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.


Human Rights: Here, There, and Everywhere

Professor Maria Restrepo
HONR 2047:10 - 3 Credits
CRN: 27984
T 10:00-12:30 PM

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

Course Description: The subject of Human Rights (HR) arguably lays bare the entire premise of liberal education itself. The issue of HR exposes us to the world outside our own circle of experience; and also requires us to make judgments, assessments, and interpretations of uncertain situations, often in settings where there are no clear penalties for wrong decisions or rewards for right ones. Certainly the claim of an expert that “Most students of Western developed countries have the luxury of forgetting about Human Rights” does not hold so true in today’s internet-enabled and interconnected society. This class grapples with these issues. It will teach you fresh skills to think critically about this important topic — whether it concerns ongoing situations 'here, there or everywhere'.

Bill of Rights & Criminal Justice

Professor Stephen Saltzburg
HONR 2047:80 - 3 credits
CRN: 26892
MW 12:45-2:00 PM

Fulfills: CCAS: Social Science; GWSB: Non-Business Elective/Unrestricted Elective; SEAS: Social Science
Equivalent Course: SOC 2146

Course Description: Examination of the powers of law enforcement and how they relate to the rights conferred upon suspects and defendants by the U.S. Constitution.

Storytelling & D.C. Slavery

Professor Lisa St. Clair Harvey
HONR 2047:M10 - 3 credits
CRN: 27326
TR 4:10-5:25 PM

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

Course Description:  "Storytelling and Slavery" is an experientially-based Honors class that gives students a chance to conduct original research on race, identity, and cultural legacy while simultaneously exploring salient issues of past and present as they intersect in two places: Today's national headlines and the surviving built environment of the neighborhood surrounding G.W.'s Mount Vernon campus. The structure of the course is based on a combination of classroom based teaching, curated field excursions, guest lectures, film analyses, and hands-on oral history and ethnographic research. 

Human Rights & Technology

Professor Steven Livingston
HONR 2048:10- 3 credits
CRN: 27346
W 3:30-6:00 PM

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

Course Description: With the concomitant belief in progress, individualism, and limited power, human rights is central to liberal democratic thought. Yet technology has played an ambiguous role in the realization of these ideals in general and human rights in particular. Technology sometimes epitomizes progress and that arc of history that bends toward justice. Progress is embodied in sleek gadgets with astonishing capabilities, medical breakthroughs that promise cures for long-dreaded diseases, and journeys to distant planets. On the other hand, technology is understood as heartless and soulless, ushering in a world of job-killing automation, panoptic surveillance, designer babies, and potentially ruinous advances in artificial intelligence (AI). Because technology is Janus-faced, it is at least sometimes in tension with human rights. This course situates technology in this broader discourse on rights and liberal democratic thought. We will explore how a broad array of technologies – satellites, big data analytics, massively parallel DNA sequencing – enable the documentation and enforcement of rights. Conversely, we will consider how AI and state and corporate administrative agencies attempt to of obfuscate facts, intimidate adversaries, and undermine liberal democratic institutions. How are we to understand the place of technology in the realization of human rights and other liberal democratic ideals? 

**CANCELLED** Internet History & Future Work

Professor David Grier
HONR 2048:11 - 3 Credits
CRN: 25814
W 3:30-6:00 PM

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

Course Description: An analysis of two major trends of our time: the expansion of action at a distance and the restricting of institutional production. The class explores these ideas through primary texts, guest discussants, Honors Alums, visits to Lafayette Square, crowdsourced projects and the writings of Lillian Moller Gilbreth. The course is a socratic discussion course. Participants should be unafraid of technology, devoted to good writing and followers of the podcast "How We Manage Stuff".

Global Governance

Professor Michael Barnett
HONR 2048:80 - 3 Credits
CRN: 25813
TR 11:10-12:25 PM

Fulfills: ESIA: International Politics Concentration, Security Policy Concentration; GWSB: Non-Business Elective/Unrestricted Elective; SEAS: Social Sciences
Course Equivalent: IAFF 3190, PSC 2994

Course Description: This course examines global governance - the creation, revision, and enforcement of the rules that are intended to govern the world. We will begin by considering the international order that lurks behind and defines any governance arrangement. The purpose of global governance is to create stability in global relations, further collective interests, and pursue the collective good. But whose stability and whose collective is it? How should we think about the relationship between [email protected] andAinternational [email protected] What is international order? How is it produced, sustained, and regulated? Whose order is it? How are different governance arrangements tied to different kinds of world orders?

Holocaust Memory

Professor Walter Reich
HONR 2048:81 - 3 Credits
CRN: 26134
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: IAFF 3190, JSTD 2002

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. 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.

Essential Concepts in Politics

Professor Ingrid Creppell
HONR 2048W:80 - 3 Credits
CRN: 24190
T 3:30-6:00 PM

Fulfills: GWSB: Non-Business Elective/Unrestricted Elective; SEAS: Social Sciences
Course Equivalents: PSC 3192W

Course Description: In this course we examine three fundamental concepts of modern political life: the state, rights, and the public (sphere/opinion).  These ideas developed out of a long history and continue to inform political argument and action today. We study their origins and transformations through key works of the following authors (among others): Hobbes, Weber, Geertz, Locke, Rousseau, Burke, Paine, Jefferson, Tocqueville, Dewey, Habermas, and Arendt.  The aim is to understand basic conceptual building blocks of the political world, the central debates surrounding them, and their legacy into the present. We also consider how the ideas are being reshaped in the 21st century as the world becomes both more globalized and as it retracts into nationalism. Some questions to be explored: when did the modern state emerge on the world stage? What powers does it have? What moral status can it claim? What are natural rights? On what is this idea based? What is the difference between individual rights and human rights?  Are rights relative to different political-cultural traditions? What do we mean when we talk about the public? Is “the public” a moral embodiment of “the people”? When did a public sphere take shape? How are public opinion and democracy connected? Can we now conceive of a global public sphere?

Race, American Medicine, and Public Health

Professor Vanessa Northington Gamble
HONR 2048W:81
CRN: 27456
MW 12:45-2:00 PM

Fulfills: GWSB: Non-Business Elective/Unrestricted Elective; SEAS: Social Sciences; MISPH: Public Health major elective
Course Equivalents: AMST 4702W, HIST 3001W

Course Description: This course focuses on the role of race and racism in the development of American medicine and public health by examining the experiences of African Americans from slavery to today. It will emphasize the importance of understanding the historical roots of contemporary policy dilemmas such as racial and ethnic inequalities and inequities in health and health care. The course will challenge students to synthesize materials from several disciplines to gain a broad understanding of the relationship between race, medicine, and public health in the United States.