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Course Directory

University Honors Program Fall 2017 Courses

Fall 2017 Advising Information

Liberal Arts Core

CAP 3187-02

Capstone: Blues & Jazz in African American Film & Literature

COMM 1000-13

Oral Communication

HISUS 1023-04

History of the United States

HUM 1021-24

Humanities I

HUM 1023-02

Humanities III

HUM 3121-01

Russia/Soviet Union

MUSIC 1100-02


PHIL 1020-03

Philosophy: Art ofThinking

POL AMER 1014-07

Introduction to American Politics

STAT 1772-02

Introduction to Statistics

WGS 1040-02

Women's and Gender Studies

UNIV 1092-01

Creation and Cosmology across Cultures (1st Year Presidential Scholars ONLY)

UNIV 1092-02

Sophomore Think Tank (2nd Year Presidential Scholars ONLY)

UNIV 2196-01

Seminar: US and Global Islam

UNIV 4197-01

UNIV 4198-01

Honors Thesis

Honors Independent Study

Liberal Arts Core

CAP 3187-02  Capstone: Blues & Jazz in African American Film & Literature with Dr. Pierre-Damien Mvuyekure, 2:00pm-3:15pm TTh 

Prerequisites: Junior Standing

Fulfills LAC Category VI

Course Description: Multidisciplinary study of African American experiences in Spirituals, Blues, Gospel, Ragtime, Jazz, Rap/Hip-Hop, film, and literature. Emphasis on how African American expressive cultures serve as vehicles for the African American experiences in film and literature across time and space in the United States. Application of Spirituals, Blues, Jazz, and Rap theories to reading and understanding African American music, film, drama, fiction, and poetry. Through critical theory of the Blues, Jazz, and Rap, the student discovers why and how African American writers and filmmakers use music as a code, a narrative strategy, a theme, and an ideological stance of resistance and survival in their works.

OUTCOMES, REQUIREMENTS, AND ASSESSMENT: At the end of the course, the student should gain a greater understanding of how and why African American artists codify African American traditions and experiences in their plays, poems, novels, films by using songs. Ultimately, the course helps the student become aware of the socio-economic and historical contexts within which the Spirituals, Blues, Ragtime, Jazz, R & B, Rap, and other African American musical styles have developed in the United States and around the world. Requirements and assessment include class discussions (30%100 of the final grade), informal reading feedback (oral) and blog (20% of the final grade), collaborative work and oral presentation (15% of the final grade), research prospectus (15% of the final grade), and a 2 research paper (20% of the final grade). Not only does the course significantly rely on class discussions and foster the idea of working in groups with peers, but through it also helps the student to develop or enhance writing to learn critical writing. Through a research paper, the student learns how to develop critical reading, thinking, and critical writing skills while developing independent ideas.

Professor Biography:  Professor Pierre-Damien Mvuyekure, Ph.D., teaches English, American and African American literature in the Department of Languages and Literatures. He is the 2011 recipient of The Diversity Matters Award, the 2007-2008 Regents Awards for Faculty Excellence, and the 2005 Philip G. Hubbard Outstanding Educator at the University of Northern Iowa. A Fulbright alumnus, he holds B.A. in Letters and Licence (M.A.) ès Letters in English from the National University of Rwanda, Rwanda, and M.A. and Ph.D. in English from SUNY at Buffalo. His areas of specialization include African American Literature, African and African Diaspora Literatures, African American Literary Criticism, Multicultural Literature, Post-Colonial Literatures and Theory, Nineteenth-Century American Literature, Twentiethcentury American Literature, Popular Literature, and Critical and Cultural Theory. His books include Lamentations on the Rwandan Genocide (2nd edition 2014), The “Dark Heathenism” of the American Novelist Ishmael Reed: African Voodoo as American Literary HooDoo (The Edwin Mellen Press (2007), Lamentations on the Rwandan Genocide (Final Thursday Press 2006), World Eras Volume 10: West African Kingdoms, 500-1590 (Gale/Thompson 2004), A Casebook Study of Ishmael Reed’s Yellow Back Radio Broke-Down (Dalkey Archive Press 2003), and numerous articles.

