Honors Program Newsletter

Spring 2018

Saying Goodbye to the Honors Office in the SLP

Celeste Ely & Madison Moye ‘21

As many of you may have heard, the location of the Honors Office will be moving from the SLP to a new location as of this June. The new Honors Office will reside in Maher 264, and this new space will continue to provide the same resources and opportunities to students as the current office does. While this move may not be ideal, it will be temporary and it will serve as a learning experience for when the Honors Office moves again. In Fall 2020, the office will make one final move from its temporary location into a new space that is planned to be built behind Copley Library, the Learning Commons.

This move may be uncomfortable at first, but it is a blessing in disguise. This move is an opportunity for students to get involved in creating an environment of their choosing. In establishing a temporary space, the Honors Program will be able to learn what aspects of the new space work for students, and make adjustments to the final space in response. Students will be able to make suggestions and criticisms which will actually be heard and taken into consideration. This move is an opportunity for student-lead changemaking, which ultimately will make the Honors Program stronger and more engaged.

Although the specific aspects of the new office have yet to be firmly established, the Honors Board has begun to develop a student-lead plan for the space. We hope that the new space will have a similar layout to that of the current office, with a lounge area for students to relax, as well as rooms for group meetings or study sessions. This will ideally include multiple individual study spaces as well as the group rooms, with whiteboards available for students to use. Supplies such as a printer, charging stations, study supplies, and possibly an Amazon Alexa to ask quick research questions or for students to play music while studying will be implemented in this new space. In order to make the lounge space comfortable and inviting, couches, a Keurig, and snacks will be available for students to use.

We envision a space that welcomes students to study, relax, and enjoy the benefits of being in Honors. Come by in the fall to visit our new space in Maher, and give us suggestions of how we can make our final space even better.

Happy Summer Toreros!

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Director's Report

Dr. Jim Gump, Honors Program Director

For the Honors Program, the 2017-18 academic year has been one of innovation and spectacular student success. Even before the fall semester began, thirty incoming first year Honors students participated in our fourth pre-orientation camping trip to Santa Cruz Island in the Channel Islands National Park. In this fourth annual pre-O venture, designed exclusively for the Honors Program, our students spent a week camping, hiking, kayaking, and bonding. According to Outdoor Adventures program manager Mark Ceder, the Channel Islands excursion continues to be their most successful pre-O experience. Once classes began in the fall semester first-year Honors students began to participate in their Living Learning Community activities, which included our first annual Honors Induction Ceremony in the KIPJ Theatre. Honors students were also instrumental in facilitating the visit of this year’s Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar, Dr. Stephen Walt. Dr. Walt, Belfer Professor of International Affairs at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, provided several campus lectures and met informally with Honors students over breakfast and lunch. In addition to these activities the Honors Student Board, under the outstanding leadership of our president Margaret Driscoll, organized a highly successful “Tea with the President” event and engaged in philanthropic ventures for Rady Children’s Hospital and the Ronald McDonald House. Finally, Sofia Panayides, Kayla Weston, Amanda White, Erin, and I travelled to Atlanta to participate in the National Collegiate Honors Council (NCHC) conference. In addition to delivering a poster presentation on justice and equity in our program, the students witnessed a stirring lecture by criminal defense attorney Bryan Stevenson and participated in a field trip to Atlanta’s outstanding Center for Civil and Human Rights.

Over the course of the year Honors students have continued to play a leading role in the intellectual life of the campus. For the fourth year in a row, the Honors Program produced the class valedictorian for the College of Arts and Sciences. Chris Harrop, a double major in Spanish and International Business, will represent us proudly at Commencement. Honors seniors participated in the Senior Thesis Seminar as well as Creative Collaborations and delivered sophisticated presentations on a broad range of topics, including humanitarian engineering, computational chemistry, Russian foreign policy, U.S.-Iranian relations, video game therapy, CEO malfeasance, yellowtail, zebrafish, fiddler crab, and whale research, counterterrorism, colonial hierarchies, cultural competency, Rousseau’s paradoxes, and other biochemical, historical, economic, psychological, philosophical, musical, and literary analyses. Honors seniors (as well as several juniors) are well represented in the cohort elected to Phi Beta Kappa this spring, comprising nearly fifty per cent of all initiates. Our seniors have also been selected to prestigious graduate and professional programs, including Yale, UCLA, Marquette, Creighton, Northeastern, Utah and New York Medical College, and others will take up employment with accounting firms, research labs, tech companies, and engineering firms. As these examples suggest, Honors students epitomize academic excellence and intellectual engagement, qualities that will continue to define our great Honors Program into the future and, along with our outstanding program coordinator Erin Fornelli, provide the foundation for a smooth transition for our new director next fall.

