Honors Fall 2021 Courses

Honors: Intro to Visual Culture: HONR 102-01 with Professor Victoria Papa, TR 2:30-3:45 pm
This course introduces students to key concepts of visual culture, including the social dynamics of visuality and representation, structures of looking and phenomena of spectacle. Students will examine how images encode race, gender, sexuality, class, and ability while investigating whose vision is reinforced and discarded and what is seen and unseen. Grounded in critical discourse and drawing from a variety of disciplinary approaches, this course explores diverse modes of visual expression and communication from photography to film and television to new media and web design to literary constructions of sight and the visual culture of activism. Students will participate in visual meaning-making through experiential learning opportunities at neighboring museums and galleries.  Fulfills the Creative Arts requirement of MCLA’s Core curriculum.  

Honors: Intro to Statistics: MATH 232H with Professor Erin Kiley, MWF 10:00-10:50 am.
The goal of this course is to examine descriptive statistics, probability, sampling theory, and inferential statistics. With the increasingly larger capacities available for storing data on computers, it has never been more important for global citizens to have literacy in the science of collection, analysis, interpretation, and presentation of data. This is exactly what Statistics is. Descriptive statistics deals with the use of statistical tools to organize and summarize collected information; inferential statistics deals with inferring properties of populations given descriptive statistics taken from a sample. Fulfills the CMA requirement in Tier 1 of MCLA’s Core Curriculum

Honors: Introduction to Sociocultural Anthropology: ANTH 130H-01 with Professor Mohamad Junaid, MWF 9:00—9:50 am
Sociocultural anthropology is the study of the social lives of human communities. The field takes as its primary concern the nature of societies, variations among them, and the transformations they undergo. Understanding systems of belief, modes of social organization, and cultural practices animates sociocultural anthropologists. They formulate their questions in unique ways: How do humans inhabit and sense the world? How do they narrate their experiences? How do their experiences relate to interpersonal and social relations, cultural imaginaries and practices, historical forces and contingencies, and natural and material ‘things’ surrounding them?

Based on engagement with everyday life in different contexts, sociocultural anthropology challenges our commonsense ideas about people’s beliefs and practices, and the life-worlds they build. The discipline provides us with a conceptual vocabulary to understand key challenges with which individuals and societies grapple. It takes us beyond the familiar and the visible, and towards the imaginative and the creative. Sociocultural anthropology compels us to question the common-sense notion of the ‘human’ itself. 

Throughout this course, we will use anthropological essays, ethnographic accounts, and documentary films to trace the range of topics with which sociocultural anthropology deals. We will see how sociocultural anthropologists, instead of imposing their own understanding, produce knowledge in dialogue with the subjects of their study. This approach has required a persistent refinement of methods. You will become familiar with the rich repertoire of methods that sociocultural anthropologists have developed. Our assigned textual and visual materials will allow us to reflect on ethnography as a key mode of producing anthropological knowledge as well as a unique genre of writing and filmmaking.  Fulfills the Self & Society requirement of MCLA’s Core curriculum.  

Honors: Introduction to Community and Public Health:  HLTH 150H-01 with Professor Nicole Porther, MWF 1:00-1:50 pm.
The central theme of this course centers on two questions: “What is the agenda of public health?” and “Is health a right or a privilege?” We will delve into the biological, political and sociological machinations that influence health in the US through a variety of discussions and activities that promote a greater understanding of public health as a system, as well as its interdisciplinary connections to other fields. Critical thinking and analysis of important public health issues will be emphasized throughout the semester.  Fulfills the Self & Society requirement of MCLA’s Core curriculum.

Honors: Introduction to Urban Studies: HONR 201-01 with Professor Guangzhi Huang, TR 9:00-10:15 am
In this course, we will travel across the world and explore cities, many cities, from various perspectives, both macro and micro. Cities are ambiguous existences. On the one hand they make us proud and showcase astonishing architectures, but at the same time, they are known for problems like inequalities, crime, and lack of sanitation; they put an enormous amount of pressure on the planet, polluting its air and water, but at the same time hold the potential for efficient living. This course traces cities back to when it all began and ends with the world we live in today where urbanization is happening faster than ever. We will examine what drives urban developments in the world and how they are interconnected. We will also look at how small communities such as North Adams were impacted by global forces. The course will introduce students to various basic concepts such as cities, urbanization, gentrification, and urban renewal. To gain a comprehensive understanding of cities, the course draws from various disciplines including sociology, history, anthropology, literature, and cultural studies.  Fulfills the Self and Society requirement of MCLA’s Core curriculum.

Honors: World Regional Geography: HONR 102-02 with Professor Kirk Scott, MW 2:00-3:15 pm
This course will introduce students to theories, terms and contemporary topics in human geography including how cultures are born and change, how groups of people organize themselves and their activities both spatially and politically, how patterns of activities emerge and change across time and space, and how we interact with our environments. We will explore complex relationships between people and the places they inhabit, gain skill in using maps, data, argument and persuasion, including basic interpretation of ArcGIS data layers, and appreciate a discipline that is an important component of a well-rounded liberal arts education. For students pursuing a teaching license, we will also link course content to the relevant for Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks. Fulfills the Human Heritage requirement of MCLA’s Core curriculum.

