Honors Symposium: History of the 2nd Amendment with Dr. Cornell

The packed room of Honors students present for the final Symposium, facilitated by Dr. Saul Cornell

Dr. Saul Cornell is a prolific scholar with an impressive academic pedigree. Currently, he has an endowed Chair in American History at Fordham University and previously worked as a professor in history at Ohio State University and was the director of the Second Amendment Research Center at the John Glenn Institute. It was a great honor to have Dr. Cornell speak for our final symposium of the semester: “The History of the 2nd Amendment.” As a scholar with significant expertise on the wording, historical context, and public impressions of the 2nd Amendment, he had a unique and dynamic understanding of the way that this famous element of our Bill of Rights was meant to be perceived. He was able to present a new interpretation of the current political climate regarding gun legislation: both liberal and conservative stances misunderstand the 2nd Amendment’s few, short phrases. In reality, the 2nd Amendment is a simple commentary on the regulation of militias, a concept foreign to many of the loudest voices in this debate. Dr. Cornell also discussed the jurisprudence surrounding gun laws in the United States, and how much of this ties back to race relations in the United States.

Coffee Conversation- Alisha Menzies

Dr. Menzies laughing with the bright and involved Honors students in attendance (November 12th)

Dr. Alisha Menzies, assistant professor in Communication, championed a fascinating discussion on the burden of moral culpability faced by the famous few. She asked: “Should we hold what celebrities and public figures say to a higher moral standard? Are their communication mistakes worth more?”  The conversation spanned a great distance, first attempting to define which celebrities had a greater obligation than others. One student wondered whether professional athletes should have opinions of the same weight as political figureheads; another scholar questioned the impact of words versus actions (i.e. the Colin Kaepernick protest). Dr. Menzies funneled the discussion through various relevant scandals, from the Valium-induced tweets of Roseanne Barr to Megyn Kelly’s blackface scandal. Unfortunately, time was called before we could shift focus to unpacking rapper Kanye West! Overall, it was an intriguing look into the standards we hold celebrities to and, in turn, the standards we hold ourselves to. 

Honors Activities – Judgement at Nuremberg

Dr. Rey's Honors course at the theater after the play.
Dr. Rey’s Honors course at the theater after the play.

Students in Denis Rey’s Honors Introduction to Government and World Affairs class visited Stageworks Theatre several weekends ago to attend a matinée performance of Judgement at Nuremberg. The students, pictured on the set after the performance, were impressed with the dramatic portrayal of the events that transpired during the attempt to hold perpetrators accountable for the crimes committed during the Holocaust. They were conflicted between the arguments made by both the prosecutor and defense attorney and contemplated whether principles such as collective responsibility applied, a broad concept that implicated most if not all of German society, or whether a narrower standard should be employed. In the end, students benefited greatly from watching these dilemmas play out. The Honors Program provided the funding for this learning experience.

The Washington Center – Mariane Ntagungira

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I’ve been in Washington DC a little over a month now, and it has already been the most incredible experience. I am currently spending the semester at The Washington Center, which includes an internship from Monday to Thursday, an evening course once a week and a career readiness seminar on Fridays (that we call LEAD). I’m interning at an international development organization and my evening course is about international organizations and humanitarian law (I love both so much). I am so grateful that being part of the Honors Program gave me this opportunity. I’ve been able to participate in conferences, network, and meet amazing professionals who inspire me (networking is key!). I have also been able to visit monuments and museums and so much more. From eating at the best food trucks to exploring the district every weekend with my roommates to feeling like a professional every day, TWC is an experience I know I’ll never forget! If you have the opportunity to spend a semester “abroad” or if you want to add an internship to your resume, I strongly recommend TWC. Talk to your advisor and see if it’s possible! You will not be sorry! If you are already interested and want to know more, I am more than happy to share about the process before coming to DC and my experience so far (mariane.ntagungira@spartans.ut.edu).

Conferences – Adeline Davis

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Adeline Davis recently presented some of her scholarship at the Irish Studies Conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Her presentation was well-received, as attested to by her mentor, Kathleen Ochshorn:

I wanted to thank you again for your support of Adeline Davis’s trip to the Irish Studies Conference in Jackson Hole. Her paper was well attended and her session chaired by the conference organizer. She was the only undergraduate presenting and nearly everyone there commented on the quality of her work, her poise and her intelligence. Professors were recruiting her for their graduate programs. We were able to dine with accomplished scholars, and Adeline loved the intellectual exchange. She also spoke with graduate students and recent Ph.D.’s who gave her advice and related their own experiences. This sort of opportunity is invaluable for our best undergraduates. It also spreads the word about the quality of UT.

Honors Courses – Pathways on the Riverwalk

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Dr. Jen Wortham and Dr. Abe Miller took their pathways students on a walk through Tampa using the Riverwalk. The Riverwalk is a great way to explore downtown Tampa while simultaneously enjoying scenic views of the Hillsborough River and The University of Tampa. Pathways courses help UT students adjust to Tampa and give them a number of engaging opportunities to learn.

Honors Activities – Scorpion Hunting

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On October 30th, Dr. Abe Miller from UT’s Health Sciences and Human Performance department, took a group of Honors students to collect scorpions. Dr. Miller is an expert on scorpions. He provided a good background on scorpions, illustrated how they luminesce under a black light, and provided instruction on how and where to spot them. We were a little worried that we might not see any after our first foray netted us only a wolf spider. But the next trail we tried was bountiful. Within 45 minutes we caught 15 and let another 5 or so get away.