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Spring 2017 Honors Courses

Check out the full list of Honors courses  and some of the course descriptions (below) offered for Spring 2017.  Early Registration opens on November 1st for seniors.  Take note of the Pre-Registration Priority Dates for the Spring/Summer 2017 semesters.  If you have not done so already, schedule your mid-semester advising meeting with your Advisor to make sure you are on track for reaching your goals. This list will be updated, so check back soon. 

* Faculty: if you do not see your course listed, please contact Dynita Washington at to update the list.


ASTR 115: Honors Relativity - Duncan Lorimer

In 1905, Albert Einstein published five remarkable papers. One of them described his special theory of relativity – a radical revision of the kinematics of rapidly moving objects that requires the unification of space and time. A decade later, Einstein succeeded in generalizing his theory to include the effects of gravitation. We will explore his remarkable scientific legacy that describes gravity as a geometrical theory of four-dimensional spacetime. The approach we will use is largely graphical – by constructing what are called “spacetime diagrams” we will be able to accurately describe a series of simple experiments that probe this four dimensional world. We will also make use of a bit of algebra (but no calculus!) to derive some quantitative statements. Using this framework, we will explore some of the weird and wonderful things that happen inside and outside of black holes!

BCOR 460: Contemporary Business Strategy Abhishek Srivastava

BCOR 460 is the capstone course that integrates all the functional areas of business that students have been exposed to in the core courses as well as in the major areas. In addition to the textbook, the Honors students will read, review, and discuss 22 articles from premier publications that target strategic decision makers in organizations. The discussion of these articles considerably elevates the rigor of the course and hones the critical thinking and communication skills of students. Students will also work on a computer simulation that presents a complex and interesting strategic decision-making exercise that continues for the whole semester. The students will also work on an in-depth strategic analysis of a company.

BIOL 498A (CRN# 18249) – Ashok Bidwai 

This Honors course aims to address a shortcoming in textbooks in Cell & Molecular Biology (CMB), i.e., the absence of advances in this rapidly evolving field.  This 1 Hr add-on to BIOL-310 includes a weekly discussion of a primary research papers that change core concepts in diverse areas of CMB.  You will learn to read and critique research papers, understand how technical approaches are applied to hypotheses testing, and identify strengths and weaknesses, thereby supplementing classroom learning. 

BIOL 493A (CRN# 18255) – Ashok Bidwai 

This course will provide students the opportunity to develop skills necessary to effectively read and interpret scientific literature and evaluate the impacts of these findings on current understanding of Cellular & Molecular Sciences and Molecular Medicine.  The course is based on active discussion of primary research articles, written critiques, and oral Power Point presentations.  This course is recommended for Biology/Biochemistry students and aims to provide students with a foundation for graduate and/or professional study in the subfields of Life Science.

CHPR 440: Clinical Research Methods and Practice – Stephen Davis

This course offers a unique, “hands on” experience in a busy academic emergency department (ED) and urgent care center where many public health issues and problems, such as substance abuse, diabetes, and intimate partner violence, are often encountered.  In addition to a didactic component covering various topics including research ethics, research design, and database considerations, students will have the opportunity to enroll patients in various research studies and administer data collection instruments.  Interested students should plan to meet briefly with me prior to enrollment to discuss specific course requirements.  This course is especially of interest to students interested in pursuing a medical or health related career.  The experiences gained in this course can help differentiate students from other applicants during the medical school (or other health profession) application process. 

ENGL 180 H01: Literature of Love/Sex/Gender – Dennis Allen

As the course title suggests, English 180 will make a valiant effort to define love, gender, and sexuality all in one semester. Probable texts include: Plato's  Symposium, some of Shakespeare's sonnets and The Chainsmokers' "Closer,"  The Great GatsbyFun HomeUnforgiven (the movie, not the Metallica song), and North  Carolina's "Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act" (the "Bathroom Bill"). 

ENGL 255 H01: Multiethnic American Literature: Coming of Age in the USA – Gwen Bergner

Read recent coming-of-age novels by best-selling and prize-winning American writers from a range of ethnic backgrounds to explore and compare how race and ethnicity impact the process of growing up in the USA.

ENGL 257: Science Fiction and Fantasy - Jay Cole

He coined the word “robotics.”  His  Foundation Trilogy was voted “Best All-Time Series” by the World Science Fiction Convention.  He wrote or edited more than 500 books on topics ranging from the Bible to biochemistry, from the Sun to Shakespeare, from genetics to Gilbert and Sullivan.  In this course, we will examine the writings of Isaac Asimov and discover how he earned the nickname, “The Great Explainer.”  From his science books and essays to his science fiction novels and short stories, Asimov helped to popularize and explain science for millions of readers around the world.  How did he do it?  At a time when scientific literacy is more important than ever, we will study one of the most eloquent and effective champions of scientific literacy and his impact.  As an added bonus, the WVU Library has one of the world’s largest collections of Asimov materials.  We will spend time exploring that collection to learn more about this remarkable writer and his legacy.

