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Recent & Future Honors Colloquia

Spring 2022 Colloquia

 

White Supremacy/Social Movements 

Dr. Dugan
The sociological study of race and ethnicity turns our attention not to so called “objective measures” of biological difference but to the outcome of historical conflicts over economic, political and cultural resources, access, and identities. Social movement studies attend to the ways in which organized activity to effect or reverse social change happens. This class bridges these disciplinary sub-fields and their confluence by examining organized white supremacy and collective action in the United States. Students will learn, evaluate and analyze the history of racist ideology and white supremacist culture looking at the eugenics movement as well as organized hate-groups like the Klan. Racial superiority is far more than prejudice. It is built into our social structure and culture impacting individuals’ everyday lives. This class will provide students an opportunity to build critical thinking skills as they read, analyze, and evaluate existing scholarship and theory on white supremacy and social movements. 

Democracy to Dictatorship 

Dr. Scott Moore
At the end of the First World War newly established republics replaced traditional dynastic monarchies throughout much of Europe. These new governments were supposed to make the world “safe for democracy,” ushering in a new era of cooperation. By 1933, however, almost all of these democracies had become dictatorships. This course will offer a series of case studies that explores the collapse of democracy in specific European countries. We will examine how economic challenges, institutional weakness, and political crisis contributed to this collapse. We will also look at the similarities and differences between these countries. While the course will primarily focus on why European democracies failed, it will also explore the weakness of the dictatorships that took their place, and the reason for democratic revival in the mid-twentieth century.

 

Fall 2021 Colloquia

 

The Films of Studio Ghibli

Dr. Youngblood

 

Science of Attraction

Dr. Fugere

 

Spring 2021 Colloquia 

 

Saving the World with Behavioral Science

Dr. Diller and Dr. Salters-Pedneautl
This class will explore the application of behavior-change techniques to global contemporary problems, such as substance use, obesity, pollution, illiteracy, poverty, and prejudice. Focusing on empirically validated techniques, we will discuss solutions to these major public concerns that are informed by behavioral science. We will also explore why behavioral science has not yet been applied systematically in these important domains.

The U.S. in the Middle East

Dr. Carenen
This course is designed to teach you not only about the Middle East, but the ways in which the United States has shaped history there. By taking this course, you will know more about both the history of the Middle East and U.S. foreign policy in the region. We will begin with an examination of early American interest in the area in the last 19 th century and will conclude with a closer look at the past two Gulf Wars and the war in Afghanistan, and their impact on the region (and the United States). Along the way, we will examine the impact of the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire at the end of World War I, the scramble for influence in the Middle East by the English and French, the question of self-determination (nationalism) for the region, the role of the Middle East in the Second World War, the Arab-Israeli conflict, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the impact of the Cold War on pan-Arabism, the politics of oil, the rise of fundamentalism, and the crisis in Syria. The overarching theme of this course is that the United States gradually exercised a neo-imperialist method in interacting with the Middle East, with often disastrous long-term consequences for the region and for the United States itself. 

The Prison State 

Dr. Broscious
Mass incarceration is a pressing issue in the United States. The United States accounts for approximately 4% of the world’s population, but imprisons approximately 25% of the world’s incarcerated population. Scholars, activists, and policymakers have been identifying potential solutions to reduce incarceration in the United States with limited success. This course introduces you to the causes, impacts, and potential policy solutions related to mass incarceration. It additionally asks you to identify policy solutions and consider the practicality of these solutions. 

 

Fall 2020 Colloquia

 

THE GREEKS, TRAGEDY & TERROR

Dr. David Pelligrini
This colloquium explores ancient Greek mythology, drama and philosophy as an early manifestation of psychic processes, and its enduring relevance in a post-9/11 world. We will also examine how the tragic form and its offshoots (e.g. horror films, contemporary adaptations, etc.) address and problematize contemporary social and cultural issues. With the goal of bringing these texts to vibrant life, we will engage in a variety of experiential and creative means, including “mock” debates, competitions and jury trials; staged readings; and collaborative construction of original multi-medial adaptations. 

MYTH BUSTING: REAL SCIENCE? OR NOT?

Dr. Elizabeth Cowles
Mythbusters Rejoice! This course will investigate myths: how/why they started, how they are perpetuated, and whether they are supported by the evidence. We will discuss and debate myths and why it is so difficult to defeat or undo myths. 

