New Honors Program is Yours for the Taking

Illaria Dana

Education Major

 

The honors program will make a triumphant return to SMCC after being suspended three years ago. Eben Miller will act as the coordinator for the honors program. He emphasized the ability of this program to enable students to explore their interests. Miller said, “The Honors Program is going to be a program that serves the needs of students who wish to dig deeper and have a more complex, more nuanced, more engaged learning experience than typically would happen in a course.”

What will drive the honors program is the passion of students. There are two ways in which students can participate. The first is by taking an honors course. Three Honors Courses will be IDST 150 Nature and Culture; ENGL 285 The Short Story, and HIST 165 Social History of the Civil War and Reconstruction.

Miller explained, “Honors courses will be focused on critical thinking, writing, some level of a research component, self-reflection, possibly service learning: all different ways to get engaged. They’ll steer clear from a detached, lecture method.”

The second is called the honors option which involves collaboration between stu-
dents and their instructors.

“Say I’m taking an illustration class, and I’m loving it. I can contract my instructor, we’ll come up with an idea. Maybe I really want to create a comic book. This can be in any class. I have people in Fire Science who will do projects to earn honors credits. It’s not just specific to Liberal Studies. It’s really about serving the needs of students in all departments.”

This option will often involve some kind of project, whether it is research, art, or community-based, that will count for 10 or 15 percent of the student’s grade. For students who explore research opportunities, Miller revealed the opportunity to present their work in the Spring at “a conference held at USM called Thinking Matters Conference which is devoted to undergraduate research. It’s open to SMCC students.”

While one may hold certain connotations about the word “honors” that include fear of an increased amount of work, or a restrictive idea about what it means to be an honors student, Miller believes that this program will be accessible to many kinds of students with diverse interests. “The hope is that this will re-
ally serve the needs of students who want to engage in that deeper way.”

The freedom of students to choose their courses in the honors program is paralleled by the possible level of involvement. Students may want to take one honors course, work closely with a particular instructor on an honors option, or fully embrace this method engaged, rigorous, and creative learning.

“For people who want to pursue this as a primary goal here at SMCC, they would take a combination of four honors courses and honors options and if you maintain a GPA of 3.3, if you get B’s in your courses, then you graduate with that designation. It will be on your transcript and in the program at graduation.”

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