Barrett, The Honors College

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Barrett, The Honors College
Barrett Honors College.jpg
DeanDr. Mark Jacobs
Academic staff
AffiliationsArizona State University

Barrett, The Honors College at Arizona State University is a program that provides over 5,400 students[1] with a residential experience that is similar to that which one might find at a smaller college or university, while still giving access to the resources of a major research institution.[2] The administration offices for the college are located in Sage Hall in the Barrett Honors Complex, on ASU's Tempe campus, but classes are available at all of the ASU campuses in Arizona.


Barrett, the Honors College has had its roots at Arizona State University as long as the University has been a university.[3] From 1958, when ASU became a university by a statewide popular vote, to 1988, honors programs existed throughout the University's departments and schools. On July 16, 1988, the Arizona Board of Regents created the ASU University Honors College, which was known by the Honor College.[4] Dr. Ted Humphrey, who had earlier directed the university's honors program, become the founding Dean of Barrett.[3] After six years and being one of the few honors colleges in the country, the honors college was named by Money Magazine as one of the top eight honors programs in the United States.[4] In 2000, the then-CEO of Intel, Craig Barrett and his wife Barbara, who is an ASU alumna, gave the college an endowment of $10 million.[4] Because this was one of the largest gifts ASU had received at the time, the college was renamed Barrett, The Honors College.[4]


The Human Event and The History of Ideas[edit]

The Human Event is Barrett's seminar sequence for First-Year Students and is the signature course for Barrett. In the first course, HON 171, students explores texts from earliest recorded history to approximately 1600 C.E. Students then go to HON 272 in their second semester and explore texts from 1600 C.E. to the present day.[5] All Barrett students are required to take either The Human Event sequence or The History of Ideas course.[6] The Human Event sequence has been credited for the Honors College's growth and reputation.[7]

The Human Event started at Arizona State University in 1977 and has been a part of the Honors Curriculum ever since.[7] The concept for The Human Event was conceived by physicist Richard Jacob, who was also the Director of the Honors Program in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at ASU, in the late 1970s. Dr. Richard Jacob was inspired by The Ascent of Man, a Jacob Bronowski's BBC series about the development of Western culture and wanted to offer a similar experience to his honors students. Dr. Jacob reached out to the chair of philosophy, who was Dr. Ted Humphrey, to develop a two-semester freshman seminar which is now known as The Human Event. Dr. Humphrey combined his experience of teaching a replica of the University of Chicago's Great Books of the Western World and Columbia University's great ideas course.[7]

Dr. Ted Humphrey designed the course to meet 5 goals.[7] The Human Event was designed to:

  1. serve as an introduction to an honors education in which a student seeks to encounter, absorb, and work with ideas. He also aimed to establish an attitude and a community with an intellectual foundation for life, citizenship, and career.
  2. students to have a sense of connection with the past and one another.[7][8]
  3. students should be from a diverse set of majors.
  4. the course in seminar style so the faculty could assess student development.
  5. limits on the size of class sections.[7] Today, The Human Event is capped at 21 students per class.

For being around close to half a century, The Human Event has gone though its own phases. Today, the course follows no set theme. Mainly, themes and topics are generated by class discussions. However, students are recommended to take courses with particular Honors Faculty if they want to gain insight from the faculty's perspective. In a short-lived experiment starting in 2007, the Human Event was split into three focuses, humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences. However, this ended in 2013 as it introduced more problems than it solved.[7]

The History of Ideas is a similar course to The Human Event but is only for incoming transfer students on Barrett's upper division track.[6] Due to their shortened time at ASU, incoming transfer students take one semester of The History of Ideas where they discuss texts from earliest recorded history to the present.

Residential Communities[edit]

As Barrett, formally known as ASU University Honors College, was established in 1988, it has been a residential college. The Honors College began with just 170 honors students within McClintock Hall on the Tempe Campus. The college started with 33,000 square feet for three classrooms, six offices for honors college staff, and 80 residential dorm rooms.[3] As the ASU University Honors College grew, the Honors College moved a city block south of McClintock Hall to a new location. The site originally contained seven buildings with about 420 beds. Four of the original buildings remained as residential halls. One building was converted into offices for honors college staff and faculty as well as three classrooms. Another building was renovated to create five other classrooms dedicated to honors classes. In 1994, two new residential halls were built which housed added 400 beds. At this time, the college had 197,000 square feet with 820 beds. The Honors College complex was simply known as the Center Complex. The complex housed 820 honors students, 8 classrooms and offices for 8 dedicated honors faculty and 18 staff and administrators.[3] In 2009, Barrett, the Honors College opened the opened the nation's only four-year residential campus for honors students.[9] This campus is known as Barrett, The Honors College Residential Complex and resides on the South East side of ASU's Tempe Campus.

Over time, Barrett grew to have residential communities on all of ASU's four metropolitan Phoenix campuses.


Barrett, the Honors College is located on all four of Arizona State University's Phoenix Metropolitan campuses: the Downtown Phoenix, Polytechnic, Tempe, and the West campus.

Taylor Place Residential Hall
Photo of Taylor Place, a residential hall located on ASU's Downtown Phoenix campus.


Barrett, The Honors College is affiliated with Arizona State University. It is headed by a dean. In general, all of the faculty members participate in giving seminars to students throughout the academic year.[10] Students may engage in an honors enrichment contract with any professor on campus, awarding honors credit for extra coursework during the course of a semester.[11][12] These contracts allow the students to obtain the 36 honors credit hours required to graduate with Barrett, The Honors College.[6]

Student life[edit]

Student life for those in Barrett is much like any other student attending ASU; however, there are some resources available that require Honors status. The positives to living within these facilities are easy access to Honors-only seminars such as the required Human Event classes, as well as access to the Honors writing center and computing center.[8] Along with this, Barrett residents can purchase meal plans for the Barrett Dining Hall, a unique on-campus dining experience. Additionally, Honors Hall houses a small exercise gym, a coffee shop, a 24-hour help desk, a computer lab, and a lounge area open to those living in the residence halls. Compared to other residence halls at ASU, relatively high numbers of students return to live in the Barrett complex as upperclassmen despite the high cost. Furthermore, Barrett students, along with NCAA athletes and students with disabilities, get to register for classes a week before all other students.


  1. ^ Barrett Facts and Figures
  2. ^ Barrett, The Honors College - Arizona State University
  3. ^ a b c d Jacobs, Mark (2015-01-01). "The Genesis of Barrett, the Honors College at Arizona State University". Chapters from NCHC Monographs Series.
  4. ^ a b c d Barrett, The Honors College - Arizona State University
  5. ^ "HON 171 and 272: The Human Event | Barrett, The Honors College". HON 171 and 272: The Human Event | Barrett, The Honors College. 2015-12-15. Retrieved 2021-03-26.
  6. ^ a b c "Lower and Upper Division Credits | Barrett, the Honors College". Lower and Upper Division Credits | Barrett, the Honors College. Retrieved 2016-01-22.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g deLusé, Stephanie (2014-01-01). "There and Back Again: Learning From the History of a Freshman Seminar Sequence". Honors in Practice -- Online Archive.
  8. ^ a b Barrett, The Honors College - Arizona State University
  9. ^ "History of Barrett | Barrett, The Honors College". History of Barrett | Barrett, The Honors College. 2015-06-12. Retrieved 2021-03-26.
  10. ^ Barrett, The Honors College - Arizona State University
  11. ^ "Honors Enrichment Contracts | Barrett, the Honors College". Honors Enrichment Contracts | Barrett, the Honors College. Retrieved 2016-01-22.
  12. ^ Barrett, The Honors College - Arizona State University

External links[edit]