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Honors Course Highlight: The Multicultural Art of Science and Forgiveness

| Megan Gosian

The University Honors Programs strives to host classes that reach beyond the core curriculum and give students a chance to explore the latest research, urgent topics, and ideas that move across disciplines. One new course, the Multicultural Art and Science of Forgiveness, does just that. The instructor, Dr. Ann Recine, is a recently retired professor of nursing, a UWEC alumna, and a leader in the field of interdisciplinary research on forgiveness.

Dr. Recine first encountered research on forgiveness as a student. As she became more interested in the field, she began leading community groups and facilitating discussions about anger, where people would share experiences of how they were able to forgive. Dr. Recine was inspired to learn more so she could help more people: forgiveness is “valuable and potentially life changing,” she tells us. Over the course of more than a decade, she has published widely on forgiveness, including the articles “Concept analysis of forgiveness with a multi‐cultural emphasis” (Journal of Advanced Nursing, 2007), “Health promotion through forgiveness interventions” (Journal of Holistic Nursing, 2009), “Designing forgiveness interventions: Guidance from five meta-analyses” (Journal of Holistic Nursing, 2015), and, most recently, “How people forgive: a systematic review of nurse-authored qualitative research” (Journal of Holistic Nursing, 2020). 

In designing an honors course on this topic, Dr. Recine strove to maximize student engagement. She wanted to find a line between delivering content but also allowing “opportunities to process things with each other and talk.” Since this course is heavily based around discussion, students get to open up and learn about each other. Dr. Recine particularly values when students share personal insights—she believes it helps enrich the course as a whole. One current student, Stephanie Walters, notes that the class has encouraged her to be self-reflective by "creating a safe space for people to share personal stories on forgiveness whether it being forgiving others or ourselves.”

Dr. Recine’s students have been discussing how much mental health affects physical health—and the role forgiveness can play in improving both. Student Leah Vraspir tells us that the course “has been eye-opening in showing how important the concept of forgiveness is in so many parts of life beyond what I initially thought possible.”

One particular highlight of this course is its interdisciplinary lens, which looks at forgiveness in contexts ranging from psychoendocrinology to theatre. Dr. Recine is partnering with a team of actors to stage a virtual reading of Blood Guilt, a contemporary play by Jane and Jim Jeffries, to give students a chance to experience a theatrical take on forgiveness and to explore how theatrical techniques might be used in forgiveness interventions.

Dr. Recine also wants her students to gain skills from this course. Some are research-focused, like learning how to read journal articles and prepare annotated bibliographies. Other skills are more emotional, such as articulating and regulating feelings. The course also focuses on thinking, writing, and ethical skills. She particularly enjoys working with the Honors Program because “the students want to be inspired and challenged to do something different or gain skills.” Dr. Recine views this class as a great opportunity to not only pass on her knowledge but learn from the students as well.

To learn more about our ever-changing slate of interdisciplinary, discussion-focused honors colloquia, check out our catalog of fall 2021 courses here.