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Honors program details

Augustana’s honors program aims to cultivate the finest traits of a critical mind and allow a wide parameter of inquiry for those excited about the liberal arts.

Advisors

Eric Stewart, Associate Professor (Religion)
B.A., Pacific Lutheran; M.A., Claremont; Ph.D., Notre Dame
Cyrus Zargar, Associate Professor (Religion)
B.A., UCLA; M.A., Ph.D., California, Berkeley

Our integrated, interdisciplinary set of honors courses begins with either of two first-year honors program tracks, Foundations or Logos. Admission to Foundations or Logos is by invitation, after application and a faculty interview. Both programs involve a carefully planned year-long course of study taught by scholars from a variety of academic fields. These first-year courses offer intensive writing instruction, an orientation to important books, art, music, history and ideas, and an opportunity to work with professors as co-learners in a world of interconnected ideas. Students who successfully complete one of the first-year programs are invited to continue honors study with two more courses. First, a sophomore course brings Foundations and Logos students together to consider bridges between different disciplines. Then, to complete the honors cycle, students also may propose a Capstone Tutorial project and enroll in an independent study/tutorial course. This course offers students the chance to work under the guidance of a professor in a project of the student’s own devising. By the time students complete this cycle of courses, they should be skillful at independent inquiry and expression.

All honors courses except the Capstone Tutorial fulfill specified core curriculum requirements. Completion of first year honors courses (Foundations or Logos) fulfills the requirement for the Liberal Studies First-Year (LSFY) Program; in addition, as long as a professor of religion teaches one course in the series, the first-year programs also fulfill the Christian Traditions requirement. Completion of the second-year course satisfies the Learning Community requirement. Finally, students who complete the full cycle of honors coursework earn an “Honors Scholar” designation on their college record.

Foundations

Foundations is an integrated, and interdisciplinary year of study involving three courses, each for four credits. Foundations assumes—in the words of Socrates—that “the unexamined life is not worth living” and that certain basic questions have long perplexed inquisitive people. Each course focuses on reading classic or provocative texts and writing to develop integrative and critical thinking skills. Completion of the program fulfills the requirement for the Liberal Studies First-Year (LSFY) Program; if a professor of religion teaches one of the three courses, the program also fulfills the Christian Traditions requirement.

Logos: Discourse and Discovery in the Sciences

Logos is also an integrated and interdisciplinary year of study involving three courses, each for four credits. Logos focuses on the development of science through history, the understanding and practice of science at particular historical moments, and the ways in the achievements of science affect us today. The nurturing of writing and critical thinking skills is integral to the program. Completion of the program fulfills the requirement for the Liberal Studies First-Year (LSFY) Program; if a professor of religion teaches one of the three courses, the program also fulfills the Christian Traditions requirement.

Courses

Foundations

HONR-101 Self and Other (4 Credits)
A consideration of classic Western texts to explore what it means to be a “self,” to hold a point of view and follow a way of life, and what can happen when a self encounters other points of view.

HONR-102 Community and Faith (4 Credits)
An exploration of critical and historical perspectives to explore the basis of community and the nature of faith.

HONR-103 Vision and Visionaries (4 Credits)
An examination of the lives of extraordinary individuals whose vision set them apart from their communities.

Logos: Discourse and Discovery in the Sciences

HONR-121 Evolution of Scientific Principles (4 Credits)
A general introduction, focusing on the logic, philosophy and methods of scientists from ancient Greece to the present.

HONR-122 Seeking Logos: The Dialogue Between Theology and Science (4 Credits)
An examination of the historical interplay between science and religion within the Western tradition.

HONR-123 Exact Thinking: The Mathematical Dimension of Science (4 Credits)
A consideration of the historical dimension of mathematics, emphasizing its role as a liberal art.

HONR-124 Great Controversies in Science (4 Credits)
A critical examination of various sides of some of the major controversies in the natural sciences.

HONR-125 The Sociology of Science (4 Credits)
An examination of some of the cultural variables that shape scientific inquiry.

HONR-126 Science and Literature (4 Credits)
An examination of the relationships between certain archetypes in science and literature, and how each discipline has historically influenced the other.

HONR-127 Science and Values (4 Credits)
An exploration of whether or not the scientific enterprise is “value-neutral,” using theoretical and applied readings.

Seminars and Tutorials

HONR-220 Certainty/Uncertainty (3 Credits)
(PH, LC) How have people coped with uncertainty and worked toward certainty in the humanities, the arts, and the social and natural science? How do literature and the arts represent uncertainty of values? How has uncertainty challenged scientists, especially since the development of quantum mechanics and its Uncertainty Principle? How does the work of philosophers, theologians and other thinkers increase certainty and uncertainty?

HONR-221 Revolution/Evolution (3 credits)
(LC) How has the problem of change been understood in the arts, the humanities, and the social and natural sciences? When and where do we apply varying models of change, such as steady or punctuated evolution, inexorable progress, paradigm shifts, accidents and cataclysms? What is time? Is time essentially productive, destructive, or neutral? How have political states and other institutions undergone change?

HONR-222 Origins (3 credits)
(LC) To what extent can things be explained with reference to their origins? How have the arts, humanities, and the social and natural sciences theorized the origins of their objects of study? How have we understood creation and creativity? Are there timeless ideas or essences that cannot be explained with reference to origins? What do historical and current cosmologies tell us about the fate of the universe?

HONR-330 (3 Credits)
A capstone experience in honors study and an exploration in independent inquiry. Honors students design and complete creative or analytical projects, with the guidance of a faculty member. Prerequisites: (1) Completion of Logos or Foundations first-year courses; (2) Completion of 220, 221 or 222; (3) A contract with a supervising tutor, completed according to stated guidelines and approved by the Honors Committee in the term before the student registers for credit.