Dr. Jim Ford                                                                                 Freshman Honors Seminar

jford@rsu.edu                                                                               HONS-1113

Office: Baird Hall 202A                                                                 Fall 2006    

Office Phone: (918) 343-7749                                                      TTh 11:00-12:15 pm

Office Hours: 9-noon MF; 1-2 M;                                                 Classroom: Baird Hall 201

10-11 TWTh.                                                                               No prerequisites.








“I go back from age to age, up to the remotest antiquity, but I find no parallel for what is occurring before my eyes; as the past has ceased to throw its light upon the future, the mind of man wanders in obscurity.”
-Alexis de Tocqueville



Orientation to the Rogers State University Honors Program. Emphasizes the fundamentals of critical thinking and research skills, and encourages students to explore Western cultural traditions of liberal arts education. Includes reading and research in the student’s particular academic field.

Prerequisite: Enrollment in Honors Program.



By the end of the course, every student should be able:

1.      to articulate the goals and objectives of general education.

2.      to articulate the benefits of a University degree.

3.      to articulate a vision of what it means to be educated in the twenty-first century.

4.      to synthesize reading and research in area(s) of career interest.



Steven Johnson, Everything bad is good for you.

Gilbert H. Muller, The McGraw-Hill Reader.

Nist & Holschuh, College Rules.

Shakespeare, Hamlet.

Thomas West,  Four Texts on Socrates.

Available at the RSU Bookstore in Claremore.



The Rogers State University Honors Program supports the larger vision and mission of Rogers State University. The Rogers State University Honors Program aspires to challenge talented students to develop intellectual curiosity, intellectual rigor, independent reasoning, creative thinking, superior communication skills, strong leadership abilities, a system for ethical decision making, and a desire for life-long learning. Students with strong academic records and motivation to excel personally and academically join with select faculty to form a university community that supports outstanding scholarship, personal growth, and service.


The specific mission of the Rogers State University Honors Program is to provide an education in a collaborative, experiential, learning-based environment of faculty and students and to produce graduates of the program who act as agents of change in their academic, professional, and personal lives, cultivate the community approach to life and learning, hold lasting commitments to academic and social responsibility, integrate creative and critical thinking in diverse approaches to problem solving, embrace the principles and practices of the life-long learner, value pluralism and informed civic discourse, and explore technology and information literacy as critical resources for life in the twenty-first century.




This course will emphasize discussion and writing. I will regularly suggest questions pertaining to the material we will be discussing in the following class. Students should come to class prepared to address these questions. You will have to participate to pass this class. Always bring to class the book we are discussing.


There will be three three-page critical essays (approximately 1000 words each), an in-class midterm exam, a group presentation, and a final exam. Students will be assigned to a group by the professor later in the semester.


All essays must be typed and double-spaced, with margins of 1.25 inches. Unexcused late work will be penalized 10% per day. All essays are due at the beginning of the class period. Further details on the nature of these assignments will be given in class. Failure to complete any exam or to make a group presentation on your assigned date will be grounds for failure of the course as a whole.



                        Every student’s final grade will be earned via the following:

Essays                                      30% (each essay=10%)

Exams                                      30% (each exam=15%)

Presentation                              15%

Participation                             25%


GRADING SCALE                  90-100 A              

                                                   80-89 B 

                                                   70-79 C 

                                                   60-69 D


“And on the other hand, if I say that this even happens to be a very great good for a human being—to make speeches every day about virture and the other things about which you hear me conversing and examining both myself and others—and that the unexamined life is not worth living for a human being, you will be persuaded by me still less when I say these things. This is the way it is, as I affirm, men; but to persuade you is not easy.”       

-Socrates, in Plato’s Apology




Every student will be assigned to a group of 2-3 students later in the semester. During the last few weeks of the semester, each day one group will make their presentation. Basically, those students lead class for that day. Each group should begin by making a 7-10 minute presentation, and will then lead class in discussion the rest of the period. This presentation is 15% of your grade. Every member of the group must be in class the day of the presentation. Further information on these presentations will be given in class.



