Honors Program - Curriculum

The Honors Program comprises 23 credits. Twenty credits are earned through six honors courses completed in the first three years of the program (HR 100, HR 101, HR 200 or HR 201, 2 sections of HR 202, HR 300); the program recognizes three credits earned through an independent study usually undertaken in the student's major during the senior year.

Core Exemptions

Students who complete the Honors Program are exempt from 21 credits in the core curriculum.

Students who enter the program as freshmen are exempt from the 3 English core courses (9 credits). They also may exempt themselves from 4 courses chosen from the following 6 areas or disciplines, with no more than 1 exemption claimed in any area of discipline: Natural Science, History, Social/Behavioral Science, Philosophy, Religious Studies, and Visual and Performing Arts (4 courses, 12 credits). In choosing to fulfill their remaining core requirements in Applied Ethics, History, Philosophy, and Religious Studies, Honors students may enroll in 200-level courses without having taken the stipulated prerequisites.

Students who enter the program as sophomores and who have completed EN 11 and EN 12 are exempt from the third English core course (3 credits). They are also exempt from 1 course in each of the following 6 areas or disciplines: Natural Science, History, Social/Behavioral Science, Philosophy, Religious Studies, and Visual and Performing Arts (6 courses, 18 credits). In choosing to fulfill their remaining core requirements in Applied Ethics, History, Philosophy, and Religious Studies, Honors students may enroll in 200-level courses without having taken the stipulated prerequisites.

The student's second year of Honors course work will satisfy either the U.S. diversity requirement (HR 200) or the world diversity requirement (HR 201) depending on the course the student completes. Apart from fulfilling 1 diversity requirement and replacing 7 core courses, Honors courses cannot be double-counted to satisfy any other curricular requirement.

Honors Achievement Designation

Students who complete the Honors Program in good standing have their achievement noted on their final transcripts. Those who complete the program with an average grade of B+ in honors courses receive the designation "University Honors Program Completed with Distinction." Those who complete the program with an average of A in honors courses receive the designation "University Honors Program Completed with High Distinction."

Fulbright Track in Honors

The Honors Program offers an alternative ordering of courses to support Honors students who apply for the prestigious Fulbright Scholarship. This "Fulbright track" in the Honors curriculum allows Fulbright applicants to complete their Senior Honors Projects in their junior year so that this research can provide a foundation for their Fulbright applications. Honors students who are interested in the Fulbright track should speak to the Honors Program Director.


General Course Descriptions

First Year: The Western Tradition

HR 100 Ideas That Shaped the West
This team-taught lecture/seminar course examines selected ideas or themes from Western intellectual history, focusing on developments in philosophy, society, science, and the arts. The ideas selected vary from course section to course section. Four credits.

HR 101 Minds and Bodies
This team-taught lecture/seminar course examines constructions of the human person, and the social reflections of these constructions, in Western culture. The ideas selected vary from course section to course section. Four credits.

Second Year: Beyond the Western Paradigm

Either:

HR 200 Challenges to the Western Tradition
This course examines alternatives to the configuration of knowledge, art, power, and justice in the classical, majority culture of the West by considering critical voices traditionally marginalized in that culture. In the second year of honors coursework, students complete either HR 200 or HR 201. This course meets the U.S. diversity requirement. Three credits.

Or:

HR 201 Non-Western Culture
This course examines alternatives to the configuration of knowledge, art, power, and justice in the classical, majority culture of the West by investigating the history, worldview, and assumptions of a non-Western culture. In the second year of honors coursework, students complete either HR 200 or HR 201. This course meets the world diversity requirement. Three credits.

HR 202 Honors Seminar
This seminar, offered in one of the traditional disciplines, seeks to cultivate the skills of critical thinking, cogent argumentation, and effective writing, all by attending to a particular subject matter. Honors students earn six credits in HR 202 by completing one version of the seminar in their second year of honors coursework and another version of the seminar in their third year of honors coursework. A complete title, reflecting the seminar's particular subject matter, appears on the student's transcript. Students may not enroll in any section of HR 202 offered in a discipline in which they major or minor. Three credits.

