Course Directory

University Honors Program Spring 2021 Courses

 Spring 2021 Advising Information

Liberal Arts Core

BIOL 1014-04

Life: Continuity and Change

CAP 3131-01

Capstone: Analysis of Social Issues

COMM 1000-10

Oral Communication  

EDPSYCH 2030-02

Dynamics of Human Development

HUM 1021-11

Humanities I

HUM 3122-01

Non-Western Culture: Japan

MUSIC 1100-07

Soundscapes: What (and How) Does Music Mean?

POL INTL 1024-05 & 5A

International Relations

Other Honors Course Offerings

UNIV 1092-01

Presidential Scholars Seminar: B.S. Detection (1st Year Presidential Scholars ONLY)

UNIV 1092-02

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

UNIV 2196-01

Seminar: Portraits: Digital Culture: Addiction, Privacy and Surveillance

UNIV 2196-02

Seminar: Perspectives on Race, Power, and Education

UNIV 4197-01

Honors Thesis

UNIV 4198-01

Honors Independent Study

Liberal Arts Core Class Descriptions


BIOL 1014-04  Life: Continuity and Change with Dr. Kimberly Cline-Brown, 9:30-10:45 TTh

Fulfills LAC Category IV

Course Description:  How can understanding the processes of science help you navigate through life’s decisions? Are you interested in how YOU work? This non-biology majors course focuses on cells, genetics, and diseases. We will explore topics such as our immune system and diseases, human genetic conditions, how cells become cancerous, research methodologies/limitations/and funding, environment and our health, as well as assess current and possible future treatments for human conditions -- all the whilst developing a toolbox of skills that will help us think more insightfully about our careers and lives. This class will attempt, as possible, group discussions, interactive lessons, in-class activities, and short presentations/summary papers. 

Professor Biography:  Dr. Kimberly Cline-Brown is a member of the Department of Biology where she specializes in teaching non-major biology courses. She has a BA in Psychology from SUNY Plattsburgh and received her Ph.D. in Biology with Distinction from the University of New Mexico. Her research interest was in Evolutionary Medicine and she was an intern at the Mississippi Department of Mental Health. In addition, she did research for pharmaceutical companies in the Baltimore/D.C. area before coming to UNI.  She has also assisted with Field Ecology courses at Gerace Research Center in the Bahamas and at the Flathead Lake Biological Station in Montana. Dr. Cline-Brown loves taking an interdisciplinary approach and showing students how basic biology concepts apply to their daily lives. In her current free time, Dr. Cline-Brown tries to avoid the Covid-19 virus, but does also enjoy kayaking, hiking, traveling, trying different foods, and attempting to keep up with the shenanigans of her kids and dogs.

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CAP 3131-01  Capstone: Analysis of Social Issues with Dr. David Grant, 11:00-11:50 (M On-line) MWF 

Prerequisites: Junior Standing

Fulfills LAC Category VI  

Course Description:  How do we tackle "wicked" issues like the Covid-19 pandemic, global warming, and providing clean water that are both social and natural? Might our environmental and social crises be a result of our discourse about these things? What can be done about the problems that affect us all but only a few seem to want to admit? 

This course follows Margaret Mead's oft-cited belief that we should "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has" by engaging with the Cedar Valley community, analyzing its needs, and understanding problems from an ecological perspective. Through readings and service-learning partnerships, students will analyze issues affecting their community, understand both causes and challenges to these issues, and use backwards design to develop a project in conjunction with a community partner. 

This capstone immerses students in the integrated humanistic and scientific learning advocated by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; the National Science Foundation; and the American Association of Colleges and Universities. As such, students will be able to tell not only what they know, but what they value, and how that connects to the needs of a community or organization. 

Professor Biography:  David M. Grant is Associate Professor of rhetoric in the Department of Languages and Literatures. He has taught at UNI since 2007 when he moved here from Madison, WI. He has also taught in Minnesota and Flagstaff, AZ and has researched the human language - natural environment interface throughout his career. He is currently on a team of UNI faculty developing an online, interactive fiction tool to be used in STEM education. The project is funded by NASA through the Iowa Space Grant Consortium.

