Honors Colloquia

The Honors Colloquia, open only to students in Williams Honors College, are interdisciplinary seminars designed to increase understanding of the primary concerns, the intellectual traditions, and the epistemologies of the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. These seminars offer you a special chance to broaden your perspectives by interacting with honors students from widely diverse fields of study. They invite you to sharpen your critical reading, speaking and writing skills so that you may thrive in your professional, civic, and personal lives. Note that all Honors students are required to take the set of three Honors Colloquia as part of the Honors Distribution.

The colloquia are offered each fall and spring semester and frequently during summer sessions. The content of the colloquia change every semester - see this web site to find out what will be available before each registration period. It is your responsibility to schedule the colloquia in a timely manner.

Message from the Dean

Looking Ahead to Fall 2018 Registration – Planning for Colloquia

I want to give you a heads-up about something that you will see for Fall Registration, so that you can begin thinking about it now. For the new entering Honors students in the Fall, there will be some updates to the Honors Requirements. These updates do not impact your own requirements as continuing Honors students – they apply only to the new entering students. 

However, one of the updates creates a new opportunity for you. The new Honors students will take 3-credit Honors Colloquia. We will continue to offer 2-credit Honors Colloquia for continuing students, with the same 200, 300, and 400 level course numbers that you have seen in the past. You may continue to take those to satisfy your existing requirements. You do not need to change anything that you have been doing. 

However, you will have the opportunity to take the new 3-credit Honors Colloquia if you would like to do so. All of those will be 300-level courses, which may assist you in meeting some of your other requirements for graduation. This may be something that you would like to chat with your advisor(s) about in the coming months. We are continuing to build the Fall schedule and will update the list of Fall Colloquia as those updates become available, but wanted to alert you to this possibility as the change was only recently approved. 

As ever, if there is anything that we can assist with, please let us know.  We are here to help. 

All the best,

Signature - Cravens

Sarah M. R. Cravens
Vice Provost for Strategic Initiatives
Interim Dean, Williams Honors College
Blake McDowell, Jr. Professor of Law

 Spring 2019

The Victorian Era (1835–1901)

Dr. Harvey Rosenthal

(13559) 1870:250:001
2 credit hours
W 10:15am – 11:55am; Honors Complex 82


The Hero

Dr. Heather Pollock

(10013) 1870:250:002
2 credit hours
Tu, Th 11:45am – 12:35pm; Honors Complex 82


Religion East & West: The big questions & answers in words of art

Dr. Paula Levin

(11947) 1870:250:003
2 credit hours
M, W 11:45am – 12:35pm; CAS 137


Fairytales, Myths, and Folklore

Dr. Juliana Amir

(13834) 1870:250:004
2 credit hours
Tu, Th 10:15am – 11:05am; Honors Complex 82


Careers in Higher Education

Dr. Evan Faidley

(14789) 1870:250:005
2 credit hours
Th 7:15pm – 8:55pm; Honors Complex 82


The Global Lawyer – Japan spring break study abroad

Dr. Sarah Cravens

(17236) 1870:250:006
2 credit hours
Spring Break (25 March – 31 March)


Sense, Nonsense, Brains, and People

Dr. Nathanial Blower

(16908) 1870:350:002
3 credit hours
M, W 5:45pm – 7:00pm; Honors Complex 83


Cult Anthropology: Reasoning from Archaeological Evidence

Dr. Michael Shott

(16702) 1870:340:001
3 credit hours
M, W 11:45am – 1:00pm; Honors Complex 83


Theatre Anthropology: Ritual, Play, Performance, and Self

Dr. James Slowiak

(16913) 1870:340:002
3 credit hours
M, W 1:15pm – 2:30pm; CAS 130


TV, Radio, Internet... Oh My!

Dr. Carrie Tomko

(10014) 1870:360:001
2 credit hours
M, W 11:45am – 12:35pm; CAS 145


STEM in the News

Dr. Carrie Tomko

(10015) 1870:360:002
2 credit hours
M, W 1:15am – 2:05pm; CAS 437


Truth, Lies, and Alternative Facts: Are you perplexed?