Third Year: Interdisciplinary Inquiry

HR 300 Interdisciplinary Inquiry
This team-taught course stresses the value of interdisciplinary approaches to scholarly inquiry by investigating a wide-ranging theme from the perspective of at least two disciplines. Possible themes treated in a given year are progress and its critics, genius and creativity, and the city in the American imagination. Three credits.

HR 202 Honors Seminar
This seminar, offered in one of the traditional disciplines, seeks to cultivate the skills of critical thinking, cogent argumentation, and effective writing, all by attending to a particular subject matter. Honors students earn six credits in HR 202 by completing one version of the seminar in their second year of honors coursework and another version of the seminar in their third year of honors coursework. A complete title, reflecting the seminar's particular subject matter, appears on the student's transcript. Students may not enroll in any section of HR 202 offered in a discipline in which they major or minor. Three credits.

HR 399 Senior Honors Project: Independent Study
The Senior Honors Project provides an opportunity for students to engage in mature research under the supervision of a faculty mentor. The senior honors project is not a course in its own right but an independent study of three credits, typically conducted in the student's major field of study, which is recognized toward the completion of honors requirements. In the humanities, the project should be a paper of at least 25 to 50 pages in length. In studio art and creative writing, the project should take the form of a significant portfolio. In the natural sciences, mathematics, social sciences, nursing, and in the various areas of business, the finished project should conform to the discipline's acceptable format and length for publication. Three credits.


Honors Courses, 2013-14

Fall

HR 100A "Ideas That Shaped the West," 4 credits

Professors Abbott (History) and Nantz (Economics)
TF 11-12:!5 p.m.; W 11-11:50 a.m.

HR 100B "Ideas That Shaped the West," 4 credits

Professors Andreychik (Psychology) and Epstein (English)
TF 12:30-1:45 p.m.; W 12-12:50 p.m.

HR 200 "Challenges to the Western Tradition," 3 credits

Professor Elizabeth Hohl (History)
TF 12:30-1:45 p.m.

HR 300 "Interdisciplinary Inquiry: Water," 3 credits

Professors Bayers (English) and Steffen (Chemistry)
MR 2-3:15 p.m.
Water is intimately linked to the Human condition - as material and cultural artifact, it is everywhere. Biologically we cannot live without it. But it has also served humans culturally - for instance as a symbol of freedom, of enslavement, of mystery, of death, of spiritual renewal.

The purpose of this course is to examine water through the intersections of scientific and cultural lenses centered on themes including, but not limited to, sustainability, aesthetics, myth, recreation, and politics. The course will include field trips to significant water resources in the area such as campus ponds, local reservoirs, a salt marsh, and a sewage treatment facility. We will also learn about water by exploring its properties through simple laboratory experiments.

To provide focus for the course we will pursue answers to a series of questions such as: Why does NASA spend millions looking for signs of water on other planets? Why is water so often used as a metaphor for life, such as fountain of youth? What is water? What makes it different from thousands of other liquids? Why do many people believe fresh water will replace oil as the focus of much conflict in the coming decades? Who owns a River? The Seas? Clouds? (Consider that cloud seeding - induced rain - in Kansas might very well mean less rain in Missouri). How might climate change effect our water resources?

HR 202 "Honors Seminar: The Long Black Freedom Struggle," 3 credits

Professor Williams (History)
TF 11-12:15 p.m.
This course examines history of the civil rights and Black Power Movements in four phases. In the first phase, the course probes the foundations of the movement focusing on the birth of the NAACP and the efforts of NAACP attorneys Charles H. Houston and Thurgood Marshall as they challenged the basis of racial segregation in the courts. In the second phase, the course examines the tactical shift to direct action protest campaigns embodied in such efforts as the Montgomery Bus Boycott (1955) and the Freedom Rides (1961) that sought to undermine the political underpinnings of Jim Crow Segregation. In the third phase, we will examine the importance of charismatic leadership in both movements exemplified in leaders such as the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Ella Baker, Fannie Lou Hammer, Robert Williams, Medgar Evers and Muslim Minister Malcolm X.

