Self and Society

Students must complete two sections of HONR 2047 between their second and fourth years. 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.

Fall 2024 Courses

Cross-listed Honors courses

NOTE: Students must be registered in the HONR section in order to receive UHP credit. For courses that are cross-listed with another department, the UHP can add "credit" for a course to the student's DegreeMAP within the major and/or minor's requirements block. Students must have officially declared the major or minor with their respective school, and it must be reflected on their DegreeMAP at the time of the request. Students may also petition their school/major to accept HONR courses they find are relevant to their curriculum requirements. For any questions, please see a UHP Program Manager. 

A cross-listed course is a course that is shared with another department, please pay careful attention to the GPAC attributes associated with each cross-listed course.

Upper-Level Course Substitution Option

On occasion, a UHP student may have a particular interest in a certain course or topic outside of their major which we are not able to offer formally through the UHP but which may nonetheless conform to some or all of the ideals of an Honors course. If a UHP student can demonstrate that they will benefit personally and intellectually from that course, they may be granted an exception to count one non-UHP course toward the UHP upper-level course requirements. Please review the upper-level course substitution option webpage for more information.

Ancient Skies: Our Journey to Understand the Cosmos

Professor Shanil Virani

HONR 2047:12 - 3 Credits

CRN: 85826

M 6:10PM - 8:40PM


  • GPAC Critical Thinking in the Social Sciences

Course Description: The Great Pyramids of Egypt. Newgrange in Ireland. Stonehenge in England. Angkor Wat in Cambodia. Chaco Canyon in the American southwest. Chitchen Itza in Mexico. Macchu Pichu in Peru. These are just a few of the elaborate structures that our ancestors built that indicate they deciphered the pattern of motion of the Sun and Moon over the course of a year. They understood that the Sun did not rise due East every day and did not set due west every day. They understood there was a season of cold, of growth and renewal, of warmth, and a time when nights grew long. They observed that the moon repeated its cycle of phases approximately every 30 days, and even coined a word for that timescale that we still use! Month. Think Moon-th! These observations led to the creation of early calendars that were important to new agragrian societies. Moreover, the ancient Wayfinders of Polynesia figured out how to use the position of stars to navigate some of the most treacherous waters on Earth. This allowed them to discover many of the islands in the South Pacific and perhaps even reach South America long before European explorers. Join astronomer and host of the Our Island Universe podcast, Shanil Virani, as we journey through space and time to view the ancient skies of our ancestors, to learn how they decoded its patterns, and what this says about us as a species. Following in the path of our ancestors, semester-long observing of the day and night sky will allow you to make sense of the regular patterns they decoded.

Bio: Professor Virani is the host of Our Island Universe, a weekly podcast that looks at all things space. Professor Virani’s research has focused on supermassive black holes at the center of galaxies. 

Politics and Culture

Professor Harvey Feigenbaum

HONR 2047:13 - 3 Credits

CRN: 86511

T 1:00PM - 3:30PM


  • GPAC Critical Thinking in the Social Sciences

Course Description: This is a course that examines a number of the ways that issues of culture and politics intersect.  While the subject is vast, and could hardly be exhausted by a single course, the purpose of this seminar is to give the student an idea as to some of the ways in which culture affects politics and in which politics affects culture.  As always in a proseminar, there will be no lectures.  Rather, we will discuss the readings assigned each week. Topics will include the political and cultural dimensions of the film industry, nationalism, fascism and foreign policy...among others topics.

Bio: Dr. Feigenbaum is a Professor of Political Science and International Affairs. He is an expert on the political economy of Western Europe and is currently writing a book on the political economy of the entertainment industry, focusing on the United States, France, and Britain.

