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HONR 300

Honor Scholar Area Seminar

A study of the historical and philosophical foundations of: A. the humanities; B. the sciences; and C. the social sciences. Each section of the seminar concentrates on an appropriate theme. Two sections are ordinarily taken during the sophomore year and one section during the junior year. May not be taken Pass/Fail.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
1 course each semester

Fall Semester information

Beth Benedix,
Howard Pollack-Milgate

300AA: Honor Scholar Area Sem: The Art of Living Dangerously

The Art of Living Dangerously

"For believe me! -- the secret for harvesting from existence the greatest fruitfulness and the greatest enjoyment is: to live dangerously! Build your cities on the slopes of Vesuvius! Send your ships into uncharted seas! Live at war with your peers and yourselves! Be robbers and conquerors as long as you cannot be rulers and possessors, you seekers of knowledge! Soon the age will be past when you could be content to live hidden in forests like shy deer! At long last the search for knowledge will reach out for its due: -- it will want to rule and possess, and you with it!"
--Nietzsche, The Gay Science

Yes! Nietzsche's exclamation will serve as our jumping-off point for this team-taught course that explores a range of proposed ideas for what it means to "live dangerously." In the midst of a world that has seemingly become all-too-dangerous, the writers and thinkers and artists we encounter will help us to navigate the every day, marshall our strength, and live life as a risk-taking work of art.


Andrew Cullison

300AB: Honor Scholar Area Sem: Ethics and International Relations

Ethics and International Relations

In an increasingly globalized world, international policies and relations have become ever more important and complicated. While the significance of political, economic, and military factors is obvious, the ethical dimensions and implications of international relations are just as vital, and often ignored in policy discussions and debates. This course will explore the ethical and philosophical dimensions of international policy discussions with the aim of adding philosophical and ethical perspectives to those debates. The course will explore the critical issues that are topics of concern for the United Nations. A significant outcome of coursework will be outreach and service-oriented, and will extend our reach beyond the DePauw classroom. We will work to develop content expertise on the cases that will be discussed at the annual National Model United Nations Conference that is held every March in New York City. Class projects will develop resources for the participants in this conference, and develop strategies to provide conference participants with resources to think about their cases. There may be an opportunity to attend (at no cost to you) the New York conference in March the following semester.


Kevin Moore

300BA: Honor Scholar Area Sem: Evolution and Human Nature

Evolution and Human Nature

The Philosopher Daniel Dennett once called evolution "the single best idea anyone ever had." If this claim has any merit, then surely evolutionary perspectives can shed light on important questions about human nature in general, and issues like cooperation, aggression, sex and gender, aesthetics, emotion, cognition, moral judgments, and environmental concerns in particular. We will look at current and historical attempts to develop scientific accounts of human nature, and examine their strengths, weaknesses, and motivations. The course offers an opportunity to explore how the "single best idea anyone ever had" can be applied to human nature and important contemporary concerns.


Humberto Barreto

300CA: Honor Scholar Area Sem: Law and Economics

Law and Economics

This course revolves around Posner's claim that "the common law bears the stamp of economic reasoning." We will evaluate to what extent the "economic way of thinking" explains legal rules in property rights, torts, and contract law. We will cover concepts such as the Coase Theorem and discuss how economics has expanded into legal theory and law schools. Each student will participate in a moot court reenactment of a constitutional law case.


Rachel Goldberg

300CB: Honor Scholar Area Sem: God at War and Peace

God at War and Peace

Religion can be a call to war and an inspiration for peace. Religion is also the source of most of the world's moral norms about peace and forgiveness, (for good and for ill), and has been an important root for positive social change and nonviolence, through, for instance, the deeply faith-based work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mohandas K. Gandhi. As you might guess, religion can be one of the more powerful influences in conflict. In fact, some argue that religion is so often used as an excuse for violence and hatred that ending all religions would significantly reduce incidences of war (Richard Dawkins). Others, however, argue that religion may also be the best way to resolve or respond to some of the deepest and most troubling conflicts of our time. For instance, R. Scott Appleby says that "the parts of Islam and Christianity that speak for openness, diversity, and unity have been 'a woefully underdeveloped resource in conflict resolution in general.' "

The class will explore the underlying questions shaping these debates, including how religious identity, theology, psychology, and religious moral norms are influencing current conflicts, both as a source of inner guidance, and as ideological tools for hegemonic dominance. We will examine various explanations for how religion is being used as a source of division, and why and how that succeeds. The risk or danger is that with increasing success, selective religious interpretations are being used to escalate conflict with a goal of creating new, theocratic regimes and movements.

The positive potential, however, can be seen in social change movements like Engaged Buddhism, which motivated Thich Nhat Hanh's Buddhist Struggle Movement in Vietnam. We will also investigate how faith is used to support conflict transformation, through preventive diplomacy, education and training, or through withdrawing or providing legitimacy for a government or other legal structures.

We will be reviewing different literatures including Sociology and Psychology, as well as the Religious Peacebuilding literature, and examine different religious traditions and case studies regarding faith and peace and war. We will also examine the claims that science and technology can also be seen as a kind of faith, raising questions about what faith really is and how it affects peace and war. Further, we will connect different kinds of outcomes (stasis, war, negative peace, positive peace) with these differing uses of religion, and discuss how the underlying dynamics fueling destructive conflict can be shifted. One primary example we will study in-depth is the experience of Ed Husain, who came from a democratic, pluralist British background and was drawn into the Islamist movement, eventually becoming one of Britain's most important student militant leaders, before becoming disillusioned, searching for God, and becoming a voice for peace.


Spring Semester information

Beth Benedix

300AA: HoScho AH Sem:Nietzsche, Kafka, and their Legacies


Michael Sinowitz

300AB: HoScho AH Sem:The Wire: Narrative and Representations of Race, Class, and Institutions


Kevin Moore

300BA: HoScho NS Sem:Evolution and Human Nature


Ted Bitner

300BB: HoScho NS Sem:Morality and Medicine


Manu Raghav

300CB: HoScho SS Sem:Economics of Higher Education