Previous Seminars

Honors courses are always changing. The same seminar may be taught up to three times, but even with the same title, professors are always adapting and refining the readings, assignments and their approach to teaching.

3 - Credit Courses

 3 Credit Courses: (Full descriptions are below.)

Civic Engagement Seminar: Service, Community, and Social Action

What is civic engagement? What are the goals of civic engagement? What does civic engagement look like in the Ithaca community? How can various forms of civic engagement contribute to meeting the needs of communities and/or creating social change in different ways? What are the roles and responsibilities of individual citizens in addressing the pervasiveness of injustice and inequality in our society? How do our personal experiences influence the ways in which we understand social issues, and how does this understanding shape our motivations and forms of engagement?

This course draws on theory, research, and direct experience to explore numerous forms of civic engagement and evaluate the opportunities and challenges each offers in working towards positive social change.

This course aims to: develop a more complex understanding of what civic engagement entails; to reflect on the ways that civic engagement can complement other kinds of learning; and to develop a greater sensitivity about the needs and gifts of the greater Ithaca community and its citizens.

This course also requires students themselves to engage in the local community, and critically reflect on their experience. Students will have the opportunity to examine their own personal motivations and experiences with civic engagement, as well as gain a deeper understanding of how our social identities can influence our social change efforts.

Cultural Encounters with IC

Investigation of the broad range of cultural experiences to be encountered at Ithaca College. We attend live cultural events and talk and write about them. The course works to broaden students’ participation in the rich cultural life on campus and encourage them to become lifelong patrons of live cultural events.

Film Festivals and Blogging: FLEFF 2019

Application Process:

Admission to the seminar and FLEFF blogging internship requires a short application and is competitive.

Requirements:  Must have one full year of courses at Ithaca College and at minimum sophomore standing. Students previously enrolled in the FLEFF Festivals course as FLEFF Fellows or in the Honors seminar in Participatory Cultures have priority as FLEFF blogging interns.  Overrides available for students outside of the Honors program for this seminar and internship.

For further details on how to apply for this course, please contact Dr. Patricia Zimmermann.

Note: students with sophomore standing through credits but who are currently in their first year as Ithaca College students are not eligible.  Please ask Dr. Zimmermann which course you should enroll if you are interested in the above-listed course

Course Description

This advanced seminar engages competitively selected students in an intensive and immersive experience in the 21st Annual Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival (FLEFF) as bloggers and festival ambassadors. Students serve as interns for FLEFF 2019.

The course provides students with a coordinated blend of theory, history, and practice. The course works within an international and transnational focus. It explores and analyzes the histories, operations, politics, creative industries impact, and programming of festivals as a critical nodal point in the entertainment and arts industries through significant books from the scholarly literature.

This seminar provides an avenue to learn professional blogging for film festivals and arts/entertainment organizations, with students writing for the FLEFF blogs in a very public, high profile way, interviewing the festival team and festival guests.  It also provides training in learning how to be part of the staff of a festival by thoroughly learning all aspects of the history of FLEFF, its mission and vision, it’s financing, partnerships, programming, the current year’s programming, and current year’s goals for audience development and engagement as well as visibility.

Finally, the course probes the purpose of festivals as a place for embodied, meaningful, and significant conversations about issues of importance in the world. Blogging interns have special access to festival guests and special events and convenings.

Special notes: bloggers need to commit to full immersion in FLEFF during FLEFF week both on and off campus.  These sessions will replace some seminar sessions post-festival as they cover required class meeting sessions.

Food as Communication

Offers students a structured platform to investigate the relationship between food and communication. The course is designed for students that are passionate about food, but have little to no background in communication. It provides an introduction into the role of communication across the food and hospitality professions.  Students will examine various functions, events, campaigns, and media through active participation, writing, discussing, and reading. Open only to students in the Ithaca College Honors Program.

Gaming, Gratifications and Gatherings

The new agora for families and friends is around the game controller. Gaming, fantasy sports and gambling are more influential than ever because of disruptive technology, the rise of analytics, legal decisions and changing mores. Through the case-study method, we explore how once frowned-upon activities are now mainstream leisure and economic pursuits.

Gender, Ecology, and Global Change

This honors seminar explores interconnections between humans and the environment with a focus on gender. Building on the national commitment in honors education to justice and diversity, we ask how gendered humans relate with nature, and how individuals and groups can change these relationships.

We study patriarchy, colonialism, capitalist development, globalization, and environmental crises. We also examine social movements that propose alternatives to current gender hierarchies and ecological destruction, including feminist, indigenous, and environmental justice movements.

Readings include texts by scholars, activists, citizen scientists and organic intellectuals, ranging from historians, ecologists, and feminists to social and environmental activists. Fieldwork and experiential opportunities will also allow students to explore local expressions of these issues.