Honors: Calling Bullshit:  HONR 201-80 with Professors Erin Kiley and Shawn McIntosh, TR 1:00-2:15 pm.
Teaches students how to recognize persuasion, trickery, or lies that show a blatant disregard for facts and the truth—in a word, bullshit. However, it is not enough in today’s world to simply recognize bullshit when it appears in its myriad forms. Students will also learn how to counter bullshit in a powerful and persuasive way, enhancing not only their own information literacy in the process, but that of people they encounter when they call bullshit.  

Honors: Homes Away from Home: HONR 301-01 with Professor Katherine Carroll, TR 1:00-2:15 pm
Like it or not, we spend a lot of time indoors. This course explores the architecture of many of the places we go when we are not at home: schools, dormitories, hospitals, and even summer camps. With an emphasis on spaces related to education and health, the course investigates these buildings in the past and in the present and engages conversations about childhood, educational philosophies, medicine, science, professional identity, gender, race, and class. If possible with COVID restrictions, this class will include field trips.

Honors—Religion and Ritual: ANTH 495-02 with Professor Mohamad Junaid, MW 2:00-3:15 pm
This course introduces students to concepts, theories, and methods that the field of cultural anthropology employs in understanding the phenomenon of ‘religion’. As a complex social, cultural, and experiential phenomenon—present in almost all societies—religion is deeply enmeshed within the broader socio-cultural systems. Though there are other approaches to the study of religion, the anthropological approach is unique in offering a holistic, ethnographic, and comparative understanding of the phenomenon. Among the strengths of the anthropological approach is that it not only allows the study of religion as part of other social processes and changes but is also eclectic in borrowing insights from other fields and employing them in specific ethnographic contexts. Anthropological studies of religion are grounded in specific cultures and communities, which then allows drawing thorough conclusions about the question of religion in general. Religious phenomena involve beliefs, experiences, practices, affects, and discourses, with one or the other emphasized in different cultural contexts. Some of the practices that are associated with religion are prayer, rituals, taboos, sacrifice, pilgrimage, but also moral action, devotion, possession, atonement etc. Anthropologists have studied each of these in great detail and produced a lively tradition of intellectual inquiry in this field. The course will bring these theoretical approaches and ethnographic insights on religion into conversation with each other. We will explore the phenomenon of religion as a cultural- experiential ground which produces conceptions of the self, disciplined bodies, notions of temporality, structures of power and hierarchy, society, community, and the State. 

Honors: Fundamentals of Arts & Culture Organizations: AMGT  235H-01  with Professor Diane Scott,  TR  4:00-5:15 pm
This course explores and examines the functional elements of arts organizations with an emphasis on strategic planning and organizations’ fit in the arts and cultural ecosystem. Designed as the in depth introduction for arts management majors, topics include arts management issues including planning, organizational identity, environmental analysis, strategy development, integrated marketing, human resources, financial planning, fundraising and control systems with a focus on the strategic management process in the context of the contemporary arts and culture environment. Course attributes: LDRS

Honors: Environmental Law: ENVI 340H-01 with Professor Phil McKnight.  TR 1:00-2:15 pm.
This course studies the development of an American consciousness toward the environment throughout our nation’s history, emphasizing the political, economic, and social forces at work in the consequent creation of United States environmental law.  This law will then be considered in detail through the examination of federal, state, and local environmental protection legislation, regulations, and related court decisions.  Prerequisite:  Junior Status or Instructor Permission. 

Honors: Philosophy of Education: HONR 301-02 with Professor David Braden-Johnson, MW 2:00-3:15 pm
Seeing education as the principal means to full personhood raises important questions about autonomy, authority, creativity, and knowledge. This course will examine various philosophical perspectives on these questions and their implications for classroom practice.

Director’s Book Course: HONR 210 with Professor Hannah Haynes, Wednesdays 11:00 am- noon (1st seven weeks of the semester).  1 credit hour course.
Reading of a single text that is discussed and augmented by student presentations on related topics. Includes possible teamwork with Commonwealth honors students at other campuses, perhaps meeting with the book’s author and attending lectures on specific related topics. Course lasts seven weeks.

Honors: Ancient Philosophy Plato: HONR 301-03 with Professor Paul Nnodim, TR 5:30-6:55 pm.
Plato’s dialogues are great works of both philosophy and literature. Plato lived circa 428/427-348/347 BCE in Athens. In the dialogues, his technique of inquiry is predominantly dialectical, which involves skillfully directed questioning to elicit apparently latent knowledge from the student or participant. The main character of some of the famous dialogues is Socrates (ca. 470-399 BCE), who himself left no known substantive writings. In this course, we will read and analyze (but not in chronological order) selected works from the early dialogues (Apology, Crito, Euthyphro, and Protagoras), the middle dialogues (Republic, Timaeus, Meno, and Phaedo), and the late dialogues (Sophist, Theaetetus, and Parmenides). We will also learn a few classical Greek words along the way to enable us to internalize the knowledge of ancient Greek philosophy. While some of Plato’s works are fun to read, others may appear quite challenging to grasp and may even be open to conflicting interpretations. As we learn from the ancients, we are called forth to reflect upon their impact on Western thoughts.