down arrowMenu

University Honors Program

Course Directory

University Honors Program Spring 2016 Courses

Spring 2016 Advising Information

Liberal Arts Core

BIOL 1012-02

Life: The Natural World

CAP 3148-03

Capstone: Holocaust in Film and Literature

COMM 1000-11

Oral Communication

HUM 1021-01

Humanities I

HUM 1022-04

Humanities II

HUM 3127-02

Middle East

MUSIC 1100-07

Soundscapes: Music in Cultures

POL GEN 1020-01

Contemporary Social Problems

PSYCH 1001-03

Intro to Psychology

RELS 1020-05

Religions of the World

Seminars & Electives

UNIV 1092-01

Our Sonic Selves (1st Year Presidential Scholars ONLY)

UNIV 1092-02

Sophomore Service Learning (2nd Year Presidential Scholars ONLY)

UNIV 2196-01

Graphic Novels: Narrative Art & Sequential Storytelling

UNIV 2196-02

Abraham Lincoln in American Culture

UNIV 4197-01

UNIV 4198-01

Honors Thesis

Honors Independent Study

Liberal Arts Core

BIOL 1012-02 Life: The Natural World with Dr. Steve O'Kane, 10:00-10:50 MWF

Fulfills LAC Category 4A

Course Description:  

The natural world of rock, water, air, and life in which we live is a long-enduring and infinitely fascinating system of interacting parts. A large part of the science of biology seeks to understand how life interacts with itself and with its varied environments and to catalogue the vast diversity of living and extinct species. The human part of the equation is also of vast importance: how do we “fit” in the scheme of things? How does culture, economics, religion, and politics affect how we view and interact with nature? This is not a standard lecture course. Rather, through student presentations and guided group discussions, students will examine these topics using recent popular, but scientifically sound, readings. Beware: laughter, digressions, games, food, good natured name-calling, funny sounds, and interruptions will be tolerated!

We will be reading: The Diversity of Life, a book that examines nature’s natures biologican cornucopia of diversity by famed biologist Edward O. Wilson; Nonsense on Stilts, a book about the nature of science by biologist and philosopher Massimo Pigliucci; and, Big Questions in Ecology and Evolution, by Thomas Sherratt and David Wilkinson, takes a fascinating look at some of the most interesting–and partly unsolved– problems in the allied fields of ecology and evolutionary biology. The first book focuses on a world-wide view of the past, present and future of life’s diversity.

Professor Biography: Dr. O'Kane is a plant systematist whose research has taken him to many places on planet earth: The American West, Northern Canada, Mexico, Alaska, Japan, Siberia, Taiwan, and Western and Eastern Europe. In summer 2014 he taught this course in South Korea. His research includes classical studies, like the flora of parts of the western United States, and molecular studies in several groups of plants. He frequently works on threatened and endangered plant projects, spends a lot of time living out of a tent (too much his wife might say), is an amateur photographer, and plays guitar. Courses taught include Ecology; Plant Systematics; Biogeography & Origins of Diversity; Ecology, Evolution and the Nature of Science; Evolutionary Biology; and graduate topics courses as well as non-majors courses like Life: the Natural World and its lab. If you also take the lab associated with this course, you’ll find that Dr. O’Kane is the principle author of the lab manual.

Return to top

CAP 3148-03  Capstone: Holocaust in Film and Literature with Dr. Jerry Soneson, 5:30pm-8:20pm M 

Fulfills LAC Category 6

Course Description: The European Holocaust was one of the most horrendous, tragic and evil events in human history, resulting in the murder of about 6,000,000 Jewish persons, 1,500,000 of them being children.  If we include others who were targets of the Nazis, such as Gypsies, mentally ill or deficient, homosexuals, criminals and the like, the total death count of the Holocaust, some estimate, is close to 11,000,000.  Who were the victims, and what was life like for them during the Holocaust?  Who were the killers, and what did they think about their killing and about the victims?  Who were the bystanders, what made them bystanders, and how did they view the victims and killers? 