Global Graphic Novel

This seminar will explore the diverse range of voices and topics in graphic novels from around the world.  We will study issues of war, power, race, class and sex as represented by a multitude of non-traditional writers and visual artists, and discuss the history of conflict over the issue of multi-culturalism and diversity from these perspectives.   We will highlight the manner in which this genre is able to undermine and question dominant narratives of social, political and economic issues. We will be considering these texts from Cultural, Media and Visual Studies perspectives, and students will create their own version of a graphic novel using these theoretical perspectives in practical application.

Globalization, Environment, & You

Globalization might be the most important social phenomenon of our time. More than any other social, political, or cultural process, globalization defines the era we live in. Globalization ranks right up there with the dawn of agriculture and the industrial revolution in its power to reorganize human life. You could make a convincing argument that globalization affects every person in the world.

Globalization is inextricably linked to the environment. You can’t understand environmental change without confronting globalization, and you can’t understand globalization while ignoring its environmental implications. The dawn of agriculture and the industrial revolution were profoundly environmental processes just as they were profoundly social and political processes.

As college students, you are soon to become powerful agents of both globalization and environmental change. (Actually you already are powerful agents, but you might not be fully aware of this fact yet.) This course will inform and empower you to push globalization and environmental change in directions you want them to go.

We will use an interdisciplinary social-science perspective and focus on the environmental, economic, political, social, and cultural dimensions of globalization, as well as their interactions. Our readings and discussions will illustrate how the costs and benefits of globalization accrue differently and unevenly among the world’s people.

International Scholarly Conversation

Focuses on intellectual careers or scholarly issues associated with major international visiting scholars at Ithaca College. Many of these scholars are Fulbright scholars invited to campus for this course. Open only to students in the Ithaca College Honors Program. Prerequisite: Sophomore standing.

Movement Beyond Borders: Immigration as a Global Issue

Population movements, in the form of both labor migration and refugees, have been a constant of the modern world for centuries. In this course, we’ll look at theories of migration from a range of disciplines. We’ll also look at historical and contemporary migration patterns, as well as the political effects of population movements.

Students will see that immigration is an issue globally; that it’s not just about people coming to the US; and that people move for similar reasons no matter where they go.

The Politics of Hamilton

The course draws on the hit musical Hamilton to discuss early American political and constitutional thinking.  Alexander Hamilton was among the most important of the American founders.  Born in Charlestown, Nevis, orphaned at a young age, he rose to become chief aide to General Washington during the American Revolution.  He was at the Constitutional Convention of 1787. He wrote most of The Federalist Papers, which are considered among the most important political documents in American history. He was the first Secretary of Treasury and was responsible for initiating the First National Bank, which was crucial to fostering American economic development.  He opposed slavery and believed in a strong national government. He died in a duel with Aaron Burr, who Hamilton had long known as a sometime colleague and political competitor. His funeral a was huge public event, attended by thousands of people in New York City, a city that Hamilton helped shape as a future center of global finance and culture.

The U.S. and Genocide

Has the United States committed genocide in Iraq?  If it has, what does this mean for our understanding of international relations, international law, and the identity of U.S. citizens?  How do we understand the belligerence expressed by vast swaths of the rest of the world towards U. S. foreign policy?  What does it mean for everyday thinking and actions?  If the U.S. has not committed genocide, how shall we conceptualize U.S. actions in Iraq?  The course asks these question by focusing on three junctures: (1) the Nuremberg Trails initiated and spearheaded by the U.S. to convict Nazis leaders at the close of World War II; (2) the claim by various Amerindian scholars that the creation of the U.S. and its occupation of Indian lands is the result of genocide; and (3) a short study of the “Gulf War” that documents the U.S. attack and occupation of Iraq.

Transnational Media and the Disney Empire

Transnational media conglomerates such as Viacom or the Disney Company are among ‘the primary agents of cultural globalization’ and have been described as ‘media superpowers.’

The Walt Disney Company that owns Pixar, Marvel Entertainment, ESPN and Star Wars is one the largest and influential transnational media giants in the world. It is the most recognized US-based media brand among children and families worldwide and has grown into a powerful cultural and economic force since its establishment in 1923 by Walt and Roy Disney.

As David Buckingham, influential British media scholar put it, ‘children today are Disney children; and parents are Disney parents’ in many parts of the world.
The primary aim of this interdisciplinary and critical course is to develop an in-depth understanding of the Walt Disney Corporation as a transnational media conglomerate, its social, cultural, political, and economic importance within the United States and internationally.

First, students will become familiar with the history of the Disney Company and its key holdings that include television, radio, film, and animation, theme parks, music labels, theatrical production, tourism, and sports. While many students might have grown up on Disney and Pixar animation, they will be challenged to re-examine the range of characters and stories looking at racial, ethnic, and gender, stereotypes; and specific values promoted by Disney products during the second unit of the course. The third unit will focus on ‘global Disney:’ the marketing and localization of Disney programs, merchandising and leisure activities created and promoted to an increasingly global audience. Several readings will examine the reception and consumption of Disney in other cultures, as well as Disney’s international efforts to globalize its brand and expand its empire.

