Spring 2023 Honors First Year Seminars & Launches

Course times and offerings subject to change




ARTH 054H.001 | Art, War, and Revolution

TR, 12:30 pm – 1:45 pm. Instructor(s): Daniel Sherman. Enrollment = 20.
This course explores the complex relationship between art, war, and conflict.  We will consider the tensions between glorifying war and violence and memorializing their victims, between political justification and moral outrage, between political programs (many of the works being commissioned to legitimate a particular view of war) and the malleability of meaning.  In most weeks, we focus on a single or small groups of works, mostly from Europe and the U.S.,  in a variety of media: painting, sculpture, architecture, photography, and graphic arts, taking the opportunity to study them in depth while also gaining exposure to a range of interpretive methods and the richness of the historical context. We also look at the ways works of art themselves become the trophies or stakes of conflict.


Daniel Sherman received his undergraduate degree from Harvard and his Ph.D. from Yale. He came to UNC in 2008, having taught previously at Rice University and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where he was also Director of the Center for 21st Century Studies. A specialist in modern art and French cultural history, he has written and edited several books on art museums, the commemoration of World War I in France, and the fascination with so-called primitive cultures in France after World War II; he is now working on the history of archaeology. As a historian who has taught French studies, art history, and general humanities courses, he is committed to discussion and debate across traditional disciplinary boundaries.  He enjoys travel, photography, baking, and hanging out with his cats.


ECON 058H.001 | Researching the Tools for Success in College

TR, 11:00 am – 12:15 pm. Instructor(s): Jane Cooley Fruehwirth. Enrollment = 24.
In this Course-based Undergraduate Research Experience (CURE), we will study the barriers and tools for success in college. Students will identify a research question of interest and work in groups to address it, creating their own evidence on the topic through surveys and descriptive statistics.  Students will synthesize existing evidence in the literature and brainstorm potential solutions with classmates. Students will learn the following skills:
1)    Data-story telling to effect policy change,
2)    The danger of mistaking correlation for causation,
3)    The rewards and challenges of doing research,
4)    How to synthesize findings in the primary literature without becoming overwhelmed,
5)    The power of economics to inform a range of questions.
Our discussions about causality will be grounded in economic theory and economic models will be taught as relevant to the research questions the class develops.
This course meets the Research and Discovery objective of the IDEAs in action curriculum. Students immerse themselves in a research project and experience the reflection and revision involved in producing and disseminating original scholarship or creative works.
Questions for Students
1.            How do I establish my point of view, take intellectual risks, and begin producing original scholarship or creative works?
2.            How do I narrow my topic, critique current scholarship, and gather evidence in systematic and responsible ways?
3.            How do I evaluate my findings and communicate my conclusions?

Learning Outcomes
1.            Frame a topic, develop an original research question or creative goal, and establish a point of view, creative approach, or hypothesis.
2.            Obtain a procedural understanding of how conclusions can be reached in a field and gather appropriate evidence.
3.            Evaluate the quality of the arguments and/or evidence in support of the emerging product.
4.            Communicate findings in a clear and compelling ways.
5.            Critique and identify the limits of the conclusions of the project and generate ideas for future work.
Jane Cooley Fruehwirth is an economist with research interests in the determinants of social, economic and racial inequality. A central theme to her research is the role of social context in shaping disadvantage, particularly in the context of schools and friendships. She studies education policies that are aimed at improving disadvantaged students’ outcomes, such as teaching practice, accountability and grade retention. More recently, her research delves into the determinants of mental health in adolescence. She is now teaming up with undergraduate researchers to help tackle the mental health crisis on college campuses.

ECON 101H.01F | Introduction to Economics

TR, 9:30 am – 10:45 am; Recitation: F, 9:05 am – 9:55 am. Instructor(s): Sergio Parreiras. Enrollment = 35.
Introduction to Economics (Economics 101H) is the Honors section of the introductory course in Economics for undergraduates. The Honors section covers the same material as the large enrollment version but does so in more depth. This is an introductory course in both microeconomics and macroeconomics. In this one-semester course students are introduced to fundamental issues in economics including competition, scarcity, opportunity cost, resource allocation, unemployment, ination, and the determination of prices. This course is the gateway course for the major of Economics; if you wish to major in Economics, you must have at least a C in this course.


Sergio O. Parreiras research focuses on game-theoretic models of contests, tournaments, and relative performance evaluation.



