Honors Program Core Courses – Asbury University
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Honors Program Core Courses

Fall Odd-numbered Years

▾ ENG265/PS265-HN: The City and the Human Self: Flourishing and Isolation in Metropolis — Dr. Daniel Strait / Dr. Steve Clements

*Fulfills ENG205 Foundations requirement or PS101 Foundations requirement

Human development across time has been largely the product of great cities and the regions they influence. Indeed, a smattering of such civilizational-center names summons notions of empire and culture—from Athens and Jerusalem, to Persepolis, Beijing, Rome, Alexandria, Istanbul, Moscow, Paris, Tokyo, Mumbai, Berlin, and London.  A relative newcomer to the national scene—the United States—has its own story, with eastern colonial outposts of Boston, New York, and Philadelphia becoming world class cities, joined later by westerly locations such as Detroit, Chicago, St. Louis, Dallas, Denver, Phoenix, Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.

This course explores the city as a dynamic social and economic environment, in which human persons live, work, and flourish within the context of urban life, featuring 20th and 21st century American cities as a focus. We will study in particular the characteristic realities of cities: condensed social spaces, the configurations of (and alternatives to) human community, the dynamic mix of racial, ethnic, and religious diversity, intensified threats (crime, terrorism, natural disaster, pandemic), social injustices and poverty, as well as the possibilities for meaningful creative and moral activity. The course will also explore how human persons in the city meet the demands of work and family, encounter inequalities, handle the rapidity of life, and negotiate the potentially uneasy threshold between “built” and natural environments.

From the interdisciplinary perspectives of the social sciences (political science) and the humanities (literature), the primary focus of this course is to explore the human person within the converging experiences of urban life.  We also consider how shifting conceptions of human flourishing and the possibilities of a networked landscape have implications for the future of the city.


Daniel H. Strait, Ph.D.
Ph.D., English, Literature and Criticism, Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP)
M.A., English, Florida Atlantic University
B.A., English, Houghton College

Steve Clements, Ph.D.
Ph.D., Political Science, University of Chicago
M.A., Political Science, University of Chicago
B.A., History, Asbury College

▾ OT265-HN: Image of God and Personhood in the Old Testament — Dr. Julianne Burnett

*Fulfills OT100 Foundations requirement

Genesis 1:26-27 states that humanity is made in the image and likeness of God.

We were made to be in relationship with our Creator and to reflect Him in our lives.  The fall of humanity and God’s redemptive plan unfold throughout the rest of the Scripture. Yet, the Old Testament is full of narratives and historical accounts of events that involve violence, tragedies, and many difficult aspects to societal structure.  How does image-bearing connect with these realities?  Why does the Old Testament include so much violence?  How is human dignity honored in a patriarchal society?  Is conquest compatible with loving others who are also the imago dei? Why do so many biblical characters have multiple wives, concubines, and slaves?  What does the Old Testament teach about living a life that is fully devoted to God?  And how does that impact our interaction with others?

In this course, the writings, theology, and history of the Old Testament will be surveyed.  Particular attention will be given to asking certain questions for every biblical book studied:

  1. What do we learn about God?
  2. What do we learn about being the imago dei?
  3. What is the socio-historical context?
  4. How might we begin to consider the application for Christians in the Wesleyan-holiness tradition today?


Dr. Julianne Burnett
Ph.D., University of Manchester
M.A., Wesley Biblical Seminary
M.A., University of Exeter
B.A., University of Exeter

▾ COM265-HN: Civil Discourse in the Public Square — Dr. Jim Shores

*Fulfills COM130, 150 Foundations requirement

This discussion-based course will explore concepts and techniques related to open, respectful communication. Humans are made in God’s image. As such, we all called to treat one another as creatures holding God-given value, exercising virtue towards one another. Virtuous communication seeks first to understand the other person. It exercises rationality and forbearance, values truth, seeks wisdom, and shows kindness with the goal of fostering hospitality, peace, justice, and community.

