Required Course Sequences
Students will complete one of the following tracks: Intellectual Traditions; Society, Policy, and Citizenship; Innovations.
Typical programs of study:
Research Practices and Oral Exams
The University Honors Program seeks to provide students with a comprehensive understanding of the humanities in an historical framework. 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 in the Intellectual Traditions and Society, Policy, and Citizenship tracks, students take an oral exam with all three professors present. Students in the Innovations track take oral exams in Fall of first year, in all three quarters of second year, and in Fall of third year. 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.