Fall 2015 Honors Seminars

Seminar Registration for Fall Semester begins: April 15th at NOON


If you try to register for seminars before that day and time, you will be unable to add the class. Also, the system will exclude you from the wait list after the class is full. If openings become available after a seminar is full, Honors staff will contact those on the wait list.

Reference numbers will be posted a couple of days prior to registration.

Make sure you plan ahead and take the number of required Honors courses and seminars as prescribed by your college Honors committee. Don't wait until your last year to meet the requirements because you may find that you will have some scheduling conflicts.

Important: Attendance at Honors seminars is expected. Be sure to read the entire seminar description and requirements. Be courteous and notify your instructor in advance if you are unable to attend class.

Check back regularly for updates.

HON 321A, Are You What You Eat?Tuesday, 1:10-2:00 p.m., 1 credit, Enrollment limit: 17, Location TBD, Ref. No. 4626005.

What nutrients are essential for life, and what foods and food supplements will improve quality of life? Why? Why not? This seminar will emphasize the role of nutrition provided by food and food supplements in promoting a healthy life through the prevention of diseases and disorders. The physiological function of nutrients and the provision of those nutrients by common foods will be the topic of the first part of the course. Then, the role of nutraceuticals as food supplements in a healthy life will be emphasized. We will discuss popular topics of nutrition in 15-minute oral presentations. By the end of the semester, you will be in a stronger position to make difficult decisions about your diet composition and supplementation, and to evaluate nutrition information advertised on TV, magazines, and the internet.

About the Instructor: Don Beitz, Distinguished Professor of Agriculture, has taught biochemistry (e.g., BBMB 420 and BBMB 405) for over four decades. In addition, he teaches an Agricultural Biotechnology Colloquium for Scholarship for Excellence students in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. His research program focuses on the application of molecular biology and biochemistry to animal food production and animal diseases. He has participated actively in Honors programs (e.g., First-Year Mentor, research projects, seminar teacher, and advisor) throughout his tenure at Iowa State.


HON 321B, Christianity & ScienceThursday, 11:00 a.m.-12:50 p.m., 1st Half, 1 credit, International Perspectives Credit, Enrollment limit: 17, Location TBD, Ref. No. 4627005.

Religion and science, two of the greatest forces that influence mankind, are generally interested in different aspects of reality. Science addresses “how” questions while religion answers “why” questions. However, an area of common interest is the origin and history of life. In this seminar we will explore the interaction and boundaries between science and theology in this area of common interest through the writings of well-known scientists and theologians with expertise in these areas. We will discuss weekly reading assignments not only to develop critical thinking skills but also to learn more about 1) the nature and practice of science, 2) different views about the interaction of science and theology, and 3) boundaries between science and worldviews with common interests with science.

About the Instructor: Thomas S. Ingebritsen is an Associate Professor Emeritus in the Department of Genetics, Development and Cell Biology. He received a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from Indiana University in 1979. He did bench research for more than 20 years, primarily in the area of signal transduction. He also was Director of the LAS Center for On-Line Learning. As a scientist and a Christian, Dr. Ingebritsen has a strong interest in this seminar topic.


HON 321C, Leadership Essentials: College Years and BeyondWednesday, 3:10-5:00 p.m., 1st Half, 1 credit, Enrollment limit: 17, Location TBD, Ref. No. 4628005.

This course will allow you to explore personal values and goals, recognize sources of empowerment and encouragement of others, and survey a variety of leadership approaches and styles. You will leave the course with a better understanding of "self” and how leadership fits into your daily life as well as your life as an Honors student.

About the Instructor: Cameron C. Beatty is a lecturer in leadership education and program adviser for the Leadership Studies Program with the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics. He graduated in summer 2014 from Iowa State with a Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration and a Graduate Certificate in Social Justice Education. He earned a Master's in Higher Education Student Affairs and a Bachelor's in Sociology and African and African American Diaspora Studies, both from Indiana University. Cameron has taught three previous Honors Seminars focused on leadership. Melissa Moy, a sophomore in Biology, is also working toward graduating in the Honors Program and obtaining the Community Leadership and Public Service Certificate.


