Four Honors Courses
Each year, students take one course available only to Honors students.
HON 401 (1 credit; 1 semester)
Hon 101: Exciting New First-Year Honors Courses
Sex and Death / Professor Dennis Frey
While sex and death are biological phenomena that all humans share, these experiences also have cultural meanings and constructions that differ according to location and also tend to change over time. This seminar-based course will therefore take a comparative approach to sex and death; in particular, we will read novels, historical studies, and other sources as we investigate the continuities and changes in gender relations, sexual orientation, death rituals, and familial relations. Our approach will be thoroughly multi-disciplinary as we try to come to a better understanding of how humans have understood sex, gender, and death in various different time periods and in different cultures. The course assignments are designed to engage students in the process of critical analysis and critical thought, tools which humans (should) constantly use in their everyday lives. Thus, this course should not only provide students with a fundamental understanding of how people have understood sex, gender, and death, but it should also provide them with a better, personal understanding of these shared human traits as well.
Truth, Terror, Love and Lies (in the Graphic Novel and Beyond) / Professor Stephanie Athey
When asked if we’ve ever felt the impact of real terror or love or truth or lies, few of us would have to think hard to come up with a memory. In this course we will examine and discuss a variety graphic novels, films and life stories that ask us to rethink the meaning of these terms and how they impact societies as well as individuals. These provocative texts will force us to see truth, terror, love and lies at work in very different and troubling political, historical, and cultural contexts, and will ask us to explore the extent to which these forces shape our notions of duty, taboo, class, race and sex in our own lives and communities. Texts may include The Ten-Cent Plague, 1940s horror and crime comics, early Wonder Woman, X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills, Maus I & II, Fun Home, Arab in the USA.
Food Fight / Professor Lori Rosenthal
Our relationship with food and eating is often described in the context of a battle: We enjoy eating but struggle with diet and eating the “right” foods; children in our society fight against obesity, teenagers combat eating disorders and middle-aged adults “battle the bulge”. In this class, we will explore what we eat and why. Eating is a biological necessity but eating behavior is also strongly influenced by culture. We will emphasize psychological and socio-cultural processes involved in eating and will draw on student’s own cultural backgrounds and academic interests to explore the development of both healthy and unhealthy eating behaviors. Topics to be covered may include: food choice, the development of food preferences, motivation to eat, cultural influences on eating, weight-regulation, body image, dieting behavior, obesity, eating disorders, and treatment of unhealthy eating problems.
Custom, Costume and Culture / Professor Hortense Gerardo
This seminar course will study cultural and individual expressions of identity through body art, decoration and the normative values of beauty as expressed in the development of costume from the stone age to the present. Topics to be discussed will include but are not limited to: cave art, body decoration, tattooing, scarification, and modes of apparel. We will study the fluid nature of the aesthetic ideal and how the active, self-ascribed maintenance of attractiveness is a reflection of cultural identity, the distribution of power, the allocation of resources, and a perpetual struggle to embody the culturally-relative, unattainable attributes of physical perfection. We will begin with Robert Lanham, Food Court Druids, Cherohonkees, and Other Creatures Unique to the Republic. (New York: Penguin 2004). The reading list will evolve over the course of the semester: check the course website for updates.
Telling Our Stories / Professor Catherine Zeek
Quick! What’s the best summer job you’ve had? Your answer will probably include at least one story about the people or the place or the customers or the work. Some of our earliest memories begin with Once upon a time… As we get older, we remember events in our lives in story form (On the first day of kindergarten…) and we get to know new people and places by connecting to our stories (That reminds me of the time when…). In this class, we’ll read stories that people, both famous and ordinary, tell about their lives and the events that influenced them. And we’ll get to know each other, the college, and ourselves better by telling and writing our own stories.
CSI: International / Professor Linda Bucci
The course will focus on the way in which societies deal with issues of social justice cross-culturally. The class will examine in particular how current topics relevant to manhood, womanhood and criminal justice are perceived across disciplines and around the world.
Heroes & Dreamers: Using the Arts for Justice and Change
Hon 205: Sophomore Leadership Seminar / Professor Lemieux
Prerequisite is Hon 101
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”
Martin Luther King
The arts are powerful tools for change. Artists and other creative people have always been socially aware and have often fought for rights, peace, and justice. This course will identify those who have used their creativity as an agent for change through their art. We will look at painters, sculptors, performance artists, installations artists, cartoonists, dancers, musicians, film makers, poets, writers. Students will research subjects of their own interest, and together they participate in a service-learning project that puts their leadership training to work.
Leading by Doing
Hon 205: Sophomore Leadership Seminar / Professor Neil Hatem
Prerequisite is Hon 101
Most often the term “leader” is misunderstood and misused, and this course will study ways to better understand this term and how it applies to each person independently. The best way to learn about leadership is by doing. This class has done this in past semesters by creating a campus-wide campaign to raise awareness and funds for Cystic Fibrosis, or by taking service trips: one to New Orleans to help with Hurricane Katrina relief, and another to Martha’s Vineyard with Habitat for Humanity. We will look for similar experiences this year. We will also look at the strengths and weaknesses of modern and historical leaders.
