HON 201-001 Automata and the Limits of Computation
Coordinated by Dr. Belcher (Philosophy) & Dr. Patterson (Computer Science)
Ever wondered if there is anything a computer can’t do? This honors seminar explores three types of simple theoretical machines, examining the limitations of each and the larger implications for computation in the modern world. Topics: Finite State Machines (FSAs), Context-free Grammars (CFGs), Turing machines, the Church-Turing Thesis, the Halting Problem, polynomial versus non-polynomial time computation, P=NP, and a bit about Godel’s Incompleteness Theorem.
HON 201-002 NanoScience and Society
Coordinated by Dr. Collins (Art) & Dr. Kabir (Chemistry)
The objective of this seminar is to make information about the rapidly evolving areas of nanoscience and nanotechnology available to a broad range of students at undergraduate level. Nanoscience and nanotechnologies are widely seen as having huge potential to bring benefits in areas as diverse as medicine and health, environment, electronics, and the production of sophisticated materials. Knowledge in this field is growing worldwide, leading to fundamental scientific advances. This seminar will focus on discussions: What are nanoscience and nanotechnologies? Various applications such as nanomaterials, metrology, bio-nanotechnology, nanomedicine, and industrial? Explores design and fabrication, society and ethics in nanoscience and technology. Economic and environmental impacts.
HON 201-003 Modern Literature and Science
Coordinated by Dr. Rulison (Physics) & Dr. Terry (English)
In Isaac Asimov's robot novels, he uses the term "damned Frankenstein complex" to refer to the fear that humans will lose control over their technological creations. In this course, we will consider the complex relationship between science and literature by examining the ways in which modern literature has represented science and scientists. We will pay close attention to the themes (ideas) of these works, and how those themes might reflect attitudes about scientific advances, as well as related social concerns and anxieties.
HON 101-001 The Anthropology of Technology
Coordinated by Dr. Collins (Art) & Dr. Rulison (Physics)
Why do humans use tools? How did we invent and shape tools, complex inventions, and machines that in turn shaped us? In what ways did small inventions lead to larger ones? Do technologies shape or shatter cultures and propel humans onto unexpected and unprecedented paths?
These are the kinds of questions this honors course will explore. Developed as an interdisciplinary course, the Anthropology of Technology will chronologically chronicle and examine ancient and modern technologies in context. This course will employ insights from anthropology, economics, religion, and the arts to probe the theories about, and the specific use of, technologies from the wheel to Martian rovers.
HON 101-002 The Science and Politics of Energy
Coordinated by Dr. Cramer (Physics) & Dr. Knippenberg
Everyone needs energy and power but there are many ways of developing and delivering both. Making sense of energy and power delivery is therefore necessarily an involved topic. Greatly complicating matters is the controversial nature of all these processes so that, even if we can get the science straight, policy decisions would still be matters of lively debate. In this seminar, we propose to look at both sides of this topic. While we may not be able to come to unanimous agreement, we can hope to clarify issues and choices in the area.
Coordinate by Dr. Rulison & Dr. Tuininga
Galileo’s confrontation of the Church is front and center in most cursory treatments of the relationship between the emerging modern science and religion in the time before and during the Copernican Revolution. A closer and more objective consideration of this topic reveals a much more nuanced truth, with Galileo’s run in being an isolated “tragic mutual incomprehension” with both sides at fault. It is a conflict that never should have occurred, since faith and science properly understood can never be at odds. As Walker Percy notes in Lost in the Cosmos
“Whitehead pointed out, it is no coincidence that science sprang, not from Ionian metaphysics, not from the Brahmin-Buddhist-Taoist East, not from the Egyptian-Mayan astrological South, but from the heart of the Christian West, that although Galileo fell out with the Church, he would hardly have taken so much trouble studying Jupiter and dropping objects from towers if the reality and value and order of things had not first been conferred by belief in the Incarnation.”
Cursory treatments of the Copernican Revolution, and the Scientific Revolution in general, typically cite the antagonistic positions of Christian theology (and the positions of the Catholic and Protestant churches) on the one hand, and the rediscovery and rise in stature of science on the other. A more careful consideration almost certainly reveals that while there were clearly areas in which the two were in conflict, there were also areas of agreement, or mutual support, or at least peaceful coexistence.
