Self and Society

Students must complete any two sections of HONR 2047 and/or HONR 2048. In HONR 2047, students choose from a selection of social science introductory courses that provide a foundation in the language, perspectives, methods, and research approaches of a specific social science discipline. In HONR 2048, students engage with a contemporary social issue, problem, or question in a multi-disciplinary thematic course.

Who Should Take These

Upperclassmen must take any two Self and Society courses over the course of their sophomore, junior, or senior years. They do not need to be taken in any particular order.


Honors Macroeconomics

Professor Michael Bradley
HONR 2044: 10- 3 credits
CRN: 30205
TR 11:10-12:25 PM

Fulfills: CCAS: Social Science; ESIA: ECON 1012 requirement; GWSB: Non-Business Elective/Unrestricted Elective; SEAS: Social Science
Equivalent Courses: HONR 2048, ECON 1012

Course Description: This course is an introduction into what the economy is and how it works.  In the course, we will work to understand and manipulate key indicators of macroeconomic performance, learn about important macroeconomic structures, analyze the basic workings of key financial markets, and use some macroeconomic concepts in analyzing a current issues.

The Future of Journalism

Professor Nicole Usher Layser
HONR 2047: 10 - 3 credits
CRN: 35876
M 7:10-9:40 PM

Fulfills: CCAS: Social Science; GWSB: Non-Business Elective/Unrestricted Elective; SEAS: Social Science

Course Description: The future of journalism is rich with questions - and this course aims to tackle whether and in what form the news media will exist in the near future. Key questions about news business models, declining trust in journalism and audience fragmentation, pressures on the professional practice, and technological and computational storytelling innovations will be discussed. This is not a skills class, but a class that thinks deeply about the role of journalism in society and how it is evolving to meet the digital reality and the digital future to come. 

Nations and Nationalism

Professor Theodore Christov
HONR 2047: 81 - 3 Credits
CRN: 34851
M 11:10-1:00 PM

Fulfills: CCAS: Social Science; GWSB: Non-Business Elective/Unrestricted Elective; SEAS: Social Science
Equivalent Courses: HIST 2001

Course Description: "America First," the political slogan of the current US administration, has brought into focus the relationship between the national and the global, the particular and the universal. This seminar explores the sources of our most basic and powerful feelings of political loyalty- our ideas about who we are, who has the right to rule over us, who we are willing to kill and for whom we are willing to die. For much of the past two centuries, such fundamental political loyalties have been shaped by nationalism in much of the world and nationalism has- for good or bad- been implicated in various political phenomena, including violent insurgency, resistance to occupation, the collapse of empires, civil wars, and international conflict.

By asking, what gives rise to continual changes in our conception of ‘humankind’ and ‘nationhood’, this seminar examines the history and practice of the idea of ‘world citizenship’ and its relation to the particular, as expressed in our affinities and loyalties to oneself, groups of belonging, and the ‘nation’ itself. Particular attention will be given to the historical construction of nationalism and identity formation through human rights, self-determination, statehood, humanitarian intervention, borders, and migration. The ultimate goal is to bring conceptual and historical questions to bear on contemporary debates about our understanding of the increasingly cosmopolitan world we live in.

Value Conflict in Politics

Professor Ingrid Creppell
HONR 2047W: 80- 3 credits
CRN: 37439
R 12:45-3:15 PM

Fulfills: WID; CCAS: Social Science, upper-level Philsophy elective (counts as PHIL 2132); GWSB: Non-Business Elective/Unrestricted Elective; SEAS: Social Science
Course Equivalents: PSC 3192W

Course Description: This course will introduce students to the problem of “value conflict,” delve into a number of central political-moral dilemmas, and consider ways to respond to issues of (apparently) irreconcilable values. Isaiah Berlin observed: “The world that we encounter in ordinary experience is one in which we are faced with choices between ends equally ultimate, and claims equally absolute, the realization of some of which must inevitably involve the sacrifice of others.” Because politics consists in struggles over needs, power and order, people’s conflicting ideas about what is good and right are primary drivers of political existence. The most basic features of living together depend on values and how we manage confrontations over them. The clashing ideas we study will include conceptions of freedom, equality, justice, racial reparations, protecting the environment, human rights, nationalism, cosmopolitanism, and immigration. We will read theoretical and polemical texts that argue for contrasting points of view. This is a reading and discussion-based course. A familiarity with political theory is preferred.

