Spring 2024 Honors College Signature Seminar

HNRS 4013H-003: The Science, Politics and Culture of Dinosaurs

Professor:  Celina Suarez

Colloquium Type: Natural Science or Social Science

**The deadline to apply to Honors College Seminars (via this application form) is 11:59 p.m., Sunday, October 29th.

Dinosaurs are one of the most successful animals to ever live on Earth. Dinosaurs, which encompass both non-avian and avian dinosaurs (birds), span from 230 million years to today and have come to dominate all ecosystems on Earth. They inspire the imagination and are often a child’s first introduction to science. How do we know what we know about dinosaurs? What are the scientific and cultural influences dinosaurs have on society? How can they help us understand Earth’s past climate and give us clues to our future climate? Dinosaurs are also a means for science communication: How do scientists, artists and science writers work together to reconstruct these fascinating creatures and their environment. This seminar series will delve into both the scientific aspects of dinosaurs as well as topics related to dinosaur research, such as land-use policy, paleo-art, science communication and the business of fossil sales.

HNRS 4013H-002: Ozarks Culture

Professor(s):  Virginia Siegel, Joshua Youngblood, Jared Phillips

Colloquium Type: Social Science

**The deadline to apply to Honors College Seminars (via this application form) is 11:59 p.m., Sunday, October 29th.

The Ozarks is a place often described by outsiders as full of hillbillies, moonshiners, regressive, insular, etc. But how have Ozarkers thought about themselves over the years? What are these assumptive descriptions really saying? And how is this region being redefined in the age of Walmart and Netflix? By examining the history, literature, and cultures of the Ozarks through diverse perspectives, students will explore how Ozarkers have been engaged in meaning-making in this place and the nation during the American Century, impacting everything from country music to global commerce.

In particular, this course will push students to think beyond the traditional narrative of hillbillies to see how the Ozarks have evolved in the past fifty years to include a far more cosmopolitan community than generally understood. Highlighting the stories of immigrants, queer communities, and the region's longstanding communities of color will help to show students that the Ozarks are far more than Silver Dollar City would have us think.

HNRS 4013H-004: Engineering Antiquity

Professor:  Kevin Hall

Colloquium Type: Natural Science

**The deadline to apply to Honors College Seminars (via this application form) is 11:59 p.m., Sunday, October 29th.

How did they do that?!? This is a very common reaction when touring what remains of the built environment of late antiquity and earlier. Monumental spaces and structures, clever mechanical and hydraulic works, and other artifacts capture our imagination, inspire awe, and marshal our respect for ancient engineers and craftsmen. However, in our awe and wonder, many times we miss a very important and central theme: the ancients were responding to demands in their societies that have not changed through the intervening centuries to present day. What can we learn from their solutions? What can we learn from the impacts – both positive and negative – their solutions had on their societies? In this course we will consider both how “they did that” and why “they did that” on the path of our ultimate quest: in terms of technological advancement, how do we balance “can we...”? against “should we...?”

Spring 2024 Honors Colloquia

ANTH 3923H: Pilgrimage

Professor:  Kirstin Erickson

Colloquium Type: Social Sciences or Humanities

This course examines pilgrimage in its broadest sense – from the practice’s religious aspects (pilgrimage as a rite of passage involving intentional movement across a landscape, the possibility of spiritual transformation, the interplay of the orthodox and the heterodox) to its metaphorical implications (pilgrimage as a modern search for identity, heritage, and homelands). We will examine the ways in which pilgrimage has been defined and studied by anthropologists, historians, scholars of religion, and social philosophers. Our journey begins with the examination of iconic practices (pilgrimages to Santiago de Compostela and Walsingham, Ndembu rituals, etc.) and a critical assessment of the analytical models these pilgrimages have inspired (the generalizability of "the Camino," movement toward an axis mundi or sacred center, liminality and the phenomenon of communitas). Our scope also encompasses secular pilgrimages (Nevada’s Burning Man Festival, the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial, and the return of Armenians to their homeland). We will consider conflict in pilgrimage, the inseparability of tourism and pilgrimage (as in the massive Hindu gathering at Kumbh Mela, India), and how cultural expression and commercial activity have always been bound up with the pilgrim's journey. Pilgrimage case studies and histories provide an effective analytical lens, enabling us to interrogate larger theoretical questions, including: the relationship between narrative and experience, self-body-healing, land-based epistemologies, material religion, sacralization and agency, articulation theory, the relationship between nostalgia and seeking, and the ethics of conducting ethnographic fieldwork in sacred spaces. 