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COMM 1000-10  Oral Communication with Dr. Kyle Rudick, 12:00-1:15 MW

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:  My teaching over the past four years has evolved to include a broad set of commitments and values. My pedagogy is characterized by my emphasis on democratic virtues, service-learning, and social justice. These ethics are grounded in the ideal that education should encourage students to broaden their intellectual and ethical horizons, and realize a society built on justice and peace. However, those concepts, I have found, are only possible in a world where people can identify or agree upon facts, can reason from facts to decisions, and dialogue with each other until the broadest coalition of consensus can be obtained to implement those decisions. Therefore, I place heavy emphasis on information literacy, formal argumentation, and critical thought. Thinking rigorously takes practice and can be uncomfortable. And, worse, there are large segments of society that strive to bar that progress, and cast down the dream of the Enlightenment. However, I have faith that students are willing, eager, and prepared to make their dreams—of eradicating hunger, solving climate change, ending poverty, and so much more— a reality. I can only hope that my efforts, within and beyond the classroom, can give them tools to secure that future for themselves and those that come after them.

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EDPSYCH 2030-02  Dynamics of Human Development with Dr. Dessy Stoycheva, 3:30-4:45 TTh

Fulfills LAC Category VC

Course Description:  Students in this course will examine the social contexts of human development (0-18 years of age) and the theoretical perspectives that inform our understanding of development.  In particular, cross-cultural lenses will be used to uncover the cultural nature of development.  Implications of these perspectives for supporting the development of individuals across multiple domains (e.g., physical, cognitive, psychosocial) will be discussed. Examination of diverse viewpoints, theories, and methods of inquiry provide an avenue for students to develop skills in critical thinking and analysis and communicate their findings both orally and in writing.

The assignments for the course are designed in accordance with the main goals of the course. They focus on: developing skills for researching a topic and providing a summary of findings, analyzing scholarly articles and a documentary, discussing related issues regularly, and making connections to real life experiences.

Professor Biography:  Dr. Dessy Stoycheva has been teaching at the Department of Educational Psychology, Foundations, and Leadership Studies since 2017. Prior to UNI, Dr. Stoycheva was a psychology instructor at Hawkeye Community College, a literacy tutor and a Graduate Research Assistant at the Richard O. Jacobson Center for Comprehensive Literacy, and an EFL teacher in Europe.

She received her BAE in Linguistics from the University of Veliko Turnovo, Bulgaria, her MAE in Educational Psychology from the University of Northern Iowa, and her Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Northern Iowa.

Dr. Stoycheva’s broad research interests are in the field of educational psychology with a focus on cognitive development and learning theories. She teaches Learning and Motivation in Classroom Contexts, Dynamics of Human Development, and Development of the Middle School Child courses where she translates the theoretical foundations into classroom strategies and instructional practices. Additionally, Dr. Stoycheva has conducted research on STEAM education, reading comprehension, and psychology of interpersonal forgiveness.

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HUM 1021-11  Humanities I with Dr. Jerry Soneson, 10:00-10:50 (On-line) MWF

Fulfills LAC Category IIA

Course Description:  This 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 beginnings 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 presentations.

Professor Biography:  Dr. Jerry Soneson, who came to UNI in 1991, has 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," and the honors capstone course, "The Holocaust in Literature and Film;" he also has co-taught the Honors Seminars, "The Idea of the University," "Moral Education in Literature and Film," and "Religion and Evolution."  Specializing in philosophy, religion and ethics during the Modern Period, he likes to ask, to think and 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.   He also is a dog lover -- having had a handful of Great Danes and Labs.  He cultivates trees, especially Japanese Maples, which he keeps in the garage over the winter, and he loves to vacation in Florida, where he shares a home with his sweetheart.  And while he's not fond of the Florida summer heat, he is grateful for the moderate temperatures during winter and spring breaks which bring a relief from the Iowa winter cold, snow and ice.    

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HUM 3122-01  Non-Western Culture: Japan with Dr. Reinier Hesselink, 9:30-10:45 TTh       

Fulfills LAC Category IIB 

Course Description:  This course addresses the essential components of Japanese Civilization, such as Prehistoric Japan, 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 three 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 three 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 and one in Japanese. His two other books, Prisoners from Nambu (2002) and The Dream of Christian Nagasaki (2016), both available in ROD library, are popular as reading assignments for courses on Japanese civilization and history on campuses all over the Unites States. 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 1100-07  Soundscapes: What (and How) Does Music Mean? with Dr. Jonathan Chenoweth, 6:00-8:50pm M eve 

Fulfills LAC Category IIIA

Course Description:   Your relationship with music began before your earliest memories, and probably before you were born. This course is designed to build on that birthright, and your subsequent musical experiences, in order to help you become an even more versatile and confident listener. Our listening will be highly eclectic and incorporate recommendations from the class. My deepest wish is that you will want to use your expanded listening skills regularly, on all sorts of music, building on them throughout your life.

