Honors Program

Overview

The William Penn Honors Program is a Christ-centered Great Books program for high-achieving undergraduate students at George Fox University.

Students enrolled in the honors program take one Great Books seminar each semester, in addition to major coursework and other electives within the university. Because the honors program provides a substantial liberal arts foundation, the program fulfills the general education requirements for all honors students, with the exception of one math and one lab science course.

Program Distinctives

  • Liberal Arts Foundation: The foundation provided by the William Penn Honors Program is an ideal complement to all fields of study, as students gain proficiency in writing, reading comprehension, oral communication, charitable discourse, collaborative problem-solving, analysis, and creative and critical thinking. Honors students also develop an awareness of the history of ideas, enabling intelligent, informed engagement with a range of contemporary topics. Most of all, students learn to cultivate a rich interior life and a clear moral sensibility that will enrich their own lives, as well as the lives of their neighbors.
  • Reading and Writing: The Great Books curriculum spans four years and is structured chronologically, beginning with the ancient world and ending in the present. In addition to reading and discussing the Great Books, honors students write essays that gradually progress in length and complexity, culminating in the Senior Thesis. Each course also includes smaller writing assignments and exercises, as well as comprehensive written and/or oral exams.
  • Christ-Centered Learning: Over the course of the program, William Penn honors students are deeply immersed in Christian theology and history. Each seminar course includes texts from prominent Christian voices of the era, and scripture is interwoven throughout.
  • Socratic Discussion: Within the seminar, professors use a modified version of the Socratic method, guiding the discussion through questioning, placing the responsibility of engagement on the students. This student-centered approach creates an interactive and dynamic learning environment in which students must be active, rather than passive, continually challenging each other to read and think more deeply.
  • Student/Faculty Ratio: Each seminar is moderated by two professors and limited to around 18 students, which results in an average student/faculty ratio of 9:1. This low student/faculty ratio allows the honors professors to closely mentor honors students, both within the seminar and in one-on-one settings outside of class.
  • Academic Rigor: Students in the honors program are expected to maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or above. Failure to maintain this standard may result in dismissal from the honors program.
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Honors Requirements

(46 hours)

Students take blocks of 6-credit hours for six semesters, and a final 3-credit thesis course for a total of 39 hours. 

Students must also meet the general education math requirement and take one lab science course. Collectively, these courses constitute the general education package for honors students. Total hours required: 46 hours.

Complete the following:

A Socratic seminar on the greatest works of the Ancient World, with an emphasis on literature and philosophy from ancient Greece and Mesopotamia, the Old Testament, and key touchpoints with the ancient Far East. Additional course fee required.
A Socratic seminar on the rise of Christianity in its Classical Roman context, featuring key texts of Roman literature and philosophy, New Testament gospels and epistles, writings of the Early Church Fathers, and Hindu and Buddhist scriptures.
A Socratic seminar on the greatest works of Medieval literature, philosophy, history, and theology, with a focus on the mystical and scholastic streams of Medieval Christian thought, as well as the monotheistic traditions of Judaism and Islam. Additional course fee required.
A Socratic seminar on prominent works of European literature, theology, political science, and philosophy during the Early Modern era. Emphasis on Reformation theology, Renaissance literature, as well as key touchpoints with the Scientific Revolution and New World colonization. Additional course fee required.
A Socratic seminar on great texts from the 18-19th centuries, with an emphasis on intellectual and political upheavals of this era in the realms of politics, philosophy, theology, literature, and science. Areas of focus include the Enlightenment, the American Revolution, Romanticism, Darwinism, Industrialism, and Marxism, as well as developments in Christian thought and practice. Additional course fee required.
A Socratic seminar on great texts from the 20th century, with an emphasis on major intellectual and political movements of this century in the realms of philosophy, theology, literature, and social science. Areas of focus include totalitarianism, existentialism, feminism, postcolonialism, and Christian responses to postmodernity. Additional course fee required.
Capstone course of the William Penn Honors Program. Students write a substantive, original thesis that responds to a central question of contemporary relevance. Students must synthesize multiple voices from across the honors curriculum and make a compelling longform argument. Students also participate in small-group collaboration and give an oral defense of their theses. Additional course fee required.
Waiver of 3 hours of math requirement for an SAT score of 620 or above (the 3 credit hours waived will be added to elective credits for the degree)

Choose one of the following:

