We are in a cocoon.
I don’t mean that we are cowering inside a protective casing. Or that we are afraid to meet the outside world. Instead, I mean that, in this time of quarantine and isolation, the Honors Program is quietly transforming itself, little by little, into the vision of its own future.
Our Honors Program is strong. But even the strong can always be stronger. The Honors Program in its current form has been in place now for over ten years. A lot can happen in ten years, and a lot has happened in that time. The world has changed, the College has changed, students and faculty have changed. It’s a perfect moment to reflect on ourselves and our purpose. Like our students, we in the Honors Program don’t aim to be merely good. We strive for excellence not just in principle but in practical impact. We want to make a difference in the lives and careers of our students.
Into what are we changing?
We envision an Honors Program committed justice for those who have been historically marginalized by traditional categories of race and gender. We envision an Honors Program committed to environmental action and sustainability. We envision an Honors Program whose students live in community and act communally at both the local and global levels. We envision an Honors Program that facilitates collaborative research and interdisciplinary solutions to contemporary challenges. This is our vision and the values that inform it. Ultimately, we seek to cultivate a commitment to service that strives for excellence without exclusion and develops potential instead of merely rewarding past achievement.
Which parts of the Program will change?
Some aspects will change significantly, others only slightly. It’s difficult to say right now what exactly will and won’t change, but everything’s on the table: the kinds of courses offered and their content, co-curricular activities and events, the nature and structure of Honors requirements, the Honors Program admissions process, and our approach to program assessment.
How will we get there?
Change is can be hard, and it is often slow. And while most of the responsibility falls on the shoulders of Honors faculty and staff, students are crucial to the process, too. We need to hear from you, as we did in the recent Honors Town Hall. There are now formal structures in place that make it easier than ever to incorporate your thoughts and feelings into our shared future. So talk to your Honors Student Advisory Board representatives. Talk to Stacey and me. Don’t be shy. Your involvement is crucial to our success. We are listening.
Are you ready to talk?