in the History of Modern Violence

NU Core: Social Science
Mon, Wed / 2:50pm – 4:30pm (Seq. B)
CRN: 34912

Prof. Jeffrey Burds
Department of History

Using literature, film, and historical readings and documents, this seminar explores the history of modern violence since the Inquisition. Through a series of case studies, we explore the psychology of violence, the conditions and contexts for violent action, cultures of violence, and the legacies and aftermath of violence. There are a number of special topics that will illustrate the theme of the course including:  the Inquisition; the history of the witch craze; the Faust Legend; Poe and the gothic imagination; the nature of war in the 20th century; genocide; and the role of truth & reconciliation in the aftermath of horrific violence. Students will take part in all aspects of the course including preparing materials for class discussion.  A final research project will focus on the history of violence.

 

HONR 1206-01
Volcanic Activity in Costa Rica – Causes, Volcanic Processes, and Societal Impact

NU Core: Science and Technology
Tues, Fri / 9:50am – 11:30am (Seq. D)
CRN: 35430

Prof. Malcolm Hill
Department of Marine & Environmental Sciences

Students who register for this course will be required to participate in an embedded international program to Costa Rica the week of spring break. The dates of that program will be March 7 to March 13, 2014. An additional fee of $800 will be charged to your student account for this course.

Sunlight and the earth’s internal heat are the two primary energy sources that drive a large number of important environmental processes.  Volcanoes, earthquakes, and tectonic deformation of the earth’s surface are expressions of the earth’s overall heat distribution and the ways that rocks in the interior respond to temperature changes.  Biological and physical processes at or near the earth’s surface (storms and precipitation in the atmosphere; erosion of the surface by moving air, liquid water, or ice; interaction of mineral grains, air, moisture and plant roots in soil, for example) are particularly influenced by solar energy.  In this course we will explore a number of processes that operate at planet-wide scales on timescales that last over hundreds of millions of years, and others that can be very localized and abrupt, lasting for only a few seconds (an earthquake, for example).  Students will travel to Costa Rica to apply their knowledge via an exploration of local volcanos, during a unique embedded experiential learning trip.

 

HONR 1208-01
Making a Musical: Analysis, Craft, and Creation

NU Core: Arts
Mon, Thurs / 11:45am – 1:25pm (Seq. A)
CRN: 34087

Prof. Allen Feinstein
Department of Music

How are great musicals constructed? What tools does one need to build a musical? In an historical context this course will explore these questions, focusing on how effective lyrics are built, how songs function in musicals, and how book writers, lyricists, and composers adapt works from other media to the musical theater stage. Throughout the semester students will transform analytical techniques and discoveries into creative strategies, building short musicals in collaborative teams and performing them at the end of the semester. Students need not be musicians to participate in this class. Aspiring actors, composers, lyricists, authors of all styles, technical theater artists and designers, and all those with a curiosity about the history of musicals and how musicals are made are strongly encouraged to enroll.

 

HONR 1208-02
American Theatre and Politics: A Delicate Balance

NU Core: Arts
Mon, Wed / 2:50pm – 4:30pm (Seq. B)
CRN: 36974

Prof. Nancy Kindelan
Department of Theatre

This unique course focuses on how plays and theatre productions have responded to American social issues (some political in nature) from the 1930s to the present. Blending seminar-style session with experiential learning opportunities, this class begins by considering the Federal Theatre Project’s (1935-1939) social agenda and how those ideas are evident in its innovative productions, such as the Living Newspaper plays and The Cradle Will Rock. Other topics include: the Group Theater (1931-1941), issues of censorship, and the role of the arts in American society and education. Included in class discussion are plays from such playwrights as Clifford Odets, Moisés Kaufman, Tony Kushner, and Suzan-Lori Parks. The students in this course will also experience actual theatrical productions in order to develop an ability to see how theatre artists create the play’s social history and human psychology through artful stage images. In addition, students will have the opportunity to create a version of a living newspaper play that brings to light a current social issue.

 

HONR 1209-01
Disputers of the Dao: Religion and Philosophy in Ancient China

NU Core: Humanities
Tues, Fri / 1:35pm – 3:15pm (Seq. F)
CRN: 36975

Prof. Jung Lee
Department of Philosophy and Religion

This course examines the ethos and worldview of early Chinese intellectual traditions in their historical contexts. From the oracle bone divinations of the Shang Dynasty to the philosophical and religious traditions of Confucianism, Mohism, Yangism, Daoism, and Legalism, this course aims to introduce students to the enduring ideas and concepts that have had a lasting influence on Chinese culture, state, and family. In addition to the study of relevant primary texts, the course will also ask comparative questions on the nature of Chinese thought and its possible affinities to the West.  This course also fulfills the comparative culture core requirement.

