The Catholic University of America

Honors Courses For Incoming Freshmen

While all new students at CUA take part in the First Year Experience, members of the University Honors Program are encouraged to participate by enrolling in one of our Honors Learning Communities.  Even though there are numerous sections that you can choose from, the ultimate decision will depend on your major and your schedule.

Honors Learning Community Classes 

HSPH 101 - The Desire to Know

This course uses the work of Aristotle to disclose the nature and function of logic in both philosophical and non-philosophical contexts. The course also provides training in the basic skills requisite for the appreciation of Aristotle’s philosophy. Aristotle’s logical works are considered in traditional order, from the study of terms and propositions to analysis of syllogistic and scientific reasoning, in order to clarify the relation between thought, language, knowledge and reality. The focus is deductive reasoning in syllogistic form; inductive and informal reasoning are considered as well. Exercises require the evaluation and application of course material in the contexts of philosophy, science, politics, and literature.  These sections will fulfill your PHIL 201 requirement, and are recommended for students in the School of Philosophy, School of Theology and Religious Studies and the School of Arts & Sciences.


 PHIL 211 - The Classical Mind

This course consists chiefly of reading and discussing work of the classical Greek philosophers Plato and Aristotle. The selected texts, Plato’s Republic and Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics, focus on the questions of the best life for man: What is the end of human life? What is happiness? Is virtue worth pursuing? Who is the philosopher? How does the philosopher fit into the city? The same questions will be examined in Saint Augustine’s Confessions.  These sections will fulfill your PHIL 201 requirement and can count toward the Philosophy (HSPH) track. They are recommended for members of professional schools.

HSTR 101 - God's Word in Human Words

An introductory course in theology that provides a glimpse into the science of the study of God through the exploration of the thought of selected theologians and scripture. Students will learn how to read and interpret various genres of theological texts from different historical eras, including the Old Testament, the New Testament, the early Church, the Middle Ages, the Reformation era, the period of the Second Vatican Council, and the present time. By engaging these texts through discussion, research, and writing, students will gain an introductory grasp of the academic discipline of theology.

This is the Honors section of the Theology Learning Community class, and is one of the four courses required for the HSTR track.

Other than your Learning Community, you can choose from a wide variety of Honors classes to fulfill your course requirements.  Depending on your major, these classes may count as electives, but the final choice should be based on your interests, your schedule, and critical conversations with your advisor.  Here are some of the classes that you can choose from...

HSHU 101 - Jesus to Muhammad: The Early Christians in the Mediterranean World

This course investigates the first seven centuries of Christianity from the overlapping perspectives of history, art history, and archaeology. Major themes in this chronological and thematic overview include how Christians defined themselves as a community, and how these definitions were challenged and developed over time; how imperial, ecclesiastical, and divine power were codified and expressed; and how Christians lived and aspired to live according to the Bible, the example of holy men and women, and the models set forth by their leaders. The course will rely on the original artifacts from this period: literary, documentary, archaeological, artistic, and architectural.  This course fulfills a Humanities requirement.

HSSS 101 - Person and Community in the Social Sciences

This introductory course addresses the crisis of contemporary political morality ushered in by the social sciences as they developed during the 19th century from assumptions of rationalism and modern scientific naturalism. The course seeks to illuminate the crisis in three ways: it excavates the methodological and philosophical assumptions, contrasts modern rational naturalism with Aristotelian and theistic alternatives, and explores the ways in which an understanding of the nature of man shapes the theory and practice of the various social sciences.  This course fulfills a Social Science requirement.

HSEV 101 - Environmental Sciences and Engineering

This course covers the basic sciences of the environment, with a particular focus on the concept of sustainability. The course describes the structure and operation of natural systems and the implications of the study of such systems to sustainability in human societies. It analyzes ecosystem services, their critical role, the human impact, and the methodology of conservation, preservation, and restoration. It addresses the transition to renewable energy sources and issues of clean water availability and food production.  This course fulfills a Science requirement.


Individual Honors Classes (not part of track)

CHEM 103 - General Chemistry I

The first half of a two-semester modern introductory chemistry course designed to fulfill the chemistry requirements for science students and to lay the foundation for further course work in chemistry. Topics include atomic theory, periodic properties, stoichiometry, nomenclature, bonding, physical properties of states of matter, solutions, kinetics, equilibrium, acid-base reactions, metathesis reactions, redox reactions, thermodynamics, electrochemistry, and chemical properties of selected classes of compounds. Corequisite: CHEM 113 (i.e. CHEM 103 and CHEM 113 must be taken concurrently).


ECON 103 - Principles of Economics I

An introduction to the study of open economy macroeconomic principles. It is concerned with the behavior of the economy as a whole. The course focuses on three major goals. First, to help students understand the nature of certain macroeconomic problems and institutions. Second, to help students master certain tools of macroeconomic analysis, and third, to help students develop an ability to apply these tools to the macroeconomic problems that our society confronts.  This course can be substituted for ECON 101, or counts as a Social Science requirement.


HSLS 201 - The Virtues

This is an examination of some of the more important virtues, and the place they hold in Christian and other traditions. It is not primarily a philosophical or theological treatment. Rather, we will look at depictions of the virtues themselves (and some corresponding vices) in literature, essays, political debates, popular writing, and visual media (film, television, painting). Reserved for freshmen Honors Program students.


HSLS 350: Berlin in Literature and Film 

For the last 150 years, the city of Berlin has been the political and cultural center of Germany and Europe. The course explores the turbulent history of the city through its architecture, literature, films, and the creative arts. Discussions will focus on Berlin as the capital city (Prussian monarchy, Weimar Republic, Third Reich, and contemporary Germany); the divided and reunited city; Berlin as a meeting point for diverse religions, ethnicities, and ideologies; and the city's multicultural history. The course will be taught in English; counts as a literature, humanities, and European Studies elective.

MATH 230 - Mathematical Topics in the Social Sciences I

A rigorous mathematical treatment of the following topics:

1) Theory of social choice including a critical approach to different vote-aggregation procedures and a study of their vulnerability to manipulation; Condorcet paradox and the intransitivity of the pair-wise majority rule; other paradoxes of collective choice; May’s theorem.

2) Yes-No voting, Banzhaf and Shapley-Shubik indices of political power, their paradoxes and the formal mathematical relation between them; swap and trade robustness; vector-weightedness and dimension of a yes-no voting system.

This course fulfills a Math requirement.