We will investigate the mutual influences of the rise and maturation of Christianity with the rise and development of science to secure a better understanding of this fascinating relationship.
HON 201-001 Wagner's Ring
Coordinated by Dr. Orme & Professor Runnels
Richard Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen is unlike any other work in the humanities. It has posed a unique challenge to listeners every since its initial performances in the 19th century. Part music, part theater, part myth, part literature, part philosophy, part politics and part psychology, the interpretation of this work demands an integrated and interdisciplinary approach. What makes the Ring great? How did Wagner conceive it? How can it be understood? What does it mean? These are some of the questions to be explored in this seminar.
HON 201-01 Science, Technology, and the Future of Humankind
Coordinated by Dr. Collins (Art) & Dr. Rulison (Physics)
This course will explore the future of humankind, based in futurist studies, not science fiction. Based in readings and discussion from a generalist’s text dealing with AI, space exploration, robotics, virtual reality, nanotechnology, and genetics, this course examines the coming revolutions that may ultimately transform humankind.
In addition, we will focus on the role nascent technologies will play in global, cultural, and ecological transformations Specifically, we will seek real-world, workable solutions for climate problems, overpopulation, poverty, food production, energy needs, new forms of transportation, and the re-visioning of cities.
Imagining the Future: Science & History in Speculative Fiction
Coordinated by Dr. Maher (History) & Dr. Rulison (Physics)
In this seminar we will examine how changing understandings of the relationship between Theoretical and Applied Science and theories of the Development of Human Societies are explored in speculative fiction. Science fiction as a genre provides a window to the way we understand our social history and its relationship to available technology by imagining the implications of specific changes in some detail of human circumstance. Science fiction poses the question ―what would the world be like if our science and technology were different from what we have today? Related genres of speculative fiction pose similar questions that explore the implications of social scientific knowledge in narratives based on counter-factual imaginings of a world with slightly different resources or biological requirements or histories. From this vantage, speculative fiction explores the assumptions of our understanding of contemporary reality as well as suggesting how the future may well differ from the present as we learn more about the ourselves and the universe we inhabit.
HON 101-01 Western Spiritual Classics
This course will explore in
an interdisciplinary format both the major and often overlooked spiritual
classics of the western world. Students will examine and discuss such texts in
translation as the Egyptian Book of the Dead, selections from Plato and
Plotinus, the Old Testament, the Kabbalah, the New Testament, some writing of
the Christian mystics from Celtic sources, Boehme, Hildegard von Bingen,
Ignatius, and others, as well as some Renaissance hermetic and alchemical texts,
with additional readings in native and Meso-American spirituality.
Coordinated by Dr. Collins (Art History) & MS. Salter (Library
HON 101-02 Dune: A case of future histories
Coordinated by Dr. Belcher
(Philosophy) & Dr. Rulison (Physics)
Frank Herbert's 1965 Science Fiction epic Dune was an instant
classic, largely due to its attention to sociological, environmental,
psychological and historical details. In this class we'll read through the novel
and some supplementary readings, investigating these issues, asking such
questions as: How much does Dune borrow from Arabic and Islamic culture? How
realistic is its future history? How plausible is its science?
HON 101-03 Social, Cultural and Economic Change in
Brazil, Russia, India, and China (BRICs)
Coordinated by Dr. Kower (Economics) & Dr. Shrikhande
Extremely rapid economic growth and increasing market integration over the
last twenty years, has brought about enormous and often difficult transitions in
each of BRIC countries. Through various global media sources, scholarly
readings, and web- and seminars, students and faculty will begin to develop
theories necessary to compare and contrast the varied and on-going social and
cultural evolution in each of these countries resulting from globalization.
HON 201-01 Representations of Eva Perón and Ernesto “Che” Guevara in
Literature and Film
Coordinated by Dr.
