Tag Archives: college honors program

London Streets: Reflections On A Summer Study Tour

By Becky St. Clair

For three weeks this summer, Peter Katz, director of the Honors Program and professor of English, led a study tour for honors students in London, UK. Their course, “London Streets” took them throughout the city, personalizing literature they’d studied in previous courses and bringing history to life. Together, professor and students considered the ethics and obligations of seeing poverty both in Victorian times and now, interrogated the intersection between scientific regulation of health and governmental power, and traced the geographic and cultural impact of industrialization. 

“This trip was the best possible way I could have imagined my first excursion into Europe,” said honors student Sebastian Anderson. “It was the perfect balance between checking off the typical tourist attractions and activities while also getting to explore London in a more intimate way through our class trips and our readings.” 

Two participating students agreed to share their reflections on specific parts of their trip with us, so we could share their experiences directly with you, our readers. 

Isabel McMillan, history major

After a walking tour about the crimes of Jack the Ripper, I commented that his story was a female-centric story. I wished that when we told the stories of his victims we didn’t have to focus so much on the men, and could talk more about the women and their stories. One of my classmates pointed out history is male-centered, and society is misogynistic, and our storytelling of history has to be male-centric. 

Contemplating this perspective, I came to the conclusion that while it is not entirely wrong, it’s also not entirely right. 

I remembered this exhibit on a ship I saw in a Swedish museum once. The exhibit’s storytelling began with two of the women who were on the ship when it sank. The researchers did as much research as they could on these women, and learned quite a bit. Part of what they found included records of a woman who was in charge of building the ship, and how she met with the king about its progress. They also discovered records of another woman who ran a business vital to the building of that ship, as well as court documents detailing stories of women involved with court cases (there were laws against women being involved in court cases, and yet..). There was so much more. Most of this history was pre-Victoria. What I’m trying to say is that researching women and their lives is possible. Hard, but possible. 

Another thing I realized in all of this was by saying history is misogynistic and society is created for the white man, it gives people an excuse to not even try researching women. Allowing people to say the only way to tell women’s stories is through the point of view of the men in their lives allows people to not try, and to not feel guilty about their lack of effort. And that is not acceptable.

Sarah Tanner, English major

In looking over notes from this trip, I realized beginning on July 9, I switched from titling my class journal entries “reflections” to “reactions.” It wasn’t a deliberate move, but it matched the intensity of my interaction with the class and topics as we worked through some genuinely difficult discussions. 

 If I could distill this class into one key point, it would be, “bodies matter.” Politics, institutions, and good intentions all have their place, but unless we prioritize human bodies, their needs, and their desires, our ability to successfully empathize and care for those around us will forever be stunted. I want to believe on some level, most people recognize the truth in this, but until one is confronted with the immediacy of this need, it’s easy to overlook. Personally, it took almost stumbling over a homeless man outside the underground in Camden for me to recognize the necessity of enacting care for these bodies. And even then, when faced with the reality of his fraught situation, it was clear not everyone in our group processed the experience in the same way. 

 This class instilled in me a sense of urgency, an impulse to look more closely at the people around me and consider how I can help. And as much as I love modern literature, I have learned to stand in defense of the Victorian optimism that maintains that something can be done for these bodies. It just requires a degree of awareness (I’m convinced) results from trips such as this one. 

 Checking in with a structure or area’s effective gravity and reading it against one’s own response to that place is a practice vital to the optimist’s project. It requires constant self-reflection and comparison to the world beyond what is immediately available in a physical or bodily sense. Paradoxically, it creates a simultaneous drive for introspection and increased connection with others. While seemingly contradictory, I think this oscillation is important; to empathize, one must have a personal attachment to the shared effect, and that requires a degree of knowledge of self and others.  

 This practice is something I will definitely carry with me long after we all fly home; Victorian optimism has taken a piece of my heart. I want to be more aware, to see myself and others as more than separate components of a larger system, to seek out individual bodies in need of physical and emotional care. And more than foundational awareness, I want to be available to anyone who feels that need as well. 


4 Reasons You Might Belong in the Honors Program

By Emily Mathe

You may have heard about it—whether mentioned in one of the brochures mailed to you, or from a recruiter who showed up at your high school with a lot to say about scholarships and financial aid, or if you happened to see it mentioned on PUC’s website. Wherever and however it happened, it’s a fair bet at some point you encountered the term, “Honors Program,” without knowing what it meant.

