Honors Seminars

Fall 2020

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 2020! Registration is available in MyNIU.

"What is artificial intelligence?" "How will robots affect my future career?" "Should I be concerned about Alexa eavesdropping?" These are a few of the questions that you will explore in this honors seminar focused on the integration of AI and robots into media industries. Most people associate media work with activities performed by journalists; however, AI, robots and related technologies have begun to perform roles in media production and distribution.

This seminar will help you better understand these technologies, their use and their implications for media consumers, media industries, and society. You will have the opportunity to experience interacting with these technologies, including a humanoid robot and automated news-writing software. Algorithmic and AI literacy form a crucial competency for citizens in a democratic society.

Taught by Andrea Guzman, Ph.D., Department of Communication

With the presidential elections in the background, this seminar takes a serious look at the concept, history, and issues of democracy. Most people today would agree that the rule of the people is the unequivocal standard of legitimacy by which a regime ought to be judged. But what does democracy mean? And under what circumstances is it just? And if popular sovereignty is just, then how is it discovered? Whose voice is actually heard in modern liberal democratic societies?

In this seminar, contemporary democratic theory is studied in relation to the history of political thought with a view to assessing the desirability, fairness, and practicability of democracy as a form of government. Readings include Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Alexis de Tocqueville along with other prominent historical and contemporary scholars.

Taught by Andrea Radasanu, Ph.D., Department of Political Science, Great Professor award winner (2019) as well as 2012 recipient of the Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award.

Disasters have plagued the human existence. The eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 CE, the Grote Mandrenke ["Great Drowning"] of 1362, and the Messina earthquake of 1908 are some of the better-known natural disasters. Accidents such as the sinking of the Titanic and the Nashville Great Train Wreck in 1918 so captured the human imagination that they have been showcased in blockbuster movies. The man-made catastrophes of Hiroshima and Chernobyl are similarly well known.

As we end the first quarter of the twenty-first century, we face further disaster from climate change and the biological and environmental consequences this is creating. It is timely, therefore, to explore how humans have dealt with disaster in the past, and how we can use these approaches as we face the future. 

Taught by Trude Jacobsen, Ph.D., Department of History, Outstanding International Educator award winner

The Walt Disney Company is widely known for their animated movies, particularly those that fall into the iconic princess line. Many individuals have fond memories of watching these films during their own childhoods or lifetimes.

This seminar will revisit these films with fresh eyes in order to deconstruct Disney's appropriation and revision of traditional tales, as well as the development of new tales, to challenge the idea of these films being merely entertainment but rather educative media.

Taught by Melanie Koss, Ph.D., Department of Curriculum and Instruction

Quantum computing was first proposed as a new method of performing computations back in the 1990s. Physically realized quantum computers only began to emerge after 2000 or so. In the last five years, quantum computers have begun to appear as real machines and most of the major players in computing such as IBM, Google, Microsoft and Intel are working on them. In the past year, a quantum computer demonstrated “supremacy” in that it was able to perform a specialized problem faster than any conventional computer.

This seminar is not a technical course on how to make or program quantum computers, but rather a survey of the subject so that you can understand this new technology and its possible impact on society. 

Taught by Larry Lurio, Ph.D., Department of Physics

Contact Us

University Honors Program 
Campus Life Building 110
DeKalb, IL 60115

Phone: 815-753-0694
Email: honors@niu.edu