Change Comes to the Honors Program

I’d like to let you know about some important changes in the Honors Program that have, as of this past December, been approved by the College’s Faculty Association.

What do the changes entail?

The Honors Program will now center its work with students on leadership formation. As always, the Program will challenge and support you academically gifted students, but now with an eye towards your formation as leaders on this campus, in your eventual communities, and in your upcoming professional and graduate fields.  This leadership language has long been present in the Program’s guiding documents and commitments.  This proposal makes those commitments more explicit.

Notice that both words are important.  Leadership.  Formation.  The first word especially addresses our broader publics, including prospective students and parents, for whom leadership is desirable quality.  The second word is more characteristic of the way we speak on this campus, not least because formation is one of the guiding postures of our Commitment to Campus Unity document.

How will this affect the Honors curriculum? 

First, to give us more opportunity for pursuing leaderly outcomes in our Honors courses, we have added to the current curriculum one 3-credit course—Honors Theology (a cross-listed upper-level theology course), which will join the other courses in pursuing leadership formation outcomes.   Adding this course also moves our program closer to national standards for a fully formed Honors Program (18 credits).

Second, we will make leadership formation a part of every honors course, deliberately sequencing specific leader outcomes through students’ four years of studv.

 Courses Course Title Cr Leadership Outcome
HON 103 Honors Writing 3 To cultivate a mature, leaderly self-knowledge. To exhibit congruence between inner life and written expression. To care for the health of Trinity’s community discourses
HON 108 Honors Philosophy 3 To cultivate personal resilience in complex social milieus through a strong understanding of calling and vocation
HON 380
Honors Theology 3 To articulate the historic, theological roots of Trinity’s learning community. To practice social perspective-taking, through discussion of historical theological texts
HON 333 Honors Seminar 3 To develop societal leadership through applying theory (from a range of disciplines) to problems in contemporary society

We have sequenced these based on published research conducted, in part, by a former Trinity RD, Chris Bohle, who served on a team of researchers to develop the Multi-Institutional Study of Leadership Insight Report: Leadership Program Delivery.  College Park, MD: National Clearinghouse for Leadership Programs (2013).

Why are we doing this?

Focus group research with Honors students (Fall 2012), the findings of a Spiritual Formation Taskforce (Spring 2013), as well as frequent conversations with parents and prospective students, suggests that the virtues of the Honors Program can be hard to understand for incoming students.  This proposal gives us an easy-to-describe and readily recognizable organizing concern for the program.

At present, Trinity does not offer cross-disciplinary curricular and programmatic support for leadership formation.  (There are courses in the Business Department and in the Social Work Department.) The Honors Program, by making these proposed changes, could offer both.

To whom will this apply?

These curricular changes will directly affect only students coming in this fall 2014.  You current Honors students will, of course, notice a leadership formation outcome sought in any Honors course you take henceforward.  Although you are strongly encouraged, you are not required to take the extra three credits for Honors Theology.

As you speak with Founders Students this week and Diversity Scholars next week, please make sure to keep these two words in the conversation.  Leadership formation.


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