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COMM 1000-13 Oral Communication with Dr. Ryan McGeough, 9:30-10:45 TTh

Fulfills LAC Category IB

Course Description:  This course is a survey course designed to assist the student in discovering how verbal and nonverbal communication messages function in a variety of settings--intrapersonal, interpersonal, group, and public. By studying the theory and process of communication and applying communication theory and principles to diverse real-life situations, students will have opportunities to practice and analyze communication skills in various communication contexts. In order to do this, this course involves both written and oral assignments throughout the semester.

The honors section will involve more critical analysis and discussion of course concepts, with an emphasis on both speaking and listening. At least one of the assignments will have a social issues or service-learning component, and topics for speeches will have more specific guidelines than other sections. Students will complete at least three individual speeches and one group project.

Professor Biography:  Dr. Ryan McGeough is a member of the Department of Communication Studies, where he teaches courses such as Political Communication, Rhetoric and Civic Culture and Oral Communication.  His research is focused on public argumentation across various types of media. His classes ask students to take an active role in class conversations and to connect assignments to their interests and passions. In his free time, he enjoys Southern cuisine, farmers’ markets, LSU football and being walked by his dog, Vonnegut.

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HISUS 1023-04 History of the United States with Dr. Joanne Goldman, 12:30-1:45 TTh

Fulfills LAC Category VA

Course Description: This course is designed to introduce students to the history and culture of the American people. It is organized about various themes discussed within particular chronological frameworks. We will concentrate on the themes of war and politics, gender and reform, the natural environment and economics in each of four periods of American History:

               Colonial Period: 1600s-1780s

               Early National Period à Civil War and Reconstruction:  1780s-1870s

               The US in an International Arena: 1880s-1940s

               Post World War II: 1950s-Present

Lectures and discussions will draw connections that will provide a rich context for understanding why we are, where we are, and how we got there. In addition to the required textbook assignments, there will be four supplemental readings that will be discussed in class. Students will be required to research a subject and make a presentation in class in the form of panel discussions and debates. Additionally, students will work with primary documents. There will be four exams.

Professor Biography:  Joanne Abel Goldman came to UNI in 1990. She earned her Ph.D. in 1988 from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. Her dissertation examines the process of policy formation with regard to the decision to build an integrated sewer system in New York City in the nineteenth century. This project developed Dr. Goldman’s expertise in the history of technology, history of the city, and the Early National Period, 1780s-1860s, of American History, areas in which she teaches upper level classes. More recent research interests have considered post World War II national science policy with regard to the Manhattan Project, the Ames Laboratory, and atomic energy education. Dr. Goldman considers herself an animated teacher who enjoys getting to know students and looks forward to interacting with this particularly motivated group.

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HUM 1021-24 Humanities I with Dr. Jerry Soneson, 9:30-10:45 TTh

Fulfills LAC Category IIA

Course DescriptionThis course is an introduction to the humanities.  Central to this area of study is the question of what it is to be civilized, to be “human” at its best.  In this course we study this question as we also develop a critical understanding of some of the more important social, economic, political and cultural elements which constitute the human story of the West from the earliest human beginning through the Middle Ages​, and which have enduring significance in and for the present.  Our honors section will draw upon the imagination and creative talents of honors students by offering the opportunity for them to think about, discuss and write upon these matters in concentrated and creative ways.  About half of our time together will be devoted to lectures and art films in order to tell the historical story of the West, but the other half of our time together will be devoted to class discussion of major literary, philosophical, religious and artistic works that have been produced within that story.  Students will have abundant opportunity to work more fully with the material we cover in written exams and longer essays.

Professor Biography: Dr. Jerry Soneson, who came to UNI in 1991, is the Head of the Department of Philosophy and World Religions. He has also been part of the Honors Program since it began, often teaching honors sections of Humanities ​I and ​III, twice teaching the Presidential Scholars Seminar, The Holocaust and Religion, ​ the honors capstone course, ​The Holocaust in Literature and Film, and co-teaching the Honors Seminar, The Idea of the University​ and Moral Education in Literature and Film​.  Specializing in philosophy, religion and ethics during the Modern Period, he likes to ask, to think, to write about, and to discuss with students matters which have to do with the great questions of life, such as good and evil, freedom and bondage, war and peace, tragedy and hope, ideals that make life worth living, and why humans all too often seem to blow it. He loves to teach Humanities I and Humanities III because it gives him the chance to explore all of these topics with students within the historical setting of past – Ancient, Classical and Medieval, in the case of Humanities I, and Modern, in the case of Humanities III.

