Honors Explorations Courses
About Honors Projects
Frequently Asked Questions
Information For Faculty
Honors Explorations Course Guidelines
The most important single feature of Honors Explorations courses is the very high degree to which students are responsible to each other and to themselves for determining how classes are run – ideally, the faculty member running an honors course will occupy the role of resource and facilitator for a group of students who are directly involved in determining their own directions through the material.
1. All Honors Explorations courses must be unique to the honors program and should involve a deeper examination of a single topic; General survey courses are not appropriate to Honors Explorations course designs. The honors program is designed to offer challenging courses that students would not otherwise have the opportunity to take. These courses should aim for depth rather than breadth of coverage with regard to a given subject.
2. All Honors Explorations courses are intended to be seminar-style meetings emphasizing student-driven discussion and interaction. This does not mean that honors courses cannot have lab, studio, or practicum content; they should not, however, be primarily lab, studio or practicum courses.
3. All Honors Explorations Courses should further develop the skills and practices of good scholarship.
Honors courses should include assignments and activities that support (at minimum) the development of the following:
a. The application of field-appropriate research methods. The intent is that assignments will require students to apply and/or critically evaluate research, research methods, and/or scholarly practices common to the field of study under consideration with the course.
b. Highly competent presentational skills. Honor students are expected to be able to communicate in technically sophisticated and stylistically competent ways. In a “rubric-friendly” way, no Honor’s student should present work in less than a proficient way and all should strive to produce excellent work.
c. Awareness of the current state of research/awareness of the current issues/debate related to the topic. Honors Explorations courses should find ways to encourage students to be familiar with contemporary/current thinking on the subjects they examine.
d. Initiative for the creation of original projects, programs and points of view. Honor Explorations courses aid in creating the foundation for honors students to develop their own comprehensive views of their educational paths and to integrate knowledge they gain through their studies into their own views. Honor Explorations courses could be the starting point for an honors student’s idea for their honors research project.
e. The ability to defend and critically evaluate one’s own work as well as the work of others. We intend Honors Explorations courses to include some assignment or activity that has students interacting with each other’s work as critical fellow learners.
4. All Honors Explorations Course must achieve the learning outcome of the other explorations courses and participate in the assessment process of explorations courses.
The standards identified above are not presented as a means of micro-managing syllabi or course creation. Rather, their intent is establishing a set of ground rules by which courses should be developed.
There are two features relevant to determining the category in which a submitted Honors Explorations course ought to be placed: Content and Practice. Both, taken together, are important, but for borderline cases it is practice that decides the matter in favor of one category or another. A specific set of content and practice guidelines belongs with each Explorations category.
a. Honors 200 (Honors Fine Arts)
Content: Honors Explorations courses in the Fine Arts category should include content typically associated with the fine and performing arts (music, theatre, painting, sculpture, etc., with the exception of literature treated as such).
Practice: Honors Explorations courses in the Fine Arts category should emphasize performance and the specialized analysis of performance practices as such. “Performance”, in this case, includes not only those performances conventionally treated as such (plays, musical performances, performance art) but also those artistic pursuits that produce aesthetic artifacts, such as painting, drawing, sculpture, film and poetry and creative writing as produced, not treated as pre-produced objects for analysis).
b. Honors 210 (Honors Social Science)
Content: Honors Explorations courses in the Social Science category should include content from those fields typically associated with the formal/empirical study of behavior, mental processes, emotions, groups, and/or social institutions (content typically, but not exclusively, found in experimental psychology, empirical sociology, physical anthropology, social work, archaeology, formal linguistics, applied economics, and variants of these as applied to the study of history, political science, and religion).
Practice: Honors Explorations courses in the Social Science category should emphasize the application and analysis of formal or empirical methods to the study of social life, human mental process, and human behavior.
c. Honors 220 (Honors Science)
Content: Honors Explorations courses in the Science category should include content from those fields typically associated with the theoretical and empirical investigation of the physical world as such (including but not limited to physics, chemistry, biology, paleontology, mathematics, logic (under the aegis of the foundational theory of mathematics), computer science, entomology, geology, human anatomy and physiology, the neurological/computational etc. approaches to CS/AI, etc.) and the development of the techniques and technologies on which such investigation depends.
Practice: Honors Explorations courses in the Science category should emphasize the application of the scientific method and/or the development of foundational disciplines, technologies, and techniques necessary to doing so (i.e., the development of scientific literacy).
d. Honors 230 (Honors Humanities)
Content: Honors Explorations courses in the Humanities category should include content from those areas typically associated with the study of letters, languages, and ideas as such (including history, literature, the semantic/semiotic study of languages and literatures as meaningful artifacts, philosophy, political theory, rhetoric, religion, the study of narrative theory and criticism, etc.)
Practice: Honors Humanities courses in the Humanities should emphasize analysis and interpretation of language, narration, events, etc. and the development of the logical skills and semantic/semiotic interpretive methods conducive to that study. While Humanities and Fine Arts content and practices may often appear to overlap, the emphasis in Fine Arts is on performance, while the emphasis in Humanities is on meaning and the processes/practices of determining meaning.