At the heart of any investigation of the Holocaust stand ethical matters.  No one doubts that the Holocaust was evil and that those who perpetrated it were doing evil.  This is hardly debatable.  But there are a lot of ethical questions that are raised by Holocaust events and that demand reflection and discussion.  Why did the killers think they were doing good?  Why did the victims seem to go along with the demands of the killers?  What happens to traditional ethical norms in the death camps, and were transformation of these norms natural, justifiable, or good? Equally important are religious issues.  Why, for example, didn’t the Protestant denominations or the Catholic Church stand up for the victims and protest the killing?  What happens to religious faith when one undergoes the Holocaust?   Is religious faith even possible in a post-Holocaust world, and if it is, what happens to the traditional picture of God in the minds of survivors? 

Students in this course will examine and discuss the experiences of victims, killers, bystanders, and rescuers of the Holocaust as they are expressed in some of the literature and film about the Holocaust.  We will look at what these persons experienced, how they thought about it, and what they did or failed to do.  In particular, we will reflect upon the ethical and religious issues that are pertinent to these experiences and actions and seek to understand how victims, killers, bystanders and rescuers themselves understood these issues in the roles they played during the Holocaust.  

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 I and III, twice teaching the Presidential Scholars Seminar, The Holocaust and Religion, The Holocaust in Literature and Film, and co-teaching the seminars, The Idea of the University and Moral Education in Literature and Film.  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.  Not surprisingly, these are the key issues at the center of Holocaust studies.

Return to top

COMM 1000-11 Oral Communication with Dr. Ryan McGeough, 11:00-12:15 TTh

Fulfills LAC Category 1B

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:  Dr. Ryan McGeough is a member of the Department of Communication Studies, where he teaches courses such as Political Communication, Rhetoric and Civic Culture and Oral Communication.  His research is focused on public argumentation across various types of media. His classes ask students to take an active role in class conversations and to connect assignments to their interests and passions. In his free time, he enjoys Southern cuisine, farmers’ markets, LSU football and being walked by his dog, Vonnegut.

Return to top

HUM 1021-01 Humanities I with Dr. Jay Lees, 10:00-10:50 MWF (Class in Honors Cottage)

Fulfills LAC Category 2A

Course Description:  This course surveys the development of Western Civilization from the ancient Hebrews to the beginning of the Renaissance in 1300.  We will survey the history and sample the literature of the Hebrews, Greeks, Romans, and finally of the various medieval European states.  The honors section will be conducted on the basis of active class participation.  Student presentations on a variety of subjects and discussions of issues and texts will augment formal lectures by the professor.  Also, each student will have at least one individual tutorial with the professor.

Professor Biography:  The course is taught by Jay T. Lees of the history department.  His specialty is medieval Germany.  Lees teaches classes on English, German, and medieval history, as well as specialized courses on women in the Middle Ages, the Crusades, and Shakespeare as a historian.  He is also director of the University of Northern Iowa Summer Study Abroad Program in Italy, where he teaches a course on Sacred Space.  Lees is the recipient of the Class of 1949 Award for Excellence in Teaching for 2004, as well the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences Award for Outstanding Teaching for 1996 and 2004.

Return to top

HUM 1022-04 Humanities II with Dr. Jay Lees, 11:00-11:50 MWF (Class in Honors Cottage)

Fulfills LAC Category 2A

Course Description:  This course surveys the development of Western Civilization from the beginning of the Renaissance in 1300 to the beginning of the French Revolution in 1789.  We will survey the history and sample the literature of the Renaissance, the Age of Absolutism, and the Enlightenment.  The honors section will be conducted on the basis of active class participation.  Student presentations on a variety of subjects and discussions of issues and texts will augment formal lectures by the professor.  Also, each student will have at least one individual tutorial with the professor.

Professor Biography:   The course is taught by Jay T. Lees of the history department.  His specialty is medieval Germany.  Lees teaches classes on English, German, and medieval history, as well as specialized courses on women in the Middle Ages, the Crusades, and Shakespeare as a historian.  He is also director of the University of Northern Iowa Summer Study Abroad Program in Italy, where he teaches a course on Sacred Space.  Lees is the recipient of the Class of 1949 Award for Excellence in Teaching for 2004, as well the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences Award for Outstanding Teaching for 1996 and 2004.

