Course Directory

University Honors Program Spring 2019 Courses

Spring 2019 Advising Information

Liberal Arts Core

ANTH 1002-02

Introduction to Cultural Anthropology

CAP 3152-02

Capstone: Complementary, Alternative, and Integrative Health

COMM 1000-11

Oral Communication

HUM 1022-09

Humanities II

HUM 3122-02


MUSIC 1100-04

Soundscapes: Music in Culture

POL INTL 1024-02

International Relations

RELS 1020-04

Religions of the World

WGS 1040-02

Women's and Gender Studies

Other Honors Course Offerings

UNIV 1092-01

Presidential Scholars Seminar: Our Sonic Selves: Music, Meaning, Culture, and the Human Experience (1st Year Presidential Scholars ONLY)

UNIV 1092-02

Presidential Scholars Seminar: Sophomore Service Learning (2nd Year Presidential Scholars ONLY)

UNIV 2196-01

Seminar: Religion & Evolution

UNIV 2196-02

Seminar: Rethinking the Learning Society: Education and Its Possible Future(s)?

UNIV 4197-01

Honors Thesis

UNIV 4198-01

Honors Independent Study

Liberal Arts Core Class Descriptions

ANTH 1002-02  Introduction to Cultural Anthropology with Dr. Jian Li, 9:30-10:45 TTh

Fulfills LAC Category VA (class in the Honors Cottage)

Course Description:

Professor Biography:

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CAP 3152-02  Capstone: Complementary, Alternative, and Integrative Health with Dr. Catherine Zeman, 2:00-3:15 MW

Prerequisites: Junior Standing

Fulfills LAC Category VI (class in the Honors Cottage)

Course Description: This course will explore a comprehensive overview of complementary and alternative health modalities. Discussion will focus on what has been confirmed scientifically and what remains conjectural. Additionally, students will learn about alternative health modalities using a health case study “grand rounds” approach and work on an in-depth alternative health “care plan” project focusing on a health issue of their choosing. Select guest speakers will complement the lecture discussion portion of the course.

Professor Biography:  Dr. Zeman received her Ph.D. in Preventive Medicine with emphasis in Environmental and Occupational Health form the University of Iowa and a master’s in environmental science from Southern Illinois University. Her undergraduate background includes degrees in nursing, biology, and anthropology. She teaches classes in epidemiology, human diseases, environmental health, and environmental and occupational health regulations and human toxicology.

Her research interests include: nitrates in the environment and their impact on human health with focus on children’s health, industrial ecological principles of precision manufacturing, international health issues, understanding the health issues of underserved populations, environmental sustainability, workplace health and safety and wellness, and documenting pollution prevention practices on worker health and safety.

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COMM 1000-11 Oral Communication with Dr. Sadie Barfield, 9:30-10:45 TTh

Fulfills LAC Category IB

Course Description:  This course provides an opportunity to explore the Communication discipline.  We will to develop your researching and critical thinking skills.  Further, we will delve into the fundamentals of communication theory.  Finally, we will work to improve you communication skills in diverse environments.

Professor Biography:  The course is taught by Sade Barfield of the Communication Studies department.  Her current research interests include comic books and pop culture. She is also Director of the University of Northern Iowa Speech Team.  

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HUM 1022-09 Humanities II with Dr. AbbyLynn Helgevold, 8:00-9:15 TTh

Fulfills LAC Category IIA (class in the Honors Cottage)

Course Description: The question of the good life has concerned human beings for ages; it has been a major question in the minds of many of Western civilization’s most significant philosophers, artists, scientists, and theologians. We begin this course with the assumption that the question of the good human life is a question worth asking and we will turn to some of Western history’s most significant thinkers to help us understand the depth of this question and the broad range of possible responses. This course examines the historical context in which these historically significant figures lived. It explores the way that their cultural and social context influenced how these figures thought about the good life. We will study a variety of primary texts, in various forms, in an effort to see how these figures addressed one of our most important and elusive human questions. We engage in this study not only to understand the ways that they thought about the good life, but also to help us to think deeply about this question ourselves. Throughout the semester we will open ourselves up to the insights of those who came before us and to those of our contemporaries as we engage each other in thoughtful discussion about the nature of the good human life.  This course emphasizes discussion and in class participation, and offers an opportunity for students to strengthen oral presentation and leadership skills through student-led discussion assignments.

