Date of this Version
Journal of the National Collegiate Honors Council, Vol. 17, No. 2 (Fall/Winter 2016).
How honors faculty and administrators might best respond to the challenge of AP/IP/dual enrollment credit mandates across the country will depend largely on the nature of their institutions and the size, structure, and mission of their individual programs. While the debate will continue about long-term consequences for the quality of higher education, the realities of the mandates have begun to force new and creative thinking about curriculum design in honors programs that could lead to positive developments for both students and faculty. In response to the demand to develop honors course offerings beyond the general education curriculum, the honors program at Oklahoma City University has experimented with creating hybrid courses that have expanded the honors curriculum in some beneficial new ways, enabling more students to complete honors requirements while increasing the scope of our program’s positive impact on our institution as a whole.
Like many other programs across the nation that came into being in the 80s and 90s, the OCU Honors Program developed a liberal arts honors curriculum consisting primarily of honors sections of core courses that fulfilled general education requirements. Primarily, this philosophical choice followed the tradition of James Herbert’s “thinking and rethinking,” which Annmarie Guzy references in her lead article: the conviction that an honors education aims to develop astute critical thinkers in a traditional liberal arts curriculum that provides a strong foundation and springboard for advanced study in a variety of majors and fields. The realities of our program in a small university also made this approach a practical necessity as we did not have the student numbers to fill honors sections of upper-level courses in most majors. Honors work in the major would have to be pursued via contract, an agreement with a professor to complete more advanced work through individual assignments while otherwise participating like any other student in the non-honors course.