Foundational seminars

The second semester of the Honors foundational sequence is a special topics seminar taught by Honors College senior lecturers and faculty members from different departments around campus.

Please check back often as seminar courses will be updated regularly (pending approval).

Winter 2023 Foundational seminars

ANT 3410: Global Health – Jonathan Stillo

CRN 28605    Thursday       2:30 PM - 5:00 PM                    GL, SI                             

This honors seminar takes a holistic, biosocial approach to global health. We will look at the biological as well as social aspects of disease and disorder paying special attention to the social, economic, political and cultural factors that both cause disease and hinder its management. This will be accomplished by focusing on, health inequalities between and within wealthy and resource-constrained settings, how health systems are funded, the globalization of pharmaceuticals and clinical trials, the role of international and local development and civil society organizations, the effects of migration (whether routine or due to conflict/disaster) and how human rights concepts and laws impact (or not) people's health. Special attention will be paid to anti-microbial resistant infections (AMR) and neglected tropical diseases. This course is particularly appropriate for pre-health majors as well as public health, and social sciences.


ENG 3020:Writing and the Community – Ryan Flaherty 

CRN   27931  Monday/Wednesday 11:30 AM - 12:45 PM             ICN                                            

In this section of English 3020, we will partner with Community Based Organizations (CBOs) in and around Detroit.  The community organizations we will partner with are ones dedicated to education (St. Vincent Sarah Fisher), food insecurity (Detroit Black Community Food Security Network and Michigan Urban Farming Initiative), and environmental justice (Zero Waste Detroit).   Other partnership opportunities will likely arise, creating a diverse volunteering environment for English 3020 students.  Among other topics, students will study and write about the impact of neoliberal economic policies on community needs, the communication practices of community-based organizations, ethics in community-oriented research, and applying academic research to community-focused writing and advocacy.  This course requires 20 hours of service work/ volunteering with one of the course's community partners.   

*Eligible to be paired with HON 3000 Field Learning


HON 2000: Gangs & Organized Crime - James Buccellato 

CRN   25150  Tuesday/Thursday    11:30 AM - 12:45 PM   SI, CI

CRN   25151  Tuesday/Thursday    1 PM - 2:15 PM             SI, CI

This course seeks to explain the ways in which the various types of media, such as newspapers, magazines, movies, television, books, radio, the Internet, music, and video-games shape and influence our beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors regarding crime and criminal justice. It further investigates the cultural, historical, and political interactions between the construction of criminality, the operations of the criminal justice system, and the dynamics of mass media.


HON 2000: Race and Sports in the United States - Bryan R. Ellis 

CRN   25144  Monday/Wednesday 1 PM - 2:15 PM             SI, CI

CRN   25146  Monday/Wednesday 2:30 PM - 3:45 PM        SI, CI

In our everyday, common-sense consumption of cultural production, we view the market of sports as the toy department of human affairs. It is constructed as a site of leisure and enjoyment—as an escape from the real-world. Many Americans naively believe sports are apolitical and meritocratic. This course will move beyond the passive, leisure-faire understanding of sports toward a deeper appreciation of the sports milieu and market as a contested site where race is produced and reproduced. We will study the ever-present but latent social, economic, and political dimensions of sports. Upon completing this course, you will see sports anew.


HON 2000: Creating iDetroit – Bryan Ellis and Beth Fowler

CRN   27717  Monday/Wednesday 10 AM - 11:15 AM                    SI, CI

This class is a partnership between i.Detroit, a researcher-artist project that focuses on everyday community agents in the city. By employing the i.Detroit research and artistic methodologies, students will learn how to and will be encouraged to present their work graphically by creating infographics, story maps, and other interactive technologies. Furthermore, students will learn how to use both statistical data and theories about urban communities to document and analyze Detroit. A key goal of the class is to give students an intimate and more nuanced understanding of the lives of residents in Detroit beyond HON 1000, while also allowing you to use your creative side.  

*Eligible to be paired with HON 3000 Field Learning


HON 2000: Pop Goes the World: Global Freedom Movements and U.S. Popular Culture - Beth Fowler  

CRN   25149  Monday/Wednesday 11:30 AM - 12:45 PM      SI, CI

CRN   25148  Tuesday/Thursday (Online – Synchronous) 10 AM - 11:15 PM      SI, CI

This seminar class will teach students to examine how American popular culture, especially music, was used to challenge political and social systems in the United States, Europe, Central America, Asia, and Africa between the 1940s and 1980s. Topics include popular culture within the U.S. Civil Rights Movement, the Vietnam War, the Cold War, and Third Worldist Decolonization movements. 


