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These are the current course descriptions including any pre- and co-requisites. You can also view all current courses, course requirements and course descriptions by downloading a PDF of the ODU Catalog.

Common Core Seminar Description 


CORE/HON 179 CORE: What Does it Mean to be Human?
3 Credits

This is the first of three interdisciplinary courses that, together with the fourth-year capstone course in the major, comprise ODU’s core seminars. All sections of this seminar will address the question, ‘What does it mean to be human?’ through the study of humans as embodied, social, spiritual, emotional, rational beings. While each section listed below will approach that question from a unique perspective, all sections share common learning outcomes and a common text or texts. CORE 179 stresses the importance of a liberal arts education and seeking knowledge while helping students develop and refine the skills needed to succeed in college. Students are encouraged to take this course the fall semester of their first year. This course is reserved for firsttime freshmen only and transfer students with 17 or fewer transfer semester credits. Pre- or corequisite: ENG 110. This course is not open to students with previous credit for any version of CORE/HON 179.

Section-Specific Descriptions


CORE 179A CORE: Baptism by Fire
3 Credits
This course will focus on decisions made by humans when faced by extraordinary stresses, such as religious or political coercion, war, or how the individual chooses to simply survive or struggles to live a life that is more than ordinary. Students will share and discuss reactions to the material presented, thus developing a deeper understanding of the choices made by these people and how we consequently see them as lesser or greater humans. This course is reserved for first-time freshmen only and transfer students with 17 or fewer transfer semester credits. Pre- or corequisite: ENG 110. This course is not open to students with previous credit for any version of CORE/HON 179.

CORE 179B CORE: Borders and Transitions
3 Credits
Aware of ever evolving socio-political, scientific, global, and personal environments and as inhabitants of “border areas,” this course will look at how we interpret, live and cross such 'borders' as going from High School to College or one’s culture to another. The course will explore how individuals manage borders between themselves and another, themselves and God, or between their inner faith and its outward manifestation. The course includes insights from sociology, psychology, theology, education; among others. This course is reserved for first-time freshmen only and transfer students with 17 or fewer transfer semester credits. Pre- or corequisite: ENG 110. This course is not open to students with previous credit for any version of CORE/HON 179.

CORE 179C CORE: Gods, Beasts, or In-Between?
3 Credits 193
Some thinkers have argued that human beings are midway between gods and beasts. This course examines the contributions of several disciplines by examining literary, philosophical, and theological approaches to the issue of what it means to be human. The course will emphasize a close reading of many established texts from these disciplines that consider the range of options from gods to beasts. This course is reserved for first-time freshmen only and transfer students with 17 or fewer transfer semester credits. Pre- or co-requisite: ENG 110. This course is not open to students with previous credit for any version of CORE/HON 179.

CORE 179D CORE: Honor and Shame
3 Credits

What do we mean by “Honor,” and why has it disappeared in our culture? Why are people in
some cultures motivated by a desire for “Honor” and by avoiding “Shame?” The seminar will
approach these questions by a review of documents from a variety of literary genres that have
inspired our Western culture and other cultures. The seminar will consider the reasons why this
motivation has largely died out in the West and the influence of Christianity upon its demise
and/or transformation. This course is reserved for first-time freshmen only and transfer students
with 17 or fewer transfer semester credits. Pre- or co-requisite: ENG 110. This course is not open
to students with previous credit for any version of CORE/HON 179.

CORE 179E CORE: Human, the Wise? 
3 Credits

It is commonly believed that what distinguishes humans from other animals is their intellectual
capacity. But people often do incredibly stupid things at the same time animals have demonstrated
amazing intelligence. Drawing on insights from psychology, philosophy, neuroscience, and
computer science, we address both the amazing capacity of the human mind and the potential for
less intelligent thought and action as we contemplate what it means to be human. This course is
reserved for first-time freshmen only and transfer students with 17 or fewer transfer semester
credits. Pre- or co-requisite: ENG 110. This course is not open to students with previous credit for
any version of CORE/HON 179.

