No matter their format or discipline, Honors classes all involve close engagement between instructor and students. Honors students are actively involved in the learning process as they develop advanced communication, leadership, and thinking skills.
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! We have courses for everyone—engineers, artists and students of humanities and social sciences.
This course serves as an introduction to the basic concepts, principles and skills for improving verbal and nonverbal communication with persons from different cultures. Using a “culture-general approach,” topics discussed include the concept of culture, barriers to intercultural communication, verbal communication processes, and nonverbal communication aspects. The goal is to foster YOUR own intercultural communication competence.
Molecular Basis for Human Disease
This class will examine the biochemical and genetic basis for common and rare human diseases, and consider the clinical pathways that lead to diagnosis and treatment for patients suffering from them. We will discuss how lessons at the research bench dramatically impact patient care through greater understanding of condition, leading to increased specificity of targeted treatment. Students will be expected to take an active role within this class, often working in small teams; discussions, presentations and even quizzes. In order to be successful, students should have a fundamental understanding of biochemistry, biology and genetics, as this class will stress the application of these fundamental disciplines and how they relate to onset, progression and treatment. We will discuss seminal findings and state-of-the-art treatments on a variety of topics that scientists and physicians routinely confront.
Survey of Art II
Learn about the major two-dimensional, three-dimensional, and architectural styles and techniques of Europe, Africa, the Americas, and Asia from the 14th century to the present. This study of art history will emphasize the recognition and identification of major works of art produced in the mediums of painting, sculpture, and architecture, as well as the associated styles from each period. We will work to gain a contextual understanding of what these examples of art and architecture reveal about the cultures and societies that produced them through illustrated lectures, reading assignments, and class discussion. Students will leave this class with a strong foundational knowledge of art history and the ability to express their own reactions to works of art, from any period, with the visual language used throughout the course. The course assignments are designed to expand visual literacy by emphasizing both critical reading and writing skills.
Data Visualization: Illustrate Statistics with Eye-Catching Infographics
Module: March 29-May 1 (1.5 credits), Prof. Jeff South; T/R 2-3:15 p.m., Temple 1118
We live in a world inundated with data that can shape public opinion, impact decision making and influence the policies of governments and organizations. We can present data in ways people can easily understand with data visualizations: charts, maps, timelines and other infographics that portray the essential interpretations of complex realities. The tools for creating such visualizations have proliferated in recent years, along with the availability of “open data” from government agencies and other public sources. In this hands-on course, we will focus on finding open data, cleaning it and creating engaging visualizations, which we then will circulate on social media with appropriate context. Students will create visualizations based on data related to their majors and careers.
Drivers of Global Change
Global challenges are accelerating the demand for sustainable change in every aspect of our lives. This module will provide a framework for understanding the major drivers and prioritizing critical strategies to address them.
Social Political Drama
This course module is designed around conversations spurred from contemporary plays and social issues that inspire one another. Using source material as the jumping-off point, we will discuss how life affects art and vice versa. This module focuses on how textual elements influence theatrical practices and conversations, and how theatrical events can be a way in for community change. We will tackle a number of questions, including "Why theatre, why now?"
Honors sections of the following standard VCU courses will be offered. Please see the VCU Bulletin for course descriptions.
- Mathematics 200
- Mathematics 201
- Statistics 210
- Philosophy 201
- Philosophy 230
- Political Science 365
- Gender, Sexuality & Women's Studies 201
- Psychology 101
- Chemistry 101
- Biology 151
- Biology 300
- Biology 310
The following Honors Topics courses (HONR 398; 3 credit hours) will be offered:
HONR160: Intro to Community Engagement W 3-4:15 PM (CRN 34963 sec 703)
Contemporary communities are diverse and interconnected and to impact positive social change, members in these communities must understand critical theories of community engagement. This course surveys critical theories and models of community engagement, including but not limited to, theories of equity, citizenship, human rights, advocacy and activism, civic leadership, social justice, civil discourse, and social capital. Students will use an interdisciplinary approach to analyze and actively engage in principles and practices of community engagement through a local lens. (This course is designed for second, third, and fourth year students)
Job Search Communication MW 1-2:15 PM (CRN 36395 sec 701; Prof. Manika Avasthi)
This course will prepare you to find a job and succeed in the 21st century professional work environment. The focus will be on identifying individual skills, values, and personality type to develop suitable career objectives. The class will be interactive and will include group discussions, lectures, guest speakers, and simulation exercises.
