Honors Seminars and Topics

HNRS Seminar - Mathematics of Play


Having fun in HNRS Seminar "Mathematics of Play" taught by Professor Robert Vallin

Honors Seminars & Topics

Available only to Reaud Honors College students, Honors Seminars and Honors Topics courses are taught by distinguished Lamar University faculty on an ever-changing array of diverse subjects. 

Each seminar or topic course is an interdisciplinary, intellectually challenging, out-of-the-box course. Honors students are invited to propose their own ideas for such courses.

You may enroll in these courses as early as your second semester of your first year in college. You should not wait until your senior year to start fulfilling this honors requirement. 

SPRING 2024 Honors Seminar & Topics

HNRS 3161: Honors Seminar (1 credit) and HNRS 4364: Honors Topic (3 credits).

HNRS 3161-48F

Environmental Physiology 

The body responds and adapts to various environmental conditions. Ever wondered why scuba divers get the bends? Is there actually less oxygen at high altitudes? Want to know the difference between heat exhaustion and heath stroke? This course will cover the body’s physiological responses to heat stress, altitude stress, and stressors from scuba diving. Open to all majors. 

HNRS 4364-01

Fairy Tales as Reality

Fairy tales have long been used to teach important lessons and skills to children. In current society, many of those old stories have lost their original meaning. This seminar will examine old fairy tales, learn how they are being adapted to modern society and allow students to create their own modern version of fairy tales. 

HNRS 4364-02

Mathematical Magic 

For thousands of years puzzles and games were used as motivation for people to study and learn mathematics. Simple sounding ideas can lead to deep and interesting results. This course introduces some recent games and puzzles along with the mathematics that comes with them. We will assume nothing more than an understanding of algebra and a desire to delve deeply into things. NOTE: Even though we will be doing magic tricks this is a math class, you don’t need to know a lot of math, but there will be a dive into things as opposed to a skimming. 


HNRS 4364-03

Death Penalty 

Condemning a person to death is a multidimensional aspect of our criminal justice system, having direct impact on our state funding, public safety, and social fabric. To this end, the course will address the defining aspects of capital punishment in our society and in our criminal justice system. The course will do so in two ways: (1) by introducing students to the general concepts and practices of authorities who throughout history and around the world have implemented capital punishment; (2) by introducing students to the artistic and literary uses of the death penalty in the genres of fiction and non-fiction. 

In America, the criminal justice system mirrors the decentralized political power of our federal government. That is to say, the notion of criminal justice in the United States has local, state, and national influences. It follows that our view of the death penalty is decentralized as well. Municipalities have issued official statements condemning the death penalty. A number of states have abolished capital punishment for state offenses. Even our federal government has so severely restricted the implementation of the death penalty that only 37 federal executions have taken place since 1927. 

From the above, it follows that there will be (indeed, should be) vigorous debate about the continuation of capital punishment in the United States. Some of the public discussion pertains to the codification (defining) of criminal behavior deserving of death. Some of the discussion pertains to the various mechanisms instituted by levels of government to implement the death penalty. Much more of the debate, nowadays, pertains to the question of moral authority to impose the death penalty. 

This course does not seek to resolve the debates with conclusive proofs, but to engage the student in these debates through a careful examination of literary works and the student’s own perceptions of what we as a society should do to those who violate our defined codes of behavior. 

FALL 2023 Honors Seminars & Topic

HNRS 3161: Honors Seminar (1 credit) and HNRS 4364: Honors Topic (3 credits).

HNRS 3161-01

Microbes & Social Equity

We will touch upon areas including microbiology, diseases, immunology, and society involving health disparities, diversity and inclusion; open to all disciplines. 

HNRS 3161-02

Personal Development and Team Building

Do you enjoy solving puzzles? How well do you function under pressure? How often do you voice your ideas when working in a group? Whether you want to show off your skills or improve them, this seminar will provide you with the opportunity by introducing the group to a real physical problem that needs solving within a dedicated time. This seminar is designed to facilitate improvement in communication skills via Reality Oriented Physical Experiences (ROPES); only low ROPES activities will be implemented in this seminar. The facilitator's involvement is minimal as the group works toward a solution. Each session is followed by a reflection on the process and a discussion of how the skills utilized in problem solving can be extended to solving issues outside the classroom (eg. friendship, family, work setting).  

HNRS 3161-03

Is ChatGPT Actually Smart?

Philosophers have debated whether or not a machine could ever think for far longer than modern computers have existed. ChatGPT is suddenly the most prominent example of "artificial intelligence," but is it really intelligent? Can a computer "understand" things? 

HNRS 4364-01

Fundamentals of Competitive Scrabble

Having trouble beating Grandma at Scrabble? This course is designed to teach the fundamentals of tournament-level Scrabble play. Students will learn how to develop skills relevant to the game, such as anagramming, play selection, and strategy styles. Live games will be played in class with other students using equipment provided by the North American Scrabble Players Association. 

HNRS 4364-48F

Evaluating Dietary Supplements

Dietary supplements are not directly regulated by the FDA. The FDA oversees labeling claims and requires manufacturers to sell products that are not tainted with other ingredients. This means the manufacturer is responsible for truthful advertising and an accurate ingredient list. With so many marketing gimmicks pushing products aimed to burn fat, reverse medical conditions, or enhance sport performance, how can a person know if they work or are safe? This course will teach students to utilize FDA-established criteria to evaluate health claims, nutrient content claims, and structure/function claims on the label of a dietary supplement. Students will evaluate online resources regarding products marketed as complementary or alternative medicine. They will also evaluate the references given by a product manufacturer and search for peer-reviewed scientific literature on the product/ingredients. Students will understand the anti-doping rules in sport competition and how to find the current set of rules for a given sport, as well as cover current case studies with athletes who have been suspended for violating the sport's banned substance policy.  


Reaud Honors College  •  P.O. Box 10968  •  Beaumont, TX 77710  •  ph (409) 880-2294
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