Skip to main content

Fall 2017 Honors Course Descriptions

Check out the full list of Honors courses and some of the course descriptions (below) offered for Fall 2017.  Early Registration opens on March 28th for Honors Seniors.  Take note of the Pre-Registration Priority Dates for the Fall 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.

HONR 204A: Challenges of World Poverty [88148] – Bryan McCannon

The course is designed for those who are interested in the challenge posed by massive and persistent world poverty. To appreciate this challenge, we must understand the root causes and evaluate the inventions that have been attempted in the past. The questions we will take up include: How pervasive is world poverty? What is economic life like when living under a dollar per day? Why do some countries grow fast and others fall further behind? What is the role of governments in the creation and mitigation of poverty? How can we end child labor—or should we? How do we deal with important services such as education, health, and financial markets? Is microfinance invaluable or overrated? Without property rights, is life destined to be "nasty, brutish and short"? What role does non-governmental organizations have?

HONR 204B - Making Change through Politics [88147] – Erik Herron

Contentious questions like how to manage health care, immigration, and national security emphasize the critical issue of who should have access to society’s resources. Politics determines who makes these decisions. Students in this class will confront challenging issues through classroom debates and experiential learning with a global perspective, covering politics in the United States and all over the world. The class culminates in a project where students identify a problem in their community and develop a creative solution. 

HONR 205A: The History of Now [88146] – Joshua Arthurs

What does it mean to study the history of the present? What can historical perspectives contribute to our understanding of contemporary society? The History of Now offers students the opportunity to explore these questions and develop a deeper comprehension of the issues that define today’s world. Together we will trace the historical origins of current problems, drawing on both our own research and the latest scholarship in the field. What can the history of industrialization tell us about climate change? What can past episodes of mass migration help us understand about the refugee crisis and its impact on societies? What are the roots of contemporary populism and the crisis of liberal democracy? As these questions suggest, this course also helps students develop a critical and reflexive understanding of the historian’s craft. We will work on methodologies – source identification and interpretation, engagement with historiographical debates – that define the discipline, and employ these in individual and collaborative research projects.

HONR 206A: Medicine in the Arts [88145] – Renee Nicholson

What can a poem tell us about patients with cancer? How might responding to a painting develop observation skills useful to diagnosing patients? These are just a few of the connections explored in Medicine and the Arts, a class that will illuminate connections between healthcare and artistic practice.

HONR 206B: Fakes and Forgeries [88142] – Adam Komisaruk

What is authentic and why does it matter?  On the one hand, acts of deception can pose a genuine threat to culture (this past December, a gunman shot up a North Carolina pizzeria, acting on a fake news story that a child-prostitution ring was operating out of the back).  On the other hand, deception has always been part of our cultural landscape, from the long ago (James Macpherson passing off his own poems as the work of the third-century bard Ossian) to the very recent (Mark Zuckerberg affirming, then retracting, then reaffirming a Facebook policy against fake news).  Forgeries have a way of taking on a life of their own, exceeding the “originals” in believability, popularity and even artistic quality.  This course will draw from a wide variety of disciplines including memoir (James Frey’s A Million Little Pieces), broadcast media (Orson Welles’ War of the Worlds), science (John Bohannon’s “Chocolate Diet” hoax) and business (the Volkswagen emissions scandal exposed at WVU), among others.  We will thereby explore the ways that the drive for creative expression sometimes complements, and sometimes conflicts with, the obligations of ethical citizenship.

HONR 207A: Culture, Heritage, and Art Crime [88141] – Rhonda Reymond

In globally diverse communities students will learn about and investigate historical and contemporary issues of destruction and iconoclasm and the erasure of culture due to ideology, neglect or disregard for objects; looting and the appropriation of objects for purposes of propaganda and economic gain, including illicit trafficking and selling of fakes and forgeries; and the restitution, repatriation, reconstruction, conservation, and artistic interventions of art and cultural heritage.  We will interrogate issues related to ownership of objects but also of competing claims to culture and the role of ethical collecting and display.



