I want to thank The Eagle for its continued interest in the Honors Program and in the ongoing discussion of the changes that we hope to make in the program. Last week’s article had a couple of errors and oversights that led to some confusion and misplaced concern in last week’s editorial.
Last week’s article described the proposed core curriculum as centered on writing and research courses, which it is not. The task force, in fact, has recommended that the Honors Program shift from the current system, which offers a menu of courses, to a core curriculum, which would offer a set sequence of courses as well as accompanying courses on research and writing. The set sequence of courses would be content-driven and similar to the colloquia currently offered and greatly enjoyed by students. The core courses would be interdisciplinary and team-taught, giving students a chance to explore multiple perspectives on current issues and enduring questions.
Last week’s editorial raised concerns about an isolated community, a lack of course options and the need for an open comment period. I’m interested in hearing from students whether they share a concern about isolation. Currently, Honors students share only a quarter of their courses: 30 of the 120 credits required for graduation must be Honors courses. Since some proposals offered by the task force would reduce the required number of Honors credits, future Honors students could possibly have more courses with the general student population than they do today.
As indicated in the editorial, some Honors students outside SIS and SPA do struggle to find courses and rely on the supplement system. That problem will be eliminated if we shift from the current menu system to a core because the core can be designed to balance the disciplines.
The comment period on the proposed changes to the Honors Program has been open since we began the process, and it remains open. Each week that the task force met, it posted materials immediately on the web for comment. We’ve met twice with students, once with faculty, and circulated a survey of faculty. I hope that students, faculty and staff will continue to send forward their advice and recommendations. Everything we’ve received has been helpful.
The task force completed its work by sending forward a number of options for the direction the Honors Program might go. This spring, those options will be refined and crystallized into a proposal that can be implemented and fulfill the desire for “an unsurpassed undergraduate education.” All along the way, you can expect us to continue posting information and inviting comment from students, faculty and staff. I look forward to your contributions.
Michael L. Manson
Interim Director, University Honors Program