 

Fall 2014

HONR 1102
Enhancing Honors

Mon, Tues, or Thurs / 4:35pm – 5:40pm
CRN: Multiple CRNs

Enhancing Honors is a one-credit team taught course required for all first-year Honors students. Its goals are to: provide a comprehensive introduction to life at Northeastern University and the city of Boston; enable students to set clear academic, career and personal goals; and create a sense of community among the first-year Honors cohort. During the semester, students also learn about the many resources available to them as members of University Honors Program. These include (but are not limited to]: Honors Courses that offer an interdisciplinary perspective alongside Northeastern’s signature experiential learning pedagogy; targeted Developmental Advising; Honors Living Learning Communities; Research, Co-op and Study Abroad Programs specifically tailored to Honors students; Global and Civic Engagement Opportunities; extensive Arts and Cultural Programming; Honors Community Building; and peer coaching by Honors upperclassmen.

 

HONR 1200-01
Theology, Ethics and Practice in the World’s Religions

NU Core: Humanities; Comparative Cultures
Mon, Weds, Thurs / 10:30am – 11:35am (Seq. F)
CRN: 15615

Prof. Susan Setta
Department of Philosophy and Religion

Using the methodology of comparative religions, this course will examine the expression of faith and resulting ethical systems found in a variety of religions of the world. It will include an exploration of Abrahamic traditions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam), Eastern religions (such as Hinduism and Buddhism) and archaic religions (such as religions of various indigenous peoples). Source materials will include readings in sacred texts, popular literature, and case studies that center on the intersection of religious beliefs.

 

HONR 1205-01
Global Social Entrepreneurship

NU Core: Social Science
Mon, Wed, Thurs / 9:15am – 10:20am (Seq. 2)
CRN: 15616

Prof. Sara Minard
Department of Entrepreneurship and Innovation

This course focuses on the idea that extraordinary individuals who are passionate and committed can change the world for the disadvantaged and most vulnerable members of society. The focus will be on five leaders active in different development areas and regions of the world: a) Extreme Poverty Alleviation – Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Prize winner, founder of Grameen Bank; b) Health – Dr. Paul Farmer, founder of Partners in Health; c) Literacy – John Wood, founder of Room to Read and former Microsoft executive; d) Environment – Wangari Maathai, Nobel Prize winner, founder of Green Belt Movement; and e) Education – Geoffrey Canada, founder, Harlem Children’s Zone. This seminar-style course employs business and social science principles to analyze the challenges of poverty, disease, illiteracy, environmental degradation and urban decay from the perspective of leaders seeking to deliver profound and sustainable change. Students will engage with inspiring texts, write book reviews, lead discussions, make presentations and write a short paper comparing the five selected development leaders in terms of impact, sustainability, and character. Finally, they will carry out a focused self-assessment. Students in this seminar have the opportunity of investing up to $10,000 in a leading social enterprise, which addresses global poverty through sustainable business practices.

 

HONR 1205-02
The North of Ireland: Conflict, Reconciliation, and the Ongoing Quest for Peace

NU Core: Social Science
Mon, Wed / 2:50pm – 4:30pm (Seq. B)
CRN: 15617

Michael Patrick MacDonald
Honors Program Writer-in-Residence

This course will examine the ongoing quest for a “peace with justice” in the north of Ireland. We will look at the history of violence in this particular locale — in its various forms, whether paramilitary or state violence; physical or economic violence; the violence of discrimination; or, more recently, youth “anti social” violence – with an eye on the implications this particular conflict and the ongoing peace process may have for other places of conflict (globally, or even locally, e.g. youth gang violence and quests for peace with justice on Boston’s streets). How is the conflict in the north of Ireland related to the history of struggle in South Africa? How were Civil Rights activists in The North influenced by the American Civil Rights movement? How might the ongoing peace process provide lessons for Israel/Palestine? How might the developments in American urban youth work to prevent violence and promote access and opportunity provide lessons to “post-conflict” cities like Belfast, which have seen a new type of conflict manifesting among its young people in the form of what is called “anti social behavior?” We will discuss all of this, while reading memoir, histories, poetry, and articles, as well as watching films about the conflict in the North of Ireland, the Good Friday Agreement, and the subsequent ongoing peace process.