Return to top

HUM 3127-02 Middle East with Dr. Kenneth Atkinson, 12:00-12:50 MWF

Fulfills LAC Category 2B 

Course Description:  In this course we will explore together the history, religions, and cultures of the contemporary Middle East. We will also examine the history of the West’s involvement in the Middle East from the birth of the United States to the recent wars there. Because the Middle East is currently undergoing great social change and political transformation, I will make adjustments to this syllabus whenever necessary to include coverage of current affairs. I plan to devote part of the course to the history of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, as well as the background of the events of 9/11 and its aftermath. We will also examine in depth the current events in Syria and their possible ramifications for Europe and the United States. Throughout the semester I will send you articles and items of interest by e-mail. My goal in this course is to help you understand this complicated part of the world, and the West’s evolving relationship with it.

Professor Biography:  I am a Professor of History at the University of Northern Iowa and have degrees in biblical studies and ancient history, with a concentrations in World Religions, History, and Cultures, from the University of Chicago (M.Div.) and Temple University (M.A., Ph.D.). I have written several books, including Queen Salome: Jerusalem’s Warrior Monarch of the First Century B.C.E. and I Cried to the Lord. During my time at UNI, I have received awards for scholarship, teaching, and a medal from the U.S. government for public service. I frequently speak internationally about my research and publications in several fields, including history, Middle East, archaeology, and the Dead Sea Scrolls. Before becoming a professor, I held several other jobs, including work as an archaeologist, a full-time traveler, a factory worker, a kibbutz laborer, and a soldier in Cold War Berlin inside the Berlin Wall (see the new film “Bridge of Spies” to see what it was like there). You can learn more about me, and see my résumé (c.v.) at:

Return to top

MUSIC 1100-07 Soundscapes: Music in Cultures with Dr. Dyan Meyer, 1:00-1:50 MWF

Fulfills LAC Category 3A

Course Description:   

Soundscapes explores music within the context of evolving Western culture, ca. 400-2000, and examines the basics of music fundamentals and vocabulary.  The aims of this course are to teach the languages of music so the music can speak to you; to explore the geography of music so you can be at home in its terrain; and to discover the musical feelings within yourself.  Particular emphasis will be placed on listening skills that will last a lifetime and be applied to any style of music.

Concert Attendance is a vital part of this course.  Experiencing live music will add much to the overall experience of this class.  Each student is expected to satisfy this concert attendance requirement by attending five concerts or recitals on campus.  After the performance, each student will write a detailed review on the history of the music performed as well as how the music affected that student on that particular night of the performance.

Within each class, the students will be expected to communicate orally (by themselves and within group discussions).  This interaction among students will hopefully create personal relationships outside of the classroom, resulting in a feeling of belonging to the university atmosphere.  At the end of the semester, each student will be assigned to a group in which three students will work together culminating in a polished presentation of analyzing an assigned Broadway musical.

Professor Biography:  

Originally from St. Louis, Missouri, Dyan S. Meyer is Instructor of Music Theory at UNI. Meyer holds a B.A. in Music Education and Music Performance from Graceland University and a Master’s degree in Music Performance with a Choral Conducting emphasis from the Florida State University.  She has taught at the University of Northern Iowa from 1999-2003, and 2007-present.

From 2003-2007, Meyer established a home piano studio. She currently accompanies numerous students at the Iowa High School State Solo/Ensemble Festivals.  She also serves on the Fellowship of Christian Athletes board and enjoys working with athletes outside of the classroom.

Meyer lives in Cedar Falls with her husband, Monte, and five children.

Return to top

POL GEN 1020-01 Contemporary Political Problems with Dr. Alexandra Kogl, 9:30-10:45 TTh

Fulfills LAC Category 5C

Course Description:  COMING SOON!

Professor Biography  COMING SOON!

Return to top

PSYCH 1001-03 Intro to Psychology with Dr. Kim MacLin, 2:00-3:15 TTh (Class in Honors Cottage)

Fulfills LAC Category 5B

Course Description:  Psychology is an academic and applied discipline involving the scientific study of mental processes and behavior. Psychology is concerned with all aspects of behavior and with the thoughts, feelings and motivations underlying that behavior. It is both a thriving academic discipline and a vital professional practice. We are all interested in what makes people tick and how this understanding can help solve major problems in society. In this course you will learn the basics of each major area in psychology with particular emphasis on how you can use this information to make your life, and the lives of others, better.