Dr. Luis Proenza

(12230) 1870:360:003
2 credit hours
M 4:15pm – 5:55pm; Honors Complex 82


Developing a Worldview

Dr. Michael Dunbar

(12897) 1870:360:004
2 credit hours
Tu, Th 10:15am – 11:05am; Honors Complex 83


The Global Lawyer – Japan spring break study abroad

Dr. Sarah Cravens

(12404) 1870:250:006
2 credit hours
Spring Break (25 March – 31 March)


Science and Technology in the World

Dr. Luis Proenza

(16918) 1870:370:001
3 credit hours
M 10:15am – 12:45pm; Honors Complex 82


Science and Technology for Future Presidents

Dr. Luis Proenza

(16920) 1870:370:002
3 credit hours
M 1:15pm – 3:45pm; Honors Complex 82


Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

Dr. Dane Quinn
Dr. Shiva Sastry

(16921) 1870:370:003
3 credit hours
Tu, Th 1:15pm – 2:30pm; Honors Complex 82


Sustainable Infrastructure

Dr. Teresa Cutright
Dr. David Roke

(16922) 1870:370:004
3 credit hours
M, W 1:15pm – 2:30pm; tba


Global Environmental Issues – with an Anthropogenic Discussion Focus

Dr. Michael Dunbar

(12770) 1870:470:003
3 credit hours
Tu, Th 11:45am – 12:35pm; Honors Complex 83


 Summer 2018

Theatre Anthropology (2 CR)

James Slowiak - [32156] 1870:250-404, MTuW 2:00PM - 3:40PM, HC 082

This seminar will be an interactive, experiential exploration of ritual, play, and performance as universal human impulses.  Performance can be a useful lens and tool for scholarship and research across the humanities and social sciences. In this class we will examine ritual, play and performance as processes for creative expression, critical inquiry, and community engagement. Questions of identity, citizenship, being, and belonging will be discussed. The course will offer a variety of individual and group experiences, readings, and activities to provide the means to understand how and why ritual, play, and performance are essential functions of human existence.

TV, Radio, Internet...Oh My! (2 CR)

Carrie Tomko - [32157] 1870:360-404, TuWTh 10:00AM - 1:30PM, HC 092

Communication is key in this fast-paced society with TV, radio, (newspapers), and the internet bringing instantaneous news, information, and entertainment. The mass media brings global topics closer to home from across the world. What are the current events covered in the news? What content is shared? Beyond content, what underlying messages are generated in mass media messages? These, and other rhetorical questions, will be posed as direct questions designed to engage students and ultimately achieve the course objectives.

Global Environmental Issues (2 CR)

Michael Dunbar - [31693] 1870:470-402, TuTh 9:00AM - 11:30AM, HC 092

The Earth is now home to over 7 billion human beings. During the semester we will be exploring how our presence on the planet has impacted the natural resources, its environment, and offer a prognosis for the future. Our discussions and debates will examine topics such as how our actions and technology have impacted the Earth's climate, biodiversity, natural resources, and technology, to name a few.


The DNA Revolution: Preparing for the Age of Personnel Genomics (2 CR)

Dr. Robert Duff - [33030] 1870:470-403, MW 12:30PM - 3:00PM, HC 092

The ability to cheaply sequence entire DNA genomes is bringing both tremendous opportunities for us to know more about our ancestry and our own genetic conditions but it also brings with it many questions about who should have access to that data how that data should be used. In this course we will explore texts, watch videos, and discuss what we can learn about ourselves through our genomes and how we should prepare ourselves for the present and coming genomic age. 

 Fall 2018

The Hero (2 CR)

Heather Pollock - [75433] 1870:250-001, TuTh 11:45AM - 12:35PM, HC 082

The human condition is marked with uncertainty and discovery. No character helps us confront this journey better than the hero. From classical myth and world origins, through the timely lens of comic books and film, and finally the age of modern heroism, we will explore the universal nature of the hero, with an eye toward its significance in society and in our individual lives. As Joseph Campbell states: We have only to follow the thread of the hero path, and…we will come to the center of our own existence.