Social Political Theatricalism W 7-9:40 PM (CRN 35766 sec 751; Prof. Addie Barnhart)
Social Political Drama will dissect the effects of theatrical events as activism and art, and how the two intersect. Utilizing an academic approach and examining scholarly articles, analyzing plays, and exploring the theatricality of organized activism, we will discuss how these events can make a lasting impact on our society. Students are expected to engage actively in discussion and work together to create a final project makes a statement on our current social/political climate.
Social Entrepreneurship and Community Engagement F 9-11:40 AM (CRN 35781 sec 704; Prof. Hollee Freeman)
This course is specifically designed for VCU Honors College students who are interested in connecting their academic and career goals with their interest in serving others. A significant portion of the course involves an internship experience with a community organization. During this experience, students will develop a tangible social entrepreneurial project related to their own academic/career interests, as well as the needs of the community in which they choose to work.
Book to Broadway: Hamilton to Avenue Q R 4-6:40 PM (CRN 37229 sec 753; Prof. Marisa Guida)
Musicals are the most collaborative art form. Making it on Broadway translates to experts in several fields coming together and spending thousands of hours, blood,sweat, tears, and cold hard cash on one shared goal, telling a story. But not just any story. A GREAT story. With song, dance, lights, sets, the most talented performers, all live, right before your very eyes. This course will study the mechanics of four musicals from source to Broadway.
Psychology of Sexual Diversity M 4-6:40 PM (CRN 35765 sec 752; Prof. Shawn McNulty)
This course focuses on the psychological/social/historical constructions of personal identity of sexual and romantic attraction in Westernized cultures. Through study of various identity development theories, theories on attraction, the building of various social movements, and contextualizing modern perspectives through queer theoretical lenses, this writing-intensive course seeks to expand knowledge and awareness. Critical analysis of the texts, films, and speakers engaged through the course will help to position us to better understand our own viewpoints on critical issues facing those who disidentify with more typical social constructs of heterosexual norms and mores.
The Art of Creative World-Building for Fiction R 3-5:40 PM (CRN 36434 sec 750; Prof. David Robbins)
“What a world, what a world...” What of Oz, and Hogwarts, the planet Dune, the D-Day beaches, and King Arthur’s Court? What is the importance of place in a well-told tale? How does it integrate with character and plot? What are the best ways to research and build an effective setting for your stories? What are the rules? How to break them? Spend a semester studying the techniques and skills needed to create powerful fictive dominions for your creative writing. Conceiving memorable settings is only the beginning: the next step is to apply them as seamless components of a fully-realized narrative. The class will survey genres from science fiction to fantasy, history, stories set in foreign and romantic places. We will spotlight the tactics of the masters at world-building, focusing on the role setting plays in revealing character and plot. Students will workshop their own written pieces, invoking the strategies identified in our class.
The World 9/11 Made Day & Time TBA (CRN 35780 sec 703; Prof. Ted Tunnell)
This course explores American history since 9/11/01: the invasion of Iraq and the War on Terror; enhanced interrogation, Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib; Hurricane Katrina; the financial meltdown of 2008 and the Great Recession; the election of Barack Obama and the rise of the Tea Party; the culture wars, red states versus blue states, the nation’s cities versus the “real America” of farms and small towns; the pathology of income and wealth inequality; the election of Donald Trump, a president who bears more resemblance to actor Donald Sutherland’s President Snow in The Hunger Games than to Harry Truman or Dwight Eisenhower.
Politics and Pop Culture T 7-9:40 PM (CRN 37230 sec 754; Prof. Lauren White)
Popular culture and politics have many intersections, which can be seen in a variety of media. In this course the focus will be on film, music and social media. By focusing on these three forms of media, students will evaluate the intersections of popular culture and politics as displayed in the specific pieces selected for the course. Film, music and social media can influence people’s beliefs and experiences. We will seek to discover how popular culture outlets are actually powerful political tools.
The following Honors Modules (HONR 399; 1.5 credit hours) will be offered:
Social, Economic Changes in American Cities and Suburbs M 7-9:40 PM (CRN 36488 sec 703; Prof. John Palen)
This module will provide a synoptic view of the processes and consequences of American urbanization. We shall restrict our attention to the last 150 years with major attention devoted to the last 60 or so years of post World War II suburban growth and change. In our discussion, emphasis will be placed not only on what has occurred and is occurring, but also on its causation and implications for American society. The module will have three overlapping sections. The first will deal with the historical emergence of American Suburbs up to World War II. The second section will discuss mass suburbanization, suburbs and popular culture, suburban lifestyles, and the impact of government policy. The final section will deal with contemporary and future patterns including minority suburbanization, the emergence of edge cities and malls, and the new neo-traditional new urbanism communities.