We will explore interpersonal and group conversation, as well as online communication, and how to keep this communication open to a respectful curiosity in other people and group’s viewpoints, while maintaining our own civil convictions. Special consideration will be given to communication between gender, ethnic, racial, and political groups.


Dr. Jim Shores
Ph.D. in Communication Studies, Regent University
M.S. in Environmental Science, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill

Spring Even-numbered Years

** courses offered alternately every other spring even semester. ENG265 offered Spring ‘24 / PHL265 offered Spring ‘26, etc.,

▾ NT265-HN: New Testament and the Good Life — Dr. Kevin Anderson

*Fulfills NT100 Foundations requirement 

This is an honors course in New Testament introduction with a special emphasis on New Testament ethics. It introduces the historical context, literary features, essential content, and theology of the books of the New Testament. It also studies the New Testament as the church’s authoritative guide to Christian identity, behavior, true blessedness, and dignity.


Kevin Anderson, Ph.D.
Ph.D., London School of Theology/Brunel University
M.Div., Nazarene Theological Seminary
B.A., Trinity Bible College

▾ TH265-HN: Culture Innovation and Stewardship — Dr. Brian Shelton

*Fulfills TH250 Foundations requirement (requires both NT100 and OT100 as prerequisites)

This course considers how culture is constructed in a theology of human value, the role of goodness and virtue in the created order, and our stewardship from the cultural mandate. The classical liberal arts curriculum marking Christian higher education is recognized as a theological fulfillment of the design of God and a human compatibility with culture. Intersection with the arts, humanities, history, science, and social work provide a theological understanding of a Christian’s innovation, stewardship, and celebration of creation and culture.


Dr. Brian Shelton
Ph.D., Saint Louis University
M.Div., Covenant Theological Seminary
B.A., Asbury University

▾ PHL265-HN: Science, Christianity, and Our Place in the Cosmos** — Dr. Sydney Penner

*Fulfills PHL200, 231 Foundations requirement

The Scientific Revolution in the early modern period is often hailed as one of the greatest triumphs of Western thought. That modern science has led to an exponential increase in our knowledge of the world and to the many technological marvels that rely on that knowledge would be difficult to deny. On the other hand, modern science is similarly often feared (and sometimes welcomed) as undermining crucial religious and moral values. If science says that human beings are the result of millions of years of bloody, brutal evolution—and, indeed, that human beings don’t even constitute a stable species with sharply defined boundaries—what are the implications of that understanding for faith in a providential God? For human rights?

In this course, we will examine the history and philosophy of science to come to a better understanding of what science is in the first place and therefore what its limits may or may not be. How did we get from thinking of theology as a preeminent science to thinking it is not a science at all? What does count as a science? How confident should we be in the pronouncements of science? Are there challenges to science (e.g., the problem of induction or the theory-leadenness of observations) that should give us pause? Are there other sources of knowledge than science, and, if so, how do they relate to science?

After thinking about some of those more general questions, we will turn to the revolution in biology inaugurated by Darwin. Evolutionary theory is one of the most well-supported and fruitful theories in science, but also raises some of the most difficult questions. For Christians, is it compatible with the creation account we’re given in Genesis? Even if we read the temporal details in a way that is compatible with billions of years of evolution, can evolutionary origins of human beings be squared with the doctrine of original sin? What would accepting evolution mean for our understanding as being created in the image of God? What does the Darwinian account of species as vague and changeable mean for theological, ethical, and political accounts focused on our identity as members of the human species? These and other similar questions will occupy our attention in the second part of the course.


Dr. Sydney Penner
Ph.D., Philosophy, Cornell University
B.A., History and Philosophy, Yale University
A.A., Biblical Studies, Rosedale Bible College

▾ ENG265-HN: Rebellious Students** — Dr. Erin Penner

*Fulfills ENG205 Foundations requirement

You haven’t done school this way before.  The writers we’ll study fight, trick, wager, run, and risk death to learn.  In poetry, plays, dialogues, essays, and autobiographies, they tell us the story of learning to read in ways that help us see it anew.

