Summer Honors Program Course Descriptions

  • SHP Chemistry LabAll courses offered through the Summer Honors Program are designed to be dynamic, interactive explorations by the students and professor into the course topic.

    Classes meet Monday through Friday between 9:00 a.m. and noon and again between 1:00 and 4:00 p.m. Half the day will be spent in Honors Core and the other half in the discipline-based class chosen by the student. All classes are conducted by IUP faculty members and local professionals.

    Honors Core

    Required class for all students: Two one-hour-and-15-minute sections will be assigned randomly.

    In the Interdisciplinary Honors Core Course, all students will tackle some of the most basic and debated questions of human existence, such as, “How do we discern the good from the bad?” or, “What do we know? What do we believe? Is there a difference?” Working with professors from literature, philosophy, 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 great scholars’ arguments, group discussions, writing, and group presentations.

    Discipline-Based Class Options (continue to check back for updated course descriptions)

    Anthropology: The Study of Humankind

    Anthropology is an expansive discipline indeed, covering a wide range of topics such as human origins, evolution, culture, and behavior. Over the course of these lectures, you’ll learn about all four subdisciplines generally subsumed under the discipline of anthropology, namely biological anthropology, archaeology, cultural anthropology, and linguistic anthropology. The broad scope of questions and issues addressed by anthropology provides multiple avenues for understanding our own behavior and that of the group we most closely associate with. For instance, anthropologists ask—and attempt to answer through scientific inquiry—questions such as: 

    1. When did we last share a common ancestor with other animal species?
    2. What does it mean to be “human”? How similar/different are we from other animal species?
    3. At which point over the course of human evolution did human-like traits first appear?
    4. What did our evolutionary ancestors look like 4 million years ago? How did they behave?
    5. Why do archaeologists bristle at the “Indiana Jones” image of their discipline?
    6. How do archaeologists reconstruct past ways of living and thinking?
    7. How do anthropologists study other cultures?
    8. Are there ways of behaving and thinking that are common to all known human cultures?
    9. To what extent do “nature” and “nurture” play a role in guiding human behavior and cognition?
    10. Why do anthropologists argue that “race” is a social construct rather than rooted in reality?
    11. Does our language affect the way we think? Or is it the other way around?
    12. Do men and women really speak differently? 

    Over the course of the lectures, we’ll address many of these (and other) questions, relying for the most part on discussions and in-class readings of video clips and short articles.

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    Genetic Engineering: Techniques and Application

    Covers nucleic acid properties, structure, and functions. The lecture part of the course will cover the principles and techniques of recent developments and findings in recombinant DNA technology. The laboratory component will provide the opportunity to learn and apply hands-on recombinant DNA procedures and the technologies of spectrophotometer analysis of nucleic acids and proteins; restriction enzyme digestion, gel electrophoretic analysis of mutant genes, and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) analysis.

    Program Prerequisites: High school biology, chemistry or physics

    Instructor: Dr. N. Bharathan


    Investment Analysis and Portfolio Management

    Student participants will apply empirical and theoretical concepts to real financial management and investment decisions!  A variety of investment strategies and valuation models will be used to reinforce sound investment principles. Particular emphasis will be placed on market efficiency and diversification.

    The course will take place in the Mackey Family Charitable Trust Financial Trading Room, which features computer workstations and a data-wall providing breaking financial news and information. A private investment game on Investopedia will be run throughout the two-week class, enabling each student to invest $100,000 in stocks, exchanged traded funds, mutual funds and/or options. While the money is simulated, all securities bought, sold, or held will be tracked in real time. Students will certainly alter their individual portfolio holdings throughout the two-week period as they develop a greater understanding of portfolio management. Student learning outcomes include:

    • Evaluating the fair value of a stock using multiples valuation
    • Constructing a diversified portfolio
    • Valuating performance of a company and of the portfolio

    Instructor: Dr. Daniel Lawson

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    It’s Made of How Much of What?
    An Introduction to Chemical Measurements

    Biotechnology, materials science, molecular medicine, nanoengineering—any discipline involving molecular-level investigation relies on chemical measurements. This course will introduce students to a variety of modern measurement techniques and provide hands-on experiences with some of the most important investigative tools available for modern science.

    Instructor: Dr. J. Ford

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    English: Unlikely Pairings—Close Reading for Relationships

    Reading is complicated. Every time we read a text, we essentially have to:

    • be an actor, figuring out how to say the lines,
    • be a director, figuring out how all these voices and situations relate to each other,
    • and be an audience member, figuring out how it all relates to us and the world around us.

    In this course, we’ll be diving into a sea of wildly different texts—from three-minute realistic fiction, to poems about monsters, to digital memes, and even to country music lyrics, to name a few—so that we can try on all these roles in an effort to listen closely to the voices in texts.

