down arrowMenu

University Honors Program

Course Directory

University Honors Program Fall 2015 Courses

Fall 2015 Advising Information

Liberal Arts Core

CAP 3103-01

Capstone: Multidisciplinary Perspectives on Genocide

COMM 1000-20

Oral Communication

ENGLISH 1120-04

Introduction to Literature (Writing emphasis)

HUM 1021-24

Humanities I

HUM 1023-05

Humanities III

HUM 3121-03

Russia/Soviet Union

PHIL 1020-04

Philosophy: Art of Thinking

SOC 1000-05

Introduction to Sociology

STAT 1772-08

Introduction to Statistics

THEATRE 1002-05

Theatrical Arts and Society

Seminars & Electives

UNIV 2196-01

Low Dimensional Topology: Knots, Links, and Surfaces

UNIV 4197-01

Honors Thesis

UNIV 4198-01

Honors Independent Study

UNIV 1092-01

American Environments (1st year Presidential Scholars ONLY)

UNIV 1092-02

Sophomore Think Tank (2nd year Presidential Scholars ONLY)

Liberal Arts Core

CAP 3103-01 Capstone: Multidisciplinary Perspectives on Genocide with Dr. Stephen J. Gaies, 8:00-10:45 TTh

*Fulfills Liberal Arts Core requirement for Category VI - Capstone (Junior standing)

Course Description:  This capstone course will introduce you to current perspectives on genocide from a variety of disciplines.  The course examines the past and current relevance of genocide to those disciplines and the role of those disciplines in shaping our understanding of genocide.  This semester we will focus on the Armenian Genocide, the Nazi Genocide (including the Holocaust) and the genocides in Bosnia and Rwanda, along with more recent and current crises that may or may not meet the criteria for “genocide.”

The course is organized around four topic areas, each of which raises fundamental issues about genocide and which identifies key ways in which the concept of genocide has influenced and been shaped by different academic and professional fields: 

  1. history (What is genocide?  What commonalities can be found among genocides of the 20th and 21st centuries?  Are there predictable stages in which a genocide unfolds? How is genocide related to other atrocity crimes?  How has the definition of genocide changed in the wake of historical events and developments in international humanitarian law and justice?)
  2. psychology and personal memory (What are the psychological effects of genocide on individuals and communities, and how have these effects been characterized and dealt with?  How has the human propensity for genocide been investigated experimentally? How can we understand the behavior of rescuers, and what is the relevance of such behavior for the rest of us?)
  3. representation and cultural memory (How have genocides been represented historiographically and artistically?  How are collective and cultural memory shaped by memorials, monuments and museums?  What are the possibilities and limitations of artistic representations of genocide?); and
  4. responding to genocide: a systems view (What responses to genocide should we expect from governments, communities, organizations and individuals?  What accounts for the historical disconnectedness of such responses, and what would a “system” of response to genocide, during and after the violence, require?)

Class meetings will feature a variety of activities, including lectures, open discussion, structured student-centered discussion tasks and presentations, film and video screenings, and viewing of websites.  Roughly half of our class meeting time will be devoted to film viewing and discussion.  If there is sufficient interest, one or more full-day, overnight or weekend field trips will be organized to attend genocide-related events and museums.  Events on campus and in the community dealing with genocide will provide students with extra-credit opportunities.

Professors Biography:  I am a professor in the Department of Languages and Literatures and director of the UNI Center for Holocaust and Genocide Education.  Holocaust and genocide studies and education are my third academic “career,” following French literature and then TESOL and applied linguistics.  I see myself as a lifelong learner in the area of Holocaust and genocide studies, and I believe strongly that the subject matter we deal with in this course has much to tell us about the challenges we face as citizens of the 21st century.

Return to top

COMM 1000-20 Oral Communications with UNI Staff, 12:30-1:45 TTh

*Fulfills Liberal Arts Core requirement for Category IB

Course Description: This course is a survey course designed to assist the student in discovering how verbal and nonverbal communication messages function in a variety of settings--intrapersonal, interpersonal, group, and public. By studying the theory and process of communication and applying communication theory and principles to diverse real-life situations, students will have opportunities to practice and analyze communication skills in various communication contexts. In order to do this, this course involves both written and oral assignments throughout the semester.

