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Honors College

Honors Seminars

Climate Change

HON 303 H001 #3261 (T/Th 11-12:15)
Professor Diana Bernstein

Climate Change

The climate is changing. What will the impacts of climate change be? How different is the current climate from past climates? Under the “business as usual” climate scenario, how will life look by the end of this century?  In this class, we will explore the basic concepts and theories of past, present and future climates. Taking an interdisciplinary approach, we will learn not just the science of climate change, but also the impacts and constraints posed by economics, politics, culture, and public health, among other considerations. We will work together to identify feasible solutions and evaluate possible outcomes for the planet, all the while deepening our understanding of its systems.


Disability Movement in Modern Times

HON 303 H002 #3262 (M/W 1-2:15)
Professor Jerry Alliston

The (dis)Ability Movement in Modern Times

Did you know that the disability community is the largest minority in existence—and that anyone can become a member of that community at any time?  Did you know that one out of every four Mississippians—indeed, one out of every four Americans--has a disability?  Despite its prevalence, however, the disability community is often misunderstood and misrepresented in our society.  In this course, we will enhance our understanding of this community and the evolution of thinking about (dis)Ability over time.  We will review the history of the disability movement, disability across the life span (early childhood, transition years, adulthood, and the older generation) and current trends in services, practices and resources.  Guest speakers will share their personal stories of accomplishments, needs and recommendations for future professionals across a variety of fields and expertise. 


There's No Place LIke Home

HON 303 H003 #3263 (T/Th 9:30-10:45)
Professor David Cochran and Professor Nicolle Jordan

There’s No Place Like Home 

What is home and why is it so important to us?  What role do place, community, and landscape play in making homes?   In this seminar, we will study stories, histories, and archival materials that touch on the idea of home.  By examining such themes as public/private life, property ownership, social status, and social justice, we’ll gain insight into how people turn the places where they live into havens of safety and comfort, even in the most adverse situations.  In particular, we’ll study three historical episodes of adversity. First, we’ll look at the 18th and 19th centuries, when countless British immigrants sought better lives in the US. Next, we’ll explore the meaning of home in the American South during the Great Migration and the Civil Rights era of the 20th century. Finally, we’ll consider how home and community endured--or collapsed under--the adversity of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath.


Health and Wellness

HON 303 H004 #3264 (M/W 2:30-3:45)
Professor Holly Foster

Health and Wellness in Higher Education

Research suggests that health is an urgent issue on college campuses today.  We know that health is a key factor in student success and retention and that the stress and lifestyle changes that come with university life affect both physical and mental wellbeing.  Yet, college students often forget to focus on health, and in a recent survey, just 36% of students rated their overall health as very good.  In this class, we will explore the issue of health and wellness in higher education, with particular attention to topics such as stress management, physical health, mental health, relationships, and substance abuse.  We will also examine how colleges and universities address health and wellness among students and the costs and benefits of the services they provide.  We will ask, and attempt to answer, some questions such as:

  • What health issues most affect college students? How do those health issues impact academic performance and student success?
  • What particular health issues are college student facing today? How do college students cope with those issues?
  • What obligations do institutions of higher education have to provide health and wellness services to students? What are the implications of providing those services?


Feminist Science Studies

HON 303 - H005 #3265 (M/W 1-2:15)
Professor Maria Wallace

Feminist Science Studies

Feminist Science Studies (FSS) is a growing international field of study. Students curious about feminist studies, access and marginalization in STEM disciplines, and questions about scientific knowledge-making will find this course of interest. 

Drawing from multiple disciplines (e.g., feminist studies, philosophy, sociology, education, and anthropology to name a few), this course will explore the social, political, and cultural dynamics of scientific inquiry.  We will ask, and attempt to answer, such questions as:

  • What does scientific inquiry make un/intelligible? 
  • How does scientific inquiry shape conceptions of sex, gender, race, and knowledge?
  • What can we learn from the stories, voices, and traditions of those marginalized within (and by) the field science? 
  • How do feminist modes of inquiry render new modes of thinking, knowing, and being “scientific” possible? 
  • What is at stake in such taken-for-granted binaries as (a) objectivity/subjectivity; (b) sex/gender; and (d) true/false?

In the course of the semester, students will be invited to reflect on, develop, and enact their own feminist interventions into the field of science.


