Curriculum Changes in Honors

Honors Classroom

Academics in the Honors Program have always been rigorous, stimulating, and challenging. In keeping with the mission and values of Honors, the Program has made some curriculum changes and has developed exciting options for the fall of 2012 that will further contribute to students’ intellectual growth. Historically, Honors students have been able to choose one of two paths in the freshman year in Honors: Interdisciplinary Scholars –an 8-course, 3-semester, team taught experience in the Humanities, also known as “Interdisc”—and a free-choice track in which students take Honors classes to fulfill their core requirements and electives. Starting next year, there will be an additional sequence that will make Honors Program studies even more unique.

Honors is excited to begin the “Good, True, Beautiful” sequence (GTB). The Program will offer two to three sections of GTB each semester, in which students take the Augustine and Culture Seminars (ACS), as well as a sophomore seminar. The first semester will focus on the topic of “the good,” the next will focus on “the true,” and the third, “the beautiful.” There will also be guest speakers, co-curricular events, art shows, field trips, and more to supplement the classroom material. Dr. Thomas Smith, Director of the Honors Program, described GTB as “high-powered introduction into Humanities and the Honors Program.”

Honors has also added a “Great Idea” course which will examine a fundamental question such as freedom, love, or the meaning of life; the course is taught as a high-powered lecture with breakout sessions. For Honors majors, the sophomore seminar is moved to the junior year to facilitate a more cohesive thesis project. Both of these changes spread out the Honors experience and give upperclassmen opportunities to remain invested in Honors. Moreover, the senior thesis process changed beginning last year, and students now take two 3-credit courses for a grade as part of the thesis experience. Students now do more planning and outlining in the fall semester, and 25 pages of the thesis must be completed by the end of the first semester. “That significantly increased the quality of the senior thesis and significantly decreased the stress level,” Dr. Smith noted.

All of these changes have been decided upon in conversation with the Honors Council and the Honors Curriculum Committee. Such changes, according to Dr. Smith, will “allow us to describe the Honors Program in very distinctive ways.” In addition to small class sizes and excellent teachers, Honors now has a more tangible identity that will attract even more wonderful students.

by Newsletter co-editor, Alexandra Andreassen.  Alex is a junior Sociology and Honors major, minoring in Communication.