Honors Curriculum

With a demanding sequence of eight courses culminating in a senior thesis, the Honors Program curriculum fulfills many of the core curriculum requirements which all St. Mary’s students must meet. Honors scholars, in addition to pursuing their major courses of study, normally take one of the following courses each semester:

First Semester. The Human Quest for Meaning explores the ways in which human beings have sought meaning in their lives, including the philosophical quest for ultimate meaning, the scientific pursuit of empirical meaning and the social search for ethical meaning.

Second Semester. The Focus of the Social Sciences introduces students to the nature and scope of the social sciences and to the methodological problems that arise in the study of human behavior. The course examines the interplay of thoughts, feelings and actions from several disciplinary perspectives.

Third Semester. Studies in Social Decision Making focuses on alternative methods of making social decisions and resolving problems. The course explores the relevance of classical and contemporary social theorists to the political and cultural issues we confront today, such as issues of war and peace, cultural conflict and environmental concern.

Fourth Semester. Emergence of the Universe provides a philosophical overview of the natural sciences, exploring the basic physical and biological processes that govern the evolution of the universe and the emergence of life on earth.

Fifth Semester. The Aesthetic Experience examines the arts as mirrors of culture, reflecting the dominant values of their age. Developments in art, music, literature and aesthetic consciousness are traced from the medieval period to our own times.

Sixth Semester. Religion: Experience and Tradition explores the relationship between religious traditions and personal religious experience through readings in the sacred literatures of Christianity, Judaism and Islam and the writings of major religious figures throughout the centuries.

Seventh Semester.  Senior Thesis or Project is an independent project normally done under the supervision of a professor in the student’s major or a related discipline. A weekly seminar brings senior honors scholars together for collegial discussion of projects.

Eighth Semester. Western Experience, 1870-1980 explores the post-modern character of 20th century culture, the transformation of historical consciousness, and philosophical inquiry into the meaning of history.