The familiar “universal language” label has a way of obscuring the many ways in which people make sense of the sounds and behaviors we call music, and if something is “music to my ears” that doesn’t necessarily make it your jam. But musicking contributes an essential dimension to human identity and well-being, and we call upon it to do important work in our lives. It offers an opportunity for us to feel aligned with each other and to know something of our own or another’s experience. We will engage these possibilities directly, and develop our capacity to analyze and verbally articulate something compelling about such experiences.

This course is for you whether or not you have engaged in formal musical study or participated in organized musical activities. The essential musical credential is your humanity. Course activities will include building and responding to playlists, dabbling in composition, and delving into the work of constructing musical meaning as a listener. We will use specifications grading practices and open source materials; the only required purchase will be a Spotify account. This link will lead you to an article (about appreciating visual art) that reflects the attitude I’d like us to bring to our work together.

Professor Biography:  Jonathan Chenoweth is UNI’s Professor of Cello and Interim Director of the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning. As a cellist, he has performed in 25 states and internationally, toured and recorded with a string quartet (best job ever!), and appeared with the likes of Yo Yo Ma, Ella Fitzgerald, Smokey Robinson, and John Cage. Prior to his appointment at UNI, he taught at Penn State University, Truman State University, and Augustana University. In many ways, he feels the same buzz before and during classes that he has felt on stage. It’s all about connecting, and about celebrating the uniquely human capacity to “musick.”

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POL INTL 1024-05(Monday) & 5A(Wednesday)  International Relations with Dr. Evan Renfro, 12:00-12:50 MW + Hybrid  

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 seven books. The student will choose five of the following texts: To Start a War: How the Bush Administration Took America Into Iraq, by Robert Draper (Penguin Press, 2020); Vanguard: How Black Women Broke Barriers, Won the Vote, and Insisted on Equality for All, by Martha S. Jones (Basic Books, 2020); An Open World: How America Can Win the Contest for Twenty-First Century Order, by Rebecca Lissner and Mira Rapp-Hooper (Yale University Press, 2020); A World Safe for Democracy: Liberal Internationalism and the Crises of Global Order, by G. John Ikenberry (Yale University Press, 2020); Our Bodies, Their Battlefield: War Through the Lives of Women, by Christina Lamb (Scribner, 2020); Strategic Instincts: The Adaptive Advantages of Cognitive Biases in International Politics, by Dominic D.P. Johnson (Princeton University Press, 2020); Isolationism: A History of America's Efforts to Shield Itself From the World, by Charles A. Kupchan (Oxford University Press, 2020). The other two books will be tailored to the individual student’s interest and assigned in consultation with the Professor.

Course Objectives:

1. Identify and explain the fundamental concepts and theories for studying international relations. 

2. Apply these concepts and theories to real-world situations. 

3. Use these concepts and theories to develop persuasive arguments and make reasoned judgments about the key debates in international politics

Professor Biography:  Evan “Doc” 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, Doc 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. Doc also loves teaching and was recently awarded the University of Northern Iowa Outstanding Teaching Award.

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Honors Seminar and Elective Descriptions

UNIV 1092-01  Presidential Scholars Seminar: B.S. Detection with Dr. Evan Renfro, 1:00-1:50 MW  

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

Course Description:  This course, designed for Presidential Scholars early in their University careers, seeks to understand what in the hell is happening in the world, and what to do about it. This course is not about what to think. It is about how to think. The class is both intellectually provocative, and existentially necessary. We professors often talk about critical thinking. But what, exactly, does that mean? Specifically, we come to terms with the notion of Bullshit, as analyzed by Princeton Philosophy Professor Frankfurt. In this course we will take the special opportunity to slow down, to read some interesting books focused on these issues, to read about current events, to talk.

Beginning with Frankfurt’s On Bullshit (Princeton University Press) we will learn how Bullshit is different than simple lying, for example. Theorizing Bullshit will give us the foundation to proceed with our next book, A Lot of People are Saying: The New Conspiracism and the Assault on Democracy, which is about how these times aren’t as bad as they seem—they are actually much worse, but maybe, just maybe, things can get better. This book is by political scientists Russel Muirhead of Dartmouth and Nancy Rosenblum of Harvard (Princeton University Press). Building on that, we’ll turn to University of California-Irvine Philosophy Professor Aaron James’ book, Assholes: A Theory. What is an asshole? Why, and how, are there so many assholes affecting us? Are we sometimes assholes? What’s to be done about it? Our last required text is Letters to a Young Contrarian, by journalist, and iconoclast Christopher Hitchens, an Oxford man. This book is written to you. It is meant to help you think about how you think. Young, smart, students, just beginning their serious journey in higher education often crave, and certainly need, mentorship in how to navigate a confusing world. This book, as well as the others, are meant to contribute to our discussion on figuring this shit out.