So, what is the Honors Program at PUC? And, more importantly, why should you care about it? I asked myself the same questions before I came to PUC as a freshman, and now, four years later, I’m going to give you the best answers that I can. It’s my goal that after you finish reading this, you’ll consider becoming a part of PUC’s Honors Program!

1. The Course Load

Choosing to be in the Honors Program means plugging different courses into where many of your General Education classes used to be. Often, these courses are either Honors-only seminars, or “H-designated” courses that fulfill your graduate requirements. However, diminishing your course load doesn’t reduce your choices—there are plenty of options open for interesting classes: from physics, to creative writing, to Portuguese, to advanced computer science. Especially if you’re double majoring, you’ll want to seriously consider Honors. In my experience as a double major in English and communication, this program was one of the main reasons I stayed on track for graduation!

2. The Interdisciplinary Approach

The Honors Program isn’t just for students majoring in humanities like English or history. Often, the Honors cohort includes science majors, pre-med students, future engineers, pilots, and educators. I was attracted to the program because it ties my passion for writing and the English language to overarching themes in philosophy, politics, religion, and social criticism. The interdisciplinary approach is one of the unique aspects of the Program. You’ll learn how to find the connections between particle physics and Plato’s “Republic,” and you’ll broaden your own scholastic horizons in the process.

3. The Honors Project

Throughout your years at PUC, you’ll have a lot of papers that you just don’t want to write. So, during the second half of your graduation year (or earlier, if you’re on top of things), your reward is a project on a topic you’re passionate about. Finally, you get to study something meaningful to you! However, self-directed research can be tough, and depending on what you choose for your project, you’ll want to pair up with an advisor who can give you encouragement … as well as lighting the fire under you when those important deadlines start approaching.

4. The People

Everyone in the Program is there for a reason. Even though you may walk into your first class feeling intimidated by everyone else in the room, keep in mind they most likely feel the same way. After all, this is “Honors,” which means everyone is super-scary-smart, right? While intelligence is a common trait, it’s not the defining trait. Honors students are driven, passionate, and focused, but they are also people—students. Just like you. One of the best things about the Program is getting to build connections with others who share your interests. And yes, you might be able to do that in a 50-person lecture hall with a crowd of freshmen … but do you really want to make the job more difficult than it is already?!

PUC’s Honors Program

By Andrea James

I was inspired to write this article about the Honors Program at PUC because of my indecisiveness about choosing my major. I’m constantly waffling about whether to change my major, add this or that minor, etc. The thing that ends up always restricting me is how long it would to take to study everything I’m interested in. There simply aren’t enough hours in a day, credits in a quarter, dollars in my bank account. From my conversations with other students, my dilemma is a common one. Well, the Honors Program is here to help!

If you are unaware, the Honors Program at PUC replaces the General Education requirements with an abridged curriculum that gives students space in their schedules and credit loads to pursue double majors, minors, or to customize electives to fit their personal goals. It is compatible with any major and makes applicants to graduate, medical, or law school programs more desirable.

The Honors Program is more compelling and important than ever in this increasingly interconnected and interdependent world where all sorts of things are frequently redefined and understood in new and different ways from diverse perspectives. The mindset that the Honors Program encourages in its students and the knowledge it teaches them is becoming more and more necessary as employers are increasingly looking for people with broad knowledge bases, rather than those who have learned one specific discipline. Creative thinking and adaptability are also highly desirable traits in the current job market, and the Honors Program here at PUC fosters them along with many more, making its students more desirable to employers and better able to understand the complicated reality of the world.

People don’t really take advantage of the seemingly infinite knowledge (admittedly a lot of which is faulty) constantly at our fingertips and the ability to connect with people from practically any culture, background, or discipline. Participating in the Honors Program gives you the skills to properly make use of all that is available to the modern individual.

Make the most of each year you’re in college and come out the other side with the skills necessary to thrive wherever you go in the course of your career. For more information on the Honors program and its requirements, visit puc.edu/honors.

Stay tuned to the blog and this Friday, hear from Honors student Emily Mathe, who shares why you might want to consider joining the Honors program!

Honors students enjoy their annual trip to Florence, Italy.

Honors students enjoy their annual trip to Florence, Italy.