First-year Students

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, “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.

Honors Inquiry Fall 2014

HNRS 101.01 - Current Topics Biology & Medicine
Instructor(s): Prof Robin Davies; T 1:30-2:20PM (GU A01)

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 exploration in written and oral presentations. Discussions and group work will be emphasized. CRN: 10148

HNRS 117.01 - Politics of Mass Murder
Instructor(s): Prof John Ashbrook; W 9:00-9:50AM (GR 206)

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. CRN: 10149

HNRS 118.01 - Miss Indie's Plantation
Instructor(s): Prof Lynn Rainville; W 11:00-11:50AM (BE 301)

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 students will be added to a Sweet Briar history digital database. CRN: 10342

HNRS 123.01 - Muzak Musicology
Instructor(s):  Prof Jeffrey Jones; T 3:00-3:50PM (FAC 235)

Hotels, restaurants, retail stores, nightclubs, vacation spots - for many of these commercial spaces, music is a form of sonic architecture that provides cultural context and facilitates trade. It is a way to make dollars by making sense of spaces and places. This course allows students to explore select theories and practices of sonic architecture in the music industry. It culminates with a class sonic architecture project that allows students to creatively apply the information and skills developed during the course. CRN: 10355

FY Honors Seminars Spring 2015
HNRS 113.01 - Introduction to Art Criticism
Instructor(s):  Prof Marie-Therese Killiam; TR 9:00 – 10:15AM
This course proposes to teach students how to read painting by using their critical skills and their imagination and by reading various literary commentaries on the selected paintings. Students will be taught several critical perspectives and the background necessary to place the paintings in their socio-historical context. Prerequisites: First-year Honors Inquiry course and permission of instructor. CRN: 20113

HNRS 122.01 - Doing Sweet Briar History
Instructor(s): Prof Kate Chavigny; TR 9:00 – 10:15AM

This course explores the realm of historical explanation using the Sweet Briar archives. Each step in historical construction will be illustrated by short projects: locating sources, determining their contexts, analyzing sources with reference to their use as historical evidence, forming theory in response to evidence, and constructing a narrative. Each student will combine their short projects to create a history on a topic of her choice. May be counted toward the majors in history and liberal studies as the Introduction to History course requirement. This course cannot be taken on a P/CR/NC grading option. Not open to students who have earned credit for HIST 105. Prerequisites: First-year Honors Inquiry course and permission of instructor. IIIW V1; CRN: 20108

HNRS 139.01 - Questions of Sanity
Instructor(s):  Prof Tim Loboschefski; TR 10:30-11:45AM

This course will examine the topic of insanity from various perspectives (psychological, cultural, legal, physiological, and historical) and how the line between sanity and insanity has never been as clear a distinction as we would like to believe. We will supplement our understanding of current psychiatric disorders utilizing a case study approach and examine issues ranging from the treatment/punishment of the mentally ill, to those cases where the development of abnormal behavior might be viewed as the most adaptive option available. Cases will include Norton I, Emperor of the United States, Truddi Chase from "When Rabbit Howls," and Susannah Cahalan's "Brain on Fire." Prerequisite: First-Year Honors Inquiry course and permission of instructor. CRN 20107

HNRS 140.01 - Biology in Fiction
Instructor(s): Prof Linda Fink; T 9:00-11:45AM and R 10:30 – 11:45AM

In this hybrid laboratory/seminar course we will investigate the biological science that has been integrated within contemporary novels of Barbara Kingsolver, Andrea Barrett, and Simon Mawer. By replicating and extending genetic and ecological experiments that are central to the stories, and consulting primary and secondary scientific sources, we will explore the authors' liberties and faithfulness to scientific accuracy. We will also read additional works of fiction with biologists as central characters. How do writers translate science into fiction, and how realistic are the portrayals of scientists? How does understanding or not understanding the science influence a reader's experience? May be counted as a 100-level elective for the major in biology. Prerequisites: First-year Honors Inquiry course and permission of instructor. CRN 20321