Course Descriptions

Fall 2021 Honors Courses


Biology H498WI and 498WI: Critical Analysis of Biological Issues

Dr. Jess Magaña, Online Asynchronous

Pathway Class Code: 44016

Why do animals do what they do, and how do we know? This three-credit-hour course explores evolutionary influences on animal behavior and the challenges associated with developing and testing hypotheses. Students will develop critical analysis skills and effective written and oral communication skills by analyzing scientific articles, discussing methodology and implications, writing analytical papers, and communicating through oral presentations.

This is not an honors-only seminar. Students wishing to earn honors credit for this class will create an additional project that explores scientific writing as a discipline.


Critical Thinking-Arts and Humanities (GECRT-AH) H106: Kansas City as Text

Dr. Henrietta Rix Wood, M/W 4-5:15pm, in-person

Pathway Class Code: 46897

This course invites you to investigate and think critically about important topics, problems, or issues related to the arts and humanities in Kansas City through individual research projects. For example, you might address how UMKC performing arts students have adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic. You could explore how the city can preserve the cultural and historical value of the 18th and Vine District while responsibly revitalizing that area. Or you might could consider how First Friday, the monthly public gathering in the Kansas City Arts Crossroads District, should be altered to better serve the needs and interests of artists, merchants, and guests. To pursue these projects, you will conduct research using methods appropriate to the arts and humanities, such as observation, archival research, and expert interviews; articulate relevant research questions; take a position on your topic and produce a text that meets the expectations of the humanities; and share your findings in a class presentation.

Critical Thinking-Social Sciences (GECRT-SS) H102: Culture Through the Camera Lens

Dr. Stephen Christ, Tu/Th 10-11:15am, in-person

Pathway Class Code: 46905

This class will introduce students to the interdisciplinary study of culture. We will begin by examining the theoretical debates on what culture is, where it comes from, and how it works. We will then move on to examine empirical sites of cultural transmission – schools, immigrant communities, religious institutions, etc. We will end by examining the production of cultural perspectives and considering how mass media is produced and connected to social change. Documentaries and mass media will provide an empirical starting point for discussions and analysis. For the first half of the semester, students will analyze forms, content, and narratives of documentary films. Students will collaborate in the second half of the semester to produce a short documentary on an aspect of human behavior and culture.

English H225: Intermediate Academic Prose

Dr. Henrietta Rix Wood, Tu/Th 1-2:15pm, in-person

Pathway Class Code: 46940

This course extends the work of English 110 with an additional emphasis on research. This honors section of English 225 uses a combination of book-length and shorter texts to focus on specific historical and/or cultural issues. As they learn to participate in scholarly conversations, students will find and evaluate library and Internet sources. As with English 110, this course emphasizes revision, editing, and proper academic documentation.

English 273: Science Fiction

Dr. James McKusick, Online Asynchronous (First 8-Week Session)

Pathway Class Code: 46505

This course is open to all majors and will focus on a range of science fiction (SF) literature and film from a variety of periods and traditions. Covering the utopian tradition, dystopias, “hard” SF, cyberpunk, and SF dealing with issues of gender, race, technology, and knowledge, our focus will emphasize the historical, cultural, and social contexts of each work while pursuing an understanding of how SF connects with a wide interdisciplinary field of inquiry. Prerequisites: ENGLISH 110 or DISC 100. Fulfills a General Education Focus A (Arts and Humanities) and a 100- or 200-level elective for the English major.

This is not an honors-only seminar. In order to earn honors credit, students will complete additional work for the course, which could include, but is not limited to, a collaborative learning experience, an additional individual research paper, or an artistic project. Students are invited to meet with Dr. McKusick at the start of the semester to develop a plan.

