2011 - 2012 Honors Program (HON)

Program Goals | Admission Criteria | Benefits | Participation in Honors Courses by Non-Honors Students | Criterion for Remaining in the Honors Program | LE Certificate | Honors Degree Requirements | Directed Studies | Course Descriptions

Director: Richard Badenhausen
Assistant Director: David Goldsmith

Program Description

The Honors Program provides students who are academically and intellectually prepared with the opportunity to satisfy their college-wide Liberal Education course requirements in an alternative and unique manner. By completing a 7-course sequence of interdisciplinary, team-taught Honors courses, students earn an Honors certificate while satisfying those requirements. Moreover, by understanding their historical, scientific, and intellectual heritage, Honors students are prepared to be articulate and responsible members of society and defenders of their own ideas. Students may also continue their study in the program and receive an Honors degree.

Program Goals

Admission Criteria

Students expressing a desire to enroll in the Honors Program will be ranked according to the following criteria: ACT scores, high school GPA, and the quality of a written statement. The top thirty-five students will be invited to enroll in Honors courses. If accepted students decline the offer, the invitation process will continue until a class of thirty-five students is formed. Although a typical incoming Honors student has had a 3.80 GPA and a 30 composite ACT score, the range of scores is quite broad. Students who fall near or above these standards and who sincerely wish to be in the program are encouraged to secure an application from the Honors Program or Westminster's Admissions Staff. Questions concerning the application process should be directed to the director of the Honors Program.

Benefits of Participating in the Honors Program

Participation in Honors Courses by Non-Honors Program Students

Since a number of high-achieving, upper-class Westminster College students may not have applied to the Honors Program as incoming freshmen but may still wish to participate in some of its classes, any undergraduate in good standing with a 3.5 GPA or higher is eligible to enroll in 300 and 400 level Honors seminars. The Honors Program is an active part of the larger college community and welcomes the energy, intellect, and diversity that students from different disciplines across the campus bring to Honors. Non-Honors Program students enrolling in Honors seminars should check with their program chairs, since these classes will sometimes fulfill certain requirements in a student's own major. Participation in 200-level Honors seminars is restricted to students in the Honors Program.

Criterion for Remaining in the Honors Program

If an Honors student falls below this GPA, a probationary period of two semesters will be used to allow the student to return to the minimum GPA standards for continued participation.

Honors Liberal Education Certificate Requirements

Students who complete seven courses in the Honors LE sequence will be awarded a special certificate recognizing this achievement (contingent on Westminster graduation). No more than one of these courses may be taken credit/no credit.

A complete description of the equivalencies between LE Honors courses and the standard LE courses is listed below.

Liberal Education Skills Requirements

Honors Course Equivalents

Learning Community HON 201 Humanities I

Writing and other Communication Skills
Composition and Research HON 201-202 Humanities I and II
Information Literacy HON 201-202 Humanities I and II
Basic Speech Course

HON 201, 202, 211, 212, 231
(4 of 5 required for SPCH credit)

Courses with strong emphasis on critical, analytical, and integrative thinking in historical, literary, and philosophical contexts.
History HON 201-202 Humanities I and II
Literature HON 201-202 Humanities I and II
HON 201-202 Humanities I and II
Courses with strong emphasis on creative and reflective capacities.
Arts Survey HON 212 The Arts in Performance
Creative Arts HON 212 The Arts in Performance
Courses with strong emphasis on critical, analytical, and integrative thinking in mathematical and scientific contexts.
Mathematics: No Honors Course
MATH 120 Quantitative Reasoning
MATH 141 College Algebra
MATH 142 Trigonometry
MATH 150 Elementary Statistics
MATH 201 Calculus I

