2016-17 Catalogs

Honors Course Descriptions

USM Core requirements met by honors courses:

  • Entry-Year Experience (EYE): HON 101
  • Quantitative Reasoning (QR): HON 105
  • Creative Expression (CE):  HON 175, HON 207, some HON 299
  • Cultural Interpretation (CI): HON 102, some HON 299
  • Scientific Exploration (SE): HON 200/201
  • Socio-Cultural Analysis (SCA): HON 103, some HON 299
  • Ethical Inquiry, Social Responsibility, and Citizenship (EISRC): HON 310, some HON 299
  • Diversity (D): HON 102, HON 103, some HON 101, some HON 299
  • International (I): HON 310, some HON 299
  • Capstone:  HON 311/411/412

Course Descriptions

HON 101 - Honors Entry-Year Experience [EYE]:  Each instructor uses a theme listed below to engage students in exploration of significant questions about human culture and the natural world. The course facilitates student transition to college by engaging students in active and collaborative learning that enhances their inclination and ability to view complex issues from multiple perspectives. Corequisites: College Writing, first year student, honors student (or permission).

  • Literature and Medicine (HON 101) - How can literature and medicine relate to each other? This course explores the similarities and differences among the sciences and humanities and uses literature as the basis for examining concerns of health, illness, and healing. Topics include the moral and ethical issues of the health care worker-patient relationship, historical approaches to healing, and their implications for modern medical practices, and the cultural, racial, and gendered aspects of these issues. Prerequisite: honors student (or permission). Cr. 3
  • Myth, Monsters, and Metamorphoses (HON 101) - What does it mean to be human? What is the difference between a human being and an animal, a human being and a god, a human being and the natural world? How does technology challenge our assumptions about what it means to be human? The course approaches answers to these questions from the ancient and modern worlds, including texts recognized as foundational in western intellectual tradition but expanding to include modern, post-modern, and non-western perspectives as well. Prerequisite: honors student (or permission). Cr. 3
  • Nature, Society, and Self (HON 101)- How do I relate to the natural world? How do I relate to civil society? How do I act resolutely, self-reliantly, ethically, and in concert with nature? These questions are central to the course. Answering these questions requires being awake to the world, being capable of close observation and measurement, being self-consciously thoughtful and able to make meaning of the world around you, and being disciplined in self-reflection. Prerequisite: honors student (or permission). Cr.3
  • Outside Lies Magic: Exploring Maine's Landscapes (HON 101) We explore the historical and contemporary landscapes (and seascapes) of Maine -- inside and outside the classroom -- in an effort to understand what connects people to the places they choose to settle, and what imbues place with meaning.  Using landscape historian John Stilgoe's 1998 book Outside Lies Magic: Regaining History and Awareness in Everyday Places as a guidebook, students will learn the basics of historical exploration, how to unplug and deepen one's connection to the natural environment, and how to read the layers of a landscape to uncover past uses.  Students will learn the basic outlines of Maine's history, take field trips to local sites of interest, and meet people who work to preserve and protect Maine's natural and historic resources.  No prior knowledge of Maine's history is necessary --just a willingness to learn and explore. Prerequisite: honors student (or permission). Cr.3
  • Race: Reflection & Reality (HON 101) -This course draws on literature, history, law, sociology, and anthropology to explore evolving conceptions of 'race' in the United States. We will contemplate perspectives of multiple writers, theorists, and community members. Special emphasis will be given to changing conceptions of 'race' in Maine and New England.  Experiential activities may include a field trip to Malaga Island, a walking tour of the Portland Freedom Trail, and participation in New Mainer's Day. Prerequisite: honors student (or permission). Cr.3

HON 102 - Confrontation and Cross-Fertilization among Medieval Cultures [CI, D] -This interdisciplinary seminar will explore the intersections between Judaic, Christian, Muslim, and non-monotheistic religious-based cultures during the Middle Ages. Prerequisite: any EYE course (or concurrent) and honors student (or permission). Cr. 3

