Signature Courses

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All Barrett students are required to complete the Barrett signature courses. Lower Division students entering the Honors College are required to complete a two-semester sequence of “The Human Event”. Incoming Upper Division students complete a one semester course entitled “The History of Ideas”. These courses are taught by the Honors Faculty Fellows.

"The Human Event" is an 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 disciplines, including philosophy, history, literature, religion, science, social science, and art. Coursework emphasizes critical thinking, discussion, and argumentative writing. "History of Ideas" has the same objectives as "The Human Event", but is more intensive, since it is only one semester in length and reserved for upper division transfer students. The texts in "History of Ideas" are generally selected based on a theme of the instructors' choosing. Both of these signature courses represent, in microcosm, the great benefits of becoming part of the Barrett Honors College – small, student-centered, seminar-style classes in which students explore the world's greatest literature and most profound ideas with a faculty member chosen for their ability to facilitate lively, meaningful discussion. In this intellectually rich atmosphere, students bond over the course of the year as they form an honors cohort.

Course title Course semester Instructor
1563 Pieter Bruegel the Elder - The Tower of Babel, on wood HON 394: Utopia and Dystopia in Theory and Practice Spring 2020 Session C Dr. Michael Ostling
Black and white image of men with linked arms HON 394: Dictatorship & the Twentieth Century Spring 2020 Session C Dr. Robert Niebuhr
Cover of a book with the words The Ascent of Humanity on a dark red background HON 394: Civilization and the Human Sense of Self Spring 2020 Dr. Stephanie DeLusé
Inside Out Men and Feminism Spring 2020 Dr. Rachel Fedock
HON 394 - Writing Anxiety: Mental States and the Literary Imagination Spring 2020 Dr. Rebecca Soares

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Improve the student’s ability to reason critically and communicate clearly

Cultivate the student’s ability to engage in intellectual discourse through reading, writing, and discussion

Broaden the student’s historical and cultural awareness and understanding

Deepen awareness of the diversity of human societies and cultures

Instill intellectual breadth and academic discipline in preparation for more advanced study

Chronologically Expansive – We cover some of the earliest recorded texts (e.g. The Epic of Gilgamesh or the Maxims of Good Discourse) to current works (e.g. Kwame Appiah’s The Honor Code).

Extensive Geographical Coverage - We select texts that highlight key issues in human thought, which means the texts we cover are from all over the world (e.g. Tao Te Ching, Plato’s Republic, Kalidasa’s The Recognition of Sakuntala, and Chinua Achebe’s No Longer at Ease).

Focused on Human Cultural Diversity - Every effort is made to incorporate cross-cultural perspectives, non-Western texts and texts composed by women and racial/ethnic minorities (e.g. texts by early female Sufists or American slave narratives).

Student Centered – We encourage students to take the lead in these small, discussion based classes.