Honors Scholars


First-Year Honors 1
First-Year Honors 1: HONR 120: Community and Identity

This introductory course explores why gender, race or ethnicity – in isolation – is insufficient to conceptualize either individual or social identity. Students will learn to think critically about their own gendered, racial and ethnic identities; the social and cultural factors that shape and contribute to each; and how they affect issues of power and justice in the contemporary United States. Students are also introduced to the value-based, collaborative theory of leadership that is central to each of the five Honors courses.


Sophomore Year Honors 2
Sophomore Year Honors 2: HONR 201-204: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Communities of Scholarship

This course is team-taught by instructors from two different Ways of Thinking. Students will engage with the key concepts of a liberal arts education – which include acquiring a broad base of knowledge and integrating that knowledge across different domains – in an effort to recognize the intellectual value of different disciplinary perspectives and the usefulness of merging material and methods when studying an issue, forming a belief or making a decision.


Sophomore Year Honors 3
Sophomore Year Honors 3: HONR 300: Communities and Systems

In this course, students explore how constructions of race, gender and ethnicity shape cultural rules and biases and how these constructions vary across time, cultures and societies. They’ll also critically analyze how these forms of identity raise questions of justice with regard to access and participation in communal life. Specific topics, national and cultural contexts and time periods will vary by instructor.


Junior Year Honors 4
Junior Year Honors 4: HONR 360-4: Community, Research and Social Change

This course uncovers the privileges and responsibilities that come with community membership. Students will put their theories into practice by identifying an authentic opportunity or challenge that would enhance the common good, researching it from all angles, producing research papers and making oral presentations to community stakeholders.


Senior Year Honors 5
Senior Year Honors 5: HONR 395: Liberal Arts in Action

The final Honors course and senior capstone integrates their previous course work and leadership development through project-based learning and an integrative essay. Based on their research in Honors 4, students will design, execute and evaluate a project that enhances the common good of the community.

Learning Outcomes

The curriculum of the Honors Scholars program is based on our commitment to the value of a broad liberal arts and sciences education done in collaboration with students from diverse majors and intellectual interests. Our learning outcomes offer students the tools to be effective agents for positive social change by intentionally integrating interdisciplinary coursework, leadership development skills, and experiential learning through community engagement.

We know our Honors Scholars are likely to become leaders in their workplaces, local governments, places of worship, and volunteer organizations. Honors Scholars leadership learning outcomes are designed to help students step into those roles.  Our leadership outcomes are based on the Social Change Model of Leadership (SCM) which teaches collaborative leadership skills and is consonant with Benedictine notions of the responsibilities of living in community and with the aspirations of CSB and SJU for transformative inclusivity.

Liberal Arts

Students understand the conceptual foundations of a liberal arts education, which includes the ability to integrate knowledge across different domains.  Students recognize the value of different disciplinary perspectives and how the integration of different disciplinary approaches fosters curiosity, compassion, and a holistic understanding of the world.

Leadership 1

Students identify the key assumptions of the Social Change Model: a collaborative process that is values-based, inclusive, and socially responsible with an aim of social change.

Leadership 2

Students apply their theoretical understanding of the Social Change Model to their community research projects. They use the Social Change Model to evaluate their own contributions to the project.

Truth 1

Students will articulate how different disciplines contribute to our understanding of how truth is pursued and our knowledge of what is true.

Truth 2

Students will explore multiple pathways to discovering and pursuing truth in the process of articulating a shared issue in the community and proposing an evidence-based solution.

Honors 1
  • Lockuptown: Incarceration in the US
  • Solidarity and Difference
  • Midnimo in Minnesota
  • Reinventing Identity
Honors 2
  • Controversy and the Scientific Community
  • Propaganda, Art & Action
  • Gender and Math: Who gets to be a Mathematician?
Honors 3
  • That’s a Different Story... Literature and the Common Good
  • Native American Assimilation and Revitalization
  • Queer Intersections
  • Guns Gold & Slaves in the Age of Empire
Honors 4
  • Community Histories
  • Wellbeing, Happiness, and Social Change
  • Finding Common Ground in Polarized Times
Honors 5
College of Saint Benedict
Saint John’s University

Dr. Beth Wengler
Director, Honors Scholars
Professor of History
CSB Richarda N7

Dr. Emily Esch
Associate Director, Honors Scholars
Professor of Philosophy
SJU Quad 362G