HON 321D, Making Decisions for Real Life ProblemsMonday, 6:10-8:00 p.m., 1st Half, 1 credit, Enrollment limit: 17, Location TBD, Ref. No. 4629005.

Each of us makes several important decisions in our lives, decisions which can drive or determine our future. Decision-making is an important real-life skill, and some decisions are more complicated than we think. On the other hand, there are decision-making tools that help you determine which option best fits your needs. In this seminar, you will become familiar with some simple tools to help you in the decision-making process. These tools and techniques can be used, for example, to select the best car, home, or job based on your needs, or even which major is best for you.

About the Instructor: Mostafa F. Fawzy is a research assistant and a Ph.D. candidate in Industrial Engineering. His research interests focus on developing a decision-making support system for complex problems such as energy manufacturing. He is also interested in use of lean principles in organizational transformation, and development of strategic planning and performance. As a consultant and development engineer, he worked in Saudi Arabia on quality management and project management.


HON 321E, Resonance: Intersections between Music and ArchitectureMonday & Wednesday, 10:00-10:50 a.m., 2 credits, International Perspectives Credit, Enrollment limit: 17, Location TBD, Ref. No. 4630005.

In this seminar we will study the relation between music and architecture throughout history, from the Paleolithic era to contemporary interdisciplinary collaborations. You will learn about the advantages and pitfalls of interdisciplinary work through the lens of two apparently opposite disciplines: music as the most ephemeral, non-material art, and architecture, the most concrete and material-based. Classes are organized around instructor-based lectures, student-initiated discussions and questions, and short campus-based field trips. As part of the class you will be asked to do a brief presentation toward the end of the semester about a research topic of your choice that explores the relations between music and architecture.

About the Instructors: Mikesch Muecke, Associate Professor of Architecture, teaches design studios, history/theory/culture seminars, and digital design courses. In his most recent research he has been working on the intersection of film, architecture, and sound. Miriam Zach, organist, harpsichordist, and musicologist, is Assistant Professor in the Honors Program at the University of Florida where she teaches courses on music history and music & health. With degrees from Northwestern and the University of Chicago, she frequently performs baroque music, maintains her own music studio, and works with women composers internationally.


HON 321F, Ethical EatingWednesday, 12:10-2:00 p.m., 1st Half, 1 credit, Enrollment limit: 17, Location TBD, Ref. No. 4631005.

“Ethical Eating” explores the ethical implications of the food choices we make. For example, if we choose to eat meat where does that meat come from, under what conditions were the animals raised and what are the environmental consequences of animal production? What are our ethical obligations with regard to the welfare of animals, the workers who process our food and the environment? What are the concerns with industrial agriculture? Do farm subsidy programs create a food system that promotes consumer and environmental health?

The objective of the course is to increase awareness of the stories behind the foods that are available. With knowledge of those stories we can begin to apply an ethical framework to the choices of what foods to eat. The seminar will consist of readings for each week followed by a discussion, viewing of several videos, discussion with visiting speakers, a field trips to a farm, and a presentation by each participant on the ethics of a particular food item. The course will end with a potluck meal at the instructors’ home.

About the Instructors: Barbara Pleasants served many years on the ISU Animal Care Committee and teaches courses on Comparative Anatomy, Human Biology, General Biology and the Holocaust. She has also taught an Honors seminar on “Issues in Biology and Medicine.”

John Pleasants teaches Environmental Biology, Human Biology and General Biology, and has co-taught the Honors seminar on “Issues in Biology and Medicine.” His research is in the area of the environmental effects of GMO’s.


HON 321G, EntrepreneurshipTuesday, 3:40-5:30 p.m., 1st Half, 1 credit, Enrollment limit: 24, Location TBD, Ref. No. 4632005.

This seminar is designed to help you acquire sound business acumen. It will include a series of lectures on business models for different types of businesses. You will be able to interact directly with business professionals and learn from their expertise in this field. You’ll become familiar with the overall business environment, brainstorm start-up ideas, and understand legal and capital needs for various kinds of business organizations.