Required Texts:

  • Charlotte Perkins Gilman. The Yellow Wall-Paper, Herland, and Selected Writings. Penguin, 2009.
  • Thomas More. Utopia. Translated by Roger Clarke. Alma, 2017.
  • Kim Stanley Robinson. New York 2140. Orbit, 2018.
  • Joanna Russ. We Who Are about to . . . . Wesleyan UP, 2005.
  • Charles Yu. How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe. Vintage, 2011.

Film/Television (available for rental on Amazon Prime and other streaming services):

  • “USS Callister.” Black Mirror, season 4, episode 1, Dec 28, 2017.
  • Interstellar. Directed by Christopher Nolan, Paramount, 2014.
General Education: Culture and Diversity (GECDV) H202: Exploring Race, Class, and Gender

Dr. Henrietta Rix Wood, Tu/Th 5:30-6:45pm, in-person

Pathway Class Code: 46896

How does your race, class, gender, and other socially constructed categories shape the way that you see the world, others, and yourself? How can you learn to see things from another culture’s point of view and why is doing so important? These questions will guide this new general education honors course on Culture and Diversity. Surveying the perspectives of diverse scholars and public figures through readings, videos, and class discussion, you will explore concepts of privilege, identity, the culture of organizations, interaction, and worldview. Then you will share what you have learned in a cultural autobiography.

Honors 496 and Honors 496A: Honors Internship

Margo Gamache, section 0001, and Heather Miller, section 0002

Pathway Class Code: 43602 (for section 0001 of 496) ; 44395 (for section 0002 of 496) ; 44132 (for section 0001 of 496A) ; 44396 (for section 0002 of 496A)

This course is an academic internship that requires written assignments in addition to the work performed in a professional workplace. Internships are individually arranged with the sponsoring organization, which may be a business, school, nonprofit agency or government office. Academic credit may range from 1 to 6 credit hours (0 credit hours for Honors 496A). There will be a Learning Agreement established in the first week of the semester that states the contractual responsibilities of the student, the workplace supervisor, and the internship coordinator. This Learning Agreement will outline the job responsibilities, workload expectations, assignments and anticipated learning outcomes of the internship experience.

Sociology H203 and 203: Social Problems

Dr. Stephen Christ, Online Asynchronous

Pathway Class Code: 46650

All around us are social phenomena that could potentially be viewed as problematic; yet only a few garner the public’s attention. The social problems that capture our attention are not necessarily the worst and may be replaced before they improve. Thus, there must be forces other than the seriousness of these problems that explain their procession through the public imagination. In this course we will explore modern social problems, and deconstruct the process of claims-making that pushes these to the forefront. We will confront “social problems” of everyday life: those issues, situations, behaviors and ideas perceived and labeled as problematic and for which a solution is seen as possible and necessary. We will be learning about some of these social problems. But we will also be learning about what constitutes a social problem. Who, for example, defines what a social problem is? Why do some social problems receive so much attention, while others are ignored? And what are the impacts of defining social problems in a particular way?

Students who wish to earn honors credit for this course will be challenged to produce an ethnographic research project analyzing a social problem facing the Kansas City community.

Sociology H359 and 359: Media and Society

Dr. Stephen Christ, Tu/Th 11:30am-12:45pm, in-person

Pathway Class Code: 46610

This course investigates the evolving role of media in shaping our understanding of, and relationship to, the world. We will focus on the economic, political, social, and ecological implications of mass media as it relates to democracy, consumerism, human relationships, and how we make sense of the world both as individuals and as a society. Additionally, we’ll be examining the nature of entertainment, advertising, news, and the institutions that create mass media. We will address questions such as: How does the news shape reality? How does advertising actually influence human behavior? How does entertainment impact how we perceive our own lives? Who decides what program choices exist on television? This course will emphasize critical thinking and use variety of textual, audio, and video materials that will allow you to further your critical consumption of mass media.

Students who wish to earn honors credit for this course will be challenged to produce a film/media project analyzing an aspect of society related to class material.

Courses vary by semester. Check the university catalog or Pathway for courses offered, and remember you can always contract for honors credit.