Civitas—Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What does “Civitas” mean?

A. The word civitas is Latin and means “citizenship:” the position of inhabiting a given place and exercising the rights, privileges and responsibilities inherent to that place. Building upon that definition, the Civitas Honors program at Augustana is centered on exploring the nature and characteristics of citizenship; at Augustana University, in the United States, and as part of a global community.

Q. Will Civitas courses increase my general education requirements?

A. No. The Religion and English courses during your freshman year are already part of the general education requirements. The sequenced courses (CIVT 201-204) may be substituted for any four courses in Augustana's core curriculum.  The Vocation Project (CIVT 395) may be done as part of your major; in a number of majors, it can also serve as a departmental honors thesis.

Q. Will Civitas courses count toward my major?

A. As noted above, your Vocation Project (CIVT 395) can count toward the major in certain departments. Some CIVT 202-204 courses are cross-listed with individual departmental offerings and can count toward that departmental major for Civitas students. Recent examples include Biology 180/Civitas 202: Introduction to Environmental Science, and Journalism 290/History 290/Civitas 203: History of the American Press.

Q. Can I major in any discipline and be part of Civitas?

A. Typically, yes. With careful planning, even students in pre-professional majors with heavy course loads have completed the Civitas program.

Q. Will Civitas overwhelm me with extra work?

A. No. Civitas classes are not simply standard courses with extra books and extra writing. Civitas courses are stand-alone courses that emphasize quality over quantity. While Civitas courses are rigorous and challenging, they also allow time for careful reflection and meaningful discussion.  They are designed to include innovative content, creative teaching strategies, critical thinking, generous faculty/student interaction, and interdisciplinary foci.

Q. What courses will I take in the Civitas program?

A. Civitas students begin in their freshman year by taking honors sections (labeled CV in the course catalog) of two required freshman courses, Religion 110 Exploring Christian Faith and English 200 The Literary Experience. They then take a sequence of four courses (CIVT 201-204) that speak to concepts drawn from theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s essay “The Structure of Responsible Life”: deputyship, pertinence, justice, and freedom. In their junior year, Civitas students begin planning an individual learning experience (their Vocation Project (CIVT 395)), which is usually completed late in their junior or early in their senior year. 

Q. Is there a particular order in which I need to take the Civitas sequence courses?

A. Ideally, CIVT 110, 200, and 201 (Reading Augustana) should be taken during the freshman year or first semester sophomore year. Beyond that, you may take CIVT 202, 203 and 204 in any order. If scheduling demands it, you may also take CIVT 201 later than one or some of the others in the sequence.

Q. What are the grade point requirements for Civitas?

A. Civitas students are required to maintain an overall GPA of 3.0. If at the end of his/her freshman year a Civitas student has a GPA less than 3.0, he/she will be given a semester to improve their GPA. A GPA less than 3.0 any semester thereafter will constitute grounds for dismissal from the program.

Q. Are there other requirements for the program?

A. Civitas is an honors program based on the notion of citizenship. As such, we encourage you to be involved in as many aspects of college life as possible, whether in student organizations, residence hall leadership, volunteer activities on or off campus, or other venues. We also expect you to be a good citizen of the Civitas program by participating in Civitas activities such as social events, meetings, and presentations by outside speakers or your fellow students.

Q. Who teaches Civitas classes?

A. It is our belief that the best students deserve the best instructors. Many of the professors who teach Civitas classes have received or been nominated for the college’s highest teaching awards. A number of those professors have also written books that are highly respected in their academic discipline. All Civitas courses are designed either to be team taught by professors from different disciplines or be augmented through guest lectures that can provide interdisciplinary topical expertise.

Q. Who runs Civitas?

A. The honors program is administered by a director and a committee that includes two professors from each division (humanities, natural sciences, social sciences), as well as representatives from the offices of academic affairs and admission, the library, registrar and the Chair of Moral Values.

Q. Whom do I contact if I have questions?

A. Dr. William Swart, Professor of Sociology, is the Civitas director. He can be reached by phone at 605.274.5329 or by email.