Ethics Courses

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Students must complete 3 credits in ethics from this approved list of University offerings.  (One 3-credit course or a combination of 1-credit courses will meet the requirement.) Students may choose from a variety of courses in several liberal arts disciplines. Students who wish to propose another course for consideration should write to the Director.

View list of approved Ethics Courses

Spring 2018: 1-Credit Honors/Ethics Courses

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LA 297 (1 cr) Everyday Diplomacy - ethics course

Catherine Wanner, Ph.D., Professor, Department of History, and Director, Paterno Fellows Program; and Shannon Telenko, Ph.D., Chair, Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity (CORED), Academic Adviser, and Committee on Diversity, Inclusion, and Transformation (CODIT), College of the Liberal Arts

Is diplomacy exclusively the purview of ambassadors representing sovereign states? Besides the actions of designated diplomats, what makes exchange, encounters, cooperation, and conflict possible? Might individuals in the course of living their everyday lives create dialogue, civility, and openness, which facilitates basic interaction in their own diplomatic encounters? This course explores how self-perceptions and perceptions of others might facilitate or complicate meaningful encounters and productive cooperation among diverse peoples. This course complements last semester’s course on “Interrogating Prejudice.” Given the various divisions, hierarchies, and biases in societies, we will explore how barriers of difference might be mitigated in such a way that differences can be perceived as a source of interest, richness, and new perspectives. Likewise, we will analyze the dynamics that operate to make difference intimidating and fear generating. Consideration of sites of encounter and exchange based on points in common can open the way to expanding forms of everyday diplomacy. Class Meetings: 7:00–8:30 p.m., Mondays and Wednesdays, January 29 and 31, February 5, 7, 12, 14, 19, 21, and 26; and Saturday, February 3, State of State participation, times TBA, approximately 2:00–5:00 p.m. 

ENGL 197 (1 cr) Exit Time: On Futurity, Revolutionary Time, and the Crisis of the Contemporary in Recent Visual Arts, Literature, and Film - ethics course

Paterno Fellow Visiting Scholar Edgar Schmitz, Goldsmiths, University of London

Each week, a group of students will lead discussion of the assigned reading. Collectively and over the first five sessions, the whole group will compile an expanded index of film- and art-works concerned with temporalities of exit. Students will present the compiled material in the last session in the form of an open screening with discussion. Some representative readings for the course: Giorgio Agamben: What is the Contemporary, 2009; Walter Benjamin: On the Notion of History, 1940; Don de Lillo: Point Omega, 2010; and Hito Steyerl: In Defense of the Poor Image, 2009. Class Meetings: Tuesdays, March 13, 20, 27, and April 3 and 10, 6:00-8:00 p.m.; and April 17, 6:00-10:00 p.m.

Fall 2017: 1-Credit Honors/Ethics Courses

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PLSC 197 (1 cr) Political Changes in Post-Soviet Russia - ethics course

Paterno Fellow Visiting Scholar Vladimir Gel'man, European University at St. Petersburg, and Aleksanteri Institute, University of Helsinki

This course is focused on political changes in post-Soviet Russia within the context of regime dynamics and state building. Starting with the Soviet system and collapse of the Soviet Union as a point of departure, the course traces the making and unmaking of major political institutions and practices in Russia by examining the impact of various legacies of the past and the role of domestic and international political and economic actors. Students will gain an understanding of the challenges facing post-Soviet Russia, and an analytical perspective on sources of its stability and instability. The course will include six two-hour classes (each as a combination of lectures and discussion sessions), and one class will take longer and include students' presentations (up to 7 minutes long) addressing one of the key questions of the subjects of class topics. Class meetings Wednesdays September 13, 20, and 27, and October 4 and 11, 4:30-6:30 p.m.; and October 18, 4:30-7:30 p.m.

Spring 2017: 1-Credit Honors/Ethics Courses

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ENGL 197H (1 cr) Anti-Portraits in Modern Literature and Visual Arts - ethics course 

Paterno Fellow Visiting Scholar Kamilla Pawlikowska, Seikei University, Tokyo

The course will introduce students to debates from the 19th and 20th centuries over the connection between the human face and human character in modern art and literature. In particular, it will examine differences between representations of the face in realism, the fantastic and modernism. It will give students insights into the work of major figures from different cultures (for example, Nikolai Gogol, Edgar Allan Poe, Virginia Woolf, Charles Baudelaire) who challenged the connection and devised 'anti-portraits', of faces with blurred, fragmented or abstract features." Finally, this course will help the students understand why some critics considered modernist portraits (both textual and visual) to be dangerously subversive. Class meetings Tuesdays, February 7, 14, 21, and 28, 6:00-8:00 p.m.; and Thursday, March 2 5:00-10:00 p.m. 

Fall 2016: 1-Credit Honors/Ethics Courses

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PSYCH 197H (1 cr) Anxiety and Emotion Regulation - ethics course 

Paterno Fellow Visiting Scholar Yogev Kivity, Department of Psychology, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Anxiety disorders are the most prevalent class of psychological disorders with twelve-month prevalence estimates of 20%. Recent trends in understanding pathological anxiety have increasingly focused on the role of disruptions in emotion in the etiology, manifestation and treatment of pathological anxiety. Following a short introduction to anxiety disorders and emotion regulation, the course will explore the various emotion dysregulation models of anxiety disorder, their empirical evidence and their implications for the assessment and treatment of anxiety. Special attention will be given to critical evaluation of the emotion regulation theory of anxiety, and especially of its overemphasis of intra-personal processes of emotion regulation. Students will have an opportunity to visit a research lab that is focused on studying emotion regulationClass meetings Wednesdays, October 5, 12, 26, and November 2, 4:00-6:00 p.m.; Cole Emotion Regulation Lab visit Thursday, October 20, 3:30-5:00 p.m.

