Great Books Honors Program

GB

If we let ourselves, we shall always be waiting for some distraction or other to end before we can really get down to our work. The only people who achieve much are those who want knowledge so badly that they seek it while the conditions are still unfavorable. Favorable conditions never come.
-C.S. Lewis, “Learning in War-time”

An uncommon honors program requires an uncommon welcome. Honors programs typically aim at telling about all their bells and whistles. At Faulkner University, the Great Books Honors program was established with deep Christian conviction that academic excellence and service should always go together. The Honors program serves students in each academic department at Faulkner by offering an honors track for each discipline.

In the Great Books Honors program, we read, write, think, discuss, and serve with the sense that there are eternal implications to all that we are doing. So, if you too are seeking an uncommon, life-shaping experience, we invite you to consider joining the program and our community of learners.

Sincerely,
Andrew Jacobs
Director, Great Books Honors

Overview

As a part of Faulkner University, Great Books Honors offers a specific “Honors track” that integrates with each of the University’s undergraduate degree programs. This track’s core is a five-course sequence that features a number of the Great Books of Western culture and engages students in serious, reflective reading. In addition to the Great Books Honors core, each major has a version of two upper-division courses within that major that have been adapted to function within the Honors track requirements (Honors contracted courses). The student must also complete a senior thesis.

Benefits

The benefits of the Great Books Honors program are many and diverse. The Great Books Honors core courses all include a variety of authors on a number of different topics from a myriad of perspectives. In these courses, undergraduates receive their books free each semester through a special scholarship simply for being a participant in the program. Students learn to respectfully dialogue with ancient texts and with each other, logically evaluating their assumptions and refining their own ideas. Having completed the five-course sequence, students continue using the great texts from their introductory honors courses in their contract courses to bring together those early ideas with the modern knowledge of their major. The program culminates in a thesis, which gives students the opportunity to dig deeply into one concept through the lens of the Great Books. Ultimately, those honors students who complete the program are often given preference in the job and graduate school application process for their demonstrated dedication to learning and their proven ability to perform at a higher-than-average level of excellence.

Class Size

The maximum size for each Great Books Honors core course is 15 students, and in some sections, the actual number is even smaller. Further, the designated honors contract courses for each major typically feature low student-to-faculty ratios. These small classes allow better student-student and student-faculty interaction in the classroom.

Class Structure

Instead of the typical lecture class experience, students in Great Books Honors core courses participate in a round-table discussion of the assigned readings. Faculty, in addition to their role as teachers in this setting, serve as guides. This characteristic of the faculty frequently expresses itself through Socratic questioning and dialogue with students. Other students are likewise encouraged to take part in this approach through asking intelligent, reflective questions, resulting in  regularly stimulating and lively discussion. Moreover, in their contract courses, honors students frequently find fields for greater interaction, often including, but not limited to, class presentations of personal, scholarly research.

As a direct outgrowth of the in-class experience, the students and faculty associated with the Great Books Honors program form a unique bond with one another as they share, critique, and re-articulate their own thoughts on some of the greatest ideas in history. However, this element especially extends beyond the classroom. Honors students, while definitely enjoying interaction with students and faculty outside the Honors program, often find a special bond with other Honors students and faculty. This bond may take the form of mentoring, friendship, and other relationships that then permeate the rest of the university experience.

Courses

To graduate with Great Books Honors, each student must complete a sequence of five courses (Great Books I–V) designed to provide a solid foundation for future study and reflective reading of classical literature. Generally, students taking these Great Books courses are exempted from other courses normally required for their degree programs. The goal of these exemptions is to provide an honors education within the framework of the student’s normal degree plan. Thus, there are not more courses required (with the exception of Senior Thesis), but higher quality courses.

Further, honors students may take two honors contract courses in their departments and that are generally already required for the students’ majors. Please see the contract courses information and policies in the handbook for more information about these courses.

Finally, students graduating with Great Books Honors will complete a Senior Thesis. Ideally, students will decide on a thesis topic within the first two years of the Great Books Honors core courses (Great Books I–V). This will enable the students to write material for their thesis as part of their honors core and contract courses. Thus, when the student actually takes the Senior Thesis course, much of their research has already been completed.

Thus, the typical modifications to a student’s degree plan will be as follows:

Substitute Core Courses

  • EH 1301 English Composition I
  • EH 1302 English Composition II
  • HU 2315 Western Tradition I
  • HU 2325 Western Tradition II
  • Relevant HY/EH/BI courses

NB: These substitutions are flexible, depending on the student’s degree plan. For students transferring in with college credit, for instance, these GB courses may also be used as electives.

