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Honors Book Study Courses for Spring 2023

This upcoming Spring we will be offering a variety of one-credit book study courses. These courses are being offered for the full semester, first eight weeks, or second eight weeks of the semester.  

Books on blue background. Text: "Book Study Courses: Spring 2023." 

Full Semester - 1 credit courses

HONR 293 – Cyberpunk and Science Fiction

Science fiction and cyberpunk are popular genres of literature and movies, but are they more than just fiction?  This class seeks to explore how science fiction and cyberpunk have influenced our society, scientific advancement, and popular culture.  In this class, we will read selected works of fiction by William Gibson and Ray Bradbury two influential and award-winning authors.  This class is an exciting look at the evolution of science fiction, cyberpunk, and today's world.

HONR 293 - Business in Movies in Film

How is Business portrayed in popular film? What do films like “The Big Short,” “The Godfather,” “Thank You for Smoking,” “Up in the Air” and “The Devil Wears Prada” have to say about the acquisition of wealth, the professional world, and capitalism? How do these films shape our thoughts and beliefs during our working hours? In this class, we examine films that engage with the narrative of business and investigate whether art imitates life, or life imitates art.

HONR 293 - Quantum Computing for Fun

Designed for students with no previous quantum mechanics knowledge and only precalculus math, this course will explore the basic science of quantum computing. Quantum computing leverages the nonintuitive behaviors of quantum mechanics — superposition, interference and entanglement — to perform computations that a normal computer would need years to complete. Quantum logic operations, basic quantum algorithms and quantum computer architectures.

HONR 293 - Okay Boomer

Age and generation-related conflicts have become more prevalent as populations live and work longer. Are the younger generations coddled? Are the older generations out-of-touch? This discussion-based course examines multiple perspectives on age-related discourse at home, school and work.


HONR 293 - LSD’s Past and Future

Image of open window and sky above. Text: "How to Change Your Mind, Michael Pollan."

Has the legalization of marijuana by a majority of states broken a glass ceiling for other currently illegal drugs, especially LSD? What arguments are now being made for and against the legalization of LSD (and other psychedelic drugs) for research, therapy, or recreational use, and are those arguments supported by sound evidence? Our focus will initially be on the historical and cultural contexts in which research on LSD’s clinical potential was first encouraged and then banned, followed by a review of what has been learned about psychedelic drugs along the way as well as recent advances in the neuroscience of human consciousness, and concluding with consideration of whether LSD is likely to be legalized in the foreseeable future.  Michael Pollan’s "How to Change Your Mind" (2018) and two additional books (to be determined) will inform our discussion.


HONR 293: Fraternities and Sororities

"Fraternities and Sororities" will take a look at the role, effects, and general behavior of college fraternities and sororities in today's university environment. This won't be a historical look at their evolution, but we'll read some books that talk about how they function, their pros/cons, and what effects they have on different colleges/universities. We'll also look at what happens to folks once they graduate. The overall goal here is to end up with a better understanding of what effect those organizations have on both the students and the colleges.

First eight weeks – 1 credit courses

HONR 293 – Born to Run

This course will examine the history of endurance running from the dawn of history to the modern era. Over the course of the semester, this class will explore the original runners of the distant past, the role of running in the survival of the earliest humans, the origins of the marathon and ultramarathon distance races, the impact of modern capitalism on the running world through the rise of Nike and Adidas, and the reason why thousands of runners around the world annually race—and enjoy racing — one another across miles after miles after miles of roads, trails, and the often forgotten reaches of the planet. Ultimately, this course will work to analyze, debate, and answer one of the most heavily-contested questions regarding the human species: is running a fundamental part of human nature, an intrinsic aspect of our genetic makeup — or in other words, are we born to run?


HONR 293 – Focus on Addiction

Image of town on a river. Text: "Death in Mud Lick: A Coal Country Fight against the Drug Companies That Delivered the Opioid Epidemic."Image of emaciated running person in red with darts in their skin and smoke rings. Text: "One Hit Away."Image of red headed girl with a letter in front of her face that says "The Letter."

This course is designed to introduce and explore concepts related to addiction and recovery through the reading and discussion of non-academic books. The course is an open exploration, letting the books be our guide, and leading to discussions on a wide range of issues, perspectives, and questions about addiction and recovery. In Spring 2023, we will be reading "Death in Mud Lick," a journalist non-fiction book about opioids in Kermit, WV by Pulitzer Prize-winning West Virginia journalist Eric Eyre; "One Hit Away," a memoir about opioid addiction and recovery by Hawaiian Jordan Barnes; and "Annie’s Appalachian Adventures: The Letter" by WVU education graduate Hannah Evans.

HONR 293 - Social Media & Culture

Image of a man and woman in a suit with computer screens for heads, caution tape. TextL "Amusing Ourselves to Death."Blue machine with different gauges and buttons and a cartoon of a woman with curly black hair. Text: "The Influencing Machine"

This course is designed to explore ideas about both how our use of social media is shaping contemporary society, and how society is shaping social media through the discussion of a classic non-fiction book (e.g., Neil Postman’s "Amusing Ourselves to Death"), a graphic non-fiction book (e.g., Brooke Gladstone and Josh Neufeld’s "The Influencing Machine"), and a fictional novel (title TBA) on the topic. We will discuss a wide range of issues including entertainment and celebrity culture, political polarization, media bias , fake news, “like” culture, and digital surveillance and privacy. These books and discussions will help us better understand and interrogate existing fears about the role of social media in our culture with the goal of making us more critical social media participants.


Literally STEAMING! 

This course is designed to allow students to facilitate STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) concepts through the lens of children’s literacy. Students will incorporate WV Pre-K content standards while solving STEAM challenges associated with children’s literature. Participants will meet at the WVU Laboratory School and gain essential hands-on, minds-on experiences related to curriculum delivery in the Pre-K classroom. Join us at the WVU Laboratory School and help us investigate how all the King’s men could’ve put Humpty Dumpty back together again! 

Second eight weeks – 1 credit courses 

HONR 293 – LGBTQ+ Rights and the Law

This course will survey the evolution and development of laws that impact people who identify as LGBTQ+ and gender diverse. We will study the gradual development of key laws emerging from court cases that were instrumental in establishing important rights and protections for LGBTQ+ people. While doing so, we will consider how intersectional identities impact and influence LGBTQ+ legal access and justice. Despite important gains regarding LGBTQ rights, we will also discuss the limitations and gaps in those rights and protections. Finally, we will discuss what is needed in terms of future legal protections, as well as explore ideas on "queering" the judicial and legislative systems to ensure that the legal system is truly fair and equitable with respect to LGBTQ+ people.


Liberatory Leadership

Liberatory Leadership is a special topics course that will examine critical leadership philosophies and approaches grounded in social justice tenets. Students will examine leaders and leadership approaches that embrace these tenets and the types of outcomes produced. Students will identify, compare, and discuss the contextual variables that catalyze liberatory leadership practice in various contexts and consider its pertinence in their fields of study.


HONR 293 – Road Trip Memoir

For almost as long as there have been automobiles, there have been road trips, a quintessential American pastime. In this class, we will explore the idea of America through the notes from the road from the voices of 20th and 21st-century creative nonfiction writers. We'll explore the idea of America from its rest stops and roadside attractions, diners and motels, and learn about what makes for a compelling memoir, both on the road and off. Bring your sense of adventure and zest for good stories.


HONR 293 - After Foundations

You've almost completed the Honors Foundations program. So, what's next? In this half-semester course, you will formulate a plan for your next two years at WVU, which could be the Honors EXCEL program, study abroad, preparing for graduate or professional school, a combination of these, or something else entirely.