Syllabi and Teaching Schedules
The course descriptions for Spring 2016 semester TBA
Fall 2015/Spring 2016
HCOL 085/086: The Pursuit of Knowledge and Ways of Knowing
The Honors College experience begins with a fall semester course, The Pursuit of Knowledge, taught in the seminar format to classes of 21 students. The seminar's discussion and writing focus on these questions:
- How do we understand rationalism? How do we understand empiricism? And what about a way of thinking that we might call narrative knowledge--a way of constructing the world through the stories we tell about it and ourselves?
- How do different disciplines and professions (the natural sciences, medicine, literature, etc.) engage in (and sometimes complicate) these different ways of thinking about knowledge--rational, empirical, narrative?
- How might ways of pursuing knowledge that we take for granted (in North America, for instance) be challenged by the way certain non-Western cultures conceive of knowing?
Students read and discuss challenging and thought-provoking texts such
as Descartes' Meditations, Hume's Inquiry Concerning Human
Understanding, V.S. Ramachandran's work on neuroscience, Anne
Fadiman's The Spirit Catches You,
and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.
In the spring semester, first-year HCOL students take one section of HCOL 086, Ways of Knowing, a selection of special topics courses the majority of which fulfill one course of the University's two-course diversity requirement. Each of these courses applies some of the foundational knowledge learned in the first semester to particular sets of circumstances, often involving race and culture in the U.S. and beyond. Among the titles of HCOL 086 courses for Spring '14 are "Reading and Writing the Racialized Self," "Religion and Ways of Knowing," "The Construction of Race in American Politics," and "Happiness."
Through these courses, students become well-acquainted with Honors College faculty and students. By living with fellow honors students in University Heights North, attending plenary lectures, social hours and other events, students share ideas and build an exciting intellectual community.
In addition to meeting twice or three times a week in their individual seminar groups, students also encounter the following aspects of first-year course:
Summer Reading and Writing
Every summer, incoming first-year students read a book that is
distributed to the class at June Orientation and complete a two-page essay that is due on the first day
of class in the fall. In the summer of 2015, the students in HCOL 085 will read Anne Fadiman's The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down.
Here is a link to the essay question associated with this book.
A plenary lecture series, which the entire class attends Wednesday evenings and that is open to the entire university community, invites even more discussion about the topics and questions explored in the courses. The lecture series features talks and performances by university faculty and guests, who will discuss their personal experiences and how their areas of inquiry relate to some of the themes of the year's explorations.
Faculty teaching the first-year courses expect students not only to
defend their opinions verbally but also in writing. The courses are
designed to be
writing-intensive, and to provide specialized writing instruction and support as students make the transition to college-level writing.
All first-year students take six credits of HCOL in their first year (three credits each semester). This means that they become well-acquainted with other honors students. And because they also live with them in the Honors College residence hall, they are able to continue their discussions about the place and value of education -- even while they socialize -- long after class has ended for the day.
Last modified July 29 2015 01:15 PM