10/4/02

 

To:  Curriculum Committee

From:  Bart Finzel, in role of Honors Program Director

RE:  Catalog Copy for a "new” Honors Program

The Honors Program Task Force unanimously recommended that UMM have an honors program, and that such the program be reformed.  Indeed, a suggestion for reform of the program is included in the NCA Review after evidence is presented that suggests satisfaction with the program is at an all time low. 

I have written the following document to facilitate the Curriculum Committee’s deliberations on the Task Force’s Report and to provide an example of what the Catalog Copy would be should you decide to recommend the Assembly adopt a new program.

The main purpose of an honors program, as rightly identified in the Task Force’s report, is to “provide a distinctive, academically challenging, intellectual experience that amplifies and complements the liberal arts mission of UMM…”

By recommending a program with a substantial interdisciplinary/ interdivision focus, I believe the Task Force’s proposal achieves this purpose.  Moreover, several advantages of the new Program accrue to UMM as a whole:

1)  The Honors Program would provide a mechanism to foster, in our curriculum, a clear place for interdivisional curriculum and cooperation.  The NCA review had suggested that the “unusual spirit of intra-divisional cooperation be extended across divisional boundaries.”  An honors program, revised along the lines of the Task Force’s recommendations, provides us an opportunity to exploit and extend the spirit of trust identified as one of UMM’s strengths.

2)  The clarity and purpose of an Honors Program designed around interdisciplinary/interdivisional curriculum is more easily explained to prospective students, thereby making the Honors Program a more useful tool for attracting talented students to UMM.  For a similar reason, the Program would be more useful in retaining those students who find interdisciplinary/interdivisional work attractive.

There are several sections to the following document:  proposed catalog copy for a new program; a timeline for transition to a new program; a course description for the “core” course in the new program.

 

 

Catalog copy for a new Honors Program

The Catalog copy for a new Honors program is below and is based on the Honors Task Force’s report.  It differs in four respects from Task Force recommendations:

1)  The copy below is, I think, a workable “blend” of (for a time) essential curricular elements of the ‘old” program and the requirements of the “new” program.  For example, below students may continue to use directed studies as “H” courses and some courses will continue to be “cross” listed as Honors and non-Honors.  It is expected that this practice, as well as some of the overly broad discussion of Honors courses, will be changed in the 2005-07 Catalog. This is “transition” catalog copy, necessary for the time being until current honors students have completed their programs and until we have enough of the “new” program in place to accommodate new entrants to the program.  A timeline for transition follows.

2)  The Task Force recommends students begin the program as spring semester sophomores.  Below I recommend that students begin as fall semester sophomores, for several reasons: a) Students are more likely to be enthusiastic about beginning a new curriculum in the fall and are more likely to benefit from interdisciplinary work earlier in their academic career. b)  To the extent the Honors program may assist UMM in reaching its retention goals, spring semester may be too late to reach sophomores who have concluded UMM is not a good match for their needs.  In other words, we could have a very strong honors program, but one that students do not have direct experience with until it is too late to assist retention. c) The Task Force calls for a requirement of one Honors course per semester.  Below, to accommodate overseas study or a semester elsewhere, students would be able to “miss” a semester of honors work when not in “residence”, provided they complete at least three honors elective courses over their UMM careers.  The fall start provides this degree of flexibility, while maintaining a reasonable course requirement.

3)  The Task Force calls for a “core” class, but leaves it undefined.  Below, “Traditions in Human Thought” is the core class.  See the form NC below. The enrollment in the class will be limited to 15. 

4)  The Task Force proposes a program where admission is restricted to 30.  I envision a program that attempts to accommodate any and all UMM students that wish to pursue it.  The “application” process is intended only to identify the number of sophomores who will be pursuing the Honors Program in the coming year.   Admission is to identify students to keep in the Program, rather than keep them out. By delaying entrance until the sophomore year, students who are unlikely to meet the 3.5 GPA requirement or who have found ample opportunities to explore their intellectual interests through other UMM programs, are unlikely to apply.  Given these, and the more rigid structure of the new program, 30 may be a reasonable estimate of the entering class. However, at this point, this is difficult to say with certainty.  If we experience sustained demand of greater than 30, it may be necessary to consider limiting entry.  At this point, however, I believe limiting access to the Program is premature.

