Course Directory

University Honors Program Fall 2021 Courses

 Fall 2021 Advising Information

Liberal Arts Core

CAP 3130-01

Capstone: Science and Pseudoscience: Critiquing the World Around You

EARTHSCI 1100-03


HIST 1023-04 

History of the United States

HUM 1021-06


HUM 1023-01


HUM 3125-01

Non-Western Culture: India CLOSED CLASS

RELS 1020-04

Religions of the World CLOSED CLASS

POL AMER 1014-04 

Introduction to American Politics

SOC 1000-06

Introduction to Sociology CLOSED CLASS

STAT 1772-07

Introduction to Statistics CLOSED CLASS

WGS 1040-02

Women's and Gender Studies  CLOSED CLASS

Other Honors Course Offerings

UNIV 1092-03

Presidential Scholars Seminar: Zombie Apocalypse: Emergency Management to Save Us All (1st Year Presidential Scholars ONLY)

UNIV 1092-02

Presidential Scholars Seminar: Sophomore Think Tank (2nd Year Presidential Scholars ONLY)

UNIV 2196-01

Seminar: Portraits: Fake News: Fact or Fiction?

UNIV 2196-02

Seminar: Environmental Restoration

UNIV 4197-01

Honors Thesis

UNIV 4198-01

Honors Independent Study

Liberal Arts Core Class Descriptions


CAP 3130-01  Capstone: Science and Pseudoscience: Critiquing the World around You with Dr. Carolyn Hildebrandt, 9:30-10:45 T/Th

Prerequisites: Junior Standing

Fulfills LAC Category VI  

Course Description:  Daily, we are bombarded with interesting and novel breakthroughs involving claims that may or may not be true.  In this age of alternative facts and evidence-free assertions, critical thinking is of paramount importance.

The purpose of this course is to explore science and pseudoscience from an interdisciplinary, multicultural perspective. We will be applying critical thinking and scientific analysis to controversial topics from a broad variety of disciplines (e.g., evolution, climate change, conspiracy theories, vaccinations, gun control). In addition to learning about the scientific method, we will also explore logical fallacies, cognitive biases, and how anomalistic ideas (e.g., superstitions, belief in paranormal phenomena) are formed and refuted. The class will be discussion-based and will include guest speakers from across campus. Students will have opportunities to develop research projects within their own areas of interest.

Professor Biography:  Dr. Hildebrandt is a Professor of Psychology at University of Northern Iowa. She has offered this course as Capstone in London (Summer 2018, 2019), an Honors class (Fall 2019) and as a 4-week online class (Summer 2020, Winter 2020). She also teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in Developmental Psychology, Psychology of Gender, Psychology of Music, Research Experience in Psychology, and coordinates the internship program in the Department of Psychology. She earned her B.A. in Music at UCLA, M.A. in Educational Psychology at UC Davis, Ph.D. in Human Development and Education at U.C. Berkeley, and did a Postdoctoral Fellowship in Developmental Psychology at U.C. Berkeley.  She has published in the areas of cognitive, social, and moral development; musical development; theory building; and constructivist approaches to early education. Her current research is on the psychology of superstition.

In her free time, Dr. Hildebrandt enjoys hiking, biking, kayaking, cooking, and traveling to new places.

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EARTHSCI 1100-03  Astronomy with Dr. Siobahn Morgan, 3:00-3:50 MWF CLOSED CLASS

Fulfills LAC Category IVB

Course Description:   Astronomy is the most ancient of sciences, and is used to help answer questions that range from the simple (why does the Moon change from night to night) to the abstract (if our Universe is expanding, what is it expanding into?).  Students will be exposed to the basic physical principles of astronomy, learn how to apply those principles to explain the complex motions and evolution of objects, and gain a greater familiarity with the objects in the night sky. 

Students will have the opportunity to discuss the latest discoveries in the field, and examine how astronomy is depicted in a variety of media formats.  The content of the course will be presented asynchronously, with lectures, quizzes and tests provided in an on-line format, while class time will be spent discussing the latest news in astronomy, working through problems, clarifying complex concepts, or critiquing various depictions of astronomy in mass media.   

Professor Biography:   Dr. Morgan hails from Minnesota, and after getting her BS in Astrophysics, and MS and PhD in Astronomy, she finally got around to getting her first driver’s license.  She has been at UNI since 1991, and has taught nearly all of the courses in astronomy that are available.  When she isn’t teaching astronomy, Dr Morgan is working on various projects, such as computer models of stellar pulsation, and evolution, as well as creating new web-based learning modules.  She is also an avid fan of “Doctor Who”, “The Expanse” and most other Sci-Fi franchises, and watches more television than anyone really should.   

