Total Semester Hours for Honors Program: 12
This course explores the nature and purpose of a liberal arts education. Questions in this course may include: What is "education?" What is its function or purpose? What are the instrumental and intrinsic values of education? Is there a
difference between education and training? What are the relationships between education, happiness, and success? What does it mean to be "liberally educated?" Ought the professional and liberal arts disciplines remain separate from each other, or should they be integrated with each other? Is an education in the science in sciences, technologies, engineering, or math (STEM) more rigorous or valuable than one in the arts, humanities, or social sciences? Why are some people willing to die for their education?
This course explores the processes of inquiry that humans have developed to understand reality. Questions examined in this course may include: What does it mean to "know?" What constitutes evidence and validity? What is the relationship between theory and observation? Is social science inquiry different from natural science inquiry? How does knowledge in the humanities differ from scientific ways of knowing? What are some of the great scientific revolutions?
Are we truly free to think, make choices, and at as we wish, or are we limited by, even determined by, the consequences of our physical, social, and historical contexts? Questions examined in this course include may include: What do we mean by "free?" Do we have too much freedom, or not enough? What is the relationship between freedom and inequality? Is freedom free or is there a cost to freedom? What is the relationship between freedom and responsibility?
This course explores the ways in which we conceptualize and measure progress. Questions examined in the course may
include: What is "progress?" Is progress necessary? What is the relationship between progress and happiness? What is the role of innovation in progress? How might ideologies affect and be affected by progress? To what extent is progress influenced by economics? When is too much progress, too much?
This course explores the reasons why and ways
in which societies rise and decline, from ancient times to the present.
Questions examined in the course may include: What defines "society" What causes some societies to dominate? Why do
others fall? What roles do science, religion, and ideology play? Is the US an empire in decline while China an empire on the rise?
This course explores the reasons why and ways in which situations of injustice arise. Questions in this course include: What are the causes and consequences of prejudice? How do we conceptualize fairness, equality, and justice? Why is there an inherent social categorization, an "us vs. them" mentality? Can literature serve as a vehicle for social change? What does it mean to be invisible? What constitutes privilege? Who decides what constitutes social justice? How can we increase awareness of social injustice? What are our personal and collective responsibilities to effect positive change in eradicating social injustice?
We learn best in an open-minded and engaged atmosphere. Learning is not meaningful until it is truly internalized and then used in a variety of different contexts. It is an expectation of Honors students that they (1) engage in academic rigor and integrity, (2) meaningfully involve themselves in classroom conversations, (3) strive to be open to different perspectives and experiences of the world, and (4) apply what they are learning in the classroom to real world circumstances. The overriding goal for this course is to give you opportunities to engage in inquiry. You will be repeatedly asked to demonstrate that you are able to give a critical analysis. This will mean developing an ability to look at circumstances and states of affairs in ways that are different (sometimes very different) than your own and learning how to effectively criticize different arguments and positions (including, most importantly, your own). This means you will develop even further your intellectual curiosity and your open mind. We want you to develop intellectual empathy –it means being able to put yourself in the shoes of a person with different beliefs than your own and learn to understand (although not necessarily accept) their perspectives and the reasons they give to support their perspectives. A student who practices intellectual empathy can think "outside the box," and effectively play devil's advocate. Intellectual empathy is one of the most important traits a person can have because without it we cannot effectively communicate with other people. One of the most important things we want Honors students to gain as a result of this course is a strengthening of their ability to perspective shift –to put themselves into the shoes of another.