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.
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.
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.
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.