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Honors Seminars: An Overview

Macaulay Honors College students continuously engage the city of New York as their classroom, their laboratory, their campus, and their home. The Honors Seminars are interdisciplinary courses that combine primary research and classroom discussions with hands-on experiences designed to deepen the understanding of the institutions and people of New York. Opportunities to meet and work with artists, scientists, and distinguished professionals enhance the curriculum. University Scholars take these seminars consecutively in their first four semesters at Macaulay.



MHC 100: The Arts of New York City

The first Seminar introduces you to the arts in New York City. During the semester, you will attend theatrical, operatic, visual art, and other highlights of the current cultural season. You will investigate the social, historical, and aesthetic context of the works being performed and exhibited. You will also develop your analytic and communication skills as you examine performances and exhibitions from the perspectives of scholarship, creativity, and production. In addition to experiencing these art forms as an audience, you will be able to examine them from multiple perspectives and deepen your appreciation of the arts. An example of a Seminar 1 assignment is attending and participating in a dance workshop at the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater.


MHC 150: The Peopling of New York City

DSC00357.JPGDuring Seminar 2, you will investigate the role of immigration and migration in shaping New York City's identity - past, present, and future. The seminar begins with a survey of the factors that have drawn people to New York since the 17th century, and moves on to examine how religion, race, gender, and ethnicity have shaped immigration experiences with the city. Seminar topics include: the impact of successive waves of newcomers on urban culture and politics, and the continuing debate over assimilation and Americanization. Extensive reading and writing assignments will be enriched by visits to archives and other important sites. You may even focus on a specific neighborhood of New York City, studying the formation and social organization of immigrant communities in neighborhoods such as Five Points, the Lower East Side, Harlem, Little Italy, Chinatown, Astoria, and Flushing, with an eye towards understanding the demographic trends rendering each neighborhood unique. The research you complete will be compiled into a group iWeb project.

Lounge Candid 009

Dr. Margaret M. Chin, associate professor of Sociology at Hunter College and the Graduate Center at CUNY, recently published an article in "Diversity and Democracy" examining Macaulay's Peopling of NYC seminar.


MHC 200: Science and Technology in New York City

In your third seminar, you will analyze scientific and technological topics that have had an impact on contemporary New York. These may include technology and the computer, urban health issues, the environment, and energy. This seminar addresses the intellectual and historical roots of topics in science and technology, as well as ethical, legal, social, and economic ramifications. You will read scientific literature, learn the technical concepts necessary to understand the readings, and incorporate hands-on laboratory or fieldwork components into the class. An example of a research topic is "What is the estimated carbon footprint of New York City's hot dogs?" You will create a scientific poster presenting your research at the end of the semester.


MHC 250: Shaping the Future of New York City

DSC00362.JPGIn Seminar 4, you will analyze the ongoing interplay of social, economic, and political forces that shape the physical forms and social dynamics of New York City. You will address the major events in the creation of public space, such as the implementation of the Grid Plan, the redevelopment of Times Square, the creation of Central Park, and the construction of the World Trade Center and Battery Park City. By studying the institutional agents of change in the city (federal, state, and city governments; public authorities; private sector interests; community boards; and community based organizations), you will come to understand the roles people take or are given in the process of government and the ways in which these roles are affected by patterns of inequality and power. You will also consider New York City in the larger context of the region, the nation, and the world.


Please note:  In addition to the four Honors Seminars, as a University Scholar you are required to take at least four honors-level courses, which may include electives, courses in the major, and upper-level courses.

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