National Collegiate Honors Council


Date of this Version



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


John Zubizarreta of Columbia College leads off this volume of Honors in Practice with a revised version of his presidential address at the 2010 annual NCHC conference in Kansas City, Missouri. His speech, entitled “A Penny’s Worth of Reflections on Honors Education,” was, in a characteristic honors mode, interactive. He asked the audience to participate with him in enacting the “challenge, risk, creativity, collaboration, reflection, inquiry, [and] community” of honors education. Zubizarreta, both in his speech and in this essay, describes and illustrates honors education, the NCHC, and its conferences as embodying the “rough magic” of Shakespeare’s Prospero.

Kateryna A. R. Schray provides a fine example of rough magic in her essay “Into the Afterlife and Back with Honors Students,” which is the first of three essays in this volume that describe collaborative student projects in honors courses. Schray describes a team-taught honors seminar—Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory in Literature and Culture—at Marshall University. The primary focus of the essay is a series of collaborative projects in which, for instance, students designed stage sets for hell in a nursing home, prison, and big box store. Readers seeking new ideas for class projects in the arts and humanities will find imaginative ones here.

Another unusual idea is the focus of “The Last Class: Critical Thinking, Reflection, Course Effectiveness, and Student Engagement” by Elizabeth Bleicher of Ithaca College. Bleicher describes the content and context of a final class session in her first-year honors seminar, which is designed to acclimate new students to college life. In her honors version of the course, students anticipate and then, in the last class, accomplish both individual and collaborative evaluations of the course, knowing that their analyses, criticism, and recommendations will shape the course the next time it is taught. These students then stay connected to the class after it is over, helping the next batch of first-year students go through the same process.