Nardo (Mathematics) & Dr. Plotnik (Spanish)
This seminar explores the impact and legacy of two legendary figures from
Argentina: Eva Perón and Ernesto “Che” Guevara. We will study some of the
various Evitas and Ches created at different times and places (from the 1950s to
the present) by examining both literature and film. By the end of the seminar,
students should be able to answer the following questions:
- Why are Guevara and Perón such powerful icons?
- How and why have representations of these historical figures changed?
At the same time, students will become aware of historical, social,
and cultural processes that will widen their knowledge of Latin America.
A World of Ideas
Coordinated by Dr. Rulison (Physics) & Dr. Tiu (Mathematics)
In the late 1980's, journalist Bill Moyers sat down with philosophers, fiction writers, scientists, educators, historians and more, and engaged each of them in a lengthy (and often lively) conversation about their perceptions of the world and the times we live in. These conversations, which aired on PBS under the ambitious title "A World of Ideas," were later compiled in book form. Moyers employs the deft touch of a veteraninterviewer to draw out thought-provoking insights and predictions from his subjects. We will examine some of these insights and predictions from a quarter-century retrospective.
Global Warming, the Science and the Hype
Coordinated by Dr. Cramer (Physics) & Dr. Runge (Politics)
Seminar participants will form a simulated think tank, “The Oglethorpe Brain Trust”, to study and then present a finished report on the topic of Global Warming, The Science and the Hype. This will be a “no-holds-barred” examination of the topic subject only to the restraints of rigorous testing and critical, skeptical evaluation. Seminar leaders have expertise in the physical (Dr. Cramer) and social (Dr.Runge) sciences.
This course is designed to introduce students to the honors
program through the subject matter of world mythologies, ranging from Asian,
Greek, Roman, Celtic, to central, South and Native American. In addition, there
will be a robust research element associated with the class that will include
exploring and navigating the information literacy skills of critical thinking,
analysis, and writing. Through the subject matter of world mythologies
students will begin to discover and put into practice the academic process of
multidiscipline approaches to content. Each student will be responsible for in
class oral presentations on the topic of a world mythology and a research paper
on a similar topic. Class assignments will encourage collaborative learning,
individual initiative, evidence of research skills acquired, and indication of
the acquisition of knowledge.
Coordinated by Dr. Collins (Art
History) & Ms. Salter (Library Sciences)
World Cinema: Showcasing film from
the developing world
Coordinated by Dr. Chandler (Spanish) & Dr. Shrikhande
(Communications and Rhetoric Studies)
This honors course will explore international film as
artistic, social and political expression. In this course, students will engage
film as a medium which powerfully expresses the human condition as it is viewed
and defined in diverse cultural contexts. Through exposure to national cinemas
from the Developing World, with particular emphasis on Africa, India and Latin
America, students will be exposed to rich cultural landscapes quite different
from their own.
Campaigns and Elections in the
Coordinated by Dr. Knippenberg (Politics)
Teams of students will study various aspects of the Democratic and Republican
presidential campaigns and their associated SuperPACs. Examining the approaches
to fund-raising and campaigning in speeches and rallies, phonebanks,
direct-mail, face-to-face contact, television and radio advertising, email,
websites, and social media, the teams will compile and present critical reports
about the campaigns. The teams' reports will be presented at the 2013 Liberal
Arts and Sciences Symposium.
Intellectual Imposters and the
Science Wars (sophomore seminar)
Coordinated by Dr. Belcher (Philosophy) & Dr. Rulison
In 1996, physicist Alan Sokal submitted an article in the journal, "Social
Text", a journal of postmodern literary criticism. The article was a deliberate
hoax - it was designed to expose what Sokal felt was the intellectual bankruptcy
of postmodernism. The resulting "Social Text Affair" ignited a firestorm of
controversy, raising several issues that we will discuss in this class. The
Social Text affair provides one glimpse into the very broad field of postmodern
social studies of the practice of science. In this seminar we will investigate
(1) the context within which such a hoax could have been perpetrated, (2) what
the Social Text affair does, and does not, tell us about postmodern views of
science and its practice and practitioners, (3) what are the dangers and the
benefits of socio-political influences on, and by, science, and (4) what is the
possibility of knowledge via testimony.