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Program News

HSB Event: RMHC Volunteering

Emily Jewett ‘21

To celebrate the Christmas season, Honors Student Board members hosted an arts and crafts table at the Ronald McDonald House in December. Board members helped the children craft puppets of Olaf the Snowman from the Disney film Frozen. The Ronald McDonald
House provides short-term and long-term housing to families with children staying in Rady Children’s Hospital. The RMHCSD makes long-term and advanced treatments possible for many lower income families who would otherwise be unable to afford treatment in addition to the costs of hotels and meals. The services the RMH provides allows parents to avoid separating and switching between nights at the hospital and nights with their other children. The importance of families being able to be near their ill child and their family support system is constantly emphasized.

Etiquette Luncheon

Emily Jewett ‘21

On April 12th, Honors students attended an etiquette luncheon hosted by Communication professor Amanda Taylor in La Gran Terraza. This event was attended by Honors Program Coordinator Erin Fornelli, Honors Program Director Dr. Jim Gump, and four Honors students. During this multiple-course meal, we learned how to properly introduce ourselves, make conversation, and eat politely in a business environment. These skills are important for work functions and general etiquette in formal settings. Professor Taylor instructed the group on the correct ways to eat bread, soup, salad, entrees, and dessert while at a business or formal function. These students will never again ask themselves, “Which fork am I supposed to use?” Many thanks to Professor Taylor for her gracious offer to host this event.

Ocean Sciences Meeting Presentation

Riley Henning, ‘19

This past February I was able to present my current research at the 2018 Ocean Sciences Meeting in Portland, Oregon. I have been working in the Environmental and Ocean Science Department with Dr. Prairie since my sophomore year, and it was exciting to see all the hard work we have put in pay off. I study the aggregation of marine snow, or how phytoplankton particles stick together and sink in the ocean. This is important because marine snow is the number one exporter of carbon from the atmosphere into the deep ocean, so understanding its formation allows to better understand the carbon cycle and climate change.

In Portland I was able to present my work in a poster presentation, listen to lots of cool talks from scientists in my field, and make connections with new scientists from across the country and across the world. I was also able to travel around the city, as it was my first time in Oregon! We were able to meet up with some USD alumni from our department for a lab reunion as well. Overall this was a great experience that allowed me to build new connections, practice my scientific communication skills, and explore a new city. I can’t wait to continue my research and see where this next year takes me!

Winning $8k in the V2 Pitch Competition on Campus

Austin Hirsh and Sydney Reiners, ‘19

This past April, Honors juniors Austin Hirsh and Sydney Reiners won $8k in the annual V2 Pitch competition (a Shark Tank structured competition for academia). The team of mechanical engineers was one of three finalists selected from 31 applicants to the competition. Hirsh and Reiners have been collaborating on their idea as part of an independent design project with their mentor Dr. Frank Jacobitz for the past semester. They had 7 minutes to present to a panel of judges.

Hirsh and Reiners will be using their prize money to build a prototype of their lawn mower. This summer they will both be staying in San Diego to continue to work on their project in hopes of competing again next year and taking home the top prize.

Beyond the Classroom: Taking Team-Taughts into the Real World

Mckenna Wade ‘18

In the Fall of 2016, I took the team-taught “Chavez and Catholicism” (Ethnic Studies and Religion). In class, we discussed the struggle of Cesar Chavez and other voices of the Farm Workers’ Movement to achieve protection and dignity for laborers. Drawing from Catholic Social Teachings, the writings of Chavez himself, and presentations by members of the movement, we explored how Catholicism and dignified Labor came together in Chavez’s personal life and the development of the Farm Workers’ Movement.

I also took the team taught “Disparities in Healthcare” (Ethnic Studies and Philosophy) in the same semester. This class defined socioeconomic, racial, and political determinants of healthcare quality, and evaluated specific illustrative examples of disparity.

