HON 171 and 272: The Human Event

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The Human Event is an intensive, interdisciplinary seminar focusing on key social and intellectual currents in the development of humanity in its diversity. Students examine human thought and imagination from various perspectives, including philosophy, history, literature, religion, science, and art. Coursework emphasizes critical thinking, discussion, and argumentative writing. HON 171 explores texts from earliest recorded history to approximately 1600 C.E., while HON 272 explores texts from 1600 C.E. to the present.

Course Objectives:

  • To improve the student’s ability to reason critically and communicate clearly.
  • To cultivate the student’s ability to engage in intellectual discourse through reading, writing, and discussion.
  • To broaden the student’s historical and cultural awareness and understanding.
  • To deepen awareness of the diversity of human societies and cultures.
  • To instill intellectual breadth and academic discipline in preparation for more advanced study.

The Human Event should meet the following criteria:

A. Historical breadth. The course should not focus on a single time period (e.g., the Renaissance), but rather function as a survey of ideas across time moving in chronological order starting with the earliest human texts and moving to the present.

B. Human cultural diversity. The course should not be limited to a single cultural perspective or geographic region (e.g., Western Europe). Every effort should be made to incorporate cross-cultural perspectives, non-Western texts and texts composed by women and racial/ethnic minorities.

C. Primary sources. Course texts should be primary sources, insomuch as a textbook (e.g., Philosophy: An Introduction), for example, is not an appropriate text for the Human Event. “Primary source” here is not limited to the written word, but may include images, music, performance art, film, etc.

D. Seminar/discussion format. The course should be run as a discussion-focused seminar wherein class participation constitutes no less that 20% of the final grade and students are responsible for working through material in class by way of group discussion.

E. Written assignments. The Human Event should prepare students for advanced critical thinking, as well as verbal and written expression. Accordingly, students should compose15-20 pages of critical/analytical writing based on primary sources assigned during the semester, typically but not necessarily in the form of three essays. This writing should constitute at least 50% of the students’ final grade. Students must receive written feedback from the instructor on their writing in a timely fashion.