A Cultural History of the British Country House (2 CR)

Dr. Melanie McGurr - [74778] 1870:250-002, MW 7:40AM - 8:30AM, HC 082

The British Country House is an integral part of the history of Great Britain. This colloquium will trace the Country House from the Elizabethan Period through the Industrial Revolution to the present. Iconic homes like Chatsworth, Blenheim, and Longleat loom large in British history, but smaller homes, like Bletchley and Chequers, also hold an important place. We will study the cultural history of the houses, including discussions of the influence the Country House had on architecture, art, economics, social class, fashion, and politics. The class will include much general discussion, but will also allow for individual research interests as they relate to the Country House.


Religion East and West: The Big Questions (and Answers in Words and Art) (2 CR)

Paula Levin - [73364] 1870:250-003, MW 11:45AM - 12:35PM, HC 082

In this course we will examine the teachings of Eastern and Western religions - Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Judaism, Christianity - in their attempts to guide us to answers to The Big Questions: what is the meaning of life, how should I live, what happens after life, what is God. We will experience the great world of artistic expression of religious ideas through virtual tours, actual tours, visual media, and music. And we will discuss how religious beliefs (or the absence of them!) affect how we, as humans, experience the world.


Truth, Lies, and Alternative Facts:  Are you perplexed? (2 CR)

Dr. Luis Proenza - [72157] 1870:250-004, M 10:15AM - 11:55AM, HC 092

The explosion of information technology tools like the Internet, the growth of electronic media, and social media all have brought great benefits to our 21st Century society. Yet, these and other forces also have unleashed problems such as the inability to sort truth from falsehood, facts from fiction, or clarity from obfuscation. This course will explore these issues throughout history and use contemporary examples to show how you can navigate information overload and spot disinformation.


American Drama - The Golden Age of American Theatre (3 CR)

Dr. John Thomas Dukes - [77361] 1870:350-001, MTuW 10:15AM - 11:05AM, HC 082

This course will review the great plays and cultural history of the American theater's golden age in the twentieth century. We will read a dozen plays or so and discuss their aesthetic and intellectual importance. Playwrights we shall read include Eugene O'Neill, Lillian Hellman, Tennessee Williams, August Wilson, and others. course requirements: Three papers, three tests, reading quizzes, and you must attend and review one play or musical. Fun stuff!  


What Makes Us Human? (3 CR)

Dr. Heather Braun - [77362] 1870:350-002, MW 1:15PM - 2:30PM, HC 083

In this Humanities Honors Colloquium, we will use a combination of literary and historical texts to explore the question of what makes us human. Beginning with Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818), we will consider distinctions among human, creature, and monster as well as definitions of moral beings in Darwin’s Origin of Species (1859). We will also ask larger ethical questions about the role of science and technology in shaping how we think about humanity through such examples as Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World (1932) and Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go (2005). Finally, we will end the colloquium with an exploration of compassion and empathy at the center of texts that describe the human experience including Elizabeth Strout’s Anything is Possible (2017). 


The Rhetoric of Self (3 CR)

Dr. Lance Svehla - [77363] 1870:350-003, MW 2:45PM - 4:00PM, HC 083

“Know thyself” reads the inscription above the entrance to the Oracle at Delphi. “To thine own self be true” Polonius advises Laertes in Shakespeare’s Hamlet. “We hold these truths to be self-evident” begins the most famous passage from Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence. But what is the self? Is the self the seat of human consciousness or its prison? Does thought emanate from the self or is the self the product of thought? Is the self a medium for connection or the cause of separation and division? This colloquium examines the writings of poets, mystics, theorists, and philosophers who claim the self is an illusion, the product rather than the source of mental processes, and the central cause of human suffering. To conduct this examination we will read works from figures such as Plato, Buddha, Lao Tzu, St. Aquinas, St. John of the Cross, Basho, Emerson, Thoreau, Whitman, Maslow, Suzuki, and Krishnamurti. We will also consider arguments from theorists who, while acknowledging the self as a construction of language, thought, and experience, reject that there is anything larger or greater to human consciousness. Is the self necessary? Is it inevitable? Or can human consciousness outgrow it? If the self is the prison house of consciousness, then liberation from its patterns, limitations, and conditionings might be the key to human tranquility.