 

HONR 1205-03
The History of “Big Data:” Quantification in Government, Science, and Business Since 1800

NU Core: Social Science
Mon, Wed / 2:50pm – 4:30pm (Seq. B)
CRN: 15811

Prof. Benjamin Schmidt
Department of History

The use of “Big Data” for scientific research, business research, and government surveillance has a history that stretches back long before the invention of the computer. This course will discuss why data has been collected, how it has been interpreted, and what it has been used for from the late 18th century to the present day. We will look at the evolution of the technologies involved, from ledger books to punch cards to computing clusters, as well as explore how different visions and fears of a data-driven society shaped the ways data was used. Course topics will include the census and other data-collection projects of the US government in the 19th century; the evolution of scientific management in American business in the early 20th century; the early history of computing in the United States; and public responses to computerized surveillance and control in the 1960s and today. We will explore these topics through a variety of primary and secondary sources, from readings — e.g. Tracy Kidder’s “Soul of a New Machine” — to films and data visualizations. No prior knowledge of computing or statistics is necessary.

 

HONR 1205-04
Angels and Demons: Studying Violence in the 21st Century

NU Core: Social Science
Tues, Fri / 1:35pm – 3:15pm (Seq. F)
CRN: 16941

Prof. Gordana Rabrenovic
Department of Sociology and Anthropology

How does the concept of borders influence our understanding of violence in the 21st century? The idea of borders is often used to discuss conflict around land boundaries. These conflicts are often bloody, prolonged and characterized by interpersonal and intergroup violence. However, ethnic, racial and economic disparities — both within and between nations — tend to exasperate territorial conflicts and create new tensions. Political and environmental crises further complicate our understanding of what causes conflict and how best to address it. This course will employ the concept of borders to analyze various examples of contemporary violence. We will start by exploring several global border conflicts, such as Israel-Palestine, the Balkans and Northern Ireland. Then, we will expand on the idea of borders and use it to frame our discussion of issues such as urban riots, which are fought block by block by gangs intent on securing dominance over particular neighborhoods. Finally, we will push the concept of borders even further to discuss domestic violence. As we explore these instances of conflict, we will also examine innovative ways to intervene, reduce and even prevent violence. Examples will range from Boston to the global arena.

 

HONR 1205-05
Dealing with Drugs: Global and Local Implications of Illegal Mind-Altering Substances

NU Core: Social Science
Mon, Thurs / 11:45am – 1:25pm (Seq. A)
CRN: 17356

Prof. Ineke Marshall
Department of Sociology and Anthropology
School of Criminal Justice

The focus of this seminar-style course is on criminalized mind-altering (psychotropic) drugs such as marijuana, heroin, cocaine, prescription painkillers, and synthetic party drugs. Using insights and readings from history, public policy, public health, sociology of deviance, international studies and criminology, we will explore why mind-altering substances occupy such a contested position in many societies. For example, we will research why the US continues the ‘war on drugs’ despite its limited success. We will also review the evidence behind the argument that stiff prison sentences deter drug dealing and the use of mind-altering substances. We will also examine the counter-argument that treatment or education about drugs is a better intervention model than prison based on evidence from other countries, such as the Netherlands, which decriminalized or legalized drug use. Next, we will explore United Nations’ efforts works to restrict transnational drug trafficking. Finally, we will discuss US national policy toward marijuana, especially in light of states such as Colorado, which now regulate a legal market for recreational drugs.

 

HONR 1206-01
Green Energy: Emerging Technologies and Opportunities

NU Core: Science and Technology
Mon, Thurs / 11:45am – 1:25pm (Seq. A)
CRN: 17357

Prof. Rein Kirss
Department of Chemistry

Addressing the ever-increasing demand for energy and the environmental impact of fossil fuel consumption are critical questions that the international community must currently face.  Where does our energy come from? How do alternative or “green” energy sources work? Green Energy explores the chemical principles behind everyday energy sources in the 21st century including classic sources such as fossil fuels and nuclear energy. The course will emphasize the role that chemistry plays in the emergence of the search for renewable energy sources, including biofuels, wind, hydro, solar energy and advanced battery technology.  The search for a green energy model requires an evaluation of the efficiency of each technology and their impact on current global climate. By the end of the course, students will be able to effectively assess the costs and benefits of an international movement towards renewable resources.

