Honors Course Contract Spotlight: Insects in Human Society

Honors students at Texas A&M routinely seek additional challenge so it is no surprise that they look for ways to dig into course material and enrich their curricula with Honors courses. But what happens when the course they want to take is not offered as an Honors section? Many students in this situation ask faculty to enter into an Honors Course Contract so they can satiate their thirst for knowledge–and get Honors credit.

The Honors Course Contract experience varies depending on the discipline, course material, and instructor. No matter what the expectation, though, students can expect an Honors Course Contract to ask for higher-level thinking and reflection.

The following is an excerpt from a blog that Rachel Reynolds ’16 wrote as part of the requirement for her Honors Course Contract in ENTO 322 – Insects in Human Society with Dr. Roger Gold. As part of her contract, Rachel had to create a poem or a song about an arthropod, create a virtual “collecting jar,” and keep a detailed blog about how her perception of insects changed over the course of the semester. This final post from Rachel’s blog does a nice job demonstrating how Honors study allows students to make connections across disciplines and make unanticipated connections:

Well, here it is. My final blog for the semester. It is crazy to think that finals are just a week away and summer begins in two weeks time. As I reflect on all that I have learned this semester, it amazes me that we have covered so much in this course. Everything from insects in cartoons, medicine, forensics, art, music, and history. I have learned the basics of insect anatomy, morphology, biology, communication, reproduction, physiology, growth, and dispersal. I have further explored how insects are excellent representatives of what it means to adapt to your surroundings. They are prevalent in almost every climate on our planet. They know how to survive even the harshest conditions, to the point where they can even go into comatose and show no visible signs of life and metabolic activity. Some insects even practice reflex bleeding and will release blood containing chemicals when they feel threatened by another organism.

At the beginning of this semester, all I could picture when someone mentioned “bugs” or “insects” was cockroaches, mosquitos, or giant spiders. But now I realize that entomology encompasses so much more than just these few creatures. Insects, though creepy and and gross at times, play a vital role in our environment. They are necessary if we are to live the same way that we are living now. Insects such as silk worms, honey bees,and scale insects provide us with materials and foods that we use in our every day lives. Cockroaches and termites, though destructive and disease agents at times, provide nitrogen and methane that our earth’s atmosphere needs. They recycle the nutrient base of the planet and enhance the transformation of carbon through the carbon cycle.

Read the rest of the post and more of Rachel’s entomology blog at http://tx.ag/fvetg5
To learn more about how an Honors Course Contract works, please visit http://hur.tamu.edu/Honors/Earning-Honors-Credit.

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