Jessica Toothaker

This post is part of a small series of posts written by current Honors students about their experiences with the Honors Program. They will be talking about their classes, capstones, anything that pertains to their journey through the program!

By Jessica Toothaker ’17  A&S – Biology

If you’re anything like me enrollment time sometimes is harder than a final exam. Between major, minor, home college, honors and prerequisite requirements, trying to build the “perfect” schedule can really leave us students in a stressful state. One way to solve this predicament is to choose to learn about another, in HNR 240/260 The Human Predicament taught by Professor Max Malikow. The class explores the unique condition it is to be human in a nontraditional interdisciplinary way. Professor Malikow designed it to be “an interesting course that integrated psychology, philosophy with a smattering of religion/theology.”

From day one Dr. Malikow lets it be known that the class is manageable, even providing an estimated time commitment guide on the syllabus. Each week a major question revolving around the experience of being human is addressed and discussed. Accompanying the lecture, Professor Malikow chooses books he feels address the major concepts of the class, without contributing a deafening blow to students’ already bruised and battered bank accounts. Movie clips are also shown stemming from Malikow’s own personal collection that allow for a refreshing break in lectures, while also making the concepts discussed understandable for auditory and visual learners alike.

Perhaps my most appreciated characteristic of the class is the realistic expectation of and relationship it has with students. As we all know, Syracuse University is a place with students of all personality types. For some, public presentation and contributing to class discussion is just not their thing. This class takes that into consideration, with the encouragement of student participation, but not making it a requirement. However, the atmosphere of the class is such that even the most hesitant speaker would feel comfortable sharing their thoughts at least once. Professor Malikow is as eager to learn from his students as students are from him. Taking student responses and feedback from course evaluations into account to update and refine the course every semester, because “After all, you, the students are the consumers.”

My experience in these first few weeks of the semester have been nothing but positive. So, if you find yourself in a major, and seemingly future defining predicament come fall registration, I highly recommend you solve it in a class that tackles The Human Predicament itself.

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