CORE 179F CORE: Know Thyself 
3 Credits

Knowing the self requires a personal life-long journey. In this course we will look at how a
number of great thinkers, from ancient to modern times, writing in a number of different genres,
all with different world views, have come to know themselves. In turn, students will consider how
one goes about following the aphorism, “Know thyself,” inscribed at the Temple of Apollo at
Delphi. This course is reserved for first-time freshmen only and transfer students with 17 or fewer
transfer semester credits. Pre- or co-requisite: ENG 110. This course is not open to students with
previous credit for any version of CORE/HON 179.

CORE 179G CORE: Gender Matters
3 Credits

This course provides an introduction to contemporary gender issues and will focus upon how
gender impacts our perspectives, experiences, and personal/professional relationships across the
lifespan. Students will begin to explore how gender organizes everything from our sense of
personal identity to our daily face-to-face interactions, how it is embedded in institutions such as
the family, the labor market, religious institutions, and the state. In this class students will learn
how pervasive gender is in the way we organize life and how this impacts (or does not) our notion
of what it means to be human. This course is reserved for first-time freshmen only and transfer
students with 17 or fewer transfer semester credits. Pre- or co-requisite: ENG 110. This course is
not open to students with previous credit for any version of CORE/HON 179.

CORE 179H CORE: Are you Connected? 
3 Credits

This course provides students with an experiential journey of self-discovery with the overarching
goal of recognition that the mind, body, and spirit are interconnected. Referencing a variety of
disciplines including medicine, psychology, art, religion, science, philosophy. Students will move
from a broad contemplation of what it means to be human to the development of their own
personal identity. This course is reserved for first-time freshmen only and transfer students with
17 or fewer transfer semester credits. Pre- or co-requisite: ENG 110. This course is not open to
students with previous credit for any version of CORE/HON 179.

CORE 179I CORE: Methods of Inquiry
3 Credits
Inquiry is a human trait. This section of CORE 179 will explore analytic, scientific, and spiritual
methods of human inquiry. By examining how humans ask and answer questions through different
means students will gain insight into human nature as well as insights about themselves as
individuals. This course is reserved for first-time freshmen only and transfer students with 17 or
fewer transfer semester credits. Pre- or co-requisite: ENG 110. This course is not open to students
with previous credit for any version of CORE/HON 179.

CORE 179J CORE: The Great Debate
3 Credits
By studying and discussing some outstanding works of Philosophy, Literature, Theology, and the
natural sciences, we will enter the ongoing conversation about what defines our common nature as
humans. Questions that we will discuss include: Can we survive after our bodies die? Can we be
truly happy without belonging to society? Do we have non-physical souls? What is the
relationship between emotions and reason? This course is reserved for first-time freshmen only
and transfer students with 17 or fewer transfer semester credits. Pre- or co-requisite: ENG 110.
This course is not open to students with previous credit for any version of CORE/HON 179.

CORE 179K CORE: Virtues and Vices
3 Credits
Human beings are social beings who live within cultures. All cultures include values, standards for
what is seen as good and what is seen as evil. Are there any values common to all cultures in all
times and all places? Do values vary according to time and place? What is the significance of
value differences among subcultures and contracultures? What are the major values taught by the
major religious traditions including Christianity, Judaism, and Islam? This course is reserved for
first-time freshmen only and transfer students with 17 or fewer transfer semester credits. Pre- or
co-requisite: ENG 110. This course is not open to students with previous credit for any version of
CORE/HON 179.