BCOR 199: Intro to Business [85230], [87597] - Li Wang

This course is the very first business core course that introduces business-school students to the major business disciplines, basic business communications, and the University environment. This Honors section will allow students to interact with fellow students and the instructor closely within the small-size classroom. Students also have unique opportunities to:

1.  participate in a semester-long service learning project, through which they can apply what they have learned about business functions in the classroom to the real-world setting with a community partner organization; and

2.  develop a personalized “college business plan” to lay out a solid foundation and masterplan for the upcoming years in college.

BIOL 298A: General Biology [87263] – Elizabeth Thomas 

Biology 298A, an Add-on for Biology 102, is called “Biology in the News” because during the semester students select news articles that focus on topics that are covered in Biology 102 (Bacteria, Viruses, Fungi, Plants and Human Physiology) and then the group spends an hour a week discussing those articles during an informal seminar style class.  Honors students taking this class have the opportunity to more fully appreciate the relevancy of Biology 102 topics, and they get to spend more time critically thinking about the coverage that the media offers the public on these particular biological topics.

BIOL 298C: General Biology [87266] - Sydha Salihu

The honors Bio 298C course is an add-on for Bio 101 and examines the applications of the basic principles of biology that are introduced in Bio 101. It provides an opportunity to not only explore the techniques but also the ethics and morality of subjects like, use of stem cells to cure genetic diseases, evolution, climate change, three parent baby, labeling of genetically modified foods, genetic engineering of humans etc. through various interpretations and contexts. The class discussion expands the perspective of the students and also cultivates expression as students take turns leading the discussion. Overall this course helps one develop a sense of critical judgment and students have fun doing it in a casual, small seminar style class environment.

COUN 230: Life Choices [82278] - Heidi O’Toole

This course is a unique shared experience that facilitates becoming an effective decision maker. The running theme of the course is: "The DECISIONS you make, will Determine the Direction your Life takes!" The course content then focuses on WHO you are as a person, and how to optimize your life experience. 

ENGR 101: Engineering Problem Solving 1 [83625] – Staff

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: Engineering Problem Solving 2 [83772] – Staff 

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. 

ENGL 156: Literature of Native America [81582] – Cari Carpenter

In this course we will read Native American literature from origin stories, which continue to be told today, to contemporary poetry and prose. We will also examine art work, music, and film in order to approach this literature with the dynamic spirit it deserves. In considering the various stories that Native Americans tell, we will address a number of questions: how, for example, do these authors contest and revise stereotypes of Indians? How should Native American literature be taught, given its diversity and its roots in the oral tradition? How do these texts challenge what we think of as storytelling, “America,” and even ourselves? Students will be expected to keep abreast of current events via newspapers and the Internet and to become more acquainted with issues affecting indigenous people today.  As we read this literature we will also study such important historical developments as the Dawes’ Act, nineteenth-century boarding schools, reservations, self-determination, changing gender roles, and the activism of groups like the American Indian Movement and Women of All Red Nations.

FCLT 250:  Russian Fairy Tales [87250] – Lisa Dibartolomeo  

Folk beliefs are a rich and enduring component of Russian culture. This course introduces the student to a wide selection of Russian fairy tales, and examines the aesthetic, social, and psychological values that they reflect. Students will develop or enhance their understanding of the continuing cultural influence of fairy tales and folk beliefs in literature, in orchestral music, opera, and ballet, in painting, posters, and folk art, and in film. The course also provides a general introduction to the study of folklore and fairy tales, presenting a broad spectrum of approaches to the interpretation of fairy tales, including psychoanalysis, sociology, structuralism, and feminism. For both contextual and critical reasons, the course introduces and analyzes Russian fairy tales against a background of and in comparison with the Western fairy tale tradition (the Grimms, Perrault, Disney, etc.).


FCLT 381:  Contemporary Polish Cinema [87254] – Lisa Dibartolomeo

This course studies contemporary Polish cinema from World War II to the present.  In this survey, we examine films in both their aesthetic and socio-historical contexts as part of European and Polish national cinematic traditions, concentrating on the main trends in Polish cinema from 1945 to the present day, such as the Polish Film School, Socialist Realism, the Cinema of Moral Concern, and the reemergence of democracy and capitalism.  We will be discussing the works of many of the most influential and best-known Polish directors (such as Andrzej Wajda, Roman Polański, Agnieszka Holland, and Krzysztof Kieślowski), as well as some less well known outside Poland. 