The honors section will involve more critical analysis and discussion of course concepts, with an emphasis on both speaking and listening. At least one of the assignments will have a social issues or service-learning component, and topics for speeches will have more specific guidelines than other sections. Students will complete at least three individual speeches and one group project.

Professor Biography: 

Return to top

ENGLISH 1120-04 Introduction to Literature (Writing emphasis) with Dr. Richard Vanderwall, 9:00-9:50 MWF

*Fulfills Liberal Arts Core requirement for Category IIIB and IA

Note: Students who complete this writing-enhanced course will be able to satisfy Liberal Arts Core requirements in two categories:  IIIB (Literature, Philosophy, or Religion) and IA (Reading and Writing). 

Course Description:  This Honors section of Introduction to Literature - Writing Enhanced will engage students in the study of literary texts with expression of research supported critical analysis, opinions and interpretations of the selected texts through writing, speaking, performance and discussion. The texts are loosely related by topics and themes that are related to danger, temptation, and, violence. The texts feature a range of both traditional texts and contemporary texts including Cormac McCarthy’s THE ROAD, Truman Capote’s IN COLD BLOOD, Charles Dickens’ A CHRISTMAS CAROL, William Shakespeare’s MACBETH, and Marlowe’s TRAGICAL HISTORY OF DOCTOR FAUSTUS.  Griffith’s WRITING ESSAYS ABOUT LITERATURE will provide a guiding resource as we work through the texts.

Professor Biography:  Professor Rick Vanderwall is a long time educator having taught all levels of students starting with sixth grade.  He is a curriculum writer specializing in English education, Shakespeare, Film and Theater.  He has directed over 60 theatrical productions at the high school level.  Currently he is a faculty member in the Department of Languages and Literatures. He is affiliated with the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington D.C. consulting and doing workshops in Shakespeare pedagogy for teachers.

Return to top

HUM 1021-24 Humanities I with Dr. Jerry Soneson, 9:30-10:45 TTh

*Fulfills Liberal Arts Core requirement for Category IIA 

Course Description:  This course is an introduction to the humanities.  Central to this area of study is the question of what it is to be civilized, to be “human” at its best.  In this course we study this question as we also develop a critical understanding of some of the more important social, economic, political and cultural elements which constitute the human story of the West from the Enlightenment on, and which have enduring significance in and for the present.  Our honors section will draw upon the imagination and creative talents of honors students by offering the opportunity for them to think about, discuss and write upon these matters in concentrated and creative ways.  About half of our time together will be devoted to lectures and art films in order to tell the historical story of the West, but the other half of our time together will be devoted to class discussion of major literary, philosophical, religious and artistic works that have been produced within that story.  Students will have abundant opportunity to work more fully with the material we cover in written exams and longer essays.

Professor Biography:  Dr. Jerry Soneson, who came to UNI in 1991, is the Head of the Department of Philosophy and World Religions. He has also been part of the Honors Program since it began, often teaching honors sections of Humanities III, twice teaching the Presidential Scholars Seminar, The Holocaust and Religion, The Holocaust in Literature and Film, and co-teaching the Honors Seminar, The Idea of the University.  Specializing in philosophy, religion and ethics during the Modern Period, he likes to ask, to think, to write about, and to discuss with students matters which have to do with the great questions of life, such as good and evil, freedom and bondage, war and peace, tragedy and hope, ideals that make life worth living, and why humans all too often seem to blow it. He loves to teach Humanities I and Humanities III because it gives him the chance to explore all of these topics with students within the historical setting of past – Ancient, Classical and Medieval, in the case of Humanities I, and Modern, in the case of Humanities III.