About the Instructor: Shoba Premkumar, a Senior Lecturer in the College of Business, will coordinate this seminar. Guest speakers will include Ron Hallenbeck, Executive Vice President, Ames Economic Development Commission; Nick Johnson, owner/manager of Ames Ford Lincoln; Dave Tucker, director of Product Development for Web Filings; Rick Brimeyer, President, Brimeyer LLC and Eugene T. Hibbs, owner, Little Caesar’s of Ames.


HON 321H, Food Processing: Convenience, Health and PoliticsMonday, 3:10-5:00 p.m., 1st Half, 1 credit, Enrollment limit: 17, Location TBD, Ref. No. 4633005.

In this seminar we’ll examine the vast array of processed food products in the retail market with regard to nutrition, convenience and food politics. First we’ll learn about the history and basics of food processing and discuss how some common food products are made. We’ll then put our favorite processed foods and brands to the test, consuming the products and comparing company claims with the food label’s list of ingredients. We will also compare similar food products from the same company or a competitor to learn which is a healthier choice for consumers. Finally, we’ll discuss how food manufacturing companies create demand for these products.

About the Instructor: Jasreen Grewal, a post-doc in Food Science and Human Nutrition, has a Ph.D. in Biosystems Engineering (Food Processing) and currently works in an interdepartmental research team to develop an integrated corn-soy biorefinery. Her research focuses on process development and biobased product development from agricultural and food industry waste. Jasreen also has a keen interest in teaching methods that bridge the gap between theory and practice and encourage collaborative learning.


HON 321J, Learning Habits of Thinking (HoT)Wednesday, 2:10-3:00 p.m., 1 credit, Enrollment limit: 17, Location TBD, Ref. No. 4634010.

In this seminar, we will discuss some readings on the topics of “Habits of Mind” and “Mindset” to help you understand your own habits of thinking and enhance your academic - and later, professional - success. We'll also use online resources to explore “Habits of Thinking” (HoT) in team contexts. Through readings, videos, team projects and reflection, you will assess and develop your own HoT abilities with a goal of raising the “HoT index” of ISU.

About the Instructor: Suzanne Hendrich taught “EI,” emotional intelligence, in the CFCS freshman learning community from 2000-2002, and in several Honors Seminars. Students in the CFCS learning community in Fall 2000 reported significant increases in their self-assessed confidence in emotional intelligence skills. Through Miller Fellowships in 1999-2000 and 2008-09, her work in the Academy for Leadership and Learning, and her work as adviser to the SHOP (food pantry for ISU students), she has focused on helping students apply meaningful effort, emotional intelligence skills, resiliency and other productive habits of thinking (HoT) to enhance learning in and outside the classroom. She is University Professor of Food Science & Human Nutrition and has been an ISU faculty member for 25 years.


HON 321K, Beyond Our Screens: Critically Analyzing MediaWednesday, 11:00-11:50 a.m., 1 credit, Enrollment limit: 17, U.S. Diversity Credit, Location TBD, Ref. No. 4635005.

In this seminar, we will explore how different forms of media affect individuals and groups in the U.S., especially with regard to contemporary American social and cultural identities. By examining music, television, video games, movies, magazines, and social media, you will learn to analyze media critically. We will also discuss whether media tends to oppress individual identity and group membership, and explore how media can be used as a channel for activism.

About the Instructors: Ashley Maitland, the Equity and Social Justice Coordinator at the Margaret Sloss Women’s Center, received a B.S. in Marketing and Interpersonal Communication from the University of Wisconsin La-Crosse. She is working on a Masters in Education/Student Affairs with a certificate in Social Justice. Ashley has a particular interest in oppression, power and privilege and uses a social justice, anti-oppressive lens in her work. Bree Mead, an Academic Coach for the Academic Success Center, received her B.A. in Art from Oregon State University. She is working on a Masters in Education/Student Affairs, taking courses specific to leadership and learning to help her become a more effective leader. Bree has an interest in the presence of white privilege, colorblindness, and cultural appropriation in media and the music industry.


HON 321L, Tolkien’s The HobbitWednesday, 3:10-4:00 p.m., 1 credit, Enrollment limit: 20, Location TBD, Ref. No. 4636005.

