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Fall 2022 Honors Special Topics and Colloquia

Mammoth Cave:

  • Wednesdays, from 3:00-4:30

Note: This class is now full.

Mammoth Cave National Park was established in 1941 to protect 53,000 acres of south central Kentucky focused in large part on lands that overlie the Mammoth Cave System, by far the Earth’s most extensive known cave system.  As such, the cave and surrounding area have attracted intense interest from cave scientists, explorers and historians from around the world.  In addition to national park designation, among most highly protected land classifications in the nation, MACA has been designated by the United Nations as both a World Heritage Site and an International Biosphere Reserve. WKU is blessed to have this beautiful natural laboratory a short distance away, and a long history of close collaboration with Park management and scientists. The purpose of the course is to instill a deep understanding of this globally significant landscape treasure.  We will explore the Park’s surface and underground landscapes, visiting hidden and rarely visited gems.

Note: This course will involve relatively strenuous field trips both on the surface in the national park and in passages both on and off of the tourist trails in Mammoth Cave.  Although there will be no hazardous activities or any that require special training (use of ropes, for example), for the safety of all involved all students must be in good physical condition. Students will comply by relevant policies in the document “Risk Management at Western Kentucky University.” Potential hazards in the park, particularly on the surface activities, include poison ivy, ticks, chiggers, and (rare but present) poisonous snakes. We will instruct students about these and how to best protect themselves.



Chris Groves and Pat Kambesis have each been exploring and studying the caves and surface landscapes of Mammoth Cave National Park for some 40 years as members of the Cave Research Foundation (CRF), an organization that since 1957 has been working under a cooperative agreement with the Park to explore, map, and study the Park’s caves.  They have each served as expedition leader, member of the Board of Directors, and President of CRF.  They have both led numerous research efforts in the Park, often working with WKU graduate and undergraduate students, and over the same span of years have explored the Park’s more remote back country areas.

Participants must be available for a Saturday field trip and all four Wednesday afternoon/evening field trips.


Great Clashing Worlds:

  • Tuesdays and Thursdays, 2:20-3:40

Great Clashing Worldviews: The Legacies of John Locke and Karl Marx is a unique and fascinating course in political theory examining the antagonistic worldviews of two world renowned and consequential thinkers. Scholars will discover that the great differences between Locke and Marx on economics and government derive from profoundly different worldviews about the nature of reality.

Primary source readings in Locke's First and Second Treatises of Government and Letter Concerning Toleration will be analyzed against Marx's The Communist Manifesto, Das Kapital and other readings.



Professor Emeritus in the Department of Political Science, Dr. Yager has taught political theory courses throughout most of his 30 year career at WKU. His PhD in political science is from the University of California at Santa Barbara and his MSc in political theory is from The London School of Economics and Political Science.


Your Gambit - Chess Lessons for Life:

  • Mondays and Wednesday, 3:25-4:45

Chess playing is a core part of the class with an emphasis on how players develop the art of strategy making.  Strategy comes through learning from others and developing the skill of thinking beyond the present or past in the hope an opponent will act as desired.  Part of this process involves experiencing and learning from mistakes.  The practice of learning requires reflection and correction to help succeed.  Successful strategists and chess players apply these lessons.  This class involves playing chess for enjoyment and appreciation.  Through this approach, as well as readings and discussion, we will explore practical applications of strategy for our lives.

The purpose of the class is to illustrate, through play, how lessons can be gleaned in developing a personal strategy for life that considers the implications of our choices, capitalizes on opportunities, and learns from mistakes.



Dr. Kevin Modlin has been fascinated with power since his third year at WKU when he was a Congressional intern. Though he was not fully aware of that fascination until he was exposed to more experiences and ideas to grasp its scope. After developing an intuition of power as a Congressional Aide he got a MA in Applied Economics from WKU and a Ph. D. in International Relations from FIU where he explored the influence the balance of power has on global trade agreements.

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 Last Modified 9/15/22