Professor Biography:  Abbylynn Helgevold is an Instructor of Applied Ethics and Humanities in the Department of Philosophy and World Religions. Dr. Helgevold received her Ph.D. in Religious Studies with an emphasis in Ethics, Politics, and Culture from the University of Iowa in 2013. She has been teaching at UNI since 2012 where she teaches Humanities I, II, and III and courses in applied ethics.

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HUM 3122-02 Japan with Dr. Reinier Hesselink, 12:30-1:45 TTh 

Fulfills LAC Category IIB (class in the Honors Cottage)

Course Description: This course addresses the essential components of Japanese Civilization, such as Buddhism, Confucianism, Court Culture, the Rise of the Warrior Class, the Amalgamation of Buddhism and Shinto, the Civil War, the Tokugawa Regime, Contact with the West, Early Modern Cultural Life, the Meiji Restoration, the Quest for Empire, the Pacific War, and Japan’s Postwar Period. In the beginning of the course, we will discuss the particular interests related to Japan of the students in this class and try to include those into the curriculum in some manner.

During the semester, students will write a 600-word paper on each of four books that will deepen their understanding of Japan and the Japanese. By the end of February, students should have determined a topic they want to research independently, and on which they will give a presentation to the whole class. By the end of the class, students are supposed to have written a 10-page paper on their chosen topic. Grading will be based on the four papers on the assigned reading materials (25%), the individual presentations (25%), the end-of-seminar papers (25%), and class participation (25%).

Professor Biography: Born and raised in the Netherlands, Reinier Hesselink did his undergraduate work at the University of Amsterdam and his graduate studies at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa (PhD 1992). He has taught Japanese history and culture at the University of Northern Iowa since 1995 ( Having lived in Japan for more than twelve years, he is fluent in Japanese. His main interest is in Japan’s relationship with the outside world in the early modern period (roughly between 1550 and 1850). He has published two research monographs on Japanese history in Dutch, one in Japanese, and to date two in English. Many of his other essays on Japanese history and culture in English, French, Dutch, and Japanese can be found on line at

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MUSIC 1100-04    Soundscapes: Music in Culture with Dr. Victor Acevedo, 11:00-11:50 MWF

Fulfills Liberal Arts Core requirement for Category IIIA

Course Description:  This course will focus on broadening students’ understanding and appreciation for various genres of music within a historical context. To this end, the course will help students to develop the necessary skills and knowledge to understand the different elements of music, how music has evolved through the years, the historical context in which music has evolved, and how we, as listeners, can appreciate music. Also, the course is designed to prepare students to listen to music in a meaningful way and be active participants in the listening process. During the course, students will have the opportunity to talk and describe their listening experiences using vocabulary that makes references to objective/analytical, affective/emotional, associative/metaphorical, and physical/ kinesthetic responses to music. As part of the musical experience in this course, students will have the opportunity to attend live concerts in the Schools of Music. Students will write concert reports to apply concepts learned in class.

Professor Biography:  Dr. Victor Acevedo is an instructor of music, undergraduate coordinator, and advisor for the School of Music at the University of Northern Iowa. A native of Puerto Rico, he received his B.M in Music Education from the Inter American University of P.R. Dr. Acevedo received his M.A. and M.F.A. degrees in Clarinet Performance, and a Ph.D. in Music Education from The University of Iowa. While at The University of Iowa, he studied conducting with Dr. William LaRue Jones and conducted the University of Iowa Chamber Orchestra. Dr. Acevedo research interests include Music Perception and Cognition. In his Dissertation, Dr. Acevedo took a developmental approach to study how children from different age groups listen to music and reasons for their preference decisions based on their perceptual, cognitive, and affective capacities.

