The Honors Program is an interdisciplinary learning community based in a common sequence of enriched and intensified core curriculum courses which honors students take in place of the regular core offerings. Honors courses emphasize discussion over lecture, use writing as an integrative feature of learning, are highly interdisciplinary, and provide a very interactive relationship between student and faculty. Honors courses are not intended to be more difficult, but do approach topics in different ways then traditional core courses.
The Honors Program consists of three academic components. The first is the alternative 36 credit core sequence in the humanities and social sciences. Students will take their natural science and math requirements in the regular core. Honors core courses are integrated along common principles across disciplinary lines. All Honors core courses are listed in each semester's offerings as "Section 07." The Honors core curriculum includes two semesters in each of the following fields: english, fine arts, history, philosophy, religious studies, and social science.
In addition to the core component, the Program's second academic component is the required, non-credit Explorations Seminar (HNR 300) which meets 3-4 times per semester. The gatherings involve exploration of topics chosen by the Honors faculty, in consultation with honors students, that relate to the issues being explored in honors courses. The seminar may be a lecture, debate, roundtable discussion, or other presentation by one or more honors faculty member(s) or student(s), or by guest presenters.
The final academic component of the Program is the Capstone Seminar (HNR 401) which is a senior (or fifth) year contract course which results in student groups creating a professional quality project that integrates their major disciplines and advances their research and presentation skills. The result might be one paper, a collection of papers, or some other high-quality presentation which is prepared for publication. Emphasis is on developing a project after a process of self-directed research and writing under faculty guidance, as well as using the integrative skills that students acquired in the core portion of the Honors Program. The projects are presented to the College community and published in the Program journal Honorus.
In addition to academics, the Honors Program sponsors activities for its students. These include trips to regional cultural events, class field trips, social functions, and participation in regional and/or national honors programming. The Program also encourages student initiative and contributions to its management and activities through the Honors Student Council comprised of representatives of each class, first through fifth.
Admission to the program is by application of incoming students based on their academic record, extra-curricular activities, and evidence of intellectual curiosity. Current and transfer students can determine their eligibility for admission to the program by contacting the program director. To remain in the program, students must maintain a 3.0 cumulative GPA in their freshmen and sophomore years and a 3.25 cumulative GPA subsequently.
All honors core courses are open to non-honors students with a 3.4 GPA or higher if there is space available, and with the professor's approval.
Brian F. Carso, Jr., J.D., Ph.D.
Director of the Honors Program andAssociate Professor of History, Pre-law Program Director.
B.A., M.A., University of Rochester
J.D., SUNY Buffalo School of Law
Ph.D., Boston University
Classes taught: The American Founding, 1620-1789, The Presidency, The Civil War, The American West, Constitutional Law I & II, Introduction to American Law/ The Trial in American Life, U.S. History survey
Brian Carso is interested in how political, intellectual, and legal ideas developed throughout the American experience, and in how these ideas came to be expressed in broadly accessible political discourse and popular American culture. In his book, "Whom Can We Trust Now?": The Meaning of Treason in the United States, from the Revolution through the Civil War (Lexington Books, 2006), Dr. Carso examines notions of loyalty and allegiance in a democratic republic and their legal manifestation in the law of treason. While this necessarily involves criminal statutes and court cases, Dr. Carso is interested not only in how treason is conceived by lawyers and judges within the courthouse, but also in how treason is perceived outside the courthouse by citizens in all walks of life. Accordingly, he studies treason not only as it appears in legal doctrine but also in literature, sermons, political cartoons, orations, editorials, and artwork.
Dr. Carso's interests spread throughout the American experience and incorporate legal, intellectual, political, and cultural history. He is currently working on two projects: one concerns espionage during the American Revolution (a natural offshoot of his treason research), while another involves 20th century war photography. Dr. Carso is also keenly interested in American government and politics, from the first partisan presidential election of 1796 through today's political campaigns.
In addition to teaching classes in history, Dr. Carso directs MU's Pre-law program for those students interested in a career in law, government, or a related field. Dr. Carso brings a wealth of legal and governmental experience to MU that he is happy to share with his students. He has worked as an attorney at a large New York law firm, as well as running his own private practice, and he is admitted to the bar in the State of New York and before the United States Supreme Court. In addition, he has been twice elected to public office and most recently served in the administration of former New York Governor George Pataki.
Dr. Carso's office is located at 368 Mercy Hall.