ENGL 057H.001 | Future Perfect

TR, 12:30 pm – 1:45 pm. Instructor(s): Matthew Taylor. Enrollment = 24.
What will our world look like in ten years? Fifty? One hundred? Will the future be a utopian paradise or a dystopian wasteland? Through a wide-ranging survey of popular science writing, novels, and films, this first year seminar will examine fictional and nonfictional attempts to imagine the future from the nineteenth century to the present. We will explore everything from futurology and transhumanism to warnings of imminent environmental collapse. Our focus will be less on assessing the accuracy of these predictions and more on determining what they tell us about the hopes and fears of the times in which they were made. The course will culminate in a short research paper on a future-oriented topic of your choosing.


My research focuses on the intersections among environmental humanities, critical theory (including posthumanism, biopolitics, science and technology studies, and critical race theory), and nineteenth- and twentieth-century American literature. My first book, Universes without Us: Posthuman Cosmologies in American Literature (Univ. of Minnesota Press), examines cosmologies that challenge the utopianism of both past and present attempts at fusing self and environment.

ENGL 071H.001 | Healers and Patients

MWF, 11:15 am – 12:05 pm. Instructor(s): Kym Weed. Enrollment = 24.
When medical anthropologist Arthur Kleinman writes that “illness has meaning,” he reminds us that the human experience of being sick involves more than bodily symptoms. Moreover, the effects of illness and disability are rarely confined to one person. In this course, we will analyze a diverse collection of writers who have taken as their topic the human struggle to make sense of suffering and debility through a range of genres including fiction, non-fiction, graphic memoir, podcasts, and oral histories.
Divided into five units, the course will allow us to explore not just the medical, but also the personal, ethical, cultural, and political facets of illness from the perspectives of patients, healers, and families. Central texts will include /Ask Me About My Uterus/ by Abby Norman, /Black Man in a White Coat/ by Damon Tweedy, /Mom’s Cancer/ by Brian Fies and /The Farewell/ directed by Lulu Wang. Additionally, students will explore a set of oral histories from the Stories to Save Lives project to learn more about the experiences of patients, healers, and families from across North Carolina.

Kym Weed is a Teaching Assistant Professor in English & Comparative Literature and the Co-Director of the HHIVE Lab and Associate Director of graduate programs in Literature, Medicine, and Culture. She earned her PhD from UNC and returned to Chapel Hill after a year in Vanderbilt University’s Center for Medicine, Health, and Society. Her research focuses on the intersection of science and literature in late-nineteenth-century American literature and culture as well as historical and contemporary understandings of illness, health, disability, and embodiment. She teaches courses in health humanities, disability studies, American literature, and writing.

ENGL 089H.001 | The Machine Mistake from Frankenstein to the Smartphone

MWF, 10:10 am – 11:00 am. Instructor(s): David Ross. Enrollment = 24.
Science fiction supposedly pines for gleaming gadgetry. Even at its giddiest and wonkiest, however, science fiction remembers Frankenstein. It remembers that monsters develop ideas of their own; that they wind up haunting and even hunting us; that our innovations—however seemingly benign—threaten to escape our control and comprehension and embark on whole new careers of unintended consequence. Our course traces the genealogy of this machine anxiety. Our guiding questions will be: What are machines? Are machines “natural” or “unnatural”? Are their dangers inherent? How do they change us? Is an artificially intelligent “machine” really a machine?


David A. Ross is a graduate of Yale and Oxford. He has been a member of the Department of English & Comparative Literature at UNC–Chapel Hill since 2002. He is the author of A Critical Companion to William Butler Yeats (2009) and the co-editor/co-translator of The Search for the Avant-Garde, 1946–1969 (2012), the descriptive catalogue of the Taipei Fine Arts Museum. A collector and amateur scholar of traditional Chinese paintings and Japanese woodblock prints, he has served as president of Southeast Conference of the Association for Asian Studies and as both editor and book review editor of the Southeast Review of Asian Studies.