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POL INTL 1024-02   International Relations with Dr. Evan Renfro, 1:00-1:50 MWF

Fulfills LAC Category VC

Course Description:  This course, styled from Oxford University’s pedagogical methodology, provides an intensive reading and discussion overview of International Relations. We will read 10 books, five of which are assigned: Stephen Kinzer’s Overthrow: America’s Century of Regime Change, From Hawaii to Iraq; Kurt Andersen’s Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire, A 500-Year History; Samantha Power’s A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide; Mearsheimer and Walt’s The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy; and Naomi Klein’s Shock Doctrine. The other five books will be tailored to the individual student’s interest and assigned in consultation with the Professor.

Key objectives:  1) understand the nature of international relations in the contemporary context 2) evaluate the role and toolbox of global policies and laws in historic and contemporary contexts and 3) analyze and critically evaluate instances of “winners and losers” in international relations.  Our ultimate goal will be to develop the knowledge and analytical skills that can make us better able to understand international relations, and even to act in international relations, either directly or through influencing American foreign policy, in whatever ways we may someday wish.

Professor Biography:  Evan Renfro is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Northern Iowa. A former U.S. Air Force intelligence analyst, Dr. Renfro received his B.A. and M.A. from the University of Texas at Austin, and Ph.D. from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. While at UT, he was awarded the Churchill Scholarship. Before coming to Northern Iowa, Dr. Renfro was a Fleet Professor at the United States Naval War College in Pearl Harbor, HI, where he taught the seminar on Strategy and War. With a research agenda focused on the nexus of international security and culture, Dr. Renfro has published in such outlets as the International Journal of Cultural Studies; Marine Corps Gazette; Joint Force Quarterly; and Cultural Studies.

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RELS 1020-04 Religions of the World with Dr. John Burnight, 10:00-10:50 MWF

Fulfills LAC Category IIIB (class in the Honors Cottage)

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 BiographyJohn 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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WGS 1040-02 Women's and Gender Studies with Dr. Elizabeth Sutton, 11:00-12:15 TTh

Fulfills LAC Category VA - (class in the 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 recently finished editing Women Artists and Patrons in the Netherlands, 1400-1700 for University of Amsterdam Pressand has published Art, Animals, and Experience: Relationships to Canines and the Natural World (Routledge, 2017), Capitalism and Cartography in the Dutch Golden Age (Chicago, 2015), and Early Modern Dutch Prints of Africa (Ashgate, 2012). Her current interests are in feminist scholarship and pedagogy as tools of empowerment.

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Honors Seminar and Elective Descriptions

UNIV 1092-01  Presidential Scholars Seminar: Our Sonic Selves: Music, Meaning, Culture, and the Human Experience with Dr. Randall Harlow, 2:00-3:50 Th 

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

Course Description: This seminar deconstructs the aphorism, "music is a universal language," demonstrating that music is not a language, and that very little about music is universal. Rather, we will see how music occupies a distinct cognitive sphere and is fundamental to human thought and evolution. We will explore interdisciplinary perspectives to trace the cognitive and cultural factors shaping our perception of meaning in musical sound. In doing so we will discover that what little is universal in music provides deep insight into ourselves as human beings and our place as culturally situated individuals. The seminar will revolve around weekly readings and listenings, group discussions and student-lead presentations.

Professor Biography:  Randall Harlow is Assistant Professor of Organ and Music Theory in the School of Music. An active concert organist with one CD released and two others forthcoming this year, he often focuses on innovative and challenging new repertoire. As a scholar, he has presented at numerous international conferences, as well as Cornell, Harvard, and Oxford Universities. Dr. Harlow's research focuses on the convergence of cognitive and social factors in the construction of musical meaning in listeners and performers. In addition, he is working on projects utilizing digital technology to engage society with acoustic music in innovative new ways. 

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

**2 credit hour seminar – Sophomore Presidential Scholars ONLY (class in the 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: Religion & Evolution with Drs. Jerome Soneson & Steve O'Kane, 2:00-3:15 TTh

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

Course Description:  In 1859 Alfred Russel Wallace and Charles Darwin unveiled their Theory of Natural Selection. Later in the year, Darwin published his landmark book, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection. In this book, he offered the world a picture of how species change and how new species emerge by natural mechanisms. Soon, some saw that this challenged traditional Western religious ideas of nature and everything in it as the exclusive creation by God. The picture Darwin offered was that the emergence of species didn’t require divine intervention, but that the natural world itself contained all that was needed.