Leadership in Modern America W 2-4:40 PM (CRN 28404 sec 701; Dr. Eugene Trani)
This module will give insight about the history, current status, and future of leadership in modern America. It will be run as a seminar and there will be reading, writing, guest speakers and class reports throughout the course of the module.
Move from College to Work TR 6-7:15 PM (CRN 371933 sec 001; Prof. Zandra Rawlinson)
This course is designed to prepare college juniors and seniors with the necessary shrewdness and practical know-how to succeed in the work world upon graduation. Students will gain knowledge on how to evaluate factors, such as understanding work culture, being an effective team member, crafting a professional brand and professional etiquette, to influence career success.
The Honors College faculty and staff are dedicated to developing a unique program of courses that challenges and stimulates students while encouraging open discussion and individual responsibility. At times it may be appropriate for an Honors student to convert a non-Honors course into Honors by working closely with a faculty mentor to develop an Honors plan of study. The student and faculty member collaborate to adjust the standard class syllabus into an Honors version that includes more advanced work. The Honors work may be done in place of regular assignments, or could be completed in addition to the regular assignments. You and the instructor should determine and specify on the course contract what percentage of your final grade this Honors-caliber work will comprise. No more than six of the total credit hours required for graduation with Honors may be taken as contract courses.
If you are considering this option, you should first speak with your Honors advisor about the process. Your Honors advisor will alert you to typical pitfalls that students encounter as well as common reasons proposals are returned for revision. After you have identified a class that you’d like to contract as Honors, you should approach the instructor and request that he or she work with you to convert the class into an Honors class. The faculty member is under no obligation to agree. You must be prepared for the possibility that the instructor does not have time or that the instructor feels that the class is not a good option for this contract process.
Once you have made arrangements to integrate advanced study, you must submit the non-honors to honors contract, including the details of your plan and the signed approval of your instructor, to your Honors advisor. The contract must be approved by the Honors College Associate Dean prior to the first day of classes for the given semester. Proposals are due at the end of the semester prior to the semester of the contract course.
Please note that course contracts are not allowed for any of the core Honors curriculum courses. In addition, because summer courses are considerably compressed due to time constraints, they are not eligible for the Honors course contract option.
The Honors Independent study (HONR 492) provides an opportunity for you to learn more about a specific topic of interest that is not included among existing VCU course offerings. Study is conducted under the guidance of a VCU faculty mentor who assists in planning and implementing the course of study. The independent study topic should be selected in consultation with your academic advisor to ensure that the proposed course of study is relevant to your educational goals.
The number of independent study credit hours for a single HONR 492 course may range from one to four credits. The number of credits are determined by the student’s advisor and the dean of the Honors College. Any single independent study class may not exceed four credit hours. Honors students may not register for more than nine total credits of HONR 492. Independent study credits may count toward graduation with University Honors.
If you are considering this option, you should consult your Honors advisor, who can review the general procedure and go over typical pitfalls that students encounter as well as common reasons proposals are returned for revision. After you have identified a topic that you’d like to explore independently, you should research which faculty members might be available to oversee and evaluate your work. You should then reach out to the faculty member and request that they serve as your faculty mentor. It is important to note that the Honors Independent Study is designed to provide you the opportunity to pursue your own research questions, not to assist with the research of another. Although some major departments offer independent study for serving as a lab or research assistant, earning Honors independent study credit requires you to take ownership of the research process.
The role of the faculty mentor is to guide the student in the study of the topic, meeting with the student to discuss progress, working with the student’s Honors advisor as needed to develop criteria for evaluating the student’s work, and communicating the grade for the course to the Honors dean. The faculty mentor must agree to be available to the student throughout the duration of the course. The faculty member is under no obligation to agree to serve as your faculty mentor. You must be prepared for the possibility that the instructor does not have time or that the instructor feels that he or she is unable to evaluate your work.
Any assignments required for the project must be submitted to a faculty mentor at least two weeks prior to the end of the semester. The structure of the assignments will depend on the type of project and must be determined in detail as part of the proposal process. The faculty mentor will determine the grade for the course based on the evaluation criteria stated in the independent-study proposal. To obtain credit and a grade for your independent study, you must submit the outcome materials specified in your proposal to a faculty mentor. The faculty mentor will communicate your final grade via official VCU email to the Honors dean, who serves as the instructor of record for all HONR 492 courses.
Once you have made arrangements to integrate advanced study, you must submit the Independent Study proposal form, including the details of your plan and the signed approval of your faculty mentor, to your Honors advisor. The proposal must be approved by the Honors College Associate Dean prior to the first day of classes for the given semester. Proposals are due at the end of the semester prior to the semester of the contract course.