Admission Requirements & Curriculum
The Honors Sequence is comprised of the following courses:
Honors 201: Ancient Greek Justice (with two-week travel to Greece in May)
The course focuses on the ancient world and changing ideas of justice and human flourishing from the Bronze Age Mycenaean Civilization recounted in Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey to concepts of legal justice and democracy as developed during the golden age of Athens with the teachings of Socrates and Plato. We trace the ancient world’s changing ideas of justice through literature, drama, and philosophical texts, as well as through its archeological history. In May we travel to Greece for two weeks and visit many of the key archeological sites featured in our readings, including Mycenae, Delphi, the theatre at Epidauros, and the centers of citizen justice in Athens—the Areopagus, Parthenon, and Agora.
We work closely with the Athens Centre, a highly-respected educational organization based in Athens. The Athens Centre runs programs in language, culture, classics, archeology, and more, for many universities across the country, including Penn State, Colby, Vanderbilt, University of Chicago, and Colorado College. They provide us with experts in archeology, art history, language and culture who lecture on site.
The travel component for this course, HON520, is taken in the spring semester of the first year. Students are responsible for the additional fees associated with travel. Meets Religion and Philosophy (RP) IP and Humanity and Culture (HC) IP; and the Cluster.
Honors 202: The Renaissance and Scientific Revolution
This course will focus on the transformative cultural and intellectual movements in Europe that spanned the 14th to 17th centuries. Understanding perspective and human anatomy transformed art and gave way to masterpieces such as Michelangelo's David, Botticelli’s Venus and da Vinci's Last Supper. The printing press allowed for the dissemination of information to a wide audience and encouraged discoveries in science and mathematics. New thinking about the self and authority led to the reformation of the Western church by Protestant leaders, such as Luther and Calvin. Advances in navigation led to the investigation of new worlds. This course studies contributions to the ongoing quest for knowledge, and includes the works of Shakespeare, Dante, Francis Bacon, Descartes, Galileo and Copernicus. Meets Humanity and Culture (HC) IP.
Honors 203: The Battle for Public Memory
“He who controls the present controls the past.” This famous quotation from George Orwell draws our attention to the complicated relationship between ourselves and our history. History is not just what happened prior to the present. It is also the way we choose to tell the story of past events. How we choose to present the stories of our past is often a complicated and highly contentious process. The information that individuals choose to highlight and ignore say at least as much about contemporary social and political relationships as they do about the events being retold. This class will focus on a number of conflicts over public memory, both personal and political. Topics will include obituaries, memorials, the construction of museum exhibits, the impact of nationalism and political ideology, and the selective preservation and destruction of ancient artifacts. Meets Social Thought and Tradition (ST) IP.
Students take one of the following honors clusters:
Honors 204 and 205: Bio-politics: Infectious Disease and Government in Africa
Disease is a biological phenomenon but it is also a political one. Combining the two perspectives provides a much richer understanding than can be provided by purely biological or political exploration. Studying disease from solely a biological perspective overlooks much of its human impact. Studying African politics without understanding the biology of infectious disease limits understanding of the social welfare challenges African governments face. To understand the human impact of disease, we must consider the biological angle, but we must also consider how human behavior and institutions affect the response to disease and the impact that diseases have on human populations. For example, the spread of AIDS is a biological issue, but it became such a pronounced problem in southern Africa because of labor migration and political decisions regulating race and gender. The ability of countries to combat infectious diseases is tied to political decisions about public health and social welfare policy. Students need both a biological perspective and a social science perspective if they are to appreciate the impact of infectious diseases fully.
Honors students are strongly urged to take the entire five-course sequence together in order to build a strong scholarly cohort. However, students are required to take the first two courses in order. Hon203 and the cluster can be taken out of sequence if the honors student has a compelling reason for doing so, such as study abroad or conflicts with the students’ disciplinary requirements. Meets Scientific Discovery (SD) IP.
Honors 206 and 207: Understanding Illness: The Science and Stories of Human Disease
This cluster introduces students to the fields of biology and literature while simultaneously offering an interdisciplinary perspective on human disease that each course by itself could not accomplish. The biological perspective provides a precise background in DNA, proteins, and cellular function so that students will understand how genetic mutations alter these functions, leading to the development of disease. Students learn the biology behind the symptoms of various human diseases so that while they explore how disease is portrayed in literature, they can understand how and why it has the effects it does on characters. Students’ understanding of disease will be enhanced through literary study that focuses on the human experience of diseases. Students read and analyze an assortment of fiction, memoir, poetry, and drama and study the cultural and historical backgrounds of the specific diseases depicted within each text. In the process, students investigate the role of humanity in medicine and explore how literature shapes our understanding of illness and its treatment. Meets Scientific Discovery (SD) IP.
Westminster College is a leader in institutional support for undergraduate research, requiring a Capstone in most disciplines. The Honors Capstone allows you to take this experience to the next level with an interdisciplinary honors board and formal defense. Independent research in their disciplines allows our students to present nationally and internationally and leads to job opportunities, prestigious internships, and graduate school.
For detailed information about the Honors Capstone Research project, click here.