Course Info
Study Questions
Response Papers



Honors Interdisciplinary Seminar (IDS 175)


Course Overview
(Szydlik section)



( Please see the  Other Resources link to access copies Flatland and the summer writing assignment.)

Truth can be a notoriously difficult idea to pin down. What counts as truth? How can one know it, define it, prove it, or articulate it? What notions can we be absolutely certain about and how can we tell? This interdisciplinary seminar will explore the topic of truth from multiple perspectives, focusing on experiences in two distinct disciplines: mathematics and the humanities. Although these are two very different subjects, they share a common interest in questions about truth and knowledge that are at the heart of the university experience.

During the seminar, you will spend six weeks studying “Truth” from the humanities perspective with Senior Lecturer in English Cary Henson, and six weeks studying “Truth” from the mathematics perspective with Associate Professor of Mathematics Steve Szydlik. During those modules, you will be meeting with only those students enrolled in your section of IDS 175. However, there will also be a couple of days (particularly the first and last days of class), when both sections of IDS 175 meet together for a shared discussion. The following is an overview of the course schedule (see our syllabi for more details):

Week 1
Both sections meet in Clow 23 for course overview and discussion of Flatland
Individual section meetings for final hour: Section 004 (Szydlik) and Section 005 (Henson)
Weeks 2-6
Individual section meetings
Week 7
Section reviews and assessments
Switch sections for final hour: Section 004 (Henson) and Section 005 (Szydlik)
Weeks 8-12
Individual section meetings
Week 13
Section reviews and assessments
Final Project preparation
Week 14
Both sections meet in Clow 23 for Final Projects

Each of the six-week modules for the course will count as 42.5% (425 pts) toward your final grade.  Your summer homework assignment counts as 2.5% (25 pts), and the Final Project for the course counts 12.5% (125 pts).  For more information on Cary Henson’s module of the course, see  For more information on Steve Szydlik’s module of the course, see

Over the course of the semester, you and the other seminar participants will have the chance to learn about and experiment with different ways of approaching these questions as they relate to truths about ourselves, our cultures, and our physical universe.  We hope that you are as excited by this prospect as we are, and we have planned a series of readings, films, discussions, and other exercises that we think will make for an engaging and stimulating first-semester experience as we explore this complex topic.  While “Truth” is indeed an intimidating and overwhelming topic, you can be confident that you will survive the intellectual excursions that we have planned—just as we are confident that the seminar will equip you especially well as you set off on your college career.




September 9, 2009

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