A foundational course for the study of computer science and information systems. The course covers an overview of programming methodology and gives the student an ability to write computer programs using standard style and structure. Programming projects are completed in one or more high-level languages. Prerequisite: high school algebra or equivalent. Additional course fee required.
A liberal arts math course emphasizing applications of mathematical concepts in areas such as financial topics, probability and statistics, and uses spreadsheets as a mathematical tool.
An algebra course designed for students who have a good background in high school algebra and are prepared to cover the major topics of algebra in more depth and breadth. Applications of algebra will be emphasized in this course. This course does not serve as a prerequisite for the calculus sequence. Prerequisite: high school algebra or equivalent.
A course for students who are preparing to take calculus or other courses requiring a similar background. In addition to studying the topics found in a college algebra course, this course will focus on trigonometry and an introduction to exponential and logarithmic functions. Prerequisite: high school algebra or its equivalent. Students who have taken MATH 180 College Algebra may not take this course for credit.
The class is a study of limits limits of functions, applications of derivatives, and an introduction to integration. Prerequisite: MATH 190 Precalculus Mathematics or equivalent.
This course is the second of two courses designed to engage elementary and middle school prospective teachers in the learning and development of the mathematical knowledge needed for teaching mathematics. Emphasis will be placed on nuanced mathematics content knowledge needed for teaching within the domains of algebra,statistics, probability, geometry, and measurement. Prerequisite: Completion of MATH 211 Foundations of Elementary Mathematics I.

Choose one of the following:

A course to fulfill the general education requirement. Deals with the organization of living things, anatomy and physiology of cells and organisms, reproduction and heredity, and the role of energy in the ecosystem. Bioethical considerations are discussed. Two lectures and one two-hour laboratory per week. Additional course fee is required.
This course addresses the scientific concepts, practices, and motivations underlying natural resource availability and human resource use and management. Content will be delivered through lectures, activities, discussions and research projects and will emphasize an ecological understanding of resource cycling and human-environmental interactions, highlighting the mechanisms underlying current environmental problems and the role of Christian communities in addressing these problems. Three lectures and one laboratory per week.
An introduction to life science for those majoring in biology and bioscience-related fields. Topics include cellular biology, genetics, systematics, development, ecology, and anatomy and physiology of plants and animals. Three lectures and one two-hour laboratory per week. Additional course fee is required.
This course will cover introductory concepts of chemistry. Special attention is given to topics of current interest, such as environmental chemistry, alternative energy, or biochemistry. This course meets general education requirements and is designed for non-science majors. Three lectures and one laboratory period per week. Additional course fee is required.
This course covers introductory and intermediate principles of chemistry. Special emphasis is placed on those aspects of general and organic chemistry that are pertinent to biochemistry. This course provides a background for students with interests in prenursing, nutrition, and related allied health areas. (This course does not meet the requirements for science majors.) Three lectures and one two-hour laboratory per week. Additional course fee is required. Prerequisite: A math SAT score of at least 440 (test taken prior to March 2016), or a math SAT score of at least 480 (test taken March 2016 or later) or successful completion of MATH 180 College Algebra (or equivalent).
This course covers fundamental chemical principles, reactions, and mode theories. Special emphasis is given to the role of chemistry in everyday life. Three lectures and one laboratory period per week. Additional course fee is required. Prerequisite: A math SAT score of at least 500 (test taken prior to March 2016) or a math SAT score of at least 530 (test taken March 2016 or later), or successful completion of MATH 190 Precalculus Mathematics (or equivalent).
A relevant and practical introduction to everyday physical phenomena through a conceptual survey of various physics topics, including motion, energy, sound, light, electricity, and relativity. No mathematical background is required. This course meets the general education requirement and is designed for non science majors. Two lectures and one laboratory period per week. Additional course fee is required.
An introduction to astronomy covering the solar system, stars, galaxies, and cosmology. The historical context of astronomy will be addressed along with its complex and dynamic relation to faith. The laboratory experience will allow a firsthand experience with some of the pivotal observations and experiments of astronomy. Two lectures and one two-hour laboratory per week. Additional course fee is required.
Mechanics, thermodynamics, electricity and magnetism, wave motion and optics, and modern physics, using algebraic methods for analysis. Three lectures and one lab per week. Additional course fee is required. Prerequisite: MATH 190 Precalculus Mathematics.
Mechanics, thermodynamics, electricity and magnetism, wave motion and optics, and modern physics, using calculus methods for analysis. Three lectures and one lab per week. Additional course fee is required. Prerequisite: MATH 201 Calculus I.