In the United States, at the beginning of the 20th Century, this provoked the development of the Christian Fundamentalist Movement which vigorously opposed Darwin’s ideas. Since that point, various Christian evangelical movements have joined ranks with fundamentalists, and this has led, at various times and places, to efforts either to prohibit the teaching of evolution in public schools, or adding an account of biblical creation, as described in Genesis, but now presented as “creation science” or “intelligent design.”  The conflict represented here is serious enough to have led some religious persons to reject their own religious background. Other Christians and many Jews and Muslims, however, have found ways of living comfortably with both evolution and their own religious ideas. Especially creative persons, in fact, have sought way to reconcile the two traditions.

In this course, we’ll be looking at this conflict between evolution and traditional religion, and some of the more interesting ways that people have responded. At the heart of the course, we’ll be examining the theory of evolution, as biologists understand it today, and the doctrine of religious creation, as religious persons have thought about it, seeking to unpack and evaluate their philosophical assumptions. Is the only possibility between these two traditions conflict, or are there ways to see how they might be reconciled? And perhaps more interestingly, is it possible, as one way of reconciling these ideas, to use the concept of evolution to understand more adequately the way religion actually functions in the world today, including those times when religious people either ignore, oppose or embrace scientific work?

This course will be conducted as a seminar, with student discussion centered around questions about, and insights into, the readings that they bring to class. During the semester, students will also be working on projects having to do with themes discussed in class, which they will present during the last weeks of the course. The seminar leaders will present and so help explain some of the more complicated ideas having to do with the two traditions discussed in this course. Instructors: Professor O’Kane from Biology, and Professor Soneson from Philosophy and World Religions. 

Professors 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 co-teach honors courses with other faculty, since the various perspectives of the faculty often provoke excellent discussion among the students.   

Dr. O'Kane has a Ph.D. in Evolutionary and Population Biology and is plant systematist whose research has taken him to many places on planet earth: Mexico, Alaska, Japan, Siberia, Taiwan, and Western and Eastern Europe. His research includes classical studies, like the flora of parts of the western United States, and molecular studies in several groups of plants. He frequently works on threatened and endangered plant projects, spends a lot of time living out of a tent, is an amateur-semi-professional photographer, and plays guitar. He has led a Study Abroad course in New Zealand and plans to lead one next spring in the Galapagos Islands. Courses taught include Ecology; Plant Systematics; Biogeography & Origins of Diversity; Evolution, Ecology & the Nature of Science; Advanced Systematics and Evolution; and non-majors courses like Life: the Natural World and its lab. If you also take the lab associated with this course, you’ll find that Dr. O’Kane is the principle author the lab manual.

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UNIV 2196-02 Honors Seminar: Rethinking the Learning Society: Education and Its Possible Future(s)? with Dr. Gregory Bourassa, 3:30-4:45 TTh

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

Course Description:  This interdisciplinary discussion-based seminar sets out to explore the present state of education, its past – which continues to haunt us – and its possible future(s). We will consider the relationship between education – broadly conceived – and society. This involves unpacking the taken-for-granted presuppositions about school, work, and society. We will contemplate what it means to be in a learning society – one in which the very emphasis on learning commodifies the process of education and where schooling becomes an industry in and of itself. The pathway to success, we are told, awaits us through investments in education. For many, this entails taking out exorbitant loans, which collectively function as a form of social control. Together, we will consider alternative educational logics that might trouble the very construction of students as learners and challenge the idea of learning as a taken-for-granted good. Such an approach is sure to foreground pressing educational problems and concerns, and chart pathways for inquiry and exploration into the question of the future(s) of education, and how an alternative educational logic might prefigure an alternative future.

Professor Biography: Greg enjoys spending time with family, teaching, taking walks, playing guitar, reading, writing, and dreaming of a better world.

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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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