Lasallian Honors Program

Lasallian Honors Program

The Lasallian Honors Program partially fulfills the general education requirements for graduation and is available to a select number of students each year.

It is designed to provide an intellectually stimulating experience for bright and motivated students who wish to engage in "shared inquiry" in small, interdisciplinary classes (also available is the Lasallian Core Traditions Program).

The hallmarks of the Honors Program are in-depth discussions of the Great Books and other notable texts of the Western and Eastern cultural traditions; service learning with organizations in the community; experiential learning in the fine arts; and participation in a community of learners who desire to grow intellectually, spiritually, and creatively. The program is grounded in the university mission and the Lasallian dispositions of faith, zeal, service, and community.

The ultimate goal of the Lasallian Honors Program is to awaken and nurture the intellectual, spiritual, and personal development of learners in preparation for lives of servant leadership and appreciation of the world’s intellectual and cultural heritages.

Program Details

Students are invited into the Lasallian Honors Program based on their college-entrance test scores, their academic record, and their co-curricular activities and achievements.

Through a series of eight seminar courses, students read and engage with the most important ideas in human history. Through service learning, students explore the practical dimensions of social justice in the local community and reflect on the Christian concept of servant leadership. And through innovative tutorials in the fine arts, students learn about and create a variety of works of art.

Students are required to maintain a minimum 3.2 cumulative grade point average in order to remain in good standing in the Lasallian Honors Program. Students who spend a semester studying abroad can substitute one course taken abroad for one honors course.

Program Outcomes

Students in the Lasallian Honors Program develop advanced skills in analytical reading, writing, critical thinking, and oral communications. The curriculum promotes active learning, preparation for graduate study and professional work, and camaraderie in a supportive community of peers and professors.


Degree Requirements

Lasallian Honors courses

All of the following:

LH105 Origins and Foundations (4 cr.)

As the first course in the Lasallian Honors Program at Saint Mary's University, Origins considers a variety of beginnings. This first-year seminar facilitates a successful transition to the university through its emphasis on developing critical academic skills and attitudes as well as appreciation of the university's Lasallian mission and of Winona's natural environment. Points of departure for understanding our intellectual, environmental and spiritual traditions include readings on the natural features of our region and on the life of Saint John Baptist de La Salle; the ancient narratives of Gilgamesh, Genesis and The Iliad; and a modern novel, Toni Morrison's Song of Solomon, which elaborates on the modern significance of ancient hero stories. As part of the introduction to the Saint Mary's community, and as a precursor to the Aesthetics course in the junior year of the honors program, students attend and discuss four local arts events during the semester. Students' participation as audience members provides opportunities to reflect on the nature and value of art in community and culture.

LH155 The Classical Tradition (4 cr.)

This course introduces students to central texts of the classical tradition in order to provide them with a critical understanding of ancient works that have been central in the development of both a global and a particularly Western tradition. It continues to engage students in the key honors program practices of active and close reading, shared inquiry and formal presentations. The course provides as part of its inquiry questions about the historical and/or cultural conditions that help one to understand the origin or implications of issues raised by the texts.

LH205 Ethics and Justice in Society (4 cr.)

This course continues the practice of close reading of central texts, now with a particular eye for how such texts address fundamental philosophical questions of ethics, justice, and politics, especially as they relate to the concept of the "happy life." Through close reading of classical authors such as Plato, Aristotle and Dante, students will also be asked to consider the themes of the course in contemporary contexts, in particular by demonstrating the call to ethical service through their service learning work at area agencies.

LH255 Knowledge, Authority, and the Individual in Culture and the Cosmos (4 cr.)

e beyond the largely unchallenged authority of scholasticism, a split between philosophy and what would come to be called science, a reinterpretation of the role of the individual as a knowing subject, and an expanded 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 continue to engage in service learning begun in LH205 as they explore the interaction between concrete realities and abstract ideas evident in much of the work of these authors.

LH305 Aesthetics (4 cr.)

This course provides an intensive study of questions and issues that are both generated and answered by a variety of art forms, including literature, painting, sculpture and music. In studying the nature and role of the imagination, and the process of embodying that imagination in art, the course continues the inquiry into epistemological questions about how one comes to know the world that were raised in earlier honors classes about the classical world and scientific reasoning. Students will consider a number of significant literary works; paintings and sculptures from different cultural contexts; and significant works of music to address such questions as the nature of art, its role in interpreting the world, and how it represents or creates what we understand of our world or culture. As part of this inquiry, students will be asked to produce and reflect on their own works of the imagination.

LH355 Classics of the East and Islam (4 cr.)

This third-year seminar builds upon the honors program's emphasis on ways of knowing through close reading and discussion of classic and contemporary texts honored by Eastern traditions, including the Bhagavad Gita, the Tao Te Ching, the Qu'ran, and prominent contemporary Buddhist thinkers. Students will be introduced to art and to vocal and other practices (singing, chant, meditation) central to the spiritual experience in these traditions.

LH405 Catholicism and the Modern World (4 cr.)

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 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 a postmodern world.

LH455 Lasallian Honors Capstone (4 cr.)

In this capstone seminar, seniors in the honors program explore, in a U.S. American context, four spheres of adult life: citizenship, work, relationships and spirituality. 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 course emphasizes an awareness of historical development of society and social construction of individuals and systems, the challenging and ownership of one's own beliefs, and the living out of Lasallian values in a contemporary world.