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This course is designed to accomplish two related goals: first, to provide the participants a way to step back and view as a whole those subjects labeled “the humanities” – to discern how they “think,” to ask if there is any common denominator, any common method of understanding which runs through them; and, second, to provide participants the opportunity to self-consciously develop and exercise their study, research, oral presentation, and writing skills. (The course devotes as much attention to “process” as to “content.”) A primary objective of the course is to gain some perspective on the humanities; this course cannot possibly offer a comprehensive and/or exhaustive treatment of the subject.
Since many current debates in the humanities, and between the humanities and the social sciences and the natural sciences, are fundamentally debates over the nature of knowledge and of interpretation (interpretive understanding), we will focus in the seminar on philosophical hermeneutics. Hermeneutics – the science or art of “interpretation” – takes as its specific interest the issues of language, understanding and/or explanation, rationality, objectivity/subjectivity, and foundations. Many of the rationality v. ir-/anti-rationality debates in contemporary intellectual circles – debates about the nature of objectivity and impartiality, about moral norms, gender issues, education, the arts, the media, terrorism, and so on – have been significantly influenced by philosophical debates over the nature and allowable range of “interpretation.” In the second half of the seminar we will consider a few test cases in the hermeneutical understanding of the self and of culture.
The course, of course, will be run as a seminar. Although there may be lectures to lay out context or to unpack especially difficult material, all seminar members are encouraged to participate in the progress of each seminar through discussion. The success and worth of the course will depend to a large extent on the effort and time you put into it.
We make decisions on daily basis and in doing so rely on our intuitions for selecting the reasons and evidence on which we base these decisions. The same goes for how we construct and support arguments we make when discussing issues with our friends or writing research papers. Psychologists have long studied our reliance on such intuitions and analyze their reliability. Much of modern social science can be viewed as an effort to protect us against the shortcomings of purely intuition based argumentation and thereby construct logically more sound and empirically better supported arguments. The goal of this course is to introduce you to some of the elementary tools that a social science has available to supplement your intuitions and develop more compelling arguments. We explore the usefulness of these tools by applying to 9/11 and evaluating why some explanations are more compelling than others.
The Natural Science Seminar is designed as a preparation for sophomore-level Honors students who are planning on pursuing Senior Thesis research. In this course, you will be introduced to the principles of scientific research and will hear lectures from faculty in the sciences about their research areas and methodologies. In addition, I will invite outside speakers from industry and academia to talk about their work. Where and when possible, we will visit laboratories both on and off campus. Given the varied majors among students in this course, we will hear talks from faculty in various disciplines. We will discuss current literature, learn about writing research proposals, and about applying for some of the Nationally Competitive Scholarships for students in the sciences.
T or W 9:00-10:00
This purpose of this course is to help you design, research, and write an excellent senior thesis. We will meet once per week throughout the first part of the semester in order to discuss your interests and hone your thesis topic and research design. We will be in touch after the mid-term break to discuss your progress on your research to date. Towards the end of the semester, you will present the result of your research thus far at a research workshop attended by your senior thesis class, your Tutors and Readers, and underclass Honors majors. We will meet before then so that you can practice presenting your research to each other. At that time, you are expected to have draft of the thesis. I will be working closely with your Tutor and Reader throughout the course of the semester to make sure everyone is on the same page in terms of deadlines and work expected.
We have set up an FAQ page on the Honors Website that might help you: www1.villanova.edu/villanova/honors/academics/thesis/faqs.html
No Official Meeting Time
Required of all fall semester graduating students who are completing the senior thesis.
No Official Meeting Time
This course serves as the capstone for oral examination track students. Students will write a 5 page paper that integrates knowledge obtained from 3 upper-level Honors courses. This paper will be used as the basis for the oral examination held at the end of the semester. The examination will be conducted by a committee made up of 2 of the 3 professors from the chosen upper-level Honors courses.