 

 

PROPOSED CATALOG COPY

The Honors Program represents an opportunity for UMM students to pursue an interdisciplinary and interdivisional curriculum enhance their education and work toward graduation "with honors." All UMM students are eligible to participate in the Honors Program. Students apply to the Program in the spring semester of their freshman year and begin coursework in their sophomore year.  Applications are available at the Honors Office, 225 Community Services. Students wishing to register for an honors course must be enrolled in the Honors Program. If spaces remain in an honors course at the end of registration, non-honors students may enroll with the permission of the instructor.

To graduate "with honors," participants must (1) complete one honors course per year of participation complete the course “Traditions in Human Thought” in the fall of their sophomore year (2) students complete at least 3 other Honors courses at the 3xxx level at UMM; (2) participate in four honors co- and extracurricular activities per year of participation; (3) complete the mentor/student program; (4) (3) successfully complete a multidisciplinary senior honors project (which counts as an honors course), Morris Academic Partners (MAP) project, or an Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) project; and (5) (4) earn A's for half of their UMM credits a UMM GPA of 3.5 or higher. Transfer students who wish to graduate from UMM "with honors" must complete the requirements expected of a student entering the program as a sophomore. They take two honors courses, complete the senior honors project, and engage in the number of honors activities required for each year they are in the Honors Program. Honors courses taken at another institution will count in the UMM Honors Program if the director of the program finds them equivalent.

Honors courses are limited to a class size of 20. Many courses are taught by teams of faculty from different UMM academic divisions and examine a particular topic from an interdisciplinary perspective. The courses encourage active learning through writing, experimentation, creative activity, or discussion and emphasize primary texts and materials. Honors students do original work that demonstrates a consistently high level of academic commitment. Honors courses are based, therefore, on evaluating the quality, not the quantity, of students' active participation, and they differ significantly from other curricular offerings either in content or pedagogy. A directed studies project (courses numbered 1993, 2993, 3993, 4993) may, with the approval of the project's faculty director and the honors program director, be counted as an honors course. The form used for requesting this approval is available in the Honors Office. Academic programs abroad, such as the English Language Teaching Assistant Program (ELTAP), Global Campus programs, or UMM summer programs abroad may be counted as honors courses with advanced approval of the faculty and the honors program director. To obtain honors credit for such courses, students must submit a supplementary reading list approved by the faculty director of the project, and write a critical paper on some aspect of their overseas experience. In general, honors courses provide learning opportunities not ordinarily available in the UMM curriculum.

Proposals for new honors courses should be discussed with the honors program director before submission to the appropriate division office for approval and forwarding to the Curriculum Committee. The appropriate forms are available from the division offices.

Although honors courses are rigorous, the grading standards are the same as for all UMM courses. Honors courses are not intended to produce an abnormally heavy workload. Because of staffing constraints, the list of honors courses may change from year to year. The listing below represents a sampling of courses that have been offered in the past and which may be offered in the 2001-2003 biennium. Actual course offerings appear in the Class Schedule.

Honors activities are designated by the honors director. These activities include lectures, artistic performances, field trips, and colloquia. Honors students attend and respond to at least four activities per year, at least two per semester. Juniors and seniors act as mentors in the program. See the Honors Program brochure for details.