    Each text we read will be paired with another, and those pairings will drive our essential questions and goals as close readers:

    • How can we listen to the voices in texts and make choices about them? (our actor role)
    • How do we figure out all the relationships in texts? (our director role)
    • How do we create our own relationships with texts, between texts, and in the world? (our audience role)

    By the end of the two weeks, we will be creating our own pairings of unlikely texts, sharing our take on each of these roles, and offering new texts in responses to what we have found.

    We will do all this reading and voicing recognizing that the relationships writers create in the world have real-life consequences, even leading some writers to be exiled from their homelands. Part of our class will include visiting the City of Asylum in Pittsburgh where exiled writers in residence from countries such as Syria and Bangladesh live, write, and share their writing.

    Instructor: Ms. O’Toole

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    We live in a world bathed in light. The field of optics deals with phenomena, components, systems, and techniques that control light and enable it to perform useful tasks. As this century is unfolding, light is playing an even more significant role than it has in the past. This program provides an opportunity for high school juniors and seniors with a strong background in math or physics to explore the growing field of one of the oldest branches of physics, optics. Our lighthearted curriculum includes:

    • Discussions and demonstrations of color, Fermat’s principle, interference, diffraction, lasers, fiber optics, etc.;
    • Fun hands-on activities such as soldering, optical fibers, LED energy efficiency, interferometry and forensics;
    • Field trips to local companies;
    • Presentations of the posters developed by each student.

    Student testimonial: Eddie, EO Summer Program alumnus and now an engineer at Intel, said, “I’d recommend this to anyone who enjoys science.”

    He became interested in a career in electro-optics after attending the summer program.

    See the article “Going High Tech for Summer,” published by Leader Times on May 27, 2009.

    To see other student’s experience, visit Facebook.

    Instructor: Dr. Andrew Zhou 

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    The Art and Applications of Counting

    You very well may be insulted if someone were to ask you if you can count. In fact, counting can be one of the most difficult tasks expected of you in certain courses. You might ask: “What is so difficult about counting?” Well, it depends on what you are attempting to count. For instance, if you are asked to count the number of pennies in a small 12-ounce jar, then you should be able to come up with an answer within a few minutes, but being utterly bored during the entire process! However, consider the very simple equation

    a + b + c + d + e = 30;

    where a, b, c, d, and e are assumed to be nonnegative integers. Can you count the number of distinct solutions to this equation? One solution is found by assigning the following values:

    a = 7; b = 3; c = 11; d = 9; and e = 0:

    Another solution is found by assigning the following values:

    a = 17; b = 0; c = 0; d = 8; and e = 5:

    One approach to solve this problem is to write down all of the possible solutions and then count all of them. Indeed, it would be impressive if you could determine that there are 46,376 solutions to this equation using this “brute force” approach!

    For the next question, can you count the number of nonidentical labeled trees having six vertices? Here are two of them:

    Two nonidentical labelled trees having 6 vertices

    By using the “brute force” method, you would have to draw 1,296 such diagrams to obtain all of them. Change the question to just 11 vertices (a very small number of vertices) and you would have to draw over 2.3 billion of these trees!

    In this two-week session, you will learn advanced counting techniques that will not only enable you to easily answer these two specific counting problems, but also a variety of other counting problems. These techniques are not too difficult to understand and, moreover, they will circumvent the laborious “brute force” method of counting. You will also learn that these techniques have many other surprising applications not necessarily related to counting. Applications of counting are wide-ranging and include but are not limited to the areas of statistical physics, operations research, computer science and algorithm theory, graph theory and error-correcting codes, logic, evolutionary biology, and properties of discrete structures.

    Instructor: Dr. J. Lattanzio

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    Political Communication

    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.

    Instructor: Dr. S. Kleinman

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    This course will explore the relationship between the brain, the mind, and behavior. We will examine the neuroanatomical and neurochemical underpinnings of everyday behavior (vision, sleeping, learning) as well as disease states (Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Schizophrenia). A variety of hands-on experiences will be used to engage students in the study of neuroscience (examining brain cells under microscopes and sheep brain dissections). Special attention will be paid to how neuroscience methods can be applied to the study of behavior, how drugs influence brain and behavior, and new research findings in the field. We will challenge common beliefs and myths about the brain and its functions. Also, central to this course will be the investigation of how the organization of the nervous system influences how we interact with the environment and conversely how the environment impacts the structure and function of our brain.

    Instructor: Dr. W. Meil

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    World War II in America

    Women in the Home Front

    Although no military battles were fought on the American mainland, World War II affected all areas of life at home. In this course, we will look at how women responded to the demands of war: at home, at the workplace, and in their communities. We will look at new areas of opportunity that opened for women in traditionally male dominated areas of life, and at how cultural mores for women were shaped by the realities of war. Among the topics we will address are female pilots, women’s baseball, changing sexual mores, and the special challenges faced by women of color.

    Instructor: Dr. E. Ricketts

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  • Room and Board
    Students will live on campus in single gender wings of IUP’s Whitmyre Hall, home of the Cook Honors College.
    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
    Teacher evaluation form for students applying to take part in the Summer Honors Program.