Honors Course Guidelines

Below is information for faculty members interested in proposing courses for Drury University’s Honors Program. You will find a set of general criteria for all Honors courses, as well as an explanation of the different levels of honors seminars. Also included is a discussion of faculty compensation.

Criteria for Honors Courses

Regardless of their level, Honors seminars should be characterized by an unusually high standard of expectation. Students should be asked to study harder, dig deeper, read and write more, and to take responsibility for their learning in a spirit of inquiry. They should also be encouraged to see the topics and themes of a particular seminar through a variety of perspectives.

Preference will be given to courses that encourage an exploratory process. Instructors are encouraged to experiment with pedagogical techniques, and to consider activities and events outside the classroom. Team-teaching and “linked” courses—in which instructors shape compatible and resonant courses with shared readings and co-curricular out-of-class activities—are also encouraged.

Honors seminars should support the spirit of the GP21 program. In most cases, special focus should be given to primary texts—original written documents, scientific theories or experiments, artistic images, etc. And in all cases, emphasis should be placed on student’s written expression.

The First Year
Students admitted their first semester into the Honors Program will take a spring course entitled Honors 101. This intensive seminar will delve into many of the world’s greatest works of literature, political philosophy, intellectual history, and science. It also introduces students to library and field research, as well as to creative projects, and helps to acclimate them to the theoretical and practical approaches of their subsequent work.

200-Level Courses
Freshmen and sophomore Honors students have a variety of “intermediate” seminars to choose from after their first semester. In general, these seminars focus upon a problem or theme which can be approached from a variety of perspectives. Some examples from past years include “Understanding the Holocaust” and “The Rhetoric of Vietnam.” Two hundred-level courses should foster critical inquiry, discussion, and debate; they should seek to expand students’ sense of the questions they address. They should also build upon the fundamentals of research, as introduced in Honors 101. “Research” here is broadly defined—not only the traditional exploratory paper is meant, but also creative activities, laboratory work, and community service.

300-Level Courses
Upper-level Honors seminars may be taken only by juniors and seniors. Often, but not always, these courses are in-depth examinations of a contemporary issue. Recent and forthcoming examples include “Does God Exist?” “Gender, Islam, and Globalization,” “Hip-Hop Nation,” and “Taiwan: Another China.” These courses should be innovative and interdisciplinary. In some cases they may also parallel the general education curriculum. Finally, they should also include a significant research experience in preparation for the Honors Senior Colloquium & Research experience of students’ final year. Students in 300-level Honors courses should continue to learn and model the practices of scholarly research.

Honors Senior Colloquium & Research
The Honors Senior Colloquium & Research project is a yearlong capstone experience that is the culmination of four years of learning in the Honors program. Projects range from original research in the humanities and sciences to works of creative writing and performing arts. (For a listing of recent projects, click here.) Additional information about the process and timeline of the senior project can be found at the Senior Colloquium & Research page. Faculty guidelines for those interested in serving on a project committee can be found here.

Faculty Recognition and Compensation

The University Honors Program cannot function without the interest and involvement of the faculty. It is important that honors instructors embrace the general goals of the program and, in return, be afforded the time and resources to prepare their courses in such a way that they are consistent with those goals. Program faculty receive as compensation for teaching in the program a $500 summer stipend.

Notes for faculty submitting Honors course proposals:

Before deciding whether to submit a proposal, please read these materials carefully and examine the overview of Honors Program curriculum and requirements that is posted on the Honors website. You can also speak with Randall Fuller (x7220), who would be happy to discuss your ideas or provide more information and context.

General information

Each year approximately 25 Honors students are accepted as incoming first-year students to Drury. On average, they have a combined Verbal and Math SAT of about 1410, and are ranked in the top 10% of their class. In their first year at Drury, Honors students take an introductory course that covers a wide range of historical, philosophical, and literary texts while at the same time commencing their familiarity with scholarly research.


Only full-time, permanent faculty members are eligible to teach an Honors seminar. Please address all the parts of the proposal form, and talk with your department chair before submitting a proposal in order to avoid any scheduling misunderstandings. If you are thinking of team-teaching, it is wise for each of the faculty pair to observe one of the other’s class meetings to help anticipate teaching style, philosophy, and compatibility issues.

Proposals for courses to be taught in 2009-2010 are due Friday, November 14, 2008. They should be sent as an email attachment to Randall Fuller.

The Courses

An Honors seminars should be a new course, not simply an “honorized” version of a current course. It should be a liberal arts course that presents concepts, topics, or themes though multiple lenses. It should utilize reading beyond a textbook, and encourage the development of research and writing skills, as well as promoting good critical thinking. Ideally, the seminar should be intellectually stimulating to students considering a variety of different majors. Put another way, the seminar should illustrate both the synergy and differences that result from studying a set of issues or problems from more than one disciplinary perspective. The term “seminar” implies that active discussions should occur fairly regularly.

Honors seminars should inspire intellectual growth. They should be characterized by the asking of sophisticated questions, and they should teach students how to find and evaluate answers. Assignments and expectations should be clear, and beyond that offered by standard courses. While Honors students are motivated to excel, it is important to bear in mind that as first- and second-year students, they rely on faculty to provide explicit instructions and guidelines that will enable them to build the necessary skills and expertise that are required for future independent research.

Process for consideration

The Honors Program is seeking proposals for high-quality courses taught by faculty who possess strong records of effective teaching. Teaching effectiveness will be taken into consideration when evaluating a proposal. Course proposals will be submitted to the Honors Director and reviewed by the Honors Council. The Committee will make recommendations about which courses should be approved, and the Director of the Honors Program will decide which courses will be offered and when. It is possible that strong courses will not be chosen because of the need for balanced offerings (too many courses from a particular perspective or discipline, for example), but those courses might be appropriate at a later date.

Each professor who develops a new Honors course will have access to a summer stipend of $500. In a typical year, the Honors Program will need two 200-level Honors Seminars and two 300-level Seminars. Honors courses are intended to have no more than 20 students in them.

Related Links:

Honors Course Proposal Form