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Honors Program

Program Requirements

HON-H 399 Colloquium Courses

What is an Honors Colloquium Course?

An Honors Colloquium is an HON-H 399 seminar course. Typically, it is led by different instructors in different semesters and the topic changes from semester to semester. To complete the Honors Program each student must complete two HON-H 399 Colloquium courses.

Upcoming Colloquium

Summer 1, 2017 - Women of Stage and Screen: Finding Equality

Joann Kaiser, Communication

Recent studies show that women comprise the biggest share of American theatre audiences, while women represent less than one third of all writing, production and acting in plays on Broadway and regional theatres. We are missing a large portion of the American story when the female voice is muted. This course will look at successful American female playwrights, screenwriters, and actors through their works.  We will wrestle with the questions surrounding the inequalities of women in the performing arts and examine ways to promote change.

Summer 1, 2017 - Social Justice

Angela Glosser, Criminal Justice & Homeland Security

Utilizing sociological and criminological theories and constructs, this course examines multiple areas of social inequality through the lenses of social justice and the legal system.

Fall 2017 - The Appeal and Threat of Utopia

Donna McLean, Communication

Through exploration of historical utopian communities/lifestyles and imagined utopian visions in short stories, films, advertisements, TV shows, novels, the news, social media, and our own experiences, we will critically examine the blurry line between utopia & dystopia and identify the ways utopian  impulses can go awry. In the classroom, we will review a broad range of texts and resources from various media and the words and insights of utopian visionaries. Outside of class, we will travel to two historical utopian communities to learn more about the principles and theories on which they were founded: New Harmony, Indiana, and the Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill in Harrodsburg, Kentucky.

Questions we will explore throughout the semester include: How do we conceive of/build for things such as happiness, progress, knowledge? In what ways are utopias sustainable or unsustainable? How does our increasing dependence on science and technology have the potential to transform into frightening methods of control, censorship, conformity, and isolation?  Are our virtual connections/lives/memories displacing our sense of the “real”?  Will the environment withstand our relentless abuse of it?  

Recently Taught Colloquia Topics

Spring 2017 - Extraordinary People

Dr. Gin Morgan, Psychology

When studying human thought and behavior, we tend to examine and explain the "typical," or ordinary, human experience. However, not everyone's experiences are ordinary. For instance, some people can "hear" colors. Some people can perform complex mathematical operations in their mind. Others can play a piece of music by ear, nearly perfectly, having only heard it once. In this course, we will learn about people who have cognitive or perceptual conditions that cause them to experience their world in extraordinary ways. We will read scientific and autobiographical accounts of people whose experiences are atypical, as well as literature investigating the possible causes of their conditions or abilities. This course will educate students about, and encourage exploration of, some of the incredible diversity of human abilities and experiences. 

Spring 2017 - Rhetoric and Ideology

Dr. Chris Darr, Communication and Performing Arts

Rhetoric is a powerful force. It is not just “the art of persuasion,” as Aristotle suggested: it has come to be understood as a power that structures society, reinforces dominant values, and normalizes certain ways of thinking. Rhetoric creates ideologies, reinforces them, and is sometimes used to critique and change them. This applies to political ideologies (conservatism), economic ideologies (capitalism), religious ideologies (Christianity), and many more. This class will explore the central role played by rhetoric in the creation, sustenance, and challenging of the ideologies that structure society and guide people’s behavior. As with other H399 courses, the class will be taught as a reading seminar. We will read the works of many modern and postmodern theorists (Marx, Foucault, Gramsci, Nietzsche, etc.) who have written on ideology, rhetoric, and the connection between the two. We will also read scholarly applications of these theories by contemporary authors. Students will be encouraged to connect course content to topic areas of their choosing and to do independent study, culminating in a term paper. Short papers and discussion will constitute the other major assignments.