HON 2000: Food in America - Aaron Martin 

CRN   25143  Tuesday/Thursday    8:30A M - 9:45 AM                   SI, CI

If kids hate eating broccoli, but kids need their veggies to be healthy, and where kids love pizza, then let's just make pizza a vegetable so they'll be healthy, right!? (Yes, we did that.) This seminar introduces analytical tools to identify and evaluate various discursive points at which food narratives and cultural politics intersect in society and within research programs—ones like engineering, health sciences, anthropology, and, well, yours. By semester's end, you'll have learned about what informs people's relationship with food as well as how institutional processes shape—and, at the same time, are shaped by—food habits.


HON 2000: Technology & Our World- Aaron Martin 

CRN   27714  Monday/Wednesday 8:30 AM - 9:45 AM                   SI, CI

The text that will guide this course is the best-selling Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. The book has even made its way into pop culture: in the cult favorite show Party Down, Constance guarantees that it'll "change your life." The book asks about the increasing role technology plays in our lives. We will largely use the text to frame our discussions around how technology is used—for better and worse. To do this, we will examine various ways of approaching technology-related issues. These inquiries will in turn give us the necessary research tools to adequately investigate such important questions. One goal of the course is to provide every student with the opportunity to ultimately submit their written work for undergraduate publication.


HON 2000: What Plagues Detroit? - Tim Moran

CRN   25145  Monday/Wednesday 10 AM - 11:15 AM                    SI, CI

CRN   25152  Tuesday/Thursday    11:30 AM - 12:45 PM               SI, CI

A history overview of the city's development with a focus on response to epidemic disease, public services, and public health, this seminar will explore the shaping of the city as a response to biological events, resource constraints, and social and medical advances. We will consider the rise of diseases and the city's cultural and structural responses to traditional infectious disease outbreaks over time, creation of health infrastructure, and social response to disease. We will also examine factors that have affected the city through public health issues such as violence, criminalized activity, access to clean water, adjacency to pollution, and the health impact of the underground economy for things such as street drugs.  


HON 2000: Disagreement in Detroit -Layla Saatchi 

CRN   25147  Tuesday/Thursday    1 PM - 2:15 PM             SI, CI

"We can agree to disagree." You've likely heard this statement or thought it yourself many times. We live in a period of great political, religious, cultural and economic divisions, when people hold very strong views and are not afraid to express them. How should we react to disagreement? What effect should it have on our own beliefs, especially our deeply held ones? We will examine these contentious epistemic questions and apply various theories to specific, current and popular disputes in Detroit--with the hope of arriving at (or coming close to) a method for reconciliation and compromise.


PH 2100: Intro to Public Health – Patricia Wren

CRN   26189  Tuesday/Thursday    2:30 PM - 3:45 PM                    NSI

These past few years have been extraordinary -- multiple infectious disease outbreaks; powerful movements for racial, social, and economic justice; global warming and climate change; war and interpersonal violence, and more.  This class investigates those significant factors -- called "social determinants" -- that contribute to some people living long healthy lives while others experience more suffering and substantially shorter lives. We will focus on the role of race, place, and social class.  Our whirlwind tour of public health includes mental health, health inequalities, risks for suicide, gun violence, and the differential health challenges experienced across the life span.

*Eligible to be paired with HON 3000 Field Learning


PHI 1110: Ethical Issues in Healthcare – Layla Saatchi

CRN   28610  Tuesday/Thursday    11:30 AM - 12:45 PM               CI, DEI 

This course is a must for anyone interested in pursuing an occupation related to the health care profession - broadly construed. Here, you will have an opportunity to engage with controversial topics from choices about bringing human life into this world to choices about ending a human life and many relevant topics in between. You will learn how to take a principled approach to these controversial issues, meaning how to understand and identify the ethical principles that are believed to differentiate what is morally right from morally wrong decisions and policies. Finally, you will learn how to interrogate these principles within the context of Detroit, beginning with understanding that Hippocratic ethics is only one among many ethical approaches to health care decisions. 


SOC 2300: Urban explorations: social (in)justice in Detroit Michelle Jacobs

CRN   25191  Tuesday          11:30 AM - 2:00 PM                 SI, DEI                                                                             

Using a sociological lens, students in this course will explore the theme of social justice in urban contexts.   We will investigate the historical roots and contemporary manifestations of urban inequalities and interrogate systems of privilege and oppression that perpetuate unequal access to resources for some urban residents. A complex array of urban issues like concentrated poverty, mass incarceration, and environmental justice will be covered. The course capitalizes on WSU's midtown location to engage with community organizers and organizations working for social justice in Detroit.


SW 1010--Introduction to Social Work and Social Welfare-- Shantalea Johns

CRN   24798  Online – Asynchronous                    DEI

This course explores issues of fairness and equality in economic, political and social systems, and teaches how to apply social justice principles to major social problems in everyday life.  Students attend out-of-the-classroom events on campus and in the community to learn from social workers and social justice leaders who are engaging in work with vulnerable and at-risk populations in Detroit. 

*Eligible to be paired with HON 3000 Field Learning