Monthly Archives: October 2013

Honors Seminars

On Wednesday, 10/16/13, the Curriculum Committee approved the HON 202_H prefix for the Honors Capstone Seminar. Last year, they approved the HON 201_H prefix for the Invitation to Inquiry Seminar. This two-class sequence is a requirement for students in our program, and, after running variations on the seminars as IDS experimental classes for two years, I feel we’ve landed on the best approach for our college. My co-faculty coordinator Katie Morrison-Graham and I are also working on a conference presentation and contributions to a monograph chapter on two-year college honors seminars for the NCHC this fall. Honors seminars have definitely been on my mind.

The panel and chapter will include contributions from honors faculty at other schools so that we can present a wide range of options for building seminars. There are so many different approaches to seminars depending on the needs of a college or program as well as on the resources available. Schools offer seminars for varying amounts of credit. Some offer non-credit seminars. Others, like Lane, offer them for four credits. Some schools require that students be in the program to take the seminars, while others open them to students across campus. Formats differ greatly and can range from one-hour presentations/discussions by faculty from different disciplines to classes requiring extensive reading and research.

Lane’s seminar sequence is research-based. The first class, Invitation to Inquiry, takes an interdisciplinary look at the academic research process and focuses on thinking critically about this process. What assumptions do we make about scholarly research? If we test these assumptions by engaging in research, do they hold up? What assumptions might have been made in the past but are now being reexamined? This question arises when my colleague and former co-faculty coordinator, Nadia Raza, guest lectures on the implication of academic research in the history of Western Imperialism which always leads to some impressive and difficult discussion by the students. Students also participate in academic events. For instance, they attended a conference on the death penalty at the University of Oregon’s law school and UNESCO Chair at the University of Oregon, Steven Shankman (below), also guest lectured in the seminar about the conference and his work with the Inside Out Program.

Steve Shankman

Our second seminar, Honors Capstone Seminar, is a modified version of the seminar created by Dean of Science, Sarah Ulerick. It builds on the skills developed in the Inquiry seminar. The students decide on group research projects. They then conduct this research over the term and present their findings at a public symposium. As they become clearer about their audience, they also determine the best way to present these findings. They symposium has included guest panels, student paper presentations, keynote speakers, posters, and PowerPoint presentations.  Honors student, Mary Gross (below), presents findings from her group’s research and statistically significant survey on health care needs and services for two-year college students.

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Lane’s Honors Program

This fall, Lane Community College’s Honors Program begins its third year. For the past two years, I’ve thought a lot about honors education while helping to build this program. My name is Ce Rosenow, and I’m a faculty coordinator for the Honors Program. Much of the time, those thoughts took the form of questions – questions I had and questions from colleagues who wanted to understand what this program would offer to the students and to the college. Sometimes I was content with my answers. Other times I was not. I’ve started this blog as a way to continue my inquiry into honors education as we move from building a program to sustaining one.

My background in honors includes six years as a Visiting Assistant Professor of Literature at the University of Oregon’s Robert D. Clark Honors College (CHC). In addition to teaching upper and lower division classes, I advised students, worked on admissions, and served on more than thirty thesis committees. This experience gave me insights into what it means to provide honors education at a four-year liberal arts college that is part of a larger research university. Working on a program for Lane meant adapting that knowledge for a two-year, open enrollment college.

I found help for this rethinking of honors education from colleagues at the National Collegiate Honors Council (NCHC). Louise Bishop, the former Associate Dean of the CHC, alerted me to this organization several years ago and shared some of their materials. Their monograph series, journals, and annual conference have been valuable resources. Serving as a member of the Two-Year College Committee and the Assessment and Evaluation Committee have been especially helpful experiences.

Lane’s Honors Program was championed by former Vice President Sonya Christian as one way to fulfill the college’s strategic direction for a Liberal Education Approach for Student Learning. Its formation team consisted of faculty and staff from across the college:

honors.leadershipteam

The program now operates through the efforts of the Honors Core Team and the Honors Leadership Team.