Category Archives: Honors Events

Virtual Honors Communities

Since we were still off campus in the fall because of the pandemic, I wanted to provide virtual spaces where the honors students could connect both with the program and with each other. I assumed that Zoom would be the obvious choice since many faculty were using it in their classes and the students would be familiar with it.

I held the Honors Orientation using Zoom. Several new students and some students who had been in the program since last year attended. We reviewed  program requirements, discussed publishing opportunities and upcoming events, and then mostly used the time to actually see and talk with one another. Zoom worked really well for this kind of event.

It also worked for the reading by New York Times bestselling author, Laurie Notaro. People registered in advance and received the Zoom link. Notaro read from her work and answered questions. Her humor was a welcome relief from the stress of the pandemic, civil unrest, and the wildfires that had devastated parts of Oregon.

Laurie Notaro

When it came time to create a virtual honors lounge to substitute for the physical lounge space we had created on campus, I thought Zoom would be fine. The campus lounge served students from the Honors Program, Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, and the Sigma Chi Eta National Communication Association. Groups held meetings there, PTK officers held office hours there, and people just dropped by to socialize or ask questions. When I suggested to the PTK officers that we use Zoom for a lounge space, however, Brian and Nadira recommended using Discord instead. Kyla, the Honors newsletter editor, also recommended Discord. 

I knew about Discord, but I hadn’t really used it, and I only really understood why it worked better for a virtual lounge when a few of the students helped me set it up. Discord is an instant messaging and digital distribution platform. Everyone who joins the server can communicate in real time using video, voice, or text. It’s also easy to keep everything organized. Sigma Chi Eta didn’t participate in the lounge, but Honors and PTK did, so we set up text and voice channels for both groups. We also set up channels for the student lounge and for upcoming events.

We held PTK chapter meetings in the PTK voice channel. Student leaders in the Honors Program and PTK held two hours a week in the student lounge channel to answer questions and connect with other students. At Kyla’s recommendation, I made some of the student leaders monitors, as well, so that they could make sure the communications were appropriate and also move discussions out of one channel and into another if they were accidentally happening in the wrong space.

When someone joins Honors or PTK, I send them the link to join the Discord server. So many of the students were already using Discord for socializing and classes that they were already comfortable with it. We are continuing to use it this term, and I would like to find more ways to make it a place to create and support community. I can see Zoom continuing to be useful, as well.

I may draw on some of the ideas my colleagues at other honors programs have shared. At the National Collegiate Honors Council’s virtual conference, I participated on a panel about virtual honors spaces. Al Golden (Joliet Junior College, Illinois), Trista M. Merrill (Finger Lakes Community College, New York), Kathleen Sullivan Stephens (Dallas College, Richland Campus, Texas), and I recorded our session on Zoom in September. They offered activities including taking virtual tours of a city, using Smule for karaoke events, setting up honors penpals, and holding virtual dance parties. The session was shared with people who registered for the conference.

It is clear to me after my experiences this fall that we need to not only continue with virtual honors spaces but further develop them. They are obviously needed while we are still off campus, but they could also be beneficial as ways to connect students who are only taking online classes or have schedules that prevent them from coming to campus for events. It was a bit of a crash course in creating our first virtual honors spaces, but the benefits are clear and the possibilities are exciting.

Maintaining an Honors Community During the Pandemic

As the new term began, I noticed an increase in messages from students in the Honors Program and Phi Theta Kappa. I also noticed more students joining both groups. Given that everyone is studying and working from home, the physical college is closed to everyone but the few employees who must be on campus to do their jobs, and all spring events have been canceled, it’s not surprising that students are looking for ways to connect.

So far, I’ve taken several steps to support the students and help them feel less isolated and more focused on their goals:

  • starting a new Lane Honors Program blog and a new Phi Theta Kappa blog;
  • using blog posts, email, and social media to share information about publication and volunteer opportunities;
  • working with students to research their transfer schools, curate their ePortfolios, and polish up their resumes; and
  • developing with Casey Reid a short workshop on building their first CVs based on an earlier workshop that Casey had created.

Later this term, we will hold an online orientation for new honors students, as well.

I’m so impressed with these amazing students. Regardless of sheltering at home, losing jobs or working new shifts, and moving to a remote instruction learning environment for all of their classes, they are persevering. They are, as always, inspiring!

Wrapping Up Winter Term 2020

With the pandemic impacting people around the world, the college moving all spring instruction online, and the people of Oregon being ordered to stay home to prevent the spread of the virus, it seems like a good time to reflect on some of the positive things that happened for students in the Lane Honors Program this winter.