As discussion is a major portion of your grade (25%) as well as the heart of this class, your attendance is required. More than two absences will adversely affect your grade; five or more absences are grounds for failure of the course as a whole. Only serious illness, family crises, or official functions will count as excusable absences or extensions.



Students are expected to follow university policies as put forth in the institution’s Student Code of Responsibilities and Conduct. In accordance with Title 12 of The Student Code (page 11), instances of alleged academic misconduct will follow the policies and procedures as described in Title 12. As a general rule, Faculty at Rogers State University have the responsibility of enforcing the academic code. Therefore, if academic misconduct is suspected I will submit a letter of alleged academic misconduct to the Office of Student Affairs.


            Note especially RSU’s official plagiarism statement: “Plagiarism is representing someone else’s ideas or work as your own ideas or work. To avoid plagiarism when using someone else’s data, arguments, designs, words, ideas, projects, etc., you must make it clear that the work originated with someone else by citing the source.” Deliberate plagiarism and/or other forms of cheating are grounds for failure in the course as a whole.



In order to maintain an effective learning environment, students are expected to fully comply with The Student Code. Disruptive behavior will not be tolerated. It is the responsibility of each student to read and become familiar with the policies of The Student Code.



If you have specific physical, psychiatric, or learning disabilities please let me know immediately so that your learning needs may be appropriately met. You will need to provide documentation of your disability to the Office of Student Affairs, Meyer Hall.


My office hours are listed above. Please feel free to come by, call, etc., during those hours. If that doesn’t work, I would be happy to schedule an appointment at another time. Communication by email is especially welcome (moderation in this, as in all things...).


Finally, realize that it is not unusual for a course like this one to raise challenges to and doubts about some of our most cherished beliefs. It is important that each of us is sensitive to the views of those around us. At the same time, each of us should also be aware that controversial issues, arguments, and positions will be discussed in this course. If something bothers or offends you, let me know and I will do what I can.



Course Schedule


Aug 17 Th        Introduction


Aug 22 T          College Rules I-X


Aug 24 Th        College Rules XV-XVIII; Plato, Apology 17a-30a


Aug 29 T          Plato, Apology 30b-35d; McGraw-Hill Reader p. 2-11 (MGHR)


Aug 31 Th        Martin Luther King, Jr., Letter from a Birmingham Jail [hand-out]; MGHR p.12-21


Sep 5   T          Agresto, “The Public Value of the Liberal Arts” & Josefson, “Learning is Not Fun” [hand-outs];

MGHR p. 22-46


Sep 7   Th        MGHR Chapter One: choose any two reading selections


Sep 12 T          Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act I    


Sep 14 Th        Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act II-III


Sep 19 T          Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act IV


Sep 21 Th        Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act V   


Sep 26 T          MGHR Chapter Two (selections TBA)


Sep 28 Th        No class                                   First Essay Due (The Value of Education)  


Oct 3   T          MGHR (selections TBA)


Oct 5   Th        No class—Maurice Meyer Lecture at 11 a.m. *** Meet with Meyer Lecturer at 9:30 a.m. ***


Oct 10 T          MGHR (selections TBA)


Oct 12 Th        Midterm Review


Oct 17 T          MIDTERM EXAM


Oct 19 Th        NO CLASS—FALL BREAK




Oct 24 T          MGHR (selections TBA)                                                          Second Essay Due


Oct 26 Th        MGHR (selections TBA)


Oct 31 T          MGHR (selections TBA)                                                         


Nov 2  Th        MGHR (selections TBA)


Nov 7  T          Johnson, Everything bad is good for you, Introduction & Part One


Nov 9  Th        Johnson, Everything bad is good for you, Part Two


Nov 14            T          MGHR (selections TBA)


Nov 16            Th        MGHR (selections TBA)


Nov 21            T          MGHR (selections TBA)                                                                             Third Essay Due




Nov 28            T          Group Presentations


Nov 30            Th        Group Presentations


Dec 5   T          Group Presentations


Dec 7   Th        Conclusion; Final Exam Review


Dec 11-15       FINAL EXAM           Exact day and time to be announced.


Note: This schedule subject to change as necessary.