Women and Fairy Tales

“Women and Fairy Tales” offers the opportunity for challenging, a truly interdisciplinary study of a body of literature long important to personal and global understanding.

You will be asked to examine, question, and form your own ideas about not only the depictions of women in fairy tales but the positive and negative effects of these characterizations—archetypes and stereotypes—on listeners and readers through the ages.

You will be expected to read widely and deeply and to express the results of your scholarship through excellent creative writing (fiction and/or poetry) and oral communication. Along with regular short assignments of in-class writing and two manuscripts for peer-critique sessions, you will shape a 20-minute oral presentation based on this work and what you add to it for a final manuscript of at least 20 pages (one long work OR a connected collection).

Part of the power of this course is that it scans the spectrum from erudite knowledge to access popular culture. Fairy tales connect, delight, inspire and illuminate what we live and what we come to know. What you write will expand this offering!

1 - Credit Courses (Full descriptions are below.)

Honors Capstone

Students reflect on their Honors experience as they complete the Taskstream portfolio. Open only to members of the Ithaca College Honors Program.

Introduction to Autism: What It Is and Isn’t

An overview of autism spectrum disorders, including characteristics, etiology, and common treatment techniques. An emphasis on the dynamic and diverse nature of autism will be explored through an inter-professional lens to learn about how to best work with individuals with autism across different settings. A variety of academic disciplines will be integrated including education, health sciences, arts, sociology, and psychology.

Math of Money 

The mathematics of money course will teach students to learn mathematical methods that help to understand life’s financial decisions, such as those credit cards, managing debt, paying for college, retirement plans, etc.
Furthermore, the course will explore mathematical practices related social justice issues. The aim of the course is to help students develop the knowledge and skills needed to make sound financial decisions, illuminate financial injustices, and motivate social responsibility. After completing the course, students will recognize the power of math, be more motivated to understand mathematical ideas, develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

Opera Immersion

Students will study and discuss Donizetti’s La Fille du Regiment (The Daughter of the Regiment), preparing for and leading to attending a performance at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City on Saturday, March 2, 2019.

Politics and Protest in Contemporary Music

This course is an inquiry into the power of contemporary music to intervene in issues of race, class, gender and political, economic and social injustices. Though we are studying music, this is not a music course per se.

We will be using theories and criticism from multiple disciplines to tease out the complex factors influencing the creation, consumption and functions of the songs and industry practices under examination. Using the music and videos of artists such as Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, Kendrick Lamar, Nas, Pink, Dixie Chicks, Eminem, Nikki Minaj, Katy Perry, Cardi B, Brad Paisley and others, we will analyze lyrics, images, performances and public response to them.

In so doing we can study the cultural work these artifacts are performing and counter the refusal to engage with content embedded in the claim, “It’s only a song.”

In this course, we will focus on three prime elements of creation myths: the creation of the basic architecture of the universe, the gendered creation of human beings, and the origin of evil, all of which are often intertwined in these myths. We will begin by reading creation myths from ancient Mesopotamia, Greece, and Egypt. We will then turn to exploring myths that draw on and respond to these earlier myths – those in the Hebrew Bible and later Jewish traditions, the Christian reinterpretations of the earlier biblical myths, and finally Islamic stories of creation, both in the Qur’an and in later interpretive traditions.

Slow Read – Creation Myths

In this course, we will focus on three prime elements of creation myths: the creation of the basic architecture of the universe, the gendered creation of human beings, and the origin of evil, all of which are often intertwined in these myths. We will begin by reading creation myths from ancient Mesopotamia, Greece, and Egypt. We will then turn to exploring myths that draw on and respond to these earlier myths – those in the Hebrew Bible and later Jewish traditions, the Christian reinterpretations of the earlier biblical myths, and finally Islamic stories of creation, both in the Qur’an and in later interpretive traditions.

Slow Read – Handmaid’s Tale 

The Handmaid’s Tale is a dystopian novel by Canadian author Margaret Atwood. originally published in 1986. Set in a near-future New England, in a totalitarian, Christian theonomy that has overthrown the United States government.

The Philosophy of Impossibility: Magic vs. Technology

Science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke’s third law was “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic;” is there space in our scientific lives for magic? Is it a wish for magical reality that leads to technological advances? How does that combination speak to human emotion and innovation? Uses both storytelling and studies/reportage to explore philosophies and practicalities of religion, science and technology, speculative fiction, and fantasy as they affect our lives, imaginations, and social realities. 

Writing for Yourself

Writing for Yourself is a course designed to lead students to the further exploration and discovery of the importance of words in their lives and how to shape them with significance and power.

As an advanced course, it is primarily a workshop and discussion center, informed by a shared commitment to creating new poetry and prose and learning from offering and listening to thoughtful responses about it.