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In this essay I will describe a course and a service learning project related to a course that I had the good fortune to teach when I was new at a university and in an honors college. My point in describing how this course developed, including its structure and year-long project, is to demonstrate that pedagogical environments relatively free from constraints give rise to innovations and worthwhile educational experiences.
In the summer of 2008, I took up a new post as Assistant Director of the Louisiana Scholars’ College at Northwestern State University. The Louisiana Scholars’ College is a “fully-developed” college with fourteen of its own faculty and roughly 160 students. The students take a series of courses that are specific to the college, and Scholars’ College faculty members teach a large number of discipline-specific courses as well as a wide variety of interdisciplinary courses. The college offers a series of “Great Books” courses and includes a strong science education curriculum. The student who graduates from Scholars’ will have completed over sixty hours of honors credit. The program from which I had come had, unlike this one, a traditional “program” structure with courses taught by members of other departments teaching honors sections. At my new post, few philosophy courses were offered since the college had no philosophy major (a lamentable fact to be sure), so I had no courses to teach within my specialty. When my director asked me to help teach the senior colloquium, I agreed.