 

Spring 2020 Colloquia

 

Corporate Social Responsibility

Dr. Niti Pandey
Description: Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is the field of study that seeks to understand the role of business in society. CSR, corporate citizenship, and sustainability have become increasingly critical societal issues today, given the size and impact of global corporations and the myriad human rights and environmental issues impacted by corporate actions. This course is designed to provide a broad and multifaceted understanding of CSR and the role of corporate governance in global society. As such, we will address several important questions: Why does a business exist? Is the goal simply to maximize profits or do for-profit organizations serve other goals? What defines the boundaries between private profit and public good? What obligations, if any, do businesses have to the societies they operate in? Are these obligations voluntary or should they be mandated by law? Can the interests of the owners of firms, its stakeholders, and society be aligned or do they conflict inherently?

Sea Level Rise in New England

Dr. Bryan Oakley
Sea level, as measured by tide gauge records and satellite altimetry is rising, with current measured rates of change in New England of approximately 2.5 to 3 mm per year, with higher rates over the last several decades. Projected sea level rise due to thermal expansion and increased melting of land-based ice sheets and glaciers will likely exceed a meter by the end of the 21st century, with some scenarios indicated 2 to 3 meters of rise. Sea level rise is arguably the preeminent threat facing coastal cities as a result of anthropogenic climate change. This course will explore how sea level is measured, how it rises, past (geologic) sea level changes, and what future changes mean for the New England coastline. This course will consist of lectures, readings and discussions. Students will gain an understanding of how sea level changes, the complexity of this at the local and regional level, coastal management and will examine the potential consequences and costs of this rise. Students will pursue an individual research topic on an aspect of sea level rise related to their background and interests

 

Fall 2019 Colloquia

 

Moral Codes: The Singularity

Prof. Kristen Morgan
As social interaction increasingly extends into virtual spaces, behavior is affected accordingly. In this course, we will examine the history of virtual interaction, proposed codes of conduct, and the ways in which human behavior changes from reality to virtual reality.

Democracy to Dictatorship

Dr. Scott Moore
At the end of the First World War newly established republics replaced traditional dynastic monarchies throughout much of Europe.  These new governments were supposed to make the world “safe for democracy,” ushering in a new era of cooperation.  By 1933, however, almost all of these democracies had become dictatorships.  This course will offer a series of case studies that explores the collapse of democracy in specific European countries.  We will examine how economic challenges, institutional weakness, and political crisis contributed to this collapse.  We will also look at the similarities and differences between these countries.  While the course will primarily focus on why European democracies failed, it will also explore the weakness of the dictatorships that took their place, and the reason for democratic revival in the mid-twentieth century.

 

Spring 2019 Colloquia

 

Comedy and Culture

Dr. Miriam Chirico
"Humor can be dissected, as the frog can, but the thing dies in the process and the innards are discouraging to any but the pure scientific mind." E.B. White
This guided colloquium will ask you to be scientific about the study of comedy. By analyzing comedy we understand our own culture more clearly. Comedy also unifies as well as divides; it is a means for establishing communal identity and for subverting long-held beliefs or traditions. Dissecting humor, despite what E.B. White says, allows us to perceive how comic texts encode whom and what our society values. Students will prepare research projects that will involve group and individual problem-solving and inquiry.

The U.S. in the Middle East

Dr. Caitlin Carenen
The U.S. war in Afghanistan is now the longest war in U.S. history. In fact, most college students barely know a time when the United States was not involved in a war in the Middle East. Why is the United States so involved in this part of the world? This course will explore the history and significance of the relationship between the United States and the Middle East for the last century in an attempt to answer this question, and others. As the semester progresses, students will gain a sophisticated understanding of the complex nature of this relationship, will explore Middle Eastern as well as American perspectives, and will engage in a real-world policy project that attempts to apply problem-solving solutions to contemporary problems.

 

Fall 2018 Colloquia

 

The Prison State

Dr. Courtney Broscious
The United States has, by far, the highest incarceration rate in the world. Since the 1970s, we have experienced an exponential increase in incarceration rates due to a variety of political and social factors. This course is designed to explore the many facets of our "prison state" in the United States. Students will learn about the criminal justice process and the multiple stages of the process that influence incarceration rates, learn about political and social factors that led to the implementation of tough on crime policies, learn about racial disparities in our justice system, and learn about the reach of our criminal justice system into civil matters. We will also explore what the federal and state governments are doing to attempt to reform the criminal justice system and consider the impact of these reforms on the prison state.

Anthropomorphism

Dr. Lisa Fraustino
Why do writers, artists, and even scientists so often use anthropomorphism to interpret the behaviors of animals, plants, and nonliving things? What are the repercussions of this tendency to understand the world in terms of human social and cultural identities? Through multidisciplinary lenses including literary, historical, philosophical, anthropological, scientific, and others, this course will examine the meaning and significance of anthropomorphism. Students will pursue individual paths of inquiry and engage in both critical and creative projects.