Current Honors Students
The Honors Program has undergone some significant changes for fall 2013. We are very excited about the redesign and new courses. For many of you there will not be any substantial changes but all current Honors students should read through the following.
Course Descriptions For New Honors Seminars
New Lower Division Honors Seminars
HNRS 201 BEAUTY (Fall)
In this course we will investigate and discuss the concept of beauty. What does it mean to say that something is beautiful, or to say that one finds something beautiful? Are judgments of beauty merely subjective, and if so, why are they so important to us? Should we be suspicious of other people’s claims about beauty, or of our own? Is beauty a sign of moral goodness, or of any sort of goodness? Is beauty worth pursuing? Is ‘beautiful’ still a useful term in the discourse of art criticism, or should it be jettisoned, as some writers have argued? How, if at all, does the human capacity to create or appreciate beauty relate to other character traits that have been classified as virtues?
We will be investigating the concept of beauty, and related concepts, from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. Philosophy, art history, biology, psychology, sociology, anthropology, and other academic fields all have important things to say about what beauty is, what it has been taken to be, and the roles that beauty plays and has played in human life.
HNRS 202 NATURE (Fall)
This seminar will be a multidisciplinary exploration of Nature. The story of Nature is one that presumably has a beginning, a middle period, and an end. Using perspectives from the physics, chemistry, biology, geology, anthropology, philosophy, history, literature, music, and art we will focus on several basic and fundamental questions, such as:
How did the Universe come into existence?
How do we explain order and design in Nature?
Is it possible to comprehend the dimensional scales of Nature?
What is revealed by an investigation into the Laws of Nature?
How do engage in a systematic study of Nature?
What are the kinds of relationships humans have with Nature?
How do religious beliefs influence our views of Nature?
How do we determine what is natural or unnatural with respect to human values?
HNRS 203 VIRTUE (Spring)
This inter-disciplinary Honors course aims to help students explore questions about the nature of virtue. At its most basic, virtue is a concern with the sort of person that we think we “ought” to be or the sort of character that we want to see in other people. Though it is often viewed as part of morality, we often associate virtue with a person’s character rather than just right or wrong actions or individual choices. But quick discussions of virtue usually open up a host of questions, and this course will try to explore some of those. What is virtue and why is it so important to individuals and culture? What is the relationship between “virtue” and “vice”, and do our views of one inform the other? Who decides what counts as virtue? Are virtues universal and timeless: Are the same virtues shared and respected across different cultures in different eras? Or are virtues culturally distinctive and relative to a particular time and place? Is virtue gender-specific?: Are there virtues to which we should hold women to that differ from those by which we might judge male character (and visa versa)? Finally, is virtue role specific; that is, is what counts as virtue a function of the job or role or vocation to which a person is committed (e.g. soldier, mother, teacher, nurse?) Can virtue be taught, or is it in our DNA? We will use ideas and methods from philosophy, religious worldviews cultural anthropology, sociology, psychology and the natural sciences to explore these questions.
HNRS 204 TRUTH (Spring)
This inter-disciplinary Honors course aims to help students explore questions about the nature of truth, how we can best discover it, what is its value, and what are its limits. We will use ideas and methods from philosophy, religion, cosmology, logic, anthropology, sociology, psychology and other disciplines to make sense of these questions.
Course material will be organized into four historical eras: (1) The Ancient World; (2) The Abrahamic Faiths; (3) The Enlightenment and Scientific Revolution; (4) The Crisis of Reason. In examining each of these eras we will consider constellations of questions and answers characteristic of specific times and places, but we will also use contemporary tools of logic and critical thinking to engage them.
New Upper Division Honors Seminar
HNRS 310 Agents of Change (Fall)
In Agents of Change we consider the nature of global citizenship and how to create a civically engaged life defined by personal and collective acts in service to the public good. Understanding how to increase the impact and quality of these acts using disciplinary expertise, interdisciplinary scholarship and collaboration is also emphasized. Readings covered in the course encourage students’ personal discernment of values, ethics, and commitments towards contributing to the public good in meaningful ways. We will learn how to affect small and large scale social change and how a connected life is grounded in communities of civic practice. Students will develop their personal theory of change informed by their discipline and study best practices in civic engagement, social movement and organizational change efforts. We will also learn how to overcome common obstacles to affecting change (personal, political, economic, social) and work with community leaders, departments and disciplinary advisory boards to create a civic engagement infrastructure for the campus.