Physical Sciences

HON 221 History and Philosophy of Science

Life Sciences HON 222 Science, Power, and Diversity
Social Sciences
Courses with strong emphasis on global consciousness, social responsibility, and ethical awareness in a social science context.
Social Sciences I HON 211 Political Economy of Confict
Social Sciences II HON 231 Human Culture and Behavior
Living Arts
Courses with a strong emphasis on real-world, life-enhancing knowledge.
Living Arts HON 201 Humanities I
Courses integrate two or more of the following as a major component throughout the course: class, gender, race, ethnicity, geographic origin, ability, age, sexual orientation and/or religion.
Diversity HON 222 Science, Power, and Diversity

Note: While the Honors seminars satisfy Liberal Education requirements, Honors seminars do not satisfy major/minor requirements or prerequisites except in the following cases. Honors students who major or minor in Philosophy after completing HON 201 and HON 202 will have satisfied the PHIL 100 and PHIL 102 requirements for the Philosophy major and minor. Honors students who major or minor in Political Science after completing HON 211 will have satisfied the PLSC 101 requirement. Honors students who complete HON 201 and HON 202 will have satisfied the ENGL 220 requirement for the minor and/or will have satisfied the ENGL 220 prerequisite requirement for placement purposes into English classes beyond ENGL 220. Honors students who complete HON 201 and HON 202 will have satisfied the HIST 112/113 and HIST 212/213 requirement for the History major and minor and/or the prerequisite requirement for placement purposes into History classes beyond this level.

Honors Degree Requirements

Students must maintain a minimum GPA of 3.00 in all Honors coursework, including those courses listed below for the Honors degree, and an overall minimum GPA of 3.25. In addition, the following requirements must be satisfied in order to be awarded the Honors Degree (in the major) at graduation:

Requirement Description

Credit Hours
I. Foreign Language Requirement 16
  Honors Degree students must complete 4 semesters of college-level instruction in a single foreign language or the equivalent. The requirement can be satisfied by coursework or proof of proficiency. For example, an incoming student who begins in Spanish III and successfully completes that course and Spanish IV will have satisfied the requirement. (May term study abroad trips may not be used to satisfy this requirement.)

For those Honors students who have 12 hours CLEP or proficiency exam credit in a single language, they may satisfy the remaining 4-hour requirement by taking 4 hours of coursework in a different foreign language.

Students taking coursework in a foreign language in which Westminster does not offer 4 semesters may complete the requirement with coursework in an additional foreign language.

All coursework that meets this requirement must be taken for a letter grade.
II. Lower Division Courses 28
HON 201 Humanities I
HON 202 Humanities II
HON 211 Political Economy of Conflict
HON 212 The Arts in Performance
HON 221 History and Philosophy of Science
HON 222 Science, Power, and Diversity
HON 231 Human Culture and Behavior

To receive an Honors degree, no more than one of these courses may be taken credit/no credit.
III. Upper Division Courses 6
  Completion of 6 hours of coursework in Honors 300 or 400 seminars. May not be taken credit/no credit.
IV. Senior Project/Thesis 3
Completion of a senior project in the student's major for a minimum of 3 credit hours. Students whose majors do not accommodate a senior project may enroll in HON 402. Students whose majors employ a practicum, internship, or recital as the senior capstone experience must include a significant written component in that experience. The nature of such projects will be determined in conjunction with the Director of Honors and the student's major advisor. All students completing a thesis or senior project for the Honors Degree must fill out the thesis topic approval and completion forms, which are available in the Honors office, and present their completed work in a public setting such as a regional academic conference, Westminster's undergraduate research fair, or some equivalent venue.

Students who complete all the necessary coursework and satisfy the requirements for the Honors Degree, but fall below the minimum Honors Degree GPA requirements, will be awarded the Honors certificate.

Please contact the Director of the Honors Program for more detailed information concerning the requirements for the Honors Degree.

Directed Studies in Honors

Students may sometimes wish to satisfy some of their Honors hours by enrolling in a directed study project under HON 401. This allows a student to design, in conjunction with a faculty member, an independent project that adopts an interdisciplinary approach to materials that are not covered in another Honors class. Directed study forms are available in the office of the registrar or the individual college offices. The course should be designed with the same care and thoroughness as standard Honors courses and the directed study form should, therefore, contain a comprehensive reading list of primary and secondary sources, a series of questions the student will address, a clear explanation of assignments, and the method of assessment.

