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Complete the Following:

  • HONRS 110 (.5): Intro to the Honors Experience
  • HONRS 120 (2.0): Interdisciplinary Intro
  • HONRS 22x (9.0): Any three Unexpected Connections courses (Prerequisites: HONRS 110 and 120)
  • HONRS 320 (3.0): Great Questions Essay Tutorial (Prerequisites: at least 2 Unexpected Connections courses.) Note: HONRS 320 is not a thesis class.
  • HONRS 310/390R or 391R (4.0): Foundations of Interdisciplinary Leadership & Leadership Practicum (Prerequisites: HONRS 110, 120 and one Unexpected Connections course)
  • HONRS 499R (3.0): Honors Thesis (Prerequisites: Approved thesis proposal)

Note: Students must earn a B grade or better in these courses to receive Honors Program credit, and maintain an overall GPA of 3.0 or higher to maintain Honors Program eligibility.

2024-25 Courses at a Glance

Fall 2024: HONRS 110, HONRS 120, HONRS 221, HONRS 223, HONRS 226, HONRS 310, HONRS 320, HONRS 390R, HONRS 391R, HONRS 499R

Winter 2025: HONRS 110, HONRS 120, HONRS 221, HONRS 223, HONRS 226, HONRS 227, HONRS 290R, HONRS 310, HONRS 320, HONRS 390R, HONRS 391R, HONRS 499R

Spring 2025: HONRS 310, 390R, 499R

Summer 2025: HONRS 390R, 499R

Select a course number below to see expected availability, current topics, course descriptions, and GE categories.
  • Intro to Honors

    Fall/Winter semesters each year| Multiple Sections
    This course provides a general introduction to the Honors Program and the Honors community. Students will become familiar with program requirements, aims, opportunities, and culture through presentations, activities, and mentored advisement and will create an academic plan toward graduation with University Honors. This course may be taken concurrently with HONRS 120.
  • Introduction to Interdisciplinary Thinking

    Fall/Winter semester each year | Multiple Sections
    Brian Allen/Undergraduate Teaching Fellows
    This course provides a foundation for the core focus of BYU's Honors Program--Interdisciplinarity to Address Root Problems, Issues, and Causes. Using readings, presentations from diverse faculty, and directed assignments, students will develop approaches that synthesize diverse disciplinary worldviews to seek answers to problems associated with a single complex case study. This course provides preparation for HONRS Unexpected Connections sequence and the exploration of great questions. This course may be taken concurrently with HONRS 110 and is a prerequisite for all other Honors courses that follow.
  • Unexpected Connections: Biology-Letters

    Prerequisites: HONRS 110, 120
    GE Credit: Fills University GE core requirements for Biology, Letters

  • Unexpected Connections: Biology-Arts

    Prerequisites: HONRS 110, 120        
    GE Credit: Fills University GE core requirements for Biology, Arts

    Fall 2024

    "Agency & Biological Determinism"
    Mike Call/Steve Johnson
    Despite our apparent freedom every day to make choices, agency has been a surprisingly contentious notion in Western culture and thought. Recently, as pointed out by Elder Quentin L. Cook in the 2024 April General Conference, some of those attacks have come from the biological sciences, with prominent authors arguing that genetics, evolution, and development severely constrain or even eliminate our ability to make meaningful choices. In this course, we will explore the claims that our embodied experience places limits on our agency, but we will then challenge that deterministic perspective, bringing in voices (scientific, artistic, and philosophical) that assert that these same forces have given us the freedom to choose. Our course will examine agency and determinism in the context of genetic inheritance, evolutionary biology, epigenetics, and neuroscience, giving historical context for the debate, discussing cutting-edge scientific findings, and turning to works of theater, literature, and film to see how human beings in the past and present have sought to understand and represent the tension between biological constraints and freedom. In the process, we will discuss how to weigh scientific claims, the interpretation (and limitations) of evidence, and ways to respond productively to contrasting ideas.

