You are here: AU Honors Faculty

Honors Inquiry I

HNRS-200: The Urban Experience between Washington, Ho Chi Minh City, Kabul, and San Pedro Sula

Focusing on the urban cultures, local cuisines and national politics of Afghanistan, Honduras, and Vietnam. The course explores connections as well as populations residing in the capital of the United States and their homelands.

This class is taught in Fall 2017/2018/2019

Professor Daniel Esser

Why we wanted to teach this class

This class is focused on helping students gain a holistic understanding of cities. As social scientists, we appreciate the perspectives on urban life that the humanities have to offer. We also enjoy teaching multidisciplinary courses and have co-taught together in the past. HNRS-200 is our opportunity to share our passion for urban scholarship with the incoming Honors cohort.

Fun Fact

A few years ago, I drove from Washington, DC to Homer, Alaska and from there to Ushuaia in Argentina, the southernmost city on the South American continent.

To Contact Professor Esser

Office Hours: Some Wednesdays (10-11am) and most Thursdays (2:30-3:50pm). Students must sign up online. No walk-ins.

Professor David Pike

Fun Fact

I grew up in Louisville, KY; I spend my holidays in Bogota, Colombia, and for the past 5 years I have been learning (slowly, having little musical aptitude and arthritic fingers) to play the accordion.

To Contact Professor Pike

Office phone: (202) 885-2996

Office Hours:
Tuesdays 3-5pm and Wednesdays 4-5pm in Battelle 237.
Sign up for office hours here:

Honors Inquiry II

HNRS-210: Food for Thought

"Food for Thought" explores how food sits at the intersection of science, politics, and culture, asking students to explore current diet-related challenges and provide potential solutions to them.

This course is taught in Spring 2018/2019/2020

Professor Kathleen Holton

Why I wanted to teach this class

I think one of the coolest aspects of this class is the paradigm shifting nature of the course. We are taking a science topic which directly impacts health and looking through the various lenses of the social/ cultural/ familial factors which influence our ability to succeed in eating for optimal health.

Fun Fact

I enjoy running, biking and kayaking in my free time (as well as riding horses forwards).

To Contact Professor Holton

Office phone: (202) 885-3797
Gray Hall 127

Office Hours: By appointment

Professor Larry Engel

Why I wanted to teach this class

Do we know what we're eating? And why? What's nutrition? What's diet? What forces, cultural, social. personal, drive our choices as to what to eat? These questions really excite me as a filmmaker and teacher, and well, as a human. I think we're taking a truly unique look at what is food, combining science and communication.

Fun Fact

I had to learn how to ride a horse backwards for one of my films. It was fun.
I also enjoy rock climbing, mountain biking, and road biking.

To Contact Professor Engel

Office phone: (202) 885-2688
228 McKinley

Twitter: engelfilm

Honors Inquiry III

HNRS-220 Thinking Emotion: From Physiology to Ethics

Most people regard their emotions as central to who they are, their self and identity. Yet precisely what is an emotion? Where are emotions? In the mind, body, both? If emotions are conditioned by hunger, fatigue, or surging hormones, how "real" are they? Why do we need to "control" or "express" emotions? Have humans always experienced the same emotions in the same ways? Finally, how do we seek to answer these questions? Drawing on work from philosophy and literature to history and neuroscience, this course investigates not just what people in the western tradition have thought about emotion but how they have thought about it and why.

This class was taught in Fall 2015/2016/2017

Professor Richard Sha

Why I wanted to teach this class

There is a huge surge of interest in the emotions in such fields as neuroscience, economics, history, literature, and philosophy. Why does it now have such explanatory power and what does it explain? Why were the emotions so neglected up until then? How are the emotions sexualized, racialized, and gendered?

Fun Fact

Really hard thinking can be fun!

To Contact Professor Sha:


Office Hours: Mondays and Thursdays 11:45am-12:45pm and 2:15pm-3:15pm and by appointment
Battelle 220


Professor Michele Carter

Why I wanted to teach this class

I think emotions are fascinating. Topics like "do emotions exist, do we all share the same emotions, what happens when others have different emotions than we do, and how do we know what we believe about emotions are true?" are a few of the tenets of emotion we get to address in this class.
This is also a great class to co-teach. I can continue to develop my interest in emotions and teach what I know. More than that, this course also provides me the chance to be student/learner in that I have a wonderful chance to see how people from very different areas from mine approach the topic of emotions. What could be better? Teacher and learned in the same topic! I think it's pretty interesting to stretch how one thinks about a topic and how information from different perspectives on the same topic challenges us to think outside the box. So this course is challenging and can be very fun if you don't mind thinking.

Fun Fact

In the photo, I'm the one on the right playing super heroes with my youngest daughter! That's one fun fact about me- I like to play. Other fun facts are that I love to play golf and watch professional basketball (go Wizards and Warriors!).

To Contact Professor Carter


Office Hours: Mondays 11am -1pm
Tuesdays 9am- 11am
Asbury 319B

Professor April Shelford

Why I wanted to teach this class

I teach to learn. I was interested in the "emotional turn" that historical study has taken recently, but I hadn't had a chance to really dig into it. Doing so while also learning how other disciplines make sense of "emotions" and team teaching with terrific colleagues were additional incentives. Now that my experience teaching in the new AU honors curriculum is drawing to a close, I look forward to taking what I've learned and applying it in a new course on the history of emotions in my department.

Fun Fact

For the past few years, I've been involved in making fused glass objects, mostly bowls, at a local glass studio. Glass is an amazing medium, challenging and totally absorbing. One of the things I most enjoy about it is that it reconnects me to making "stuff," whether fashioning clothing, as my mother taught me sewing, knitting, etc., or working in the printing industry, as I did in my 20s.

To Contact Professor Shelford


Office Hours: Mondays 1:30pm-2:30pm
Wednesday and Thursday by appointment
Battelle Tompkins 125

Honors Inquiry IV

HNRS-230: Creativity and Innovation

This course explores what stimulates creativity and innovation in each of us through team collaborations. It provides an overview of different theories and research, as well as case studies. For the majority of the semester, students participate in exploring their own creativity through individual and group projects. A series of exercises and techniques, as well as specific assignments, encourage students to take risks and expand their imaginations.

This class was taught in Fall 2015/2016/2017

Professor Art Shapiro

Professor Shapiro


Office Hours: Thursdays, 2:30-3:30pm and by appointment
Sports Center Annex- 164

Progessor Maggie Stogner

Why I wanted to teach this class

Teaching an Honors course about creativity with two other talented, inspiring colleagues is a dream come true. What really separates us, the human species, from robots and AI but our creative potential? As a writer, photographer, and filmmaker, creativity is an integral part of who I am. It is a pleasure sharing the essence, techniques, process, and skills involved in pursuing a creative approach to life, work, discovery, and innovation.

Fun Fact

I am fascinated by the discoveries and accomplishments of ancient cultures and by the constant inspiration we find in nature. Did you know that hummingbirds can fly backwards? The a burr-covered dog inspired the invention of Velcro? That beetles in the Namibian desert survive by harvesting fog? Don't even get me started...

To Contact Professor Stogner


Office Hours: Tuesdays 3-6pm and by appointment
McKinley 236

Professor Andrew Holtin

Professor Holtin


Office Hours: Mondays and Thursdays 9:30-11:00am
Katzen Arts Center 218