Text: Fashionable Nonsense by
Sokal and Bricmont
A Future Shaped by the Past?: Disappearing Borders in the European Union
Coordinated by Dr. Copeland (Economics) & Dr. Shrikhande (Communications and Rhetoric Studies)
Western Europe in the 21st century is facing both economic and social challenges. Economically, the European Union finds itself with members like Greece which is experiencing a severe debt crisis that required Germany and France to rescue it. Socially, the population of immigrants, especially those from Islamic countries, has reached a critical mass and is bringing to the forefront a conflict between religious freedom and a western world-view. In this seminar we explore the policies that have brought Europe to this point and discuss the implications for the future.
Nothing Endures but Change
Coordinated by Dr. Rulison (Physics) & Prof. Smith (Politics)
Heraclitus said that one could never step in the same river twice. The modern study of physics seems to bear out his claim that being is change. Aristotle claimed, counter to Heraclitus, that nature rests and has purpose. Modern natural science seems to have defeated Aristotle, but is Aristotle all he seems to be at first glance? Can the Aristotelian study of continuity, place and weight shed any light on the dizzying account of being encountered among the leptons, flavors and charges of modern physics?
From the Civil War to Civil Rights: The Role of Jews in the Rise of the New South
Coordinated by Dr. Bobroff (History) & Dr. Kower (Economics)
Far from marginalized, Jews have played an important role in the development of the New South, from service during the Civil War, to the growth of the textile industry, to the Civil Rights movement. We’ll study their contributions to this development as well as their struggles over identity along the way.
Coordinated by Dr. Hornback (English & Comparative Literatures) & Dr. McCarthy (Core, Director of the Writing Center)
This seminar will explore cruxes, issues, and assumptions raised by critical essays on Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. Students will be asked to apply such approaches to filmed adaptations and in scene workshops. As students synthesize their findings, they will be guided through the problem-solving needed to undertake research.
Coordinated by Dr. Orme (Politics) & Dr. Rulison (Physics)
Concerns of various kinds related to nuclear proliferation are currently much in the news. In this seminar students will investigate the topic of nuclear proliferation from a variety of viewpoints including technical aspects of the issue as well as political considerations, both domestic and international. For example: How does the bomb work? Could terrorists make a bomb? What are the consequences of proliferation? Is missile defense feasible as a solution? Students will conduct research and present to the seminar.
Representations of Eva Perón and Ernesto “Che” Guevara in Literature and Film
Coordinated by Dr. John Nardo (Mathematics) and Dr. Viviana Plotnik (Spanish)
This seminar explores the impact and legacy of two legendary figures from Argentina: Eva Perón and Ernesto “Che” Guevara. We will study some of the various Evitas and Ches created at different times and places (from the 1950s to the present) by examining both literature and film. By the end of the seminar, students should be able to answer the following questions:
Why are Guevara and Perón such powerful icons? How and why have representations of these historical figures changed?
At the same time, students will become aware of historical, social, and cultural processes that will widen their knowledge of Latin America.
Ecotourism: Balancing economic gain and resource conservation
Coordinated by Dr. Cassandra Copeland (Economics) and Dr. Roarke Donnelly (Biology)
Economic growth is often strongly implicated in biodiversity loss around the globe. However, environmentally sensitive tourism has been touted as a means for protecting rare species via private market incentives without running afoul of conservation regulations. Is this too good to be true? Students taking this seminar will discuss the different meanings of “ecotourism”, whether eco-tour operators truly balance economics and conservation, and conditions in which eco-tours are most likely to succeed. Associated with this seminar we will offer an optional study abroad component to investigate the practice and success of ecotourism on Costa Rica’s coral reefs and rainforests.
F.A. Hayek's Relevance in the Age of Obama
Coordinated by Dr. Bruce Hetherington (Economics) and Dr. Brad Stone (Sociology)
Friedrich Hayek (1899-1992) was a Nobel-prize winning economist whose work spans evolutionary biology, political philosophy, moral theory, historiography, psychology, and sociology. He has been called “the greatest philosopher of liberty in the twentieth century.” In the Road to Serfdom and other works, Hayek argued that economic systems prosper when they encourage diverse and divided knowledge through spontaneous and unplanned action, while economies that centralize decision making falter and encourage totalitarian political regimes. The issue at the center of Hayek’s work--the contexts encouraging enlightened decision making--is a perennial one but we will consider this issue in light of the pressing political concerns of the age of Obama.