Identity and Politics in Africa

Professor Matthew Kirwin

HONR 2047:14 - 3 Credits

CRN: 86512

M 5:10PM - 7:00PM


  • GPAC Critical Thinking in the Social Sciences
  • CCAS: Political Science 2000-level elective requirement

Course Description: The class will focus on African identities and how they both shape and are shaped by political behavior.  It will commence with an examination of the origin stories of several key ethnic groups and how these narratives shape claims to legitimacy in modern polities.  The class will also investigate how westerners have regarded Africa and how these largely pejorative perceptions affected western engagement with the continent and how these views continue to resonate today. It will attempt to answer the question of how identity affects political access and resource distribution on the continent.  The class will conclude with a discussion of how outsiders, foreign governments and militaries as well as global extremist organizations seek to influence the continent while also considering how African publics interpret these efforts.  The class will take a multimedia approach, relying on academic articles, films, novels and music to examine how African identities are formed and shaped.

Bio: Dr. Kirwin is a Division Chief in the Office of Opinion Research at the US Department of State who has over 20 years of work and research experience on development, and security in Africa. He once served in the Peace Corps in Niger and was awarded GW’s Morton A. Bender Teaching Award in 2021.

Providing Reading Materials for Underprivileged Children

Professor Leo Chalupa

HONR 2047:15 - 3 Credits

CRN: 86513

TR 2:20PM - 3:35PM


  • GPAC Critical Thinking in the Social Sciences

Course Description: Since the early 1950s a vast literature from the neurosciences has established the paramount importance of experience on the developing brain. The preschool years have been shown to play a determining factor in subsequent successful performance in school, and indeed, in life in general. In this context, it is alarming that children raised in disadvantaged socioeconomic families often have little or no experience with age-appropriate books. The main objective of the class is to devise a children’s book drive at GWU and to distribute these books to economically disadvantaged families. The course will be comprised of the following: (i) a selective review of the relevant neuroscientific and educational literature documenting the important of exposure to books from infancy through preschool; (ii) designing a workable plan for obtaining children’s book donations from the GWU community (and possibly related groups); the sorting and storage of these books, as well as the distribution of these books utilizing appropriate channels within the District of Columbia.

A term paper based on the course experience will be required.

Bio: Dr. Chalupa is a Professor of Pharmacology and Physiology in GW's School of Medicine and Health Sciences whose research focuses on the developmental neurobiology of visual systems. He served for nearly a decade as GW's first Vice President for Research, growing GW's research profile significantly during his tenure. 

Holocaust Memory

Professor Walter Reich

HONR 2047:81 - 3 Credits

CRN: 85612

W 3:30PM - 6:00PM


  • This course has no GPAC designations
  • CCAS: Upper-level History European Regional requirement
  • ESIA: Comparative, Political, Economic, Social Systems, Conflict Resolution, Contemporary Cultures and Societies, Europe and Eurasia, International Politics, and Security Policy concentrations

***Note that UHP students will only receive Self & Society credit if they are enrolled in the HONR 2047 section (CRN: 85612)***

Course cross listed with IAFF 3205.80 (CRN: 87499) and JSTD 2002.87 (CRN: 87579)

Course Description: The sources, construction, development, nature, uses and misuses of the memory, or public consciousness, of the Holocaust. How do 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, social media, educational programs and the statements of world leaders—some of them historically accurate and some of them highly distorted, often for political and national reasons. 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 crimes against humanity. The increasing efforts to use, misuse, abuse, minimize, deny or attack the Holocaust for political, diplomatic, strategic, ideological, antisemitic, anti-Zionist, or other purposes, including the growing efforts to create false or distorted narratives of the Holocaust in the service of nationalist, political or ideological ends.  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. The psychological, national and diplomatic role of Holocaust memory in Israeli consciousness and behavior. The effects on Holocaust memory of the passage of time since the event. This course uses a cross-disciplinary approach, drawing on the fields of politics, society, ethics, literature, history, cinema, individual testimony, group psychology, social psychology, individual psychology and international affairs.