We will also focus on the movement after the 1963 March on Washington, when the assassinations of Kennedy, Malcolm X, and Dr. King led to a reevaluation of both the strategies and goals of the movement. In the final phase, we will examine the history of the movement after 1966 when Stokely Carmichael's call for Black Power and the emergence of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, exposed a vibrant Black Power Movement that had grown up alongside the Civil Rights Movement but remained largely invisible to the majority of Americans. By the close of the decade, the reverberations of the Black Power Movement were felt as far away as Mexico City where African American athletes raised their fists in a defiant stand against American apartheid and in the jungles of Viet Nam where African-American soldiers found themselves fighting Jim Crow as well as the Viet Cong. The Black Power Movement also fed a Black cultural renaissance, exhibited in music, art, and poetry, and encapsulated in the phrase "Black is Beautiful." In the aftermath of the Gary Convention in 1972 however, Civil Rights and Black Power Advocates were left to ponder why they were unable to translate the movement victories into an all-black political party. At the same time, African-American women struggled to reconcile gender discrimination within both movements. In the meanwhile as redress for centuries of racial injustice, the government implemented a myriad of programs such as federally mandated school busing, affirmative action, and minority contract set-asides engendering new hostilities and avenues of resistance.

The literature on the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements has grown tremendously in recent years. This course will further examine various approaches historians have taken in interpreting the history of the movement.

* Students majoring or minoring in History may not enroll in this course.

HR 202 "Honors Seminar: Memoir and the Idea of America," 3 credits

Professor Huber (English)
TF 12:30-1:45 p.m.
The popular genre of the memoir as presented by writers from the United States often relays an individual story of adversity or challenge, but these works as a group reveal a set of enduring assumptions, values, anxieties, and stereotypes that can be described as the American Dream. Students will read several memoirs by American authors and engage this genre in their own writing in order to understand how cultural assumptions shape the telling of our individual life stories. In addition, students will read several literary analyses that attempt to locate the memoir - and the broader field of personal nonfiction or life-writing - in its cultural, political, and sociological contexts.

* Students majoring or minoring in English may not enroll in this course.

HR 202 "Honors Seminar: Genetics, Ethics, and Society," 3 credits

Professor Fernandez (Biology)
MR 9:30-10:45 a.m.

Genetics has influenced many facets of society, from the foods we eat, to the decisions we make about having children, to the types of medical treatment available to us. The goals of this course are to learn fundamental concepts in genetics and biotechnology and to use what we know about these subjects to argue different points of view on the intersection between genetics and society. Subjects we discuss will include genetically engineered foods, stem cell research, and the genetics of personal identity.

* Students majoring or minoring in Biology or Applied Ethics may not enroll in this course.

HR 202 "Honors Seminar: Places, Spaces, Faces - Cultural Immersion in the New York City Art World," 3 credits

Professor Eliasoph (Visual and Performing Arts)
W 2-4:30 p.m.
With their pulsating, Afro-hip-hop rhythm, Jay Z and Alicia Keys conclude: "In New York, concrete jungle where dreams are made of, there's nothing you can't do." This course picks up on their challenge to see what we can do exploring New York's vast cultural resources. From the Battery to Harlem, we will be unraveling this "Empire State of Mind" as we study how old Dutch Manhattan came to replace Paris as the world's artistic and cultural epicenter. Historic examples of Athens, Rome, Florence, London and Paris serve as comparative models before we focus on the question of New York's artistic supremacy by the middle of the 20th century and its domination of contemporary artistic idioms. The combination of American capitalism, competition, and commercialism all factor into an interactive matrix of artists, patrons, collectors, and cultural institutions that establishes Gotham's primacy in the arts and cultural life.

Through a series of site visits, we will survey a selection of Manhattan's museums, art galleries, performing arts centers, historical landmarks, and cultural attractions to appreciate and understand the civic and aesthetic nature of New York's cultural dominancy in the past century. This class has a large experiential component as we meet curators, museum docents, and professionals in the New York cultural world. Engagement with these people in their workplace demands student commitment and inter-active responsibilities. Our ultimate learning goal is to answer a central question through the experience gained from our immersion: "How and why did New York come to define the sophisticated global paradigm for the literary, visual, and performing arts?" Tasks and projects will include a semester journal of activities and a creative or traditional research project in the student's personal area of interest: art, architecture, theatre, music, ballet, opera, historical sites.

