It is important to understand that honors courses are not intended to be more work than a regular college course. Instead, honors classes typically address a topic with more depth and sophistication. They also give students a more active role in the exploration of the subject and of the world in general. Often honors courses will combine multiple academic disciplines. Sometimes trips are included as part of the course. Some honors courses even include opportunities for international travel, with honors funding used to reduce the cost of travel for students. Frequently there are free or subsidized honors events or trips, such as travel to cultural events in nearby cities or special on-campus events. Through the honors experience, students have opportunities to become inventive individuals who continuously learn, apply, and shape knowledge. The Honors Program helps you to be an active scholar who can become a vital contributor to society.
The most common types of honors classes offered at Penn State Fayette include:
- 1-credit “Explore Seminars.” Because these courses are only 1 credit and they fulfill the First-Year Seminar requirement, they are a good way for new students to try out the Honors Program and to work with other campus honors students.
- 3-credit team-taught interdisciplinary courses on special topics. These are featured courses designed to bring together faculty and students from various academic backgrounds.
- Honors versions of 3-credit general education classes. Honors sections have limited enrollment to allow for active interchange between faculty and students and provide more in-depth involvement with subject matter.
- Honors options, independent studies, and undergraduate research. Honors students can pursue honors options in existing courses, making it possible to pursue specialized study in their areas of interest. Independent research allows honors students to help formulate their own topic of study. Under the guidance of a faculty member, students can also participate in research and share their work at professional conferences.
Examples of recent honors classes:
Fall 2014: Am St 297H, “Exploring Happiness” (1 credit). This one-credit “Explore Seminar” takes an active approach to the question “what is happiness and how can one study it?” The goal is to introduce campus Honors students to the active pursuit of scholarly knowledge. We will discuss several short “texts” related to the study of happiness, including TED talk videos by experts from various fields. Students will then choose a particular issue or topic connected to the subject of happiness, conduct some research on it, and make a critical assessment of their findings. An example of a topic might be “How does music relate to happiness?” The class will culminate with students (as individuals or in groups) presenting their research at the campus Learning Fair.
Spring 2015: Honors 297, “The Art and Science of Happiness” (3 credits). This is a team-taught interdisciplinary seminar examining how happiness is studied by different academic fields. Guest lecturers discuss how the topic can be understood from disciplines such as biology, nursing, economics, history, psychology, human development, and so on. Students will be asked to articulate their vision of happiness for themselves and for their society. They will also have a chance to explore how studies of happiness relate to their intended majors or professions.
Fall 2015: History 153H, The Indian in North America (3 credits). This general education course (GH;US) is a survey of the American Indian from prehistory to the present. Students will learn the research methods used by scholars studying Native American communities and practice these methods by producing a project exploring the tribal history of one indigenous community in the United States. The course includes a trip to Washington, DC to visit the National Museum of the American Indian: http://www.nmai.si.edu/