First-year students holding the top merit awards offered to incoming students at Sweet Briar, including the Commonwealth, Founders and Prothro scholarships, are invited to join the program. Other entering students showing academic promise based on their high school records also may be invited into the program. For more information on joining the Honors Program beyond the first year, fall semester go to https://www.sbc.edu/honors/overview, Joining the Honors Program.
First year Honors Courses
First-year Honors students begin an Honors course of study by enrolling in a two-semester sequence that will introduce them to the kind of critical thinking, cross-disciplinary curiosity, analytical and creative rigor expected in Honors courses. The first-year Honors courses will introduce Sweet Briar's best students to each other, and create a sense of community and camaraderie among academically focused students. First-year Honors students should plan to enroll in one fall one-credit Honors Inquiry course and one spring three-credit Honors seminar as the starting point for earning Honors recognition.
In the fall, Honors students will enroll in a one-credit Honors Inquiry class that will provide a foundation in critical and creative thinking across and among disciplines. By engaging with issues related to a theme, current news events or the research interests of Sweet Briar faculty, students will be introduced to practices of scholarship expected in a sustained Honors course of study at Sweet Briar. There will be three Honors Inquiry classes offered and Honors students may choose the one most interesting to them.
Honors Inquiry: Memory and Mortality
Part of what it means to be human is to be aware of your mortality—to know that one day you will die, that your life and time are limited. Sometimes we are faced with our own deaths, but often we are faced with the death of friends and loved ones. What should such an encounter with death motivate in us? How should we think about ourselves as existing in time? Should we be joyous or melancholic? We will engage these questions and others by reading various texts in philosophy and literature.
Honors Inquiry: The Politics of Mass Murder: Introduction to Genocide
The question of genocide is a primary focus for those concerned with human rights and preventing its occurrence. This course explores selected genocides in the 20th century. We will delve into issues that deal not only with the experiences of the victims, but those of the perpetrators to understand how and why they acted in such a barbaric manner.
Honors Inquiry: Miss Indie’s Plantation
Using archival sources and archaeological features, we will examine the 100+ individuals who lived at Sweet Briar between c. 1840-1900, including the antebellum, enslaved families and the postbellum servants and employees of Indiana Fletcher Williams. Research conducted by the students will be added to a Sweet Briar History digital database.
Honors Inquiry: Current Topics in Biology and Medicine
This First-Year Honors Inquiry will examine recent questions, innovations, and discoveries in biology and medicine. Students will explore the scientific content of each topic as well as the social context. Students will conduct research utilizing digital and print resources, and will share the results of their explorations in written and oral presentations. Discussions and group work will be emphasized.
In the spring, first-year Honors students will enroll in a three-credit Honors seminar. These courses will take a topical approach that looks beyond the perspective of a single discipline. They will further develop critical and creative thinking and the research and writing skills necessary for upper-level Honors course work. There will be three first-year Honors seminars offered and students may choose the one most interesting to them.
First-Year Honors Seminar: What is this Thing Called Love?
We will explore different forms of love in different times and places, and look at how different disciplines approach the study of love. From the philosophical discourses on love in Plato’s Symposium, to the ecstasy of St. Theresa, to the role of love in family life across cultures, and to the global reach of Valentine’s Day, we bring perspectives from anthropology, literary studies, history, philosophy, religion, psychology, and marketing.
First-Year Honors Seminar: From Corporations to Clones: the Ethics of Personhood
We often define “persons” only biologically, Homo sapiens sapiens. Yet the word applies to non-human entities (corporations), while some humans have been denied “personhood” (women and slaves). Many current legal and ethical controversies concern the “personhood” of fetuses, animals, etc. This course combines philosophical, historical, and legal perspectives on who (or what) should be granted the status and rights of “personhood.”
First-Year Honors Seminar: Drugs
Taking a biochemical approach to the topic of drugs, students are introduced to molecular structures and functions, the impact that drugs have on human systems and behaviors, as well as implications for society. Feature drugs, classes of drugs, properties, and pharmacology will be discussed. Research skills in terms of literature review will be applied and writing will be practiced.