In this seminar, we will discuss J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic The Hobbit, using Douglas A. Anderson’s annotated edition to trace the evolution of the story through new editions and revisions. Through close reading of the text, we will examine how Tolkien uses Bilbo’s role as storyteller and reliability as a narrator as he recounts his adventures. Finally, we will view two film adaptations of The Hobbit: the 1977 animated film, and Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey for more perspectives on, as Bilbo says in An Unexpected Journey, “what really happened.”

About the Instructors: Imelda Wistey, an M.A. student in English Literature, teaches English 150 and 250. She is interested in the power of narrative: how stories from different cultures and time periods, written or spoken, have a basis in human experiences and how stories are interrelated. George McCollum, an M.A. student in English Literature, specializes in Early Modern plays and has an extensive knowledge of and passion for Tolkien’s works. He also has taught English 150 and 250. He has done research in the Raynor Memorial Archive at Marquette University, where the Hobbit manuscripts are stored.


HON 321M, Conflicts in the Middle EastWednesday, 2:10-3:00 p.m., 1 credit, Enrollment limit: 17, International Perspectives Credit, Location TBD, Ref. No. 4640005.

What are the current political conflicts in the Middle East? How can we understand the wars in the Middle East? This seminar will examine the current political conflicts and wars in the region. We will examine in depth the Arab-Israeli conflict, the Lebanese War, the Palestinian question and other regional issues (Iraq, the Kurds, Iran, etc.). At the end of this seminar, you will understand the “complicated Middle East” and how these conflicts affect the war on terrorism.

About the Instructor: Jean-Pierre Taoutel has been teaching at ISU since 1999 as a Senior Lecturer of French and an Instructor of Arabic. He was born in Syria and grew up in Lebanon before moving to France. He holds an M.A and a D.E.A in French literature from the Sorbonne Nouvelle in Paris, France. He has taught several Honors seminars. Jean-Pierre enjoys traveling and he has been in over 40 countries.


HON 321N, The History and Ethics of DebtTuesday, 3:10-5:00 p.m., 1st Half, 1 credit, Enrollment limit: 17, Location TBD, Ref. No. 4645005.

From the biblical injunction to forgive debts in the seventh year to the Occupy Wall Street movement’s call for student loan forgiveness, the problem of debt has regularly inspired political movements. Global financial crises now make debt a threat to the survival of nations as well as individuals. And yet, in other contexts, recognition of indebtedness to others has been a key building block of social life. We will explore the topic of debt as a framework for understanding human relationships and reflecting on the value, and values, of those relationships. Beginning with a review of the history of debt, we will discuss how various forms of debt increasingly shape modern life throughout the world.

About the Instructors: William Carter, Assistant Professor of Germanic Studies (Ph.D., U.C. Santa Barbara), works on intersections between literature, philosophy, and the history of political economy from the eighteenth century to the present. Kate Padgett-Walsh, Assistant Professor of Philosophy (Ph.D., Northwestern), studies ethics and the history of ethics. Her research brings G.W.F. Hegel’s thought to bear on contemporary debates in ethical theory.


HON 321P, Lessons from Positive Psychology on Happiness and SuccessTuesday, 12:10-1:00 p.m., 1 credit, Enrollment limit: 17, Location TBD, Ref. No. 4647005.

Happiness and success are desired by nearly everyone. What is the relationship of happiness and success? How do they influence each other? This seminar draws from positive psychology and facilitates the exploration of happiness and success. The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor will serve as our primary reading. Additionally, we will experiment with and implement strategies that can promote happiness in our own lives.

About the Instructor: Sam von Gillern is a doctoral student studying Literacy Education and Teaching English as a Second/Foreign language. He is interested in issues related language learning and literacy development. He has taught Curriculum and Instruction 204, Social Foundations of Education in the United States, Curriculum and Instruction 377, The Teaching of Language Arts in the Primary Grades (K-3), and Human Sciences 150, Dialogues on Diversity at Iowa State.


HON 321Q, What Are You Talking About? Discovering and Breaking StereotypesTuesday, 2:10-3:00 p.m., 1 credit, Enrollment limit: 17, U.S. Diversity Credit, Location TBD, Ref. No. 4648005.

