Students in the Honors Program are privileged to a more rigorous and broad-based liberal arts education at Gonzaga University. Honors students must complete the Honors core, an expansion of the general University core, in addition to completing the requirements for their specific majors. The Honors core consists of two components: the Honors seminar classes and the Honors colloquia.
The Honors seminars are classes that fulfill the University core requirements but are tailored specifically for Honors students. Classes generally place emphasis on discussion and reflections on readings. Many of the classes are taught in the Hopkins House seminar room, which provides an ideal atmosphere for lively face-to-face dialogue around a single table. Faculty for Honors seminars are recruited from the best teachers the University has to offer. Every effort is made to ensure that a wide diversity of faculty enjoy the opportunity of teaching Honors students in the areas about which they are most passionate.
Philosophy: There are four Honors philosophy seminars mirroring the general philosophy core of the University: Critical Thinking, Human Nature, Ethics, and a seminar on the philosophy of technology linked to the Junior Colloquium (see below).
Literature: There are three Honors literature seminars: A two semester history of Western literature and a special topics course.
Math and Science: Honors students are required to take at least one lab science, one semester of Calculus, and a third course in either science or math.
Social Science: Students choose to take two courses from the following fields of study: psychology, sociology, economics, political science, and criminal justice.
History: A special topics Honors history seminar is offered every spring. Recent courses include the history of the colonization of the Americas, the history of Zen Buddhism, and the history of Stalinist Russia.
Religious Studies: There are Honors seminars offered for two of the three religious studies requirements: A scripture class in the first year and a history of American Christianity linked with the Sophomore Colloquium (see below).
Fine Arts: Honors students are required to take six credits in Music, Art, or Drama, three of which may be performance credits.
Speech: There is an Honors Rhetoric seminar.
Foreign Language: Students are expected to take the equivalent of one year of ancient Greek or Latin or two years of a modern language.
The specific requirements for the Honors core vary for the different colleges at Gonzaga. Additionally, the particular course requirements listed above are further tailored to the needs of schedule flexibility of the individual student. As completion of the Honors core and major requirements often entails an extensive course load, Honors students may exceed the maximum 18-credit limit of the University and take up to 24 credits per semester for no additional tuition fee.
The annual Honors colloquia examine the social, religious, and cultural dimensions of modern life. The emphasis in the colloquia is less on learning information than on personal appropriation. Each colloquium is a three-credit lecture course.
The Freshman Colloquium introduces students to issues of class, race, gender, mental health, and sexual orientation as these show up in their new home in Spokane. The course includes a twenty-hour service-learning component. Service-learning placements range from working with the homeless in an overnight shelter to working with LGBT high school students to tutoring at-risk children in local primary schools. In class, students learn about the historical genesis for each category in our society, hear from local activists, and watch and discuss movies that tackle the issues that arise.
The Sophomore Colloquium offers a multimedia study of American Christianity, looking at how Christianity has adapted to the American context as well as how Christianity has shaped the American identity. As part of the course students go into the field and study one of the many Christian groups that have their origins in the United States. This colloquium runs in tandem with the Sophomore Honors religion seminar. It is team taught by the director and a professor from the religious studies department.
The Junior Colloquium consists of study of how electronic technology is revolutionizing our understandings of our experience and understanding of space and time, as well as new modes of reasoning. Through philosophical essays and movies, students explore how inventions from the telegraph to the internet, from nuclear weapons to genetic engineering have created new ways of life, and new threats to life, indeed new understandings of the nature of being human and new organizations of space and time.
The Senior Colloquium guides students in writing an interdisciplinary Honors thesis in which they explore an issue germane to their future work. Each student chooses a mentor to direct them through research and rough drafts to the final production of a forty page thesis. A public presentation of his her thesis in April culminates the student's four years of work in the program.