About the Program
Students selected for the Thomas Hunter Honors Program must show evidence of high academic achievement and potential, diversified interests and intellectual passions, and sufficient maturity to plan and complete an individualized program of study in consultation with faculty advisors serving on the Council on Honors.
Students in BA programs who have accumulated between 24 and 70 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 50-minute interviews are conducted in the early fall and spring by faculty members of the Council on Honors. Students must write a short essay explaining why they want to pursue interdisciplinary studies and provide a graded writing sample from one of their Hunter courses.
The Thomas Hunter Honors 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.
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Students in the Thomas Hunter Honors Program are required to take three special interdisciplinary honors colloquia. 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. As our colloquia are only open to THHP students, a sense of shared mission and collaboration often develops. Students newly admitted to the Program particularly appreciate being together with other excellent students among whom they find similar interests and concerns.
There are two levels of THHP colloquia:
- The 200-level colloquium is always taught by one professor, often a member of the Council on Honors, who explores with his/her students a specific question or problem using materials and methodologies of two or more disciplines.
- The 300-level colloquium usually involves two professors from two different areas, who focus on a given question or problem. Occasionally, 300-level colloquia are taught by only one professor, but in those cases there are invited guest speakers from different disciplines.
Students must take one 200-level colloquium in their first year in the Program. By the time they graduate they must also have completed a 300-level colloquium, and a third colloquium at either the 200- or 300-level. The minimum grade required in each colloquium is B-.
Some examples of recently offered THHP colloquia are:
"The Search for Knowledge" - The search for knowledge of all that we see - Nature or, put another way, Reality - has been central to humanity ever since we first asked "What is?" As this search proceeded over the centuries, we then asked "Are you certain?" This 200-level colloquium provides an overview of this search in the Western tradition and how we approach the question of certainty. We begin with philosophers - Plato and Aristotle - then to philosopher /scientists such as Descartes, and finally to scientists such as Mendeleev, Planck and Heisenberg before concluding with thoughts from the 21st century.
"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.
"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.
In addition to taking the three THHP colloquia, students must also take three courses in an academic division different from the one in which their major is located. For example, Biology majors (physical science students) must take three courses in the social sciences or humanities, typically in one field (e.g. music). Likewise, English majors (humanities students) must take three courses in the social or physical sciences (e.g. sociology). Exceptions to these guidelines are sometimes made in departments or programs that offer courses of two disciplinary types (e.g., AFPRL, WGS). In all cases, students work with an advisor to establish and fulfill an appropriate mini-concentration.
Area of Concentration or Major:
All students admitted to 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 complete and submit for approval an interdisciplinary honors project. Most students in the Thomas Hunter 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.
Final certification into the Program 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. 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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All students in the THHP must complete the CUNY Common Core, including the Foreign Language and Pluralism and Diversity requirements.· All of our colloquia are writing intensive and thereby fulfill the College's graduation requirement for writing intensive courses.
Students continue in the Program throughout their academic careers at Hunter and after graduation may continue to see advisors, attend lectures, orientations, end-of-term parties and other social events.