The sixth cohort of Honors College Faculty Fellows will challenge WVU students to re-examine their assumptions about ethics, science and even reality itself through innovative new courses.
Scheduled for the 2022-23 academic year, the courses will cover ethical dilemmas in transplant surgery, understanding the metaverse, justice in law and literature, science’s societal limitations and promises and information literacy through film.
“This competitive program gives selected faculty the opportunity to develop new curricular and teaching ideas through courses that incorporate our values of service, leadership and innovation,” said Damien Clement, associate dean of the Honors College. “They push students to explore diverse ideas and issues of inclusion, make connections across disciplines and apply what they learn to the real world.”
The fellows and their courses are:
Vagner Benedito, Division of Plant and Soil Sciences, Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design
In “Use and Abuse of Science,” students will explore the mechanisms and limitations of science from its potential to solve societal problems to cases of intentional scientific fraud and abuse. They will develop the skills to analyze the world around them and evaluate scientific claims in advertising, politics, commercial products and on social media. From ongoing societal issues, such as global warming, food and energy production, and the pandemic, to historical cases of scientific flaws or misconduct, such as bias in Artificial Intelligence algorithms and the clearly unethical experiments with the Tuskegee syphilis study, scientific literacy is an indispensable skill for full participation in civic discourse and our communities.
Lynsey Biondi, Surgery, School of Medicine
Students in “Ethics & Organ Transplant” will study the science of transplant surgery and immunology and analyze its bioethical implications using case studies of real-life dilemmas faced by medical professionals, patients and families. Students will form a foundation of scientific knowledge on transplant surgery, meet with multidisciplinary experts in organ donation and transplantation and develop an understanding of the four pillars of bioethics. Using this newfound expertise, students will confront the ethical complexities of impossibly difficult medical decisions from the perspective of the patient, family and medical professional. Students will be challenged to reconsider their preconceived ideas about transplants and to develop empathy for those with views that counter their own.
Rose Casey, English, Eberly College of Arts and Sciences
“Legal Fictions” brings together law and literature to engage global perspectives on justice. By reading novels, poetry and drama alongside legal statutes, resolutions and conventions, students will see how law and literature employ similar methods to build a more just world. They’ll learn about laws that have discriminated based on race, gender and nationality and examine how legal systems around the world have protected individual and group rights. By exploring continuities between countries as diverse as India, South Africa, the U.S. and the U.K., “Legal Fictions” inspires students to think expansively about justice: what it is, what is has been, what it could be.
David Smith, Reed College of Media
“Extending Reality” will present students with a guided media and discussion-based tour of XR technology (virtual, augmented and mixed reality), learning about its origins, current applications and future growth potential. With the increasing merging of the digital and physical worlds, we are presented with new opportunities for interactivity and communication as well as new problems of privacy and digital identity in the metaverse. Students will learn about these concepts through lectures, class discussions and hands-on learning activities. The course will culminate in students pitching, planning and producing a meaningful XR project made to benefit a campus or community partner.
Lynne Stahl, Research Services, WVU Libraries
“Screening Knowledge” will teach students literacy in the art and language of film, pushing students to analyze the stories we tell in relation to the sociopolitical contexts and information economies in which they are produced and viewed. Students will learn how films produce meaning and impact and how our own cultural contexts shape our intellectual and emotional responses. How is the production, dissemination and consumption of information bound up in our political systems and norms? Students will consider how these contexts change our conceptions of knowledge, access, authority and merit.
The Honors College offers an enhanced undergraduate experience for students at West Virginia University by building a curious community of scholars who enrich their education in the classroom and beyond. These Faculty Fellows courses allow students to explore new ways of thinking while also fulfilling their General Education Foundations course requirements.For more information, contact Damien Clement at Damien.Clement@mail.wvu.edu.