Fall 2016 - Medicalization and Social Control

Dr. Stephanie Medley-Rath, Sociology

In this course, we will analyze the process by which the root of deviant behavior has moved from being perceived as caused by sin to caused by sickness (i.e., the medicalization of deviance). Further, the practice of medicalization has moved beyond behaviors historically seen as deviant (e.g., alcohol abuse) to encompass normative behavior (e.g., childbirth), too. We will explore how normal, everyday behaviors come to be socially controlled through a medical interpretation, while also considering how medicalization legitimizes people’s complaints (e.g., chronic fatigue syndrome). Further, we will consider the process of demedicalization in cases such as homosexuality and childbirth. Possible topics to be considered include childbirth, ADHD, shyness, sadness, anorexia nervosa, addiction, and others. The approach to this course is sociological. 

Summer 2016 - Good vs. Evil: The Dramatic Story

Joann Kaiser, Communication Arts

This course will wrestle with questions of good vs. evil, right vs. wrong, and the potential for gray areas and blurred ethical lines, all while using the dramatic arts as a foundation for discussing ethics, religion, and popular culture. Students will wrestle with ethical questions through the medium of stage plays and films. They will be asked to reflect on their own values and belief systems, ultimately questioning the ways humans respond and behave toward one another both in daily interactions and on a broader cultural scale.

Spring 2016 - The Rhetoric and Reality of Poverty in the United States

Dr. Erin Doss, Communication Arts

This course will explore both the discourse surrounding poverty in the United States and the reality of what it means to be poor. We will discuss the language used to talk about poverty, including the various incarnations of the “War on Poverty” and the competing definitions of “welfare” circulating over the past 30 years. Our discussions will be grounded in rhetorical theory and political argument to demonstrate the power of language to change the way individuals and groups are viewed and, consequently, treated by the public. In addition to readings and classroom discussion, students will also have opportunities to learn about poverty in the Kokomo community. Almost 1 in 5 people in Kokomo live below the poverty line and students will hear from guest speakers about the problems these individuals face and the resources available to them. Students will also have the opportunity for service learning through the course as they complete volunteer hours with local organizations such as Kokomo Rescue Mission and reflect on their experiences and the intersections between rhetoric about poverty and the reality of being poor.

Fall 2015 - Black Holes and Warped Spaces: Einstein’s Legacy a Century Later

Dr. Patrick Motl, Physics

On November 25th, 1915 Albert Einstein presented his theory of general relativity in its current form (as what we now call Einstein’s field equations) to the Prussian Academy of Sciences. In the century that has passed, general relativity has survived all experimental and observational tests and has gained a particular importance in astrophysics where the differences between general relativity and Newton’s theory of gravity are sometimes large. Einstein’s theory of general relativity also serves as the basis for many of the most beguiling ideas in physics ranging from the force of gravity being a curvature in space and time, time travel (via worm holes or otherwise), warp drive (the Alcubierre metric), and the existence of regions excised from contact with our Universe (black holes). These and other topics are the consequence of a theory of physics that arose from the insight and imagination of one person alone – a feat of such a scale that it may very well not happen again. In this colloquium, we will explore Einstein’s theory of general relativity and the implications of the theory in a non-mathematical way.

Spring 2015 - The Good Life

Netty Provost, Philosophy

This course will involve an interdisciplinary exploration of what it is to lead a good life and if such a life actually exists. We’ll examine why we create stereotypes about the good life, why humans seek it and how different cultures imagine what the good life is. “Good” here doesn’t just mean morally good but a larger idea of what the ideal human life is and whether or not such an ideal of the good life exists and is attainable.

Fall 2014 - A Healthy Dose:  Healthcare meets the Humanities

Karla Stouse, English

A Healthy Dose: What If Health Care Met the Humanities? will put medicine under a microscope to examine some of its historical, economic, sociological, political, psychological, scientific, and legal issues through the lens of a humanities perspective. As they study the efforts of ancient physicians/scientists, modern caregivers/ advocates, and many others invested in the enterprise, students will explore and develop innovative approaches to the giving and receiving of health care in America and around the world.

Spring 2014 - Digital Culture

Dr. Paul Cook, English

The contemporary adage that we exist in a fast-moving, increasingly connected (and
“connectable”) world is a commonplace of mainstream media. But what precisely are we referring to when we discuss the massive changes wrought by the internet, mobile devices, networks, and by digital culture generally?