Professor Biography:  My name is Kim MacLin and I am a Full Professor in the Psychology Department. I regularly teach introduction to psychology, motivation & emotion, and the careers in psychology course that prepares students for job and graduate school applications. My research interests are in the area of psychology and law. I am particularly interested in criminal stereotypes, as well as eyewitness identification and memory. I regularly serve as an expert witness in legal cases. Teaching is important to me. I think that the learning environment (inside the classroom, as well as your experiences with the materials outside of the classroom) should be engaging and fun, and I work hard to ensure that is the case!

Return to top

RELS 1020-05 Religions of the World with Dr. John Burnight, 12:00-12:50 MWF (Class in Honors Cottage)

Fulfills LAC Category 3B

Course Description:  This course will provide a broad, chronologically organized survey of the development of the western, monotheistic religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) from the earliest written sources through the early Islamic conquests of the 7th century C.E., followed by a survey of two major religions originating in India: Hinduism and Buddhism. We will focus on reading (in translation) the primary texts of each tradition, describing their similarities and differences in worldview, beliefs about the nature of the divine, and ideas about the purpose of human existence. This section of the course will emphasize the acquisition and development of oral presentation and writing skills: small groups will collaborate to offer presentations to the class on specific areas within the various religious traditions, and students will select a topic for in-depth individual study and write a research paper. 

N.B.: We will be less concerned with the historicity of the ‘supernatural’ events described in some of the traditions than with how the stories affected the beliefs of each religion: we are tracing the development of religious thought, not trying to determine, for example, whether or not Noah did in fact build a really big boat.

Professor Biography:  John Burnight is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Philosophy and World Religions. He received his PhD from the University of Chicago’s Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations in 2011, with an emphasis on Hebrew language and literature. He has been a lecturer at a small private college in the Chicago suburbs and large public universities in Connecticut and North Carolina, teaching introductory and upper-level courses in Old Testament/Hebrew Bible, World Religions, and the History of Monotheism. In 2007-08 he was a Fulbright-Hays Visiting Research Fellow at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His research focuses on “subversive” or “protest” literature within the biblical texts: namely, works such as the Book of Job that speak “truth to power” and critique the dominant Israelite/Judahite theology of the biblical periods. 

Return to top


UNIV 1092-01  Presidential Scholars Seminar: Our Sonic Selves with Dr. Randall Harlow, 3:00-4:50 T

**2 credit hour seminar - 1st year Presidential Scholars ONLY 

Course Description:  In this seminar we will broadly investigate how we create and appreciate music as human beings.  We will engage with a wide array of multidisciplinary scholarship, from semiotic theory to cognitive psychology and critical theory to intelligently evaluate such questions as: What is "music" - can we even make a general, universal definition? How do we perceive meaning through musical sound?  How have diverse cultures developed different musical systems and tastes?  What do people from cultures different than our own perceive in their musics that evades our understanding?  How and why has cultural hegemony and, more recently, globalization impacted musical practices and tastes both within our culture and among cultures abroad?   This seminar will challenge what we so often take for granted about music, coming to a deeper appreciation of our "sonic selves" both as individuals and a species as a whole. 

Professor Biography:  As an active concert artist I have performed across the US, and in Canada, England, Germany, Russia, and Greenland.  My scholarly work investigates the cognitive, physical, and cultural forces that shape the act of musical performance.  I am also involved in so called "hyper-acoustic" music research, developing new hybrid instruments which integrate digital technology and acoustic sound production.

Return to top

UNIV 1092-02 Presidential Scholars Seminar: Sophomore Service Learning with Dr. Jessica Moon, 5:00-5:50pm + arr T

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

Course Description: The intent of Sophomore Service Learning is to provide a structured way for Presidential Scholars to grow intellectually while combining their strengths and talents for the benefit of our campus and community. The spring semester will be devoted to the execution of the implementation plan developed during the fall Think Tank. 

