International Honors


Course Descriptions IHON


100 level courses (Two courses to be taken during your first year; IHON 111 in the Fall and IHON 112 in the Spring)


IHON 111: Origins, Ideas, and Encounters

Examines innovative ideas and institutions from ancient, medieval, and early modern societies that have shaped the contemporary world.  Themes include the rise of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam; influential models of authority and government; alternative models of coherence and diversity; religious reformations and utopian movements; technical innovation; and interpreting nature.

IHON 112: Liberty, Power, and Imagination

Examines innovative ideas and institutions from the Enlightenment to today that have shaped the contemporary world.  Themes include scientific, political, artistic, and commercial revolutions; emerging concepts of justice and natural rights; capitalism and imperialism; the experience of war; narratives of progress and their critics; and globalization, sustainability, and the environment.

200 level courses (Choose a total of four, 200 level courses, to be taken during your 2nd and 3rd year)

IHON 257: The Experience of War

A multidisciplinary survey of modern and contemporary warfare, drawing on poetry, novels, war memoirs, art, music, and film, and stressing the experiences and decisions of people who have participated in war as combatants or civilians.

IHON 257: Disease and Injury, Praise and Blame

You probably won’t hear “At least he died doing what he loved” about someone who dies of lung cancer clutching a cigarette, but you probably will if he falls off a cliff clutching a rope or a snowboard.  Illnesses and injuries have always been a part of our human experience, but why do we valorize some and demonize others? In this course we examine the human experience of suffering disease, illness, and injury – and the equally human experience of assigning praise and blame in connection with them – from Egypt to Europe, from America to Africa, and from Moses to Malaria. We will pay particular attention to a history of social, religious, and civic responses that define health, value or devalue suffering, and cure or create ill and injured people for “the common good.”

IHON 257: Modern Perspectives on the Principles ‘Life’, ‘Virtue’ and ‘Justice’

With the historical Enlightenment’s doctrine of human perfectibility came new burdens: the individual human being not only bore responsibility for perfecting herself morally, but for her share of human progress in history. These burdens are still implicit in the widely shared idea that we should conduct our lives ethically. But is it possible to live a perfectly ethical life? If not, what is the proper relation between ethics and life?  In this course, we will consider significant voices from the past two hundred years who speak from various sides of this argument: writers, philosophers, and revolutionaries who have insisted that we should conduct our lives in the closest possible concord with moral principle, and others who have contended, or suggested, that the goal of a perfectly consistent life is not only impossible, but destructive.

IHON 257: The Quest for Religious Wisdom in a Global Age

This course thus explores, through critical historical, descriptive, and comparative methodologies, the role religion plays in the search for wisdom on the global stage. The central question is, How does religion contribute wisdom for life? The central geographic focus will be the Near East (southwest Asia), including the eastern Mediterranean, i.e., land- and sea-bridges where human migrations first engendered internationalism. A key course goal is better to understand religious wisdom, at the intersection of Europe and Asia, from a variety of texts and academic perspectives. The cultural horizon for this understanding will extend from the very early story of Gilgamesh to the later traditions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Also of paramount concern will be perceiving the connections between religious wisdom and the encounter with The Other, and whether this encounter will be one of hostility or hospitality. Definitions of religion and wisdom, the situation of religious wisdom in pre-modern and modern contexts, and the examination of the relationship between religion and socio-cultural realities, will be highly significant for course investigations. The course also examines how, and in what forms, religion might contribute constructively to future global life.

IHON 257: The City as Text

A city is not just a physical collection of buildings, but a space which is experienced by its residents or visitors through their particular histories, imaginations, thoughts and dreams. In Andrade’s novel Macunaíma, an indigenous person enters São Paulo in the early twentieth century and sees not a modern city, but a strange place in which machines have asserted their authority over human beings. In this course we will examine various representations of the city in narrative, philosophy and film throughout the 20th and 21st century, from Woolf’s postwar London, to Borges’ cosmopolitan Buenos Aires, to Wender’s Berlin of the late 80s, to filmmaker Fernando Meirelles’ urban segregation in Río de Janeiro, with particular attention to how the urban space is refunctioned in times of political upheaval or oppression.

IHON 253: Gender, Sexuality and Culture

Uses multicultural, international, and feminist perspectives to examine issues such as socialization and stereotypes, relationships and sexuality, interpersonal and institutional violence, revolution and social change in the U.S. and in other selected international contexts.

