First Year Forum, XPL
Dr. Lee Ann Westman
Tuesday & Thursday 2:00pm-3:20pm
The Fall 2023 Honors College First-Year Forum is organized around the question “What is a Just Community?” with a focus on both physical and virtual environments. Students will grapple with this question via guest lectures, readings, discussions, and the planning and execution of a semester-long project.
Upper Division Honors Courses
Literatures of Islam, Judaism, and Christianity: The Teaching of Religion in the Camden Area, HAC, EAV, DIV
50:525:151, 50:525:155:01, 50:525:160:02
Monday & Wednesday 9:35am-10:55am
Course Description: This is a course which situates academic learning within a broader framework of Civic Engagement, and integrates it with experiential learning and service to the local community in and around the Camden area. The course involves learning the basic doctrines and practices of Islam, Judaism, and Christianity, and then going into the local community – to High Schools, Churches, Mosques, Synagogues and various religious centers in order to conduct research as to how religion is taught in these institutions. Such research will entail students working in groups of three to (a) observe religious practices, (b) conduct interviews with parents, students, teachers, and principals, and (c) offer presentations.
Empathy to Apathy: A Transition of Emotion, Perspective, and Bias, GCM, DIV
Tuesday & Thursday 11:00am-12:20pm
When a baby is seen out bursting and crying, we seek to understand what is causing the tears and attribute external factors to the distress; the baby is hungry, tired, needing some comfort. When a child is seen out bursting and crying, we begin to question the child’s temperament, discipline,and obedience. By adulthood, individuals that have poor emotion regulation are seen as low in social desirability, lacking self-control, and even at times mentally ill. What we lack in our perspective is that the poorly self-controlled adult was once a young child missing key emotional needs that would easily garner our empathy. So why does our experience of empathy change upon factors such as the age, gender, ethnicity, or the environmental circumstance of the individual in need? Why are the homeless stigmatized and seen as an undesirable social problem? Why does the ethnicity of a refugee impact a society’s perspective taking and willingness to help? Culturally,empathy is on a decline at the macro level despite overwhelming knowledge that having empathy makes individuals less aggressive, more successful, and more prosocial with better peer relationships.
This course is designed to provide students with a wealth of research and knowledge on the science of empathy, apathy, and the multitude of biases and outcomes associated with the complex emotion. In doing so, they’ll gain a strong understanding of the relationship between empathy and social justice, culture, and community behavior. This course is designed for students to be highly interactive and participatory, with the use of several interactive gamesand weekly experiential learning activities within the classroom. This course promotes prosocial communication and perspective, fosters social connectedness, and connects the link between empathy and civic behavior. As part of the experiential aspect of the course, students will engage in weekly sessions of the Activating Empathy Program (developed by the Department of Agricultural Economics, Sociology, and Education at The Pennsylvania State University and the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre at the National University of Ireland, Galway). As part of the experiential aspect of the course, students will engage in weekly sessions of the Activating Empathy Program (developed by the Department of Agricultural Economics, Sociology, and Education at The Pennsylvania State University and the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre at the National University of Ireland, Galway), along with two computer simulation games promoting empathy and perspective taking.
Approaching Mexico, GCM
Tuesday & Thursday 2:00pm-3:20pm
Course description: How might I give to give someone who has never been to Mexico a sense of the different strands of thought and self-reflection that coexist in that country? Most of us are foreigners. But this is the condition in which we all repeatedly find ourselves. As the German bumper sticker puts it, “Wir sind alle fast überall Ausländer,” we are all, almost everywhere, foreigners. We want to visit a country that is not our own and we would like to know something about it. To what extent is that possible, and if so, how would we go about it? That is the central question I hope we will address in this class. If we are interested in another country, what do we do to get a basic understanding of some of the fundamental themes of life in that culture?
Why choose Mexico? I have two reasons. First, I was struck by the comments of a recent American President that Mexicans are, in many cases, criminals, drug dealers, and rapists. That is because much of what I think I know about the world comes from the conversations with the intellectuals I met while living in Mexico City. Over the past century, Mexico has produced a level of self-reflection in literature and art that can be compared with that of many European countries.
The course also involves legal skills. In the end, it is about evidence. What evidence is relevant as we attempt to understand a foreign country, what is reliable, what is persuasive? These questions are more important to trial lawyers than the elements of the legal cause of action. Another of atrial lawyer’s jobs is to provide a coherent explanation of the proof that emerges from conflicting testimony. In our course, we will work to create a theory of the case for our understanding of Mexico.
People, Places, and Living Things: Way More Than Just Nouns
Brian K. Everett, MPA, PhD-ABD
Wednesdays 12:30 p.m. – 3:20 p.m
Advancements in all forms of technology, especially digital technology, are riddled with social benefits and detriments all at the same time. Certain groups of people can be affected more positively or negatively by these rapid changes depending upon a variety of factors, most of which are of no fault of their own. Additionally, these changes are beginning to affect our approach to governing at the national, state, and local levels. This course will examine a variety of case studies, peer-reviewed articles, news pieces, and videos which place people and communities against each other in different ways. Together, we will learn through 13 units which include topics like the New Jersey Pine Barrens, cryptocurrency, trash landfills, basketball arenas, lawn fertilizer, and AirBnB. Across all units, we will explore the impacts of political power, market dynamics, and community development through multiple approaches to social science research. Our focus throughout the semester will be a continuous cycle of zooming out, and focusing on macro-level phenomena, and then zooming in close on the State of New Jersey. People, places, and things are more than just nouns, especially when they’re forced to interact with each other during a time of dwindling space and fewer resources.
Seminar on Professional Nursing
Summer 2023 Honors Seminar
Community Development and Leadership – USW
Instructor: Brian K. Everett
The concept of community is understood differently throughout the established community development literature. How someone defines community also varies from field to field, person to person. This course familiarizes students with modern understandings of community, community development, and community leadership in academic and practical contexts. Students will read case studies about conflicts between residents and government, review approaches to leadership and activism, and watch videos detailing actions taken by communities when faced with unjust, unwelcomed, and inconvenient government decisions. Through group work, students will review a group of case studies for a final project, and each team of students will be asked to present their views on what went well, what failed, what remains unanswered, and alternative approaches which could have been considered. After completing this course, students will be able to apply critical thinking skills and knowledge of leadership to issues in their communities, as well as their interpersonal relationships.