    Winter 2025

    "The Music of Birds and Humans"
    Steven Peck/Steven Ricks
    The music of birds and humans will examine birdsong and its relationship to human music from multiple traditions and cultures. We will explore bird biology, how and why they sing, and the social role of birdsong in passerine birds in an evolutionary and ecological context. To explore these topics, we'll collect and analyze field data collected from local soundscapes. A focus of this class will consider how birds are threatened by climate change, degrading habitats, and the conservation of bird populations.
  • Unexpected Connections: Physical Science-Letters

    Prerequisites: HONRS 110, 120        
    GE Credit: Fills University GE core requirements for Physical Science, Letters

    Fall 2024

    "Foodprints: Food, Sustainability, and Climate Change"
    Rex Nielson/Jennifer Nielson
    What we eat has a foodprint! This seminar combines scientific reasoning and liberal arts methodologies to consider the relationship between food, sustainability, and global climate change. Food choices matter for yourself, your family, your community, and the planet. The goal of this class is to empower you to be better informed and responsible consumers (of both food and information about food!) as well as more capable of advocating for sustainable, equitable, and ethical forms of food production and consumption.

    Winter 2025

    "What does it mean to preserve the experience of being in nature?"
    Jarica Watts/Mike Jones
    Have you ever taken a picture of the sunset and thought, “this photo doesn’t capture the beauty of the scene?” Or perhaps you’ve spent more time on your trail run staring at your wearable device, meticulously tracking each mile, instead of fully appreciating the natural world around you? The impact of technology on our experiences in nature is undeniable, but it’s not limited to just smartphones or watches. Driving to a trailhead is a fundamentally different experience than riding a horse. Hiking with high-tech shoes is far different than hiking barefoot. In each case, the traditional notions of what it means to be in nature are replaced by new and evolving experiences.

    This class will ask the question, “What does it mean to preserve the experience of being in nature?” Professors Watts and Jones will take you on a unique interdisciplinary journey that combines British Literature and Human-Centered Computing to explore this question. We will delve into the world of the British modernists, writers from the early 20th Century who attempted to capture and preserve their experiences with nature through the written word (poetry, essay, short fiction, and novel). We will study user experience design concepts and learn methods for fabricating prototypes that embody your ideas for how technology could—and should—operate in the natural world.

    While this course will mostly take place in the traditional classroom, there will be an experiential learning component in which we head to the hills to test our theories about nature in, well…, nature. By making this “unexpected connection,” we hope to shed light on the intricate relationship between humans, language, technology, and the preservation of our connection with the natural world.

    Winter 2025

    “Finding Truth: Disagreement and Engagement in a Complex World”
    Ryan Christensen/Karl Warnick
    Most of the information that informs our beliefs comes second-hand, and with the world growing more complex, identifying trustworthy authority is becoming ever more important. But how do we know what sources to trust? Can there be equally valid authorities that disagree? And how do we live in a society filled with disagreement and uncertainty? We will consider these questions through wide-ranging case studies from science and philosophy -- including free will versus determinism, the existence of God, climate change and global warming, bioethics and the morality of mandated vaccination, and machine learning and artificial intelligence in everyday life. The goal is to help students find solid footing in a
    polarized world where each of us has both blind spots and valuable perspectives to contribute as we engage in critical discussions and serve in our communities and vital institutions.
  • Unexpected Connections: Physical Science-Culture

    Prerequisites: HONRS 110, 120
    GE Credit: Fills University GE core requirements for Physical Science, Global & Cultural Awareness
  • Unexpected Connections: Social Science-Letters

    Prerequisites: HONRS 110, 120
    GE Credit: Fills University GE core requirements for Social Science, Letters