This honors seminar attempts to probe beneath the shiny veneer of digital culture—TED talks, Wired-esque paeans to unrestrained commerce, the breathless celebrations of networked “togetherness”—to critically engage and interrogate our status in a world forever changed by digital technologies. A major portion of this course will be devoted to exploring how the rise of the digital represents a shift in human consciousness and evolution on a scale not witnessed since the invention of that other world-shattering technology: writing.

Taking a broad, multidisciplinary tour through some of the most significant texts in recent intellectual history, together we will study concepts and themes like “digital citizenship,” the changing nature of the self and relationships in digital environments, the epistemology (and ontology) of networks, the harsh new realities of global capitalism and its effects on humanity and the planet, and digital technology’s overall impact on how we engage politics, labor, leisure, education, and life.

Fall 2013 - Prosocial Behavior:  Why We Help Others

Dr. Kathy Holcomb, Psychology

We will be examining why it is that people help others, in some cases even when doing so is not in their own best interest. To that end, we will read and discuss perspectives from psychology, politics, philosophy, history, and biology that seek to explain prosocial behavior. Additionally, we will explore how these perspectives apply to real world situations where people did or did not help others.

Spring 2013 - Wit and Humor

Dr. Joe Keener, English

The purpose of this colloquium is to consider the ideas of wit and humor. The course will have a theoretical basis with A Comprehensive Philosophy of Humor, Freud, and other thinkers, as we try to figure out just what wit, humor, and laughter are, how they work, and what their purpose may be. The initial focus will be on the comic in literature, but the class will eventually move toward other forms of media such as films and television.

Fall 2012 - Philosophy & Ethics of Technology

Netty Provost, Philosophy

Throughout human history technology has played a transformative role in human life. This course will explore philosophical theories about technology the impact that it has on individuals and societies. Readings will be drawn from a globally diverse range of historical and contemporary sources. Students in the course will also have the opportunity to help shape the reading schedule based on specific topics in philosophy, ethics and technology that that they are interested in.

Spring 2012 - What is Intelligence?  A Critical Examniation of the Varied Perspectives on Brilliance, Genius and Aptitude

Dr. Melissa Grabner-Hagen, Education

In this course we will cover historical, social, educational, and cognitive aspects of intelligence. Topics such as the ethics of intelligence testing, the validity of Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences, and the potential of artificial intelligence will be discussed. We will examine and debate research related to the relationship between intelligence and humor as well as intelligence and genetics.

Fall 2011 - Rhetoric and Ideology

Dr. Christopher R. Darr, Communication Arts

Rhetoric is a powerful force. It is not just “the art of persuasion,” as Aristotle suggested: it has come to be understood as a power that structures society, reinforces dominant values, and normalizes certain ways of thinking. Rhetoric creates ideologies, reinforces them, and is sometimes used to critique and change them. This applies to political ideologies (conservatism), economic ideologies (capitalism), religious ideologies (Christianity), and many more. This class will explore the central role played by rhetoric in the creation, sustenance, and challenging of the ideologies that structure society and guide people’s behavior.

This class is open exclusively to Honors Students. As with other H399 courses, the class will be taught as a reading seminar. We will read the works of many modern and postmodern theorists (Marx, Foucault, Gramsci, Nietzsche, etc.) who have written on ideology, rhetoric, and the connection between the two. We will also read scholarly applications of these theories by contemporary authors.

Fall 2010 - Evolution:  An Interdisciplinary Approach

Dr. Joe Keener, English

The title of this course is actually backwards—Interdisciplinary: An Evolutionary approach would be more accurate. The main thrust of the course will be to apply evolutionary thinking to your chosen fields of study and, hopefully, to see them in a different light. A secondary, but no less important, purpose of the class will be to consider the road from taking in ideas, to synthetic thinking, to producing your own work. You will have access to my notes and work as a model—not that you will be expected to produce the exact same amount of work in one semester, but it is my hope that this class will be a different scholarly experience from the usual course. 

Last updated: 01/31/2017