Below is an overview of some of the intellectually, socially, and emotionally enriching projects that honors students in our college’s Honors Enrichment Program (HEP) engage in. The list is broken down by discipline and/or course and is intended to provide a small sample, rather than an exhaustive list, of the opportunities available to Honors students in these disciplines:
For some sections of Cultural Anthropology (ANTH 102H) or Physical Anthropology (ANTH 101H), Honors students are expected to complete a large research project devoted to a major topic in anthropology. The students prepare an annotated bibliography and present an in-class oral presentation. If the topic and number of students allow, this presentation can take the form of a debate or a panel. Topics in the past have included a critique of Darkness in El Dorado, an examination of the Mead-Freeman debate concerning the nature versus nurture debate, an examination of the biological concept of race, and an examination of whether or not humans are inherently violent.
Honors students in Art History (ART 102H and ART 103H) conduct a museum-based research project on a particular topic in art. For example, students may have to select a single work of art in the collection of a Los Angeles area museum and then perform in-depth research about every aspect possible of its background and importance. Another assignment might include researching German printmaking at the Gore Rifkind study center of the LA County Museum of Art. In the process of the course, students gain access to many priceless artworks, as well as the assistance of the center’s staff.
Honors students in the Topics in Biology course (BIOL 115H) develop a testable hypothesis on a subject in biology that has larger implications. They research the topic using peer-reviewed, scientific journals. They then design a controlled experiment to test that hypothesis and carry the experiment out to determine if their hypothesis is supported. Finally, they analyze their data using statistical measures, develop appropriate tables and figures, and write up their study in the format of a manuscript for submission into a biological journal. They also present their study on PowerPoint to the non-honors students. Past topics have included testing the effects of the addition of acidic substances to soil on the growth of native plants (the larger implication being the effects of acid rain on vegetation and biodiversity) and testing the effects of constant exposure to different kinds of music on growth and learning in mice (the larger implication being the effects of hard rock on learning in teenage humans).
Honors students in various English classes (such as ENGL 220H: Analysis of Fiction and ENGL 280H: Multiethnic Literature) are expected to read an additional full-length novel or text and write an extended analytical paper. The students also have the opportunity to meet one-on-one with the professor in order to make their understanding of the text more concrete. In other English courses, such as ENGL 106: Introduction to Literature, honors students work on a group project where they analyze a text or novel, meeting with the professor several times over the course of the semester for discussions. In addition, they write a research paper and conduct peer reviews of their paper.
Honors students in Introduction to Environmental Science (ENVS101H) are asked to do a literature review on a controversial topic in environmental science, using at least fifteen peer-reviewed, scientific journal articles. Honors students in the same section are encouraged to work together on the project as co-authors. They are asked to objectively weigh the scientific evidence on both sides of the scientific debate, draw a conclusion from their studies as to which argument most studies they reviewed support, and then write the literature review in the format of a manuscript that could be submitted for publication in an environmental science journal. Topics that have been done in the past have included a review on perchlorate contamination in the Colorado River and a review on the scientific debate over the ultimate cause of global climate change. At the end of the semester, the students turn in their report and present what they did in a PowerPoint presentation to the non-Honors students.
In the honors humanities course (Introduction to the Humanities to 1500), students are expected to complete a research project on a piece of architecture that includes a paper and a presentation, along with a monthly seminar that refers to additional readings.
Honors Enrichment Program 200: The Honors Seminar
The multidisciplinary Honors Seminar is the heart of our Honors Program, the central constituent of the 15 units required for graduation as an honors student. The topic, as well as the faculty who participate, change each semester, creating a dynamic and fluid learning experience each time the course is taught. Students who have taken it say it has helped them in all their other classes and given them an appreciation and understanding of their world around them.
Honors students in MATH 105H have the opportunity to use a graphing calculator to solve various mathematical problems, such as using the linear regression option to find the line of best fit, finding the determinant and inverse of a matrix, or graphing polynomial functions.
Honors students in Introduction to Psychology (PSYC 101H) complete a series of three projects related to psychology research. The first project involves the development and completion of simple research techniques, such as developing an experiment or survey. The second project involves the implementation of some type of learning theory on an experimental group (such as a student’s dog or spouse). The third project is a class presentation on a topic of their choice.
In philosophy courses, honors students participate in a monthly seminar on a reading of importance in philosophy and complete a critical paper or class presentation.