Return to top

HUM 1023:05    Humanities III with Dr. Emily Machen, 2:00-3:15 TTh

**Fulfills Liberal Arts Core requirement for Category IIA - (class in Honors Cottage)  

Course Description:  This class will introduce students to the major themes in the history of Western Europe from the French Revolution to the present.  We will study history’s “big” events, including wars and revolutions.  However, rather than exploring World War I or the Cold War from a purely political or military point of view, we will investigate how these events impact human society.  Students will determine how war, revolution, and social upheaval shape people’s lives depending on where they live, their social class, and their race and gender.  Men and women often experiences events differently.  The same is true for minorities. The experiences of a Senegalese soldier or a woman ambulance driver during World War I differ from the experiences of European men on the front lines or politicians on the home front.  Students will build an understanding of how Western society develops by delving into a variety of sources produced during the eras we study.  Reading materials will be supplemented by images and film clips that add an important visual component to the course.  The class will incorporate a combination of lecture and discussion of primary documents.

This class will also include a current events element.  History is not simply about what happened in the past.  It should also help students understand contemporary society and current problems.  As a result, throughout the semester, we will be discussing important stories showing up in the news.  We will situate these stories into their historical context so that students know why Europe is experiencing a growth in far right political parties or what is motivating Ukrainians to protest against their government.  By the end of the course, students will understand how Western societies have developed and how that development shapes our contemporary world.

Professor Biography:  Emily Machen is an associate professor of history.  She is a specialist in modern Europe with an emphasis in French women’s history. She received an undergraduate degree from Southeast Missouri State University, where she studied history and French, and a Ph.D. from the University of Mississippi.  Professor Machen lived in France for two years while completing her dissertation. She teaches a variety of classes, including Modern France, European Society and the Great War, European Women’s History, and Humanities III.  She enjoys all of her classes and tries to engage students by incorporating news and documentary video clips, images, and artifacts related to various historical periods.

Return to top

HUM 3121-03 Russia/Soviet Union with Dr. Kenneth Basom, 10:00-10:50 MWF

*Fulfills Liberal Arts Core requirement for Category IIB 

Course Description:  This course is an introduction to the rich and diverse cultures of Russia and the former Soviet Union.  History and literature will be our primary windows into this culture because they have been crucial to Russian ideas of what it means to be Russian.  We will also take music, film, geography, religion, the graphic arts and politics into consideration. The course will highlight the continuing conflict between Western influence and Russian distinctiveness.  The influence of the many non-Russian cultures incorporated at various times into the Russian state will also be examined.  We will read one of the most popular novels from the late soviet period, which happens to have been written by a non-Russian.  There are many and diverse sources of Russian culture.  Class discussion of films and readings will be an important part of the course.  We may also take advantage of events on the UNI campus that are related to Russian culture (such as plays, films, lectures, and musical performances).

Professor Biography:  I grew up near Washington, D.C., and I guess that helps account for my chosen career as a professor of political science.  The politics of other countries has long fascinated me.  I have spent much of my career studying the politics of Eastern Europe and the former Yugoslavia.  Nationalism and democratization have been two of my main areas of research.  Through my research I have come to appreciate the importance of culture not only for politics but for all aspects of life.  I do some of the old fashioned lecture format in my classes, but I try to keep it informal and jazz it up by impersonating various historical or imaginary characters.  I enjoy using excerpts of films and sometimes entire films in my classes.  I am increasingly relying on class discussions in my courses to allow students the opportunity to reflect on course material and try out ideas.

Return to top

PHIL 1020-04 Philosophy: At of Thinking with Dr. Margaret Holland, 11:00-12:15 TTh

*Fulfills Liberal Arts Core requirement for Category IIIB-(class in Honors Cottage)

Course Description:   Philosophy takes as its subject matter, and critically examines, all human activities and beliefs.  It asks questions about the fundamental nature of reality, knowledge, goodness and beauty.  Western philosophy began in ancient Greece with thinkers who investigated nature and the physical world.  Later thinkers directed their attention to human life and conduct.  They then went on to examine questions about the nature of reality, the foundations of knowledge, politics and moral value.  In this course students will have the opportunity to acquire first-hand knowledge of the concerns and methods of the best in our philosophical heritage.  We will focus on notable themes, as well as points of agreement and disagreement among various thinkers.  My hope is that students will complete the course with an understanding of the philosophical tradition, and an appreciation for the activity of critical and reflective thinking.   Honors students will have the opportunity to research one of the branches of Philosophy and give the class a short presentation on the branch she or he selects.

