Course Organization

  • This course is organized around two of the six interdisciplinary core questions of the Cook Honors College. The two questions for this semester are “What Do We Know/What Do We Believe?” and “How Do We Tell the Good from the Bad.” Each question or unit will take about half of the semester. All six of the core questions have the following corollary question attached to them: “What, therefore, Should I Do?” We add this because knowledge cannot be held at arm’s length. When we learn new things, we are affected, and we need to think how this changes, or should change, our behavior and our obligations to each other.

    At the beginning of each unit, we meet as a community in the Great Hall where we introduce the question and discuss common readings and issues. After the introduction, we divide into discipline-specific groups of no more than twenty students, meeting in the five small classrooms. Each of these groups works with one of the professors for the rest of the unit. At the end of the unit we reassemble in the Great Hall, and the students in each of the groups gives a presentation to teach the students of the other four groups what they have learned. During the second half of the semester, we repeat the cycle for the second question. The 101 calendar will help you understand how this works.

    All the professors teach about the same core question, but each will approach it differently depending on the nature of that discipline and the examples the professor chooses. On the first day of class, you will receive brief descriptions of what professors have planned for this semester. You may indicate your preferences for which group you want to be in by turning in the form distributed in with your name and top three (3) ranked picks for each unit. We cannot guarantee that all of you will get your first choices, but we will do our best.

    Over the course of four semesters (HNRC101, HNRC102, and HNRC201), you are required to take two units in English (if at all possible from different faculty members), and one unit each in History, Fine Arts, and Philosophy. This will leave one unit as a free choice for you to repeat a discipline; in addition, as sophomores you will take “science core”—more on that later.