IHON 258: Africa's Triple Heritage

Ali Mazrui famously proposed contemporary Africa can best be understood through the interaction of Christianity, Islam, and Africa's indigenous religious traditions.  In this class, we will use perspectives from cultural anthropology, history, literature, and religious studies to examine topics such as colonialism, religious conversion, syncretism, Sufism and Islamic reformist movements, masking and spirit possession.  The class may include a field trip to the Seattle Art Museum to examine their African art collections.

IHON 258: Colonizations in the Americas

This course explores the centrality of colonialism in the making of the modern world.  Rather than treating contemporary geohistorical units such as Europe, Africa, and the Americas as having separate “histories” that have only recently come to converge through a process of “globalization,” this course places specific emphasis on cross-cultural and societal connections.  Contextual readings and discussions consider the changing dynamics of conquest, enslavement, and colonialism and their reciprocal relationships to resistance, freedom, and revolution.  While we will situation these themes historically, another continuing theme of our conversation will be the legacy of colonialism in our daily lives, our political forms, our ways of thinking. We will gain a rich, nuanced history of how imperialisms were worked out on the ground in the Americas (with particular attention to the places that would become the United States, Mexico, and Haiti) and how these developments were connected to changes in Europe and Africa.  This will allow us to understand the legacies of racism and the kinds of accommodations and conflicts that have shaped the changing political, economic, and social relations in the Americas.

IHON 258: Crime and Corrections

The purpose of this course is to provide a sociological examination of crime and corrections. We will begin by exploring how crime is defined and measured, followed by a discussion of key criminological theories. We will go on to examine correctional philosophies, policies, and practices among different nations.  Throughout the course students will be challenged to think critically about race, class, and gender based inequalities in the criminal justice system, as well as the social consequences of incarceration.

IHON 260: The Red Violin

This section of The Arts in Society will examine the role of music in society and its relationship to the other arts, presented in the context of an historical and cultural survey of Western Music with some examinations of world music. “The Arts in Society: The Red Violin” will accomplish this by giving a special emphasis to string music in the Western tradition and string music in other-‐than-‐Western cultures. Students will be introduced to historical terminology used for music and the arts, learn to recognize the stylistic characteristics of different musical styles and musical eras, and to explore the relationship between music and the time, place, and ideological context in which it was produced. Students in this section of “The Arts in Society” will work from an historically based survey text in music (with ancillary recordings), as well as readings in aesthetic philosophy exploring the relationship between the arts, history, and society.

IHON 260: Visual Art and the Critique of the Everyday

Visual artists are sensitive interpreters of everyday life. Through their work, artists may intervene directly in their political and social reality, or they may simply record that reality as they see it. This course examines artworks of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries both as aesthetic objects and as opportunities for broader cultural dialogue and critique. We will draw on the methods of art history, critical theory, and cultural studies as we look closely at artists who have engaged significant phenomena of the past 100 years, including consumer culture, Fascism and the Holocaust, and issues of contemporary identity. In visits to local museums and galleries, we will consider how our world is being examined, recorded, and perhaps changed, through art.

IHON 287:Ethics in Technology in a Global Environment

This course deals with the importance of ethics in technology in general, and, at the same time, focuses on the application of ethical principles and the codes of ethics of professional organizations in an international setting.  We will also explore the idea of a universal code of ethics that can be applied across boundaries.

IHON 287: Imaging the World: Visualizing the World, Maps and Mapping

Maps have been long used as tools that shape how people visualize spatial information about the physical and cultural world. This class explores the principles and processes of cartography as well as issues concerning the selection, presentation, and meaning of the information displayed on maps.

IHON 287:  Epidemics and Epidemiology

This course is a study of the causes and spread of selected infectious, chronic, and environmental diseases as well as the methods employed to understand such outbreaks of disease. The investigation of these types of disease will also focus on their consequences for the past, the present, and both local and global communities.


300 level courses (One course to be taken during your third or fourth year)

IHON 328: Social Justice; Personal Inquiry and Global Investigations

Students will wrestle with complex contemporary social problems, evaluate multiple responses to those problems, and develop and articulate their own positions and commitments.  Class themes vary, but every section includes cross-cultural and interdisciplinary analysis and a final culminating project.