Summer Honors Program Course Descriptions

Student working in a chemistry lab

All courses offered online through the Summer Honors Program are designed to be dynamic, interactive explorations by the students and professor into the course topic. Classes will follow the below daily schedule.

  • 9:00 a.m. – Honors College Core class
  • 10:00 a.m. – Honors student-led sessions/presentations
  • 11:00 a.m. – Discipline-Based classes

Honors Core Classes

In the Honors Core course all students will tackle some of the most basic and debated questions of human existence, such as, “How do we create and use the past?” or, “What do we know? What do we believe? Is there a difference?” Working on these questions with professors from English, history, and the fine arts provides a unique opportunity for a synthesis of ideas. You will be challenged to develop critical thinking skills through the analysis of various media, group discussions, writing, and group presentations. The below core courses are being offered this summer.

“How do we understand the sacred?”

Instructor: Dr. John Marsden, English

This unit will focus on how we understand conceptions of sacredness from a literary perspective. What do we hold dear? What do we value? What inspires us? What happens when sacred values conflict? What is profane? We’ll explore these and other questions by looking at work ranging from Romantic poets of the early nineteenth century to contemporary authors such as Hanif Kureishi and Salman Rushdie. In doing so, we will engage in thought-provoking and exciting discussions surrounding the brief readings and the core question.

“How do we create and use the past?” 

Instructor: Dr. Scott Moore, History

History is the witness that testifies to the passing of time; it illumines reality, vitalizes memory, provides guidance in daily life, and brings us tidings of antiquity. —Cicero, Pro Publio Sestio

History is a pack of lies about events that never happened told by people who weren’t there. —George Santayana

We’ll be looking at this question primarily in an attempt to understand the pull that the past exerts over later societies. To accomplish this we are going to examine how history and the past were created and used in various historical societies, starting with the ancient Greeks. We are also going to work through a variety of readings, including both primary sources as well as works by more recent historians. History, and the creation of history, is much more than dates and people; it is a tool that assists in decision making and analytical thinking. 

“How do we create and use the past?” 

Instructor: Dr. Elizabeth Ricketts, History

We are going to consider how two historical myths—the Myth of the Plantation South, and the Myth of the Lost Cause—were created in the aftermath of the Civil War and how these myths have been used to promote the ideologies of Southern exceptionalism and white superiority. 

“What do we know? What do we believe? What’s the difference?”

Instructor: Dr. Michael Schwartz, Theatre, Dance, and Performance

What we know and what we believe determine our values and our decisions. In this core unit, students examine the question of how we determine what we know and what we believe (and what we should do) through the lens of theater and performance. Playwrights, performers, and directors have raised key questions about knowledge and belief for generations, and students will witness these questions enacted and dramatized in ways that may challenge lifelong assumptions.

Discipline-Based Class Options 


Instructor: Dr. A. Zhou

This online course provides an opportunity for high school juniors and seniors who have completed Algebra 2 and Trigonometry to learn physics through project-based approach. Our lighthearted curriculum includes:

  • Pick up a project and form your hypothesis.
  • Design an experiment using available simulations.
  • Observe the phenomenon and collect data.
  • Analyze data and draw your conclusions.
  • Presenting your results in a two-minute video.

Mathematics: Graph Coloring: Applied and Theoretical Perspectives

Instructor: Dr. J. Lattanzio

Graph theory as a mathematical discipline has grown enormously in the past several decades. In this course, applications of graph theory will be discussed with an emphasis on graph coloring. This discussion will lead naturally into a theoretical discussion of unsolved problems in graph theory as they relate to graph coloring. This course will be self contained in the sense that no prior mathematical knowledge will be a prerequisite for understanding the course content. There will be a wide range of mathematical ideas introduced in this course including matrices and linear algebra; groups, permutations, equivalence relations, and abstract algebra; and graph theory.

Communication Media: Political Communication

Instructor: Dr. S. Kleinman

The purpose of this course is to provide students with an overview of the key concepts and theories regarding communication’s role in politics and the political process. We will take an interdisciplinary approach to the field through the exploration of research from scholarship in the fields of communication, political science, psychology, and sociology. We will address the role of news media, political entertainment, online media, popular culture, political campaigns, and face-to-face communication from the perspective of both the public and the government. We will also discuss cognitive and behavioral effects of political messages on the public. The primary emphasis of this course will be on American Politics, however, at times we will discuss how the American system differs from others.

History: Lessons in Protest from the Civil Rights Movement

Instructor: Dr. E. Ricketts

Citizen protests are older than the American nation; indeed, providing the foundation for the independence movement. But what makes a protest a good protest? What makes a protest a successful protest? This brief course proposes that there are ways to know whether a particular protest is “good” or “bad” within the context of our national ideals and cultural practices, and that successful protests operate within this context. We will use the protests of the Civil Rights Movement to explore the lessons in protesting offered there. 

Political Science: Wait… can they really do that? Current events and the Constitution

Instructor: Dr. G. Torges

Can the government make people wear masks during a pandemic? Can Congress impeach and remove a an ex-president? Would the twenty-fifth Amendment really allow Congress to declare a president incompetent?  Why do we pick our presidents with the electoral college, and why is the electoral college so strange? If you listen to the news, people constantly make all kinds of claims about what the Constitution does or doesn’t allow the government to do. But what does the Constitution actually say? The course offers a primer on the Constitution and helps make sense of what it means.    

Psychology: Treating the Human Condition

Instructor: Sarah Fox


This course explores the lived experiences of major psychological distress and disorders set out by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-V) and their treatments. This course will cover psychotic disorders, mood disorders, anxiety disorders, stress disorders, and personality disorders. Various treatment modalities (e.g., “talk therapy,” group therapy, inpatient psychiatric treatment, community-based treatment) and theoretical orientations (e.g., psychodynamic, cognitive behavioral therapy, mindfulness) will be considered in the context of major psychological disorders. This course will draw on psychological research, first-hand accounts of mental illness, and videos and demonstrations of actual treatments. Student will leave this course with a greater understanding of and appreciation for the treatment of mental illness, the human psyche, and the mind’s capacity for growth.

Summer Honors Program Student Nomination Form

High school teachers may use this form below to recommend a student for the Cook Honors College Summer Honors Program.

Teacher Evaluation Form