In my own life I have been exposed to concepts from both of these classes in my hometown of Fallbrook, CA. The town has a mostly agricultural economy, and relies on a steady stream of Latinx farmworkers to provide cheap labor. The workers can have a different employer every growing season, every week, even every day- which engenders little interest in their health and well-being on the part of the employer. This is a huge problem because farmworkers are vulnerable not just to the physical dangers of their industry, but to other barriers they experience to healthcare access like language, education, immigration status, transportation, and cost. Previously, many of these barriers were overcome by our local hospital’s emergency room, but when the hospital closed in 2014, the void in local care options was particularly acute for farmworkers. In order to help address this, I developed a program for workers to receive a basic health screening from a local clinic and free kit of protective equipment including ear plugs, leather gloves, dust masks, protective glasses, and hand sanitizing wipes. This way, workers are in touch with their internal and external health.

Throughout the process of developing the program, I’ve been able to use the content of my two teamtaughts. “Disparities” course content illustrated to me the ways in which health interacts with all aspects of living, particularly when poverty and race combine. For farmworkers like those in Fallbrook, this is exactly the case, since they are disadvantaged by our current political climate due to their race and ethnicities, and financially disadvantaged when employers use them as cheap labor. Further, the course content of “Chavez and Catholicism” clearly demonstrated that employer-labor relationships in Fallbrook are just a microcosm of the story of the California farm worker. This, along with language and concepts I learned in “Disparities”, have made it easier to frame the importance of the healthcare project to people otherwise disinterested in supporting an initiative for migrant labor, particularly considering the current national political climate. By being able to explain how farm workers experience a unique combination of barriers to their healthcare, I can compare that to others’ experiences, and demonstrate specifically and poignantly that they are deserving of resources to support their health.

Feature Editing for the USD Vista

Celina Tebor ‘21

When I first came to USD in September, I was overwhelmed by the rapid pace of college, the transition of moving 1,000 miles away from home, and the pressure to make friends quickly. Despite this, when I was unexpectedly offered the position of Feature Editor of The USD Vista, I accepted without pause.

I have always been appreciative of journalism and the important work that journalists do, but never quite saw myself pursuing a career in the field in the past. I wasn’t outgoing enough to talk to strangers or brave enough to discuss controversial issues. Working for The USD Vista has taught me that most people are not born with these skills — they’re learned. After working with the newspaper for almost nine months, I am more confident than ever, my writing skills are improving with every article I write, I have improved my time management immensely, and am no longer afraid to voice my opinion.

Every week, our small staff of 12 people, with the help of our wonderful advisor Gina Lew, produce a newspaper. It’s hard work, and even harder with such a small staff. Doing the work that we do requires a certain passion for journalism — I spend at least 15 hours a week in the newsroom and every detail of my pieces are carefully scrutinized and edited by at least five people, which can sometimes lead to a sense of defeat. I have asked myself many times why I keep coming back, and I still can’t quite articulate why. But the sense of pride that’s instilled in me when I know I’ve made a difference in the community, even if a story might just affect one person, is completely worth it. And honestly, most people won’t be able to show employers the 22 newspapers they helped produced their first year of college when asked for a work sample.

Journalists get low pay, are often disliked by the public and those in power, put themselves at risk for their work, and are ridiculed for producing “fake news.” But working for The USD Vista has made me realize the importance of the industry: journalists act as a watchdog for their communities and hold those in power accountable. Finley Peter Dunne said that the purpose of the media is to afflict the comfortable and comfortm the afflicted, and I have taken those words to heart and will let them guide me as I continue on my journey. I am so grateful for the amazing people I have met and grown with, the amazing experiences (good and bad) I’ve gone through, and the personal discoveries I have made about my vocation and purpose in life. The USD Vista has given me all of these things and more. It and the people behind it have changed my life for the better, and in exchange, I plan to expose injustices in society, continue to serve my community, and protect those that need to be protected.

Research at USD as a Freshman

Alexa Perez ‘21

My name is Alexa Perez, I am a freshman and declared biochemistry major. I am from Fallbrook, San Diego and am currently doing research with for the Chemistry Department with Dr. De Haan and his research team. The current research project I am working on deals with the separation and identification of brown carbon particles. The project delves into the world of atmospheric and aerosol chemistry, but more importantly focuses on the issue of the
formation of brown carbon in our atmosphere.

Brown carbon aerosol particles can absorb UV light strongly and are the 2nd biggest factor responsible for the climate change. This opportunity has allowed me to experience one-on-one teaching in the lab with my mentor, Dr. Tiffany Stewart.

Over the past five months I have come to enjoy working in a lab, learning how to use instruments and grasping deeper concepts of organic chemistry and how it ties into atmospheric chemistry. Not only has it prepared me for future science courses I will take,
but it has helped me to reshape my ways of thinking about the courses I am currently in. I am no longer reading about how to do experiments and interpret the data, but I am doing all these things myself.