In this course, we will examine our cultural myths, stereotypes and realities and in turn, compare our views with the way others live in their worlds and how they perceive ours. You will learn to question and compare cultures in a systematic way by examining four perspectives: How we see ourselves, How we see them, How they see themselves, and How they see us.

About the Instructor: Cristina Pardo Ballester, Assistant Professor of Spanish in the World Languages and Cultures Department, received a Ph.D. in Hispanic Linguistics from University of California, Davis. In addition to teaching many courses at the 100-300 levels, she supervises the Elementary and Intermediate Spanish Program at Iowa State. Cultural understanding and awareness form part of each course she teaches.


HON 321R, Magic: The GatheringTuesday, 4:10-6:00 p.m., 2nd Half, 1 credit, Enrollment limit: 16, Location TBD, Ref. No. 5145005.

In this seminar we will focus on the relationship of play and learning in general as well as on the major aspects of Magic: The Gathering, the most popular trading card game since its creation in 1993. While drawing aspects from games such as chess and Dungeons and Dragons, the game is noted for its originality. With an intricate, art-inspiring story arc, the game represents both artistic creativity and cognitively stimulating gameplay. We will learn, on one hand, how play and learning are connected; and on the other, the rules, strategies, and professional-level play of Magic: The Gathering, as well as about the Magic “multiverse” and its influences. Newcomers and experienced players alike are welcome in this seminar. A portion of each class will involve playing Magic, but no prior experience is needed to enjoy this seminar.

About the Instructors: Jered Stratton, a senior in Genetics, sees a relationship between creative thinking skills in Magic and science. A member of FHP and the University Honors Program, he works in the lab of Dr. Amy Vincent at the National Animal Disease Center. He has played Magic for about five years. Susan Yager, Professor of English and Faculty Director of Honors, is interested in the relation between learning and play, especially for high-ability students.


HON 321S, Battle of BritainMonday, 6:10-8:00 p.m., 2nd Half, 1 credit, Enrollment limit: 17, Location TBD, Ref. No. 8951005.

“Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.” This famous tribute was given by Winston Churchill, Prime Minister of England, to members of the Royal Air Force (RAF) in a speech before the House of Commons in August, 1940. This seminar gives you an opportunity to learn about the reason for that speech, the Battle of Britain, which took place 75 years ago. You will read and see some materials from 1940 as well as some historians’ views, and will share the experience of a young pilot from that period. You’ll write some summaries, questions, and reflections and will present a final project on some topic that interests you concerning the battle or its repercussions.

About the Instructors: There is no truth to the rumor that Dave Roberts and Susan Yager have, collectively, 75 years’ experience at Iowa State, enough time to reach back to the Battle of Britain. Between them they have been here only 57 years. It is true, however, that both are award-winning teachers and experts in, respectively, writing/visual communication and early British literature. Susan has taught many seminars on a wide variety of topics in literature and culture, but this is Dave’s first.


HON 321T, Ten Ballets to See Before You DieThursday, 4:10-5:00 p.m., 1 credit, Enrollment limit: 17, Location TBD, Ref. No. 5148005.

Swans? Sylphs? Why did women begin to dance on the ends of their toes? Are all those men really princes? This seminar will provide you with a crash course in dance literacy. You will read about, view and discuss ten (or so) seminal dance works, exploring the origins and development of ballet, the cultural context in which the selected works were created, and the role of dance in society.

About the Instructor: Dana Schumacher first came to ISU as a member of the dance faculty, but has worked for several years as Assistant Director of the University Honors Program. In this role, she has worked with many students preparing applications for competitive scholarships and awards. Dana holds a BA and MFA from the University of California-Irvine.


HON 321U, EPA Campus RainWorks ChallengeThursday, 4:10-5:00 p.m., 1 credit, Enrollment limit: 12, Location TBD, Ref. No. 5149005.

