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COMMUNICATION Honors
PROGRAM

Overview
The Communication Honors Program is designed to give advanced students an opportunity to explore an area of Communication Studies in more depth, to gain research experience, and to explore and prepare for possible graduate study. Acceptance and participation in the Communication Honors Program enables students to list "Communication Major with Honors" on their resume. Communication honors students also receive invitations to meet visiting campus speakers and faculty candidates and attend special off-campus events.

Eligibility requirements

  • Declared communication major
  • Completion of Comm 260: Rhetoric and Public Culture, and Comm 280: Research Methods as well as a reasonable number of your Communication major requirements
  • Junior or Senior status as of fall semester for which you are applying
  • Major GPA of 3.5 or above
  • Submission of application by deadline

Program information
Participants in the Communication Honors Program will take Comm 480: Communication Honors Course during fall semester. Topics will change each fall. This course is in addition to the regular 400-level requirement for the major; in other words, to graduate with honors in Communication requires an additional 4-hour course.

The Communication Honors Course will provide an opportunity to engage in a discussion seminar with a small group of students to address a particular Communication topic in depth. Honors students, as part of this course, will develop an individual research project and submit an abstract (150 word summary) of this project to the National Conference for Undergraduate Research. If your project is selected for presentation at this prestigious conference, you will have the opportunity to travel (expenses paid!) with a group of Hope Students to the conference, held each spring, to present your research.

ONline application form

Honors Course topics

2014: The Rhetoric of the Human Enhancement Movement, taught by Prof. Herrick

This course will develop an extended case study in the rhetoric of science. Specifically, we will explore the discourse developing around biotechnological enhancements to the human body and mind, as well as related developments such as artificial intelligence, robotics, technologies for extending lifespan, and space exploration. Arguments and narratives developed in print and visual media—including fictional media such as books and movies—will be considered, as will scientific publications, government documents, and popular writing by scientists and the science press. Particular attention will be paid to the discourses of progress, evolution, or improving the human race. The history, ethics, and spirituality of enhancement will also be taken up. Students will have the opportunity to develop an original research project examining the discourse of some aspect of human enhancement, fictional presentations of humanity’s future, the religious implications of enhancement, the justice of enhancement, or scientific speculation about technology’s impact on human societies. Students will be encouraged to submit final projects to the National Conference on Undergraduate Research or a similar forum.
2013: Cross-Cultural Happiness, taught by Prof. Johnston

Bringing a communication perspective to the study of happiness across cultures, (which has been most consistently explored by psychologists), raises important questions regarding the social construction of the meaning of happiness, as well as how happiness is communicated and experienced within a culture. Do cultures socially construct and experience happiness differently? Why are Central and South American countries over-represented among the happiest countries in the world? Why does Chile, the most economic affluent South American country, have the highest rate of depression in South America?

In this course we will explore what happiness means – from Aristotle to today, from the USA to Argentina. What makes us happy? How do we measure happiness? Happiness in some cross-cultural studies is defined in terms of economic well-being, and in other studies defined as subjective life satisfaction. Assuming ‘we’ can define happiness, how do we compare happiness across cultures? Can we measure happiness? Most cross-cultural happiness research to date is based on survey data; there are few if any studies that use qualitative methods to explore people’s ‘lived experiences’ of happiness and to ask the ‘how’ and ‘why’ questions behind self reports of life satisfaction and well-being.

We will explore the research literature on cross-cultural happiness and we will design a study, using ethnographic and interview techniques, to study cross-cultural happiness in new ways. We will pre-test the ethnographic methods we design via international skype interviews, and Honor’s Projects will be submitted for presentation at the National Council of Undergraduate Research (NCUR), as well as presented at the Celebration of Undergraduate Research at Hope.