HON 103 - Cultural and Historical Perspectives on Poverty [SCA, D] - In this course students will examine a wide range of texts from classical culture, early American legal and religious sources,  as well as from contemporary economic and political theory about poverty--who is affected by it, what its causes are, and why it persists.  Students will engage in analysis of the spiritual, political, ethical, and legal aspects of what it means to be poor.  Seminars will prepare students to critically assess the historical and social attitudes towards poverty, and will include work with primary historical texts regarding the use of town farms in 19th century southern Maine as a response to chronic poverty.  Required service learning at the Parkside Neighborhood Association will serve to familiarize students with contemporary controversies regarding work and poverty, public and private assistance, education and empowerment.  Students will demonstrate effective communication skills through frequent writing, a researched essay, and a group presentation. Prerequisite: any EYE course (or concurrent) and honors student (or permission). Cr. 3

HON 105 - Interdisciplinary Introduction to Logic and Mathematics [QR] - This course is an introduction to logic and mathematics. It is an unusual introduction, since it transforms history, philosophy, social thought, literature, and the arts into paths for understanding logical and mathematical concepts and systems. Therein lies the course's interdisciplinary. These concepts and systems will be deployed to solve basic problems in everyday life and in academic research, from formally representing arguments found in scholarly texts to determining the odds of winning a hand in a game of chance to assessing scientific hypotheses. Special emphasis will be placed on developing the skill of detecting logical and statistical fallacies. Finally, the scope and limits of logical and mathematical systems will be studied. Prerequisite: any EYE course (or concurrent), successful completion of the University's mathematics proficiency requirement, and honors student (or permission). Cr. 3

HON 175 - Oral Interpretation [CE] - A course in the assimilation and analysis of literary material (poetry, prose, drama) with emphasis on the techniques used in reading written material aloud to an audience. Designed to stimulate an understanding and responsiveness to literature and to develop the ability to convey to others, through oral reading, an appreciation of that literature. Prerequisite: College Writing and EYE (either may be concurrent); honors student (or permission).  Students may not receive credit for both HON 175 and THE 175.

HON 198 - Honors Dialogue - Each class session is a thoughtful discussion on a student-selected topic.  Rather than debate topics or strive for consensus, emphasis is placed on questioning, listening, identifying-and-suspending assumptions, and developing shared meaning.  By practicing the techniques of modern inquiry and Socratic dialogue, students gain self-insight and strengthen their critical thinking and communication abilities.  Examples of past topics include Are exotic pets ok? Are child beauty pageants acceptable?  Should we allow people to opt out of vaccinations?  What is happiness?  How much ‘ego’ is healthy?  Pass/Fail course.  Cr. 1

HON 200 - Honors Science Exploration: Interdisciplinary Inquiry in the Sciences [SE] - This seminar provides an interdisciplinary introduction to scientific discourses and practices;  topics vary by semester.   It combines concepts and methods of inquiry from multiple disciplines such as biology, chemistry, psychology, anthropology, ecology, history, or public policy.  These explorations are synthesized by students in an independent project.  HON 200 students must co-register for HON 201.  [Students with credit for an approved college-level lab related to the topic should register for HON 210 to take the seminar without the lab.]  Students without prior honors credits are encouraged to contact the Honors Office for permission to enroll. Corequisite: HON 201.  Prerequisites: Any EYE course; any Quantitative Reasoning course; and Honors Student (or permission).   Cr. 3

HON 201 - Honors Science Exploration Lab - This laboratory section is required for students taking HON 200.  The integrated sequence of weekly lab sessions enables students to apply methods of scientific inquiry from disciplines addressing that semester’s topic.  The combination of HON 200 and HON 201 fulfills USM Core's Science Exploration requirement.  Cr. 1.