CORE 179L CORE: Heroes, Sages, and Madmen
3 Credits
This seminar examines the dimensions of the self by exploring the human desire to be
remembered. The course will approach the question of the seminar through a consideration of
humanity’s literary, artistic and material achievements: from early epic to modern biography, from
the building of temples and pyramids to the construction of modern architectural wonders.
Attention will also be paid to the writing of history as a reflection of identity. This course is
reserved for first-time freshmen only and transfer students with 17 or fewer transfer semester
credits. Pre- or co-requisite: ENG 110. This course is not open to students with previous credit for
any version of CORE/HON 179.

CORE 179N CORE: Machine vs. Human!
3 Credits
Are we machines—cyborgs, perhaps? Are we analog beings stuck in a digital world? Do the
advancements in technology make us more human? This seminar will explore the concept of being
a physical, social, spiritual, emotional, and rational being in light of advancements in the
technologies of computing, intelligence, and medicine. This course is reserved for first-time
freshmen only and transfer students with 17 or fewer transfer semester credits. Pre- or corequisite:
ENG 110. This course is not open to students with previous credit for any version of
CORE/HON 179.

CORE 179P CORE: Windows and Mirrors
3 Credits
It has been said that “the last frontier of man is to understand himself.” If this is true, then it is
easier for man to travel outward to the moon than inward to the self. In this course, students will
study autobiography as a model of exploration into “inner space.” Examining autobiographies
across cultures, disciplines, and times will serve as a window into the humanity of others and a
mirror for reflection of the self. This course is reserved for first-time freshmen only and transfer
students with 17 or fewer transfer semester credits. Pre- or co-requisite: ENG 110. This course is
not open to students with previous credit for any version of CORE/HON 179.

CORE 179Q CORE: Spirit Need
3 Credits
Are we skimming the surface of life? Are we mindful that nourishing the spirit enables us to live
life more deliberately? This on-going personal spiritual well-being fosters awareness that choices
define a person far more than abilities. What defines you? Students will read and view various
sources, reflecting upon how life in the spirit is connected to more humane and ethical
relationships. Is this not what becoming fully human is all about? Not open to students with credit
for SWK 270. This course is reserved for first-time freshmen only and transfer students with 17 or
fewer transfer semester credits. Pre- or co-requisite: ENG 110. This course is not open to students
with previous credit for any version of CORE/HON 179.

CORE 179R CORE: Stroke of Genius
3 Credits
Genius is a profoundly human phenomenon, offering insights into our greatest achievements from
the past as well as our potential for the future. In this section, students will explore what
constitutes the idea of genius and its implications for a variety of disciplines, including art,
literature, music, and philosophy. An emphasis on interdisciplinary critical thinking will guide us
as we search for the pinnacles of human aspiration. This course is reserved for first-time freshmen
only and transfer students with 17 or fewer transfer semester credits. Pre- or co-requisite: ENG
110. This course is not open to students with previous credit for any version of CORE/HON 179.

CORE 179T CORE: Our Human Nature in Sport
3 Credits
This seminar considers how our human nature has influenced sport experiences across history and
cultures. The psychological, social, spiritual, cultural, and physical aspects of humanity as
portrayed in sport will provide the context for analysis of the question “What does it mean to be
human?” Students will be guided through the process of seeking knowledge and acquiring skills
needed to succeed while exploring how sport experiences represent our commonality of human
mind, body, and spirit. This course is reserved for first-time freshmen only and transfer students
with 17 or fewer transfer semester credits. Pre- or co-requisite: ENG 110. This course is not open
to students with previous credit for any version of CORE/HON 179.

CORE 179U CORE: Applied Storytelling
3 Credits
The stories we tell—and what we take from them—reflect what is important to us. Story becomes
the framework for how we experience and define our world. When a group listens to a story, a
common, shared experience transforms listeners into community members building identity and
cooperation. Humans are the only species that tells stories. In addressing the question, “What is
human nature?” one place we can turn to answer the question is narrative. We tell stories to
question, reflect, compare, and contrast our identity and relationship with others and the world.
This seminar examines written and oral stories, old and new, as they serve to help us contemplate
our place in the world. Drawing from examples such as parables to nationally-known StoryCorps
narratives, we examine how stories are used and how we might apply them to our lives. Students
will also create their own stories for performance. This course is reserved for first-time freshmen
only and transfer students with 17 or fewer transfer semester credits. Pre- or co-requisite: ENG
110. This course is not open to students with previous credit for any version of CORE/HON 179.