    Fall 2024

    "Virtue, Sex, and Politics"
    Jennifer Haraguchi/Grant Madsen
    The term virtue is old. It comes from the ancient Roman word vir and originally meant man or manliness (think of virility as closer to that original meaning). Yet somehow, today, we consider it a Young Women’s value. How did male virility become a teenage girl’s chastity? This course answers that question. It charts the winding path of virtue through the centuries to better understand why we still use the term even though it has meant very different things. Along the way we will encounter some of the Titans of political and moral thought: Aristotle, Cicero, Jesus, Dante, Machiavelli, the American Founding Fathers and more. When did virtue shift from a male to a female characteristic, and why? Is virtue the absence of sin or the presence of excellence? How has virtue gone from something we publicly exhibit to something we show only when alone and in private? Is virtue about courage, chastity, or something more? Ultimately, how do we define a virtuous life, career, or nation today?

    Fall 2024
    "Psychology and the Bible: Exploring Ancient Scriptural and Modern Scientific Approaches to the Human Experience"
    Scott Braithwaite/Matthew Grey
    From the beginning, individuals and communities have sought to understand, process, and navigate the social, emotional, and spiritual complexities of the human experience. Although the approaches and results of these efforts have varied widely throughout history, considering the similarities and differences of these efforts can raise fascinating questions, provide alternative perspectives, and offer enriching insights as we try to make sense of our own experiences as members of the human family. In this “unexpected connections” class, we will explore two intersecting disciplines that address such issues: the study of ancient biblical literature and the field of modern psychology. While each of these disciplines have their own distinct approaches to understanding the mortal journey, placing them into conversation on select topics—including the tensions between faith and doubt, the dynamics of exclusivity and inclusivity in community formation, the processing of human emotion, and understanding the nature of human suffering—can help students appreciate both the ongoing relevance of biblical scripture and the valuable perspectives of psychological research.

    Winter 2025

    "Blessed are the Poor: Understanding Poverty through History and Theology"
    Andrew Reed/Jeff Hardy
    What is poverty and why does it exist? Is it a problem and, if so, what do we do about it? What are the societal or religious obligations to the poor and how have these changed over time? These questions will stand at the heart of our seminar that connects the disciplinary fields of history and theology (with some sociology and economics thrown in for good measure). Together we will explore sacred texts, including the Bible, Talmud, Quran, Book of Mormon, and Doctrine and Covenants. We will analyze historical and contemporary mutual aid societies and government welfare programs across North America, Europe, and the Middle East. And we will read the musings of philosophers and novelists who grappled with these timeless questions. We hope in the process to hone our analytical thinking and writing skills, develop greater empathy, and a gain a more complete spiritual understanding of the world around us.

  • Unexpected Connections: Social Science-Arts

    Prerequisites: HONRS 110, 120        
    GE Credit: Fills University GE core requirements for Social Science, Arts

    Winter 2025

    “The Comedy of Life: Exploring Social Structures through Humor”         
    Kurt Sandholtz/Kerry Soper
    This interdisciplinary course explores how humor and comedy emerge from--and are made resonant through—social structure, including class hierarchies, gender relations, race, and other unspoken cultural codes/rules. Students will learn key theories of humor as they explore a variety of art forms and genres such as film, literature, television, comics, and theater. We’ll consider the social and cultural function of humor and how comedy reflects the dynamics between individuals, groups, and society.

  • Unexpected Connection: Various Topics

    Prerequisites: HONRS 110, 120        
    GE Credit: Fills various University GE core requirements. See individual sections below.

    Winter 2025

    ”The Experience of Wonder" (Languages of Learning/ARTS)
    Amy Tanner/Carl Sederholm
    This course will explore the question of how we experience beauty, wonder, and awe in a variety of settings and what those experiences suggest about our sense of the world. We are specifically interested in discovering together how various pursuits can take on the appearance of beauty. The experiences of proving a mathematical theorem, listening to music, or contemplating our purposes on earth, for example, are very different pursuits, and yet people invoke the language of beauty and wonder to describe all of them. What is beautiful about these experiences, and how do we access that beauty? Course materials will include, but are not limited to, materials from the history of mathematics, contemporary film, visual arts, and so forth.

