Classes

NOTE: You will receive one credit hour for completing the Late Summer Honors course. This credit will appear on your Fall Semester transcript. Please register for 17 or fewer credit hours for Fall Semester so you do not exceed the 18 hour per semester credit limit.

2018 Class Information 

The Peace of Wild Things: Nature, Poetry, & Grace
Peter Leman

In his poem “The Peace of Wild Things,” Wendell Berry describes turning to the beauty of nature when “despair for the world grows in [him].” He concludes with a moment of reprieve: “For a time / I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.” What is the nature of this grace? Where does it come from? Is it a gift of nature or the divine, or is it a product of the human imagination finding itself in a state of desperation and need? Why do different forms of “the grace of the world” appear so often in nature poetry?  Our goal in this class will be to open ourselves to these questions and to the insights about humanity, spirituality, imagination, and nature that come from both literary and personal experiences of grace through nature. In many ways a timeless phenomenon, the relationship between nature and grace is ever more urgent and relevant in our day, given various threats to the environment and our increasing alienation from the natural world even as technology makes it increasingly visible. In addition to readings, class discussions, and daily writing assignments, we will spend time in nature, exploring canyons and other natural wonders in the area.

What Does it Mean to be Human? A Scientific and Spiritual Journey into Human Origins
Jamie Jensen & Seth Bybee

This course will take a reconciliatory approach to studying the origin and divinity of the human body. We will explore the big question: can science and religion coexist? Specifically, we will focus on the evolution of the human form from a scientific perspective and the creation of our human bodies that house our spirits from a religious perspective. We will discuss different approaches to the age-old conflict between science and religion and the benefits of using a reconciliatory model, given the neutral position of the Church toward this topic. We will explore the creation through religious eyes and then through a scientific lens as we walk through the major discoveries of hominid evolution. We will study fossil hominids and modern human conditions that lend evidence to an evolutionary past. We will then reconcile this with our Heavenly Father’s Plan of Salvation. Lastly, we will explore ways in which students can reconcile, or bring into harmony, the truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the scientific evidence of a spectacular human origin.

Can Well-behaved Women Make History?
Heather Belnap

Over 40 years ago, noted historian Laurel Thatcher Ulrich made the passing comment that “well-behaved women seldom make history”—an observation that was meant to point out that ordinary women’s lives have been overlooked.  Over the years, this slogan has come to mean quite the opposite—that women who have advanced important social, political, and cultural causes are the ones who have refused conventional ideas of female propriety. 

In this course, students will study key women in modern history who have effected important social, cultural, and political change.  We’ll begin with the women of the French Revolution, moving through the suffragette, New Woman, and Civil Rights movements, and end with a discussion of women in the contemporary scene.  We will ask how women have responded to and shaped debates regarding individual agency, citizenship, roles and spheres of influence, and other issues central to the human experience in the last 200 or so years. Writings, artworks, and other creative products by and about women, along with representations of women in media (paintings, photographs and popular prints, television shows, films, advertisements, videos) will form the basis of this course.  We will also be visiting various museums and special collections to view art and documents.  For the final project, students will research and deliver an academic presentation and then participate our culminating activity, a “Dead Dames Debate.”

What are the Odds? Probability in Math and the Humanities 
Todd Fisher & Michael Call

From Renaissance debates about free will to modern neurological experiments, human beings have long wrestled with notions of randomness, determinism, fate, and chance. To what extent is the world around us predictable? How about our own actions and decisions? In this course, we will examine different and evolving ways of thinking about these issues through two, sometimes distinct, fields of human inquiry: mathematics and the humanities. The invention of probability math in the 17th century sparked a revolution in economics, politics, and even theology, and the field’s later developments (including the emergence of chaos theory) continue to impact the way that we view the world and our place in it. How have writers, artists, and composers reflected (or even at times opposed) this shifting perspective? Out of the seeming chaos of a course that combines mathematicians like Descartes and Poincaré with Surrealist poetry and aleatory music, order will emerge, providing a richer appreciation of human thought and creativity.

Riding Provo/Writing Provo
Joey Franklin & Jamin Rowan

With all of Provo as our classroom, we will help students learn new ways of thinking about their relationship to the city they now call home. We will cycle through historic neighborhoods, walk the streets of downtown, canoe the Provo River, Hike Rock Canyon, explore the new Bus Rapid Transit system, and take a ride on Front Runner, all in the name of civic engagement. Each day students will explore public and personal aspects of several civic issues important to Provo citizens. We will meet representatives from campus and community organizations engaged in making Provo a better place to live, work, and play. All the while, the students will write intensively about their experiences and use their creative and critical faculties to cultivate a deeper understanding of not only how they can shape the places they live, but also how those places will inevitably shape them.

