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Washington State University

Courses in the Honors College

Please note: this list may be incomplete and will be updated with new information as it is received. If you have questions about the following courses, please contact honors@wsu.edu.

A wide variety of course topics are available to Honors College students. Please check back often, as changes may occur until the semester begins. Need an appointment with an Honors College advisor? Stop by the Honors College main office in Elmina White Honors Hall 130 or phone 509-335-4505.

Course descriptions are intended to provide general information about the scope of the class, the name of the faculty member teaching it, credits, and texts. All descriptions are posted as soon as possible the semester preceding so students can consider their options and plan accordingly. Listings from previous semesters are located at the bottom of this page.


Summer 2021


HONORS 270.1*
Contextual Understanding in the Arts and Humanities

(Online course – register through WSU’s Global Campus summer 2021 schedule)

May 10 – June 18
Instructor: Sergey Lapin and Jennifer Schwartz

Prerequisite: Must be a current Honors student

Data science and modern society: an introduction
Data and data analytics are playing an increasing role in our day-to-day life. In modern society, the amount of data available and processed increases every year. We all are affected by these new approaches to data analysis, directly or indirectly. Thus, data literacy, including knowing the basics of data analytics, has become a fundamental skill everyone needs.

For those seeking to understand and influence the world around them, the ability to understand, manage and communicate using data is an essential skill. Social scientists analyze data about human behavior to explain and predict various social phenomenon, leading to pragmatic solutions to societal problems. Such inquiry-driven analyses give meaning and purpose to the vast amounts of available information, making a positive social impact. This course intersects data science and social science. Data science provides the tools to better understand and address longstanding and emergent social problems.

This class introduces the field of data science in a practical and accessible manner. It utilizes a hands-on approach with real world social applications and assumes no prior knowledge of the subject. This class will teach basics of data and data processing and social analysis. We will also cover implications of the use of data in areas such as privacy and ethics. We will critically examine use of data science in a broad range of modern society’s activities: such as politics, healthcare, public safety, finance and more. Students will apply the skills they learn.


HONORS 280.1*
Contextual Understanding in the Arts and Humanities
(Online course – register through WSU’s Global Campus summer 2021 schedule)

Instructor: Annie Lampman

Prerequisite: Must be a current Honors student

Creative Writing: The Short Story
This online, six-week, creative-writing course will serve as an introduction to the art and craft of short-story writing. We will read, analyze, and discuss award-winning short stories via online forums, complete weekly writing exercises, and write one full-length short story (employing research/annotated bibliography) while working to explore and develop creative-writing craft elements, including characterization, showing vs. telling, dialogue, plot, scene and summary, setting, and the use of metaphorical language and themes. At the end of the semester, each student will have their story workshopped with written peer reviews and instructor feedback provided.

*This course qualifies as credit for the MESI Certificate.

Required Course Materials:
Required Text: Method and Madness: The Making of a Story, Alice LaPlant. ISBN#: 9780393928174


HONORS 290.1
Science as a Way of Knowing
(Online course – register through WSU’s Global Campus summer 2021 schedule)

May 10 – June 18
Instructor: Joanna Schultz

Prerequisite: Must be a current Honors student. Any B, BSCI, P, PSCI, or SCI lab or concurrent enrollment.

How much wolf is in our dogs?
This Summer we will examine the origins of the domestic dog. In recent years, researchers have taken a keen interest in our dog companions for a variety of reasons. I am a “dog person”, but as an evolutionary biologist, the wealth of research on domestic dog evolution and artificial selection for the over 200 recognized dog breeds fascinate me. Therefore, we will examine the domestic dog precursors, the multiple origins of domestic dogs, and the ancient and recent breeds. However, we will also delve into the co-evolution of Homo sapiens and Canis domesticus, beginning with the ancient relationship between early humans and wolves. Our studies will include selection for canine morphological and behavioral traits and how artificial selection in breeding results in deleterious mutations over time. Other topics, including feral dog populations, canine use in modern medicine, among others will be discussed. According to one researcher…. without the human-dog relationship, our society would never have advanced to its current levels.


