By Morgan Fimreite
The first Honors 101 classes were taught in 2011, three years after the Honors Program was started at St. Norbert, and have continued for ten years until 2021, its last year. Unfortunately, Honors 101 will not be returning to the St. Norbert course list for the 2022-2023 school year and is not likely to return again. While this ending is bittersweet, it’s clear that this class left a mark on students, being a favorite to some throughout the years.
Honors 101 ended most prominently because of the implementation of First Year Seminars. As the course continued, it became more difficult to keep the same faculty and the same structure as there were discipline-specific staffing needs that didn’t allow time for professors to continue teaching the extra honors class. Over the years, the amount of science and pre-med students in the program increased. Honors 101 proved to be a particularly sore spot for these students, especially those wishing to graduate in six or seven semesters, because it pulls students back a semester from taking the required philosophy and theology courses. The class also interfered with labs because it had to be on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and it wasn’t possible to stagger the classes at the risk of losing the merging of all the sections.
Dr. Mann felt that this last iteration of Honors 101 was finally the best it had ever been; that it was in its Golden Age. One of the silver linings of the final version of the class was the shift towards urgent social questions that students were able to discuss with one another in class and outside of class, with their peers in Bergstrom.
Now that SNC has implemented First Year Seminars, the next step in terms of replacing Honors 101 will be creating Honors FYS seminars for both Philosophy or Theology. Honors 301 will now be required, as well as a 1-2 credit vocational course that plans to help encourage first years to reflect on their time at SNC and begin planning for the future while bettering their mindfulness and mental health. Dr. Mann and Stacey Wanta know that the first year is incredibly challenging and emotional for students and realized that they could step in and help students get things sorted quickly with a course like this.
When asked how he feels about Honors 101 ending, Dr. Mann said that he’s become familiar with the course and he’s come to like teaching it, especially as it evolved over time. He felt good about where the course was when it ended. Now, there are unknowns, which are always scary. He has hopes that the structure of the First Year seminar will work better, and that it will logistically be better for both students and faculty, but no one will know until it’s done. Dr. Mann thinks there’s potential here, but even if students hate it, they will hate it together. That’s one of the amazing things about the Honors Program at SNC: because students are together, they will still bond even over mistakes and hardships. It’s something I’ve seen personally having lived in Bergstrom.
While Dr. Mann is nervous about taking away the multi-section class, students will still be taking Philosophy and Theology together. Nearly half the program will be in some of the same science classes to the extent that Dr. Mann wonders if students might be in too many classes together. No matter what happens, with the ending of Honors 101 and the renovations happening to Bergstrom Hall, it seems that the honors class of 2026 will be the first stepping onto campus and being a part of an entirely new generation of honors students.