     The course will consist of lectures, film screenings, and class discussions.  Please note that the course presumes neither knowledge of Polish nor a background in Film Studies, although the latter will be helpful.  Course evaluation will be based on your participation in discussions as well as your grades on three short written essays.  There will be brief reading assignments each week, devised to provide preliminary backgrounds or critical examinations of particular films.

GEOG 102H: World Regions [87176] – Brent McCusker

World Regions exposes students to all regions of the world using a geographic perspective focusing on colonialism, globalization and development. The Honors section has a completely different structure from other sections of GEOG 102. It is graded on a “points basket” approach where students choose the types of graded exercises they wish to complete in order to achieve their grade for the course. Rather than rely on exams, students choose from short essays, media reviews, book material reflections and other types of graded activities that they submit four times during the semester. The course is also much more focused on class discussions and in-class group activities than non-Honors sections. The course assumes a greater level of student preparedness before class meetings than non-Honors sections. 

HIST 412: Introduction to Public History, Honors [87472]  - Jenny Boulware                                    

Have you traveled to battlefields or walked through museums? Do you enjoy documentaries or shows like TLC’s “Who Do You Think You Are?” If so, you just might be a budding public historian. 

Public history uses the past to serve contemporary needs. Public historians share an interest and commitment to making history relevant and useful. We apply the skills and methods of history (research, analysis, writing) to the study, management, preservation and interpretation of historical records and artifacts. Public historians work in archives, museums, historic sites, state and local historical agencies, newspapers, businesses, trade and labor organizations, and all levels of government.

History 412 introduces students to this intriguing world of employment – its major forms, main principles and current issues. Students read notable past and contemporary material and participate in local site visits to explore ways in which to become imaginative and effective public historians.

HONR 210: City As Text [82508] Kevin Gooding 

City as Text™ is a course designed to offer structured exploration of the environment and ecosystem of the Morgantown area. During this on-going, moving laboratory class you will investigate how the rural countryside became an urban landscape. You will see how the forces of nature, technology, government, history, architecture, and history collided to form this city. In this course you will draw upon many disciplines to answer the question “How does a Space become a Place?”

HONR 412: The Salem Witch Trials [84327] – Kevin Gooding

The Salem Witch Trials of 1692 are one of the iconic events in American history. Almost from the conclusion of the final trial, these tragic events have held a firm place in the American imagination. This class examines the trials themselves and the various ways in which people down to the present day have interpreted them. Class members will examine trial records, scholarly works, poems, artwork, drama, film, and works of fiction to discover how Americans have, through the telling and retelling of this story, attempted to fit these events into our national identity.

JRL 493G: Media Literacy [87585] - Bob Britten

Fake news is a small subset of our media menu, but things like opinion, analysis, sensationalism, parody and satire are far richer and more influential (and potentially confusing). Some media seek to inform, some to persuade, some to entertain, but all media have bias, whether it’s toward a position, a political party, or an ideology … and that’s not a bad thing! Our course materials will span news, public relations, entertainment and more, and we’ll examine these forms across print, broadcast, and online media.

MAE 316: Analysis-Engineering Systems [85152] - David Mebane 

MAE 316 focuses on modeling the physical systems that are important for mechanical and aerospace engineering devices, including and especially the mathematical techniques that enables the computational implementation of models. The core assignments are a series of modeling projects. Honors 316 will cover essentially the same material as the regular course, but will include advanced mathematical methods to be used on the assignments. Honors students thus acquire a richer set of modeling skills.

POLS 373: American Political Philosphy [87236] – Philip Michelbach

This course focuses on American political thought from its colonial origins to the politics of the early 19th century. Beginning with the earliest founding documents, we will move toward an understanding of the adoption of the Constitution and the aftermath of that decision considered from the standpoint both of its friends and enemies. Finally, we will turn to political movements in the 19th century prior to the Civil War.

RELG 102: Introduction-World Religions [82396],[83613]– Joseph Snow, 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 [87337] – Anthony 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 informed data-driven decisions. Focus of the course is on how randomness, chance, and probability affect our daily lives.principles and current issues. Students read notable past and contemporary material and participate in local site visits to explore ways in which to become imaginative and effective public historians.