Honors Seminars

Spring 2024

Discover new interests and perspectives with exclusive Honors Seminars. These 300-400 level courses are limited to 15-20 students and focus on different subjects each semester. Register for seminars in MyNIU to delve into fascinating topics with some of NIU's most engaging professors. There are no prerequisites.

A non-technical introduction to the principles of quantum computing, quantum computing algorithms, physical implementation of quantum computers and the potential impact of quantum computing on society. Students will explore what is meant by quantum superposition and entanglement and how it is created and destroyed.

Taught by Larry Lurio, Ph.D., Department of Physics

This course will be a journey into the excitement, division, chaos, and horror of religious reform and civil violence during the Wars of Religion in early modern Europe. This journey will largely take place through the lens of Michel de Montaigne's Essays as a creative literary and intellectual response to social strife and destruction. Montaigne acted as a lawyer, mayor, diplomat, humanist intellectual, and writer during the French Wars of Religion (1559-1629). This course will set Montaigne and his writings into the broader cultural and social contexts of religious and civil conflict in early modern France. Students will confront various faces of religious violence, from iconoclasm and book burning to executions of heretics and religious massacres. The course also offers students a chance to consider the difficult questions posed by religious violence outside of the charged contexts of contemporary religious violence in Bosnia, Kosovo, Algeria, Palestine, Israel, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria.

Taught by Brian Sand-berg, Ph.D., Department of History

"Dub," which refers originally to instrumental remixes of reggae songs that deejays would "rap" over, might be seen as a musical metaphor for the incredibly rich, diverse, and complicated cultural make-up of the Caribbean: a many-layered region in which the languages and cultures of European imperial nations have imposed itself upon native islanders, descendants of African slaves, and Asian migrants from India and China. This course offers exposure to a wide range of authors who either live or come from this region, whose works are often directly connected to music, and with a special emphasis on the Jamaican and British "dub poets" who emerged in the 1970s. Through lecture, discussion, essay writing and guest speaker/performers, we will explore and rethink the relationship of art to politics, high art to popular culture, oral performance to written text, and British to Caribbean English.

Taught by Ryan Hibbett, Ph.D., Department of English

The central theme of HON 300 Human Genetics and Evolution is the development of the human species due to the progression of evolution. It will explore the foundation of an individual's biological existence as well as the key differences that make each person unique. The course will explore the wide-reaching changes to our view of life due to our understanding of evolution as the latest discoveries show the connection between genetic background and physical features, culture, behavior, and medical treatment. It will also highlight the inextricable connection of the human species with all other life forms on earth, showing that humankind depends on other species for survival and has the responsibility to protect and preserve them for the benefit of all.

Taught by Clare Kron, Department of Biological Sciences

This seminar will invite students to critically analyze film, TV and other media that tell us stories about what it means to be successful, who can make it, and what is the cost of success. The seminar will include sampling various media and analyzing the representation of entrepreneurship and creativity through the lens of justice and equity.

Taught by Laura Vazquez Ph.D., Department of Media Studies and Furkan Gur Ph.D., Department of Management

In this seminar course, we will critically examine the history of life sciences to understand the impacts of historical and modern biases (such as racism, genderism, sexism, ableism, classism, etc.) in science. We will complete assigned readings to understand the science of bias, who it has impacted, why it is present and persists in the life sciences today, and finally, explore the impact bias in science has on individuals and society. In addition to written reflections on assigned readings and lived experiences with these issues, students will create a portfolio of actionable items to address bias in their education and career. While the focus of the course is the life sciences, this course is offered for both science majors and non-science majors.

Taught by Nicole Scheuermann, Department of Biological Science

Do you read banned books? What are your thoughts on censorship? How does the First Amendment challenge or support censorship? In this course, we will read controversial children's and young adult books and consider the power dynamics of who has the right to choose what others will read.

Taught by Melanie Koss, Ph.D., Department of Curriculum and Instruction

Diets reflect changes in self-understanding and representation through time and space. Global, regional, and local food systems reflect our cultural identities which have been influenced by immigrants and slave labor arriving with their native seeds and foods. Immigrants share their knowledge of culinary practices, gardening, and farming systems and have played a significant role in developing American foodways. This course focuses on unpacking the myths and stereotypes of immigrant foods and creates a new narrative about their important contributions not only to American foodways but to the agricultural economy that produces food.

Taught by Kristin Borre, Ph.D., Department of Anthropology


The ability to attend honors-only courses makes the course or assignments more personal.
A'Jah Davis, kinesiology

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University Honors Program 
Peters Campus Life Building 110
DeKalb, IL 60115


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