Honors College Forums to Explore School Safety, Presidential Primaries and History of Dermatology | #schoolsaftey

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Next semester, honors students will have the opportunity to examine the changing landscape of school safety, the upcoming presidential primaries and the difficult history of dermatology. These 75-minute, one-credit-hour Honors College Forums bring star faculty and top administrators together with honors students to discuss timely topics.

One of the courses is School Safety, where students will examine how to foster compassionate and caring school environments from various disciplinary perspectives.

“Schools are microcosms of broader society, and when society’s problems manifest in schools, they often threaten the safety and well-being of individuals within the school community,” explained associate professor of educational leadership Kara Lasater, who will lead the course. “Schools increasingly serve as sites of dissension, disparagement, incivility, violence and unrest. It is difficult – if not impossible – for schools to realize their potential for learning, growth, exploration, discovery, connection and belonging while members of the school community continue to feel unsafe, unwelcome and unappreciated.”

Additionally, Noah Pittman, the associate dean of enrollment for the Honors College, will lead a course following the presidential primaries as they unfold throughout 2024.

“I honestly cannot imagine a more interesting time to teach this course,” he observed. “Although President Biden is the presumptive nominee for the Democrats, it will be interesting to see what impact, if any, comes from the party’s decision to move both South Carolina and Nevada to more prominent positions on the calendar. On the Republican side, we will find out whether or not the party will decide to nominate former President Trump for a third straight cycle, which could set-up a rematch of the 2020 general election. Suffice to say, we will have a lot to cover throughout the spring semester.”

Another forum is Skin Disease & the History of Dermatology, taught by Dr. Scott Jackson, a dermatologist in private practice in Northwest Arkansas. Jackson will guide students through how physicians came to understand skin diseases while also discussing the serious errors made through events like the Tuskegee Study and Holmesburg Prison Scandal.

“Skin disease has conceivably provoked more suffering than any other type of disease in history — not only from the pain, itching and disfigurement, but also from the reactions of others who did not understand it,” Jackson said. “For all but the last one or two hundred years, skin disease was poorly understood by societies and equally confusing to the physicians and surgeons who were tasked with dealing with it.”

These spring forums do not require an application, but seats are limited. Interested honors students are encouraged to register as soon as possible to guarantee getting a seat.

Spring 2024 Honors College Forums 

School Safety: Kara Lasater, associate professor of educational leadership, will lead this course examining the challenges that impact the well-being of a school community. The purpose of this course is to deeply examine issues pertaining to school safety. More specifically, the course will identify school-based attitudes, values, beliefs, practices and policies, which contribute to feelings of marginalization and vulnerability and explore how schools might foster connection and compassion to create environments, which promote the safety and well-being of all members of the school community. Topics examined throughout the course will include: school discipline policies, substance use prevention and intervention, gun control, incivility, mental health, violence prevention and intervention, individual and collective trauma, school-community coalitions and more.

Presidential Primaries: Noah Pittman, Honors College associate dean of enrollment, will lead this forum focusing on the forthcoming presidential primaries. The foundation of the course will be the discussion that takes place each week around a table in the Honors College wing of Gearhart Hall. The class will begin with a study of the presidency, focusing on the nature of the office and the process through which we elect our presidents every four years. Considering this election cycle includes an incumbent president, the class will also analyze President Biden’s first term in office along with the major policy issues debated in the primaries. The class will also spend time focused on the Republican side, as we look at which GOP candidates, if any, will be able to defeat former President Donald Trump. Each student will also periodically report to the class about the state of the race. The course will end the semester with a preview of the 2024 general election campaign along with a discussion on possible reforms to how we select presidential nominees in the United States.

Skin Disease & the History of Dermatology: Dermatologist Scott Jackson, M.D., will lead this forum with readings and discussions of the experience of vulnerable communities in the Tuskegee Experiment and the Holmesburg Prison Scandal, two of the most problematic events in the history of American medicine. This topic is particularly important in the field of the history of dermatology as it has not been scrutinized publicly until recently. The class will also explore diversity concerns in present-day dermatology. 

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