Being able to be part of a research team and observing what it is like to work in this field has been an eye-opening experience for me. As a freshman, I have a lot of time to decide what career path I want to take. Even so, I am currently aiming at majoring in Biochemistry in order to get a PhD. I wish to use my PhD to achieve my dream of becoming a part of the CalChem Synthesis research organization and working in the medicinal chemistry field for
pharmaceutical companies.

U.S. Dept. of Energy Science Undergraduate Internship and Beyond

Callie Sharp ‘19

Last summer, I was selected for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internship program (SULI) and was placed as a research intern in the Computing, Energy, and Life Sciences division of Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois. I worked under Dr. Julie D. Jastrow, a senior terrestrial ecologist, throughout the summer. The primary project I worked on was an ongoing research effort to quantify and qualify the stored organic matter in Alaskan permafrost region soils. Permafrost is soil that is frozen for at least two consecutive years. It is important because the permafrost region of the northern hemisphere is estimated to hold approximately twice the amount of carbon that is currently in the atmosphere. As global warming continues, the vulnerability of this carbon to release into the atmosphere increases. Because this release can speed up the rate of global warming and increase the magnitude of climatic changes, permafrost research is vital to environmental studies. I am so blessed to have had the opportunity to work at the forefront of such an important environmental issue.

The SULI program provided me with many valuable opportunities. I was able to support another project in our department which involved experience in field work about twice a week. I attended seminars, learning about anything from networking skills to research poster development to graduate school opportunities. I received hands-on laboratory research opportunities. I was able to write my own research paper and present my findings for national laboratory employees, under the guidance of a dedicated mentor. I was even able to use this research for my capstone project in my major, Environmental and Ocean Sciences, and will continue to build on it for my honors thesis next semester. Most importantly, this internship has allowed me to put my education into action. As I aim to pursue a career in environmental law, having a science background, and now a research background, will help me to more effectively advocate on behalf of my clients, using science as evidence. This experience will be helpful in bridging the knowledge gap between witnesses who are members of the scientific community and judges/juries in cases involving environmental issues. Because of my USD education and my internship opportunities, I feel confident in these skills and prepared for law school. I cannot wait to return to Argonne again this summer to continue my research on permafrost region soils and to begin building up my honors thesis during my final semester at USD!

Christian Social Ethics

Imma Honkanen ‘21

This semester, as a second-year student in the Honors Program, I took a single-taught Honors course that fulfilled my upper-division Theology core requirement. The course was Christian Social Ethics, and it was taught by Dr. Carter. I have thoroughly enjoyed the course. We touched on multiple topics such as justice, love, war/peace, race, and food/animals, and how all of these connect to the Christian perspective.

The Honors component of the course was learning about child care in San Diego, specifically in Linda Vista, and how the lack of affordable child care directly affects the neighborhood’s residents. Because Linda Vista is in such close proximity to USD, Dr. Carter decided to create a community engagement component to go alongside with our learning.

As a class, we all participated in a shift at a local preschool in Linda Vista. The day I attended, the school was hosting a food bank for the families of the children and the surrounding communities. My classmates and I assisted in organizing the food and creating a welcoming environment for the families. We were offering fresh apples, tomatoes, and potatoes, as well as some used clothing for the children. I personally had the opportunity to chat with a few of the parents and their children while they were picking up food.

Because I am minoring in Spanish, I was able to practice and speak with the patrons, and learn a little bit about them. For most of the parents, it is extremely difficult to get their children into the program. This is because of policies and laws that have difficult requirements for subsidized healthcare. Even if they meet these requirements, there is a long waitlist and it is an extremely lengthy process to get off of it. In addition, it is even more difficult to maintain these requirements. I genuinely had no idea how difficult this process was, and the lack of government assistance is quite jarring to comprehend.

I am appreciative that I had the experience through this course to learn more about this issue that is right down the street from us. Through the community engagement component, I was able to connect to people in Linda Vista and learn about experiences different from my own.

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Team-Taught Descriptions and Credit Distribution

Conflict Diagnosis and Dispute Resolution in a Global Environment

Dr. Linda Barkacs (BUSN/ETLW), Dr. Craig Barkacs(BUSN/MGMT)

People throughout the world experience conflict in both their interpersonal and business relationships. Ever wonder how to handle it? Honors Conflict Diagnosis and Dispute Resolution in a Global Environment is a course intended to help you develop the skills and knowledge needed to diagnose, manage, and resolve conflict in a global environment. This interdisciplinary course (international relations/law/management/ethics) utilizes in-class
role playing and simulations to help the student experience conflict in a cross-cultural context, as well as learn how to manage conflict in a global environment.