2012: Food, Culture, and Power, taught by Prof. Housel

Food is more than something we eat. Eating is a basic human necessity, but our foodways have complex meanings when viewed from a cultural perspective. This class will use discussions, hands-on labs, food tastings, and critical research and writing to guide exploration of the complex relationship between food and culture. We will study how the ways that people grow, prepare, consume, package, and sell food are symbolic expressions of social hierarchy, religious and moral practices, political values, ethics, population migration, and individual, racial, ethnic, gender, and sexual identities. As we study the cultural meanings of food and its interconnections with so many diverse aspects of society, this course will also introduce students to foodways as a powerful tool for studying history and cultures. This course’s seminar format requires students to lead class discussion of academic journal articles and readings. In addition to hands-on lab assignments and shorter critical analyses, the seminar’s major assignment will be an original research project that uses field observation, interviewing, or textual analysis to critically study an aspect of foodways in everyday life. Students will be expected to submit their final projects to Hope College’s Celebration of Undergraduate Research, and also encouraged to submit the project to the National Conference on Undergraduate Research.

2011: The Rhetoric of the Human Enhancement Movement, taught by Prof. Herrick

This course will develop an extended case study in the rhetoric of science. Specifically, we will explore efforts to promote bio-technological enhancements to the human body and mind, as well as related developments such as artificial intelligence, robotics, extending the human life span, and space exploration. Arguments and narratives developed in print and visual media—including fictional media such as books and movies—will be considered, as will scientific publications, government documents, and popular writing by scientists. Particular attention will be paid to arguments and narratives about progress, human evolution, or improving the human race. The history, ethics, and spirituality of enhancement will also be taken up. Students will have the opportunity to develop an original research project examining the discourse of some aspect of human enhancement, fictional presentations of humanity’s future, the religious implications of enhancement, the justice of enhancement, or scientific speculation about technology’s impact on human societies. Students will be encouraged to submit final projects to the National Conference on Undergraduate Research.

2010: Organizational Culture, taught by Prof. Anderson

Organizational culture refers to how members of an organization behave and make sense of their environment together. It involves all aspects of an organization’s life, including its artifacts, attitudes, values, beliefs, history and heroes. In this course students will learn how to “read” organizational cultures and use that cultural knowledge to understand organizational behavior as performance, organizational change processes, team-building, and the management of meaning. Students will learn qualitative research methods including field observation, interviewing, and various methods of textual analysis. In the seminar format, students will be responsible for leading discussion of assigned, relevant journal articles and book chapters. The major assignment for this course is a 20 page cultural analysis of an organization, suitable for presentation at an academic conference. Students will be expected to submit their research paper for a conference by the end of the semester.

2009: New Media and Digital Culture, taught by Prof. Spielvogel

Whether it be "online dating," social networking, or virtual workplaces, new forms of digital media have changed the way we live, work, and interact. This course will examine the implications of new social and virtual media applications on our relational, familial, communal, and religious lives and commitments. Students in this honors course will, through course readings and direct use of new digital technologies, theorize the potential and limitations of virtual worlds, social networking, and online communities for creating vibrant and morally responsible communication systems.

If Dr. Spielvogel is on research leave fall semester, Dr. Herrick will be teaching the Honors Seminar on the topic of "Spiritual and Religious Themes in Pop Culture." Communication Honors Students will be notified of the final topic and professor for the Honors Seminar prior to registration. We will not be certain of the topic and professor for the course before your application for the honors program is due, March 12.

2008: Global Communication, taught by Prof. Johnston

Global communication is a complex process, and our ability to negotiate that process effectively and ethically is essential for world stability and human welfare. Global communication has the potential to promote human rights and social justice, to unite people around shared values and interests, to allow freedom of expression, and to produce quality information. Or, as some scholars are predicting, global communication may lead to fragmentation and a loss of meaning. Globalization may promote restrictions on human rights, segregate people into special-interest groups, promote censorship, and spread inaccurate information.

You and your generation will play a critical role in whether the new technology that allows us to engage in global communication serves the world well or ill. Our future success depends upon our ability to ethically and effectively speak through the cultural ideologies and identities that define us, yet respect and engage those with cultural ideologies and identities different than our own. These are the cutting edge issues we will be examining in the Honors Course on Global Communication.

 

2007: The Spirituality of Popular Culture, taught by Prof. Herrick

This course explores the spiritual themes evident in various texts of popular culture such as film, music, books and Internet sources such as online gaming communities. We will seek to isolate and examine elements of what are sometimes called New Spiritualities that emerge from such texts, and contrast these to more traditional belief systems. The course will also introduce students to critical approaches well suited to the analysis of religious themes in a wide range of artifacts and texts.