Guidelines

Proposing a Special Topics Course: Information for Faculty

 

We’re now accepting proposals to teach special-topics courses (COM 370H) for Fall 2022 and Spring 2023 semesters. Please follow this link to access the submission form. You may submit a proposal at any time, but the deadline to submit for Fall 2022 is October 1, 2021.

You do NOT have to teach the course as an overload; your department will get funding to find a replacement for any class you would otherwise teach in your department.

These guidelines provide general information about the Moody College Honors Program and practical specifics for proposing a special-topics elective. Special-topics courses (COM 370H) are offered, with certain exceptions, exclusively to students who are enrolled in the program and have satisfied the first-year pre-requisite courses COM 307H and COM 308H. In most cases, students who take the special-topics courses with a COM 370 designation will be sophomores and juniors, although seniors are also eligible to take them.

SPECIAL TOPICS COURSES: As a general rule, these classes can be thought of as seminars rather than lectures. Class sizes are small, between 12 and 20 students, depending on enrollment demands and the needs of each particular course. Because students will have taken Life of the Mind (COM 307H) and Life of the Community (COM 308H) -- designed to foster critical thinking and dialogue around fundamental questions of communication and society -- they should be well-prepared for critical discussion, advanced undergraduate writing and deeper exploration of specific communication topics. The topics themselves be on anything relevant to our interdisciplinary fields of study, and our aim is to offer a fair mix of classes from every department in the college.

COURSE SELECTION PRIORITIES: We invite proposals of all kinds and varieties. But in our selection and review process we will prioritize those that emphasize or offer one or more of the following:

  • Classroom dialogue and debate (as opposed to a lecture hall experience) 
  • Critical thinking and analysis (as opposed to rote learning)
  • Assignments that cultivate students’ skills and creativity as writers, storytellers and communicators (as opposed to multiple choice exams)
  • Deep engagement with the most pressing issues of our time vis a vis human communication
  • Fresh angles on foundational or important theories, thinkers, creatives, artists, performers, writers, filmmakers, movements, narratives, historical periods and/or topics in human communication
  • Exploration of innovative and cutting-edge ideas, topics, technologies, leaders, artists, trends or research areas
  • The chance to engage with challenging art and controversial topics in a supportive space
  • Reflection on leadership, ethics and social responsibility
  • The chance to conduct collaborative or independent research
  • Out-of-the classroom experiences, service learning, or integration of guest speakers and special events
  • Classes that satisfy one or more flag requirements (Cultural Diversity in the United States, Ethics, Global Cultures, Independent Inquiry, Quantitative Reasoning, Writing)
    • Flags are not mandatory or expected, but those who intend to seek flag status must apply via UGS upon notification of a class being accepted

COURSE PROPOSAL FORM: To propose a special topics course, you must submit a proposal form. You may submit a proposal at any time, but the deadline to submit for Fall 2022 is October 1, 2021. Please feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns at comm-honors@austin.utexas.edu.

COURSE SELECTION PROCESS: Course proposals will be reviewed by a committee of faculty and student representatives and will be selected based on the criteria above, as well as the merits of the course as a whole, evidence of or demonstrated potential for teaching excellence, the needs of the program, and the goal of providing a menu of courses and instructors that fairly represent our interdisciplinary college and our diverse student body. Courses will be selected by early November.

APPROVAL and FUNDING: Any faculty member regardless of rank, status as tenure- or non-tenure-track faculty, or status as full- or part-time faculty may propose a course. In the event that your proposal is selected, we will solicit approval from your home department to teach the class. With the approval of your department chair, your honors course will be scheduled and your home department will be compensated for the class you were unable to teach in your department. In other words, you do NOT have to teach the course as an overload, and your department will be provided funding to find a replacement for any class you would be relieved from teaching in your department.