Signature Courses

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All Barrett students are required to complete the Barrett foundational 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.

Honors courses can now be found easily by using the ASU Course Catalog. You can access the ASU Course Catalog by visiting MyASU or clicking the button below:

 ASU Course Catalog - Honors Courses

To find upcoming Honors courses, click Advanced Options and then select the Honors checkbox. From there, you can see all Honors courses. It is recommended that you limit your search by College or the 3 letter Course Subject.

ASU Course Catalog Search Options


Courses that list Honors Enrichment Contracts, will be listed at the bottom of the page.

ASU Course Catalog Honors Enrichment Contracts


Once you find a course you are interested in, you can view the number of Reserved Honors Only Seats by expanding the course information. If you would like to add the course, click the Add button on the far right.

ASU Course Catalog - Reserved Seats and Add Course

Honors courses are mindfully designed to accomplish the following learning objectives:

  • 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

Each honors class features the following core components:

  • 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.