National Collegiate Honors Council


Date of this Version



Published in Honors in Practice, Volume 7. Copyright 2011 National Collegiate Honors Council


From the beginning of the Northwestern College Honors Program in 2002, we have operated with several underlying principles, three of which relate to our goal of being multidisciplinary. Based upon our recognition of multiple intelligences and our acknowledgment of scholarship in all academic disciplines, we have made it our goal that a single definition of either intelligence or giftedness should not suffice as a strategic design concept for the program or as a selection criterion for the students who participate in it.

In creating our program, the Faculty Honors Program Committee decided that our honors program would not include only traditional or discipline-specific pursuits but would incorporate elements that reflect and encourage excellence in a number of different ways and disciplines. We wanted one of the criteria for honors students to be the expression of their giftedness in many categories, including music, art, mathematics, and science.

The adoption of a multidisciplinary structure birthed a second objective in our honors program: to develop well-rounded scholars. The idea of developing “Renaissance students” appealed to us. We frequently tell prospective students that, if they are accepted into the honors program, they are by definition “interested in everything.”

Finally, we wanted the honors program to be a vehicle for associating, connecting, and integrating concepts and knowledge from a variety of disciplines. As an overriding focus, we strive through the multidisciplinary structure to help our students see associations that connect one discipline to another. Once the students are able to see the commonalities as well as the distinctions among disciplines, they are less likely to isolate themselves within their own particular majors.