What is Intellectual Traditions?

Intellectual Traditions (IT) courses look at important, deep questions about the human experience through the reading of primary texts. The discussion of the texts and ideas provides a broad foundation for study in a variety of disciplines and helps students understand where our ideas and values come from.

Why is IT Important for a Student’s Education?

Through IT courses students develop:

  • critical thinking and evaluative skills, including skepticism
  • independent reasoning
  • creative and nimble thinking
  • skills to work effectively with other students in class discussion and small-group work.

The texts for IT courses include those that educated persons are commonly expected to know, but the class is not a “great books” class in the sense that individual books are studied on their own, nor is it a thematic class. The focus is always on the larger questions: what does it mean to be human? how free are humans to act? how do we come to truth? what constitutes moral behavior? are there divine forces? is war justifiable?

Students are encouraged to situate their college experience in a larger context and to make informed, deliberate choices. Intellectual Traditions provides a vision of culture and a coherent core experience, one that stimulates students to be intellectually adventurous outside of mere careerism.

IT Courses and Themes
  • HONOR 2101: The Ancient World (beginnings to 100 CE)
  • HONOR 2102: The Development of the Common Era (100 to 1600 CE)
  • HONOR 2103: The Modern World (1600 to the present)
  • HONOR 2104: Ancient Greek and Chinese writings
  • HONOR 2105-2107: Reacting to the Past (Role-playing classes covering the same periods as the regular IT sequence.)
  • HONOR 2108: Twentieth century intellectual movements
  • HONOR 2109: IT through an Ecological Lense