We added two new classes:

  • ENSC 183_H Aquatic Cultures (fulfills a lab science requirement)
  • PS 297_H Environmental Political Science.

We also plan on at least three new classes next year:

  • CH 243_H Organic Chemistry
  • MATH 243_H Introduction to Probability and Statistics
  • PSY 201_H General Psychology.

We renewed our transfer agreement with Portland State University’s Honors College. Southern Oregon University’s Honors College will work with us unofficially while they try to build capacity to accept more transfer students. The agreement is on hold while they work on how to accommodate a much larger cohort than they currently have. University of Oregon’s Clark Honors College continues to work on ways to admit transfer students. Their restructuring will be complete in fall and will provide ways for students to transfer in as sophomores. I’ve asked them to find ways for our students to transfer in as juniors rather than paying UO tuition for three years instead of two.

We also held an orientation this term with 13 students attending. Claire Dannenbaum, the Honors Librarian, joined us to discuss the many ways she supports honors students through the library.

We took a wonderful field trip to UO’s Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art and then to Noisette Bakery for lunch and to see Claire’s art exhibit.

After many years, I’m happy to say we are now planning on circulating an honors newsletter! Honors student Kyla Ramsey has accepted the position of editor, and publication is set for later in spring.

More posts coming soon. In the meantime, stay safe and stay well!

Field Trip!

On Friday, February 21, we headed out on an art field trip. Students met on campus and then we carpooled to the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at the University of Oregon.

Meeting in front of the museum.

The museum had several excellent exhibits, including “By Looking Back, We Look Forward,” by Roger Shimomura and “The Usual Suspects” by Carrie Mae Weems.

The Roger Shimomura Exhibit

After spending time at the museum, we went to Noisette Bakery to see an exhibit by Honors Librarian Claire Dannenbaum.

Noisette Pastry Counter

Claire joined us for the field trip. While we ate, she shared information about her work and answered questions.

Claire’s Bio

You can follow Claire on her blog!

Diana Arterian Poetry Reading

On May 20, 2019, the Honors Program sponsored a poetry reading by Diana Arterian

The event was held from 3:00-4:00 in the Haugland Commons on Lane’s main campus. Students who attended received a free copy of Diana’s book, Playing Monster : Seiche.

Diana read many poems from this collection followed by some poems from her current project, a manuscript of poems about Agrippina the Younger. She described the research she conducted for this project, including a trip to Rome.

After the reading and Q&A session, students stayed on to have their books signed and to talk with the poet.

Honors & Phi Theta Kappa Info Session

This week, Casey Reid and I organized an information session for the Honors Program and Phi Theta Kappa. Nine people attended our event. In addition to serving as an information session, this event fulfilled the honors orientation requirement for students in the program.

At this event, we reviewed the benefits of these two honors opportunities, the requirements for each, and the ways in which participating in both could be especially beneficial for students planning to transfer to four-year schools.

We also introduced students to the Honors Librarian, Claire Dannenbaum (far right) and the Honors Writing Tutor, student Sabrina Piccolo (third from right):

A highlight was presenting Sabrina and Holly Kolodziejczak (second from right) with their honors medallions for successfully completing the Honors Program!

And of course, we had lots of snacks!

Casey and I will be offering several more information sessions before the end of this academic year, hopefully in our soon-to-be-realized Honors and PTK Student Lounge!

Honors Event Inspires Guest Speaker to Further Inquiry

Last February, the Honors Program invited scholar, Sharon Schuman, to campus to discuss her book, Freedom and Dialogue in a Polarized World.

Sharon Schuman

As I described in a post after the event, Schuman extends Mikhail Bakhtin’s work on the dialogic nature of language to the concept of freedom. She argues that freedom is dialogic. The more perspectives one can see from, the freer one will be.

This event was well-attended by students, faculty, staff, and members of the Eugene community. During the Q&A session, a student who was not in the Honors Program commented that Schuman seemed to think that polarization was a bad thing. She asked a thought-provoking question: “What’s wrong with polarization?”

Schuman was so intrigued by the student’s question that she continued thinking about it and whether there were positive aspects to polarization. Several months later, she wrote an essay in response. It was published in today’s Register-Guard newspaper as a Guest Viewpoint: “Polarization is Easy; Seeing the Other Side is Hard.” She will also post it on her website, Dialogic Freedom, and I’ll link to that post, as well, once it is up.