RL ST 197H (1 cr) Ethics of Climate Change - ethics course

Jonathan Brockopp, Associate Professor of History and Religious Studies, Penn State

Pope Francis's encyclical on the environment "Laudato Si'" has brought attention to the broader ethical issues involved in responding to climate change. This course will introduce students to the central issues of justice and moral culpability as the world begins to grapple with a phenomenon that is rapidly changing the world as we know it. Students will undertake a collaborative project, focused on Penn Staters responding to climate change right now. Class meetings M W 3:00–5:00 p.m. on October 17, 21, 24, 28, 31, and November 4; 3:007:00 p.m. on November 14; Participation in climate change conference on October 30 optional but encouraged

Spring 2016: 1-Credit Honors/Ethics Courses

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CMLIT / RUS 197H (1 cr) Conspiracy Theories and Contemporary Culture - ethics course

Paterno Fellow Visiting Scholar Alexander Panchenko, Professor of Anthropology, European University of St. Petersburg, Russia, and Institute of Russian Literature, Russian Academy of Sciences


Conspiracy theories are a powerful explanatory model, or way of thinking, that influences many cultural forms and social processes throughout the contemporary world. Generally defined as "the conviction that a secret, omnipotent individual or group covertly controls the political and social order or some part thereof," conspiracy theories include a number of principal ideas and concepts that make them adaptable to a broad variety of discourses and forms of collective imagination. This course engages a variety of approaches to conspiracy theories, from anthropology, history, sociology, to cultural studies, and addresses a broad spectrum of conspiratorial narratives, including examples from present day Russia. Proceeding from the necessity to explain and localize evil as a social and moral category, conspiracy theories produce ethical models that oppose us to them, victims to enemies, and heroes to anti-heroes. Class meetings Wednesdays, March 16, 23, 30, 6:00-8:00 p.m.; and April 6, 6:00-10:00 p.m. 

RL ST 197H (1 cr) Ethics of Climate Change - ethics course

Jonathan Brockopp, Associate Professor of History and Religious Studies, Penn State

Pope Francis's encyclical on the environment "Laudato Si'" has brought attention to the broader ethical issues involved in responding to climate change. This course will introduce students to the central issues of justice and moral culpability as the world begins to grapple with a phenomenon that is rapidly changing the world as we know it. Students will undertake a collaborative project, focused on Penn Staters responding to climate change right now. Class meetings M W 3:00–5:00 p.m. 2/8/16–2/26/16; Final 3/14/15 7:00 p.m.



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Other Courses of Interest to Paterno Fellows

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Spring 2016

CMLIT 197 / A&A 197B (3 cr) Experimental Arts  - ethics course

Jonathan Eburne, Associate Professor of Comparative Literature and English; and Amy Dupain Vashaw, Audience and Program Development Director, Center for the Performing Arts

This course marks the centenary of the Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich, the radically experimental cabaret that launched the wartime Dada movement and galvanized the anarchic spirit of European avant-garde art movements. This course studies the contemporary legacies of experimentalism across artistic media. Beyond surveying the history of experimental arts, the course offers students a chance to study and practice "experimental forms of artistic production, as well as arts management, organization, and administration as well. Some of our visitors will address these ideas explicitly, and we also collaborate with members of local and Penn State arts institutions (including the Palmer, the PAC, and several student groups, for instance) to bring students into contact with active practitioners of experimental arts organizations.  

CMLIT 297A / THEA 297B / ART H 297A (3 cr) Performing Activism: Art, Media, Affect and Social Change  - ethics course

Serap Erincin, Postdoctoral Scholar, Institute for the Arts and Humanities

Through works of dance, theatre, performative writing, media and performance art and public demonstration, artists and activists theorize and practice performance (broadly construed) as a means for social justice, Artistic and social performances about racial, ethnic, and gender inequalities and conflict, state oppression and violence, and other injustices bring visibility to the issues they address. In this course, we will engage with critical and philosophical texts that deal with activist performances, especially those concerning disenfranchised populations. We will read authors who provide theoretical frameworks, authors who pose global questions through case studies, and authors who pursue thematic approaches at the intersection of social justice and performance studies scholarship. We will also discuss activist performances, especially those by or that advocate for minorities and women.


ENGL 202B.012 Honors (3 cr) Writing in the Humanities: Adult Literacy ~ includes internship credits or service hours

English 202B.012 (formerly ENGL 202H) is an honors-level writing course that engages students in an active and in-depth examination of literacy, focusing on areas such as history, social movements, politics, gender, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, theories of learning and teaching, and the future of literacy. In addition, the course provides students with the opportunity to work with adult learners, supporting them as they strive to improve their own literacy skills. Students will also receive 3 credits for L A 495, which may be used to fulfill either the Paterno Fellows Internship or Service requirement. For additional information, visit the course website or contact Lorena Waselinko at .

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Honors Courses

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Schreyer Honors College maintains a searchable list of honors courses, and provides detailed definitions of honors courses and honors options.

View list of offered Honors Courses

View Archived Honors Courses

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