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HIST 1023-04 History of the United States with Dr. Emily Masghatti, 8:00-8:50 MWF

Fulfills LAC Category VA

Course Description:  Study of key individuals and major political, economic, social, and cultural events that have shaped U.S. history, with an emphasis on diversity, equity, and inclusion. Students will consider pressing questions in U.S. history and develop a robust thematic knowledge that draws from the perspectives of marginalized groups.

Professor Biography:  Emily Masghati earned her MA and PhD in history from the University of Chicago. Her research specializes in African American intellectual history and the history of higher education. You can check out her published work in the November 2020 issue of the History of Education Quarterly. She has taught a range of courses including courses in history, social thought, and population studies. In all her courses, she sees students as active collaborators in the classroom and is excited to work with students at UNI.

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HUM 1021-06 Humanities I with Dr. David Grant, 11:00-11:50 MWF CLOSED CLASS

Fulfills LAC Category IIA

Course Description:  This section of Humanities I looks at the ancient, classical, and medieval worlds through the technology of writing. We look at how writing is bound up with notions of history, civilization, religion, and how different writing systems both arise from and shape society. This allows us to connect the distant past with our present and its writing technologies and see what lessons studying the past may hold for us today.

Professor Biography:  Dr. Grant has been at UNI for 14 years, teaching and researching writing studies especially digital writing. He has taught courses on video game literacy, digital humanities, and digital writing. He has also published and taught on writing technologies of Native America and is developing a video game on STEM information literacy with assurance of an Iowa Space Grant.

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HUM 1023-01  Humanities III with Dr. Emily Machen, 11:00-12:10 TTh  CLOSED CLASS

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 3125-01  Non-Western Culture: India with Dr. Louis Fenech, 8:00-8:50 MWF CLOSED CLASS       

Fulfills LAC Category IIB 

Course Description:  The Non-western Humanities course which focusses on India and South Asia will take students on a journey throughout the most remote pasts of the subcontinent.  It will begin in prehistory and end with the situation we see in India today.  It will not follow a linear trajectory chronologically speaking, but rather dip in and out of historical time to demonstrate how the history of India’s past is very much the reality of India’s present; to demonstrate too how Eurocentric categories fail to convey the realities of South Asia.  Along this past-present adventure students will meet India’s earliest inhabitants, the Adivasis; tour the streets of India’s first civilization, that of the Indus Valley; encounter Aryans and Achaemenids, Sultans and Swamis, Mughals and Marauders.  While so doing we will note how the Indian encounter with these groups helped shape Indian civilization, its many vibrant cultures, its foods, and its awesome art and literatures.  We will furthermore become privy to how these encounters also helped mold those cultures which interacted with India’s.

Professor Biography:  Lou Fenech likes India, Indians, and Indian cultures.  He also really likes Indian food, a lot, especially Punjabi food.  At heart Lou is a Sikhologist, a guy who studies the Sikhs and Sikh traditions and has written more than a couple of books on these amazing people (check him out on Amazon).  Lou also likes to spend his summers in Southeast Asia and East Asia where he enjoys tracing the movement of Sikh communities to these countries that adjoin India.  Luckily, he also really loves the food here, particularly sidewalk food.  No surprise here as so much of this food originates in India.  Lou lectures and shows images and tells stories and shares cooking tips.

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RELS 1020-04  Religions of the World with Dr. John Burnight, 9:00-9:50 MWF  CLOSED CLASS

Fulfills LAC Category IIIB

Course Description:   This course will provide a broad, chronologically organized survey of the development of the western, monotheistic religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) from the earliest written sources through the early Islamic conquests of the 7th century C.E., followed by a survey of two major religions originating in India: Hinduism and Buddhism. We will focus on reading (in translation) the primary texts of each tradition, describing their similarities and differences in worldview, beliefs about the nature of the divine, and ideas about the purpose of human existence. This section of the course will emphasize the acquisition and development of oral presentation and writing skills: small groups will collaborate to offer presentations to the class on specific areas within the various religious traditions, and students will select a topic for in-depth individual study and write a research paper.