Fake News and Misinformation in Digital Age

HON 303 H006 #3266 (T/Th 2:30-3:45)
Professor Kathryn New and Professor Hali Black

Fake News and Misinformation in Today’s Digital Information Age 

What does it mean to be an information consumer? How do you typically choose to consume information? Do you rely on social media platforms or other online sources for your news? In our current reality, information is often manipulated, and false information is produced without easy detection. Mobile access to information decreases the need for users to seek information, as they are already increasingly over-exposed to information from multiple sources in a variety of formats. Because of this over-exposure to information and the increasing amount of misinformation being circulated, it is now more important than ever for information consumers to understand the nature of information and to be able to evaluate the authority of information sources in order to become experienced information consumers in today’s digital information age. This course will explore the nature of information, including recent fake news and misinformation trends, methods for evaluating authority, and approaches to distinguishing the credibility of information sources. In our exploration of these issues, we will make use of a variety of texts, including but not limited to speeches, newspaper articles, scholarly works, websites, audio and visual media, advertisements, political campaigns, and (of course) social media platforms.


Evolutionary Psychology

HON 303 H007 #3267 (T/Th 1-2:15)
Professor Donald Sacco

Evolutionary Psychology 

Human beings are a profoundly complex species, and the complexity of the human experience over the lifespan is a diverse web of interactions with the environment, interactions with other people and species, and a search for meaning through it all.  Understanding the diversity of human experience has often been the work of philosophers, social scientists, religious thinkers, and anthropologists.  This course will attempt to understand the human experience from an evolutionary scientific perspective.  We will explore how basic, evolutionary motives ranging from survival to sexuality have profoundly influenced human creative expression, technological development, consumer behavior, pet ownership, and addiction, just to name a few.  We will explore how an understanding of evolutionary processes contributes to treating illness, improving human rights and improving well-being. The engine of evolutionary processes is diversity; variability ensures survival over time in ever-changing environments. Thus, appreciating the relationship between the human condition and evolutionary processes may instill a sense of compassion for all kinds of people, thus serving as a catalyst for positive social change.  Finally, we will explore how humans navigate one of the most daunting features of existence, the knowledge that we will die and how social and religious institutions evolved not only for social organization, but also potentially as a means of deriving comfort from awareness of our mortality.


Art of Video Games

HON 303 H008 #3269 (M/W 9:30-10:45)
Professor Craig Carey

The Art of Video Games 

No longer mere toys and child’s play, video games are radically transforming how we interact with art and culture. In this seminar, we’ll explore the contemporary world of video games—primarily indie games and art games—in the broader context of the humanities. What does it mean to study video games as legitimate forms of artistic and cultural expression? What is art? What is a game? How do we parse the changing lines between art, entertainment, culture, and play? In what ways do video games build on formal elements found in painting, music, dance, theater, literature, film, architecture, mathematics, graphic design, and other media? 

This seminar provides an introduction to these questions by surveying the diverse contexts in which games are developed and studied as works of art. Designed for gamers and non-games alike, the course will teach students how to read games, write about games, discuss games, and even make a game of their own. No gaming experience is required—just a desire to learn more about how video games are expanding the possibilities for creative expression.

The Times They Are A-Changin'

HON 303 H001 #2875
The Times They are A-Changin’: America and the 1960s
Dr. Maureen Ryan
M/W, 9:30-10:45

The iconic Sixties: Mini-skirts and draft dodgers; the Beatles and burning crosses; assassinations and demonstrations. No single decade in America's recent past looms larger in contemporary America’s cultural memory—or is so misunderstood—as the 1960s. As SDS member and 60s scholar Todd Gitlin notes, “perhaps no decade has suffered” the inevitable and unfortunate reductionism that simplistically labels all historical periods “more than ‘the Sixties,’ which in popular parlance has come to stand for a single seamless whole.”

Complicating and expanding the arbitrary periodization of the 1960s, recent scholars suggest that it is really the "long 1960s”—that is, the late 1950s through the early 1970s—that created contemporary America: the Cold War and anti-communism; the Vietnam War; the social protest movements of the 1960s and '70s (anti-war, Civil Rights, women's rights). The dramatic social changes that resulted from this tumultuous period redefined American life, and they account for the political and cultural conservatism that prevails in the U.S. today.

This course will examine perceptions and misperceptions about the Sixties, and the broader concept of the long 1960s, through cultural texts (journalism, film, literature, etc.) of the era.


Food Rules

HON 303 H002 #2876
Food Rules
Dr. Angela Ball
M/W, 11-12:15

This course will explore food, glorious food: as generator and preserver of culture; as expression of identity, as beleaguered victim of big money, as expression of ethical values, as ritual and celebration. Readings will be wide ranging, as will possible topics for writing. For example, we will encounter April Lindner’s poem, “Full Moon with Snow,” along with her recipe for “Full Moon Soup.” Courtesy of Michael Paterniti, we will ride cross-country with Einstein’s brain. With Wendell Berry, we will contemplate the past and future of working the land.  When possible, we will sample foods from the poems, essays, and stories we are reading. In short, we will employ both senses and intellect, think both subjectively and objectively, and examine attitudes and customs current, longstanding, and vanished. Hattiesburg restaurateur and writer Robert St. John will talk to us about what food has meant to him as an enterprising restaurateur and writer. We will learn firsthand, with Marion Nestle, that “the joy of learning is like eating, and words are dishes to be savored.”