AIST 4003H: Nuclear Asia: From Hiroshima to Fukushima

Professor:  Kelly Hammond

Colloquium Type: Social Science

This course explores the history of nuclear security in Asia from the dropping of the two nuclear bombs on Japan to end World War II through to the nuclear meltdown of the Fukushima reactor in the wake of the 2011 Tsunami. Although the course is bookended by two nuclear disasters in Japan, the course explores many different aspects of nuclear security throughout Asia including the development, acquisition, and testing of nuclear weapons, the development of nuclear power facilities, and the extraction and exploitation of natural and human resources used to build nuclear bombs and nuclear facilities.  

By focusing on the development and acquisition of nuclear weapons, the testing of nuclear weapons, and the development of nuclear energy from Pakistan to the Marshall Islands, we will develop new insights into an era of internationalism, decolonization, and environmentalism that is often overshadowed by the superpower rivalry. By framing the course around nuclear security, we approach Asia from both a bird’s eye view and from the ground up, exploring high-level state-to-state relationships between non-superpower states, as well as thinking about the ways that issues surrounding nuclear security impact the daily lives of people living throughout Asia.  

The course is also designed to refocus the post-World War II era beyond the usual framing of the USSR vs. USA Cold War binary, and to explore the ways that decolonization, the non-aligned movement, and state-to-state interactions in the Global South inform geopolitics today.

Students can contact the professor directly to get into an honors section for INST credit.

CLST 4003H: Rome in America

Professor:  David Fredrick

Colloquium Type: Humanities

A Critical Exploration of the Roman Roots of the American Republic.

The American political system — with its federalism, bicameralism and separation of powers — consists of overlapping majoritarian and counter-majoritarian institutions designed to promote stability and continuity at the expense of popular government.

                                                                        Jamelle Bouie, NY Times Opinion Piece, 9/29/2023

In language, structure, and symbols, America’s federal government is deeply indebted to Rome. For America’s founders, the Roman republic had many admirable qualities, but buckled under the passions of a motley and illegitimate citizen body: the urban “mob.” Determined to avoid this fate, the framers outlined a more narrow concept of citizenship, excluding the enslaved and systemically discriminating against America‘s emerging cities. This course will examine the framers’ complex engagement with Rome, and evaluate originalist readings of the Constitution in the light of actual Roman history and the resilient ideal of a more democratic union.

ENGL 3923H: Lyric Poems of the Renaissance

Professor:  Dorothy Stephens

Colloquium Type: Humanities

Stressed out? This course is designed for low anxiety. We'll read lots of poems, but most will be brief, and we'll go over entire poems together in class.

Lyrics are short poems that focus on the speakers' emotions—about annoying lovers, attractive bed head, disorienting walks at night, friends who criticize your love life, bubonic plague, hovering cows, blissful kisses, crises of faith, being judged by one's weight or skin color, inviting friends for dinner, fireflies, tortoise canoes, you name it. We'll learn about lyric forms that were common during the English Renaissance: sonnets, lute songs, ballads, odes, elegies, and sestinas.

ENGL 3923H: Documenting the Crisis in Tibet

Professor(s):  Sidney Burris and Craig Pasquinzo

Colloquium Type: Social Science or Humanities

In 1959, the Dalai Lama fled from Tibet to escape Chinese persecution and set up a home in exile in Dharamsala, India. Ultimately over 100,000 Tibetans followed him to live out their lives, forced from their homeland, in a new and radically different country.

Since 2008, The TEXT Program at the University of Arkansas has been collecting interviews with the exiled Tibetans currently living in India. Using this footage, as well as the photographs we’ve archived, and other secondary reading material, students in this class will have the opportunity to gain first-hand knowledge of an exiled people that are thriving in exile, against all odds, while learning about the rich history that supports them. The class meets once a week on Tuesday evenings from 6:00-8:30, and during the first half of the session, Professor Burris will lecture and host discussions on the most important aspects of Tibetan culture and history. In the second half of the class, working with documentarian, Craig Pasquinzo, students will be divided into teams and spend the semester making a five-minute documentary chronicling one of the aspects of Tibetan culture that most interests them.

The course requires no familiarity with Adobe or video-editing skills in general. All technical material is taught from the beginner’s level. Video teams will also have the opportunity to record an interview with at least one Tibetan Buddhist monk as part of their documentary film. This course allows our students to become involved with a video-based human rights program that has been endorsed by both the Dalai Lama himself as well as ESPN!

Important note: if JOUR students would like JOUR 405V credit for this course, they need only consult the Journalism department, and they will issue a course substitution.