Bio: Dr. Reich is the Yitzhak Rabin Memorial Professor of International Affairs, Ethics and Human Behavior and Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. He formerly served as a Director of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Justice and the Legal System I

Professor Jill Kasle

HONR 2047:82 - 3 Credits

CRN: 88040

T 3:30PM - 6:00PM


  • This course has no GPAC designations

***Note that UHP students will only receive Self & Society credit if they are enrolled in the HONR 2047 section (CRN:88040)***

Course cross listed with PPPA 2000.12  (CRN: 84395)

Course Description: Justice and the Legal System is a law school course in constitutional law that has been modified (but not dumbed down) for undergraduates. The course approaches the Constitution as both the blueprint of government (the Articles) and a list of rights (the Amendments).  The readings in the course are Supreme Court opinions; for Fall 2024, some of the Supreme Court opinions may involve issues arising from the upcoming Fall 2024 presidential election.  Students will have the opportunity to develop their ability to write in a brief and clear style.  Law school teaching methods are used. The best description of the course was written a few years ago by a student in the course: "This course is the law school you go to before you go to law school." 

Bio: Prof. Kasle is both a lawyer and Associate Professor of Public Policy and Public Administration. She has extensive experience in telecommunication policy, has served on the Board of Advisors for GW's Undergraduate Law Review Journal, and was GW's university marshal for over two decades!

Musical Cultures of African Americans

Professor Shana Mashego

HONR 2047:83 - 3 Credits

CRN: 88098

MW 11:10AM - 12:25PM


  • This course has no GPAC designations

***Note that UHP students will only receive Self & Society credit if they are enrolled in the HONR 2047 section (CRN: 88098)***

Course cross listed with CMUS 2123.10  (CRN: 85537)

Course Description:  In our course, Musical Cultures of American Americans, we will follow the narrative of American Popular Music through the soundtrack of African American music makers while studying the musicians they influenced and also those who influenced and informed their musical output. We will analyze a prescribed music soundtrack by seeking to understand the historical and sociocultural context that shaped the music maker as we listen to the artistic output of each musician with their societal narrative in mind.  

We will study a wide variety of music makers including, but not limited to, the lives and music of Big Mama Thorton, Florence Price, Ludwig van Beethoven, Billie Holiday, Chuck Berry, The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Prince, Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar while keeping our fingers on the pulse of the motivations, connections, life experiences and historical narrative context of each musician. 

Bio: Dr. Mashego is a Visiting Assistant Professor of African American Music in the Corcoran School of the Arts & Design. Her work probes into the origin story of African Americans, as well as their contributions, struggles, triumphs, and disparities while living inside of the United States of America. Dr. Mashego is also a leading advocate for the preservation and performance practice of the Negro Spiritual.

Refugee & Migrant Crisis

Professor Sudha Rajput

HONR 2047:84 - 3 Credits

CRN: 88104

R 5:10PM - 7:00PM


  • This course has no GPAC designations

***Note that UHP students will only receive Self & Society credit if they are enrolled in the HONR 2047 section (CRN: 88104)***

Course cross listed with IAFF 3190.80 (CRN: 83109)

Course Description: Currently, there are over 100.0 million people around the world in displacement. We will examine various categories of displaced populations, such as migrants, refugees, internally displaced persons (IDPs), and stateless people, from a definitional, global, humanitarian, and a legal perspective, and study the related laws. Additionally, in light of the recent public health pandemic, we will examine the impact of COVID-19 on displaced and migrant populations. This course examines questions such as: Where do these people come from (causes of displacement)? Who assigns labels (and the implications of those labels)? Who is responsible for care and protection? How do international organizations respond to the crisis of displacement? What is the role of humanitarian organizations and private actors? What are the ethics of sovereignty and borders? What are the challenges and ethical dilemmas of state actors, and the rights and responsibilities of the displaced populations? What is the perspective of the affected populations, including feelings of victimization or empowerment? What is the role of host communities? Based on the semester-long learning, students will be expected to explore solutions/policy reform to address the current refugee and migrant crisis. Time permitting, students may engage in an online simulation exercise, with role playing as refugees, members of host communities, policymakers or IDPs. Simulation is intended to enhance students’ sensitivity to concerns and limitations faced by different stakeholders.