The senior honors project is a substantial scholarly or creative work that shows the student's intellectual engagement in the intellectual life of a discipline(s) and their ability to articulate and defend their choices regarding methodology and subject matter to a panel of three faculty from different disciplines, including the project’s advisor in which the project is completed. It is the responsibility of the student to secure a project adviser, from an appropriate discipline, identify two other faculty for the panel in consultation with the project advisor, and register for at least 2 credits of IS 4995, Senior Honors Project.  Students should submit the completed project to Honors Program director and panel members by April 1 and arrange for the defense. as well as a second adviser from outside the project's discipline, to oversee each project. Participants submit a proposal for their project by the end of their junior year. The project advisers certify to the Honors Program director that the project has been completed satisfactorily. Each project is appropriately presented to the UMM community of scholars (e.g., public presentation, archived paper, performance, or exhibit). Finally, a copy or a description of the project is submitted to the Honors Program director.

The list of honors courses may change from year to year. The listing below represents a sampling of courses that have been offered in the past and which may be offered in the 2003-2005 biennium. Actual course offerings appear in the Class Schedule.

Sample Honors Courses—Updated listings are available through the Honors Program director. For complete course descriptions, see the Division Structure and Course Descriptions section; symbols are explained near the beginning of that section.

List of courses…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Honors Program transition timeline:

 

2002-03

Current freshman: 

 

Apply to the HP Spring Semester as Freshman for Fall Sophomore 

year admission.

Participation in the Mentor/mentee and activities elements of the program is strongly

recommended

 

For continuing students:

 

Complete one H-course during 2002-03.

Complete (albeit revised) mentor/mentee and activities requirement

 

Seniors must complete the Honors project as currently described.

 

Course offerings:

Current practice of co-listing “H” courses

Current practice of accepting Directed studies as “H” courses

 

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2003-04

For Fall, 2003 sophomore entrants:

 

Take 2 “H” courses during the year, including “Traditions in Human Thought”

Participation in the Mentor/mentee and activities elements of the program is strongly recommended

 

For continuing students (juniors and seniors)

Complete one “H” course

Complete (albeit revised) mentor/mentee and activities requirement

 

Seniors must complete the Honors project as currently described.

 

Course offerings:

Continue practice of co-listing “H” courses

Continue practice of accepting Directed studies as “H” courses

Offer two, 2 credit, team taught, interdisciplinary H-courses in Spring semester.  Each of

the faculty participating receive a 2 credit course equivalency.

Offer two sections of “Traditions in Human Thought”. Each of the faculty participating

receive a 2 credit course equivalency.

 

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Honors Program transition timeline continued:

 

2004-05

 

For Fall, 2004 entrants (sophomores)

Take 2 “H” courses during the year, including “Traditions in Human Thought”

 

For Fall, 2003 entrants (juniors):

Take two “H” courses during the year.

 

For continuing students (seniors):

Complete one “H” course

Complete the Honors project as currently described.

Mentor/mentee and activities requirements will be waived.

 

Course offerings:

Continue practice of co-listing “H” courses

Continue practice of accepting Directed studies as “H” courses

Offer three, 2 credit, team taught, interdisciplinary H-courses, two in the Spring

semester, one in the Fall. Each of the faculty participating receive a 2 credit course equivalency.

Offer two sections of “Traditions in Human Thought”. Each of the faculty participating

receive a 2 credit course equivalency.

 

--------------------

2005-06

Fall, 2005 entrants (sophomores)

Take 1 “H” course each semester, including “Traditions in Human Thought”

 

2004 entrants (juniors)

Take two “H” courses, one each semester

 

Entrants in 2003, now in their senior year, will be required to complete:

One “H” course in the Fall

An Interdisciplinary honors project as described in the task force report

 

Course Offerings:

The practice of double listing courses will cease.  All “H” courses will be distinct, 2 credit,

team taught, interdisciplinary offerings.  

Offer five 2 credit, team taught, interdisciplinary H-courses: two in the Fall (for juniors

and seniors, assuming some attrition), and three in the Spring (for sophomores and juniors). Each of the faculty participating receive a 2 credit course equivalency.

Offer two sections of “Traditions in Human Thought”. Each of the faculty participating

receive a 2 credit course equivalency.