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HUM 1023-02 Humanities III with Dr. Emily Machen, 9:30-10:45 TTh

Fulfills LAC Category IIA

Course Description: This class will introduce students to the major themes in the history of Western Europe from the French Revolution to the present.  We will study history’s “big” events, including wars and revolutions.  However, rather than exploring World War I or the Cold War from a purely political or military point of view, we will investigate how these events impact human society.  Students will determine how war, revolution, and social upheaval shape people’s lives depending on where they live, their social class, and their race and gender.  Men and women often experiences events differently.  The same is true for minorities. The experiences of a Senegalese soldier or a woman ambulance driver during World War I differ from the experiences of European men on the front lines or politicians on the home front.  Students will build an understanding of how Western society develops by delving into a variety of sources produced during the eras we study.  Reading materials will be supplemented by images and film clips that add an important visual component to the course.  The class will incorporate a combination of lecture and discussion of primary documents.

This class will also include a current events element.  History is not simply about what happened in the past.  It should also help students understand contemporary society and current problems.  As a result, throughout the semester, we will be discussing important stories showing up in the news.  We will situate these stories into their historical context so that students know why Europe is experiencing a growth in far right political parties or what is motivating Ukrainians to protest against their government.  By the end of the course, students will understand how Western societies have developed and how that development shapes our contemporary world.

Professor Biography:  Emily Machen is an associate professor of history.  She is a specialist in modern Europe with an emphasis in French women’s history. She received an undergraduate degree from Southeast Missouri State University, where she studied history and French, and a Ph.D. from the University of Mississippi.  Professor Machen lived in France for two years while completing her dissertation. She teaches a variety of classes, including Modern France, European Society and the Great War, European Women’s History, and Humanities III.  She enjoys all of her classes and tries to engage students by incorporating news and documentary video clips, images, and artifacts related to various historical periods. 

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HUM 3121-01 Russia/Soviet Union with Dr. Kenneth Basom, 9:00-9:50 MWF 

Fulfills LAC Category IIB 

Course Description: This course is an introduction to the rich and diverse cultures of Russia and the former Soviet Union.  History and literature will be our primary windows into this culture because they have been crucial to Russian ideas of what it means to be Russian.  We will also take music, film, geography, religion, the graphic arts and politics into consideration. The course will highlight the continuing conflict between Western influence and Russian distinctiveness.  The influence of the many non-Russian cultures incorporated at various times into the Russian state will also be examined.  We will read one of the most popular novels from the late soviet period, which happens to have been written by a non-Russian.  There are many and diverse sources of Russian culture.  Class discussion of films and readings will be an important part of the course.  We may also take advantage of events on the UNI campus that are related to Russian culture (such as plays, films, lectures, and musical performances).

Professor Biography: I grew up near Washington, D.C., and I guess that helps account for my chosen career as a professor of political science.  The politics of other countries has long fascinated me.  I have spent much of my career studying the politics of Eastern Europe and the former Yugoslavia.  Nationalism and democratization have been two of my main areas of research.  Through my research I have come to appreciate the importance of culture not only for politics but for all aspects of life.  I do some of the old fashioned lecture format in my classes, but I try to keep it informal and jazz it up by impersonating various historical or imaginary characters.  I enjoy using excerpts of films and sometimes entire films in my classes.  I am increasingly relying on class discussions in my courses to allow students the opportunity to reflect on course material and try out ideas.

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MUSIC 1100-02 Soundscapes with Dr. Dyan Meyer, 9:30-10:45 TTh

Fulfills LAC Category IIIA

Course Description:  Soundscapes explores music within the context of evolving Western culture, ca. 400-2000, and examines the basics of music fundamentals and vocabulary.  The aims of this course are to teach the languages of music so the music can speak to you; to explore the geography of music so you can be at home in its terrain; and to discover the musical feelings within yourself.  Particular emphasis will be placed on listening skills that will last a lifetime and be applied to any style of music.