HNRS 368: 4 units MGMT

HNRS 369: 4 units ETLW

Sound and Spirit in Monsoon Asia

Dr. Lance Nelson (THRS), Dr. Christopher Adler (MUSC)

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 system.

HNRS 390: 4 units THRS

HNRS 391: 4 units MUSC

Versions of the Pastoral in American Art and Literature

Dr. Irene Williams (ENGL), Dr. Derrick Cartwright (ARTH)

This course takes as its point of departure William Empson’s classic work of literary criticism, Some Versions of the Pastoral (1974), and revisits the category of “the pastoral” in light of recent theories and representation. Specifically, it examines the strategies used by American writers and visual artists to evoke ideas of idealized natural beauty and structured poetic imagination. Throughout the nineteenth century, and still today, approaches to landscape have been celebrated by diverse authors including Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Margaret Fuller, Edgar Allen Poe, Walt Whitman, Mary P. Wilkins-Freeman, Annie Dillard, and Rachel Carson. Simultaneously, artists such as Thomas Cole, Frederic Edwin Church, George Inness, Winslow Homer, Lilly Martin Spencer, Alexander Jackson Downing, Robert Smithson and Sally Mann all challenge/d reigning modes for depicting the settled natural environment. In addition to Empson’s challenging ideas, students will be exposed to theoretical writing by Paul Alpers, Leo Marx, Alex Nemerov, Sarah Burns, J. B. Jackson and others. Finally, a nuanced appreciation of how certain reformulations of pastoral ideas persist into our own moment is another important goal of this course.

HNRS 334: 4 units ENGL

HNRS 335: 4 units ARTH

Music, Borders and Identity

Dr. David Harnish (MUSC), Dr. Alberto Pulido (ETHN)

This course explores how music intersects with collective and personal identities and how borderlands – between nations, districts, genres, and styles – are areas of particular interest in terms of human agency, biculturalism, and hybridity. Music is a major aspect of human cultures. We feel it. It is part of who we are. It is a big part of who everyone is. Music also defines people, not only through preferences but also in collective and individual identities and in the construction of community. People identify with music; it becomes “my” music or “their” music, and can come to represent ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and political and religious ideation.

HNRS 398: 4 units MUSC

HNRS 399: 4 units ETHN

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Future Team-Taught Courses

Spring 2019

  • China and India: Yi Sun/Vidya Nadkarni (HIST/POLS)
  • Folding: Satyan Devadoss/ Shannon Starkey (MATH/Art and ARCH)
  • International Business Negotiations: Craig Barkacs/ Linda Barkacs (MGMT/ETLW)
  • Apostles and Apostates: Orthodoxy and Heresy in Science and Religion: Daniel Sheehan/Mary Doak (PHYS/THRS)
    • Core THRS and Core Integration

Fall 2019

  • Women in Islam and Confucianism: Yi Sun/ Bahar Davary (History/THRS)
  • Integration and Innovation in Disability Studies: Jillian Tullis/ Suzanne Stolz (COMM/EDUC)
  • Power and Politics: Craig Barkacs/Linda Barkacs (MGMT/ETLW)
  • Plagues, Politics, and Preservation: The Environment in the Ancient World: Ryan Abrecht/ Andrew Tirrell(HIST/POLS)
    • Core Integration or Historical Inquiry

Spring 2020

  • Studies in Modern Palestinian Art & Literature: Irene Williams/ John Halaka (ENGL/ART)
  • A History of Hate” Christian Antisemitism and Western Culture: Mary Doak/ Russel Fuller (BiblicalStudies/ Constructive Theology)
  • Theistic and Atheistic Existentialism: Rico Monge/ Michael Kelly (THRS/PHIL)
  • International Business Negotiations: Craig Barkacs/ Linda Barkacs (MGMT/ETLW)

Fall 2020

  • It’s about Time: Halina Duraj/Daniel Sheehan (ENGL/PHYS)
  • Queer Cinema and Theory: Ivan Ortiz/ Martin Repinecz (ENGL and Languages)
  • Conceptions of Nature: Christopher Carter/ Andrew Tirrell (THRS/POLS)
  • Apocalypse Then and Now: Cold War and Post-Cold War U.S. Military Interventions: Vidya Nadkarni/ Kathryn Statler (POLS/HIST)

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