Scheduling and financial requirements: Students enrolled should not have any class on Wednesday after 12 p.m. There will be 6-8 field trips via MetroNorth to NYC taking the 12:25 p.m. train and arriving back on campus by 8 p.m. The Honors Program will support the cost of trainfare. Students however, should be prepared to pay for portions of these field trips, e.g. entrance fees.

* Students majoring or minoring in Art History may not enroll in this course.

Spring

HR 101A "Minds and Bodies" 4 credits

Professors Boryczka (Politics) and Lakeland (Religious Studies)

HR 101B "Minds and Bodies," 4 credits

Professors Bayne (Philosophy) and Harriott (Biology)

HR 201 "Non-Western Culture: North African Society and Culture," 3 credits

Professor Crawford (Anthropology)
MR 11-12:15 p.m.
This course is an anthropological examination of North Africa, with a specific emphasis on Morocco. We will begin with geography and history, but move to what is distinctively "cultural" about the region. How do people think, eat, feel, fight, and love one another? What seems familiar and what feels strange? From agriculture to military history, food to dress, literature to contemporary issues like Islamism, feminism, migration, and development: we will immerse ourselves in the North African context with the aim of coming to appreciate this ancient nexus between Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. Along the way we will ask ourselves how we know what we know and explore the value and limits of "knowing" people different from ourselves.

HR 300 "Interdisciplinary Inquiry: Genius and Creativity," 3 credits

Professors Mulvey (Mathematics) and Yarrington (Studio Art)
MR 12:30-1:45 p.m.
Throughout history, certain individuals manage to see things differently from anyone who came before them, and their paradigm-shifting ideas bring about profound change. In this course, we will study earth-shaking ideas and the thinkers who brought them about. We will study from two perspectives that will allow us to consider revolutionary artists and ground-breaking scientists as we attempt to understand the differences and the similarities behind genuine originality in these fields. A scientist willing to take risks and an artist willing to challenge conventions both bring a daring and sometimes dangerous creativity to their work. We will investigate deeply some important game-changing moments in human history.

HR 202 "Honors Seminar: Dante" 3 credits

Professor Carolan (Modern Languages)
MR 11-12:15 p.m.
This course examines the works of Dante Alighieri with particular focus on the Comedy in order to appreciate the poet's genius. Dante's mid-life journey, at once compelling and daunting, provides a source of intellectual and spiritual inspiration to his readers. Through our study of the political, linguistic, theological and poetic ideas of the medieval period we will come to understand the continuing significance of Dante's works for modern debates.

* Students majoring or minoring Modern Languages or English may not enroll in this course.

HR 202 "Honors Seminar: The Battle over Family Values in American Politics," 3 credits

Professor Alphonso (Politics)
MR 9:30-10:15 a.m.
Contemporary American politics is marked by numerous debates about the family in American society. Issues of gay marriage, abortion, abstinence/ pre-marital sex, shifting gender roles within the family, and new parenting and reproductive methods are some of the hotly debated policy issues, illustrating the political struggle to define the soul of America and the role of the family within. This course explores such contemporary political debates over the family, their policy implications and significance to current elections, and examines too the historical context and previous ideological battles that characterize the tumultuous relationship between the family and the American state.

* Students majoring or minoring in Politics may not enroll in this course.

HR 202 "Honors Seminar: Ethical Traditions in Transition," 3 credits

Professor Hannafey (Religious Studies)
TF 2-3:15 p.m.
This ethics seminar explores important theoretical foundations of ethical thought in the early, medieval, and modern periods and identifies leading themes, connections, and controversies. The writings of Aristotle, St. Thomas Aquinas, Immanuel Kant, J.S. Mill, Stanley Hauerwas, Richard McCormick, S.J., and others will be considered. Then, drawing on this theoretical basis, the seminar examines a number of current moral issues facing contemporary society, including questions in bioethics (e.g., end of life care, reproductive technologies, embryo and stem cell research), economic and social ethics, business ethics, and questions in human sexual ethics.

* Students majoring or minoring in Religious Studies or Applied Ethics may not enroll in this course