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AU Honors | Curriculum

In the Fall 2014, the new AU Honors Program launched its curriculum with seven required courses, for a total of 22-26 credits. These credits will also count toward student's General Education completion. 

The four core courses are taught by a team of faculty from different fields, who consider which issues are pressing and require interdisciplinary investigation. The curriculum rotates every three years and covers a broad range of liberal arts topics and research projects. Ultimately, the core courses are designed to challenge students with the desire and ability to perform at the highest level, and focus on faculty and students working together to understand today's most vexing and exciting problems. 


Each course includes a lab in which you will apply the concepts and expertise learned in class, in excursions into Washington, D.C., or develop the research and communication skills required for the program. 

Fall Semester Course: "Climate Change Science, Politics, and Policy"

  • Professors: Todd Eisenstadt (Government) and Stephen MacAvoy (Environmental Science)
  • Synopsis: In addition to learning how scientists model climate changes, students will simulate international negotiations to explore the possibilities and limitations of international policymaking.
  • Credits: 4 credits, satisfies General Education credits
Notes: To prepare for the statistical analyses conducted in the Burden of Proof course, students will need to register for STAT-202 or STAT-203. Students can take any section, and are able to satisfy this requirement by meeting one of the following criteria: 
  1. AP Statistics Exam score of 4 or 5
  2. SAT II Math Exam score of 650

Spring Semester Course: "Burden of Proof: Forensic Science and Criminal Justice" 

  • Professors: Richard Bennett (Justice, Law, and Criminology), James Girard (Chemistry), and Elizabeth Malloy (Statistics)
  • Synopsis: In this course, you will learn how physical evidence is analyzed, how the results of the analysis are reviewed and statistically validated, and how evidence is used in the courtroom to convict or exculpate people accused of crimes.
  • Credits: 4 credits, satisfies General Eduuation credits



Each course includes a lab in which you will apply the concepts and expertise learned in class, in excurisions into Washington, D.C., or develop the research and communication skills required for the program. 

Fall Semester Course: "Thinking Emotion: From Physiology to Ethics" 

  • Professors: Richard Sha (Literature) and April Shelford (History) The neuroscience and psychology content will be provided by a rotating team of talented AU research faculty. 
  • Synopsis: Neuroscientists are mapping the brain, but they are hardly the first to think about the emotions. You will draw upon a rich archive of thought about the emotions, asking how such thinking is shaped by history and language, and considering what science can or cannot tell us about the emotions.
  • Credits: 4 credits, satisfies General Education credits
Spring Semester Course: "Creativity and Innovation" 
  • Professors: Andrew Holtin (Studio Art), Arthur Shapiro (Psychology), and Maggie Burnette Stogner (Film and Media Arts)
  • Synopsis: The goal of this final course in the Honors core course sequence is to engage students in projects that develop their creativity. The course will provide the opportunity for students to explore new techniques that allow them to give expression to ideas related to their prior experiences.
  • Credits: 4 credits, satisfies General Education credits



Students who plan to study abroad or graduate in three years are able to do so in the second half of the curriculum. 

Course: Research Module

  • Professors: AU Honors Director, Christopher Tudge (Biology), Mary Mintz (Honors University Librarian), and other talented library staff
  • Synopsis: Learn research methods and prepare for the Challenge course by creating teams and developing a research question. 
  • Credits: 0-1 credits
  • Notes: Ideally, this course is taken the semester before your Challenge course. Students are able to enroll in this course in their second year if they plan to graduate in three years.
Course: Challenge Course
  • Professors: Students will be matched with a faculty mentor based on their research project.
  • Synopsis: Develop your skills in team projects, and put into practice your skills in interdisciplinary thinking, collaboration, research, communication and innovation. 
  • Credits: 3 credits
  • Notes: Preference is to complete courses on campus. There are limited study abroad options available if student's academic plan require them to take these courses concurrently. A group may apply for funding that will support and enhance the team's research. To apply, click here for the Challenge Course Project Funding Application
Course: Capstone Course
  • Professors: Students are able to select their faculty advisor for the Capstone course. 
  • Synopsis: Alone or with partners, create a capstone in your major. Examples include traditional scholarly thesis, creative work, case study, business plan, media. 
  • Credits: 3-6 credits
  • Notes: If a student's major requires a capstone, they can use this to satisfy the Honors requirement.