About the Program
Students may apply for admission to the Program on their own, or they may be asked to participate.
Students in BA programs who have accumulated between 24 and 60 non-remedial credits (at least 24 of which are Hunter credits), with a 3.65 or better cumulative average are invited to be interviewed for the Program. These interviews are conducted in the early fall and spring by two members of the Council on Honors.
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- Students in the Thomas Hunter Honors Program are released from strict compliance with the provisions of the Distribution Requirement, but the Council requires that all students take or be exempt from expository writing. Students are expected to maintain breadth in their programs, and to create a significant pattern of courses, approved by a Council advisor, in a division other than that of their primary concentration. They must also have taken at least one course in each of the three divisions -- Humanities and Arts, Social Sciences, and Science and Mathematics -- before graduating. In the Division of Science and Mathematics, it is required that students take a course with a lab component. In addition, all students are required to take three special interdisciplinary honors colloquia to fulfill our major. Students must take one colloquium in their first year in the Program and two thereafter. While the specific content of these courses varies from semester to semester, the underlying principles remain the same.
- There are two levels of honors colloquia:
- The 200-level colloquium is always taught by one professor, usually a member of the Council on Honors, who attacks a specific problem using materials and methodologies of two or more disciplines. Students may take more than one of these colloquia if they so desire, even if they are juniors or seniors, but at least one should be taken in their first year in the Program.
- The 300-level colloquium usually involves two professors from two different areas, who focus on a given problem. Occasionally, 300-level colloquia are taught by only one professor, but in those cases there are invited guest speakers from different areas. Students may also take more than one of these colloquia if they so desire.
"Integrating the Irrational" - This 200-level colloquium examines the ways in which a variety of human intellectual systems attempt to integrate phenomena which challenge their assumptions and violate their structures. Examples are chosen from literature (Bulgakov's Master and Margarita, Aeschylus' trilogy, Sophocles' Oedipus Rex and Oedipus at Colonus); psychology (selected texts of Freud and Jung); anthropology (texts by Evans-Pritchard and Levi-Strauss); and painting (Bosch and the surrealists).
"The Broadway Musical" - A 200-level colloquium which studies the musical from several vantage points: music, words, theater, American history, and American society. Students become familiar with a number of shows by such creative artists as Kern, Gershwin, Rodgers, Hart, Hammerstein, Porter, Styne, Bernstein, Robbins, and Soundheim. Social issues considered include race relations, sexism, generation gaps, labor-management controversies, ethics in entertainment, and family relationships.
"South Africa and Southern Africa after Apartheid" - a 300-level colloquium that examines the events which have shaped the history of South Africa and Southern Africa and the forces that contributed to the dramatic transformation from apartheid to democracy that have occurred in South Africa over the last six years. The course culminates in the Southern Africa Simulation Game. With faculty guidance, students select and research team and individual roles based on the important players in the South African situation. The simulation game is conducted on a weekend at the end of the semester. It has very carefully constructed rules and controls and begins with an interesting scenario projected some time into the near future.
"Sources of Twentieth Century Thought" - another 300-level colloquium. This course aims to uncover the presence of the past by studying books and authors who have determined not only what we believe to be true and important, but the very terms and concepts with which we think and speak. The reading list includes works or parts of works by Machiavelli, Luther, Descartes, Voltaire, Hume, Kant, Goethe, Novalis, Darwin, Marx, Dostoevsky, and Freud.
The colloquia offer breadth of exposure, but even more importantly, they demonstrate how knowledge gained from a variety of disciplines can be related and integrated in an effort to understand complex processes and phenomena. All of these colloquia involve the writing of at least one major paper in which the students should themselves try to apply the methodology of the course to material in an area of particular interest to them. In these colloquia, a student is together with other students in the Program, and a sense of belonging to something special develops. Students newly admitted to the Program particularly appreciate being together with other good students among whom they find people with similar preoccupations and concerns.
Students continue in the Program throughout their academic careers at Hunter. They continue to take colloquia in their junior and/or senior years or register for HONS 491.51, Advanced Interdisciplinary Studies. Most of the services and privileges of the Program are important to the juniors and seniors in the Program who have decided to continue their education on a graduate level. Even those students who already have established close working relationships with professors in their specific majors make use of our advising and services.
- Area of Concentration or Major
All certified students in the Thomas Hunter Honors Program have Special Honors Curriculum as one of their majors. Students who wish to design an interdisciplinary major for themselves without any other standard major may do so in consultation with the appropriate Council adviser. Most students in the Honors Program, however, elect to fulfill the requirements for one or more specific departmental majors as well as those of the Special Honors Curriculum major. These students have to abide by departmental criteria for each major/minor and may also be eligible for their specific departmental honors.
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Final certification into the Program, with the privilege to have Special Honors Curriculum as a major, is usually made after two full semesters (24 credits) in the Program (for part-time students, certification will, of course, take longer). Students who have maintained a cumulative index of 3.5 or better and who have completed the necessary colloquium (one 200-level) with a grade of B or better, have completed or been exempted from English 120, and have 18-24 credits of 200-and/or 300-level courses in a variety of disciplines are considered for certification into the Program. When a student has completed the above requirements, the Council reviews his or her record, and if the record and the continuing academic promise so warrant, the Council certifies the student as a permanent member of the Program. Once that determination is made, a transcript comment "Special Honors Curriculum" is placed on the student's record by the Office of the Registrar. Before this time, membership in the Program is considered provisional. A student who has failed to maintain a cumulative index of 3.5 at the time of certification is allowed one semester in which to raise his or her cumulative grade point average.
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The basic task of the Thomas Hunter Honors Program is to nurture and encourage the best and most intellectually curious students who have chosen to attend Hunter. The Program gives these students (who might otherwise feel thwarted, lost, or unappreciated in their early years here) a focus and a sense of belonging to a group about whom the College cares.
The Program provides these students with a chance to design individualized curricula, and helps them find their way as soon as possible to professors interested in working with good undergraduates. The Program also helps them define and achieve their academic goals with the least possible waste of time and bureaucratic frustration.
The support provided by close advising is crucial. Students in the Program know that they have almost immediate access to an adviser when they need help with academic and bureaucratic problems, or when they wish to discuss more general questions and long-range goals. To make certain that all members of the Program are following a coherent curriculum, each student is required to see an adviser once a semester to discuss his or her general progress, and, in addition, all students must have their programs approved every semester.
You may also be interested to know that during past academic years, half of the newly inducted members-in-course of Phi Beta Kappa were members of the Honors Program, and most of the graduating seniors in the Program who applied to graduate schools were accepted in the disciplines and institutions of their choice.
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