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About the Program

 

Admission

 

This Program is for students pursuing a first BA degree and is compatible with most liberal arts majors, as well as interdisciplinary concentrations, such as Public Policy and Human Rights.  The Program also provides the opportunity for students to design a personalized interdisciplinary major.

Students in BA programs who have accumulated between 24 and 60 credits (at least 24 of which are Hunter credits, 15 Hunter credits for transfer students) 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 members of the Council on Honors.

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Curriculum

  1. Students in the Thomas Hunter Honors Program are required to take three special interdisciplinary honors colloquia, for which they must receive a grade of B- or better. The three interdisciplinary colloquia are the core of the Thomas Hunter Honors Program. 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.  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 are writing intensive.

    Students in the Thomas Hunter Honors Program are released from strict compliance with some provisions of the General Education Requirements, but the Thomas Hunter Honors Program requires that all students take or be exempted from expository writiing.  Students are expected to maintain breadth in their programs, and to create a significant pattern of courses, approved by a Council advisor, in an academic division other than that of their primary concentration.  in the are of Science and Mathematics, it is required that students take a course with a lab component.  All students at Hunter must complete the Pluralism and Diversity requirement.  Students entering Hunter in Fall 2001 and later are required to complete the foreiign requirement as well.

  2. 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.
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    Some examples of recently offered honors colloquia are:

  3. "Evolution of Scientific Thought" - Reality is a concept that has been the focus of philosophers and scientists.  Many issues blend science with culture, often in subtle ways. Questions regarding reality itself open an entirely new perspective on the issues.   What is reality?  Is what we observe real?  The answers to these questions are not as transparent as one might think. This 200-level colloquium explores philosophical and scientific views of reality in the Western tradition from antiquity to the modern and postmodern era.

    "Aesthetics"
    - This 200-level colloquium examines questions about beauty and art as well as the relationship between aesthetic experience and the creative possibilities it affords us in our pursuits of truth, justice, community, and our search for a good and happy life.  The readings and class discussions explore the nature of the aesthetic in education, contemporary forms of violence, sex, sport, decision-making, and how we think about death.  Along the way, the class makes connections between aesthetic experience in everyday life and philosophical analyses of specific works of art and aspects of artistic appreciation.  Select works include Hofstadter and Kuhns, editors, Philosophies of Art and Beauty, and Joseph H. Kupfer, Experience as Art: Aesthetics in Everyday Life.

    "The Gothic in Literature & Visual Culture" - Long thought to be aberrant in the history of literature, the Gothic has become in recent years an enormously popular and respected field of study.  This 200-level colloquium primarily concentrates on the 18th and 19th centuries, examining in   both   literary   and   visual   culture   such   transgressive   themes   as   the   supernatural,   the aestheticizing of violence, the relationship of humans to machines, the horror at illness and bodily decay, incest, miscegenation, and homosexuality

    "Poverty in the US" - This 300-level interdisciplinary course explores how urban sociology and social   psychology   explain   persistent   poverty   and   the   attendant   effects   on   individuals, communities, and the larger society.  Theories and concepts from both disciplines are utilized to examine the nature and extent of poverty in the U.S., its myriad causes and consequences, as well as government programs and policies.  Questions to be addressed include: What is poverty? Why is poverty higher in the U.S. than in other industrialized nations? What are the perceptions of the poor by the non-poor? What is the effect of poverty on children and families?   And what is the psychological impact of being poor in an affluent society?  Emphasis will be placed on urban poverty and the role of the state and civil society in its amelioration.

    "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 has occurred during the  1990's.    The  course  culminates  in  the  Southern  Africa  Simulation  Game.    With  faculty guidance, students select and research group 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 Contemporary 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.

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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 without any other departmental major may do so in consultation with the appropriate Council advisor. These students are required to submit an interdisciplinary honors project. 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. These students have to abide by departmental criteria for each major and are expected to do honors work in at least one major.

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Certification

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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Philosophy of the Program

The basic goal of the Thomas Hunter Honors Program is to nurture and encourage the best and most intellectually curious students with interdisciplinary interests who have chosen to attend Hunter.  The Program gives these students focus and a sense of belonging to a group about whom the College cares.

The Program provides students with a chance to design individualized curricula, and helps them find their way as soon as possible to professors interested in working with them. The Program helps them define and achieve their academic goals in a timely and efficient manner.

Students in the Thomas Hunter Honors Program know that they have almost immediate access to an advisor 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 advisor at least once a semester to discuss his or her general progress, and in  addition, all students must have their academic programs approved every semester.

During past academic years, about 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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