The Honors Core 1 and Honors Core 2 sequence of courses establishes the foundation of the academic experience unique to the Honors program at the University of West Florida. In addition to statisfying 6 semester hours of the University's General Studies curriculum, Honors Core 1 and Core 2 will help Honors students 1) develop the academic, leadership, and personal skills needed to navigate through the Honors curriculum, prepare for the demands of the student's chosen academic program, and prepare for success in the world beyond one's undergraduate days, especially if those plans include pursuing post-baccalaureate education. The sequence of Honors Core 1 and Core 2 is specifically designed to meet the abilities and special talents of University Honors Students and will include personalized instruction so that Honors students can become the very best of the best. In addition to a traditional grounding in core texts and the overarching, guiding questions that have long beset humanity, students completing the Honors Core 1 and Core 2 sequence will develop a community service project and manage it through completion during the first semester, and then develop, investigate, and complete a substantial research project during the second semester.
The courses available vary each semester. Honors electives are offered that meet both General Studies requirements and Honors Program requirements. Students working on major requirements can complete Honors by Contracts for Honors elective credit. The paperwork for Honors by Contract can be found under the Current Students tab. Students interested in Honors Directed Study or Research should contact an Honors advisor.
As part of the enhanced education that the University Honors Program provides, we offer unique Honors Seminars. These seminars are held during normal class periods, but, like other Honors sections of courses, are limited to 15 students. They are also directed at exploring topics that are not typically covered in college courses.
Some of the seminars held in the past include...
Honors Seminar Descriptions:
From Wastelands to Wetlands: Our Changing View of Coastal Wetlands
What are coastal marshes? Are they mosquito infested, disease ridden wastelands or a vast shimmering expanse of grass and sky? Coastal marshes are highly productive areas which serve as nursery areas for many species, including many commercially important fisheries. Should coastal marshes be protected or should private property rights be ascendant? We will explore different perspectives of coastal wetlands, including the relationship between early civilizations and wetlands, literature, legal decisions, and the ecology of wetlands. Students will read original literature and discuss the readings in class. There will be 2 written and one oral assignment. The midterm assignment will be a research paper and an oral presentation of the highlights of the research paper. The final assignment will be a position paper exploring the pros and cons of wetland protection and restoration. We will have a weekend field trip to South Louisiana to the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium facility in Cocodrie, Louisiana. Students will have a service project working with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection Restoration section.
The Art of Social Change: From Cynicism to Activism
For most Americans, the Arab Spring of 2011 came as a major surprise, and not only because we had not been paying especially close attention to the internal affairs of Tunisia, Egypt, or Libya. On the contrary, it seems that Americans had reached a new level of cynicism. We had ceased to believe in the possibility of meaningful change in the world, never mind something as lofty and far-reaching as a revolution. Thus when the tiny country of Tunisia ousted its dictator, and Egypt followed suit, it was a wake up call for those of us in the West who had come to dismiss activism as a kind of naïve idealism that had no place in the 21st century.
How does change happen? What exactly do you have to do?
In this class we will try to answer these questions by studying the fine art of social change. We will approach our questions from both philosophical and practical perspectives. In addition to assessing the most influential theories of social transformation, we will make a study of the specific tactics that have worked for activists in the past. We will thus be in a perfect position to become activists ourselves, to work together to produce positive change in our world. By the time you leave this class, you will have had real life experience in putting theory into practice.
Students will be required to produce a portfolio of two-page essays in response to weekly readings and one longer researcher essay. Your success in the class will also depend on active participation in class and in the program for social action that we develop together.
Metanoia and Metalaw
Can an Evolution of Consciousness (Metanoia) and ecological Gaia Theory achieve a 'Great Turning' through a 'Great Work' of a 'Great Jurisprudence' (Metalaw)?
Many creations of Science Fiction, such as Star Trek, portray the future of planet Earth not as a utopia but as a planet in balance. Earth is portrayed as a place that has conquered the worst aspects of ecological imbalance, war, hunger and disease, while preserving diversity and turning it into a revered value. While even this limited vision may be utopian, we already know that the planet faces critical challenges and that we have seen the birth of the 'Planetary Era' and of 'globalization' in our lifetimes. Great thinkers like Joseph Campbell and Thomas Berry have suggested that we need to begin to think like a planetary species. They suggest a new myth, a planetary myth, should be developed. It would embrace all existing cultures and systems on the planet, while at the same time transcending them. Such a planetary myth would do this by becoming a new planetary paradigm, one with a hard-headed reverence for nature, and a deep understanding of its fragility and fundamental interconnectedness. This course will ask whether an evolution of consciousness (a 'Metanoia') combined with a new ecological scientific theory, known as 'Gaia Theory,' can help achieve what some have called the 'Great Turning' to the 'Planetary Era' and the 'Space Age' through what others have called the 'Great Work' of the 'Great Jurisprudence' (Metalaw)? This 'Great Work' is to bring the planet's economy and ecology into a healthy, sustainable balance over the next 100-300 years, before it's too late to avoid a planetary catastrophe. The 'Great Jurisprudence' is both a new way of looking at and also a new aspect of what the early space lawyers called 'Metalaw.' Metalaw and the Great Jurisprudence are descriptive of the source of what historically has been called 'Natural Law.' "For we hold these truths to be self-evident..." our American Founders said, who spoke freely of a "Law of Nature" and felt that we have been "endowed by our Creator" with that Natural Law. So what are the self-evident truths of Planet Earth? And will we be able to discover them and create a Gaiaopolis on the Planet Earth before we bring about a mass Ecocide? Your mission, if you choose to accept it...
Politics of Food
What is food, and where does it come from? It may seem strange to ask these questions, since their answers, for millennia, have been obvious, but over the course of the last century Americans have become estranged from their food and the contexts of its production. Much of the food we consume today would not have even been recognized as food by our great-grandparents: its origins are as mysterious to us as the stars once were to the earliest astronomers. In addition, some say the food we eat today is killing us, as food-related diseases such as obesity, diabetes and hypertension spiral out of control in our society. While for most of the world's history humans have spent their time growing, preparing and consuming food, we now expect food to be quick, cheap and highly portable-in short, we have turned food into the perfect commodity, a source of both profit and convenience.
This Honors Seminar will investigate practical and integrated psychology that draws from all the world's health and psychological systems. This is an amazing opportunity for Honors students to broaden their perspectives on the world and to learn about concepts that one could not explore at many other universities. The classes consist of one lecture/discussion class and then active practice of the principles learned. American approaches to psychology and health are in a state of dramatic change and will be significantly different in the near future. There are three reasons for this. First, is the influx and incorporation of Eastern approaches, such as yoga and meditation. For example, Buddhist-based mindfulness approaches are currently leading to revolutionary changes in stress management and cognitive therapy. Second, is the demand by consumers for more integrated and holistic approaches to health, including psychological health. Most health systems in the world e.g. Chinese, Ayurveda, Native American) recognize the interrelationships between mind/body/spirit. Third, is the recognition that a comprehensive, integrated approach must give more attention to transpersonal and biological factors (e.g., breath work, body work, nutrition.)
Each semester's offerings are different, so keep a watch on the University Honors Program's course offerings! If you have a suggestion for an Honors Seminar you would like to see taught, stop by the Honors Office or shoot us an e-mail to let us know.
All honors students are required to complete an Honors thesis in order to graduate as a University Honors Scholar. In addition, each student submitting a thesis must present his or her research at a conference or other public venue such as a regional Honors conference or the UWF Student Scholars Symposium. This page contains links to all of the necessary information you will need to complete your honors thesis.