Race, Gender, and American Citizenship

HON 303 H003 #2877
Race, Gender, and American Citizenship from 1900 to Today
Dr. Rebecca Tuuri
M/W, 1-2:15

What does it mean to be an American citizen? Who has the right to claim that title? Why? This course will explore the raced and gendered nuances of citizenship in the twentieth- and twenty-first-century United States.  We will begin by studying women’s fight for suffrage in the context of both World War I and Jim Crow, exploring how the struggle for citizenship has often been built on the backs of others. We will then shift to consider how the mid-century Civil Rights Movement both incorporated and silenced the concerns of diverse racial groups and women. Finally, we will end by examining citizenship debates around voter-id reform, incarceration, and immigration over the last forty years.  In our exploration, we will make use of a variety of texts, from speeches, newspaper articles, and scholarly works to photographs, advertisements, poetry, music, and visual art.


Exploring Al-andalus

HON 303 H004 #2878
Exploring Al-andalus: A Celebration of the Arts and Sciences in Medieval Spain
Dr. Jeanne Gillespie
T/Th, 1-2:15

This course will examine important discoveries, cultural practices, and artistic endeavors that emerged during the florescence of Moorish Spain (700-900 CE). This was a time when people of Jewish, Christian, and Muslim faiths lived and worked together in relative harmony. Al-Andalus was the place that celebrated rhyming poetry, indoor plumbing, algebra, ceramic technology, dessert, pillows, agricultural advances and many other important aspects of "modernity." In this course, we will investigate how these practices and technologies have impacted our own lives and lifestyles.


Living Green

HON 303 H005 #2879
Living Green: Local to Global Sustainability Practices
Dr. Erich Connell and Dr. Mark Puckett
T/Th 2:30-3:45

Living Green will explore the many perspectives of sustainability, from the food we eat to the air we breathe to the materials we make—and the relationship between all of these.  We will ask and attempt to answer such questions as: How do Americans measure up in relation to the rest of the world in terms of our global footprint?  Why does that matter?  How does eating at McDonald's shift the CO2 index in Malawi?  And what does it really mean to live “sustainably”?  We will explore these and many other ideas in an effort understand how we can make a positive difference in our environment.  Biology, nutrition, technology: it all matters when you’re Living Green!  


Shaping the Future

HON 303 H006 #2880
Shaping the Future and Becoming a Change Agent
Dr. Joyce Inman
T/Th 9:30-10:45

I hope you learn to make it on your own
And if you love yourself just know you'll never be alone...
And when you get it all just remember one thing
Remember one thing: That one man could change the world.

– Big Sean

Artists from Big Sean and Christina Aguilera to Michael Jackson and Sam Cooke have written songs about the power of young people to change the world. Like these artists, the “Global Shapers Survey” recognizes that youth have the power to make change. Offered every two years, this survey asks both “how young people see the world” and “what they want to do about it.” Beginning from the premise that “with the largest youth population in history, there is an unprecedented opportunity for young people to take an active role in shaping our future,” The “Global Shapers Survey” digs into “how young people see the world” and “what they want to do about it.” In this class, we will explore those same ideas: what are the issues that concern you—and what do you want to do about them?  After investigating the idea of change itself and examining the data and information provided in the Global Shapers Survey, our class is going to be based almost exclusively on your concerns about the world around us. We will determine what topics we want to investigate and the tools we need to investigate them; from there, we will work—collectively and individually—to create projects that we think can be starting points for real change.


Al Dente: Food, Culture, and Identity at Home and Abroad

HON 303 H001 #2993
Al Dente: Food, Culture, and Identity at Home and Abroad
Andrew P. Haley
Wednesdays 3:00-6:15pm

What do the foods you eat tell others about who you are?  In this seminar, we will look at how food has contributed to creating national identities, global migrations, economic inequalities, and international conflicts.

We will start abroad and then return home. In the first part of the course, we will look at case studies from four regions of the globe where food has united and divided: East Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America.  We will explore these distant lands through nonfiction as well as fiction, the food itself (yes, there will be tastings), and popular culture.  Then we will return to the United States and use food to think about our own identities. 

Through ethnographic studies of contemporary Mississippi foodways or historical studies of community cookbooks housed in the Culinary Collection at Southern Miss, we will consider how what we eat makes us who we are.

 A History of Weird Music

HON 303 H002 #2994
A History of Weird Music
Ed Hafer
T/Th 3:00 to 4:30pm

A work composed for tape recorder? A piece written for amplified cactus? A piano composition that doesn’t require a piano? A string quartet performed by four players in four helicopters? Music whose score is a comic strip? These are but a few examples of twentieth-century compositions that defy conventions and place unprecedented demands on their audiences. Where do such works come from? What were the composers thinking? What is the role of the audience in these performances?