HIST 063H.001 | Water, Conflict, and Connection: the Middle East and Ottoman Lands

MW, 3:35 pm – 5:00 pm. Instructor(s): Sarah Shields. Enrollment = 24.
Despite its centrality for the lives and the livelihoods of people in the Middle East, water has seldom been examined in its own right as a contributing factor to its history.  This – First Year Seminar will explore the many ways in which water has shaped the history of the region, and the effects it currently has on life in the Middle East.
Along the Mediterranean and Aegean coasts as well as the Red Sea and Arab/Persian Gulf, seafaring and fishing played important roles in the economy; in the Gulf, pearl-diving became an important local industry as well.  Agricultural innovations allowed permanent settlement in areas with little rainfall.  Rivers and seas were essential for transportation, connecting populations of far-flung parts of the Middle East with each other,  facilitating commerce and pilgrimage.  The availability of clean water has become an increasing problem as industrialization, consumerism, and climate change compromise water availability, soil beaches and sully the region’s drinking supplies.  Water and conflict have been indivisible in the region, since water is both a crucial and rare resource in the Middle East.  Some have argued, for example, that the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians can only be resolved by taking water resources into account; others have pointed to recent drought in Syria as a major factor contributing to the uprising that began in 2011.  This course will focus in turn on the historical, cultural, environmental, and public health issues surrounding the presence and absence of water in the Middle East. We will create a final project that will help K-12 students understand the centrality of water issues for the past and present of the region.


Sarah Shields teaches courses on the modern Middle East, the history of Iraq, the Israel-Palestine conflict, and the development and consequences of nationalism and borders in the region. She has been named a “Favorite Geek” by the Independent Weekly. Shields has taken ten outstanding UNC students to Turkey as part of the Burch Field Research Seminar program, and directed the London Honors Study Abroad Program. Shields is a Carolina Parent, and both her son and her daughter were part of the Honors Carolina cohort. In addition to her new focus on water issues in the region, she is currently researching the long-term impact of the League of Nations on the Middle East.


MATH 231H.01F | Calculus of Functions of One Variable I

TR, 2:00 pm – 3:15 pm; Recitation: M, 3:35 pm – 4:25 pm. Instructor(s): Xuqiang Qin. Enrollment = 35.
Math 231 is designed to provide a detailed introduction to the fundamental ideas of calculus. It does not assume any prior calculus knowledge, but the student is expected to be proficient working with functions and their graphs as well as manipulating variable expressions and solving equations using algebra.
This is the Honors section of Math 231. It offers a more demanding and deeper treatment than the regular sections as well as more involved applications. There will be more emphasis on understanding theory than in other sections, and students will be expected to understand and reproduce proofs of theorems and formulas. In addition, this section will cover extra topics, including the epsilon-delta definition of limit. Applications will be more involved and will sometimes involve real data. Homework will be more challenging, with more emphasis on creative problem solving and less emphasis on drill. Students will be expected to complete a final project.



My main interests lie in Representation Theory of finite dimensional semisimple groups and their Kac-Moody analogs and the geometry and topology of their flag varieties. In addition, I have been interested in the moduli of semistable principal G-bundles over curves in its connection to Verlinde formula for the dimension of the space of conformal blocks and also the G-analog of the classical Hermitian eigenvalue problem, where G is any complex semisimple group.


HNRS 089.001 | Medicine and Narrative: Writing COVID / Writing Us

M, 2:00 pm – 4:30 pm. Instructor(s): Terry Holt. Enrollment = 20.
A workshop in autobiographical and creative short story, focusing on the complex connections between story-telling, interpretive skill, and the practice of medicine. Students will write and present autobiographical and and creative short stories about illness and medical care; the seminar will meet weekly to discuss these stories, attempting to identify and articulate the key issues each story expresses about what it means to be sick, what it might mean to take care of others in their illness. The writing and (especially) interpretive skills acquired in this workshop are directly valuable to anyone contemplating a career in medicine, but are equally valuable to anyone who might at some point encounter (in themselves or in someone they care for) the trauma of illness. In addition to the weekly workshop, participants will have one-on-one conferences with the instructor (himself an MD with an international reputation as a writer). A semester-long journal, focusing on the reverberations of the pandemic on the writer’s daily (actual and interior) life, will form the basis for a final project, which may (at student option) be in the form of written narrative, an audio composition, or a film, composed using the tools available at the University’s Media Resources Center.


Terrence Holt taught literature and writing at Rutgers University and Swarthmore College for a decade before attending medical school. Hailed as “a work of genius” by the New York Times, his 2009 In the Valley of the Kings was one of Amazon’s Best Books of the Year. Internal Medicine, his New York Times bestselling memoir of medical training, was named best book of 2014 by three industry journals.  Holt teaches medicine at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.