Europe and the World 

Professor Michael Sodaro
HONR 2048:10- 3 credits
CRN: 37440
R 12:45-3:15 PM

Fulfills: ESIA: Europe/Eurasia (Group A) and international politics concentrations; GWSB: Non-Business Elective/Unrestricted Elective; SEAS: Social Sciences

Course Description: This course examines the EU's foreign affairs institutions and the relations of the EU and its Member States with the U.S., Russia, Turkey, China, the developing world and other areas.  Issues covered include security, immigration, trade, terrorism, climate change and others.

Improve the World 

Professor Fran Buntman
HONR 2048: 12- 3 credits
CRN: 37441
M 3:30-6:00 PM

Fulfills: CCAS: Upper-level political science elective; GWSB: Non-Business Elective/Unrestricted Elective; SEAS: Social Sciences

Course Description: Improve the World: From Knowledge to Impact. This class introduces students to social change from theoretical and disciplinary perspectives in Sociology, Political Science, and Law and Society scholarship. We consider an array of case studies that emphasize the role of research and knowledge regarding how social change is achieved and what changes to pursue in our complex societies. Case studies would be micro and macro, liberal and conservative, domestic and international, and in a range of substantive areas. The methods and arenas of change will reflect the lived ways social change occurs, from social media to social movements, from policy change to public protests, from electoral politics to entertainment and the arts, to name some iconic arenas. This course aims to reinforce for students that knowledge can indeed improve the world, both in what to change and how to achieve those changes, and that, as students, as citizens, and as future professionals, class members can be change agents.

Holocaust Memory

Professor Walter Reich
HONR 2048:80 - 3 credits
CRN: 37442
W 3:30-6:00 PM

Fulfills: CCAS: Upper-level History European Regional requirement; ESIA: Comparative, Political, Economic, and Social Systems,Conflict Resolution, Contemporary Cultures and Societies, Europe and Eurasia, International Politics, Security Policy concentrations; GWSB: Non-Business Elective/Unrestricted Elective; SEAS: Social Sciences
Course Equivalents: JSTD 2002, IAFF 3190

Course Description: The sources, construction, development, nature, uses and misuses of the memory, or public consciousness, of the Holocaust.  How different publics in different countries, cultures and societies know, or think they know, about the Holocaust from diaries, memoirs, testimonies, fiction, documentaries, television, commercial films, memorials, museums, the Internet, educational programs and the statements of world leaders—some of them historically accurate and some of them highly distorted.  The challenge of representing the Holocaust with fidelity and memorializing its victims with dignity and authenticity.  The impact of Holocaust memory on contemporary responses to other genocides and to crimes against humanity.  The increasing efforts to use, misuse, abuse, minimize, deny or attack the Holocaust for political, diplomatic, strategic, ideological, anti-Semitic or other purposes.  The effectiveness—or lack of effectiveness--of Holocaust memory in teaching the Holocaust’s contemporary “lessons,” especially the vow of “Never again!”  The roles of Holocaust memory, and of Holocaust denial or minimization, in international affairs, including in the Middle East in general and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in particular.