Concert Attendance is a vital part of this course.  Experiencing live music will add much to the overall experience of this class.  Each student is expected to satisfy this concert attendance requirement by attending five concerts or recitals on campus.  After the performance, each student will write a detailed review on the history of the music performed as well as how the music affected that student on that particular night of the performance.

Within each class, the students will be expected to communicate orally (by themselves and within group discussions).  This interaction among students will hopefully create personal relationships outside of the classroom, resulting in a feeling of belonging to the university atmosphere.  At the end of the semester, each student will be assigned to a group in which three students will work together culminating in a polished presentation of analyzing an assigned Broadway musical.

Professor Biography: Originally from St. Louis, Missouri, Dyan S. Meyer is Instructor of Music Theory at UNI.

Meyer holds a B.A. in Music Education and Music Performance from Graceland University and a Master’s degree in Music Performance with a Choral Conducting emphasis from the Florida State University.  She has taught at the University of Northern Iowa from 1999-2003, and 2007-present.

From 2003-2007, Meyer established a home piano studio. She currently accompanies numerous students at the Iowa High School State Solo/Ensemble Festivals.  She also serves on the Fellowship of Christian Athletes board and enjoys working with athletes outside of the classroom.

Meyer lives in Cedar Falls with her husband, Monte, and five children.

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PHIL 1020-03 Philosophy: Art of Thinking with Dr. Margaret Holland, 11:00-12:15 TTh

Fulfills LAC Category IIIB– (class in Honors Cottage)

Course Description:  Philosophy takes as its subject matter, and critically examines, all human activities and beliefs.  It asks questions about the fundamental nature of reality, knowledge, goodness and beauty.  Western philosophy began in ancient Greece with thinkers who investigated nature and the physical world.  Later thinkers directed their attention to human life and conduct.  They then went on to examine questions about the nature of reality, the foundations of knowledge, politics and moral value.  In this course students will have the opportunity to acquire first-hand knowledge of the concerns and methods of the best in our philosophical heritage.  We will focus on notable themes, as well as points of agreement and disagreement among various thinkers.  My hope is that students will complete the course with an understanding of the philosophical tradition, and an appreciation for the activity of critical and reflective thinking.   Honors students will have the opportunity to do extra credit work on an assignment designed to develop their analytic thinking skills.

Professor Biography:  Margaret Holland is an Associate Professor of Philosophy.  She has a M.A. in Philosophy from Boston College and a Ph.D. in Philosophy from the State University of New York at Buffalo.  She has been teaching classes such as Ethics, Ancient Philosophy, the Philosophy of Art, and Philosophy: The Art of Thinking at UNI since 1991.  She particularly enjoys classes with a good deal of student participation.  Professor Holland had very good experiences teaching Honors sections of this class in the last few years; she looks forward to working with Honors students this Fall.

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POL AMER 1014-07 Introduction to American Politics with Dr. Justin Holmes, 2:00-3:15 TTh

Fulfills LAC Category VB

Course Description:  The American Republic has lasted more than 200 years, despite radical changes in society, technology, and the world context it is situated in. While there is considerable consistency in the ideas behind American government, situational pressures have required constant adaptation. Developments and events of the last few years such as the internet, 9/11 and the ensuing war on terror, and increased polarization of both political elites and voters. In this class, we will look at both the historical origins and contemporary manifestations of American democracy, political institutions, and the public itself. Specific topics will include institutions of government, political participation, civil rights and civil liberties, the mass media and public opinion, elections and representation, and governance in the internet age. We will be going into particular depth on political campaigning (with a focus on the 2016 election) and congressional gridlock.

Classes will be in the lecture discussion format, with considerable discussion. Each student will be responsible for leading class for a portion of one day. There will be two reflection papers, and 3 exams.

