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. 

FALL 2024 Honors Seminars & Topic

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

HNRS 3161-01

The Mystery of Light

This course will be focused on the concept of light and its significance in the Universe. Light is a delocalized wave phenomenon which allows people to see the world around us, to enjoy the rainbow on the sky and IMAX movies, and to use wireless technology. But light is a particle phenomenon when we look to the energy production using solar cells or using a laser tool. Thus, light has a dual characteristic: wave and particle, like a coin with two faces. Recent scientific discoveries indicated that light can be used for teleportation and quantum entanglement (which means transmission of information without a physical contact and correlation of events at distances larger than those connected through the speed of light in free space). All this sounds as magic, but it is scientifically true. It is the physics of light that created quantum mechanics, Einstein’s theory of relativity and helps to build the ambitious architecture of quantum technologies, such as quantum computers. This course will discuss the scientific reason why light is a fundamental concept and so impactful in science and technology, today. The philosophic understanding of what light actually represents will be also thoroughly discussed.  

HNRS 3161-02

What Creates a Personality?

Understanding what determines an individual person's fully formed personality as an adult is important for a more comprehensive understanding of the human condition. Is personality a product of nature vs nurture? In other words, is a person born with their personality or is it formed and developed over time according to their early childhood experiences? Perhaps, it is a combination of factors such as nature, nurture, and even subsequent life events and/or extenuating circumstances. This course will explore basic theories of personality and how individual personalities develop as an attempt to answer some of these questions.  

HNRS 4364-01

Penology: Topics in the History of Crime and Punishment

This course is intended to provide students with a survey of selected areas and issues in comparative penology. We begin with a historical review of the origins of punishments and then proceed to an examination of the current thinking regarding modern forms of punishment. Using a comparative historical approach, the goal in this course is to illustrate the similarities and differences in punishment responses over time and place. Moreover, the course will attempt to draw lessons from the history of penology relevant to the likely future of penology. 

HNRS 4364-48F

Physiological Stress of Auto Racing

Ever wonder how many Gs a driver experiences in the 24 hours of Lemans and how that affects the body? This course will cover topics such as exposure to high g-forces, thermoregulation, and muscle tension with regard to influence on physiological stress on the race car driver. We will explore a variety of categories of racing including stock car and open wheel racing.  


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. 

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