    Winter 2025

    "Strong Bodies, Resilient Minds, and Healthy Relationships" (Biology/Social Sciences)
    Jason Whiting/Matt Seeley
    This class covers the latest scientific research on finding fulfillment through physical health, individual wellness, and relationship success. Students will apply exercise science for developing sustainable plans to achieve and maintain physical health while avoiding musculoskeletal injuries. Students will also learn practical approaches to emotional and mental resilience, including how to cope with stress through mindfulness, self-care, and life balance. Students will learn characteristics of healthy relationships, as well as red flags and damaging patterns within relationships. They will learn how to apply these principles in dating relationships and marriage.
  • Foundations of Interdisciplinary Leadership

    Prerequisites: HONRS 110, 120 and at least one Unexpected Connections course.     

    Fall/Winter/Sp | Multiple Sections
    This course examines leadership from multiple perspectives. Leaders are found in countless settings and disciplines: business, governments, community, families, church and religious affiliations, sports, universities… the list goes on. This course will address leadership from the viewpoint that each person is a leader in multiple settings throughout his/her life. We will address leadership in three overall subsections, which will be inter-mixed throughout the course: 1) Personal or individual Leadership- “Me” as a leader; 2) Interpersonal Leadership- Leading others; 3) Organizational Leadership- Leading organizations. The purpose in combining these three subsections is that students will gain both knowledge about the practice of leadership AND will build their own very personal leadership understanding, capabilities, and skills in preparation for the Honors Leadership Practicum.
  • Great Questions Essay

    Prerequisites: HONRS 110, 120, and at least 2 Unexpected Connections Courses (22x).
    GE Credit: Together with HONRS 499R, this course is certified to meet the University GE Advanced Writing & Oral Communication requirement.

    Fall/Winter | Multiple Sections
    This capstone to the Honors Program coursework provides group and individual instruction in researching and writing the Great Question Essay (NOT the Honors Thesis). This essay is interdisciplinary in its approach to an approved “great” question of the student’s choice. Students enrolled in the course will spend most of their time researching and drafting the essay, and meet regularly with the instructor and peers for consultation, advisement and direction. Course instruction focuses on developing a great question, applying an interdisciplinary research approach using empirical, behavioral, and interpretive thinking patterns, and understanding the essay genre and style of writing this requirement hopes to foster.
  • Leadership Practicum

    Prerequisites: HONRS 310

    Fall/Winter/Sp-Su | Multiple Sections
    Students engage in a substantive leadership experience through approved interdisciplinary projects, programs, internships, or partnerships with the Honors Program. Projects provide opportunities for practical application of leadership principles, theory, and skills learned in the Honors Foundations of Interdisciplinary Leadership course (HONRS 310).
  • HONRS 391R - Student Leadership Council

    Prerequisites: By Application Only

    Fall/Winter | Section 1
    Vika Filimoeatu
    This course for students selected to serve on the Honors Student Leadership Council. Members of HSLC advance the Honors Program's Mission through activities, events, marketing, and other program initiatives to cultivate an Honors community of scholars. The council works closely with Honors Program administration and an advisor to provide student input to the program, facilitate outreach, and engage peers in both academic and social pursuits. Members of HSLC obtain hands-on leadership experience as representatives of the Honors student community.
  • Honors Thesis

    Prerequisites: Approved Thesis Proposal
    GE Credit: Together with HONRS 320, this course is certified to meet the University GE Advanced Writing & Oral Communication requirement.

    Fall/Winter/Sp-Su | Multiple Sections
    While students are actively engaged in the research and writing stages of their thesis, they enroll and complete at least 3.0 and up to 6.0 credits of HONRS 499R, working under the direction of their thesis advisor. This is a variable credit (1-6 credits), independent, pass/fail course, and requires an approved thesis proposal prior to registration. Students receive a “T” (temporary) grade until after they have successfully defended their thesis (grade changes to a Pass) or have graduated without completing the thesis (grade changes to a Fail).