How Do We Know What We Know?
James Patterson

This course will explore how our understanding of the natural world has developed throughout history. We will begin with an overview of pre-classical and classical understanding of nature, placing considerable emphasis on Greek natural philosophy, emphasizing Aristotle and Ptolemy. We will then explore how modern ideas emerged and replaced those earlier ideas, particularly during the Renaissance.

Examples will include, but not be limited to: development of the heliocentric model of the solar system, Newtonian mechanics and the break from Aristotle, discovery of the cell and DNA, Darwinian evolution, development of atomic and molecular theory, development of quantum theory, cosmology and the Big Bang theory. We’ll discuss how models aid our understanding of the natural world and look at current frontiers in science, including recent work at the Large Hadron Collider and the ramifications for string theory, climate modeling, and other topics to be chosen by the students. We’ll also consider the "conflict" between science and religion and how we can be practicing members of the Church and also practicing scientists by recognizing that science and religion are fundamentally concerned with different questions.

Inklings and Influence: Lewis, Tolkien and the Power of the Allegory
Aaron Eastley

In 2008 Oxford scholar Michael Ward shook the world with his book Planet Narnia. He persuasively demonstrated that CS Lewis’s Narnia stories, far from being the “hotchpotch” that no less a critic (and friend) than JRR Tolkien had claimed, are carefully built around a deep underlying symbolism tied to the characteristics of the seven medieval planets: Jupiter, Mars, Sol, Luna, Mercury, Venus, and Saturn. In a similar vein, multitudes of scholars and general readers have found allegorical meaning in Tolkien’s books about Middle-earth. This course will look at the notion of applicability (and its close relation to the power of allegory) in connection to the works of Lewis and Tolkien, the two most famous members of the Oxford literary group called the “Inklings.” We will begin by considering the history and efficacy of overtly symbolic works of many kinds: fables, parables, allegories old (medieval – such as the Miracle Plays) and new (such as a number of Star Trek episodes). Then we will turn our attention squarely to Lewis and Tolkien, considering both the overt and hidden symbolism of the Narnia books and The Lord of the Rings/Hobbit/Silmarillion. In the process, we will address the question of how art affects us, especially through carefully constructed (re)presentations of the familiar: what we often call symbolism.

Why Stress? Understanding Stress, Health, and the Plan of Salvation
Patrick Steffen

In John 16:33, the Lord said “…in the world you shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”  Life is stressful, particularly college life, and recognizing this fact is the first step towards healthy adaptation.  The second step is to identify your personal stressors and then implement effective coping strategies that work in your life.  The goals of this course are to teach the basic physiology underlying stress and the psychological factors that contribute to stress, and then experiment with stress directly.  Students will conduct an experiment on their own stress physiology, learning how to collect objective physiological data, such as heart rate, using inexpensive technology and smart phone apps.  Students will then write brief reports of their experiment and share their experiences with the class.

Go Towards the Light: Photography and Visual Communication in the 21st Century
Paul Adams

From as early as the 14th century and continuing into the 19th century, change in the world most often came through the barrel of a gun. With the invention of cameras and the subsequent proliferation of mass media in our modern world, social change can instead come about through the barrel of a lens. For example, many have argued that the Vietnam War was not lost on the battlefields of Vietnam, but in the living rooms of the American people as reporters and freelance photographers brought back images of the war. On many different levels, photography is a truly democratic art form. Most people start learning how to communicate verbally around age two, but very few people put much thought into how to communicate visually.  In this course, students will expand their visual communication abilities by first learning how to control a digital camera and make it an extension of our body. We will then learn the “words” and “sentences” of visual communication. We will use this visual syntax to communicate mood and meaning beyond subject matter. Students will create their own photographs as they explore their own visual voice. Students will then learn how to analyze and critique their own and their classmates’ photographs as they begin to control photography’s persuasive power and produce their own portfolio of printed photographs. (Students will need their own digital camera.)

The Mathematics of Secrecy
Paul Jenkins & Darrin Doud

Ancient secret codes, modern computer encryption, and perfect secrecy:  In this course we will learn about the mathematics of cryptography. We’ll look at codes and ciphers in literature and in Brigham Young’s letters, and study classical cryptosystems, elementary number theory, public and private key cryptography, RSA, quantum cryptography, and how to keep credit card numbers safe on the Internet.  No advanced mathematics prerequisites needed, just curiosity and a love of puzzles.  OV GLOI ENHII UBX MONN NPHAV LBM GB XIP HVQ YAPHC TONOGHAU KAHQP PVEAUDGOBV.

Transitions to Peace: Healing on a National Scale
Natalie Romeri-Lewis

This course introduces students to the process many countries undergo as they transition from peace into conflict, back to peace, and then into a fragile, but hopeful period called “transitional justice.” Students will learn to find and apply national-level data as they follow a country of their choice through conflict, peace building, reconciliation and justice on the path to finding truth and eventual healing. Students will form country teams, then follow those countries through each stage of the process. The class will culminate as students design an “ideal truth” commission aimed toward meeting the needs of diverse and conflicting groups.