When it’s illegal to learn to read, why do it?
What if learning means you can never go home again?
When asking questions makes people angry at you, do you continue to ask?

This is costly education.

But even as our authors change the way they talk, walk, and dream in their pursuit of intellectual freedom, they also challenge us to reconsider what we should do with education when we get our hands on it.  Our writers take nothing for granted, and they give us a chance to reassess what we really want out of our education, and what it may cost to pursue it.  

As we learn from these daring students, we’ll also be rebuilding the tools with which we approach school.  Writing is not a chance to prove our ideas, but rather a means of pursuing them through revision and response to feedback from our intellectual community.  We will play the roles of both student and teacher, learning from one another and taking turns leading class.  Our course will focus on group discussion, so come prepared to build a conversation together.  


Dr. Erin Penner, Ph.D.
Ph.D., English, Cornell University
M.A., English, Cornell University
B.A., English, Yale University

Fall Even-numbered Years

** courses offered alternately every other fall even semester.  ART265 offered Fall ‘24 / WA265 offered Fall ‘26, etc.

▾ ENG265-HN: J. R. R. Tolkien's View of Human Personhood in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings — Dr. Devin Brown

*Fulfills ENG205 Foundations requirement

Through his fiction, Tolkien provides a radically different and fundamentally Christian perspective on what it means to be human, in contrast to the great forces of dehumanization at work in the 20th Century which saw people as expendable and life as having no inherent purpose or meaning.  In the worldview Tolkien offers to readers, life is infused with purpose, each individual is of infinite value, and each person has been given free will to make moral choices which have lasting consequences. 


  • The Hobbit
  • The Fellowship of the Ring
  • The Two Towers
  • The Return of the King


Dr. Devin Brown
PhD., The University of South Carolina
MA, The University of Florida

▾ PHL265-HN: What are Humans? — Dr. Claire Peterson

*Fulfills PHL200, 231 Foundations requirement

In this class, we'll investigate the question of what humans are using the tools of philosophy, attending to both our embodiment and the very "factual" sounding aspects of our existence as well as our (alleged?) capacities, purposes, and value. That means we'll be reasoning through such issues as whether humans have a unified purpose and how significant our biological makeup is. All these pieces will come together in the final unit of the course when we consider the abortion debate through the lens of the dystopian novel, Unwind.


Claire Peterson, Ph.D.
Ph.D., Philosophy, The University of Notre Dame
M.A., Philosophy, The University of Notre Dame
B.A., History and Philosophy, Asbury University

▾ ART265-HN: Art and the Search for Meaning** — Dr. Linda Stratford

*Fulfills ART100, 251, or 252 Foundations requirement

The longing for transcendence and meaning has been present in every culture and epoch. Through examination of noteworthy works of art present and past, Art and the Search for Meaning explores this human quest. The course is personal and conversational, affording participants an inside look at works of art that stimulate social, moral, and theological inquiry. No prior training in art assumed. Within each unit Dr. Stratford serves as the work’s “ambassador,” filling in context and content for each piece and enriching understanding. Absorption in the artworks and their stories deepens through readings; group conversational direction; site visits; and suggestions for personal application.


Linda Stratford, Ph.D.
Ph.D., State University of New York, Stony Brook
M.A., Florida Atlantic University
B.S., Vanderbilt University

▾ WA265-HN: Redemption Songs: History of Worship** — Dr. Dan Pinkston

*Fulfills MUS100 Foundations requirement

God’s people have expressed their faith, worship, and devotion to God through music from the book of Genesis to the present day.  This course traces this God-given impulse to create music in worship by exploring the Biblical record, medieval liturgies, Reformation transformations, the birth of Wesleyan evangelicalism, and the contemporary worship movement.