Professor Biography:  Margaret Holland is an Associate Professor of Philosophy.  She has a M.A. in Philosophy from Boston College and a Ph.D. in Philosophy from the State University of New York at Buffalo.  She has been teaching classes such as Ethics, Ancient Philosophy, the Philosophy of Art, and Philosophy: The Art of Thinking at UNI since 1991.  She particularly enjoys classes with a good deal of student participation.  Professor Holland had a very good experience teaching an Honors section of this class a few years ago; she looks forward to working with Honors students this Fall.

Return to top

SOC 1000-05 Introduction to Sociology with Dr. Marybeth Stalp, 9:30-10:45 TTh

*Fulfills Liberal Arts Core requirement for Category VA

Course Description:  The discipline of Sociology offers a big picture, or structural way to think about society and one’s place in it. This reading-intensive and discussion-based class makes use of everyday life in the US, including historical and contemporary culture, to examine society and how it works. To assist us in exploring society, we will examine popular culture from a scholarly perspective as well, and a general knowledge or familiarity with “smart cartoons” like the classic American cartoon The Simpsons will assist students greatly in this class. Take home exams, short analytical papers, and a final project (including class presentation and written paper) are a part of this course.

Professor BiographyDr. Stalp is Professor of Sociology at UNI. She is a qualitative sociologist, who studies the intersections of gender, culture, and leisure.  Stalp recently returned from a spring/summer 2013 research sabbatical in Ireland, studying how Irish women quilt. In her 2007 book, Quilting: The Fabric of Everyday Life, Dr. Stalp found that US quilting actually threatens family life, and she has continued to investigate women’s creative activity, including handcrafting, subversive crafting, and guerilla knitting, as well as her new international comparative research in Ireland. Dr. Stalp also studies the Red Hat Society, and how it puts a positive spin on the aging process, for as the RHS Ladies state, “We Do It Cuz It’s Fun”. Finally, Dr. Stalp studies US artists working across a variety of mediums, to see how they negotiate the creative process with the economy.

Return to top

STAT 1772-08 Introduction to Statistics with Dr. Mark Ecker, 12:30-1:45 TTh

*Fulfills Liberal Arts Core requirement for Category IC

Course Description:  The Honors Introductory Statistics course covers the topics of: descriptive statistics, probability, random variables, sampling distributions, inferential statistics, confidence intervals and hypothesis tests.  Students will be exposed to critical statistical thinking, along with the statistical software package, S-Plus.  Emphasis will be on real world applications of pertinent statistical methods and ideas.  Students will collect data on a topic of interest to them and analyze the data using the tools learned in the classroom.

Professor Biography:  I am Professor of Statistics in the Department of Mathematics at UNI, where I specialize in the area of spatial prediction and modeling using Bayesian and Geostatistical techniques.  My research involves developing methodology for spatial association often present in environmental and economic data.  Recently, I have worked as part of a multidisciplinary team of chemists, biologists, and environmental scientists at the University of Northern Iowa analyzing water quality data in Iowa's lakes and wetlands.  I currently work with Iowa Workforce Development and the Institute for Decision Making to forecast the potential available workers in laborsheds across Iowa.  My most recent research project involves developing new statistical techniques to measure the negative or positive financial impact on housing prices from living close to a point source, such as a hoglot, nuclear power plant or a highly desirable school. 

Return to top

THEATRE 1002-05 Theatrical Arts and Society with Dr. Cynthia Goatley, 3:30-4:45 TTh

*Fulfills Liberal Arts Core requirement for Category IC

Course Description:  Theatrical Arts and Society is an introduction to the dramatic arts and their interrelationship with society. This semester’s specialized Honor’s focus is on “devising” or creating theatre.  Class participants will select a topic as a group which will then be developed into an original performance piece under the direction of the instructor.  Hands-on theatrical experience is the focus, covering the areas of design and production, stage management, performance, and direction.  In addition, selected practitioners of theatre will be studied in order to assist the creation and development of the performance. Attendance at Strayer-Wood Theatre productions and other off-campus theatre performances is a class requirement.