Exploring Genre (3 CR)

Dr. Matthew Wyszynski - [77364] 1870:350-004, MW 10:15AM - 11:30AM, HC 083

This seminar will focus on the concept of literary genre, and how the expectations that a genre brings to our choice of reading and influences our reception and interpretation of a text.  We will read a variety of genres from a wide variety of periods (Spanish comedia, detective fiction, blogs, to name a few) to determine how genre helps structure a text, and we will examine how variety and originality is accomplished within generic boundaries. 


Gothic Influence in Contemporary Short Story (2 CR)

Jim Kagafas - [77511] 1870:250-005, MW 8:45AM – 9:35AM, HC 082

This course will explore the relevance of 18th Century Gothic in the 20th Century American short story. The class will take the term beyond the familiar mysterious castles, craggy landscapes, decaying mansions, and ghosts to include more contemporary definitions of gothic. The class will explore gothic terms, read several American short story writers, critically analyze these writers, address American gothic film, pursue individual investigation of gothic themes, and present project at the end of the semester. Approximately 15 stories will be analyzed. Summary/Analysis/Response essays will be required for several of the stories. Class participation is important to the seminar.


We are always happy to add more Honors Colloquia in a given semester for a given subject area once the others have filled, so please keep us in the loop about what type of colloquia you need and your preferred date and time if everything is full, and we will look to provide additional offerings before the semester begins. Click here to email us.

Healthcare: Empowering Awareness and Humanitarianism through Missions (3 CR)

Dr. Laura Richardson - [77373] 1870:340-001, M 1:15PM - 3:45PM, HC 082

The course will immerse students into the local Akron community, requiring the completion of set service hours. The course will be focused on domestic mission but throughout the semester there will be discussions to explore interests in hosting an international health-based mission trip.


Food for Thought: Cooking & Eating in Western Culture (3 CR)

Dr. Hillary Nunn - [77402] 1870:340-002, Tu 10:15AM - 12:45PM, HC 083

Communities and individuals alike define themselves through the food they eat and the social practices that surround its preparation and consumption. This class will examine how interactions involving food – not just in kitchens and dining rooms but in fields and markets – shape perceptions of family, nation, and selfhood. In addition to scholarly readings in food studies, we will examine recipe books, diet crazes, and hospitality manuals from the early modern period to the present day to consider food's role in defining who we are.


What's Your CQ? Cultural Intelligence and Global Skills (3 CR)

Dr. Maria Adamowicz-Hariasz - [77421] 1870:340-003, TuTh 4:15PM - 5:30PM, HC 082

The recent concept of cultural intelligence or cultural quotient (CQ), the capability to relate and work effectively across cultures, is increasingly being used in business, education, government and academia. This class will help you to develop your cross-cultural competencies through a variety of activities such as simulation games, analysis of critical incidents or discussions with international speakers. The goal is to engage you to become and act as a global-minded citizen of the interconnected world, able to transcend geographical, political or cultural borders.

Leadership through LEGOs (3 CR)

Karen Plaster - [77467] 1870:340-004, Th 7:15PM - 9:45PM, HC 082

What does it take to develop and sustain a nonprofit? How do they interact with the community? FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) has developed a robotics competition for students from kindergarten to high school to create robots and use technology to solve real-world problems. This course will provide experiential learning which will focus on leadership, teamwork, communication and ethics in a student centered nonprofit environment. We will investigate how nonprofits work and support local FIRST robotics through mentorship, outreach events, and tournaments. Explore the vast nonprofit arena of STEM through leadership, robotics, and LEGOs.


