What is liberal arts?
I’ll admit that I don’t really have an answer to that question. After all, it’s one that’s been puzzled over for quite some time, and no consensus has yet been reached. But regardless of what you’re majoring in or what classes you choose to fulfill your general education requirements, I think it’s safe to say that the ability to think both broadly and deeply is an essential characteristic of the liberally educated person.
And the more I think about it, the more convinced I am that Eureka’s Honors Program perfectly encapsulates this intent. Allow me to explain:
First, thinking broadly. By this I mean exploring a wide array of topics, considering the interrelationships between seemingly discrete fields of knowledge, and remaining curious and open to new areas of experience. Our Honors Seminars fit the bill: They explore a variety of fascinating topics, from the workings of the American prison system to bioethics to superheroes. As interdisciplinary courses they cross the boundaries between fields of study, and students and faculty alike profit from the range of academic interests that participants bring to them.
Second, thinking deeply. Knowing a little bit about a lot of things is fine, but a truly educated person has also delved deeply into the issues that he or she cares about. The thesis process lets students do precisely this. While working with a faculty committee, our Honors graduates have explored a topic that matters to them, and they have written and spoken eloquently on their subjects. I invite you to look through the bookshelf in the Gammon Room at Melick Library that houses past Honors theses; they’re really quite impressive.
This brings me to my favorite thing about Honors: I get to learn from our students. As they research and write their theses, juniors and seniors in the Honors Program become experts in their topics. Since I serve as a reader on every thesis committee, this means that I’ve learned about the social commentaries embedded in zombie movies, interpretive difficulties in the study of the Koran, and what exactly is meant by “animal enrichment.” I can safely say that, as an English professor specializing in the Middle Ages, it’s unlikely that I would have learned about these things anywhere else. Clearly, the Honors Program continues to contribute to my liberal arts education, as well. So much the better!
Dr. Jessica Barr
Director of the Honors Program
Honors Eligibility And Program Requirements – Frequently Asked Questions
Who is eligible to enroll in the Honors program?
For incoming freshmen, eligibility for the Honors program is determined based on several academic considerations. Students with a composite ACT of at least 27 (or equivalent SAT) and rank in the top 10% of their high school classes are automatically eligible; students who do not meet these criteria but have strong academic records may also meet eligibility requirements. At the end of each academic year, the top 15% of the freshman class is also invited to join Honors as sophomores. This is the last opportunity to enroll in the program.
What do I have to do to stay in Honors?
To stay enrolled in the Honors program, students must maintain a 3.25 GPA and take the Honors sections of Academic Writing (first-year composition) and Western Civilization I & II. You must also enroll in one Honors seminar in each of your first three years at Eureka. In the spring of the Junior year, you will take a one-credit course to help them write your thesis prospectus, and in the senior year receive two credits per semester to write the thesis.
What if I start Honors but decide that I don’t want to write a thesis?
Students may elect to leave the Honors program at any time. If you have any inclination at all to participate, then we recommend that you enroll as a freshman and see how it goes—withdrawing from the program carries with it no penalty, and you’ll still benefit from the Honors sections of the required courses.
The Advantages Of Honors – Why Should I Consider the Honors Program?
The Eureka College Honors Program is an excellent opportunity for Eureka’s most accomplished students to engage in advanced scholarship and explore more deeply the fields that interest them. One of the perks of completing the Honors Program is graduating at the head of your class (and receiving a medal!), but even more rewarding than the commencement-day accolades are the unique educational opportunities that are openly only to Honors students:
Honors-only sections of required courses. All Honors students enroll in sections of Academic Writing (first-year composition) and Western Civilization I and II that are open only to Honors students. While the material covered in these courses and the grading criteria are the same as they are in the regular sections, the courses tend to proceed at a higher intellectual level; also, because the Honors program is selective, they are typically smaller than regular sections of these classes. This means that Honors students have the additional benefit of more focused instruction from their professors.
Special Honors seminars on unusual topics. Honors students take one-credit Honors seminars (one per year) in their freshman, sophomore, and junior years. These seminars—which usually have fewer than 12 students—are on topics that are of special interest to the professors who teach them. As a result, they tend to be exploratory, dialogic, and exciting, and are an excellent way for students to learn about subjects that might not get covered in their usual course load.
A senior thesis written under the guidance of a faculty committee. In their senior years, each Honors student completes an advanced thesis on a topic of his or her choice with the assistance of a three-member faculty committee. An excellent preparation for graduate school or any job that will require extensive research and writing, the thesis is a unique opportunity for students to delve deeply into a topic that interests them and to work closely with faculty advisors.
Recent Honors Seminars
- The Viet Nam Wars (History)
- The Alexander Technique:Exploring the How of What You Do (Theater)
- The Mind of the Insurrectionist (History)
- A Matter of Interpretation (Political Science)
- Mathematical Mysteries, Classical and Modern Mathematics (Math)
- Slaughterhouse V: A Sticky Unsticking English (English)
- Aristotle’s Nichomachean Ethics Philosophy (Philosophy)
- Challenges in Conservation Ecology Art (Art)
- The Politics of Prison in the United States (Communication)
- The Making of the Atomic Bomb (Biology)
- Packaging Gender in the Media (Communications)
- Peak Oil: Fact or Fiction? (Political Science)
- Exploring the Black Church Experience (Religion)
- Writing Under the Influence: The Poetics of Inspiration (English)
- Sticking it to the Super-Man: What Superheroes Tell Us about Gender and Culture (English)
- Bioethical Debates in Reproductive Medicine (Biology)
- NASCAR Nation (Theatre Arts)
- Literature as the Gateway to Personal and Social Ethics (Criminal Justice)
- As I Lay Dying: Reflections on Death (French)
- Nuclear Weapons: From Trinity to Dirty Bombs (Chemistry)
- Reflections from Prison: Historic Writings of the Incarcerated (History)
- Adventures in the Dark Side (English)
- The Historical Roots of the Creation-Evolution Controversy (Chemistry)
- Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (Philosophy)
- The Mind of the Insurrectionist (History)
- If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It: Rewriting the Classics (English)
- The Road Less Traveled (English)