Professor Biography:  Justin Holmes is an Assistant Professor of Political Science. He earned his PhD from the University of Minnesota. He has been at UNI since 2008, after previously teaching at the University of Minnesota and Gustavus Adolphus College. Holmes' research and teaching focuses on Public Opinion, Voting Behavior, Political Communication, and Political Psychology. Recent projects include studies of the psychology of the impact of negative information on presidential approval, a study of how citizens form opinions about intervening in foreign conflicts, an examination of how campaigns and interest group use new media to mobilize supporters, and a study of the role of emotion in citizens' political participation. During election season, Holmes' is a frequent interviewee on both local and national media.

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STAT 1772-02 Introduction to Statistics with Dr. Mark Ecker, 9:30-10:45 TTh

Fulfills LAC Category IC

Course Description:  The Honors Introductory Statistics course covers the topics of: descriptive statistics, probability, random variables, sampling distributions, inferential statistics, confidence intervals and hypothesis tests.  Students will be exposed to critical statistical thinking, along with the statistical software package, S-Plus.  Emphasis will be on real world applications of pertinent statistical methods and ideas.  Students will collect data on a topic of interest to them and analyze the data using the tools learned in the classroom.

Professor Biography:  I am Professor of Statistics in the Department of Mathematics at UNI, where I specialize in the area of spatial prediction and modeling using Bayesian and Geostatistical techniques.  My research involves hands-on data analysis and developing methodology for spatial association often present in environmental and economic data.  In the past, I had worked as part of a multidisciplinary team of chemists, biologists, and environmental scientists at the University of Northern Iowa analyzing water quality data in Iowa's lakes and wetlands.  I currently work with Iowa Workforce Development and the Institute for Decision Making to forecast the potential available workers in labor sheds across Iowa.  My most recent research project involves developing new statistical techniques to measure the negative or positive financial impact on housing prices from living close to a point source, such as a hog lot, nuclear power plant or a highly desirable school.

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WGS 1040-02 Women's and Gender Studies with Dr. Elizabeth Sutton, 3:30-4:45 TTh

Fulfills LAC Category VA– (class in Honors Cottage)

Course Description:  This course is designed to familiarize students with the academic field of women's and gender studies. Through diverse readings, discussion, and activities, students will be asked to think critically about gender and its construction and reproduction in society and the effect on their own lives and families. Intersectionality with theories of race, class, and other social structures will be examined. Women's and gender studies uses interdisciplinary tools to analyze structural power and the ways that gender manifests itself in social, cultural, and political contexts.

Professor Biography: Elizabeth Sutton is Associate Professor of Art History and has taught at UNI since 2009. Her scholarship, while specializing in issues of globalization and power in art and in art history, also has included active pedagogical research. Dr. Sutton has published Art, Animals, and Experience: Relationships to Canines and the Natural World (2017), Capitalism and Cartography in the Dutch Golden Age (Chicago, 2015), and Early Modern Dutch Prints of Africa (Aldershot, 2012). Her current interests are in documenting a feminist historiography of the discipline, its methods, and pedagogical practices.

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UNIV 1092-01  Presidential Scholars Seminar: Creation and Cosmology across Cultures with Dr. John Burnight, 5:00-5:50 MW (class in Honors Cottage)

**2 credit hour seminar - 1st year Presidential Scholars ONLY 

Course Description:  Methods and Outcomes: This course will be a seminar in which students will be expected to participate in class discussions, read and analyze challenging primary texts, and develop their writing and oral presentation skills.

Content: How did the world come to exist? How did we get here? Why are we here? Such questions reflect what seems to be a universal human impulse to understand our origins and purpose. A wide variety of ideas on the subject have been proposed by mystics, sages, and scholars under the broad categories of religion, philosophy, and science, from the very beginning of the historical period down to modern times. This course will examine and compare a selection of creation myths from a number of ancient sources, such as those of the ancient Near East (including the Bible), Vedic Hinduism, traditional Chinese religion, and Greco-Roman mythology and philosophy, as well as later traditions from Norse, African, and Native American cultures. We will finish with a brief survey of some modern scientific ideas about the nature of the cosmos (e.g., the “Big Bang” theory), emphasizing the effect such theories have had on humanity’s view of its place in the universe, and whether there might be elements of “faith” inherent in these ideas, as well. By examining how various cultures have addressed the issue of our beginnings, we might better understand the foundational assumptions underlying our own notions of identity and what it means to be “human.”

