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Honors 251 - Citizen and Self

About Honors 251:

We often associate the term citizenship with rights and responsibilities such as voting and paying taxes, or, perhaps, a legal status granted to individuals by governmental entities. Furthermore, we often view selfhood as our core being, our essence, who and what we imagine ourselves to be.

Honors 251 works through the complexities and nuances of these terms “citizen” and “self” as pathways for understanding the role of individuals in a complex society and democratic environment.

Honors 251 takes a broad, public humanities approach to questions about citizenship and selfhood, stressing the importance of self-directed, experiential, and integrative learning. In addition to developing skills like research, writing, and deliberation, we will explore ways you can develop and contribute as a citizen professional within a larger framework of social responsibility.

Students will participate in group lecture, discussion and class exercises, applied civic engagement projects, and small group communications that focus on civic learning and democratic engagement.

Course experiences may consist of:

  • Interviewing a citizen professional within your intended career field
  • Completing a StrengthFinder inventory of your personal and professional strengths
  • Reading, watching, or listening to information sources on pressing social issues and discussing in small group settings
  • Executing a service-learning project (such as the Jonesville History Project)
  • Moderating a public deliberation


Public Deliberation:

If you would like to register to participate in an Honors 251 public deliberation, please see the attached document for registration links and schedules.


Volunteer Opportunities:

Center for Courageous Kids

The Center for Courageous Kids works with seriously ill children in a camp setting to provide them with life-enriching experiences.

Apply to volunteer as a counselor for weekend retreats or summer sessions where you will lead campers and families through pre-planned activities. Volunteers can also engage in daytime activities by serving with the equestrian center, housekeeping, maintenance, dining hall, or as a lifeguard. Applicants must be 18 or older.


Contact Information:

Phone - 270-618-2900

Email - kreece@courageouskids.org or info@courageouskids.org

Feeding America Kentucky’s Heartland

Feeding America helps to distribute food to those in need to combat hunger.

Volunteers can work individually or as a group to distribute food baskets at local distribution centers to those in need. Volunteers may also help by creating an awareness campaign or even pledging our birthday. More information can be found here.


Contact Information, Amber Lyvers:

Phone - 270-735-1407

Email - alyvers@feedingamericaky.org

Habitat for Humanity

Habitat for Humanity is a nonprofit, ecumenical Christian housing organization that works in partnership with people in need to build affordable housing.

Volunteer with the local Bowling Green Habitat for Humanity to build houses, improve neighborhoods, and help with community projects.


Contact Information, Iver Alenciks:

Phone - 270-843-6027

Email - iver@habitatbg.org or information@habitatbg.org

Phoenix Rising KY

Phoenix Rising serves children, youth, & young adults (up to and including age 21) affected by domestic minor sex trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation.

Volunteers for Phoenix Rising Kentucky have the opportunity to help serve young adults and children that have been impacted by sex trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation and play a role in assisting their recovery.


Contact Information:

Phone - 973-937-7759

Email - phoenixrisingky@gmail.com or info@phoenixrisingky.org

United Way of Southern Kentucky

United Way of Southern Kentucky serves the community by bringing people together to create opportunities that make a measurable difference in the quality of life for people where they live and work while adhering to a strict set of standards for financial accountability; UWSK is a funding agent for local nonprofits.

Volunteer opportunities with the United Way of Southern Kentucky vary from leading financial literacy classes to reading to children to delivering meals to seniors.


Contact Information, Elizabeth Newbould:

Phone - 270-843-3205

Email - enewbould@uwsk.org or info@uwsk.org


Have other Volunteer Opportunities you would like to recommend? Contact Honors Teaching Fellow Miriam Dawson (miriam.dawson139@topper.wku.edu) and let her know!



HON 251 really taught me the value of listening—to myself, to others, and to the community. Through discussion and seminar, I learned to not only hear but listen—which means to truly seek to understand the perspective of others. Beyond learning how to collaborate more and write formally, empathy and understanding are two by-products of this class I gained through learning to listen.

Noah Moore, Class of 2021


I can honestly say that Honors 251 really shifted the way that I was able to think about the world and the interests I have in performing arts, and how the two could interact in a deeper, more applied way. Thinking deeply and critically about the state of our communities, policy and how we interact as individuals and citizens put into perspective my entire line of research in the restorative, healing aspects of theater performance and music, and that all started in 251. After taking that class, I shifted my focus, dug my heels in, and learned that the power that is wielded when people come together to engage in discussion, application, and exploration of the state of their community is unlike any other power. When that exploration is done through artistic outlets, the work transitions from discussion into creation, and creation is where we build and strengthen our communities. These lessons paved the way for me work in NYC, Appalachia, and somewhere between the two and ultimately my current position imagining community-based programs for Freshgrass Foundation as the Director of Programs, Grants and Ventures.

Hilarie Spangler, Class of 2019


I took it my first semester of university, and it blew my mind wide open. To have a class setting where we discussed ethics and delved into social issues was a completely new experience for me coming from a traditional public school background. I was challenged in the way I thought, encouraged to become more open-minded, and most importantly, grew my listening skills. I went on to be a teaching assistant for the course for 3 semesters. When I look back at my college career, I see HON 251 as a turning point in my personal growth concerning how I viewed and interacted with the world around me.

Gina Hatchett, Class of 2017


I took Citizen and Self my first semester of college, and it set the tone for the rest of my college years. A wonderfully interdisciplinary course, HON 251 will challenge your reading, writing, and discussion skills, and it will invite you to think about what it means to live with other humans, about the ways we shape each other, about the person you’re becoming. Looking back, I can see how the thread that began in 251 traces through the rest of my work in college and grad school. I have a Bachelors in Interdisciplinary Studies, a certificate in Citizenship and Social Responsibility, and a Masters in Religious Studies, and each degree provided opportunities for me to keep exploring what makes communities grow. I LOVED this class, and I highly recommend it.

Emily Witthuhn, Class of 2015



HON 251 Questions?

Leah ThompsonLeah Thompson
HON 251 Instructor





Honors Teaching Fellows

Miriam DawsonMiriam Dawson

Majors: Chinese and Anthropology



Laurel PhilpottLaurel Philpott

Major: Biology
Minor: Anthropology

Sarah StevensSarah Stevens

Majors: English and English for Secondary Teachers


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 Last Modified 10/22/20