Fall 2021

Fall 2021

Theistic and Atheistic Existentialism

Rico Monge, Michael Kelly

What is the meaning of my life and what does the meaning of my life mean for the society in which I live? How does one discern such meaning and what are the obstacles (personal and social) to coming to grasp that meaning for oneself? How do the answers to such questions change assuming either a theistic or atheistic premise? To what does an atheistic or theistic premise committee me, actually? In an intense dialogue with some of the most important philosophical, literary, and theist texts in existentialism, we will explore these questions in Theistic and Atheistic Existentialism.

HNRS 324

Rico Monge


HNRS 325

Michael Kelly


*Approved Core: Coming soon

Sound and Spirit in Monsoon Asia

Lance Nelson, Christopher Adler

In this course, we will examine the history of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam in South and Southeast Asia and trace their influence in the region. We will examine a number of the diverse musical traditions that arose from the interaction of these religious civilizations with each other and with indigenous animist beliefs. Music, whether for ceremony, entertainment, or daily life, is a vehicle for the enactment and transmission of religious, artistic and cultural values. Tracing the common religious threads from South Asia through Southeast Asia, we will reveal the underlying beliefs and aesthetics that link cultures across the region, as well as clarify the distinctions resulting from local circumstances, indigenous cultural practices, other transregional influences (such as that of China), and idiosyncratic fusions of changing belief systems.

HNRS 390

Lance Nelson


HNRS 391

Christopher Adler


*Approved Core: Upper-Division Theological and Religious Inquiry (390) or Artistic Inquiry (391), and Advanced Integration.

Dead Men Walking

Gary Jones, Cynthia Caywood

The United States is one of the few first world countries that executes its citizens, and “Dead Men Walking” examines the legal, ethical and literary debates over its application. Always controversial, capital punishment has attracted new attention in recent years as prisoners have been exonerated through DNA evidence; as studies have shown that capital punishment is disproportionately applied to the poor and to minorities; and as executions have been botched, delivering to the condemned a cruel and painful death. Yet support for it remains strong as society seeks to find ways to express its grief and outrage over especially vicious criminal acts. We will draw upon a wide range of texts—legal cases, scholarly opinion pieces, documentaries, fiction, autobiography, and plays—and host lectures by San Diego attorneys who have personal experience both prosecuting and defending capital cases. Besides reading, class work includes participating in seminar style discussions, watching films, producing short essays and a research project on a San Diego capital case, and taking a final exam.

HNRS 342

Gary Jones


HNRS 243

Cynthia Caywood


*Approved Core: Advanced Integration, Ethical Inquiry (HNRS 342), Literary Inquiry (HNRS 343)

Bombs Away!

Kathryn Statler, Daniel Sheehan

Nuclear weapons are one of the great scientific and technological achievements of the 20th century; however, they also pose a grave existential risk to humanity. This team-taught, upper-division honors class will explore nuclear weapons -- their discovery, design, destructiveness, deployment and disarmament -- from the perspectives of history and physics. It will trace their development from early 20th-century scientific visionaries, through the Manhattan Project, from the Cold War nuclear arms race, up to the present-day specter of nuclear terrorism. The course will also explore the potential for nuclear disarmament and peaceful uses for nuclear technology.

HNRS 344

Kathryn Statler


HNRS 345

Daniel Sheehan


*Approved Core: Advanced Integration, Historical Inquiry (344)