Imagining the Future: Science & History in Speculative Fiction
Coordinated by Dr. Nick Maher (History) and Dr. Michael Rulison (Physics)
In this seminar we will examine how changing understandings of the relationship between Theoretical and Applied Science and theories of the Development of Human Societies are explored in speculative fiction. Science fiction as a genre provides a window to the way we understand our social history and its relationship to available technology by imagining the implications of specific changes in some detail of human circumstance. Science fiction poses the question “what would the world be like if our science and technology were different from what we have today”? Related genres of speculative fiction pose similar questions that explore the implications of social scientific knowledge in narratives based on counter-factual imaginings of a world with slightly different resources or biological requirements or histories. From this vantage, speculative fiction explores the assumptions of our understanding of contemporary reality as well as suggesting how the future may well differ from the present as we learn more about the ourselves and the universe we inhabit. We will employ a variety of sources including print, audio, video, and electronic. The seminar emphasis will be on student participation.
Exploring Identity in Contemporary Japanese and Indian Fiction
Coordinated by Dr. Seema Shrikhande (Communications) and Dr. Robert Steen (Japanese)
Identity is defined in multiple ways, and is always in flux. It can be defined in terms of gender, ethnicity, and various notions of one’s ‘home.’ In this seminar we will explore the way notions of identity are evolving in two rapidly changing Asian societies, Japan and India. We will consider the role of such factors as economic change and globalization in shaping identity in the works of contemporary writers including Haruki Murakami and Jhumpa Lahiri.
Tom Wolfe’s Narrative of a Self
Coordinated by Dr. Joseph Knippenberg (Politics) and Mr. Timothy Doyle (Dean of Student Affairs)
In I Am Charlotte Simmons, Tom Wolfe turns his formidable analytic and literary gifts on contemporary college life. Charlotte Simmons is a bright first-year student at an academically prestigious university with an extraordinarily good basketball team. She encounters all sorts of personal and intellectual challenges as she navigates her way through her first year. Wolfe uses the story to explore not only the obvious pitfalls of identity maintenance and formation in the contemporary university, but also the challenges to the very notion of a “self” posed by contemporary thought.
Spanish Roots and North African Routes: Culture and Economic Development Across the Strait of Gibraltar
Coordinated by Dr. Mario Chandler (Spanish) and Dr. Cassandra Copeland (Economics)
This Honors seminar will analyze through selected readings, engaging discussions, lectures and films, the history, culture, and economic development of Iberia and Northern Africa in an effort to explore the contrasts as well as the rich interconnections that unite the two regions. Specific topics of the course will include the implications of language, geography, war, occupation, religious, ethnic and political ideologies, and market orientation in order to understand the evolution and nature of homegrown development in Spain and Morocco through careful study of the fascinating roots and routes manifested across and through the Strait.
Whence Great Music?
Coordinated by Dr. John Orme (Politics) and Dr. W. Bradford Smith (History)
How and why is great music made? What does it mean? Genius may not be fully explicable. Nonetheless, we seek to understand how personal experience, historical circumstances and the human condition might inspire or influence those of exceptional talent. These questions will be addressed through a study of the lives and selected works of J. S. Bach, Beethoven, Schumann, Brahms, Wagner, Bartok, and others.
Globalization: Its Promises and Its Discontents
Coordinated by Dr. Lynn Guhde (Management) and Dr. Seema Shrikhande (Communications)
Globalization has been one of the driving forces of the late 20th and early 21st century and is changing our understanding of the world. In this seminar we look at globalization from a variety of perspectives—economic, political, cultural—and analyze the ways in which it privileges certain groups and activities at the expense of the others. The course will consist of class discussions, group presentations and guest lectures.
