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Sean H. McDowellDirector, Associate Professor Casey email@example.com Thorne Clayton-FallsAdministrative AssistantCasey 2E(206) firstname.lastname@example.org
The University Honors Program has been a part of the Seattle University educational experience for over 50 years. Originally conceived by Rev. Thomas O’Brien, S.J. in 1956, it debuted in 1959 as a University Core alternative.
The ethos of the University Honors Program draws from Jesuit educational goals: while emphasizing a rigorous academic education, it understands this education as a holistic one, encouraging the intellectual, spiritual, and emotional growth of the student. The Program is structured around the belief that a truly academic education leads students both to an understanding of the world in its diversity and to an understanding of themselves in the world. A truly academic education, at the same time, instills in students a critical concern with such understanding, a desire to act ethically and responsibly on the basis of it, and an empowering impulse to ask further questions and explore new answers.
The University Honors Program seeks to provide students with a comprehensive understanding of the humanities in an historical framework. With the exception of the final term, each of the other five term students take as a cohort three courses in three areas within the humanities, with a majority of the courses in philosophy, literature and history. Beginning with ancient civilization, each term processes through a historical period, culminating with a focus on the contemporary world in the sixth and final term. In each term, the texts being discussed are treated in-depth. By linking the three courses each term through a historical sequence, students are able to better integrate their learning across the different disciplines. The focus on the historical cultural tradition from ancient times to the contemporary age recognizes that this tradition has been interpreted differently in different times. It is also a tradition that has been shaped by its interactions with different cultures. At a time when many borders between cultures are crossed and new ideas are discussed, University Honors seeks to instill in students a desire to question and understand the world by making them conscious of who they are both as historical beings and as actors in the present. Within the atmosphere of continuous interdisciplinary dialogue, the University Honors Program aims at instilling in students a love of learning that encourages them to think critically, broadly, and creatively about the world in which they live.
Throughout the curriculum, the program employs seminar method that combines the Socratic dialogue with the Jesuit tradition of challenging students to learn for themselves. The seminar method is essential in teaching students to become self-motivated learners who can articulate their insights cogently in the context of the seminar. Whether through the pursuit of answers to individual questions or the intensive study of general problems, students learn quickly how to critically assess ideas and to better understand their own points of view. The ideas and issues raised in discussions frequently lead to further discussions and questions that are then considered in subsequent seminars. The ideal seminar discussion generates a dynamic of learning and discovery among students.
It is customary that Honors students write expository papers for their seminars. Because writing is a process, the program involves peer review of papers in draft. With the help of the professor, students form small groups for a paper conference to plan, read, critique, and improve each other’s papers. Students typically read the papers of the group members and write evaluations of each essay, as does the professor. Through the intensive writing process students learn not only to find their own voice, but also to hone their skills for writing scholarly papers in a discipline.
At the end of each term, students take an oral exam with all three professors present. The oral exam is the occasion for a student to demonstrate his or her ability to analyze and synthesize the course materials and the ideas that are common to the three courses in each term. The oral exam develops skills the student carries far beyond the Honors Program into situations that involve interviews of all kinds for scholarships, graduate schools or jobs.
Once every term the faculty and students from their respective classes come together for a plenary session outside of the classroom. Typically, the session involves attending a cultural event, such as a play or a musical performance, which has a connection with the historical period the students are currently studying. The plenary also can be a lecture by a visiting scholar or a visit to an exhibit. Faculty and students together have an open discussion after each session.
Fall: The Ancient World
HONR 101 Ancient Greek Philosophy 4 cr.
Introduces the methods of philosophical questioning and thinking while exploring the work of its founders: Pre-Socratics, Socrates, Plato and Aristotle.
HONR 111 Greek and Roman Literature 4 cr.
A study of classical Greek and Roman literary works by Homer, Vergil, Euripedes, Aristophanes, Hesiod, Ovid, Cicero, Seneca, Catullus, and others.
HONR 112 Mediterranean Civilization 4 cr.
The development of civilization in the Near East and Mediterranean world. The rise and fall of city-states, Macedonia/Hellenistic kingdoms and the Roman Republic/Empire.
Winter: The Middle Ages
HONR 103 Medieval Philosophy and Theology 4 cr.
Medieval philosophy and theology as shaped and influenced primarily by Augustine, Boethius and Thomas Aquinas, as well as other religious figures and traditions.
HONR 113 Medieval English and Continental Literature 4 cr.
Medieval English and Continental literature: readings and discussion of works such as Arthurian romances, Dante’s Divine Comedy (selections), Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, (selections), de Pizan’s Book of the City of Ladies and others.
