AU’s Honors Program may accept fewer students and institute a core curriculum in fall 2014 if a proposal put forth by the Honors Curriculum Task Force is implemented.
The University is still considering these proposed changes, which the task force presented Jan. 13.
Of the 6,000 students attending AU, approximately 1,200 are currently enrolled in the Honors program, Honors Program Director Michael Manson said.
The program accepted approximately 220 admitted freshman for the 2011-2012 academic school year, which does not include self-nominated or transfer students.
If the task force’s modifications are implemented, about 80 freshmen will be admitted to the Honors Program for fall 2014.
The new core curriculum would include a sequence of classes for Honors students over the course of two years, Manson said. This curriculum will resemble the General Education program to promote a shared academic experience.
The new core curriculum will include four courses — two research-based courses and two intensive writing courses — to be completed during the first two years.
In their remaining two years, Honors students will be expected to study abroad, take special honors courses within their majors, conduct supervised internships or complete their capstones, Manson said.
The task force presented their ideas on the structure and goals of the program Jan. 13 at the Ann Ferren Teaching Conference, a conference for AU faculty and staff focused on teaching, research and learning.
The Honors Curriculum Task Force was formed in September to make recommendations to improve the program. A task force reviews each of AU’s programs every 10 years to ensure advancement, The Eagle previously reported.
College of Arts and Sciences Professor and task force member April Shelford said the task force is trying to implement changes to improve the program.
“A lot of institutions have a core curriculum,” she said. “Right now, people feel kind of dispersed. If the program does undergo the proposed changes, honors students will have a shared learning experience.”
Some AU students disagree with the proposed changes.
“I already feel as if we have a sense of community,” said Kogod School of Business freshman Spencer Swan. “We have already established a close knit community since we live together in Hughes Hall and participate in Honors 101.”
Future AU applicants will have to complete a separate application if they wish to join the Honors Program, rather than the University currently choosing freshman for the program based on their high school GPA and standardized test scores, Mason said.
“AU is at the point now where we attract students with high GPAs and test scores,” Manson said. “In high school, it’s about identifying the special students. In college, it’s about identifying the right student,” he said.
The task force has yet to address self-nominations, the process through which a current student who is not in honors can apply to be in the program.