Barrett faculty laughing while teaching a small class

Honors courses

Barrett's signature courses constitute the foundation of intellectual life at The Honors College.

In these small, student-centered seminars, students explore some of the world's greatest texts and think through urgent questions of our times with faculty who are skilled and committed teachers and respected scholars in their areas of expertise. In this intellectually rich atmosphere, students bond both in and outside of the classroom, forming an energized and energizing Honors cohort set to transform society, culture, government, medicine, business—and the world.

Several Barrett students having a discussion with their professor

Begin your intellectual journey

All Barrett students begin their intellectual journey at Barrett in one of our signature first-year seminars. Lower-division students—freshman and sophomores—entering the Honors College complete The Human Event (HON 171 and HON 272) over the course of their first year at Barrett. Upper-division students—juniors and seniors—entering the Honors College complete the one-semester course, History of Ideas (HON 370). These courses are taught exclusively by the Honors Faculty Fellows: an interdisciplinary faculty whose primary academic home is Barrett, The Honors College.

The Human Event is a year-long course that forms the foundation of the first-year honors experience. A small, intensive, interdisciplinary, discussion-based seminar for all first-year Barrett students, The Human Event focuses on key social and intellectual currents in the history of human thought from the earliest written texts to the present. While united by a shared set of learning objects aimed at cultivating communications skills and critical thinking, each section of The Human Event explores a unique set of texts, according to each professor’s passions and areas of expertise. History of Ideas works toward the same goals and shares the same ethos as The Human Event but is a more intensely focused, one-semester course exclusively for upper-division students who transfer into the Honors College. The readings in each section of History of Ideas are generally organized around a theme determined by the professor.

Exclusive access to honors seminars

Every semester Barrett students have exclusive access to upper-division Honors seminars (HON 394) on a range of special topics according to faculty areas of research interest and expertise. These popular courses explore important issues in history, literature, philosophy, physics, film, anthropology, law, politics, and much more. Upper-division courses also provide Honors students valuable opportunities to continue working closely with Barrett faculty, in small seminar settings beyond The Human Event of History of Ideas, in areas of intellectual inquiry that resonate creatively and synergistically with their majors, minors, or other areas of passion. Many students strategically enroll in upper-division seminars in topics outside of their majors in order to explore new areas of interest and to conduct research that informs their honors thesis.

Honors courses can now be found easily by using the ASU Course Catalog. You can access the ASU Course Catalog by visiting MyASU or clicking the link below:

ASU Course Catalog- Honors Courses

To find upcoming Honors courses, click Advanced Options and then select the Honors checkbox. From there, you can see all Honors courses. It is recommended that you limit your search by College or the 3 letter Course Subject.

ASU Class search page


Courses that list Honors Enrichment Contracts, will be listed at the bottom of the page.

ASU Class search course list identifying honors courses


Once you find a course you are interested in, you can view the number of Reserved Honors Only Seats by expanding the course information. If you would like to add the course, click the Add button on the far right.

ASU Class search identifying reserved seat requirements


Honors courses are mindfully designed to accomplish the following learning objectives:

  • Improve the student’s ability to reason critically and communicate clearly
  • Cultivate the student’s ability to engage in intellectual discourse through reading, writing, and discussion
  • Broaden the student’s historical and cultural awareness and understanding
  • Deepen awareness of the diversity of human societies and cultures
  • Instill intellectual breadth and academic discipline in preparation for more advanced study

Each honors class features the following core components:

  • Chronologically Expansive - We cover some of the earliest recorded texts (e.g. The Epic of Gilgamesh or the Maxims of Good Discourse) to current works (e.g. Kwame Appiah’s The Honor Code).
  • Extensive Geographical Coverage - We select texts that highlight key issues in human thought, which means the texts we cover are from all over the world (e.g. Tao Te Ching, Plato’s Republic, Kalidasa’s The Recognition of Sakuntala, and Chinua Achebe’s No Longer at Ease).
  • Focused on Human Cultural Diversity - Every effort is made to incorporate cross-cultural perspectives, non-Western texts and texts composed by women and racial/ethnic minorities (e.g. texts by early female Sufists or American slave narratives).
  • Student Centered - We encourage students to take the lead in these small, discussion based classes