University and Core Honors to Combine

To accommodate a broader range of majors, the University and Core Honors programs are combining into a single Honors program for all undergraduates

This change in curriculum will expand the Honors student population by creating three new Honors tracks for incoming students to choose from: Intellectual Traditions, Innovations, and Society, Politics and Citizenship

“The students we recruit into Honors next year will be in the revised University Honors curriculum called Intellectual Traditions, but instead of recruiting into Core Honors we will be recruiting into the Innovations track,” said Sean McDowell, English professor and the director of the University Honors program.

Right now, Core and University Honors exist in completely separate spheres, with separate cohorts of students in each program. There are several distinctions between the two programs—while University Honors is a two year alternative to the University Core curriculum, Core Honors is a three year program offering one University Core class per quarter. The three classes required in University Honors make it difficult for those in credit-intensive majors that require specific classes in the first two years to take.

These differences often create confusion for students who are trying to decide which program is best for them.

McDowell hopes that combining University and Core Honors into one single Honors program will get rid of this confusion and allow more students to take Honors.

“One of the big motivations for this change is to try to be as inclusive as possible,” McDowell said.

Students echoed this view, believing this change would allow more majors to take Honors.

“I think every time you make a program more inclusive of other majors and different trains of thought [that] is a positive,” said Connor Rice, a freshman criminal justice major and a member of the Honors Council.

The Intellectual Traditions track is a modified version of the current University Honors curriculum, with three classes every semester for two years. However, it will also include math and science, allowing students to fulfill that requirement in
the program.

These new classes stick to the unique curriculum of Honors; science classes include a class called “The Rise of Science,” which would recreate experiments from the 16th to 17th century, fulfilling a lab
science requirement.

“In this physics course they would be repeating Galileo’s experiments,” McDowell said. “There would be no requirements outside of Honors with the addition of these classes to this track.”

The Innovations Track is aimed towards credit intensive majors, such as those in Engineering and the Sciences. This track is three years and offers one or two courses a quarter to allow students to take other classes for their major.

Classes offered in this track are also unique, such as the “Major Debates” course. According to the Curriculum Revision Proposal, “This seminar provides a case study of a major debate or set of major questions that have informed the development of civilization from ancient times through the Renaissance. It asks students to analyze the historical roots of this debate from a disciplinary perspective and examines its long-term effects.”
These two tracks will start in the 2016-2017 school year.

Starting in the 2017-2018 school year, Honors will also offer a track called Society, Politics and Citizenship. This new track is two years and will study the relationship between philosophy, economics, and politics, making it ideal for public policy majors.

When all three tracks have started there will be three separate cohorts of students on three different tracks, but all under the same Honors program.

The expansion of the program will also allow more professors to teach in Honors.

“There will be more people teaching in the program than ever before at one time,” McDowell said.

Current students in both University and Core Honors will finish their current curriculum tracks, unaffected by these changes. Gradually Core Honors will be phased out and new students will be put into the track of their choosing.

Although current Honors students will not be affected by these changes, many felt that combining the programs would have a positive impact on the future of the Honors program.

“These changes allow more students with a diversity of majors to take Honors,” said Joe Munson, a freshman Economics major in the Honors Council. “That definitely benefits the Honors program.”

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