The Lasallian Honors Program provides an alternative general-education curriculum for students whose academic records are in the top 10% of their incoming class. The program is designed for academically motivated students who wish to engage in "shared inquiry" in seminar-style, interdisciplinary classes. The hallmarks of the Honors Program are in-depth discussions of the Great Books* in seminar-style classes; service learning; experiential learning in the arts; and participation in a community of learners.
The Lasallian Honors Program goals include:
- Critical Thinking
- Oral Communications (in shared-inquiry seminars and presentations)
- Close Reading of foundational texts in a range of disciplines
- Analysis of others' and one's own ideas
- Clear and thought-provoking Writing
- Experience with and reflection on Service
- Experience as audience members and creators of Art
- Collaboration in learning (learning as a four-year cohort group)
The Lasallian Honors Program addresses SMU's mission and general-education goals in the following ways:
- The Great Books in a wide range of disciplines constitute a strong foundation for a general education program. LH courses aim to meet the College's general education goals in Aesthetics, Cultural Traditions, Faith Traditions, Human Systems, Literature, Moral Traditions, and non-lab Natural Scientific Systems.
- The "shared inquiry" seminar format of Honors courses is conducive to critical thinking, dialogue, and student engagement.
- Service learning promotes the Lasallian disposition of service, and it is widely recognized as a means of engaging students in their own learning, the needs of the community, and self-reflection.
- Close reading, critical thinking, and analysis – skills that are emphasized in every Honors course – are cross-disciplinary liberal arts and life-long skills.
- The writing-intensive (W-I) curriculum in the Lasallian Honors Program supports the campus-wide commitment to improving student writing. Six of the eight LH courses meet the W-I criteria.
- The concentration on honing Oral Communications skills in LH courses, in small- and large-group discussions and in formal presentations, supports the college faculty’s commitment to the OC skill area. Oral Communications constitutes at least 20% of the grade in every LH course.
* The "Great Books" refers to a liberal-arts curriculum based on foundational texts in a wide range of disciplines. Although Great Books programs began in the 1920s with a list of 100 "essential" (and almost all Western) primary texts, today's Great Books programs draw from among hundreds of possible choices of texts that have been of critical importance in the formation of issues and ideas in a diversity of cultures and disciplines. The programs presume a "shared inquiry" seminar-style of learning, in which students are actively constructing meaning about the texts in facilitated discussions.
Click on courses below for descriptions
This first-year seminar provides an initial university experience that enables students to begin the process of developing a Lasallian identity: educated, compassionate, and engaged in their local and global communities. To facilitate a successful transition to Saint Mary’s University, emphasis is placed on developing critical academic skills and attitudes, learning about our Lasallian mission and Winona’s natural environment, and forming a community of honors students. Students encounter foundational heroic myths and sacred narratives from several cultural traditions, including those unique to the Upper Mississippi River region and to Lasallian education. The life of Saint John Baptist de La Salle, the epic poems Gilgamesh and Homer's Iliad, selected books from the Hebrew scriptures, and other texts both ancient and modern, serve as points of departure for understanding our intellectual, environmental, and spiritual traditions. This course also includes an Artscore component; students’ attendance at several performances at Page Theater allows the students to reflect on the nature and value of music, theatre, dance, and visual art in human culture.
This seminar introduces students to great texts from the Western Classical era, beginning with Greek epic, drama, and philosophy and continuing through representative texts of the Roman Empire and early Christianity. Selected texts may include Homer's Odyssey, plays by Aeschylus or Euripides, a dialogue of Plato, Virgil's Aeneid, Ovid's Metamorphoses, one of the four gospels, and Augustine's Confessions or Boethius' Consolation of Philosophy. The seminar format and writing assignments help provide students with a critical understanding of the ancient works that have been central to the development of our Western intellectual tradition. Additionally, students will be introduced to elements of Greek and Roman culture, such as the Greek language and the Roman art of memory.
One of the most enduring questions a liberal arts education must engage is, what does it mean to lead a just life? This leads to a further question: what is my responsibility to others within the human community? In this seminar, second-year students encounter texts that have provided a foundation for thinking about the problems of justice and moral responsibility. Such texts may include Plato's Republic, as well as the writings of Aristotle, Dante, and Shakespeare. A service-learning experience is integrated into the course, in which the practical dimensions of justice and servant leadership are explored within the local community.
In this course, students encounter some of the works of Early Modern and Enlightenment thinkers, including Galileo, Descartes, Newton, Locke, and Rousseau. These writers represent a major transitional period in Western civilization: a move away from classical culture and its authorities, a split between philosophy and what would come to be called science, an embrace of the view of the human person as an individual, an emphasis on experience and experiment. The course ends with a close reading and discussion of Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov as one critique of the implications of the emerging tradition of Western Humanism. Students also continue to engage in service learning as they explore the tension between abstract ideas and concrete realities evident in much of the work of these authors.
Art: it is as natural to us as it is mysterious. It is as inspiring as it is commonplace. But what is art exactly? What do we make of it? What do we learn by creating it? By studying a diverse array of works of art – from poetry to the symphony, from painting to the novel – this course attempts to answer these and similar questions about the process and products we call art. Students learn to identify, explain, and appreciate an array of monumental artistic achievements and understand why these works are considered substantial contributions to our cultural heritage. They also discuss how artistic expression affects or reflects our understanding of ourselves and the world in which we live. The course includes student creation of works of art in tutorial sessions.
This third-year seminar involves close reading and discussion of texts honored by Eastern traditions, which may include the Bhagavad Gita, the Buddhist Scriptures, the Confucian Analects, the Tao Te Ching, the koans used by the Zen Buddhist tradition, and the Koran. An experiential tutorial in Eastern practices is designed to enrich students’ appreciation of the role of meditation, yoga, self-cultivation, and aesthetic expression within the intellectual and spiritual traditions of the East.
The word "modern" sometimes is used simply to describe anything new and advanced. In this course, the "Modern World" is recognized as the creation of revolutions of the mind that have their roots in 17th-century Western philosophy but that took hold in many disparate fields in the 19th and 20th centuries as a Modern worldview. One alternative worldview that has both embraced and challenged aspects of Modernity is Catholicism. This course explores the works and impacts of major thinkers of that world-transforming intellectual movement called Modernity in dialogue with Catholic responses to those thinkers. Through reading, writing, and seminar discussion, the course challenges students to uncover what Modernity means, what Catholicism means, and what synergies and antagonisms might exist between the two. Such discoveries should provide a critical understanding of contemporary culture and provoke consideration of how one can live more thoughtful and responsible lives as scholars and servants in our postmodern world.
This senior-year colloquium provides a capstone experience in which students explore the four spheres of adult life: citizenship, work, marriage and the family, and faith. Students are challenged to engage these themes through close reading and discussion of texts, reflection on their education in the Lasallian Honors Program, and service learning. The purpose of this course is to prepare students to live out the Lasallian charism in the contemporary world. Texts used in the course may include Tocqueville's Democracy in America, Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, essays by Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton, and short stories by a variety of American authors. The course includes a service-learning component, in which students work at the Catholic Worker houses in Winona.
Christian Michener, Ph.D.
Director, Lasallian Honors Program
Saint Mary's University of Minnesota
700 Terrace Heights #1527
Winona, MN 55987-1399
(800) 635-5987, Ext. 1423