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Honors Program

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Description of Honors Coursework

The Foundation Year Seminars

The goal of the Foundation Year of the Honors Program is to provide a firm grounding in the collegiate academic skills necessary for success in the upper-level Honors requirements, and to help form a strong social community.

In these two courses, students will read and discuss challenging and thought-provoking texts, learn how to write for college, and get to know members of the Marist faculty. Specific goals for the courses include:

  • Help students better integrate their learning experiences.
  • Provide students with the skills necessary for lifelong learning.
  • Familiarize students with various modes of inquiry and styles of learning.
  • Familiarize students with faculty from across the College.
  • Promote interdisciplinary learning and collaboration among faculty and students.
  • Strengthen social bonds among students by placing each into an Honors learning community that stretches across an entire year.

The following two courses are required during the Foundation Year:

  • Honors First-Year Seminar: Students will enroll in specially designated sections of the First-Year Seminar, which will include activities that help to introduce students to the idea of interdisciplinary learning and interdisciplinary knowledge generation.
  • Honors Writing for College: Students will enroll in specially designated sections of Writing for College, which will include activities that will challenge the Honors student.

The Thematic Seminars

Following the first-year experience, Honors students will narrow their fields of study, select Honors seminars on topics of interest, and have a chance to explore and develop their academic, service, and leadership skills. To echo the themes that were explored in the first year as part of the students’ experience in professional studies/core education, specially-developed seminars will be offered in the four Core breadth categories:

  • Philosophical & Moral Foundations: Courses that fulfil the breadth areas of Ethics, Applied Ethics, or Religious Studies
  • Scientific & Quantitative Analysis: Courses that fulfill the breadth areas of Natural Science or Mathematics
  • Expression & Creativity: Courses that fulfill the breadth areas of Fine Art or Literature
  • Individual & Society: Courses that fulfill the breadth areas of History or Social Science (Communication courses will also be offered in this category that will fulfill certain pathway options as special topic courses).

These seminars are specially-designed offerings on a variety of topics; they are open only to Honors students and focus on discussion. Honors faculty from across the College will teach the courses, and the topics vary from semester to semester. Honors seminars encourage out-of-the-box thinking, creativity, critical thinking, and intellectual growth.

The Honors seminars will be discussion-based, allow for co-curricular activities (including field trips and guest speakers), and focus on a range of Core topics. While the content of each seminar may vary from semester to semester, the breadth focus area of the seminar will remain the same. For complete course descriptions for each semester, please see the course description listing.

The Civic and Service Learning seminars also will be offered in each of the four breadth areas (Philosophical & Moral Foundations, Scientific & Quantitative Analysis, Expression & Creativity, Individual & Society), and will be taught by professors from around the College. However, these seminars will differ from general, discussion-based, classroom-centered seminars in that a major component of the course will be a service learning activity. Each course will vary by topic, but all will share at least two basic goals:

  • The analysis and discussion of primary and secondary source material to explore a particular topic
  • Service activity and reflection that will focus discussion by adding context and understanding

The service activity should make connections between ideas and experience to integrate others’ observations and interpretations with ones’ own and to bring a certain immediacy to the readings.

The Honors-by-Contract

The Honors-by-Contract course gives Honors students a specialized experience with a major course. An Honors contract also enriches a non-honors class by establishing a more intensive course of study for a deeper understanding of the class. This is done, in general, by encouraging student creativity through the creation of alternative projects and close consultation with the instructor. In order to create an Honors contract, the instructor and the Honors student discuss and agree upon assignments, projects, and criteria by which he or she will be assessed. For instance, if a student enrolled in an upper-division biology course, with the agreement of his or her professor, the student would enroll in one additional credit hour of Honors to make the biology course an Honors course for that student. It would not be a separate section or course of biology.

The benefits to an Honors-by-Contract course include:

  • Allowing Honors students to explore a major subject of interest to them in greater depth through creative projects, laboratory work, library research, service learning, and/or classroom leadership.
  • Students will have an enriched curriculum that will give a more global perspective, increase awareness of the importance of research, and develop leadership skills.
  • Students can have the opportunity to work on long-term scholarship projects, which can lead into capping coursework or the Honors Thesis Project.
  • The Honors-by-Contract course can attach to a 300- or 400-level course

The Culminating Experience: Research Requirements

The Honors Senior Seminar will serve as the final course in the Honors curriculum. An important element to any program is the conclusive experience, and the Honors Program is no different. Honors students will enroll in an advanced seminar as their final requirement for completing the Honors Program, and it will bring their experience in liberal/core studies full circle. This culminating Honors course aims to make sense of the Honors students’ years at Marist through both reading and discussion.

During the semester, students will meet to analyze and discuss a variety of essays reflecting the purpose of higher education, what our place in it is, and how we define “a meaningful life.” The academic culture is ambiguous and complex, and students can be left wondering both why they went through this process and what they have gained from it. Students will look critically at the values we assign to a complete and fulfilled life and how various thinkers, past and present, have reflected on this topic.

The final project in this course will be to write and offer a “Last Lecture” that expresses how a student makes sense of his or her educational experience.

Goals of the course include:

  • To explore and analytically investigate the transition from the undergraduate to the post-baccalaureate experience through the critical appraisal of texts and discussion.
  • To develop a sense of what the university system has prepared Honors students for and how Honors students will use this experience in the future.
  • To develop professional communication skills and contacts.
  • To meaningfully engage with other Honors students at the same point in this process.
  • To use critical thinking skills to assess Honors students’ college careers and futures.

The Honors Thesis Project is an intensive research project to be completed by Hones students with the goal of tying back to their respective majors. Students will work under the close supervision of a faculty advisor, and projects encourage students to explore and develop their own talents and interests.

This program requirement is designed to give the student an opportunity to apply the knowledge base and tools of his or her discipline in a mentored scholarly exploration suitable to the student’s academic interest and background. The project should demonstrate substantial scholarship, outstanding research, and outstanding writing skills. For some Honors students with majors in creative disciplines, the Senior Thesis Project may be a creative work that demonstrates imagination and originality in addition to craftsmanship and professionalism in production. The Senior Thesis Project can be interdisciplinary.