This seminar will attempt to determine what led musicians to reject tradition in favor of such “weird” approaches to musical composition.  In our investigations, we will also examine parallel developments in the visual arts, dance, architecture, and experimental film.  We will also look at audience responses to weird music, from indifference to eager enthusiasm to full-blown riots. No musical background is required. 


Conflict and Culture: The Interaction of Violence and Humanity in the Modern Age

HON 303 H003 #2995
Conflict and Culture: The Interaction of Violence and Humanity in the Modern Age
Andy Wiest
T/TH 8:00-9:30am 

War is a staple of the modern age – a staple covered in nearly every textbook. But those books rarely go beneath the surface history of great leaders, titanic battles, and flawed peace treaties. War, though, is much deeper; much more visceral than that.

This class will certainly look at why and what modern (read Napoleon and beyond) wars were.  But it will also look at the humanity of war, using tools like prose, poetry, letters, diaries, and veteran visits to the classroom. War is violence at its most horrific; humanity at its most barbaric.  I want to investigate the question of how this barbarity and violence interacts with the souls and psyches of the young men and women sent to fight war and with the families that they left behind.


Public Art – Murals, Graffiti and Sculpture: Its Place in our Past, Present and

HON 303 H004 #2996
Public Art – Murals, Graffiti and Sculpture: Its Place in our Past, Present and Future
Traci Stover
T/TH 9:45-11:15am

From the pyramids of Giza to the rural highways of North America, usually outdoors and always for the many rather than the few, public art ranges from government funded monuments to urban underpass graffiti. Whether voicing support of power, criticizing the status quo or celebrating its local community, public art is meant to be experienced by the public.

In this class we will look at murals, sculpture, train tagging, and more. We will compare the imagery of the past to contemporary public art and ask: What are the motivations behind these artworks and what messages are they are trying to convey? Is the art acceptable to those who view it or is it confrontational? How does funding, or lack thereof affect the outcome of the artworks? Can civic monuments re-define communities? We will go out into our community and take note of the public art we encounter. We will become active participants in the communication that is public art. 


The Science of Happiness

HON 303 H005 #2997
The Science of Happiness
Randy Arnau
M/W 8:00-9:30am 

Many of us believe that we will eventually be happy once we achieve our goals and get what we want—a college degree, the right job, the right income—not realizing that the happiness that results from getting what we want quickly fades, and that happiness is actually a skill that can be cultivated. 

In this course, we will engage in a scientific and practical exploration of happiness, including factors that contribute to happiness, including character strengths, positive emotions, motivation, relationships, positive mental health, and physical health. We will explore theories of happiness and positive emotions, as well as what the research says about character strengths that are associated with happiness and well-being, such as gratitude, sense of humor, optimism, and perseverance.

You will learn what your own character strengths are and how to use that knowledge to capitalize on those strengths.  We will learn about scientifically supported methods for increasing happiness, and you will be applying these interventions on yourself, so that you can learn skills to help you become the best version of yourself.  


Feeding the Body and the Soul

HON 303 H006 #2998
Feeding the Body and the Soul
Holly Huye and Jennifer Regan
M/W 9:45-11:15am 

What we eat means so much more to us than just the nutrients that our physical body needs. In this seminar we will explore the myths, history, and physiology of food and nutrition, highlighting some interesting food trends and themes along the way. This interactive class will use the sciences, the arts, and the literature to learn more about how the foods we love to eat affect our mind, body, and emotions and conversely, how our culture affects the foods we eat. We will read Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal by Mary Roach for an informative and entertaining digestive journey.

This seminar will surely whet your appetite and take you into the world of food and nutrition that travels beyond our kitchen table!


1913 and the Birth of Modern Culture

HON 303 H007 #2999
1913 and the Birth of Modern Culture
Jonathan Barron
M/W 1:15-2:45pm

In this class, we will look at a single year that changed everything people thought about art, culture, and the political order: 1913. 

In the domain of politics, the rise of nationalism would begin the lead-up to WWI and the end of the Austro-Hungarian, Russian, and Ottoman empires, while agitation by workers—including the famous Patterson Silk Strike—led to changing labor laws and debates about capitalism across the globe.

In culture, Igor Stravinsky’s controversial ballet, “Rite of Spring,” with Vaslav Nijinsky as the lead dancer, provoked a riot on its debut in Paris; back in the United States, the famous Armory Show shocked the public with new abstract art from Cubists, Futurists, and others.  Literary modernism was born in the Poetry Bookshop in London and in the works of such writers as TS Eliot, Robert Frost, and Willa Cather. 

Reading, studying, listening, and analyzing, we will examine these and other happenings in Europe and the United States as a means of understanding how the modern world was borne from them, and how they presaged the global crisis that would become World War I. 






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