Honors Seminars

Fall 2021

An Honors seminar is 300-400 level, limited to 15-20 students per class and satisfies upper-division requirements. No prerequisites needed. Enroll in an Honors Seminar for fall 2021! Registration is available in MyNIU.

Art plays a central role in anti-capitalist political activism worldwide as has been witnessed in the anti-globalization movement of the late 1990s, the international protests against the war in Iraq in 2003, the European squatter movement, the Arab Spring and the Occupy movement in the United States. Individual American artists such as Christina Ray, director of Conflux (an annual festival in New York exploring psychogeography); Steve Lambert, founder of the Anti-Advertising Agency; and Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno, members of the Yes Men, to name a few, continually link social activism with artistic practice. This course critically engages with creative activism in order to evaluate how art can be used as a creative tool for political activism. By participating in this course, students will document and analyze examples of creative activism to produce an online gallery as a final class project, study creative tactics and strategies, and examine the history of New Social Movements and activism today.

Taught by Stephen Vilaseca, Ph.D., World Languages and Cultures

This course examines how the forms and dynamics of civil violence have changed historically in conjunction with state development and social structure. Students will explore key aspects of civil conflict that are vital for understanding civil warfare today, such as conflict prevention, state breakdown, resource mobilization, atrocities, assassinations, vendettas, mercenaries, guerrillas, refugees, intervention, arbitration, and peacemaking—all from a global perspective. The course is organized around a series of comparative cases of civil conflict from throughout world history, explored chronologically. Highlights of this study will include key examples of civil conflicts in ‘feudal’ Japan, Wars of Religion, the French Revolution, the Vendée Civil War, the American Civil War, Taiping Rebellion, the Russian Civil War, the Spanish Civil War, Decolonization struggles, the Vietnam War, the Troubles in Northern Ireland, the Bosnian War, Iraq War, and the Syrian Civil War. 

Taught by Brian Sandberg, Ph.D., Department of History

Computational Social Science (CSS) is a new field that bridges computer science, simulation modeling, and data analysis with concepts from social sciences such as Sociology, Psychology, Economics, Anthropology, Geography, or Political Science. CSS underlies apps on every phone and innumerable recent Silicon Valley startups. At its best it provides new insights about social behavior, insights that can guide policy and find solutions to complex problems. However, it can also be done poorly or carelessly, or- as a growing number of examples show- used for manipulation and malice. This course will use hands-on collaborative projects to introduce the field and discuss its basic techniques, its uses and potential misuses, and its impacts. Encouraged to enroll are Social Science majors from all fields, who will learn new and powerful methods, and majors in Computer Science, Mathematics, and related fields, who will learn new applications for their mathematical and code skills.

Taught by John Murphy, Ph.D., Department of Anthropology & Argonne

Creativity is inscribed on our DNA. In this course, students explore how it may have unfolded and how it permeates all we do, and you’ll learn how you may unleash your creativity, no matter where your career or life path takes you. Evolution of Art traces the origins and the development of art making arising from human biological processes and social interactions, and surveys the intellectual evolution of aesthetic philosophy from Aristotle through the present day.

Taught by Dean Paul Kassel, College of Visual and Performing Arts

Survey of emerging technologies and tools that are transforming our society and schools, as well as the implications of these changes for learning. Emphasis on the skills and knowledge students need to learn effectively and live productively in an increasingly global and digital world.  This online course requires no face-to-face meetings. Weekly activities include reviewing online instructional content provided through a mix of readings, videos, and other resources, taking online quizzes over the concepts covered in the readings and resources, building your technological skills through practical application and learning tool exploration activities, participating in online discussions with your instructor and classmates, and reflecting on the knowledge and skills gained.  Asynchronous activities are purposefully designed to provide flexibility in your learning process while also building an online learning community.

Taught by Hayley Mayall, Ph.D., Department of Educational Technology, Research and Assessment

In the contemporary age, collective actions such as revolts, revolution and genocide provoke intense public interest and policy debate. Through empirical case studies and theoretical discussions, this course will offer students a thorough and nuanced understanding of the issues, and therefore, an opportunity to become informed citizens in a globalizing world. The scope of the course is threefold. First, it examines various forms of collective action such as revolts and revolutions in order to understand the diverse ways in which these collective actions affect political and social change in reaction to state suppression and in relation to the promotion of democracy in the contemporary world. It also explores the role of modern communications in popular uprisings against autocratic rule. Second, while examining cases of success and failure of revolutions, this course also explores how revolutions can lead to genocide. Third, it analyzes other causes of genocide such as ethnic conflict and nationalism, as well as international efforts to intervene, prevent and redress incidents of genocide.

Taught by Kheang Un, Ph.D., Department of Political Science

This interdisciplinary honors seminar is an examination of what work means; how work has been defined in our society in history and today.  Students will critically think about their own assumptions of work and how it influences their education and career choices.

Taught by Alicia Schatteman, Ph.D., Center for Nonprofit and NGO Studies

Contact Us

University Honors Program 
Campus Life Building 110
DeKalb, IL 60115

815-753-0694
honors@niu.edu

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