Return to top

UNIV 2196-01 Honors Seminar: Graphic Novels: Narrative Art & Sequential Storytelling with Dr. Harry Brod, 3:30-4:45 TTh

**3 credit hour seminar - sophomore standing

Course Description: 

In this course we will meet in seminar style to discuss popular and acclaimed graphic novels such as Art Spiegelman’s Pulitzer Prize winning Maus and Fun Home by Alison Bechdel (a 2014 recipient of the MacArthur “Genius” Award) and others works, as well as analytical writings including Heer and Worcester’s A Comics Studies Reader and Wright’s Comic Book Nation. We will discuss the mythopoetic role of superheroes in contemporary culture, including current films, but we will not be spending our time reading the never-ending stories of “people who wear their underwear on the outside and punch other people” (William Bradley, “Graphic Memoirs Come of Age”).

This course teaches visual literacy, literary criticism and cultural analysis through the medium of graphic novels. How do graphic novels communicate, and how in this historical period of transition from a verbal to a visual culture has their unique blend of words and pictures become such an influential force in popular culture, such that the comics page appears as predecessor to the web page? What are their distinctive ways of addressing themes of personal identity and social conflict, including race, gender and sexuality? The instructor’s approach to this course draws on his book Superman Is Jewish?: How Comic Book Superheroes Came to Serve Truth, Justice and the Jewish-American Way (Free Press/Simon & Schuster, 2012). As stated on the book’s jacket, he “still has his old comic books, representing fifty years of ‘research’ that went into this book.” If students are lucky he may bring some to class. Oh, and if this course isn’t fun we’re doing something seriously wrong that we’ll have to correct.

Professor Biography: Harry Brod is Professor of Sociology and Humanities and Director of UNI’s NCBI program (National Coalition Building Institute), and holds a PhD in Philosophy from the University of California. He is a child of Holocaust survivors and a child of the 60’s. Both heritages shape his commitments to justice, expressed in decades of teaching, writing, and activism in the academic study of masculinities (where he is recognized as one of the founding figures of the field) and the profeminist men's movement (for which he has been a leading spokesperson).

His books include Hegel's Philosophy of Politics: Idealism, Identity and Modernity and the edited volumes The Making of Masculinities: The New Men's Studies and A Mensch Among Men: Explorations in Jewish Masculinity as well as the co-edited White Men Challenging Racism: 35 Personal Stories, Theorizing Masculinities, Brother Keepers: New Perspectives on Jewish Masculinity and The Legacy of the Holocaust: Children and the Holocaust. A DVD of his lecture “Asking For It: The Ethics and Erotics of Sexual Consent” is produced and distributed by Media Education Foundation.

Dr. Brod served on the Boards of Directors of Humanities Iowa, the American Men’s Studies Association, and Family and Children’s Council of Black Hawk County, and as Director of the Iowa Regent Universities Men’s Gender Violence Prevention Institute. He was a member of the Iowa Governor's Task Force for Responsible Fatherhood and the American Philosophical Association’s Committee on Public Philosophy, and held a Fellowship in Law and Philosophy at Harvard Law School. At UNI he received the Regents Award for Faculty Excellence, the Lubker Award for Faculty Research and the Diversity Matters Award, and was the founding Director of the Honors Program, in which he has taught various courses.

Return to top

UNIV 2196-02 Honors Seminar: Abraham Lincoln in American Culture with Dr. Wallace Hettle, 2:00-4:50 M

**3 credit hour seminar - sophomore standing 

Course Description: This course will explore the cultural context of Abraham Lincoln’s life and writings. We will examine Lincoln not only a politician, but also an eloquent writer and speaker.  To better understand Lincoln’s life and writings, we will examine a variety of sources. These will include biography, contemporary news clippings, letters to Lincoln, and authors such as Herman Melville, Walt Whitman, and Harriet Beecher Stowe.  The course will conclude by examining Lincoln’s place in more recent American films and literature.

The class will be a discussion-based, interdisciplinary seminar.  It requires active student participation, but prior classwork in American history is not expected or required.  

Professor Biography:  Prof. Wallace Hettle is interested in the US Civil War era and how Americans have remembered it. His most recent book is Inventing Stonewall Jackson:  An American Hero in History and Memory.  He enjoys seminars because they give students time to analyze the past through original sources.

Return to top

UNIV 4197-01 Honors Thesis with Dr. Jessica Moon, arr

Course Description: 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 Dr. Jessica Moon, arr

Course Description: 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