Scientific Reasoning and Discovery

Using a problem-based learning approach to explore topics in science, students in the Scientific Reasoning and Discovery seminars will learn to identify hidden regularities and patterns in nature that may indicate fundamental unifying principles and laws; apply the scientific method to unearth these laws and principles; evaluate scientific information; describe the limitations of the scientific process; understand the importance of collecting accurate and precise data; and develop a valid scientific hypothesis. Investigation will use the tools and methodologies of biology, chemistry, physics, and other disciplines. The emphasis of inquiry in any given section might reflect the particular instructor's area of expertise.

Freshmen take one Scientific Reasoning and Discovery course each semester.

Freshmen may also take a Scientific Reasoning and Discovery alternative instead of Scientific Reasoning and Discovery (HONR 1033 and HONR 1034).


Spring 2021 Courses


Revolutions in Astronomy


Professor Bethany Kung


HONR 1034:MV - 4 Credits

CRN 17389

TR 09:00AM - 10:50AM



  • CCAS: GPAC Natural/Physical Science with Lab
  • CCAS: GPAC Oral Communication
  • ESIA: Science
  • GWSB: Science

Course Description: This course explores the history and frontiers of modern astronomy. In the 400 years since Galileo first turned his telescope toward the heavens, the science of astronomy has gone through numerous radical shifts in our understanding of the universe. We will examine these great paradigm shifts, starting with the Copernican revolution, through Hubble’s discovery of the expanding universe, to topics in astrophysics that remain controversial and perplexing even today such as extrasolar planets, black holes, dark matter and dark energy. Both the concepts behind these astronomy revolutions and the associated physics will be emphasized (there is, however, no mathematics prerequisites and the math level will be confined to algebra). We will consider historical and scientific perspectives on who was behind these radical discoveries, what evidence supports each revolution, and how astronomers and society have responded to each advance. Students in this course will develop an understanding of the types of modern astronomical topics discussed frequently in the popular science press and media and will come to appreciate how the science of astronomy is performed. Students will be expected to take an active role in the classroom, where we will explore topics through a combination of lecture, discussion, student presentations, group projects and mathematical exercises.

Urban Hydrology


Professor Ranbir Kang


HONR 1034:MV1 - 4 Credits

CRN 16869

TR 1:00PM-2:50PM




  • CCAS: GPAC Natural/Physical Science with Lab
  • CCAS: GPAC Oral Communication
  • ESIA: Science
  • GWSB: Science

Course Description: Human impact on the earth surface is one of the most defining aspects of the recent geologic time period. With increasing urbanization, streams in urban areas play a critical role as arteries of urban ecology. While receiving complex discharge of pollutants and sediment from various anthropogenic activities, urban streams also accommodate additional water from impervious areas. As a result, the geo-physical characteristics of urban streams are manifestations of interconnected human-environment systems. This course introduces students to basics of river science such as geomorphology, fluvial geomorphology, drainage system, flood plain, riparian system, processes of erosion, processes of deposition, woody debris, dams, and channel unit types etc. These concepts will then be used to analyze selected urban case studies. While learning the theoretical background of rivers, students will also look at the physical characteristics of urban streams. The course material will offer a new lens to look at waterways in our cities and appreciate their resilience in the present-day context of sustainability.

Science as a Human Endeavor


Professor Susan Poland


HONR 1034:MV2 - 4 Credits

CRN 16870

MW 5:10PM-7:00PM



  • CCAS: GPAC Natural/Physical Science with Lab
  • CCAS: GPAC Oral Communication
  • ESIA: Science
  • GWSB: Science

Course Description: Science helps us unlock the secrets of the universe, but it is ultimately a human endeavor; the theories we’ve built about the universe are shaped by the perspectives of the people who study it. While peer review helps ensure high-quality scientific studies are conducted, the history of science is full of stories about: errors that led to major breakthroughs, individuals who fought against the scientific conventions of their time and trailblazed, and communities who were forgotten or taken advantage of in the course of scientific progress. In this course, we’ll focus on major theories and studies across all disciplines of science, with a specific focus on the humans that built this knowledge or were impacted by it. We’ll primarily focus on scientific work over the past century, such as the development of antibiotics and vaccines, studies of the global climate and climate change, and applications of modern computing techniques in science. Along the way, you’ll engage in the processes and practices of modern-day science, such as participating in peer review and reading and writing about scientific research. We’ll discuss how theories are built, and identify critical elements of strong scientific studies. You will conduct your own scientific studies and reflect on the ways in which your perspective has shaped the questions you are interested in. Through lab activities and discussion, you will build an understanding of modern science and improve your ability to judge the value of modern scientific studies.



Global Climate Change Biology


Professor LaTisha Hammond


HONR 1034:MV4 - 4 Credits

CRN 11704

TR 08:30AM - 10:20AM


HONR 1034:MV5 - 4 Credits

CRN 12628

TR 11:00AM - 12:50PM



  • CCAS: GPAC Natural/Physical Science with Lab
  • CCAS: GPAC Oral Communication
  • ESIA: Science
  • GWSB: Science

Course Description: This course explores the impacts and implications of climate change on biological systems. Throughout the history of Earth, the planet has undergone major changes in climate, with significant impacts on biological systems. However, the current climate change event is unique compared to previous events, resulting in distinctive issues and consequences for life on the planet. We will explore global change by delving into the biological processes that are impacted by the changing climate - this will also include reviewing some of the basic chemical principles that underlie the biological processes being impacted. We will review past biological trends, look more in-depth at present-day scenarios, and discuss future projections and consequences for life on the planet. The course will also include discussion of the scientific basis of global change impacts on humans, society, environmental issues, sustainability, and policy discussions and measures. Lab exercises will introduce biological techniques for studying various aspects of global change biology. This course is designed to increase student scientific literacy. Students will be expected to take an active role in the class, where we will explore these topics through lecture, discussion, debate, experimentation, data analysis, writing, and group projects.

Scientific Reasoning and Discovery Alternatives

Students can fulfill their Honors Scientific Reasoning and Discovery requirement by either taking an approved alternative course or successfully petitioning a course not already listed here. This list of approved courses is the only eligible list for students who entered the University Honors Program in the fall 2014 semester or later.

(Beginning Fall 2019): 
All sections of BISC 1111: Introductory Biology: Cells and Molecules
All sections of BISC 1112: Introductory Biology: The Biology of Organisms 
(Pre-Fall 2019): 
All sections of BISC 1115: Introductory Biology: Cells and Molecules WITH BISC 1125: Introduction to Cells and Molecules Laboratory
All sections of BISC 1116: Introductory Biology: The Biology of Organisms WITH BISC 1126: Introduction to Organisms Laboratory
Any 4-credit 2000-level Biology course with lab
All sections of CHEM 1111: General Chemistry I
All sections of CHEM 1112: General Chemistry II
Any 4-credit 2000-level Chemistry course with lab
All sections of PHYS 1021: University Physics I
All sections of PHYS 1022: University Physics II
All sections of PHYS 1025: University Physics I with Biological Applications
All sections of PHYS 1026: University Physics II with Biological Applications
Any 4-credit 2000-level Physics course with lab
Other Lab-Based Science Courses (With Successful Petition)
Any other 4 credit lab-based science course that is not already on this list may be petitioned to count as an alternative. Speak with a Program Manager for more information about the petition process and to obtain a petition form. Students should begin the petition process as soon as possible, and may submit a petition no later than seven days before the end of the add/drop period for the given semester.
CRNs, course meeting times, appropriate prerequisites, and other pertinent registration information for these courses can be found at the online Schedule of Classes