The Schuman event and follow-up essay exemplify so much of what is valuable about honors education at community colleges and specifically at Lane Community College:

  • encouraging student engagement in intellectual and creative activities with prominent scholars;
  • creating spaces for learning outside the classroom;
  • bringing together members of the Lane and Eugene communities to consider contemporary scholarship that is highly-relevant to today’s world;
  • engaging diverse perspectives; and
  • leading to increased critical thinking and broadening the discussion to a significantly wider audience.

In short, the event supported the college’s Core Learning Outcomes and its Core Themes. It is one of many examples of how honors contributes to mission fulfillment and of the valuable service that Lane Community College provides to our community. 

Undergraduate Research Materials

As a follow-up to my recent post on the Honors Spring Symposium, I’m sharing photos of the research poster and pamphlets created by the Capstone Seminar students as ways to share some of their research findings:

Morality Legislation Research Poster

Research Pamphlet Containing Information on Alcohol Education and Sexual Assault

Spring 2017 Symposium

What an event! The students presented their research findings in two sessions separated by a short break. The first group — Sam, Hayden, Holly, Emma, and Paige — addressed morality legislation in a panel discussion. They described their methodology, used women’s reproductive rights as their primary case study, and then elaborated on how the methodology could be applied to thinking critically about other moral issues that have been, or continue to be, legislated.

Morality Legislation Discussion Panel

The second group, Jack and Gus, opened with a cover of Lady Gaga’s song, “Til It Happens to You,” performed by Jack.

Jack just after finishing his song.

This performance was followed by Gus reading his paper and sharing slides describing many facts and statistics on alcohol education at universities and its potential impact on reducing sexual assaults.

Gus presenting his paper.

This segment concluded with Jack describing the shortcomings of colleges and universities in addressing the realities of alcohol consumption by student and performing a demonstration measuring the recommended amount of alcohol safely consumed per hour vs the actual yet often unrecognized amount of alcohol contained in a typical solo cup of Jungle Juice.

The students also created a research poster, brochure, and website. I will post links to them once their are available.

I have no doubt that these students will continue to pursue research interests during their time at Lane and at their transfer institutions. I hope they will also decide to pursue graduate degrees given their intellects, research skills, and passion for learning.

 

Undergraduate Research Field Trips

In my last posts, I noted the college’s plans to eliminate the Honors Program. Although the Board of Education has not officially voted on the final budget, it will do so at tomorrow’s Board meeting. When I know what next year’s version of honors will look like as students complete the program, I will add a post with that information. In the meantime, I want to focus on what the Honors Program has been about for seven years: building scholars and providing opportunities for undergraduate research.

In the Invitation to Inquiry Seminar held each winter, the students visit the University of Oregon’s Special Collections Library. There are previous posts describing this event and sharing photos on this blog.

In the Capstone Seminar held each spring, the students visit the University of Oregon’s (UO) Undergraduate Research Symposium, the Lane Community College Poster Day, and Oregon State University’s (OSU) Honors Thesis Fair. They also put on their own Honors Spring Symposium (I’ll blog about this soon as the symposium is tomorrow!).

There are several benefits to attending the UO’s Undergraduate Research Symposium. These benefits include becoming more familiar with, and comfortable on, the UO campus; seeing examples of research posters; reading a range of abstracts in the symposium program; and attending panel presentations. All of these benefits allow the students to see their research in context of other student research, to build confidence, and to take what they learn from the symposium and apply it to their own projects and assignments in the seminar. In short, this field trip supports the college’s Core Learning Outcome: Apply Learning.

Visiting the college’s own poster day builds on the UO visit by showing students the research projects other students at our college are engaged in and the quality of their posters. This event is organized by honors science faculty, Stacey Kiser, who also team-teaches the two honors seminars with me. Viewing the posters and talking with fellow students helps the seminar students see their work in the context of fellow Lane students.

Lane Poster Day

Another example of a Lane science poster.

Finally, the trip to the OSU provides examples of the research and educational experiences of other honors students. We have an information session at the OSU Honors College where the students learn about the requirements for transfer students and see the honors lounge, workroom, and classrooms. 

OSU Honors College Info Session

We also review the abstracts for the honors posters, walk through the poster session, and talk with students about their work.

Students viewing OSU research posters.

This trip provides a context for honors research, presents sample abstracts and posters that the students can consider when creating their own, and helps make them more comfortable on the OSU campus. It was gratifying to hear students talking about applying to the OSU Honors College after our visit!

Having seen the presentations, poster, and pamphlet the students will share at the Honors Spring Symposium tomorrow, I know the value of these field trips and the impact they have on the students’ own research and on their sense of themselves as scholars moving forward into their academic careers.