TV, Radio, Internet...Oh My! (2 CR)

Carrie Tomko - [70038] 1870:360-001, MW 11:45AM - 12:35PM, HC 083

Communication is key in this fast-paced society with TV, radio, (newspapers), and the internet bringing instantaneous news, information, and entertainment. The mass media brings global topics closer to home from across the world. What are the current events covered in the news? What content is shared? Beyond content, what underlying messages are generated in mass media messages? These, and other rhetorical questions, will be posed as direct questions designed to engage students and ultimately achieve the course objectives.


S.T.E.M. in the News (2 CR)

Carrie Tomko - [70039] 1870:360-002, MW 1:15PM - 2:05PM, CAS 137

Students in this colloquium have an opportunity to reflect on innovations, such as:  The latest in available smart phones...The ongoing discussion of global warming...The usage of self-driving cars...The challenges of feeding a growing population through technological advances in agriculture...!!  As new research and technology emerge, resulting innovations enter our ever-changing world.  How are these innovations communicated to the general public??  The mass media is the place where the general population learns of innovations.  Students in this colloquium will engage in the analysis of the media's reporting and then the population's reaction to S.T.E.M.'s impact on society, discerning how emerging research and technology are embraced or refused by society via communication and the media's role in construction of a new reality.


Science, Technology, and Society (2 CR)

Dr. Luis Proenza - [70040] 1870:360-003, M 1:15PM - 2:55PM, HC 092

We live in an increasingly technologically sophisticated world where the growth of our scientific knowledge and the evolution of technologies are continually shaping the future of our societies and, perhaps, even of our species. This course will examine the multifaceted interactions between science, technology, and society through current issues relevant to us as individuals and to our society, nation and the world. It intends to build awareness of science and technology as human enterprises that can be explored in a social and historical context. The course will develop along three themes: (1) The nature of science and engineering that make their facts more compelling than other purported sources of knowledge or truth; (2) Exploring current controversies at the intersection of science, technology, and society; and (3) Studying how these interactions are changing the way we think of ourselves as human beings and as global citizens.


Science and Technology Policy: Its Economic Drivers and the Role of Universities in the Creation of New Wealth (2 CR)

Dr. Luis Proenza - [72804] 1870:360-004, M 4:15PM - 5:55PM, HC 092

Science and technology have shaped our modern world and the discoveries being made today are likely the best harbingers of the future. What has driven our nation, and other nations, to construct policies that facilitate, fund and regulate the conduct of science and its application? The course will explore science and technology policy with the aim of understanding its breadth, scope and its role in advancing economic growth, promoting national security and enhancing our quality of life. It will also review the major players in the science and technology policy arena and the performers that are required so that policies can lead to new knowledge that drives economic growth opportunities. Finally, the course will examine the special role that universities play in these endeavors by focusing on the many forms of "capital" that universities create (such as human capital, social capital and knowledge capital, to name a few) and on how universities can yet evolve to play even stronger roles in our economy and our society. 


Theatre Anthropology: Ritual, Play, Performance, and Self (2 CR)

James Slowiak - [77453] 1870:360-005, MW 11:45AM - 12:35PM, CAS 437

This seminar will be an interactive, experiential exploration of ritual, play, and performance as universal human impulses.  Performance can be a useful lens and tool for scholarship and research across the humanities and social sciences. In this class we will examine ritual, play and performance as processes for creative expression, critical inquiry, and community engagement. Questions of identity, citizenship, being, and belonging will be discussed. The course will offer a variety of individual and group experiences, readings, and activities to provide the means to understand how and why ritual, play, and performance are essential functions of human existence.


Developing a Worldview (2 CR)

Michael Dunbar - [77454] 1870:360-006, TuTh 10:15 - 11:05PM, HC 092

The United States is a highly globalized country, but we only constitute four percent of the world's population. Throughout the semester, we will be taking a virtual trip around the world to examine and compare different regions and what makes them and their inhabitants unique. We will be paying particular attention to variations in culture, language, religion, ethnicity, politics, agriculture, and industry in an effort of challenge Americentrism and to better understand the larger world around us.


