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Areas of Emphasis

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Areas of Emphasis

Honors students in Tracks I and II have the option of fulfilling the Honors seminar requirement through an Area of Emphasis. Students begin the course sequence in the fall semester of the sophomore year. There are currently five areas offered:

  • Creativity
  • Global Studies
  • Leadership
  • Research
  • Service

Why select an Area of Emphasis?

An Area of Emphasis provides students a wonderful opportunity to:

  • Develop advanced knowledge and skills in creativity, leadership, research, global studies, or service that can further longer term goals and interests
  • Distinguish themselves as an Honors student in yet another way when they enter the job market, apply to graduate school, etc.
  • Develop ideas and faculty connections for the Senior Honors Project
  • Realize the benefits of experiential learning versus classroom learning

For students in pre-professional programs, it provides fantastic opportunities to use the honors program to directly complement pre-professional development.


Requirements

Each Area of Emphasis requires a three-course sequence:

  1. Fall Semester/Sophomore Year: Introductory Seminar (3 credits).
    There is one introductory seminar offered for each Area of Emphasis. The primary goal of these seminars is to introduce students to key skills associated with the area each serves while establishing a cohort of students with similar interests.

  2. Spring Semester/Sophomore Year: Experiential Seminar (3 credits). 
    Experiential seminars come in two varieties: 1) Deepening and 2) Broadening. Deepening seminars are restricted to students of one particular emphasis area and are intended to provide a more in-depth exploration of the skills/concepts introduced in the first semester. For example, research emphasis students may follow an apprentice-like “Research in Practice” model of guided literature review with a faculty mentor. Broadening courses are open to students of more than one emphasis area. A course designed to establish a student-driven JMU undergraduate research journal will be offered to leadership and research emphasis students in the spring of 2013. Other broadening courses may cater to service and global studies emphasis students, for example. To maintain continuity throughout each area, students within an emphasis cohort will participate in meetings facilitated by the emphasis coordinator to discuss and reflect back on connections between their first and second semester experiences.

  3. Junior Year: Practicum (1-3 credits). 
    These courses will be student driven, and will hopefully manifest as an extension of the second semester experiences. For instance, if a research emphasis student engages in “Research in Practice” during the second semester of his/her sophomore year a natural progression would be the initiation or continuation of a research project with his/her faculty mentor from the previous semester.

Note that you must complete both semesters of the sophomore year seminar sequence in order for the fall class to count toward the Honors Seminar requirement.  Otherwise, the fall class will count toward your Honors elective credits. Completion of the junior practicum is not part of your seminar requirement. It is only required if you would to be certified as having completed the area.


How to Apply

Invitations will be sent to eligible Honors students each spring with instructions on how to join an Area of Emphasis. For more questions, contact the Honors Advisor.