The Honors Seminars
Honors Seminars

Spring 2017 Honors Seminars

The honors seminars are at the core of the Honors Program. Every semester the program offers a wide array of small seminar-style classes drawn from across the disciplines. Honors seminars are taught by some of the best and most dedicated faculty at Marist.  

The Honors Program offers both upper-division thematic and civic and service learning seminars. Thematic seminars are devoted to a particular academic problem or topic. Civic and service learning seminars (CSL) focus on projects that effect positive change inside and outside of the classroom.  

Below is a sample of recent honors seminars with course descriptions:

The Bright Side and Dark Side of Close Relationships (CSL)
Dr. Jen Eden

Close friendships and romantic relationships can bring us a great deal of joy and happiness but also can be sources of frustration, conflict, and pain. The negotiation of the start of a relationship can be fun but also raises uncertainty. Maintaining close relationships can lead to long fulfilling connections but often requires a lot of hard work and effort. Finally, terminating a relationship can allow both parties more fulfilling lives but often results in hurt and sadness. In this course, we will identify the challenges we face in our closest relationships as well as some of the ways we can use positive communication to improve those interactions.

The Ethics of Food (CSL)
Dr. Joseph Campisi

After first examining a variety of ethical theories put forth in the philosophical tradition, such as utilitarianism, deontology and virtue ethics, students in this course will then explore ethical questions related to the production, distribution and consumption of food. For example, what obligations, if any, do we have to people who are hungry or starving? Is it ethical to consume meat or food products that come from non-human animals? Is it ethical to genetically modify plants and non-human animals? Should genetically modified foods be labeled as such? What moral obligations, if any, do we have to practice certain forms of agriculture, to eat organic or to eat locally?

Free Will and Science
Dr. Andrei Buckareff

Many regard the concept of free will to be central to their understanding of what it means to be a person. Philosophers have found the problems revolving around how we should understand free will and whether ordinary humans possess any species of free will perplexing for at least two thousand years. The philosophical theories of what is involved in exercising the sort of free will required for moral agency that have resulted are legion.  Recently, a growing number of neuroscientists and psychologists have turned their attention to the free will problem.   Just like philosophers, they do not all speak with one voice.  However, the ones who have received the most attention have been those who have declared that their findings show that both free will and our conception of ourselves as moral agents are an illusion.  The declarations of these researchers raise a host of issues and questions.  In this course, after laying some philosophical groundwork by examining some of the most prominent theories of free will defended today, we will critically examine some of the data used to support various hypotheses about human agency along with the responses to various findings offered by neuroscientists, philosophers, and psychologists.

Medical Botany
Dr. Zofia Gagnon

The course focuses on research and development of therapies for use in complementary and alternative and conventional medicines, utilizing natural plant products and their derivatives.  Poisonous, medicinal and therapeutic plants, with an emphasis on their biologically active constituents, will be examined. The course will integrate basic human anatomy and physiology with the pharmacological effect of plant compounds on specific organs, allowing students to learn and understand the role of medicinal plants in the context of human health.

Gettysburg: Memory and Memorialization

Dr. Nicholas Marshall and Prof. Mark Morreale

This course examines historical and literary memory, both in the ways perceptions of gender, race and class were formed (and transformed) by memory of the American Civil War, and how more recent sensibilities have reshaped these points of identity.  Students will explore these issues fictionally, historically, and culturally by examining a variety of materials: including public history, poetry, fiction, art and film.  What types of stresses did the mid- to late 19th Century put upon American culture, especially as those stresses impacted upon the relations between races and genders and how did these issues change over time?  How did men and women define themselves in this crisis-laden age and how did those definitions inform the ways we see ourselves today?  Readings will include 19th, 20th, and 21st century texts.  Assignments will include creative projects, literary criticism, and historical research.  The highlight of the course will be an April trip to the Gettysburg battlefield and museum, especially pertinent because the Gettysburg National Military Park will be commemorating the Civil War’s sesquicentennial, yet another way we remember and memorialize the past.