Bio: Dr. Rajput is a Professorial Lecturer in the Elliott School of International Affairs. Prior to pursuing her PhD, she worked for many years at the World Bank headquarters in DC. Her recently published book "Internal Displacement and Conflict: The Kashmiri Pandits in Comparative Perspective" compares displaced Kashmiri families with those displaced in Azerbaijan, Georgia/Russia, Serbia, and Sudan (Darfur).

Race, American Medicine, & Public Health: African American Experiences

Professor Vanessa Northington Gamble

HONR 2047W:81 - 3 Credits

CRN: 84289

MW 12:45PM - 2:00PM


  • WID Requirement
  • This course has no GPAC designations

***Note that UHP students will only receive Self & Society credit if they are enrolled in the HONR 2047 section (CRN: 84289)***

Course cross listed with AMST 4702W.80 (CRN: 87661) and HIST 3001W.81 (CRN: 87441)

Course Description: This course examines the history of African Americans and medicine and public health from slavery to today. It will emphasize the importance of understanding the historical roots of contemporary dilemmas such as racial health inequities and the dearth of Black health professionals. The course will challenge you to synthesize materials from several disciplines to gain a broad understanding of the relationship between race, medicine, and public health in the United States. It will also provide a forum to discuss systemic racism in medicine and public health.

Among the questions that will be addressed are: How have race and racism influenced, and continue to influence, American medicine and public health? What is race and how has this concept evolved? What have been some of the historical vulnerabilities of African Americans within the medical system? How have medical thought and practices contributed to systemic racism? What are racial inequities in health and health care and what are their history? How have lay communities, medical and public health professionals, and governmental agencies addressed health inequities? What have been the experiences of African Americans as patients and health care providers?

Bio: Prof. Gamble is University Professor of Medical Humanities and Professor of American Studies.  A physician, scholar, and activist, Dr. Gamble is an internationally recognized expert on the history of American medicine, racial and ethnic disparities in health and health care, public health ethics, and bioethics.She is a member of the National Academy of Medicine. She chaired the committee that took the lead role in the successful campaign to obtain an apology in 1997 from President Clinton for the United States Public Health Syphilis Study at Tuskegee.

Equality & the Law: Introduction to Legal Research and Writing

Professor Zachary Wolfe

HONR 2047W:82 - 3 Credits

CRN: 88086

MW 4:45PM - 6:00PM


  • WID Requirement
  • This course has no GPAC designations
  • CCAS: Law & Society minor requirement

***Note that UHP students will only receive Self & Society credit if they are enrolled in the HONR 2047 section (CRN: 88086)***

Course cross listed with UW 2031W.80 (CRN: 83666)

Course Description: This course offers an introduction to how lawyers and legal scholars research and write about specific disputes that arise in the context of complex social issues. It is one of the required courses for the minor in law and society and satisfies a WID requirement.

Legal writing, like all forms of scholarly writing, is best understood in context and in practice. In this course, we have the opportunity to explore an ongoing challenge to our society in general and the legal system in particular: the promise of equality, and how government relates to it. We do so by examining judicial decisions, statutes, regulations, and law review articles concerning matters related to race, sexual orientation and gender, disability, and others issues that continue to advance major challenges to the system’s ability to realize legal and civil equality. That examination requires an understanding of legal audience expectations as well as the ability to use specialized research techniques and craft written analysis in particular forms, so students will learn about the nuances of argument in the interdisciplinary field of law and the unique requirements of legal research and writing.

Bio: Professor Wolfe teaches writing courses themed around law and social movements and an advanced Writing in the Disciplines course in legal writing. After obtaining his Juris Doctorate from The George Washington University Law School, he practiced public interest law for several years and eventually began teaching part-time. Although he's been a full-time professor for a number of years, he continues to practice law to a limited extent, mostly by consulting on cases and filing an occasional amicus brief. He is an active legal writer, including as the author of the fourth edition and quarterly updates to the seminal Farnsworth on Contracts and of annual editions of Hate Crimes Law. More info (and Supreme Court tips!) are on