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UH Moment

UH Moment: “Honors College”

There is a longtime debate about the value of a liberal arts education versus a pre-professional degree.  One University of Houston college lives happily in both.  Here’s this week’s UH Moment.


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William Monroe, Dean of the Honors CollegeThe Honors College at the University of Houston is the best of both worlds—a small private school-like environment with the resources of a diverse, urban research university.  The multidisciplinary faculty and courses provide a “value-added” element to students’ academic experience.

“It’s smaller classes; it’s more of an emphasis on writing and conversation,” said Dean William Monroe.  “It’s an approach that emphasizes questions more than answers.” 

Part of the emphasis is its signature course, The Human Situation, a two-semester, 10-hour course that exposes students to the history of western thought. 

“Fall semester will go from Genesis or Homer through the Fall of the Roman Empire or Augustine,” said Professor Iain Morrison.  “Then, in the spring, we go from medieval philosophy, Machiavelli, Shakespeare and all the way into the 20th century.”  Students will read about 18 classics during the course, with subjects ranging from history to political science; literature to philosophy; medicine and science. 

Iain Morrison, Professor at the UH Honors CollegeThere are about 1,200 Honors College students, some with liberal arts pursuits; others studying engineering or business or other pre-professional goals.  The mixture of the varied-disciplined students makes for dynamic class discourse—another benefit.  Morrison says this diversity enriches every dimension of students’ degrees and encourages them to join what Monroe calls the “great conversation.”

“Part of what we want to do is to encourage people to learn to communicate different points of view about the most important things, whether that’s religion, erotic relationships, the city, political hierarchy,” Monroe said.  “Whatever the important questions are there are lots of different responses.”

The Honors College is part of what’s happening at the University of Houston.  I’m Marisa Ramirez. 

Telling the stories of the University of Houston, this UH Moment is brought to you by KUHF, listener supported radio from the University of Houston.