The central mission of the Honors Program is to bring students as close to the point at which knowledge gets created as possible.
In terms of coursework, this mission is typically manifested through courses that are tailored specifically to the background, interests, or training of either the faculty member or the students involved. Thus a course on the psychology of drug abuse would be great Honors course if taught by Todd Knealing (this is his area of primary research interest), but it would be less desirable if taught by someone else. In applying for a “custom” honors experience, the student and the faculty member involved need to first read through this application, then meet to discuss how the course will be tailored to best suit the needs of the Honors student involved. Both the student and faculty member will then write out a simple paragraph describing how the course will function as an Honors credential for the student in question. A few guidelines for “altering” the course to suit the Honors context:
The goal is NOT to simply create more work for both the student and the faculty member. My suggestion would be to replace one of the existing major assignments with a custom assignment. Thus if a student asked to take my war literature course for an Honors credit, I would redesign the final paper project in such a way that I would hand the student a small body of research materials relating to World War I literature and trauma. Since as a faculty member, I am already very familiar with these research materials, I can guide the student toward a paper using these materials, thus moving the student closer to the point of original knowledge formation. Alternatively if I had a student in that same course who was personally quite passionate about what is happening in the Middle East, particularly with the civil unrest in the Arab Spring, I would attempt to redesign the final project to capitalize upon that passion, even if it was not an area of my personal expertise.
The Honors component should ideally be executed in developmental phases, with multiple conversations between the student and faculty member along the way. Honors courses should be collaborative endeavors. Students and faculty should share the driving duties.
There is a general expectation that core competencies, like oral communication, writing, and information technology, for example, will be embedded in the course content.
There is a general expectation that Honors courses will have a strong experiential component, like in service, mentoring, or some other professional or community development activities. At the end of the experience, both the student and the faculty member should again submit a simple paragraph that briefly reflects upon the strengths and weaknesses of the experience. Once this has been submitted, the experience will be logged in the student’s Honors file (held in the Honors Program Office).
Any questions regarding the process should be directed to Ryan Allen at email@example.com.
Professor of Biology; Chair, Biology Department; Director, Environmental Science Program; Director, Center for Prairie Studies
Professor of English and Writing; Editor of the Briar Cliff Review
Assistant Professor of Sociology; Department Chair of Sociology and Criminal Justice