Professor Biography:  Evan “Doc” 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, Doc 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. Doc also loves teaching and was recently awarded the University of Northern Iowa Outstanding Teaching Award.

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UNIV 1092-02  Presidential Scholars Seminar: Sophomore Service Learning with Dr. Jessica Moon, 4:00-4:50pm T + arr

**2 credit hour seminar – Sophomore Presidential Scholars ONLY 

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: Digital Culture: Addiction, Privacy and Surveillance with Dr. Bettina Fabos, (On-line) 12:30-1:45 TTh

**3 credit hour seminar - Sophomore standing  

Course Description:  This seminar gets you to begin thinking seriously about how the Web connects us and what kinds of digital innovations are shaping our future. You will analyze your personal relationship with technology (is there a chance you might be addicted?) and learn about the Internet as a positive, socially-networked sphere with a thriving creative commons. Through a series of individual challenges about your daily use and privacy settings, you will begin to consider how being increasingly connected to digital tools is affecting your daily life. Applying theory to practice, you’ll also engage with the vast Wikipedia community, and take part in a publicly-minded digital culture project. 

For most of the course, however, you will begin to see the dark side of our hyper-connected world: a digital culture plagued with questions about technology addiction, copyright, waste, government and corporate controls, and ethical issues about privacy and digital citizenship. A lot of this will come as no surprise to have probably already noticed that you might mention a product out loud --something as innocuous as Oreos--and all of a sudden you see an ad related to Oreos in your social media feed. What is going on? You will find out, and we will investigate new trends together. 

Part of our exploration of digital culture will be through novels. We’ll be reading the dystopian novel The Circle and connect it to the more famous dystopian novel, 1984. We’ll also be reading current articles and viewing a wide selection of short documentaries. Because I try to keep this course as current as possible, many of the articles, videos and podcasts you’ll be reading, watching, and listening to will come from just a few months ago. I might even switch out an article for a more recent one if I think there are important developments we need to know and talk about. These constantly changing developments are what keeps me on my toes and what I hope will keep the class really interesting. This seminar directly affects YOUR LIFE, now and for the future, and will likely change the way you think about technology.

Professor Biography:  Bettina Fabos is a Professor of Visual Communication and Interactive Digital Studies at the University of Northern Iowa. Her work revolves around digital culture, digital visualization, digital photo archiving, and the communication of historical narrative and public memory. As a scholar and award-winning producer of digital culture, Fabos recently co-founded Fortepan Iowa (, a digital archive of amateur photographs on 20th-century Iowa life based on the Hungarian Fortepan ( She is also project director of an exhaustive interactive timeline on Hungarian history (Proud and Torn: A Visual Memoir of Hungarian History— that uniquely combines photomontage, public history, and graphic memoir to tell the story of modern Hungary.

Dr. Fabos has written extensively about the role of the U.S. media in democracy and Internet commercialization, and is co-author of the leading introduction to mass communication textbook, Media and Culture (Bedford/St. Martin’s), which is used in mass communication survey classes across the U.S., and two other textbooks, Media Essentials (2014) and Media in Society (2013).

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UNIV 2196-02  Honors Seminar: Perspectives on Race, Power, and Education with Dr. Greg Bourassa, 2:00-4:50 W  

**3 credit hour seminar - Sophomore standing  

Course Description:  Perspectives on Race, Power, and Education is a multidisciplinary seminar that will rely heavily on group discussion. We will collectively explore the historical development of settler colonialism and racial capitalism by focusing on specific processes and struggles over land, labor, knowledge, culture, and power. We will examine the hidden and not-so-hidden forces that animate both white supremacy as a sociopolitical system of racial ordering and coloniality as an enduring matrix of power. We will consider the role of schooling in producing and sustaining colonial differences that mark some beings as more human, and thus more valuable, and more worthy of protection than others. Finally, we will study alternative projects of liberation, abolition, and decolonization that are vital for creating alternative futures.

Professor Biography:   I am an educational theorist and my research explores the intersections and operations of power, capital, and racial logics in schools. 

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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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