Professor Biography:  Dr. Goatley is a playwright, director, and actor.  She has written two musicals with her collaborator Dr. Rebecca Burkhardt and is currently working on an opera libretto about explorer, Isabella Bird.  Her plays have had productions and readings at Red Eye Collaboration in Minneapolis; The Playwright’s Center also in Minneapolis; Sturgis Youth Theatre in Cedar Falls; Theatre Wybrzezak in Gdansk, Poland; Theatre Building Chicago; the Laenea Festival in Sacramento, California; and the University of Northern Iowa.  Recent productions she has directed for UNI include Lysistrata, Mad Forest, and Cloud 9.  Last spring she performed the role of Violet Weston in Theatre UNI’s production of August:  Osage County.

Return to top


UNIV 2196:01  Seminar: Low Dimensional Topology: Knots, Links, and Surfaces with Dr. Theron J. Hitchman, 12:30-1:45 TTh - (class in Honors Cottage)

**3 credit hour seminar - Requires sophomore standing

Course Description:  We will study the shapes of things in a way that ignores their geometry. We will start with knots, links, and tangles in string, move on to cutting and glueing surfaces and counting holes, and (maybe) consider how to put together our own little 3-dimensional universes. Lessons and assignments will focus on experiment, play, and defending ideas. There will be a lot of sketch drawing and an opportunity to work on visualization skills. Student's (mathematical) arguments and conjectures will drive the class.

Professor Biography:  I enjoy geometry and calculus (my research is in differential geometry), soccer, and asking hard questions about teaching. I am happiest when helping people get productively confused. I like to think of myself as a radical, but that is an irrational thing. I once told a half-hour-long joke with no punch line.

Return to top

UNIV 1092-01 Presidential Scholars Seminar: American Environments with Dr. Jeremy Schraffenberger, 1:00-2:50 W

*2 credit hour seminar – 1st year Presidential Scholars ONLY - (class in Honors Cottage)

Course Description:  Cultural representations and interpretations of the non-human natural world inform and are informed by the way humans understand and treat the environments they find themselves in. In this class students will read and respond to reflections and representations of the natural world, focusing on environmental values and ideas as they have been expressed in literary, popular, and critical texts. Specifically, students will explore this relationship between people and their environments in the context of the American experience, including their own personal experiences of the world around them: their hometowns, the UNI campus, the city of Cedar Falls, the state of Iowa, the Midwest region, and beyond. Students will be introduced to a range of critical approaches to environmental discourse, from ecophilosophy and eco-spirituality, to ecofeminism and environmental justice. In the end, we will all emerge from this course with a more deeply considered understanding of our own relationships to the non-human world.

Active participation is the lifeblood of this class, both orally during classroom discussions and in writing assignments. Participation requires more than simply showing up and speaking. Rather, students must first prepare to participate, coming to class having read and thought deeply about the texts and topics at hand, asking questions of the material and of themselves. By participating in this way, student will cultivate their own academic authority with rigor, confidence, and self-direction, but they will be equally rewarded by participating in the spirit of generosity, humility, curiosity, and open and honest intellectual engagement.

Professors Biography:  In addition to literature and critical writing classes, I also teach creative writing here at UNI. I work under the assumption that all writing is creative and should therefore be of immediate and not just deferred value. In other words, I want the work that students do in my classes to matter. Writing need not be just about learning the rules and following the conventions of academic discourse—though we should, of course, all make ourselves aware of whatever rules and conventions we find ourselves subject to. Instead, I believe the process of writing helps us learn what we hadn’t yet realized we were thinking.

If anyone is interested, I’ve published a couple of books of poetry, Saint Joe’s Passion (Etruscan Press) and The Waxen Poor (Twelve Winters Press), and my other creative work has appeared in anthologies and journals like Best Creative Nonfiction, Brevity, Mid-American Review, Notre Dame Review, Poetry East, and elsewhere. Apropos of the American Environments Presidential Scholars Seminar, my co-written chapter “Ecological Creative Writing” appears in the new collection Creative Writing Pedagogies for the Twenty-First Century (Southern Illinois University Press). I’m also very proud to be the associate editor of the North American Review, the oldest literary magazine in the United States, which is housed here at UNI.

Return to top

UNIV 4197-01 Honors Thesis with Jessica Moon, arranged

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.

Return to top

UNIV 4198-01 Honors Independent Study with Jessica Moon, arranged

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.

Return to top