Students will examine the historical, cultural, political, economic, and theological environments that led to various developments in the music of the church. Further, students will analyze and perform key historical and contemporary pieces of music that represent various expressions of worship. Students will compare the values of different approaches to liturgy and worship style, with reference to differing cultural expressions and customs. Through a biblical and historical survey of church worship practices and principles, students will develop their own theology/philosophy of music in Christian worship.


Dr. Dan Pinkston
D.M.A., Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
M.M., Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
B.M., Ouachita Baptist University

Spring Odd-numbered Years

** courses offered alternately every other spring odd semester.  HIS265 offered Spring ’25 / MAT265 offered Spring ’27, etc.

▾ TH265/ENG265-HN: Being Human: Dignity, Depravity, and Destiny in Theology & Literature — Dr. Thomas McCall / Dr. Daniel Strait

*Fulfills TH250 Foundations requirement (requires both NT100 and OT100 as prerequisites) or ENG205 Foundations requirement

This course in theological anthropology looks at human persons and communities in a distinctly theological perspective. It draws upon the resources of Christian Scripture and theological tradition in encounter with contemporary philosophy and science, and it engages issues of existential and moral concern. It develops a vision of human creatures as both precious in the eyes of their Creator and perverted in rebellion against their Lord, both endowed with unutterable dignity and capable of unspeakable horrors, both corrupt and broken as well as created for communion and summoned to renewed purity and wholeness.


Dr. Thomas McCall, Ph.D.
Ph.D., Systematic Theology, Calvin Theological Seminary
M.A., Theology, Wesley Biblical Seminary
B.A., Christian Studies, Hobe Sound Bible College

Daniel H. Strait, Ph.D.
Ph.D., English, Literature and Criticism, Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP)
M.A., English, Florida Atlantic University
B.A., English, Houghton College

▾ LA265-HN: Measuring the Good Life — Dr. Kevin Brown / Dr. Paul Nesselroade

*Meets SLO 4 Foundations requirement

As we explore various domains of human flourishing, we encounter two significant questions that lie at the heart of this course.  What does it mean to flourish?  How does one measure what it means to flourish?  This course will begin with an overview of key principles in quantitative thinking and statistical measurement; the goals include 1) exploring the intrinsic beauty of mathematics as well as the implications of finding ourselves in an ordered world with the ability to think mathematically, and 2) understanding the usefulness of quantitative measurement, probability, and sample-to-population inference to aid in investigations of description, association, and causality. Further, the course will explore various measurements of well-being and how they are measured (happiness, fairness, risk/safety, value)—raising questions about quantitative techniques, statistical insights and action, and the dimensions of human experience that cannot be expressed in quantitative form.


  • Statistical Applications for the Behavioral and Social Sciences
  • Justice: What is the Right Thing to Do
  • What Money Can’t Buy
  • How Much is Enough? Money and the good life


Dr. Kevin Brown
Ph.D., Urban Studies and Political Philosophy, University of Glasgow, Scotland
M.Litt., University of St. Andrews, Scotland
MBA, University of Indianapolis
B.S., University of Indianapolis

Dr. Paul Nesselroade
Ph.D., Experimental Psychology, University of Louisville
M.A., Experimental Psychology, University of Lousiville
B.A., Chemistry Education, Asbury University

▾ HIS265-HN: Homo Technologicus: A History of Humanity & Technology** — Dr. Alex Mayfield


Dr. Alex Mayfield
Ph.D., Boston University
M.Div., Boston College
B.A., Oral Roberts University

▾ MAT265-HN: Mathematics & Wonder** — Dr. Cheryll Crowe Johnson


Dr. Cheryll Crowe Johnson
Ph.D., Education Sciences (Mathematics), University of Kentucky
M.A.Ed, Mathematics Education and Gifted Education endorsement, Georgetown College
B.A., Secondary Mathematics Education, Asbury College