HON 210 - Honors Science Seminar: Interdisciplinary Inquiry in the Sciences - This seminar provides an interdisciplinary introduction to scientific discourses and practices;  topics vary by semester.  It combines concepts and methods of inquiry from multiple disciplines such as biology, chemistry, psychology, anthropology, ecology, or history.  These explorations are synthesized by students in an independent project.  Students without prior honors credits are encouraged to contact the Honors Office for permission to enroll.   Note: This seminar does NOT fulfill USM's Core Science requirement.  Prerequisites: Any EYE course; any Quantitative Reasoning course; approved science laboratory credit; and honors student (or permission).  Cr. 3

HON 207 - Illuminated Autobiography [CE] - An introduction to two creative processes – the visual and the literary – the course explores the means (shared, specialized, and complementary) by which they communicate thematic content, and the transformation through which subjective discovery becomes accessible form. Students will develop a control of structural elements within and between the two disciplines sufficient to write, illustrate, design, and publish a limited autobiographical narrative. Prerequisite: College Writing and EYE (either may be concurrent); honors student (or permission). Cr. 3

HON 299 - Honors Topics [Core designations vary by topic]- Honors program electives include departmental courses that embody the honors experience.   Honors students typically share the course with students majoring in course-related disciplines.   The course may be repeated for credit when topics differ.   Prerequisites vary by course topic, but include honors student (or permission).

HON 299 - Utopia, Dystopia & Sci Fiction [CI] - The imagination of alternative societies or worlds, either in the present (traditional utopia) or the future (science fiction) has been and continues to be, an essential part of the way we understand our individual and collective existence and hope for, or refuse to believe in, alternatives to that existence. This course will study the genre of utopia along with two other genres 'dystopia and science fiction' that are closely tied to it.  Co-requisite: any EYE course and honors student (or permission). Cr. 3

HON 310 - Honors Global Ethical Inquiry  [EISRC] - Each instructor selects a semester-long theme to foster world-mindedness and engage students in critical reflection on their responsibilities for informed decision making and action in their public and private roles. Examples of past topics include Nine Billion People, One Damp Rock; Philosophy of Art; Philosophy of Film; Africa, Social Justice, and Exile. Prerequisite: sophomore standing (ideally second semester sophomore) and honors student (or permission). Cr. 3

HON 311 - see Thesis Sequence section below 

HON 321 - Honors Directed Research - This optional course allows an Honors student with interests in a particular subject area to research that area under the direction of a faculty supervisor. The research may be carried out in any subject area. Prerequisites: honors student and permission. Cr. 1-3

HON 331 - Honors Directed Study - This optional course allows an Honors student to design a reading course in collaboration with a faculty supervisor. It is of particular value to students with self-designed majors who may need to supplement existing courses with additional material. Prerequisites: honors student and permission. Cr. 1-3

HON 359 - Honors Internship/Community Service [USM Core Thematic Cluster - Casco Bay Region] - Honors Program internship or community service project. Students, working individually or in a group, receive permission from the honors director, recruit a faculty sponsor, locate a placement in the Casco Bay region, and develop a learning contract.
Prerequisite: sophomore standing (ideally second semester sophomore) and honors student (or permission). Cr. 3


Thesis Sequence [capstone]

HON 311 - Honors Thesis I: Workshop - To graduate with General University Honors, a student completes a multiple-semester thesis project. In the first-semester workshop, each student develops research skills, shapes a preliminary idea into a formal thesis proposal, and organizes a faculty committee to advise the student in HON 411/412. Course may be taken for credit twice. Prerequisites: three credits of honors coursework, junior standing, and Honors student (or permission). Cr. 3

HON 411 - Honors Thesis II - In the second semester, students independently execute the plan developed in HON 311, under the guidance of the thesis committee. The emphasis is on in depth reading, field work as applicable, and completion of the introductory thesis chapter and literature review. Note: it is possible to complete the thesis in HON 411, without proceeding to HON 412. Prerequisites: HON 311 (B- or higher grade) and Honors student (or permission). Cr. 3

HON 412 - Honors Thesis III - In the third and final semester, still working with their thesis committee, students write their remaining chapters; submit a completed draft; substantially revise that work based on feedback; and present their work in an oral, public defense. Prerequisites: HON 411 and Honors student (or permission). Cr. 3