The Campus RainWorks Challenge, an interdisciplinary competition about campus rainwater concerns, will help you learn in a hands-on, collaborative way about green infrastructure: use of soils, vegetation, and rainwater harvesting to manage rainwater where it falls. You will weave natural processes into the built environment to provide such benefits as improved air quality, reduced heat island effects, and lower energy consumption. Under this EPA-sponsored challenge, student teams collaborate with a faculty advisor to develop design briefs and a short video describing their project. You will read, discuss, hear from topical and campus experts, and problem-solve as an active member of the team in the way that best suits your discipline and interests.

About the Instructor: Benjamin Shirtcliff came to Iowa State in 2014 as an Assistant Professor in Landscape Architecture after receiving his Ph.D. in Urban Studies from the University of New Orleans. His research focuses on sustainability, human behavior and public health, and the built environment. His interests also include urban design and campus planning. Having led successful teams elsewhere, he is excited to bring the Campus RainWorks Challenge to Iowa State.


HON 321V, Preparing for Your Honors ProjectTuesday and Thursday, 9:00-9:50 a.m., 1st Half, 1 credit, Enrollment limit: 17, Location TBD, Ref. No. 6545005.

In this half-term seminar, you will learn how to develop an independent research project and become prepared to generate and submit an Honors Project proposal to your college. Through discussions and presentations by guest speakers from all six undergraduate colleges, you’ll learn more about the nature, the various stages, and the multiple challenges of research; practice defining an appropriate research question; find out what ethical and technical training your ideas might require; and examine the nuts and bolts of doing an Honors Project proposal.

About the Instructors: Susan Yager and Laurie Smith Law, Honors co-directors, will coordinate this seminar. They have taught many popular seminars, including the service-learning in Belize and the Harry Potter seminars.Guest speakers and student panelists will be drawn from many majors and the six undergraduate colleges. The guest speakers and some in-class events (for example, question-and-answer sessions) may be recorded for use in online modules and a future hybrid version of the seminar.


HON 321W, Comedy CollegeWednesday, 5:10-7:00 p.m., 2 credits, Enrollment limit: 18, Location TBD, Ref. No. 6564005.

In this seminar, you will learn to be funnier. Humor is not a mystical process of divine intervention granted by the Comedy Gods to just a chosen few. There are tricks, techniques and theories that, when studied, can make a person funnier. When put into practice, these skills can help with self-confidence, public speaking and communication skills. While some reading and watching of stand-up routines is required, the majority of the class focus will be on creating and sharing original humor with your classmates. The seminar culminates in a live comedy showcase where you will share your new-found humor skills with the world.

About the Instructors: Gavin Jerome has been a professional entertainer for well over 20 years. He has worked with the likes of Jerry Seinfeld, Paul Reiser and Steve Harvey. For the past decade, Gavin has been providing humor workshops for companies and associations nationwide. His extensive standup comedy experience plus many years of leading workshops on humor in the workplace make him most qualified on creating and sharing comedy. Peter Orazem, University Professor of Economics, has been a student of Gavin’s, and is known around campus for his entertainment skills.


HON 321Y, Understanding WarMonday, 2:10-3:00 p.m., 1 credit, Enrollment limit: 17, International Perspectives Credit, Location TBD, Ref. No. 7631005.

“What is it like to be in a war zone?” “What challenges do civilians face when they are trapped in a war?” The seminar will examine the daily life in wartime and the social effects of war. How do people live in extreme conditions? Through study cases and living experiences students will be able to better understand the “chaos of war.” We will examine the Geneva Convention and other Human Rights documents to raise awareness about war crimes against civilians. We will also explore the role of the media in conflicts. You will be able to better understand the sided, biased or impartial role of the media. You will learn to read behind the superficial or general information presented in some media. At the end of the seminar you should be able to understand the reality of war and its effect on society. War is not just a video game between the good and the bad.

About the Instructor: Jean-Pierre Taoutel has been teaching at ISU since 1999 as a Senior Lecturer of French and an Instructor of Arabic. He was born in Syria and grew up in Lebanon before moving to France. He holds an M.A and a D.E.A in French literature from the Sorbonne Nouvelle in Paris, France. He has taught several Honors seminars. Jean-Pierre enjoys traveling and he has been in over 40 countries.