 

HONR 1208-01
What Makes Music Work

NU Core: Arts
Mon, Wed, Thurs / 1:35pm – 2:40pm (Seq. 4)
CRN: 16944

Prof. Dennis Miller
Department of Music

This course explores the essential elements that are found in the music of many styles and eras and includes musical examples from numerous cultures around the world — both Western and non-Western.  Examples cover a vast range — from contemporary and historic Western classical and popular music, to vocal traditions of South Asia, rhythmic practices of several African cultures, avant garde/experimental electronic music, “Early” (pre-Baroque) practices and much, much more. In lieu of analyzing music from a historical perspective, the course examines each of the six components that underlie all music styles – i.e. melody, rhythm, harmony, sonority, texture, and form.  Through intensive listening experiences both in and outside of the classroom, students will learn how to assess the role that each of the six musical elements plays, as well as accurately analyze what they are hearing.  Ultimately, the course will underscore that, while different pieces of music have different “priorities” and emphasize different elements, all music consists of the same basic “raw materials.”  The course introduces some elements of music theory; no prior musical background is required.

 

HONR 1209-01
The Islamic Veil: Islam, Gender, and the Politics of Dress

NU Core: Humanities; Comparative Cultures
Tues, Fri / 1:35pm – 3:15pm (Seq. F)
CRN: 15623

Prof. Elizabeth Bucar
Department of Philosophy and Religion

This course explores why the Islamic veil today is so “pregnant with meanings” and how this impacts the lives of not only Muslim women who cover, but also of those who do not. Specifically we will be concerned with explaining the various things wearinga veil “can do,” that is, its political, social, economic, and moral power. In the course we will explore how colonialism, nationalism, and Islamic movements have affected the Islamic veil. We will raise questions about whether veiling affects educational and employment opportunities for Muslim women. We will begin to understand that the veil can be both a symbol of cultural identity and a fashion statement. As a result, we will have a better understanding of the basic gendered categories central to Islamic thought and practice, major themes in the role of gender in Islam, and the distinctive gendered religious practices that are part of Islamic public practice. Our work will be framed by the comparative interpretation of Islamic religious literary texts in light of their historical contexts and distinguishing differences over time in different social and cultural contexts. Our goal will include an appraisal of Islam as a cultural system in its temporal and geographic contexts and a critical appreciative understanding of culture, religion, and people who may be different from ourselves.

 

HONR 1209-02
Me Tarzan, You Jane!  The Uses of Language in Literature: Linguistic Reality or Linguistic Fiction?

NU Core: Humanities
Tues, Fri / 9:50am – 11:30am (Seq. D)
CRN: 15804

Prof. Heather Littlefield
Linguistics Program

The acquisition and use of language is part of what makes us human: it helps us share information with one another, keep one another company and serves as the foundation for social relationships. Storytellers often use linguistic phenomena to develop or enhance their plots and their characters. Famous fictional characters like Burrough’s Tarzan and Shelley’s Frankenstein’s monster learn language as an essential part of their growth and development, and others like Twain’s Huck Finn and Jim are famous for their dialects. But how accurately are these linguistic phenomena portrayed in literature? In this course we will draw on current linguistic theory and cognitive science to explore the veracity of authors’ portrayals of a variety of linguistic contexts, and the effects of those portrayals on plot and character development.

 

HONR 1209-03
Race, Ethnicity and Identity in the Jewish Experience

NU Core: Humanities
Mon, Weds, Thurs / 9:15am – 10:20am (Seq. 2)
CRN: 17358

Prof. Jenny Sartori
Jewish Studies Program

What is Jewishness? Is it a race? A religion? An ethnicity? How and why did Jews, along with other immigrant groups such as Italians, Irish, and Slavs, move from being seen as racially “other” in 19th-century America to being considered “white” in the 20th century? This course will investigate such questions through critical readings of a wide variety of primary sources, including religious texts, the writings of “race scientists,” cartoons, photographs, literature, and film. We will explore the historical relationship between Judaism and race, from ancient times through the birth of modern anti-Semitism in the 19th century and the Holocaust in the 20th century. We will also explore issues of race and identity in the contemporary Jewish world, including the resurgence of biologically based ideas of Jewish identity, the experiences of communities of Jews of Color, and black-Jewish relations in the US. By examining the particular relationship between Judaism and race, students will also acquire a deeper understanding of the broader concept of race and the complex relationship among religion, race, and ethnicity in general.