Professor Biography:  John Burnight is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Philosophy and World Religions. He received his PhD from the University of Chicago’s Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations in 2011, with an emphasis on Hebrew language and literature. His regular courses include Religions of the World, Old Testament, New Testament, and Judaism & Islam. In 2007-08 he was a Fulbright-Hays Visiting Research Fellow at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His research focuses on “subversive” or “protest” literature within the biblical texts: namely, works such as the Book of Job that speak “truth to power” and critique the dominant Israelite/Judahite theology of the biblical periods.

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UNIV 1092-02 Presidential Scholars Seminar: Sophomore Think Tank with Dr. Jessica Moon, 5:00-5:50pm + arr T

**2 credit hour seminar – Sophomore Presidential Scholars ONLY - (class in Honors Cottage)

Course Description: The intent of Sophomore Service Learning is to provide a structured way for Presidential Scholars to grow intellectually while combining their strengths and talents for the benefit of our campus and community. The spring semester will be devoted to the execution of the implementation plan developed during the fall Think Tank. 

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UNIV 2196-01 Honors Seminar: US and Global Islam with Dr. Cara Burnidge, 12:30-1:45 TTh 

**3 credit hour seminar - Sophomore standing- (class in Honors Cottage)

Course Description:  Lately, it is nearly impossible to read or listen to the news without encountering some assertion about the relationship between the United States and Islam. It's hard to determine fact from fiction. Given the importance of this history to current events, this class is designed to understand the long, historic relationship between the United States and global Islam. We will survey the history of US engagement with Islam from the colonial era to the present, paying special attention to US foreign policy and America's changing approaches to Islam and Muslims. Grades in this course will rely on regular Reading Reflections, In-class Discussion, and individual Research Projects. The class will end with a public showcase and celebration of the research projects students completed. An unofficial copy of the syllabus can be found here:

Professor Biography:  Cara Burnidge is an Assistant Professor of Religion in the Department of Philosophy and World Religions. She received her PhD in Religion from Florida State University in 2013, specializing in the history of American religion and politics in a global context. Her first book, A Peaceful Conquest: Woodrow Wilson, Religion, and the New World Order was published by the University of Chicago Press in 2016. Additionally, in 2016, she published an essay titled "Religious Influences in US Foreign Policy," in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of American History. At UNI, Professor Burnidge teaches Religions of the World, Religion in America, Religion and Politics, and Great Living Religions: Christianity. In her advanced courses, Professor Burnidge focuses on student discussion and shared, team-based development. In writing projects, she emphasizes the writing process in addition to final written products. This means that students often have opportunities to revise and resubmit their written work in order to improve upon their editing and writing skills. Students can read more about Professor Burnidge's research and teaching at her website,, and they are welcome to follow her on Twitter, @burnidge.  

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UNIV 4197-01 Honors Thesis with Dr. Jessica Moon, arr

Course Description: The Honors Thesis is the final step towards earning a University Honors designation from the University of Northern Iowa.  The thesis gives Honors students the opportunity to explore a scholarly area of interest with the guidance of a faculty member.  It is intended to serve as the culmination of the Honors experience. 

The thesis provides you with experience in research as well as an opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge and expertise.  While the process may at times be challenging, it will also be rewarding.  You will enhance your knowledge of the chosen topic and further develop your research or creative skills.  The final product should leave you with a sense of pride and accomplishment for what you have attained. 

Students wishing to register for Honors Thesis must meet with Jessica to discuss course requirements and have their registration holds removed.  Call Brenda at 3-3175 to make an appointment.

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UNIV 4198-01 Honors Independent Study with Dr. Jessica Moon, arr

Course Description: The purpose of independent study is to provide students with an opportunity to participate in an educational experience beyond what is typically offered in the classroom.  Students must be prepared to exercise a great deal of independent initiative in pursuing such studies.  Honors students may receive independent study credit for research projects of their own or those shared with faculty members, certain internship opportunities, or some types of work or volunteer experiences. 

Students wishing to register for Honors Independent Study must meet with Jessica to discuss course requirements and have their registration holds removed.  Call Brenda at 3-3175 to make an appointment.

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