By Morgan Fimreite
In 2008, Dr. Marcie Paul (Spanish) was the director of the Honors Program. Back then, the program consisted of reading an additional book or writing one more essay than other students in the class. By doing this extra work, other classes could easily fulfill Honors requirements. That year, St. Norbert’s President and Vice President tasked Dr. Paul and the Honors Faculty Committee with a directive to reimagine the program in its entirety. Honors 101 was introduced as a result of this reconstruction as well as to the living and learning community of Bergstrom.
Honors 101 in its first year, 2011, was very structurally similar to how it works today, with the common syllabus shared between four sections from different departments, highlighting different perspectives. With every passing year, it has changed and improved, learning and adapting to new styles and different students and faculty. There has been a wide variety of professors over the years, ranging from Theology to English to Mathematics, but all aspects have contributed to the overall Liberal Arts focus.
Over the last ten years, this introductory Honors class went through many different iterations, and as time progressed, it began to look at many different forms of community as well, especially in this newer, more digital age. That has been the focus from the very start: community. From the first syllabus itself, the “discussions and research will be informed by a wide range of academic disciplines and methodologies, [and] through personal explorations of our local communities.” From the beginning, Honors 101 has incorporated and is based on assiduous texts about community.
In its early years, Honors 101 taught students about the things affecting the community of De Pere, how neighborhoods were built, why they were built, and what physical locations contribute to societies and the Catholic community. There were lots of field trips taken to rural communities in the area, visiting different types of farms and examining why they all exist in the same area. These field trips also included graveyards, diners, and trips to the Lambeau district, learning how each of these individually contributed to the community.
Ten years from when it all began, we can see the deep-rooted theme of community as it still remains the most important and primary learning objective of the course. The first and second learning objectives of the 2021 course are “Life in Community” and “Liberal Arts Consciousness” respectively. While there were no classwide field trips, we learned as a group about different communities and were welcomed into the Honors community and Bergstrom with open arms.After ten years, the Honors Program has strengthened and grown into what it is today. Honors 101 has been a memorable part and a signature trait of the Honors Program in a very unique and integral way. Thank you to all the faculty who have taught over the years, including the first professors, Dr. Ebert (Theology), Dr. Leiterman (Mathematics), Dr. Neary (English), and Dr. Paul, and thank you to Honors Directors Dr. Paul and Dr. Mann (Philosophy) for all you have done and for teaching us further about communio and welcoming first-year students into the Honors Program.