How to Become Effective in Life
Hon 205: Sophomore Leadership Seminar / Professor Lowenstein
Prerequisite is Hon 101
Leadership is a process of engaging with others and with oneself, and it actually consists of many skills that can be learned. Being a leader (or being an effective person) is also a way of looking at and taking one’s place in an imperfect world. There are many forms of leadership, but the form we will practice, the one we will hone, is called relational leadership, defined in Exploring Leadership as “a relational process of people together attempting to accomplish change or make a difference to benefit the common good” (p. 68). Another quick definition could be personal fire put to the common good. This style of leadership will allow us to become more effective with each other and outside communities. Among many other activities, we will be using our collective talents, knowledge, and skills to interact with and teach another group, 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders at the Lincoln-Eliot School in West Newton.
Community and the Transforming Self
Hon 205: Sophomore Leadership Seminar / Professor Ostrow
Prerequisite is Hon 101
This course explores the relationship between individual and community, with particular attention to how our perspectives form and change, perhaps dramatically, through contact with others. Readings, community service-learning activities, and topics for discussion and writing will be decided upon collaboratively, within a democratic classroom environment (which thereby serves as a laboratory for the exercise of leadership).
Hon 305: Junior Seminar / Professor Sarikas
Prerequisites are Hon 101, Hon 205
The year, 2006, marked the 25th anniversary of the HIV/AIDS pandemic. During this time the disease has killed millions of people around the world and has crippled the socioeconomic structure of many countries. Although research has led to many promising drug therapies that have allowed HIV infected people to live many productive years with the disease, an outright cure is not on the scientific horizon. The virus continues to spread and there is no indication that the death rate is slowing down. Currently about 8,000 people with AIDS are dying every day, worldwide.
In this course an interdisciplinary approach will be used to complete an in-depth investigation of HIV/AIDS. Although HIV/AIDS in the United States will be the focus, the worldwide impact of the disease will also be discussed. The course will begin with an overview of infectious diseases and a history of epidemics. Then, the biology and epidemiology of viruses, in general, and HIV, specifically, will be examined. Next, the social, economic, ethical, and political dilemmas that have evolved as a consequence of our increasing scientific knowledge of HIV will be explored. The course will conclude with an appraisal of HIV/AIDS awareness among students at Lasell College. Fulfills a Multicultural Area of Inquiry and a Science requirement.
Globalization & Human Rights
Honors 305: Junior Seminar / Professor Aieta
Prerequisites are Hon 101, Hon 205
In the 1960s, Western social scientists labeled large sections of the world, Africa, Asia, Latin America, as being ‘Third World’ undergoing ‘modernization.’ In the late 1970s, both terms fell into disrepute to be replaced by new ones, first ‘development,’ then ‘North-South.’ By the 1990s ‘globalization’ was added to the mix. No matter the term, it seems to have been coined initially by ‘outsiders,’ that is people from the West. Results? Generally wherever one looks, one finds exploitation of peoples and resources, as well as overall ignoring of human rights. This seminar will attempt to understand how such a set of circumstances unfolded and what, if anything, may be done to slow down and reverse the results. Fulfills a Moral and Ethical Area of Inquiry.
Charles Darwin and the 21st Century
Honors 305: Junior Seminar / Professor Gerstel
Along with the revolutionary ideas of other major figures such as Freud and Einstein, Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution stands as one of the most famous—and misunderstood—concepts in the history of ideas. This course explores the extraordinary influence of Darwin’s theory as both science and culture. We will begin by demystifying some of the basic ideas behind Darwin’s theory of evolution, such as the survival of the fittest and natural selection, and then move on to more recent influences and uses of his theory in arenas outside science, such as literature, history, and psychology. Texts will include excerpts from Darwin’s most famous works, On the Origin of Species and The Descent of Man, contemporary reviews and articles, essays by modern scholars, literary pieces, and film. An interdisciplinary perspective will help us understand the unique phenomenon of evolution as history, science, and current culture. Fulfills a Moral/Ethical Area of Inquiry.
Culture and Conflict: The Genesis of Genocide
Honors 305: Junior Seminar / Professor Gerardo
This seminar course will study the development of social conflicts that have led to genocide in the 20th century and the present. Topics to be discussed will include but are not limited to, the mass killings that occurred in Armenia, Timor, Rwanda and the Sudan. We will study the fluid nature of cultural identity and how the active, self-ascribed maintenance of ethnic groups and their differences, the distribution of power and the allocation of resources contribute to the development of deadly conflict on a massive scale. Fulfills a Moral/Ethical Area of Inquiry.
HON 401: Senior Capstone / Professor Bloom and Professor Dodds
Prerequisite Hon 101, 205, 305 and Senior Status - Meets once a month
This capstone experience offers workshop-style engagement with Honors seniors across all majors. It culminates in a personally designed Electronic portfolio, offering a retrospective of four years of each student’s best work.
Honors “Components” are customized projects, designed by the individual student and his or her professor. They take place in any regular course. Honors students typically take Components during semesters when they are not taking Honors Courses. Components can be negotiated between an honors student and almost any professor for almost any course you would like or are required to take.
Learn more about Components! See what Honors students have to say about the projects they designed.