Émigré Intellectuals and the Making of Post-WII Politics

Professor Arie Dubnov
HONR 2048: 81- 3 credits
CRN: 38151
MW 3:45-5:00 PM

Fulfills: GWSB: Non-Business Elective/Unrestricted Elective; SEAS: Social Sciences
Course Equivalents: JSTD 2002, HIST 2001

Course Description: The rise of National Socialism to power prompted an unprecedented large-scale exodus of Central European scholars who have had an enormous impact on American cultural life in particular, and the post-World War II world of politics in general. The primary aim of the course is to introduce students to the key ideas and classical writings of these figures, and to examine their responses to and analysis of the age of extremes. We will begin our journey with the writings of Theodor Adorno, Herbert Marcuse and Erich Fromm – the founders of the Frankfurt School – and will continue with the analyses of totalitarianism and “political Messianism” offered by Hannah Arendt, Gershom Scholem, Jacob L. Talmon, and Karl Popper, which we will then compare and contrast with the evaluation of liberalism one finds in the writings of Leo Strauss, Isaiah Berlin, and Arthur Koestler.

We shall examine these thinkers’ analyses of enlightenment, nationalism, socialism, and totalitarianism, their life stories, and their direct and indirect role in creating a transatlantic political discourse in postwar years. We will try to ask ourselves to what extend were their political and philosophical writings designed as a response to the maladies of the twentieth century, and to what extent did their Jewishness notify their writings, if at all. By doing so we shall be able to contextualize historically the fundamental features of Jewish intellectual activity after 1945.

Global Governance, Complex Emergencies, and Public Health

Professor Michael Barnett
HONR 2048:82- 3 credits
CRN: 36014
T 3:30-6:00 PM

Fulfills: ESIA: global pulic health, international politics, and Africa (Group A) concentrations; GWSB: Non-Business Elective/Unrestricted Elective; SEAS: Social Sciences

Course Description: This course examines the international community’s attempt to save the lives of those caught by conflict.  Since the 1990s, a growing number of global actors have become involved in what are called complex humanitarian emergencies – situations in which there is a rapid breakdown of security and safety that causes immediate danger to populations and displaced peoples.  In order to cope with the growing demands, an increasingly number of states, international organizations, and international non-governmental organizations have intervened.  This growth is especially visible in public health, where a variety of services, including emergency, primary, and mental health care.  

Yet the growing responsibilities have also raised a variety of questions regarding the relationship between the deliverers and the recipients in complex emergencies.  This course focuses on several integrated themes.  One is power.  Those who intervene have considerable power over the vulnerable.  Questions of inequalities between the deliverers and patients have been a source of considerable concern in the area of medical ethics, and these concerns are amplified in complex emergencies where there exist considerable disparities of power and the absence of effective domestic law.   Another is the relationship between the global and the local.  If there was not a local demand for foreign assistance, then aid agencies would not be rushing to the scene.  But one of the pressing concerns is whether and how local health networks participate in these interventions.  What, if any role, do they have?  Does the external intervention help build or weaken local capacity?  Third, what are the mechanisms of accountability?  Are interveners constrained by more than conscious or professional regulations from their home country?  What happens when the external interveners do more harm that good?  Are there any ways for the local population to hold external actors responsible?  Fourth, these and other issues related to the power of health interventions are not new.  Indeed, they are quite familiar, have been the source of considerable discussion, and have led to proposed reforms.  But, most of the time, these reforms make it no further than the outcome reports and executive summaries.  Why?  What can be done?  

We examine these issues both thematically and substantively in several emergencies.  At this point we have identified the following possible cases:  Ebola in West Africa in 2014; the response to the Haitian earthquake in 2010, including the introduction of cholera by peacekeepers; gender health concerns, and especially trauma caused gender-based violence; the immediate response by the allied forces to the concentration camp survivors after World War Two; and the issue of forced vaccination in refugee camps in various parts of Africa.  

Epidemics in American History

Professor Vanessa Gamble
HONR 2048W: 80- 3 credits
CRN: 37658
MW 12:45-2:00 PM

Fulfills: WID; GWSB: Non-Business Elective/Unrestricted Elective; SEAS: Social Sciences
Course Equivalents: AMST 4701W, HIST 3301W

Course Description: This course surveys the history of infectious disease epidemics in the United States from the late nineteenth century to today. It examines the development of the medical and public health responses to epidemics and the social, political, cultural and economic impact of epidemics on American history and culture. We will use primary documents, historical accounts, memoirs, and films to understand the history of epidemic disease.