Honors Classes

No matter their format or discipline, Honors classes all involve close engagement between instructor and students, active student involvement in the learning process, and the development of advanced skills in: written and oral communication; critical, creative, and independent thinking; and leadership.

While our academic program is designed to emphasize our first-year focus on wellness and writing, each semester we offer a variety of classes that are unique to Honors along with Honors sections of existing university courses. Students can also convert a non-Honors section to an Honors course through a contractual arrangement with the instructor, or design an independent study! (To learn more about how to arrange these classes, see our Guidelines & Policies.) We have courses for everyone—engineers, artists and students of humanities and social sciences.

Here are some examples of courses you can take.

The Art of the Narrative: Advanced Creative Writing +

In Advanced Creative Writing, an intensive survey of the architecture and techniques of good storytelling, students will write multiple stories, all of which will be workshopped by the instructor and the students, developing their editorial skills alongside their abilities as authors.

International Political Economy +

This Honors section of an existing VCU course offers a survey of both theoretical and current policy issues in international political economy. Theories to be covered include liberalism, mercantilism, Marxism, regionalism, world systems theory and others. Policy issues include differing styles of capitalism in the industrialized world, the political economy of development, the politics of international corporate alliances and others.

Job Search Communication in the 21st Century +

This course prepares students to find a job and succeed in the 21st-century professional work environment. It focuses on identifying individual skills, values and personality type to develop suitable career objectives. Major topics covered in this course are: career paths; job searches; personal statements; resume and cover letter writing; interview preparation and etiquette; oral presentations; online portfolio; personal assessment of interests, values & strengths; networking; and professional and ethical behavior on the job. The class will be interactive and include group discussions, lectures, guest speakers and simulation exercises.

Mathematics in Civilization +

The growth, development and far-reaching applications of trigonometry, navigation, cartography, logarithms and algebra through ancient, medieval, post-Renaissance and modern times are explored. This course will include methods to solve mathematical problems using various historical procedures and will involve collaboration through group projects.

Reason, Science and the Self +

The chief aim of this course is to improve your skill at distinguishing good (reasonable, justified) beliefs from bad. Many of our beliefs are held on the basis of arguments. Moreover, we are regularly invited to form new beliefs or relinquish some of our current ones on the basis of arguments. The reasonableness of a belief often depends on the arguments that support it. Hence the ability to recognize and critically engage arguments is crucial to telling good beliefs from bad. One primary goal of this course is to sharpen your abilities to identify, analyze and assess arguments. Another primary goal of this course is to show you how to apply these critical reasoning skills to philosophical explorations of the nature of science, knowledge and personal identity.

Science, Technology and Society +

This course examines scientific breakthroughs that have led to transformational technologies, which are continuing to impact society today. Topics will include a historical perspective, an understanding of scientific principles and technologies and an examination of how such discoveries have changed society.

Society, Morality and the Constitution +

The law changes, but not all change is progress. To decide how our legal institutions ought to change we need answers to fundamental theoretical questions about the relationships between morality, society and the law – and, in the case of the United States, the U.S. Constitution. We shall start by looking briefly at the U.S. Constitution, and constitutions in general, and asking what their point is, how they are to be interpreted and how they relate to democratic processes. We shall then examine some of the legal and constitutional issues that arise in relation to: freedom of speech and its limits; religious freedom and its limits; privacy, abortion and the law; suicide and euthanasia; the right to gun ownership; and the practice of positive discrimination. These issues have been addressed in recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings, and the course will consist of a critical discussion of some of these opinions.