Portland-State-University 2017-2018 Bulletin

Honors Curriculum

First year: Foundations

The Global City: Hon 101, Hon 102, Hon 103 (15 credits)

This year-long sequence introduces the basic intellectual framework through which we will think critically about the urban environment and the interdependence between the city and the global world. It begins with the study of representations and perceptions of the city, considers the city in historical context, and concludes with the processes that shape the city’s geopolitical manifestations. Class size limited to 25.

Second year: Research Methods

Urban Discourses: Hon 201, Hon 202, Hon 203 (12 credits)

The three connected courses of the sophomore year take the urban, and specifically the city of Portland, as an appropriately dynamic subject for research shaped by the three “domains” of academic knowledge: the social sciences, the humanities, and the natural sciences. Students progress through an integrated set of research projects that develop not only their understanding of the systems by which cities operate but also their own critical capacities as urban residents and knowledge producers. Class size limited to 30.

Hon 201: Urban Social Sciences
This course examines the urban through the application of social science methodologies. Specifically we will focus on the maps of urban planners and geographers, the qualitative and ethnographic analysis of sociologists and anthropologists, and the archival and contextual investigations of urban historians. We will rehearse these skills through research into the neighborhoods of Portland.

Hon 202: Urban Humanities
This course examines the urban surround, this time through the lens of the humanities, by careful examination of artifacts, texts, and cultural institutions.

Hon 203: Urban Ecology
This course approaches the urban through the lens of science, exploring how science has shaped cities and how cities shape scientific practice. We look at trees, water, soil, and air as the elements of the urban landscape around us, learn about research related to the ecological systems of Portland, and plan research projects that further develop our understanding of the city.

Third year: "Let Knowledge Serve the City" (12 credits)

Honors Junior Seminars: Hon 407 (minimum 4 credits)

Hon 407. One 4-credit Honors Junior Seminar is required; additional seminars are encouraged. Students choose from among a wide variety of interdisciplinary seminars, taught by Honors and departmental faculty, broadly focused around key methodological and interdisciplinary questions. Seminar classes challenge Honors students to think creatively and analytically as well as rehearse the essential research and writing skills necessary for the production of a senior thesis. Class size limited to 20.


Hon 404. Maximum 8 credits. Students have the opportunity to gain experience, apply their academic learning, and make connections through approved cooperative education/internships. Honors students have in the past interned at OHSU, the U.S. Attorney's office, Portlandia, the National Institutes for Health, the Portland Art Museum, Mercy Corps, the Beaverton City Library, Willamette Week, and the Smithsonian, among many other organizations.


Hon 401. Maximum 8 credits. Students are encouraged to join ongoing research projects, conduct independent research, and develop creative projects under the supervision and mentorship of faculty.

Departmental Honors seminars and Honors contracts

Departments across campus are invited to create departmental Honors seminars; these courses simultaneously fulfill Honors and major requirements.

Honors Abroad

The Honors College runs faculty-led global seminars just for Honors students every year. Past trips have investigated cultural and ecological sustainability in Borneo, studied sustainable development in the highlands of Nicaragua, and explored global cities in Vietnam.

Fourth year: Community Engagement and Scholarship

Senior Thesis (minimum 6 credits)

Honors students are required to complete a thesis in their major field during their final undergraduate year. Students embark on the thesis project by enrolling in a 4-credit prospectus course (Hon 403) through the Honors College, research and write the thesis over two terms (also Hon 403), and then give a public presentation of their completed work. The thesis represents a valuable opportunity for students to work closely with senior faculty in their home departments as well as Honors faculty and to engage with community partners. Students will work together throughout the year of their thesis research to better understand the public implications of their work.