The Human Event (HON 171/272) and History of Ideas (HON 370)

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Barrett faculty and students in The Human Event class

The Human Event is a year-long course that forms the foundation of the first-year honors experience. History of Ideas underpins the honors curriculum for students who transfer into Barrett their junior year.

A small, intensive, interdisciplinary, discussion-based seminar for all first-year Barrett students, The Human Event focuses on key social and intellectual currents in the multicultural history of human thought from the earliest written texts to the present. While united by a shared set of learning objects aimed at cultivating communications skills and critical thinking, each section of The Human Event explores a unique set of texts, according to each instructor’s passions and areas of expertise. Crucially, The Human Event gives many first-year Barrett students their first opportunity at ASU—and one of their most intellectually formative opportunities—to work closely with faculty in a sustained manner throughout two semesters, providing the academic experience of a small liberal arts college embedded within a larger research university. 

History of Ideas works toward the same goals and shares the same ethos as The Human Event but is a more intensely focused, one-semester course exclusively for upper-division students who transfer into the Honors College. The readings in each section of History of Ideas are generally organized around a theme determined by the professor. 

The Human Event and History of Ideas create a vital site for intellectual community, providing the space where many Barrett students form their first and most enduring friendships at ASU.

Working closely with each other and with their faculty instructor, Barrett students explore texts that engage philosophy, history, literature, religion, science, politics, and art, as well as with texts that challenge and reimagine the very boundaries of these generic distinctions. Central to The Human Event and History of Ideas is an embrace of and inquiry into the diversity of human cultures and traditions. In order to empower students as independent critical thinkers and ethical global citizens, the courses focus on critical thinking, analytical writing, and the marshaling of evidence in support of daring, original arguments. Because powerful critical- and analytical-thinking skills are central to all disciplines and professions, the skills honed in The Human Event and History of Ideas are foundational to student success at ASU and beyond. In this way, the courses are transformational, empowering students with the intellectual depth and analytical creativity to think in new ways about their world and about their place within it.

Read Honors Faculty Fellow Stephanie deLusé’s article on the history of The Human Event

Read Honors Faculty Fellow Alex Young’s op ed on the value of The Human Event