We are always happy to add more Honors Colloquia in a given semester for a given subject area once the others have filled, so please keep us in the loop about what type of colloquia you need and your preferred date and time if everything is full, and we will look to provide additional offerings before the semester begins. Click here to email us.

The Impact of Mathematics on the World Around Us (3 CR)

Dr. Malena Espanol - [77378] 1870:370-001, TuTh 11:45AM - 1:00PM, HC 092

In this class, we will look at applications of mathematics including math in movies, math in medicine, math in music, and math in engineering and sciences. Students will learn on the applications of math through readings, videos, and in-class discussions as well as from presentations given by math faculty and off-campus mathematicians.


Great Lakes (2 CR)

Dr. Ira Sasowsky - [70041] 1870:470-001, W 8:20AM - 10AM, HC 092

Did you know that our Great Lakes are the largest freshwater bodies in the world, and hold over 80% of fresh surface water in North America? These fragile resources are an incredible benefit to the region, and have a rich natural history, as well as a bright future. Using the overarching topic of Great Lakes, we will explore the role of water in our everyday lives doing readings and exercises, and short lectures. We will leave with a renewed understanding of the issues, and as empowered citizens participating in a regional water community. An optional fun field trip to Lake Erie will be held on a Friday or weekend day.


Paper or Plastic? (2 CR)

Dr. Marcia Weidknecht - [77437] 1870:470-002, MW 1:15PM - 2:05PM, Room TBA

The choice is not simple. Which is “better” for the consumer? Which is “better” for the environment? From the manufacturing process through the disposal of paper and plastic, the choice is much more complicated than it first appears. This debate and group project course will research the arguments for and against an informed choice.

Both paper and plastic are polymers. Much more than the “paper or plastic” dilemma, polymers are important in each of our lives. This course will explore how polymers can be classified, how they are made, how they are used, and how they can be recycled.


Global Environmental Issues – with an Anthropogenic Discussion Focus (2 CR)

Michael Dunbar - [77455] 1870:470-003, TuTh 11:45AM - 12:35PM, HC 092

The Earth is home to approximately 7.5 billion human beings. Throughout the semester we’ll be enlisting discussions, debates and a proposal to serve as a means to exploring how humankind’s presence on this planet has impacted its natural resources, climate, biodiversity and offer a prognosis for the future.


Innovations and Technology Commercialization (3 CR)

Dr. Yang Liu - [77523] 1870:370-002, TuTh - 1:15PM - 2:30PM, Room TBA

We will focus on innovations and technology commercialization. Specifically, how new technologies are developed, adopted and commercialized. We will discuss the history of industry driven by innovations. For instance, the emergence of automobile industry in Detroit, the creation of silicon valley. We will talk about different types of innovations, including devices, hardware systems, software and business models. We will analyze how major technological breakthrough drives changes in the technological landscape, such as the emergence of personal computer , internet, social media and smartphones, etc.


We are always happy to add more Honors Colloquia in a given semester for a given subject area once the others have filled, so please keep us in the loop about what type of colloquia you need and your preferred date and time if everything is full, and we will look to provide additional offerings before the semester begins. Click here to email us.

Propose a Colloquium

If you are a faculty member here at UA and would like to teach an Honors Colloquium, we would love to hear your idea. Please note that colloquia should not be broad survey courses, nor should they duplicate courses otherwise offered in the general curriculum. A colloquium should typically be on a specific unique or "boutique" topic of particular interest to the faculty member teaching the course. Keep in mind that there will most likely be students from a broad range of disciplines in any given colloquium group.

Use this form to submit a colloquium proposal for the Williams Honors College to consider whether and when it might fit into an upcoming schedule.

Are you a Williams Honors College student with an idea for an exciting and unique Honors Colloquium? Email us your idea for consideration. Additionally, we are always happy to add more Honors Colloquia in a given semester for a given subject area once the others have filled, so please keep us in the loop about what type of colloquia you need and your preferred date and time if everything is full, and we will look to provide additional offerings before the semester begins.