ENGL 301: Writing Theory and Practice –  Laura Brady

Why do we write what we write? What makes our communication succeed or fail?  How can we improve our practices in a deliberate, systematic way?  This course surveys rhetorical theory, invites you to analyze the rhetoric of professional documents, and introduces you to the quantitative and qualitative research methods commonly used by writing professionals.  

ENGL 303: Multimedia Writing – John Jones

In this honors section of ENGL 303: Multimedia Writing, students will examine the rhetorical possibilities of digital media in multiple modes, from text to audiovisual communication, using that media to understand the effects of the ongoing transition from print to screen on communication practices. Additionally, they will engage in reading discussion sessions on contemporary developments in new media and communication, exploring how digital culture has and is continuing to shape how we think and communicate. 

ENGL 329H: English in Appalachia – Kirk Hazen

In English in Appalachia (ENGL 329H) students will conduct ac SPRING Courses 2017_rev103116tive research with modern sociolinguistic methods to explore how language and society interact in Appalachia. The long history of stereotypes surrounding Appalachian folk present a fascinating challenge for students to tease apart fiction from truth.

ENGL 387W: Topics in Women’s Literature – Marilyn Francus

2017 marks the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen's death -- and her first appearance on the ten pound note in England.  Find out why this 19th-century author is so beloved, and how and why she is so frequently adapted in contemporary culture.  Course texts include Austen's novels,  CluelessPride, Prejudice, and Zombies,  and Bridget Jones' Diary among other works. See the flyer for more details.

ENGR 101 H01 : Engineering Problem Solving 1Marian Armour-Gemmen, Michael Brewster, Ashleigh Coren, Robin Hensel, Lizzie Santiago

This course focuses on engineering problem solving methodologies and analysis, technical report writing, team based project work and presentations.  The course provides students opportunities to complete multiple hands-on design projects.    Benefits of enrolling in an honors section of ENGR 101 include: connecting with other Honors students, smaller class sizes, topic related classroom discussions, and unique design projects. 

ENGR 102 H01, H02, H03, H05 : Engineering Problem Solving 2 – Melissa Morris, Michael Brewster, Robin Hensel, Lizzie Santiago, Ordel Brown

This course continues the development of engineering problem solving methodologies and analysis, technical report writing, team based project work and presentations with emphases on using the computer as a tool and algorithm development.   The course provides students opportunities to complete multiple projects.    Benefits of enrolling in an honors section of ENGR 102 include: connecting with other Honors students, smaller class sizes, an emphasis on real world applications of computer code, and unique projects. 

FLIT 257/FLIT 298B:  20th-Century Russian Literature in Translation - Lisa Di Bartolomeo

(Honors students take both the course and the add-on.) 

This course seeks to familiarize students with prose masterworks of the Russian 20th century.  The selected texts represent a broad array of styles, philosophies, and backgrounds.  Students will be exposed to writings of some of the greatest writers Soviet and post-Soviet Russia ever produced, and, it is hoped, will be inspired to continue reading such works even outside class. T/H 2:30-3:45 p.m.

FLIT 298: German Literature since World War II - Unification - Deborah Janson

This German Literature in Translation course focuses on significant works of literature and film from the German-speaking countries written over the course of the last sixty years. Via short stories, plays, novels, and films, participants will become familiar with important artists and intellectuals of the German-speaking world and learn about various phases of cultural and political life in the Federal Republic, the German Democratic Republic, and unified Germany. 

FCLT 380/FCLT 498F:  The Holocaust in East European Literature and Film  - Lisa Di Bartolomeo

(Honors students take both the course and the add-on.) 

Conceiving of the Holocaust as the most important event of the twentieth century, this course examines verbal and visual texts that involve some form of testimony to events and experiences directly or indirectly related to the Nazi Holocaust, 1939-1945.  Rather than allowing the extermination of millions of people to stand as an “absence,” writers, artists, and filmmakers have felt compelled to fill the void and the horrible silence with testimony, with voices, images, and words.  We shall analyze specific texts with a view to understanding the motivation for “testifying,” the narrative forms chosen, the effect of technical aspects of the texts (e.g., first-person confessional writing, subjective camera use in films), the difference between fiction and non-fiction, and the effects of Holocaust denial.  In this examination, we shall extend the literary and filmic familiars beyond the ranks of Anne Frank and  Schindler’s List, providing students with both a broader understanding of the events of the Nazi occupation and a better grasp of the historical contexts of several nations of central and eastern Europe, especially Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Lithuania, Romania, and some areas of Ukraine.  This course is conducted as a combination of lecture and discussion, with all films and film clips viewed in class, time permitting.  All readings will be in English, and all films will be subtitled in English. Tuesdays, 6-9:50 p.m.  

GEOG 298A – Honors Add-On for World Regions, GEOG 102 – Cate Johnson

In your World Regions course, you're going to learn about the many challenges our world is facing, like climate change, global poverty, international conflicts, refugees, and public health crises. Take this 1-credit add-on to learn what groups and individuals can do to address these problems. Don't just passively learn about the issues -- find out how you can take action!