HONR 123 History of the Middle Ages 4 cr.
Christian, Muslim, and Jewish society, economics, and politics; rural and urban life; the development of the papal state and national kingdoms; law and parliamentary institutions; the geographic expansion of Europe; towns and long-distance trade; church-state relations; late medieval unrest and warfare; universities and the spread of literacy.
Outside Course 5 cr.
Spring: Toward New Worlds
HONR 201 Early Modern Philosophy 4 cr.
The major issues in Western philosophical thought from the 17th through the 18th century: Descartes, Leibniz, Hobbes, Locke, Hume and others.
HONR 211 Renaissance to Neoclassical Literature 4 cr.
A study of 16th- and 17th-century literature with an emphasis on the creative use of language. Authors to be studied include Shakespeare, Donne, Milton, and others.
HONR 221 Early Modern History 4 cr.
Renaissance, Reformation, Wars of Religion, European expansion and the rise of colonialism, Scientific Revolution, and the Enlightenment.
Fall: The Rise of Modernity
HONR 202 18th- and 19th-Century Philosophy 4 cr.
The major issues in late 18th and 19th century thought through the philosophies of Kant, Hegel, Kierkegaard, Mill and Nietzsche.
HONR 212 18th- and 19th-Century Literature 4 cr.
Eighteenth and 19th century English, Continental and American literature as represented by Swift, Blake, Wordsworth, the Brontës, Flaubert, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Dickinson and others.
HONR 222 18th- and 19th-Century History 4 cr.
Course examines the West's changing relationship to the world: intellectually through the universalists of the Enlightenment; politically through the American and French revolutions; economically through industrialization and militarily through imperialism.
Outside Course 5 cr.
Winter: The Contemporary World
HONR 203 20th- to 21st-Century Philosophy 4 cr.
Reading and discussion of 20th-century and 21st-century philosophers such as Sartre, Heidegger, Foucault, Arendt, Wittgenstein and others. The seminar raises contemporary philosophical questions.
HONR 213 20th- to 21st-Century Literature s 4 cr.
The literature of the 20th century and 21st centuries as represented by such writers as Joseph Conrad, Virginia Woolf, T.S. Eliot, Harold Pinter, Toni Morrison, Salman Rushdie, and Chinua Achebe.
HONR 251 Social Science Seminar 4 cr.
An examination of influential social science thought as it evolved since the 19th century. The seminar is offered with a focus on economics, political science or sociology.
Spring: Engaging the World
HONR 300 Global Engagement Seminar 4 cr.
In this seminar, students focus on an international problem or a social problem with global ramifications. It asks students to analyze the historical roots of this problem and devise possible solutions to it and/or ways of mitigating its effects. The course would have different emphases depending on the specialities of the instructors (e.g., “Genocide in the Modern World” or “Revolution in the Modern World”).
HONR 301 Religion in the Contemporary World 4 cr.
This seminar asks students to reflect on questions of meaning, spirituality, values, and ethics within the context of the contemporary world and the challenges we face in it. The course would have different emphases depending on the specialities of the instructors (e.g., “Religion and Science” or “Spirituality, East and West”).
Two Outside Courses 10 cr.
In consonance with Seattle University’s mission, the Honors Program encourages service on and off campus as an important dimension of a student’s development as a whole person. Because each student’s life situation is different, the Honors Program does not institute service learning as a program requirement nor grant academic credit for service. However, the program assists students in establishing contact with service resource centers on campus. In addition, some students are able to serve on the program’s Honors Council. Representatives chosen from the first and second year meet once a month with the program director to discuss matters such as student concerns about curriculum or instruction. The Council also plans events and in general, advises the program director.
Each year the Honors Program sponsors the Touchstone Lecture. The lecture is often given by a faculty member who teaches in the program, but in some years an outside speaker is invited to speak on a topic important to a humanities education. The First- and Second-Year Honors students participate in this event as representatives of the program and interact with Honors Program and university alumni, the university community and the public in general. Occasionally, an Honors graduate of advanced standing in his or her major may be invited to give a Touchstone Lecture.
The Honors Program frequently co-sponsors visiting writers and scholars to the University. Honors students are invited to participate in such events by attending presentations or receptions for distinguished guests. The Honors Program also arranges opportunities for student attendance at Seattle’s cultural and intellectual events.
The students have an annual Christmas party and an end-of-the-year dinner to celebrate the second year students who are graduating from the program. All Honors faculty are invited to the end-of-the-year celebration.
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