N.B.: We will be less concerned with the historicity of the ‘supernatural’ events described in some of the traditions than with how the stories affected the beliefs of each religion: we are tracing the development of religious thought, not trying to determine, for example, whether or not Noah did in fact build a really big boat.

Professor Biography:  John Burnight is an Associate 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. He has been a lecturer at a small private college in the Chicago suburbs and large public universities in Connecticut and North Carolina, teaching introductory and upper-level courses in Old Testament/Hebrew Bible, World Religions, and the History of Monotheism. 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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POL AMER 1014-04 Introduction to American Politics with Dr. Justin Holmes, 12:30-1:45 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 focusing particular attention this semester on areas where the Constitution fails to give adequate instructions on what to do in unique situations, and a look at why young people, particularly young women, seem alienated from seeking political office. 

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 Associate Professor of Political Science and has taught at UNI since 2008. He earned his PhD from the University of Minnesota.  Professor Holmes's 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 current study on the politics of policy for people with disabilities. He currently serves as the Chair of the American Democracy Project at UNI, which focuses on promoting civic literacy and political participation among college students. 

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SOC 1000-06  Introduction to Sociology with Dr. Carissa Froyum, 11:00-12:15 TTh CLOSED CLASS

Fulfills LAC Category VA

Course Description:  Why do we follow the crowd? What influence do our families have on us? What happens when we don’t go along to get along? What makes us who we are? Why do some groups of people have better life chances than others? This course addresses these questions and more. We will interrogate why we act, think, and feel the ways we do. Sociologists look to our relationships with each other for the answers.

Based on engaging readings, classroom exercises, and deep discussions about life, this class will challenge students to think in new ways. We will develop a “sociological imagination” in which we consider the workings of the social world in our own lives. Take this class and its content seriously and you will develop a new outlook on the world. This class isn’t just for your time at UNI but for life outside of it.

Professor Biography:  Dr. Froyum is a Professor of Sociology and has taught at UNI since 2007. She was drawn to sociology out of a desire to understand human behavior and issues of justice and fairness. Her areas of specialization are social inequalities, social psychology, emotions, and family.

On top of her research, Dr. Froyum is deeply committed to serving her community. She is an alum of Americorps and the Lutheran Volunteer Corps, where she volunteered in DC with inner city youth. She is a sexual assault advocate, has run for public office, and was a union leader. She believes in doing things to improve our communities rather than just talking about it.  She and her partner live in Denver where they raise their three kids together. She enjoys running, painting, and cooking in her free time.

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STAT 1772-07  Introduction to Statistics with Dr. Mark Ecker, 3:30-4:45 TTh  CLOSED CLASS

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, analyze the data using the tools learned in the classroom and present their results to the class.

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. A 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. My most recent research involves assessing the accuracy and precision of currently used Automated Valuation Models (“AVMs”) that are professional-grade statistical models that predict house value, for example, Zillow (which is a consumer-facing AVM that provides free estimates of value to the public).

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WGS 1040:02  Women's and Gender Studies with Dr. Heather Jeronimo, 1:00-1:50 MWF  CLOSED CLASS

Fulfills LAC Category VA

Course Description: In this interdisciplinary course, students will learn key concepts and themes within Queer Theory, including readings drawn from Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Studies. We will begin the class by studying some of the foremost thinkers and critics in the field in order to understand how Queer Theory emerged and developed. In addition to theory, students will interact with speakers, view movies, and read selected works of literature related to Queer Studies, all within a transnational context. The readings for this class have been selected to be representative of writers of various genders, sexualities, cultures, and social standings, although one class on Queer Theory could never include an exhaustive list of writing from queer thinkers.  Students will explore and question a variety of topics in this class, including gender performativity, masculinity in crisis, queerness and disability, marginalized queer populations, power and institutionalized oppression, and challenges and future directions of Queer Theory.  This class intends to provide students with just as many questions as answers, leading them to further explore the relevance of Queer Theory within our ever more globalized world.

In addition to familiarizing students with key concepts and thinkers within the field of Queer Theory, this class aims to create a broad understanding of the diversity of meanings and interpretations of queerness, across cultures and amongst various groups. Students are expected to be active learners, creating and participating in an intellectual community through discussions and presentations that promote students’ ability to critically evaluate and engage with primary theoretical sources while respecting one another’s perspectives and creative thinking skills.

