The Honors Curriculum
Students who complete the Carthage Honors Program are expected to commit themselves to rigorous study and to demonstrate intellectual balance and flexibility through their ability to make connections across disciplines.
Students in the Carthage Honors Program must complete four to six Honors courses during their time at Carthage. These courses meet divisional distribution requirements and Global Heritage and Carthage Symposium requirements. Students must take the following courses, earning a grade of B or higher in all of them.
Completed in the first four semesters on campus
Carthage Honors Freshman/Sophomore Seminars are for Honors students only. These specially designed seminars generally fall into two categories: “Thinking” courses or “Problem” courses.
The “Thinking” courses are intended to demonstrate to students how professors conduct inquiry and attain knowledge in their fields. These courses are introductory; they do not assume advanced knowledge in the field being treated. Yet these courses give Honors students an in-depth look into the field that students in introductory courses would not typically get. For example, a biologist may begin with an overview of her research and findings pertaining to a particular project. Then, stepping back, the professor would take students to the starting point of her work and from there proceed through the necessary steps to get where she has ended up. Along the way, the professor might show that things do not always go as well as expected or planned, providing the opportunity to show how setbacks and dead ends are dealt with and can be instructive. They likely will touch on new questions that emerge along the way and ask students to begin to think of how they would pursue research into those questions. These courses will be conducted as intensive and interactive seminars. They give professors the chance to show nonspecialists what excites them in their fields, and allow students to learn an approach to inquiry, as opposed to merely the results of inquiry.
The “Problem” courses begin with a contemporary serious problem that is in some way addressed by the professor’s field (or professors’ fields). The problem could be social, economic, environmental, medical, political, pertaining to creativity, or some combination of these. Some of these seminars will work best if they are team-taught by faculty in distinct disciplines. The course begins by explaining the problem, its scale, and who is impacted. It will also look at possible causes and possible solutions, using the terms, categories, and approaches to inquiry within the professor’s field. From this beginning point, the students are asked to broaden their perspective on the problem and to see it in a wider context — a context that might be geographical, historical, or theoretical. That is, the course may demonstrate how the problem is connected to the problems or even the advances found in other places around the country or around the world; it may demonstrate that the problem emerged as a result of attempting to solve other problems; it may show that the problem is seen as a problem because of changes in ideas or changes in standards of fairness. As they go through the course, students begin to see the difficulties inherent in any attempt to solve problems and even to correctly identify and describe them. Overall, these courses help students to see the essential need for more knowledge in the real world — often including knowledge from unexpected sources or about matters not obviously related to the problem with which they started. These courses also show students the need to cultivate the faculty of informed judgment.
Completed in the junior or senior year
In the spring semester of his or her junior or senior year, each Honors student will take an Honors-only Carthage Symposium course. In the course, students will attempt to answer a specific question or to solve a specific problem while working in two distinct disciplines, at least one of which will be outside of his or her major. Please note that qualified students (including transfer students) may petition the Honors Program Director for a modified plan of study.
Completed in the junior or senior year
Honors Global Heritage courses are approved Global Heritage courses offered in sections for Honors students only. These courses are usually offered in the fall semester. They require active and independent work at a high level. For approval as an Honors Global Heritage course, instructors must show that the course will be taught above the introductory level and will require an independent project of research and/or analysis.