Generally, students wishing to apply directed study hours toward their 6-hour Honors Degree requirement should not satisfy more than 3 hours of coursework this way during the standard semester or more than 2 hours of coursework if done in conjunction with a May term class or trip. Students should consult the Honors director for assistance in designing directed study projects.

Course Descriptions

HON 201-202 Humanities I and II (4-4)
This two-semester sequence explores the Classical tradition and its legacy through the development of Western culture and civilization. The use and analysis of primary sources, such as Homer's Odyssey, Plato's Republic, Dante's Inferno, Descartes' Meditations, Shelley's Frankenstein, Conrad's Heart of Darkness, and Nietzsche's Beyond Good and Evil will be emphasized.
HON 211 Political Economy of Conflict (4)
Covers a variety of perspectives in the study of political economy and ideology. Concentration is on methodologies that illustrate the differences and similarities among the various approaches to the study of economics and politics.
HON 212 The Arts in Performance (4)
Covers the development and appreciation of the arts, primarily through exploring the relationship between the theory and practice of artistic performance.
HON 221 History and Philosophy of Science (4)
This course traces the contributions to modern science of non-Western cultures like China, Egypt, Mesopotamia, India, and the Islamic world in areas of astronomy and cosmology, mathematics, natural history and natural philosophy. It considers the development of scientific knowledge and technology from ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia through the 19th century, and shows how the concepts and ideas developed by these cultures help establish the foundation for Western science.
HON 222 Science, Power, and Diversity (4)
This course explores the social construction of the science-power relationships that influence discovery and applications of technology, especially in terms of how scientific discovery is transmitted and received by media and society, respectively. It emphasizes seminal scientific issues of the twentieth century and the present, such as the language of science, the exclusion of women and minorities from scientific discourse, genetic predisposition to disease, gender issues in scientific research, and ethnicity bioethics in studies and treatment of HIV, among others. This course meets the LE Diversity requirement.
HON 231 Human Culture and Behavior (4)
This seminar explores a number of conceptual subject matters pertinent to the disciplines of psychology, sociology, and anthropology. Topics focus on human culture and behavior from social, behavioral, and cultural perspectives. For example, past seminars centered on human sexuality have investigated sexual practices, attitudes, behaviors, sexual orientations, and transsexuality. A range of theoretical and scientific perspectives are applied to provide a more complete picture of historical and contemporary human culture and behavior.
HON 200/300 Special Topics (1–4)
These seminar topics vary from year to year. They primarily focus on specific general topics raised in the interdisciplinary Honors LE courses, e.g., The Concept of Scientific Change or War, Trauma, and Narrative, but which are explored at length in these seminars. May be taken more than once for credit. Departmental special topics courses may be crosslisted as an Honors 300 seminar. Offered Fall, Spring and May Term.
HON 400 Special Topics (1–4)
These Senior-level seminar topics vary from year to year. They primarily focus on very particular combinations of topics raised in the Honors LE courses, e.g., The Music of Mozart on the Eve of Revolution, but which receive a more in-depth analysis than that provided in the Honors LE courses.
HON 401 Directed Studies in Honors (1–4)
A tutorial-based course used only for student-initiated proposals for intensive individual study of topics not otherwise offered in the Honors Program and for student-initiated, interdisciplinary research projects. Prerequisite: consent of instructor(s), Honors director, and school dean.
HON 402 Senior Project/Thesis (3)
A self-directed project or thesis that covers a topic in the student's major discipline or of an interdisciplinary nature and therefore not covered under a single discipline-specific thesis course. Project completed with a supervisory committee of at least two faculty members: one as a lead sponsor/mentor and one or more as second readers(s). At least one of the sponsors or readers must be an Honors Program faculty member. Honors thesis hours do not count toward the six hours required for the Honors degree. Prerequisite: senior standing and consent of instructors and Honors director.