PHYS 118H.01F | Introductory Calculus-based Mechanics and Relativity

MWF, 8:00 am – 8:50 am; Recitation: MW, 10:10 am – 12:00 pm. Instructor(s): Laurie McNeil / Wei Zhang. Enrollment = 35.
PHYS118 is a calculus-based introduction to Classical Mechanics. The course covers motion and kinematics in one and two dimensions, forces and Newton’s laws of motion, work-energy and conservation laws, frames of reference and Einstein’s theory of special relativity, rigid-body rotations, rolling, static equilibrium, and oscillations and waves.
The honors version of this course is differentiated by requiring a final project and presentation. Early in the semester, each honors student will identify a project of interest and submit the idea to the instructor, who will evaluate and discuss changes or other details with the student to finalize the curriculum for the semester. Suitable project choices will integrate multiple topics covered in the course and will require a detailed description and a brief literature review of relevant papers. A computational aspect is highly encouraged.



PSYC 058H.001 | The Psychology of Mental States and Language Use

TR, 2:00 pm – 3:15 pm. Instructor(s): Jennifer Arnold. Enrollment = 24.
As adults we constantly make judgments about other people’s beliefs, desires, goals, knowledge, and intentions from evidence like eye gaze and inferences from their words and actions. These judgments together can be called mindreading, or theory of mind (where “theory” refers to the theory someone might hold about another’s mental state, not a scientific theory). This information is known to guide some aspects of language use — for example, you wouldn’t ask someone to hand you “that book” if they don’t know it exists. But sometimes you might ignore what someone else does or does not know – for instance asking someone for “the red book” when that person is sitting in front of two red books. This course examines how children, adults, and individuals with autism infer other people’s mental states, and how they use it to guide decisions during speaking and understanding. This seminar will follow a discussion format.


Dr. Jennifer Arnold is a Professor in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience. She studies the ways that our minds handle the jobs of speaking and understanding. How do speakers choose words and produce them? How do listeners pick out the speaker’s meaning? Her research is guided by questions about how people represent the thoughts, intentions, and mental activities of other people, and how this information influences specific linguistic processes.


PLCY 061H.001 | Policy Entrepreneurship and Public/Private/Non-Profit Partnerships

MW, 1:25 pm – 2:40 pm. Instructor(s): Daniel Gitterman. Enrollment = 24.
This seminar will define a policy entrepreneur and examine strategies used by policy entrepreneurs to achieve policy change or innovation in the policy making process. This course also aims to explore ways that public, private, and non-profit sectors collaborate to address problems that cannot be solved by one sector alone. There is growing recognition that sustainable solutions to some of the most complex challenges confronting our communities can benefit from these collaborative or “intersector” approaches.


Daniel Gitterman is Duncan MacRae ’09 and Rebecca Kyle MacRae Professor and Chair of Public Policy at UNC-Chapel Hill. He also serves as Director of the Honors Seminar in Public Policy and Global Affairs (Washington, DC).


SOCI 057H.001 | Rationalization and the Changing Nature of Social Life in 21st-Century America

TR, 3:30 pm – 4:45 pm. Instructor(s): Howard Aldrich. Enrollment = 24.
Today, fast food restaurants have become a model for everyday life. Some scholars have even talked about the “McDonaldization” of the nation and the world. By that, scholars mean a drive toward greater efficiency, predictability, calculability, and control by non-human technologies in modern organizations. This drive has shaped many features of American life, including health care, law, and education. Such forces have even affected personal relationships. Sociologists have a term for this process: “rationalization.” We will explore “rationalization” through a process called “active learning” in which you will have opportunities to explore online resources, engage in peer-to-peer discussions, and work with me to develop a research project in which you explore the impact of rationalization on an occupation that might be a destination for you. We will spend one class period, every other week, working on the term paper in class. We will have four or five guests, sharing their expertise on how rationalization has affected their work. You will be assessed based on your contributions to blog posts, class discussion, short answer written assignments, and a research project culminating in a term paper (15-20 pages). You will then build an Adobe Spark page that explains, to the world, what you have learned. We will have no traditional examinations or quizzes.


Howard E. Aldrich is Kenan Professor of Sociology. He has won numerous awards for his teaching and mentoring: Favorite Professor Award from the senior class at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; graduate students’ Award for Best Teaching, Department of Sociology, several times; and the J Carlyle Sitterson Freshman Teaching Award from the University of Carolina Chapel Hill. His two sons and his daughters-in-law graduated from Carolina. His main research interests are entrepreneurship, entrepreneurial team formation, gender and entrepreneurship, and evolutionary theory. He writes a regular column, “Speaking from Experience,” for The National Teaching and Learning Forum. He fly fishes year-round in the mountains of Western North Carolina and Eastern Tennessee and wherever else his travels may take him. Photos of his catches may be seen on his homepage.