CORE 179V CORE: Exploring Human Action
3 Credits
Often when we are asked to explain what makes humans unique we list qualities that are not
unique, but qualities at which humans simply excel. Non-humans have been shown to form
families, demonstrate intelligence, problem solve, and even create forms of language. In this
course we will look to various forms of human action to explore what, if anything is uniquely
human. Over the period of the semester we will draw on readings from sociobiologists,
sociologists, philosophers, political scientists, theologians, and journalists to examine and assess
human action and behavior. Over the period of the semester we will attempt to explore a diverse
array of questions related to human action and behavior. These include, but are not limited to: why
humans have war; whether or not there is a true self; what is intelligence; why do we consider
some things beautiful; what is human language; what is criminal; why do we appreciate certain
forms of music over others and; what does it mean to interact symbolically? This course is
reserved for first-time freshmen only and transfer students with 17 or fewer transfer semester credits. Pre- or co-requisite: ENG 110. This course is not open to students with previous credit for
any version of CORE/HON 179.

CORE 179W CORE: From Greece to Gotham
3 Credits
This course provides an historical overview of how different cultures have viewed the question
what it means to be human and how that concept has evolved. Beginning with the foundations of
the Western cultural tradition in Greece, the course will then take students on a journey through
time that concludes in the present day. Stops of this journey will include the Roman Empire, the
founding of the Christian faith, Medieval Spain, the Caribbean, Colonial America, and even the
city of Gotham. This course is reserved for first-time freshmen only and transfer students with 17
or fewer transfer semester credits. Pre- or co-requisite: ENG 110. This course is not open to
students with previous credit for any version of CORE/HON 179.

CORE 179X CORE: Human Nature and Sexual Ethics
3 Credits
We will study how theories of human nature are related to some questions about sexual ethics.
Issues discussed may include pre-marital sex, sex reassignment surgeries, and techniques for
producing human beings apart from sexual intercourse (e.g., in vitro fertilization and cloning).
This course is reserved for first-time freshmen only and transfer students with 17 or fewer transfer
semester credits. Pre- or co-requisite: ENG 110. This course is not open to students with previous
credit for any version of CORE/HON 179.

CORE 179Y CORE: The Humanity of Childhood
3 Credits
Do we as humans value children? The experiences of childhood lie on a continuum between two
extremes. On one end of the continuum, children experience days filled with play and new
discoveries and have nights that provide rest and security. These children have dedicated, loving
caregivers who nurture them and meet their needs. On the other end, children experience the exact
opposite. These children have no nurturing adults to guide them or take care of their basic needs.
Finally, there are millions of children who fall in between the two extremes of the continuum. All
children experience and begin to develop their understandings of what it means to be human. In
addressing the question, "What does it mean to be human?" this seminar will examine our own
experiences in childhood and look at experiences of children in today's society as well as the
historical view of childhood from different theoretical frameworks; frameworks such as sociology,
psychology, theology, philosophy (ethical),history, the law, and others. This course is reserved for
first-time freshmen only and transfer students with 17 or fewer transfer semester credits. Pre- or
co-requisite: ENG 110. This course is not open to students with previous credit for any version of
CORE/HON 179.

CORE 179Z CORE: The Tragic Vision of Human Nature
3 Credits
This section of CORE 179 will read and discuss some of the fundamental literary works that
present human life as continually under the threat of injustice, suffering, and death. This course is
reserved for first-time freshman and transfer students with 17 or fewer transfer credits. Pre- or corequisite: ENG 110. This course is not open to those with previous credit for any version of
CORE/HON 179.