Add Honors Core Courses

  • GB 1300 Introduction to Great Books (if applicable) – Utilizing the discussion approach, this course explores works of literature, philosophy, religion, and political thought from the ancient world to the modern. Extensive reading, writing, and verbal participation are required. (GB 1300 is not a part of the Great Books core and represents a bridge course to the honors program. Students who successfully complete the course and receive director approval will officially join the Great Books Honors Program and may continue with the rest of the Great Books course work.)
  • GB 1301 Great Books I – Utilizing the discussion approach, this course explores works of literature, philosophy, religion, and political thought of the ancient world. Authors include, but are not limited to, Homer, Plato, Aristotle, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes, Virgil and Augustine. The course requires intensive work in reading, writing, and civil discourse.
  • GB 1302 Great Books II – Utilizing the discussion approach, this course explores works of literature, philosophy, religion, and political thought of the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Authors include, but are not limited to, Aquinas, Dante, Machiavelli, More, Luther, Calvin, and Shakespeare. The course requires intensive work in reading, writing, and civil discourse.
  • GB 2301 Great Books III – Utilizing the discussion approach, this course explores works of literature, philosophy, religion, and political thought of the Enlightenment and Romantic era. Authors include, but are not limited to Descartes, Milton, Locke, Voltaire, Rousseau, Kant, Wordsworth, and Austen. The course requires intensive work in reading, writing, and civil discourse.
  • GB 2302 Great Books IV – Utilizing the discussion approach, this course explores works of literature, philosophy, religion, and political thought of the modern world. Authors include, but are not limited to Kierkegaard, Marx, Dostoevysky, Sartre, Camus, Brecht, Auden, Eliot, Nietzsche, and Solzhenitsyn. The course requires intensive work in reading, writing, and civil discourse.
  • GB 3301 Great Books V– Utilizing the discussion approach, this course explores works of Christian formation through the centuries. Authors include, but are not limited to, Ireneaus, Polycarp, Athanasius, Ignatius, Gregory of Nazianzus, Basil the Great, Ambrose, Gregory the Great, St. Benedict, St. John of the Cross, St. Teresa of Avila, The Cloud of Unknowing, Ignatius of Loyola, and Thomas a Kempis. The course requires intensive work in reading, writing, and civil discourse.
  • GB 3302 Senior Thesis – Great Books Senior Thesis will be taken one semester prior to or the anticipated semester of the student’s anticipated graduation. This course is only for those who are in good standing in the Great Books Honors Program and shall culminate in the student’s thesis or final project.

Change Major Courses

Two courses from the student’s major are modified to honors contract courses equivalents. The student completes the same work as his or her non-GB peers but adds an additional component to their study in that class. Please see the contract courses information and policies in the handbook for more information about these courses.

Handbook

Great Books Honors students represent a unique group at Faulkner University. Comprised of students from different backgrounds, representing all university colleges with different skills and academic interests, GBH students nonetheless pursue a life of the mind together in a model steeped in the rich content of liberal arts learning. As such, membership to the program is also distinct. The following handbook contains information about membership requirements and responsibilities in the Great Books Honors program, as well as information related to the Great Books thesis and graduation from the program. Any questions concerning this material should be forwarded to the Director for Great Books Honors: ajacobs@faulkner.edu.

Goals of the Program

The Great Books Honors program exists to serve some of Faulkner’s many talented students and provide a co-enrollment program in which students from all colleges at Faulkner University may participate. The course of study is designed to encourage students to develop high intellectual standards; engage in Christian, community-shaped thought; and strengthen their critical-thinking skills while growing in their faith toward God.

Honors students are encouraged to pursue excellence in academic work for the glory of God and the benefit of those whom students meet for ministry. Too often, Christians are unconsciously inundated by contemporary culture with the result that, often, these same Christians are both oblivious to sin’s destructiveness and painfully unable sensibly to articulate the gospel. The Great Books Honors program attempts to help students break this mold. Through intelligent, reflective questioning and engaging dialogue, students are encouraged, in a communal context, to think “Christianly” about all areas of life, whether they be art, sports, congregational assembly, or a trip to the grocery store.

Finally, students develop their critical-thinking faculties so that, both before and after graduation, students have the intellectual tools necessary for a lifetime of fruitful, reflective thinking and reading. Additionally, students are encouraged to develop analytical abilities so that they may kindly critique their culture and bring the love of God to bear upon it. It is always the aim of the Great Books Honors faculty to help students excel in all areas, and most especially, in these listed above for a lifetime of enriched, joy-filled service.

Requirements

To be eligible to participate in the Great Books Honors program, the following requirements must be met: 

New, prospective students requirements

  • Complete a short application and interview,
  • Have a high school GPA of at least 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale),
  • Score at least a 27 on the English component of the ACT or at least a 580 on the verbal component of the SAT, and
  • Receive written confirmation of acceptance via e-mail or postal mail.

Continuing Honors student requirements

  • Establish a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0 during the freshman year and maintain a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 until graduation. A student whose cumulative GPA fails to meet this standard will not automatically be released from the program. That student’s record will be reviewed term by term, and membership may be continued provided the student shows steady progress in raising the GPA to 3.0 and remains in good standing regarding the other requirements listed here.
  • Comply with the University handbook regarding conduct and behavior.

Prospective graduate requirements

  • Complete the five core courses with a 3.0 or greater GPA.
  • Complete the two contract courses related to major.
  • Complete the Senior Thesis or Project.

Every semester, the Great Books Honors staff reviews the records of students who plan to graduate at the end of that term. A student who is a member in good standing at the time of that review will graduate with Great Books Honors and these honors will be noted in the graduation program.

Bridge Course

Students who do not fully qualify for the Great Books Honors program may still apply for admission to the GB 1300 Introduction to Great Books course. To participate in GB 1300 students must,

  • Complete a short application and interview,
  • Have a high school GPA of at least 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale),
  • Score at least a 23 on the English component of the ACT and an overall composite of 25 (or the SAT equivalent), and
  • Receive written confirmation of acceptance via e-mail or postal mail.

Technology

For general technical support with Google Apps, please refer to our YouTube Channel or the Resources and Help pages on the Scholarnet Intranet.

For more specialized assistance with Scholarnet Apps, please email scholarnet@studyliberalarts.org. You can help support personnel address your technical issues most efficiently by providing a detailed description of the problems you are experiencing in any support requests you forward.

For acknowledgements for this artwork and its licenses on the Great Books Honors and Humanities Department pages, please see this document.

Contact Us

Andrew Jacobs

Phone: {334} 386-7657

Email: ajacobs@faulkner.edu

Mail: Faulkner University
Great Books Honors Program
5345 Atlanta Highway
Montgomery, AL 36109