Schreyer Honors College (SHC)at Penn State

Honors Courses & Instructors

What is an honors course? Who are honors faculty?

An honors course is a vibrant learning experience that teams the most captivating professors with our brightest, most eager students.

Whether the honors course is STEM or humanities the result is an effervescent exchange of discovery. With small class sizes and fully engaged learners, classroom dynamics are often more think tank than traditional.

Sample Courses

Old Main building at University Park campus

Philosophy 119H Ethical Leadership

Jonathan Marks, an associate professor of bioethics, humanities, law and philosophy directs Penn State's novel and interdisciplinary Bioethics program — including the undergraduate minor in Bioethics and Medical Humanities. Before becoming an academic, Marks spent a decade as a barrister in London. When the Sandusky scandal erupted at Penn State, he mined the teachable moments for his Philosophy 119: Ethical Leadership course. In the wake of the release of the Freeh Report, Dr. Marks reinforced to students that there was simply no more important issue facing the Penn State community than the question of ethical leadership. The course explores concepts of ethical literacy, moral blindness, wrongful obedience, bystander responsibility, institutional ethics, loyalty and dissent, moral exemplars and integrity. Students will gain a rich understanding of these concepts from literature, film, biography, history, and new social science research (including the emerging field of "behavioral ethics") — as well as philosophical texts.

Marks' course gained national media attention, and was featured in the New York Times and on public radio:

Modern technology icons

Information Sciences & Technology 445H Globalization Trends and World Issues

Schreyer Scholars interested in international issues find IST 445H, Globalization Trends and World Issues, taught by Dr. Andrea Tapia, compelling. Students who want to work for the United Nations, World Bank or other large, international organizations and who enjoy the complexity of critical, yet messy and delicate, international programs learn to approach these problems with an understanding of how major global trends influence U.S. policy-making. Students create answers to the thematic question, "What role does the U.S. have in tomorrow's new world?"

The course examines the role of technological change as a prime motivator for globalization and global change. Lively class discussions, intense reading and blogging, research, writing and policy briefs, and a 3 day trip to Washington, D.C. that includes participation in an intensive seminar round out the vibrant course experience.

Dr. Andrea Tapia is a sociologist who studies the public interconnection between technologies, public institutions and policies. Dr. Tapia has worked with and been funded by the United Nations, the U.S. Department of Defense and the National Science Foundation. To read more about Dr. Tapia, please visit her website.

Microphone at podium

Communication Arts & Sciences 137H/138T Rhetoric and Civic Life

The Rhetoric and Civic Life are two courses that offer comprehensive training in oral, written, visual, and digital communication for the twenty-first century. It unites these various modes under the flexible art of rhetoric and uses rhetoric both to strengthen communication skills and to sharpen awareness of the challenges and advantages presented by various modes of communication.

In this course, the first of a two-part sequence, students will read about and discuss rhetorical concepts and situations and put their knowledge immediately to use by:

  1. Analyzing civic rhetoric and contextualizing controversies on campus and in their communities (including their networked communities)
  2. Researching current issues
  3. Developing and presenting arguments in oral, written, visual, and digital form
Ella Baker giving a speech during the Civil Rights Movement

English 297H Rhetoric of the Civil Rights Movement

This course, taught by Professor Jack Selzer, is a course that meets in class during January and February and concludes with a Spring Break road trip to key civil rights sites.

Among other places, the bus tour will take you to a number of storied locations: Washington, D.C. and the Lincoln Memorial, site of the August 28, 1963 March for Jobs and Freedom; Greensboro, North Carolina, where the student sit-in movement began in 1960; Highlander Folk School in the mountains of Tennessee, where civil rights workers were trained in non-violence; Atlanta, where King's Ebenezer Baptist Church and the Martin Luther King National Historical Site dominate the "Sweet Auburn" District; Birmingham, Selma, and Montgomery, Alabama, the sites of three of the most celebrated civil rights campaigns; and many places in between. In the bargain students will have the opportunity to meet personally with important surviving veterans of the Freedom Struggle, and they will have ample opportunity for discussions and activities designed to deepen their understanding of a most important episode in American history.

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