Professor Biography:   Dr. Heather Jerónimo is an Associate Professor of Spanish at the University of Northern Iowa.  She specializes in 20th and 21st -century Spanish literature and film, with particular focus on topics of gender, sexuality, and non-normative familial relationships.  Among other classes, Dr. Jerónimo teaches upper-level seminars such as the Hispanic Graphic Novel, the Spanish Civil War, and Hispanic Family in Film.  Dr. Jerónimo’s research has been published in several journals, including Bulletin of Spanish Studies, Revista Canadiense de Estudios Hispánicos, and Letras femeninas.  During the summer, Dr. Jerónimo leads a two-week Capstone in Barcelona, Spain.

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Honors Seminar and Elective Descriptions

UNIV 1092-03  Presidential Scholars Seminar: Zombie Apocalypse: Emergency Management to Save Us All with Dr. Jayme Renfro, 2:00-3:50 M  

**2 credit hour seminar - First-year Presidential Scholars ONLY 

Course Description: This course introduces students to the emergency management field through the lens of the threat of a zombie apocalypse. Zombies hold a special significance in American culture and can be used as a proxy for a disease of terroristic threat. For the purpose of this course, specific topics will include the history of emergency management, the identification and assessment of hazards, risk, and vulnerability, and the four phases of emergency management (mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery). 

Professor Biography Dr. Jayme Renfo is an Associate Professor of Political Science.

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UNIV 2196-01  Honors Seminar: Fake News: Fact or Fiction? with Dr. Brooke Wonders, 12:00-1:15 MW

**3 credit hour seminar - Sophomore standing  

Course Description:  “The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the dedicated communist, but people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction, true and false, no longer exists.”  — Hannah Arendt

The rise of white nationalism is perhaps the greatest challenge currently facing our country. This crisis is in many ways an effect of the death of so-called objective journalism. Cries of “fake news” come from both conservatives and liberals, while over half the electorate sit out elections, in part because they feel insufficiently educated on the issues. The internet has created a new problem: a glut of information, rather than a scarcity. What’s scarce is any trust in gatekeepers—or any gatekeepers at all. This class uses the disciplinary lens of creative nonfiction to investigate a range of texts making claims about how we interact with the news. Creative nonfiction is an umbrella term for a range nonfictional modes, from personal essay to memoir to the New Journalism. Some academics posit a causal relationship between the popularity of writers like Hunter S. Thompson and Joan Didion, with their emphasis on providing a subjective take on the news of the day, and the erosion of trust in news sources. Whether you find “fake news” to be a concerning phenomenon or a bogus term, this class will invite you to explore how we transmit and consume the true stories that shape our lives.

Professor Biography:  Brooke Wonders is a creative writing Associate Professor in the department of Languages and Literatures. Her areas of specialization include creative nonfiction, memoir, fairytale, and horror literature. Her creative work has appeared in The Rupture, Clarkesworld, Brevity, and Black Warrior Review, among others. She is a founding editor of feminist witch magazine Grimoire, and also serves as nonfiction editor at the North American Review, where she runs the annual Williams Prize in essay writing and the Vonnegut Prize in speculative fiction. 

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UNIV 2196-02  Honors Seminar: Environmental Restoration with Dr. James Dietrich, 2:00-3:15 TTh  

**3 credit hour seminar - Sophomore standing  

Course Description:  Many native ecosystems around the world have been altered, degraded, or destroyed. Restoring these ecosystems is one management option that is being implemented widely across a range of ecosystems. Restoration has become a critical part of how we respond to past land management choices and a future that includes a changing climate. Restoration can be considered as human intervention to recover nature’s integrity; an attempt to restore the environment to its natural state. The goal of environmental restoration is a stable and functioning ecosystem that can withstand stresses and provide ecosystem services, such as clean water, wildlife habitat, biodiversity, and more.

Students will be guided through the key questions of why and how restoration is done. Much of the course will explore different restoration strategies and case studies of the largest topical areas of environmental restoration (prairies, rivers, forests, urban/industrial sites). Sources for discussions on the case studies will include academic literature and project reports. There will be several field trips to environmental restoration sites in Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.

Professor Biography:  Dr. James Dietrich is an Assistant Professor of Geography. He has done research all over the US, in the Pacific Northwest, Mountain West, and New England, and in Europe, in the UK and Greece. A major part of Professor Dietrich’s research explores how river restoration impacts both the physical and the ecological structure of rivers. Professor Dietrich’s toolbox for environmental monitoring includes traditional field methods coupled with new tools like using drones for 3D mapping and designing and building his own open-source environmental monitoring sensors.

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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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