Life Amid the Madding Crowd: Traffic in Atlanta and Beyond
Dr. Keith Aufderheide (Chemistry), Dr. John Cramer (Physics), Dr. Lynn Gieger (Math Education), Dr. John Nardo (Mathematics), and Dr. Michael Rulison (Physics)
People frequently labor under the misconception that the practice of science and mathematics is confined to the classroom or lab. In an effort to dispel the notion a team of math and science faculty members has developed a two-hour interdisciplinary course to study traffic in Atlanta, the problem is wide-ranging in its details, and traffic is studied by many different academic specialties. Mathematics gives a language and framework from which to model traffic flow patterns and to make predictions. Engineering considerations necessitate certain design choices that affect basic roadwork infrastructure and pollution. Chemistry, Physics and Biology examine the physical and psychological consequences of traffic, all the way from heat islands and local weather to hypertension and asthma, the social science investigate an extensive manifold of social and psychological components and ramifications. The “traffic problem” is capacious and interdisciplinary, as are the stakeholders. In addition to regular classroom meetings and discussions, students will participate in several self-designed experiments involving data collection and analysis, as well as hypothesis testing. There will also be regular outside guest speakers and fieldtrips. There is no requirement that a student be majoring in mathematics or science in order to enroll in the course, nor are there any prerequisite.
Can the Chattahoochee River Slake Atlanta’s Growing Thirst?
Dr. Cassandra Copeland (Economics) and Dr. Roarke Donnelly (Biology)
The Atlanta metropolitan region supplies nearly four million people with water from the Chattahoochee River. Protection of the quantity and quality of the river's water is a priority due to the recent drought and the expectation that the population will grow by 3 million people by 2030. Students in this seminar will investigate such disparate topics as the economic motivations and water supply ramifications of Atlanta's location, the economic and ecological costs of poor storm water management, imminent changes to the metro water districts management plans, and recent state legislation affecting stream water quality. This exploration will be directed by an urban ecologist and an economist. Course activities and assignments include readings, short lectures by the faculty, student presentations, class discussion and debate, and field excursions.
Fun & Serious Math – It’s All One and The Same
Coordinated by Dr. Michael Rulison (Physics) and Dr. Philip Tiu (Mathematics)
The goal of this Honors Seminar is to enhance mathematical literacy in its broadest sense. On the one hand, J. A. Paulos’ “A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper” tries to get the reader to see the mathematical aspects of newspaper stories that, at first glance, have little or nothing to do with math. On the other hand, J. G. Koomey’s “Turning Numbers into Knowledge” is more concerned with gathering, sifting, presenting, and analyzing numerical data, all with a view to developing the reader’s critical thinking faculties.
Coordinated by Dr. Stephen Herschler (Politics) and guest lecturers
Oglethorpe University's motto "make a life, make a living, make a difference" might be construed as denoting three features of an Oglethorpe education. "Make a life" connotes the aims of the Core Curriculum, namely to foster a well-rounded flexible intellect able to undertake critical analysis of oneself and the world. "Make a living" suggests building expertise through one's major, thereby preparing one to undertake more specialized modes of inquiry and professional endeavors. "Make a difference" suggests civic engagement, going beyond the confines of the university to engage with and hopefully constructively impact individuals and communities in Atlanta and beyond. This course seeks to combine these three elements of an Oglethorpe education. Students will examine a narrative from just beyond Oglethorpe's gates from a variety of disciplinary perspectives.
Microfinance and the Poor
Coordinated by Dr. Peter Kower (Economics) and guest lecturers
Students will study the underlying cultural, political, and technological conditions commonly associated with poverty in Lesser Developed Countries (LDCs). The course will focus on a relatively new innovation aimed at alleviating poverty - microfinance. Microfinance, the practice of making small loans to the poor, especially women, was developed in part by the work of Dr. Mohammad Yunus and Grameen Bank, the co-recipients of the 2006 Nobel Prize for Peace.
This honors course is being taught in conjunction with the seminar series entitled Microfinance and Social Investing. The series is the result of a unique collaboration between Atlanta-based Gray Matters Capital and Oglethorpe University. The seminar series was designed and will be facilitated by leading members of the Gray Ghost Funds and its associated network of microfinance practitioners and the faculty at Oglethorpe as well as other leading academics in the field.