HONORS 370.1
Case Study: Global Issues in Social Sciences

(Online course – register through WSU’s Global Campus summer 2021 schedule)

June 21-July 30
Instructor: Brenna Miller

Everyday Life in 20th Century Eastern Europe
Throughout the 20th century, Eastern Europe experienced dramatic changes and upheavals – from violent conflict to new states and borders, and regime change and collapse. In this class, we will explore how these upheavals shaped the experiences and daily lives of individuals and communities throughout the region. In case studies spanning from World War I through the collapse of communism, students will consider both changes and continuities in the dynamics of political involvement, labor, economic conditions and housing, social relationships, material culture, fashion, sport, language, and even identities. In doing so, we will consider both similarities and differences in the daily lives of different social groups, as well as the relationship between macro-level historical conditions, and micro-level experiences.


HONORS 380.1
Case Study: Global Issues in the Arts and Humanities
(Online course – register through WSU’s Global Campus summer 2021 schedule)

June 21- July 30
Instructor: Sergey Lapin

Prerequisite: Must be a current Honors student; HONORS 280.

Introduction to Russian Culture, History, and Language
This course surveys Russia’s cultural past and present. This course is an introduction to Russian civilization, presenting an overview of art, architecture, literature, music, philosophy, and film. In this course we will place the cultural phenomena into a larger historical context. Examples of Russian culture and the Russian Religious faith are discussed alongside with daily life and folk beliefs. Also included is a brief introduction to the Russian language: alphabet and elementary reading.

The course format consists of slides, video and audio presentations, assigned reading and online discussions. All materials are in English. No prior knowledge of Russian history, literature, language or culture is required. Students will utilize research skills developed in Honors 280 and further develop their skills in creative and critical thinking, information literacy, and written communication skills.


HONORS 390.1
Case Study: Global Issues in the Sciences
(Online course – register through WSU’s Global Campus summer 2021 schedule)

June 21 – July 30
Instructor: Joanna Schultz

Prerequisite: Must be a current Honors student; HONORS 290, SCIENCE 299, CHEM 116, MATH 182, PHYSICS 205, or PHYSICS 206.

An Investigation of Earth’s Anthropogenic Impacts
The geologic record clearly documents five major extinctions throughout earth’s history. We are now undergoing a “Sixth Extinction” event, caused by anthropogenic impacts. This semester, we will examine climate change and these six extinctions, with particular attention to the Anthropocene extinction event, its causes, rates, implications, and similarities and differences with past extinctions.

Course readings will reflect course content and will be chosen from the primary literature and non-fiction book sources. For example, we will read a chapter from Half-Earth: Our Planet’s Fight for Life by E.O. Wilson (2016) W.W. Norton & Co. or Konrad et al. (2018) Net retreat of Antarctic glacier grounding lines. Nature Geoscience. Vol. 11: 258–262.

We will engage in discussion via Blackboard’s Discussion Thread, watch excellent films on a range of topics related to climate change and biodiversity, and you will have a valuable environmental experience with the Center for Civic Engagement (CCE) if face-to-face CCE is back in business.

Required Course Materials:
Field Notes From a Catastrophe by Elizabeth Kolbert (2015) Bloomsbury Publishing ISBN: 978-1-62040-988-6 and Half-Earth: Our Planet’s Fight for Life by EO Wilson (2016) Liveright Publishing ISBN-10: 9781631490826 ISBN-13: 9781631490828


Current and Previous Semesters

Information about courses from previous semesters is also available: Fall 2021, Summer 2021, Spring 2021, Fall and Summer 2020, Spring 2020,Fall 2019, Summer 2019, Spring 2019, Summer 2018, Fall 2018, Summer 2018, Spring 2018, Fall 2017, Spring 2017, Summer 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2016.