9 surprising things you can learn in an Honors course

Pitt Honors courses will make you rethink today's timeliest topics.

They cross academic boundaries to give you a deeper, more nuanced perspective. Smaller-group classes let you go more in-depth, and even do hands-on research into the latest developments in the field. 

Here are just a few things you can discover this spring:  

1. Cancer isn’t 1 disease. We just categorize it incorrectly. 

What's happening in the cells of a given cancer patient can be entirely different than in another's. By looking at 'cancer' collectively, we've missed vital nuances. 

Technology is only just now sophisticated enough for us to discover this — and it's the beginning of a healthcare revolution.

Get ahead of the curve (and even ahead of practicing physicians) in Precision Medicine »

2. Dr. Seuss used nonsense words consistently throughout his career. (Yeah, we measured.)

Students analyzed that using high-tech programming, in a course that teaches you the skills to both digitally analyze texts and code your own site — even if you have no tech background whatsoever.

The course is really open-ended, so you can explore anything from presidential tweets to Lord of the Rings. 

Pick up text and tech skills in Computational Methods in the Humanities »

3. In America, black infants die at almost 2x the average rate.

In Pittsburgh, it's even worse. It's pretty shocking. And there are many, many more grim statistics and stories that paint a totally different picture of healthcare than the one we hear about (or want to think our country supports.)

Former Pitt Law Dean Mary Crossley will help you examine the implications of this inequality, and the cross-professional approaches to correct it. 

Uncover more shocking truths in Health Justice: Issues for Public Health, Medicine, and Law »

4. You can find Anarchy in socialism, the Tea Party, and in Pittsburgh.

We think of anarchism as 1 belief, but really, it changes to suit pretty much any political ideology.

Did you know Pittsburgh has a special place in anarchist history — and is known as an anarchist haven in some circles today? 

Discover a movement outside the norms in Global History of Anarchism »

5. Cells in your body right now could replace virtually any organ.

Stem cells and regenerative therapies are the hot topics for research — and funding. Drop the textbook and let cutting-edge findings be your guide through the latest breakthroughs.

Get on the cutting edge in Emerging Biomedical Technology » 

6. Juries love passionate legal defenses — unless women make them.

When men vigorously defend a client, it's seen as heroic. When women argue emotionally, judges and juries are more likely to write off their arguments as 'irrational.'

Gender even plays a role in the way we perceive facts — so it is definitely going to affect your job. How can you deal with that constructively? 

Explore the gendered landscape of your future workplaces in Women in the Workplace »

7. We made bills hard to pass — on purpose.

"Gridlock is good. In fact, it's intentional," said Kristin Kanthak, who literally wrote the book on representation in politics, and teaches this course. 

We tend to just call legislators lazy, but there's a method to slowing down the process.

Find out why in American Politics »

8. More data has been created in the past 2 years than in all of human history.

Is your brain racing with all the possibilities, too? 

Well, is one of those possibilities the way this could benefit communities?

Learn how to harness the power of data with a team of professors from different backgrounds, then mentor high school students to help them compete in Pitt's DataJam. 

Make a difference in DataJam: Using Big Data for Community Good »

9. Islam has surprisingly familiar roots: in Greece.

That's right; Islamic philosophies have similar origins to our own culture. In fact, the early days of Islam are nothing like politicians paint it on TV today — at all. 

Go beyond just the Arabian Peninsula to frame the broader context of Islam's rise as both a culture and a religion. 

Look more critically at this hot-button topic in Rise of Islam: 500-1200 CE » 

Explore all Honors courses »