HIST 3923H: Museum Matters: History, Practice, Culture and Controversy

Professor:  Bill McComas

Colloquium Type: Humanities

Museum Matters is an introduction to museology for those wishing to get behind the scenes (literally and figurately) to learn more about the history, practices, responsibilities, purposes, and controversies involved in the fascinating and diverse world of museums as vital cultural and educational institutions. This class will address the following questions:

Why is there a human urge to collect? What goals and rationales support the foundation and function of museums? Why should we care about what curators do? How do the diverse types of museums relate and contrast? What are the special challenges of education in museum environments? What sorts of work is done in museums? What is the distinction between collections, displays and exhibitions? What are the socio-cultural aspects of museums? Why have the Enola Gay and Elgin Marbles caused controversy?

The class will feature brief lectures and extensive discussions accompanied by media resources and targeted readings for each topic. Assessment will target course content, a museum evaluation project and an individual research project/presentation chosen from an extensive list of options.

HUMN 3923H: Tibetan Philosophy and Culture

Professor:  Thupten Dorjee

Colloquium Type: Humanities

Until the time of the Chinese invasion in the 1950’s, Tibet had maintained one of the richest cultural and religious traditions in the world. Now, with many of its citizens living in exile, Tibetans have been striving to maintain abroad the same traditions that were native to their homeland. This course will examine many of those traditions and offer the student a unique opportunity to participate in them under the guidance of an extraordinary teacher: a Tibetan Buddhist monk who has received the highest degree awarded by an Indian institution in Buddhist studies and who has passed examinations administered by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Students will not only learn about the major traditions of Tibetan Buddhism from an acknowledged authority, but they will also have an opportunity to participate in many of the activities that are central to the culture. Students, for example will construct a simple sand mandala as well as work side-by-side with Geshe Dorjee in preparing authentic Tibetan cuisine. Students will also study Tibetan chanting and construct simple religious objects, such as the prayer flag, while gaining an understanding of the place each of these objects occupies in the Tibetan cosmology. 

MEST 4003H: Political Leadership in the Middle East

Professor:  Najib Ghadbian

Colloquium Type: Social Science

With the global surge in populism, the subject of leadership has regained significant prominence. This seminar will concentrate on the theme of political leadership in the Middle East, with a specific focus on addressing the following questions: To what extent is the concept of leadership in the Middle East distinctive, and how do leaders in this region compare to their counterparts worldwide? Throughout this seminar, we will explore these inquiries by examining political leadership as an interactive process involving individual leaders, their followers, and the contextual factors, all within a historical framework. The seminar will be structured into three main segments: Firstly, we will explore various theoretical frameworks for the study of leadership. Secondly, we will categorize leadership into different types and investigate exemplars from each category. Lastly, we will dedicate the final portion of the seminar to an in-depth examination of political leadership in Syria.

PHYS 3923H: The History of Gravity

Professor:  Daniel Kennefick

Colloquium Type: Natural Science

The history of gravity begins with the Big Bang and continues through the formation of the solar system via gravitational collapse (the nebular hypothesis). Gravity will also govern the end of the solar system and the fate of the Universe itself. Humanity’s conception of gravity began with the understanding of weight and was given scientific form in the physics of Aristotle. This physics entered a crisis with the work of Copernicus and Galileo, a crisis which was resolved by Newton’s Universal theory of gravity. Gravity is not just a quirk of life here on Earth but a Universal force: Everything attracts everything else. It was Einstein who resolved the conflict of gravity and relativity with his theory of general relativity, which is one of the best tested theories in scientific history. Nevertheless, most physicists expect it to be replaced by a quantum theory of gravity, which will, they hope, lie at the heart of a final unified theory of gravity, or theory of everything. Advanced physics concepts will be presented in their proper historical context in this course, but without complex math (no tensor calculus). Instead, we follow Einstein in his clever use of thought experiments.

PLSC 3923H: Political Violence

Professor:  Jeffrey Ryan

Colloquium Type: Social Science

Please contact instructor (jeffr@uark.edu) for more information.

WLLC 3923H: Intro to Game Design II

Professor:  David Fredrick

Colloquium Type: Humanities

This course will build upon the game design concepts and hands-on Unity skills learned in Game Design 1. However, while GD1 focused on providing students with a shared vocabulary of coding approaches for building basic games (including visual scripting), GD2 will dig into key aspects and features of Unity essential for games, but generally associated with art rather than coding. These include shaders and materials, lighting, VFX, animation, and game audio. Working in groups, students will create 3 games based on the Popul Vuh, the creation story of the Maya (K’iche’), to accompany a critical exploration of the emergent voices of indigenous designers in video games. While completion of Game Design 1 is strongly recommended, students without this course may enroll in Game Design 2 with instructor approval.