HIST 393: Soccer and the Modern World – Joshua Arthurs

Soccer (“football” to most of the world) is widely considered the “global game.” Over a billion people watched the final of the 2014 World Cup, and the sport’s popularity continues to grow – even in the United States, for so long resistant to the “beautiful game.” Given its scope and importance, soccer can be used as a powerful lens through which to examine major questions in modern world history. How did a game that started in the factory towns of northern England spread so quickly to the rest of the globe? How has the sport been appropriated politically, and why have soccer teams become such important symbols of class, ethnic and national identity? Why have wars been fought over the outcome of matches? In short, how does soccer explain the modern world?

HONR 297: Connectomics: 3D Mapping of Neural Circuits in the Mammalian Brain - George A. Spirou

Explore and be a part of the new field of mapping neural circuitry in the brain, called connectomics. Students will work with unique electron microscopy image volumes, and learn to recognize cellular and subcellular structures as they segment neurons, glia and vascular networks in the images. These images offer many opportunities for students to design honors research projects, and in future semesters lead teams of other students to complete publishable projects. Along the way experience the wave of big data neuroscience, and learn the technologies that are shaping our modern understanding of brain structure through development and into maturity. Explore the structures you segment using 3D immersive virtual reality. Students in physical sciences, mathematics or engineering can identify projects to analyze the structures through classification, graph theoretical procedures and biophysical modeling, to name a few examples. Be amazed at how the brain constructs its initial wiring diagram following its genetic program, and how the connectome can change with learning and experience. We are seeking to enroll 100 students, whose combined work in a single semester will change our understanding of nervous system circuits and computation.

HONR 298G: Meet Me At The Museum – Mary (Cookie) Schultz

Students will learn about the history and organization of museums, the intriguing and challenging world of art collecting, the complex issues of the preservation of cultural property and will be offered a rare "behind the scenes" look at the Art Museum of West Virginia University. This class allows the students the opportunity to become conversant with the visual language of art through the collections in our museum and to engage WVU's professional museum staff.  This class will meet once a week at the museum on Thursday afternoons from 2:30 to 5 pm. 

JRL 428: Media Ethics & Law - Steve Urbanski

This course will challenge students to think deeper (on a philosophical level) and write more intricately (on an academic level) in a number of ways. At the beginning of the semester, all of the students will be required to read the first 90 pages of Simon Wiesenthal’s book “The Sunflower: On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness,” which will establish a key foundation of moral thinking and also reinforce diversity issues. In the traditional JRL 428 sections, we merely discuss this book in one session and no reading is required. Secondly, since the course is capped at 20, the students will be divided into five groups of four students each and the groups will be assigned a media ethics or legal “specialty,” such as the First Amendment, Privacy, Libel, Moral Thinking, and Obscenity. Toward the end of the semester, these groups will present their projects to the entire class — both verbally as well as in written form — so that everyone will receive key information on each group's specialty. There also will be a mid-term and a final as well as a Think Paper, which is the same as the traditional sections. Also, the same general text will be required, which is Joe Mathewson’s “Law and Ethics for Today’s Journalist."

JRL 445: International Media 1 – Lois Raimondo

International Journalism introduces students to the complexity of reporting responsibly across culture through broad media survey work, topic readings, and individualized in-depth reporting projects. Survey work will span the globe, using English-language translations of official media content from inside the focus story, while also exploring privately produced information streams. A unit on the Middle East will look at the ways in which ISIS creates and distributes messaging to recruit and promote their agenda.

The class is designed to disrupt western “perspectives” by introducing other ways of seeing through a variety of means including controls of information (government, military, advertisers, etc), non-linear forms of community reporting including Bolivian miners’ radio stations, Burmese HIV Prevention street theatre, and underground communications networks developed to evade censorship nets.   

PHIL 310: Philosophy of Science – Richard Montgomery  

In this course we will examine, and critically evaluate, the attempts that have been made by some influential philosophers of science to understand (a) the processes by which scientific theories are discovered, tested, ratified, modified and abandoned, (b) the products of scientific activity (viz. scientific theories and scientific explanations), and (c) the legitimate intellectual aims of scientific activity.

This course will be of interest to philosophy majors as well as majors in a wide variety of the sciences.  

POLS 261: Introduction to National Security – David Hauser

This course introduces students to how states think about and approach issues of national security.  The course is constructed around three sections: one on how states conceive of and execute a national security strategy, one on how intelligence services work with the policymaking community, and one on how force is used in politics and national security.  The class has extensive simulations and pieces of movies to showcase the course concepts.  The honors section will meet outside of the regular class to read additionally about current national security issues and discuss them in a small group format.

RELG 102H: Introduction World Religions – Alyssa Beall

Religious Studies is not simply about the memorization of names, dates, and facts. Although our class will cover some of the basic ideas about each religion, our focus this semester will be on the process of Religious Studies — asking not just about the who, what, and where of religions, but also the  why.  What is the category of "religion," and how did our World Religions today become what they currently are?

STAT 298: Elementary Statistical Info - Anthony B. Billings

STAT 298 is a one-hour add-on to STAT 211. The course demonstrates the importance of probability and variation in explaining the world in which we live. This allows students to develop the tools they need to make more informed decisions. Focus of the course is on how randomness, chance, and probability affect our daily lives.